This calls for a face-to-face naturalization test competition between Trump and Reid

Donald Trump wants to put people who wish to immigrate to this country through “extreme vetting” and admit only those who “share our values and respect our people,” which might exclude several members of Congress.

As for that extreme vetting, does he plan to use truth serum or a polygraph?

“Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country,” Trump said. “Only those who we expect to flourish in our country — and to embrace a tolerant American society — should be issued immigrant visas.”

In reaction to Trump’s remarks, Sen. Harry Reid called on Trump to take a naturalization test.

“Since Donald Trump wants to impose new tests on immigrants, he should take the one test every immigrant has to pass to become a United States citizen,” Reid said in a statement posted on his official website. “He would almost certainly fail, given his general ignorance and weak grasp of basic facts about American history, principles and functioning of our government. The fact is, Donald Trump is nothing more than a spoiled, unpatriotic drain on society who has earned nothing and helped no one.”

Frankly, we’d like to see Trump and Reid sit down and take a naturalization test together. Loser leaves town.

Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq and who lambasted Trump at the Democratic convention, also called on Trump to take a naturalization test.

According to the Washington Times there are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test, and during an interview an applicant must answer six out of 10 of those questions correctly.


Both the Times and CNN have posted online sample questions from the naturalization test — Times test and CNN test. The questions are pathetically easy. I answered all correctly on both tests. Anyone who misses more than one shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Are you smarter than an immigrant?

We will have to give Reid’s ghost writers credit for some on-point zingers against Trump. Here are a few:

“Immigrants renounce all loyalty to foreign interests, while Trump plays footsie with Putin and invites the Russian government to launch cyberattacks against our country.

“Immigrants pledge to defend America against all enemies foreign and domestic, while Trump insults Gold Star parents like Ghazala and Khazir Khan, and war heroes like my friend Senator John McCain.

“Immigrants pledge true faith, while Trump lies about giving to charity.

“Immigrants work hard to build better lives for their families, while Trump was born on third and thinks he hit a triple.

“Immigrants work hard to learn American history and civics, while Trump appears ignorant of basic facts about this country.

“Indeed, the naturalization test is just one part of the process immigrants undergo to become citizens, but Trump would almost certainly fail that test.

“Immigrants make America great. Trump makes America small, petty and mean.”



Whose cooking the books? — everyone

Today’s Las Vegas newspaper editorial cites an International Business Times account of just how poorly the official unemployment rate reflects the actual state of available jobs and employment.

The official rate is 4.9 percent — the lowest since early 2008 — which is the percent of those in the “labor force” with just about any kind of job.

But both papers quote private equity executive Leo Hindery, a longtime Democratic Party economic adviser, who cites data that show there are 2 million who “were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months,” as well as 5.9 million workers “unable to find full-time jobs or who’ve had their hours cut back” and 4.3 million who say they want work but haven’t sought employment — jacking up the percent to what Hindery calls the real unemployment rate: 12.1 percent.

The IBT article goes on to explain that the current method for counting joblessness was established after World War II. It quotes Hindery as saying: “Both parties sat down and basically said if we ever tell the American people the truth about the employment rate, things could get ugly for whichever one of us is in power. So they made a pact between themselves and with the devil to not count everyone.

For years the official jobless rate and the underemployment rate were seldom more than a couple of points off, but prior to the recession the underemployment rate began to exceed the official rate by double, Hindery said.


Over the years the methodology has been changed. In 1994 the definition of “discouraged” workers was revised, thus reducing their number.

“In late 2002 — amid a recession — President George W. Bush’s administration discontinued the Labor Department’s mass layoff report, prompting Democrats to accuse the White House of suppressing negative economic news,” IBT relates. “Democrats managed to restore the regular report for a decade, but it was eliminated again in 2013 by the Obama administration as part of a budget-cutting sequestration agreement with congressional Republicans. With President Obama championing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, the budget deal also followed through on the Obama administration’s previous proposal to cut a BLS unit that helped track the job-loss effects of trade deals.”

The report concludes by quoting Gallup CEO Jim Clifton as saying: “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

What’s on the obverse side of this editorial coin?

Clinton testifies about Benghazi.

You can always count on the Sun to bash Republicans for being, well, Republicans.

In today’s rare locally produced editorial the Sun attempts to chastise five Nevada Republican congressional candidates for failing to repudiate their party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

The editorial says it is startling “that there are still Republicans running for office, including those seeking election to the U.S. Senate and House from Nevada, who still stand by Trump.” It then calls them out by name: Joe Heck, running for the retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s seat; Danny Tarkanian, seeking Heck’s congressional seat; Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei, seeking re-election; and Mary Perry, opposing incumbent Dina Titus.

Here is the gist of the piece:

There’s no other way to read this: They think the White House is an appropriate destination for a narcissistic, belligerent bully who threatens violence if he doesn’t get his way, insults women, mocks the disabled, disparages minorities, refuses to release his tax returns because he’s hiding something, encourages Russians to engage in cyber-espionage against the United States, brags that an economic plan will help the middle class when it actually will raise their taxes and further enrich the wealthy including himself, lies when boasting that his companies have offered employee child care, suggests the U.S. default on its debt and hang our creditors out to dry — much like how he ran his companies into bankruptcy — admires Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein for their leadership, proposed that U.S. citizens accused of terrorism be tried before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, which is illegal, and seriously and repeatedly claimed preposterously that President Barack Obama founded ISIS.

That these five Nevada candidates for Capitol Hill — Heck, Tarkanian, Hardy, Amodei and Perry — say Trump should be our president and represent the United States to the world is unfathomable and deplorable.

On the obverse side of the coin, one might ask how Reid and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is seeking his Senate seat, and Titus could support a woman for president who lies about her lies, attacks the women abused by her husband, hides White House files, lies to the faces of the parents of those killed in Benghazi, deletes email files that are supposed to be public records, steals White House furniture, makes $100,000 on a $1,000 cattle futures investment, uses the Secretary of State office to enrich her family Foundation, charges a quarter of a million dollars for speeches, supports income redistribution, promises continued economic malaise, lands under sniper fire in Bosnia and spends decades in the public spotlight without having a single accomplishment to show for it.

The Sun editorial concludes with this thundering thumping of the five pitiful, pusillanimous and pathetic Nevada politicians who deign to not denounce their party’s candidate: “To raise Trump on their shoulders betrays their willingness to dishonor the presidency and reveals that they share values that define Trump as a political, social and moral misfit.”

As for the Democrats backing Clinton, do they share values that define her and them — as her accomplices — as politically, socially, morally, economically and criminally unfit for any office of public trust? Unfathomable and deplorable?



Editorial: Court should force feds to start over on sage grouse assessment

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has filed what he is calling his final brief in the lawsuit challenging the Interior Department’s economically crippling land use restrictions under the guise of protecting greater sage grouse, perhaps signaling that the case is nearing culmination.

As with previous filings Laxalt accuses the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, divisions of the Interior Department, of violating the law and ignoring scientific evidence when it concocted a 341-page pronouncement in September 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 envisions restrictions on grazing, resource development, solar and wind energy, and public access on more than 16 million acres of public land in Nevada altogether. This is being done even though the government declined to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Greater sage grouse (BLM photo)

The legal challenge in federal court is being pressed by the state, nine rural counties, two mining companies and a ranch.

“Along with a majority of Nevada counties, my Office has been pushing back against the federal government’s overreaching sage grouse land plan for almost a year,” Laxalt is quoted as saying in a press release accompanying the court filing. “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.”

In the brief, the state argues that the plaintiffs have standing to bring the suit, a matter disputed by the government, because of the harm that will befall the state and county governments, as well as the private businesses. The BLM’s own Economic Impact Summary, prepared by BLM economist Josh Sidon in 2015, “estimates a loss of $31 million and 493 jobs annually for livestock, oil and gas, geothermal and wind in Nevada, stating that Nevada bore the largest impact from reduced wind energy development, with Elko and White Pine Counties hit the hardest.”

But that low balls the impact because it does not take into account the loss of revenues due to minerals being left in the ground. Laxalt argues that the BLM ignored or misrepresented in its analysis the impact of lost mining claims on 2.8 million acres in Nevada, including the loss of $32 million in investments by one mining company.

A previous brief pointed out that the land use plan jeopardizes development of a mine that could be worth $3 billion — 1.4 million ounces of gold and 21 million ounces of silver.

The current brief notes, “Defendants ignore the importance of discussing how mining claims in the SFA (sagebrush focal areas) will be impacted by the proposed withdrawal. Defendants mischaracterize the emails discussing this very issue,which criticize the agencies’ failure to disclose that half of all U.S. mining claims are located in Nevada: ‘… it is a serious omission not to include mining claim data. How can impacts to locatable minerals be adequately addressed if this data is not known?’” That last quote is from an internal BLM email discussing the failings of their own analysis.

The court should grant the relief sought by the plaintiffs to force the Interior Department to start over with a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, one that accurately reflects the economic and scientific facts instead of being crafted to fit a predetermined political agenda.

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: It is long past time to patch the broken public employee retirement system

“You know my rule, Andy,” says a grifter in an O. Henry tale, “that in all my illegitimate inroads against the legal letter of the law the article sold must be existent, visible, producible. In that way and by a careful study of city ordinances and train schedules I have kept out of all trouble with the police that a five dollar bill and a cigar could not square.”

This high-minded adherence to such strictures so as to avoid any comeuppance or accountability might very well be ascribed to our Carson City grifters who for the past 40 years have played a confidence game — otherwise known as the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada, NVPERS to the initiated — and slipped it under the noses of the taxpaying rubes by nickel-and-diming until they can sneak out of town and leave their marks holding the empty bag.

NVPERS was created in 1947. According to statute its purpose is to provide: “A reasonable base income to qualified employees who have been employed by a public employer and whose earning capacity has been removed or has been substantially reduced by age or disability.”

From this safety net for public employees “whose earning capacity has been removed or has been substantially reduced,” NVPERS has gradually, and almost imperceptibly, grown into the richest public employee pension program in the nation, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

By AEI’s calculations Nevada’s public pensions have reached $64,000 a year or more than $1.3 million in lifetime benefits. That doesn’t include public-safety workers, such as firefighters and police, who can retire earlier and generally have higher salaries. Compare this to the average annual Social Security benefit of $14,220.

For years there have been warnings that the system is unsustainable and could collapse, leaving taxpayers on the hook. Lawmakers have utterly ignored the warnings and have even raised the ante and the risk.

The latest jeremiad on this topic comes curtesy of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank, which recently released “Footprints: How NVPERS, step by step, made Nevada government employees some of the nation’s richest.”

Written by NPRI’s Director of Transparency Research Robert Fellner, the 36-page report warns that “should today’s international no-growth economy stumble into the deep financial crisis that many forecasters fear, NVPERS’ fantasy economic forecasts will be replaced by immediate bankruptcy — leaving every Silver State household with a sudden, implicit, $50,000-plus tax liability.”

The report details how NVPERS benefits have ratcheted up over the decades by virtue of incremental benefit increases, collective bargaining gains, earlier retirement age, allowing the purchase of years of service, padding base pay with add-ons such as callback, standby, holiday, shift differential, extra duty, hazard and longevity pay, and simple compound interest.

Fellner notes that local government employees have taken advantage of their collective bargaining union contracts and negotiated to have their employers actually pay the employees’ pension contribution, claiming this is done in lieu of a salary increase or in conjunction with a salary decrease — even though local government pay checks rank eighth highest in the nation.

As examples of how the system is being gamed, Fellner points to two former fire chiefs from Southern Nevada who retired in their mid-40s and began collecting $100,000-plus annual pensions while working full-time in fire departments in other states.

The major problem with NVPERS — as NPRI and others have pointed out for years, only to be ignored in Carson City — is that it is a defined benefit system. Public employees are contractually guaranteed a percentage of their highest three years of salary, depending on the number of years of employment. Thus many may retire in their 40s and 50s at 75 percent of their working salary — and a few at more than 100 percent of their working salary due to the spiking of those add-ons in later years — and live into their 80s or longer, drawing pensions for more years than they worked.

This means taxpayers decades from now will be paying for benefits approved by current and past lawmakers. Fellner bluntly calls this “intergenerational theft.”

The solution is for Nevada to change to a defined contribution plan — comparable to 401(k) plans used in private industry — for future hires. The employer and employee would each contribute to a fund that would be invested, leaving the taxpayers off the hook should the economy turn sour. This has been offered and rejected.

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.

What’s bad optics for the goose can be bad optics for the gander

Seddique Mateen sitting behind Hillary Clinton at campaign rally in Florida. (WPTV NBC)

Former congressman Mark Foley sits behind Donald Trump during a rally in Florida. (CNN)

I’ll see your father of a mass murderer and raise you a disgraced former congressman.

The gamesmanship is getting penny-ante.

Earlier, Hillary Clinton spoke in Kissimmee, Fla., about the shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded.”I know how many people, family members, loved ones and friends are still grieving,” Clinton said.

Sitting behind her, clearly visible on camera, was Seddique Mateen, the father of the man who did the shooting.


While Donald Trump’s remarks about how “Second Amendment people” might behave warranted three stories in the morning paper, the bad Clinton optics warranted a brief.

Perhaps, the latest turn of events will get better play in the paper.

It seems Trump took the stage in a rally in Florida and made remarks about the people on the stage behind him. “The people behind me, they’re all on television, they’re gonna be famous,” Trump said. “They’re gonna be famous.”

He used this as a set up for this zinger: “And by the way, speaking of that, wasn’t it terrible when the father of the animal who killed the wonderful people in Orlando was sitting with a big smile on his face right behind Hillary Clinton?”

Sitting behind him was former Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned in 2006 after being accused of sending sexually suggestive emails to congressional pages.


What comes around, goes around.

What Trump’s remarks really indicate

Many in the media and assorted politicians are interpreting Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff remark about “Second Amendment people” as an incitement to violence, but I suspect it says volumes about how little Trump really understands or respects “Second Amendment people.”

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said in North Carolina. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if — if — Hillary gets to put her judges in.”

It sounds to me like he thinks, when his true beliefs slip off his slippery tongue, that Second Amendment people are capable of such violence, not that he is encouraging it.

Frankly, it is not much different than Obama’s remarks in 2008 about working-class people hurt by job losses: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Both men appear to have an antipathy for a certain group of people.

Trump’s people later tried to spin the remark by claiming he was talking about Second Amendment people exercising their political power at the polls, which I seem recall he thinks are rigged.