Missouri River will keep flooding as we continue shortsighted projects, management


Click to enlargeScott Olson/Getty

❝ The Missouri River used to be out of control. “It cuts corners, runs around at nights, fills itself with snags and traveling sandbars, lunches on levees, and swallows islands and small villages for dessert,” is how the humorist George Fitch (pretty accurately) described it in 1907.

It was also hugely variable in size and shape. Below Yankton, South Dakota, where a narrow valley gave way to a flat expanse five to 18 miles wide, the Missouri and its various secondary channels, sandbars and the like “had a width of 1,000 to 10,000 feet during normal flow periods,” historian Robert Kelley Schneiders wrote in 1999. During a flood, which usually came in April when snow melted in the Great Plains, or in June when it melted in the Rocky Mountains, the river could become a “foaming, misdirected monster” that covered the entire valley, sometimes with ice as well as water.

Afterward, the Missouri would often resettle along an entirely new course…

❝ When Fitch wrote that in 1907, local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had already been trying and mostly failing for several decades to persuade the Missouri to behave more like they thought a river should, flowing in a single channel navigable by barges and staying off neighboring cornfields and out of houses…

This year, even though it isn’t expected to set any overall runoff records, is looking even worse. Floodwaters breached levees in more than 40 places along the Missouri in mid-March, and more than a month later much of the river valley from Omaha and Council Bluffs southward to Missouri — most of which, because the river channel hugs the hills on the Nebraska side, is in Iowa — is still soaked. Interstate 29, which connects the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area to points south, is closed to just past the Missouri state line and not expected to reopen until June.

RTFA. Interesting, confirms most folks’ cynicism about plans and programs succeeding governments have implemented to greater or lesser degrees of success. For a while. When it works – for a while – everyone figures all the problems are solved. For a while.

Trump belief in failed economic analyses results in more failure


Click to enlarge

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the United States last year posted an $891.2 billion trade deficit in merchandise, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies.

The results were a sobering reminder that the laws of economics still apply to a president who had promised to supercharge economic growth while simultaneously shrinking the chronic U.S. trade deficit.

Those twin promises proved incompatible, as economists had predicted…

“Macroeconomics end up ruling. You can’t wish it away. You can’t tariff it away,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The same supply-side foolishness Republicans seem to love were trotted out by Trump advisors like Navarro and Kudlow offering up the same economic bible that failed – most recently – Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. There are masochistic terms for fools who continue to repeat useless acts in hope of a different result. They describe politicians who really don’t give a damn about decent jobs, good wages, good education and good health for the working families of this nation..

Trump promises more subs – even though there’s no one to build them

❝ Donald Trump loves submarines. And America’s submarine industry has every reason to love Trump back. The hawkish, protectionist president has vowed to grow the US Navy, particularly its submarine force, to its biggest size in decades.

But experts agree there’s no realistic way the Trump administration can add the extra subs in time for the former reality television star to plausibly take credit for the build-up. Submarines are just too expensive and complex to build fast…

❝ To produce extra subs, Electric Boat in Connecticut and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, the two shipyards that make all of America’s undersea combat vessels, will need to expand their facilities and add thousands of highly-skilled workers. Congress will need to approve much larger annual shipbuilding budgets, possibly for decades on end. Potentially several presidential administrations will need to sign off on those budgets…

…”More than unrealistic,” in the words of one Congressional insider who works on naval issues but spoke on condition of anonymity. “It would be impossible.”…

And, of course, The Donald lies about the comparative size of our Navy and how and why we need to grow it.

❝ For starters, Trump can’t exactly order a submarine all on his own. Congress writes budgets and appropriates money. And lawmakers might balk at the pricetag of Trump’s sub plan. Buying just one submarine sets taxpayers back around $3 billion. Getting to 66 attack subs could end up costing around $60 billion, according to the Congressional insider.

And that’s only counting construction costs. Operating those subs adds hundreds of millions dollars more per year. Every submarine the Navy adds grows the fleet’s overhead—and Congress knows it.

To build more subs, you not only need space at the shipyard. You also need workers…It can take up to seven years to train a welder qualified to work on nuclear-powered subs…

Trump could outsource the construction. China, India, France and Russia have – for one reason or another – shipyard space that could fill the bill. Hilarious as that would be, I don’t expect it. I do hope the next sensible administration we have – starting with a build-up in the 2018 midterm elections to the 2020 elections – we can start returning funds to useful projects. Instead of fondling the diseased ego of Donald Trump and his fellow travelers in the Republican clown car.

Huge study refutes the federal government’s crap marijuana laws

❝ In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors.

❝ The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research…

It is particularly significant, however, that the review states quite clearly that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that marijuana is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, as a tonic for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and in treating spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients…

❝ Marijuana has also been floated as a potential treatment for a whole host of other disorders — such as easing insomnia relating to painful syndromes, increasing appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, decreasing severe anxiety, and combating the effects of PTSD. Although there’s moderate to limited evidence supporting marijuana’s effectiveness, the report found, the research here isn’t yet conclusive.

The review also looked at the health risks associated with marijuana use, dispelling some popular arguments against it. For example, according to the review of the research, smoking marijuana is not associated with the same cancer risks as tobacco — there was no evidence that marijuana use was associated with lung, head, and neck cancers. Tobacco, unlike marijuana, is recreationally legal nationwide.

❝ That doesn’t mean, however, that marijuana is completely absolved of health risks…“It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know,” said Taylor West. “This is a product with significantly lower risk factors than other things that we regulate and consume, like alcohol.”

Congress has the power to change these absurd and outdated laws. The White House could help progress along. Obama didn’t do much about that. I expect even less from Trump.

The big “but” lies with the grassroots organizing every Democrat from here to the Halls of Congress is talking about. If push is going to come to shove, if science is to return to stable, reasoned responsibility in the development of political platforms, then Democrats and Independents seeking my vote – and many, many others – had better get up-to-date on results from legal, recreational sales of marijuana, taxed for the general benefit of the voting public.

This ain’t the biggest deal in real reform needed in this ethically-backwards nation; but, it counts as one with liberty, justice and fiscal responsibility as recommendations.

Pentagon opposes Republican claims that protecting birds reduces military readiness


Guess this is enough to scare today’s Republican

House Democrats…released letters from Pentagon officials that they said should put an end to “silly speculation” generated by Republicans that protecting a bird known as the greater sage-grouse could hamstring the U.S. military.

They’re hoping the new information persuades lawmakers to oppose a GOP provision in the annual defense policy bill that would block the Obama administration from protecting the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act for 10 years. The measure also would prevent implementation of land-use plans by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to conserve the sage-grouse and its habitat.

The letters show those plans are working, don’t interfere with military readiness, and help ensure the sage-grouse does not have to be listed under the act…

GOP lawmakers have argued that…”listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act comes at a high cost to military readiness…Our forces are already struggling to meet their training requirements before they deploy. Listing the sage-grouse would clearly impact our training ranges and make an already bad situation worse.”

Apparently Republicans feel the Sage Grouse is as great a danger to our ability to kill and maim civilians around the world as letting gay or lesbian soldiers serve in our military. Considering their uniform experience as chickenhawks in wartime – real or phony in origin – one might think they’d care more about birds.