How Osama Bin Laden Won the War And We Lost our Country Or, Reflections on the Death of Osama

After 911, pundits wondered why a future Saudi Prince heir to millions of petro dollars would kill 2,974 American citizens.  Some claimed his homicidal rage was the result of jealousy over our achievements – we do have 3.5 color television sets per household while the third-world worries were its next meal is coming from.

We consume more energy, eat more fast food and produce more trash than the rest of the world combined.

That made Bin Laden jealous, some pundits claimed.

With the release of photographs showing an old grey bearded Bin Laden huddled in a threadbare blanket watching a tiny black and white television, those pundits must feel some satisfaction.

Others speculated he was jealous of our freedoms.    This one puzzled us.  If millionaire Saudis have anything, it’s the freedom to do whatever they wish – that spells freedom in our book.   On the downside, his religion encouraged him to marry three wives but we won’t go there.

And speaking of religion, other pundits felt his rage was caused by our religious heresy.   But the truth is that more Mosques open in the USA yearly than Baptist churches – Islam and its followers have a firm foothold in Middle America and may soon replace evangelicals as the new religion of intolerance.

Another line of reasoning claimed Osama saw America as an evil empire intent on opening McDonalds and Colonel Sanders throughout the world, destroying the revered traditions of ancient cultures   But we’ve opened thousands of hamburger and chicken joints throughout China without a single complaint so that one won’t hold water either.

Personally, we believed Osama was simply stark raving mad with too much time on his hands – idle hands are the devil’s workshop. But one man’s insanity is seldom a good enough reason to go to war so other excuses had to be invented.

But whether it was over color television, religion, insanity or Ronald McDonald, Osama waged war against the US of A and won!

We know what you’re thinking. Blue crabs at the bottom of the Arabian Sea are chewing on the old man’s toes this very minute so how did he win?

He was responsible for our country losing its way after 911.    We enthusiastically passed new laws removing what freedoms remained in the name of national security while we bled the nation in senseless wars.  We now not only tolerate torture, we encourage and defend it.

Just maybe that’s what Osama wanted all along – to destroy what made America the world’s beacon for liberty.

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The Incredible Shrinking County Employee

Last year, an interesting study about New Mexico’s ratio between population and public service employees appeared in the Rio Grande Foundation.

On average, there were 15.78 public sector employees per 1000 citizens in county and city governments –  the city with the highest being Gallup with 517 employees with a population of approximately 20,000 resulting in a ratio of 25.8.

Breathing down Gallup’s neck at number four on the charts of all time croniism was Las Vegas with 307 employees with a population of 13, 689 for a ratio of 22.4.   Compare to New Mexico’s other municipalities, Vegas was a robust 43% higher in its number of public employees.

There’s probably a good reason why Las Vegas needs 43% more employees to keep things running smoothly.  We’d be happy to publish the reason if anyone finds it.

Surprisingly, San Miguel County tops out with 138 employees for a ratio of 4.9.

We say surprisingly because all along, we figured that County employees were just good at being stealthy – keeping below the radar.  Now, we’ve learned that might not be the case.  Somehow, County Manager Les Montoya has learned to keep the county running with less than a 1/3rd of  the average number of public employees. The truth is: San Miguel’s public employees are not stealthy; they just don’t exist.  You can prove that by calling the Public Works Department and inquiring about road repair.  San Miguel’s PWD is a lonely place.

But you have to give Les credit.  He’s saved us a lot of money in taxes. Of course there have been a few quality of life issues ignored but having those would only spoil us.


Save our Stop Signs

There are some who ignore the rules as if those rules don’t apply to them. For many (you know who you are) compliance is determined by the odds of being caught and punished.

For an example: It’s midnight and you’re headed home exhausted, ready to climb into a warm bed. It’s been a lousy day and another minute spent on the road will be unbearable. Ahead, you see a four-way-stop but after looking both ways, you drive through without stopping, glancing back once to see if a napping policeman has startled awake and is on your trail. But when no red lights appear in your rearview mirror, you smile with satisfaction, knowing you’ve escaped justice. Few of us want to admit this but occasionally, breaking the rules without suffering the consequences is satisfying.

Unfortunately, some New Mexican politicos carry this one step further only with greater risks and bigger rewards – they not only refuse to stop but insist on returning to steal the stop sign.

And lately, the risks of getting caught misbehaving have decreased. In an effort to balance the budget, our governor is cutting away the fat or what she deems as unnecessary and wasteful programs. One of the victims of this cost reduction is the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor.

These are the bean counters that work stooped over columns of numbers, their beady blood-shot eyes counting each penny spent in New Mexico. You’ll never see them on the six-o’clock news kicking in crooked politico’s doors, guns drawn and screaming “You’re under arrest”. Yet without the auditor’s work, no light-fingered bureaucrat would ever be indicted, tried and punished again.

And we would be a state without stop signs.


School Casinos or Gaming the System for Fun and Profit

Here’s how it works:  The economy crashes so the new governor looks for ways to reduce cost in public schools.   The salaries of superintendents or administrators can’t be touched so that leaves cutting money for the kids.  No problem, let’s play game the system.

In order to balance the budget, the State reduces funds they’re willing to pay for each child from $3900 to $3500.  But a child in need of bilingual or special education is eligible for up to ten times that amount. ($35,000)   Now, if you’re not an embezzler or a vice president for Goldman Sacks, (sorry, it’s the same thing) you still might not see the perfection in this scam so we’ll use an example.

Little Johnny, a bright and enthusiastic child, is tested and it’s determined that he lacks certain skills to succeed in school. Even though he speaks English better than Henry Kissinger, the school declares his primary language as Spanish and throws him into a bilingual classroom.  Bilingual teachers are a rare breed and don’t grow on trees so they’re expensive – they’re also cash registers for school districts.

Before you curse the ground we walk on, another disclaimer: We believe that bilingual education started as a good idea but like many good ideas, it was hijacked and is currently being held for ransom by a gang of blood leeches. (Sorry, that’s too harsh. Maybe just leeches)

Anyway, Little Johnny, confused, but trusting academia, goes along with the scheme until at some point, the school determines that just maybe, Johnny has more problems than first diagnosed and should be declared a special education student.  Those problems might arise because little Johnny is trying to learn that 1+1=2 in multiple languages.  Who’s to know?  Certainly not the bilingual or special ed cheerleaders. They’ve got a vested interest in continuing the status quo.

If you’re a die hard pessimist, you might believe this scam is only indigenous to New Mexico but you’d be wrong.  In Dallas, Texas, after running low on funds, administrators where caught forging (as in creating out of thin air) social security numbers in order to hire undocumented bilingual teachers from Mexico.  Each bilingual teacher was worth tens of thousands to the school district so why not?

Meanwhile back in New Mexico, the cash rolls in to the school districts by the wheelbarrows. Superintendents get raises and everyone is happy until the day little Johnny, now totally in the dark about his place in education, drops out of school to pursue a GED and a career in dodging improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

Latest news: the governor is proceeding with audits for suspected gamers. There’s 34 districts that will be forced to open their books and parade little Johnny out for the horse and pony show.  But for once, Las Vegas’s school districts dodged the bullet. (Hurray!)


I Told You So

Republicans are fond of gloating when circumstances turn bad for our country – especially when Obama’s in charge.

Misfortune gives Republicans an opportunity to criticize the Whitehouse and its Democratic occupant. It’s the political equivalence of a child’s, “I told you so”.

Our two favorite Republican gloats are: “How’s that change working out for you?” and “Do you miss him now?”, the latter being a reference to President George W. Bush’s presidency and the first, Obama’s promise of change.

You must admit, both little ditties are pretty funny.  And like all good satire, there’s a grain of truth in both.

Obama inherited an economic collapse plus two wars from Bush. But, not to be outdone, he added a third war while surrounding himself with the very people who caused the collapse by their own greed  So, to answer the Republican’s gloat over change, we hang our head in shame and admit, “What change?”

All that aside, we have to come clean; Bush was entertaining as he led us down that cartoonish winding road of lunacy for eight years on our way to crazy town. With his goofy smile and John Wayne swagger, he’d walk up to the podium and recite wisdom for the ages:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

So, the answer to the Republican’s question about missing Bush – At least he was entertaining as he sold us out… even if he was wrong

– you can get fooled again and again.


Help Wanted

Wanted: Person to fill position of Almighty Creator.

Title: God

Job duties and responsibilities: If you have the desire to frighten the hell out of people and are looking for a rewarding professional career, running the universe is the place for you.

Salary: Dependent on experience

 

With all that’s happening in the world, God has got to get discouraged and retire someday. So, just in case the position comes open, we’re ready to fill His shoes. We’ve already got the smiting down and are working on perfecting miracles.  But God is best known for his sense of humor and that’s also our strongest suit.  That’s why we believe we have a foot up for the position.

After we’ve settled in and put on a nice color coordinated robe, we’ll put our feet up on the celestial desk, light up a Cuban cigar and with the snap of a finger, we’ll switch everyone. Men will become women and visa versa.  The poor will become rich and the rich poor.  Evangelical conservatives will wake up believing the rapture has started only to find Obama stickers all over their Saabs.  We’ll turn Tea baggers into angels and cats into dogs; drill sergeants into pacifists and pacifists into four star generals. The laughs should be good for at least a millennium.

And as soon as the world gets back to the way it was, we’ll switch ‘em again.


Drilling for Pinot Noir

New Mexico has an active and vibrant wine industry.  At last count, there were over 42 commercial wineries plus an untold number of small family vineyards, all together producing over 700,000 gallons of grape annually.

This year, a couple of bills passed the legislature to assist the State wine industry; nothing startling, just some laws allowing local wineries to sell and ship their products within the state as well as across the state line. This had been going on through the Internet for years but was not totally legal. The advantage to the state was the sales taxes they’d collect from out of state wineries shipping to New Mexico. It’s was obviously a win-win for everyone. New Mexico’s wineries would make some money selling their grape to a wider market and the Opera crowd in Santa Fe was pink with anticipation.  The industry itself requested these bills and was happy to see them passed by both houses.

But before the bills made their way to the governor’s desk, a lone lobbyist rode out of the mist, wagged his finger and shook his head.   Normally, any form of alcohol would rule over a single lobbyist but this was no ordinary mouth piece. This was an oil industry lobbyist (picture an angry John Wayne coming through the saloon door looking for cattle rustlers).

Right here, you’re going to ask yourself why the oil patch has an interest in stopping the free flow of booze. And that’s the same question we had.

Seems there’s an oil company in Artesia that has a wine club. The good old boys have been importing wine from around the world and if the governor signed these bills, they’d have to pay a sales tax on their hobby.

And anybody in New Mexico worth more than a quart of 10-40, knows not to mess with the oil business.  It was their money that elected the new governor and she was quick to repay that debt by revising a few tiny nit-picking rules like where they could dump their millions of gallons of carcinogenic wastes.  After all, fair is fair in politics and sludge.

Nothing about this pay to play surprised us. What was surprising that wealthy oil executives would sober up their lobbyist long enough to trot him up to Santa Fe just to save a few pennies in sales taxes. But then we got to thinking, these are oil executives and are probably not drinking Boones farm wine coolers. Even if the oil companies are making the highest corporate profits in history, a couple of cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982 at $700 a bottle and you’re talking serious change.