A Government That Feels Our Pain – Too Much To Ask?

by Diane Dimond on September 21, 2009

Blind to our needs?

Blind to our needs?

This column is about both crime fighting and journalism – the two entities that come together to define what I do. Regular readers know this column has never been about politics but today it contains an appeal to politicians and other government workers nationwide.

Get your heads out of the rule book and think about the human consequences of what you do! Think about how your actions impact the feelings of your fellow Americans.

Look, I’m all for practicing crime fighting skills – practice makes perfect, I’d say. But what bureaucratic moron thought it was appropriate to stage a mock Coast Guard drill in the Potomac River at the same time the president of the United States was leading a solemn September 11th commemoration ceremony for mourners a short distance away?

The Coast Guard didn’t warn anyone …  they’d be conducting an exercise simulating the interception of an unauthorized terrorist boat on the river – not the White House, the FBI, Homeland Security or nearby Ronald Reagan airport. Happening as it did on this most solemn day in our recent history news of it threw everyone into emergency mode.

This very real sounding exercise, right under the bridge President Obama traveled that day, included broadcasting make-believe commands over an open radio frequency. A crew member was overheard by an observant CNN producer saying, “Stop your vessel. … You will be fired on!” There was mention made of 10 shots being fired. The video showed boats bobbing and dodging in the water.

The rest of the Coast Guard didn’t know about an exercise and the lack of clarification wasn’t cleared up for more than

Coast Guard Folly

Coast Guard Miscalculation

an hour. Later, instead of being red faced and apologetic about scaring the crap out of people on such a sensitive day our government authorities, like White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, seemed to blame the messenger – CNN – for what was happening out on the Potomac.

I agree with CNN’s statement, “It would have been irresponsible not to report on what we were hearing and seeing. As with any breaking news story, information is often fluid and CNN updated the story with the official explanation from the Coast Guard as soon as it was provided.”

Was CNN perfect in what it reported? No – it announced 10 shots had been fired when all CNN had heard was a crew member on a radio talking about 10 rounds and pronouncing, “bang, bang, bang.” That does not a shoot-out make.

Nonetheless, I think former Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend probably put it best when she told a TV interviewer the Coast Guard exercise constituted “felony stupidity.”

This isn’t the first time the new Administration forgot to take the public’s reaction to its actions into account.

The 330 K Shot

The 330 K Shot

Last April, someone in the White House military office came up with the completely asinine idea that the government needed new pictures of Air Force One over the Statue of Liberty. I suppose they wanted a photo depicting how the new administration was ever vigilant about justice and liberty. So, in the midst of one of the worst recessionary periods in history it was decided to spend 330 thousand dollars getting new publicity shots for the Obama administration. The president’s jet was sent out on a crystal clear blue-sky Monday morning (the weather much like it was on September 11th, 2001), accompanied by an ominous looking F-16 jet fighter to snap some shots. For a half-hour, the Boeing 747 and F-16 circled the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan skyline where the World Trade Center Towers once stood. Office workers panicked and evacuated. Dispatchers were inundated with breathless calls, eye-witnesses reported dangerously low flying planes.

No one along the chain of this idiotic command thought to alert local authorities to the photo-op exercise and obviously no one stopped to think what the effect would be on still skittish New Yorkers who were directly and devastatingly impacted the last time jets flew into that restricted air space. Later, the President apology fell on deaf ears.

I know the media isn’t perfect and its recent inability to come up with a plausible estimate of how many hundreds of

Read All About It ...

Read All About It ...

thousands of protesters turned out on the streets of Washington DC makes the point. But the media is there for you, to report what it knows, and in this 24/7 cable news era when it knows it. Because news is a fluid thing you can get a front row seat as the reporters and the anchors learn new information. A murder has occurred, a suspect is found, charges are filed and then there’s a trial. News it’s always developing.

Is it perfect system? No. That’s why there is a corrections section in your local paper.

So when the government messes up – where’s the correction page?


Diane September 22, 2009 at 5:33 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Peter S. writes:

” Loved your “felony stupidity” comment. Add to that, “felony arrogance. “

Diane September 23, 2009 at 10:01 am

Facebook friend George W writes:

” I was told when I was a young man, “whomever is in power, vote them out”. I never realized how true that statement was until time passed and I witnessed the rampant corruption at almost every level of government. The longer they’re in power, the more corrupt they become (with very rare exceptions). Power breeds greed.”

Diane September 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

Facebook Friend Max C. writes:

“At the risk of being a contrarian, Diane, I’d say “Washington” is a convenient punching bag when people don’t bother to really learn what it takes to run a big country like this. You’d be surprised to learn how many things that *don’t* make the headlines every day take place in D.C. just to make it possible for us to have the lives we have in this country. That Social Security check so many people depend on in their older years? That comes from DC (in one form or another). That’s just one example. So before people go blaming “Washington”, I would say instead, “Go look in the mirror.”
If you have a problem with the way things are with the government, do something *constructive* about it.”

Diane September 23, 2009 at 10:05 am

Facebook Friend Leslie S. writes:

” I think they care. But Obama has a socialist view of things. If the disabled could benefit from this, than why not…. Socialist values are not for everyone… Good job D!”

DianeDimond October 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Well, thank you, ma'am! You're hired as my new publicist! ~DD

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