Newspaper column: The path to mandated diversity leads to an absurdity

When you boil it down to its fundamental essence, what she is proposing is an affront to democratic principles and an absurdity.

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who picks up the liberal agenda from where Harry Reid left off, stated in a recent interview with Politico, “We should be mandating diversity in our committees, mandating diversity in our hiring practices, mandating diversity throughout the United States Senate.”

She later is quoted as saying, “You just have to walk in the room and look at the senators that are there — the 100 senators, right? You could see the lack of diversity.”

In response to this inanity, the editorialists at the Las Vegas newspaper asked the next logical question: “Does Sen. Cortez Masto seek a constitutional amendment to replace the democratic process with a federal quota system to ensure the ‘proper’ distribution of pigments and chromosomes in the nation’s highest legislative body?”

How do you determine successful diversity? Do you know it when you see it, as Cortez Masto apparently does — just like the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said he could spot pornography: “I know it when I see it”? Or can it be precisely calculated? How can one determine when one has succeeded in achieving the lofty goal of diversity?

The chief absurdity is how to explain what is “proper” diversity. Equal amounts of certain properties, traits, characteristics and proclivities? Or matching the current distribution in the population of those characteristics? For that matter, is that distribution fair? Or is it merely a quirk of fickle fecundity?

If one were to demand that “proper” distribution of chromosomes, a Senate that is half male and half female would have only 50 Y chromosomes and 150 X chromosomes. Hardly diverse.

Even if the first elected Latina member of the U.S. Senate, as both the Politico interview and the newspaper editorial pointedly observe, is talking about skin pigments and/or ethnicity, that too gets to be a mathematical absurdity.

Are we going to return to the days when states like Louisiana had a law on the books that stated any person with so much as 1/32nd black heritage was, ipso facto, black? Or does one pure bred ethnic person equal two mixed race persons? Should the ratio of black, brown, yellow, red, white and other pigments match the population from the latest census or extrapolate for changes in the future? May a person identify as any race or gender or sexual orientation they choose? Or would that upset the diversity quotient?

And what about IQ levels? Should the senators and their staffs be required to match the median IQ of the nation? For every staffer or senator with an IQ of 130, you’d need to hire or elect someone with an IQ of 70. (Uh, we may already have.)

What about age? The median age of senators is 62. The median U.S. population age is 38. Seems clearly to be a lack of diversity. And that tacky constitutional requirement that a senator has to be at least 30 years of age certainly flies in the face of the all-important diversity objective.

Also, aren’t there too many lawyers in the Senate and not enough hod carriers?

Lumping people into categories and pigeonholes for the sake of achieving a counterbalance for some past perceived affront or discriminatory behavior is itself discriminatory, counterproductive and contrary to democratic principles.

By the way, the Politico interview was conducted for a section called “Women Rule Podcast.” Not very diverse.

And isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy in demanding diversity while engaging in blatant stereotyping?

At one point the “Women Rule” interview reports: “There is a tendency for women to over think things, right? And so we think, ‘Oh, can I really — if I decide to run for office, am I qualified? Do I have the educational experience? Do I have the background? Do I have the ability?’” Cortez Masto says. “And I will tell you, there are men who look at the same office and say, ‘Well, how much does it pay and let me jump in and see.’ I think we need to do a better job of talking with women to say, ‘No, you don’t need to do that analysis.’”

May we be so bold as to point out that each of us is a minority of one, and that not all members of every group think and act alike. Diversity mandates are futile, insulting and ultimately absurd.

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.

All the news about the paper’s owner that fits

There is a story on the Las Vegas newspaper’s website about how Vice President Mike Pence and House leaders plan to honor the paper’s owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife at a June 7 fundraiser for the National Republican Campaign Committee. The fundraiser is asking for contributions of up to $50,000 per couple. Adelson is a major Republican donor.

But for some reason the Reuters story about Adelson being questioned by Israeli police as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t appear to have been posted yet. Adelson is a Netanyahu supporter

Reuters reports Netanyahu is suspected of abuse of office, but he denies any wrongdoing.

Reportedly Adelson talked about suspicions that Netanyahu negotiated a deal in 2015 for favourable press coverage with Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. Adelson owns a competing Israeli newspaper.

Adelson arrives for Trump’s recent speech in Israel. (Reuters pix)

 

No expansion of the role of government can ever be reversed

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth! — Ronald Reagan

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is pushing to keep spending federal tax dollars to keep the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, of course, is on board, along with all of the rest of the state’s delegation except Rep. Mark Amodei. Nevada lawmakers want to expand Medicaid. The governor is for keeping the Medicaid expansion.

Dean Heller

Thus far, according to the morning newspaper, the expansion has added 221,000 to Nevada’s Medicaid roles, although previous stories in the same paper put the number at 400,000. Most of those are able-bodied, childless adults earning above the poverty level.

Few seem willing to throttle back on the government largesse, even though the economy has picked up a bit since the depths of the recession and unemployment has fallen from October 2009’s 10 percent peak to 4.7 percent.

Meanwhile, Medicaid enrollment has grown by 47 percent since 2006 and spending by 75 percent — to $554 billion in 2015.

Trump’s budget proposes to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid over the next decade, and trim $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs — all of which have increased in recent years.

What goes up must never go down.

 

Adelson’s fingerprints are everywhere … well, almost

Sheldon Adelson speaks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a speech by President Trump at the Israel Museum on Tuesday in Jerusalem. (AP pix via Haaretz)

The Las Vegas newspaper may have to add a couple of pages just to handle the disclaimers if its owner gets his fingerprints on any more news items.

Today there were, count them, four separate disclaimers.

In the front page story about President Trump being at a museum in Israel there was a mention that the paper’s owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife were in the audience. So at the end of the piece there was the obligatory disclaimer: “The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.”

The disclaimer also appeared at the end of a story about what it would cost to remove the attorney general as legal counsel for various agencies, including the Gaming Control Board. A bill was introduced to do this after the head of GCB secretly taped a conversation with Attorney General Adam Laxalt in which Laxalt asked the GBC to file a brief in a civil court case involving Adelson.

At the end of a story about a languishing bill that would have created an inspector general’s office to audit spending by government agencies there were two disclaimers. The bill was prompted by the newspaper’s reporting of lavish spending by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The first one notes: “The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands Corp. operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which competes with the LVCVA-operated Las Vegas Convention Center.”

The second adds: “The Review-Journal owns the domain lasvegas.com, which is subleased to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The sublease terminates Aug. 2.”

Frankly, the story and its front page placement smelled distinctly of editorializing that would benefit Adelson’s convention business at the expense of his competition.

Oddly enough there were two stories in the sports section about the NFL’s Raiders moving to Las Vegas, but neither mentioned Adelson’s key role as catalyst for the move since he walked away from the deal — keeping his money but still getting the stadium “amenity” largely at taxpayer expense while still being able to put bods in his beds. No mention, no backgrounding, no disclaimers.

Also, pay no heed the fact the legislation that created the stadium funding also created a special oversight committee to monitor the expansion of the LVCVA facilities. Adelson has long opposed the expansion of the publicly funded convention center, contending it unfairly competes with his Sands Convention Center.

The redundant oversight panel could scale back the expansion, which might have been Adelson’s real Machiavellian objective all the time.

 

Guess his fingerprints have been wiped clean from that one, but who knows where they will turn up next.

 

 

Editorial: Rip the veil of secrecy from the Bundy case

Bunkerville standoff (Reuters pix)

Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.

The wheels of justice continue to grind in the federal criminal case against Cliven Bundy, four of his sons and a dozen co-defendants over the April 2014 armed standoff with federal agents trying to confiscate Bundy’s cattle at his Bunkerville ranch. All of the defendants have been jailed for more than a year.

The standoff occurred after armed Bureau of Land Management agents attempted to roundup Bundy’s cattle after he had refused for 20 years to pay grazing fees in the Gold Butte area. The BLM said he owed $1 million in fees and penalties.

Faced with armed protesters the BLM agents eventually released the cattle and left to avoid potential bloodshed.

Much of the evidence in the high-profile case remains cloaked in secrecy due to a blanket court protective order that requires just about everything filed in the case must be filed under seal.

But the press — specifically the Las Vegas daily newspaper, this newspaper and The Associated Press — continue to fight for openness. Just this past week attorney Maggie McLetchie filed a writ with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that the veil of secrecy be lifted, because it “is anathema to the First Amendment” and longstanding court precedent from the 9th Circuit itself.

McLetchie argues, among other things, that much of the rationale for keeping material secret is merely to protect government agents from legitimate criticism of their conduct. She also says the protective order is  based on “speculation and scaremongering” supported almost entirely by a series of years-old online social media posts.

Since the arrests of most of the defendants back in February 2016, things have not gone swimmingly for the government.

Two of Bundy’s sons, who had been arrested on separate but similar charges of illegally occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge to protest the jailing of father and son ranchers under a terrrorism law for letting fires get out of control and burn a few acres of federal public land, were acquitted of those charges this past fall by a jury, along with their co-defendants.

In April, the first of three scheduled trials for the Bunkerville defendants — charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers — ended in a mistrial. The jury found only two of six people on trial guilty of some charges but deadlocked on the others. The jurors agreed to convict on only 10 of the 60 charges brought. None of the conspiracy charges stuck.

In January, the Interior Department’s Inspector General released a 16-page investigative report outlining misconduct and ethical violations by the BLM agent who supervised the Bundy cattle roundup. The report never named the agent but said he abused his powers by obtaining preferential treatment for family and friends at the 2015 Burning Man event on BLM land, misused BLM personnel and equipment, improperly intervened in hiring a BLM agent and attempted to influence an employee’s testimony during the Inspector General’s investigation of him.

News accounts identify the agent as Dan Love.

McLetchie noted that the misconduct allegations add fuel to the “general public’s concern that the government mishandled the investigation in this case.”

Her writ quotes from a 9th Circuit ruling from 1983 in which The Associated Press sought information about a criminal case. The court stated there “can be little dispute that the press and public have historically had a common law right of access to most pretrial documents. … Moreover, pretrial documents, such as those dealing with the question whether [a defendant] should be incarcerated prior to trial and those containing allegations by [a defendant] of government misconduct, are often important to a full understanding of the way in which ‘the judicial process and the government as a whole are functioning.’”

Seems on point for the Bundy case.

The defendants from the first Bundy trial are to be retried in late June on the same day Cliven Bundy, his sons and others were scheduled for trial. The court has yet to say what the schedule will be for the long-jailed remaining defendants.

The court needs to shine more light on this case so the public can see whether justice is being done.

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.

 

The absurdity of mandating diversity

When you boil it down to its fundamental essence, it is an absurdity.

A line in the morning paper’s editorial causes one to stop, think and calculate. The screed takes issue with a comment Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto made in an interview with Politico, in which she said, “We should be mandating diversity in our committees, mandating diversity in our hiring practices, mandating diversity throughout the United States Senate.”

She later is quoted as saying, “You just have to walk in the room and look at the senators that are there — the 100 senators, right? You could see the lack of diversity.”

The editorial counters: “Does Sen. Cortez Masto seek a constitutional amendment to replace the democratic process with a federal quota system to ensure the ‘proper’ distribution of pigments and chromosomes in the nation’s highest legislative body?”

How do you determine successful diversity? Do you know it when you see it, as Cortez Masto does — just like the way Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart spotted pornography? Can it be precisely calculated?

The first absurdity is how to explain what is “proper” diversity? Equal amounts of certain properties, traits and characteristics? Or matching the current distribution in the population of those characteristics? Is that distribution fair? Or is it a quirk of fecundity?

If you were to demand an equal distribution of chromosomes, the Senate would have to have an equal number of X and Y chromosomes, thus all male. Even one female upsets the diversity balance.

Even if the first elected Latina member of the U.S. Senate, as both the interview and the editorial observe, is talking about skin pigments and/or ethnicity, that too gets to be a mathematical absurdity.

Are we going to return the days when states like Louisiana had laws on the books that stated any person with so much as 1/32nd black heritage was, ipso facto, black? Or does one pure bred ethnic person equal two mixed race persons? Should the ratio of black, brown, yellow, red, white and other pigments match the population from the latest census or extrapolate for changes in the future? May a person identify as any race or gender they so choose? Or would that upset the diversity quotient?

And what about IQ levels? Should the senators and their staffs be required to match the median IQ of the nation? For every staffer or senator with an IQ of 130, you’d need to hire or elect someone with an IQ of 70.

What about age? The median age of senators is 62. The median U.S. population age is 38. Seems like a lack of diversity. And that tacky constitutional requirement that a senator has to be at least 30 years of age certainly flies in the face of the all-important diversity objective.

Also, aren’t there too lawyers in the Senate and not enough hod carriers?

Each of us is a minority of one. Lumping people into categories and pigeonholes for the sake achieving a counterbalance for some past perceived discriminatory behavior is itself discriminatory, counterproductive and contrary to democratic principles.

By the way, the Politico interview was for a section called “Women Rule Podcast.” Not very diverse.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Politico pix)

What is the difference between demanding diversity and stereotyping?

At one point the “Women Rule” interview reports:

“There is a tendency for women to over think things, right? And so we think, ‘Oh, can I really — if I decide to run for office, am I qualified? Do I have the educational experience? Do I have the background? Do I have the ability?’” Cortez Masto says. “And I will tell you, there are men who look at the same office and say, ‘Well, how much does it pay and let me jump in and see.’ I think we need to do a better job of talking with women to say, ‘No, you don’t need to do that analysis.’”

 

Cyberwarfare doesn’t quite make the front page, but inside …

North Korea at night with South Korea below, China to the left and Japan to the right.

The news items were pages apart and totally unrelated. Or were they?

On the cover of the morning newspaper is an AP account of North Korea successfully testing a nuclear-capable missile. The Seoul-datelined story opens: “North Korea on Monday boasted of a successful weekend launch of a new type of ‘medium long-range’ ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.” The rocket flew 490 miles

Inside the Nevada section there is an interview with the  commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base. In it he talks about the role of Nellis, which includes discussion of the base’s cyberwarfare role. The “bird” colonel commented that an example of cyberwarfare would be “figuring out how, if our nation decided, we would take down the electrical grid in North Korea.”

The irony is that North Korea doesn’t have much of an electric grid to take down, but we do.

In fact a story at Townhall today talks about what could be used to take down our grid — electromagnetic pulse or EMP, which could be delivered by a solar flare or a high-altitude nuclear detonation, which could delivered from a ship or submarine less than 490 miles off either coast.

As we noted three years ago, Dr. Peter Pry testified before Congress  that an EMP event could wipe out 90 percent of America’s population.

“Natural EMP from a geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse,” he said.

There was a bill in the House, H.R. 3410, at the time that was intended to start the relatively inexpensive process of hardening the nation’s grid against such an attack. Nevada Rep. Joe Heck was a co-sponsor. It passed the House in December 2014 and has since languished, apparently for a lack of urgency in the Senate and White House.

I have been writing about this topic since 1980 to no avail.

Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., who introduced H.R. 3410 in October 2013, said three years ago “every single facet of modern human life” would be “crippled” by an EMP event. “It strikes at my very core when I think of the men, women, and children in cities and rural towns across America with a possibility of no access to food, water, or transportation,” he said. “In a matter of weeks or months at most, a worst-case scenario could bring devastation beyond imagination.”

The cost to do this grid work has been placed at somewhere between a half a billion dollars and a couple of billion. Washington spends three times that in one minute.

The headline on that Townhall story reads: “Tick, Tock: EMP War Looms.”

Here is an excerpt from that story by Katie Kieffer:

A unique menace in that it can occur naturally (via a geomagnetic storm) or by man (via the high-altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon), EMP is a rapid acceleration of particles that creates a high-power burst of electromagnetic energy.

55 years ago, during the Cold War, the United States experienced an accidental EMP blast when the JFK administration tested a 1.4-megaton nuclear warhead 250 miles above Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The test, Operation Starfish Prime, malfunctioned. Traffic lights 850 miles away in Hawaii immediately went out, six satellites above the Pacific died, and radio networks were disrupted in Alaska, Hawaii and California.

Starfish Prime was a powerful warning — had we listened. Unfortunately, today our country is virtually defenseless against an EMP attack. Furthermore, the ramifications of an EMP attack in 2017 are far greater than in 1962 due to the proliferation of grid-dependent smartphones, computers, cars, medical facilities, financial institutions and food distribution channels. Even our military is far more electricity-dependent.

“Electricity could be out for months or years because the grid would need to be assembled completely anew since its components would melt,” EMP expert Avi Schurr told NATO. Hospitals, banks, and grocery stores would be unable to function for months — and possibly permanently. Without power or communications systems, chaos would erupt and tens of millions of Americans would die.

The good news? We know how to prevent an EMP attack—and with a relatively modest monetary investment.

The bad news? More than any president in U.S. history, Barack Obama had unique congressional studies at his fingertips alerting him to the danger of an EMP attack, plus manifold prevention recommendations from the congressional EMP Commission. Yet Obama only took steps to weaken America’s already-anemic defenses.

Col. Paul J. Murray, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, discusses cyberwarfare (R-J photo by Keith Rogers)