Keep swimming, Nancy

I have been having an unsettling nightmare lately in which I have been in a shipwreck in shark-infested waters.  My 110 pound dog is drifting with me on a small lifeboat that can only hold two—her and me.  I view someone else from the shipwreck swimming towards me.  As she gets closer, I realize that it’s Nancy Pelosi!  “Let me in!” she pleads.  I am so torn.   I have a hard time sharing a continent with this woman, but I’m supposed to let her on my boat? Do I do the Christian thing by valuing humanity, and kick my dog off the boat to a sure death to let Nancy on?  My dog, who loves me, who protects me, who has only my best interests at heart—or Nancy Pelosi, another human being?  I know what I’m supposed to do; save the fellow human being.  That’s when I’ve always wake up in a sweat in this nightmare.

This dilemma has been haunting even my waking hours.  However, I remembered something today which will help to resolve my nightmare.

It was a water situation.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (within the Department of the Interior, within the executive branch of the federal government) shut off the water to the San Joaquin Valley in California a couple of years ago.  Federal Judge Oliver W. Wanger ruled that they could turn off the water as the result of a lawsuit brought under the federal Endangered Species Act. Perhaps turn off is overstating it—the farmers could stand in line to get a 5%, 30%, 60% allotments of water.  As long as you were a psychic farmer, you could plant the appropriate crop in the appropriate amount for what you knew you would get later in the year.

The species that is at risk here is the delta smelt, a fish 2 to 3 inches long.  The poor little creatures are nearing extinction.  The federal government postulated in the court case that the smelt were being ground up by the pumps which pumped the water to the farmers.  Therefore, they insisted that the pumps be turned off.

Instead of telling the fish to go elsewhere or to buck up, the federal government was telling the farmers and the American fruit and vegetable consumers to go elsewhere.  (Is that because the fish don’t get to vote and they are pandering to them as potential voters?)

There has been a big ruckus since the water was shut off over 2 years ago.  The San Joaquin Valley happens to be the (prior) source of many fruits and a quarter to a half of the vegetables that Americans eat (and are supposed to be eating in greater quantities at fast food places in the near future).  Unemployment reached 40% around Mendota, California, once famous for its cantaloupes.

It got even worse.  In an extremely extended period without water, aka, “drought” you can let some lands lie fallow and still plant your common garden vegetables when the water comes back.  However, three years of consecutive drought starts to kill vines and trees, such as those which bear almonds, apricots, peaches, and grapes.  These are dying off now.  It takes 7 years to reestablish production once they are gone.

The farmers in the valley have protested mightily and tried to get attention to their plight.  The residents tried their governor.  He claimed his hands were tied since it was a federal matter.

They turned to their federal Senators and Representatives.  They were encouraged by the fact that in 2003 a temporary waiver of the Endangered Species Act was passed in Congress for the 3 inch Silvery Minnow in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Diane Feinstein, and Sen. Barbara Boxer all voted for that waiver.  Surely this was a similar situation (it is) and the same kind of waiver could be made.

Their Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC—Rep. Pelosi, Sen. Feinstein, Sen Boxer, Rep. Cost, Rep. Cardoza, and Rep. Radanovich—were interested.  Unfortunately, they were interested in the other side of the issue.  In fact on September 22, 2009, Sen. Jim DeMint introduced an amendment to a bill.  This amendment would have restored the flow of water to the farmers.  Senators Feinstein and Boxer both voted to kill that amendment.  The House Representatives have been similarly opposed to a spigot reversal.

There have been ongoing court cases and attempts at publicity (with little news coverage outside of that News organization that doesn’t really report news).  In May,  a decision in one of the court cases was made by Judge Oliver W. Wanger, the same judge that shut the water off a couple of years ago.  He allowed the water to be turned on again.

This time, the Judge did his homework and used his brain.  The judge probably didn’t want to make the same mistake he made the first time around in not making the federal government actually prove that the pumps were to blame for the decline in Delta smelt—a causal relationship which is required by our legal system to be proved by the plaintiff (the federal government).  The most telling flaw in the government’s case is that since the water has been shut off, the Delta smelt population has continued to decline at the same rate.  Unless they are being ground up by pumps which are not pumping, something else has to be the culprit in the decline.

This wasn’t the only glitch in the “science.”  In his opinion Judge Wanger said, “. . . various aspects of the Bilogical Opinion’s baseline and effects analysis are flawed.”  Also that “The severe OMR flow restrictions . . . are unsupported by the best available science and the data. . .” and called the severe amount of water restriction “arbitrary and capricious.”  He backs it up by including data; his decision was 126 pages long and chock full of scientific data that was carefully dissected.  Oh, yes, and humans are a species also and their needs have to be considered.

His decision is not the end result.  Appeal is being considered and the Supreme Court will probably end up with the final word.  The government can’t let it go.

Remembering all this today brought me back to my dream, after the shipwreck, with Nancy swimming towards that boat with my dog and me, and my decision about which one to save—Nancy or my dog.

The federal government has deemed that the delta smelt is more important than California farmers and a food source for millions of humans simply because the delta smelt is possibly nearing extinction.  It is a “moral” thing to do to save the smelt at the expense of the humans.

There is only one of my dog (mixed breed), so she is really endangered.  When she is gone, there will never be another exactly like her.  However, self-serving, arrogant politicians are in no danger of extinction and seem to be increasing in number.  Therefore, under federal reasoning, I have a moral responsibility to preserve my dog.

So, tonight I will sleep well and wake up rested.  At the end of my dream, I will, in good conscience, say,

“Keep swimming, Nancy.”

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Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds
    also…


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