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No hope for forests Mr. Edwards?

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 12, 2004


"What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all." — Henry David Thoreau

I must admit I watched the Democratic convention hoping for a sign of hope. I found none. Oh sure, there were inspiring moments of clarity. Barak Obama and Al Sharpton spoke truth to power. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton reminded us what presidential competency looks like. And Ben Affleck proved, once and for all, his status as a complete media whore.

All in all, by most convention standards, it was a good convention. It had babes, babies, bluster and balloons. What more could I ask for?

Well substance for one. Robust indignation would be another. Photo ops as policy is a republican tactic, and this convention was little more than an expensive episode of Meet the candidate. Where were the prime-time speakers talking about the Bush Administration's environmental record? Where's the oratory addressing population, immigration, and water availability? Who spoke on factory farming and the genetic manipulation of American agriculture?

Instead of substance, instead of an honest assessment of the state of the union, instead of a detailed accounting of a festering federal debt, the Democrats opted for war stories and helpful hawks. Skating across the surface of the "American" experience, the Kerry/Edwards ticket offered a return to status quo and the ultimate intangible…hope.

Excuse my jaded ingratitude, but you can't drink hope, and more Americans in Iraq won't help.

Finding nothing hopeful in John Kerry's Boston performance I went on line looking for substance. Using forest policy as a barometer I had hoped to find something to distinguish John Kerry's forest policy from the disastrous one supported by the Bush Administration. Again I found none. What I did find was another politician unable to see the forest through the votes.

Like the Bush Administrations Healthy Forest Restoration Act, The Kerry-Edwards forest plan is a utilitarian one, as it considers forest management as a resource issue, not forests as an ecological necessity. Consider this from the johnkerry.com website:

"John Kerry and John Edwards recognize that forest management can benefit our nation's economy while protecting our watersheds and natural resources. They are committed to preserving and maintaining healthy forests that generate good jobs and support productive communities. They realize that forest products play an important role in our economy - especially in America's suffering rural communities - and they support logging and fuel reduction activities required to sustain the timber industry and protect communities from devastating forest fires."

Other than the names of the candidates the entire statement could have been lifted from a republican website. The only reference to the environment as a forest policy issue is a pledge the "Kerry-Edwards administration will ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act protections are applied in a timely manner for projects with significant community or environmental impacts."

In other words? Under a Kerry Administration the same corporate masters will be deciding forest policy.

Knowing that the Republican and Democrat forest policy to be similar in all but name and nuance, I figured Ralph Nader would at least have something to say about forestry issues on his site. I was wrong. Although Nader fails to mention forests and biodiversity on his campaign website, he does include 1,364 words in support of the hemp industry.

What this tells me is that no one running for President understands how vitally important forests are to the future well being of the species that depend on them for their continued survival. Homo sapien sapien is one of those species.

Instead of issue driven elections, the exercise of democracy is now little more than a sideshow for the corporate duopoly. Yes I resent every piece of confetti that fell, and every balloon dropped on the Kerry convention. In all the hoopla all I could see is a blizzard of waste designed as disposable patriotism.

Of course the Bush Re-election show will use twice as much of everything to push their red, white and blue agenda. Twice as many flags, twice as many diversions, and twice as much pollution, raining from the rafters. Whoopee!

No gentle readers I do not require balloons and confetti as part of the political process. What I need to make informed and responsible decision is all the facts, straight up, no spin, and absolutely no fuzzy happy talk. Give me the truth, on the rocks, with all its darkness and complexity. I'm a big boy. I can handle it.

Unlike hope…truth is tangible.

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