The fires are still burning and dangerous, but not the enormous threat they were earlier this week. The biggest safety concern for the county now is air quality, or rather the lack thereof. I'm pretty miserable at the moment.
Overall, the way the disaster was handled has been viewed favorably. We are still understaffed on firefighters and equipment (no taxes, no budget, no equipment), but the fire was fought strategically with what was available and damage was less than it could have been. One of the loopier ideas put forth during the fires was from the much reviled City Attorney, Mike Aguirre. He said the entire county should have been evacuated except for essential personnel. At base, it is a logical proposition, but the prospect of moving several million people out of the county with a few hours notice is simply impracticable under perfect conditions, let alone when the major transit routes out are blocked by fire and or hurricane force winds.
I discussed this with one of my co-workers yesterday, an older gentleman. He was digusted by Aguirre's proposal, thinking it just a bid for attention. "Logistics," my co-worker said, "it all comes down to logistics." And here is where the conversation became interesting.
"Like Iraq," he said, "you need to plan to get out. And no one has an exit strategy. They didn't have one, and we shouldn't have been there in the first place."
That perked up my ears, so I pressed a little bit. It was clear that my co-worker's sympathies did not lie with the anti-war left, but neither was he supporting the administration. His concern was for the military troops and getting them safely out of Iraq. He knew you can't just pick up and leave, not if you want living soldiers and functional equipment.
Why is this significant? It shows what is probably a majority US opinion - do what it takes to get our troops Iraq with the least possible harm to them. Other issues just didn't matter, and could be dealt with later.
All political sides need to take cognizance of this stance. Ordinary people don't want to leave Iraq for ideological reasons. They have nothing vested in that. They measure the price of Bush's war in US soldiers maimed and killed, and wish to keep it low. Thus, the winning argument will have the most coherent withdrawal plan, putting the safety of the soldiers front and center.