40 Years on the High Desert Plantation
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 2-6-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 3-21-2011, 8-3-2017

Bob Brown, as we will always remember him.
— Photo, courtesy Patricia Montati

The Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames as of 8-3-2017
(in order of induction)

Ned Day
Hank Greenspun
Guy Richardson
Bob Brown
Mike O'Callaghan
Travus T. Hipp
Jake Highton



   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.
— Leonard Cohen

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award


The new season of Barbwire TV. The first show will be about (what else?) jobs. The lack of them is well documented. How we've blown them and where they can be regenerated, that's something else. I guarantee you'll get mad enough to want to get even. Watch for show times. Help us get the word out.

Support the project at

Updated 3-21-2011
Lawsuit gains support

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

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

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

Thus began 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.

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 and Feb. 21 programs as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a 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.


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

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award

I hit this town just over 40 years ago in January of 1971.

I wondered what wonders awaited as I drove past John Ascuaga's Nugget on I-80.

My Gomorrah South bosses at what was to become the largest ad agency in the state had flown me to Reno in January to look over the promotion they offered. Upon my return, I immediately turned them down. I saw all that dirty white stuff on the ground. That didn't look like any snow I ever saw on a Christmas card.

My first encounter in Reno media was the taping of a Nevada Chrysler-Plymouth spot at the old pre-fire KOLO TV-8 next to the closed-due-to-shoddy-construction Wells Ave. overpass.

Jim Hayes and Odis Bass bought the dealership from Kohlenberg Chrysler-Plymouth and moved it from across the street from the Ponderosa Hotel to what is now the Peppermill north parking lot at S. Virginia and Carano. The Peppermill Coffee Shop would not be built until later that year.

Country boys Jim and Odis stood in the TV studio with a Chrysler on one side and a table loaded with 100 pounds of bloody freakin' beef dripping onto the floor and cooking under the hot lights.

"C'mon in today folks. A side o'beef with every purchase, two New York steaks just for taking a demo ride. Right Jim?"

"Right, Odis."

And you wonder why I went back to Las Vegas in semi-shock.

My bosses were nothing if not the ultimate odd couple of good salesmen.

Bob Brown, conservative former editor of both the Carson City Nevada Appeal and Las Vegas Review-Journal, had left the largest paper in the state to run the campaign of Lt. Gov. Ed Fike against the last man standing from the old McCarran machine, U.S. Sen. Alan Bible, D-Nev. Fike almost won, lost for governor against Mike O'Callaghan in 1970 and ended up in serious trouble with the law a few years later. His campaign PR person was Sig Rogich, the man who would later infect Nevada with term limits.

Bob's partner was the Big Kahuna, a blond adonis Great Gatsby who was so gorgeous in his early days that he was one of the Sands Hotel-Casino dealers used in national media dealing blackjack in a swimming pool. He had been a pro gambler for mobster Bill Graham who ran the old Golden Hotel where Harrah's Reno now stands. Jerry May was a world class card counter and supersalesman. He porked up in his later years and was notorious for big cigars, his Lincoln Continental Mark III and his Gatsbyesque golf attire — pink shoes with matching color-coded pants, shirt and cardigan sweater.

Jerry's saturation TV after-Christmas campaign for Montgomery Ward in 1969 broke every record in corporate history.

The odd couple gave me a try and I quickly became their superstar copywriter. We broke the Ward's record again and elected every politician we handled in the general election. We also helped a few we didn't officially handle, one of whom was Lt. Gov.-elect Harry Reid.

Before they leashed me (it was more a leash than a lease) a posh corner office on the 13th floor of what is today Reno City Hall, Jerry and Bob gave me advice I never forgot about northern Nevada.

Bob said "Reno is very cliquey, very clannish. Wear a tie, get a haircut, you've got to fit in."

Jerry was more basic: "There's nothing wrong with Reno that 12 selected funerals wouldn't cure."

Fast forward 40 years. All of those funerals have happened, but the sons and grandsons of the power elite still run things the old-fashioned, paternalistic way. Try to organize a union and you are personally insulting the boss.

Harold Smith, Sr., bragged about wearing a six-gun in the early days of Harolds Club. He typified the casino attitude which lingers today that everyone, including and perhaps especially employees, are trying to rob the place. So keep 'em down.

So here we stand at the end of the chain letter of Ronald Reagan's New Federalism in the middle of Great Depression II with the nation suffering crisis after crisis. Actual unemployment is over twenty percent, almost to 1930's levels.

I wrote years ago about the Devil Children Ronald Reagan, those who formed their ideas when Reagan ruled. I mused that the Baby Boomers' only salvation would be our numbers, that we would have to outlive them and the twisted perspective of King Ronald the Vague they drank like poisoned Kool Aid.

In the Jan. 23 Reno Gazette-Journal, Guy Clifton profiled new Gov. Brian Raggio's senior staff — Reaganauts every one.

A decade ago, UNR poly-sci Prof. Richard Siegel wrote a piece for the Nevada Public Affairs Review making a case that Nevada was becoming a more average state with respect to funding of basic services. I disagreed with my old friend then and moreso now. We are becoming an average state alright — a 19th Century state.

After more than four decades on the High Desert Plantation, it's pretty clear why I'm here.

This place needs all the help it can get.

THE BITTER END. Gov. Brian Raggio just delivered another speech repeating the same pablum that boils down to "it's necessary to destroy Nevada education in order to save it."

He calls that reforming education?

Actually, he's deforming education.

MEMENTO MOMENT. César Chávez Celebration IX is right around the corner and this year, it happens while the legislature is in session. César Chávez would have been 84 on Thursday, March 31, 2011. We will celebrate the great union man and his message at Circus Circus-Reno that evening. Watch for news, ticket and sponsorship info.

BACK FROM THE ASHES DEPT. Support the return of community radio and television to Sparks-Reno-Washoe. See Barbwire.TV for more information, to join the club and contribute via the web. It's important.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, 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 9-18-2010.
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place for third year in a row.
Next year, we go for the sombrero.

The winning entries:

Suing for Schools: The 20-year shuck
Expanded from the 2-21-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

Click here to view the show on your desktop

RED flags flying low over Sparks
Expanded from the 1-10-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

The wrath of self-righteous racism
Expanded from the 11-8-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

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

Bill Moyers: Welcome to the Plutocracy
Money fights hard and it fights dirty
Speech delivered at Boston University on 29 Oct. 2010
Part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series

Barbwire Corporate Welfare Archive

From clear-cut forests to dirty Gulfstream waters, this land belongs to old BP

BP/ARCO: The greasy root of our evils

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-10-2006

The awful truth — Read it and weep, fellow suckers

Labor Day 2009: Rise of the Vampire Corpobots
Expanded from the 9-6-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

Angry Americans and Freudian fraud
Using war to market cigarettes
from the 8-23-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

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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Banks, Cabbies, Cabela's, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
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Copyright © 1982-2011, 2017 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first 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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