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A couple fire-related observations.

First, as a backgrounder, once upon a time long ago and far away, I too lived in Malibu. I too was forced to flee the flames, and I too was one of the lucky ones whose house was saved by firemen. So hat's off to them.

Secondly, a column ran today in the L.A. Times by longtime Los Angeles reporter and columnist Steve Lopez, who correctly put his finger on what a lot of people are thinking about wildfires burning down homes in Malibu.

He says, when disaster strikes, we all pull together — unless it's Malibu. When it's Malibu, people think: "Good, let Malibu burn." It's the resentment factor. Rich people living in a paradise by the beach, except when they burn up, or in the next month are covered in mud when these barren hills get soaked by rain.

Lopez went to the Internet for his evidence and came up with a boatload. Huge numbers of people are commenting on the fire and angry that firemen even try to save homes in Malibu. They say people there ought to know better than to live there, they shouldn't rebuild and they don't deserve our sympathy, all because Malibu is so great and it's just rich people and stars.

Well, I lived there and I wasn't rich. And I think there must be a few people still there who deserve sympathy. So think twice before you harbor uncharitable thoughts.

On a related subject, leave it to uber-Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer of California to politicize this fire. Today she issued a statement charging the Bush administration with responsibility for the widespread fire damage. If our National Guard units weren't in Iraq, she said, we'd have twice as many people and twice as much equipment to deal with the fire.

Well thanks a lot, Senator. At least I know you can be counted on when the chips are down to find a target of convenience to nail with blame. Now it's Bush's fire. Way to go, Senator.

That's My Word.

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