State Government, Facebook, and the Constitution

Well, it’s not often that Nebraska gets grouped in with New Jersey and California, especially involving Facebook (or Farcebook, as many of my friends have it) and denial of the 1st Amendment. Then again, I suspect Pete Ricketts, our governor, had much the same reaction as I did, best classed as WTF!

Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist seems to have it sorted.

At first, the company seemed to be bragging about its work with state governments to remove posts promoting protests of lockdown guidelines. After state governments disputed that characterization, Facebook said it had only consulted the local officials for information on the scope of their guidelines.

On Monday evening, a Facebook company spokesperson clarified the platform’s approach to The Federalist. “Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” they said. “For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”

Speaking on background, the Facebook source added, “We review content about the protests against our policies and whether the protest calls for social distancing where that is required. We require protests to make calls for social distancing clear in their event in states where that is required for protests.”

“State officials can contact us to inform us on their guidance as it relates to social distancing in their state,” they continued. “We reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders, not about removing specific protests on Facebook.”

Several news outlets reported early Monday that a Facebook spokesperson sent a statement claiming the company removed posts that promoted quarantine protests from its website at the direction of state governments.

The gist of the story seems to be that Facebook wants us to think they are an official gatekeeper working with our often overzealous governments to suppress our rights. Well, OK then. Facebook is convenient, but no one concerned with their constitutional rights should consider them an ally, or even a very good channel. They have far to often shown themselves to be susceptible to pressure, especially from the left. Simply not to be trusted. Never, not ever.

Meanwhile, over at Townhall, Katie Pavlich tells us that the US Attorney General Bill Barr reaffirmed that our constitutional rights don’t go away just because some new strain of flu shows up, saying:

But it still has the obligation to adapt to the circumstances. Whatever powers the government has, whether it be the president or the state governor, still is bounded by Constitutional rights of the individual. Our federal Constitutional rights don’t go away in an emergency. They constrain what the government can do. And in a circumstance like this, they put on the government the burden to make sure that whatever burdens it’s putting on our Constitutional liberties are strictly necessary to deal with the problem,” he continued. “They have to be targeted. They have to use less intrusive means if they are equally effective in dealing with the problem. And that’s the situation we’re in today. We’re moving into a period where we have to do a better job of targeting the measures we’re deploying to deal with this virus.

And that is fair enough. Americans have always been pragmatic enough to understand that sometimes rights have to give way to common sense. We still do. The problems start when the government gets pushy, without enough justification, or tries to hold on longer than common sense indicates, or goes too far. All of which is happening now. Then the government (state and/or federal) gets pushback, and it tends to be rather blunt. Governor Ricketts is unlikely to be harmed by this, he’s a pretty good man, and he did the right thing when Facebook misrepresented itself. But it too is a warning, it’s time to be getting back to work, this particular threat is diminishing, but the threat to the economy is very real, and getting worse.

The Attack of the Greenies

A couple of weeks ago, we did an article about how badly Nebraska is flooding this year, and how we’re coping with it. That story continues, Nebraska floods every year, it comes from having major rivers, especially ones that are slow flowing and meander, which describes the Missouri, to an extent, and applies strongly to the Loup, the Platte, and others. While Nebraska is not as flat as people going through on I 80 assume, it isn’t Colorado either.

It’s not entirely curable, but it used to be a lot better, and not that long ago. Why? Let’s let Joe Herring, of The Herring Report, out of Omaha tell us.

In the pages of American Thinker, I recently discussed the degree of responsibility I believe should accrue to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the current catastrophic flooding across parts of South Dakota,  Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and nearly all of Nebraska.

In that piece I clearly stated that the entirety of flooding could not have been prevented by the Corps, or any other earthly organization.

However, the unprecedented severity and frequency of flooding throughout the Missouri River basin – most specifically, that which has resulted in all but 9 of Nebraska’s 93 counties being under a federal disaster declaration – has increased dramatically in recent years due to one reason only, and folks, it ain’t climate change.

Permit me to provide context.

Average runoff in the Missouri River basin above Sioux City between the completion of the dams in 1967 and 2004, (when the management priorities were altered), averaged 25.19 million acre-feet (MAF).  SeeTable 1

The average runoff between 2004 and 2018 is 25.3 million acre-feet, a statistically insignificant difference.

While the 2004-2018 average includes two of the three highest runoff years since the advent of the dams, the 1967-2004 average includes SEVEN of the top ten runoff years since the dams began operation, including the 2nd highest runoff ever recorded, 49 MAF in 1997.  See Table 2

Table 2

Yet, despite these stressors, before the Corps abandoned flood control as the highest priority of the dam system, these 7 top ten high runoff years resulted in flooding far less severe and significantly less frequent than that seen since the change.



The Corps reflexively claim that all eight Congressionally “authorized purposes” (according to the Master Water Control Manual) are weighted equally, with priority shifting depending on circumstances.

While the Corps yet believed protecting people and property was a more worthy aim than the well-being of two birds and a fish, the riverbanks were routinely stabilized, shored up against ordinary erosion and the scouring of high-water events.

This was done under the authority of the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project (BSNP), which, along with the construction of the system of dams, freed up hundreds of thousands of acres of former floodplain for farming and development.

Under the BSNP, channels were dredged regularly to keep them free of silt infill.  A target depth of 9 feet was maintained in the lower reaches of the river to ease barge traffic, but a deeper river also meant increased capacity to handle runoff, greatly enhancing the draining efficiency of the river.

The Missouri is the longest river in our nation, accepting the runoff of millions of square miles of mountain and plains snow and rain.  A major part of the flood control plan relied on the enhanced flow of runoff through the river channel, not across the floodplain.

During this flood-focused phase of Corps management, dikes and levees were built and assiduously maintained. Chutes, (secondary channels of a meandering river) were closed to inhibit the spread of the river in seasons of high-water. Long reaches of the river were deepened and straightened in a process known as channelization.

Channelization greatly enhanced navigation and promoted efficient handling of runoff.  Once a touchstone for responsible river management, the word is now spoken in hushed tones, much the same way our grandparents once whispered “cancer.”

All these things (and more) combined to permit millions of Americans to develop the newly-accessible lands for farming, ranching and homes. Indeed, these millions of Americans were encouraged to do so by their elected representatives, who happily took credit for the resulting economic benefits and increased tax revenues generated by that development.

I grew up in the floodplain of the Kankakee River in northern Indiana, 15 miles from the river. Indiana had dredged the river, and it worked efficiently. But as close as we were to Chicago, and on one of the main trunk railroads, as well as one of the much rarer north-south ones, the entire area was essentially undeveloped until the river was channelized and the swamp drained. What they now call wetlands, of course. When I left, floods were, after most of a century, again becoming a problem, because Illinois refused to dredge the river, and so it backed up, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Read the rest of this fine article, and start wondering how the US government somehow decided its mission was a couple of birds, not the people of the United States. If you find a valid reason, good on you. I find it at best counter to the best interest of the country, at worst seditious. Not what we should expect from the USACOE.

Bomb Cyclone, Blizzard, Ice Dam: Quite the Week

A BNSF train sits in flood waters from the Platte River, in Plattsmouth, Neb., Sunday, March 17, 2019. Hundreds of people remained out of their homes in Nebraska, but rivers there were starting to recede. The National Weather Service said the Elkhorn River remained at major flood stage but was dropping. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

So I think we’ll stay a little closer to home today. Just a couple hours down I-80 to be exact. I don’t talk about it much, but Nebraska is gorgeous and has been pretty good to me.

But winter going into spring can be pretty awful. This year is an example. Let Emily Zanotti explain:

Historic floodwaters have besieged Nebraska following this week’s “Bomb Cyclone” weather event, leaving areas in and around Omaha and Belleville, Nebraska, completely underwater — and the waters show no sign of receding any time soon.

Few news organizations outside the state have been documenting the flood and subsequent levee breaches, which have left Nebraskans struggling to save their homes and farms from floodwaters reaching up to seven feet higher than they’ve ever been.

Reuters reports that the floods are the direct result of the “Bomb Cyclone,” a “winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Between the Bomb Cyclone’s snow and rain, the Missouri River rose dramatically, and isn’t expected to officially crest until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

In Fremont, Nebraska, residents remain stranded, according to local news sources. Roads and bridges are washed out and emergency responders are furiously raising sand-bag walls in the hopes of saving homes from the rising Platte River after two levees, meant to keep the river at bay, failed completely.

Near Lincoln, roads and highways are washed out, reports.

“A quarter-mile section of U.S. 281 was washed out just south of the bridge over the Niobrara River,” according to the local outlet. “At the Allen ranch, floodwaters 4 to 5 feet deep inundated pastures and livestock pens,” he said, “tipping over stock trailers, flowing into farm sheds and tractors, and scattering cattle.”

“I’ve never seen anything close to this,” one rancher told reporters. “I’ve seen water come within a foot of coming over the banks of the river, but never anything like this. Never.”

Governor Ricketts and Senator Sasse have been out checking on what is needed, and if truth be told, probably mostly getting in the way. But showing them around is important too.


So we’ve got ourselves a bit of a mess. Ain’t the first one, won’t be the last either. And you know, they remind us of who we are, as we pitch in to help our neighbors, One of my blogfriends, a Nebraska Extension Agent (no doubt she is very busy now) put it this way.

Perspective. I spoke a little of this last week. This week, in the midst of much occurring, it was all about perspective for me. It’s hard to find words for the devastation occurring in Nebraska. Perhaps like me, you found yourself feeling a tad overwhelmed or helpless by the images of damage…cattle being dug out of snow or stranded on islands and whole communities engulfed by water… I think what made this extra hard for me is that so many of our people are hurting and affected. Tornadoes and hail damage are somewhat more isolated for allowing people to more easily respond. This has been harder to help with road and bridge infrastructure damaged in so much of the State. And, unfortunately, we will feel these effects for a long time.

Perspective for me was counting my blessings. Because I rely a great deal on my faith, considering worse things I’ve personally gone through and remembering God’s faithfulness to me helps me with perspective. My family is all safe and we have each other, and my dad’s livestock are also safe. Those statements aren’t true for some I know who lost family and livestock this week and many more that I don’t know. In talking to a farmer friend, he was also sharing how he kept thinking about his blessings and that was the message he was sharing with others. So perhaps thinking of our blessings can help all of us with so much loss all around us? That actually is one of the research-based tips mentioned in this article:

Nebraskans are so resilient! In the midst of tragedy, the stories of people pulling together to help however they can is heart-warming. Though we may experience more devastation for a time, we will get through this! #NebraskaStrong.

#NebraskaStrong. Yep, that describes us. We’re fairly quiet folk, not given to overtalking things or very comfortable showing emotions. We tend toward both the solid and the stolid.  But, we’ve been in this country long enough to know that the old saying was right, the strong do thrive, the sick do die, and the weak never start stay back east. That is the story of the Great American Desert, and neither floodwater nor ice dam, neither blizzard nor tornado will change it. It’s a story of neighbors banding together and facing their troubles down. It’s a very American story, perhaps the American story, neighbors standing together through anything, its what we do, just as de Tocqueville wrote way back when it’s still our way.

If you are wondering how this screws up our lives going forward, my friend’s blog also passes along quite a bit of the information that the University of Nebraska is telling us. Very useful, and highly recommended.


A Funeral in Nebraska

in September, a burial took place in the Omaha National Cemetery. That’s not unusual, of course, our national cemeteries are sadly busy. But this one was a bit different. Amongst the Greatest Generation, it is not all that uncommon for both husband and wife to be entitled to military funerals with full honors. but again this one was unusual.

This one was for the widow of a retired US Air Force colonel, who started his career flying B-17s for the 8th United States Army Air Force, and who served in Korea and Vietnam. He had died earlier this year at age 101.

Col. John Watters and his wife, Jean Watters, on their wedding day. Jean Watters, a codebreaker of German intelligence communications during WWII, was buried Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Nebraska with British military honors.

But as I said this funeral was a bit different, for the ceremony was a bit different. His widow Jean Annette Briggs was buried with full British Military Honors, for she had been a Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service) in world war two. She told her family she drove a bus. It was not so. Her obituary from the cemetery’s site states:

Born in 1925, Jean Annette Briggs grew up in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk County, England. One of three girls, she was a talented artist who attended school in Cambridge. In 1943, at 18, she joined the Royal Navy and her family believed she drove a bus during World War II. Briggs actually operated a BOMBE machine, used to decode German military messages, and worked for master codebreaker Alan Turing. The secret ULTRA project cracked Germany’s ENIGMA code. Briggs married U.S. Army Air Corps pilot John Watters (1917-2018) after the war. He flew B-17s, and later the U.S. Air Force colonel served in Korea and Vietnam. The couple raised six children in Bellevue, Nebraska. Jean Briggs Watters died September 15, 2018, and was buried with British military honors. She is interred with her husband in Omaha National Cemetery (Section 3, Site 253).

It is simply impossible to estimate how many Joe’s and Tommy’s owe their life to this woman, who served quietly and without recognition, and after the war married a man who would serve in three of America’s wars, and bring up a family here, in Nebraska, near what our forefathers knew as Fort Crook, and we know as Offutt Air Force Base.

God grant you rest, Ma’am.

via: Stars and Stripes.


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I have to get on a jet plane in a few hours. It was unplanned, which is always unpleasant, perhaps we’ll talk about it when I get back, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve selected several articles for you from the top twenty all time read articles here (from the several thousand we have written. I’ll only have my phone but will try to check in periodically. Uffda! In the meantime, from my friend, Oyia Brown…

An 85-year-old man was requested by his doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.”The next day the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day. The doctor asked, what happened and the man explained.

“Well, doc, it’s like this–first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing.

We even called up Arleen, the lady next door, and she tried too. First with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

Continued at: If You Don’t At First Succeed…

See you soon.

Eclipse Day

Yep, today is the big day. For me, it’s the second time in my life that I get to see (if it’s not cloudy) a total solar eclipse. I’m not overwhelmingly excited, but it is very interesting, and yes, I do have my glasses ready! 🙂

Here’s a bit about the legends surrounding the events from around the world, from National Geographic. Enjoy – And don’t forget your glasses, how will you read NEO if you’re blind, after all!

Viking sky wolves, Korean fire dogs, and African versions of celestial reconciliation—these are only some of the many ways people around the world, and through the ages, have sought to explain solar eclipses.

People in equatorial Africa will be treated to a rare view of a total solar eclipse this Sunday, November 3. Those living on the eastern North American coast, northern South America, southern Europe, or the Middle East, will get to see a partial solar eclipse.

“If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears, with few exceptions, is it’s always a disruption of the established order,” said E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. That’s true of both solar and lunar eclipses.

Join Nat Geo and Airbnb #LiveFrom a geodesic dome on August 20 to talk to astrophysicist Jedidah Isler and photographer Babak Tafreshi about the science behind the upcoming total solar eclipse.

“People depend on the sun’s movement,” Krupp said. “[It’s] regular, dependable, you can’t tamper with it. And then, all of a sudden, Shakespearean tragedy arrives and time is out of joint. The sun and moon do something that they shouldn’t be doing.”

What that disruption means depends on the culture, and not everyone views an eclipse as a bad thing, said Jarita Holbrook, a cultural astronomer at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, South Africa.

Some see it as a time of terror, while others look at a solar eclipse as part of the natural order that deserves respect, or as a time of reflection and reconciliation. (Related: “Pictures: Solar Eclipse Creates Ring of Fire.”)


Many cultures explain eclipses, both solar and lunar, as a time when demons or animals consume the sun or the moon, said Krupp.

“The Vikings saw a pair of sky wolves chasing the sun or the moon,” said the Griffith Observatory astronomer. When one of the wolves caught either of the shining orbs, an eclipse would result. (Read “Vikings and Native Americans” in National Geographic magazine.)

“In Vietnam, a frog or a toad [eats] the moon or the sun,” Krupp added, while people of the Kwakiutl tribe on the western coast of Canada believe that the mouth of heaven consumes the sun or the moon during an eclipse.

In fact, the earliest word for eclipse in Chinese, shih, means “to eat,” he said.

Keep reading at Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World

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