AN OFF-BEAT ARGUMENT FOR D.C. STATEHOOD. File this one under more evidence of the Bush administration's cynical politicization of what should be apolitical national security issues. Whenever public pressure to actually protect the homeland wanes, the administration seems to find out a way to subvert security. Today, for instance, The Washington Post reports:

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday slashed anti-terrorism money for Washington and New York, part of an immediately controversial decision to reduce grant funds for major urban areas in the Northeast while providing more to mid-size cities from Jacksonville to Sacramento.

The announcement that the two cities targeted on Sept. 11, 2001, would suffer 40 percent reductions in urban security funds prompted outrage from lawmakers and local officials in both areas, who questioned the wisdom of cutting funds so deeply for cities widely recognized as prime terrorist targets.

Ah, yes, those all powerful D.C. senators and representatives, not to mention all the Democrats from New York who hold so much sway in Washington these days. As a native New Yorker who lives in D.C., I certainly hope they're successful, but I'm not holding my breath.

What's interesting about this episode is not that it proves the Bush administration isn't really serious about protecting Americans, at least not those who live in cobalt blue cities, because that's old news, but rather that it proves the importance of obtaining statehood for D.C. Maybe once upon a time, when legislators and Presidents of both parties shared certain logical assumptions and basic morality regarding the public interest, the national government could be counted on to provide for D.C.'s basic needs. Or maybe that time never was. But clearly today, when the Republicans are intent on mistreating D.C. as ruthlessly as possible, and the lives of its 500,000 residents are at stake, they need a voice in Congress.

--Ben Adler

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