Biden plan to help the economy will make things worse

The editorial in the morning paper gets right to the point in explaining the utterly illogical nature of President-elect Joe Biden’s economic “stimulus” plan:

In addition to $1,400 payments to individuals, Mr. Biden’s plan includes federal money to supplement regular state unemployment payments and a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. Consider the bizarre logic of those last two proposals: Mr. Biden seeks to kneecap already struggling small businesses by raising mandated wage floors, thus outlawing certain jobs, while simultaneously creating disincentives for returning to the workforce. This is economic stimulus?

In fact the Congressional Budget Office has said raising the minimum wage to $15 would destroy 1.3 million jobs.

The editorial then notes, “The new president’s blueprint also includes billions for state bailouts, which is no doubt music to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s ears as he prepares to outline his budget proposals in his State of the State address this week.”

Yes, the lede story on the front page reports that Sisolak is projecting a 2 percent shrinkage in the general fund budget over the next two years. But a couple of graphs later on the jump, the story reports that overall state revenue — which includes other state revenue sources and federal government funding — will actually increase 5.1 percent. Poor, poor Nevada government.

How could Trump incite a riot that started before his inciting comment?

Article of impeachment introduced today

According to a text of President Trump’s Jan. 6 speech, he delivered the “fight like hell” comment on the Ellipse near the White House at about a minute and a half before ending his speech, which, according to NPR, was 1:11 p.m. According to USA Today, “Rioters begin grappling with police on the Capitol steps” at 1:10 p.m.

Happy birthday, Bill of Rights

Several years ago I penned this for the Review-Journal.

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights were ratified by three-fourths of the states. At the insistence of the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson the first 10 amendments were added to the new Constitution.

They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.

Bill of Rights

This is our day to celebrate the First Amendment prohibition against establishing a state religion, despite odd rulings about nativity scenes and posting the Ten Commandments, and the right of free speech and press, despite McCain-Feingold limits on campaign spending and advertising. (Since somewhat overturned by Citizens United.)

This is our day to celebrate the Second Amendment, despite requirements to register handguns and other laws.

We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humbolt County deputy. (Not to mention civil asset forfeitures.)

There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes that was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.

As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.

The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.

No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one.

The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.

There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes. (Right?)

Happy birthday, Bill of Rights, long may you be respected.

A couple of years ago I ran across the Cato video below. As my ol’ Pappy used to say: Great minds travel in the same plane, while fools just think alike.

Actually, the Third is also suspect as I reported here. The courts have since ruled that cops are not soldiers. They sure look alike and are armed alike.

The real meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is rich in traditions. The turkey. The dressing. The pumpkin pie. The family assembled in prayerful reverence in remembrance of the plight of the early settlers of this country — much of which is complete fiction.

The Plymouth colonists set out to live in an idealistic communal fashion. Everyone would share equally in the products of the colony. But after nearly starving to death in 1621 and 1622, Gov. William Bradford abandoned the social experiment and gave each family its own plot of land, and whatever was produced on it was the rightful property of the owner to consume or trade.

The result was a prosperous harvest in 1623 followed by a feast of Thanksgiving.

Capitalism saved the colony.

The American Institute of Economic Research has posted online its own retelling of the Thanksgiving story, along with passages from Bradford’s recollections from “Of Plymouth Plantation,” translated into more modern spelling.

The AIER notes that the colony was attempting to live in the manner described in Plato’s Republic in which all would work and share goods in common, ridding themselves of selfishness and achieving higher social state. The problem was that hard work was not rewarded and laggardness and sloth went unpunished.

William Bradford

Bradford wrote:

“For the young men that were able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could man husbands brook it.”

Before the colony could die off from starvation, Bradford divvied up the land and introduced private property.

The governor wrote:

“And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end. … This had a very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little-ones with them to set corn, which before would a ledge weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

And the result was, again in Bradford’s words:

“By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their planting was well seen, for all had, one way or other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

This is the real lesson of the first Thanksgiving: Capitalism always triumphs over communist utopian fantasies. Humans will work for their own self interest and, instead of it being greedy and rapacious, all benefit and prosper.

But Americans appear to have elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris anyway.

A version of this blog was first posted in 2011.

Another first in 2020

What a strange year it has been.

The spring was unusually cool, so I planted the vegetable garden later than usual. Then it got extremely hot immediately. The tomato plants produced a few tomatoes but then largely went dormant.

With the cooling of autumn, out popped more tomatoes. But it is so cool they are not ripening.

I picked a half dozen and left them in the kitchen window to ripen, but to no avail.

So, for the first time in my life I fixed fried green tomatoes. Simple recipe I pulled off the net — dredge in flour and Cajun spice, then egg and milk and finally bread crumbs. About the same as you would for wienerschnitzel. Added a dash of Louisiana hot sauce and they were rather tasty.

I have a lot more tomatoes, so there is bound to be more on our table. Perhaps for Thanksgiving.

Judge holds Separation of Powers Clause means just what it says

On Monday a Clark County District Court judge threw out a DUI conviction because the prosecutor in the case also serves in the state Legislature, a violation of the Nevada Constitution Separation of Powers Clause.

Judge Richard Scotti wrote:

Appellant Jennifer Plumlee was deprived of her Constitutional rights of procedural due process because her prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Scheible, also served as a Legislator at the time of the trial, in violation of the Separation of Powers doctrine which doctrine exists as a fundamental feature of American government, and as a express clause in the Nevada Constitution. Nev. Const. Art. 3, Sec. 1. An individual may not serve simultaneously as the law-maker and the law-enforcer of the laws of the State of Nevada.
The plain and unambiguous language of the Nevada Constitution is that: The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments, -the Legislative, -the Executive and the Judiciary; and no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions, appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases expressly directed or permitted in this Constitution.
Nev. Const. Art 3, sec. 1. This is commonly known as the Separation of Powers clause.It is undisputed that Prosecutor Scheible was a person charged with the exercise of powers within the legislative branch of government at the time of the trial. Further, there is no reasonable dispute that, as prosecutor, she was charged with the exercise of powers within the executive branch. the enforcement of the laws of the State of Nevada are powers that fall within the executive branch of the government of the State of Nevada. See Nev. Const. Art. 5, sec. 7. Prosecutor Scheible was enforcing the laws of the State of Nevada, and representing the State of Nevada, and thus was exercising the powers delegated to her within the executive branch. It is not mere coincidence that District Attorneys are frequently referred to as the State or the government. Deputy District Attorney Scheible did not have the legal authority to prosecute Appellant, thus the trial was a nullity.

The Nevada Separation of Powers Clause has been flouted for decades, as an assortment of bureaucrats have successfully won seats in the Legislature.

The principle was embodied in the founding documents of this country.

James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in “Notes on the State of Virginia” in 1784: “All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. … An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

In a 1967 case, the Nevada Supreme Court flatly stated, “The division of powers is probably the most important single principle of government declaring and guaranteeing the liberties of the people.”

In 2004 then-Secretary of State Dean Heller asked the Supreme Court to remedy the ongoing skirting of the Constitution. Heller asked the court to find that service in the Legislature by unidentified executive branch employees violates the concept of separation of powers and to direct the Legislature to enforce the Separation of Powers Clause.

But the court ruled that doing so would violate — wait for it — the Separation of Powers Clause, because the Constitution also states that the Senate and Assembly are to determine the qualifications of their members, thus the judicial branch telling the legislative branch who its members may be violates the Separation of Powers Clause. Got it?

The court did allow that “declaratory relief could be sought by someone with a ‘legally protectible interest,’ such as a person seeking the executive branch position held by the legislator.”

Since then, the Nevada Policy Research institute has filed a lawsuits on behalf of people seeking the executive branch jobs of lawmakers, but to no avail.

NPRI’s Vice President Robert Fellner said of Scotti’s decision, “As the decision by Judge Scotti demonstrates, the judiciary has an obligation to defend the rights of Nevadans against government overreach and unconstitutional conduct. We are hopeful the Nevada Supreme Court will do just that when our own case inevitably reaches them.”

The Las Vegas newspaper quoted Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson as saying, “Based upon Judge Scotti’s ruling, we are considering our options, which includes going to the Nevada Supreme Court. We haven’t made a decision, but we will be making a decision in the semi-near future.”

Over the years it has been argued that employees of local governments do no violate the Separation of Powers Clause, but Nevada is a Dillon Rule state. The state limits the power of local governments to those expressly granted by the Legislature, local governments are basically subsidiaries of the state. Employees of local governments essentially are serving in the executive branch of state government, and also should be barred from serving as a lawmaker under the Constitution.

Let’s hope the state Supreme Court weighs in soon and settles this significant issue.

A Veterans Day recollection

“At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting in the most primitive conditions possible across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the coral islands of the Pacific. They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front. They won the war; they saved the world.”    — Tom Brokaw in “The Greatest Generation

H.A. Mitchell, decorated hero of the Pacific campaign in World War II

My father joined the Army when he was 16. He lied about his age.

He knew what was coming and was there when it came. He was in Pearl City that Sunday morning in 1941 when World War II began.

He spent the rest of the war hopping from island to island with his artillery unit. He said he chose artillery because he wanted to make a lot of noise.

I know he was in the Philippines about the time the survivors of the Death March of Bataan were rescued. The rest is a blur in my memory, though I recall him telling about how they censored letters home lest they fall into enemy hands and give away troop locations — you couldn’t write that the food was “good enough,” because the ship was at Goodenough Island.

He was a decorated hero, but said he refused to wear the Purple Heart so he wouldn’t have to explain exactly where the wound was located.

When he and his war buddies got together they seldom talked about the fighting, only the antics, like climbing on the hood of a truck and stealing eggs out of the back of another truck as it slowly climbed a steep hill.

But one of his friends once let slip that Dad, a bulldozer operator, actually used a bulldozer blade to deflect bullets while rescuing pinned down soldiers.

To hear him and his friends talk, it seemed like they spilled more beer than blood, but somehow still managed to win the war and save the world.

They are the ones Veterans Day is for.

A version of this was first posted in 2012.

Those ‘Last Draftees’ should also be recognized on Veterans Day

Veterans come in all shapes, sizes, skin tone, attitudes and condition of servitude.

These include those conscripted to serve in the Vietnam-era. A somewhat fictionalized version of their stories is now recounted in a recently released novel titled “Last Draftees” by longtime Las Vegas newspaper reporter Keith Rogers with the aid of Robert Foust, Willie McTear and Larry Keller.

Ironically enough the draft in this country was first used during the Civil War, which supposedly was fought to end slavery, which was made unconstitutional by the 13th Amendment prohibition against involuntary servitude. Conscription is most definitely involuntary servitude.

As the novel attests, many of the Vietnam-era draftees served involuntarily, but many also also served heroically. All nonetheless served. They killed and in turn were killed and wounded.

The novel’s description of foot soldiers slogging through the monsoons, scorching heat, insect infestations and the ever present threat of attack ring true.

It also pulls no punches about the political ambivalence and incompetence, rampant corruption, corporate profiteering and general chaotic nature of the Vietnam Conflict — never an officially declared war, mind you, but real war with real casualties then and later as a result of Agent Orange and PTSD

The book pulls no punches. It uses the language — vulgarities, ethnic slurs and all — used by the officers, enlisted men and draftees on the ground. Here is an excerpt to give an example of what those veterans endured:

All hell broke loose. Two AH-1 Cobra gunships were on the scene. This would be short and sweet. You wouldn’t mess with those deadly sky snakes. Wrong!

One Cobra got too low, and I mean low, some two hundred to one hundred and fifty feet above the jungle. Some of these pilots were certifiably crazy, I’m sure. This guy was at about two hundred feet with everything going — cannon, minigun, rockets. It was a hell of a sight to see. Suddenly three hundred AK-47s opened up at once. The deadly sky snake belched, burped, and then went down. Someone else would have to rescue this poor soul if he survived.

Meanwhile, the Delta Company commander sent his men up the hill. The NVA sent them back down the hill. Hell, I was no hero, I ain’t going up that hill, but I gotta help with the wounded.

I carried one guy to a medevac chopper. It was sitting on the landing zone, blades whirling and throwing sand and pebbles in my face as I loaded the wounded soldier onto the slick. His guts were blown out. it was golden hour. He’d probably make it.

There was a new mission. The brigade commander, a lieutenant colonel, had been circling the hill in a LOH helicopter firing a “blooker” out of the door. That was an M-79, a breech-loading grenade launcher. He hit a tree and shrapnel from the blowback that exploded inside the cockpit, wounding him and the pilot. The chopper went down. That was two today.

Now it was our job to go get them. We made it to the site where the chopper crashed. The pilot was unconscious. Jim was first to the chopper, followed by two other recon members. The lieutenant colonel was wounded, but he was conscious. Two other team members extracted the pilot from the smoking wreckage. I provided rear security. Jungle Jim pulled the lieutenant colonel out of the chopper. Suddenly five NVA soldiers emerged from the dense jungle, AKs blazing. Rounds were humming through the air. Jim, with the colonel over his shoulder, fired once with his free hand hitting the first guy right in the head. Hell of a shot. Then the M60 opened up from the left side sending a hail of .762mm rounds into the gaggle of NVA soldiers, killing them all. We hauled ass with the wounded, back down to where the medevac helicopters were, and loaded them for a twenty-minute flight to the rear. I wouldn’t lie. I’d like to be on one of choppers to the rear area right now.

In my opinion, we lost that battle, and we took hell of a beating.

Delta Company suffered an 80 percent casualty rate. That didn’t mean that 80 percent were killed, but that was how many of those guys that day were disabled by that action, and we lost two choppers. That was a bad day.

I didn’t believe the Armed Forces Radio stations account of that battle: three hundred enemies dead with light casualties for us. I’d say Delta Company got the worst of it, and that was a conservative estimate. The gooks? They scurried off to fight another day.

It was all about body count.

Remember these veterans today and maybe buy a copy of “Last Draftees” to learn their stories.

How Nevada became the 36th star on the U.S. flag

36-star U.S. flag
36-star U.S. flag

Today Nevadans celebrate Nevada Day. On this day in 1864 Nevada became a state.

Not only was Nevada “Battle Born,” as the flag proclaims, it was battle bred and born after a remarkably short gestation during the Civil War.

With Southern states seceding from the Union, in March 1861 President James Buchanan signed the bill declaring Nevada a territory. Lopped off from the western stretches of the Utah territory, the territory grew in population with the gold and silver booms of the Comstock Lode and other finds.

But its population in 1864 was still only about 30,000, just half of the required 60,000 for statehood and well short of the 100,000 that each member of the House at the time represented.

Nevada was destined to become a state for the most compelling of reasons imaginable. No, not because the Union needed Nevada’s gold and silver to wage the ebbing Civil War. The Union got just as much revenue from the territory.

President Lincoln needed the votes in the election that occurred eight days after he declared on Oct. 31, 1864: “Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in accordance with the duty imposed upon me by the act of congress aforesaid, do hereby declare and proclaim that the said State of Nevada is admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states.”

That is why Nevada became the 36th state and Utah did not become a state until 1896, while New Mexico and Arizona remained territories until 1912.

When Congress passed the Enabling Act for Nevada statehood on March 21, 1864, Lincoln was in a three-way contest with Gen. John C. Fremont, a radical Republican, and Gen. George B. McClellan, a Democrat, both of whom Lincoln had relieved of their commands during the war.

It was feared the vote could be so divided and close that the election would have to be decided by the House of Representatives, where one more Republican representative could make all the difference.

According to retired Nevada State Archivist Guy Rocha, Nevada’s votes were needed to re-elect Lincoln and build support for his reconstruction policies, including the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

Fremont dropped out of the race in September after brokering a deal with Lincoln. The president then carried 60 percent of the Nevada vote and easily won re-election with 212 electoral votes to 21 for McClellan.

Nevada not only ratified the 13th Amendment, as well as the 14th Amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection under law, but Nevada Sen. William M. Stewart played a key role in the drafting of the 15th Amendment stating the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

One of the first appeals for a separate territory came from a meeting in Gilbert’s saloon in Genoa in August 1857 instigated by Maj. William Ormsby, according to Thompson and West’s “History of Nevada,” published in 1881.

From this meeting came the appeal:

“The citizens inhabiting the valleys within the Great Basin of the American Continent, to be hereinafter described, beg leave respectfully to present for the earnest consideration of the President of the United States, and the members of both Houses of Congress this their petition; praying for the organization of a new Territory of the United States. We do not propose to come with any flourish of trumpets or multiply words in this memorial, but we propose simply to submit a few plain statements as the inducements and reasons which actuate us in making this appeal to those who have the power to remedy the existing difficulties and embarrassments under which we now labor and suffer.”

Among those difficulties and embarrassments was:

“In the winter-time the snows that fall upon the summits and spurs of the Sierra Nevada, frequently interrupt all intercourse and communications between the Great Basin and the State of California, and the Territories of Oregon and Washington, for nearly four months every year. During the same time all intercourse and communication between us and the civil authorities of Utah are likewise closed.

“Within this space of time, and indeed from our anomalous condition during all seasons of the year, no debts can be collected by law; no offenders can be arrested, and no crime can be punished except by the code of Judge Lynch, and no obedience to government can be enforced, and for these reasons there is and can be no protection to either life or property except that which may be derived from the peaceably disposed, the good sense and patriotism of the people, or from the fearful, unsatisfactory, and terrible defense and protection which the revolver, the bowie-knife, and other deadly weapons may afford us.”

Nevada’s path to statehood gained firm footing that same year when Brigham Young, the territorial governor of Utah and president of the Mormon Church, called on church members to leave what is now Nevada and other regions to assemble in Salt Lake City to prepare for an anticipated military confrontation with the federal government.

In 1858, a war measure was directed at the Mormons, Rocha recounts,

Congress’ Committee on Territories submitted a bill to create a territorial government called Sierra Nevada.

The name was shortened when the committee submitted its written reasons for creating the new territory: “to protect the public mails traveling within and through it; make safe and secure the great overland route to the Pacific as far as within its limits; restore friendly relations with the present hostile Indian tribes; contribute to the suppression of the Mormon power by the protection it might afford to its dissatisfied members; and (be) of material aid to our military operations. Thus satisfied and impressed, your committee respectfully report a bill for the formation of a new Territory … to be called the Territory of Nevada.”

Dan De Quille the 30-year staffer of the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City stated the case a bit more colloquially in his book “The Big Bonanza.”

Occupying the western portion of the vast Utah Territory, the miners of the Comstock range were a long way from the longest arm of any law, so they resorted to making their own. At a meeting in Gold Hill on June 11, 1859, various “rules and regulations” were unanimously adopted.

Among the more ignoble, De Quille noted, was: “No Chinaman shall hold a claim in this district.”

The rest were of the customary Western laws — simple, swift and strict.

— “Any person who shall wilfully and with malice aforethought take the life of any person, shall, upon being duly convicted thereof, suffer the penalty of death by hanging.”

—   “Any person found guilty of assault and battery, or exhibiting deadly weapons, shall, upon conviction, be fined or banished, as the jury may determine.”

De Quille — who like many of his ilk, time and locale was known to stretch the truth a bit — recounts one tale of terrible swift justice.

In August of 1859 two thieves by the names of George Ruspas and David Reise stole a yoke of cattle and attempted to sell them at a suspiciously low price. They were arrested, tried and sentenced by the jury of their peers to have their left ears cut off and be banished.

De Quille writes:

“Jim Sturtevant, an old resident of Washoe Valley, was appointed executioner. He drew out a big knife, ran his thumb along the blade, and not finding its edge just to his mind, gave it a few rakes across a rock. He then walked up to Reise and taking a firm hold on the upper part of the organ designated by the jury, shaved it off, close up, at a single slash. As he approached Ruspas, the face of that gentleman was observed to wear a cunning smile. He seemed very much amused about something. The executioner, however, meant business, and tossing Reise’s ear over to the jury, who sat at the root of the pine, he went after that of Ruspas, whose eyes were following every motion made and whose face wore the expression of that of a man about to say or do a good thing.

“Sturtevant pulled aside the fellow’s hair, which he wore hanging down about his shoulders, and lo! there was no left ear, it having been parted with on some previous and similar occasion. Here was a fix for the executioner! His instructions were to cut off the fellow’s left ear, but there was no left ear on which to operate. The prisoner now looked him in the face and laughed aloud.

“The joke was so good that he could no longer restrain himself. Sturtevant appealed to the jury for instructions. The jury were enjoying the scene not a little, and being, in a good humor, said that they would reconsider their sentence; that rather than anyone should be disappointed the executioner might take off the prisoner’s right ear, if he had one. The smile faded out of the countenance of Ruspas as he felt Sturtevant’s fingers securing a firm hold on the top of his right ear. An instant after, Sturtevant gave a vigorous slash, and then tossed Ruspas’ ear over to the jury, saying as he did so, that they now had a pair of ears that were ‘rights and lefts’ and therefore properly mated.

“This little ceremony over, the pair of thieves were directed to take the road leading over the Sierras to the beautiful ‘Golden State.’”

After the territory was created, Lincoln promptly appointed party loyalists to fill offices in the newly carved out territory. James Nye of New York was appointed governor and Orion Clemens became secretary, bringing along his younger brother Samuel to be an assistant.

Nye had campaigned for Lincoln in the previous election. Orion Clemens had studied in the St. Louis law office of Edward Bates, who became Lincoln’s attorney general.

The younger Clemens brother described with some probable embellishment their arrival in Carson City:

“We arrived, disembarked, and the stage went on. It was a ‘wooden’ town; its population two thousand souls. The main street consisted of four or five blocks of little white frame stores which were too high to sit down on, but not too high for various other purposes; in fact, hardly high enough. They were packed close together, side by side, as if room were scarce in that mighty plain. …

“We were introduced to several citizens, at the stage-office and on the way up to the Governor’s from the hotel — among others, to a Mr. Harris, who was on horseback; he began to say something, but interrupted himself with the remark:

“’I’ll have to get you to excuse me a minute; yonder is the witness that swore I helped to rob the California coach — a piece of impertinent intermeddling, sir, for I am not even acquainted with the man.’

“Then he rode over and began to rebuke the stranger with a six-shooter, and the stranger began to explain with another. … I never saw Harris shoot a man after that but it recalled to mind that first day in Carson.

“This was all we saw that day, for it was two o’clock, now, and according to custom the daily ‘Washoe Zephyr’ set in; a soaring dust-drift about the size of the United States set up edgewise came with it, and the capital of Nevada Territory disappeared from view.”

By the time Sam Clemens penned that introduction to Carson City, he had adopted the pen name Mark Twain.

Sam Clemens first used that nom de plume on Feb. 3, 1863, in dispatches from Carson City for the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City. Ten years later he would offer the quaint explanation about how it was derived from his days as a riverboat pilot on the ever-shifting Mississippi River, where the leadsman would take soundings to determine the depth. Twelve feet of clearance was needed for the draft of the paddleboats, thus the leadsman would call out for the log book, “Mark twain,” or two fathoms.

But newspapering has always been parching work for penurious pay, the more Nevada centric and less clean-cut explanation might be closer to the truth, which Twain was seldom averse to stretching.

Twain biographer Andrew Hoffman writes, “People who knew Sam in Nevada said that he arrived at the pseudonym by entering a saloon and calling out in the leadsman’s singsong intonation ‘Mark twain!’ — meaning the bartender should pour two drinks and mark them down on the debit ledger.”

Gov. Nye arrived on July 7, 1861, without mentioning gunfire or zephyrs. He declared the Nevada officially a territory on July 11. A census found 16,374 souls residing in said territory.

In an ironic turn of events, one of the first acts of the newly elected territorial legislature was to declare gambling illegal. According to Russell Elliott’s “History of Nevada,” Gov. Nye delivered an impassioned appeal to lawmakers:

“I particularly recommend that you pass stringent laws to prevent gambling. It holds all the seductive vices extent, I regard that of gambling as the worst. It holds out allurement hard to be resisted. It captivates and ensnares the young, blunts all the moral sensibilities and ends in utter ruin.”

The law carried a fine of $500 and two years in jail.

While the lawmakers for the territory were outlawing what would one day generate more wealth than all the gold and silver mines, they also were still dithering over what name the future state would bear. At one point the legislature approved an act “to frame a Constitution and State Government for the State of Washoe.” The names of Humboldt and Esmeralda also were bandied about until Nevada won out.

But the path from territory to statehood was nearly derailed by an old familiar issue that resonates 150 years later — mining taxes.

At first the residents of the territory voted by a margin of 4-to-1 for statehood in September 1863. But in January 1864 a Constitution that would have taxed mining at the same rate as other enterprises was voted down by a similar 4-to-1 margin.

Then in July 1864 a revised document that changed mining taxes to “net proceeds” — allowing deduction of expenses — passed on a vote of 10,375 to 1,284.

With time running out before the November election, the new Constitution was telegraphed to Washington, D.C., at a cost of $3,416.77.

Nevada’s motto — “All for Our Country” — and its Constitution reflect the Battle Born nature of the times and divided country.

The Constitution contains a seemingly incongruous amalgam of the Declaration of Independence and a loyalty oath:

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers … The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.”

Both of Nevada’s new senators arrived in Washington in time to vote for the 13thAmendment abolishing slavery and the new state’s lawmakers approved it on Feb. 16, 1865.

Sen. Stewart later wrote:

“It was understood that the Government at Washington was anxious that Nevada should become a State in order that her Senators and Representative might assist in the adoption of amendments to the Constitution in aid of the restoration of the Southern States after the Union should be vindicated by war. Another and very important factor in inducing the people to vote for statehood was the unsatisfactory judiciary condition under a territorial form of government. … The morning after I took my seat in the Senate I called upon President Lincoln at the White House. He received me in the most friendly manner, taking me by both hands, and saying: ‘I am glad to see you here. We need as many loyal States as we can get, and, in addition to that, the gold and silver in the region you represent has made it possible for the Government to maintain sufficient credit to continue this terrible war for the Union. I have observed such manifestations of the patriotism of your people as assure me that the Government can rely on your State for such support as is in you power.’”

Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.

The original territory created in 1861 was added to in 1862 and 1866 by slicing off vertical chunks of western Utah. In 1867 the southern-most part of the state, now mostly Clark County, was added by taking the westernmost reaches of the Arizona Territory. Until 1909, Clark County was a part of Lincoln County.

On Nov. 2, 1864, The New York Herald published a glowing account of the state’s admission and what it meant for the nation.

The article began:

“The proclamation of President Lincoln, published in the Herald of Monday, absorbs the Territory of Nevada, with its untold wealth of riches in gold, silver and other minerals, into the ever swelling bosom of the United States. Nevada, but yesterday an isolated place on which but little public interest concentrated, has suddenly become a place of paramount importance, as a new and valuable state of the Union.

“Today we give a map of the new State in connection with this sketch of the history of its progress and wealth. The State is called ‘Nevada,’ from the old Spanish nomenclature, that word signifying ‘snowy,’ from the word ‘nieve,’ which means snow in the Castilian language.”

The article concludes breathlessly: “There can be no doubt that the future of the new State will be as propitious as its beginning. With so much available wealth in its bosom, it is natural that it must attract intelligent and enterprising people to go and settle there.”

Nevada did not have an official flag until 1905. That version had the word Nevada in the middle with the words Silver at the top and Gold at the bottom with rows of stars between the words. The Battle Born flag was not adopted until 1929. It was revised slightly in 1991 to make the word Nevada easier to read.

When Nevada became a state, its new Constitution contained a so-called Disclaimer Clause, just like every other new state being admitted, in which the residents of the territory were required to “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”

Nevada’s enabling act also states that the land “shall be sold,” with 5 percent of proceeds going to the state.

The land was never sold and to this day various federal agencies control approximately 85 percent of the land in the state. The Disclaimer Clause was repealed by the voters in 1996, but nothing has been done about it since by any governor, congressman or attorney general.

A version of this blog first appeared on Oct. 31, 2014.

Nevada and I share this birthday, though the state is slightly older.

Biden says he will make Equality Act — which would destroy women’s rights — a top priority, if elected

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising — if he wins the election next week — to make passage of the Equality Act a top priority and hopes to sign the bill into law in his first 100 days, according to a Reuters article.

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sexual orientation and gender identity,” but would curtail free speech rights, religious freedoms and gender privacy for the vast majority of Americans.

“I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days -— a priority that Donald Trump opposes,” Biden was quoted as saying during a recent interview with the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

The bill passed the House in 2019 by a vote of 236-173 vote, largely along party lines. It has not come up for a vote in the Senate and the Trump administration has opposed the bill, saying it would “undermine parental and conscience rights.”

As the Heritage Foundation points out the Equality Act would force schools, churches, hospitals, businesses and others to accommodate anyone’s “chosen gender” instead of their actual “biological sex.” This would mean that females would be forced to share bathrooms, locker rooms and dormitories with males who “identify” as women.

It also would mean such males who “identify” as females would be allowed to compete in athletics against biological females, even though biological males tend to be faster and stronger than biological females.

There are already a number of cases across the nation in which males have won championships in various sports at the expense of actual women and girls. Might males snatch athletic scholarships from females? Is that equality?

Julia Beck of the liberal Women’s Liberation Front has declared that as written the Equality Act is a violation of basic human rights. “Every person in the country will lose our right to single sex sports, shelters, grants and loans. … We will no longer be able to distinguish between women and men,” she argues.

Beck testified before a House committee that the Equality Act would require admitting male rapists into female prisons, males would have to be allowed into shelters for abused women, men could dominate women’s sports and much more.

Gender is immutable. It is fundamental down to the chromosomes. To declare otherwise is delusional. To force the vast majority to surrender modesty and safety for the sake of accommodating a tiny deluded minority is just wrong. Separate accommodations for those with gender dysphoria, perhaps, but not access to properly gender segregated facilities and activities.

Who is party of science?