Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 of '10: Gibbons Be Gone?

While much of the attention (especially among the out of state "politicos") was focused on the topsy turvy US Senate race (and we'll get to that later), probably one of the big stories of 2010 that many just seemed to shrug off was the slow motion collapse of Jim Gibbons' political career.

Back in February, I looked at his last ditch effort to save his political career. Remember what he did? He took his "no new taxes" mantra to such ridiculous lows it would have been laughable...

Oh, joy. He's back to cause more damage and destroy this state. Why is it that it seems like no one is doing anything to stop him?

We all know that "Luv-Guv Gibbons" doesn't give a sh*t about our state. This is all just a grand political game for him. It's his last chance to win the GOP nomination for reelection.

He cares nothing about slashing the social safety net to shreds, denying people badly needed health care, destroying what's left of our education system once and for all, and all around reducing our state to the equivalent of a small, underdeveloped third-world country.

And for what? For a failed far right ideology? For a failed Republican campaign slogan?

If it hadn't worked.

Of course, his "no new taxes" promise was just another lie. He had no problems raising fees on the poor and middle class, so long as it meant sparing the super-rich from paying anything close to their fair share. But even though everyone in Carson City wanted to distance oneself from Gibbons the failed politician, hardly anyone seemed to muster the courage to call out Gibbon's ridiculous policies for the failures they are.

And then, all of a sudden, Gibbons' poll numbers rose. Might the "walking dead man" be in for a resurrection? Perhaps GOP primary voters were responding positively to his "no new taxes" BS, his law suit against federal health care reform, his naked pandering to crazed, xenophobic teabaggers, and all the rest of his political street theater?

Nope, they ultimately didn't...

Or did they?

It seems the Nevada GOoP wanted the appearance of "cleaning house" by removing Gibbons in the primary, but in reality the "moderate" Sandoval has had to flip-flop so far to the right that he's made himself into essentially a carbon copy of Jimbo the Gube (sans scandaliciousness). We'll have to see in the coming weeks and months whether Nevadans want to give Gibbons a second chance... Vicariously, through Sandoval.

I had to stare down this new reality in August, when I read between the lines of all the flowery rhetoric Brian Sandoval was spewing.

Behind Brian Sandoval's flowery rhetoric was something truly frightening. Naomi Klein wrote an amazing book three years ago, called "The Shock Doctrine", that explains how the radical right has used disasters and times of upheaval to sneak through their corporate right agenda of deregulation and privatization. And reading between the lines of Sandoval's statements last night, it became crystal clear he and his economic team are looking to "shock doctrine" Nevada by using our recession and budget crisis to slash public education, starve our entire public infrastructure, and let the corporate welfare agenda roll. [...]

We all know we can't cut our way out of this problem. As we've talked about before, there's hardly anything left to cut! And more and more state legislators are now saying the obvious that we have no choice but to look at new revenue. We know the mining industry can afford to pay its fair share, and we know corporate giants like Wal-Mart and Target have avoided paying their fair share for decades. It's time to finally address this and institute fair and progressive tax reform to save our state.

Pink Floyd summed it up best: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

And what made this even more depressing is that Rory Reid could hardly put up a fight. By the time this ad hit the airwaves...

His fate was sealed.

So now, we're stuck with Brian Sandoval, who is already doing his darndest to become "Gibbons 2.0".

So what does Brian Sandoval want to do? Placate his new teabagger friends by starving the state to death? Or listen to actual knowledgeable people who are urging us to finally make that down payment on diversifying our economy and creating a better Nevada?

Meet the new Gube, same as the old Gube...

But can this story get a different ending? Jon Ralston hinted on Sunday that the demand for a new direction is real...

One of the state’s most successful businessmen was on the phone and he was beside himself — as he said others are — about the upcoming legislative session. But, specifically, about Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval.

“There are a lot of very smart people, and we are all just shaking our heads,” said the business leader, to whom I granted anonymity so he would talk freely. “There were a lot of people who thought he (Sandoval) would get elected and soften his rhetoric.”

Trust me, dear readers, this man is no tax-happy lunatic. He is a thoughtful guy whose business has taken a gigantic hit during the Great Recession. But he — and he says several others who have been meeting to discuss the state’s future — are concerned that the governor-elect’s inflexibility on new revenue could be an impediment to the state’s economic future, especially if cuts in education are implemented.

“The business community is speaking as much as ever with one voice,” he told me. “It’s happening.”

I have heard about this convergence for months, with gaming and mining and chamber types realizing that the lack of a long-term plan while enacting devastating cuts could … obviate the need for a long-term plan.

“If those cuts happen, we’ve gone so far back,” he lamented before his frustration resurfaced. He fretted “people will not stay engaged” and that it “will take 20 years to get back” to a low level of service.

I have picked up on this frustration from other engaged business types, who are sick of the partisan maneuvering and the binary “to tax or not to tax” discussion. And they were counting on Sandoval to be the leader who could move the state beyond it.

But it's increasingly looking like Sandoval won't be the one to provide it. So who will? Look around you. We will have to.

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