Wallow Fire, AZ (photo: NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon)

We interrupt our coverage of the ongoing assault on American Democracy, illustrated by the misguided discussions in Congress and Joe Biden’s dining room to decide how shamelessly to break faith with the American people while tanking the American economy, to remind folks that Mother Nature is indifferent to how careless our elected officials have become; she moves on relentlessly.

Months ago, we watched unprecedented flooding in Tennessee; weeks ago, we watched unprecedented tornadoes devastate Alabama, Missouri, and even Massachusetts; recently we’ve been following record flood levels along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. And for months, much of the Southwest has been suffering from record drought. That’s not over, and it has now enabled huge wild fires in Texas and Arizona and the border areas with New Mexico.

From a local firefighter’s blog in the area (h/t Sher)

A raging forest fire in eastern Arizona has scorched an area larger than the size of Phoenix, threatening thousands of residents and emptying towns as the flames raced toward New Mexico on Wednesday.

The 607-square-mile blaze has destroyed 11 buildings but details or locations were not available, U.S. Forest Service officials said. It has blackened about 389,000 acres, a swath larger than the state’s capital at 519 square miles. . . .

Winds in the area were expected to gust up to 35 mph Wednesday. Officials in Catron County, N.M., told residents of Luna to be prepared to leave if winds push the blaze into western New Mexico.

About half of the 4,000 residents who call Eagar home were forced to leave Tuesday as the fire licked the ridges surrounding the area. The town’s remaining residents and those in neighboring Springerville worried as they awaited word of whether they will have to flee, too.


My sister Sher has been sending worried family and friends nightly, sometimes more frequent updates of where the various fire outbreaks are. She’s a volunteer firefighter in the little community of Red Hill, New Mexico, just down the road across the border from Springerville, Arizona.

Small towns nearby on both sides of the border have been threatened for days, so Sher and other trained firefighter and emergency rescue teams have been on call, getting little sleep, helping folks prep for evacuation, getting the word out, and waiting to know where they’ll be sent next.

The winds are moving the fires from one tinderbox to the next, jumping breaks, sweeping over one hill and down another. One night it looks like they may escape; then next morning the winds have shifted. One of her jobs is to keep everyone else calm.

Sher says the local folks are also watching this local blog for updates.

Hang in there and be safe, Sis. Our thoughts are with you.
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We now return you to our regular coverage of the gang that plays with matches but couldn’t care less about who gets burned.

1. As reported by HuffPo’s Peter Goodman, the departing Austan Goolsbee reminds us that the Administration forecast the average unemployment rate for 2011 would be 9.3 percent, so we’re ahead of schedule, he boasts. Imagine: they believed it would average over 9 percent and chose to do almost nothing except make excuses. Great argument for your guy’s reelection, Austan.

2. From the other side of the black hole, here’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who dismissed previous stimulus efforts but now says they were “appropriate” when he thought unemployment was going to be 8 percent, literally rooting for a worse economy when its above 9 percent (my bold):

“I live for the day when a Congress cuts spending so aggressively that it actually endangers near-term growth,” he said. “We’ve never seen that.”

But neither should they provide additional stimulus, Mr. Holtz-Eakin said. “It was appropriate when the economy was falling,” he said, “but it’s been growing for a long time. We need better growth policies.”

3. The Gang of Six Five told the media yesterday they’ve made wonderful progress, agreeing that we should cut trillions in spending, including “entitlements,” and not raise taxes one penny. I’m sure they spared funding for state emergency services and climate change monitoring and mitigation, right? Right? Mark Warner could be the dumbest Democrat in the Senate, but he has competition.