Trump To Throw Paper Towels At California Wildfires
California has endured its deadliest wildfire in history, with 63 killed by the Camp fire in the northern part of the state, and over 9,500 homes destroyed. Property damage is in the billions of dollars, more than 50,000 people have been displaced, and the list of missing people has grown to over 600. There was even an outbreak of norovirus at one shelter for people who'd fled their homes. The fire is now 40 percent contained, but now California must brace for another catastrophe: Donald Trump is coming to comfort them. The people of California are resilient, but how much should they have to bear?
Last weekend, when the fires had already killed 20 people, Trump's first response -- usually the closest measure of his real thoughts, such as they are -- was to tell California what a shitty job they'd done, and to threaten swift punishment for their misdeeds:
The tweet was yet another rehash of one of Trump's cherished wingnut notions: If only environmentalists would allow massive logging (and maybe just dam every single river) there would never be any fires, because after all, that's what forest management is.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom wasn't impressed by the threat to cut funding in the middle of a disaster, however unlikely it was to actually happen.
We would have gone with "The president is a lunatic," it's pithier.
Governor Jerry Brown also called Trump's comments "inane and uninformed," which is pretty diplomatic of him. He explained that climate change had made drought and wildfire conditions the "new abnormal" for much of California:
"Managing all the forests everywhere we can, does not stop climate change," Brown said. "And those who deny that definitely are contributing to the tragedies that we are witnessing and will continue to witness."
Eventually, someone must have told President Babydrool that even if he was in a deep funk about the election and not having any more rallies for at least a few days after, he should let someone else write tweets for him with nicer words. Like this one praising the brave firefighters Monday morning (but still no mention of the lives lost at that point) and then, eventually, telling Californians he's sending thoughts and prayers, very tragic, yeah whatever.
So very presidential! Fortunately for California, even while Trump was in raging asshole mode, and then pretending not to be an asshole (but still an asshole) mode, the actual federal response to the fires was as effective as it usually has been in the past -- FEMA and other agencies coordinated with California to fight the fires and help people. Trump may still find ways to attack funding for California, even though the federal government, not the state, manages 60 percent of the wildlands in California.
And now Trump will be flying out to Beale Air Force Base Saturday, near Yuba City, and he'll "meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires," according to a White House announcement yesterday, although no further details on his trip have yet been released. This will only be Trump's second visit to the state; his first was in March, when he went to the San Diego area to look at prototype examples of how his great big beautiful wall might be built, and attended a GOP fundraiser. Perhaps he'll tell the people of Paradise, the town almost completely gutted by the fire, that none of this would have happened if there's been a wall.
The San Jose Mercury News notes that the area hardest hit by the Camp fire is actually Trump Country, or was:
Trump won Butte County, which includes Paradise, by five percentage points in the 2016 election. But for most locals, partisan politics is the farthest thing from their mind as they take in the scope of the destruction.
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said federal officials working to help the town were doing a "fabulous job, they're working hard and helping us with everything we need." She said she wanted to thank Trump in person for the emergency declaration, and declined to comment on his forest management tweet.
Smart call, Mayor Jones -- you've seen how Trump reacts when women mayors mouth off about federal disaster help. Best to tell him he's simply wonderful and hope for the best. At least you're not on an island out in the ocean, huh?
While Trump's rightwing bullshit blaming the victims (and of course the greenies) is demonstrably crap, he accidentally raises important issues about fire and land use -- but Trump ain't gonna like the real news. Real estate development and poor regulation of where people build (and how they build) are the real bad guys. Overdevelopment in fire-prone areas, and the continued dry conditions caused by climate change, are far greater contributors to these fires than any clumps of underbrush. You can't log your way out of the actual problem. For that matter, as the LA Times points out, the acreage burned in the Camp fire isn't old growth forest:
The conflagrations have mostly seared oak woodlands, chaparral and grass. Although Paradise is near forestland, the wind-whipped Camp fire tore across areas that burned in 2008 lightning fires and were also later logged. It is not fueled by heavy timber.
In a non-insane world, this might be a good time to reassess the wisdom of building communities and luxury homes in areas where they're endangered -- but "urban-wildland interface" is such an unsexy, nerdy term. Not to mention maybe addressing climate change. Guess we won't bother with that while there are environmentalists to blame.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the newest presidential science adviser. (Haha, we joke: Trump already picked a guy. He even accepts climate change! Trump will never, ever listen to him.)
Got money for us? We like money.
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.