Corps Of Engineers Not At Fault
In Missouri River Flood Disaster

Finally—finally—a thorough news media inquiry into a question which has been hanging over the Missouri River Valley flood disaster story for several weeks.  The question:

To what extent, if any, is the Army Corps of Engineers leadership responsible for the disastrous flooding because they did not leave enough storage capacity available in their six Missouri River dams?

Governor Dave Heineman of Nebraska and Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa have questioned the Corps of Engineers reservoir management.  Branstad has said he thinks there must be “a complete review” of how the Missouri River dams have been managed by the Corps.

Among the general public, the questions, the criticism, the uninformed second guessing have consistently targeted the Corps of Engineers.  Lack of evidence doesn’t discourage the critics.

I believe the page and a half account of two World-Herald reporters’ interview with Corps of Engineers officials, published Sunday, clearly points to this conclusion:  The Corps of Engineers has been getting a very bum rap.

By all standards based on anticipated spring snowmelt and rainfall, including the possibility of heavier-than-usual snowmelt and rainfall, the Engineers were managing the dams in a way to leave predictably adequate flood control storage capacity.  What the Engineers—and certainly none of their critics—could have anticipated was a combination of snowmelt and spring rainfall which substantially exceeded anything on record—and the records date back to the late 19th century.

As to the often-repeated charge that the Engineers had to sacrifice flood control storage in order to avoid releasing water from the Gavins Point Dam during the breeding season of several endangered species, including the pallid sturgeon, the Corps had a very direct answer to a question from The World-Herald reporters.

A Corps official replied:  “The endangered species had no impact on this year’s regulation at all.”

It might be well for critics to remember that to the extent protection of endangered species does sometimes influence Corps management of the Gavins Point dam, it is a result of policy directives imposed by the federal government, starting during the Clinton administration, as a result of pressure from the leaders of the so-called “green” movement.

Still waiting to be asked, as I see it, are two questions that might have some relationship to the current flood crisis:

Is there any relationship between the problem of unprecedented amounts of water in the Missouri River system and the disastrous flooding in the North Dakota city of Minot, which is only about 70 miles northeast of the Missouri as it flows from Montana into North Dakota and then on through South Dakota?  Did the unprecedented snowmelt/rainfall combination which created the Minot disaster also impact the relatively close Missouri River?

Of the Minot disaster, which put more than a fourth of the city under water and evacuated, a North Dakota official has said:  “This is three times worse than the worst previous flooding in history.”  (Minot is on the Souris River which does not flow into the relatively close Missouri.)

Another question which I think some enterprising journalist might well pursue:

The Missouri River dams have been in service for half a century.  In that time they have impounded an enormous total of gallons of water.  Much, if not most, of that water has not come in clear but, instead, silt-laden.

The silt presumably would settle to the bottom of the reservoir when the water is impounded behind a dam.  The question:

How much has this half-century-old process reduced the reservoir capacity for the purpose of flood control or any other of the purposes served by the dams?  (I’m not playing engineer here.  I’ve discussed it with two engineers who agree that it is a pertinent question.)

* * *

The Legalization Of Same-Sex Marriage
Bought And Paid For In New York

Most Americans who believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized as a matter of equality and principle should be appalled by the tactics which Governor Andrew Cuomo used to push a same-sex-legalization bill through the New York Legislature.

Needing Republican votes in the legislature’s Senate, Cuomo called in some wealthy Republicans—one of whom has a son who is homosexual—and suggested that they could push his campaign to success by making substantial contributions to the pro-legalization lobbying effort, according to The New York Times.

In a very sad commentary on the level to which the Governor of New York and a few wealthy Republicans would sink to push a bill through the New York Legislature, the wealthy Republicans sent six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign, which eventually spent more than $1 million.

Times story started on the front page and continued on a full inside page, filled with details such as this:

“The coalition approached him (a Republican senator) from every angle.  The Republican donors invited him to a meeting on Park Avenue, telling him they would eagerly support him if he backed same-sex marriage.”

Aside from the sordid details of how the same-sex-marriage legalization was, in effect, bought and paid for, there is the matter of Governor Cuomo’s repeated argument that the issue is simply one of “equality” for same-sex couples, a fair-minded recognition by society that there is no difference between marriage involving a man and a woman and so-called marriage involving same-sex couples.

This, of course, is simply ridiculous.  There is a difference between the traditional institution of marriage between a man and a woman—a marriage which can produce offspring, on which the survival of a society depends—and a so-called marriage between couples of the same sex, which produces no offspring and which—to a great many people—represents an unwarranted and unwelcome intrusion into the traditional institution of marriage.

Such an intrusion is not “equality” it is “inequality,” an effort to try to make “equal” two relationships which are inherently unequal.

It is not as though same-sex couples have no opportunity to have legal recognition of their relationship in most states.  Laws allowoing legal recognition of such relationships are widely available except in a few states.  One exception is Nebraska, where voters overwhelmingly adopted a constitutional amendment forbidding recognition of either same-sex “marriages” or same-sex civil unions.

I voted against that amendment, because I thought it went too far by prohibiting legal recognition of so-called “civil unions.”

* * *

Michelle And The Two Girls
Join President In Making News

A look at the Obama family’s recent public performances.

President Obama ordered a 30-million-barrel draw-down of the nation’s strategic oil reserves in response to the interruption of oil flowing into the world supply by the fighting in Libya and other developments in the Middle East.

The Associated Press attributed the decision to the fact that the Obama administration is “wary of a new surge in gasoline prices.”

The President’s decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the reserve of 727 million barrels, stored in salt caverns along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, was criticized even by some Democrats like Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Another Obama-influenced controversial decision came to light last week with word that the National Labor Relations Board, which now has a 4-1 Democratic majority—has adopted a new policy obviously designed to help unions win elections when the issue is whether employers will be forced to recognized the union as bargaining agent for employees.

The new policy reduces the number of days which an employer has to communicate with employees when the union, without prior notice, files a petition for a bargaining-unit election.

This development represents another example of the Obama administration attempting to win, by executive orders and appointments, approval of liberal-agenda proposals which he couldn’t push through Congress even when Democrats controlled both houses.

Government by edict rather than by law, you might call it.

Elsewhere on the Obama family front (or perhaps I should say on the “First Family” front because Michelle seems to enjoy referring to herself as the “First Lady”):

Michelle and the Obamas’ two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother (as always), have been on an African goodwill trip to South Africa and Botswana.

The trip has been well covered by some of the news media, so on the news the other night we had a chance to get a brief glimpse of Michelle and the two children riding in one of those vehicles designed to allow “photo safaris” through big-game country.

There was no indication of what this photo safari did for relations between Botswana and the United States, nor was there any indication in the televised scene of the daughters reading from some children’s books—the subject matter wasn’t clear to TV viewers—at some public occasion or other.

This TV vignette included—I kid you not—a remark from Michelle to the effect that the Obamas believe in keeping their daughters protected from the glare of publicity which focuses on the White House.

* * *

‘New Era’ For Golf?  Not Yet;
Pot Drive Sponsors Appear Honest

Again this week, a collection of quick hits on a variety of subjects, starting with some nonsense from Sports Illustrated magazine:

–SI’s cover proclaimed:  “GOLF’S NEW ERA,” based on the fact that an attractive young golfer from Northern Ireland had played his way to an “historic win at the U.S. Open.”

On an inside page, under the headline, “Comparing Greatness,” the article compared the performance of Rory McIlroy of North Ireland and Tiger Woods of the United States in recording impressive U.S. Open championship performances.  McIlroy came out quite well in the comparison.

But I think it’s a bit foolish to proclaim a “New Era” of golf to be dominated by young Mr. McIlroy.  One victory in a major championship does not create a new era in the world of professional golf.

I wish McIlroy well—he certainly displays a more attractive personality than Tiger Woods ever did—but we should keep in mind the fact that in two excellent chances to win his first major tour victory, McIlroy is batting 500.  He bombed out—spectacularly—in his last round of this year’s Masters, finishing with an 80 after starting the back 9 in the lead.

–At least they’re honest about it, the sponsors of the petition drive on a vote for legalizing marijuana in Nebraska.

No claims that all they’re trying to do is legalize marijuana as a medicinal drug, which is the cover used for legalizing pot sales in 16 states, including neighboring Colorado.

The proposition which would go to Nebraska voters, if the Nebraska Proposition 19 Cannabis Initiative has enough signatures to go on the November 2012 ballot, would regulate and tax all commercial uses of marijuana but remove all laws governing private, non-commercial use of the plant.

–A recent news story said that “some heavy hitters in the Omaha business community are sticking with Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson.”

The story said a virtual “who’s who from the city’s business players” were attending a fund-raising dinner for Nelson.

I think that more likely than lining up this early with Nelson in his forthcoming campaign for re-election, the businessmen who attended the fund-raiser are simply covering their bets against the possibility that Nelson is re-elected.

Look for the same names—or at least most of them—to appear as attendees at a fund-raising dinner for whatever candidate wins the Republican nomination to oppose Nelson.

* * *

‘Adopt A Pet Weekend’  Heartwarming Story

To finish on an upbeat note.

The most heartwarming footage which I’ve seen on television recently was a shot of an “Adopt a Pet Weekend” in Joplin, Missouri.

The lost or abandoned pets were, of course, survivors of the tornado which virtually destroyed Joplin.  One would assume that some of them were pets owned by persons killed in that devastating storm.

The telecast showed touching scenes of a variety of dogs being adopted by people who had come from near and far to take home with them one or two of the canine victims of that tragedy.

A heartwarming picture indeed, particularly when you heard the assurance that even the pets that weren’t adopted would not be abandoned.

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