Winners are the ones who get to write history so ‘nuances’ can be found among the graves

Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (Library of Congress/AP photo)

Does the end justify the means?

That eternal question came to mind as I perused a light, little historic piece in the Sunday Las Vegas newspaper on the 150th anniversary of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s sacking of Atlanta and March to the Sea. (The Review-Journal does not post all AP stories on its website, but a version can be found at the Washington Post site.)

Here is a snippet:

Sherman remains a rare Civil War figure still readily remembered.

Many Southerners quote family stories about “the devil incarnate.” Confederate-interest websites brand him “a war criminal” and worse.

But the passage of time has allowed a more nuanced view.

At a re-enactment in Atlanta, David French, portraying one of Sherman’s troops, said, “He took the chivalry out of war, and frankly it’s why he won. He was really one of the first modern generals.”

Many military historians agree, saying he influenced a broadened view of what’s acceptable war-making.

The story recounts how Sherman’s army “lived off the land” by taking civilians’ food and a few sundry items of some intrinsic value for later, and how the army burned “cotton gins, barns, factories, Confederate leaders’ homes,” as well as tearing up railroad tracks.

But the presence of historic facts allow a less nuanced view of the deeds of Lincoln’s general’s behavior at the same time the first Geneva Convention was being drafted.

Then of course Lincoln had his own bit of sophistry in the form of General Orders No. 100, which among other things dictated:

All wanton violence committed against persons in the invaded country, all destruction of property not commanded by the authorized officer, all robbery, all pillage or sacking, even after taking a place by main force, all rape, wounding, maiming, or killing of such inhabitants, are prohibited under the penalty of death, or such other severe punishment as may seem adequate for the gravity of the offense. (emphasis added, of course)

While the AP story makes no mention of it — historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo, author of “The Real Lincoln” and “Lincoln Unmasked” — points out that rape by Sherman’s troops was quite common. Whether it was ordered by an authorized officer is not so well documented.

“Although it is rarely mentioned by ‘mainstream’ historians, many acts of rape were committed by these federal soldiers,” DiLorenzo writes. “The University of South Carolina’s library contains a large collection of thousands diaries and letters of Southern women that mention these unspeakable atrocities.”

Nor do most mainstream stories mention Sherman’s troops sacked the slave cabins as well as the plantation houses. Nor that is was routine for Union soldiers to hang slaves by the neck until they told where the plantation owners’ valuables were hidden.

Perhaps Sherman was just following orders.

DiLorenzo notes that from the beginning Lincoln set out to make the civilians of the South suffer for their states’ attempt to secede. The “Anaconda Plan” was to blockade all Southern ports and starve the economy and the people. Medicine was a contraban.

Sherman’s artillery bombardment destroyed 90 percent of Atlanta and its civilian population was scattered into the already desolated countryside in winter.

Not everyone agreed with such scorched earth tactics. Shortly after  Gen. George McClellan wrote Lincoln asking that the war be conducted according to “the highest principles known to Christian civilization,” Lincoln sacked him.

Occasionally one can find Sherman quoted as to his disdain for the citizens of the South:

To the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of Heaven were allowed a continuous existence in hell merely to swell their punishment. To such as would rebel against a Government so mild and just as ours was in peace, a punishment equal would not be unjustified.

The victor is the one who gets to write the history.

If the South had won the war, would Sherman have told a tribunal he was just following orders?

Do the math and find out who benefits from proposed Moapa solar panel project

NV Energy’s Southern Nevada division, Nevada Power, is asking the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its rejection of a proposed $438 million, 200-megawatt solar panel project on the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation.

Approving the Moapa project “reduces the impact of retiring and replacing coal-fired generation on customers, provides value to customers through incremental fuel diversity, generates construction jobs in 2015, and yields a net positive impact on Nevada’s economy,” the Review-Journal account quotes the utility as arguing.

NV Energy says it needs more generating capacity to replace that lost due to the legislatively mandated shut down of its Reid Gardner coal-fired plant. According to NV Energy, that plant has a 557 megawatt capacity.

Though the PUC nixed the Moapa solar project, it did approve the utility buying two existing gas-generated plants in North Las Vegas that can produce up to 496 megawatts of electricity and the purchase of a 15-megawatt solar project at Nellis Air Force Base. That covers most of the lost capacity right there, leaving the company only 46 megawatts short, not 200 megawatts.

PUC documents say the shortage is actually 54 megawatts. No need to quibble. Besides the PUC says that shortfall, when it is needed, can be provided by spending on $85 million, not $438 million.

The PUC determined approval of the Moapa solar plant would have cost ratepayers $50 million in 2017 alone, which “may have a significant effect on the creation of jobs in Nevada.” So much for creating jobs, as NV Energy and Harry Reid claim.

PUC Commissioner David Noble said, “Paying for generating capacity that is not needed places unnecessary costs on ratepayers.”

But monopoly NV Energy, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, earns its profits by being allowed about a 10 percent return on equity. The more equity, the more profits. The ratepayers shoulder all the risk and cost.

Obama and Reid look at solar panels at Nellis AFB.

As for that Nellis solar power, Harry Reid once bragged about how the solar array was saving the Air Force $1 million in power bills. He neglected to note that the installation cost $100 million. The return on investment would take 100 years for solar panels that have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.

Falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater, am I?

Draft lottery (AP file photo via R-J)

Only 78 percent of young Nevadans are registering for the draft. That factoid was buried deep within a story in the Las Vegas newspaper under the hed: “Nevada draft registration lags.”

There was a draft during the Civil War or War Between the States, if you prefer, but in December of 1865 the 13th Amendment was ratified. It reads:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

When I was judging the “We the People” competition among high school students, I’d often drill them about the limits on free speech and someone would invariably say you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Only one had a clue as to what the origin of that analogy was.

I wager few people do. (scroll down)
















Newspaper column: Court need only read the Nevada Constitution to find grounds for free speech

It drives me to distraction when smart lawyers try to peel away tiny layers of the law with a scalpel instead of bashing it with a sledgehammer.

That’s what the attorney for Citizen Outreach did recently before the Nevada Supreme Court. He argued that fliers sent out by the group in 2010 did not trip over the state law requiring “express advocacy” groups to file spending reports and disclose donors, as recounted in this week’s newspaper column available online at The Ely Times, the Elko Daily Free Press and the Mesquite Local News.

In 2013 the group was fined $10,000 plus $7,600 in costs by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell for failing to report the source of the donors for the expense of the fliers.

Attorney Allen Dickerson said fliers critical of then-Assemblyman/firefighter John Oceguera as a double-dipper and big spender did not contain the “magic words” that would trigger a legal requirement for disclosure. The “magic words” concept comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo that held disclosure could be required if words such as “vote for” or “elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for” are used in the message.

Deputy Attorney General Kevin Benson, suing on behalf of Secretary of State Ross Miller, said the state law doesn’t require the use of “magic words” and the entire context should be examined for intent.

Nevada Revised Statute 294A.140 requires anyone who spends a certain amount of money for or against a candidate to file with the secretary of state the names and addresses of contributors.

The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging free speech and free press. The 14th Amendment extends this prohibition to the states.

Thus, Buckely v. Valeo is the Supreme Court’s interpretation of how political speech can be abridged by requiring paperwork and forced disclosure of donors who would otherwise choose to remain anonymous.

But this is Nevada and we have our own Constitution in which Article 1, Section 9 says: “Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.”

NRS 294 clearly restrains and abridges. Buckley v. Valeo is irrelevant.

You don’t need to turn Talmudic scholar and pore over the nuances for just how the Buckley court conjured up from the bottom of a top hat a handful of “magic words” that may be abridged under the First Amendment, any more than you would have to turn to U.S. high court rulings on the 16th Amendment to interpret how the Nevada Constitution bans an income tax.

The words are clear and unambiguous — “no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press” — and thus any state law that does so violates the state Constitution and is null and void from inception. A $10,000 fine in any dictionary is a restraint — barrier, check, coercion, compulsion, constraint, control, curb, deterrence, duress, force, inhibition, limitation, manacle, prevention, prohibition, repression, restriction, suppression, etc.

This is not the first time free-speech-hating Ross Miller, who just lost an election bid for state attorney general of all things, has had groups prosecuted for speaking up.

Back in 2010 the target of the thought police was a Virginia-based organization called Alliance for America’s Future, which was running ads supportive of the candidacy of Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval.

A sympathetic Carson City judge shook out the Bill of Rights and discovered within its folds some brand new rights never dreamt of by the Founders. Judge James E. Wilson Jr. discovered the inalienable right to not be duped.

“Nevadans have a right to know who is behind election advertising,” Judge Wilson explained to us peons who were under the mistaken impression that the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, as well as “Common Sense,” were penned anonymously. “Continued violation of the statutes and depriving Nevadans of information about who is behind its election advertising will cause irreparable harm as voting will be influenced by unknown persons and voters will not have, through the proper channel, i.e., the Secretary (of State) information they need to determine what weight to give the advertising. Compensatory relief cannot compensate for this type of harm.”

Apparently there is a right to drag more information out of a speaker than the speaker wishes to convey, because voters are too stupid to evaluate anonymous speech for themselves. Compelled speech is not free speech.

The Nevada Supreme Court will rule later on the Citizen Outreach overreach by Miller, but on what grounds? Will they rule for liberty or restraint and abridgement?

Obama to China: We’ll sacrifice and pay higher power bills and you will do, well, nothing whatsoever

Obama at a press conference (Getty Images)

I wouldn’t trust Obama to negotiate with trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. The first kid would get all the candy.

That’s what he did with his grand deal with China to cut carbon dioxide output. The U.S. agrees to cut carbon by up to 28 percent of our 2005 level by 2025, while China agreed to stop increasing its carbon emissions by 2030.

But Investor’s Business Daily reports that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory forecasts that China’s emissions will peak in 2030. So, China has agreed to do nothing whatsoever.

Never mind there has been no global warming in 18 years despite what all the computer models predicted would be the result of rising carbon output.

The Wall Street Journal noted that under this nonbinding agreement, China promises “to intend to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030,” which basically describes the status quo.

Of course, Nevada senior Sen. Harry Reid, D-Green cronies, thought it was a good deal:

“The historic announcement by President Obama and President Xi Jingping of China is exactly what is needed to ensure that America’s efforts to clean up our energy supply are replicated around the world.  As I’ve said in the past, we cannot wait to address climate change and strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate impacts. I hope this agreement will spur other countries to join with us in confronting climate change.”

As long as there is more loot for his renewable energy company contributors, all else is naught.

This deal merely shows that Obama is a pushover who will agree to anything in order to be able to say he negotiated a deal. Hello, world, here comes a sucker.

IBD graphic

How to save the sage grouse from extinction

On the day after the Gunnison sage grouse in Colorado is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a totally unnecessary move, along comes Ruby Valley rancher Cliff Gardner with a lesson in history for those who want to return the West to its pristine state before being despoiled by European settlers and their sheep and cattle.

Gunnison sage grouse

Gardner, who has waged a heated and protracted court battle with federal land agencies for years, points out that the effort to “save” the natural population of greater sage grouse across Nevada and 10 other Western states is a distortion of facts and history.

He points out that the current healthy number of sage grouse are entirely due to rangeland management and predator control by ranchers, and historically the bird was seldom found in Nevada:

“All seem bent on ignoring the fact that during the first 20 years of exploration into the Great Basin, no one mentioned seeing sage grouse. Jedediah Smith never mentioned seeing sage grouse during his trip across central Nevada in 1827. John Work never mentioned seeing sage grouse while trapping throughout much of the northern portion of today’s Nevada in 1831. Zenas Leonard never mentioned seeing sage grouse in 1833. Nor did Joe Meek, John Bidwell, John Fremont, Charles Preuss, Heinrich Lienhard, or James Clyman mention seeing sage grouse.”

This is something various writers have been pointing out for years, but even the state officials working to “preserve” the sage grouse ignore it.

The late Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber pointed out in an interview three years ago how the land changed with the coming of ranchers.

When the wagon trains started coming through Nevada  in the 1840s, they had the same experience as those earlier explorers and trappers who Gardner mentions. In many of their journals they talked about how very little grass there was and how their livestock were doing so poorly as they crossed Nevada.

Then things got to be a little better, according to Gerber:

“Along the Humboldt River it began to get a little better because as these wagon trains would come through the cattle would plow up the soil with their hooves the oxen and the horses and the sheep. They’d fertilize it and they would knock down the sage brush and grind it into soil. Just like you do with your garden. Every year the soil got a little bit better.”

But never let the facts get in the way of “saving” a species from being trampled by humans.

Cliff Gardner (Range magazine photo by Mary Branscomb)