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An Alternative National Anthem
By Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) & Sharon Robinson
© 1988 CBS Records, Inc.

   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
   Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
   That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that the boat is leaking.
Everybody knows that the captain lied.
   Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died.
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   And a long stem rose.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that you love me, baby.
Everybody knows you really do.
   Everybody knows that you've been faithful,
Give or take a time or two.
   Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
   Without your clothes.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that it's now or never.
Everybody knows that it's me or you.
   And everybody knows that you live forever
When you've done a line or two.
   Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
   For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that the plague is coming.
Everybody knows that it's moving fast.
   Everybody knows that the naked man & woman —
Just a shining artifact of the past.
   Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
   That will disclose
What everybody knows.

   And everybody knows that you're in trouble.
Everybody knows what you've been through
   From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach at Malibu.
   Everybody knows it's coming apart.
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
   Before it blows.
And everybody knows.

Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.


I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island.
Leon Russell, 1942-2016

"The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have." Kierkegaard

Barnum, Reagan, Rambo, Gingrich & the Czar
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-24-2021 Sparks Tribune / Updated 2-26-2021 GMT / Expansions in blue

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." — H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) *

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The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.

RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

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If you believe in basic, gentle Christianity, this column is not for you.

I want the last four guys in the above headline to burn in hell, but that's a New Testament invention and Old Testament Jews don't believe in hell. So where lies a belief system which can mete out commensurate justice? My answer appears below, but first, the indictments.

Showman PT Barnum once opined that "there's a sucker born every minute." Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump are Barnum's con artist soul brothers. Make that soul-less.

They deserve infamy because none actually believed the toxic philosophies which made them all rich, famous and successful. I'll take them in chronological order, but first: who should we blame for these lowlifes? I submit Franklin D. Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy. Read on.

RONALD REAGAN. The first and still only former union president to become US president sold out his members long before running for office. Under him, the Screen Actors Guild caved to a two-tiered wage system on the con-artist reasoning that TV acting was worth less than big screen work. He made his buddy Lou Wasserman of MCA/Universal rich. (The New York Times 10 June 2002)

Reagan went on to bust the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, the only union that had endorsed him for president, and thus declared open season on organized labor. The carnage has never abated.

Whom to blame: Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan came of age during the Great Depression and FDR was his idol. Reagan always needed a script to read, so he adopted Roosevelt's persona as his public face. He freely admitted that he simply played FDR every time he was in front of a microphone. Did he believe any of his pseudo-conservative philosophy? Nope. Just an act. He never won an Oscar, but his acting won the presidency.

Today, Reaganauts still believe in Reagan's canard that "government is the problem" but love getting FDR's monthly government Social Security checks while detesting socialism.

Unintended result: Many of those angry white people who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6 had legitimate gripes. The likes of Reagan royally screwed their livelihoods. Alas, they believe in my headliner guys as their messiahs.

As Reagan might say, "Mr. Mencken, call your office."

LUSH RAMBO, as double hall-of-famer Travus T. Hipp dubbed him. This freedom-loving racist owes his gruesome but lucrative career to Sparks-Reno. I have written several times that the late Reno radio consultant Bruce Marr recommended that KFBK-Sacramento consider this unknown Nebraska disc jockey to replace Morton Downey, Jr., who had been fired for calling the founder of the Old Sacramento tourist attraction "a chink."

In my talk radio days (when I defeated Limbaugh in these parts), I worked with some of Limbaugh's former KFBK colleagues after my ratings got me hired on 50,000-watt KPLA. They confirmed the above scenario, but noted that Downey's remark was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. The man who had once performed at Reno's Mapes Hotel as Sean Morton Downey went on to pioneer hate TV.

Rush Limbaugh, pants cuffed halfway up his socks, arrived in the big city not knowing what to do. So he went on the air doing a lampoon/satire of the acerbic Downey. And the San Joaquin Valley dingdongs took him seriously so he kept it going and rode that horse all the way to hate radio heaven.

His first national media coup in 1988 came when he banned all phone calls from Reno's KKKOH because city hall had appointed a homeless person to a homeless advisory board. That mockery drove the moonhowlers crazy with dark admiration.

Whom to blame: JFK and RFK, who weaponized the now-repealed "fairness doctrine" as revenge against a southern radio preacher who trashed JFK's Catholicism during the 1960 campaign.

Unintended result: Because the vaguely written doctrine mandated airing both (or more) sides of every issue, radio and TV stations aired none. The cure proved worse than the disease.

On the good side, repeal made the late great Travus T. Hipp the all-time talk radio ratings leader in this market in 1982. (Starting under Jimmy Carter, the 1949 relic was fully repealed in 1987, but KOH Program Director Ed Tuohy correctly projected that Libertarian/Republican broadcast veteran Travis could "fairly" handle all comers on an open-line "radio without a net" show. On the flip side, the few carefully screened Limbaugh callers allowed onto the air were used as mere foils from which he could take off in speeches, screeds and fear-soaked jeers.)

It took Limbaugh two decades to eclipse the former Tribune columnist.

On the bad side came the phony Lush Rambo act, like Reagan's, a schtick to sell to the rubes. It worked. Donald Trump became a fan.

NEWT GINGRICH was a liberal before he came to the realization that such views would not win him office in Georgia. Like Reagan and Limbaugh, he sold his soul and paved the way for sinking Congress lower into the bowels of human oppression.

THE FORMER GUY. As author James Poniewozic noted in his killer bestseller "Audience of One," Donald Trump had one passion — keeping a TV camera's red light on. During the 2016 campaign, NY Times commentator Maureen Dowd asked Trump about his rabble-rousing speeches inciting violence against the media and demonstrators. Trump responded that when he did that, his ratings improved.

Most of the ink wasted on him has involved sane people trying to judge a malignant psychopath by their rational standards.

Trump knows right from wrong. He just doesn't care. One year ago this month, he admitted to journalist Bob Woodward on tape that he knew the Coronavirus was deadly but still dismissed it in the press. He thought dealing with it would make him look bad. We just broke half a million dead this week, many to come and more with lifelong debilitation.

The election of Czar Donaldov proved Mencken's prescience for all time: "As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron." (Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July 1920)

MY UN-CHRISTIAN SENTENCE: May the Almighty and Terrible God of the Old Testament damn them to the fires of hell for all eternity.

But what if there's no hell?

A BUDDHIST FIREPLACE. One of my more spiritual friends has offered cooler insight. So may they all be reincarnated as trees, sentenced to a couple of centuries of just observing.

JONATHAN WINTERS SAYS IT BETTER. Decades ago, my late wife and I saw the great comic at Lake Tahoe. After each show, he would ask audience members to shout something they wanted him to do. One guy screamed "do a palm tree!"

Without missing a beat, he got rigid, arms down each side, legs stiff, just his mouth moving.

"God it's hot out here today," said the tree, "I hope those ants don't come back. They come crawling up my bark and make me itch and I can't scratch it or even drop a coconut on them. And don't talk to me about those damned birds..."

A miserable palm tree. Welcome to hell, gentlemen. Have a coconut.

IT'S NATIONAL EATING DISORDER WEEK. Watch for local events and information.

¡Sí se puede!

Stay positive. Test negative. Take care of each other.

Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (And my French.)
Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan and editor of,, BallotBoxing.US, and among others. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. E-mail <>
*Paraphrased from Mencken's actual longer quip from Sept. 18, 1926: "No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads and an appetite for more. This assumption is a folly."


Murderous MAGA moonhowlers meander among us
Would you vote for somebody who put out a contract for your murder?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the Wednesday 2-17-2021 Sparks Tribune


A hard rain falls on the land of the giants
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-10-2021 Sparks Tribune

Maskerape: Get COVID-19 & vax on one bus ride
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 2-3-2021 Sparks Tribune

Capitol punishment and bus station blues
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 1-20-2021 Sparks Tribune

Bus drivers lay to rest one of their own, call on RTC to enforce COVID-19 protections
By Astrid Mendez / KTNV TV-13 (ABC-Las Vegas) 1-22-202

Funeral for 2nd Nevada bus driver felled by COVID-19

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$75 dead or alive: Still crazy after all these years
A mass murderer becomes famous on TV a century later

How come nobody noticed 'til now?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 2-21-2018 Sparks Tribune

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners Max Blank and Isaac Harris. Is not Mr. Harris eerily familiar to television junkies?

From the Emmy-winning opening slate of the blockbuster "Cheers" television series. Combined with its "Frasier" spinoff, it lasted 20 years.
The "shirtwaist kings" immigrated from Russia and made a fortune manufacturing "Gibson Girl"-style blouses. (Photo, "The American Experience"/PBS)
The Emmy-winning opening slate of the "Cheers" television series before the "slate" of creators is superimposed. Looks like Mr. Harris' dead ringer (at left) is having a bloody good time.

"Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" Chico Marx disguised as Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup" (1933)
Back to the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist holocaust

Triangle tragedy recalled as requiem
"The Fire in My Mouth," a new oratorio by Pulitzer honoree Julia Wolfe, premiered with the New York Philharmonic Jan. 24

By Michael Cooper / The New York Times 1-23-2019

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Copyright © 1982-2021 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is the executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and a longtime member, officer and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

Betty J. Barbano
2-7-1941 / 12-27-2005

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