The media's incessant, inane, and imbecilic comparisons of the governmental responses to the California Wildfire Disaster and Hurricane Katrina is matched in absurdity only by the California Lt. Governor's news conference assertion that California National Guard troops should be brought home from Iraq to help with disaster response. The assertions that there were "lessons learned" by Bush and the federal government is correct only in the sense that the federal government learned not to trust the preparedness of liberal democratic local and state governments. First, let's set the record straight on governmental response to Katrina.
The single greatest contribution to the crisis created by Katrina's assault on New Orleans was the complete and criminal incompetence of the city's government. Next in line for culpability whippings is the Louisiana governor and her staff. FEMA Director Browning was a buffoon, to be sure, and the Feds could have gotten massive aid to the scene at least 24 hours faster. But, the preparedness (or lack thereof) by Nagin and his krewe was laughable at best and criminal at worst. Contrast Governor Blanco's "deer in the headlights" news conferences with Governor Barber's rolled up shirt-sleeves presence at the front immediately following the storm's passing. While Mississippians, in large part, helped themselves and each other, New Orleanians helped themselves to each other's belongings.
The real difference between the response prior to and following Katrina and the response to the California wildfires are the actions by local and state governments. While Nagin and Blanco hunkered in their bunkers and neglected to lead their citizens to safety, California local and state authorities evacuated all but a handful of citizens from their homes ahead of rapidly advancing wildfires. The world watched Katrina take a bead on New Orleans for nearly a week, and Nagin/Blanco, et. al. did nothing. Not since Nero fiddled while Rome burned has a state's leadership demonstrated such utter disregard for its citizenry.
No fiddles played by Conan and his crew--with the exception of the politically motivated cheap-shot whine by the Lt. Governor. The truth: less than 15% of California's National Guard is currently deployed to Iraq, leaving 17,000 guardsmen in the state. The last I saw, the Governator had only seen a need to call up a fraction of those.