Saturday, October 16, 2004

Yo! Jersey!
Whassup (with those electoral votes)?

Much to your blogstress's dismay, she finds that the denizens of her beloved homeland have thrown the typically Democratic Garden State into play as a battleground. It appears to be a homeland security thing.

The largest number of undecided voters live in North Jersey which, in many ways, is a sort of the sixth boro of New York City. There many people saw the World Trade Center fall with their own eyes, and some 700 New Jerseyans lost their lives that day in the attacks.

Somehow that trauma has drawn ordinarily Democratic voters to President Bush, on the premise that he is somehow better able to protect them and the homeland from the schemes of the terrorists. And this perception could cost Sen. John Kerry the election, since it's hard to imagine how he can win without Jersey's 15 electoral votes.

On Monday, the president will make a rare visit to New Jersey to deliver what is being billed as a major address on homeland security. At this stage in the campaign, the only reason the president would make a personal appearance there was if his advisors thought he had a good chance of winning those 15 votes. The volatile situation in Jerseyland is serious enought to have drawn the attention of the Washington Post.

The dark irony in all of this is the president's actual record
on homeland security. Since April, the Border Patrol and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have worked under a hiring freeze, meaning that if an officer leaves or retires, he or she can't be replaced. While offers struggle with faulty equipment of the most basic sort--radios, patrol cars, expired body armor--DHS bigs spend millions on high-tech toys whose purchase lines the pockets of defense contractors.

At the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement a spending freeze has taken effect that has caused some officers to be turned away at the gas pump when trying to fill the tanks of their official vehicles; their government credit cards were refused.

Your blogstress has deep compassion for what her countrypeople suffered on September 11, 2001. And because of that, she begs them to examine the record, not the posture. Anybody can stroll into disaster and speak into a bullhorn. But someone committed to the safety of everyday people would not have the nation's homeland security enforcers on a budget that deprives them of the most basic resources.

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