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Hugh Jackson: Keep punching that ticket

<p>Hugh Jackson / PHOTO: JEFERSON APPLEGATE.</p>

Hugh Jackson / PHOTO: JEFERSON APPLEGATE.

Did you know December is Validation Month?

For starters, Secretary of State Ross Miller decided to validate the Nevada kooks, led mostly by Sharron Angle, who perpetuate the fraud about voter fraud, i.e., that there is some.

As the state’s chief election official, Miller has been pretty good about dealing with allegations of voter fraud over the years by noting that, you know, there isn’t any. But he’s asking the Legislature to pass a voter ID bill anyway. As Miller puts it, “elections are about perception,” and he wants to be sure there is confidence in the integrity of the process.

Of course, by introducing a voter ID bill, Miller is perpetuating the myth that voter fraud exists. As of now, no one in Nevada is casting more doubt on the integrity of Nevada’s election process than Miller.

Miller’s idea looks DOA — he didn’t even bother to discuss it with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature before he rolled it out, and they are all unimpressed.

So why is Miller validating paranoid right-wing voter fraud mythology even when he himself doesn’t believe it? The usual reason: naked political cynicism. Miller is expected to run for attorney general in 2014, and even though his bill likely won’t become law, he can still run TV ads saying, “Ross Milller fought to protect the integrity of Nevada elections by sponsoring voter ID legislation.”

Voter ID laws are a Republican tactic designed to suppress the vote. Period. Miller says his proposal is sweet and light enough that it won’t prohibit anyone from voting. That may or may not be true, but it’s irrelevant. Miller is validating those who would prefer draconian legislation that will successfully suppress the vote. And when he runs those ads, he’ll be putting even more wind in their sails. If the Koch Brothers and/or Sheldon Adelson decide to bankroll a voter ID ballot initiative designed to make it more difficult for the poor, the elderly and minorities to cast a ballot, and if such an initiative passes, Ross Miller will deserve much of the credit.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is another Democrat with ambitions for higher office who is observing Validation Month this December. Sisolak has proudly decided to validate Metro’s shoot-first-ask-questions-never culture.

Whenever your trigger-happy local police force kills somebody, which is to say pretty regularly, there used to be an inquest process that the U.S. Department of Justice recently described as “police-friendly.” The inquest process went through some revisions, but those revisions were challenged by the police union. Sisolak is leading the charge on the commission to resolve the impasse by implementing a new process that would be … drumroll please … even more police-friendly.

Even before the Review-Journal’s powerful series on deadly force galvanized public attention last year, folks were alarmed by Metro’s inordinately lethal approach to problem-solving. The department’s dysfunctional culture, as frightening as it is disgusting, was underscored in the aforementioned DOJ report last month. For instance, Metro had implemented revised use-of-force techniques in the wake of the R-J series, but the DOJ found that Metro instructors “expressed outright disapproval of some components of the new policy to trainees during class.” And then there are the little things, like the officer who was involved in the deaths of two citizens and who has a tattoo featuring a skull and cross bones over two shell casings.

Throughout the controversy over Metro’s use of deadly force, the police union has reacted mostly with contempt for the notion that anyone should be allowed to question anything Metro does. The union has fought new accountability measures in court, and vows to never stop doing so.

Sisolak, under the guise of being reasonable, proposes a review system wherein an investigating officer would read from his report, a representative of the victim and/or the community could ask questions of that officer, and then Metro, the district attorney and official Clark County would all declare “move along, nothing to see here.”

Sisolak says he wants to assure the process is transparent. But the old inquest system had plenty of transparency — perhaps you saw it on TV. What it didn’t have was accountability. And there is nothing in the approach Sisolak favors that would suggest any progress on that score.

By supporting a process that continues to coddle police, Sisolak is validating a Metro culture that is guaranteed to produce yet more unnecessary use of deadly force. Like the police union specifically and Metro generally, Sisolak doesn’t get it.

And speaking of people who don’t get it — “it” in this case being pert’near anything at all, really — Sen. Dean Heller validated all the irrational one-world-government alarmism harbored by your truly unhinged wingnut class this month when he voted against an innocuous United Nations treaty to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Heller and three dozen of his Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate (sometimes referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body) pretended that they didn’t want to vote for a treaty during a lame-duck session (calling into question their willingness to vote on anything at all, say, tax hikes on the rich, during a lame-duck session).

But the real reason Republicans opposed the treaty was because it had the words “United Nations” in it, thus conjuring GOP visions of blue-helmeted troops from France led by a Chinese officer forcing socialism on America by gunpoint. There is some debate as to whether Heller is sincerely turning into a extremist right-wing kook as he ages, or if it’s all just the cynical act of a man who still fears his right flank because Sharron Angle almost beat him once. But whether he really is one of the crazies doesn’t matter, because he votes with them.

HUGH JACKSON blogs at The Las Vegas Gleaner (lasvegasgleaner.com) and contributes to KSNV Channel 3.