Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Apocalypse Nigh 

Go ahead and confirm Justice Roberts; it won't matter. When King of Zembla links approvingly to a column by Debra Saunders, the chain-rattling madwoman in the attic of the SF Chronicle, the end times are plainly upon us:
National security and American lives may be at stake -- but the forces of pork-barrel spending will win out.

So last week, as U.S. senators deliberated on whether to pass a homeland- security bill that would allocate either 60 percent -- or 87 percent -- of some $3 billion in Homeland Security grants to communities deemed at greatest risk, the Senate chose the option with the greater helping of pork for each state . . . .

After Sept. 11, 2001, when the nation ostensibly was uniting and preparing to battle terrorism, Washington came together to devise formulas to best burn through $10 billion in homeland-security funding. Wyoming received almost $10 per capita in terrorism funding, while New York and California each received $1.33 and $1.38 per head.

"60 Minutes" aired a sharp piece on the local-spending bonanza that followed. Tiptonville, Tenn., bought an all-terrain vehicle, a couple of defibrillators -- one was used at high-school basketball games -- and protective suits for the volunteer fire department. Newark, N.J., purchased air-conditioned garbage trucks and Columbus, Ohio, spent its terror money on bulletproof dog vests.

I called the offices of Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., sponsors of the 60-percent scheme and chairwoman and ranking Dem on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, to hear why they support a system that is weighted more toward geography than the greatest risk.

Committee staff director Michael Bopp made the point that the Collins- Lieberman bill would allocate another 20 percent of grants to the 19 most populous or dense states based on risk criteria. OK, but when senators from California and New York vote ix-nay, it's because they know where the dollars are -- and are not. They trust the Feinstein plan more.

Be it noted that two of the Sept. 11 terrorists boarded a plane in Portland, Maine -- which bolsters the argument that terrorist training often takes place in the boonies (like Leeds, before the London attacks.) "All states need to be part of the prevention efforts," Bopp added . . . .

Then again, as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox, a critic of Homeland pork, told "60 Minutes," the problem is that "in the end, everything has something to do with homeland security."
Thanks as always to Holy Joe for being strong on defense, if not quite as strong as this noted hardass.

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