Even the devil can quote scripture

Is Sheldon Adelson being pulled like a wishbone today?

The lede story in his Monday newspaper is about the importance of the Supreme Court nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump might name and the lasting effect that would have on U.S. law, regulations and politics.

The story follows on the heels of Sunday’s endorsement of Trump by the Sheldon Adelson Review-Journal. That editorial leaned heavily on the importance of those Supreme Court nominees. The issue is probably the best — and perhaps only — legitimate argument in favor of voting for Trump.

The element that might be causing Adelson to be pulling out what hair he has left is that the article was penned by a writer for Al Jazeera, the unquestionably pro-Arab wire service.

Al Jazeera has published less than flattering opinion and news pieces about Adelson with headlines such as: “The GOP’s bigoted kingmaker,” “Who is Sheldon Adelson and can he sway the US election?” and “Maccabee Task Force denies funding anti-BDS posters.”

But when it comes to getting the pro-Trump message out, even the devil can quote scripture.

Sheldon Adelson (AP photo via Al Jazeera)

Sheldon Adelson (AP photo via Al Jazeera)



Newspaper endorsement of Trump is really more of a rejection of Clinton


The Sheldon Adelson Review-Journal heralded on its front page today the paper’s editorial endorsement of Donald Trump, the first “major” newspaper in the country to do so, though it was less of an endorsement and more of a slam against Hillary Clinton.

The editorial went on at length about Clinton’s weaknesses and dishonesty and money grabbing and uberliberal stances.

“She’ll cuddle up to the ways and perks of Washington like she would to a cozy old blanket,” the editorial advises, going on and on about how her Supreme Court nominees would gut five of the 10 Bill of Rights.

While endorsing Trump, the paper felt compelled to spell out his many failings.

“Yes, Mr. Trump’s impulsiveness and overheated rhetoric alienate many voters. He has trouble dealing with critics and would be wise to discover the power of humility,” the editorial concedes.

It concludes:

But neither candidate will ever be called to the dais to accept an award for moral probity and character. …

Mr. Trump represents neither the danger his critics claim nor the magic elixir many of his supporters crave. But he promises to be a source of disruption and discomfort to the privileged, back-scratching political elites for whom the nation’s strength and solvency have become subservient to power’s pursuit and preservation.

Donald Trump for president.

A rather luke warm endorsement. It could have used one more line at the end: “Whatever.”

On the same page the paper has a column by Charles Krauthammer that concludes thusly:

I didn’t need the Wiki files to oppose Hillary Clinton. As a conservative, I have long disagreed with her worldview and the policies that flow from it. As for character, I have watched her long enough to find her deeply flawed, to the point of unfitness. But for those heretofore unpersuaded, the recent disclosures should close the case.

A case so strong that, against any of a dozen possible GOP candidates, voting for her opponent would be a no-brainer. Against Donald Trump, however, it’s a dilemma. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. But, as I’ve explained in these columns, I could never vote for Donald Trump.

The content up to the ending is not too dissimilar. Krauthammer is more convincing than SARJ, pronounced sarge, when he calls Trump a dangerous narcissist who “lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him.”


Congressional flier takes the prize for most mendacious ad this year

Kihuen flier

Kihuen flier

Warning: Going to the mailbox this election season can cause whiplash.

I did a double take when I grabbed a flier this week touting the candidacy of Ruben Kihuen for the 4th Congressional District. No, it was actually “targeting” the candidacy of incumbent Cresent Hardy more than anything else.

I nominate the flier for the most mendacious political ad of the year. It connects dots that aren’t even in the same galaxy. Above and below a police mugshot of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy are the words: “This man’s armed standoff led to the deaths of two Las Vegas police officers and he’s supported by Congressman Hardy.”

On the obverse side the flier makes the unmitigated claim: “Bundy led an armed standoff with police and, when it was over, two of Bundy’s supporters assassinated two Las Vegas police officers.”

The flier attempts to connect the ambush slaying of two Las Vegas police officers two months after the standoff by a couple of leftist, anti-authoritarian lunatics who showed up at the Bundy ranch standoff with BLM agents but were told by the Bundys to leave because of their “very radical” views.

The couple also showed up at a left-leaning march in Lafayette, Ind., the previous November, according to a CBS affiliate in Chicago.

While living in Lafayette, Jerad Miller and his wife Amanda took part in the “Million Mask March,” a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists, the television station reported.

Linking the lunatic Millers with Hardy and/or Bundy is stretching rhetoric beyond the breaking point.

The flier even claims Hardy “stood by” Bundy after he made comments that were labeled as racist, when in fact the very article cited in the fine print as supporting this claim states that Hardy disavowed those remarks.

It was paid for by the Nevada State Democratic Party.



Editorial: Voters should decriminalize possession and use of marijuana for adults

Just as the Volstead Act did by creating Prohibition, the laws criminalizing the use and possession of marijuana have spawned a criminal industry and ruined lives without accomplishing the objective of legally imposed universal abstinence.

While we do not advocate nor even condone the use of either alcohol or marijuana, we find it contrary to the principles of a free society to punish individuals who do partake so long as they pose no threat to others — such as driving while under the influence.

Question 2 on the statewide November ballot, if approved by the voters, would amend state statutes to make it lawful for a person 21 or older to purchase and consume an ounce or less of marijuana. It also would allow those of the age of majority to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.

The measure also would allow the creation of taxed marijuana shops under the same precepts as liquor stores and tax such sales.

While proponents of the measure tend to harp on how much tax revenue might be generated by taxes on marijuana sales that would go to fund education, we prefer to highlight the individual liberty and the relief on law enforcement and the courts by not having to bother with enforcement of pot prohibition.

The argument for passage, as stated in the official explanation by the state secretary of state’s office, notes, “Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy in every sense of the word. Our government took a substance less harmful than alcohol and made it completely illegal. This resulted in the growth of a multi-billion-dollar underground market driven by drug cartels and criminals operating in our communities. We have forced law enforcement to focus on the sale and use of marijuana instead of on serious, violent, and unsolved crimes.”

It goes on to argue that shifting the production and sale of marijuana into the hands of tightly regulated Nevada businesses will result in safer and cleaner marijuana and possibly reduce the sale of pot to minors. Studies have found that teen marijuana use has fallen in recent years, even at a time when four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana and 23 others, like Nevada, allow it for medicinal purposes.

The arguments against Question 2 have all the subtlety and persuasiveness of that old scare film “Reefer Madness.”

It makes no sense to continue to jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of those who deign to experiment with marijuana at some point in their lives, especially since the outcome is dictated by the near-random chance that some are arrested while others are not.

As we said, we do not advocate marijuana use any more than we advocate prostitution, which is legal in many rural Nevada counties, but rather come down on the side of decriminalization for consenting adults in a properly regulated setting.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Newspaper column: Lawmakers hand out unconstitutional corporate gift to another billionaire

Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill giving public tax money to build a football stadium. (AP photo by John Locher)

Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill giving public tax money to build a football stadium. (AP photo by John Locher)

Meeting in special session in Carson City this past week Nevada lawmakers opened the windows and threw caution and tax money to the wind, voting to raise the room tax rate in much of Clark County by 0.88 of a percentage point in order to contribute $750 million toward construction of a 65,000-seat domed football stadium estimated to cost $1.9 billion.

The measure, Senate Bill 1, passed by the constitutionally mandated two-thirds majority in both the Senate and Assembly – 16-5 in the Senate and 28-13 in the Assembly.

The stadium is being pushed by billionaire casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson who promises to shell out $650 million from his rather deep pockets to pay for construction. The National Football League and the Oakland Raiders are supposed to contribute $500 million toward construction. The $750 million public sop is the largest ever by any public entity for a sports facility in this country.

All profits from stadium operations accrue strictly to the private investors.

At one point during the Assembly hearings, Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks asked what happens if the stadium comes in under the $1.9 billion estimate. Would the taxpayers still be on the hook for the full $750 million?

Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which had touted the project, replied: “Technically that’s correct.”

Before Hill could elaborate, Hansen cut him off with a terse: “Thank you.”

So, if the project comes in closer to the original estimate of $1 billion, the taxpayers will pick up 75 percent of the cost and the billionaires keep their money.

One of those testifying against the public spending for a football stadium for the Raiders was former Las Vegas City Councilman Frank Hawkins, who noted that he played seven seasons for the Raiders, including winning a Super Bowl. Hawkins said billionaires don’t need the public tax money to fund 40 percent of their stadium. He also noted that Raiders owner Mark Davis had called to try to change his mind by agreeing to no television blackouts locally for games that are not sellouts.

SB1 creates a stadium authority to build and operate the stadium, exempts the authority from any legal requirements for competitive bidding and makes just about every financial deal cut by the authority exempt from public records laws.

The bill says “the Stadium Authority shall keep confidential any record or other document provided to the Stadium Authority by a developer partner, the National Football League team or the Stadium Events Company,” if asked to do so. The public will be kept in the dark about whether their “public” stadium is providing valuable public assets to a favored few at below market value.

The Legislature certainly has the power to create exemptions to existing laws.

What it does not have is the power to create exemptions to the state Constitution. That document has a Gift Clause, which states, “The State shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.”

Self-styled economic development advocates have tried three times to amend the Constitution and remove the Gift Clause. The voters rejected those attempts all three times — in 1992, 1996 and again in 2000 by wide majorities.

The state Supreme Court has said that when the state provides something to a private entity without getting adequate compensation for the value, that is a gift and thus a violation of the Constitution.

Nevada’s high court has cited an Arizona Supreme Court ruling on that state’s nearly identical Gift Clause. The Arizona court said its Gift Clause “represents the reaction of public opinion to the orgies of extravagant dissipation of public funds by counties, townships, cities, and towns in aid of the construction of railways, canals, and other like undertakings during the half century preceding 1880, and it was designed primarily to prevent the use of public funds raised by general taxation in aid of enterprises apparently devoted to quasi public purposes, but actually engaged in private business.”

Professional football hardly qualifies as even a quasi public purpose unless you include “bread and circuses.”

This was the third special session in as many years. The previous two handed out billions in tax breaks and abatements to the billionaire owners of electric car companies Tesla and Faraday Future.

Perhaps some public spirited group will ask the courts to take a look at this latest generous gift and determine whether it truly is for a public purpose.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Update: Space was insufficient to provide this quote from a Nebraska court ruling:

“Every new business, manufacturing plant, or industrial plant which may be established in a municipality will be of some benefit to the municipality. A new super market, a new department store, a new meat market, a steel mill, a crate manufacturing plant, a pulp mill, or other establishments which could be named without end, may be of material benefit to the growth, progress, development and prosperity of a municipality. But these considerations do not make the acquisition of land and the erection of buildings, for such purposes, a municipal purpose. Our organic law prohibits the expenditure of public money for a private purpose. It does not matter whether the money is derived by ad valorem taxes, by gift, or otherwise. It is public money and under our organic law public money cannot be appropriated for a private purpose or used for the purpose of acquiring property for the benefit of a private concern. It does not matter what such undertakings may be called or how worthwhile they may appear to be at the passing moment. The financing of private enterprises by means of public funds is entirely foreign to a proper concept of our constitutional system. Experience has shown that such encroachments will lead inevitably to the ultimate destruction of the private enterprise system.”

This and the Arizona court ruling were cited by the the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation in its case against the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for handing out state gifts to companies such as SolarCity.


Was he lying then or is he lying now?

When a person tells two diametrically opposite stories, you know one of them is a lie. You may not know which one is a lie, but you know the person is a liar.

We already knew Hillary Clinton is a liar. The FBI said as much:

GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails either sent or received. Was that true?
COMEY: That’s not true.

Now, Donald Trump has proven himself to be a perverted liar or a lying pervert.

In 2005 Trump was caught on tape saying:

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. … And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”

Then nine women came forward and attested to that very behavior by Trump, but at the debate Wednesday night Trump said:

“Well, first of all, those stories have been largely debunked. Those people — I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it. …

“I would say the only way — because those stories are all totally false, I have to say that. And I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who’s sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these — I didn’t see these women.

“These women — the woman on the plane, the — I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it’s her campaign. …



“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”


Reminds me of a Tommy Makem tune:




How is that first special session gift — the one for Tesla — turning out?

Tesla gigafactory (R-J photo)

Tesla gigafactory (R-J photo)

There have been three special legislative sessions in three years in Nevada specifically to dole out generous gifts to billionaires based on base assumptions that those gifts might someday prove beneficial to the economy of the state and generate more tax revenue than the handout.

You know the gifts — tax breaks and abatements and roadwork and land for a Tesla Motors battery factory near Sparks, tax breaks and infrastructure for a planned electric car plant for Faraday Future in Clark County and now $750 million in tax money to build a football stadium for casino and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson and the NFL Raiders.

So, how’s that first handout working out?

Montana Skeptic at Seeking Alpha reports that Nevada is getting the shaft.

As of the latest report in late August, even with generous amortization allowances, the 272 jobs created by the so called gigafactory have cost Nevada $179,000 each.

Tesla has said the $5 billion, 10 million-square-foot factory eventually will employ 6,500 workers and add $100 billion to the state economy over the next 20 years.

There were supposed to be 700 full-time jobs in 2015 instead of 272 and 1,700 this year instead of only 419 so far. For 2017 the prediction is 4,700 jobs, reaching that pie in the sky 6,500 in 2018.

Capital expenditures by Tesla also have fallen well short of projections.

The plant is supposed to be 10 million square feet in size, but now is less than 2 million.