EIGHTY TIMES AROUND – What I’m Thinking About Today

1. It’s Monday, May 11, 2015. It’s summer-like here in New York. I can dig it.

2. Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says that a lot of what the American people have been told about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is a lie. Among other things, he says bin Laden was a virtual prisoner of the Pakistanis. He says that it was Pakistani intelligence officials seeking the $25 million reward, and not tracking a bin Laden courier, that led to the capture and killing. And he says that the president double-crossed everyone, including those in the military, by revealing the raid, which did not unfold exactly the way it was disclosed.

If you want to read the story, here’s the link: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden

I’m linking to it even though I don’t believe it.

Here’s my problem with it. Hersh’s account has too much of the sound of his sources, a retired U.S. intelligence official and former Pakistani officials who seem to have axes to grind.

More importantly, it belittles the idea of capturing Osama bin Laden. The way this story paints it, why bother with an invalid who’s under Pakistani custody?

But I don’t think the American people — especially those of us in a city attacked on Sept. 11, 2001 — gave a damn how Osama bin Laden came into custody, and Barack Obama knew it. It didn’t matter how bin Laden was wiped out — as long as he was wiped out. So it would have made no sense to go through any elaborate ruse. Getting bin Laden was supposedly the reason we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ding dong, the witch was dead — and it didn’t matter how it happened.

So all the machinations of aid to Pakistan and worrying about the Saudi reaction and not revealing details of the mission would have been foolish.

One other point. President Obama did a sort of victory lap the week after the raid, going to New York for the memorial service and visiting the Kentucky military base where the raiders were based. But bin Laden’s death wasn’t much of a factor in the 2012 election, and wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t been captured. George W. Bush had promised to get him dead or alive, and his failure didn’t do much to hurt his victory margin in 2004.

I think Hersh’s story is an attempt to get the administration to reveal some of the evidence of the raid, including the picture of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. I don’t think the president should give in.

3.     Kudos to The New York Times. New York is now cracking down on the nail salon industry, enforcing wage laws and requiring protective measures for workers, thanks to a two-part series in the Times last week. Nail salons have sprung up like weeds throughout the city and suburbs, and if these workers are being abused — as The Times reports — it should not go unnoticed. 

4.     Some people confuse fame or money with greatness. Yes, you can be famous, rich and a fantastic person. But of those three, greatness should be the aspiration.

I say that because today is the 80th birthday of my wife’s father.

He’s not rich and he’s certainly not famous.

But great, he is.

My father-in-law came to this country in the 1960s after escaping from the worst of the Communist takeover in China. He labored long hours in restaurants in New Jersey, providing for six children.

He did this without a lot of glory, and sometimes without a lot of thanks. But he did it because of the guiding idea for himself and others who have made America what it is — the idea that you put up with what you put up with in order to make life better for your children and their children.

There are lots of people, like my father-in-law (and my father, for that matter) who sacrifice for their families. There have to be, because there’s no progress in life without them. It’s what have driven people here from around the world, and what pushes them from deprivation and bare existence to relative comfort.

It is my privilege to have known this man for 30 of his 80 years, and my honor to have called him Dad for 29 of them. I’m thrilled beyond words to see this day come, and I wish a truly great man health and happiness today and every day.



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