In an uncharacteristic oversight, the Tea Party has neglected to say when the founders wanted you to turn off your Christmas lights. So allow me: Jan. 1 is the last night that Christmas lights should be turned on. Lights after that remind everyone that the happy shiny holidays are kaput and now it’s back to soul-crushing business as usual in January to boot, so why doesn’t that dick take down his stupid Christmas lights? There. Glad that’s cleared up.
While it is still acceptable for lights to be on, and perhaps animated by whatever remains of the spirit of the season – and because really who knows when if ever the opportunity will again present itself (probably never) – I will now say something nice about Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. He hooked up with Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed to co-sponsor legislation to extend unemployment benefits for three months. Yes, ‘tis but a temporary fix necessitated by relentless GOP-driven obstruction in which Dean Heller has mostly eagerly and always cynically participated and which has needlessly harmed economic recovery while rendering the republic’s legislative branch a dysfunctional hated farce. But! It’s a productive contribution! From Dean Heller! What are the odds?
Election year is upon us and all available evidence indicates Nevada’s Democratic establishment will prove incapable of coughing up a viable challenger to Republican establishment heartthrob Brian Sandoval in the race for governor.
What’s worse, Democrats have failed to articulate any alternative to Sandoval’s agenda for Nevada. Doubly galling, that, as Sandoval’s agenda for Nevada consists of a) donning an awkward smile befitting a personal injury attorney’s TV ad, and b) hoping the construction industry booms again.
As wholly owned subsidiaries of Harry Reid, the Nevada State Democratic Party specifically, and Nevada’s Democratic establishment generally, can be relied upon to rally the faithful and slam Republican hijinx when it comes to national issues and congressional politics. The federal budget, immigration, health care, choice – on all that stuff, your state Democratic Party has positions, shipped directly from Washington, i.e., the Harry Reid Media and Message Development Center, Reelection Division.
So it stands to reason that on Nevada policy, eh, not so much.
To be sure, the state party and Democratic legislators should be applauded on the social issues front, especially guns and gays. And the state party dutifully churns out press releases calling on Brian Sandoval to stop busing mental health patients to Sacramento – though that admonition would carry more authority had it been accompanied by a comprehensive program to reform Nevada’s mental health care system during the 2013 legislative session.
But on taxing and spending, let alone the capacity of state taxing and spending policy to stimulate – or hamper – an economy in desperate need of diversification, the Nevada Democratic establishment has … nothing to say. Seriously, if a well-funded, viable Democrat were to challenge Sandoval, what meaningful policies would that challenger propose?
I continue to presume that Sandoval will not – repeat, not – run against Harry Reid in 2016. Because it would be hard. But if I’m wrong (it could happen!), and Sandoval parlays a cakewalk reelection next year into a victory over Reid two years later, Reid will have no one to blame but himself. He’s nurtured his machine’s obsession with congressional politics. But that machine’s considerable organizational capacity has never been tapped to move the needle on state-level economic policy and, in the process, expose Sandoval’s neglect of the one issue people care about most. And meantime, gawd what a waste of a fearsome organization.
Speaking of Republican congressional hijinx … Dr. Col. Congressman Joe Heck snuggled up with his cuddly Tea Party soulmates again the other day. He voted with the House GOP Paranoia Caucus and against a teensy tiny budget deal. The deal passed anyway, and will keep the government open. That’s pretty much the least Congress can do – keep the government open – yet Heck couldn’t be bothered to do that.
There was much sharp questioning and a general “WTF?” all ‘round, as Nevada’s political-media-industrial complex held Heck accountable for once again recklessly trying to inflict pain on the economy by condemning Washington to that now-familiar lurch from one needless artificial crisis to the next.
Just kidding. The local media, or what’s left of it, all but ignored Heck’s vote. For the record, the congressman Hecksplained that he couldn’t stomach the deal’s provision that messes with veteran pensions. (Perhaps someday Heck will show a comparable interest in the wholesale gutting of everyone else’s retirement security). So even if the media’s benign neglect gives way and Heck’s budget vote does bubble into the public sphere, no doubt it will be in the context of Holy Patriotic Joe Heck was only willing to shut down the government, again, for America, because he loves the troops more than Erin Bilbray who, by the way, does not have a penis and Joe Heck does so vote for Joe, amen.
Oh. A third of your U.S senators voted in favor of self-inflicted paralysis and dysfunction and against the budget deal. Nevada’s Dean Heller was one of them. Heller insists that goshdarnit if members of Congress don’t pass a budget than they shouldn’t get paid. They passed one, despite Heller’s vote, not because of it. As far as I know he’s still getting paid.
And why not? His no-budget-no-pay gibberish isn’t serious. It’s just cheap trickery designed to exploit common distrust of “gubment” for no other reason than to establish the pretense that there is some point to the phenomenon whereby someone named Dean Heller is in the U.S. Senate.
What? You thought the “nice” thing was going to stick?
HUGH JACKSON’S column runs every other week.