The Hightower Report
Bush's Homeland Hokum; and Ralph and Mary's Park
Trying to puff up his bad poll numbers and give his beleaguered party a political boost for this fall's congressional elections, George W. keeps wrapping himself in the bloody flag of 9/11 and posing as America's valiant defender. For example, he scooted over to the National Counterterrorism Center last month for a PR tour and photo op, declaring solemnly to the cameras: "We're doing everything in our power to protect you."
BUSH'S HOMELAND HOKUM
While the BushCheneyRummy Axis of Incompetence and Insecurity has dumped nearly a third of a trillion of our tax dollars and more than 2,600 American lives into the axis' diversionary war and disastrous occupation of Iraq the axis has deliberately left Americans exposed to more attacks by failing to take some of the most basic security steps.
Port security, for example, is so sloppy that only a small percentage of shipping containers coming onto our shores are screened. Sheesh, the Bushites are screening every single American getting onto a plane to check them for shampoo, but because the Wal-Marts don't want the stuff they bring here from China to be delayed at our ports thousands of containers are merrily waved through each day without inspection, despite the very real possibility that a nuclear or biological weapon could be tucked into them and detonated here.
Speaking of shampoo seizures, the technology to detect and protect us from liquid explosives has long existed. Yet, Bush & Company failed even to test detection technology that Japan gave to our government early this year. They also tried to divert $6 million that was budgeted for development of such technology instead using it to provide more security for federal officials.
George W.'s perverse preoccupation with Iraq has sapped money and focus from real protection here at home, leaving us vulnerable to real terrorist threats.
Looking for a present for that special someone? Here's a unique gift that literally keeps on giving: a national park!
RALPH AND MARY'S PARK
That's what Ralph Regula bought for his wife, Mary. What did it cost him? Nothing. He didn't buy it with his money, silly he used yours. Ralph, you see, is a Republican Congress critter and a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee.
A few years ago, Mary founded an outfit called the National First Ladies' Library, and she wanted a proper home for it. So, in 2000, the subcommittee that Ralph just happens to chair created and funded the First Ladies' National Historic Site, making it part of our National Park Service. Where is it located? Why, in Ralph's district, of course.
Ralph's gift just keeps giving. In addition to providing annual operating funds for Mary's little historic site, Ralph has also used "earmarks" to slip more than $2 million in extra money to her project all done with no public debate or vote. Plus, his subcommittee has provided a $2.5 million federal matching grant to renovate a bank building that Mary's library group owns. In Washington, this is known as "pillow-talk pork."
While Mary's project officially is part of our park system and gets 70% of its operating funds through the park service, the site is not operated by park professionals. Instead, Mary and her group run it. Also, in keeping with the family theme, the Regula's daughter, Martha, works for the historic site as a librarian.
Managers of America's other parks have seen their budgets slashed, but Mary's miraculously seems to prosper. This is all the more amazing when you consider that it draws less than 10,000 visitors a year. As one watchdog group has calculated, taxpayers shell out about $1,000 for every visitor who comes to Mary's park.
Did I mention that hubby Ralph is in line to be the next chairman of the full Appropriations Committee?