Friday, June 13, 2008


(A helicopter drops buckets of water on a grass fire that broke out in the East Bay Hills in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 12, 2008. Photo by Alison Yin for The Oakland Tribune.)

I woke up this evening to an e-mail from Kat in Berkeley reading "Maggie, the Oakland Hills are on fire again. I'm really freaked out. No evacuations so far, and it doesn't look like it's moving as fast as in '91, but it's the same place (Hiller Highlands/Tunnel Road)."

I immediately searched for the story, and found it covered by the breaking news section of the San Jose Mercury, which stated:
"A brush fire broke out Thursday morning across 3 acres of steep hillside above Old Tunnel Road — eerily close to where the devastating 1991 Oakland Hills fire swept out of control — prompting a fast response from firefighters, who contained it in about one hour, and evoking fear among residents."

The article went on to comment "For the residents living on Charing Cross Road and surrounding streets, the wildfire was a terrifying reminder of the fire of 1991." Kat wasn't the only one.

The neighborhood where I lived in Oakland, moving away in 1989, escaped being leveled by the 1991 fire by only blocks. I went back on a visit shortly afterward, when tendrils of smoke could still be seen among the ashes, and toured the devastation with a former neighbor. I've written about the Oakland Firestorm before at this blog in my post Escape Fires.

To see some excellent footage of today's fire suppression, especially the physical effort involved in dealing with these extreme slopes, check out two videos from the Contra Costa Times:

Video Part One and Video Part Two

Last night I watched extended coverage of the flooding in Iowa and the Wisconsin Dells, as well as the devastating tornado who killed four boys at a leadership gathering for Boy Scouts. The same system destroying lives, homes, and crops in the Midwest has us here in Central Texas entering our 12th day of 100 degree heat and 23rd day of temperatures over 90 -- before summer even starts. We're already hurting for rain, as is huge swaths of the West.

We (human beings) have altered the weather patterns and balance for the entire globe.

I notice that no evangelical hatemonger has suggested that the people of Middle America have brought on the flooding and wrath of god by their insistence on liberty and human compassion. I guess some acts of god are not a toddler version of vengeance.

Scott McClellan was on Letterman last night, and by most who've reported on it, Dave conducted the best interview with him to date about the revelations in his book What Happened. The tone was set by Paul Schaffer leading the band in a rendition of "Turn, Turn, Turn" as Scotty walked on stage. You can watch the whole thing below, and should -- Scotty is opening windows and doors, however late.

Some of my favorite lines:

Dave (referring to Bush): "If I was doing the job he's doing, or that I think he's doing, I wouldn't go to work."

Scott (on Cheney): "He has a very dark view of the world, and he certainly believes some of the means justify the ends. And this President showed him way too much deference, I think, in terms of carrying out policies, whether it was detainee policies or energy policy, or policies relating to the war itself."

Dave: "My feeling about Cheney, and also Bush, but especially Cheney is that he just couldn't care less about Americans, and the same is true of George Bush. And all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office (applause starts -- Dave counts out money as he continues) -- There you go, Dick, nice job, there's a couple of billion for your troubles. (Applause strengthens.) He pretty much put Halliburton in business, and the outsourcing of military resources to private mercenary groups and so forth. Is there any humanity in either of these guys?"

The bottom line is: Corporate values are not American values. The decisions about our environment, our food, our foreign policy, our military, our social services, our justice system, and all other rights which we accede to community control must be returned to elected government, not corporations. As Dave said, "We're screwed" until we do so.


kat said...

Um.....isn't the phrase "The ENDS justify the MEANS" not the other way around?

Thanks for taking my message seriously. Luckily the conditions were better and the response quicker than 17 years ago. I left a message on my mom's machine, in a near-shriek, even calling her "mommy." She sleeps during the day as well, and by the time she woke up, it was all over and she didn't quite understand what the fuss was all about.

Yeah, go Dave Letterman. It's weird, sometimes he's great and other times I just groan...

Maggie Jochild said...

The phrase is as you state, but he spoke it reversed and I transcribed it faithfully. Cringing as I did so.

kat said...

yeah, I listened, and that's what he said......grrr....