Democrats & Liberals Archives

Clear Cut Deceptions

In a normal forest fire, rather than the devastating crown fires, the first trees to burn would be those closer to the ground, closer to the fuel. It is this growth that overly simplistic fire management policies have allowed to build up, which leads to the previously mentioned crown fires.

When dealing with fire management around a populated area, one needs to take care of the trees that (almost literally) are in the neighborhood, correct? Well, the geniuses in the Bush administration have decided you’re wrong.

Well, who is wrong? You, or Bush?

The answer is obvious. You deal with forests in the vicinity. You don't go to the heart of the forest, and cut down the thickest, largest trees. Not unless your purpose is to create lumber products. But we're talking about fire protection here. We're talking about healthy forests.

Or are we speaking of Healthy Forests? The Capitalization makes all the difference in the world. When you see a mature forest on TV or in a movie, you see large spaces, with minimum brush and few of the small trees that seem so prevalent in local forests. It's the large trees that resist the periodic forest fire best, and which are the center of a truly healthy, mature forest.

But those are precisely the trees which Bush is allowing people to trek into the middle of forests to cut down. He's telling Americans that his Healthy Forest Initiative is meant to protect homes, but he is neither picking the right locations to remove trees from, nor is he picking the most troublesome kind of tree.

I have a dangerous idea as to what's really happening. America has shifted to the left on environmental issues. Open disregard for the environment is becoming a political liability on the national level. You can't get away with telling the American people that you're going to level more of their forests. So, if you believe there's nothing wrong with that, what do you do?

You tell them, you're only going after the bad trees. Then you quietly do what you wanted to do in the first place. You put your roads through, You remove restrictions requiring scientific measurement of the effect that logging will create.

On and on it goes. Does Bush publicize this? No more than he publicizes that he thinks the evidence supporting a war is thin or that he told his people to bulk it up.(read the "slam dunk" scene in Plan of Attack or Former Nixon Laywer John Dean's entire Worse Than Watergate), No more than he publicizes that his estimates on social security are worse case scenarios, or that his military service, which entitled him to that infamous carrier landing was sorely incomplete.

I would like this president better if I got the sense that telling the truth to American people mattered. If Bush wants to be an environmental philistine, he should at least have the decency to come right out and admit it, rather than hide behind rhetoric and and subterfuge. Then the American people can judge for themselves whether they like his course of action, and this theft of their right to hold their politicians accountable can stop.

I am partisan to the extent that I identify myself as Liberal, and am a proud member of the Democratic party, but I am not the kind to right a book entitled How To Speak To A Conservative (If You Really Must), nor would I ever suggest in a subtitle that Conservatism is among the evils that we have to destroy, like a certain Fox All-Star has suggested Liberalism is. I can live with a temporary majority, a government that goes back and forth between parties depending on who's screwed up worse. I'd like the debate to be more about facts, and less about what the orthodox interpretations of those facts are.

I take the destruction of woodlands very seriously, having grown up in an area that until recently had been rather forested. To me, there was never a question of the value of conserving and protecting nature. Growing up steeped in National Geographics, Marty Stouffer's Wild America, and other shows about nature, this was about respect for the world we didn't build, and care for the one we can never rebuild.

I don't want the point at which the Red Column environmentalists start protesting this deceptive tactic to be when much of our national forests and public lands are mudflats. I want those conservatives out there who care about the environment to start asking critical questions about their president's policies when it does their interests and ours some good. We do not need to have a president who doesn't acknowledge the central importance of wilderness to our national character, it's centrality to a love of our country where the word "country" means more than just a synonym for nation.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 9, 2005 6:10 PM