Check Out Our Sports Photo Galleries Contact Us
Milquetoast, mice and men
by Andrew Barbano
Aug 14, 2010 | 1236 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every once in awhile, a letter from a reader encapsulates public opinion.

“I am 42 years old and my career position is warehouseman for a Reno third party logistics company. I wrote you way back when you were on television,” stated Sparks resident Michael Webb.

“I listen to a lot of talk radio like NPR, KOH and 1230 AM. I have really gotten kinda sick of both sides since it seems that most of the radio hosts are trying to cause the people to start an uprising one way or the other. I am not a half-wit and also am not a wizard at politics. I know that these radio hosts are paid to say what they say.

“I am getting really strong feelings that something seriously is going to give in our social environmental system. I don’t know if it is going to be major riots across the country or the states becoming policed like under military law. Maybe you feel the same inklings. I feel (it’s) going to hit the fan soon, one way or the other. Since you are quite a bit older than I am (ouch!), I assume, and believe you probably went through the Vietnam age along with all the protesting. Do you have any advice for me so that I may prepare for any craziness that may occur in the near future? (Syndicated liberal radio host) Thom Hartmann has stated that we should take most of our money out of the banks in cash. I just heard that Reno wants to hire 60 more cops, which sure sounds like a sign that Reno is majorly paranoid, especially since we cannot afford any more cops with our current budget.” (Ditto Sparks.)

“I am one of the lucky ones, still employed and have not missed any payments on my house, but I am getting worried and just thought I would ask your advice,” Webb concluded.

I told him I’m not much into local talk radio. I find I don’t learn anything from the likes of KKKOH’s Bill Slanders or his flaccid competitors. Mr. Webb needs to keep in mind that all the doomsaying on nutso radio reflects only a narrow perspective. Industry research shows that only 5 percent of talk radio listeners will ever call a show at least once in their lifetimes.

That’s not to say there are no credible red flags. I’ve been waving some for decades. If we go into a double-dip depression, which now seems likely starting after the November elections, I fear that one of my long term predictions, dating back almost 30 years, could come to pass — the disuniting of the United States as we devolve into de facto regional city-states.

I referred Mr. Webb to “The Nine Nations of North America” links in the “American Devolution” Barbwire column of Sept. 3, 2006; also “Sell us this day our daily bread” (July 25, 2010) and “The Enemy Within” (May 29, 2005).

Washington is and remains a boomtown while the nation suffers. An obscenely prosperous capital when the empire is falling apart is one historically rock-solid sign of decline. (See the Atlantic Monthly, spring, 1984.)

The one bright light I see is that states and regions have always been pretty good at coming up with sensible policies when the feds fail. Witness the excellent state-level health care plans in Hawaii, Massachusetts and several others. Even Oklahoma is better off than Nevada. Oklahoma!

Then again, if we decentralize because of national impotence and political imperative, the south goes retro toward born-again slavery. There are tradeoffs on everything.

I am often reminded of something that Paul Volcker said a few years ago. (Before certain knees start to jerk, yes, I remember that he caused the great Carter-Reagan recession of 1979-82.)

The former federal reserve boss said that the United States need only make some relatively minor changes at the margins to right the economic ship of state.

He was and remains correct. As a nation, we are filthy rich. Substantially cutting the budget of our wasteful war machine while stopping government support of the export of our jobs will go a long way toward making us well.

Which means that elections really do matter.

Gammicky Mouse

Last Monday, I notified online subscribers of what was shaping up as a dandy knock-down drag-out debate between 16-year incumbent Washoe County district attorney Dick Gammick and challenger Roger Whomes. The Republican Jewish Coalition scheduled the event for this Wednesday evening at the Atlantis Hotel.

Negotiations apparently fell apart when the Whomes camp asked for a meeting about ground rules and who would form questions. Gammick also insisted on naming the moderator.

I object. I believe in rough-and-tumble politics, not milquetoast meandering.

I challenge both of these legal studs to fight under simplified Barbano rules. At the beginning of the evening, I will introduce both guys, ask them to shake hands, then leave the stage as they go at each other for an hour or two. No ground rules, no moderator. Hell, moderation has long been absent from this contest and is likely to remain so for the duration.

Keep an eye on to see if either camp has the guts to respond.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Featured Businesses