This is the third afternoon I've felt split in two -- caught between the three fronts of a perfect firestorm. Watching the TV news, I ping-pong this way and that. First Washington and the firestorm around ENDA. Then nationally, to the election-campaign firestorm. Then back to local news channels here in the Southland, to track the literal firestorm that is still unfolding, with Santa Ana winds blowing and wildfires raging from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, and from Malibu west to the high desert. With almost a million people evacuated, thousands of homes and businesses burned, and hundreds of miles of blackened landscape — it’s a war zone, different from Katrina, but possibly just as devastating as a major hurricane when it’s all over.
The Perfect Firestorm
Here in the central city where I live, it's the eye of the storm -- unnaturally quiet, people going about their business, the traffic possibly worse owing to evacuees driving into town to camp with friends or family. Yet Los Angeles is literally sitting in a ring of fire -- it's own perfect storm. The color of the sky is getting close to that eerie brownish haze, and the sun to that blood-red glow, that we saw during the 1992 L.A. Riots.
Once again it's clear that our government has been caught flat-footed, as they were during Katrina. Earlier this year, according to the Huffington Post, the Government Accountability Office (which is Congress's nonpartisan auditor) published some stark warnings about the limp nature of federal fire-fighting preparedness. With all the talk of creative terrorism and one of the fires already declared a possible arson, one would think that our government would have paid attention. Yet today there were reports of Homeland Security firefighting aircraft sitting on the ground, unused yet, because of some snafu in procedures.
This is the same Congress that we hope will be caring and far-sighted enough to pass ENDA -- yet it looks like they can't find their way out of a wet paper bag -- let along a paper bag that's on fire.
Copyright (c) 2007 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.