Monday, August 20, 2012

Millions Of Heartland Acres Burn While Romnero Fiddles Around

Our Infrastructure Crumbles While Ryan Sits Like a Frog in a Pan, and R-money Fiddles

The Romniacs and frog fellows will soon be attending the Teapublican Party National Convention next weekend for three days and nights of fun in the sun. The sunshine patriot-in-chief R-money will be playing the crowd at this Circus Maximus, while America's heartland withers away with no relief from what a Farm Bill may have provided this unusual drought and wildfire season. Some areas have been going on two years of the same oppressive conditions. But Teapublicans thought that it was better to party hardy than do any actual congressional work, remaining true to their pattern, but not their oaths.

With more than half of United State's counties declared disaster areas as of the first of August (Muskal 2012), Congress went home on the sixth of August for an entire month, also leaving millions of people in need of food stamps in the lurch when the present Farm Bill expires (Abrams 2012). The House Teapublicans are obstructing again by inaction, in favor of deep cuts to those that need the help the most in the SNAP progam, as well as leaving be the necessary negotiations to reconcile the House farm aid version with the Senate version of the bill. If they were firefighters, this would be the equivalent of returning to the station and shutting the door to have dinner while the bells are going off.

“We would have much preferred they pass the House bill,’ said Michael Held, the chief executive of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. ‘I think the attitude here is this is typical Washington, D.C., not getting its work done” (Steinhauer 2012).

(Steinhauer 2012) “With a quarter of the country experiencing an exceptionally severe drought that is expected only to deepen, with the government projecting that much of the spring’s record corn planting will wither away, with significant damage to soybean and wheat crops and with prices for feed at record levels, farmers and ranchers are increasingly anxious about the gridlock in Washington.”

 "The Senate, however, is unlikely to take up the House’s bill because it pays its $383 million price tag by gutting $650 million from two environmental conservation programs. The point is moot, anyway, because the Senate has also closed down for the rest of August. The drought will continue, but Washington can’t be bothered" (Leonard 2012).

(Leonard 2012) "The dysfunction doesn’t end there. Conservative activist groups also opposed the House bill, on the grounds that 'farmers and livestock owners should have known better'{ Wasson 2012}"

“The bill was not listed in the most recent summer legislative agenda sent out in May by Eric Cantor, the house majority leader and a Republican of Virginia. The bill cuts projected spending in farm and nutrition programs by $35 billion over the next 10 years. The Senate passed a similar bill last month, cutting spending by $23 billion” (Nixon 2012).

(Nixon 2012) “On more than a few committee votes, Representative Frank D. Lucas, the Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the committee, sided with Democrats and a few Republicans in defeating amendments to cut food stamps even more deeply, including one by Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, that would have doubled the cuts in food stamps to $33 billion. Much of the savings in the House farm bill comes from cutting food stamps.”

(Nixon 2012) “The food stamp program would take a $16.5 billion cut over the next 10 years. The bill also makes changes to eligibility requirements, and the Congressional Budget Office said two million to three million people would lose their food stamp benefits. Nearly 300,000 children would also be ineligible for the free lunch program under the new bill, the budget office found. Farm programs are not spared. If Congress does not pass a farm bill by Sept. 30, more than 100 farm programs would expire.”

Meanwhile back at the ranch, which is in danger of being incinerated by wildfires in the west, our Teapublican frogs are as resistant as ever to be willing to understand that changes in climate are one of the most important components of the present drought and wildfire severities. These changes require immediate action to protect our critical infrastructure and fix what is broken. Also essential is the need to find the corresponding political will. So apparently the American people will have to set a fire under these recalcitrants to get moving on these issues now. And the R & R crew needs to stop playing budgeteer with that proposed 25% cut in infrastructure spending, or the heartland is not going to want to save Pirate Ryan, or his so-called "captain of industry".

What we can no longer afford is complacency and resistance to the necessary protection of our critical infrastructure. The normal steps in this protection are:
   a. Threat assessment, to include investigation and analysis.
   b. Remediation.
   c. Indications and Warnings.
   d. Mitigation.
   e. Incident Response.
   f. Reconstitution

We are already at stages d/e/f, depending on what sector of our infrastructure one is referring to in the present crisis. And it is a crisis, not simply an identified need, we've already studied and identified most of what we need to fix now, and the crushing drought and wildfires are only damaging it more and more. The recovery will be at stake by next year, with rising food prices and inoperable infrastructure to maintain our progress up and out of the hole our deep recession left us in.

“In fact, 2011 the third-most-active fire season since 1960 (when this record-keeping began) with respect to acres burned, During 2011, a total of 73,484 wildfires burned an estimated 8,706,852 acres (35,235 square kilometers) of land across the United States. Wildfire activity during 2011 was exceptionally high and was only exceeded in the historical record by wildfire activity during the years 2006 and 2007" (Conners 2012).

(Conners 2012) "While it’s not entirely clear as to why wildfire activity has been so high over the past decade, there were likely a combination of factors involved including forest insect infestations, invasions of non-native species, past fire exclusion practices that allowed for the buildup of flammable debris, climate change and the growth of the urban-wilderness interface.”

 "According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the percent area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing Moderate-to-Exceptional Drought (D1-D4) grew from 56.0 percent on July 3rd to 62.9 percent on July 31st. During July, warm and dry weather brought ideal wildfire conditions to a large portion of the nation. The 2.01 million acres that were burned by wildfires was the 4th most on record, while the 9,869 fires was the 5th most in the 2000-2012 record for July.
"Wildfires continued to scorch large swaths of the western United States on Sunday, with firefighters doing their best to corral a host of blazes despite high temperatures, low humidity and possible lightning in many locales" (CNN Wire Staff 2012)

"All told, the fires have charred more than half a million acres across Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California, destroying homes and outbuildings, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate ahead of the flames and killing a young firefighter.(...) In California, 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires up and down the state that forced the evacuation of three Southern California communities, closed parks and campgrounds, and threatened homes and a major power-transmission line" ( Zuckerman & Kaminski 2012).

Excessive warmth and dryness are threatening other parts of the grid as well. {…} He says that violent storms and forest fires can be expected to affect water quality and water use: runoff from major storms and falling ash could temporarily shut down reservoirs” (Wald & Schwartz 2012). 

(Wald & Schwartz 2012) “Even without storms, heat waves are changing the pattern of electricity use, raising peak demand higher than ever.

The Dust Bowl drought and the Mini-Dust Bowl drought of the 1950s are only indicative of the severe droughts of the 20th century, and there is paleoclimatic data suggesting that other worse droughts occurred in our nation’s climatic history. And while there is no trending to suggest that drought may be expected to increase in frequency, increased temps will produce more drying during the summers which may lead to more intense droughts as we have seen recently, especially in the Southwest. 

A clear parallel may be drawn that the current severe drought has as much in common with the 1930s “Dust Bowl” drought as the recent recession does with the Great Depression, with the common denominator being the regressive political situations. And across the U.S., climate predictions show an ever increasing decrease in summer precip as global temps increase.

In terms of our safety net, and what we need to repair and prepare for the coming effects of climate change, the Teapublican response other than the ostrich syndrome has been you don't need social insurance if there's no such thing as "society", and if you can't buy it, or sell it, how do you know it's really there? This needs to change now. The deficit posturing also needs to stop, since if you don't fix the ability to have any demand, how are you going to pay off any deficit in the future ? Timid, insecure capitalists are simply not what made this country great, and need to be more secure in their decisions to be able to spend that hoarded cash to grow resulting in the eventual need to hire. Congress including both major parties are just contributing to that type of poor attitude by either inability, inaction, or plain obstruction and digging in their ideological positions. And finally, the Red states must stop degrading the labor force, because those laborers are the real job creators, not the 1% at the top collecting the rent and living off the interest. 

It's time to get your heads out of the sand boys, before your backside burns. There are other more burning issues to consider than R-money's head of hair, and his pretty boy's abs.  


No comments:

Post a Comment