Krauthammer sums up the incoherent barstool eruptions of Trump

You can probably wait and read it Sunday in the Las Vegas newspaper, but why wait?

Charles Krauthammer’s column in today’s Investor’s Business Daily offers his take on the three-way race for the GOP coming out of the Iowa caucus.

Though the theme of the column is bemoaning the media’s obsession with whether the various candidates are establishment or anti-establishment, his best lines describe the clueless meanderings of Donald Trump:

(Ted) Cruz may be anti-establishment but he’s a principled conservative, while Trump has no coherent political philosophy, no core beliefs, at all. Trump offers barstool eruptions and whatever contradictory “idea” pops into his head at the time, such as “humane” mass deportation, followed by mass amnesty when the immigrants are returned to the United States.

That’s the reason his harebrained ideas — barring all Muslims from entering the country, a 45% tariff on Chinese goods, government-provided universal health care through “a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people” (why didn’t I think of that?) — have received such relatively little scrutiny. No one takes them seriously. His actual platform is all persona — the wonders that will emanate from his own self-proclaimed strength, toughness, brilliance, money, his very yugeness.

I have no idea what yugeness is either but an online search turns up a number of references to the term describing Trump or his crowds of glazed-eyed followers.

Krauthammer concludes that, despite the “establishment” wrangling and mangling, Republicans are picking conservatism over Trump’s brand of populism by 2 to 1 — when you add Marco Rubio and Cruz’s vote tally of 51 percent and compare that to Trump’s 24 percent — which he says bodes well for the GOP’s chances of survival as the party of Reagan

Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at a recent debate. (Polaris/Newscom photo via IBD)

Newspaper column: Governor offers a way to save sage grouse and mining

Gov. Brian Sandoval is imploring the Interior Department to accept a state-created alternative to its proposed draconian plan to remove millions of acres of federal public land from productive use — specifically mining — as a way of paying lip service to saving greater sage grouse habitat.

In September the federal agency declined to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act and instead issued land use plans that bar mineral exploration and development on nearly 3 million acres within Nevada and restricts grazing and public access on a total of 16 million acres in the state.

Greater sage grouse (Rawlins Daily Times via AP)

On Jan. 15, Sandoval sent a letter to Neil Kornze, director of the Bureau of Land Management, which is a division of Interior and the agency overseeing the bulk of federal public lands in the state, asking him to accept a state proposal that would essentially swap parcels of land to be protected. Instead of restricting mining on 555,000 acres as the federal land use plan outlines, the state plan would restrict mining on 394,000 acres, but the swap would protect an additional 44 active sage grouse leks, as breeding grounds are called. The swap also could free up as many as 3,700 existing mining claims.

The governor warned in a press release this past week that failure to negotiate in good faith would result in his administration pursuing legal options.

Such a legal option is already being pursued, though the governor has insisted it is premature. The state, nine counties, three mining companies and a ranch have filed suit in federal court to block the land use plan.

A Reno federal judge refused to grant an injunction but a trail could take place this summer.

In his letter, Sandoval argues that the grouse protection restrictions would have serious economic impact on the Nevada economy and jobs.

A single lithium mining project in Humboldt County is estimated to have a direct economic impact of $2.5 billion over the life of the project and indirect impact of $3.4 billion, while creating 9,000 person-years of employment and half a billion dollars in salaries. State and local tax revenues are expected to exceed $100 million.

Lithium is used to make lithium-ion batteries used in electric and hybrid cars. The Tesla Motors/Panasonic battery manufacturing plant near Sparks is expected to consume a huge amount of lithium.

“I believe the proposed land withdrawal will not be able to show any measurable results except for the demise of the mineral exploration industry in Nevada,” Sandoval pointedly states. “The urgency to implement the withdrawal proposal prior to conducting the proper analysis needed to evaluate the efficacy of the action and socio-economic impact of the action is unclear,” adding that the agencies involved have “provided no science or analysis at any level to support the rationale” for excluding mining operations.

As for the threats to sage grouse habitat, Sandoval notes, as he has repeatedly in the past, that wild horse overpopulation, invasive species and huge wildfires that consume hundreds of thousands of acres at a time pose a far more significant danger to the grouse than mining, but little, if anything, is being done about those threats.

Additionally, there is relatively little reliable information on just how threatened the grouse population really is. Sandoval’s letter notes one major grouse habitat region nearly doubled in population during a recent three-year period.

Though Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stated that valid existing mining claims are exempt from any withdrawals, the governor points out that the definition of such valid claims cannot be found in the Federal Register. There is a question as to whether unpatented mining claims — on which millions of dollars in annual fees have been paid but the claims are not yet worked — will be classified as valid existing claims. Sandoval said this needs to be clarified.

In a press release this past week, Sandoval described his proposal as a win-win. “The proposal detailed in the state’s response delivers a ‘win-win’ solution in an effort to achieve the mutual goals of preserving our thriving mining industry, protecting the sage-grouse and enhancing its habitat and maintaining our state’s vast potential for future economic development opportunities. With the correct plan and management Nevada’s mining industry, the sage-grouse, and future economic development can all coexist and flourish in the Silver State,” he wrote.

BLM Nevada spokesman Stephen Clutter told The Associated Press, “We will certainly give serious consideration to these ideas as well as the other scoping comments we have received.”

That would be a change from past behavior.

A version of this column appears 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, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Solar panels: Who is really subsidizing whom?

When the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted new net-metering rates for residential owners of solar panels, effective Jan. 1, it did so based on NV Energy calculations that solar panel owners were avoiding paying their fair share of infrastructure costs — to the tune of about $52 a month. Thus, the PUC raised the connection fee for net-metering customers and slashed the amount of credit given for power uploaded to the grid.

But The Alliance for Solar Choice begs to differ. In a recent filing with the PUC, the group claims NV Energy failed to adequately take into account the value of that exported energy during peak hours that reduce the need for additional power generation and capital costs.

TASC calculates that each residential solar panel owner provides a net benefit of $12.08 per month to NV Energy and does not require a subsidy of $52 a month. (TASC subsidy filing)

“Exported energy effectively reduces deliveries to neighbors, so should reduce increases in aggregate need to invest to meet capacity growth,” TASC argues in its filing. “These adjustments, which are based on evidence in the record of this proceeding, demonstrate that Vote Smart is correct in concluding that Net Metering does not result in an unreasonable cost shift.”

Vote Smart has also filed challenges to the net-metering decision.

TASC1

OK, I don't actually understand it either, but ...

OK, I don’t actually understand it either, but …

The PUC is considering a NV Energy filing calling for grandfathering rates for existing residential solar and transitioning rates over 20 years.

Meanwhile, the net-metering battle has moved to Washington, where Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, are seeking an amendment they say would block states from jacking up rates on solar panel owners and save the future of the rooftop solar industry, according to the Review-Journal Washington bureau today and the R-J Carson City bureau yesterday. (Where this power is granted in the Constitution is certainly questionable, because interstate commerce is probably not involved.)

“We should not be pulling the plug on clean energy at a time when more and more Americans are making it work,” Reid said in comments on the Senate floor, according to the R-J.

Meanwhile, on the front page of Investor’s Business Daily, it is reported that subsidies will continue to make residential rooftop solar economical in 2017, but “Nevada won’t be among them.”

IBD says the Nevada PUC overhaul of net-metering rates and the rapid exit from the state of several solar panel installers show the “residential solar market still relies heavily on subsidies and favorable regulation.”

 

“Clearly, you’re not going to have the opportunity you’ve had in recent years in that market,” an analyst told IBD. “Given that, in our view, demand is going to hit the floor in Nevada.”

Amid all this, petitions are being contemplated to allow the voters to overturn the PUC net-metering decision and to break up the NV Energy monopoly, the R-J reports.

Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices’ petition would allow NV Energy customers to choose another source of power by 2023. Several casino companies are already trying to get the PUC to allow them to buy cheaper power elsewhere.

 

 

 

Should women register for the draft? Is that the right question to ask?

(Getty photo)

The top generals of both the Army and Marines testified recently before a Senate panel that women — now that they are eligible to serve in all aspects of the military — should be required to register for the draft, according to The Hill.

 

Apparently the question of whether anyone should be required to register for the draft is a settled topic, since no one even brought it up.

The clear words of the 13th Amendment don’t mean what they say:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

If you thought an amendment of the Constitution altered the original, you will be told by the experts that you are wrong and that the Constitution authorizes Congress to “raise and support Armies,” though it doesn’t specify just how.

You see in 1918 the Supreme Court in Arver v. U.S. waved aside any argument against conscription by simply saying any argument against it was inconceivable:

“Finally, as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.”

I seem to recall a few being drafted to fight in Vietnam, though the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was never really a declaration of war. Being declared by the great representative body of the people wasn’t even a prerequisite.

In fact, even arguing that conscription violates the 13th Amendment is forbidden.

In 1919 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that distributing pamphlets making the argument was tantamount to “falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic” and constituted a “clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Arguing the 13th Amendment won’t get you out of jury duty either.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.” — Lewis Carroll

Words are such fragile vessels unsuited to carrying such weighty ideas as liberty and freedom and self-determination, when the master thinks otherwise.

And, if you thought the Constitution was written with the intent that government should serve men, you are right. It’s a cookbook.

 

When a pollster calls there’s no time for debate

 

WSJ grafix

Nevada, like Iowa, conducts a caucus, not a primary.

Perhaps, like Iowa, the pollsters don’t have the best read on the outcome.

The Des Moines Register poll released just prior to the caucus — described as generally the most accurate — gave Donald Trump the lead with 28 points, followed by Ted Cruz with 23 points and Marco Rubio with just 15 on the Republican slate. Hillary Clinton was expected to best Bernie Sanders by 45 to 42 points.

When the smoke cleared Cruz came out on top and Rubio only trailed Trump by a single point and Clinton and Sanders were virtually tied. The Wall Street Journal subscribers can view a graphic with comprehensive results, that also show the delegate count. (Not to spread fear for the future of this country, but … socialist Sanders, according to WSJ entrance poll, won 84 percent of the 17-29 year-olds.)

Telephone polls are more like primaries, where you go into a booth and make a selection and go home. In a caucus, people actually talk to each other and can point out to supporters of Trump that he is an epithet-spewing, snarling bully who has never met a fence he couldn’t straddle.

He has contributed as much money to Democrats as Republicans, including Harry Reid and Hillary and Bill Clinton.

He strongly favors using the government power of eminent domain to take property from a private property owner to give to rich real estate developers like himself.

He backed a single-payer health care system, saying, “I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better,” but now says he opposes ObamaCare.

He has criticized the NRA for balking at gun restrictions, but doesn’t say that now.

He was for privatizing Social Security, but not now.

He opposes giving Western states greater control of federal public lands.

He announced his candidacy shortly after getting a phone call from Bill Clinton.

As in Iowa, the latest Nevada poll by Gravis shows Trump leading here with 33 points compared to 20 for Cruz and 11 for Rubio. But perhaps that will change once people start talking to each other about where the candidates really stand on the issues.

The Nevada precinct caucuses later this month will elect delegates to county conventions, where delegates to the state convention will be picked and that’s where delegates for the national conventions this summer will be selected.

The Democrats caucus at noon on the 20th and Republicans on the evening of the 23rd at either 5 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the location.

Republicans must be registered with the state by Feb. 13. Republicans may preregister for the caucus at nevadagopcaucus.org.

Democrats may register the day of the caucus. Information can be found at nvdems.com/caucus.

 

Editorial: Democrats are all for smart guns and dumb ballots

Democrats are calling for technology to be used in an attempt to thwart gun violence. They want smart guns to be mandated.

Obama, after issuing his fatwa, er, executive order expanding the requirement for background checks prior to gun purchase, said, “We can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint. Why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?”

As a part of this fiat, Obama ordered “the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.”

He told those departments to review the availability of smart gun technology and to “explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.”

Anti-gun nuts claim smart guns — using some form of biometrics or an electronic fob that must be near the gun before it can be fired — is needed to prevent accidental shootings in the home, shootings with stolen guns, children taking parents’ guns to schools and people or police having their guns taken from them and used against them.

New Jersey lawmakers passed a law called the Childproof Handgun Law that says that once “personalized handguns are available” all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns within two years.

Anything for the sake of safety and security.

But ballot security, forget about it.

Democrats contend that requiring smart ballots that can only be used by those authorized to use them is too burdensome, besides, they say, voter ID laws disproportionately affect the elderly, minorities and low-income groups who tend to vote for Democrats and we can’t have that. Also they contend getting a photo ID can cost money and is just too burdensome.

The Heritage Foundation has documented more than 250 cases of convictions for voter fraud across the country in recent years, including two in Nevada. Those were just the ones who got caught.

Smart guns, but dumb ballots. That’s the Democrat’s way.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in 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: One judge’s bias is another’s hard-earned experience

Wayne Hage in 1997 AP file photo via R-J

Earlier this month a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals printed out for the various federal public land agencies in the West a license to steal.

The court kicked the quarter-century-old fight between the Pine Creek Ranch near Tonopah and federal land managers back to the federal court in Nevada, ordering the court to assess damages against the ranch for allowing its cattle to trespass on federal land and ordering the judge who sided with the ranch owners two years ago to be removed from the case, claiming he was biased. It also threw out contempt citations the judge had handed two federal employees.

At one point the Hage family, which owns the ranch, was awarded $14 million by a federal judge because the government actions amounted to a “taking” of the value of the ranch’s grazing and water rights, but an appellate court said the case was “not ripe” because the family had not exhausted all administrative appeals. In a sort of Catch 22, the 9th Circuit said the statute of limitations had run out on such claims.

In a scathing opinion, Circuit Court Judge Susan Graber accused Nevada federal court Judge Robert Jones of bias against the federal agencies.

Graber wrote that Jones harbored animus toward the federal agencies. As evidence of this she quoted him as saying during a hearing, “In my opinion, not only in this case but in many cases, the government has been all too ready to — in the name of revoking or suspending or limiting grazing licenses, the government has been all too ready in the history of Nevada to impair otherwise suspected and substantiated rights of landowners.”

One person’s alleged bias is another’s expression of hard-earned experience. As can be attested to by many ranchers across Nevada, that is precisely how many agents of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service too often behave.

In 1978, E. Wayne Hage bought the Pine Creek Ranch and its 7,000 acres of private land and grazing permits for 752,000 acres of federal public land, as well as water rights. His clash with the federal agencies soon began. In 1983 alone he received 40 letters from and 70 visits by the U.S. Forest Service alleging violations of grazing permits. One notice gave the family five days to replace a single fence post staple on a mountain a 20-mile horseback ride away.

Hage died in 2006 and his son now runs the ranch and continues the legal battle.

Hage was criminally convicted for damaging and removing government owned trees while repairing his water channels, but the conviction was overturned by the 9th Circuit. Twice the feds fenced off the ranch’s water sources, and twice confiscated and sold Hage’s cattle.

In a 104-page ruling Judge Jones accused government officials of entering into “a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights. This behavior shocks the conscience …”

He further stated that the government had interfered in the case by urging others to apply for Hage’s grazing permits, by applying themselves for Hage’s water rights and by issuing trespass notices against witnesses soon after they had testified.

The appellate court shrugged off this behavior by saying the agents “took lawful actions, within the scope of their statutory and regulatory obligations, that had no effect whatsoever on the case before the court.”

Jones had ruled that the ranch had a right to allow its cattle to access its water rights and that grazing near the water was incidental, awarding damages to the government for that grazing of $165.88.

In the 2013 trial a forest ranger actually testified in his deposition that despite the right to use water, there was no right to access it. He said someone with water rights but no grazing permit would have to lower a cow from the air to drink the water.

The San Francisco-based judges dismissed any notion that the Hage family had any right to access their own water, if while en route they graze. You can lead a cow to water but you can’t let it graze.

an attorney for the Hage estate, has said he plans to challenge the decision, either by asking for a rehearing by a larger panel of the 9th Circuit or by seeking a U.S. Supreme Court review.

Perhaps the Nevada federal judge who next handles this hot potato should award the government their $165.88 in damages.

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