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Oglesby: Law of the lake is hard to dispute

POSTED: January 4, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Perhaps it’s inborn pessimism or a defensive instinct, but many people seem to have a natural tendency to accept automatically the worst of possible reasons for things. That’s been well illustrated in the past few weeks as we fret over watering restrictions.

It’s our lake. Alabama and Florida aren’t imposing such restrictions as they draw down our water. The Corps of Engineers is arrogantly putting mussels ahead of people. Congress ought to do something but except for our state’s delegation is paying little attention.

Some self-important people locally who seem to hold themselves above the law and rules are violating those laws and rules and local officials aren’t doing a thing about it. That’s what we’re hearing, and that’s what it seems to many who don’t take time to consider other possible reasons.

Without discounting any of the above reasons, all of which probably exist to some degree, did you ever consider there may be other reasons, too? The lake may be here, but it isn’t ours. It belongs to the federal government. The Corps of Engineers is charged with operating it in accordance with laws enacted by Congress.

The governing legislation, until amended, explicitly spells out the lake’s official purposes. The corps actually has little discretion until Congress amends. Rep. Nathan Deal’s amendment provides just such discretion in specified circumstances. Only trouble, even our neighboring states’ congressional delegations likely will oppose it and states not suffering as we are won’t put a high priority on it.

Locally, many lawns and shrubs are being consistently watered. Why don’t officials do something? Many property owners have dug wells as a private water source. Many lakeside owners use pumps and, perhaps recently in violation, pull water from the lake. Finally, either someone has to testify they saw the water running illegally or enforcement personnel have to witness it. Else, no case.

Gear switch: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi undoubtedly is a very smart woman. Was her brain in gear when she pushed the House resolution condemning Armenian genocide a century ago? Only today’s centenarians were even alive then, much less understanding or in any way involved when the admitted atrocity occurred. Even Armenian leaders today have expressed disbelief such a resolution would be even considered, much less pushed by such a high level leader.

Turkey, whose government leaders roundly denounced it, is a vital ally in our war in the Mideast and in our defending our interests in the entire region. Democrats are promising to use diplomacy instead of supposed Bush stubbornness to end the war and get our troops out. Diplomatic Relations 101 remedial courses teach you don’t insult your allies when they are needed most.

It may be totally unrelated, but Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, who has substantial campaign responsibilities, noted that his party would be in deep trouble in next year’s elections if the public perceived we were winning in Iraq. Surely, the desire to unseat Bush and increase congressional majorities isn’t surpassing our vital national interests as it appears to those who think the worst.

Will some Democrat confirm not only it isn’t so but more importantly tell us WHY it isn’t so in the face of a long series of partisan obstructionism in the war effort? Tell us why it isn’t a "win the war, lose the election we Democrats can’t afford to lose" situation.

Finally, a word of thanks for their concern to those many who have asked about my recent heart-related surgery. In answer to the questions, as far as I know, I’m solidly on recovery schedule with a thorough checkup and tuneup later this week.

Yes, I’m continuing to cut back on the travel tours I personally escort, though I will be escorting a Caribbean cruise in mid-March with two private balcony cabins now left, if you’re interested in joining me for a week of relaxation to welcome spring.

Yes, I’m continuing to systematically reduce my income tax client list and accept no new clients. I have no plans to quit or reduce my columns, with a goal of being able in mid-2009 to notch that 50th anniversary of being a regular Gainesville columnist.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. He can be reached at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly.



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