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  • Ezra Klein: Osama bin Laden Succeeded

    Less than 48 hours after Osama bin Laden was killed in a skilled military operation, the Washington Post’s liberal pundit Ezra Klein is already stretching to find a reason bin Laden actually “succeeded,” albeit partially.

    Klein’s hypothesis: Because Americans spent money in ways Klein doesn’t support, bin Laden succeeded by bringing us closer to “bankruptcy”. He conveniently throws in a myriad of policies he finds unappealing, mostly conservative of course, and chalks them all up as supporting the terrorist’s goals. It’s really mind-boggling.

    Unfortunately, this is what liberals who objected to our military supremacy, intelligence gathering and global leadership must now do. Objecting to the term Global War on Terror for years now, it is difficult to celebrate a hard-fought achievement of it. They must not accept that many of President George W. Bush’s national security policies continue to be extended by our current president and for good reason.

    If you supported fighting terrorists and the Taliban in Afghanistan, ridding the world of the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein, beefing up homeland security and apparently any domestic spending decision not supported by Ezra Klein, then you apparently helped Osama bin Laden succeed, somehow.

    Aside from the meritless claims Klein makes, he gets the very few specific details he mentions wrong. First, although he will never admit it, the Bush tax cuts did the opposite of bankrupting America. The inflation-adjusted 20 percent government tax revenue increase between 2004 and 2006 was the largest two-year revenue surge since 1965-1967.

    It might be in Klein’s contract that he writes tax cuts (i.e. you keep more of your money) are ‘unpaid for’ in every column. He is certainly welcome to debate the merits of tax policy, but he cannot honestly assert tax cuts pushed our nation toward “bankruptcy” or ridiculously add bin Laden was somehow celebrating them.

    Military spending is obviously too high for Klein, but was it too low for bin Laden? If it were not for hard power and unilateral action by the American military, bin Laden would not have been killed. Soft power and diplomacy were not an option. Without a strong and appropriately-funded U.S. military, these victories will not be achieved and future attacks may not be prevented. Our troops deserve the best available equipment to carry out vital missions like these and providing it to them certainly does not help the terrorists.

    Klein adds the cost of rebuilding Ground Zero and the health care costs of first responders as part of bin Laden’s plan to bankrupt us. Again, Klein asserts this was about economics and not “body count”. Can you imagine telling the families, victims and first responders of 9/11 (yet alone any of the other heinous acts bin Laden committed) that the terrorist’s end goal was to drive up health care and construction costs?

    But then we get into the reason why Klein wrote this opportunistic article. He says: “But it isn’t quite right to say bin Laden cost us all that money,” and continues: “Bin Laden didn’t — couldn’t — bankrupt us. He could only provoke us into bankrupting ourselves. And he came pretty close.”

    In this, Klein ignores, as the left has done for decades now, the rising costs of entitlements, rejected spending reforms and his favored stimulus form of government that has made the spending habits of the Bush administration look practically frugal. The national debt has skyrocketed on his watch, as have most other areas of federal spending. But Obama’s spending programs are favored by Klein so they are obviously not part of what is pushing us towards “bankruptcy” and Osama bin Laden’s success.

    Which gets us to Klein’s point. We are being pushed towards bankruptcy, but not by any dollar he has ever favored spending, but by every other dollar. And these specific Klein-not-approved dollars are the very dollars Osama bin Laden hoped we would spend.

    Klein calls this perceptible financial wizardry of bin Laden a “smart play against a superpower.” See, bin Laden just wanted us to spend money in ways Klein rejects. That was his whole plot. Liberal economics and security expenditures are good, conservative economics and security expenditures support terrorism. Get it? This was bin Laden’s “success.”

    In the end, Klein says: “But then, we can learn from our mistakes.” Let’s hope Klein indeed can.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Ezra Klein: Osama bin Laden Succeeded

    1. Jeff, NYC says:

      I agree that Klein's lack of acknowledgement regarding entitlements, etc, is fair game. However, just as he neglects to attribute our growing debt to policies enacted under Obama, so do you when it comes to confronting the dizzying costs of both Iraq and Afghanistan and the constraints those two engagements have placed on other areas of our economic development. It's also shortsighted to dismiss Klein's suggestion that economic destruction was also as much of an objective of Bin Laden/Al Qeada as was body count. Yes, telling that to a 9/11 vicitms family might be insensitive; that doesn't make it any less true.

      See, where conservatives and liberals are similar is in your inability–maybe your unwillingness, call it what you want–to delve into the complexities of issues like Bin Laden & the War on Terror and admit that there is fault and praise to go around–and that neither is as quantifiable as you might prefer. Both groups are much too absolutist. Liberals think the USA is often at fault, conservatives think it never is. And neither is correct.

      George Carlin once made funny quip about topics like these, saying, "I can't take anyone who talks about politics seriously." May the god he didn't believe in rest his soul.

    2. Bobbie says:

      I don't know about you guys, but it's been getting awfully suspicious in this once beautiful country of a strong and proud people being taken over by total disrespect of human life. Look at the generations of people and in government authority pushing away the dignity of human life for personal interests in socialism, communism and dictatorship of America.

      This once LAND OF THE FREE!? HOME OF THE BRAVE!? is being smothered by cowardice, weak and dangerous leadership infiltrating society at a rapid pace.

      A country once able to teach the world what freedom is using our human ability to live together amongst one another under the common law of civility is being destroyed! intentionally! by the minds of government leadership alone!

      We're outnumbered by the weak and pathetic such as Ezra, a misnamed person.

    3. George Colgrove VA says:

      Washington Post’s pundit Ezra Klein is liberal. However, I do not care about politics at this point. What he says has more than a thread of truth in it. He omits important factors, as he does not want to draw attention to the other half of the story, and why that part came about.

      Our current debt and the way the federal workforce and congress did not let the 9/11 crisis go to waste is the story.

      “Because Americans spent money in ways Klein doesn’t support, bin Laden succeeded by bringing us closer to “bankruptcy”.” Well this is a true statement. At the close of FY2000, we paid back just under $200 billion to the national debt. That was the last year we made a principal payment. Since then the annual defense budget climbed over $450 billion from the original $336 billion. Therefore, if this were the only increase, then Klein in the simplest terms is 100% correct. The war on terror has brought us closer to bankruptcy by being that which has reinitiated deficit spending.

      “He conveniently throws in a myriad of policies he finds unappealing, mostly conservative of course, and chalks them all up as supporting the terrorist’s goals. It’s really mind-boggling.” This statement is 100% true. On the liberal side (for that matter also with the federal workforce) one MUST use a myriad of explanations to obfuscate reality. Just enough facts to justify statements that are otherwise fact-challenged. You say “In this, Klein ignores, as the left has done for decades now, the rising costs of entitlements, rejected spending reforms and his favored stimulus form of government that has made the spending habits of the Bush administration look practically frugal.” But I ask, why was the left so successful with this spending?

      The fact of the matter the debt we have today is a result of tradeoffs because of the war on terror. With congress members getting significant contributions from defense contractors, they fought hard for useless and unnecessary defense systems that were invented to take advantage of the 9/11 crisis. These systems had to be voted on so as a trade off, entitlements were increased. Well another increase to entitlement was conceived, and so what did liberals do? Threaten the defense budget, which in turn made republicans vote for the entitlements to keep their cash cow going. Defense spending actually skyrocketed in 2007 after the democrats took over, but entitlements skyrocketed even faster.

      When you look at “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” then what Klein says make too much sense. Politics has become, you get what you want if I get what I want scheme. It is not behavior that is looking out for the greater good. Klein’s arguments would hold a lot of water if he included the other half of the problems – his myriad of explanations that only pin our impending bankruptcy on just out of control defense spending is being disingenuous. I feel a further analysis would find had 9/11 never happened, we would not have $3.83 trillion budgets or $1.6 trillion deficits and moreover we would not have a $14.3 trillion national debt.

      I feel if he furthered his arguments, we would find a greedy federal workforce that did not let a crisis go to waste. Just looking at their compensation alone, these people knew it was time to pounce on the event and successfully increased their compensation package to an average of $123,000 (2009-2010 numbers) while the rest of us struggles with an average of $61,000. All federal agencies, program and departments grew significantly – regardless of being realted to the security of the country. In 2001, the federal workforce was a drag on the economy to the tune of about 1.9 million workers. Today that number is edging over 2.7 million. The DoD climbed by 300,000 federal workers in that time frame – taking almost half of the increase to themselves.

      Knowing the self-serving nature of the federal workforce, if I were a terrorist, 9/11 makes a lot of sense. They put the nation into a frenzy, and because we have a highly secretive government, they had to know greed for power and money would rule the day. Since the DoD budget would have to go up, so would Education, Energy, Transportation and so on. Look at the spending charts – everything took off after 9/11. Even though this military response should have only taken a couple years. A decade of out of control DoD spending gave birth to more out of control spending throughout the federal government.

      Soon it was advantageous for social security to have this war, because it almost ensured they would get ever-increasing amounts of cash. It goes for education, transportation and so on. Ever wonder why the FOIA federal workers censor out “predecisional content” when we ask for information? These are the meetings where the federal workers (who write the core budgets) throw in content like “this should be a shoe in considering what the DoD wants to add.” They know that since the Republicans want increased DoD budgets, they will allow for almost everything else to be increased as well. In a very short period of time the federal government became flushed with cash – even thought there was no revenue to back it up. A practice that would spin out of control once the Democrats took over the congress and even more so when they got the White House.

      Liberals may very well “object to our military supremacy, intelligence gathering and global leadership must now do.” But they need it to be in place so we pay the ransom in higher entitlement spending. I swear that once the DoD budget gets back to reason, it will make for a far easier path to gut the wasteful entitlement packages that are out there. We the impoverished America will no longer be paying the huge ransom for out of control defense spending.

      As far as the argument for Military spending being too high or not high enough. Here is what we got for the $7 trillion investment. OBL – now publically recognized as dead, Hussein – dead. A number of high ranking terrorists – dead. Iraq is now in the hands of other leaders who are defrauding America. Afghanistan now has a government that is swindling America, Pakistan is now scamming America and finally we hear this week that Libya is now wanting a hand in our treasury. However, terrorism is and has always been at an all time high and for some reason with all the investment we have made in the DoD in the last 10 years, our military is near poorhouse status. The few kingpins we got and the nation building we have done is not worth the money invested since the problems we face are greater today than ever before.

      So yes, just looking at the resulting out of control and insidious defense spending that resulted from this crisis, and the immediate residual costs incurred rebuilding and caring for the people involved with the crisis has made a significant dent on bankrupting us as a nation. You are right however, it does pale in the egregious hikes that we face in entitlement spending. But I contend these hikes would have never been even conceived had the federal workforce and congress did not first increase the DoD budget into the stratosphere, and then hold this nations defense up for ransom.

      Klein says: “But it isn’t quite right to say bin Laden cost us all that money,” and continues: “Bin Laden didn’t — couldn’t — bankrupt us. He could only provoke us into bankrupting ourselves. And he came pretty close.” Looking at what has happened in the last 10 years with out of control federal spending – I think Klein is right. OBL did provoke us and we complied. We could have gone on another path – but we went forward with all guns firing with money not a factor. Well considering where we are – it turns out money was a factor after all. And considering the greed is still in play in the federal workforce and congress as there has been no cuts made in 2011 and virtually none fopr 2012, I would say that we have not only come “pretty close” to bankruptcy – I think we are there.

      Has OBL succeeded with bankrupting this country? I tend to go further than Klein. Because we have zero resolve to fix this when it matters, I do have to say OBL has succeeded. I am saying this not as a liberal either. I am saying this as a citizen spectator watching the federal workforce day by day driving this country into debt, watching a punditry allowing this erosion to occur and watching the elected officials with no resolve to be courageous to take a stand and start reintroducing reason. This country is on the slide. We were not back in January when fixes could have been made. In January, we were at the tipping point. We have now crossed over the tip and are heading down.

    4. phil m vooheesville says:

      It does't matter if you agree or disagree with Klein's politics. The first 6 paragraphs present the argument that I've long voiced..OBL was always vocal about his desire to BK the US. He made no secret of the plan and I've long believed we played right into the trap. We can all argue about what programs we should or shouldn't fund but the #'s now are downright scary. $2.2 trillion in revenue… $3.9 trillion in spending. We are living on borrowed time. This worked for awhile in the mid-2000's when the average joe was using his/her house as an ATM machine, loading up on debt and pulling out phantom equity. That game is over..it's time to pay and it doesn't appear that our "leaders" from either potilcal party have the stomach for what is necessary. Better to distract us with nonsense… more Guns, gays and God arguements that keep us all at each other's throats.

    5. Bobbie says:

      bankruptcy of opposing countries is a goal of a religion. the bankruptcy of this country would be avoided at all costs if the government wasn't helping the process by their intentional incompetence, arrogance and unaccountabilities. Whose side is this government on? The people's? Or EVIL'S?

    6. Paul, Lawrence KS says:

      This completely ignores reality. If this were to bankrupt the country, then why did we do so well after WWII? The Fed spent 3-trillion alone just on wheels-greasing, because all that defense spending wasn't putting enough money into the economy as far as they were concerned. This won't bankrupt us, at worse it will contribute to inflation, and make those pennies more worthless than they are.

    7. Jackie says:

      This another thing that congress will not stop obama on, yet again these proven socialist in office will let him get away with weakening the UNITED STATES. They don't listen to the people that elected them to Represent us as citizens. They only look out for themselves and their career as politicians. There motto, do what and say what you have to, to stay in office. They honestly think that we don't see them. If they don't get recalled they will be voted out.

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