- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“Government fiddles while the West burns” (Comment & Analysis, Thursday) should have been the top editorial the day it ran, as I found it to be the most important and compelling.

However, while very well written, I thought the secondary headline, “Bureaucracy is to blame for countless razed homes,” missed the cause of the entire miserable episode: the stupidity and criminal negligence of senior federal elected people, members of Congress and the president.

Anyone with a grain of common sense should know that foresters, no matter how skilled in their profession, are completely out of their depth trying to maintain and operate a diverse fleet of firefighting tankers. That said, our leaders in Washington should understand there must be a federal organization designed to bring together the assets, many of which already exist, and have them ready for rapid and sustained fire suppression.

This is not a budget buster nor a giant task for the Department of Homeland Security. The Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and National Guard all have solid experience with reserve forces. Together with a joint committee of Congress, they could make a workable plan and supply the kind of leadership needed to correct the current problems so concisely indicated in the editorial.


In the final analysis, we will see if President Obama is up to, in his own words, “trying to deal with what’s one of the worst fires we’ve seen.”

THOMAS W. SCHAAF SR.

Fairfax