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Dan Kaufman looks at an environmental disaster in the making for Wisconsin... Ross Douthat calls for custom measurement of Christians... The New York Times warns that kickstarting could be kicked to the curb... Anne Applebaum shows that there's always room for bigots... Kathleen Parker begs her fellow Republicans for a moment of sanity...

Timothy Egan points out the greatest tragedy of the mudslide... that we knew it was coming.

Don't tell me, please, that nobody saw one of the deadliest landslides in American history coming. Say a prayer or send a donation for a community buried under a mountain of mud along a great river in Washington State, the Stillaguamish. Praise the emergency workers still trying to find a pulse of life in a disaster that left 25 people dead and 90 missing.

But enough with the denial, the willful ignorance of cause and effect, the shock that one of the prettiest valleys on the planet could turn in a flash from quiet respite in the foothills of the North Cascades to a gravelly graveyard.

“This was a completely unforeseen slide,” said John Pennington, the emergency manager of Snohomish County. “It was considered very safe.” He said this on Monday, two days after the equivalent of three million dump truck loads of wet earth heaved down on the river near the tiny town of Oso. Unforeseen — except for 60 years’ worth of warnings, most notably a report in 1999 that outlined “the potential for a large catastrophic failure” on the very hillside that just suffered a large catastrophic failure.

Egan details a frightening example of exactly this kind of failure that he witnessed in the same area 25 years ago.
Stevenson pointed uphill, to bare, saturated earth that was melting, like candle wax, into the main mudslide. Not long ago, this had been a thick forest of old growth timber. But after it was excessively logged, every standing tree removed, there was nothing to hold the land in place during heavy rains. A federal survey determined that nearly 50 percent of the entire basin above Deer Creek had been logged over a 30-year period. It didn’t take a degree in forestry to see how one event led to the other.
Climate change may have no connection to the storms that initiated the disastrous slide, but that doesn't mean human changes to the environment weren't directly responsible. For reasons that remain utterly unreasonable, we're willing to spend, not billions, but trillions fighting against will-o-the-wisps of foreign threats, and suffer almost daily inconvenience over possibilities that are remote at best. Meanwhile, we continue to be incredibly oblivious to threats that are real, immediate, and which we make worse through our own actions.
Yes, but who wants to listen to warnings by pesky scientists, to pay heed to predictions by environmental nags, or allow an intrusive government to limit private property rights? That’s how these issues get cast. And that’s why reports like the ones done on the Stillaguamish get shelved.
And that's how whole families end up buried under waves of ugly gray mud.

Come on in, let's see what else is going on...

Ross Douthat insists that conservative Christians need to be measured with a special ruler.

Here is a seeming paradox of American life. One the one hand, there is a broad social-science correlation between religious faith and various social goods — health and happiness, upward mobility, social trust, charitable work and civic participation.

Yet at the same time, some of the most religious areas of the country — the Bible Belt, the deepest South — struggle mightily with poverty, poor health, political corruption and social disarray.

You have to take Douthat's word about that "broad correlation," because he provides no evidence. However, he does attack a few specifics.
Earlier this year, a pair of demographers released a study showing that regions with heavy populations of conservative Protestants had higher-than-average divorce rates, even when controlling for poverty and race.

Their finding was correct, but incomplete. As the sociologist Charles Stokes pointed out, practicing conservative Protestants have much lower divorce rates, and practicing believers generally divorce less frequently than the secular and unaffiliated.

The adjustment championed by Douthat separates "active" conservative protestants from "nominal" conservative protestants, showing that while the nominal conservatives have the highest divorce rate of any group, Christian or non-Christian, the solidly active conservatives only under-perform when compared to... all other Christians. So there. The thing is, what this study takes as "nominal" isn't just people who check Baptist on a form, or even those who dust off a suit for Easter. It also includes people who go to church up to half the time, a condition that most people would take as pretty active in the church. By constraining the set of "active" to only those who sit a pew every Sunday, Stokes and Douthat are basing their defense of conservative protestants on a small subset of the above, and a very small subset of young couples without children in church activities. But it doesn't really matter. Because, just as Pinky's friend The Brain is out to take over the world every night, Douthat is only out for one thing each Sunday.
On the secular side, though, there’s a sense that there’s a better way — that a more expansive state can offer many of the benefits associated with a religious community, but in a more enlightened, tolerant, individual-respecting form. And if delivering these benefits requires co-opting or constraining religious actors — be they charities and schools or business owners — well, that’s either a straightforward win-win, or a relatively modest price to pay.
In other words, allowing people who work for a corporation to have the health care they need is making people in Mississippi get divorced. Abracadabra.

The New York Times comes out against the proposed rules on crowdfunding.

Before Facebook paid $2 billion last week to buy Oculus VR, a virtual reality headset maker, 9,500 people donated $2.4 million via Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, to get Oculus off the ground. Those early donors got thank-you notes, T-shirts or prototype headsets, but not a piece of the company. Donations through Kickstarter are just that, donations, not investments.


That is where the Securities and Exchange Commission, with its explicit mission to protect investors, is supposed to come in. But the agency’s proposed crowdfunding rules, to be finalized in the months ahead, are a joke.

As a self-confessed Kickstarter addict (I've now backed 69 projects from publishing and film to custom marshmallows), I hope the SEC gets this right. It would be great to be able to actually get a piece of some of these companies when you see an idea you love.

Dan Kaufman sees Wisconsin on the brink of change.

Wisconsin has been an environmental leader since 1910, when the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment promoting forest and water conservation. Decades later, pioneering local environmentalists like Aldo Leopold and Senator Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day in 1970, helped forge the nation’s ecological conscience.

But now, after the recent passage of a bill that would allow for the construction of what could be the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine, Wisconsin’s admirable history of environmental stewardship is under attack.


The $1.5 billion mine would initially be close to four miles long, up to a half-mile wide and nearly 1,000 feet deep, but it could be extended as long as 21 miles. In its footprint lie the headwaters of the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the cleanest of the Great Lakes. Six miles downstream from the site is the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose livelihood is threatened by the mine.

Wait. Who would think this was a good idea?
To facilitate the construction of the mine and the company’s promise of 700 long-term jobs, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last year granting GTac astonishing latitude. The new law allows the company to fill in pristine streams and ponds with mine waste. It eliminates a public hearing that had been mandated before the issuing of a permit, which required the company to testify, under oath, that the project had complied with all environmental standards. It allows GTac to pay taxes solely on profit, not on the amount of ore removed, raising the possibility that the communities affected by the mine’s impact on the area’s roads and schools would receive only token compensation.
That's not just a possibility for disaster, it's the recipe.

Bruce Ackerman says we are each due more than simple existence.

With gay marriage litigation moving forward at warp speed — federal judges have struck down five state bans on same-sex marriage since December — we may soon witness one of the worst shouting matches in Supreme Court history. Passions were already running high last June, when a divided court struck down federal, but not state, laws defining marriage exclusively as a relationship between a man and a woman. Justice Antonin Scalia denounced the majority opinion, which cited the demeaning and humiliating effects of the Defense of Marriage Act, as “legalistic argle-bargle” lacking any basis in our constitutional tradition. Writing for the five justices in the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy countered that the assault on human dignity should be decisive in condemning the statute as unconstitutional.

In making this “dignitarian” move, Justice Kennedy relied principally on his two earlier pathbreaking opinions supporting gay rights, in 1996 and 2003. He did not link his guiding philosophy to the broader principles hammered out during the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. Yet that constitutional legacy would strongly support any future Supreme Court decision extending Justice Kennedy’s reasoning to state statutes discriminating against gay marriage. Indeed, the court should reinforce its dignitarian jurisprudence by stressing its roots in the civil rights revolution — and thereby demonstrate that it is Justice Scalia, not Justice Kennedy, who is blinding himself to the main line of constitutional development.

Anne Applebaum shows that there's always a place where bigotry can flourish.
Halfway through an otherwise coherent conversation with a Georgian lawyer here — the topics included judges, the court system, the police — I was startled by a comment he made about his country’s former government, led by then-president Mikheil Saakashvili. “They were LGBT,” he said, conspiratorially. ...

The lawyer meant to say that Saakashvili — who drove his country hard in the direction of Europe, pulled Georgia as close to NATO as possible and used rough tactics to fight the ­post-Soviet mafia that dominated his country — was “too Western.” Not conservative enough. Not traditional enough. Too much of a modernizer, a reformer, a European. In the past, such a critic might have called Saakashvili a “rootless cosmopolitan.” But today the insulting code word for that sort of person in the former Soviet space — regardless of what he or she thinks about homosexuals — is LGBT.

This is in Georgia, a country that is right now partially occupied by Russia. But there are still "conservatives" who are willing to idolize Putin's government because of it's vile policies against the LGBT community. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the shirtless shit has fans in the US.

Kathleen Parker is (once again) a voice calling in the wilderness of her own party.

The past couple of weeks have marked a turning point in American ugliness as the mob has turned its full fury on first lady Michelle Obama.

From criticism of her trip to China to a recent “tell-all” by former White House assistant press secretary Reid Cherlin in the New Republic about Obama’s allegedly tyrannical behavior, the gloves have been removed.


Every first lady faces trials, and Hillary Clinton’s years in the White House were certainly no picnic. Even Bush felt the sting now and then. But the harsh barrage against Obama, often in the most personal terms, is in a class of its own.

To what do we owe this fresh venom?

Some might say it’s all about race — and though surely true in some cases, this seems too facile an explanation. Perhaps with President Obama’s approval ratings in the low 40s, it is our animal nature to pile on the weakened leader. How better to hurt him than to attack his family?

I don't suppose there's any value in pointing out that Obama's ratings are still higher than Bush's at the end of his presidency, but I did it anyway.

Leonard Pitts on the Hobby Lobby case.

Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet maker, say doing so would require them to violate their religious beliefs. Both argue — erroneously, according to medical experts — that drugs and devices sanctioned by the FDA for contraception actually induce abortions.

This is only the latest of a series of incidents in recent years in which it has been argued that religious conscience ought to give people and businesses exemption from providing ordinary and customary services to the general public.


This year, legislators in Arizona, Kansas and other states tried or are trying to pass laws allowing businesses to refuse service to gay men and lesbians. They cite religious conscience.

Now there is this. And the crazy part? The companies do not even have to offer their employees medical insurance. Under the ACA, they could opt out and allow workers to buy their own insurance from an exchange. Instead, they have gone before the top court, arguing religious conscience.

And Court watchers say the justices — or at least the conservative wing — gave that argument a sympathetic hearing in last week’s session. That is an ominous sign.

It's more than ominous. If Hobby Lobby wins this, the results will go way, way beyond healthcare.

Science Daily will make you take a second look at the eyes looking down at you from the nearest tree.

Understanding causal relationships between actions is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of understanding causal relationships is not well understood. Scientists used the Aesop's fable riddle -- in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward -- to assess New Caledonian crows' causal understanding of water displacement. These crows are known for their intelligence and innovation, as they are the only non-primate species able to make tools, such as prodding sticks and hooks. ...

According to the authors, results indicate crows may possess a sophisticated -- but incomplete -- understanding of the causal properties of volume displacement, rivaling that of 5-7 year old children.

If the birds ever do strike back, you know who will be leading the revolt.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Take any flight out of Seattle toward the East (27+ / 0-)

    and you'll see the vast clearcutting patchwork of increasingly interlacing bald spots that portend more landslides.  

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

    by nailbender on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 04:34:17 AM PDT

    •  Outrageous.... (5+ / 0-)

      I remember a story here (I love dailyKos) which told of an ancient church or monastery or some such that needed a new roof. (In England, I think)
      They thought that they could never find the huge beams that were needed.
      Low and behold, when the original trees were cut down, they had been replanted. Now the replacements were perfect for the job.

      How the frig are logging companies at least not re-planting? How is that fracking possible?????

      It has been 30 years? I would think that replanted trees would have prevented this tragedy.

      How sad. How depressingly sad. Typical of business as usual in the USA. Profits over everything else.

      The world is my country, all people are my brethren and to do good is my religion ~ Thomas Paine

      by third Party please on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:23:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps you should use the Google Machine (13+ / 0-)

        before making statements like that. Washington, like most western states, has had Forest Practices laws for decades.

        The FPA, originally adopted in 1974, is found in Ch. 76.09, RCW. Forest practices are activities related to growing, harvesting, or processing timber, including, but not limited to, road and trail construction and maintenance, thinning, harvesting, salvage, reforestation, brush control, suppression of diseases and insects, and using fertilizers.

        Read the regulations here.

        As for the clearcuts visible from the air or vantage points on the ground, they are quickly replanted with native species that grow 2-3 feet annually. Old clearcuts with trees 50ft tall or larger show up readily because of the contrast with surrounding timber.

        A planet with 7 billion residents is going to use lots of wood, period. The question is where does it come from, and how is it regulated.

        Washington's forest practices have been highly regulated for 40 years. That's not to say that places get cut that shouldn't get cut - the prediction of landslides is an inexact science.

        But the key thing to remember is that, for every parcel of land removed from timber production in a regulated area like the western US, that production is simply moved elsewhere on the planet. The only way to change that equation is to reduce the worldwide demand for wood.

        •  Oh, they are required to re-plant? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA, nocynicism, libnewsie

          and they did?

          Surprising. I don't recall seeing any planting in the clear-cuts I saw in Oregon.

          But, considering the next comment by TerryDarc, it sure seems to be too little too late, eh?

          The world is my country, all people are my brethren and to do good is my religion ~ Thomas Paine

          by third Party please on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:18:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please see my reply to that comment. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Polly Syllabic, Wood Gas
          •  I used to be a treeplanter on Forest Service land (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Yes they are required to replant. How closely did you look at them?

            "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

            by Lefty Coaster on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 02:50:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Replanting in N MN (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            foresterbob, libnewsie, codairem

            Granted, conditions are different in Northern Minnesota, compared to the Pacific Northwest,  but in my 37 years here, the number of people employed in forestry (oversight) in the area has drastically shrunk. Now it seems that rather than a wood product company owning forest land, and managing if for the future, various private parties own the forests. Loggers bid on the sales. There's much less of a long term outlook for the land. My husband love to plant trees on land we own. He hasn't found it particularly easy to get trees to live because there is so much competition from brush, weeds, grass, and munching by animals, especially deer. Some years that he has planted have been way too dry. He babies some of his trees, protecting them with various tree protectors, which I call "candy wrappers" because the deer can get at the seedlings oh so easily. He has planted thousands of trees in the last 25 years, but the survivors are probably in the hundreds. And they have to be probably 5 years old to get taller than the competition.  

        •  Here in western Oregon I have noticed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn, wenchacha

          that many clearcuts that are replanted (as required) are overrun by Scotch Broom, Blackberry thickets or other invasive species before the replanted trees can take hold.

          Alpacas spit if you annoy them. So don't do that.

          by alpaca farmer on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:41:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here are the state requirements. (9+ / 0-)
            Reforestation means more than simply planting seedlings or saving residual seedlings, saplings, or trees already on the site. The landowner must see to it that the trees are in "free to grow" condition six years after harvesting. "Free to grow" means that a tree has a good chance of outgrowing competing grass and brush to become part of a vigorous, healthy forest. This makes it very important for landowners to plan for reforestation before harvesting begins. Good planning will minimize costs and ensure successful reforestation.
            And the consequences for failure to comply?
            Failure to reforest can result in: a citation, an order to repair the condition, a fine up to $5000, and removal from forestland tax deferral with a bill for back taxes.
            Source: Oregon Department of Forestry, link.
          •  Washington Conservation Corps (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            My daughter spent a summer doing her best to remove invasive plant species in and around Olympic National Park. The crews dug out plants where they could, slashed with machete where they couldn't, and sprayed more RoundUp than I would like. It is an endless sort of effort, I think.

            Seeing clear-cut hillsides is a crummy thing if you love forests for their natural beauty. It is more complicated when thinking about the families, the livelihoods, and the renewable aspect of timber. I am not personally affected in any immediate sense, beyond a desire for conservation of our resources.

            For me, the problem is that I don't trust the industries that profit from logging. Maybe they are all honest people. As a citizen, I have lived in a time when a suburban mom could take on a giant chemical company, and win, at Love Canal. There was an established EPA Superfund to clean up polluted sites. I don't think we have the same support today for ecology.

        •  how many people in oso wanted timbering? (0+ / 0-)

          i wonder how many do now?

          •  I've been to Oso, it was originally a logging camp (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            foresterbob, patbahn

            The last ice age depressed the land there by the weight of the ice, so that the  Oso area was a river delta. Loose, very deep deposits of silt and mud from this period  had far more to do with that slide than the intervening 12,000 years of wild fires, logging and or human intervention did.

            Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. Sam Clemens

            by Wood Gas on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 04:11:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  i might have told that story. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, libnewsie

        it's an english story, the royal forester had trees marked out
        to replace the beams at canterbury

    •  Yes, remember the forest industries (8+ / 0-)

      Our forests are a renewable resource? Not when 10" of topsoil goes with the 1st cut, 5" with the second cut and there is then not enough to sustain more than scrubland and that is not enough to hold what dirt is left on steep hillsides.

      Greedy, lying sacks of shit like most/all uncontrolled capitalists.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

      by TerryDarc on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:54:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Simply not true. (6+ / 0-)

        I have personally been on hundreds of thousands of acres of land all across the country that have been clearcut or thinned. And that's on foot, not just driving by, or flying over the land. The soil loss is not happening in the way you describe.

        In the clay soils of the Southeast, for example, I see gullies 20 to 40 feet deep left over from the days when the hillsides were farmed for row crops. Now there are trees growing in the gullies, some as large as two feet in diameter and 100 feet tall. And yes, the property owners can harvest trees near the edges of those gullies without a new round of erosion taking place.

        Please provide links to peer reviewed studies to back up your assertion.

        •  All you have to do is drive down I5 (5+ / 0-)

          for goodness sakes. You can replant, even though that is not always done,  but soil loss is real on hillsides.

          It used to be that there was a polite fiction maintained by the state and forest industries, keeping a corridor of 500' or so of trees along the highways. No more.

          Riddle me this Bob: why, if the board feet "harvested" in Oregon has gone down steadily since a high of 9743 billion board feet of lumber in 1968 to 2009 (the last year I can find stats) of about one third that.

          Why, if timber is a "renewable resource" should a single extra acre of timber need to be freshly cut. Should be well replenished by now I would think.
          -Roseburg (Timber Capital of the World) Native

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:40:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Harvests have gone down for several reasons. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RonK, justintime, Polly Syllabic

            Lack of forest growth is NOT one of those reasons. The main reason in Oregon is the decline in harvest from Forest Service lands.

            And as the graph indicates, 57% of the volume being cut on USFS land is from salvage of dead timber.

            The timber is still there. But due to habitat rules for the spotted owl and other wildlife, plus the constant court challenges of timber sales, the trees are not being cut.

            Year after year, despite the loss of forest land to urbanization, growth exceeds harvest by a wide margin. This graph covers the years 1952-2006. The most recent figures I've seen indicate that annual cubic foot growth exceeds cubic foot harvest by 40% in the US.

            I'm not sure what you mean by that "extra acre" comment. But in the Pacific Northwest, many thousands (probably millions) of acres of public land have been removed from the timber harvest equation. Private land is picking up the slack.

            •  You don't KNOW? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, codairem

              What I mean by the extra acre? Well, why are you out just cutting down trees on land that has already been "harvested" and replanted? The timber industry is not, because that is not possible. If that timber "crop" was really replacing itself, the state would love to have the revenue. It isn't.

              Timber industry has been systematically destroying habitat (not just the spotted owl trope you trot out, it is an indicator species) but entire habitats.

              Do you know about the urban growth boundary laws? I live in Oregon and I can SEE. I see fewer and fewer acres of trees every year. Towns are not increasing dramatically. We are growing within the UGB.

              Drive down Hwys. 38 and 42 as I do. Look. There are massive, ugly clear cuts that are never coming back. Fly over the western third of the state. You see huge areas that have not been reforested.

              You suggest, incorrectly, that expansion urban growth is taking the place of forests. It is not. Even if that were true, the timber people would be there to snap up the trees and harvest would be going up. It is not.

              Just go replant and wait 40 years.

              What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

              by TerryDarc on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 09:40:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  As a matter of fact, (4+ / 0-)

                as a former Oregon resident, I do know about urban growth boundaries. And I have been down the highways you mention plus most of the other highways of the state. I've been behind many of those giant locked gates that block access to the private logging roads. I've had the chance to revisit old clearcuts and witness the growth or the lack thereof. In the vast majority of cases, the new trees are growing by leaps and bounds.

                Not being an employee of any timber company, I do not have to toe the corporate line and say that I agree with every harvest. I've seen places that should not have been harvested in the manner that they were.

                If, as you assert, there are huge areas that have not been reforested, where are the environmental groups on this? If state law is being ignored on a grand scale, the property owners should be dragged into court.

                When I look at the big picture, nationwide, I see a country with vast forest resources that are growing at an impressive rate. Zooming in on individual tracts of land, there are of course numerous exceptions.

            •  If private timber companies are so good at (0+ / 0-)

              managing trees, why don't they have any?

              •  And your data source for this comment is.......??? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Polly Syllabic, Wood Gas
                •  Now Bob, you know as well as I do that by the (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  petral, codairem

                  1970s there was almost no old growth left on the extensive private timber holdings in the Northwest. Land in the most part, gifted to railroad companies by the American people in the late 1800s. And so the long dismal old growth wars over trees on public land began. Which included all the battles to protect streams, watersheds, wildlife and other trees and plant life in our forests.

                  Do you equate paper pulp farms in Georgia with forest lands? Are you going to argue that small diameter trees in the northwest on public and private land aren't being logged in the same irresponsible way the old growth was?

                  I retired from forestry work in 1995 Bob. By then I was working on watershed and stream restoration projects.

                  I don't need data charts to see with my own eyes that the small diameter stands on lower elevation and replants on higher up clear cuts are being logged the same way the old growth was. The only modernization I see is that loggers aren't required to butcher the 3rd growth stands, just a machine and equipment operators. The lack of long term environmental and sustainability practices are still absent from the fiber mining.


                  •  First of all, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Wood Gas

                    having worked and traveled extensively in the state of Georgia, I am not aware of the existence of even one "paper pulp farm." Trees as small as 8 inches in diameter (measured 4 feet above the ground), can be sent to a sawmill. Loggers sort the logs by product, and haul them to the appropriate mill.

                    Those lands are clearly forest lands. This is a stand of loblolly pine planted 15 years ago. The dominant trees are 70 feet tall. You can call it any name you wish, but the reality is that it's still a forest.

                    I never have been, nor ever will be, an apologist for the cut-out-and-get-out mentality that existed a century ago. By the time I began practicing my trade, most owners of forest land regarded long-term management to be in their best selfish interest.

                    I'm not sure where you believe this planet's wood should come from, since you don't like logging on public land or private land.

                    •  Bob, Bob, Bob, even if I had never worked or (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      petral, codairem

                      played in a forest I could see that these trees are planted in rows. Would I like to fight The Battle of the Bulge in there with 3 feet of snow? No. But is this a forest? No. How deep is the duff? Where are the native plants? Where is any ground cover at all? When these wood fiber plants are industrially useful, how will they be harvested? Buzzcut? This is not an example of a healthy forest. It's a healthy farm maybe. Cornfield like.

                      You have seen the timberlands in Washington State? The cut over Olympic Peninsula has acres of stands of one color and height, then another stand of another color and height, then another. All the same trees just different ages. No ground cover and no duff. Just trees growing in hard dirt that get lots of rain. And they grow fast. But the same trees don't grow so fast in Southern Oregon do they?

                      At least you didn't use a picture of old growth wilderness and try to pass it off as reforestation. Good for you.

                      •  If I had a dollar (0+ / 0-)

                        for each time I've heard the argument that the presence of trees in rows disqualifies a site from being called a forest, I wouldn't have to work another day. But I'd still work because I love being out there.

                        As much as you want to oversimply the forests of Oregon, Washington, and Georgia, they are far too diverse to find some magic category to fit them into.

                        Clearly you have not been in as many Washington forests as I have, because I've struggled through mighty stands of underbrush beneath planted trees as my boots dug into the duff.

                        In the South, pine plantations range from sites where nothing grows but the trees (and even the needles are raked and sold for landscaping) to places so dense with native undergrowth as to be impenetrable.

                        Without controlled burning, the duff gets so thick that it becomes a serious fire hazard. Over a rotation of timber growth, there is a net gain of topsoil since there is very little soil loss during harvest.

                        •  Were you doing stand exams? Because if you were, (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          like other foresters, you probably came upon stumps in lush 2nd growth that were 80 years old. Yes, forest conditions vary and some replanted sites or sites that weren't logged again for 60 plus years can have old growth characteristics right down to duff, ground cover, and wildlife.

                          But if you are going to tell me that clear cuts on steep slopes don't shed soil at levels that can prevent any regrowth at all…for effectively ever, you can't make a sale. Now remember I have worked in clear cuts. Replanting and slash burning, but also fighting fires. And logging rotation, which means the time between clear cuts, improves soil is, in my experience, is bullshit. Must be the bluegrass sown for cattle grazing that helps? Or is it all the yarders, dozers, log trucks, pick ups, and trash that soften up the soil?

                          Anyway, duff to you  seems to be needles underneath rows of planted trees. To me that's needles on hard dirt. Duff is something that can take 100s of years to make on a forest floor out of all the organics that grow there. It is important to watershed shed health, forest health, and our health. And you never find healthy duff on ground that has been clear cut.

                          Logging site designs are essential to long term forest health, agreed? So why can't we use new better designed logging sites even if the harvested trees are small diameter 3rd growth. Cuts designed to protect against erosion, wind throws and protect long term forest health, watersheds and streams, and, and future tree harvest?

                          If we need wood products so bad we can be better loggers.

        •  Yer a hoot foresterbob! What timber company do (0+ / 0-)

          you work for?

          •  Nice try. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BMScott, Polly Syllabic

            I am self employed as a professional forester. I am beholden to no timber company or government agency.

            •  You may be a lone forester but you seem to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              be a whole hearted supporter of the industrial harvest practices that have wrecked our forests and watersheds.

              And I was a construction contractor for a time, so I had no affiliation with the construction industry do to my noble independence?

              •  "Seem to be" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Polly Syllabic

                Try sticking with verifiable facts. This is supposed to be a fact based community here.

                Funny thing, those industrial forests are still growing trees, and entire watersheds are still relatively intact as a result.

                Compare that with any other land use, other than wilderness.

                Would you prefer your drinking water to come downsteam from...
                A city?
                A highway?
                A strip mine?
                A farm?
                A working forest?

                I know what my choice is, but then I'm just a pawn of the greedy timber industry. Maybe my childhood in a town that drew its drinking water from the Mississippi River below Saint Louis warped my brain for life.

                •  Foresters are a very self regarding bunch. Almost (4+ / 0-)

                  any sustaining forest practice had to be forced on the timber industry by years long effort and millions in expense, now the industry claims the protections it fought for decades to escape, as its own virtuous choices.

                  American environmentalists are responsible for the heathy watersheds that remain in the Northwest not the fiber industry that destroyed so many others before they were stopped.

                  Show me the data that lists the lawsuits the timber industry filed to protect forests, watersheds, endangered species, and communities.

    •  That same patchwork is evident... (2+ / 0-) Mountain Top Removal.

      It's like apex predators permanently marking territory.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:59:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Yet at the same time, (14+ / 0-)

    some of the most religious areas of the country — the Bible Belt, the deepest South — struggle mightily with poverty, poor health, political corruption and social disarray."

    Many of the people in these areas base their entire lives on a book that is riddled with contradictions by writers who apparently thought the earth was about 6,000 years old and 4,000 sq miles total.

    Could it be that these people are more gullible?

  •  So ridiculous. (22+ / 0-)
    Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet maker, say doing so would require them to violate their religious beliefs.
    Do they ever assert how it's possible for an incorporated business to have religious beliefs? What religion are they? Do these businesses attend church?

    Why haven't these cases been laughed out of court? longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

    by TFinSF on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 04:37:28 AM PDT

  •  Money is so totally corrupting public life that (12+ / 0-)

    I despair.  Every single one of these pundi-tears has a direct connection to the influence of wealth in life at every level.  

    The short-sightedness of profit is the ideological opposite of progress.  Until we take money out of politics there's no moving in progressive directions.

    ". . .as singularly embarrassing a public address as any allegedly sentient primate ever has delivered." - Charles P. Pierce

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 04:49:19 AM PDT

  •  EASY ANSWER (10+ / 0-)

    Municipalities have to STOP issuing building permits for these areas.

    My understanding is there have been several landslides in this particular area over the years-- before the last one was even cleaned up, the local building department was issuing building permits to build houses in the same area.


    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 04:51:31 AM PDT

  •  on this: (17+ / 0-)
    And Court watchers say the justices — or at least the conservative wing — gave that argument a sympathetic hearing in last week’s session. That is an ominous sign.
    should not be surprising. There are those on the Court who have little if any concern for the nature of civil society, but rather see their role as imposing their values on the rest of us, and if they can't wanting to be allowed to withdraw from full participation in civil society by

    - not paying taxes
    - exempting themselves from regulation
    - being allowed to discriminate against others

    while at the same time
    - demanding government financial support for their interests
    - using the power of government as much as they can to enforce their particular ideas upon others
    - using anti-discrimination laws to claim it is really they who are suffering from discrimination and prejudice

    In the process they are willing to destroy all civil progress and public institutions they cannot directly control, in the false belief that their access to wealth and power will protect them and theirs from the inevitable cataclysms that will occur, both from "natural events" -  more extreme storms, earthquakes from fracking, droughts, etc - and civil disorder -having forgotten that at some point those that they hire to protect them might use their weapons to turn upon them:  they might consider the role of the Praetorian Guard in Rome.

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 05:08:19 AM PDT

  •  Funny you should mention divorce in Mississippi (12+ / 0-)

    among "white" conservative protestant families, I have personal indisputable proof that it is all desegregation and the War on Poverty's fault. How dare you imply that Douthat is scapegoating.

    In the mid-1960s, when I started school in a still totally segregated Mississippi "white" public school, I was the only non-white child in attendance to my understanding and definition, due to my being half-brown. My brown dad was the pastor of the local deeply racist Southern Baptist church, which is another interesting story. (He fit in under what I will call the Ricky Ricardo exception, contingent in the south upon fierce flag-waving skills.)

    Well anyhow, a lovely "white" high school sweetheart couple went to our church. They were happy and content, and destined for marital bliss. They were the first wedding my dad did in the church soon after they graduated.

    Shortly thereafter, the public schools in central Mississippi finally disintegrated and the poverty programs passed, so that the African American children the "white" kids from my church, me excluded, called with the N word every day on the school bus as we passed through their rural slum neighborhood, could begin going to our school (but not our church), and begin to living in something approaching non-dog house living conditions.

    A couple of years later, we moved to south Florida for a few years. By then all the "white" kids in our old Mississippi community and church were going to an all-white academy. When we came back for my dad to do a funeral at the church around 1969 or so, the lovely white couple had divorced, just as Douthat would have predicted. The man is a genius.

    Perhaps he should re-read his Flannery O'Connor though. Then he would realize that, at least in the Deep South, where I still live, all the deep sickness of racist "white" conservative protestant society was just a tad in place prior to gubberment rearing its pointy oppressive egalitarian head a little.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 05:11:31 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, the deep sickness has roots (4+ / 0-)

      at least two or three centuries old, although this should be no occasion for self-righteousness from other regions. Plenty of old Yankees in New England (where I live) became unimaginably rich trading in slaves and milling slave-picked southern cotton.

    •  Truth be told, the timeline may be (5+ / 0-)

      a little off. It was a long time ago. I was 9 or so YOA.  I've been racking my noggin. And I think it may have been my Dad preaching a revival or a Sunday sermon delivered on the Sunday after a funeral service. I'm sure we were back visiting. I distinctly remember that he proudly remarked in the early happy part of his sermon before he started getting emotionally tortured about the theme of the sermon that the couple, which was sitting in a pew, made him proud because in an era of society going hippy (not his words but that was the gist), they were a strong marriage that would endure. And the next thing I remember we were eating ham and hearing whispers that the couple was "havin' trouble." I'm pretty sure that by the Watergate hearings they were divorced. If only the libral medya had treat Nixon fairly they might still be together today.

      I think Douthat is  attempting to put lipstick on that ham. If the couple's religion in which they'd been immersed all their lives could not save their marriage in the Nixon administration, there's no reason to predict that it now could do the job.

      garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

      by Galtisalie on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:06:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I guess the news never reached you (0+ / 0-)

    that Georgia started the war with Russia, and intended to use its NATO ties to hijack us into their little war.  The EU's own policy study made this clear beyond any shadow of a doubt.  But I realize when it com,es to the demonization of Russia, facts simply don't matter, do they?  As I say, the US never stopped fighting the Cold War, just treated the events of the 90s as battles won as NATO pushed the front line eastward.  This is entirely a bipartisan policy, it's why there was never a "peace dividend" under Bush or Clinton.  And we assum,e Russians are too stupid to understand what this means, and rise up in highest outraged dudgeon when they make it clear that they won't have the US Sixth Fleet home-ported in Sevastopol.  Mr. Putin, we paid for that revolution!  We deserve to have US troops within a day's drive of Moscow!  And it's sure as hell not like Russians are entitled to national interests, in the Black Sea or anywhere else.  That sums it up, because, as we obviously feel on a bipartisan basis, "we're all Georgians now!"

    Pay no attention to the upward redistribution of wealth!

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 05:16:55 AM PDT

  •  Scott Walker.....Foreign Policy Wonk.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TFinSF, nadd2
    •  I will not click on skillet's link (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skillet, nadd2, OleHippieChick, JerryNA

      I will not click on
      Holy crap, he's stealing Sarah Palin lines:

      And while he conceded that foreign policy is “not an area that governors typically look at,” he mentioned that he was commander in chief of the Wisconsin National Guard,
      And some of his best friends are Jews:
      He did reach for cultural common ground with his audience by explaining that he lights a menorah at the governor’s mansion during Hannukah and named his son “Matthew” – which means “gift from God” in Hebrew.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:19:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you so much for the link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skillet, OleHippieChick, JerryNA

      I had read about Walker equating raising his kids with how he'd handle foreign policy (and naming his son Matthew! As if it weren't one of the most popular names in the US ) and had a good laugh.  This quote was rich.  Any time I can laugh instead of cry when I think of my governor, it"s a good day.

  •  Douthat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    And if delivering these benefits requires co-opting or constraining religious actors — be they charities and schools or business owners — well, that’s either a straightforward win-win, or a relatively modest price to pay.
    In more other words, it's clear to see that if the children of parents who work for corporations, go to school and learn science, it will cause more divorces in Mississippi.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 05:39:01 AM PDT

  •  If the whole basin was logged (6+ / 0-)

    as the diary states, then the risk of the landslide was there. This tragedy could have been avoided.

    Its the same in all of the resource exploitation, oil, coal, gold, all kinds of mining. Nuclear power. In all of these cases the risk of catastrophic failure is understated and ignored, because very wealthy and powerful people don't give a damn about anything but making money.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:01:38 AM PDT

    •  Here is an article from the Seattle Times (6+ / 0-)

      that discusses the logging history of the area.

      Logging on plateau

      The state has been increasingly restrictive in its approval of logging plans in the area. But as the article states,

      Mapping out the areas most likely to feed water into unstable terrain is “fraught with uncertainty,” wrote one geologist who studied this landslide zone in the 1990s.
      And as you can see from the pictures in the article, the "whole basin" was not logged, but the top of the slide touches a 7 acre site that had been clearcut and replanted.
  •  Chris Wallace interviewing Barrasshole on the ACA (0+ / 0-) there's an impartial discussion.

  •  And the logging companies say "meh.." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "We gotta keep making toilet paper, tree-hugging buried.."

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:52:22 AM PDT

  •  Tennessee Tea Partiers: (7+ / 0-)

    Not about "religious freedom" after all:

    Green said that the “degree of hyperbole and misinformation” in the case has reached a point of true “absurdity.”

    In the hallway outside the meeting room, mosque opponents turned nasty, jostling and shoving, then insulting a mosque supporter and ordering him not to film them.

    One elder gentleman accompanying Zelenik said that Islam is “not a religion” and told ICM supporters, “You’re the ones that’s lying.”

    Zelenik ran to represent Tennessee in Congress, challenging freshman Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) in 2012 and losing. Zelenik’s stridently anti-Islamic campaign rhetoric earned the contest the sobriquet “the craziest GOP House Race of the year” as each woman tried to prove that she was more staunchly anti-Muslim than her opponent.

    Video at link

    It seems the Murfreesboro mosque got a permit to build a cemetery next to their mosque and racists are outraged.

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:01:34 AM PDT

  •  "No one could have predicted..." (6+ / 0-)

    I remember that refrain so well in the case of huricane Katrina, when Bush official after Bush official chimed in with their "nobody could have predicted that the levies would not hold".

    That worked for a day or two, until somebody held a the cover of National Geographic Magazine (of all things), which on the cover (no less!) screamed the headlines that the levies were soon to fail.

  •  book recommendation (4+ / 0-)

    Mark Davis' Ecology of Fear is criticized for

    "intemperate language"  and "his overtly left-leaning politics" so I think that everyone here at the orange talking shop will enjoy it.

    one of the theses is that as developers build on unsafe land, local powerful people blame anyone but the developers for the subsequent disasters. For example, forest fires cause witch hunts, not a rethinking of the use of land.

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:25:12 AM PDT

  •  If Washington State (9+ / 0-)

    land use boards looked at LIDAR, and cared at all, there would be a lot fewer subdivisions.  Everything south of Whidbey is sandy outwash on fine clay lakebed on sandy outwash, another layer of slippery icing for each glaciation period.  So our landscape has a lot of slides.  A smarter species might ban construction under likely zones of collapse, but there is no way northwest real estate agents and small town land use boards are going to start caring if the slope gives way in the next 100 years.

    You'll often see a logging road or other cut above a landslide, and logging which removes the high transpiration rate trees.   You'll also see...a lot of plain old landslides.  It's part of the show, until the next glaciers sweep in.   But this state is built on logging, it pays for the schools and hey, no state income tax!  It is big, big business, and it commands formidable science (not all of it bad, by any means).  But one consequence of this  -it seems to me -- is that we chin-stroke hill stability on a case by case basis when the whole region is basically a pile of crisped mud in the rain, under a layer of trees.  Logging above a landslide is something we sort of maybe care a lot about on some hills, and could not care less about on others.  And those trees are money, often on private property -- something the owner views as money in the bank.

    That said, permitting under something called "Slide Hill" may not end well.  And the Seattle Times articles indicated -- at least to this reader -- that even in a case by case system which evaluates stability for each slope, this was clearly identified as a bad spot.  And this apparently didn't matter at all to the permitting process.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:04:49 AM PDT

    •  The Seattle Times article about lidar, (10+ / 0-)

      link here, should be required reading for anyone living in a valley anywhere a the slide-prone region.

      Lidar is a laser scanning technique, usually done from an aircraft, that builds a detailed map of the ground below.

      Lidar is an emerging technology. Only within recent years have personal computers had enough power to process the huge files created by a lidar survey. And only a few people know how to use the data. I've done GIS mapping for nearly 20 years but have no experience with lidar.

      But as the article demonstrates, we need to incorporate lidar data in our long range planning.

      Maps created by an aerial scanning technique called lidar (lie-dar) reveal with stunning clarity a series of giant scars and piles of debris left by past landslides up and down the valley, including one more than twice as big as the monster that ripped loose Saturday.
      Sometimes, what we don't know really will hurt us.
      •  I did not go into that particular article (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bwren, foresterbob, justintime, Elizaveta

        Just clicked on it.

        I will say the Puget Sound LIDAR consortium publishes some very nice DEMs, albeit you need ArcGIS or a real love for open source software to use 'em.   That data set seems to be a staple of local GIS classes (where I got turned on to it). It is partly famous hereabouts for showing the North-South scars of glacial retreat so clearly across the landscape of the San Juans.  

        Even with the great DEMs, figuring out risk zones is hard.  Probably not so much once you are looking at a small area and have good information, but it's one of those things that is easy to see with they eye and a filter for slope/color, but is probably quite challenging to model over a wide area.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:44:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's clear to anyone (5+ / 0-)

    I don't have tv, maybe others don't as well

    We get it, life is short nasty hard and brutish, for some that's okay, maybe they even revel in it, for other we wish comfort

    I understand these homes were mostly not insured, if any

    •  Thanks for the pics. Oso sad. :-( (3+ / 0-)

      Also sad that the developers and regulators didn't listen to the studies that said this hill was likely to collapse, or even listen to the local conventional wisdom that called it "Landslide Hill."

      I agree -- we wish well all the families and friends of those lost or missing.

      Btw, it's helpful for Democrats to know that when Thomas Hobbes wrote about "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," he was referring to life without government! It's the world Republicans seem to want. Hobbes wrote:

      during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man. For ‘war’ consisteth not in battle only or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known... where every man is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
      That's why we have governments, to avoid this 'hobbesian state of nature.'
  •  The locals call it "Slide Hill". (0+ / 0-)

    “This was a completely unforeseen slide,” said John Pennington, the emergency manager of Snohomish County. “It was considered very safe.” He said this on Monday, two days after the equivalent of three million dump truck loads of wet earth heaved down on the river near the tiny town of Oso.

    John Pennington. Sir. Why the f**k was it called "Slide Hill" if it was considered "very safe"? Why in the hell would that hillside be considered "very safe" if there had already been landslides previously?

    John Penninton. Sir. You are a piss poor choice for emergency manager and that comfy little bubble you were living in is now covered with unforeseen, (mostly by you), mud.

  •  Lake Superior (0+ / 0-)

    Although large, Lake Superior is NOT the largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Baikal in Siberia by itself contains one quarter of the world's freshwater supply.

    Michael Ostrogorsky The Zen Parrot

    by The Zen Parrot on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 03:41:45 PM PDT

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