Déjà vu all over again and again and again
Expanded from the 12-20-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune
Barbwire wins second straight Nevada Press Association first-place award
Update 5-16-2010: Former Nevada Chief Justice Al Gunderson dies in Las Vegas at age 80

If democracy were to be given any meaning, if it were to go beyond the limits of capitalism and nationalism, this would not come, if history were any guide, from the top. It would come through citizens' movements, educating, organizing, agitating, striking, boycotting, demonstrating, threatening those in power with disruption of the stability they needed.
— Historian Howard Zinn

If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions —new power to the people on the public airwaves

The program was available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.

The show appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the event, commercial TV greatly expanded its distribution.

Thus began what an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.

Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV, where you may also access the show on your desktop.

You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Your contribution will help fund the distribution of the Dec. 6 program as well as a new regional, non-corporate community radio station.

You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.


Be well. Raise hell.


Barbwire column on the depredations of Charter Communications and the Reno City Council wins 2009 Nevada Press Association first-place award

The Barbwire TV/web simulcast will return as soon as new studio construction is complete. Your contribution will be most welcome. Keep an eye on the Barbwire print edition for updates.

Past 12 months
Use the search tool you will find at page right at the above link. It will return the 19 newest. A button for older shows is being installed. You may also search by date — M-F for the past year save holidays.

Click here for on-demand re-runs
from the 2009 legislative session

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

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

Germans have gone through the same economic crash as the U.S. with very little job loss because their government addressed the problem early on.

We did the same, but the jobs we preserved were for the likes of Goldman Sucks and their fatcat fellow travelers on Wall Street.

President Obama has been sinking in the polls because the people on the streets are hurting despite all the positive spin of press conferences and TV spots.

So it's time to psychoanalyze the president. The New York Times' magnificent bitchy redhead Maureen Dowd recently asked "What of a president who strives to keep everyone in some vague middle ground of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, without ever offending anyone?"

My answer: See my Sept. 15, 1991, Barbwire column about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The analysis was good enough to be reprinted by the San Francisco and Los Angeles Daily Legal Journals.

Using Prof. James David Barber's groundbreaking 1972 book The Presidential Character - Predicting Performance in the White House, I adapted Barber's model to Thomas. I had a lot of help from former Nevada Chief Justice Al Gunderson's writing along a similar line. He applied Barber's analysis to judges.

Gunderson noted that "the core of Barber's theory is that character — the basic stance a person takes toward official experience — comes in four varieties...defined according to (a) how active he or she is and (b) whether or not he or she appears to enjoy political life. The activity baseline refers to what one does, the affect (affection) baseline to how one feels about doing it," Gunderson wrote, adding that "in Barber's system, both are crude clues to character."

Barber said they are "leads into four basic character patterns long familiar in psychological research."

Anyone outside the stereotypes falls somewhere left of Dr. Albert Einstein or right of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Here are Barber's four personality pigeonholes, along with some probable pigeons (some are theirs, some mine): active-positive (Franklin Roosevelt, Earl Warren, William O. Douglas); active-negative (Richard Nixon, Felix Frankfurter, Harry Blackmun); passive-positive (William Howard Taft,
Ronald Reagan, Warren Harding); passive-negative (Warren Burger, Jerry Brown).

Gunderson, quoting Barber, summarized the four types this way: "Passive-positives are after love. Passive-negatives emphasize their civic virtue. Active-positives most want to achieve productivity. Active-negatives aim to get and keep power. The relation of activity to enjoyment tends to outline related clusters of characteristics which set apart the compliant, withdrawn, adapted and compulsive types."

Does Clarence Thomas fit into Gunderson's analysis? I think so, as a compliant passive-positive, I wrote in 1991.

Alas, ditto Barack Obama.

On Oct. 18, Dowd noted the president's career record of appeasement and its cost.

Comedian Bill Maher recently expressed longing for Obama to exhibit some of the ruthlessness of Bush the Lesser and Cheney the Cruel, both of whom knew how to move even a criminal agenda and get away with it.

"A hopeful attitude helps dispel doubt and elicits encouragement from others. Still, although passive-positive types help soften the harsh edges of politics, 'their dependence and the fragility of their hopes and enjoyments make disappointment in politics likely,'" Gunderson asserted, quoting Barber.

Barber said "the passive-positive type lives in a marketplace of affection, trading bright smiles in return. What threatens the fragile structure of that adaptation is conflict and particularly conflict at close quarters." (Remember smiling Ronald Reagan's distaste for confrontations between staff and how he preferred just walking away?)

Does this explain why President Obama never offered his own health care bill but left it to congress to barf up?

I hope I'm wrong, and Barack Obama is certainly no self-loathing Clarence Thomas. But his career record seems to reinforce the conclusion that at a time when we need an aggressive active-positive leader along the lines of Franklin Roosevelt, we may not have one.

At least this analysis may provide some insight that may be put to good use in future dealings with this gifted but flawed leader.

The flaws could lead to a modern third-party version of populist Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long. Had he not been assassinated, Long might well have defeated an embattled first-term Roosevelt in 1936. (Sound familiar?)

What might constitute the warning shot across the Good Ship of State's bow?

How about a national strike?

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN. The most recent military security breach was called the worst in a long, long time by experts. Al Qaeda operatives were able to download video surveillance from megabucks Predator drones with $26 worth of generic software.

Where have I heard that story before?

Oh, yeah.


On Feb. 3, 1991, this column in the little old Sparks Tribune reported that Saddam Hussein could have used our own Global Positioning Satellite System to aim his SCUD missiles at both U.S. troops and Israel.

I had received a short wave radio from one of my talk radio fans who told me you could find out some very interesting stuff late at night.

With an early morning show, that didn't leave time for much sleep. I heard instructions about U.S. ship movements in the Indian Ocean toward the Persian Gulf. And I heard chatter about unencrypted satellite access.

I tried to get other media interested in the GPS flaw, but no one bit.

Nationally syndicated columnist Jack Anderson broke the news that American soldiers had been writing home to mother, asking for Radio Shack GPS receivers. Turned out that our military geniuses had not ordered enough and platoon leaders needed them to find their way on the trackless sands of Araby.

In late July, 1991, The Washington Post printed a story about the Pentagon's self-critique of its own shortcomings during Gulf War I. At the very bottom was a paragraph about failure to encrypt the Global Positioning Satellite System.

Our trillion-dollar annual war machine has had 18 years to fix things. Alas and alack, now it's Al Qaeda going to Radio Shack to use our own technology against us.

The only good from all that was my radio show beating Rush Limbaugh, largely because of the failure of mainstream media to break stories which one guy with a short wave set could find from his house in Reno at 4:00 a.m.

And we've got people dying in the wilds of southern Asia for what, again?

Be well. Raise hell.


Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Nevada Press Assn. annual award winners announced 9-19-2009

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


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 2009 first-place Nevada Press Association award winners
Tony the Tiger & the flaky NFL
Barbwire / 11-30-2008
Deregulation is never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / 8-3-2008
Nevada: A good place to visit, but do you want to live here?
Barbwire / 6-15-2008

...and more ammo

BARBWIRE Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

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

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.

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
| BallotBoxing.US | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
Annual César Chávez Celebration
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Copyright © 1982-2009 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 second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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