Know when to hold them

Read the Reno Gazette-Journal’s editorial.

When Gov. Jim Gibbons reveals his hole card with his “state of the state” speech next week, few anticipate he will unveil a winning hand.

In some observers’ eyes the only ace in the hole with which he could win would be an announcement he won’t seek re-election while fighting tax hikes. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

Coming less than two weeks after President Obama’s state of the union speech, Gibbons’ talk may suffer by comparison despite his undoubted continuing commitment to austerity. To be fair, Nevada can’t print money; the Federal Reserve can.

Also to be fair, there are those who think Gibbons should fight and can win. My take is they aren’t astute observers, but opinions do differ, thus engendering political fun and commentary.

This potpourri column, I hope, will add to the fun with pointed references regarding politics, commentary and PR flaks. As always, the potpourri column drill is to tackle various subjects with verve.

Gibbons is unbuttered toast if he thinks whacking up to $1 billion from Nevada’s state budget can be done without losing more votes than he gains. His base isn’t big enough nor his campaign finances flush enough to stay in office that way. Or, I think, any way.

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Some commentary on this (and other) politics in Nevada’s daffy daily press is ludicrous. For example, the Reno Gazette-Journal sounded a high-minded budgetary editorial trumpet call: “There will be pain. But it is unconscionable for anyone in a position of responsibility to try to take advantage of that pain for political gain.” Unconscionable perhaps, but not unexpected. Politicians are in the game of building on pain, pleasure, gain or treasure. Moralizing about it is a fool’s errand.

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Las Vegas residents, for their part, were treated to journalists lamenting the loss of entertainment when theatrical LV Mayor Oscar Goodman took himself out of the governor’s race. Newspaper reporters and columnists there predict a boring race without the colorful Goodman to chronicle. This only shows the sophomoric attention span of many modern journalists. Boring is the puerile province of the easily bored.

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Those who ply what once was the journalistic craft should thank the U.S. Supreme Court for a recent ruling that corporations can join political advertising wars without any anti-First Amendment blocking of their spending. Private sector journalism is a business, not a public service, and it needs ad revenues (particularly now) for profit after paying ink-stained wretches or bombastic broadcasters. So-called news professionals uncomfortable with this might do better as social workers.

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Also of late came “news” that Rep. Dean Heller urged Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to squelch Chrysler ads on Super Bowl Sunday, citing the car company’s bailout. The Northern Nevada Republican protested expendiure of upwards of $2.5 million per 30-second spot. Fine, but then he also should advocate ending tax money for politicians’ mouthpieces, also known as PR flaks. I view Heller’s Geithner letter as a fart in a windstorm of congressional posturing about federal bailouts.

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This brings me full circle to Gov. Gibbons. He’ll make his speech Monday and then his flak, a swell fellow named Dan Burns, will bustle about to justify Gibbons’ positions. Sound use of tax money? To be fair once again, most politicians waste tax dollars this way. I’d go after Democrats about it, for they’re worse than Republicans, but I’m trying to wake up conservatives and won’t let loose my own fart in a windstorm on liberals. Most of them couldn’t smell government waste right under their noses.