The Concern Over Forest Policy Is Not New

An important news story, with a twist:

As Fires Scorch West, Forest Policy Is Concern

By John H. Cushman Jr., The New York Times

Between the radiant sky and the parched earth, the only sign of fire in the rugged Boise National Forest was a glowing ember of fear in the eyes of the forest supervisor, Stephen P. Mealey.

“I am sitting here terrified,” he said on Sunday. “The only thing between us and disaster is a lightning strike.” …

A fire weather forecast — red flag warnings, lightning level one — crackled over the helicopter radio as he flew over a 250,000-acre expanse scorched bare by a wildfire…

His helicopter settled in a remote clearing in a place called Tiger Creek, and Mr. Mealey clambered up a slope where, shortly before the 1992 fire, the woods had been thinned of underbrush and then lightly burned by the Forest Service. At the height of its intensity, the 1992 fire had raced through the treetops until it reached the spot where he stood.

“When the fire hit this site, it lay down,” Mr. Mealey said, and the thinned woods survived intact. Now, in a plan that would radically change the management of his 2.5 million-acre forest, Mr. Mealey wants to greatly expand the thinning of the dense woods and the use of controlled burning.

This new approach is important, Mr. Mealey said, because conditions are so ripe for catastrophic fire that the odds approach inevitability here and in many areas of the drought-stricken West. But he said it was going to be a “tough sell” and could take a long time to put into effect.

In a report issued in April, the National Commission on Wildfire Disasters, set up after the devastating fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988, endorsed this philosophy of intensive thinning followed by the use of small, controlled fires to burn out parts of forests throughout the West.

“The prevention of catastrophic wildfires must begin with the restoration of more healthy forests through the reduction of dangerous fuel levels and the eventual increase of less intense and more ecologically friendly fires,” said Neil Sampson, the commission’s chairman and the executive vice president of American Forests, a conservation group. …

He and some local forestry experts say this is an unnatural condition caused by decades of logging large trees, mainly Ponderosa pines, that resist fire and drought especially well, and allowing smaller, more flammable and densely packed species to remain. …

Mr. Mealey and others want the forest to look more as it did at the start of the century, dominated by thinly spaced, towering Ponderosa pine, never allowing the shorter, denser and more flammable Douglas fir to encroach on it.

Dr. Leon F. Neuenschwander, a forestry professor at the University of Idaho at Moscow, has recommended applying a combination of commercial logging, selective thinning and controlled fires on 50,000 acres a year over the next 10 to 30 years. …

What’s the twist?

more »

6 Nov 2008, 10:33am
Politics and politicians Saving Forests
by admin
3 comments

Nothing Better To Do

What does the election of B. Hussein Obama mean to our national forests?

Absolutely nothing. B. Hussein has no forest policy, has zero experience in natural resources, knows nothing about forests, and has never even seen a forest. The topic did not come up in the campaign.

The people who voted for B. Hussein did so because of his skin color, not because of his forest policy. For the first time in American history, a president was selected on the basis of his race and race alone. B. Hussein is our “token” president.

Natural resource issues were not a factor because John McCain had no discernible natural resource policy either. The word “forests” was not mentioned one time in his campaign. The only glimmer of a resource issue was global warming, and both candidates shared the far out viewpoint that the US should unilaterally shut down two-thirds of our economy in the name of a total hoax.

Hold on to something steady, sports fans. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GLOBAL WARMING. The globe is cooling and has been cooling for about 9,000 years. Yes, there are minor peaks and valleys. Most recently (for the last 10 years) global temps have fallen to their lowest point in 35 years, effectively wiping out any (minor) temperature increase seen over the 20th Century. The outlook is cold and getting colder.

B. Hussein wants to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant, when in fact it is the KEY NUTRIENT OF LIFE. Last time anyone looked we were carbon-based lifeforms here on Planet Earth. Your bodily carbon, which is to say all of your cells and your basic corporeal existence, derives from carbon dioxide, without which you would not be.

B. Hussein wants to declare war on life, in other words. His opponent, Republican-In-Name-Only John McCain shared the exact same view, so voters had no choice whatsoever, which is why they selected on the basis of skin color, since there were no other substantive differences between the candidates.

Even in Oregon the massive forest crisis we face was not an issue in any campaign, local or statewide. The populace is inured to seeing their watersheds destroyed in catastrophic holocausts. We have come to expect that. No one questions whether forests policies should be any different from No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot. Our one RINO senator wouldn’t touch forest issues with a ten-foot peavy and neither did the radical Leftist who replaced him.

Oregon’s RINO party has abandoned the state just as they have abandoned our forests. The closest thing to a Republican in Oregon is in Alaska. And Oregon’s Far Left Democommie party is pro-forest holocaust. They “rendezvous” in the ashes whenever the big burns happen. When old-growth forests were incinerated last summer in Oregon in various megafires, the Dems celebrated. Their dream is to declare every square inch of Oregon a free fire zone and burn the whole state to smithereens.

But there is nothing new in all of that. It is the same old, same old. Our state and national forest policy has been Burn Baby Burn for 20 years, and nothing has changed in that regard. In an election touted as the Big Change, when it comes to forest policy, it wasn’t. There has been no change at all and none is expected.

Which is why we must buckle down and teach the new bozos what we tried (and failed) to teach the old bozos, that forest stewardship is preferable to forest holocaust and destruction. It seems like a simple, logical, pragmatic thing, and it is, but we are dealing with some serious bozos once again.

So get out the tow ropes and prepare to drag a new bunch of clueless imbeciles up the learning curve, kicking and screaming all the way (on the part of the imbeciles).

Can it be done? Can you teach the clueless? Can we save our forests from destruction?

Maybe, maybe not. But we’re going to try. Got nothing better to do.

New Regional Forester On Meet-and-Greet Tour

Recently named Region 6 U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Mary Wagner [here] was joined by U.S. Congressman Greg Walden at a community meeting in Enterprise, Oregon, last month. The two heard serious complaints about USFS management. From the Wallowa County Chieftain [here]:

FS looks to new tools for new times

Tour conducted by Congressman Walden introduces brand-new regional forester to ‘passionate’ testimony in Elgin, exemplary problem-solvers in Enterprise

By Kathleen Ellyn and Samantha Bates, Wallowa County Chieftain & East Oregonian, 10/30/2008

Brand-new Region 6 U.S. Forest Service Supervisor Mary Wagner wanted to assure rural counties that she was as eager to see management policy changes in the Forest Service as they were.

“We need new tools for new times,” she admitted to a group of more than 30 citizens, timber industry leaders, representatives from environmental, tribal and community organizations and county officials Oct. 22 in Enterprise.

“Today there is a call to experiment with different things because doing what we’re doing is not getting us to the goal we want,” she said. “We have an obligation to look at things a different way.”

She was preaching to the choir.

By the time she rolled into Enterprise in the company of county payments champion U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), who was continuing his 16-county, 63-meeting tour, she had heard loud and clear from every community in her region that what the Forest Service needed was a complete overhaul of its business model.

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Monckton to McCain: the Fate of the World Is At Stake

In one of the greatest essays of our day and age, the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley has warned Senator John McCain that his (McCain’s) “climate change” policies present a terrible threat to the economies of the U.S. and the entire world.

Lord Monckton is more than a global warming skeptic; he is the most rational and lucid voice in the world today in opposition to the global warming alarmists. His essay, posted today in the American Thinker, is the clearest and most penetrating debunking of global warming theory ever written. More than that, Lord Monkton presents the case that addressing this non-problem by crippling the economy of the U.S. will thrust the entire world into a darkness of deprivation and authoritarianism unmatched in human history.

John McCain has adopted Gore-ism. Barack Obama has, as well. We cannot survive either man as President, and yet we have no other choices. This country is hurtling toward a terrible catastrophe.

Please read Lord Monckton’s letter. You deserve to know what hit you. Some excerpts:

An open letter from The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to Senator John McCain about Climate Science and Policy

By The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, American Thinker, October 18, 2008

Part 1 [here]
Part 2 [here]
Part 3 [here]
Part 4 [here]

Dear Senator McCain, Sir,

YOU CHOSE a visit to a wind-farm in early summer 2008 to devote an entire campaign speech to the reassertion of your belief in the apocalyptic vision of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change - a lurid and fanciful account of imagined future events that was always baseless, was briefly exciting among the less thoughtful species of news commentators and politicians, but is now scientifically discredited.

With every respect, there is no rational basis for your declared intention that your great nation should inflict upon her own working people and upon the starving masses of the Third World the extravagantly-pointless, climatically-irrelevant, strategically-fatal economic wounds that the arrogant advocates of atmospheric alarmism admit they aim to achieve.

Britain and the United States, like England and Scotland on the first page of Macaulay’s splendid History of England, are bound to one another by “indissoluble bonds of interest and affection”. Here in this little archipelago from which your Pilgrim Fathers sailed, we have a love-love relationship with what Walt Whitman called your “athletic democracy”. You came to our aid - to the aid of the world - when Britain had stood alone against the mad menace of Hitler. Your fearless forces and ours fight shoulder to shoulder today on freedom’s far frontiers. The shortest but most heartfelt of our daily prayers has just three words: “God bless America!” For these reasons - of emotion as much as of economics, of affection as much as of interest - it matters to us that the United States should thrive and prosper. We cannot endure to see her fail, not only because if she fails the world fails, but also because, as the philosopher George Santayana once said of the British Empire and might well now have said of our sole superpower, “the world never had sweeter masters.” If the United States, by the ignorance and carelessness of her classe politique, mesmerized by the climate bugaboo, casts away the vigorous and yet benign economic hegemony that she has exercised almost since the Founding Fathers first breathed life into her enduring Constitution, it will not be a gentle, tolerant, all-embracing, radically-democratic nation that takes up the leadership of the world.

It will be a radically-tyrannical dictatorship - perhaps the brutal gerontocracy of Communist China, or the ruthless plutocracy of supposedly ex-Communist Russia, or the crude, mediaeval theocracy of rampant Islam, or even the contemptible, fumbling, sclerotic, atheistic-humanist bureaucracy of the emerging European oligarchy that has stealthily stolen away the once-paradigmatic democracy of our Mother of Parliaments from elected hands here to unelected hands elsewhere. For government of the people, by the people and for the people is still a rarity today, and it may yet perish from the earth if America, its exemplar, destroys herself in the specious name of “Saving The Planet”.
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Fraudulent Wilderness, Part 3

Wilderness designation is wrongly thought to provide the “highest form” of environmental protection. In fact, wilderness designation destroys land by eliminating stewardship, stewardship that has been ongoing for 13,500 years.

Wilderness designation has wrongly applied, in denial of the actual history of our landscapes, and catastrophe has ensued. The elimination of human stewardship and wholesale destruction go hand in hand.

We have given some examples in Parts 1 and 2 of this essay. Here are some more:

The 19,100 acre Boulder Creek Wilderness was incinerated last summer by the 20,200 acre Rattle Fire. That was the second fire to decimate the Boulder Creek watershed since designation in 1984. The first was the 16,500 acre Spring Fire in 1996. Those fires burned in accumulated fuels, and crowned, plumed, and killed most of the old-growth trees.

One special area within the Boulder Creek Wilderness is Pine Bench, an old-growth ponderosa pine flat in the midst of a predominantly Douglas-fir forest. The pine are artifacts of thousands of years of human occupation. Frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fires maintained the pine in an area of traditional use for food production. The wilderness designation of “untrammeled” was applied even though the evidence was clear that this area had experienced thousands of years of human use and the imprint of man was strong and well-documented.

The 100,000 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness has been roasted by severe fires twice since designation in 1964. In 1987 the Silver Fire burned 110,000 acres of which 53,600 acres were in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. In 2002 the Biscuit Fire ignited in the Kalmiopsis, burned the entire wilderness area, escaped the boundaries, and burned an additional 400,000 acres beyond. Over $150 million was spent to stop the Biscuit Fire from burning down towns 20 miles away from the Kalmiopsis.

The 286,700 acre Three Sisters Wilderness was designated by the original 1964 Wilderness Act. Since then it has been burned by the Cache Mountain Fire (2002), Eyerly Complex Fire (2002), B and B Complex Fire (2003), Link Fire (2003), Black Crater Fire (2006), Puzzle Fire (2006), Lake George Fire (2006), and the GW Fire (2007), to name a few. The old-growth ponderosa pine forests that were destroyed in the Three Sisters Wilderness were there because that area had hosted extensive human activity and stewardship for millennia. Santiam Pass has been the main trafficked way in the Central Cascades for the last 6,000 years, at least. Obsidian Cliffs have been the principal obsidian quarry for much of Oregon for all that time.

The Ventana Wilderness, 240,026 acres, established in 1978. This year 244,000 acres burned in the Indians/Basin Complex Fires, the second largest fire in California history and most expensive at $120 million. Most of that fire was in the Ventana Wilderness. Contrary to political perceptions, the Ventana has been home to human beings for more than 10,000 years.

Last year the Zaca Fire Fire burned 240,000 acres and cost $117 million to fight. Significant portions of the San Rafael Wilderness (197,380 acres), Dick Smith Wilderness (64,700 acres) and Matilija Wilderness (29,600 acres) were burned. Again, the areas were designated wilderness in defiance of the established historical fact that they had been occupied by humans since the dawn of the Holocene.

The Jarbidge Wilderness in eastern Nevada was established in 1964 and expanded to 113,000 acres in 1989. This year it was decimated by the 54,500 acre East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire that spread well beyond the wilderness boundaries. It is well-known that the area was home to the Shoshone and other northern Uto-Aztecan language groups for millennia.

Other designated wilderness areas subject to catastrophic fires since designation include Alpine Lakes, Bandelier, Black Canyon, Bob Marshall, Bull of the Woods, Frank Church-River of No Return, Golden Trout, Gospel Hump, Hells Canyon, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Manzano Mountain, Marble Mountains, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Okefenokee, Rogue Umpqua Divide, Saddle Mountain, Selway-Bitterroot, Siskiyou, South Sierra, Tatoosh, Yolla-Bolly, and many others.

Every single one of these wilderness areas has documented and extensive evidence of human occupation for millennia. Yet that well-known human use has been denied repeatedly.

For instance, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, in concert with the University of Montana, both ostensibly scientific organizations, make this claim about the Siskiyou Wilderness [here]:

Many authorities on the subject suspect Bigfoot could be hiding out in the untrammeled regions.

That is crap, pure crap, and racist jibber-jabber to boot. Our “educational” institutions have sunk to pure bullshit in their efforts to deny real history, real science, and real traditions. So desperate are these politically motivated (and taxpayer funded) organizations to inflict destructive wilderness designation that they gladly heave all their scientific integrity into the burn barrel to do it.

This is not a yuck-yuck moment. Real destruction and enormous costs has ensued from fraudulent wilderness designation. The wilderness promoters are in utter denial, and their denial is a-scientific and racist without a doubt.

To be continued…

Fraudulent Wilderness, Part 2

The proposed Copper-Salmon Wilderness [here, here] is 11 miles east of Port Orford on the Elk River. The 13,700 acre area is adjacent to the Grassy Knob Wilderness, 17,200 acres, and designated a wilderness area by the US Congress in 1984. Here is a picture of Grassy Knob:

Note that Grassy Knob is no longer grassy. It’s covered with trees. That should not be surprising, since it is in a prime tree growing area. Elevations vary from almost sea level to more than 2,000 feet on summits that include Grassy Knob, at 2,342 feet. It rains there an average of 130 inches per year.

What is remarkable is that it was once “grassy.” When named by early white settlers in the 1800’s, Grassy Knob was treeless, instead covered with Coast Range prairie. Similarly, the Grass Mountain Research Natural Area in the Coast Range west of Corvallis was once covered with Coast Range prairie, largely bracken fern and sedges. Grass Mountain is a little higher, roughly 3,000 feet, and it receives and average of 123 inches of rain per year.

Both Grassy Knob and Grass Mountain have trees roughly 100 years old. Older trees can be found in the canyons adjacent to streams, but not on the mountain tops. There the Douglas-fir on Grassy Knob and noble fir on Grass Mountain are younger and invaded after the Oregon pioneer era. Very little prairie remains on Grass Mountain, and almost none on Grassy Knob.

There were no fires 100 years ago that engendered fern brakes and Coast Range prairies. There are no snags or rotted root balls that would indicate there ever was forest on Grassy Knob or Grass Mountain. The on-the-ground evidence and historical record is clear: those prime tree growing areas were treeless.

Why? There is only one answer: the aboriginal residents kept those areas free of trees by repeated anthropogenic burning. There are very few lightning fires in the Coast Range. All of the known large fires, such as the repetitious Tillamook Fires, were human-caused. Coast Range prairie is decidedly human-induced.

Grassy Knob Wilderness Area is a prime example of a cultural landscape. The unique Coast Range prairie vegetation was an artifact, or more properly a deliberate imprint, of humanity.

The Wilderness Act is supposed to protect untrammeled areas, but Grassy Knob is a place that was trammeled by humans for thousands of years. The First Residents burned to promote edible root crops, such as bracken fern and camas, and useful fibers such as sedges. The Coast Range prairie also provided browse for deer, elk, and bears. Grassy Knob was a grocery store, a farm, a human-modified habitat with ample foodstuffs that the dense forests in the canyons did not provide.

No doubt, if the people could have burned the wet canyons too, they would have. The First Residents made use of the Port Orford cedars and western red cedars that grew in the canyons. Those trees provided building materials and canoe wood. But not food. The prairies were where the food came from. The salmon streams only ran with salmon a few weeks out of the year. The beaches had plenty of shellfish. But the vegetable foods and large mammals were found year-round in the human-induced prairies.

Those historical prairies have become overgrown and lost. Wilderness designation has destroyed the heritage. The designation as “wilderness” by law of areas habitated by humans for thousands of years was not only scientifically and historically wrong, it served to ruin the very features that made the areas useful to those humans, the features that led to the names that those areas carry today.

Denial of the heritage has led to loss of the heritage. In the rush to declare wilderness, the most valuable aspects have been wrecked. Grassy Knob and the Copper-Salmon area have not been wilderness for thousands of years. They have not been “wild.” Declaring them “wild” does not protect them; it ruins them.

It may be politically expedient and attractive to urbanites to dehumanize heritage sites, but it is not “preservation” by any stretch. The disconnection between an urban population and the real world is premised on ignorance of heritage.

Ignorance should not guide our decisions. Bad decisions are made by ignorant people. That’s pretty much a fact. It does not require examples.

Better decisions are made by informed people. You have now been informed about the ancient heritage that graces the Oregon Coast Range. Please digest that information, incorporate that knowledge, and see if together we can make some improved decisions about how we might be better stewards of our heritage landscapes.

To be continued…

Fraudulent Wilderness, Part 1

Officially and legally, “wilderness” is defined in the Wilderness Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-577) as:

[A]n area where the earth and [its] community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which… generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable.

To repeat the key words:

- untrammeled by man
- primeval character and influence
- natural conditions
- affected primarily by the forces of nature
- the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable

Are there any such properties in the Americas (North or South)?

No, there are not.

The Americas have been occupied and modified by human beings for at least 13,500 years. That’s a long, long time. That’s all the way back to the Pyramids in Egypt (4,000 years ago) and back that far again, and back that far again.

Over the previous 13 millennia nearly every square inch of the “New” World has been trammeled by man. Man has affected the vegetation and animal life. Man has left his imprint.

Technically, legally, by definition of the Wilderness Act, very few acres qualify. Perhaps there are some steep mountain crags, unclimbable except with modern technical climbing gear, where man has not trammeled around. That’s all. Everywhere else has been trammeled, and trammeled plenty, by human beings over the last 13,500 years.

There is big push right now in Congress to declare new wilderness areas. None of the properties fit the legal definition.

For instance, Gold Butte in Clark County, NV, has been pushed for wilderness designation. From the Desert Valley Times [here]:

Gold Butte bill draws praise, anger

Bob Challinor, Desert Valley Times, September 30, 2008

Reaction varied from outrage to applause for a bill introduced in Congress Friday that would grant National Conservation Area or wilderness status to nearly a half-million acres of federal land in Clark County.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., introduced the bill that would create a National Conservation Area at Gold Butte, a region encompassing 362,177 acres. The bill would allow some controls on visitors to Gold Butte, which now is designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Within the conservation area, 128,373 acres would be managed as federal wilderness, a designation that prohibits vehicle traffic of any kind.

The sweeping bill upgrades protection to Gold Butte and surrounding areas, the goal Friends of Gold Butte and the Nevada Wilderness Project have sought for years. …

Berkley said: “Gold Butte is an amazing natural treasure that is also home to unique Native American drawings and there is strong support in southern Nevada for protecting this desert gem before it’s too late. …

Emphasis added. The area has rock art, carved into rocks by the human residents over thousands of years. That’s trammeling. The rock art depicts human beings hunting animals. That’s trammeling, too. The rock art is distinctly the imprint of man’s work, and it is substantially noticeable.

The former resident human beings used fire to modify the vegetation. The vegetation has been affected primarily by anthropogenic forces, not the forces of nature.

In no way, shape, or form does the Gold Butte area fit the legal definition of wilderness. That fact is plain as day. Nobody denies it.

Yet Shelley Berkley, the Friends of Gold Butte, and the Nevada Wilderness Project wish to force a square peg into a round hole and have land that is distinctly NOT wilderness be declared as such.

They say they desire wilderness designation to “protect” the land. Yet wilderness designation destroys land by eliminating stewardship, stewardship that has been ongoing for 13,500 years.

If you read the rest of the Desert Valley Times article you will note that the current residents of Clark County do not want wilderness designation. You will also note that Sen. Harry Reid is involved. Further study will reveal that Harry Reid is a crook of the first order.

Another example: the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF, recently incinerated by the Middlefork Fire [here]. That 21,125 acre fire was punctuated by repeated canopy fire and plume events that decimated old-growth, young-growth, endangered species habitat, and watershed integrity. Did wilderness designation “protect” those forests? Obviously and tragically not.

Was the the Sky Lakes Wilderness untrammeled by man? Not according to the RR-SNF [here]:

Beginning several thousand years ago Native American groups-ancestors of the Klamath and the Takelma Indians-hunted game and gathered huckleberries within the Sky Lakes area. Klamath youths would sometimes come to make their “vision quest” (a religious experience during which one fasted in solitude and sought a spiritual vision while dreaming) on high peaks along the Cascade crest. However, the short season of mild weather and the limited variety of food plants and animals did not encourage prehistoric visitors to stay long.

The early white settlers also made use of the Sky Lakes-hunting, trapping beaver or marten in the winter, grazing their stock (in the early days, large herds of sheep) in the high meadows during the warm months. Settlers from lower-elevation communities came each August to pick huckleberries at places like Stuart Falls and Twin Ponds. After 1906 the newly established Forest Service built trails and fire lookouts within the Sky Lakes area. By mid-1970s, a new Pacific Crest Trail route replaced the original Oregon Skyline Trail of a half-century earlier.

Man has been visiting, using, and deliberately and skillfully maintaining the huckleberry and beargrass fields of the Sky Lakes area for millennia. Wildlife populations have been subject to control by the keystone predators, humans, since the Ice Age. The area is criss-crossed with ancient trails and peppered with ancient campsites.

Wilderness designation was wrongly applied, in denial of the actual history which is evident and well-accepted, and catastrophe ensued. Prior to the Middlefork Fire the lakes were clean:

Several of the Wilderness’s lakes (Alta and Natasha among them) were found (by 1980s-90s Environmental Protection Agency baseline study of acid-rain conditions in Western U.S. mountain lakes) to have among the most chemically pure water known of all lakes on the globe.

Not anymore. Now they have been polluted with ash and soot. The scenery has been charred beyond recognition, too.

Is that protection? No, it is destruction. The elimination of human stewardship and wholesale destruction go hand in hand.

To be continued…

8 Oct 2008, 4:06pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
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AIG Gets Another $38 Billion

From the Washington Post 1 hour ago [here]

Only one day after it was revealed that AIG had sprung for a $440,000 spa vacation shortly after getting an $84 billion government-loan bailout comes this report: The government is loaning AIG another $38 billion.

AIG, the world’s largest insurer, said it has already drawn down $61 billion on its $84 billion line of credit from the government. AIG’s financial products division got into the mortgage-backed securities market and incurred billions in losses, sending the entire company teetering toward bankruptcy. The $84 billion loan was meant to help prop up AIG.

The New York branch of the Fed Reserve will borrow $37.8 billion in investment-grade securities from AIG in exchange for the cash.

During a hearing before the House Oversight committee on Tuesday, it was revealed that just last week, about 70 of the company’s top performers were rewarded with a week-long stay at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a tab of $440,000, The Post’s Peter Whoriskey reported today.

Oversight committee Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) showed a photograph of the resort, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and reported expenses for AIG personnel including $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa, Whoriskey wrote.

Today, AIG chief executive Edward Liddy defended the vacation by pouring gasoline on the fire.

Such trips “are standard practice in our industry,” Liddy said, no doubt thrilling every other major insurance company. …

From Wikipedia [here]

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) was the 18th-largest company in the world. It was on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from April 8, 2004 to September 22, 2008. On September 16, 2008, AIG suffered a liquidity crisis following the downgrade of its credit rating. The United States Federal Reserve loaned money to AIG at AIG’s request, to prevent the company’s collapse… of up to US$85 billion [now US$122 billion]. This was the largest government bailout of a private company in U.S. history…

The people responsible for this looting of the Federal Treasury include Hank Paulson, Edward Liddy, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Chuck Schummer, Henry Waxman, Maxine Waters, Artur Davis, Harry Reid, Lacy Clay, Gregory Meeks, Nancy Pelosi, Jamie Goerlick, Franklin Raines, Daniel Mudd, Jim Johnson, and Barack Hussein Obama, all of whom should be arrested, tried, convicted, stripped of their assets, and sent to prison.

Note that the US Forests Service canceled contracts and programs this summer because of a $400 million shortfall in their fire fund. $400 million is one-third of one percent of $122 billion.

6 Oct 2008, 1:07pm
Politics and politicians Saving Forests
by admin
7 comments

How Wrong They Are

I prefer to post about cutting-edge forest science and its application to real world events, such as preventing the unnecessary incineration of forests. I rarely post about the latest dumbo eruptions from the enviro-nazis. If I drifted into that morass, I would never get anything else done because the enviro-nazis spew idiocy every day.

However, as an object lesson in civil disrespect, I offer the following example for edification and discussion.

Last weekend a bogus news service (actually a propaganda arm of Greenpeace) called BusinessGreen posted a twisted “news” article. BusinessGreen is published in the UK. They call themselves “a multimedia publication for firms intent on improving their environmental credentials.” That’s garbage. They don’t give a hang about business, in fact they are anti-capitalist commies. There are no such things as “environmental credentials.” If there were, BusinessGreen is in no position to grant them. It’s all commie clap-trap.

All that is preface for the following article that BusinessGreen posted [here]:

Government and green groups set for regulation fight

James Murray, BusinessGreen, 03 Oct 2008

A forestry lawsuit could have huge ramifications in the Supreme Court this week
An obscure forestry lawsuit has developed into a major legal battle to be played out in the Supreme Court next Wednesday, which could have major repercussions for the future shape of US environmental legislation and the regulatory risks faced by businesses.

The US Government will try to persuade judges that regulations cannot be legally overruled. Federal attorneys will argue that “facial” challenges, in which a government regulation is overturned on a nationwide basis, are invalid, and should instead only be overturned in individual cases.

Green groups are concerned that this could mean that public interest bodies wanting to challenge a regulation would have to repeatedly sue the Government each time it was applied, draining their funds.

The case stems from a 2005 court judgement against the US Forestry Service. That judgement dismissed regulations introduced in 2003 that prohibited public review and appeal of decisions relating to forest management. These decisions included the sale of up to 250 acres of timber salvaged from national forests.

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Civil Disrespect

It is difficult to see what the most effective response is to the diminution of our rights and destruction of our livelihoods and landscapes by a corrupt and overweening government. The gut reaction is anger, disgust, and frustration, especially when the harm inflicted by radical anti-conservation, anti-stewardship groups, a fawning judiciary, and a sold-out Congress is so direct.

I suggest that we need a better strategy than hunkering in our bunkers and howling at the moon.

As a point of discussion, I offer the concept of “civil disrespect.” By “disrespect” I mean a withholding of esteem, an active appointing of blame, condemnation, and censure, with informed criticism. By “civil” I mean courteous, polite, nonviolent, and without threats of retaliatory harm.

At this early stage civil disrespect is only a concept, and not fully formed. It might not be a good idea. Or it might.

I invite your critique and elaboration of the concept of civil disrespect. What are the parameters, and how might civil disrespect be applied so as to effect positive change? Or do you have a better idea?

3 Oct 2008, 9:43am
Politics and politicians
by admin
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House Passes Bailout Bill

[Corrected] — By a vote of 263-171 the US House of Representatives just passed the Senate’s 451 page bailout bill. It now goes to the President for signature.

172 Dems and 91 Reps voted YEA

63 Dems 108 Reps voted NAY

Hello to pork by the barrel-full, carbon trading, record wealth transfer from the poor to the rich, and an exacerbated decline in the economy. Exactly the wrong thing was done. The future of this nation is looking bleak indeed.

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2 Oct 2008, 3:55pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
3 comments

The Mortgage BYOB Program

America rejoice! I have hit upon the SOLUTION to all our financial problems!

Introducing: the Mortgage Buy Your Own Back Program!!!!

Mortgagees of America Unite! We can save the economy of the Nation and indeed the Entire World!

The problem, as explained by the Pundits of Wall Street, is that homeowners with mortgages have ruined the credit market. Our mortgages aren’t worth the paper they are written on. The poor, innocent investment banks of New York City and the above-reproach, integrity-managed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been snookered into buying our bundled mortgages, never suspecting that they are worthless. And now those beneficent and pure institutions are belly-up because they hold that trash paper.

But instead of the US Treasury purchasing that junk, I hereby offer to buy back my own mortgage for ten cents on the dollar!

That’s right, America. Don’t get snookered again. Don’t spend good money chasing bad. You don’t have to buy my worthless mortgage; I will do it myself. And instead of Uncle Sam, NYC, Freddie, and Fannie getting NOTHING AT ALL, I magnanimously offer the grand sum of TEN CENTS ON THE DOLLAR for my own mortgage.

It’s a heavy sacrifice on my part, but as a good and patriotic American I am willing to bear that burden. Furthermore, I call upon all good and patriotic mortgagees of America to join me in SAVING THE ECONOMY FROM TOTAL COLLAPSE.

Please join me in this worthiest of causes. Help to RESCUE AMERICA!!!

Call your Congressperson right now. Tell him, her, or it that you too are willing to give ten cents on the dollar for your otherwise worthless mortgage and thereby lift America out of this terrible crisis and avert a Great Depression! They should, indeed MUST, sign on the Mortgage BYOB Program and enact the enabling legislation TODAY, before it’s too late.

Happy days are here again!!!!

2 Oct 2008, 8:59am
Politics and politicians
by admin
1 comment

Larded With Pork

The U.S. Senate voted 74-25 Wednesday to approve a 451 page bailout bill larded with pork. There are new taxes on everything under the sun, but especially there is to be new spending on every earmark pork barrel project imaginable.

The Senate has used this alleged “credit crisis” to extort buckets of money for their special interest bribery funding.

Now, say the Senators, everybody will be happy because the largest spending package in the history of the world is on the table. There are tax breaks for Hollywood movie producers, stock-car racetrack owners, bicycle commuters, wooden arrow makers, and the very rich who pay the alternative minimum tax. There are tax hikes for oil companies and off-shore drilling (still banned). Not to mention, there are still the $700 billion in bailouts to investment banks that gambled away America’s credit on 30:1 leveraged scams like Algore carbon offsets.

The House of Representatives will be pleased now. They can vote for this pork lard bonanza without qualms. The American economy will be rescued with pork.

The American taxpayer, however, will be shot in the head. The Big Extortion is happening, and the Public Treasury will be drained one way or another. The Fear Factor has been ramped up to the highest extent possible. Bow down to the porkiest pork ever to sleaze out of Porktown, or the Gummit will screw the economy to the wall. Knuckle under, or you will be ejected from house and home and forced to live in re-education camps run by Obombo’s domestic military police (oh wait, that’s going to happen anyway.)

Oh and yes, be sure to re-elect your incumbents who are holding the gun to your head. Might as well help them pull the trigger.

30 Sep 2008, 3:32pm
Politics and politicians
by admin
1 comment

Stock Markets Rally

Did US stock markets crash today in light of the defeat of the Paulson-Franks $700 billion bailout plan?

No. At close today the Dow Jones average was UP 485 points, the NASDAQ was UP 98.6 points, and the S&P Index was UP 58.3 points!

Other indicators: DJ Wilshire 5000 +15.53, Russell 2000 +21.86, Philadelphia Semiconductor +13.51, Dow Transports +112.12, Dow Utilities +4.82, NYSE Composite +328.79, AMEX Composite +27.97,and Morningstar Index +3.31.

That’s right, sports fans. No crash and burn. Whadayaknow?

An interesting article from The Institutional Risk Analyst published by Lord, Whalen LLC (LW) is entitled A Workable, Private Bank Assistance Plan or Why President Bush Should Fire Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson [here].

The article explains why depositors in failed banks are not hurt because banks must buy Deposit Insurance from the FDIC. Stockholders in failed banks may be wiped out, but not the depositors. And at no cost to taxpayers because the FDIC trust fund is supported by insurance premiums that banks must pay and have been paying for decades.

The FDIC will not run out of money. The FDIC noted in an open letter to Bloomberg News posted yesterday:

The fund’s current balance is $45 billion - but that figure is not static. The fund will continue to incur the cost of protecting insured depositors as more banks may fail, but we continually bring in more premium income. We will propose raising bank premiums in the coming weeks to ensure that the fund remains strong. And, at the same time, we will propose higher premiums on higher risk activity to create economic incentives for poorly managed banks to change their risk profiles. The fund is 100 percent industry-backed. Our ability to raise premiums essentially means that the capital of the entire banking industry - that’s $1.3 trillion - is available for support.

The FDIC does not and will not run out of money. Like all federal trust funds, the FDIC’s insurance ‘trust fund’ does not exist. The reserves shown in the fund simply evidence the amount of money contributed by the banking industry into the fund. Like all federal trust funds, the cash raised by FDIC insurance premiums goes into the Treasury’s general fund. When the agency needs cash, then the Treasury makes the money available. When the positive balance shown in the FDIC insurance fund is depleted, the FDIC simply runs a negative balance with the Treasury, a loan that the banking industry will repay over time. Indeed, the FDIC is preparing to raise the industry’s insurance premiums to generate even more cash to deal with the rising levels of bank failures. Also, in the remote chance that the FDIC ever reached the statutory borrowing limit from Treasury, the Congress will simply raise the limit.

Rumor has it that at the “bailout summit” hosted by President Bush, Barrack Obama attempted to take over the meeting. While Paulson, Bernanke, Frank, Pelosi, Reid and that guilty crowd sat in silence, Obama had a hissy fit, with John McCain as his target.

It was that meeting, not the Pelosi speech, that turned the Republican House members away from the Paulson-Franks Plan.

And thank goodness they did turn. Instead of a $700 billion give-away to NYC investment banks, the hedgers and margin jockeys will be allowed to fail, sunk by their own hubris.

And there will be no stock market crash, no credit crunch, and no Depression.

There has been, however, grotesque incompetence and dirty dealings by Paulson, Bernanke, Frank, Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Dodd, and that ilk. What is needed is a major investigation ala Watergate into the diversion of $millions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the pockets of Congresspersons.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

As of Sunday afternoon, the draft Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 is 110 pages long. The full text (at this time) is [here]. A summary and Section-by Section description may be found [here].

The bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives Monday morning and then head to the Senate. An analysis by Market Watch [here] concludes:

Under the proposed bill, the Treasury Department can use a combination of tactics to buy bad loans, focusing on mortgages and mortgage-backed securities but also including other types of loans under certain conditions. Treasury could purchase the bad debt through an auction process as well as by buying loans directly…

The proposed legislation also allows companies to participate in an insurance program, whereby Treasury would guarantee troubled assets, charging companies a premium “sufficient to cover anticipated claims,” according to the bill.

The government would get a stake in companies receiving bailout funds so that taxpayer money could be recovered if those companies grow in the future, according to the bill. …

In some cases, the bill requires companies limit executive pay, but those limits vary depending on the method by which Treasury purchases a firm’s troubled assets, and how much Treasury antes up.

“When Treasury buys assets at auction, an institution that has sold more than $300 million in assets is subject to additional taxes, including a 20% excise tax on golden parachute payments triggered by events other than retirement, and tax deduction limits for compensation limits above $500,000,” according to a synopsis of the text of the bill.

While the proposed bill prevents companies from signing new golden-parachute deals with top executives after Treasury gets involved, it does not change the terms of already-existing contracts, apparently in an effort to encourage companies to participate in the bailout program. …

The bill puts oversight provisions in place, including creating the position of an inspector general as well as a congressional oversight panel to monitor the program, plus a requirement that the Treasury secretary regularly report to Congress the details of all loan purchases. …

The bill also contains some provisions to help families in financial distress avoid foreclosures, in part by creating a plan to “encourage services of mortgages to modify loans” and allowing the Treasury to use loan guarantees to avoid foreclosures. …

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