Say What?

Bob Woodward’s newest book, Obama’s Wars, contains a presidential quote that should make all of us feel a lot better. “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

Really? Nine years after 9/11 America is in better shape? Whose nation is he talking about?

At the risk of plagiarizing an analogy, I’ll borrow from Bob Hebert’s  NYT article under the headline, “Two different worlds.”

Hebert describes working in his quiet Manhattan apartment last Thursday when a storm hit parts of New York and “took a frightening toll in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.” Throughout the event, he remained unaware of what was going on nearby.

His analogy: “The movers and shakers of our society seem similarly oblivious to the terrible destruction wrought by the economic storm that has roared through America. They’ve heard some thunder, perhaps, and seen some lightning, and maybe felt a bit of the wind. But there is nothing that society’s leaders are doing — no sense of urgency in their policies or attitudes — that suggests they understand the extent of the devastation that has come crashing down like a plague on the poor and much of the middle class.”

Do you suppose for a moment that the wealthy elite who populate government grasp the tragedy of the poverty that affects more than 14 percent of the population? Or the effect of extreme employment security on the middle class in terms of stagnant incomes and an entire decade that has produced essentially no economic growth for the typical American household? It will take about 11 million new jobs just to stop the bleeding and years to reach the employment levels of December 2007. I can’t wait for the next spin doctor to reassure us that everything will be all right in the morning.

Challenged by the demands of a decade of combat, the Defense Department budget has spiraled out of control, exacerbated by ineffective bidding of contracts and non-existent oversight. In the midst of the requirement for increased spending to replace equipment worn out years ahead of expected service life and fund combat operations for the indefinite future, the Secretary of Defense expects to reduce the Pentagon’s budget. The bottom line: what is projected as indispensable to protect America’s security interests at home and abroad is financially unsustainable. Our solution for that and all other unfunded obligations is to borrow more.

But. hey, we’ll just fix it all with another government program. Maybe create the Department of Magical Tricks that will undoubtedly be as effective as the Department of Energy.

Created on August 4th, 1977, the DOE’s purpose was to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. And 33 years later, with a yearly budget of 24.2 billion, 16,000 federal and about 100,000 contract employees, a 30 percent consumption of foreign imports in 1977 has increased to 70 percent. Whoa. How about that for a report card?

And we’ve turned over the banking system, health care, and the auto industry to the same government who gave us the DOE.

But President Obama says we’re stronger, so I guess I’m mistaken and it must be true.

I am so relieved.

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