Charity? Yes, but charity for whom?

Ain’t charity grand? Even if it ain’t charity?

Some of the news accounts that heralded the announcement by Telsa Motors that it was giving $1.5 million to Nevada K-12 education as the first installment in a $37.5 million donation did get around to mentioning toward the end that the handout was part of a “commitment” the company made when it accepted $1.3 billion in tax breaks for building its electric care battery factory near Sparks in 2014.

All of the handouts were specifically targeted to items such as robotics and battery programs that might benefit the company.

The Las Vegas newspaper wrote that Gov. Brian “Sandoval said in a statement he was grateful for Tesla’s commitment and the opportunities it would provide.”

Grateful?

As one of the paper’s columnists got around to pointing out, the handout was required in the original deal. “Tesla will make direct contributions to K-12 education of $37.5 million beginning August 2018; grant $1 million to fund advanced battery research at UNLV; prioritize the employment of Nevadans and Veterans,” the deal states.

For that paltry sum and few other “commitments” the company got:

Columnist Victor Joecks noted:

Normally a company giving away millions of dollars for educational programs would be worth celebrating. But this wasn’t an act of corporate generosity. In 2014, the state provided Tesla with $1.3 billion in tax credits and abatements. As part of its pitch, the company promised to give $37.5 million to fund education programs.

Let’s save our praise for those doing philanthropy, not for a company using charity as political cover for a massive handout.

According to projections made in 2014, the gigafactory was to have 6,500 employees by now, but as of the end of 2017 it had only 1,400 employees.

According to the Nevada Appeal, Tesla qualified for $36.85 million in transferable tax credits, plus $115 million in tax abatements during the 2017 fiscal year alone.

Ain’t charity grand?

By the bye, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is worth $20 billion.

Tesla gigafactory tour in 2016. (AP pix via R-J)

 

 

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Why didn’t I ever think of this excuse?

I usually find this comic strip to be a groaner, but this one left me chuckling and humming for some reason.

Of course, this excuse for not coming to work at all still tops the scale for persuasiveness:

 

Editorial: Senate should quickly confirm Kavanaugh

Trump nominates Kavanaugh to Supreme Court. (Reuters pix)

When it comes to Nevada politics, principles be damned, it is all about partisanship, no matter the topic.

President Trump’s nomination of federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court is still another case in point.

The Senate must now exercise its constitutional advise and consent role to confirm the nomination — by simple majority now, thanks to Nevada’s now retired Sen. Harry Reid, who nuked the filibuster for judicial appointments.

Nevada’s senior Republican Sen. Dean Heller promptly put out a statement saying, “Judge Kavanaugh has a record of adherence to the Constitution and has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting the law — not making it. I expect the U.S. Senate to conduct a fair, thorough confirmation process, and I look forward to meeting with the nominee.”

Nevada’s junior Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto — unlike other Nevada Democratic politicians — did not leap to judgment but spelled out her concerns, “President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court will hold immense power over the most critical issues facing our nation, including a woman’s right to choose, protection for those with preexisting conditions, LGBTQ rights, money in politics, and workers’ rights. We need a Justice who respects the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, not someone who is beholden to special interest groups. I plan to meet with Judge Kavanaugh in the coming months and will review his qualifications thoroughly.”

Back when Kennedy announced his retirement, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is running for Heller’s seat, promptly spelled out her agenda, “The future of the Supreme Court is in play, and the outcome will have a major impact for generations on issues that matter to Nevadans, like health care and women’s reproductive rights. Another Supreme Court justice backed by President Trump could jeopardize Roe v. Wade, undermine coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions, threaten workers’ rights, perpetuate the damage of big money in our political system, and so much more.”

Apparently Democrats see nothing contradictory about their stance that the Roe v. Wade court opinion, which federalized abortion rights, is inviolate and written in stone, while the court’s Citizens United opinion, which opened up those big money pockets to express political views, is something that should be whisked away by any means available.

In naming Kavanaugh as his nominee Trump stated, “In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions. What matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.”

As far as Kavanaugh himself, he stated on the evening of his nomination, “My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

The Constitution was not written on an Etch A Sketch. The Founders pored over its wording, attempting to balance powers so that individual freedoms and rights would remain paramount for centuries to come and not subject to popular whims.

As Cortez Masto so rightfully stated, “We need a Justice who respects the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, not someone who is beholden to special interest groups.” Like so many politicians we can name.

The Senate and our senators should quickly confirm the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh by applying principles instead of partisanship.

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: Pardon for Oregon ranchers just the first step

Etched in stone above the entrance of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington are the words: “Equal justice under law.”

The treatment of father and son Oregon ranchers by the federal judicial system makes a travesty of those words, though President Trump’s pardon this past week is a first step toward rectifying their injustice.

In 2001 Dwight Hammond and his son Steven started a fire on their own Harney County ranch to burn off juniper and sagebrush. The fire accidentally escaped their property and burned 139 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

In 2006, lightning started several fires and the Hammonds set a backfire to try to prevent the fire from spreading to their crops and buildings. That fire burned a single acre of public land.

Hammonds return home. (AP pix)

The White House statement explaining the presidential pardon noted that the judge who originally sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months and Steven to a year had said that prosecutors’ demands that the pair be sentenced to a minimum mandatory five years under a 1996 anti-terrorism law passed after the Oklahoma City bombing would “shock the conscience” and be “grossly disproportionate to the severity” of their conduct.

“The previous administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison,” the statement reads. “This was unjust.”

That resentencing is what prompted the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest, though the Hammonds themselves did not condone the protest and instead quietly returned to prison.

Most of the protesters, including two of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy’s sons, were later acquitted of federal charges.

The White House statement concluded, “Dwight Hammond is now 76 years old and has served approximately three years in prison. Steven Hammond is 49 and has served approximately four years in prison. They have also paid $400,000 to the United States to settle a related civil suit. The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West. Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”

This is an understatement considering that in the five years after the passage of the 1996 anti-terrorism law at least 16 members of self-styled environmental groups ALF and ELF conspired to damage or destroy private and government property. None was sentenced to more than 36 months.

Then there were the two 2012 fires near the Hammonds’ ranch. Though started by lightning strikes, federal authorities used backfires in an attempt to contain the Long Draw and Miller Homestead fires. Instead, the fires consumed nearly 620,000 acres. No one was charged.

In 2000 the National Park Service decided to use a ‘’prescribed’’ burn to clear debris in the Bandelier National Monument area, but when winds picked up the fire destroyed 400 homes and forced the evacuation of 18,000 people in Los Alamos and shut down the nuclear weapons operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The supervisor who ordered the preventive fire, like the 2001 fire set by the Hammonds, was suspended but later retired. No charges.

A 2012 “prescribed” burn by a Colorado state agency southwest of Denver killed three people and destroyed or damaged more than two dozen homes. No charges.

In October 2016 a “prescribed” burn by a state agency in Northern Nevada consumed 2,300 acres, destroyed 23 homes and 17 out buildings and resulted in smoke inhalation injuries to four people. Damages estimated at $4 million. The state agency apologized.

A few weeks ago a “prescribed” burn in the Florida panhandle destroyed 36 homes and burned 800 areas.

Also earlier this summer, a “prescribed” burn in Emery County, Utah, meant to clear off 2,400 acres of dead timber and other fire fuel spread to cover more than 18,000 acres.

Meanwhile, after years in jail and supervised probation and a $400,000 fine, the Hammonds also lost their grazing permit in 2014.

The Hammonds have returned home, but equal justice under law will not be served until their property and livelihoods are restored.

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.

Democrats now leaderless?

Looks like most Democrats will be voting for none of the above.

According to Rasmussen, 73 percent of Democrats want a “fresh face” in 2020 and not anyone who has already run for president, such as Hillary, Biden of Bernie.

“Should Democrats look for a fresh face to run for president in 2020 or should Democrats promote a candidate who has already run in the past?” was the telephone question.

Just who that fresh face might be was not asked.

As for H. Clinton, among Democrats 33 percent think she’s been good for their party, while 39 percent say she’s been bad for it, and 72 percent of Republicans and 63 percent no affiliated with either major party say she has been bad for Democrats.

Not exactly a bumper sticker moment. You remember the non-partisan bumper sticker, right. The one that said: “Run, Hillary, run.” Democrats put in on the back bumper and Republicans on the front.

 

Get out while the getting’s good or they’ll come for you next

Jane Ann Morrison with a Strip performer’s ape. (R-J file pix)

Run, Jane, run. Get out while you can with your reputation intact.

On page 1B of the Sunday newspaper Jane Ann Morrison announced she was voluntarily shoving aside her columnist keyboard. On the back of the Viewpoint section columnist Daniella Greenbaum reported that she had been basically shunted aside for failing to be politically correct.

Greenbaum wrote that she resigned from her post as Business Insider columnist after she wrote that actress Scarlett Johansson taking a movie role in which she would portray a transgender man was just make-believe and actors should be allowed to take on any roles they wish. The piece was spiked and she bailed. Johansson also dropped the planned role when the politically correct pique hit the roof.

After reading that I looked back at Jane Ann’s reminiscence about her decades as an ink-stained wretch and wondered if some self-styled animal rights zealot might take issue with that photo of her with a Strip performer’s ape. There’s always something. Eventually anyone who espouses an opinion is bound to run into the politically correct buzzsaw.

Two of today’s letters to the editor, conveniently, took umbrage with recent screeds by columnists Victor Joecks and Wayne Allyn Root for being insensitive.

An alert reader took the opportunity this morning to email a bit of anonymous satire someone had posted to the web:

It had been snowing all night. So at ….
8:00: I made a snowman.

8:10: A feminist passed by and asked me why I didn’t make a snow woman.

8:15: So, I made a snow womanNow I have a snow couple.

8:17: My feminist neighbor complained about the snow woman’s voluptuous chest saying it objectified snow women everywhere

8:20: The gay couple living nearby threw a hissy fit and moaned it should have been two snowmen instead

8:25: The vegans at the end of the lane complained about the carrot nose, as veggies are food and not to decorate snow figures with.

8:28: I am being called a racist because the snow couple is white.

8:42: The feminist neighbor complained again that the broomstick of the snow woman needs to be removed because it depicted women in a domestic role.

8:45: TV news crew shows up. I am asked if I know the difference between snowmen and snow-women? I reply, “Snowballs” and am called a sexist by the TV reporter.

9:00: I’m on the News as a suspected racist, homophobic sensibility offender bent on stirring up trouble during difficult weather.

9:29: Far left protesters offended by everything are marching down the street

Moral: There is no moral to this story.  It’s just the world in which we live today and it’s going to get worse.
By the bye, Jane Ann says she plans to give a shot at that novel that everyone is supposed to have inside of them. I can’t help but wonder if it will be set in a small desert, mob-infested gambling town called Three Cacti. (Hint: Obscure “literary” reference to one of her, and my, favorite mystery writers.)