Oddities, postmortems and strange parallels from far away

Expanded from the 11-17-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

As it has been for more than 40 years, the Holy Grail of modern marketing remains the making of sales to self-absorbed teenagers and twenty-somethings. The problem is no less vexing to political managers.

Some wise commentary on the disconnected appeared last Monday in the New York Times. Here are some excerpts.

"'Congress? It doesn't concern us. We're too busy,'" said a young woman.

"Political discussion, when it occasionally occurs in private, often has the lighthearted, irreverent tone of a sitcom...People are expecting managers and controllers, not visionaries and poets. And it looks like that's exactly what they're getting...

"Swept up in the tide of commercial activities and a lively pop culture, politics has become the dark zone you avoid so that you can lead your real life. Given pressing demands and more attractive options, wouldn't you just as soon forget about those gray suits haggling over their seats?...

"Most of all, however (citizens) want the government to tackle the increasingly worrisome domestic issues that have been brought on by change: corruption, rising crime, growing inequality, environmental degradation. Few, however, expect dramatic political reform...The country will move ahead, but probably incrementally and with many zigzags. This sense of realism explains, in part, the general absence of enthusiasm about the current party congress."

Party congress? Yep. The Times op-ed article was authored by Jianying Zha, about current public apathy in Communist China.

Almost no one there is allowed to vote. Most of our electorate failed to vote last Nov. 5.

Who says we have nothing in common with them dirty commies?

ELECTION 2002'S STRANGEST ODDITY. A guy named Richard Gardner won 34 percent of the vote in losing to incumbent Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas. Gardner admitted molesting his two daughters. Party loyalty reaches the point of diminishing returns when Chester the Molester can hold the base.

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD DEPT. Ever wonder from where came the impetus (and a good chunk of money) to place the marijuana initiative Question 9 on the ballot? From Nevada Democrat-leaning special interest groups, that's where. They were looking to counter the expected high voter turnout spawned by Question 2, the God Hates Fags constitutional amendment. The strategy backfired, as Q-9 brought out even more nutsos committeed to saving society from certain destruction by dope-smoking lesbians in love.

A contributing factor to the upset defeats of incumbent Assemblymembers Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, and Vivian Freeman, D-Reno: the downtown Reno railroad trench project. Organized labor was heavily mobilized in this election, but concentrated its fire on Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, and election of the pro-trench City of Reno council slate.

Democrats overall were too timid in their responses to GOP smears. None had the courage to name Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno. The only place where the truth saw ink regarding the redistricting lie (where the GOP blamed Washoe Democrats rather than Raggio for losing legislative seats to Gomorrah South) was this column. Ditto the successful Republican blaming of Democrat Joe Carter for Raggio's loss of millions in tax revenue to Clark County 11 years ago.

Carter has never held public office and was blameless. The teams of private investigators the GOP put on Carter came up dry, so they blamed Carter for one of the biggest debacles of Raggio's career in 1990-91. The public didn't read the fine print and re-elected Washington. Tell a lie often enough and you can fool enough people to win.

Freeman, caring for a dying husband, was unable to campaign effectively down the stretch. Indeed, the energetic Dick Freeman was viewed as the principal reason his wife won election to the Washoe Medical Center board of trustees followed by eight straight assembly races.

REMEMBER THE SMILING WALRUS. This Thursday, his friends and family will remember jovial Dick Freeman, who died on election eve at age 81. The bright man in the colorful suspenders could easily have won public office on his own, but instead chose to support his wife through 20 years of winning campaigns. When he was lost to her, she was lost to the electorate.

Dick and Vivian Freeman were married for 51 years. A feast of memories will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. this Thursday at Bartley Ranch Park Interpretive Center, 6000 Bartley Ranch Road in southwest Reno. The facility lies at the foot of Windy Hill off Lakeside Drive, south of McCarran Blvd

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Copyright © 2002, 2010 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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