Learning from Michael

Alert readers might think the headline refers to the author. Certainly not. Our text today comes from that noted philosopher, Michael Corleone, in The Godfather. In one of the final scenes of that magnificent film, he confronts his brother-in-law over setting up Sonny Corleone to be killed. When Carlo denies it, Michael replies that he doesn’t want to hear that he’s innocent “because it insults my intelligence.”

The following people need to watch that scene:

• Steve Wynn. He had quite a month. He visited Carson City to tell legislators the gaming industry is in “ill health” and therefore not to increase its taxes. Since then, gaming revenue reports have shown considerable gains, Wynn has continued his fight to get resorts built in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania after having said he had no interest in building anything with Barack Obama as president, and the Associated Press reported his company spent $452,000 last year to maintain a suite at the Wynn Las Vegas so that he has a place to bunk when he’s in town.

Now, he’s welcome to our futon, and, animal lover that he is, he may like our two cats, one of whom shares his political views. He might prefer not to recall that his personal expenditures offended Mirage Resorts shareholders and helped inspire the company’s takeover by Kirk Kerkorian. He might not enjoy that his ex-wife Elaine is suing to sell her shares in Wynn Resorts and, if she does so, it could cost him control.

Knowing Wynn, he’ll wind up with new resorts, what he wants from the legislature and all the tofu he can eat. But he could learn from Michael Corleone.

Dean Heller. The avowedly bipartisan Republican—just ask him—first lied about the effects of the Manchin-Toomey amendment, then he claimed to support ways to improve background checks. He also is trying to keep the IRS from doing what it needs to do to implement the Affordable Care Act because, well, he doesn’t like for people to get health care. He didn’t block Senator Harry Reid’s latest appointee as federal judge but said he’d oppose her confirmation—a marked improvement over his blocking of Elissa Cadish because he wanted to appeal to gun nuts.

If he wants to argue otherwise, and claim to be bipartisan, as he did here, he might want to consult Mr. Corleone’s advice.

Brian Sandoval. He supports helping English Language Learners because they matter so much to him, especially after he got less than one-third of the Hispanic vote in the 2010 election. But he still underfunds them and won’t support any new taxes or even closing loopholes in old ones. He signed a bill making it a hate crime when “gender identity or expression” motivates an attack, but he opposes the repeal of gay marriage because he just thinks it’s wrong. As he gets ready to run for re-election in 2014 and world domination in 2016, he might wonder how he got the nickname “Governor of Reno.” Don Michael could tell him.

The legislature. The whole legislature. State Senate GOP leader Michael Roberson diddled Democrats by backing a ballot measure for higher mining taxes—and Democrats wouldn’t give it a hearing, figuring (probably correctly) he hoped to defeat a business tax initiative in doing so. Majority leader Mo Denis called for a higher payroll tax, but well over halfway through the session. Even funnier, Finance Committee chair Debbie Smith of Sparks said, “It’s called minority rule, and that’s the situation we’re in.”

Perhaps Smith would care to explain why she’s blocking a couple of bills that would benefit southern Nevada. They might be described as hurting northern Nevada, except they merely give southern Nevada what it’s entitled to. In other words, Democrats bemoaning their fate are full of it, but so are Republicans. If the Clark County delegation voted as a unit, it could have all of the taxes and benefits it wants. But they’re too busy being partisan instead of parochial—unlike their northern counterparts.

Michael Corleone understood.



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