Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Patriotism Gives President Bush A Bellyache!

I guess even President Bush gets a stomach ache from the Iraq War he started. In this photo, he's holding his hand down on his belly rather than on his heart. Now, if he just ended the War In Iraq, he'd feel a lot better.

San Diego Hills Fire - Is President Bush "Disaster Challenged?"

According to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and the AP:

"The last thing California needs right now is a trip from the president to take away assets." Later, she said Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed during a phone call that Thursday was the best day for Bush to come.

Geez. First, the famous 9-11 delay, then the failed Katrina Response, and now the San Diego Hills Fire . It seems we have a President who's disaster challenged. In events like this, a proactive president would send in the troups.

What's that you say? They're in Iraq?


One more reason to end the war.

San Diego Fire - 1,750 Homes Destroyed or Damaged, 100 Businesses Effected

This is the forth day of the raging series of fires that have destroyed or damaged 1,750 homes, closed 100 businesses, and scorched 263,000 acres of land. All of this has resulted in over 500,000 people being displaced from their homes over this time.

I've heard reports of people coming down just to volunteer to help. If you're anywhere but there, it's hard to understand exactly what's going on or the enormity of it, untill you see something like this Google Map here.

The map shows that it's not one fire but many fires spread around a vast area. I count 20 in all, and raging in size from the 200,000 acre Witch Fire to the 160 acres Walker Fire. Whatever the case, the fires -- even the small ones -- are very large in size.

So large, they dwarf the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire. That disaster covered 1,520 acres; this one consists of several blazes, all save for three between 10 and 100 times larger than the Oakland Hills Fire.

It's a series of fires too large for standard fire fighting systems to tackle.

In a mess that really can be traced back to Proposition 13, San Diego County has no fire department, only "a hodgepodge of operations". LA Biz Observed explains this problem in more detail:

Expect a bunch of stories over the next few days about how San Diego was not prepared for this week's firestorms - despite the area having gone through the Cedar Fire disaster in 2003. Steve Erie, the prominent UC San Diego political science professor, tells the WSJ that "the only lessons applied were those that don't cost any money. ...In terms of new fire prevention or fighting capabilities, we have barely made any progress." One central problem, Erie says, is that unlike L.A. County, San Diego doesn't have a countywide fire department. That leaves what he calls a “hodgepodge” of operations.

And while the region tries to cope with a giant disaster without the tools needed to do so properly, Qualcomm Stadium fills with evacuees, seen as a "constant panorama of families in pain and kids trying to figure out why their worlds were grabbed from them.”

So are we.

More on this, but for now, let's watch this video made by Cory Williams, "Mr. Safety" on YouTube, who lives in the fire area:

Chertoff: Lessons from Katrina being applied to fire response

Finally,some sense of competence has returned to the White House.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina will be used in the federal government's response to wildfires in Southern California.

"I think there's no question that [there were] a couple of the lessons from Katrina which we have put into effect here," Chertoff said.

"First of all, planning and preparation in advance for these kinds of challenges, so that we have worked together and planned together with the Defense Department and with state authorities well in advance of the crisis. That's been a big help here," Chertoff said before boarding a California-bound Coast Guard jet with Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison; Mark Everson, president and CEO of the American Red Cross; and Matt Bettenhausen, homeland security adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Second, we have really flooded the zone as quickly as possible by staging assets to deal both with the firefighting issue and with the response issue," Chertoff said.

Federal emergency agencies and the White House were heavily criticized for their slow response to Katrina. But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that since then "integration, additional communication and cooperation amongst the state, local and federal governments have improved."
Chertoff said federal officials began discussing over the weekend the need to have FEMA ready, "and as we saw the evacuation issue becoming more prominent, and the number of people seeking shelter becoming more prominent, we sprang into action yesterday.

"So we've been monitoring the situation continuously. The president's been on top of it. We've been on top of it. And we're going to continue to stay ahead of this as far as we can."

After speaking with Schwarzenegger late Monday, President Bush early Tuesday declared an emergency for seven California counties. He said the order "opens up the opportunity for us to send federal assets to help the governor and those who are fighting these fires."

Chertoff said Tuesday that he hadn't waited for the paperwork to be signed before staging assistance.

"We have been moving cots, blankets, other supplies into the area of San Diego so that we can handle any necessity for additional sheltering capacity," he said. "We've also moved air assets to be poised to take flight when we do have the opportunity to deal with the fire, once the winds begin to die down."

Bush said he is sending Chertoff and Paulison to "listen, develop an inventory of supplies and help we can provide."

The Pentagon has set up a plan to help provide shelter for evacuees and offered a battalion of 800 Marines from Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, to help fight fires. The Navy has offered an Aegis cruiser, a guided missile destroyer and two fast frigates to support evacuation efforts. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve have also sent six C-130 aircraft specially set up to drop water and fire suppressant on the fires.

FEMA is using Naval Air Station Moffett Field, a former naval air station in the San Francisco area, as a staging area for supplies and equipment.

Paulison said his agency is shipping 25,000 more cots and blankets and has 130 generators there.

Off Base? Giuliani Roots For Red Sox To Win WS

Mr. wishwasher continues to show his lack of credibility and committment to a common cause.

Yankees Diehard Says He's Pro-American League

BOSTON (CBS) ― Brace yourselves, Yankees fans.

Former New York City mayor and devoted Yankees fan Rudy Giuliani says he will be rooting for the Red Sox during the World Series.

Giuliani made the admission during a campaign stop at a Boston restaurant. "I'm rooting for the Red Sox," the Republican presidential contender said in response to a question, sparking applause.

"I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team, maybe with the exception of the Mets," he said. "Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't because I'm loyal to New York."

Which raises the question -- if you're loyal to New York, why would you root for the enemy?

Many New Yorkers aren't quite sure, and are quite stumped by his comments.

"Sellout, traitor," one New Yorker told CBS 2. "He's a traitor. You always go with your home team."

Some think Giuliani said he will be rooting for the Sox because he is in Boston. But the Republican presidential candidate said he would make the same admission when he heads to Colorado in the next week or so. "In Colorado you will see, I will have the courage to tell the people of Colorado the same thing -- that I am rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series."

But the whole rooting for the American League squad just doesn't good enough for most Yankee fans.

"How can he go against the Yankees like that? It's unbelievable," another fan told CBS 2.

So does it bother you that Giuliani will root for the Red Sox? Vote in our online poll on the right and tell us what you think!

San Diego County Fire - First-Hand Blogger Accounts

Having went into the Oakland Hills Fire area to help my friend and her parents move out of that area, I can only immagine what San Diego and Malibu dwellers are going through. Here's the first-hand accounts of bloggers on the scene:



Howlingpoint (gave me the idea for this post)

A Life In The Day


Hey Freak

Tenth Muse

Nate Ritter

(also on Twitter with up-to-the-minute info)