I tried not to take the bait, but in the end couldn’t help myself. I refer to our president’s recently tweeted threat to cut off aid funds for California in the wake of our most tragic wildfire in history. Here’s his gratuitous twitter take in full:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly, costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
Where to start forking through this fetid word stew...OK, first off, you, Mr. President, are wrong—totally: there is not one but several reasons for California’s forest fires:
A unique climate of modest winter rains followed by many months of dry heat and low humidity. (Just the opposite of what you and your mates living east of the Rocky Mountains suffer in your six-month summer sauna season.)
Powerful seasonal winds (we call them Santa Anas, but you can call them Mariah) that blow down from inland desert high-pressure areas through mountain passes toward he Pacific, heating and drying as they gather momentum to blow down and dry out whatever is in their path.
As you may have heard, Mr. President, California has a complex and varied geography that defies easy generalization. For instance, did you know that Southern California poses quite a different challenge to the fighter of wildfires? Up north the fuel is diverse, with many tall stands of conifers intermixed with oaks and scrubland; down south we have a predominant, dense shrub-like growth called chaparral (more poetically referred to as the Elfin Forest.) Its many drought-resistant plants have a high oil content and lose their winter olive green quickly with the onset of late spring or early summer and become a most combustible brown tinder. A mere wind-driven ember can cause this ready kindling to literally explode into flames able to leap deep canyons with a single spark.
As for those relief funds you are so eager to withhold from a state that rejects you at the ballot box, surely you must be aware that 60 percent of our forests are federally owned and managed. (30 percent are privately owned, and the state controls only seven percent.) So, as you can see, you, Mr. President, are chiefly responsible for our calamity. Have you consulted with your Secretary of the Interior on the matter? You know, Ryan “Stinky” Zinke, presently the subject of six separate ethics investigations? Or is he too busy rolling back regulations on fossil fuel industries for you to reach him?
Moreover, if you want to cut off relief funds to California, then we will cut off the tax revenues we send to the Federal government. I’m sure you know that for every buck California sends to Washington we get 81 cents back. So lets make a deal. How about we keep all our dollars and you don’t have to send us any at all. Agreed?
One day after the fund-freeze tweet above, Trump followed with a less combative round of flawed counsel.
With proper Forest Management, we can stop this Devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!
Putting aside his puzzling practice of capitalizing some nouns and not others without any rhyme or reason, and the strange reference to a long-gone TV show (you would have thought as a reality television star he would have known that), he gave us some hard advice to go on.
That came when he made a personal visit to the ashes of Paradise (a vanished community he repeatedly miscalled “Pleasure”) last Friday.
There, flanked by outgoing California governor Jerry Brown and incoming governor Gavin Newsom, the founder of Trump University expanded on a simple solution he said he learned from President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, that far-north land of year-round rains and long cold winters: RAKE THE FOREST FLOOR OF ITS UNDERGROWTH! (President Niinistö denies ever saying such a thing; perhaps our leader got him confused with the President of Nambia.)
Rake the forest floor of its detritus…why didn’t we think of that?! We did, and quickly laughed it off. Removing that duff robs trees of the nourishment they need. It also leaves the land bare for the rains when they do come, inviting mudslides and floods on a grand scale. In addition, the bare earth invites the invasion of non-native plants to take root and force the native flora out. And if it’s the thick and spiny chaparral forest you’re clearing, be sure to wear a suit of armor.
Enough of this pointless beating around the bush. California will always have wildfires as long as it has floral fuel to oxidize. That’s part of nature’s cycle. What we want to control is the frequency and intensity of these burns. And as all intelligent citizens know, the late burgeoning threat of same has one cause that our president and his willfully ignorant and subservient GOP bed-wetters in Congress deny: it’s called Global Warming.
Their script is the same whenever you see them asked on the television news whether global warming is a fact or not; they put on this humble look of sham frustration, as though they’ve spent nights tossing and turning in a vain search for an answer: “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”
Then why he hell are you in Washington, D. C. charting our destinies?
Don’t you know any climate scientists...not employed by the fossil fuel industry?
Have you thought of consulting one for an answer on our behalf?
Have you considered having one of your aides read a copy of Scientific American and give you a report on consensus thinking?
I thought not...to all of the above.
Thanks for nothing.
All this was foretold by Omar a thousand years ago.
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come,
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Promise go,
Nor heed the rumble of a Distant drum!