The Rant 

"Happy birthday, Osama.

We hope it's a blast.

But cover your backside,

It might be your last."

Doggone it. I forgot Osama bin Laden's birthday last week, and now I'll have to send one of those belated American Greetings e-cards. I think the NSA still forwards his correspondence.

Osama has disappeared like Howard Hughes, supposedly in the "Mad Max" region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they ought to check out the penthouse suites in the high-rise hotels of Islamabad, just to see if anyone has tin-foiled the windows. Osama's probably up there, kicked back with his dialysis machine and a hookah, watching a Blue-ray of Ice Station Zebra on the 50-inch flat screen he just got for a steal at the Kandahar Circuit City.

I think the cave search should be about over, now that Osama is the hero of the Muslim world and could be given shelter and protection just about anywhere. I noticed that no one has yet ventured a claim to the $100 million that was offered by the Bush regime, "Dead or Alive," for his capture. His devotees are busy celebrating the 57th birthday of a sick man who has been fighting in the mountains since the 1980s. He's been the subject of a supposedly intense, worldwide manhunt and has already lived 15 years longer than Elvis.

Al-Qaeda's stated objectives for their attacks on the U.S. were to draw the nation into their apocalyptic visions of worldwide jihad, entrap the military in an extended guerrilla war across rugged terrain, and drain the nation's economy. I recall thinking at the time that if these lunatics believed knocking down the World Trade Center would alter our way of life, they had badly underestimated the United States. But Osama and his personal Karl Rove, Ayman al-Zawahiri, used the same playbook that worked with the Russians in the 1980s. Back then, when the Afghan mountain resistance was known as the mujahideen and were being armed and supplied by the Reagan government, we called them "freedom fighters." The bloody and costly 10-year Soviet stalemate in Afghanistan did far more to bankrupt the Soviet Union than Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech. U.S. troops have now been in Afghanistan for eight years.

Look where Bush's "international war on terror" has brought us: The Iraq war and the resulting atrocities have been a breeding ground for terrorist recruits like a fetid swamp for mosquitoes; 17,000 more troops have been ordered to Afghanistan to attempt to return the situation to the status quo that existed several years ago; and the American economy, in the words of Warren Buffett, "has fallen off a cliff."

Wall Street greed, the housing debacle, and Reagan/Bush economics certainly contributed to our financial collapse, but no U.S. president in history has tried to fight two wars while simultaneously granting massive tax cuts and not requesting sacrifice from anyone but the military. Our financial institutions are in shambles, our armed forces are pushed beyond their capacity, the Taliban has returned (along with the burka), and Pakistan has granted safe haven to "suiciders" and "evildoers" in the Swat Valley, adjoining Afghanistan. One would have to surmise that in the past eight years, every one of al-Qaeda's objectives has been met. And Osama is still alive somewhere, with his pal Ayman, carving up a birthday cake in the shape of Pakistan.

All this could never have been possible without the myopic Bush and his militaristic neocons. In fact, if al-Qaeda had hand-picked and trained their own accomplice, like a Manchurian candidate, and placed him in the U.S. presidency, they could not have found a more hapless and predictable foil than the crusader "Moe" and the other two stooges, Rummy and Cheney. To paraphrase the old country song by Roy Clark, "Thank God and Greyhound They're Gone."

There is still this thing called "accountability," however, and in the name of "keeping us safe," some evil deeds were committed in our Halliburton-sponsored war with Iraq. Somebody's got some splainin' to do, and someone needs to inform all the Bush lackeys screaming "executive privilege" that the executive they speak of just left town.

In addition to the "truth commission" that Senator Patrick Leahy has introduced to determine who did what in the phony, "mushroom cloud" build-up ad campaign for the Iraq war, the U.N. has just begun an investigation into the Bush kidnapping and rendition policies, stating, "The change in administration will have no effect on our decisions." I know that Dubya wouldn't understand irony if it hit him in the presidential library, but who would have believed that Osama bin Laden would plot and execute an attack on this country that claimed thousands of lives, and eight years later, the man facing prosecution is George Bush.

Happy birthday, Osama.

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