Netroots blame wrong people for Texas wildfire problems.

Yes.  You are shocked.

Very quickly, and to get this out of the way: the Online Left is babbling about supposedly-cut Texas firefighting budgets, mostly because they lack the research skills – or possibly, the native intelligence – to tell the difference between a $109 million Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting budget in 2010/2011, and a $196 million Forest Service/Wildfire Fighting budget for 2012/2013 (the 2012 fiscal year started at the beginning of this month). Fortunately, Battleswarm Blog can both think and do research – as seen here and here – which means that I don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting this time. Bottom line: never, ever stop just because you got the answer that you wanted.

[UPDATE: Via WILLisms, via @bdomenech, comes another reading error from the netroots.  Tthat some of the n-dimensional geniuses over on that side of the blogosphere looked at last year’s Forest Service budget and inexplicably failed to notice that it included a one-time new equipment allocation: which caused them to mistake this year’s budget as a reduction.  What makes it particularly funny is that the allocation was due to stimulus funds… which meant that in their haste to go negative, the netroots completely messed up the opportunity to make a positive argument about their policy positions.  And they wonder why nobody respects them…]

But. Since we’re talking about supposed derelictions of duty, how about we talk about some of the stuff that the federal government is doing? – Or, more accurately, what the federal government is not doing.

For example: the federal government is not letting volunteers help.

Firefighting-trained volunteers from around the state converged on Bastrop and Smithville Tuesday to lend a hand to the beleaguered local firefighters battling the Bastrop County Complex Fire — only to be sent away as federal officials arrived at the scene and took command, apparently because local officials never made a formal request for volunteers.

“We were at the station getting set up into strike teams, and this guy came up and said that the U.S. Forest Service had ‘assumed control of the situation, and that ‘If you don’t have a vehicle that squirts water, go home,’” said Gordon Greer of Kirbyville, who drove all night Monday to arrive in the town beset by the worst wildfire in Texas history.

And the federal government is not letting critical federal firefighting resources be used… because of a contract dispute.

Nearly half of the federal government’s firefighting air tankers are siting idle at a California airport, grounded by the Obama administration in a contract dispute just weeks before wildfires swept through Texas killing a mother and her child, and destroying 100,000 acres.


The U.S. Forest Service terminated the contract with Aero Union five weeks ago to operate seven P-3 Orions that are critical to the agency’s firefighting mission, leaving the federal government with 11 tankers under contract to help battle more than 50 large uncontained wildfires now burning nationwide.

And, of course, the federal government is not precisely rushing to provide assistance to a state that won’t vote for Obama next year anyway Texas:

Gov. Rick Perry is again criticizing the Obama Administration for ignoring his appeal for a federal disaster declaration for Texas, where wildfires continue burning out of control over wide areas.

That quote is from April, by the way. You see, the wildfire problem is a known one that’s been going on for a while, which is why the special session of the legislature pumped up next year’s budget for wildfires (not that you’d know that, if you were relying on the Online Left for information). On the other hand, back in 2007 when California had a similar problem, George Bush was just as partisan… yes, yes, of course I’m kidding. President Bush was a better man than that:

The Bush administration’s disaster assistance chief promised no repeat of the Hurricane Katrina experience Wednesday, saying “this is a new FEMA” as Washington weighed options to help California wildfire victims.


Bush, who mobilized the federal disaster relief establishment Tuesday, has scheduled a visit to California Thursday.




To make the trip, Bush is canceling a previously scheduled trip to St. Louis, where he was to deliver remarks on the budget and headline a fundraiser for the national Republican Party.

But you knew that already. For that matter, so does the Online Left: which is why they were and are so desperate to rush out an attack here.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

12 thoughts on “Netroots blame wrong people for Texas wildfire problems.”

  1. Chasing away volunteer firemen is odd. I remember much smaller wildfire problems in the area I grew up in the late ’80’s, and most of the work was done by the local volunteer firemen.

  2. Are the federal firefighters unionized? If so, that would explain the volunteers being sent home.

  3. Obviously you do not live in a wild fire area, and have not had your life disrupted by a 110,000 acre monster this summer, or you might know something about the way these things work.

    They are using heavy tankers. To say they are not is a big fat lie. Also, the people who handle these monsters are highly trained professions. When a Stage I team is brought in, it is a very big deal. They may use local volunteers for some things, but unless they know the person, forget it. These people are pros. This is their job. They don’t want people from the Texas Nationalist Movement (The ones doing all the complaining) doing the Three Stooges thing.

    I don’t understand the far right at times. I am a Republican, but I am more and more embarrassed to say I am a conservative at times. You see something and jump all over it, not bothering with the actual facts. The facts in this situation is someone did a re-tweet of a request by the Austin locals to bring in 26 volunteers for local work. It was picked up by someone and sent viral all over the stage. But, what the heck, never let the facts get in the way of a good- anti Big Government rant, right?

    This summer my home, and that of my parents was saved by these wonderful professional government paid forest service fire-fighters. The Stage I management team is a serious thing. They don’t use volunteers. They travel with their own small city of backup equipment. It is quite fascinating to see the way they do things. They are pros. Get it – pros. I know, the libertarian party line is that any government is bad, but don’t diss these guys. They’re heroes. Try trash talking them where I live and you may be the one trashed.

    They are using a massive amount of air support for this fire. Plus, if there is much of a wind, you can’t use air support. I find the fact that one company sends out a press release and everyone says the Stage I team is NOT using what they need to fight this fire is a crock.

    If they have 30% containment today, and they had 0% on Monday, someone is doing something very right. I’ve been there and 30% containment since Monday is excellent.

    The Pink Flamingo

  4. So they have no use for the volunteer firemen?
    (And I love how we’re all suddenly the “far right”.)

  5. Hmmm…unhinged rhetoric smacking of a Ron Paulite, but the love of big govt disproves that. Maybe a Romney fan?

  6. Apparently, you’re far right AND towing the libertarian line Moe. Quite a feat, congrats.

  7. The Stage I command could not use volunteers who showed up out of nowhere, answering a FAKE plea for help. They are using professional volunteers from all over the state – with professional equipment.

    I have a tremendous use for volunteer firemen! They are wonderful. I also know that when battling a monster like this, it’s a little different. Here, when we had the 110,000 acre fire, they kept the volunteers patrolling, locally. They were stationed at different locations, but were not part of the actual Stage I effort.

    Until a few months ago, I did not realize what went on with the operational stages, I,II,III. Stage III is localized, and volunteers are sucked into it. Stage II, is basically the same, only more equipment, more people, and more technology.

    Stage I is like a professional fire-fighting army.

    They will hire professional “volunteers” who show up with their credentials. In fact there in Texas, they were taking in professional volunteers from all over the state, who arrived with their big time equipment. The article never mentioned that. What happened is they sent some people home who did not come with their equipment, and were members of one of those crazy Texas succession movements.

    The liability alone would be prohibitive, not to mention the fact that the command and control had no idea who these people were. Can you imagine putting someone who had no background check in with terribly expensive machinery, explosives (which they use – they were firing rockets behind my parents’ home to start a back fire), and patrolling evacuated neighborhoods? They could have been anyone.

    They had volunteers from bona fide fire departments from all over the state – but turned away some people who just showed up, announcing they were part of the Texas Nationalist Movement and they were there to help.

    As for tankers, there were a half dozen or so, initially, which could not be used because of wind. (The fire that nearly took out my home last spring could not be accessed from the air because of the wind factor). Currently there are 10 tankers, and an entire air force of choppers. The 110,000 acre Donaldson Center fire here only had about 4 tankers, so the argument that not enough resources were being used is a crock.

    I classify “far right” the same way I do “far left”. At times people jump into things without checking the story. When that happens, they deserve to be castigated. To me there is no difference between a liberal doing a story without all the facts and a conservative doing one without all the facts.

    The real story here is the fact that a few extremists – and I would classify the Texas Nationalist Movement as extreme (I have a friend who has lived in Texas all his life, knows a bunch of them – he says they are crazy) decided to prove a point by complaining about the evil Federal government. No one else complained. No one bothered to confirm the story about the fact that the “call” that went out was a viral tweet that had no basis in fact.

    Then there is the story about the tankers not being allowed to be brought in. They already had tankers fighting when the story broke, but no one bothered to fact check that story, either. I don’t give a rip about the contract dispute angle, but the fact that it was being said that the evil Feds were keeping needed equipment away from the fire. In fact, the exact opposite was happening. They have tremendous resources, far more than we had here. The reason the fire here became 110,000 acres is because it was not taken seriously and we were not given the resources needed. Everything was up at Los Alamos. There was so much inaccurate media attention (primarily the mess FOX made of the story) that resources were sent to Las Cruces with two Stage I units, while we only had a Stage II.

    The Pink Flamingo

  8. Professional volunteer = federal employee? Getting paid for doing a job when you feel like it? Oops, that was a far-right, libertarian, gov hating thing to say wasn’t it?

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