Despite endless claims from the Bush administration and the Republican Party that fighting terror and protecting its citizens are number one priorities, anyone who follows their actions realizes they're all talk. But how do they get away with it? Why is it still so easy for them to paint Democrats as soft or likely to make us more vulnerable to attack? Well, if there's a lack of focus in the mainstream media on this administration's feeble efforts to improve national security and, in some cases, even its success in further weakening it, then the bad guys (as Chris Matthews is want to say) - but, in this case, the real bad guys - come off looking much better than they should.
The New York Times reports on their website today:
After vowing to steer a greater share of anti-terrorism money to the nation's highest-risk cities, Homeland Security officials today announced grants to New York City and Washington that would be slashed by 40 percent, while dollars headed to spots including Omaha and Louisville, Ky., would surge.
Homeland Security's response:
"We want to make sure we are not simply pushing dollars out of Washington," said Tracy Henke, assistant secretary for grants and training. "The reality is you have to understand that there is risk throughout the nation."
Ah, those hotbeds of terrorist activity. Louisville. Omaha. Charlotte, N.C. But why stop there? Why not go ahead and send the money to Bedford Falls or Mr. Roger's Neighborhood or Never-Never Land? Or maybe to Mars.
Henke further instills confidence with this harebrained assessment:
"It does not mean in any way that the risk in New York is any different or changed or any lower," she said, in responding to one of the many questions on this point. "It means that we have additional information, additional clarity. Our risk analysis has been a maturing process. It is the best we currently have."
How is it possible for Homeland Security officials not to grasp what an elementary school child could figure out with no "additional clarity" or risk analysis? The cities in gravest danger of a terrorist attack should receive the most money to protect themselves. Period. Next issue. It's called common sense. A rare commodity in this lethally bumbling administration.
And weren't we promised this illogical funding system would be fixed?
The competition for the grants this year kicked off in January when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that in the fourth year of these awards, which were started after the 2001 attacks, the department would put much more emphasis on directing the money to the most likely possible terrorist targets. "The department is investing federal funding into our communities facing the greatest risk and demonstrating the greatest need in order to receive the highest return in our nation's security," he said.
Oh, Chertie, you've done it again. Heckuva job. Big ups and kudos all around. Whew! I wasn't just imagining you had promised to better allocate funding. Up from the memory hole, there it is for all to see. Take a good hard look, everyone. Before it plunges back down.
So, how many nightly network newscasts presented this story? Zero. And the number of primetime cable news talk shows that covered it? Zilch. Zip. Nada.
But who can blame them? They had more important stories to cover. Like the news Batwoman has come out of her cave and declared herself a lesbian. (I wish I were making this up.) And I'm not talking about an actress, a human being who played Batwoman in a movie or on TV; I mean the cartoon character. Though I must admit a strange fascination - akin to watching, say, an old woman curse like a whiskey-addled trucker - in seeing square ol' ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson utter the words "lipstick lesbian." Having recently taken over the newscast, you can palpably feel Gibson straining to look hip as he mouths the naughty, not-ready-for-primetime words.
As millions of Americans turned to one another tonight and said, "Did Charles Gibson just say "lipstick lesbian"?" far too many will fail to realize that Mr. Gibson and his TV news colleagues continue to gloss over this administration's deadly shortcomings and broken promises.
Apparently, now even at the cost of pissing off the family values crowd.