The San Diego Union Tribune editorial staff, no longer having Bob Filner’s neck around to stretch, ran an editorial by a Sacramento neocon columnist, Steven Greenhut, in which he confuses the motivation behind a faux secessionist movement in Northern California.
Aside from Mr. Greenhut’s neocon political indoctrination, his comments on Norcal secessionitis misconstrues the irony as well as the weight of the idea that bigger, at least, when it comes to government, isn’t usually better. Neocon ideology must constantly run a-foul of such inconsistencies, having to worship Jefferson, a man who was as ruthless a selfish hypocrite as they come albeit no better or worse than most other politicians in recent political history. (The farce of the politician who promotes ideals that are not his own is an exhaustible comedic subject. Chaplin and Moliere merely touched the issue.)
In this case, the agenda of loggers and other marijuana growers in Northern California, which Greenhut cites as fueling the current argument for secession, is using the name of the 1941 movement to take advantage of name recognition. Jefferson’s face was printed on $2 bills and this Southern slave-holder is lionized to cupidic grade school children, just as Mao’s name was in China and Lenin’s in the USSR.
Today’s secessionists oppose dam removal and restrictions on timber clear-cutting in the Sierras. Dams in the north are being removed to restore water levels for watersheds and streams that are critical for salmon and steelhead populations (and the ecological systems of northern forests that includes thousands of indigenous species of flora and fauna, many near extinction because of the dams that have benefited few people, while the water levels downstream of dams adversely affects many more.
Today’s secessionists, Mr. Greenhut points out, want freedom from federal regulations of timber cutting. The forests protected by these regulations belong to the entire nation, not only those who want to exploit their timber value. If not for federal protection of forested watersheds and parklands that were protected by Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in 1938, the Olympic Peninsula would now be barren hills, like much of Oregon, a state that not only still permits clear-cutting, but also, finances education by selling state forests to clear-cutters. Mid 19th century, San Francisco and the bay area was redwood forests.
Greenhut’s neocon idealism views environmental and economic concerns as the proper concern of responsible local self-government but the interests Mr. Greenhut cites as backing this particular secession movement include those who would control local politics in order to clear-cut the Sierras.
Better known to people who live in rural areas north of Sacramento than here in Southern California, is the public subsidy of timber interests that began when, under Ronald Reagan’s reign as governor, the Department of Forestry was merged into the California Fire Department (now known as CalFire). State forest management since that merger has served the interests of timber production and attempted to deprive our forests of periodic natural burns that make a redwood forest possible, while transferring the cost of forest fire prevention and the risk to timber assets from those who invest in timberland securities sold on Wall Street to the taxpayers of the state.
Now, however, CalFire’s subsidy of timber interests has been subjected to cuts in the state budget. (Money is needed for pension funds and the burgeoning prison population.)
State forest management remains under the thumb of state fire department bureaucrats that know nothing about watershed ecology and less about forestry, while marijuana enterprises throughout the woodlands, which now produce the bulk of annual income in Norcal, pulls enough water from small streams to significantly lower river water levels, endangering previous investment in fish repopulation and dam removal. Secession is a smokescreen or in Greenhut’s own words, a ‘stunt’.