Jobs for jihadists but not for American workers

Obama today vetoed the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline, sending it back to Congress where it is unlikely enough Democrats can be persuaded to override.

“The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto,” Obama said in his veto message to Congress.

The veto came even though the State Department has found no significant environmental impact and estimated the project would create 42,100 jobs during two years of construction and 35 full-time jobs there after.

This rejection comes on the heels of Obama’s administration saying the root cause of Islamic (actually, they did not use the word Islamic) terrorism is the lack of jobs.

I guess we now know his priorities.

Route of Keystone XL oil pipeline

The electronic road to serfdom?

On Thursday the FCC commissioners are to vote on what is generally being called net neutrality, but rightly should be called Obamanet, as L. Gordon Crovitz explains in The Wall Street Journal.

If socializing a sixth of the economy can be called Obamacare, socializing the Internet should be given the moniker of its chief author.

The plan is to cover the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which states in part:

“All charges, practices, classifications, and regulations for and in connection with such communication service, shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation that is unjust or unreasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful …”

Goodbye innovation and disruptive changes to the status quo. Everything will be equal, equally slow and costly and mired in regulation and government paperwork.

WSJ illustration

“Utility regulation was designed to maintain the status quo, and it succeeds,” writes Crovitz. “This is why the railroads, Ma Bell and the local water monopoly were never known for innovation. The Internet was different because its technologies, business models and creativity were permissionless.”

Writing in Politico, Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner, and Lee Goodman, an FEC commissioner, explain, “Unfortunately, some see any realm of freedom as a vacuum in need of government control.”

They argue the purpose of the whole thing is control and control’s sake and nowhere in the 332-page plan — which is secret until after the FCC vote — is there any explanation of what needs to be fixed.

“While the FCC is inserting government bureaucracy into all aspects of Internet access, the FEC is debating whether to regulate Internet content, specifically political speech posted for free online,” they write.

Democrat FEC commissioners have proposed regulating political  “express advocacy” online. Just as some states do with political advertising.

This reminds one of the warnings from Friedrich Hayek in “The Road to Serfdom,” written shortly after World War II:

“It is revealing that few planners today are content to say that central planning is desirable. Most of them affirm that we now are compelled to it by circumstances beyond our control.

“One argument frequently heard is that the complexity of modern civilization creates new problems with which we cannot hope to deal effectively except by central planning. This argument is based upon a complete misapprehension of the working of competition. The very complexity of modern conditions makes competition the only method by which a coordination of affairs can be adequately achieved.

“There would be no difficulty about efficient control or planning were conditions so simple that a single person or board could effectively survey all the facts. But as the factors which have to be taken into account become numerous and complex, no one centre can keep track of them. The constantly changing conditions of demand and supply of different commodities can never be fully known or quickly enough disseminated by any one centre.

“Under competition – and under no other economic order – the price system automatically records all the relevant data. Entrepreneurs, by watching the movement of comparatively few prices, as an engineer watches a few dials, can adjust their activities to those of their fellows.

“Compared with this method of solving the economic problem – by decentralization plus automatic coordination through the price system – the method of central direction is incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope. It is no exaggeration to say that if we had had to rely on central planning for the growth of our industrial system, it would never have reached the degree of differentiation and flexibility it has attained. Modern civilization has been possible precisely because it did not have to be consciously created.”


When they dock your pay for a taking a break from work

I think I’ve worked for Jim McCann. Have you?

Drill, ye tarriers, drill

Well you work all day for the sugar in your tay

Down beyond the railway

And drill, ye tarriers, drill

And blast, and fire.


Now our new foreman was Jim McCann

By golly, he was a blinkin’ man

Last week a premature blast went off

And a mile in the sky went big Jim Goff.

And drill, ye tarriers, drill


And when next payday came around

Jim Goff a dollar short was found

When asked the reason came this reply

“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

And drill, ye tarriers, drill

The Sun charade goes, painfully and pitifully, on

The Sun insert in the Las Vegas newspaper today carried a front page story telling readers, what few there are, that the joint operating agreement (JOA) is still in effect under the new ownership of the Review-Journal.

The R-J story on the sale said as much. Neither story noted the JOA does not expire until 2040.

The Sun story did explain, “Under the joint operating agreement, the Sun is printed and distributed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and receives a portion of the R-J’s advertising revenue.” Actually, the Sun gets a portion of the paper’s profit.

The question is: With so little effort being put into the content of the Sun section, why would anyone, including Brian Greenspun, bother with continuing this charade.

Perhaps New Media Investment Group will make Greenspun a better offer to end the JOA. Or with a little created bookkeeping, they might figure out a way to make sure there is no profit to share.

Brian Greespun took control of the Sun from his siblings this past year. The siblings had negotiated to end the joint operating agreement with the Review-Journal.

Editorial: Las Vegas water grab is a waste of time and money

The Nevada Supreme Court has dealt another blow to the Las Vegas attempt to snatch groundwater from Lincoln and White Pine counties.

In December 2013, state court Senior Judge Robert Estes ruled that State Engineer Jason King had failed to establish adequate criteria for protecting the residents of eastern Nevada and western Utah from damages that might result from drawing down the groundwater to supply the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) with 84,000 acre-feet a year of groundwater from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys.

Now the high court has ruled that since the judge remanded the matter to the state engineer for further studies and review that the case is not yet appealable.

The unpublished opinion cited the judge’s own words about how the engineer’s findings were lacking. Judge Estes repeatedly called the plans for monitoring, mitigating and managing the water transfer “arbitrary and capricious.”

A symbolic bucket

“There are no objective standards to determine when mitigation will be required and implemented,” the judge wrote. “The Engineer has listed what mitigation efforts can possibly be made, i.e., stop pumping, modifying pumping, change location of pumps, drill new wells … but does not cite objective standards of when mitigation is necessary.”

Judge Estes concluded that if “it is premature to set triggers and thresholds, it is premature to grant water rights.”

In a press release, attorney Simeon Herskovits, representing one of the groups suing to halt the water grab, Great Basin Water Network (GBNW), said, “SNWA has had 25 years to provide basic information proving that its proposed project to pump and pipe water out of these rural valleys would be sustainable and comply with the most basic requirements of Nevada’s water law. The fact that they not only have failed to produce such evidence in all that time, but also have gone on record saying repeatedly that they cannot produce such evidence, only goes to show this misguided proposal never has been and never will be scientifically defensible or legally permissible.”

Abby Johnson, president of GBNW, added, “All of the science actually shows that SNWA’s plan to pump groundwater out of these rural valleys and pipe it down to the Las Vegas Valley simply will not be sustainable and cannot avoid destroying existing water rights and the environment in the vast affected area.”

Since Estes’ ruling, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey calculated all the annual groundwater recharge for the valleys involved from various sources is about 175,000 acre-feet. The current outflow — current wells, springs, streams and outflow to other aquifers — is almost precisely the same amount of water — equilibrium.

“Increased well withdrawals within these high transmissivity areas will likely affect a large part of the study area, resulting in declining groundwater levels, as well as leading to a decrease in natural discharge to springs …” the study concluded.

It is those springs and streams that support livestock, agriculture and a vast array of wildlife, some of which are threatened or endangered. Declining groundwater levels would mean local wells might have to be drilled deeper, a very expensive proposition for local landowners and homeowners.

A study for SNWA found the cost of wells, pumps and pipelines could top $15 billion and triple Las Vegas water bills.

SNWA should throw in the towel now and stop wasting the time and money of their own ratepayers and those in rural Nevada trying to preserve our resources and livelihoods.

A version of this editorial appears this week in 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.

Who is bamboozling whom?

Obama used the occasion of a speech before the Democratic National Committee today to brag about how his presidency has led to economic recovery and to ridicule Republicans for “trying to bamboozle folks.”

According to a CBS account, Obama bragged about job creation picking up, manufacturing rebounding, wages finally beginning to grow and deficits are falling. “None of this is an accident,” he boasted. “It’s because we believe in middle class economics.”

Now, who is bamboozling whom?

According to the National Association of Counties, only 2 percent of counties in the U.S. have fully recovered from the recession in terms of jobs, unemployment, economic output and home prices.

And this “recovery” has taken the longest of any since World War II:

That’s not something to brag about.

Congressman Paul Ryan said on NBC after Obama’s State of the Union speech, “The big beef I have with the president’s State of the Union … is he gave us a lot of happy talk about the economy as if it was a mission accomplished speech. It is not mission accomplished.”

While Ryan agreed economy is improving, he noted it is the slowest recovery since World War II. “Middle income wages are stagnating,” he said. “We’ve got to break out of this slog. And I do believe that there are things we can do hopefully in the next year to get this economy growing faster.”

Obama’s answer is always more regulation, more taxes, blocking development public land, threatening to veto a pipeline that would create jobs. These are the very things that have slowed the recovery.

Newspaper column: Rep. Hardy expects to see some action on federal land issues

Freshman 4th Congressional District Rep. Cresent Hardy, whose district covers the southern half of rural Nevada, foresees considerable debate and action coming during this 114th session of Congress on various issues concerning use and control of federal public lands.

Asked about Sen. Harry Reid’s bill to bar development on more than a million acres of land in Gold Butte in Clark County and Coal and Garden valleys in Nye and Lincoln counties, all in his district, Hardy said he’d not yet read the bill but stated, “I know where I’m at with that proposal. I’m fighting tooth and nail. I think it’s time the federal government got out of our state.”

He added that the state taking control of public lands would provide opportunities for the citizens of the state to be “like the Founders expected us to be, laboratories of industry, and let us take control of our public lands ourselves.”

Cresent Hardy

(According to the Las Vegas newspaper, Rep. Dina Titus has introduced a House version of Reid’s land bill. Titus told the paper she thinks Harady is “more open” to protecting Gold Butte than in the past. “I’m fighting tooth and nail,” is a dial back? Was his prior stance: Over my dead body?)

Hardy cited the Equal Footing Doctrine — under which all states are promised to be treated equally with the original 13 states — as an argument for states taking control of federal land. He noted that in 1828 the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida used that argument to convince Congress to release control of most federal land within their boundaries.

Today various federal agencies control roughly half the 11 westernmost states in the lower 48 and Alaska and about 85 percent of Nevada, the highest percentage of any state, while only 4 percent of the rest of the states is under federal dominion.

Hardy said he and other members of the delegation have also asked the Bureau of Land Management to back off of a Southern Nevada land management plan it has put out, noting that it took the BLM seven years to develop the 2,200-page plan but it at first was only going to give the residents of the area 30 to 45 days to comment and recommend changes. The comment period was extended, but only to March 9.

The congressman said he also hopes the Nevada Legislature acts on a report from its Nevada Public Lands Management Task Force recommending that the state take control of millions of acres of federal land and forwards it to Congress for its action.

“I’ll tell you what is happening back here. I think people from the East Coast, we’re actually educating folks back here,” Hardy said of the lands issue. “They didn’t understand for all these years the damage that they’ve caused to the West by keeping control of these state lands, like the rights they have and the opportunities they have by having control of their own lands. We need that opportunity, like I said, to be laboratories of industry.”

Noting that he is a member of the congressional Western Caucus, Hardy said it is important for the Western states to combine forces to press their mutual concerns. “The more power we get behind us, the better off we are,” he reasoned. “That’s why this Western states alliance is so important.”

Asked about Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s memo recently outlining plans to try to curb wildfires on federal lands, Hardy replied, “That’s an emotional topic for me. Let’s get people back out on the land, managing the land, who understand the land. The best wildfire prevention is grazing and other proper management by people who know how to do it.”

Though this past week Nevada Sens. Reid and Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval penned a letter to the Washington Post critical of the newspaper’s editorial in support of opening Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste storage and a Reid spokesmen flatly declared the project dead, Hardy said he has been talking with constituents from White Pine, Nye and Lincoln counties and they are open to discussion about the future of Yucca Mountain.

“I think Nevada needs to be in that discussion,” Hardy said. “We need to be involved in it. I’ll never agree to have it shoved down our throats, but I think we need to be involved. If its got to come here, this is the best safety issue for it, then we need to be looking at the opportunities that we may have, if they’re there.”

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