When the press feels compelled to censor

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger balks at the bizarre circumstances that have turned so-called journalists into censors.

People whose jobs depend on the protection of the First Amendment have joined the cancel culture. The editorial page editor of the New York Times was ousted after fellow staffers demanded his scalp having the audacity of publishing an op-ed by a U.S. senator calling for sending troops to quell rioting. (It now has a lengthy editors’ note atop it online disavowing much of the op-ed’s content.) The editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer was forced to resign for daring to publish an opinion piece under the headline”Buildings Matter, Too.”

Henninger observes:

The issue here is not about the assertion that racism is endemic in the U.S. The issue is the willingness by many to displace the American system of free argument with a system of enforced, coerced opinion and censorship, which forces comparison to the opinion-control mechanisms that existed in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

In 2006, the movie “The Lives of Others” dramatized how the Stasi, the omnipresent East German surveillance apparatus, pursued a nonconforming writer, whose friends were intimidated into abandoning him. To survive this kind of enforced thought-concurrence in the Soviet Union or Communist Eastern Europe, writers resorted to circulating their uncensored ideas as underground literature called samizdat. Others conveyed their ideas as political satire. In Vaclav Havel’s 1965 play, “The Memorandum,” a Czech office worker is demoted to “staff watcher,” whose job is to monitor his colleagues. You won’t see Havel’s anticensorship plays staged in the U.S. anytime soon.

He concludes:

The ingeniousness of this strategy of suppression and shaming is that it sidesteps the Supreme Court’s long history of defending opinion that is unpopular, such as its 1977 decision that vindicated the free-speech rights of neo-Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie, Ill. But if people have shut themselves up, as they are doing now, there is no speech, and so there is “no problem.”

Free speech isn’t dead in the United States, but it looks like more than ever, it requires active defense.

Who will dare when their jobs are on the line?

 

Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth

Michael Flynn (AP pix)

Former President Barack Obama on Friday in a private conversation said that the “rule of law is at risk” due to the Justice Department dropping charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, a former Army lieutenant general, according to Yahoo.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places,” Obama was quoted as saying.

Flynn was not charged with perjury but with lying to the FBI, which is what James Cartwright — a retired Marine Corps general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a key member of Obama’s national security team in his first term was charged with.

Days before leaving office in 2017, Obama pardoned Cartwright prior to sentencing, according to The New York Times.

Rule of law? No precedent?

Hat tip to PJ Media.

James Cartwright (AP pix)

Don’t wait for proof positive, give this combo a test in real world and real time

Two doctors writing in The Wall Street Journal today say a combination of two currently available drugs is helping cure coronavirus in a matter of days instead of requiring 14-day quarantines.

Getty Images via WSJ

A recent French study used hydroxychloroquine — a malaria treatment that has been used since 1944 with little side effect — in combination with azithromycin, brand name Zithromax Z-Pak, to treat a small number of COVID-19 patients. Of those treated with the combo 100 percent were cured by the sixth day of treatment. Of those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone 57.1 percent were cured, write Dr. Jeff Colyer, a practicing physician and chairman of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Health, and Dr. Daniel Hinthorn, director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“A couple of careful studies of hydroxychloroquine are in progress, but the results may take weeks or longer,” the doctors report. “Infectious-disease experts are already using hydroxychloroquine clinically with some success. With our colleague Dr. Joe Brewer in Kansas City, Mo., we are using hydroxychloroquine in two ways: to treat patients and as prophylaxis to protect health-care workers from infection.”

They say their experience suggests the drug cocktail be a first-line treatment, but there is a shortage of hydroxychloroquine, which prompts the doctors to call on the federal government to immediately contract with generic manufacturers to ramp up production and release any stockpiles.

A successful treatment could get laid off workers back to work and open shuttered businesses and schools.

Colyer and Hinthorn conclude:

We have decades of experience in treating infectious diseases and dealing with epidemics, and we believe in safety and efficacy. We don’t want to peddle false hope; we have seen promising drugs turn out to be duds.

But the public expects an answer, and we don’t have the luxury of time. We have a drug with an excellent safety profile but limited clinical outcomes — and no better alternatives until long after this disaster peaks. We can use this treatment to help save lives and prevent others from becoming infected. Or we can wait several weeks and risk discovering we didn’t do everything we could to end this pandemic as quickly as possible.

 

Editorial: Federal spending by both parties must be reined in

There is always one issue on which both parties in Washington never fail to agree — more and more spending.

President Trump’s proposed 2021 fiscal year budget of $4.8 trillion includes a deficit of $1 trillion dollars, almost double the deficit for the Obama administration’s final year in office, but the squawking isn’t about the deficit and the mounting national debt. It is that there is not enough spending. 

While the Nevada delegation was largely pleased with the fact the proposed budget doesn’t include spending to license Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump for a change, but rather includes $27.5 million for “exploring innovative approaches for storing long-term waste,” our Democratic delegates complained about spending “cuts.”

Of course, there is the possibility that those innovative approaches might not be as good as arid, isolated Yucca Mountain in a county hungry for well paying jobs.

According to the Las Vegas newspaper, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Nevada’s Democratic senior Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto “grilled” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on proposed budget cuts of nearly $200 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that’s food stamps, and reductions of $90 million in Social Security programs. Mnuchin replied that those were not cuts at all but rather decreases in the projected increases in spending. 

Sen. Jacky Rosen and Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee, all Democrats, complained of less funding for education and environmental programs.

During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, again according to the Las Vegas newspaper, Democratic 4th Congressional District Rep. Steven Horsford accused the Trump administration of using the social program cuts to offset $1.9 trillion in tax cuts pushed through by Republicans earlier.

“Sweeping money from the children of Nevada to balance your budget on the backs of working Americans after giving a tax cut to the very wealthy and big corporations is not going to happen,” Horsford was quoted as saying.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, revenues have continued to rise “despite” the tax cut. Or perhaps a more robust economy is generating more tax revenue “because” of the tax cuts. 

“Revenues are expected to be 16.7% of GDP, not far off the 17.2% before the tax cut,” the Journal editorial points out. “The problem is that outlays are rising faster — to 21.6% of GDP this fiscal year, the most since 2012 and well above the Bush and late Clinton years.” It’s the spending.

The Trump budget proposal also makes some rosy and unlikely assumptions. In another article, Wall Street Journal columnists note that the 10-year forecast in the Trump budget projects $50.7 trillion in federal revenue, which is 7 percent more than the Congressional Budget Office forecast, which assumes the 2017 tax cuts will expire as scheduled in 2025. Trump’s budget assumes the tax cuts will be extended. Not likely if the Democrats continue to hold the House.

Meanwhile, a New York Times writer also raises questions about the Trump budget’s overly optimistic forecasts for economic growth, pointing out that the Trump budget foresees the total national debt declining from the current 79 percent of the overall economy to 66 percent in 2030. The Congressional Budget Office sees it rising to 98 percent, a level not reached since 1946, the end of World War II. 

It is time to rein in the spending and sending the bill to the next generation, which might have to default. 

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: Why the NEPA rules needed streamlining

While Democrats in Congress were having palpitations and forecasting climate catastrophe as a result of the Trump administration’s streamlining of rules governing the review of federally funded infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970, Nevada’s lone Republican representative in Congress took the time to review the rules and finds the changes long overdue.

President Trump announced earlier this month that environmental reviews of such things as roads, bridges, pipelines and power transmission lines were taking far too long and were too burdensome. The average review was taking four-and-a-half years and ran nearly 700 pages, one of the longest was for a 12-mile expansion of Interstate 70 in Denver. That took 13 years and exceeded 16,000 pages, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The new rules prepared by the Council on Environmental Quality limit major projects to two years and 300 pages or a year and 75 pages for smaller environmental assessments. More difficult cases could be extended with approval of federal officials.

Rep. Mark Amodei (AP pix)

Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, concluded that the process had been weaponized by those with a political agenda rather than a legitimate concern for natural resources and the environment.

“If the answer for something needs to be no, then fine, say no and say why and let people get to the courts or not, whatever they want, but using the due process — and I use that phrase loosely — the administrative process of NEPA to de facto kill things through basically, ‘It’s going to take you a decade and we’re hoping that you shrivel up and die,’ was not intended by anybody,” Amodei said in a recent interview. “Those procedures have been weaponized to the point that there’s nothing really to do with the resources or the facts on the ground.”

Amodei noted as an example of this weaponization the prolonged debates and litigation over the habitat of the greater sage grouse in Nevada and other Western states — especially attempts to block mining permits.

“If it’s about your political agenda that’s one thing, but if it’s really about the resources, we went through a lot of that on the sage hen stuff. If it is really about fragmentation and loss of habitat, then let’s talk about that,” the congressman said. “Talk about how we fix that, but if it’s just really about you just hate mining companies. While we’ve permitted in the last 20 years 150,000 acres of mining in the Great Basin, woodland fire has consumed, I don’t know, somewhere around 8 (million) or 10 million acres. If you really care about sage hens you ought to be talking about fuels management. While you may have permitted 150,000 acres of mining, they’ve also rehabbed habitat for mule deer and stream zones for fish.”

Amodei concedes there is a need for reviews, saying he knows there was a time when rivers caught fire. That was the low point, he said, and was why President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.

He noted that when he came into office eight years ago mining permits were constantly being challenged, but the big mining companies had the resources and staff to fight and win.

“Listen, nobody’s afraid of the truth but it shouldn’t be something where it is really not about the truth but it is about how long we can draw out getting to that,” he said. “I interact with a lot of the federal land managers around the state on a regular basis in my oversight capacity and I can tell you this, it is my opinion and I’m not criticizing any of them. Frankly, those agencies give a lot of thought to the probability or possibility that they are going to get litigated. These folks who have abused the NEPA process count that as money in the bank: ‘We’re gonna sue you,’” noting this is why a deadline is necessary.

Amodei again pointed out that there is nothing in the rules saying the federal land agencies can’t say no to a project that would truly be demonstrably harmful. “So somebody puts an application in where it’s like, hey, this is in the middle of the last known habitat of the desert pup fish and you propose to fill in the spring and obliterate the whole of the species forever. If the answer to that is supposed to be no, say no,” he said.

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: NEPA rules changes will benefit economy and environment

President Donald Trump announced this past week that his Council on Environmental Quality is streamlining the rules for major infrastructure projects — such as roads, bridges, pipelines and power transmission lines — required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970, aiming to cut the approval time for such projects in half.

The council published the changes in the Federal Register on Friday, setting in motion a 60-day comment period. The changes are widely expected to be challenged in the courts by the usual self-styled environmental groups.

Businesses and labor unions hailed the proposal as long overdue, but environmental groups assailed it, saying the changes would contribute to climate change.

In an opinion piece penned for The Hill — Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions — argued that the changes would actually benefit the environment.

“Consistent with its environmental mission, modernizing NEPA will accelerate projects that improve the efficiency of our transportation and distribution systems, thereby reducing traffic congestion and associated emissions,” Donohue and McGarvey write. “It will also spur investment in renewable energy sources and transmission infrastructure, much of which is subject to delays by current NEPA procedures. And timelier implementation of conservation projects will help mitigate environmental impacts, such as damaging floods and wildfires.”

In recent years, major projects have taken an average of four-and-a-half years to be approved. The council aims to cut that to two years. A number of projects have taken far longer to be approved. An airport runway expansion in Taos, N.M., took 20 years. A highway and bridge project in Michigan to cut traffic congestion and, therefore, carbon emissions took 16 years. A Maryland public transit project stretched out for 14 years.

Trump announces changes to NEPA rules. (AP pix)

“We want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways bigger, better, faster,” Trump was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying at a White House press conference, where he was flanked by business and union leaders. “These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground and deny jobs to our nation’s incredible workers.”

The Journal noted that business groups claim lengthy NEPA reviews are partly to blame for a nearly $1 trillion backlog in transportation projects alone.

Democratic House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva of Arizona said in a press release, “Polluting industries need more public oversight, not less, and supporting this approach means ignoring real-world consequences in favor of Trump administration fairy tales. The courts have been crystal clear that NEPA requires considering climate impacts, so this is just another inevitably doomed effort by this administration to try to illegally rewrite the rules it doesn’t like.”

Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee sent out a Twitter comment saying, “We’ve seen what happens if these major projects don’t have environmental impact reviews. Damaged ecosystems, increased pollution, and increased health risks. We can’t go backwards on this.”

Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei said Friday, “Since we’re only about 24 hours out from the release of the proposed changes, we’ll have more for you next week, but so far the concepts look good.”

Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus tweeted, “While horrific fires create a crisis in Australia, President Trump still tries to deny climate change. It is inexcusable for the Trump Administration to put the President’s corporate allies ahead of our health and safety.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the administration of blocking any federal efforts to confront climate change. “These new guidelines undermine critical building requirements that ensure that our communities are able to withstand the growing threat posed by the climate crisis,” she was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Even the liberal Los Angeles Times editorial board, in an editorial condemning the NEPA rule changes, conceded, “In truth, NEPA probably does need a tune-up. The current regulations date back to 1978 and have been amended only once since, in 1986. It’s reasonable to assume that all those years of experience have exposed flaws and shortcomings that could be addressed to improve and expedite the environmental review process. But the Trump administration, with its open denial of climate change and its industry-friendly policies aimed at expanding the production of fossil fuels, is not to be trusted with such a task.”

The streamlining of the bureaucracy will both contribute to economic growth and add infrastructure that will actually cut pollution in most cases. The naysayers are basing their projections of climate crisis on speculation and models that have yet to predict anything accurately.

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.

Newspaper column: Trump is reshaping the federal judiciary — for the better

Thanks, Harry, because you exercised the “nuclear option” in 2013, ending the requirement that judges had to be confirmed by at least 60 senators instead of a simple majority, President Donald Trump has secured the appointments of about twice as many federal judges as each of his three predecessors — and most of them have been conservatives sworn to protect the fundamental liberties spelled out in the Constitution.

Of the 50 circuit court judges nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, only 17 managed to garner the previously mandated 60 Senate votes. Among those was former Nevada Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke, who was confirmed by a vote of 51-44 with both of Nevada’s Democratic senators choosing politics over principles and voting “nay.”

In November 2013, then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada exercised the nuclear option, calling for changing the Senate rules by a simple majority vote. It passed, 52-48 with three Democrats voting against changing the rules.

President Barack Obama praised the action saying Republicans were blocking his nominees based on politics alone, not on the merits of the nominee, according to a Politico account at the time.

Then-Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to recess the Senate for the day to block the vote. “The solution to this problem is an election,” he said. “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election on 2014.”

Republicans regained the majority in the Senate in 2014. In 2017, now-Majority Leader McConnell further changed the rules to allow confirmation of Supreme Court justices by a simple majority. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote, and Brett Kavanaugh by 50-48.

In addition, the Senate has confirmed 133 of Trump’s federal district court nominees. While most of those garnered more than 60 recorded votes, many were confirmed by a voice vote.

In an editorial praising the caliber of the Trump judicial nominees, The Wall Street Journal noted, “The Trump-McConnell judiciary may be Harry’s finest achievement.”

The editorial noted that when Trump took office, Democratic appointees made up a majority on nine of the 13 circuit courts. Trump’s 2019 appointments flipped the majorities in the 2nd, 3rd and 11th Circuit Courts, meaning seven circuits now have a majority of Republican appointees.

In addition, the longtime uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which VanDyke was appointed, now consists of 16 Democratic appointees and 13 Republican appointees. “Expect fewer headlines featuring nationwide injunctions out of San Francisco,” the editorial opined.

The Journal editorial predicts, “The new wave of conservative judges is more likely to protect such core liberties as religious freedom, political speech and assembly, gun and property rights. Many will also be more alert to violations of the Constitution’s separation of powers, including regulatory abuses. Yet there are varying opinions on criminal law, executive authority, and the scope of judicial restraint, among other issues.”

Reid is nothing if not consistent. In a recent op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, Reid complained, “Senate Republicans have hijacked our Supreme Court. They stole a seat that should have been filled by President Obama in 2016 and they rushed to confirm Brett Kavanaugh last year despite ample evidence that he lied to Congress. The result is the Supreme Court is now a ticking time bomb, set to blow up any meaningful progressive reforms for decades to come.”

He concedes his own role in the outcome, saying, “Changing the rules to confirm Obama’s highly qualified judges was the right and necessary thing to do. If we had not done it, Donald Trump would have inherited more judicial vacancies than he already did, and then even more of his right-wing ideologues would be on the bench today eviscerating rights Americans have long held dear.”

Like the Second Amendment right to gun ownership? Or the First Amendment rights of free speech and exercise of religion? The rights delineated in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments?

A recent Washington Examiner editorial also notes what Reid has unintentionally wrought and concludes, “During his run for the presidency, Trump regularly and energetically promised to make a priority of putting well-credentialed conservatives of excellent character and scholarship on the federal bench. It is a promise he has kept, much to his credit and for the country’s greater good.”

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.

Newspaper column: Congress continues its spending spree

Just days before Christmas, Congress played Santa Claus, doling out billions in pork to those who have been nice to them and sending the bill to our grandchildren. Talk about taxation without representation.

The two spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion and covering more than 2,300 pages were debated for just 90 minutes in the Senate but passed with huge bipartisan support in both chambers. While Republicans got funding for a border wall and the Pentagon, Democrats wrangled billions for domestic programs.

There was more money for Head Start and early childhood education — which has failed to show any longterm education improvements — more money for the Environmental Protection Agency, extension of the Export-Import Bank corporate welfare, a bailout for miners’ bankrupt pensions and health care funds, repeal of all the taxes meant to fund ObamaCare, more disaster relief for farm states, money for gun violence research, tax breaks for biodiesel, distilleries, race-horse and Nascar owners and renewable energy.

The bills did manage to forestall a “shutdown” of the federal government during the holidays, unlike last year’s 35-day federal worker paid vacation.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — responsible federal budget, now there’s an oxymoron — the additional $500 billion in spending over the next decade combined with an earlier $1.7 trillion lifting of discretionary spending caps will add $2.2 trillion to the national debt in 10 years. This will increase the debt as a percentage of gross domestic product from 79 percent to 97 percent.

But don’t try to blame the deficit on President Trump’s tax cuts. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Congressional Budget Office “says tax receipts grew 4% last fiscal year, through September, and 3% in the first two months this year. Economic growth is feeding the Treasury. But spending is growing much faster: 8% last fiscal year, more than four times the inflation rate, and 6% in October and November this year.” With more of the same to come.

Nevada’s delegation joined in the spending spree, though Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Las Vegas voted “nay” on the bill that included funding for the border wall. “I could not vote in good conscience to reward this Administration with over a billion dollars in border wall funding after they’ve stolen money from our troops to build an ineffective barrier,” Titus said in a press release. “We must stand up stronger to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

On the other hand Nevada’s lone Republican in the delegation, Rep. Mark Amodei boasted of the fact one of the bills included border wall funding. “Look at what we can actually accomplish when we make it a priority,” Amodei’s press release stated. “In terms of the reforms, funding priorities, and responsible spending reductions included in these bills, Nevadans can certainly claim a number of victories. More specifically, these packages will increase funding for Department of Interior (DOI) operations including wildland fire management, Lake Tahoe restoration efforts, hazardous fuels reductions, watershed restoration, and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program.”

Titus did make a point of the fact the spending bill she did vote for contained no funding for revitalization of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Democratic Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen also mentioned the lack of Yucca Mountain funding. “I’m glad to see both Democrats and Republicans come to the table with a bipartisan deal that does not fund Yucca Mountain, keeps the government open, and invests in Nevada’s health care, workforce, education, and infrastructure,” Rosen said in a press release. “This deal does a lot to help Nevada’s hardworking families by repealing three costly health care taxes and includes my provision to invest in telehealth programs, making health care more affordable and accessible.”

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford made much of the fact one spending bill increases the pay for members of the military. “Our military service members are the greatest asset to our national defense and it is an honor today to vote to approve funding that includes crucial improvements for their everyday lives and the lives of their families and loved ones,” a Horsford press release said.

Remember who will be paying in the coming decades for all that spending now.

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.

The more things change the more they stay the same. This a Gary Varvel editorial cartoon from 2013:

This is a Gary Varvel editorial cartoon from a couple of weeks ago:

Editorial: Goal of zero emissions on public land a futile gesture

Democrats in the House of Representatives this past week unleashed their latest pie-in-the-sky legislation intended to save the planet from frying like an egg due to catastrophic global warming due to carbon emissions.

The bill, if passed, which thankfully is highly unlikely, would require zero emissions from drilling, mining and other activities on federal public lands by 2040, and immediately halt oil and gas leasing for at least a year, according to a Reuters dispatch.

“To solve our climate crisis we need to solve this problem from two sides,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Democratic-controlled House Natural Resources Committee. He said the bill would slash emissions from energy production on federal land and preserve vegetation and forests so they may absorb carbon.

“Putting a stop to all new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters is a vital first step in stopping the climate crisis, and it’s heartening to see Chairman Grijalva propose a framework that could ultimately achieve that,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release. “But much more is needed to undo the incredible damage the Trump administration has caused through its massive increase in fossil fuel leasing, to say nothing of the decades of reckless fossil fuel leasing that has already occurred.”

The same press release notes that the United Nations Environment Program issued a report this past month stating world governments plan to greatly increase fossil fuels production. So what good will cutting production on public lands do?

Never mind that the brunt of the burden of this foolish venture would fall on the Western states, where the majority of public lands lie and especially on Nevada, 85 percent of whose land is controlled by the federal bureaucracy. This would cost countless jobs and shrink the economies of rural areas of the West. While Nevada is not rich in oil and natural gas, its mining jobs are some of the best paid in the state and mining taxes support many communities.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is shrugging off its share of the emissions control effort. Of the nearly 200 countries that signed off on the Paris climate accord a couple of years ago, only two have actually met emissions reductions goals, Morocco and Gambia, according to a PBS report in September.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that China, the top carbon emitter in the world, is adding more coal-fired plants than the rest of the world combined and is building coal plants in other countries, too. The U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter, saw carbon emissions rise 3.4 percent in 2018.

Also, pay no attention to the fact there has been no significant global warming since 2005. Those hottest years on record claims are well within the margin of error.

The bill is a senseless and futile gesture, but Democrats are just the ones try it.

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: What better time to rein in welfare handouts?

By the caterwauling of the Democratic politicians, you’d think federal bureaucrats were stealing into homes in the middle of the night and snatching food out of the pantries of starving families.

The Agriculture Department has announced plans to cut back on the eligibility waivers that states have been liberally granting to increase the number of people getting food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

“The Trump administration,” complained Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “is driving the vulnerable into hunger just as the Christmas season approaches.”

Getty Images via WSJ

“Both the final and proposed rule changes to SNAP are unconscionable, and will have devastating impacts to low-income Nevadans who make up our most vulnerable citizens — including families, children, and veterans,” bemoaned Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in a press release. “While we appreciate the issuance of a temporary waiver, the Administration’s rule changes, both final and proposed, have created uncertainty for the states, and I will be working with DHHS (Nevada Department of Health and Human Services) to determine next steps on how to address the increased hardship and hunger that will be created by taking away low-income families’ basic food assistance.”

The governor’s press release said 78,000 of the 400,000 Nevadans currently receiving food stamps could lose eligibility due to a tightening of eligibility rules.

In September, the Trump administration announced that it would no longer allow states to automatically issue food stamps to anyone receiving any federal welfare benefits whatsoever. Only those households receiving $50 a month for six months or more from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program would be eligible.

At the time Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint.”

But Gov. Sisolak then complained, “This is an absolutely unconscionable act that would have dire impacts on the most vulnerable populations in our state, especially those with disabilities, the elderly, and low-income children on free and reduced-price school meals.”

This past week the administration said it also is tightening the work requirements for childless adults. According to The Wall Street Journal, a 1996 welfare reform act said that childless adults had to work or train at least 20 hours a week to get food stamps. The new rule says waivers for this requirement will only be granted in areas with an unemployment rate in excess of 6 percent. Nevada’s October not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

This change does not affect families, the disabled or those older than 50 — only able-bodied adults living in a country where there are now 7 million job openings for only 6 million job seekers. The national unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. What better time to rein in the free ride?

Expensive welfare handouts should be reserved only for those truly in need and not become a universal entitlement. The current lax rules waste billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

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.