25 Feb 2008, 4:43pm
Politics and politicians
by admin

Local Paper Publishes Hit Piece on Fed Official

Our local paper, the Albany Democrat Herald, saw fit to publish an excruciatingly ridiculous hit piece on Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey last Sunday. Herein we engage in some debunkery and fight fire with fire.

The ADH (editor Hasso Hering) chose NOT to put the article on their website, but it ran all over the country. The Juneau Empire ran the complete story and posted it [here]. That’s where we downloaded it, but it’s word for word what the ADH ran.

It was written by a tweak named Matthew Daly, a stringer for the Associated Press in Seattle and frequent mouthpiece for radical extremists. Here’s the opening:

WASHINGTON - He overhauled federal forest policy to cut more trees - and became a lightning rod for environmentalists who say he is intent on logging every tree in his reach.

Who says that, Matt? It’s a total canard, a perfectly false accusation. Stupid, really. Did someone really say that? Whom? Afraid to name your sources? Or did you just make it up and attribute it to vague, unnamed straw men?

After nearly seven years in office, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey still has a long to-do list. Near the top: Persuade a federal judge to keep him out of jail.

That’s a reference to Federal Judge Donald Molloy and the lawsuit against the use of fire retardant brought by a Eugene-based group called Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics [here, here].

Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist who has directed U.S. forest policy since 2001, also wants to set up state rules making it easier to build roads in remote national forests and to restore overgrown, unhealthy forests by clearing them of small trees and debris that can stoke wildfires. And he wants to streamline cumbersome regulations that can paralyze actions on public lands.

That’s partially true. The “building roads” part is a stretch. What happened was Bill Clinton, in the waning moments of his administration, right before his staff wrecked the White House computer system, issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring 50,000,000 acres “roadless.” That these acres already had roads didn’t matter. When Bush II took over, the Feds were sued a dozen times to rescind Clinton’s Roadless Proclamation. The Bush II administration defended Clinton’s rule, but lost every case. In an agreement made with the courts, Bush II initiated a public involvement process by asking the Governors of the affected states for their opinion.

Mark Rey had little to do with that. It’s in the hands of the Governors now. Oregon’s Gov, Teddy the Torch, decided to fix the process by denying substantive public involvement and rubber-stamping the Clinton Proclamation. Ironic, isn’t it? Perhaps irony is not the right word.

A Montana judge, accusing Rey of deliberately skirting the law so the Forest Service can keep fighting wildfires with a flame retardant that kills fish, has threatened to put him behind bars.

Whoa Matt, you just exploded into outer space. First, the lawsuit was regarding FIRE retardant, not FLAME retardant. Those are two completely different things. Flame retardant is what you buy at the hardware store to spray on your kids’ Halloween costumes. Fire retardant is ammonium phosphate, a wetting agent, mixed in parts per million with water and spread on forest fires with airplanes.

Ammonium phosphate is nitrogen and phosphorus, i.e. plant food. It’s fertilizer, but applied at such low rates as to have no measurable effect on plant growth. And it does not kill fish. There is no proof or evidence of that. It’s a lie, in other words. A big, fat lie.

Judge Donald Molloy says the Forest Service violated federal law when it failed to go through a public process to analyze the potential harm from using ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer that kills fish, as the primary ingredient for retardant dropped on wildfires.

There you go again, Matt, spreading lies like fertilizer. Fire retardant does not kill fish, any more than fish food does, which, by the way, is principally nitrogen and phosphorus.

For Rey, who faces a court date Tuesday, the prospect of jail time is daunting.

“It is something we take seriously,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to comply with the judge’s order.”

But it’s just one more obstacle as he attempts to rid federal policies of pesky paperwork and endless litigation that slows forest managers from cutting down trees.

Whoa Matty baby! The lawsuit is about fire retardant. It is used on forest fires. It has nothing to do with “forest managers cutting down trees.” Where did you come up with that slip-slide into an entirely different issue?

Matty, Matty, Matty! Try to stick to the topic. Your scattershot reporting makes you look like a doofus. Do you have ADD (attention deficit disorder)? Does your mind wander out of control? Maybe you need to take Ritalin or something. Talk to your psychiatrist about this, please. You have a problem.

Rey’s signature accomplishment - passage of the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act - quickened approval of projects to thin overgrown forests, so they can be completed within months rather than years. The law, the first major change in forest management in a quarter-century, has helped restore healthy forests after decades of neglect and mismanagement, supporters say.

Again with the unnamed sources. You don’t need straw men, Matt. Plenty of people have informed opinions on the HFRA who do not require secret shield deals to talk to newspaper reporters.

The purpose of the HFRA was to do fuels management near at-risk communities. The expedited process language, by the way, has not worked. The HFRA called for treating 10 million acres a year. After four years about one million acres have been mechanically treated, about 3 percent of what was mandated by Congress. The hold-up is due to lawsuits by the Sierra Club and other eco-litigious outfits who do not want communities protected or forests restored.

“We are now treating four times as many acres as we did when this administration came into office,” Rey said in an interview, “and those treatments are showing the desired effect.”

Devastating wildfires in California last fall on about 800 square miles killed 10 people and burned about 2,200 homes - half the number of homes destroyed in similar fires in 2003, Rey said.

If Mark Rey said that, it is a sad commentary. Forest fire acreage and resource losses have been above the long term average every year save one during the Bush II administration. Each of the last two fire seasons have seen nearly 10 million acres burned [here].

Rey’s critics say talk of “treatment” and “thinning” is code for Rey’s real goal: cutting more trees in service of his former timber industry cronies.

Who are these critics, Matt? Are you hiding something? You spew out these outrageous accusations, and then attribute them to straw men. Did somebody really say that to you? Who? Why hide them behind Big Mommy’s skirt like naughty little children?

Environmentalists routinely denounce Rey as the “Karl Rove of the forest,” a Machiavellian figure who serves as the brains behind the Bush administration’s aggressive effort to reverse Clinton administration policies that sought to rope off broad swaths of forest land for preservation. One group even declared Rey “Public Lands Enemy No. 1″ after he proposed a plan, which failed, to sell surplus forest land to private interests.

Forking hell, Matt. You are sounding like a sleazy mouthpiece for criminals and anarchists. Cite your sources. You spread venom and then scurry under the woodwork like a cockroach. Again, Bush II did not aggressively reverse Clinton’s Proclamation. Bush II could have. He could have rescinded it with his own proclamation, easy as pie. But he didn’t. The matter has been in the courts where Bush II has defended Clinton’s roadless rule. He didn’t have to, but he did.

This is a scummy tactic, Matt. You cast wild aspersions at the wrong people and attribute the scandalous charges to faceless nobodies. Did you get your degree at the Joseph Goebbels School of Journalism?

“He’s tried to oversee a radical dismantling of the safeguards that the public really wants for its public lands,” said Doug Heiken, conservation coordinator for Oregon Wild, an environmental group.

Here we go. You named your source, Matt. One point for you. Doug Heiken is the one making absurd and venomous charges, or at least that one.

The use of fire retardant is not a radical dismantling of safeguards. Just the opposite, the use of fire retardant IS a safeguard against destruction and death caused by raging forest fires. The public has not demanded the banning of fire retardant. That’s a total lie, and absurd to the max. Joe Goebbels favored Big Lies like that, the bigger the better. And he liked to pretend that the Pipple were behind him. Typical Nazi propagandering is what that statement was all about.

Andy Stahl, leader of a Forest Service employees group that filed suit against Rey in the Montana case, called Rey an ideologue who has failed at accomplishing his agenda. Most notably, Rey has been unable to get rid of the roadless rule, a Clinton-era ban on road-building in remote national forests that the Bush administration targeted days after taking office.

Score another one for Matt. He revealed his source. Andy Stahl’s group is the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. The FSEEE are the eco-plantiffs that sued to halt the use of fire retardant. That lawsuit has absolutely nothing to do with Clinton’s roadless proclamation. The two issues are not connected in any way. Judge Molloy is not griped about Rey’s position on roadlessness.

The ADD thing is a serious problem for you, Matt. Seriously, seek professional help. Your screws are loose, buddy.

“Mark lost track somewhere along the line about why Americans care about the national forests,” Stahl said. “They care about them because they take their kids camping and because Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts spend summers there and grandkids fish in the lake.”

What? The mission of the USFS is spelled out in numerous Federal laws including the Organic Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, among others. These laws were promulgated by the elected representatives of the people. They are what the people want, as expressed through our democratic system.

Included among the purposes and goals expressed in those laws is to prevent catastrophic forest fires that destroy forests, incinerate wildlife habitat, and kill wildlife, including fish. The people do not beg for incinerated forests or lakes filled with soot, ash and floating debris from intense forest fires that burn from mountain top to lakeshore.

Nobody wants that, other than FSEEE and Judge Molloy, that I know of. Do you want that, Matt? Are you nuts or what? Sea kelp, man.

The object of such fury is unlikely. At 55, the short, bespectacled Rey looks more like a high-school math teacher than a ruthless tree killer. With a salt-and-paper goatee, the soft-spoken Rey has a dry wit that masks his determination to remake forest policy.

A ruthless tree killer? Where did that come from?

Matt, Matt, Matt. Take a look in the mirror. You are in the newspaper business. You sell newsprint. Newsprint is made from dead trees. You sell dead trees. You are either unaware of that, or do not care. That makes YOU a ruthless tree killer, Matt. Hopefully your psychiatrist can help you come to some sort of realization about all that.

“I’m not sure forests need Karl Rove,” Rey said, laughing.

Josh Kardon, chief of staff to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Rey revels in his notoriety.

“Mark has always enjoyed a good joust and likes reliving those battles while he sips wine and strokes that legendary goatee,” Kardon said.

No harm, no foul. Kardon makes a compliment. It’s okay. Right now Kardon is working on a bill for his boss that seeks to save forests from catastrophic wildfires, S. 2593. Neither Kardon nor Wyden are party to any lawsuit to ban fire retardant. They are working closely with Mark Rey to fix the horrible red tape that prevents the USFS from acting as good stewards of America’s forests.

Born in Canton, Ohio, Rey became interested in forests as an Eagle Scout. He later earned degrees at the University of Michigan in forestry, wildlife biology and natural resources policy.

After a stint at the Bureau of Land Management, he began working for the timber and paper industry in 1976 and was vice president of the American Forest and Paper Association before joining the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 1995.

As lead forestry staffer for the panel’s two top Republicans, Idaho’s Larry Craig and Alaska’s Frank Murkowski, Rey was a key figure in a number of controversial bills, including one to hasten so-called salvage logging after forest fires.

Way to go, Matt. Here at the very end of the story you tell some truths. Except for the so-called part. What’s that about?

So-called journalist Matt Daley has written a so-called article about so-called Mark Rey, the so-called Agriculture Undersecretary. It is filled with so-called tripe and so-called straw men making so-called quotes out of so-called thin air. Then it was printed in my local so-called newspaper by the so-called editor. Now I have debunked it, with so-called debunkery.

All in a day’s so-called work. The mountain of so-called bull crap is huge, but we are trying to shovel it out of the way. So-called Matt Daly doesn’t make it any easier.

25 Feb 2008, 5:16pm
by Bob Z.


Thank you for your so-called for clarification. It was so called for it isn’t funny. But your so-called humor IS funny. Keep up the good work.

26 Feb 2008, 1:23am
by Joe L.

I hate to say it, but as long as Matt Daly continues to write like that, he will always be a top candidate for a New York Times job. In my professional opinion. In the idiot’s defense, it is so hard to write a hit piece if you have to take the trouble of citing your sources, because sources so rarely say what you want them to say perfectly. There are times when a source needs to remain anonymous, such as they have a mafia hit out on them or some other life threatening situation. There is never, ever, a time when sources should not be cited when you are talking about national forest policy or any domestic policy of any federal, state or local government. If you’ve got something to say, have the balls to give your name. If you are writing something and your profession, journalism, requires you get that information from sources, you either cite them or you don’t write it. One caveat, did this appear on the newspaper’s editorial page or was it squeezed into the news pages for consumption by those who don’t pay that much attention to things?

26 Feb 2008, 8:45am
by Mike

Joe — Not on the editorial page. In the ADH it was placed on the back page of the news section, which in that paper is like page 2. And it was printed as straight news, without attribution. I had to google around to figure out who the author was.

It is common for the ADH to print outrageously slanted pieces as news. They are a Lee Enterprises paper, one of 55 smalltown papers owned by that media mogulette [here]. Lee papers pay the least to the least trained, least capable journalists in the country.

Daly is not a Lee-ster, they just gravitate to printing the kind of shoddy journalism he creates. He is good filler for them. But I doubt he will ever be on the NY Times staff, despite his obvious dis-credentials. Matt is almost but not quite idiotic enough for the NYT. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the NYT is in his fortune cookie.

26 Feb 2008, 9:11am
by Jack J. L.

Oh, he’s got NYT written all over him. They love those people who make up sources and then later make up things for their made up sources to say. I accidentally signed my middle name, which I go by more often, but for the sake of this site I believe I started with the first name, middle initial so I probably should keep it that way, it’s just Jack J. L. from Idaho. In case I threw you a curve. You may moderate liberally.

26 Feb 2008, 10:52am
by Backcut

The LA Times do the same thing. Write what you think your readers ought to hear, instead of the truth. I place a lot of the blame on bad newspapering, seeing firsthand, for the death toll in their SoCal (led) National Forests. They use the same tactics, finding it very easy to dig up anonymous “ologists” who are always finding stuff to block projects.

Mark Rey isn’t very happy about always being labeled as “former timber lobbyist.” He also isn’t very happy about the courts stopping restoration projects at seemingly every turn. Does anyone have any timber volume data as the whether or not the Clinton Administration logged more board feet than Bush?

The writers are always being coached by people like Chad Hanson, who say stuff like “This amendment to the Sierra Nevada Framework will TRIPLE the amount of logging in the entire mountain range.” Of course, they don’t mention that harvest levels have dropped 30-fold in the last 20 years, that 30″+ diameter trees are off limits and that clearcutting has been banned in California National Forests since 1993.

26 Feb 2008, 12:13pm
by Joe B.

One other problem is that newspapers, TV, radio publishers get what they pay for. If salaries were increased in the news business there would be better journalists. Sadly, journalists top out early and find much more lucrative places to pawn their wares in many cases.

You can sometimes spot a good journalist. Many of them make a few waves then leave the business due to making less than a candy striper.

What you end up with are a small collection of die hards who are actually quite good at what they do and a bunch of beginners who think everything they hear is the truth. The beginners and some of the old die hards also have an annoying tendency to believe that they are there to change the world. Ironically, more change can be accomplished by journalists simply reporting the news as it is, rather than formulating an angle before they’ve ever talked to anyone.

It is a sad commentary, and perhaps more accurate everyday, that journalism outfits are now moving to rename their journalists as content providers. I wonder when there will be a national group of content providers that convene to come up with a set of ethics for the exciting new field of content providing. Sign me up. I wonder when the J-schools start churning out dimwits with a degree in content providing?

It’s kind of the same in the world of photography, since it’s 90 percent digital now. They are no longer photographers, they are imaging specialists. What the hell does that mean? If I ever want an imaging specialist he had better be operating an MRI. Oh the humanity!

26 Feb 2008, 7:27pm
by Backcut

Luckily, I still have a giant collection of Kodachomes that I am currently scanning. I do both but my poor Canon AE-1 is languishing in a cabinet in the hall. Not to say that digital is better, as my scanner produces 100+ megabyte files and my older Fuji tops out at 17 megs.

Ironically, I just applied for a freelance position for our local newspaper in Sonora. They would pay me piecemeal, if they accept my work. It would be more recreationally-oriented than my rantings on this, and other websites. I directed them to look at my blog, as that work is what I am all about, for better or for worse.

26 Feb 2008, 9:44pm
by Backcut

Oops… too bad I’m not that good of a typist! I’m really a pretty decent typist for being a two-fingered Johnny. Also, my Fuji is my digital camera and is as good as a 6 megapixel. My Kodachrome slide scanner is the equivalent of a 30 megapixel camera.

Yes, anyone can take a digital photo but, to take good ones, you still need to know the basics of light, shadow, composition, shutter speeds and apertures. I find that all the automatic modes have to be shut off at times to get perfect pictures.

26 Feb 2008, 10:05pm
by Mike

Somehow I knew that the photog remark would get your attention! BC is a great photographer, digitally and not. But JB is right, your skills will be vastly underpaid and under-appreciated in the dead tree press.

Unless… you catch on with the clay-coat shiny paper dead tree press, like Nat’l Geo or the Sierra Club mag. They use that heavily bleached virgin pulp, made with major environmental toxins and a giant carbon footprint.

Whoops, there I go with that PoMo irony again. And again I ask, is irony the right word?



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