Showing posts with label 9/11. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 9/11. Show all posts

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The abomination of desecration

Like millions of Americans, I watched the towers fall in New York City -- live -- on my television set.

Before they fell, I saw people leap to their deaths.rather than be burned alive.

I watched the Pentagon burn. I heard the stories from Flight 93, which gave us "Let's roll!" as a battle cry after Sept. 11, 2001.

Looking into the Omaha sky that day, I saw fighter jets and an AWACS plane. And no other aircraft for days.

I saw my country changed forever, and not for the better, in a single morning. That day, 2,996 people died. People are still dying -- many of them New York first responders -- because of that day.

TO THIS DAY, I get a pit in my stomach whenever I see old pictures of the twin towers of the then-World Trade Center.

And this is how the Omaha World-Herald has chosen to commemorate that terrible day -- with a 9/11 coupon section. If there's a more telling embodiment of the America of  Donald Trump, who infamously called a New York TV station to brag (falsely) that his Trump Tower now was the city's tallest, I don't know what that would be.

Thousands die. Hey, that's a killer opportunity to make a buck! Right, Warren Buffett? Right, Lee Enterprises?

I can't wait for what the World-Herald has planned for Pearl Harbor Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day.

On Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, when Todd Beamer told his fellow passengers "Let's roll!" as they fought to foil the plane's hijackers, little did we know how America would be rolling nearly two decades later.

It's enough to make one wonder whether our worst enemies are the ones who just might know us best.

Great Satan, indeed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ein volk. Ein reich. Ein furor.

The more I see of Ben Carson, the more my mind's eye flashes back to Cleavon Little disguised in a white robe and hood in Blazing Saddles.

Blazing Saddles was hilarious. Ben Carson is just weird . . . and scary. And he's leading the Republican presidential field.
At any rate, it's come to this in America 2015 as we embark yet again on the quadrennial farce, er, campaign -- a black dude using a picture of the collapsing World Trade Center on 9/11 to race-bait Syrian refugees. You can't make this stuff up.

I WISH someone had as some sort of sick joke. Instead, the joke is on human decency and American democracy, and it's no laughing matter.

Demagoguery such as this ought to automatically disqualify any politician who stoops to it as a serious candidate not only for the presidency, but for anything. Voters who fall for it are unworthy of the responsibility placed upon them by the dictates of democratic self-government.

Meanwhile, for Ben Carson's next act, he'll stampede some cattle through the Vatican. That'll show them papists for helpin' to resettle them A-rab terrorists in 'Murica.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No good speech goes unpunished

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Never are we humans -- stupid, sorry wretches that we are -- so contemptible as we are when wholly convinced that we're as moral and worthy as the other guy is depraved and unfit.

No one likes a self-righteous jerk, and for good reason. So I guess we can start right there when pondering why everybody hates America today.

Today is the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In what may be a reasonably reliable sign of al Qaida's ultimate victory in the resulting War on Terror, many Americans have spent this Patriot Day -- today of all days -- trashing Vice President Joe Biden for referring to the anniversary as a "bittersweet moment."

Unsurprisingly, talk-radio blowhards Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have been leading the charge. From Politico:

Hannity blasted Biden as either “callous” or “ignorant beyond belief” for using the word “bittersweet” to discuss the 9/11 anniversary, and Limbaugh told his listeners that “with 9/11, it’s all bitter.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden addressed a crowd at the United Airlines Flight 93 memorial and said it was a “genuine honor” to be there.

“But like all of the families, we wish we weren’t here. We wish we didn’t have to be here. We wish we didn’t have to commemorate any of this. And it’s a bittersweet moment for the entire nation, for all of the country, but particularly for those family members gathered here today,” Biden said in Shanksville, Pa.

With the “bittersweet” remark, Hannity said that the “vice president buffoon is at it again.”

“Does he even know what the word bittersweet means? What on earth is bittersweet about what happened on 9/11? Explain the sweet part, Mr. Vice President,” Hannity said.

“What happened on 9/11 was unmitigated evil,” he added after playing a clip from Biden’s 9/11 speech. “I don’t see describing it bittersweet. It either means you’re just callous or you’re just ignorant beyond belief and don’t know the meaning of what the term bittersweet is.”

Biden wasn’t the only one to use the word “bittersweet” in his remarks on Tuesday. National Park Service Flight 93 National Memorial superintendent Jeff Reinhold used the term “bittersweet” in his Tuesday address before Biden spoke to the gathering. In a transcript of his prepared remarks, Reinhold said, “and a very special welcome to the families of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93. As always, it is bittersweet to have you with us again.”

“As you can imagine, it’s been an incredibly personal and emotional journey,” Reinhold wrote in an email to POLITICO. “The families have been involved in every aspect of the process and I — and our entire staff — have developed wonderful friendships and very close bonds with many of them. We look forward to their visits in September and throughout the year, but always with a tinge of regret as we know it is a tragedy that brought us together. ‘Bittersweet’ seemed very appropriate and is a term that I think many of the families would use to describe their relationship with the staff at the Memorial.”

Hannity also slammed the media’s response to Biden’s “bittersweet” comment.
“And I can say this — and I’m trying to stay away from politics — if a Republican vice president had said this, the criticism, the ridicule, would come on like an avalanche,” he said.
PERHAPS IT'S merely that Hannity's and Limbaugh's minds cannot deal with complexity. Maybe it's that these gentlemen have an insufficient understanding of grace, particularly that which arises from great tragedy or evil, confirming for our hearts that "the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

Then again, maybe it's something else entirely with Hannity and Limbaugh. (See Paragraph 2.)

Whatever the reason for a really, really pointless and deeply, deeply idiotic attack on the vice president on this day -- Really? REALLY??? -- that it could be made and taken seriously at all should be a sign of how very sick we have become as a country . . . and as a people. As a fever is sign of an infection, this kind of mindless, hyperpartisan and wildly popular spleen-venting is a sign of a nation deathly ill from a poison that has overtaken the heart and has spread to the brain.

Look around you today. Watch the TV news or pick up a newspaper -- if you dare. For God's sake, spend even 10 minutes on Facebook. If Osama bin Laden was responsible 11 years ago for setting in motion even 15 percent of what we Americans now freely and lustily do unto each other, history will award him an honored place in the Pantheon of Evil Genius.

That we are talking about this today, 11 years after witnessing unspeakable horror unfold on our television screens, says much about us, none of it good.

We have become so practiced at blithely dehumanizing our ideological opponents that our own humanity now comes into question. Are we still human? Or, perhaps, have we become some new thing -- some sort of antihuman being.

Then again, it's a story that's as old as Rome and as sick as Hitler. We just can't help ourselves.

BUT AS we take to Facebook, Twitter and talk radio to call the vice president callous, a dumbass or worse as we peer down upon him from our high horse, it might be worth it to consider that he just might know a lot more about the subject of suffering -- not to mention what is and isn't "bittersweet" -- than the vast majority of us ever will. Actually, TPM's editor, David Kurtz, did consider just that:
Rarely do I watch Joe Biden give a speech or an interview without looking for some evidence, in his eyes or the lines of his face, of the fact that he lost half of his young family when he was 30 years old. It is inconceivable to me, always has been, but especially in the years since I became a father. For all his goofballism, Biden has gone through a crucible that I cannot imagine. And he did so when he was 30, an adult, already deeply invested in the life he was building.

That’s not to diminish the tragedies that children endure. But at 30 years old to lose your wife and baby daughter, to almost lose your two toddler sons, and to somehow carry on? It truly baffles me. I know everyone says you do what you have to do. But that’s not really true. You don’t. You could curl up in the fetal position, if not literally then emotionally, and shrivel up. I’m more certain that that’s what I would do than I am confident I would find a way to persevere. But Biden has been through it. He’s seen hell and been back.

That he served his entire 36-year Senate career after that searing experience in December 1972, shortly after winning election, and then went on to become vice president, adds some drama to the story, I suppose. But for me the emotional highlight is just him getting out of bed the next day, and the day after that, and the one after that.

Which brings me to Joe Biden’s speech today in Shanksville, Penn., commemorating the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. The speech is marvelously and sensitively written. But rendered by Biden, drawing on his own life experience, in rhetorical ways that are not ostentatious and which don’t try to elevate his own story above those of the victims’ families, it packs a wallop that still makes me cut him a lot of slack for his sometime inexplicable goofiness.
I DISAGREE with the vice president on many things, particularly social issues. But I do well to remember that God loves him just like He does me . . . and that Joe Biden has guts. It takes guts -- and more than a little strength of character -- to survive, as he has, not only shattering grief but the shattering of one's whole world.

The way I figure it, if Rush, Sean and all the angry birds on Twitter actually had to walk a mile in the vice president's shoes, we might find out who the real "dumbass" and "buffoon" is. (ANSWER: Not Joe Biden.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

All that heaven will allow

It is now 9/12. After all the 9/11 hype, after all the ceremonies, after all the memories and all the tears and all the politicians' words that already have been forgotten, all the 9/11 tribute that was needed was all that heaven would allow.

Thousands have spent millions trying to memorialize that which befell us a decade ago -- those lives taken from us, the death of what we were and the difficult birth of what we now are -- and have fallen short. Still, we seem somehow out of tune.

After everything, amid all the unending promotion
(and, indeed, way too much unseemly wallowing and sad pandering) we basically had nothing. Or at least not nearly enough amid much too much.

But it was a year ago last night that a Spanish musician, photographer and Twitterer who mightily loves New York looked up. He took the shot. And John de Guzmán thus captured what all the politicians' speeches and all the media's stories could not. In the blink of an eye -- the click of a camera's shutter.

They needn't have bothered. What was needed was already done.

The photo, unsurprisingly, has gone viral. I just thought the man behind it deserved a little credit for capturing what all the rest of us could not -- or would not.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whack-a-mole in the name of 9/11

In blessed memory of the thousands killed Sept. 11, 2001, the United States government cooks up an award-winning recipe for war without end, forever and ever, amen.

I have become used to the memory of that horrible day being profaned in the name of twisted agendas, but this one stands out for its inanity.

"Some back home have asked why we are still here," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said at a 9/11 memorial at the embassy in Kabul. "It's been a long fight and people are tired. The reason is simple. Al-Qaida is not here in Afghanistan, and that is because we are. "

"We're here so that there is never again another 9/11 coming from Afghan soil. We, with our Afghan partners, figured out that the best way to ensure that is to work together and with the international community for a stable, secure, democratic Afghanistan."

BY THE twisted Crockerian logic on display in Sunday's story, we ought to invade the whole of the Middle East and southwest Asia . . . starting with Pakistan, moving on to Yemen and Somalia, and then on and on and on . . . whacking wherever the mole leads us, then staying forever.

By Crockerian logic, which is the logic of American geopolitical orthodoxy, al-Qaida is no longer in Iraq
(so we'd love to believe) because we are. Even though al-Qaida only went to Iraq after the United States invaded in 2003.

By Crockerian logic, we ultimately should "clear and hold" the whole of the earth -- expending what's left of the tattered American empire's human and financial treasure.

By real logic, we know this, of course, will not happen. We will have bled out -- both in metaphor and in fact -- long before that. We're bleeding out now.

And the "moles" laugh. And kill.

Friday, September 09, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: 10 long years

Ten years.

You know what I'm talking about. It's been 10 long years, and the media has kicked into overdrive obsessing about it. How much they're actually
reflecting about it -- that awful Sept. 11 and what has transpired because of it -- remains to be seen.

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, we're going to take a stab at reflection. For a bit. We're also going to take a stab at not overdoing it.

that's countercultural. One thing we've not become over the past decade is more circumspect. Or less prone to excess.

AS YOU will discover on this edition of the Big Show, I have some thoughts on 9/11 and the last 10 years of fear, division and endless war. I'll save that for the program . . . give it a listen, will you?

But what I will share with you now is this: We've made our bed in our response to that terrible day, and now we have to lie in it. Part of that is each one of us trying to make the best of a suboptimal situation.

And part of that is trying to be better people tomorrow than we were yesterday -- making this land of endless war and domestic troubles less of one than it has been.

Find joy where you are. Find God in those around you -- even if they're different than yourself. (Hint: So is God.)

Take joy in the simple things, like music. Maybe even in the Big Show . . . it would make my week if you did.

NOW, if you will excuse me, I'm going to take a bit of my own advice. I'm going out for coffee with my beautiful wife on a fall-like Friday night.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hunting thugs down like radar. . . .

I wonder what Osama bin Laden's last words were.

I'd like to think they went something like "Hmm . . . lots of helicopters headed this way. Looks like the raid's here.


That's right, Raid, the new al-Qaida killer from Uncle Sam Whacks! It hunts thugs down like radar and kills them dead!

Well, whatever. At least justice has been done, no matter the aesthetics of it all.

At this late and long-awaited hour, I have only this to say:

God bless America.

God preserve the Constitution.

God save the president.

And may God do whatever the hell He wants with that bastard bin Laden.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bomb-throwers and pyros for America

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Everybody knows the game our self-proclaimed "patriots" are playing with "Obama's a Muslim" and the self-righteous faux outrage over "the Ground Zero terror mosque."

Everybody except, of course, the willing dupes who comprise the intended target of the GOP brass, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and all those who define themselves through their rage.

It's all about hate; it's all about fear; it's all about paranoia. It also is all about politics and the upcoming midterm elections.

What it's also about is playing with fire. It's about ginning up a mob to demand that the federal government . . . New York city government . . . hell, anybody tear down the whole edifice of our constitutional rule in the name of saving the republic from The Other.

The cynical right wants us all to become a lynch mob to save ourselves from terrorism, which is related -- somehow -- to America's first black, socialist, Nazi Muslim president. Or something like that.

It's not exactly a credit to our cultural and democratic
bona fides that the vast majority of Americans fail to see the deep and toxic irony of this.

INSTEAD, every time I log on to Facebook, I am confronted with the sidebar list of how many family members, friends and old classmates "like" Glenn Beck.

Like Glenn Beck, like his message. Unfortunately, Beck's message is both bats*** crazy and racially incendiary.

As you know, I grew up in the Deep South -- south Louisiana to be exact. I know what that was all about 40 and 50 years ago, and what it is still too much about now.

I can't judge anybody's heart today -- especially folks I haven't seen in years, decades even -- but I know how a lot of them were raised.
I know how I was raised.

I know what was in the cultural air we breathed. How we never gave our assumptions, or those of the society around us, a second thought as we took spiritual Corexit into our hearts and minds. I know that such enculturation can be nearly inexorable, because when you're raised that way from birth, the poison gets into that space between visceral reaction and engagement of the conscience and the mind.

SCRATCH THE SURFACE of my home state, Louisiana, and you'll quickly get to a very bad place. Do the same in any part of America, and you're likely to find varying states of the same collective id.

They say the devil's greatest trick is to convince us he doesn't exist. He just hides in our crooked hearts as our overconfidence congratulates itself on what good, moral, patriotic and God-fearing works of art we have become.

Yet the lynch mob sings "Onward Christian Soldiers" as "the better angels of our nature" twist in the wind, strange fruit of a demagogue's tree.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'Patriots' and their sympathy for the devil

Here's all you need to know about America and her "patriots" today, in three simple video clips.

Above, we see that "patriots" today are so offended by Muslims building a mosque blocks from Ground Zero in New York that they're willing to give offense to the most precious principles of American constitutional law, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

AND THEN we see that Republican "patriots" in Congress and elsewhere are so upset about illegal immigration, they are chomping at the bit to undo the 14th Amendment, undoing some foundational principles of their own party in the process and once again leaving the question "Who is an American?" up to the political whims and prejudices of the moment.

LET'S ASK St. Thomas More, as depicted by Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons, how that's going to work out for them.

Has anyone considered that it's better to give the devil his due than to give him the whole bloody country, something our American "patriots" seem hell-bent on doing?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feds to City: Drop Dead (of fear)

Just to refresh your memory from the other day

I am speechless, apart from the word "unconscionable," so I'll just excerpt this story from WCBS television in New York:

CBS 2 HD has discovered the feds will have plenty to question.

Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.
ARE THERE SOME Ford Administration holdovers still at the Pentagon and the FAA?


Monday, April 27, 2009

How to trigger an entire city's PTSD

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

We're from the government . . .

And we're here to scare the holy living s*** out of you.

See, the above picture shows an F-16 seemingly chasing a Boeing 747 from the fleet of Air Force One backups this morning. The jumbo jet is flying low -- really low -- over Manhattan.

But not so low you can easily tell it's a presidential plane.

New Yorkers seeing this -- or in some cases seeing this coming straight at their skyscraper offices -- did the entirely natural and logical thing, given this bit of recent New York history:

They panicked.

They streamed out of their high-rise offices and into the streets.

They ran for their lives.

And one woman grabbed her camcorder to document what she was sure must be a hijacked airliner ready to bring carnage to her city once again this decade.

HERE'S an account of the incident from The New York Times:
An Air Force One lookalike, the backup plane for the one regularly used by the president, flew low over parts of New York and New Jersey on Monday morning, accompanied by two F-16 fighters, so Air Force photographers could take pictures high above the New York harbor.

But the exercise — conducted without any notification to the public — caused momentary panic in some quarters and led to the evacuation of several buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. By the afternoon, the situation had turned into a political fuse box, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg saying that he was “furious” that he had not been told in advance about the flyover and the White House facing questions about it. In unusually harsh language, the mayor criticized the Defense Department for conducting the exercise and the Federal Aviation Administration for being secretive about it.

The flyover, which began around 10 a.m., resulted in widespread confusion and a flood of calls to emergency hot lines. Perplexed officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other authorities were inundated with calls from anxious ferry passengers, office workers and residents.

The mayor said the Police Department and someone in his administration – he did not say who – received an e-mail from the Federal Aviation Administration late on Thursday, informing them that there would be “a fly-by for a photo-op, as they described it.”

However, Mr. Bloomberg said he was not apprised of the flyover until his BlackBerry started buzzing this morning with messages from people asking if he knew what was going on. He characterized it as a breakdown in communication that “will never happen again.”

“First thing is, I’m annoyed – furious is a better word – that I wasn’t told,” he said at a City Hall news conference held to discuss the swine flu cluster in Queens.

Jim Peters, an F.A.A. spokesman, said “the photo op was approved and coordinated with everyone.” Notification was made in advance to the mayor’s office, “including its 911 and 311 operation centers,” the New York City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the United States Park Police and other agencies, he said.

The Police Department confirmed that it had been notified about the event but said it had been barred from alerting the public. “The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the F.A.A. for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the F.A.A. Air Traffic Security Coordinator,” the Police Department said in a statement.

The mayor criticized the secrecy around the flyover. The e-mail notification “did have the normal language of saying this is sensitive information, should be distributed on a need-to-know basis, that they did not plan to have any publicity about it, which I think is ridiculous and just poor judgment,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
I WONDER whether the Air Force photographers had long-enough lenses to catch a few shots of panicked New Yorkers having coronaries?

Can you imagine? The Air Force has this brilliant idea to fly a jumbo jet low over New York and buzz several skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. They coordinate with the FAA, which apparently is OK with the idea.

Then the FAA notifies an office at City Hall, but orders the New York bureaucrats not to tell anyone.

Your government at work, folks.

When I consider all the gathering storms out there that only the federal government is big enough to deal with, the words that come to mind are "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

OF COURSE one might wish to take a more proactive stance. As in, "Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."

Do it now, before you're way too woozy from the swine flu.