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Donald Trump had one of his periodic temper tantrums at nature yesterday, telling California at a Cabinet meeting it better stop catching fire so much or consequences will never be the same, because he's had it with all the fire. In a sequel to his fanciful belief that this summer's wildfires were the result of the state allowing rivers to flow downhill instead of damming them all, the very smart man explained the catastrophic fires happened because of "old trees" the state refused to remove, because a years-long drought and a warming planet certainly have nothing to do with it.

After Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told Trump about the Forest Service's efforts to prevent wildfires, Trump veered off into a rant about how California refuses to pick up its tree litter, possibly because they're all Gaia-worshiping heathens who won't let industry log wherever it wants:


"California's a mess. We're giving billions and billions of dollars for forest fires in California" [...]

"They are leaving them dirty," Trump said of California's forests. "Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying. And instead of cleaning it up, they don't touch them, they leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we're paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix, and the destruction is incredible."

"I think California ought to get their act together and clean up their forests and manage their forests," he continued.

"It's costing our country hundreds of billions of dollars because of incompetence in California," Trump said. "It's hurting our budget, it's hurting our country. And they just better get their act together.

We like how The Hill placed Trump's remarks in context by simply citing his batshit -- and very very wrong -- tweet from August in which Smokey Airhead blamed "bad environmental laws" for the fires. But hey, for balance, the article very briefly notes, "California officials have said they were not short on water for fighting fires," so that's responsible journamalism. Over at the LA Times, the framing was far better, noting Trump had

inaccurately suggested in a tweet that California's environmental laws were preventing firefighters from accessing water they needed to douse wildfires — a proposition rebutted by firefighters and forest managers alike.

About what you'd expect from those who seek to undermine the "president" with facts and science.

This time around, while it's fairly clear Trump is looking for a sciencey-sounding excuse to blame the consequences of extreme weather on local evildoers, the LA Times noted it's unclear whether Trump was actually signaling a change in forestry policy -- log more or lose funds -- or simply yelling about California for the sake of exciting his base for the midterms. And as usual, those who would supposedly be charged with getting California's act together were left trying to figure out what the hell Trump was demanding, since forest management already includes clearing out deadwood.

Paul Wade, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service in California, said Trump's comments Wednesday triggered "a brief discussion between us and Washington."

He declined to elaborate, except to say: "This is of national importance, and it affects the entire Forest Service. Our team is looking into this and trying to figure out how to respond."

Scott McLean, the deputy chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as Cal Fire, said it was "hard to say, exactly, what he's talking about," noting that if the feds pulled firefighting funding, that wouldn't affect state and privately owned land much. But cutting funds for firefighting on national forests also makes little sense, since management of those lands is already a federal responsibility, not the state's. And, yeah, the state doesn't just let brush and deadwood pile up, either:

The state funds several programs that allow Cal Fire to remove dead trees and brush, as well as perform controlled burns, McLean said [...]

Federal wildfire funding generally comes after a major fire, McLean said, and is used for aid and rebuilding, not fire suppression. These funds, which are accessed as federal grants via the Federal Emergency Management Agency, pay for 75% of the recovery costs incurred during a major fire.

This might be a good spot to mention that in recent days, California utilities have been shutting off electricity in windy areas affected by the drought, to reduce the possibility of power lines or substations sparking brush fires.

As for fires in national forests, those are mostly handled by the Forest Service, which of course has seen its budget cut under Trump, because why are we spending money on stuff that isn't producing revenue, like oil drilling and cutting down trees? As any real scientist could tell you, the best way to eliminate forest fires is to eliminate forests, duh.

Finally while scientists agree global warming definitely contributes to the severity of wildfires, we don't need to worry about it, because Donald Trump's uncle was a great scientist at MIT, and while he never discussed climate change with his uncle, he has a "natural instinct for science," so would all of you please stop whining about climate? It's nothing compared to the failure to tree clear.

[The Hill / LAT / CNN / HuffPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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