Is cutting agricultural output to save the climate a good idea?

Writing on today’s opinion page of the Elko Daily Free Press, Cheyenne, Wyo., attorney Karen Budd-Falen warns of some of the consequences of the Biden administration’s so-called 30×30 Plan to conserve in its natural or unproductive state 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030. The plan’s stated objective is to avert “a profound climate crisis.”

Budd-Falen notes that by 2030 the world’s population is expected to increase to 8.5 billion people. “To feed all those people, the world needs farmers and ranchers,” she writes. “According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average American farm feeds 166 people, but with the increase in the world’s population, the world’s farmers will have to grow 70% more food than they did in 2019.”

The Biden plan would “use Department of Agriculture programs, funding and financing capacities, and other authorities … to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices …”

Budd-Falen aptly compares this voluntary compliance to the 1970s “voluntary” 55 mph speed limit. States that did not “voluntarily” lower their speed limits to 55 were denied federal highway funds. Most volunteered.

The attorney notes that the “Department of Agriculture has just significantly increased its ‘payment rates and financial incentives’ to convince landowners to enroll additional acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). While landowners have the right to do with their land what they want, I worry about paying agriculturalists not to produce.”

The administration has already canceled its federal oil and gas lease sales under the theory that wind and solar can replace oil, gas and coal, Budd-Falen notes, adding, “I have not found a lot of affordable commercial all-electric tractors that could be used on farming or ranching operations today.”

She concludes with a question no one in the Biden administration seems to be asking: “How are farmers and ranchers going to feed 8.5 billion people in 2030 if there is no American oil and gas for tractors, we are paying landowners not-to-produce or produce less, and multiple use on federal lands is curtailed or eliminated to reach the 30 X 30 Plan goals? And what I am really warning is that the history of the federal government’s ‘voluntary’ 55 mph speed limit NOT be repeated today.”

Profound climate crisis or starvation? Some choice.

Biden mangles Constitution with out-of-date quote

President Biden addresses Congress (Getty Images via ABC)

Joe Biden graduated law school 76th out of 85 students in 1968. Maybe he hasn’t bothered to keep up with the status of jurisprudence since.

During his remarks to a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening, he declared, “And no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.”

Maybe those words with improvised on the fly, because they do not appear in his prepared text.

Yes, in 1919 in the case of Schenck v. U.S. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

President Biden said nearly the same thing in a Rose Garden speech in April 2021.

And just what was tantamount to “falsely shouting fire” and constituted what was labeled the “clear and present danger” test?

Charles Schenck was convicted under the 1917 Espionage Act for distributing pamphlets urging resistance against the World War I Selective Service Act — the draft. His pamphlet argued that conscription was tantamount to indentured servitude, which was barred by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. He was making a legal argument, Holmes compared that to causing a panic.

Even Holmes himself backed off this stance in a later case:

“Every idea is an incitement. It offers itself for belief and if believed it is acted on unless some other belief outweighs it or some failure of energy stifles the movement at its birth. The only difference between the expression of an opinion and an incitement in the narrower sense is the speaker’s enthusiasm for the result. Eloquence may set fire to reason. But whatever may be thought of the redundant discourse before us it had no chance of starting a present conflagration. If in the long run the beliefs expressed in proletarian dictatorship are destined to be accepted by the dominant forces of the community, the only meaning of free speech is that they should be given their chance and have their way.”

This was pointed out in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, which essentially overturned Schenck and established a much stricter free speech standard. The court held, “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Imminent lawless action.

Of course, that case was concluded in 1969, a year after Biden finished low in his graduating law school class. Perhaps he’s not bothered to keep up since.

Another satisfying read from mystery novelist Baldacci

Just finished David Baldacci’s latest mystery novel, “A Gambling Man,” another in the author’s long string of intriguing, deftly woven tales of odd characters facing long odds while making moral decisions.

Released this past week, “A Gambling Man” is the sequel to Baldacci’s “One Good Deed,” about recent World War II vet Aloysius Archer who was trying to put his life back together after being imprisoned for the “crime” of being involved with a young lady who could not refuse the entreaties of her law enforcement father. It is another world, one in which everyone is chain-smoking unfiltered Lucky Strikes and Camels while taking frequent swigs of hard liquor from ubiquitous flasks that seemed to populate every pocket and purse, often joined by small-caliber pistols.

To accomplish this life mending, Archer — who always avoided the use of his rather anachronistic mouthful of a given name and answered to his surname, as is customary in the military — took a bus west to meet up with the “very private investigator” Willie Dash about a possible job as a PI with Dash in his California coastal town. During an overnighter in the biggest little city of Reno, Archer befriended a gambling addict too deep into debt to the wrong crowd. After some fisticuffs, a car chase punctuated by small arms fire and the presumptive demise of the gambler, Archer wound up the custodian of a red, 12-cylinder, 1939 French convertible and in the company of a comely singer-dancer with the convenient post-war stage name Liberty Callahan, who had Hollywood ambitions.

Together they made it out of Reno alive and arrived in Dash’s corrupt town in time to become ensconced in an attempted blackmail investigation that evolved into bodies tumbling like dominoes.

Baldacci keeps the pace quick and the plot twisting and tightening ever closer to the penultimately evil culprit. Along the way he drops nuggets of tortured similes and metaphors like: “They heard the sobs as they approached the garage. They cut through the still morning air like a machete through bamboo.”

Or this gem: “Dash moved slowly across the room to greet the men. Where he had been frenetic seconds before, Archer could see the man was now all cool, calm, and as collected as a preacher about to dispense an easy dose of religion and then follow that up with an ask for money.”

There is an adequate helping of casual sex along the way, but not so detailed as to border on the pornographic.

“A Gambling Man” is another satisfying and mind tingling tale from the 60-year-old author of more than 40 novels. The prolific writer is already scheduled to release another in his Atlee Pine series in November. Can’t wait.

Criteria for being allowed into the U.S. are secret

Transparency?

On the campaign trail candidate Joe Biden promised to create a “fair and humane” immigration system. Instead, the Biden administration has created a system in which the criteria for being allowed into this country at the Southern border a deep, dark secret. Would-be immigrants show up at the border with no idea whether they will be allowed in or sent back to Mexico, nor why.

Is it humane for families to trek for months across dangerous, cartel-controlled expanses with no rationale expectation of being admitted?

According to an Associated Press account today, the Biden administration releases most children traveling alone to relatives in this country and gives them notices to appear in immigration court. “Nearly 9,500 such children arrived in February, up 60 percent from a month earlier,” the story relates.

But six out of 10 families picked up by the Border Patrol in February were sent back across the border. The number of family arrivals in February topped 19,200, more than double the previous month.

The anecdotal lede on the AP story recounts how one family from Honduras with children ages 3 and 5 were given bus tickets to Oklahoma to join an in-law, while a mother from El Salvador and her 8-year-old daughter was “being banished to a violent Mexican border city with no food or money and sleeping on the concrete of a plaza.”

What is our immigration law? Who knows? It is a secret.

Customs and border officers deport immigrants from Hidalgo, Texas. (AP pix)

Does anyone really know what time it is?

It is time to cast off our chains and free ourselves from slavery to the clock.

On Sunday morning we are required to spring our clocks forward an hour, if we wish to remain in sync with the rest of the nation, get to church and work on time and tune in at the proper time to our favorite radio and TV programs.

Mankind once worked from can till cain’t, as my ol’ grandpappy used to say — from the time you can see till the time you can’t — and farmers and ranchers such as grandpappy still do. But to make the trains run on time, we strapped ourselves to the clock, even though the clock is uniform and doesn’t change when the amount of daylight does.

Ol’ Ben Franklin, while serving as ambassador in France, accidentally figured out that this out-of-sync arrangement was somewhat uneconomical when he mistakenly arose one day at 6 a.m. instead of noon and discovered the sun was shining through his window. “I love economy exceedingly,” he jested, and proceeded to explain in a letter to a local newspaper how many candles and how much lamp oil could be saved by adjusting the city’s lifestyle to the proclivities of the sun.

Franklin observed:

“This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections. I considered that, if I had not been awakened so early in the morning, I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candle-light; and, the latter being a much more expensive light than the former, my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations, which I shall give you, after observing that utility is, in my opinion the test of value in matters of invention, and that a discovery which can be applied to no use, or is not good for something, is good for nothing.”

Then he did the math, and exclaimed, “An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

Thus, in 1918 in a effort to be more economical during the war, Congress borrowed from Europe the concept of daylight saving time — springing clocks forward during the summer and back in the winter. From shortly after Pearl Harbor until the end of the Second World War, the nation was on year-round daylight saving time, or war time, as it was called.

National Geographic photo

Moving the clock forward in summer might well save a few kilowatt-hours in lighting, but in states like Nevada that savings is more than made up for with increased air conditioning costs and the fuel used to drive about more after getting off work.

One study found that springing forward causes enough sleep deprivation to cost the U.S. economy $435 million a year. The New England Journal of Medicine found an association between that one hour loss of sleep from daylight saving time and an increase in car accidents, as well as a 5 percent increase in heart attacks in the first three weekdays after the transition to daylight saving time, while an Australian study found an increase in the suicide rate.

In a probably futile gesture to end the charade, the state Legislature a couple of years ago passed Assembly Joint Resolution No. 4 that proposes to make Pacific Daylight Saving Time year-round.

“WHEREAS, Congress also found and declared that ‘the use of year-round daylight saving time could have other beneficial effects on the public interest, including the reduction of crime, improved traffic safety, more daylight outdoor playtime for children and youth of our Nation, [and] greater utilization of parks and recreation areas …’” AJR4 reads in part, also noting possible “expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hour. ”

It passed both the Assembly and Senate and was enrolled by the Secretary of State.

Changing to year-round daylight saving time might not save electricity, but it could increase productivity and prevent car wrecks.

Alas, as with everything else, the power to fix this lies in Washington, though I can’t seem to find this enumerated power in my copy of the Constitution. Perhaps it is outdated.

In another glaring example of the efficiency and sincerity of our elected officials, AJR4 passed, the morning newspaper reported that no one in Washington had ever heard of AJR4.

AJR4 concludes by beseeching Congress to amend The Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 and allow each state to opt out, the same as Arizona and Hawaii have opted out, but rather than sticking with standard time, AJR4 would adopt Pacific Daylight Saving Time all year. Why should it get dark at 4:30 p.m. in the winter anyway?

Washington is in another century, much less a different time zone.

But the clowns in Carson City are dutifully at it again this year, working on legislation that might — if enough hoops are leapt through and the left coast Californians also indulge — keep Nevada’s clocks from hiccupping twice a year by staying on either standard or daylight saving time.

According to the Pahrump Valley Times, Senate Bill 153, if approved, has two prerequisites. First, moving Nevada to daylight time will only take effect with federal authorization. Also neighboring California must make the change, too. California voters OK’d the change in 2018 but the Legislature hasn’t acted.

The alternative of moving Nevada to year-round standard time also would happen only if California does the same.

Don’t hold your breath or waste much time contemplating the possibilities.

Versions of this tome have been posted since 2015.

Welcome to 1984, again

A New York Times story (accessible for subscribers only) on the cover of the Sun insert in the morning paper quoted a book writer as saying that “Trump sought to ‘remake reality through language’ during a tumultuous tenure. As she writes in her book, the former president ‘changed some of the deepest expectations about presidential language, not just when it comes to style, but also the relationship between words and reality.’

“Now officials in Biden’s administration are using Trump’s own tactics to adjust reality again, this time by erasing the words his predecessor used and by explicitly returning to ones that had been banished.”

Erasing words? Changing the meaning of words in order to change reality?

Oh come on. Will somebody come out and say it out loud?

OK, the Times writer did get around to it well down in the tale.

“It’s kind of Orwellian — that’s what it is, really,” the NYT quoted Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, as saying. “The war against the word ‘alien’ is a continuation of this effort to destigmatize illegal immigration that started in the mid-1970s. This is in a sense the culmination of that process.”

Orwell, who learned the propaganda trade during World War II while working for the BBC, was a prophet. The current wordsmanship is nothing new.

As I noted in 2009:

George Orwell recognized this phenomenon and invented in “1984” the word newspeak to describe it. Newspeak was Big Brother’s way of trying to prevent “thoughtcrime” — which is why we have laws against certain hate crimes. Never mind that the act itself is a crime but it is doubly so if you have a motive that offends the sensitive ones.

And offending someone, anyone, is now the ultimate offense.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano doesn’t want to offend people who might want to blow us up by calling them by some offensive term like terrorist. Not she has now decided to call them the creators of man-caused disasters, like flying loaded passenger airliners into high-rise buildings.

Our one-worlder president doesn’t believe in fighting a global war against man-caused disasters. His Defense Department (They don’t call it the War Department anymore.) sent out a memo saying: “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”

That sounds so much better. I am relieved that the war on terror is over over there and here and everywhere.

If you subscribe to the morning paper you should be able to read the NYT account here.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Orwell wrote in “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

Welcome to 1984, again.

Democrats should be careful what they ask for … they just might get it, good and hard

Wall Street Journal columnist Joel Zinberg today reminds us that in 2020 the Biden campaign in general and Kamala Harris specifically “maligned President Trump’s claims about the speed of vaccine development and questioned its safety and effectiveness. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo cast doubt on FDA evaluations of Covid-19 vaccines and said states should conduct their own reviews. An Aug. 27 letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking governors for help setting up vaccine distribution elicited a statement from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer questioning the safety of the vaccines in development. Media ‘fact checkers’ said rapid vaccine development would take a ‘miracle.’”

Coincidentallu, Between April and December, Zinberg noted, the share of Americans who told pollsters they were likely to consent to vaccination declined from 74 percent to 56 percent.

Reuters quoted Joe Biden back in September as saying, “Let me be clear: I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump. At this moment, the American people can’t either.”

In an editorial today the WSJ reported that on Monday two Democrat congressional representatives “sent letters pressing 12 cable and tech CEOs to drop contracts with right-of-center media outlets including Fox News. Two days later the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing about ‘disinformation and extremism’ in conservative media. The only notable extremism on display was the majority party’s appetite for regulating and policing the free press.”A Texas Democrat representative said at the hearing that he saw a tension between “the freedom of speech versus other peoples’ safety.”

Like what was said by Biden, Harris, Cuomo, Schumer and certain media fact checkers?

From Kimberley Strassel’s WSJ column today: “Right now, the greatest threat to free speech in this country is not any law passed by the government— the First Amendment stands as a bulwark,” says Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr. “The threat comes in the form of legislating by letterhead. Politicians have realized that they can silence the speech of those with different political viewpoints by public bullying.”

This observation came after Twitter, Facebook and others banned prominent conservatives, Twitter locked the account of the New York Post for reporting news about the Democratic presidential nominee’s son, Google and Apple dropped Parler from their app stores and Amazon banned a three-year-old book questioning transgenderism.

There is more than one way to skin a free speech cat.

Bill calls for Nevada to conduct presidential primaries instead of caucuses; No! Bring back smoke-filled backrooms

A bill introduced in Carson City today would change the way the state’s two major political parties nominate presidential candidates — from the current caucus system to a primary in which voters in each party simply cast ballots, rather than have to listen to boring speeches and actually talk to other party members.

Assembly Bill 126 is sponsored by Assemblyman Jason Frierson and Assemblywomen Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Brittney Miller. The bill calls for the primaries to be held on the Tuesday immediately preceding the last Tuesday in January of each presidential election year, which would make Nevada the first nominating state. The bill also would allow same-day voter registration, which could lead to shenanigans such as “Operation Chaos,” suggested by Rush Limbaugh in 2008, calling for Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries to keep her in the race and divide the Democrat Party.

“This legislation is yet another reason the Silver State deserves to be the first presidential nominating state in 2024,” Nevada State Democrat Party Chair William McCurdy II said in a statement posted by KOLO-TV in Reno. We are a majority-minority state with a strong union population and the power structure of the country is moving West. I want to thank Speaker Frierson, who has devoted his career in the Assembly to make our voting process more expansive and equitable, for his help in securing Nevada’s spot on the national stage.”

Frankly, the state has no business telling state Republican and Democratic parties how to choose their nominees, nor should the taxpayers, many of whom are members of other parties or are independents, pay the millions of dollars it will take for the state and counties to conduct these primaries.

Columbia School of Law professor and election law expert Nathaniel Persily observed in 2008, “The move toward primaries has transferred power away from political parties to the media, who are then in a position to describe someone as having momentum.”

As I have said before, primaries turn serious political contests with serious consequences into beauty pageants and/or reality TV competition with ill-informed dullards from the lowest common denominator sitting on their couches and voting for the best quips and the worst gaffes occurring during their short attention spans.

Bring back the smoke-filled backrooms and let serious people with studied philosophies put forth the best candidates for each party. But if a party wants to conduct a primary, they should pay for it themselves and run it themselves and pay the consequences of getting pretty candidates with pretty slogans and an utter lack of competence and capability — witness the presidential candidates put forth by both major parties in 2020.

When this topic was broached in 2015, I noted, “No one, but no one has stepped back and asked the one vital question: What business is it of the Democrat-dominated state Legislature as to how or when any political party nominates its candidates?”

Not only is the Constitution silent on political parties, our Founders were actually disdainful of political parties.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

Earlier, in 1780 John Adams wrote, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

In his farewell address in 1796 George Washington said:

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

Sounds downright prescient, doesn’t it?

Yes, a caucuses can be a drudge.

As I noted after the 2012 caucuses, the Republican presidential caucus wasn’t exactly a well-oiled machine. There were long delays, breakdowns in communication, misfires and miscues. In fact, 20 minutes into it I sent out a tweet or twit or whatever saying: “GOP organization — an oxymoron.”

As sure as worms after a rainstorm and just as there was in 2008 a bunch of people are wringing their hands and bemoaning the unseemliness and the rough-hewn nature of it all — people actually talking to each other about politics, poor turnout, delayed vote count results, etc., endless freaking out. They are saying, again, the raucous caucus should be replaced with a nice aseptic primary in which state paid bureaucrats and septuagenarian volunteers man the polls for 12 hours and the voters hide behind curtains to choose their party standard bearer.

In 2008 then-Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus promised to introduce a bill to conduct presidential primaries in Nevada. “This notion of neighbors getting together with neighbors to talk about politics, that’s just not Nevada,” she said. “What I found in my caucus is that the meeting didn’t lead to collaboration, cooperation and a good discussion. It led to hostility. It’s too complicated.” And she was a professor of political science — an oxymoron.

Bring back smoke-filled backrooms and let those willing and able to roll up their sleeves and scuffle with their neighbors to see whose principles and ideas come out victorious.

Here is my comment back in 2012:

We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!

The thumb twiddlers over at the website Wallethub have put their experts with too much time on their hands to the task of answering authoritatively, definitively and mathematically the burning question: Which is the most sinful state in America?

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

Wallethub informs us that the most sinful state is Nevada — the hands down champion at gambling, drinking, carousing, jealousy, greed, lust and laziness.

To be precise, Wallethub informs us, “In order to determine the most sinful states in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states across seven key dimensions: 1) Anger & Hatred, 2) Jealousy, 3) Excesses & Vices, 4) Greed, 5) Lust, 6) Vanity and 7) Laziness.”

Most casinos per capita was given double weight on the 100-point scale. Pay no heed to the fact Nevada’s population is only about 3 million, while in non-COVID years it hosts more than 40 million gambling, drinking, greedy, lustful visitors from the other 49 states and from abroad.

Nevada ranked No. 1 in the greed category — which was measured by the number of casinos per capita, as well as gambling related arrests, charitable donations as a share of income, share of population with gambling disorders and persons arrested for embezzlement.

Nevada ranked 2nd for jealousy — which was measured by thefts per capita, identity thefts and frauds. That seems like an odd way to measure jealousy. Isn’t it more along the line of coveting your neighbor’s … whatever?

Nevada ranked 4th in the lust category — which was measured by the teen birth rate, google searches for vulgar sites, average time spent on those sites and the number of persons arrested for prostitution and vice per capita. Pay no heed to how many of those arrested for prostitution and vice might be from out of state or that it is legal in a number of counties.

At least we ranked only 29th in vanity — which was measured by the number of beauty salons per capita, google searches for plastic surgeons and spending on personal care products.

Wyoming was the least sinful state, but should be a given in a state where you spend all your time trying to keep out of the wind.

Nevada finishes last on so many state-by-state rankings. Now there is something to brag about.

Learned a new word today

R-J photo of Saturday storm damage.

I learned a new word today. As a person who has worked with words nearly all of his life, I like expanding my vocabulary, even if the new word is a conjured amalgam and does not appear in the 14-year-old dictionary on my shelf.

The word is: “gustnado.” It appeared in a news story in the morning paper about the Saturday storm that blew through the valley. A weather service meteorologist explained that a gustnado is a “cyclonic circulation” toward the ground. “A gustnado is just sort of a quick spin up toward the surface and not really connected with the cloud surface itself,” he said.

According to Wikipedia, “A gustnado is a brief, shallow surface-based vortex which forms within the downburst emanating from a thunderstorm.[2] The name is a portmanteau (a blend of words to form a new word) by elision (omission of one or more sounds in a word) of “gust front tornado“, as gustnadoes form due to non-tornadic straight-line wind features in the downdraft (outflow), specifically within the gust front of strong thunderstorms.” By the way, portmanteau and elision are new words for me, too.

Why they don’t simply call it a whirlwind is beyond me, but the language evolves over the years. For the better, for the worse.

Here is an explainer:

Illinois TV station from a year ago.