I hope by the time this column is printed, the wildfires engulfing California have diminished and the tragic episode has ended. But the forces of nature are often beyond the control of mankind and sitting here directly on top of a major earthquake zone, surely people in this region understand the prospects and possibilities of natural catastrophes.
The losses from the wildfires, however, are just one of the story lines and, to me at least, it's not the most interesting.
First, House Speaker Harry Reid said the wildfires were caused by - you guessed it - global warming. When all else fails, the Democrats seem to find a way to inject global warming into the debate as if all things bad spring from the issue of global warming. When pressed for details, Reid did a classic backpedal and said there were several factors involved in the fire. But the national media focused solely on his global warming analysis. We shouldn't be surprised.
Then later in the week, one of the gazillion environmental groups in California said the wildfires were "Bush's fires" because "his" courts would not allow the reduction of vehicle emissions in California as proposed in that state. This group and countless others are far less concerned about the fire victims than they are in gaining the spotlight for their special interest causes. It's time we called them and others on this phony ploy.
And finally, you could see this one coming from a mile away. When the football stadium opened in San Diego to provide shelter for those displaced by the fires, the comparisons with New Orleans took center stage. And those who had not wrung the very last political advantage from the Hurricane Katrina disaster had one more shot with their partisan attack.
Now, officials say that the largest and most destructive of these fires was the work of an arsonist. But let's not allow that simple fact to get in the way of some good political mud-slinging. Maybe the environmental followers of the Church of Gore should appreciate that global warming will someday put California under water so the prospects of future wildfires will vanish. See, there's good news everywhere if you just look hard enough.
I'll make you a bet. I bet if the New Madrid fault erupted today, somehow the Democrats and their followers would assure us that global warming was the culprit. And since their argument cannot be proven for a hundred years or more, they have a golden opportunity to peddle their doomsday scenario. How perfect!
Maybe it's just the upcoming elections at work but the political rhetoric is sickening. All things bad are not the fault of George W. Bush. Nor are all things good to his credit. Maybe the response to the wildfires was hastened more than with Katrina because we learned some lessons. Maybe the wildfires were the cause of some sicko who struck a match to watch it burn. And maybe - God forbid - the wildfires had not one darned thing to do with vehicle emissions in the crowded, dirty, bilingual melting pot of sunny Kalifornia.