Worsening drought conditions in parts of US stressing crops

In this Wednesday, July 26, 2017, photo, soybeans grow in a farm field near Indianola, Iowa. Drought conditions are getting worse in several states, and extreme heat and weeks with little rain have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock in some areas. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday, July 27 by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly 11 percent of the continental United States is in moderate drought or worse. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Associated Press

Thumbs up to Pleasant Valley softball and good luck to Assumption's baseball team.

Pleasant Valley entered the Class 5A tournament ranked seventh in the state. They overwhelmingly bested expectations last week by defeating dominant Central Iowa Metropolitan to become state champions.

As of this writing, second-ranked Assumption is preparing for its state Class 3A semifinal showdown against Dubuque Wahlert. A victory would mean a state final game today.

Thumbs down to the drought of 2017, which is likely to reduce farm yields, a reality that would only further deepen Iowa's financial woes. 

The majority of Iowa -- particularly western and central -- is in some stage of drought. To make matters worse, corn prices continue to lag. 

It's a double-whammy for farmers who, since 2013, have struggled to turn yield into profit. It's also a potential disaster for Iowa's finances. Agriculture comprises a full-third of Iowa's economic output. Republican lawmakers blamed a slumping farm economy for the consistent budgetary shortfalls this year that resulted in slashed programs and unnecessarily low funding for education. Democrats blame tax cuts for the shortfall.

Reality is probably somewhere in the middle. And, with the growing season roaring by, the drought of 2017 can only make things worse for everyone. 

Thumbs up to U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and John McCain for stopping the Senate's nonsensical attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Think whatever you want about ACA, though much of the criticism has been either overstated or flatly untrue. But it's the Senate's almost unprecedented process of moving a bill to the floor -- legislation that doesn't actually exist -- that's the issue. 

It's a process of legislating on the fly. Planning and reasonable outcomes aren't the goal here. It's politics. Republicans want a win, something that's proven hard to come buy in the six months of total GOP dominance.

Late Thursday, a version that would have repealed the guts of Obamacare, without replacing it, came to the floor and needed just 50 votes. It got 49, as McCain joined Collins and Murkowski in demanding an actual alternative. 

Much has been made of McCain's return to the Senate only days after brain surgery and a cancer diagnosis. But, reportedly, Murkowski is now receiving threats from the White House and not just of the typical political kind. White House officials called Murkowski this week and told her that Alaska would be targeted should she continue opposing the Senate's ridiculous attempts at ramming through anything other than Obamacare. 

It's behavior befitting of any crime family in a $2 paperback.

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