Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama on Vegas--"I take that back--It is Good to Gamble"

I found this on AOL.

Generally, I stay away from politics in my blog, but this one is too funny.

Are they saying that it is GOOD to GAMBLE in a tough economy? LOL. Please do not tell this to me, for I am an addicted gambler and I need no excuses to go blow my hard-earned cash, tough economy or not. Hell, I built Las Vegas. I just didn't know that it was good to gamble.

Fire and damnation. I'm buying my plane ticket. Vegas, here I come.

And don't forget, folks, in a tough economy it is also good to smoke--if your state sells tobacco. In a tough economy it is good to drink--if your state sells whisky. In a tough economy it is good to plunk down a chunk of change on a new HUMMER--if your state sells Hummers. In a tough economy it is good to pick up a few hookers--if your state has legalized prostitution. In a tough economy it is good to spend--in this way the country's economy will work just fine, but you, personally, will lose your house.

Hmmmmm. This has started me thinking . . . more on this self-sacrificing concept later.

Thanks,

Preston


______________________________

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 2) -- President Barack Obama, attacked by Nevada leaders after referencing Las Vegas for the second time in a year as an inappropriate place to spend money, tried late today to soften the blow by praising the city as "one of our country's great destinations."

Obama's attempt to soothe ruffled feathers came hours after a town hall meeting in Nashua, N.H., where he told a crowd that people ought not "blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college."

The comment came almost a year to date after the president referred to Las Vegas as a place where companies receiving bailout money from the government ought not be coming for junkets -- a perceived dig at America's top tourist and convention destination that led to an outcry.

This time, Obama told his audience: "When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It's time your government did the same."

That reference sparked a firestorm in which every member of the state's congressional delegation -- which includes three Democrats -- issued scathing statements lambasting Obama for discouraging tourism at a time when Las Vegas is among the nation's most economically depressed cities.

"I don't know if Obama has a problem with Las Vegas, but I have a problem with Obama," Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat whose district includes the Las Vegas Strip, said in an interview. "This is the second time he has made a comment that is harmful to the city of Las Vegas and the people I represent. It is incomprehensible to me that he should not only repeat the same mistake but continue to insult the people and industry I represent."

Obama even took a licking from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, his top congressional ally and a politician facing a tough re-election campaign this fall. Reid issued a statement saying he told the White House "the president needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money."

But later this afternoon, Reid was circulating a letter from Obama attempting to defuse the situation.

"I hope you know that during my town hall today, I wasn't saying anything negative about Las Vegas," Obama wrote. "I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun. There is no place better to have fun than Vegas, one of our country's great destinations. I have always enjoyed my visits, look forward to visiting in a few weeks and hope folks will visit in record numbers this year."

Obama is expected in the city later this month to raise money for Nevada Democrats. He won the state in 2008 but in February 2009, he invoked Las Vegas as an example of how bank bailout money should not be spent.

"You can't take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime," Obama said then during a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority said the Indiana remark led to the cancellation or moving of several conventions because companies feared seeming profligate if they met in Sin City. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman angrily demanded an apology from Obama at the time but never received one, instead settling for a remark by Obama in May on a visit to the city that "there's nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week."

The new flap came on what should have been a good day for Obama and Reid in Nevada. The president's budget axed funding for the controversial Yucca Mountain national nuclear waste repository, a project about 150 miles outside Las Vegas that the state has fought for decades to kill. Reid has been credited with having Obama's ear and persuading him to effectively end the project.

Instead of victory laps, however, Reid and others were defending a city that has the nation's highest foreclosure rate, record-high unemployment and a gigantic state budget gap brought on by falling sales, hotel and gaming tax revenues.

Berkley said what stuck in her craw was the fact that the president made Las Vegas sound like an extravagant destination when an oversupply of hotel rooms and soft visitation figures have turned it into a relatively inexpensive getaway.

"The president needs to get more information about my remarkable city," she said. "He is obviously terribly misinformed and has a stereotypical opinion of one of the most remarkable communities I've ever known."

Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Cara Roberts said the chamber appreciated Obama's response to Reid.

"It sounds like the president clarified his remark and he's excited and supportive of Las Vegas," Roberts said. "We want the president to realize there are thousands of men and women whose livelihoods depend on us having a strong hospitality industry. We're in a particularly vulnerable time and we need to do everything we can to bolster that industry and support our economy and jobs in southern Nevada."

Yet others weren't so charitable. Former Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden, a leading contender to be the GOP nominee against Reid this fall, dismissed Obama's letter.

"It is rather embarrassing when the president of the United States has to apologize to the Senate majority leader of his own party on White House stationery," Lowden said via e-mail. "Worse yet is when the apology is over a second round of disparaging comments about Nevada within the past year. Nevada families are struggling and having the president against us doesn't help."
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New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

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LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.