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Margins of error
Expanded from the 11-2-2008 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 6-3-2012

"If voting mattered, they wouldn't let us do it." – Travus T. Hipp, 1982

My old friend Travus is one of the wisest men I know. As always, he has a point.

Save northwestern Nevada community television

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

The math behind the move
Updated 11-16-2008

Charter Communications plans to illegally move four channels of analog to the digital tier.

One channel of analog bandwidth accommodates two to 10 channels of digital programming, depending on the complexity of the streams. High-definition movies eat up a lot of bandwidth.

A Charter statement quoted on TV-4's Aug. 4, 2008, 11:00 p.m. newscast said that Charter is doing this to "free up more bandwidth for high definition channels."

Charter thus gains bandwidth for between 8 and 40 digital channels by banishing community TV to the digital tier, a net gain of 4 and as many as 36, depending on content.

Charter VP Marsha Berkbigler, in her first speech to the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee in Dec. 2002, said each additional channel is worth $1 million a year to Charter — and that's at 2002 prices.

So Charter stands to make between $4 million and $36 million by doing this, unadjusted for inflation.

Michigan Judge rules for cable ratepayers

Carson City gets the facts
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 10-19-2008

Talks with Charter fruitless
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-7-2008

Sparks, Washoe, Carson and Douglas consumers urged to contact their local governments to join the fight against Charter
Surge.TV 8-25-2008, Updated 8-28-2008

Evil empire eats its appetite
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-24-2008

Bandwidth bandidos admit their greed
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-17-2008

Sue the bastards
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-10-2008

Deregulation means never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-3-2008

Last year's columns about skulduggery at the Nevada Legislature which led to this mess

MORE: Smoking Guns

Government contact info

Barbwire.TV: 15-year overnight success
Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file


If we need any more proof that voting matters today, look no further than Karl Rove's anti-ballot engineering of the past decade. The new edition of Rolling Stone, with Barack Obama on the cover, has a very concise article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast summarizing past and present Republican voter suppression efforts.

Obama is now supposed to win. I will not be surprised if he does not. If Washoe County is the swing battleground in the swingingest state, his campaign is making serious mistakes.

Obama's people have decided to take the African-American vote for granted. This comes despite bottom line analysis that maximizing black turnout could net perhaps 10,000 more voters.

We thus may find ourselves living a TV show come Tuesday night. The final installments of the Democratic fantasyland West Wing series featured a presidential campaign between a Texas Latino congressman played by Jimmy Smits and a hyper-conservative warmonger played by (of all people) Alan Alda.

The fictional election was decided here in the High Desert Outback of the American Dream. Democrat Smits won because of the Silver State's electoral votes. [UPDATE 12-4-2011: Déjà vu all over again?]

Life is currently imitating art.

Another factor which may prevent an Obama victory is good ole fashioned Mississippi West racism. Mainstream pundits discount it. I have not, largely based on reports I get from actual precinct workers right here in River City.

Some are relating West Virginia numbers. One in five mountaineer rubes voted against Obama in the Democratic primary because he was black. Many also believed him a Moslem. So much for the communicative power of modern media in the sleepy hollows of Byrdland.

Many are talking about "The Bradley Effect," mis-remembering the tale of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's loss to George Deukmejian in the 1982 California governor's race. Bradley, an African-American, actually won on election day but lost due to an aggressive Republican absentee ballot strategy which asked millions of their Kool-Aid drinkers to vote a straight party ticket. Racism had less to do with it than smart politics by the GOP.

Neither the nation nor Nevada are California. Racism is alive and well in these parts.

Should Obama lose, I have been predicting two major results.

The first will be the death of the Democratic Party as we know it. I will be the first to sign up for a new party made up of workers, greens, women, seniors and what's left of the dwindling middle class. Young people will not be much of a factor in that equation. Just as the murders of the Kennedys and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., caused so many Baby Boomers to drop out, the defeat of Obama will become instant replay and so sad for our future.

If the voters decide to elect the new Herbert Hoover rather than the next Franklin Roosevelt, a pox will befall all our houses, which brings me to my second prediction: the devolution of the United States of America.

Economic devastation will cause us to break into semi-autonomous regions. The right-wing Reaganauts will have accomplished their goal of a weak central government by undoing the unity won by blood in the Civil War.

While legally we may remain a so-called United States, Great Depression II will force us to break into about a dozen regions according to ethnic, economic and political prejudices which have existed for centuries.

An obscure Nevada congressional candidate predicted as much in 1984, but the voters were too busy recoronating King Ronald the Vague.

The template was illustrated in Joel Garreau's splendid 1981 bestseller, The Nine Nations of North America.

The only good news is that nations which break up into smaller parts actually tend to do better after the pain of divorce. Witness Norway, Singapore and the Czech Republic, none of which are saddled with an empire's trillion-dollar annual war budget.

On my TV show, I have been playing what I consider the political song of the year by my local discovery, Robert Joshlin.

A hilarious, deliciously nihilistic and prescient paean to political burnout, Margin of Error tells the story of a guy who refuses to cooperate with a pollster and considers himself part of the ever-present margin of error.

Me, too.

I hope my predictions are within the margin of error and that voters on Tuesday look to the future rather than the daily demagoguery befouling their noses and eyeballs.

If substantial evidence emerges that this election is tainted beyond all precedent, I hope Americans take to the streets in daily protests until the theft is corrected.

The citizens of the Philippines and Ukraine did just that in recent years, where Americans rolled over and played dead.

The margin of error must be corrected and there is only one way to do it: Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

Falling all over ourselves
When will Sparks, Carson City, Washoe and Douglas counties get mad over Charter cable's ripoff?
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Michigan Judge rules for cable ratepayers
Decision holds great importance for Nevada

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Charter in serious financial trouble
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-12-2008

Charter offer deficient
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-28-2008

Reno-Sparks NAACP opposes Charter channel switch

Charter negotiates Russian-style: Will accept 100% of everything
Daily Sparks Tribune 9-5-2008

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Reno city council votes unanimously to sue Charter to keep community TV accessible
Resurge.TV will also file

...and more ammo

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

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the search engine and sweep for "Barlett."

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
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Copyright © 1982-2008 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP.

He hosts live news and talk (775-682-4144) Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable channels 16 (for at least the next 90 days) and 216. E-mail As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988. Tempus fugit.


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