Editorial: Judge orders more studies for water grab

It is not too often a judge’s ruling is greeted by all sides as a victory, but that is what happened after federal Judge Andrew Gordon issued a 39-page opinion in the fight over the Clark County water agency’s bid to tap groundwater beneath White Pine, Lincoln and Nye counties.

Judge Gordon said the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could grant right-of-way for a 300-mile network of pipelines across public land, but first it has to address plans to mitigate the potential loss of wildlife habitat due to a draw down of the water table.

The suit was brought by White Pine County, the Great Basin Water Network (GBWN), several Indian tribes and environmental groups against the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) and the BLM.

The water agency issued a statement saying officials were pleased the judge rejected “the vast majority of the plaintiffs’ claims.”

A spokesman for GBWN called the ruling a victory because the judge is requiring a revision of the Environmental Impact Statement to add details on how damage to wetlands and wildlife habitat will be monitored and addressed.

“We now have multiple victories in state and federal court showing that this process hasn’t followed the requirements of science or law,” said GBWN’s Howard Watts. “Today SNWA has none of the water rights they’ve applied for with the state, and no permission to build the pipeline. After passing the buck at both the state and federal levels, SNWA and BLM can no longer kick the can down the road on developing specific plans to identify and prevent the severe environmental damage this project would produce.”

Gary Perea, a White Pine County commissioner, said, “SNWA has been told again they can’t prove they can build this pipeline without hurting the environment and the people that live in these areas.”

Marc Fink, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, another plaintiff in the case, said, “The federal government has to go back to the drawing board and try to come up with some plan to compensate for the massive environmental damage that would be caused by draining these ancient aquifers.”

Considering that federal studies of the interconnected aquifers in the various valleys involved 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 — mitigation might not be feasible.

Judge Gordon noted the importance of the case to both sides, “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.”

The very same issue of how to monitor and mitigate the draw down of the aquifers already is going to be addressed in hearings by the state engineer starting Sept. 25. The state Supreme Court ordered the engineer’s office to further address this issue before finalizing the approval of 84,000 acre-feet a year for SNWA. The outcome of those hearing could obviate the federal court ruling if the engineer finds there is no way to mitigate.

Simeon Herskovits, an attorney representing many of the plaintiffs in both state and federal courts, said, “We expect this fall’s hearing will more fully reveal the dangers posed by SNWA’s project to senior water rights and the environment in the affected region, as well as the flaws in their analysis of these problems to date.”

Time and money may be on the side of the opponents of the water grab.

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.

Meanwhile, the state has cut a deal with Mexico that nets 54,500 acre-feet of additional Colorado River water for a mere $7.5 million.

Even though the SNWA claims it needs more water, it continues to issue “will-serve” letters to new residential and commercial developments.

Surely Clark County can find cheaper and less damaging ways to slake its thirst.

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.

 

 

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Newspaper column: Time to release Bunkerville defendants on bail?

Bunkerville standoff (Reuters pix)

Whether you think the defendants in the Bunkerville standoff are a bunch of lunatic, dangerous gun-nuts who should be locked up and the key thrown away or upstanding patriots defending property and constitutional rights in the face of belligerent bureaucrats, it matters not what you think.

What matters is what jurors think.

So far jurors seem less than enthusiastic about embracing the pile of charges heaped on the first of the standoff defendants.

When Bureau of Land Management agents and their hired cowboys showed up at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in April 2014 to confiscate his cattle — for which he had refused to pay grazing fees for decades — hundreds of people showed up to exercise their First Amendment right to protest. Some also exercised their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

A year and half ago prosecutors filed charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers among other things against 17 of those protesters, including Bundy and four of his sons. Until this past week all remained jailed without bail.

The defendants were separated into three groups for trial. The first trial took place in April with the other two to follow shortly thereafter. But those plans went awry.

The April trial of six men ended with no one being convicted of conspiracy, the most serious charge. Two men were convicted of some of the charges and jurors hung on the remaining four. Jurors told defense lawyers after the trial they never came close to convicting four defendants, voting 10-2 in favor of acquitting two of them and splitting on the others.

Despite the majority of jurors in the first trial voting to acquit, all four were retried. This past week the jurors in that trial — despite not being allowed to hear defense arguments about constitutional rights or possible law enforcement excesses —reached not-guilty verdicts on 34 of 40 counts.

The six men and six women acquitted Ricky Lovelien of Oklahoma and Steven Stewart of Idaho of all charges.

The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on four counts against Eric Parker and two counts against Scott Drexler. Parker’s attorney told The Associated Press that a juror told him that votes were 11-1 for acquittal on those six counts.

Prosectors nonetheless have decided to retry Drexler and Parker on those six counts in September, meaning the remaining 11 defendants will have their trials pushed back yet again, even though the Sixth Amendment guarantees a speedy trial.

Drexler and Parker, both of Idaho, are being allowed to return home pending their third trial on ever dwindling charges.

Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, and the attorneys for several other defendants have filed motions seeking to have their clients released pending trial.

“Our position has always been that it’s political instead of criminal,” Whipple told the Las Vegas newspaper. “And now it seems to be subjective instead of factual. There’s a whole fairness issue that I think is overlooked.”

Etched on the facade of the Supreme Court building in Washington is: “Equal Justice Under Law.”

In the Bunkerville standoff prosecution thus far two have been convicted of some charges, two acquitted of all charges and two face retrial on some charges, reportedly due to the intransigence of one juror.

Only one man has been sentenced, and his conviction may have had less to do with what he said and did at the standoff than what he said afterward.

Gregory Burleson, an avowed Arizona militiaman, told an undercover FBI agent posing as a documentary filmmaker, “I was hell bent on killing federal agents that had turned their back on we the people.”

Burleson testified, “Yes, I said a lot of crazy things. I’m ashamed of them actually. … Looking back at them, it’s like, ‘Wow, obviously I shouldn’t drink.’”

He was sentenced to 68 years in prison. For shooting off his mouth, not his guns?

Shortly after Cliven Bundy, 71, was arrested the prosecution argued that “Bundy is a danger to the community and poses a risk of non-appearance,” even though he agreed to any travel, firearm or GPS tracking restrictions the government might impose.

“Cliven Bundy is about as likely to hurt someone or to flee Nevada as a desert tortoise,” attorney Joel Hansen argued at the time. “It just isn’t going to happen.”

It costs nearly $90 a day to house a federal prisoner. Perhaps it is time the judge considers freeing the remaining defendants on bail pending trial.

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

Update: According to the AP, a federal judge has scheduled jury selection to begin Oct. 10 for the trial of Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and four others — including two whose recent retrial ended in a hung jury on some charges.

 

Dueling columnists could be entertaining, except …

Epithets at 10 paces. Turn and fire.

First, in the pages of the Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Wayne Allyn Root took issue with MGM’s CEO Jim Murren telling his employees that the firm would match any donations they decided to make to certain groups that he apparently identified as civil rights organizations. In a letter to employees Murren noted recent violence in Charlottesville and Barcelona and stated, “In the midst of this uncertainty, I want to affirm a clear-eyed, concrete view of the company in which you have chosen to invest your career, because on the question of human rights, MGM Resorts takes and unequivocal position: The protection of human dignity, demonstrated in the form of tolerance and respect for all people, is the core of our identity. We strive to create workplaces and entertainment spaces that are welcoming, open and respectful to all kinds of people, regardless of disability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious preference, gender identity or sexual orientation.” (His bold face and italics.)

He listed the groups for which the company would match donations as Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, ADL, Council on American Islamic Relations and others.

Root took issue with the doling out of shareholder funds to liberal groups in general but especially with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is known for tossing out hate group labels like trinkets at a Mardi Gras parade, and the Council on American Islamic Relation, which has been pegged as the clean-faced front for Hamas.

Root blasted, “Jim Murren has gone too far. And he’s put MGM’s board, shareholders and employees in a terrible position because of his extreme, radical, reckless decisions” — without bothering to append the usual disclaimer about the newspaper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, being both a business competitor with MGM and frequent political opponent of Murren.

Today, the putative editor of the insert inside the Review-Journal filled that gap with a diatribe. Brian Greenspun said of Root’s Thursday missive:

That day, he went after one of Sheldon’s biggest, most forward-thinking and most responsible competitors in the gaming industry. It is exactly what the gaming industry feared might happen when the news — as secret as the Adelson family tried to keep it — broke that one of the GOP’s wealthiest donors had purchased one of the two largest newspapers in Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun is the other “largest” newspaper in Nevada.

I don’t know if Sheldon knows what Root writes from one day to the next, but he should be very careful about what his minions publish in and under his name. Root and publisher Craig Moon certainly know what would please Sheldon.

Not only are Adelson and Murren competitors on the Strip but also in Macau and perhaps in Japan in the future.

Adelson is a huge Republican donor, while Murren was a card-carrying Republican for Reid and a Hillary Clinton supporter.

A couple of years ago Adelson tore into MGM and Caesars for driving down the price of rooms on the Strip and costing his Sands corporation money. Adelson personally attacked Murren for supporting a convention center expansion, which competes with Adelson’s convention center, over a new football stadium.

But perhaps the funniest thing in Greenspun’s screed was this line:

Which reminds me of one of the first lessons in newspaper publishing I learned from my father, Hank Greenspun, many decades ago — publishers have profound responsibilities to the public interest and it must always be placed before personal interest.

Hank Greenspan was notorious for pulling his newspaper like a dueling pistol to attack business competitors and political foes and to support his friends. He was virulently critical of an FBI agent who conducted a sting on certain politicians and he conducted a campaign to discredit a competitor in the cable television business.

Greenspan concludes his spiel, “Come on, Review-Journal, publish your paper in the community interest. You and your owners should be better than this.”

A little dueling between newspaper columnists could be entertaining — if they both weren’t such clowns.

Editorial: Bill continues giving veterans health care choice

Trump signs VA Choice bill. (AP pix)

With a deadline rapidly approaching, two weeks ago President Trump signed a bill sponsored by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller that appropriates $2.1 billion to extend a program that provides veterans with an opportunity to seek health care outside the backlogged, and too often distant, Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Senate Bill 114, VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017, passed both the Senate and the House without a single nay vote.

Trump said at the bill signing ceremony, “This bill will ensure that veterans continue to have the ability to see the doctor of their choice — so important — and don’t have to wait or travel long distances for care. And during the campaign, I kept talking about it. People — these great, incredible veterans — our finest — they’re waiting in line for seven days, nine days, fourteen days, for ailments that could be fixed quickly, and they end up dying of things that could be taken care of very, very routinely.”

The president used the occasion to personally praise Heller, Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee for shepherding the bill through a passage.

Trump also noted that the bill authorizes new community-based outpatient clinics and improves the VA’s ability to hire quality employees through improved recruitment and training.

Sen. Heller noted that the funding for the Choice Program will continue to give the 300,000 veterans living in Nevada access to services that the VA cannot provide – such as chemotherapy and certain life-saving surgeries.

“I applaud the president for signing my bill to ensure Nevada’s veterans can continue using the Veterans Choice program,” said Heller. “Nevada’s warriors have fought and served their country selflessly, and they should not be forced to jump through hoops when it comes to accessing the care and benefits they’ve earned.”

He cited as examples a Navy veteran from Lovelock named Wendell, who used the Choice Program to get a neck surgery so that he could still walk and an Air Force pilot from Battle Mountain named John who had cancer removed from his neck.

“The program also allows veterans living in rural areas to receive care near their homes,” Heller said. “Without funding for the program, rural veterans, like those in Ely, Elko, Winnemucca, and Tonopah, would have to drive hundreds of miles to get care. The Choice program allowed an Army veteran from Ely to access mental health services nearby as opposed to traveling over 200 miles to Salt Lake City, Utah, or forgoing the care entirely.”

We applaud this modest step toward privatization of our veterans’ health care.

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: Interior’s new sage grouse protection efforts welcomed

What’s good for cattle is good for grouse. (USDA pix)

Earlier this month Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered the implementation of recommendations from a team that reviewed the previous administration’s draconian land use restrictions under the guise of protecting greater sage grouse. The team — which included officials from Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service and representatives from the 11 affected states — called for lifting certain restrictions that impacted economic activity without actually affecting sage grouse populations.

Montana native Zinke’s 55-page order echoed criticisms that were included in various lawsuits brought by several states, including Nevada. Zinke’s order says the changes are not one-size-fits-all, the very words used by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt a year ago about litigation he had filed to block the land use restrictions.

Back when he sued the federal government over its sage grouse land restriction, Laxalt stated, “As our latest brief again demonstrates, the Bureau of Land Management’s rushed, one-size-fits-all sage grouse plan not only violates multiple federal laws, but also the agency’s own regulations. The BLM blatantly disregarded the many Nevada experts and stakeholders, and failed to consider how its plan would impact Nevadans. This approach to regulation is as dismissive to our State as it is illegal, and I remain dedicated to protecting the interests of Nevada and ensuring that agencies follow the law and take the state’s concerns and interests into account.”

Shortly after Zinke announced the changes, Laxalt lauded the move, saying, “I am glad to see this progress on an issue important to so many Nevadans. I agree with Secretary Zinke that the federal government and Nevada can protect the sage-grouse and its habitat, while also ensuring that conservation efforts do not undermine job growth and local communities.”

Nevada’s lawsuit accused the various federal land agencies of violating the law and ignoring scientific evidence when it concocted a 341-page pronouncement in 2015 that 10 million acres of public land in 16 Western states — nearly a third of that in Nevada — would be taken out of consideration for future mining claims, as well as oil and gas drilling near breeding grounds and that there would be additional reviews on grazing permits. The plan envisioned restrictions on grazing, resource development, solar and wind energy, and public access to public land in Nevada. This was being done even though the government declined to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Specifics in Zinke’s order include recognizing that “proper livestock grazing is compatible with enhancing or maintaining Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) habitat” and orders incentives be used to encourage grazing practices that improve conditions conducive to grouse habitat.

While the previous administration failed to even consider predator control as a means of protecting grouse, the Interior Department order calls for research into both lethal and non-lethal predator control. In 1989, the Nevada Department of Wildlife planted 1,400 chicken eggs in 200 simulated grouse nests during the 15-day period when sage hens lay their eggs. All the eggs were destroyed by predators, mostly ravens.

Yet, the previous administration put on their all-species-must-be-protected blinders and entirely ignored predator control as a means of protecting the grouse population.

The order also recognizes the need to reduce the overpopulation of wild horses and burros that eat and trample sage grouse habitat, something else the previous administration was lax about.

It also discusses the need to fund fire fuel reduction and fighting invasive species.

It also anticipates flexibility to allow the development of both fluid and solid minerals.

It even calls for experimenting with captive breeding of grouse to enhance the population.

This move by the Interior Department should have a salutary impact on Nevada’s economy. Interior’s own draft environmental impact statement estimated that its previous sage grouse restrictions would reduce economic output in Nevada each year by $373.5 million, cost $11.3 million in lost state and local tax revenue and reduce employment by 739 jobs every year for the next 20 years.

As for all the doomsaying about grouse populations, according to a 2015 Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies survey, the population of greater sage grouse had grown by nearly two-thirds in the previous two years.

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.

Prosecution continues to stretch out lengthy Bunkerville cases

Protesters outside courthouse in Las Vegas (R-J pix)

Speedy trial?

The prosecutors broke the 17 defendants in the Bunkerville standoff into three groups. Six would be tried in April and the others — including 71-year-old rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons — would be tried shortly thereafter.

But in April the jurors convicted only two of the six of any charges. Jurors told defense lawyers after the trial they never came close to convicting four defendants, voting 10-2 in favor of acquitting two and splitting on the others.

The government decided to retry those four and rejected Cliven Bundy’s bid to move up his trial, saying he would have to wait in jail until after the retrial. That retrial ended this week with two of the four being acquitted and the remaining two acquitted of all but a handful of lesser charges. All have been freed.

But the prosecutor has decided to retry for a third time the two for whom some charges remain unresolved, even though defense attorneys were told jurors at one point voted 11-1 for acquittal on all charges. The retrial of Scott Drexler and Eric Parker is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Meanwhile, 11 defendants remain in jail awaiting trial, even though two juries have largely voted against conviction of their co-defendants. This was even though in the latest trial the defense was handcuffed by the judge prohibiting any defense based on First and Second Amendment rights or excessive force by federal agents.

The 11 have been jailed for year and half. The further delays in their trials are due entirely to the prosecution being unable to convince jurors of guilt. So trials that could have started in May or June are again delayed?

The standoff occurred after heavily armed Bureau of Land Management agents attempted to confiscate Bundy’s cattle after he had refused for 20 years to pay grazing fees. Faced with armed protesters the agents eventually released the cattle. The 17 Bunkerville defendants were charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers.

Is it time to consider freeing the remaining defendants on bond?

How much is this prosecutorial intransigence costing taxpayers?

 

 

 

 

What will it profit a man if the whole sun disappears?

All of the hubbub over the impending and, apparently potentially cataclysmic, solar eclipse is, frankly, beginning to wear a tad bit thin.

So, it is the moon and not a cloud that will briefly obscure a portion of the sun at midmorning. What possible use can that knowledge be? But it seems we mere mortals are such dolts that the newspapers, broadcasters and assorted social media must repeatedly warn us in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS with exclamation points that glancing up to see what is going on could result in permanent blindness and addlepated apoplexy. We are assured the eclipse will not cripple the power grid which incorporates a modest percent of solar power. The only difference between an eclipse and a cloud is that the cloud is less predictable.

The solar eclipse viewing glasses are sold out. The passage to and hotels along the path of totality are booked. There is no way in which to put the knowledge to profitable use.

Knowledge can be a valuable thing. Mark Twain liked to put his knowledge to good use, even if it meant stretching his grasp of that knowledge and the fortuity of the proximity of certain events to convenient circumstances beyond credulity. Stretching serves to underscore the reality and make it memorable.

How else to explain how a gentleman, if we may stretch the definition of the term to cover the rascally Hank Morgan, from 1879 who inexplicably finds himself stranded in the year 528 A.D. in the middle of June could possibly possess the astronomical charts and prodigious power of recall to precisely conclude that a total eclipse of the sun would occur minutes after noon two days hence?

As in some of the most improbable cliffhangers ever concocted, Twain’s protagonist in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” pulls it off. Somehow Morgan managed to get himself in trouble with local authorities and was about to dearly pay the consequences.

Here are the pertinent passages:

As the soldiers assisted me across the court the stillness was so profound that if I had been blindfold I should have supposed I was in a solitude instead of walled in by four thousand people. There was not a movement perceptible in those masses of humanity; they were as rigid as stone images, and as pale; and dread sat upon every countenance.  This hush continued while I was being chained to the stake; it still continued while the fagots were carefully and tediously piled about my ankles, my knees, my thighs, my body.  Then there was a pause, and a deeper hush, if possible, and a man knelt down at my feet with a blazing torch; the multitude strained forward, gazing, and parting slightly from their seats without knowing it; the monk raised his hands above my head, and his eyes toward the blue sky, and began some words in Latin; in this attitude he droned on and on, a little while, and then stopped. I waited two or three moments; then looked up; he was standing there petrified.  With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky.  I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning!  The life went boiling through my veins; I was a new man!  The rim of black spread slowly into the sun’s disk, my heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest stared into the sky, motionless.  I knew that this gaze would be turned upon me, next.  When it was, I was ready.  I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun.  It was a noble effect.  You could see the shudder sweep the mass like a wave. Two shouts rang out, one close upon the heels of the other:

“Apply the torch!”

“I forbid it!”

The one was from Merlin, the other from the king.  Merlin started from his place — to apply the torch himself, I judged.  I said:

“Stay where you are.  If any man moves — even the king — before I give him leave, I will blast him with thunder, I will consume him with lightnings!”

The multitude sank meekly into their seats, and I was just expecting they would.  Merlin hesitated a moment or two, and I was on pins and needles during that little while.  Then he sat down, and I took a good breath; for I knew I was master of the situation now. The king said:

“Be merciful, fair sir, and essay no further in this perilous matter, lest disaster follow.  It was reported to us that your powers could not attain unto their full strength until the morrow; but —”

“Your Majesty thinks the report may have been a lie?  It was a lie.”

That made an immense effect; up went appealing hands everywhere, and the king was assailed with a storm of supplications that I might be bought off at any price, and the calamity stayed. The king was eager to comply. He said:

“Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun!”

My fortune was made.  I would have taken him up in a minute, but I couldn’t stop an eclipse; the thing was out of the question.  So I asked time to consider.  The king said:

“How long — ah, how long, good sir?  Be merciful; look, it groweth darker, moment by moment.  Prithee how long?”

“Not long.  Half an hour — maybe an hour.”

There were a thousand pathetic protests, but I couldn’t shorten up any, for I couldn’t remember how long a total eclipse lasts. [Someone who remembered the time and date of a sixth century solar eclipse does not know how long one lasts?]  I was in a puzzled condition, anyway, and wanted to think.  Something was wrong about that eclipse, and the fact was very unsettling. If this wasn’t the one I was after, how was I to tell whether this was the sixth century, or nothing but a dream?  Dear me, if I could only prove it was the latter!  Here was a glad new hope.  If the boy was right about the date, and this was surely the 20th, it wasn’t the sixth century.  I reached for the monk’s sleeve, in considerable excitement, and asked him what day of the month it was.

Hang him, he said it was the twenty-first !  It made me turn cold to hear him.  I begged him not to make any mistake about it; but he was sure; he knew it was the 21st.  So, that feather-headed boy had botched things again!  The time of the day was right for the eclipse; I had seen that for myself, in the beginning, by the dial that was near by.  Yes, I was in King Arthur’s court, and I might as well make the most out of it I could.

The darkness was steadily growing, the people becoming more and more distressed.  I now said:

“I have reflected, Sir King.  For a lesson, I will let this darkness proceed, and spread night in the world; but whether I blot out the sun for good, or restore it, shall rest with you.  These are the terms, to wit:  You shall remain king over all your dominions, and receive all the glories and honors that belong to the kingship; but you shall appoint me your perpetual minister and executive, and give me for my services one per cent of such actual increase of revenue over and above its present amount as I may succeed in creating for the state.  If I can’t live on that, I sha’n’t ask anybody to give me a lift.  Is it satisfactory?”

There was a prodigious roar of applause, and out of the midst of it the king’s voice rose, saying:

“Away with his bonds, and set him free! and do him homage, high and low, rich and poor, for he is become the king’s right hand, is clothed with power and authority, and his seat is upon the highest step of the throne!  Now sweep away this creeping night, and bring the light and cheer again, that all the world may bless thee.”

But I said:

“That a common man should be shamed before the world, is nothing; but it were dishonor to the king if any that saw his minister naked should not also see him delivered from his shame.  If I might ask that my clothes be brought again —”

“They are not meet,” the king broke in.  “Fetch raiment of another sort; clothe him like a prince!”

My idea worked.

Twain already used that plot twist. What is left? How to make a buck off this thing? By selling newspapers? Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. Flinging blogs into the ether doesn’t quite have the same return on investment. Though perhaps these days the margins are considerably narrower.