North for a little culture and scenery and cooler weather

We were up in Cedar City over the past couple days for a couple of Shakespeare plays — Henry the IV, Part 2 and Taming of the Shrew, both excellent and very funny — and a drive up through Cedar Breaks and back through Brian Head.

From Cedar Breaks one could see Cedar City in the distance and almost make out the theater, if I’d not left the binoculars in the motel room.

You can see Cedar City below.

You can see Cedar City below.

The sun managed to peek through the clouds and onto the peaks.

The sun managed to peek through the clouds and onto the peaks.

With all the recent rain the Colubines were in bloom.

With all the recent rain the Columbines were in bloom.

The Paintbrushes too.

The Paintbrushes too.

The hoodoos looked like ancient city.

The hoodoos looked like an ancient city.



Of Nevada delegation, only Harry stands with Obama on Iran deal

Predictably, Nevada’s Washington delegation is toeing the party on Obama’s ill-advised Iran deal that has already been approved by the U.S. Security Council.

Sen. Dean Heller was perhaps the most cautious on the GOP side.

“I have some serious reservations regarding the deal reached on Iran’s nuclear program and will review it carefully, as will the public. For more than three decades, America has stood up against Iran and implemented sanctions enacted by Congress to prevent them from further developing a nuclear weapon. Yet, this work may be unraveled by an agreement that crosses red lines the U.S. had previously set, putting our nation and its allies like Israel at risk,” said  Heller. “I’m sure this is a proud day for the Iranian negotiators. The leadership our nation now needs is for Congress to act decisively in the review process to ensure we are doing everything within our power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”

Rep. Cresent Hardy said, “Iran’s open threats to neighbors like Israel, its government sponsorship of terror around the world, and the confirmed killing of hundreds of U.S. soldiers are all reasons to question their long-term intentions.

“If initial reports are true: This agreement would provide billions of dollars in sanctions relief and only delay Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear bomb by a matter of months. The President can claim a victory with this deal – but it is a hollow one. Simply extending the time it takes for Iran to get a bomb still creates a future where Iran has a bomb.”

Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for Harry Reid’s Senate seat, said, “My initial concerns with the deal stem from the fact that we caved on anytime-anywhere nuclear site inspections, even giving Iran a say in which sites get inspected, and that the deal lifts the conventional arms embargo on Iran. According to reports, Russia and China were the two biggest proponents of lifting that embargo, no doubt to pursue their own nefarious purposes and regional ambitions.

“One thing this deal will not change is Iran’s continued sponsorship of terrorist groups in the Middle East and their influence peddling in Iraq. Those aren’t qualities I look for in a partner on an agreement over nuclear weapons development. In the past Iran has not adhered to international norms and obligations when it comes to their nuclear program, and so Congress now has a chance to review this deal and every aspect of this agreement.”

Rep. Mark Amodei told a television station, “We’re not making the middle east a safer place when you have the Saudis band the Israelis and the Jordanians wondering what Iran will do with that stuff. I think we instead should stay the course with the sanctions and say no,you cannot do this.”

Reid as usual played Democratic politics instead instead of looking out for the safety of the country, saying, “Today’s historic accord is the result of years of hard work by President Barack Obama and his administration. The world community agrees that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable and a threat to our national security, the safety of Israel and the stability of the Middle East. Now it is incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.”

Rep. Dina Titus did not agree, “With the announcement today of an agreement with Iran, I stand strong in the belief that no deal is better than a bad deal and a nuclear-armed Iran is simply unacceptable.”

Her predecessor in the 1st Congressional District, Shelley Berkley, penned an op-ed Sunday calling on Congress to reject the deal.

“In the final analysis, then, President Obama couldn‘t bring home a good deal, nor could he bring himself to walk away. The consequence is a deal that will give Iran billions of dollars in cash and relief to fuel its terror and war machines, shred the hard-won sanctions and enable the Iranians to get away with hiding the full extent of their nuclear work, infrastructure and know-how,” Berkley wrote.

“Don‘t be fooled, either, by the claim that the Iranians will pump $150 billion of promised sanctions relief into their ailing economy. Much, even most, of that windfall will be spent on Iranian terror operations in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, as well as on prolonging the brutal Assad dictatorship in Syria, which has become a full-fledged tool of Iran. At the end of June, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that the forthcoming year‘s defense budget would be increased by a colossal 32.5 percent. The regime is committed to war and conflict, not peace and stability.”

Reid stands alone with smelly deal.

Solar power getting cheaper but still not really competitive

Solar power has now become competitive with fossil fuels.

That’s what Bloomberg Business quoted SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner as saying after NV Energy announced new contracts with two solar power projects at the lowest prices yet.

“Power generated from solar plants is cost-competitive with power from traditional, fossil fuel burning plants, and becoming more cost-competitive every day,” Werner said in an e-mailed statement.

Crescent Dunes Solar Project

NV Energy agreed to pay 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from First Solar’s Playa Solar 2 with a 3 percent a year escalating charge — which pencils out to about 5.2 cents over 20 years — and 4.6 cents a kilowatt-hour with no escalator for power from SunPower Corp.’s 100-megawatt Boulder Solar project, according to filings with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada filings.

Bloomberg’s July 7 story said this past year the utility was paying 13.77 cents a kilowatt-hour for renewable energy. That would be the price for power from the Crescent Dunes project near Tonopah.

“The rapid decline is a sign that solar energy is becoming a mainstream technology with fewer perceived risks. It’s also related to the 70 percent plunge in the price of panels since 2010, and the fact that the project will be built in Nevada, the third-sunniest state,” Bloomberg noted.

Both are to be completed by December 2016, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal today.

What Bloomberg nor the Las Vegas newspaper noted is that at the end of December 2016 the federal investment tax credit for solar power drops from 30 percent to 10 percent. Both sides at the negotiating table know that.
Nor does the cost calculation take into account that most solar projects are built on vast tracts of federal public land that is provided at cut rates.
The R-J did point out that the cheaper solar power will still cost the rate payers millions more:
In their first year of operation in 2017, the facilities would result in about $25 million in costs to ratepayers. But they would also replace $18 million worth of natural gas that the utility would have to buy if they were not built, resulting in a net cost to customers of $7 million.
Tell me again how competitive solar power is. Take at the tax credits, other subsidies and inexpensive land and it still doesn’t pencil out to the rate payer’s advantage.

Iran nuke deal is near total capitulation

Obama tries to explain the Iran deal. (AP photo)

Obama’s deal with Iran not only allows the mullahs to immediately start spending $150 billion on conventional weapons to foment terror and unrest throughout the region and the world, but it hardly dampens their ability to develop nuclear weapons and even requires us to help them in some ways.

The deal requires:

Co-operation in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems …

Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.

Instead of hitting their program with cyberattacks, we are supposed to help them defend against such attacks.

As Charles Krauthammer points out Obama is taking the deal to the U.N. immediately, which could make opposition in Congress irrelevant.

“Whatever Congress ultimately does, it won’t matter because the legal underpinning for the entire international sanctions regime against Iran will have been dismantled at the Security Council,” Krauthammer writes. “Ten years of painstakingly constructed international sanctions will vanish overnight, irretrievably.”

Kevin McCullough, like some other pundit we know and respect, described the historic nature of this ill-begotten deal:

What only few know: According to how the agreement is interpreted, Iran may be 16-24 months from having a nuclear payload.

Not since the Munich pact when Great Britain’s Neville Chamberlain gave away the nation of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler has such a monumental waste of time and energy gone into intense and necessarily serious global negotiations — only to come away with the world in far greater danger than before the talks commenced.

The failure in this case so epic that Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” ineptitude will be second place on the list of historic gaffes behind Obama’s “we kept them from getting the bomb.”

You can’t make a deal with a regime that has never kept its word on anything.


Editorial: Time to free community colleges to stand on their own

Study after study have determined the state’s community colleges, especially those in rural Nevada, are getting short shrift under the current Nevada System of Higher Education governance structure.

A year ago a legislative Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning Community Colleges rejected recommendations that the state’s four community colleges — College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Western Nevada College and Truckee Meadow Community College — be placed under a separate system from the universities.

This was despite a study by the Lincy Institute at UNLV that said “the underachievement and underutilization of many of the state’s higher education institutions and their exclusive dependency on state general funds, which for the smaller campuses necessitate an unsustainable level of state subsidization, suggests that a restructuring of higher education administration and governance that empowers localities and builds on the state’s economic efforts is long overdue.”

Great Basin College

This year, Chancellor Dan Klaich reportedly quashed a study by National Center for Higher Education Management Systems that was highly critical of the current system’s supervision and funding of the community colleges, saying the system “faces a major challenge of addressing policy issues across all missions from the universities to the community colleges.”

Since the recession the budgets of the community colleges have experienced drastic cuts. This year the Legislature passed $5 million in so-called bridge funding to patch over some of the funding shortfalls.

In an op-ed in a couple of Nevada newspapers four former community college presidents called for a separate governance structure for the state’s community colleges.

They said a new funding formula shortchanges students at community colleges. “Great Basin College and Western Nevada College must soon absorb budget cuts in excess of 30 percent,” they write. “The temporary ‘bridge’ funding provided by the legislature in June will only ease the inevitable budget devastation by allowing time for faculty and staff to polish their resumes and seek employment elsewhere, while presidents agonize over which services and communities to abandon, which programs to dismantle, and which employees to fire.”

The missive is signed by Dr. Tony Calabro, former president of Western Nevada College; Dr. John Gwaltney, former president of Truckee Meadows Community College; Dr. Ron Remington, former president of both College of Southern Nevada and Great Basin College; and Dr. Carol Lucey, former president of Western Nevada College.

“Time and again, independent consultants have recommended changes for Nevada community college governance. Time and again, those recommendations have been ignored,” the former presidents note. “Time and again, independent consultants have warned against the meager funding allotted to community colleges. Time and again, those admonitions have been ignored. An addiction to the status quo doesn’t allow for change, innovation, and improvement. Why does the state preserve a governance model that, in effect, inhibits the contributions of its community colleges and, most importantly, penalizes more than half of Nevada’s college students?”

That’s right more than half of Nevada’s college students attend community college, where the professors teach more and are paid less than professors at the universities, often for the very same credited course.

Community college is the only recourse for many students who cannot afford the costly universities or must work full- or part-time or cannot afford to uproot themselves from their rural communities and move to the city.

Closing the community college doors to those students closes the doors to opportunity for better lives and greater contributions to the economy of Nevada.

The Lincy study concluded, “In sum, any dispassionate and objective analysis of the relevant data … indicates that Nevada’s current higher education administration and governance is a poor fit for the state’s residents, businesses, localities, and economic development priorities.”

It is past time to cut the community colleges from the herd and let them take care of themselves instead of playing the role of runts to the universities.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in some 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.

Get your head right, right now

In a speech about the gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court, Obama said:

Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs.  All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.

But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible.  And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them.

That’s right, this is land of many viewpoints and this has to change now. There is a word for this kind of thinking.

Tom Nichols explains it in a post on titled “The New Totalitarians Are Here: Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining — even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees.”

It is no longer enough to win, as in the gay marriage ruling, everyone must embrace the precept in their hearts and minds — reject thoughtcrime.

“Totalitarians are a different breed. …” Nichols writes. “They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment.”

Dare to speak a contrary word about the liberal agenda and you will be bludgeoned unmercifully.

Learn to love Big Brother or else.

No profiling allowed

Federal agents had a spy inside the Branch Davidians, but after a lengthy series of AP stories in 2011 decrying NYPD spying on radical mosques federal agencies have largely taken a hands off approach to mosques.

But are their mosques where the Boston Marathon bombers and the Tennessee military base shooter found their inspirations?

An Investor’s Business Daily editorial in 2013 stated it thusly:

The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won’t snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.

That’s right, the government’s sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.

Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.

Today’s IBD editorial states bluntly: “We have to confront the ugly truth that many of our own Muslims are at war with us.” And there don’t seem to be enough of those peaceful Muslims Obama keeps talking about informing on would-be jihadists.

TheChattanooga shooter and his family reportedly attended a mosque founded by Pakistani immigrants.

The two men who tried to shoot up a Dallas conference featuring contest for Mohammad cartoons attended a Phoenix mosque and the man who tried to behead Boston cops attended the same mosque as the marathon bombers. The Fort Hood shooter attended a local mosque.

But law enforcement is damned if it does and damned if doesn’t. The New York Times carried a story in 2009 with the lede:

The anxiety and anger have been building all year. In March, a national coalition of Islamic organizations warned that it would cease cooperating with the F.B.I. unless the agency stopped infiltrating mosques and using “agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth.”

Law enforcement could use a little cooperation to trap unsuspecting and gullible youths.

But no profiling is allowed.

Recruiting office shot up. (AP photo)