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The Wildfire Within

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Unbelievable … but all too believable.

I hope and pray that all of you readers in southern California — no matter what your politics, religion, or lack of same — are safe. Please check in with us here and tell us what you’re seeing. Times like this really do remind us that we’re all in this together. Help your neighbor.

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39 Comments To "The Wildfire Within"

#1 Comment By John On December 6, 2017 @ 2:09 pm

Two things:

1. While she is definitely enjoying some schadenfreude on the guy who ran a climate denial propaganda outlet, I think we can safely say the “god” bit was facetious.
2. I guess, as usual, we are willfully forgetting Robertson and other prominent religious right figures blaming hurricanes on the gays?

[NFR: Oh, come off it. Nobody is “willfully forgetting”. Robertson is an awful troll. — RD]

#2 Comment By Adamant On December 6, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

I guess this Needa person isn’t old enough to recall Falwell et al getting dragged for claiming 9/11 was caused by gays and abortion. This is a really bad look on anyone.

#3 Comment By Adamant On December 6, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

I was wrong. She’s nearly 50 and evidently just a callous buffoon.

#4 Comment By Robert Levine On December 6, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

You do know that some prominent religious figures on the right have been doing this for years, right? Pat Robertson is the best-known of these, but there are many others. Robertson even took credit for steering Hurricane Gloria away from his headquarters in Virginia in 1985. Of course, it went somewhere else – to the mid-Atlantic states and New England, where it caused 8 deaths and almost $1 billion in damages.

Presumably those eight people were not members of Pat Robertson’s church. In fact, one might say they were members of his outgroup.

The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.

#5 Comment By Erdrick On December 6, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

She sounds like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. I doubt she realizes it or would admit to it. I bet she was appalled when they blamed Hurricane Katrina on God’s wrath.

#6 Comment By simon94022 On December 6, 2017 @ 2:34 pm

What people like Neera Tanden really need to #Resist is social media and the dehumanization, hatred, arrogance and stupidity that comes with it.

#7 Comment By Michelle On December 6, 2017 @ 2:34 pm

Even if intended to be tongue-in-cheek, these kinds of comments are awful. Fires don’t discriminate.

I still have a number of friends in Southern California who are near the fire zones. The one that struck Rancho Bernardo a few years ago came within a mile of my parents’ house. They’re terrified about having to endure another one. Fire season is one of many things I don’t miss about living in L.A.

#8 Comment By collin On December 6, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

Well it was a great laugh for somebody trying to be safe. Much like how I tell co-workers across the nation that we have 4 seasons in Socal: “Fall, Spring, Summer & Fire.” Or that my kids have had a literal “Smoke Day” in which they had school day canceled. (Ok It has happened once in 11 years.)

The basic reality is fires are a natural & necessary ecological occurrence for our area and this was completely expected with the heavy rainfall of the early 2017.

#9 Comment By collin On December 6, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

Oh, come off it. Nobody is “willfully forgetting”. Robertson is an awful troll.

Well Robertson is a successful and rich troll that has been on the teevee my entire life! He must be doing something right.

[NFR: Harvey Weinstein is very rich, and has established a tremendous artistic legacy. — RD]

#10 Comment By Gromaticus On December 6, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

Hard to think of a more perfect example of tribalism than calling out the tribalism of one tribe and that tribe responding “but what about your tribe?”; automatically assuming that anyone criticizing Tribe A must therefore support everything ever don in the history of Tribe B.

#11 Comment By Kronsteen1963 On December 6, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

A few weeks ago, one of those same fires burned down the house of late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz. I guess it was too just too bad for his family that his house stood in the way of the “She God’s” wrath on Robert Murdoch.

People like Ms. Tanden are sick and disturbed. They need psychological help.

#12 Comment By Mike Schilling On December 6, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

The most familiar example of this is Falwell saying that AIDS was divine vengeance on gays. All sides do it.

Anyway, I hope this doesn’t become anything like what he had up north. Much as I dislike Southern California, the Dodgers losing was all I needed.

#13 Comment By Liam On December 6, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

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Schadenfreude is toxic to the user even in modest doses. Be very careful with indulging.

#14 Comment By Helen On December 6, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

Wait, I don’t understand. Rupert Murdoch is part of the outgroup? Isn’t Neera Tanden being facetious? And isn’t she satirizing religious conservatives who say similar things?

I mean, I would not be surprised if Pat Robertson or Billy Graham Jr. says the fire is God’s vengeance on godless Hollywood elites.

That said, I am thinking of all the people in SoCal. No one deserves what is happening there, regardless of politics.

#15 Comment By Rjak On December 6, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

“The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.”

See, the fun thing is that this sentence works just as well: The problem with highlighting examples of conservative hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Left.

Perhaps the concern should be with hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior as such, rather than with liberal or conservative misbehavior specifically. If we could get a consensus on that, we’d be a much happier country.

#16 Comment By Elijah On December 6, 2017 @ 2:49 pm

“You do know that some prominent religious figures on the right have been doing this for years, right?”

So were those religious figures right to do so? Doesn’t sound like you thought much of them – or are you simply saying that because some nutter on the right did it, it’s ok for a nutter on the left to do it?

Here’s a thought: when someone acts like an insensitive buffoon like Neera Tanden, how ’bout we call them out on it?

#17 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On December 6, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

I’m not a fan of either Neera Tanden or Rupert Murdoch, but wish neither of them any personal misfortune. This is from the LA times at roughly 11:30 pst today [ [5] ]:

‘The Bel-Air fire that has destroyed homes and forced major evacuations is burning near the vineyard estate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

On Moraga Drive on Wednesday, gray smoke surrounded Murdoch’s property, but neither the buildings nor the vineyards had burned.

The 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate has a storied history.

This is a property once owned by Victor Fleming, director of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind,” who built a home here in the same year that both films were produced, 1939. Fleming kept horses and boarded a few, including those of his friend Clark Gable.’

Would hate to lose this bit of Hollywood history.

#18 Comment By Sam M On December 6, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

Robert Levine:

“it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.”

Yes. Whataboutism is easy.

#19 Comment By Anonymous On December 6, 2017 @ 2:54 pm

When I read the comment that God was unhappy, I assumed it must be in reference to all of the recently revealed Hollywood sex scandals.

#20 Comment By Nathanael On December 6, 2017 @ 2:56 pm

Fortunately I’m not directly in the line of fire (no pun intended), but we can smell the smoke as far south as Long Beach. Based on prior experience I’m expecting we’ll have ash coming down before too long.

As for the previous comments: I know in our current political climate it’s difficult to remember this, but condemnation of poor behavior or logic does not automatically have an unspoken comparison and claim of superiority over the “other team” built into it.

#21 Comment By Rusty On December 6, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

Heh: I had the same reaction. Sort of like when my fellow progressives were celebrating Tony Perkins’ flood damage. Ew.

That said, the American Protestant tradition leaves us all in the dust when it comes to reading divine wrath into natural disasters … which is why it’s not worth emulating.

#22 Comment By Polichinello On December 6, 2017 @ 3:10 pm

I’m going to cut her some slack. First, it’s a throw away Tweet, not a rigorously constructed dissertation. Second, it’s not like poort Rupert going to be out on the street squeegeeing passing cars at a stoplight. This is one of, probably, a dozen or so “homes”. If she were making this joke about someone on the lower end of the social strata who was losing the house they’d owned for decades, we’d have a problem.

At any rate, I doubt Rupert’s losing any sleep, as his home no doubt well-insured.

#23 Comment By jamie On December 6, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

Who’s the outgroup here? The fire is destroying Bel Aire, I expect fundraisers for both parties will have to relocate to Silver Lake for lack of venues.

#24 Comment By Jonathan Davis On December 6, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

Robert Levine says: [The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.]

I can’t find anything in Rod’s post suggesting this is about “the left” so your point is irrelevant. In fact the highlighting of tribalism strongly implies that this is endemic to both sides.

Your comment is nothing more than a pathetic example of whataboutism.

#25 Comment By Gentillylace On December 6, 2017 @ 3:34 pm

I live in West Covina, in the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown Los Angeles. No fires here, thank goodness (though there have been in the past few years fires in Glendora and Azusa, neighboring foothill cities to the north of West Covina). However, I did see quite a bit of smoke wafting up into the sky from the northwest. I suppose that smoke is from the Creek Fire in Sylmar.

#26 Comment By Potato On December 6, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

UCLA is struggling. The campus itself is not threatened, but traffic makes it impossible to access. There is a big fire 5 miles away which has closed the 405 in both directions.

Classes scheduled for noon or after are cancelled. The Business Associations Law final was nearly cancelled, but went forward at 10 am, an hour late. Rescheduling all the law finals would make a tangled mess, but they may have to do it anyway. The sky is alarmingly red and smoky. (I know all this from my law student daughter of course.)

The Ventura fire (“Thomas” fire, after the orthodox Catholic college near where it started) jumped the 101 freeway but was stopped, at last, by the Pacific Ocean. Too big to burn I guess.

All Californians fear fire. So far no one has been killed.

We all remember when some preacher or other claimed that gay marriage causes flooding. We were having an historic drought out here at that time, and we were all urging our gay friends to get married soon, we needed all the help we could get. Gallows humor, sorry. People who use natural disasters as political weapons are a very low form of life.

#27 Comment By kevin on the left On December 6, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

Leaving aside the idiocy of the Tanden’s statement, I simply don’t realize why highly-paid professionals feel that they don’t have to follow minimal decorum on social media, and feel free to blurt out any idiocy that’s popped into their brains.

#28 Comment By Hypnos On December 6, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

I just appreciate the irony of the Vulcan salute emoji next to Tanden’s name

#29 Comment By Jay On December 6, 2017 @ 5:39 pm

I’m not interested in any sort of divine retribution sort of schadenfreude, but in what demented universe is Rupert Murdoch part of any “outgroup?” I know that persecution chic is all the rage among conservatives these days, but really.

#30 Comment By grumpy realist On December 6, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

The problem is–California’s ecosystem Will. Have. Fires. It’s set up for it. The longer you try to keep them from happening, the higher the brush builds up and the worse it is when the stuff actually gets set alight.

If you want to get pissed at anyone, get pissed at Mama Nature. And at the stupidity of humans who decide to live in a location that has earthquakes and a very dry climate, then use a huge amount of water piped from the Colorado River to grow vegetation…

#31 Comment By Glaivester On December 6, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

I don’t think there is anything wrong with seeing disasters as potentially being divine judgment.

What is wrong is reacting with schadenfreude rather than compassion and a desire to bring repentance.

After the migrant crisis, Paris attacks, etc., I have been donating to western European missionaries.

That way, if those events were judgments, I can at least say “I tried to help them,” and if they weren’t I am still doing good (assuming you believe that spreading evangelical Christianity – in my case, mostly the Baptist version – is good).

#32 Comment By VikingLS On December 6, 2017 @ 11:03 pm

“The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.”

You made it about that, not Rod, not Ari Schulman.

#33 Comment By Pmc On December 6, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

Really Rod, you should go read the Breitbart comments section on the CA fires. 80% are burn
baby burn-more or less.

#34 Comment By Jen On December 6, 2017 @ 11:26 pm

I’m sure you’ll post a similar tweet the next time someone blames a natural disaster on gay people, right? Just to be unbiased and all.

I have friends and relatives in the Los Angeles area and I haven’t yet heard that they’re safe. I think they’re a little south of the danger spots, so hoping for the best.

#35 Comment By Rob G On December 7, 2017 @ 7:02 am

“The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.”

Yeah, except that liberals are the ones who are supposed to be all into, like, tolerance and non-judgmentalism and stuff.

Refreshing to see a few libs calling out some of their own for hypocrisy, however. Better late than never.

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 7, 2017 @ 11:40 am

If you want to get pissed at anyone, get pissed at Mama Nature. And at the stupidity of humans who decide to live in a location that has earthquakes and a very dry climate, then use a huge amount of water piped from the Colorado River to grow vegetation…

This is essentially correct, and its not the “fault” of the people who live in the path of the fire, not even the wealthier ones. California is grossly overpopulated because of all kinds of political misjudgments and developers’ short-term profiteering. California is a lovely climate — except when its not. And it doesn’t have enough water for nearly that many people unless its piped from somewhere, which turns out to have limits too. Its going to take a long time to solve this one.

#37 Comment By Robert Levine On December 8, 2017 @ 12:11 am

Rob G says:

“The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.”

Yeah, except that liberals are the ones who are supposed to be all into, like, tolerance and non-judgmentalism and stuff.

When did liberals ever claim to be tolerant of hypocrisy?

Jonathan Davis says:

Robert Levine says: [The problem with highlighting examples of liberal hypocrisy and other forms of misbehavior is that it generally takes all of 15 seconds to find so many counter-examples of the same behavior on the Right.]

I can’t find anything in Rod’s post suggesting this is about “the left” so your point is irrelevant. In fact the highlighting of tribalism strongly implies that this is endemic to both sides.

Your comment is nothing more than a pathetic example of whataboutism.

Well of course it’s endemic to both sides. That’s why I was disappointed to see it show up here. People say stupid things; liberal people and conservative people both. Quoting Ari Schulman made it pretty clear that Rod was criticizing something a liberal said. If he’d mentioned that Tanden was doing something that Pat Robertson made a habit of as well, that would be been good. As it was, the post just felt like another shot in the culture wars – “look what another stupid hateful liberal did.”

Elijah says:

“You do know that some prominent religious figures on the right have been doing this for years, right?”

So were those religious figures right to do so? Doesn’t sound like you thought much of them – or are you simply saying that because some nutter on the right did it, it’s ok for a nutter on the left to do it?

It’s a stupid thing for anyone to do. I agree with Rod that Pat Robertson is “an awful troll.” Neera Tanden is behaving just as badly.

But I think that this particular brand of trolling – that God punishes people that don’t share “our” values – is something one doesn’t see on the Left nearly as much as on the Right.

Our political discourse would be much healthier if we didn’t hate each other to the extent that we take pleasure in the misfortunes of those with whom we disagree. On the other hand, our political discourse would also be much healthier if it didn’t include people like Rupert Murdoch, who sow dissension and tell lies for profit. A good chunk of that hate can be laid directly at his doorstep.

#38 Comment By Rob G On December 8, 2017 @ 6:32 am

“When did liberals ever claim to be tolerant of hypocrisy?”

I was referring to their intolerance of people who hold “non-progressive” views, like Murdoch (whom I loathe, btw). In this regard they are not so much tolerant of hypocrisy as they are blind to it.

It’s why I don’t put pro-life or other conservative bumper stickers on my car: I don’t want to have it keyed by a person of diversity and tolerance.

#39 Comment By E. O. On December 10, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

Here’s some good news from the Orthodox women’s Monastery, Saint Barbara, just under a mile down the road from Thomas Aquinas College. Though their main lavender field and road sign burned, none of the structures have been damaged. The fire basically burned around the entire monastery.

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