San Francisco declares free speech an act of terrorism

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization:

WHEREAS, The United States Declaration of Independence declared that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights, and

WHEREAS, The United States Constitution specifically delineates that the country was founded to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare, and

WHEREAS, The United States Department of Justice defines terrorist activity, in part, as, “The use of any … explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device, with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property;” and

WHEREAS, The United States Department of Justice further includes any individual or member of an organization commits an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, including communications, funds, weapons, or training to any individual has committed or plans to commit a terrorist act, and

WHEREAS, The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence, and

WHEREAS, The National Rifle Association spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence, and

WHEREAS, The leadership of National Rifle Association promotes extremist positions, in defiance of the views of a majority of its membership and the public, and undermine the general welfare, and

WHEREAS, The National Rifle Association through its advocacy has armed those individuals who would and have committed acts of terrorism; and

WHEREAS, All countries have violent and hateful people, but only in America do we give them ready access to assault weapons and large-capacity magazines thanks, in large part, to the National Rifle Association’s influence; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the City and County of San Francisco intends to declare the National Rifle Association 
a domestic terrorist organization ...

Incite gun owners to acts of violence? They’re just making it up as they go along.

Frankly, the NRA is often too quick to cower before the gun grabbers, but terrorists?

The resolution goes on to declare: “That the City and County of San Francisco should take every reasonable step to assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors and contractors have with this domestic terrorist organization …”

So, does this mean card-carrying NRA members can be barred from bidding on contracts in San Fran? If that happens expect legal action.

The Wall Street Journal points out that in Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr in 1996 the Supreme Court held that terminating a contract in response to the contractor’s protected speech violates the First Amendment.

San Fran defines extremist positions.

Editorial: Nevada AG joins suit over immigrant child detention

Migrant families at the border in Texas. (Reuters pix via WSJ)

Within days of the Trump administration announcing that it intended to scrap a 1997 court decree known as the Flores settlement that prohibited holding illegal immigrant children for more than 20 days, 19 states and the District of Columbia announced they are filing suit to stop the change, including Nevada.

In a press release reporting Nevada’s joining the litigation, Attorney General Aaron Ford said, “This latest Trump Administration policy to keep children in cages for an indefinite period of time is both cruel and shameful. What’s more, it reverses a longstanding court-approved settlement concerning the humane treatment of immigrant children. I stand with other states in fighting this attack on our children and families using every legal tool at my disposal.”

The problem is that the status quo is untenable.

The Flores settlement has resulted in the Southern border being overrun by illegal immigrant families. Nearly half a million such “families” have crossed into the U.S. and turned themselves in so far this year. That is triple the number for all of the previous year and 30 times the number from just seven years ago.

These “families” are being released into the U.S. pending immigration hearings for which the vast majority never show up.

An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal recently noted that this catch and release policy has created a powerful incentive for people, largely from Central America, to cross the border and make specious asylum claims.

“It also created an incentive for smugglers to offer huge discounts to anyone traveling with a child. Instead of attempting to evade Border Patrol, as they do with single adults, smugglers could simply bring migrant families up to the south side of the Rio Grande and tell them when to cross. Families were told to find a Border Patrol agent, turn themselves in, and not worry — they’d soon be released,” the op-ed by John Daniel Davidson, a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, recounts.

Davidson said children have become “passports” into the U.S. and officials have encountered thousands of fake families and instances in which children are being “recycled” — crossing the border multiple times with different adults posing as parents.

The original Flores settlement declared that children could not be held in custody with unrelated adults for more than 24 hours, but the current catch and release program allows those same children to be released into the custody of unrelated adults, many of whom are in the country illegally themselves.

According to Davidson, the number of minors ordered deported after failing to appear for an immigration hearing has risen from 519 in 2010 to 6,700 in 2018. That’s just the minors.

Ford’s press release argues that the administration’s attempted change in detention practices “would result in the vast expansion of family detention centers, which are not state licensed facilities and have historically caused increased trauma in children. The rule will lead to prolonged detention for children with significant long-term negative health consequences. In addition, the attorneys general argue the rule violates both the Administrative Procedure Act and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

But the greater harm is due to Congress failing to act and require the immediate deportation of persons, whether in a family unit or not, who enter the country illegally.

The 20 attorneys general filing suit are all Democrats.

Ford is not acting in the best interest of Nevada taxpayers, who already are paying to educate the highest percentage of children of illegal immigrants in the nation — 17.6 percent, according to Pew Research. Ford should withdraw from this litigation and let the administration at least come up with a plan before suing.

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: Annual Basque Fry will tout conservative values

Adam Laxalt addresses the 2017 Basque Fry. (R-J file pix

With Democrats holding strong majorities in the Nevada state Senate and Assembly, as well as every statewide constitutional office save one, there seems to be a sense of urgency about this year’s fifth annual Basque Fry coming Sept. 14 at the Corley Ranch in Gardnerville.

The conservative speakers, family entertainment and lamb fries fest is put on by Adam Laxalt’s Morning in Nevada PAC and is modeled after the Basque Fries his grandfather Paul Laxalt, a former Nevada governor and U.S. senator, used to conduct in Nevada and Washington. Adam Laxalt is the state’s former attorney general and was the Republican candidate for governor in 2018.

“We’re very excited about the fifth annual Basque Fry,” Laxalt said during a recent interview. “We’re fortunate this event has taken permanent hold in Northern Nevada. We expect a very large crowd again and think a lot of people are going to be very enthusiastic about it. We’ve talked, leading to the event, about the importance of trying to take back our state and we plan on discussing that at the Basque Fry.”

The list of scheduled speakers include Mick Mulvaney, acing White House chief of staff; Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, and his wife Mercedes Schlapp, a former White House director of communications; Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney general; Corey Lewandowski, who served as President Trump’s campaign manager; John Fund, a columnist for the National Review; Katie Williams, who had her Miss Nevada crown taken away for expressing conservative political views; and, of course, Laxalt.

Laxalt said he expects he and other speakers will highlight how radical and left-wing the Democratic Party and its presidential candidates have become, saying their positions do not align with Nevada values and are not good for our state.

“Some of our Democrats kind of hide out and they are not put on the record whether they are going to denounce these things or whether they support them,” he said. “So, I think it is important to get these positions on the record and in the public consciousness of Nevadans, so they understand what the Democratic Party represents today. The old blue-collar, fairly conservative Democratic Party that existed in Nevada a few decades ago, maybe even closer than that, is long gone. So we have to draw that contrast for everyday voters, especially swing voters in our state.”

Laxalt cited for example the Democratic position supporting open borders and denigrating the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the laws they are duty bound to enforce.

He also expects the topic of media bias to be addressed. “It’s just frustrating, because for me it is the rule of law. I think that’s what has made our country unique and is an essential piece of what made America the greatest country in modern times. The other side will ignore the rule of law whenever it is politically expedient for them, and they rarely have the media holding them accountable for that kind of thing,” he said.

This year the Basque Fry is being held in conjunction with the Conservative Political Action Conference West, which is being put on by the American Conservative Union at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno the day before.

Laxalt said it is important for conservatives to build policy infrastructure. “To have such a nationally reputable organization like the American Conservative Union and CPAC to come to Nevada and create a CPAC West, I think is going to be great for us,” he said. “We need to rebuild the conservative intellectual base in this state, which we know was not encouraged in the last many years or supported. I think it is important that message is getting out and that people understand there is a strong alternative to progressivism, leftism, socialism, et cetera.”

One of the panels at CPAC West will address the Western lands policies over the past few decades, which have hampered the economic wellbeing of rural communities.

Laxalt concluded by saying, “This type of event is important to encourage people to engage, and if we don’t engage we will lose this state and we will lose this country. Unfortunately, many of our voters they don’t have politics as a hobby. They are raising families and running small businesses and things like that. It is just very hard to get people engaged in this otherwise ugly business, but we need people to get more engaged. I still feel confident if we get more and more people into the system, then we can win back this state.”

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.

Addition: Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also speaking at the Basque Fry.

 

Newspaper spat: Tit for tat

This is the scrappiest the Review-Journal and Sun have been in some time.

On Friday the morning paper published an editorial explaining why it was seeking a court ruling to end its Joint Operating Agreement with what now is a daily insert. It said, “We are asking a court to rule that the Sun has not met a contractual obligation to produce a high-quality metropolitan print newspaper.”

That day’s Sun had a column by a Nevada congresswoman, a feature on historic preservation, a local editorial and editorial cartoon, letters to the editor and a locally generated sports story about Big Ten football. The rest of the 8-page section was syndicated features and columns.

Today the morning paper came back with a news story about the court filing, repeating what was in the editorial but also quoting the paper’s lawyer, as well as a journalism prof on the demise of JOAs. The story concludes by reporting, “The Review-Journal filing is in response to a 2018 Sun complaint that raised concerns about the distribution of profits under the joint operating agreement and how the Sun is promoted in the joint newspaper.”

Meanwhile, back in the insert, there is an editorial under the headline: “The Sun refuses to kneel before Sheldon Adelson — and you should too.” It declares, “It is a desperate move and behind a tissue of dishonesty lies the real motive: the R-J longs to silence the Sun and be the only voice in daily newspapers in this community.”

Actually, as the R-J points out, the Sun would be free to keep printing and trying to sell its feeble content. The Sun’s website today has what appears to be eight locally produced items that do not appear in the printed product. The printed product seldom contains any breaking news.

The Sun screed claims it won the 2018 litigation over distribution of profits, saying, “This move also comes after the R-J lost a recent arbitration between the Sun and the R-J. Not only did the arbitrator reject the R-J’s predatory interpretation of the contract and adopted the Sun’s interpretation, but the arbitrator made an award to the Sun for the money the Review-Journal has wrongfully withheld from the Sun each year. Those are funds that support the Sun’s newsroom. The consequences of that ruling in favor of the Sun will be in effect for the next 20 years.”

The amount of the settlement is not mentioned and no news story about the end of the arbitration is to found anywhere.

The Sun piece accuses the R-J of trying to “monopolize the ideas of the day,” though the Sun prints a weekly tabloid and maintains a website with more content than it deigns to print and there are competing websites produced by the Nevada Independent and the Nevada Current, as well as a number of local online commenters and bloggers. Countless national publications are available for home delivery and online.

Why the Sun even protests is a head-scratcher.

In January 2018 Sun putative editor Brian Greenspun posted an online note telling readers they would start being charged for website usage because profits from the R-J had dried up. “The current management of the Review-Journal plunged the newspaper into a loss immediately after purchasing the newspaper in 2015. To date, the Review-Journal’s management continues to run a money-losing newspaper,” he wrote.

Under the JOA the Sun was to get a percentage of the profits of the R-J. If there are no profits …

Apparently the Sun dropped the paywall after getting few takers.

 

 

 

 

Editorial: Nevada should not copy California gun laws

California lawmakers invited Nevada lawmakers to talk about coordinating gun control legislation, but thankfully our legislators declined the invitation.

Members of the California Legislature’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group sent a letter to Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson this past week inviting him and other Nevada lawmakers to discuss “coordination that could serve as a model for other states across the United States.”

What prompted the unusual confab proposal is the fact the gunman who in July killed three people — including a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl — and injured a dozen others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival had used an assaultstyle rifle banned in California but legally purchased by the 19-yearold shooter after obtaining a Nevada driver’s license. California law also prohibits the sale of any type of gun to anyone under the age of 21.

(Getty Image)

The letter to Frierson noted that Nevada lawmakers in this past session passed a bill mandating background checks for private-party gun sales. “However,” the letter said, “we believe that more can be done to prevent gun violence and ensure safety of both Nevada and California residents.”

The letter also stated, “While California has enacted numerous gun safety measures, this tragedy underscores the need for California to work closely with neighboring states to close loopholes and advance common sense gun safety measures.”

Frierson explained his reasons for declining the invitation in a statement provided to a public television station in San Francisco: “I am proud of the work we did in 2019 session to address gun safety, including finally getting background checks on all gun sales, extreme risk protection orders, and more regulations around safely storing fire arms. I remain engaged with Nevadans on issued related to gun safety and recognize I am ultimately accountable to Nevada voters. Sadly gun violence is an epidemic across the country and I believe the best way to ensure we are fully addressing this as a country is by addressing it holistically at the local, state and federal level. While I will leave it to California leaders to participate in their summit, I do welcome collaboration on gun safety issues with colleagues from other states. When we reconvene as a legislature in 2021, I am confident we will be equipped to do advance legislation that reflects the support of Nevadans.”

Nevada, of course, also has experienced a tragic shooting. On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas by firing from a window in the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street. Hundreds were injured.

Like the Gilroy gunman, the shooter had legally purchased his numerous weapons.

Despite these and other recent mass shootings, Nevada doesn’t need to go so far as California has in curtailing Second Amendment rights. Preventing such tragedies is more about mental health awareness than grabbing guns.

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.

Morning paper seeks to jettison insert

Who didn’t see this coming?

According to a front page editorial in the Las Vegas newspaper, the paper has filed litigation seeking to terminate the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) under which the Las Vegas Sun is printed as a separate 6- to 10-page section in the morning newspaper.

The editorial says the contract — which when first signed in 1989 had the Sun printed by the Review-Journal as an afternoon newspaper but was revised in 2005 to make the Sun an insert — obligates the two newspapers to “preserve the high standards of newspaper quality … consistent with United States metropolitan daily newspapers.” Instead, the editorial correctly describes the Sun’s print edition as a “stale combination of dated wire service stories and columns packaged around a couple of staff reports and photos that are sometimes a week old.”

The current JOA doesn’t expire for 20 years.

The problem is not so much quality as cost. Newsprint is not cheap and recent tariffs have made it more costly.

Back in 2013 the Sun’s putative editor Brian Greenspun filed an affidavit in court saying that in 2008, when the recession hit, the Sun’s share of profits from the R-J fell 90 percent to a meager $1.3 million a year.

In January 2018 Greenspun posted an online note telling readers they would start being charged for website usage because profits from the R-J had dried up. “The current management of the Review-Journal plunged the newspaper into a loss immediately after purchasing the newspaper in 2015. To date, the Review-Journal’s management continues to run a money-losing newspaper,” he wrote.

The R-J editorial accuses the Sun of neglecting its responsibility to produce a quality newspaper section. The Sun has been phoning it in for years.

The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 reads in part:

In the public interest of maintaining a newspaper press editorially and reportorially independent and competitive in all parts of the United States, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of the United States to preserve the publication of newspapers in any city, community, or metropolitan area where a joint operating arrangement has been heretofore entered into because of economic distress or is hereafter effected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

One question though: Where is the news story about the litigation?

R-J photo

Newspaper column: Water agency should not skirt law and courts

Clark County has sent to Congress a bill draft proposing that more than 50,000 acres of federal public land in the Las Vegas Valley be opened for private development, but dangling like a vestigial tail at the end of the 21-page proposal is an end-run around the courts and the law that could allow the currently stalled rural water grab by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to take place.

In 2017 a federal judge ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could grant the water agency right-of-way for a 300-mile network of pipelines to take groundwater beneath White Pine, Lincoln and Nye counties, but first it had to come up with plans to mitigate the potential loss of wildlife habitat due to a draw down of the water table, as is required by the CleanWater Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

That task may be impossible, because federal studies show the interconnected aquifers are already at equilibrium — water that is already being drawn from the aquifers is being replaced gallon for gallon annually with no leeway for additional withdrawal. The water agency proposes to withdraw 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year.

The lands bill Clark County sent to Congress calls for the Interior Department to give the water authority rights-of-way for an electric power line that “shall be subject only to the terms, conditions and stipulations identified in the existing rights-of-way, and shall not be subject to further administrative or judicial review. The right-of-way shall be granted in perpetuity and shall not require the payment of rental fees.”

A right-of-way for a power line could easily accommodate pipelines, too.

The Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) — a coalition of conservationists, rural officials, tribes and agricultural interests which was one of the parties that successfully sued to block the water grab — is crying foul over the decision to try to skirt the law and the federal judge’s ruling with legislation.

“What that decision tells us is that SNWA and federal land managers cannot figure out how to mitigate a project that would –– when fully built –– destroy 305 springs, 112 miles of streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands, and 191,000 acres of shrubland habitat on public lands, according to the BLM,” GBWN and others write in a letter to Nevada’s congressional delegation. “In the path of this destruction is Nevada’s first national park, Great Basin, which hosts the state’s only glacier, supports magnificent stands of ancient bristlecone pines, and dazzles visitors with a majestic network of limestone caves.”

In a press release announcing its opposition to the bill draft, Kyle Roerink, GBWN’s executive director, stated, “SNWA is trying to re-write the laws to allow their destructive pipeline and remove barriers that were enacted to protect Nevadans and their public resources. Members of the delegation should not do SNWA’s dirty work by gutting bedrock environmental protections to pave the way for a project that will kill endangered species, mine groundwater, and siphon away Eastern Nevada’s future in return for sprawl.”

Roerink also noted the opponents have been fighting the water grab for 30 years.

If it goes forward, it is estimated the groundwater project will take 40 years to complete at a cost of $15 billion — a cost that would require the tripling of water rates in Clark County. According to an SNWA resource plan the water is not needed until 2035.

“Its gargantuan $15 billion price tag (in 2011 dollars) highlights SNWA’s blatant disregard for its own ratepayers –– many of whom live on low or fixed incomes,” Roerink argues. “Those costs could mean water bills skyrocketing in Las Vegas while wildlife, landscapes, businesses, local governments and tribes suffer in Eastern Nevada.”

In his 2017 ruling federal Judge Andrew Gordon noted the importance of the controversy to both sides of the issue, writing, “I am sensitive to the strong feelings and weighty interests at stake in this contest over Nevada’s water — after all, in the West, ‘whisky’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’ over.’ There can be no question that drawing this much water from these desert aquifers will harm the ecosystem and impact cultural sites that are important to our citizens. On the other hand, southern Nevada faces an intractable water shortage.”

Our congressional delegation should allow Clark County to develop land within its boundaries, but should not grant this proposed end-run around the courts and the law to slake its thirst.

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.