|Osama bin Laden
Americans sang and chanted outside the White House as word began to leak last night that Osama bin Laden had been killed. When President Barack Obama addressed the nation, he said bin Laden's death marked "the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda."
Obama took decisive steps in the effort to track down the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. And his speech hit just the right tone on what surely will be remembered as a historic Sunday evening.
But how significant is bin Laden's death, beyond its symbolic meaning? Was he really the No. 1 threat to our nation? Was bin Laden mostly a distraction from the internal rot that endangers America's future?
Consider some of the ominous problems we face, ones that have nothing to do with bin Laden:
* A Meltdown in Our Financial System--A recent report from the U.S. Senate outlines the fraud and chicanery at the heart of our banking and mortgage industries. The 650-page report is titled "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse." What were its findings? Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) sums it up to The New York Times:
“The report pulls back the curtain on shoddy, risky, deceptive practices on the part of a lot of major financial institutions,” Mr. Levin said in an interview. “The overwhelming evidence is that those institutions deceived their clients and deceived the public, and they were aided and abetted by deferential regulators and credit ratings agencies who had conflicts of interest.”
The bipartisan report asks federal regulators to examine its findings for violations of laws. But does our nation have the stomach to hold the bad actors of Wall Street accountable for their crimes?
* A Justice System in Tatters--As we have reported in numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer, our justice system is a wreck following eight years of misrule from the Bush DOJ. We still have innocent people in prison for political reasons. Federal prosecutors still are running amok, especially here in Alabama. Corrupt judges at both the federal and state levels almost never are held accountable. And Obama has shown no inclination to clean up the mess.
* Growing Income Inequality--An academic paper released in 2009 showed that income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing levels seen during the Great Depression. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the numbers "truly amazing." Census data drives the point home even further. Reports Associated Press:
The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.
The top-earning 20 percent of Americans--those making more than $100,000 each year-- received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.
That's the kind of income inequality that leads to social unrest in many countries. Could it happen here?
* A Clueless Electorate--Do Americans grasp the problems facing us? Do they understand how to tackle them? Results of the 2010 midterm election indicate large numbers of Americans simply are out to lunch. Many of them don't even have simple facts straight as they go to the polls in critical elections. Can the fact that John Boehner now is speaker of the U.S. House possibly be a good sign? What does it mean when large numbers of Americans appear willing to vote for Sarah Palin or Donald Trump as president?
Osama bin Laden was responsible for probably the most diabolical attack on Americans in our nation's history. His death certainly is welcome news, and those who tracked him down deserve our gratitude.
But Americans need to come to grips with the forces that are rotting our country from within. President Obama has shown little sign that he wants to tackle such problems. In fact, it was ironic to hear the president utter these words:
We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
What about justice for our political prisoners, here on our shores? What about justice for Americans who are treated unlawfully in our courtrooms, on an almost daily basis? What does it say about our "values" when we sit idly by and allow injustice against our own citizens?
Those questions have nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. How we answer them will determine where we are headed as a nation.