From my pal Dee in Winnemucca. Written at my request after she sent me a quick email telling me that she had listened in on one of Dean Heller's telephone town halls. The girl's got more stomach than I do.
Through a strange turn of coincidences, I was invited Thursday night to be on Congressman Dean Heller’s Town Hall telephone conference for rural voters. It was … enlightening, to say the least.
I had several favorite moments. One was the concern Heller expressed for the disenfranchisement of veterans. It seems, according to Mr. Heller, the Nevada Caucus unfairly excluded veterans who were overseas fighting for their country and therefore did not get to vote. I’ll just let that one speak for itself. Another favorite moment was when a self-identified conservative from Winnemucca asked why her party always has to “bow-down” to the liberals. I just laughed out loud. I think the world would be a better place if there was a lot more of that than there is.
Despite the fact voters at-large pay for the town hall teleconferencing, the meeting quickly turned to liberal-bashing, with specific reference to environmentalists. According to Heller, environmentalists want to shut down the public lands, prevent hunting/4-wheeling, and end the time-honored tradition of folks camping with their kids. Here’s a direct quote from Heller’s environmental speech, “At the end of the day they want to take your guns away.”
Wow. I’ve been an environmentalist for years and I didn’t know that. I must have missed a memo. Here all along I thought it was about conservation and using limited resources wisely.
It was concerning environmentalism that I had my second-favorite moment of the evening. A caller from Battle Mountain complained to Heller about not being able to eat the fish he catches because of the mercury content. Mr. Heller was sympathetic. He waxed poetic about his days as a boy when he would ride his bike to the Carson River, fish, and then eat what he caught. Without a hint of irony, Mr. Heller said, “My children can’t do that.” And then he went further and blamed the mercury content in the water on mining. Not to worry, though, because the problem can be fixed with money from the Superfund (that Dean Heller – what a joker!). In the end, Heller said the problem with mercury is a “state issue”, but the “state” can come to the “federal government” for help. By “help” he means “sympathy” and not “funding” because there’s no money left for those kinds of problems.
Here’s some other things you should probably know: Heller hates San Francisco liberals (who, to be fair, aren’t all that fond of him, either), supports making Bush’s tax cuts permanent in order to help the middle class (I assume that’s a conservative joke I don’t get), is for more coal-fired power plants and off-shore drilling, supports building a big-‘ole fence between ‘us’ and ‘them’, opposes amnesty for ‘them’, and also opposes repeat sex offenders. Oh, and he also feels very strongly that English should be the official language of America. I think that’s great. Of course, now we’re all gonna have learn it.
The more interesting aspect of the phone call was a poll Heller was conducting concerning the Berkley City Council. The BCC, as you probably know if you’re a regular watcher of FOX News (insert gagging noise), recently voted 6-3 to have a Marine recruiting station moved out of the city. This action followed two years of almost constant anti-war demonstrations in front of the building, which resulted in a negative impact on local businesses. In retaliation for their vote, Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced legislation that would cut off all federal funding to the City of Berkley. Congressman Heller supports the legislation and wants to know how you feel. Before you give him a big thumbs-up, you should know the federal funding is limited to UC Berkley, money for school lunches so poor kids can eat, and public safety. Education, nutrition, and ambulances. Very nice. That’ll show those liberals.
Buried in all this hatred and misunderstanding was an important nugget of good information. Heller noted he’s supporting HR 315, which would allow rural veterans to get their health care (when possible) at local clinics instead of driving hundreds of miles to get to the VA Hospital. In case you don’t know, the current compensation for vets who have to travel for health care is 11 cents a mile with a $6 deductible (this amount was set in 1978 by then President Jimmy Carter). By the bye, props to Heller’s helpful and polite staff for promptly calling me back with accurate information on this bill. If you support this bill, and I assume you do, let your representatives know.