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January 20, 2010


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Perusing the online edition of the Detroit Free Press is instructive on this pressing issue.

On the one hand, the Freep editors and staff writers have dutifully covered the story, noting Governor Granholm's statements on the matter, the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mike Cox, and the ruling of the Supreme Court.

What has been absent (and what Jack Lessenberry only mentions in an almost-passing manner) is any full-throated criticism of Barack H. Obama, who is the Presdent of the United States and who can sort of tell the Army Corps of Engineers, which basically owns and operates the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Locks, what to do.

There can be absolutely no mistake about it; if the Current Occupant were a Republican, and named Bush, there would be piles of the most aggressive editorializing imaginable about how the Republican President was purely evil, and the Republicans had no concept of their environmental responsibility.

I mentioned the Free Press in particular, because one can easily see, on the Freep.com Comments pages, that the Freep readers are not so easily misled about the nature of the problem. Yes, Michiganians are duly concerned. But letter after letter asks the Freep why it hasn't mentioned Obama in any of its editorial warnings about the dire consequences of these particular invasive species taking over the Great Lakes.

A "White House Summit" is an interesting notion. One might wonder whether Governor Granholm's insistence on such a summit, drawing Obama into the mix, means that she is soon headed to a very private and lucrative career with a big lawfirm, banished from all future Obama/Democrat politics for making the President look bad, or whether this is Granholm's interview for a post-Michigan political career in the Executive Branch.

Either way, one wonders just what it is that needs to be "negotiated." And whether Gov. Ganholm is really going to be a zealous advocate for Michigan's interest, in this White House.

The Army Corps of Engineers operates under orders from the President. And this President has, apparently, decided; he won't close the locks. That decision should have drawn outrage from the likes of Jack Lessenberry and the Detroit Free Press. But it didn't.

Doesn’t the Supreme Court override what the president says? You also speculate a lot in your post. What do you propose should be done? It is easy to find blame in everyone, but coming up with a solution. is the hard part.

Nathan - No, you need to understand that Mike Cox's recent attempt with the Supreme Court was an effort to reopen an old 1966 case disputing the water rights issue in connection with Chicago's draining Lake Michigan water out through the reversal of the course of the Chicago River. All that work had been done by and through the Army Corps of Engineers and, just to put an historical context on it, the project was started under the authority of the "Secretary of War" when it was first undertaken 100 years ago.

So procedurally, as a legal case, Mike Cox was attempting a long-shot with his recent effort, which was in the form of a "Motion to Reopen [the 1966 case]." And the Supreme Court, which does have some superintending control by virtue of the prior cases, might have decided to take on the dispute as it stands. (Remember, the Supreme Court can only decide cases brought before it. The Supreme Court doesn't have its own police force, or environmental engineers, or boat pilots, etc.)

But really, Nathan; there is only one reason for a dispute here at all. And that is that President Obama, who commands the Army Corps of Engineers, has not determined to do anything about this problem. This is a problem only becuase the Corps hasn't done enough (enough, that is, to satisfy people like Jack Lessenberry, who are probably right about this threat to the Great Lakes) to protect the Lakes.

Now, just maybe, if President Obama ordered a closure of the Corps of Engineers' locks, then the City of Chicago's Water Reclamation District and the State of Illinois might sue the Corps. Fine, I say. I don't doubt that there is a dispute. Isn't there always a dispute, when people talk about water, and politics?

But please, let's call it like it is in the meantime; PRESIDENT OBAMA IS OPPOSING MICHIGAN'S DEMAND TO CLOSE THE LOCKS TO PROTECT THE LAKES. President Obama hasn't closed the locks and he hasn't even siad that the locks should be closed. President Obama has taken Chicago's side. So far.

And you can be certain; if it weren't a President Obama, but rather was a President Bush, who was responsible for this Executive Branch inaction, Jack Lessenberry would be letting you know about it. In some purple prose, no doubt.

I have indeed pointed out that President Obama has taken that position, and said I disagreed with it. The short format of this essay limits the amount of information I can convey, and this is an information-packed issue. For me, the point is the threat to the lakes, not partisan politics.

Well said, Jack. Only to the most rabid ideologues is this a partisan issue.

President Obama, as in virtually every other area, has to juggle and balance competing interests. The lakes are vitally important, both from an ecological standpoint and an economic one, but so is shipping goods efficiently--on both counts. When a country is taking baby steps out of a serious recession, creating a major choke point for commerce is a concern, not to mention the scores of additional trucks that would be tearing up our highways and polluting our atmosphere to ship all that cargo over land.

The Great Lakes governors and the administration have a meeting scheduled in Washington in the very near future, and I have no doubt that serious solutions will be discussed. Hopefully one can be found that not only stops this carp, but also allows for the free flow of commerce in the heartland of the country.

Meanwhile, I have yet to hear anyone explain just what these fish are GOOD for. They must have some purpose in our culture; otherwise, why would they have been farmed to begin with? I heard a chef on Public Radio recently discussing how he has prepared them in delicious ways. If they are indeed edible and a good food source, someone needs to start catching, processing and exporting them to the millions who are starving around the world, or at the very least transforming them from "invasive species" into "delicacy" in this country. Effective marketing campaigns can work wonders.

My suspicion is that a TRUE solution to this problem will come about only when a way is found for creative people to profit from this fish; the issue then will take care of itself. We have managed to wipe entire species off the planet because of our greed, so it seems an ideal time to harness and direct it toward the Asian carp.

Jack and Cheryl seem to be quite ready to give President Obama a good bit of slack; "balancing iterests" is what Cheryl says. For his part, Jack says the point is the safety of the lakes, not partisan politics.

I can point to a perfect example that illustrates my frustation with the way that the liberal media treated President Bush, in remarkably similar circumstances.

It was the embryonic stem cell research debate.

What President Bush had done, was to seek the advice of a respected panel of experts, and an on-the-record science advisor on the subject. Mr. Bush then "balanced the interests." Some people had highly principled, thoughtful objections to embryonic stem cell research. Other people had highly principled, thoughtful ideas on what could be accomplished in research with old lines, and also with new lines, of embryonic stem cells.

What President Bush did, was to "balance the interests." He did not cut off stem cell research (although he was falsely accused of that, by elements of the mouth-breathing left-wing press). Indeed, President Bush expanded federal funding for stem cell research. The only limit that Preseident Bush placed on the new federally-funded research was that it be done on existing cell lines. A moderate approach. "Balancing interests."

Naturally, the left-wing press, including Jack Lessenberry, never let up on President Bush in those days. Bush was accused of being deliberately ignorant of, and resistant to, the existing science. No one on the left gave Mr. Bush any credit for "balancing interests" in those days.

The two cases, Bush on stem cells and Obama on Asian carp, make for a fascinating comparison. Indeed, one way in which the two cases is that Obama has been slower to act, in the face of a real environmental emergency, than did Bush, who faced no emergency of any kind with stem cell research.

(Only the most wicked, hateful partisan hacks made claims that stem cell research would help people like Christopher Reeve "get up and walk." And, of course, the '04 Vice Presidential candidate and former trial lawyer John Edwards did just that. Nowadays, one needs only to recite the fact that John Edwards claimed something, for it to be demonstrably false. Edwards is someone who is so deliciously associated with scientific lies and fabrication, it is hard to know where to begin and end. There was the laundered '08 campaign money through the law offices of Geoffrey Fieger and many, many other personal injury law offices around the country. The years of nationally-televised lying about his impregnation of Reille Hunter. And now, the claim of Edwards' former aide Andrew Young that trial lawyers Edwards and Fred Baron (the multi-millionaire asbestos and injury lawyer) wanted Young to arrange for a faked DNA test to falsely disprove paternity. That's some kind of medical science there!)

I almost forgot, Cheryl; a simple answer to your question - What are Asian carp good for?

The original intent, in importing them, was that they would be useful to keep enclosed ponds (fish farms?) clean and free of whatever kind of biological junk it is that Asian carp eat, in massive amounts.

The Asian carp were imported to Arkansas for that purpose. Some of them escaped during a large flood that allowed their enclosed ponds to communicate with the lower Mississippi watershed.

The Great Lakes governors and the administration have a meeting scheduled in Washington in the very near future, and I have no doubt that serious solutions will be discussed. Hopefully one can be found that not only stops this carp, but also allows for the free flow of commerce in the heartland of the country.

Ahhh, a Great Lakes Governors' meeting.

Hmmmm. That would include:

Lame Duck Democrat Jennifer Granholm (MI);

Lame Duck Democrat Jim Doyle (WI);

Blagojevich-replacement Democrat Pat Quinn (IL);

Ohio Democrat Ted Strickland;

Pennsylvania Democrat and former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell, and;

Eliott Spitzer Replacement Governor David Paterson (NY).

Only Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is a Republican.

Anyway, if all the Democrat Governors want to solve this problem with their party leadership in the White House, I say go right ahead. We'll see how that works out. I don't trust those Democrat governors to do anything other than to cover Obama's backside, but I kind of like the solution in this respect: If there is a "Carp Summit" at the White House, it doesn't give the liberal media in the Great Lakes region any room to complain about the conservative Supreme court Justices, or the Bush Administration, or mean-spirited corporate interests, or any of the other bogeymen of the Left.

Hello, problem. Allow me to introduce you to the Obama White House. This here is the Chief of Staff, Mr. Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. And this gentleman is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former Illinois Congressman. I think you know Senator Durbin already. Now that we've made the introductions, let's talk about simple, clear methods to absolutely prevent the entry of Asian carp into Lake Michigan through Chicago, shall we?

Oh dear me!

I forgot one Great Lakes-state governor! Quickly, can you name that Governor?

Of course, it's Republican Tim Pawlenty, of Minnesota! Now THERE'S an interesting fellow, who might just become VERY interesting in the coming years!

Governor Pawlenty, perhaps you and Governor Daniels can actually turn it into an interesting "Carp Summit."

I almost forgot. For fans of Jack Lessenberry's own views on "balancing interests" between responsible environmental protection of the Great Lakes, and much-needed commerce in our state, have a look at Jack's writing on the subject of the Kennecott mine proposal in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. You won't read much about "the free flow of commerce in the heartland of the country" in this Lessenberry essay:

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