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Teddy, Tunney, cowboys and Indians
Expanded from the 8-30-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

On a sunny false spring day in January of 1972, I took my first ride to Pyramid. Not the lake, the reservation.

The Barbwire TV show will be in re-runs until SNCAT's studio move is completed. You may view them M-F 2-4:00 p.m. PDT on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable channels 16, 216 and high-def 80-295. Keep an eye on the Barbwire print edition for updates.

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Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

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A friend from Comstock Sertoma Club, Doug Brown, had been contracted to install his sound system at the school gym in Wadsworth and asked if I wanted to tag along.

Matters began with a truly Nevadian chuckle as we motored east of Sparks.

An Interstate 80 highway sign noted the obscure Thisbe turnoff, followed quickly by a marker for Derby Dam. History and happenstance had provided a Burma Shave board-style sight gag: "This be Derby Dam."

The Wadsworth gym was fairly full by the time the main players arrived, a pair of movie-star handsome young men in stylish suits. The principal actor was freshman Sen. John Tunney, D-Calif., son of former world heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney.

The younger Tunney was soon to gain his greatest fame by proxy when his upset win over incumbent and former actor George Murphy was immortalized in the landmark political film The Candidate starring Robert Redford, Peter Boyle and Don Porter.

Tunney's presence was understandable. He had advocated and won a congressional probe of reservation guardianship and conservatorship issues. In the senate, with western water wars waxing hotter, he served on a committee involved in Indian affairs.

This took place during a period of resurgence for long-neglected Native American rights, fueled in part by the idealistic sentiments of the 1960's. The occupation at Wounded Knee, S. Dakota, was just a year away.

Tunney's traveling companion's presence was a bit puzzling. What the hell was a silver spoon senator from Massachusetts doing in dowdy Wadsworth, Nevada? Turned out that Ted Kennedy had a longrunning and sincere interest in both Native American and natural resource affairs.

Pyramid Lake had been drying up since 1902 when the nation's first "reclamation" project went online. Named for Nevada Sen. Francis Newlands who pushed it through congress, it diverted huge quantities of Truckee River water to Lyon and Churchill counties, providing cheap irrigation to turn the high desert into Iowa.

The diversion point: Derby Dam.

The morning started out slowly as local and tribal officials went to the microphone to deliver welcomes and raise issues. Sparks was represented by Democratic Assemblymember Don Mello. Rail City Mayor Jim Lillard may also have attended, but memory fades.

When Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management officials came forward, the handsome young senators launched their missiles.

"Five years to get a response? That's pretty lousy service," Kennedy told BLM officials who had let even the simplest issues drift interminably.

I was rather taken aback at Kennedy's rather impolite language in public. I asked longtime Nevada State Journal editorial writer Don Lynch about it. He was senior among a strong cadre of local journalists covering the event.

"This morning was just the BLM's turn to get the piss kicked out of them in public," Lynch matter-of-factly responded.

Two years after the Kennedy-Tunney visit, the Pyramid Lake Paiutes sued all 13,000 water right holders in the Truckee River system from Lake Tahoe through Reno and Sparks all the way down to Stillwater (excluding the ducks at the wildlife refuge). They eventually lost when the courts ruled that the 1944 Orr Ditch Decree had settled the matter. The tribe argued that they were really not represented in that case because federal government lawyers had conflicts of interest and had not adequately advocated for them.

Justice finally prevailed two decades later. When he finally made it to the upper chamber, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was able to engineer congressional ratification of the California-Nevada water compact, forever settling the two states' allocations of the waters of the mucky Truckee. Without it, California could have at any time laid claim to the lion's share, drying up western Nevada.

The original deal had been cut back in the 1960's between then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan and his Nevada counterpart, Paul Laxalt. Even with Reagan in the White House and Laxalt in the U.S. Senate in the 1980's, the bi-state compact was never approved. To his everlasting credit, Reid got the job done, but it wasn't over at the state level.

The icing on the cake was applied by Assemblymember Marcia de Braga, D-Fallon, who did the impossible by pushing a bill through the 2001 Nevada legislative session which finally put the matter to rest. She dropped all the clawing cats into a sack, tied the knot, let them fight and emerged with a compromise bill nobody thought possible.

The Guns of August
Frank Rich / NY Times / 8-23-2009

A public option that works
NY Times / 8-23-2009

Public Option Dead
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio


Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History
Harper's / Sept. 2004

Alas and alack, after reapportionment, she was defeated for re-election the following year because she did not have an "R" after her name, a sin for which I will never forgive Churchill County.

The 1972 hearing in Wadsworth was emblematic of the broadminded reach of Ted Kennedy, whose life's work continues to impact every resident of this country.

With the gift of years, did he have more impact than his two assassinated older brothers? Certainly in all aspects of public life save one: JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev saved the world from nuclear war in 1962.

If universal health care fails to pass this year, Democrats in congress will have permanently insulted Edward Moore Kennedy's memory.

ON THE AIR. Bill Moyers has just launched the two best commentaries on the current health care debacle. I strongly urge you to read the transcript of the latest Bill Moyers' Journal at Almost the entire program is an excerpt of the film Money Driven Medicine based on former Barron's reporter Maggie Mahar's book of the same name.

If you get HBO, pick up a rerun of the most recent installment of Real Time with Bill Maher. The first half with rapper Jay Z is entertaining, but Moyers really kicks ass, Democrat and Republican alike. On both programs, he notes darkly a recent Business Week cover story which asserted that because of deals already cut, health care reform will be cosmetic and insurance company profits will only skyrocket. Watch and react.

ON THE AIR, PART DEUX. I'm starting a fundraising campaign to get community radio station KJIV back online and ready for an fm launch. It will also serve to get my TV-radio simulcast out of reruns. Go to ReSurge.TV for more information, to get on my mailing list or volunteer.

Spread the word.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Reruns of his legislative session TV programs are cablecast Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and high-definition channel 80-295, available on demand at Barbwire.TV. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

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?

...and more ammo

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
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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

He hosts news and talk Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at
Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital cable channels 16 and 216, high-definition channel 80-295. 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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