Wildfire Blame Game Continues

Making political hay out of tragedy has now become part of the landscape of our dysfunctional system.

What started with slashing attacks by the left on the Bush Administration before the winds driving Hurricane Katrina had died down now encompasses efforts by both parties during every tragedy, every disaster to the point that the suffering of the victims is rudely shunted aside in favor of the political knife fight.

The latest version of the
Blame Game is being played out in California as a result of the wildfires:

As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

How much the aircraft would have helped will never be known, but their inability to provide quick assistance raises troubling questions about California's preparations for a fire season that was widely expected to be among the worst on record. It took as long as a day for Navy, Marine and California National Guard helicopters to get clearance early this week, in part because state rules require all firefighting choppers to be accompanied by state forestry "fire spotters" who coordinate water or retardant drops.

By the time those spotters arrived, the powerful Santa Ana winds stoking the fires had made it too dangerous to fly.

The National Guard's C-130 cargo planes, among the most powerful aerial firefighting weapons, never were slated to help. The reason: They've yet to be outfitted with tanks needed to carry thousands of gallons of fire retardant, though that was promised four years ago.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the midst of the worst natural disaster his state has faced in years, was forced to come out and address the charges:
"Anyone that is complaining about the planes just wants to complain," Schwarzenegger replied angrily to a question Wednesday. "The fact is that we could have all the planes in the world here -- we have 90 aircraft here and six that we got especially from the federal government -- and they can't fly because of the wind."

Indeed, winds reaching 100 mph helped drive the flames and made it exceedingly dangerous to fly. Still, four state helicopters and two from the Navy were able to take off Monday, while nearly two dozen others stayed grounded.
With the wind blowing that hard, it is useless to try and drop retardant accurately because the wind simply blows it away from where it would do the most good. Outside of that, if the critics expect pilots to take their lives into their hands when flying in such conditions, maybe they should take the planes and copters up themselves.

I thought not.

I have some
additional thoughts here about the politicization of tragedies.
Making political hay out of tragedy has now become part of the landscape of our dysfunctional system.

What started with slashing attacks by the left on the Bush Administration before the winds driving Hurricane Katrina had died down now encompasses efforts by both parties during every tragedy, every disaster to the point that the suffering of the victims is rudely shunted aside in favor of the political knife fight.

The latest version of the
Blame Game is being played out in California as a result of the wildfires:

As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.

How much the aircraft would have helped will never be known, but their inability to provide quick assistance raises troubling questions about California's preparations for a fire season that was widely expected to be among the worst on record. It took as long as a day for Navy, Marine and California National Guard helicopters to get clearance early this week, in part because state rules require all firefighting choppers to be accompanied by state forestry "fire spotters" who coordinate water or retardant drops.

By the time those spotters arrived, the powerful Santa Ana winds stoking the fires had made it too dangerous to fly.

The National Guard's C-130 cargo planes, among the most powerful aerial firefighting weapons, never were slated to help. The reason: They've yet to be outfitted with tanks needed to carry thousands of gallons of fire retardant, though that was promised four years ago.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the midst of the worst natural disaster his state has faced in years, was forced to come out and address the charges:
"Anyone that is complaining about the planes just wants to complain," Schwarzenegger replied angrily to a question Wednesday. "The fact is that we could have all the planes in the world here -- we have 90 aircraft here and six that we got especially from the federal government -- and they can't fly because of the wind."

Indeed, winds reaching 100 mph helped drive the flames and made it exceedingly dangerous to fly. Still, four state helicopters and two from the Navy were able to take off Monday, while nearly two dozen others stayed grounded.
With the wind blowing that hard, it is useless to try and drop retardant accurately because the wind simply blows it away from where it would do the most good. Outside of that, if the critics expect pilots to take their lives into their hands when flying in such conditions, maybe they should take the planes and copters up themselves.

I thought not.

I have some
additional thoughts here about the politicization of tragedies.