Friday, February 24, 2012

A "Flyover Bureaucrat" Lands

It may be hard to believe, but some of the earliest politicians in the U.S. were known to be even more devious than those whose cunning we marvel at today. 

The lack of communications technology made that possible.  A candidate could deliver a speech in one town, take a horse and buggy trip to the next place, and give another speech contradicting his previous words. Without news media, he was unlikely to be caught.  News traveled so slowly that often elections were over before blocs of voters learned they had been duped.

That form of political dishonesty stopped around the end of the nineteenth century, or so we thought.  Telegraph, then telephone, networks made communication swift and reached eventually into every corner of the country.  Large news organizations, such as the Associated Press, linked media.  What a national candidate said in California could be filed by a newspaper reporter and broadcast by a radio station in Massachusetts within minutes.

Today’s politicians may fudge their statements and artfully dodge questions, but they know an outrageous statement made anywhere along the campaign trail will be exposed. They must be more careful than their predecessors about what they say. Or, so we thought.

The Geezer learned of recent campaign rhetoric in Idaho by the Republican candidates that certainly would concern many Americans.  One part of it might have been good for a laugh, something major media like to use to break up dismal news cycles. I’m pretty well tuned into various news sources, yet I heard of the Idaho statements only through a Facebook message from a former fellow employee of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service manages 20 million acres of National Forest land in Idaho.  Several million of those acres are Congressionally designated Wilderness, priceless wildlands where motorized vehicles are banned and resource extraction largely is prohibited.

Recently, according to the Idaho Statesman, Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Ron Paul proposed selling or transferring the federal lands to private interests or to the state. Mitt Romney got a little more specific. He advocated transferring management of the national forests to states to increase the revenues the lands generate.

There are only a few ways to increase revenues from National Forests.  One is to build roads into what now are roadless Wilderness areas, allow timber cutting there, and encourage mining and grazing, now limited to uses that were grandfathered when the lands were withdrawn from commodity production years ago.  Another is to abandon or seriously relax grazing permit systems and timber harvesting controls on all the lands. These regulations keep yields from the lands sustainable.

Wouldn’t you think millions of Americans would want to know that candidates for president advocated drastic changes in the protection and management of large chunks of our public lands?  Where were our media?  Perhaps they have been so decimated by economic problems that they have no space for such news.  You can bet the Statesman put the story on the wire.

Santorum provided the fodder for comedians.  Speaking to some 3,000 people in Boise, he said: “The federal government doesn’t care about it (Idaho), they don’t care about this land.  They don’t live here, they don’t care about it; we don’t care about it in Washington.  It’s just fly-over country for most of the bureaucrats in Washington, DC.”

Shortly thereafter, Tom Tidwell, Chief of the Forest Service, landed in Boise to discuss cooperative planning in Idaho after a flight from his office in Washington, DC. Santorum gave his speech at a rally held at Capital High School in Boise.  Tidwell is a graduate of Capital High School.

Tidwell began his Forest Service career as a fire management specialist for the Boise National Forest.  Later, he served as Regional Forester, the top administrator, for the service's Northern Region, which includes northern Idaho.  We could hardly expect him to know or care much about Idaho, could we?


Kay Dennison said...

Well said!!

Anonymous said...

Add politicians in Utah. Especially Gov. Herbert who is demanding that federal lands in Utah be "returned" to the state (except for those lands in National Parks and Wilderness). He probably doesn't realize that hundreds of Utah citizens signed petitions for lands in Utah to be reserved in National forests. The lands were being so mistreated that many wanted someone to protect the watersheds--that was a recurrent theme for adding to the Forest Reserves. These land never belonged to the State so how can they be "returned?"

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Well, its NOT flyover country for me. I care what happens in various parts of the US and overseas. Most of my charity $$ go to environmental groups and they keep me informed.

I vote on the side of the environment and don't support the exploitation of the Wilderness areas. Those watersheds are beyond price. Good piece. Dianne

joared said...

"Fly over country," huh! Incredible! Reminds me of an acquaintance who a few years ago told me she had finally visited the Grand Canyon (which I longed to visit from when I was a child -- have many times since.) I was speechless when this woman said, "I don't what the big deal is it's just a big hole in the ground!" These are the people whose vote scares me and there may be more of them than we realize.

Sightings said...

Good for Tidwell. I'm no supporter of Santorum, but I know people in Washington, DC, and a lot of them DO think anything west of the Appalachians and east of the Rockies is flyover country. So keep your eye on 'em.

P.S. Enjoyed your analysis of Michigan politics. Guess we'll see what happens on Tuesday. (I'm rooting for Romney, not that I'm a Republican (I'm not), and not that I know much about him (I don't) but only because I almost always root for the moderate in any political race.)

Kay said...

This was so interesting. So much of what comes out of Santorum these days scares me. He's not for separation of church and state? He thinks Obama is a "snob" because he'd like everybody to have the opportunity to go to college?

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Hi Dick, looking for a way to send you a message.

Re the photos on my site...not all taken by me. Old B&W are by my dad who used a Kodak. I use both Cannon Powershot and Nikkon Coolpix. Some photos on my site were provided by Zemanta, a service of Wordpress. Dianne

Dick Klade said...

Thanks, Diane. My old Canon Powershot, an excellent camera for a long time, is the one that died. I'll check out the Coolpix along with some others.

Anonymous said...

I wish we had you in Idaho as a crusading editor. I respect, and usually agree with your observations. Idaho is in the firm grasp (control) of a number of neolithic Republicans. Wacko ideas and slogans abound, led by the few and applauded mindlessly by an amazing herd of non-thinkers.