BUSHES IN THE HOOD: W FIGHTS GANGS WITH BUDGET CUTS AND PHOTO OPS
By Arianna Huffington
Over the next week or so, House and Senate negotiators will try
to hammer out the differences in their
competing budgets. Among the major bones of contention: disagreements over how deeply to cut
Medicaid; whether to make President Bush's expiring first-term tax cuts permanent; and whether to go
along with the president's proposal to slash funding for a wide range of programs related to homeland
No, President Bush is not gutting the Department of Homeland
Security. The problem is Bush's
definition of homeland security. Apparently, it doesn't include things like the safety of our streets.
Especially the streets of our inner cities, which have become war zones.
After plummeting during the 1990s, gang violence is making a
bloody comeback all across America, with
gang-related homicides up 50 percent since 1999. According to Justice Department estimates, there are
about 21,500 gangs nationwide with over 730,000 members. And these gangs are no longer confined to
Los Angeles and New York. Cities like Denver, Portland, Salt Lake City and Tulsa have all seen dramatic
surges in gang-related criminal activity.
And how has our tough-on-security president responded? By proposing
to cut close to a billion dollars
from programs designed to help anti-gang efforts. His 2006 budget would cut more than $412 million
from education, after-school and family-support programs that help keep at-risk kids away from gangs. It
would eliminate Juvenile Accountability Block Grants ($54 million worth) designed to help prosecutors
deal with gang issues. It would also reduce funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services
(COPS) program by 95 percent, which could result in as many as 88,000 fewer police officers patrolling
America's mean streets. And these proposed cuts come on top of a 44 percent reduction in
delinquency-fighting and anti-gang funding since 2002.
"The federal budget is more than mere numbers, it is an accounting
of our country's priorities," says
Seattle Chief of Police Gil Kerlikowske, chairman of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a bipartisan anti-crime
organization of over 2,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime victims. "The president's budget
just doesn't add up for children and instead makes the wrong choices on crime prevention."
But wait, could this possibly be the same president who during
his State of the Union address so
preeningly patted himself on the back for his commitment to dealing with gang violence?
Of course. It's the kind of political sleight of hand his presidency
is built on. First, Bush earned PR points
for earmarking $50 million a year for the next three years to a new, still-to-be-defined anti-gang initiative,
then turned around and submitted a budget that cuts nearly 20 times that much from programs already
proven effective in keeping young people out of gangs. Not exactly a fair tradeoff for America's at-risk kids.
Oh, and here's the kicker: The new initiative is to be overseen
by First Lady Laura Bush. I don't know
about you, but the idea of Laura the Librarian bringing the Crips, the Bloods and MS-13 to their knees
doesn't exactly make me feel any safer.
The First Lady's new role as gang czar seems like another Mission
to Mars in the making--a highly
touted project long on potential photo ops and woefully short on specifics. Here's what we do know about
Mrs. Bush's feel-good initiative: The program won't be administered through the law enforcement
professionals at the Justice Department. Instead, the limited dollars will be funneled through the
president's compassion fund and doled out to his favored faith-based groups. Who knows, maybe they'll
serve up the gang prevention entree with a side order of moral values. I can hear the ad campaign now:
"Just Say No . . . To Drive-Bys and Turf Wars. And Premarital Sex, While You're At It."
President Bush and his Republican buddies are quick to talk tough
on issues of law and order and just
as quick to cut the kinds of proven programs that help alleviate the social disorder that so often leads to
criminal activity. There seems to be plenty of money for new cops to patrol the streets of Baghdad, but
very little for those protecting America's inner cities. Indeed, the $150 million Bush has pledged to spend
on his national anti-violence proposal over the next three years is about what we're spending in
Iraq--every single day.
What is it going to take before the president gets serious about
protecting America's inner cities? Maybe
community leaders can hire Ahmed Chalabi to tell the CIA that the Crips and the Bloods are looking to
get their hands on some WMDs. What's a little faulty intel among homies? Hey, Porter Goss, I smell a
Medal of Freedom.
© 2005 ARIANNA HUFFINGTON.
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
Arianna Online: 1158 26th Street, P.O. Box 426, Santa Monica, CA 90403
© 2004 Christabella, Inc. All rights reserved. Web site designed and hosted by Ottenhoff Consulting
Note added 2007 : To see the current writings of Arianna, and her blogger's sharings, visit the Huff Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Note added 20070425 : The Drumbeat of Impeachment is Resonating Across America.
We invite you to read, A Cornucopia of Death, Arianna's article of April 12th, 2005.
We invite you to read Arianna's article entitled, A
Tale of Two Leadership Styles, dated 2 March, 2005.
"And so that's exactly what he (Andy Stearn) does, shaking things up with his reform-or-else threat to break up the AFL-CIO;
with a campaign to bring Wal-Mart to its knees; and with his pledge to "pay back" politicians, "no matter who they are
or what party they come from . who looked us in the eye and said they were for us--but then went out and betrayed us."
We invite you to read Rummy On TV, Arianna's article, dated February 23rd, 2005.
We invite you to read another article by Arianna, regarding the book, Disney War and more, dated 16 February, 2005.
We invite you to read Arianna's words on the Enronization of American Corporations, and our Corporate Executives.
We invite you to read an older article of Arianna's, dated March 12th, 2003 : Tax Havens: Are You With Us Or Against Us?
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