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Define Security, Mr. President | The Nation

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The Notion

Unfiltered takes on politics, ideas and culture from Nation editors and contributors.

Define Security, Mr. President

A three-year freeze on public spending on everything except entitlements, veterans benefits and security?

Two years into a major recession -- a devastating depression in many place -- just how is this administration defining that convenient little word "secure?"

Democrats and Republicans both like to genuflect before the altar of providing "security"-- from terrorism, for example. The truth is, most of us are safe. Reason magazine calculated in 2006 that even if terrorists managed to crash one of this country's 18,000 commercial flights every week, the average person's chance of being on that flight would still be one in 135,000. Deficit or no deficit, Washington keeps on spending on weapons and contractors -- even when that's the spending that's racked up the bill -- and billions of dollars are unaccounted for.

Turn to hunger and Americans are not so secure. A recent study by Washington University in St. Louis found that half of all of us receive food stamps before we turn twenty. More than 38 million Americans -- one in eight -- now receive food stamps, a record high. Nearly one in five told pollsters for Gallup recently that they had lacked the money to buy the food they needed at least once in the last year.

If it's political security Obama's worried about, he'd better look take a closer look. While his critics in the beltway talk deficits and terror, we spoke to J.D. Meadows, a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens who joined that group, not for fear of bombers but because where he lives in Mississippi the economy has crashed.

Said J.D.'s recruiter at the Council, the biggest issues growing numbers are the economy, jobs, and illegal immigration. And illegal immigration isn't even a close third. "It's more or less all about the economy," he said. "That's what's driving the growth right now." His words.

If the president is truly concerned with American lives (not to mention his own) real security, and not just Republicans' and Blue Dogs' rhetoric, perhaps he should listen not only to his base but also to people like J.D.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.

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