A little ‘refer’ would not be madness … no, not that kind

Were I the editor of the morning paper, I would’ve been sorely tempted to insert a “refer” in the 4A story about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling  for nearly half a trillion dollars in subsidies to replace internal combustion engine vehicles with electric ones.

No, not that kind. In the newspaper biz a “refer” is a reference to another section or page on a related topic — like the one on today’s front page directing readers to a story inside related to the one about the dental board.

The Schumer news story simply cried out for a reference to today’s lede editorial about the futility of trying to reduce carbon emissions by coercing and bribing more people into electric cars.

The news story by the AP quotes Schumer as saying the “proposal to bring clean cars to all of America” would be a key part of climate legislation by Senate Democrats that “could position the U.S. to lead the world in clean auto manufacturing.”

The editorial on the other hand points out the huge carbon footprint created by the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries and the fact the electric cars are charged largely by fossil-fuel-burning power plants.

The editorial correctly explains the error of the Senate Democrats’ ways:

The lithium batteries that power electric cars have to come from somewhere. China produces 60 percent of the world’s supply, notwithstanding Northern Nevada’s Tesla plant. To produce a battery able to store as much energy as is contained in a barrel of oil, it requires the equivalent of 100 barrels of oil. That’s according to Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark P. Mills.

“Importing batteries manufactured on Asia’s coal-heavy grid means that consumers are just exporting carbon-dioxide emissions,” Mr. Mills wrote recently in City Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April on a German study finding that, given the country’s energy makeup, “the carbon emissions of battery-electric vehicles there, are, in the best case, ‘slightly higher than those of a diesel engine.’ ”

The carbon emissions don’t stop once the car is produced. Electric cars are charged on the grid. Coal and natural gas — both fossil fuels — produced 63 percent of that power in 2018. Almost 20 percent comes from nuclear power and 7 percent is from hydropower. Despite decades of hype and subsidies, wind and solar produced just a bit more than 8 percent. Solar and wind generation will likely increase in the coming decades, but absent an embrace of nuclear power, fossil fuels will be necessary to balance out the grid.

The factual opinion piece concludes by pointing out that electric cars merely exchange carbon emissions you can see for those you can’t — something the climate alarmists fail to grasp.

But since news and opinion are to be kept at arm’s length, I probably would have resisted inserting the “refer,” though it would’ve been a service to the reader and hardly madness.

Electric vehicle being charged. Photo accompanies R-J editorial online. (R-J file pix)

Editorial: Presidents and courts should not overturn laws

The Supreme Court in June agreed to decide whether the Trump administration lawfully canceled a program created by executive fiat by President Obama in 2012 that protected immigrants brought into the country illegally as children — popularly dubbed Dreamers — from deportation and be provided work permits.

Prior to that, such persons were subject to deportation by law.

The program is called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and is the subject of a case titled Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California, et. al. This past week Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin and the governors of Kansas and Montana.

“DACA recipients are members of the Nevada family, and we take care of our family,” Ford is quoted as saying in a press release announcing the filing. “By ending DACA, the Trump Administration turned its back on hundreds of thousands of young people who want nothing more than to continue living and working in the country they call home. Dreamers make America, and Nevada, great. I will continue to fight for them and for our Nevada family.”

The press release also quotes Gov. Steve Sisolak as saying, “Nevada’s 12,000 DACA recipients are hard-working members of our communities who contribute to our state every day. As Governor, I’m proud that Nevada is fighting back to defend our DREAMers against any attempts to undermine their protected status.”

In 2017 Trump announced his decision to cancel DACA, but several lower courts have blocked the move, saying the decision was arbitrary and capricious, because the administration failed to offer a sound rationale for changing course. Currently, the administration isn’t accepting new DACA applications, but continues to process renewals from Dreamers already in the program.

The attorney general’s court brief makes several compassionate arguments for why DACA should remain in force.

The brief notes that there are currently more than 669,000 DACA recipients in the United States who are able to work or attend school without fear of deportation. In Nevada, DACA recipients accounted for an estimated $261.8 million in spending power in 2015 and paid an estimated $19.9 million in state and local taxes, the brief states.

It goes on to point out that nationwide 73 percent of DACA grantees live with an American citizen spouse, child or sibling. “In Nevada, 27,600 individuals live in mixed-status households with an estimated 4,600 United States-born children of DACA recipients,” the brief relates. “Losing DACA status threatens to throw families into financial chaos, because many depend on the incomes and health insurance of the DACA recipients in their families. It also threatens to tear families apart, as native-born children of DACA recipients could be separated from their parents if removal proceedings are instituted against them.”

It also notes that residents who live in fear of deportation are less likely to report crimes or to seek proper medical care.

All true enough, but under our Constitution Congress writes laws, not the president or the courts. The Trump administration has expressed sympathy for the Dreamers, but four different bills to address immigration and the border wall failed this past year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Rather than press litigation the governor and the attorney general should demand our congressional delegation get off the impeachment bandwagon and pass immigration reform legislation the proper way — or else uphold the law as written by Congress.

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.

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.

 

For our grandchildren: Taxation without representation

The Senate has now passed the so-called budget deal previously approved by the House and President Trump is expected to sign it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the measure avoids a government shutdown in the fall by suspending the debt ceiling until after the 2020 election and provides more than $2.7 trillion in discretionary spending over the next two years, which means the deficit will grow by $1 trillion a year for the foreseeable future.

Who will pay for today’s spending tomorrow? Our grandchildren, who have no say in the matter. That’s what was called taxation without representation at the time of the Revolution.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said the deal marks the death of the Tea Party movement, according to Fox News.

“Both parties have deserted – have absolutely and utterly deserted – America and show no care and no understanding and no sympathy for the burden of debt they are leaving the taxpayers, the young, the next generation and the future of our country,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “The very underpinnings of our country are being eroded and threatened by this debt.”

Apparently, Republican Rep. Mark Amodei was the only Nevada delegate to vote against this atrocity.

In 2016 Trump promised to wipe out the national debt in eight years.

At least a drunken sailor will sober up eventually.

WSJ op-ed explains socialism by using the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs proudly proclaims that it operates programs that benefit veterans and their families by offering education, rehabilitation, disability and death benefits, as well as home loan guaranties, pensions, burials and health care.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal today, Karl Zinsmeister uses the VA to highlight the consequences of socialism. It was widely reported that vets died waiting for care at VA hospitals and those hospitals falsified records of wait times to cover up their incompetence.

But what are the consequences of discharge to grave dependence?

Zinsmeister notes that after World War II just 11 percent of veterans were granted disability payments. Though only a small fraction of post-911 vets have actually engaged in fighting, today close to half of vets being discharged request lifelong disability benefits.

“The more plausible diagnosis for most veterans is that they suffer from the invisible wounds of government dependency,” the op-ed suggests.

Zinsmeister notes that Medicare for All might not sound so attractive if it were called VA Benefits for All.

VA hospital in Pheonix. (AP pix via WSJ)

Adelson involvement in issue not worthy of mention in his newspaper

The Wall Street Journal had a front page story recently about how the Justice Department has reversed course on its 2011 opinion that the 1960s Wire Act prohibited only online sports betting and not other forms of online gambling. The paper said the change “hewed closely to arguments made by lobbyists for casino magnate and top Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.”

WSJ reporters compared a memo sent to Justice by Adelson lawyers in April 2017 to the new opinion handed down in November and found the new opinion arguments similar to those in the memo. “Both writings pointed to some of the same case law examples,” the report said.

Adelson has spent millions of dollars campaigning to change the government’s interpretation of the law and spent tens of millions supporting Donald Trump’s presidential election bid. Adelson’s company has long argued that online gambling would hurt revenue at established casinos.

Today the Las Vegas newspaper also has a story on this topic.

“Now that Nevada has a law allowing interstate online poker, regulators will have to re-examine what that means under the new interpretation,” the story says. “Is it illegal and thus banned? Will Nevada’s laws be grandfathered in?”

But nowhere does it mention Adelson’s well known campaign against online betting, nor is there an italicized disclaimer at the end noting the Adelson family owns the paper.

Sheldon Adelson (John Locher AP pix via WSJ)

 

Newspaper column: States should not be granted absolute immunity

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case this past week that could alter the ability of a private citizen to seek justice in his state’s courts when public employees from another state abuse their powers and step over the line of common decency. The case is titled Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt.

It all started in 1993 when a tax auditor for the Franchise Tax Board of California read a newspaper article about how wealthy California computer chip inventor, Gilbert Hyatt, had recently moved to Nevada, which, unlike California, has no income tax. The auditor investigated and concluded Hyatt had not moved to Nevada as early as he claimed. The tax board said Hyatt owed California nearly $15 million in taxes and penalties.

Hyatt eventually sued the tax board in Nevada courts for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, abuse of process and breach of confidential relationship. According to The Wall Street Journal, California’s lead auditor became obsessed with Hyatt and vowed to “get that Jew bastard.” The auditor reportedly traveled to his Nevada home and “peered through his windows and examined his mail and trash,” as well as pressed estranged family members to testify against him.

A Nevada jury found for Hyatt and awarded him $85 million for emotional distress, $52 million for invasion of privacy, $1 million for special damages for fraud and $250 million in punitive damages. Because Nevada has a law limiting the liability of its own state agencies the award was later reduced to $50,000.

In a strange case of role reversal, the argument now before the U.S. Supreme Court being pressed by California is that one of its earlier opinions should be overturned. That case is known as Nevada v. Hall. California residents brought suit in a California court for damages when a state of Nevada-owned vehicle on official business collided with the Californians on a California highway. The California courts assessed damages of more than $1 million against Nevada.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 ruled that while states have sovereign immunity from being sued in their own courts, a state is not constitutionally immune from suit in the courts of another state.

In yet another twist, the attorneys general of 45 states, including Nevada’s then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt, have filed amicus briefs asking that Nevada v. Hall be overturned.

“The time has come for this Court to overrule its decision in Nevada v. Hall … an outlier among this Court’s consistent protection of the States’ sovereign immunity,” the brief argues. “Although this Court has held that States are immune in their own courts, in federal courts, and in federal administrative agencies, Hall allows a State to be haled before the courts of any other State and be forced to pay money judgments issued by those courts. This affront to the States’ sovereign dignity and financial resources is contrary to the Constitution’s structure and history and should be definitively rejected. For this reason, a total of forty-five States have joined briefs arguing that Hall should be overruled.”

During oral arguments this past week, California’s attorney argued that the “writings and speeches given by Hamilton, Marshall, and Madison” supported his view that states should be immune from legal action in the courts of other states.

Again according to the Journal, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded, “It’s nice that they felt that way, but what we know is they didn’t put it in the Constitution. And so we talk a lot now about not relying on legislative history, but relying on the plain text.”

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito added that “we are all always very vigilant not to read things into the Constitution that can’t be found in the text.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked why something the states supposedly regarded as so important would not have been addressed in the constitutional text.

Where is a citizen to turn when public officials flout the law and run amok? Does not state sovereignty include the right and power to protect its own citizens from agencies in other states when they are extorted and defrauded? You know what they say about absolute power.

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.