Sunday, July 31, 2011

Las Vegas, Reid, Debt Ceiling And Going For Broke

I'm trying to remember the last time I was tn Las Vegas -- before now, that is.
It had to be more than a decade ago. Yes, it was well beyond a decade.
I do remember that I was here once when the first President Bush was in office. And then I was here again when President Clinton presided. Beyond that, I was here way back in 1967 when Frank and Dean and Sammy and the old Rat Pack held sway. That was in the age of what I like to call the "adult" Las Vegas -- a time of nightclubs and cigarettes; diamonds and furs; Brylcream and brassieres. Of course, I didn't actually see Frank or Dean or Sammy (not here, and not in 1967 anyway) but I did see Ann Margret and Don Rickles and at least we can say that both of them are still alive and still performing.
And Las Vegas is still very much alive as well.
But, like New York it's been reinvented so many times since then that it's hardly worth trying to figure out what (or who) was where when.
We can't live in the past. And neither can cities -- not if they want to continue to attract visitors; not if they want to continue to be centers of commerce; not if they want to survive.
Cities know that you've got to keep changing. You've got to change your ways.
But Harry Reid doesn't seem to understand this. Though Las Vegas casinos don't gamble with their own money, the Senator from Las Vegas is gambling with ours. Overnight, he tried to call a 1 a.m. Senate vote on his own debt legislation to counter the progress that the House has already made on this matter.
He did this after promptly tabling the House bill. But even with a majority in the Senate, 'ole Harry just didn't have the votes. Like The Desert Inn and The Dunes and The Sands, time ran out on 'ole Harry. Right now, even President Obama doesn't seem to be listening to this lethargic Las Vegas relic.
Still, 'ole Harry doesn't live in the same world as you or I. So he'll probably try to take one more spin at the wheel this afternoon.
It's all very sad to watch. And it's very, very dangerous.
Because, back here in Harry's home state, just beyond the world-famous strip, the Las Vegas where people actually live is full of abandoned housing projects, vacant stores and foreclosed properties. And right here in the middle of the desert lots of people are under water.
You'd think that a man whose whole career has been bankrolled by gambling interests would understand that there really is no free buffet, no free lunch, no free slot pull.

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