Fear, and Fear Itself 

Don't look to our government to provide real "homeland security."

"It is time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss." — William Shakespeare

If what William Shakespeare said is true, and it is, then today we have little to fear. All the tyrants of the world are certainly not kissing. Everyone seems to hate everyone else, and the Islamic extremists seem to hate every other ethnic sect as much as they hate us. The only foreign leader Bush feels like he can trust is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

That is why when Michael Chertoff, who controls the Homeland Security budget, says that there is a bogeyman around the corner, I take it with a grain of salt. Without putting fear in us, he has no job and certainly no budget. Last week, he said he "had a hunch that there might be an attack this summer." What sort of comment is that? It is about as vague and silly as terrorist alert levels orange, red, or mauve.

Even the British, with all the Muslims living in England, some of whom recently tried to set off a bomb at Glasgow airport, raised their threat level. Ever the English, I think they went from level "miffed" to "perturbed" after the incident.

The French went from threat level "run" to "hide." The only higher levels the French have are "cower," "tremble," "surrender," and "collaborate."

The way the terrorists really hurt us was by making us create the department of Homeland Security in the first place. It has become no more than a pork-barrel political gorging fest. The TSA (Thousands Standing Around) just took the private-sector security guards in ill-fitting blazers and government-issue polyester pants and turned them into a unionized, overweight, overpaid, rigid group that frisks grandmothers on their way to Florida. We now have to bring our carry-on bags to some woman who is about 5'-1" and pushing the deuce on weight. Her pants are so tight, the zipper looks like gold teeth. Is this really what you want? Your first line of defense against the terrorist is a woman smacking gum and telling you to stay eight feet away from her while rolling her eyes and flirting with her male counterpart?

It has been almost six years since 9/11, and they still do not have a card that safe Americans can get that would move us through the airport line more quickly. Just how long does that take? You ask a few questions, you check the person out, and you issue the card. Equifax and Blockbuster can do it in an hour.

And how about some shoehorns at the end of the security line? Millions fly each year and take off their shoes. How long would it take a business to figure out that providing shoehorns would be a good idea?

You cannot count on the U.S. government, people. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will stop being disappointed. We got Paris Hilton behind bars, but Osama bin Laden, an old millionaire hooked to a dialysis machine, is still running around. Remember, he was sweet on Anna Nicole Smith. Now that she has died, our only real chance of catching bin Laden is gone.

We have to believe in ourselves, not the federal government. Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph was caught by a small-town, off-duty cop. The "terrorist ring" in New Jersey was foiled by a Circuit City employee. (The guy was good: He not only caught them but sold them a bunch of junk that they didn't need with extended warranties.) There are your true heroes, not the self-important bureaucrats in government. I really believe that politicians are agents of the devil, yet their duties are largely ceremonial.

What we need to do is secure our borders with our soldiers. We have nobly tried to help Iraq. However, as we have learned time and time again, you cannot help those who are unwilling to help themselves. If we are beaten by the terrorists, it will be in the same way the Soviet Union lost to us: We will be pushed into fiscal bankruptcy by politicians pouring money down a black hole in wars that need not be fought.

Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. His e-mail: RevRon10@aol.com.

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