Friday, April 27, 2007

Surprise, Heller Picked up the Phone

When Molly Ball and Lisa Mascaro wrote articles on calls for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation almost a week ago, they could only write the following about Heller. Lisa Mascaro (Sun):

Nevada's other Republican congressman, Dean Heller, could not be reached for comment.

And Molly Ball (LRVJ):

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday.

We almost feared the Congressman from Nevada had gone AWOL again. We're still not quite sure what happened there but Heller has mysteriously reappeared and is even talking to journalists:

Republican Rep. Dean Heller on Thursday joined other Nevada lawmakers who are calling for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"I think he's become a distraction," Heller said. "I think he's a distraction to the Department of Justice."

Heller said he agreed with Rep. Jon Porter, also R-Nev., who said last week that the American people have lost confidence in the attorney general and his management of the Department of Justice after the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys.

"I don't think (it's) my job, as a congressman, to tell the (Bush) administration what to do with their nominees, and frankly I think it's much more of a Senate issue than it is a congressional issue," Heller said.

"But I do think it's become a distraction, and I think it would be in his (Gonzales') best interest to step down," he said.

Heller should really start working on his quotes. All those parentheses are highly irritating. But I digress. The only comment worthy on this comes from the Las Vegas Gleaner:

Alberto "Al" Gonzales has managed to withstand the withering criticism of his incompetent yet corrupt performance as attorney general, and the accompanying calls for his resignation even from influential senators of his own party, for much longer than many expected. But the day of reckoning is clearly at hand. Rep. Dean Heller, the powerful 19th ranking minority party member of the mostly negligible House Natural Resources Committee and the the 435th most influential person in the 435 member House of Representatives, has called on Gonzales to resign (LVRJ). Heller joins fellow War Party Rep. Jon Porter, the powerful 355th most influential person in the House, in calling for the head of Alberto Gonzales. The dean of Nevada's War Party congressional delegation, John Ensign, R-VO5, continues to withhold judgment while waiting to see if Alberto still has enough pull to get Ensign free memberships at exclusive golf clubs which Alberto himself would never be allowed to join.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Helluva Hypocrisy

Heller on the Democrat’s handling of the war funding bill and withdrawal dates.

On April 3rd 2007, Heller made the following comment to the Congress:

“What Congress should not do is try to manage this war by setting arbitrary timelines and reckless dates for withdrawal that accomplish nothing but enhance and empower the enemy. What our soldiers do not need are 535 generals who were boldly for the war before they were boldly against it."

To correct Mr. Heller’s assumptions, it is, according to the U.S. Constitution, the job of the U.S. Congress to declare and fund war. They can also end wars they wage, usually by cutting funding. Therefore, it is a fair compromise for the Democrats to set a possible deadline. I am sure President Bush and his colleagues would be even less satisfied with zero funding. It seems as if Heller would rather have all of the power concentrated in the executive branch of the U.S. Government. But of course that does not make any sense, seeing as he would be out of a job. The funny thing in all of this is that Dean Heller agrees with me that it is perfectly fine for Democrats to manage the war and have an alternate plan.

"If the Democrats would give a plan instead of not being there — that's not a plan. That's not in the best interest of the safety and the security of the American people. Give us a plan. Give us an option. There is no option on the table today."

KNPR Interview 1/24/07

The Democrats have a plan, and they included it in the current war funding bill. The plan includes ‘being there’ for an allotted amount of time. It also gives us plenty of time to decide whether or not the war in Iraq is working. If Iraq suddenly makes a turn for the better, we can change the date. Heller and President Bush obviously believe that if we stay there forever, Iraq will eventually fix itself. That is clearly not the case.

Heller’s Intelligent Quote of the Month:

KNPR Interview 1/24/07

(About the State of the Union 2007)

“I told my 16 year old son, this is probably the most dangerous place on Earth to be right now, at the same time it’s probably the most safe place to be right now”

Does that quote even deserve an intelligent reaction?

Desert Beacon: "Heller Tags Along"

The Desert Beacon is one of Nevada's finest bloggers and will be among several future contributors to Helluva Heller. Here's an example of the Desert Beacon's great work, a take on Heller's position on the Iraq war supplemental bill:

No Surprise Department: The compromise version of the Iraq occupation supplemental funding bill will be supported by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV1). Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV3), Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2), and Senator John Ensign (R-NV) will oppose the bill. [LVRJ]

Senator Ensign repeats the standard Bush Administration line that the call for troop redeployment is "based on the judgment of politicians in Washington with no regard for our commanders on the ground." Rep. Heller says, "I think the language restricts our soldiers, and there is still pork." Rep. Porter stated, "I encourage them to maintain their confidence and permit him (General Petraeus) to finish the job he was sent to execute."


Representative Heller's comment is perhaps more ideology than thoughtful reflection, and may illustrate his lack of experience in the Congress. He tags along holding the President's line that the decisions in regard to the occupation of Iraq should be left to Generals (soldiers?) who agree with the President's policy, and offers the "No Pork" argument as if supplemental funding bills don't usually carry a variety of funding requests. The 2006 supplemental funding bill included $20 billion for Gulf Coast recovery, $2.3 billion for bird flu preparations, and $2 billion to send National Guard units to the Mexican border. Senate Republicans tried, and ultimately failed, to put another $4 billion in the bill for agricultural subsidies, $1.1 billion for Gulf Coast fishing industries, and $700 million for rerouting a rail line in Mississippi. The 2003 and 2005 supplemental appropriations acts also carried their fair share of items unrelated to the occupation of Iraq: $70 million in aid for the Ukraine and former Soviet states, $12.3 million for the Architect of the Capitol, $24 million for the Forest Service, and $104 million for watershed protection, $500 million for California fire relief, $245 million for peacekeeping operations in Liberia, and $100 million for international famine and disaster assistance. []

It's perfectly acceptable to rail against "pork" in general, but what Representative Heller is objecting to in H.R. 1591 includes appropriations to the Department of Agriculture related to anti-terrorism activities, emergency appropriations to the Department of Justice, anti-drug operation in Afghanistan, funding for the Commander's Emergency Response program in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Iraqi provincial reconstruction teams, funding for soldiers' physical evaluation boards, appropriations to the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Defense Department's Nuclear non-proliferation program. [LOC]

If these occupation and anti-terrorism provisions aren't what Representative Heller found objectionable, perhaps he's disturbed by the appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security incorporated in the bill in Chapter 5? Supplemental appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Chapter 7 for medical facilities, prosthetic research, and general operating expenses? Or, is the newly minted Representative objecting to the provisions in Chapter 8 calling for funding the United States Agency for International Development? For non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, de-mining, and peacekeeping operations?

If the "pork" isn't in Title I of the bill, perhaps Rep. Heller is looking to Title II? It's hard to imagine that the Representative of a district in which agriculture plays a significant role in local economies would object to the resumption of the Livestock Indemnity Program first enacted to compensate livestock producers in the Gulf Coast region for their losses. Could it be that the 2nd District congressman doesn't believe that this program might ultimately benefit ranchers after a severe fire season?

Representative Heller has been loath to support funding relief programs for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, therefore he may find appropriations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for Small Business Administration disaster loan programs, housing, education, and FEMA operations (Chapters 2-7) objectionable? If so, then Mr. Heller joins an administration has shown itself to be long on promises of aid to the Gulf Coast, and relatively short on performance. [NYT] [WaPo]

If the first two titles (Iraq and Hurricane relief assistance) don't form the crux of Rep. Heller's objections, then one might assume he has problems with Title III for agricultural assistance? Surely, the representative of an agrarian district isn't objecting to crop loss assistance programs (sec 3101) or livestock disaster loss compensation (section 3102)? In the wake of the FDA's admission that food safety inspection of our produce and meat products is woefully inadequate, [MSNBC] does the 2nd District Representative object to assisting spinach farmers in California and other western states who were devastated by the recent recall? Does he really object to funding (section 3109) programs to prohibit the importation of some fish because of outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic septicemia? [USGS]

Does Heller object to funding the Office of Women's Health (section 4104)? Extending the deadline for states to ensure punch card voting systems be replaced? Improving the contracting systems for the Coast Guard? Funding Department of the Interior programs to detect Avian Flu? Or funding Avian Flu vaccine research? Federal contracting reform? Or eliminating the SCHIP shortfall? [AAFP] Applying the Federal minimum wage laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa? Extending the work opportunity tax credit through 2008, and other provisions of the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007? [LOC]

It's inconceivable that a Representative who speaks often and forcefully about ending waste, fraud and abuse in Federal spending would have objections to the Supplemental bill's inclusions requiring federal agencies to develop and implement plans to minimize the use of wasteful sole-source and cost-reimbursement contracts, or requiring agencies to provide Congress with documentation justifying the award of non-competitive contracts. [AppHouse] However, in opposing H.R. 1591 that is exactly what Representative Heller is doing.

The bottom line seems to be that the Republican members of the Nevada Congressional delegations are telling us that we have to support the Bush Administration's policy in regard to the occupation of Iraq, no matter if that is a direct reversal of GOP positions during the operations in Bosnia, no matter that the current policy calls for an extended and expensive occupation with no end in sight, and no matter if the supplemental appropriations bill incorporates matters of national interest and benefit.

So, why would the Democratic party leadership send such a bill to the President knowing he will veto it? The question can just as easily be reversed: Why would the president threaten to veto a bill he knew he was going to get?

LTE - "Democrats are right: End this blunder now"

Helluva Heller isn't the only critical voice on Congresman Dean Heller. There are many others out there and some make themselves heard by writing letters to the editor. The following letter was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal, April 18:

This letter addresses the following remark made by Congressman Dean Heller to the Nevada Legislature on April 3:

"I truly believe if we're not fighting it in Iraq, we're going to be fighting it on the shores of America."

It may be that the congressman did not notice it was the U.S. that invaded Iraq; Iraq did not invade the U.S. There is no evidence that Iraq ever intended to invade the U.S. Further, most everyone who has been paying attention now knows that the present administration committed a fraud upon the people to justify the invasion of a sovereign nation, without a declaration of war as is the prerogative of the U.S. Congress. I sincerely hope that this remark made by the congressman is not indicative of his intelligence or ignorance.

To continue this insane, colossal, disastrous blunder is criminal, to say the least. I have very seldom agreed with U.S. Sen. Reid, and Democrats in general, but they are right this time.

It remains to be seen whether or not they will follow through as they are promising. It matters not what your party affiliation is, what is right is what matters. Thanks, Harry, for standing up for what is right.

Merritt K. Yochum

Carson City

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Heller "Could not be Reached for Comment" - Again

Everytime there is a sticky subject and reporters are trying to get in touch with Heller you can be sure to read one line in the paper: "Heller could not be reached for comment." The latest example is today's Las Vegas Sun article on Jon Porter's (R - Henderson) assertion that it's time for Attorney General Gonzales to resign:

Nevada's other Republican congressman, Dean Heller, could not be reached for comment.

This is not an isolated incident. The Desert Beacon has noticed this in early February:

"Rep. Dean Heller could not be reached for comment." [LVSun] This is getting to be a pattern? When the President announced his Surge for Iraq, Mr. Heller could not be found for comment. [DB] Now, there's another hot-button issue and Rep. Heller is yet again AWOL.

Soon, we'll need to start a count. And this is not just an issue with the Las Vegas Sun. Another example from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Calls to Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., were not returned.


It ain't just the Las Vegas Sun. This tidbit from today's Las Vegas Review Journal article on the same subject is better and and clearly portrays Molly Ball's frustration:

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday.

Heller must have been AWOL again. Who'd have thought it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

When You Worry About a Blogger from Germany, You're Really in Trouble

After being hit on his Iraq stance by the ad of Americans United for Change, Dean Heller went on Bill Manders radio talk-show last night. That in itself is to be expected. However what is not to be expected is that a conservative talk show host and a sitting Congressman care about some little blogger from Germany. But apparently they do.

Listen to this clip (this is the second part of their talk).

Here's the transcript:

Bill Manders: "What do you know about this guy named Sven Stromann?"

Dean Heller: "Uh... Some guy from Germany."

Bill Manders: "Well, actually he's an exchange student in Nevada."

Dean Heller: "Yea, I think he was at one time..."

Bill Manders: "And he's got a, I guess they've got a website. They're attacking you, they want to defeat you in 2008.."

Dean Heller: "Yes they do..."

Funny, ain't it, how Mr. Manders and Congressman Heller have not only noticed a blog barely three days old but are worried enough about Heller's re-election to give it credence by mentioning me. Also, Mr. Manders, this is a one person effort. No need for invoking the "they've got a website" notion there.

Further highlights from the two parts of this interview: Heller claims that Lisa Mascaro misquoted him in the Las Vegas Sun article. Manders very worried that Heller might change his stance on Iraq, especially his support for the surge. Most hilarious thing, though, is that Heller clearly used information from this blog concerning the automated phone calls made by VoteVets. I'm not surprised, though, as Helluva Heller receives most of its hits from the server of the House of Representatives according to my site statistics (click on "Visitor Paths" on the sidebar and then scroll down).

All in all, you can only come away from this talk show segment with the feeling that Heller's not all that certain about his re-election prospects. Funny thing, that.

Here are the links to listen to this segment in full:

Clip 1
Clip 2

Thanks to JWH over at No Gibbons for the tip and the clips.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

VoteVets Targeting Dean Heller

VoteVets are currently targeting 32 House members who voted against a deadline for redeploying the troops from Iraq using automated phone messages, reports the Politico. Among them: Nevada's Dean Heller.

Here's the message, narrated by Brandon Friedman, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan:

"Hello, my name is Brandon Friedman. I served America in Iraq, and I'm calling to tell you how angered I am that on March 28th, your Congressman,______________, stood against America's troops, by voting against legislation that would finally set a course to responsibly redeploy them from Iraq's civil war.

"Congressman_________ talks a lot about supporting the troops, but when the chips were down, he voted with President Bush and against the troops. He voted in favor of sending more and more of my fellow troops to Iraq- with no end in sight. If you're as disappointed as I am in Congressman________ let him know. Call him at ____________. Thank you."

VoteVets is an extraordinary and very credible organization caring about the needs of America's veterans. On its advisory board sit (among others):

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey
Retired Major General Paul Eaton
Retired Major General John Batiste

Clark was in Nevada last year campaigning for Jill Derby.

VoteVets also aired this very powerful commercial against then Sen. George Allen last year:

Of course, these calls come at the same time as the ad by Americans United for Change. Here it is again:

What the Blogs are Saying About Heller

Both yesterday's article in the Las Vegas Sun as well as the launch of "Helluva Heller" itself have provoced reaction in the Nevada blogosphere:

Desert Beacon:

Heller Talks: Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV02) announces he spends "most of his time thinking about Iraq." [LVSun] "Heller has struggled during his three months in office to become an Iraq expert. He keeps a copy of the Iraq Study Group report in his briefcase." (Note to Rep. Heller: Removing the report from the brief case and reading it in its entirety might prevent future misinterpretations similar to "It supports the Surge.") Those who don't have a copy of the report for their briefcases can download one here. (PDF 519 KB) Sven's new blog gets a mention. "Blogging the 435th Most Powerful Member of the House of Representatives."

Las Vegas Gleaner:

In other go-along, get-along War Party rubber stamp news, Dean Heller has met the enemy, and he is Sven (Sun). Somebody needs to tell Heller that Germany is not on the east coast.

Nye - Gateway to Nevada's Rurals:

The threat of the ads on Heller may already begin bearing some fruit. Heller indicated to the Sun he'll be reassessing his stand with Bush on Iraq. Now, when Democrats "reassess" Republicans call it "flip-flopping." The question is whether Heller will "flip-flop" or continue to adhere to the Bush talking points and "stay the course" in Iraq and oppose withdrawal of the troops, or will Heller reflect the wishes of his Nevada constituency and seek withdrawal of the troops from Iraq. He can't have it both ways--he has to choose.

Is he going to represent Bush or his constiuents?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Las Vegas Sun on Anti-Heller Ad and the Launch of Helluva Heller

The Las Vegas Sun's Lisa Mascaro published an article today headlined "Heller hears it from every side and now in ads, too" regarding the ad campaign by Americans United for Change which will start to air on Reno stations today:

Today a national progressive group, Americans United for Change, will begin running television ads in Heller's Reno district , targeting six lawmakers whose war votes it hopes to change. Congress is preparing to vote on final passage of the Democratic timetable for troop withdrawal, which Bush has promised to veto. Heller voted against the plan last month.


The organization's spokesman Jeremy Funk said, "These particular folks, we felt holding them accountable in public, they could be convinced to change their own course and do the right thing." Even in Nevada's relatively conservative 2nd Congressional District, Heller "made the wrong decision to support the president and the war in Iraq." Americans United hopes that as a freshman, Heller is not too beholden to his party's leadership to change his vote.

Heller's already hearing about it from his constituents. Nevadans don't like the war any more than people in the rest of the country:

Heller returns to Washington this week after hearing deep opposition to the war from constituents in Nevada during spring recess. He said he heard similar sentiments in private conversations, in grocery stores and in homes from "some of my friends, neighbors, colleagues."

Heller came away believing that two of every three Nevadans oppose the war - on par with national polls.

Well, at least Heller isn't deaf. With enough pressure put upon him he might just be forced to change his attitude towards the war and vote accordingly, or as Heller calls it "reassess my positon."

There's much more in the article. Read it here.

BTW, "Helluva Heller" got its first mention in this report:

The Americans United campaign has encouraged the early launch of a Web site by a blogger in Germany, Sven Stromann. A former exchange student in Nevada, Stromann hopes to contribute to Heller's defeat in 2008 through the site:

And what do Republicans say when the topic of a possible Heller defeat in 2008 is brought up?

[Republican political strategist Ryan]Erwin noted that Heller is in a relatively safe district where he can, as a freshman, massage his views on the war in either direction and still find support.

"As long as he's explaining to his constituents, he can support what he wants to support," Erwin said.

Well, you might want to watch that ad again:

Heller's Campaign is in the Red

Dean Heller might have raised a pretty good amount of money for the first quarter with a total of $254,102. And at the end of the quarter he had $247,969 cash-on-hand. This might look impressive. (See FEC report for details.) But only if you ignore the following:

A lot of Democratic freshmen have raised considerably larger sums. The most impressive being Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) with $668k and Rep. Ron Klein (FL) $611k and even a westerner like Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) representing a rural district raised $320k.

More importantly, though, Dean Heller is deep in the red as his campaign carries a debt of $406,382. It's funny how Heller actually considers himself a fiscal conservative. Read what he said during the campaign:

We need candidates and elected officials who are fiscally conservative in taxes and spending. I am the only candidate who is both and my record shows that.

As you can see above, the one thing his record shows is that the only way he was able to win last year was by spending more than what his campaign received in contributions. Contrast that with Jill Derby who managed to win 45% of the vote against Dean Heller last year in a deeply red district and all of that without going into debt. She actually still had cash-on-hand at the end of the year and has balanced out at exactly $0 at the end of the last quarter.

It's quite clear that Jill Derby was actually the one in last year's campaign showing fiscal responsibility, Dean Heller was and still is not.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tell Dean Heller: Vote to End the War in Iraq

Against the wishes of the American people, Dean Heller is voting to prevent ending the war in Iraq. Tell Dean Heller: vote to end the war in Iraq.

Americans United for Change has recently run ads against three vulnerable Republican Senators. This week they're rolling out ads against six Congressmen. Among them: freshman Rep. Dean Heller (NV-02).

The ad will be shown on local TV stations in the coming days.

Watch the ad:

About Helluva Heller

"Helluva Heller" is intended to track Rep. Dean Heller's (R, NV-02) actions in Congress and advocates the defeat of Dean Heller in the next general election on November 8, 2008.

"Helluva Heller" will report on Dean Heller's speeches, his votes, his fundraising and so much more. To help you track Dean Heller, I have posted a list of links on the sidebar.

"Helluva Heller" will also report on possible candidates against Dean Heller in 2008, especially on the Democratic side.

Enjoy "Helluva Heller," let others know about this blog, and help make Dean Heller a one-term Congressman.