The worst job in the world

What’s the worst job in the world? I used to say that it was Osama bin Laden’s spokesman. But after the terrorist’s demise, I now say it is speaking for Sen. Harry Reid.

Not a week goes by that the senior senator from Nevada doesn’t embarrass himself, his party and his state on a national level. Last week, the big thinker from Searchlight linked the accidental deaths of seven Marines training at the Hawthorne (Nev.) Army Depot to the military’s sequester budget cuts.

His tone-deaf timing and inappropriate linkage caused much irritation.

Reid took to the Senate floor only hours after the Marine deaths in Hawthorne and said: “We have already cut huge amounts of money in deficit reduction, which is not appropriate. Our military cannot train and do the maintenance that is necessary. These men and women are Marines who are training in Hawthorne, and with the sequester, it is going to cut stuff back. I hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military. They make significant sacrifices by being away from home, their families, and their country. The sequester needs to go away.”

NBC News reported a few hours later that Marine Corps officials “are taking strong exception to what Harry Reid implied,” and that the accident “had nothing to do with budget cuts.”

“One Marine Corps official told us a short time ago he considers this nothing but pure political posturing on the backs of these dead Marines.”

Then, the person with the toughest job in the world, Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said her boss’s “thoughts are with the Marines who were killed or injured and their loved ones. The idea that Senator Reid thinks the Hawthorne tragedy has anything to do with the sequester is absurd and unsubstantiated by his remarks on the topic.”

Huh? Did Ms. Orthman really ridicule how anyone got that idea? Sen. Reid took to a national stage before anyone knew jack about what happened and used the deaths to talk about sequester cuts.

What is absurd, dear spokeswoman, is that Sen. Reid has yet to apologize.

Annual sessions

Every other year, some lawmaker proposes that the Nevada Legislature meet annually. And every other year the people rise up to say “buzz off.” Then the idea evaporates.

Well, it’s that time again. Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas — an appropriate name for a tax-sucking legislator — introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8. It would amend the state constitution, authorizing 90-day legislative sessions in odd-numbered years and 30-day sessions in even numbered years, not including weekends or days not in session.

In addition, legislators would go from part-time elected officials who are paid only for days worked to collecting a bigger paycheck every month of the year. That pay can’t be any less than $2,000 a month, according to the Tick’s bill.

You can bet taxpayers will be on the hook for way more than that once the minimum has been set.

Only the political class likes annual sessions. They like it because in Nevada, legislators become political stars only once every two years. If the Legislature were convened every year, then legislators — who for the most part can’t figure an 18 percent tip on a dinner bill — would have their time in the sun every year to work out the state’s budget woes.

There’s no compelling reason for legislators to gather annually. If there ever comes a time of emergency, the Legislature can go into special session.

With all that said, however, there is a plan for a full-time Legislature I think I could back. That would be one in which legislators met in Carson City every odd year, just as they do now.

Then, during all other times of the year, the individual legislators may choose to voluntarily meet, without extra pay — in Hamilton.

I’d feel very safe with the Tick and other marginally competent legislators trying to get a quorum to meet out there. Google Hamilton. Let me know if you agree.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.

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