Trump wrecked Nunes.

Less than a year ago, Westlands and the ag boys of California water had themselves a perfectly good Congressman.  Nunes was able and willing to carry whatever legislation they could develop to advance their water preferences.  But then Nunes found an even bigger authoritarian he could toady for, and Westlands lost their whole investment in Nunes.  Nunes was well-trained and well-placed; he could have done them a lot of good if Trump hadn’t turned his head.  Now poor Nunes is embarrassed, under investigation and won’t talk to the Fresno Bee.  If I were a big ag donor in the San Joaquin Valley, I’d be mad at Nunes for leaving his lane and floundering about.  Now they’re going to have to buy another one, train him up and install him.  What a waste of their time and money.



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Welcome, Mr. Janz.

Hello, Mr. Janz.  You don’t know me, but I’ve been writing about Devin Nunes for years.  I am so glad you are here.  If there is anything we can do to help you, please let us know.  For starters, I hope you don’t mind if I offer you some unsolicited advice.

On campaigning:

Go all in for women, for several reasons.  The utilitarian reason is that if you win, it will be because of women.  The bottomless fury of women right now is giving them cause to campaign and donate.  It is not possible to overestimate the ferocity and energy for change among women right now.  Devin Nunes has no claim on loyalty from local women.  He’s a natural bootlicker for strong men; I’ve never seen anything to indicate that he pays any attention to anyone he doesn’t consider powerful.  The only mention of women in eight years of his blog is the phrase “servicemen and women” on two occasions.  Devin Nunes isn’t the worst sexist out there, but he isn’t woke either.  When he wants to diminish a concept, he feminizes it.  Women’s issues (family health, drinking water, household finances, air quality, college affordability, land use and city planning, prison reform) are all wide open for you.  Claim them and ask for women’s support.  You’ll never win the Valley big boys against Nunes anyway.

On water policy:

This will be incredibly difficult.  There is one party line in the Valley and Nunes owns it.  (Although he’s gone erratically off-message before.)  Republicans and the rare Valley Democrat both vow to increase surface storage and end the ESA.  It will be incredibly hard to campaign on anything else and win; I would understand if you succumb to this.  But I think there are new power alignments in Valley water and that you could pull together a different water policy.

You could try a water policy based on clean drinking water for small communities in your district (completely ignored by Nunes) and by participating in the groundwater sustainability agencies’ planning efforts in your area.  I know, that’s so much time.  But people are gathering around those two nodes in water policy.  Again, you will never beat Nunes on big-ag water policy; he’s very creditably claimed that arena.  But clean drinking water for small communities and implementing the new groundwater laws are very important in your region, and still up for grabs.

If it would help, I would be happy to use whatever resources I have or know of to bring together a workgroup to help you craft a local, specific water policy. There are better local voices than mine, but if I can give you any assistance in shaping a new progressive direction for Valley water policy, I would be happy to.



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Outwardly pleasant.

Hello.  Would any of you lovely people like to hire me to do water policy work?  Things are fine here; my job is solid.  But my side project was very exhilarating and leaves me in a mood for steep learning curves and new thoughts. I know there’s nothing you want more in your office than an opinionated, foul-mouthed co-worker, and here I am, potentially interested!  Please email me at if you have an opportunity for me in the Sacramento area.  Thank you, all!


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Book recommendations

I am very much enjoying Up and Down California, by William Brewer.  It is an account of his surveying trips in 1860-1864.  The intermittent racism and sexism are a terrible reflection of his time, but the rest is tremendous.  I wish I could see that California.

I would welcome book recommendations as well.  My queue is empty.  I would love books similar to these:

  • Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones
  • The Only Rule is It Has To Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, Lindberg and Miller
  • Trustee from the Toolroom, Shute

Which, when put together like that, have a unifying theme of industrious and clever problem-solving.  Perhaps I am in a mood for problem-solving.



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No relevant water commentary.

It is just as well that I am not writing water commentary until May.  The forces in play right now really aren’t water related.  Devin Nunes has been our own special topic here for nearly a decade, and now he might be brought down for covering up Russian infiltration in the Trump White House?  Friends, I ask you.  Be fair.  How was I supposed to predict that?  Just last week I thought I’d point out that Nunes has an unusual amount of leverage, as Majority Chair of the Intelligence Committee, and that if San Joaquin Valley growers want any particular kind of immigration enforcement from the Trump administration, they were almost uniquely positioned to get what they want. Growers used to own every inch of Nunes, and he had a bargaining chip that few others have.  But that was last week.  Now we know that Nunes is wholly Trump-owned and I’m glad I didn’t write that post.

So I don’t see the major stories in Water being about water this year.  I wonder how the State Water Contractors are going to pay for repairs and structural improvements to Oroville Dam. Besides that, I’m watching the labor shortage play out and waiting for news of a trade war.  If I weren’t scared of a nuclear war, I could almost enjoy myself.



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Hello friends.  I’ve gotten absorbed into a good project.  For the moment, I don’t have time to think about water policy.  I will be back in a couple months.  All is well.

Have a good Spring!


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As we may soon find out for ourselves.

I am a catastrophist, I freely admit.  I sometimes think that the difference between my writings and the other water pundits is that I’m willing to predict that bad things will happen, instead of repeating technological optimism. Even so, this year is making me think that I haven’t spent enough time thinking about rare events.  (Yes, sure, I read Taleb.)  I hadn’t, honestly, given much thought to the potential for sudden dam failure.  (Yes, sure, I read McCullough.)  You know what else I hadn’t thought about?  The possibility of trade wars, or conventional wars,  with China and Mexico.  Trump brings chaos to everything he touches.  Climate change increases uncertainty.  Both of those will intersect vividly in the San Joaquin Valley, because it is predominantly a single climate-dependent industry and lacks the resilience of evenly-distributed wealth.  If Trump is president for more than a year, I think the chaos will even reach into California.

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