Peering again behind the Bilerico Project curtain, we contributors labor under a rule established by our editorial powers-that-be which admonishes us to exercise voluntary restraint in writing separate posts to criticize the offerings of our fellow writers. It's supposedly not a flat-out prohibition, but anybody who has ever been in military service knows what "voluntary" really means. We're instead encouraged to post comments beneath the offerings of our blogging brothers and sisters. Comments are redeemable for weekly prizes. (Any similarity between amassing comments and the recently staged FEMA press conference on the California conflagrations in which federal employees played the role of an absent Washington press corps is purely a coincidental figment of my imagination.)
Anyway, I'm going to test the Bilerico disciplinary system by posting here separately in response to Michael Crawford's highly misleading, if not totally factually erroneous piece making light of fundamentalist claims that the fires were God's direct punishment for Governor Arnold's signing some GLBT-friendly legislation into law. The fires would reportedly have been much more severe had he not vetoed same sex marriage legislation the second time around.
I normally admire and can't wait to see Michael's writings. But this one, I'm afraid, is just plain nonsense. While my own ultra-reliable sources (Mike Rogers, are you tuned in?) say that although there was indeed a gay-related causal connection, it wasn't of the type Michael refers to. Instead, the Sunshine State infernos were accidentally initiated when a certain U.S. Senator from a Western state (I will not further identify him out of respect for his wife and family as well as the Republican Party) decided to vary his route in flying back and forth between constituents and Washington, D.C. Instead of a terminal like Minneapolis, just to pick a hypothetical example, as an intermediate point, he chose instead to fly down to San Diego. Given an unusually large amount of time between connecting flights, he decided to leave the airport, rent a car, and take in the scenery in the hills surrounding the city. That proved to be a big mistake, as you will see after the break.
The senator, not being familiar with the terrain and distances involved, suddenly found himself facing a problem familiar to a lot of men over the age of about 55 whose prostates enlarge and press against other parts of their lower plumbing. Fortunately (or so he thought), a solution other than an embarrassing wet spot was in sight: a construction Port-o-Let off the road and slightly into thick woods made dry by the ever-blowing Santa Anna winds. (The term "ever blowing" is purely meteorological; get your mind out of the gutter, please.)
After noting (with some sense of disappointment) that there was nobody inside, the lawmaker opened the door and entered, not locking the space in hopes that a deer he had spotted grazing nearby might be more adventurous (and older) than Bambi. Afraid that his trousers might pick up a pine-cone or two if they landed on the floor, he placed his feet into their now familiar "wide stance formation", failing to learn anything at all from a minor incident in his life that had occurred a few months earlier..
Then he heard it outside: Definite stirrings of dry leaves and grass that could only signal the approach of somebody, something, anything, please......it had been forever since late at night just off of DuPont Circle. Nervously he lit a cigarette from a young tobacco company lobbyist he'd once thought would be a quick and anonymous lucky strike, and waited. Nothing. Perhaps it was.....gasp.....something more menacing than a horney young buck.
So he started tapping on the side of the structure with his left foot in an attempt to scare away whatever was there. And something thumped back. Then, in the widening crack formed as the unlocked door opened, he saw.....first a nose, then the full face of a bear.....with a familar U.S. Forest Service Ranger hat topping it. Embarrassingly, he had been caught by Smokey himself.
They exchanged cards. His said "Straight U.S. Senator Before, Now and Forever ". He received one which simply said: "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires." The famous bear didn't really look all that bad close up....he'd seen worse at the D.C. Eagle, but it quickly became obvious that Smokey didn't play around while on duty.
The Senator panicked, pulling up his trousers and grabbing several handfuls of toilet paper, not noticing that there was already one little square that had managed to cling to his now profusely sweating brow. He rushed out past Smokey, knocking the entire outdoor stall on its side, with his cigarette embers igniting first the square, then the unfurling rolls, then the dry leaves, then the grasses, then......
Back safely on the continuing flight to the Nation's Capitol, he scarcely bothered to look out the window at the smoky wisps started to curl upward, to be followed soon by brighter conflagrations as the airplane gained altitude and headed east. This time he had dodged the bullet and there had been no arrest. No embarrassing family conferences or press releases......no again being driven over (forwards and backwards) by Mitt Romney's bus. No lawyer fees to try and retract a mailed-in plea to a lesser charge....this time there wasn't a greater charge to start with. No explanations as to wedding ring hands or endlessly played taped interviews. No having to memorize pat phrases for a Matt Lauer interview.
Nonetheless, there were those nightmares of blackened fur back West. Had Smokey left behind a mourning Mrs. Smokey and fatherless cubs? No, at best the furry civil servant might have been part of an un-Godly California domestic partnership. The lawmaker had often denounced such things on the Senate floor as just a slide down the slippery slope to marriages between humans and other members of the animal kingdom or even to machines. It would be better, he reassured himself, if the whole burning state just fell into the Pacific the next time the San Andreas fault tapped its own big foot.
But the investigations were still ahead, and with them the echoes of press conferences yet to come: "I am NOT a pyromaniac....I have never been a pyromaniac". "Do I consider that being one is something to be ashamed of? Let me just say I have always disapproved of the pyromaniac lifestyle." His wife looked a little surprised during that interview, but assured everyone she wasn't concerned about their marital future. But she did toss out several lighters and a box of kitchen matches just in case.
Smokey, God rest his charred remains, would have been very proud of her.
Michael, you owe me one for setting the record straight....well, you know what I mean.