Mike Lawrence: War's impacts reach far

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Mike Lawrence

Call Mike Lawrence at 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com.

While watching President Bush's brief address Monday following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, I had to wonder about the substance behind the president's promises.

At a minimum, I wondered about his administration's ability to live up to those promises given the vast drain on federal funding and resources that is the war in Iraq.

"I told (Va. Gov. Tim Kaine and Virginia Tech President Charles Steger) that my administration would do everything possible to assist with the investigation, and that I pledged that we would stand ready to help local law enforcement and the local community in any way we can during this time of sorrow," Bush said of the tragedy.

But what does "any way we can" mean?

More funding for emergency management?

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent 12 agents to Virginia Tech, and the FBI is contributing at least 15 agents to the investigation. The U.S. Attorney's office in the Western District of Virginia, the Department of Justice and the Education Department also are lending aid and counseling services.

Also on Tuesday, Bush spoke for six minutes to students gathered in a Virginia Tech gymnasium. He spoke primarily about faith in God, and the comfort of prayer in tragic times.

All of those are good steps for the president to take. They are appropriate short-term solutions.

But in the long run, will federal money be available to help counties fund pro-active measures such as increased emergency responder training and equipment?

The war in Iraq entered its fifth year March 19. (Where were you when Saddam's statue fell?) Partly because of that war, we are facing a long-term shortage of federal funding for emergency situations right here in Routt County.

Chuck Vale, director of the county's emergency management department, presented his 2007 annual Fire Operating Plan to the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Monday. The plan is an agreement between county, state and federal agencies. Vale said it's too early to forecast wildfire danger in Northwest Colorado this summer, but noted the operating plan has changes this year.

Vale used four words to summarize those changes.

"Federal cutbacks in dollars," he said.

In the past two years, regional wildfire prevention agencies have lost two fire engines and a water tender, which transports large quantities of water to the scene of a fire.

"Our ability to get that resource in 24 to 72 hours is lessened," Vale said. "We're almost going backward. We have to pay for a war and we have to pay for (Hurricane) Katrina, and something gets cut."

Monday, Colorado's entire Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell, asking the Forest Service to restore $4.3 million in funds cut from Colorado's Region Two by a resolution Bush signed into law earlier this year.

"The Forest Service needs to recognize that when they shortchange forests in Colorado, they put the entire Western United States at risk," said Sen. Wayne Allard.

Maybe helping "any way we can" means tighter gun control laws.

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said Monday afternoon.

Perino pointed out that Bush and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings hosted a conference on school gun violence in October 2006. Tuesday, Perino said, "We are going to be participants in that (national) conversation" about gun control policy.

Meanwhile, Congress geared up for what the Washington Post described as "a final showdown" on a war-spending bill later this week.

"We should not legislate defeat in this vital war," Bush said Monday.

If only he was referring to the wars we have right here at home.

Comments

bigdog 7 years, 8 months ago

only if John Kerry had won, this would have never happened......

If you keep asking for the fed government to "do more', they will. And before you know it, we will be socialist - oh, we almost are.

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Ilike2dv8 7 years, 8 months ago

Your right Mike, if we were just focused on home... the bad guy's wouldn't have flown two jets into the world trade center and murdered 3000 people. Have you ever been to ground zero Mike, you should go and gain a deeper understanding of what was lost that day. Imagine being one of the passengers on United Flt 93 going to see a close friend. It's a beautiful day, the sky is clear and then suddenly several terrorist take a crude box cutter and start slitting open the flight crew's throats until they take control of a US airline. Imagine the fear Mike... imagine those final minutes and seconds before those passengers were thrown from their seats as the plane spiraled into the ground at over 600 mph. It's a luxury to imagine Mike because you weren't on any of those flights that horrible day and you can play arm chair quarterback to the US President all day. You can mock him and humiliate him in your newspaper but perhaps you should consider supporting the office. And Mike, as much as we need to focus on America and we would love to live as Isolationist the bad guys weren't from Detroit, L.A. or NY, they were Islamic radical terrorist from the Middle East. It is in our best interest to assist "anyway we can" to help bring democracy to the region because the war that has raged for over 2000 years there hasn't really been working. It will take outside help if peace is to come to this region, if not the US then who? If you would like a list of the crimes committed around the world by radical Islamic fundamentalist I would be happy to send you a copy. It may surprise a man with such global understanding of politics that nearly every one of the tragedies were not committed on Middle Eastern ground but on foreign soil including ours.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 8 months ago

"We're almost going backward. We have to pay for a war and we have to pay for (Hurricane) Katrina, and something gets cut." WHY.... does everyone expect the feds to take care of them? WHY is it every one's project is more important than the other persons? We need to get the feds OUT of the "special interest programs" business. WHY should it be up to the feds as to what programs to fund or to provide grants for? Why should they be allowed to add other special interest spending measures to the war bill, why not one expenditure at a time so the people can see, up front, what special interest their elected officials want to spend money on? Give the federal gov't a flat tax to spend on "federal necessities" (look at the money saved on irs salaries alone), put politicians on social security with a forty hour work week, 50 weeks a year as is expected of the common taxpayer, make lobbying illegal. Let the states collect the larger tax so the citizens of each state can decide what programs should be funded. If you choose to live in hurricane country, expect hurricanes, if you choose to live in the mountains, expect snow, these are not unforeseeable circumstances so do not expect the gov't to bail you out. 20 below zero in Miami, that could considered unforeseeable. There are a lot of problems in this country, whining that the gov't isn't taking care of you or your special interest is one of them. The school shootings are definitely unforeseeable tragedies and my heart goes out to everyone that has been touched by them but never will anyone be prepared for every possible tragedy in this world. There are SICK people out there, I doubt that retreating from the war to make more federal funding available will ever change that but I guess you may be a little more prepared for the next 9/11

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dave mcirvin 7 years, 8 months ago

Once again there was never any connection between 9/11 and Saddam-Iraq. Now there is a connection made possible by our military presence in the Iraq debacle. It remains a spawning tank, a real time "you tube" if you will, for terrorist recruitment. Presently, we are losing 30 victims every week or week and half since the onset of the surge and yet, it should affect us much more. Just ask the nation's mayors, the lax guns laws in VA played a significant role with VA poly disaster and urban related gun crime on the east coast. Goodness forbid but did I just touch the third rail in Routt Co? If you truely desire to do something positive exclusive of any partison beliefs or any political affiliaton, visit www.Kiva.org

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