2018年3月26日 星期一

RCP Morning Note, 03/26/2018: Tiny Tent; Pruitt's Way; 'Heroin Trail' Pioneer; Earth-Shaking News


Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Tiny Tent; Pruitt's Way; 'Heroin Trail' Pioneer; Earth-Shaking News

By Carl M. Cannon on Mar 26, 2018 09:27 am

Good morning, it's Monday, March 26, 2018. On this date 146 years ago, under a full moon at 2:30 in the morning, residents living in California's Owens Valley were awakened when the San Andreas Fault shifted violently.

Timber is scarce in the lower elevations of Inyo County, so most of the buildings there were constructed of adobe. In the village of Lone Pine, which operated as a base camp of sorts for Mount Whitney pioneers, almost all the structures collapsed in the quake, killing 27 people, many of them in their beds.

Some 150 miles north, John Muir was awakened by the roar of giant boulders crashing down into Yosemite Valley. No cinematic footage exists of this great temblor, one which foreshadowed West Coast earthquakes yet to come. But Muir would later write about it, and the famed naturalist's prose is more enduring than most reporters' descriptions.

I've written about earthquakes before, including this one, but I'm from California so my interest in them comes naturally. Besides, all the West Coast teams were eliminated early in this year's NCAA basketball tournament, and the Major League Baseball season hasn't begun yet, so what else is there to think about? I'll have more on the Owens Valley quake in a moment.

First, I'd point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Tiny Tent Political Parties. In a column, I consider the issues-based litmus tests required by special interest groups on the left and the right, and how such narrow thinking may be lighting a fire under the moribund political center.

Pruitt Leads the Way on Regulatory Rollback. In RealClearPolicy, Ken Cuccinelli praises the EPA chief's efforts to undo Obama-era regulations.

Gains From "Socially Responsible" Investing Are Non-Existent. Eric Schlecht makes his case in RealClearMarkets.

Les Payne and "The Heroin Trail." RealClearInvestigations looks back at the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1973 Newsday series by pioneering black journalist Les Payne, who died last week.

Laser Mapping Technology Reveals Ancient Roman Highway. Ross Pomeroy has the story in RealClearScience.

Inger Vandyke: Wildlife Photographer, Expedition Leader. Kinga Philipps spotlights the adventurer in RealClearLife.

* * *

In an era before ratings dictated wall-to-wall television coverage of human suffering, the tragedy factor of far-away events often depended on one's proximity to the disaster. After the March 26, 1872 Owens Valley earthquake, for instance, reactions varied greatly the farther one was from the epicenter.

John Muir was only starting to make his name as a conservationist at that time. (The year before, Ralph Waldo Emerson had journeyed to Yosemite and, after meeting Muir, offered him a position on Harvard's faculty. "I never for a moment thought of giving up God's big show for a mere profship!" Muir wrote later.)

In any event, when the earthquake hit, Muir was in a Yosemite cabin near a place called Black's Hotel. His reaction, documented in his journal, reveals a man with the heart of a naturalist and the instincts of a police reporter.

"In Yosemite Valley, one morning about two o'clock I was aroused by an earthquake," he wrote. "And though I had never before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange, wild, thrilling motion and rumbling could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, near the Sentinel Rock, both glad and frightened, shouting, ‘A noble earthquake!' feeling sure I was going to learn something."

Muir described the sensation so vividly his readers could imagine they were there, too:

"The shocks were so violent and varied, and succeeded one another so closely, one had to balance in walking as if on the deck of a ship among the waves, and it seemed impossible the high cliffs should escape being shattered."

Fearing that 3,000-foot-high Sentinel Rock would come tumbling down, Muir took shelter behind a large pine tree, hoping it would protect him from any stray boulders. It wouldn't have, he soon realized, for suddenly, in the dark amid the "strange silence and strange motion," he reported hearing a tremendous roar. This was the collapse of a geological formation he called Eagle Rock, farther up the valley.

Muir's description of the ensuing destruction could only come from an observer who appreciated nature not only for its glory, but for its destructive power as well.

"I saw it falling in thousands of the great boulders I had been studying so long," he noted, "pouring to the valley floor in a free curve luminous from friction, making a terribly sublime and beautiful spectacle -- an arc of fire fifteen hundred feet span, as true in form and as steady as a rainbow, in the midst of the stupendous roaring rock-storm."

In the state capital, by contrast -- where the quake was felt, but no one was hurt -- a local newspaper played it for laughs. Reporting on events at local dance hall, the Sacramento Union set the scene when the quake hit just as a late-night soiree was ending.

"Suddenly, while dancing, the ladies looked in an astonished manner at the gentlemen, and the gentlemen at the ladies, each apparently having the suspicion that the other had been indulging too frequently in exhilarating beverages."

The story continued as the aftershocks brought home what had actually happened. "The dance suddenly stopped," the paper said, "many of the ladies fainted, while the occupants in the ballroom, male and female, clung to one another in terror, not knowing what to do."

Even further away, in San Francisco, the pro-business San Francisco Real Estate Circular sought to reassure the fainthearted. That is, it sought to downplay the quake's significant to anyone perhaps reconsidering a move to this strange land where the earth erupted without warning.

"San Francisco is in very little more danger of a disastrous earthquake," the magazine declared, "than the Eastern States of being flooded by an overflow of the Atlantic Ocean."

Leaving aside for a moment any concerns you may have about 21st century sea level rise, consider that some of the readers of this assurance surely lived in San Francisco in 1906 when that city was leveled by an earthquake believed to be about the same magnitude as the one that rumbled through the mountains and valley of Central California only 34 years earlier.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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