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Je Suis Charlie
"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." — Joseph Pulitzer

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Photo: Debra Reid, Sparks Tribune

   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 the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows...
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   and a long red rose.
   Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

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

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

RIP GOP: 2000 Prediction Coming True
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 1-11-2023 / Updated 1-11-2023 / Expansions in blue

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" — George Santayana, 1905

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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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In 2000, Kevin Phillips published a prescient piece in Harper's Magazine. I've quoted him several times over the years as the Republican Party has repeatedly attempted suicide.

Herewith, déjà vu all over again from "Dismal democracy under Dubya the Dumber," the Barbwire of January 21, 2001:

Those searching for portents at the coronation of Bush the Lesser need look no further than the dismal DC weather which greeted the 5-4 Supreme Court landslide crown prince.

The February 2000 edition of
Harper's Magazine published the year's most in-depth yet compact compendium about the shady side of Dubya. Maverick Republican historian Kevin Phillips contributed a fascinating analysis of replays gone bad.

"The essence of political restoration is neither republican nor monarchical. It depends upon the delusionary psychology of a political class willing to let its memory grow more and more clouded until it sees fit to reinstate something second-rate, after that something's replacement has become even less acceptable. This is why restorations contain an element of farce.

"Both Charles I (of England) and Louis XVI (of France), whose kingly failures began the two previous restoration cycles, were as widely disdained as the senior Bush. And the interlopers who came along to revolutionize their countries' respective governments — Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard ('Tumble-down Dick') in England in the 1650s, and Maximilien Robespierre and then Napolean in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century France — also made themselves unwelcome," Phillips wrote.

"In both countries, the political elites came to prefer the return of an inexperienced heir. Charles II was called back to England in 1660; Louis XVIII to a re-established throne in 1815...Bush the Younger is classic restoration material...Not a few observers have described him as cocky, lazy and arrogant (like Charles II), and intellectually undistinguished (a perfect late Bourbon).

"These comparisons are not yet proven, of course, but for the first time in U.S. history, the qualifications of a frontrunner for the presidency are converging with those of the Prince of Wales: heredity and birth," Phillips noted.

He recounted how the new president's "own mother once made him sit at the opposite end of the table from the Queen of England, for fear of what he might say, when he was 44 years old."

Rejoicing at the U.S. royal family's return to power may prove short-lived.

"When the restored James II fell in 1688, that was the end of the Stuart kings. When the restored Bourbons followed suit in 1830, that was the end of their house. Should a Bush Restoration implode on its own whir of cocky inadequacy, that could be a similar last hurrah not simply for the family's power but for the Republican Party," Phillips stated. (See his 1999 book,
The Cousins' Wars.)

It doesn't take much to predict that George II will soon risk American lives in some foolish war. Dick and Colin are back fouling the bowels of government. Few seem to remember that the Gulf War, which continues to kill and sicken so many both here and abroad, was fought to protect the Bush family's Persian Gulf drilling rights, perhaps the most rotten of all Dubya's dastardly deals.

On the bright side, perhaps his appointment of the racist John Ashcroft as attorney general will revive states' rights. After all, Ashcroft publicly praised the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, a Klan-fan rag which celebrates Lincoln's assassination!

In his
Harper's cover article preceding Phillips' sidebar, author Joe Conason concluded "the vast agglomeration of monied influence is what has made George W. Bush both a rich man and a potential president. Knowing how he became what he is, it's difficult to imagine Bush cleansing the soiled hem of democracy, as his advertising promises he will do. He professes compassionate conservatism, but his true ideology, the record suggests, is crony capitalism."

Indeed, Dubya offers a single cure for all ills. At any bad moon on the rise, he howls for a huge tax cut for rich campaign contributors.

German poet and dramatist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said that we become that which we despise.

To anyone who criticized Bill Clinton for breaking his promise to clean up government, remember the words of the Gipper: you ain't seen nothin' yet.

When the FBI was sending up red flags about 9/11 a few months later, Dubya's dingbat attorney general, defrocked Missouri Sen. Ashcroft, told his staff he didn't want to hear another word about terrorism. He and Dubya were too busy cutting taxes for their rich friends.

The rest is history.

A LITTLE GIANT HAS FALLEN: Don Cox, 76, died in Sparks on January 2 after a long battle with cancer. He was a fair guy and groundbreaking reporter. Along with Reno Gazette-Journal sports editor Steve Sneddon, he won a Nevada/California Associated Press sportswriting contest about concussions in football — in 19-freakin'- 85!

I dealt with him on many occasions. For some reason, I never forgot the wry advice he once gave me when he called about a story, saying he hoped he hadn't interrupted anything. I said I had been watching Clarence Thomas on C-SPAN.

"You've been watching Clarence Thomas on C-SPAN? Andy, you've got to get out more," he advised in his distinctive growl which bordered on a hiss.

I've remembered Don's words many times since, especially last week as C-SPAN carried the Kevin McCarthy congressional fisticuffs and I continued my self-quarantine at home.

Yeah, I gotta get out more, Don, but being naturally anti-social, I'm in my element.

Rest in peace, brother. You done good.

MODERN MCCARTHYISM: "It got so out of control, I thought I was watching the Oscars." — Jimmy Kimmel.

SIN OF OMISSION. Don Cox is not in the Nevada Press Association Hall of Fame. I will work to remedy that oversight. Years ago, successful Barbwire nominee and former Sparks Tribune writer Dennis Myers noted that nomination soon after demise works best. That's exactly what happened in recent years with Dennis and LV Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.

¡ se puede!

Be well. Raise hell.
/ Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (Pardon my French.) Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 54-year Nevadan and editor of,,, BallotBoxing.US,,,, and among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Who's the boss?
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 1-4-2023
Updated 1-11-2023 / Expansions in blue

The word "hope" starts with an "F" in Nevada.

For the third session in a row, the hidebound Silver State legislature will open next month with a female majority.

I've carped that the initial installments of the history-making hat trick accomplished not much major.

This year, 13 of 21 senators and 25 of 41 in the assembly are women. One seat in the lower house remains vacant as Assemblymember Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, resigned on Dec. 21 to fill a vacancy in the senate.

As always, partisanship will play a role. I know that some reluctantly support nutso conservative positions or risk ousting at the next election.

Nonetheless, I remain guardedly hopeful. The saving grace may come with leftover federal funds.

Like the incumbent he defeated, Gov. Joe Lombardo promised no tax hikes. He even misleadingly asserted that he had cut taxes. As Clark County sheriff?

He ran a TV spot in October wherein the voiceover announcer stated Lombardo "would" cut taxes. But the accompanying big bold graphic boasted "Lombardo cut taxes."

Visual always trumps audible on television.

I would not have opened 2023 as a guardedly hopeful cynic had I not noticed a rare accolade for Nevada in last Friday's New York Times.

A commentary by journalist Bryce Covert was headlined "How Could Congress Take Away Food From Kids?"

Well, for starters, because they could. The plague forced Congress to do unthinkable things like making sure school kids got enough to eat. A hungry student is not ready to learn.

The stigma of being a poor kid on a federal free lunch program "melted away after Congress passed legislation in early 2020 allowing the Agriculture Department to issue waivers for schools to give free meals to all students, regardless of income. Suddenly, nearly all children in America could get free breakfast and lunch, no matter their family's income," Covert wrote.

"Being on free school lunch was 'another thing for them to torment' her son with," Covert quoted a mother from Maine.

"It was a burden on her son, (forced) to hand paperwork proving his family qualified to his teacher in front of all his classmates," Covert noted.

Alas, last June "at the behest of Republican lawmakers who believed that they were no longer necessary, Congress terminated" the program. Combined with snuffing the child tax credit, child poverty, which had fallen 30 percent, predictably shot up 41 percent.

There were rays of light.

"California and Maine made universal free school meals permanent, and in November, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure doing the same."

Probably using federal funds, "Massachusetts, Vermont and (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!) Nevada extended them for a year. When Congress is ready to listen, these states will help make the case that all children deserve free meals at school," Covert concluded.

"I can't imagine who would think it's OK to take food away from kids," said the mom from Maine.

I hope a majority of Nevada legislators and the new guv listen. Based on long experience, some perpetrators of the unimaginable will emerge this year in Carson City.

PUPPETMASTERS DEPT. Last Sunday, I rooted for the 49ers against the corporate welfare Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders. The Al Davis dynasty is accomplished at pirating public funds. The Raiders are now the number one corporate welfare addicts in Nevada, eclipsing Tesla in their new Gomorrah South Strip cathedral.

The 49ers play in the only NFL stadium not built with taxpayer money. The likes of Tesla and the pirates drain money from Nevada parks, schools, roads and first responders.

Two decades ago, the list of corporate tax breaks filled a dozen or so legal-sized pages. Recently, state government has had to publish a thick bound book categorizing the freebies.

The jocks remain pikers compared to the all time corporate welfare champs, the gambling and mining industries. The foreign-owned mineral exploiters have had a free ride since 1872.

Nevada gambling was legalized in 1931 with the understanding that the business would be taxed according to the needs of a state impoverished when the mining boom went bust.

By the 1950s, that deal was broken. Angry parents, incensed by underfunded overcrowded schools with the post-war Baby Boom in full swing, circulated a ballot initiative enacting a two percent sales tax for education.

The low-income punishing sales tax, now pushing 10 percent in many places, has been exploited to become the biggest funder of state government. Meanwhile, the state's largest most profitable casinos enjoy the lowest gross tax in the world. And it's all deductible from corporate federal income tax. (Only a few California tribal casinos pay lower state taxes and some are now investing in Nevada properties.)

Worldwide, gambling is taxed much higher, some at 50 percent or more. The Silver State gross gambling tax has not been raised since 2003 and Sen. Joe Neal is dead.

Alas and alack, Nevada remains a small company town sprawled over a huge geography. Which is why nothing major will pass this year's legislature.

But hope springs eternal.

ZOMBIES R US. Last week, some MAGA moonhowler gave a twisted retrospective on conservative success, pointing to trickle-down Reaganomics of the 1980s.

Remember Ronald the Vague's made-for-TV line "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"?

The late Soviet president allowed it and in came University of Chicago-trained economists who convinced Mikhail Gorbachev to take the Russian economy cold turkey into free market capitalism. The result was instant depression as state-owned industries hemorrhaged jobs.

An out-of-work KGB spy named Vladimir Putin took advantage, weaseling his way to the top of the regime of Gorbachev's corrupt and drunken successor, Boris Yeltsin.
The rest, as wise wags say, is history.

So if you want to place blame for the rise of Czar Vlad, blame Reaganomics. Which never worked in the first place.

Nonetheless, moonhowlers are still selling the idea that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just cut taxes for the corporately wealthy and the world will become heaven on earth.

But don't feed school kids in the process.

¡ se puede!

Be well. Raise hell.
/ Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (Pardon my French.) Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 54-year Nevadan and editor of,,, BallotBoxing.US,,,, and among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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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 © 1982-2023 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 53-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 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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