Bin Laden's Dead, But Our Long National Nightmare is Not Over
Ding-Dong the Witch is dead!
Well, that's nice, I suppose. But after ten years of wars that we paid for on the National credit card, one of them (Iraq) clearly and unquestionably unnecessary, after trillions of dollars wasted killing hundreds of thousands of people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and destroying the lives of millions more, we still ain't back in Kansas, Dorothy.
At this point, Osama Bin Laden had been reduced to a curiosity, less important than Mr. Irrelevant (That's the official title bestowed upon the last football player drafted by the football team who holds the last pick in in the NFL Draft for those unfamiliar with the term). Everyone in the know agrees he was little more than a symbolic figurehead with little to do but evade capture and issue the occasional tape to prove he was still alive.
Hey, I'm happy that a mass murderer and the criminal leader of the gang who attacked the Two Towers, the Pentagon and killed roughly 3000 people on 9/11 no longer is wasting space here on this earth. I'm happy for the victims and the families who lost loved ones in that senseless attack. If I'd been in New York City last night I might well have spent time out in the streets celebrating, too. However, the response set in motion by our government after that attack, a government who ignored the warning signs of an impending attack, and the by the political party then made hay while the "sun shined" (i.e., convinced Americans that they had everything to fear, especially from Democrats) in order to win elections and impose their reckless policies of privatization, corruption and rewards for war profiteers, is not over.
We still have Wall Street Bankers in charge of our economy, with far too little oversight.
We still have a stagnant economy that has been and will continue to be a massive burden for the poor and middle classes, while CEO's and executives like Stephen Hemsley of Health Insurance giant Wellpoint earned total compensation last year of $101.96 million.
We still have a war being waged on unions, public education and local control of government by Republican governors.
We still have a Republican budget plan touted as "serious and courageous" by the beltway pundits that would raise taxes on the middle class, slash taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals (many of whom have already gamed the system to avoid paying any taxes) while also eliminating Medicare for anyone under the age of 55, and doing nothing to lower with the deficit (unless you believe the Heritage Foundation, the same group that claimed Bush's tax cuts for the rich would result in deficit reduction back in 2003).
We have young men and women, highly educated, talented and hardworking kids graduating from College this year, many of whom will have little chance of finding meaningful employment.
We have millions of older worker who have been unemployed or underemployed for months and many now for years.
We have gas prices and oil company profits going through the roof (again). Exxon announced quarterly profits of $11 billion, up 69 percent from a year ago.
And it's not only Exxon. Other oil companies are prospering, too. Shares of Chevron rose 1.7 percent after the company said Friday that its net income rose 36 percent, its best quarter since 2008.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported $8.78 billion in first-quarter profits, up 60 percent from a year ago. BP PLC's quarterly earnings rose 16 percent to $7.2 billion. ConocoPhillips said net income grew 43 percent to $3 billion and Occidental Petroleum Corp. said earnings climbed 46 percent to $1.55 billion.
Meanwhile Republicans in Congress refuse to eliminate massive subsidies for those very same oil companies who claim it would
hurt Exxon, BP and the other Big Oil companies' feelings eliminate the massive harm their gouging of the public and other businesses whose fuel prices are skyrocketing harm their shareholders America itself if we forced them to shoulder part of the burden of the cost of our military that is deployed around the world in large part to protect the sources of their massive wealth generating vaccuum machine:
What ingrates we are. How could we even think of rolling back $4 billion a year in tax subsidies for big oil and gas? Just because the energy corporation-nations are making even more gargantuan profits as they reap the windfall from gasoline prices that are bringing our economy to its knees, we’re whining about their special-favor treatment. Have we no pride? [...]
Don’t take my word for it. We can thank the American Petroleum Institute for a brand new study that explains the public service its member conglomerates perform. According to Karl Isakower, who is API’s vice president of regulatory and economic policy, “The oil and gas industry supports millions of jobs and a significant portion of our economy and the retirement benefits of America’s teachers, police officers and thousands of others with a pension or 401(k).”
The API study analyzed four states’ public employee pension plans that invest heavily in energy stocks and therefore benefit from these profits. The API study was publicized to blunt any public anger about soaring oil company profits at a time when gasoline prices are hitting $4 a gallon.
Considering that Republican Governors are balancing their state budget deficits by raiding those very same pension funds even a they claim otherwise makes that a joke in very bad taste, in my humble opinion.
Big Lie by Bob McDonnell: "...The reason I think we're there [in economic recovery in Virginia] is we made all those really tough decisions last year, David. We balanced a $6 billion deficit without raising taxes, mostly through spending cuts, and it included education and included health. And yeah, there was some short-term pain, but you know we ran a surplus within 5 months, we're gonna have a big surplus this year, so now we're coming back, and here's why...we can't kick the can down the road...we've gotta make tough decisions."
Called Out by David Axelrod: "Look, you're a good guy and I commend you for trying to wrestle with this problem, and you made some cuts, your predecessor made billions of dollars in cuts right before you left, but you also balanced your budget with $1.7 billion in money from the Recovery Act, you balanced your budget by borrowing $3 billion against future receipts on transportation...you borrowed money from your pension plan that you're gonna have to return...but those bills are gonna have to be paid...Governor, when you borrow billions of dollars from future receipts and you borrow money from your pension system and you say your budget is balanced, the next governor's gonna have to wrestle with that, I know you only have one term there, but the next governor's gonna have to wrestle with that..."
So, yeah, I'm happy we got Osama Bin Laden at long last. But while it may be a feel good story for Americans over the short term, his death does little to improve the lives of Americans. Nor will it eliminate the National Security State and the massive and largely unknown infringement on our liberties that Republicans (and many Democrats too, sadly) instituted "because of 9/11" while doing little to make our country "more secure."
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. [...]
Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department's most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered.
"I'm not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities," he said in an interview. "The complexity of this system defies description."
The result, he added, is that it's impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. "Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste," Vines said. "We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe." [...]
In an interview before he resigned as the director of national intelligence in May, retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair said he did not believe there was overlap and redundancy in the intelligence world. "Much of what appears to be redundancy is, in fact, providing tailored intelligence for many different customers," he said.
Blair also expressed confidence that subordinates told him what he needed to know. "I have visibility on all the important intelligence programs across the community, and there are processes in place to ensure the different intelligence capabilities are working together where they need to," he said.
Weeks later, as he sat in the corner of a ballroom at the Willard Hotel waiting to give a speech, he mused about The Post's findings. "After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we so often do in this country," he said. "The attitude was, if it's worth doing, it's probably worth overdoing."
So pardon me, if in the cold light of day, I'm not jumping with joy that an old, sick man with very little control over active terrorist cells was given his ticket to paradise yesterday. It's a "Good News" story that I suspect mostly will be trumpeted by the media to obscure the reality of our "Bad News" situation more than its consequences will help improve that reality.