Tag Archives: 9/11

Allow this boast

I shouldn’t boast, given that I criticize Donald J. Trump for doing so.

Just bear with me for a moment.

I have just logged the 402nd consecutive day posting a blog on High Plains Blogger. I happen to believe that’s boast-worthy.

You might ask: Why?

It’s because I like to think I have a lot to say. It’s importance, of course, is open to interpretation. Much of my blog involves political and policy matters; less of it involves life experience, but I do consider that important, too. I also have series of posts on the blog: I talk about retirement and I also discuss adventures my wife and I have with Toby the Puppy; and I also look back from time to time on the full-time journalism career that concluded nearly eight years ago.

On that last point, my journalism endeavor hasn’t ended completely. I wrote for a public TV station in Amarillo for a time after leaving print journalism; I also wrote for a CBS-TV affiliate, also in Amarillo. Since moving to the Metroplex, I have become a freelance blogger for KETR-FM public radio at Texas A&M University-Commerce. And … I am a freelance reporter for a group of weekly newspapers, writing chiefly for the Farmersville Times.

Through it all, I have kept firing away on my blog. It’s what I do.

Some folks tell me I am a “prolific” blogger. I take that as a supreme compliment. I have help in that regard. The world is bursting with news on which to comment. It’s been that way since, oh, roughly about the time 9/11 occurred. That event changed the world and brought bloggers and other commentators like me along with it.

So, this blog continues apace. I am thrilled to be able to contribute some small perspective to the huge world of opinion.

Hey, it beats working!

You want major national change? Try this!

Mom and Dad saw the world change in front of them when we went to war against international tyranny. We emerged victorious from that world war and took our place as the world’s colossus … and the world changed forever.

Then came 9/11, when those terrorists flew jetliners into office towers and into the Pentagon. The nation went to war again against the monsters who sponsored those madmen. The nation is still fighting that war … and, yes, the world changed once again forever.

The world went through fundamental change in the 20th and 21st centuries because of senseless acts of violence brought to us.

Now we’re entering another fundamental change brought to the world by an “enemy” no one saw coming until it was too late. The world likely is going to change in ways we cannot even foretell now as we seek to stem the attack brought to us by the coronavirus pandemic.

Our world will change culturally, with no arena sports to cheer from grandstands packed with fans like you and me. Our interpersonal behavior will change. We’ll be far more cognizant of personal hygiene.

Think of this for a just a brief moment. Our government has enacted certain restrictions on our behavior. We must not gather in large crowds. We dare not venture into public places without wearing face masks. We pack sanitized wipes, little bottles of alcohol-based cleanser. We maintain what we now know colloquially as “social distancing” from those we meet.

We shouldn’t shake a stranger’s hand. We shouldn’t even embrace friends we haven’t seen in good while. Oh, sure, we aren’t prohibited by law from doing these things. It just is patently unwise given the nature of the COVID-19 virus that attacks even the heretofore perfectly healthy among us.

Therein lies the change that awaits us as we continue this struggle against the pandemic. My rumbling gut tells me we’re likely going to change forever … yet again.

The world changed 75 years ago

We saw it coming from Donald Trump

Many of us saw it coming when Donald Trump first announced his campaign for the presidency of the United States.

A fellow with no public service experience in his background, no military experience, not a hint of self-deprecation was running for the nation’s highest office.

His entire professional life had been aimed at one goal only: to enrich an already rich guy with even more loot, earned from allegedly shady business dealings.

So he runs for the presidency in 2016 vowing to shake up the government. He needed to vow to first learn something about how government works. He didn’t know then anything about the federal government operation he would inherit and he damn sure doesn’t know anything now that the government is in crisis trying to do battle with the COVID-19 virus that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.

Yep, some of us saw it coming. I don’t want to say “I told you so,” but … well, you know.

Trump’s response to the pandemic has been a classic cluster fu**. His daily rants long ago ceased delivering any useful information. He uses the White House press room as a forum to campaign for re-election.

He boasts about the “great job” his administration is doing, and then he lies constantly about what he has said previously and then about his denials.

There are so many aspects of Donald Trump’s time as president I find disheartening, so I’ll settle on just two key elements.

This man lacks any semblance of empathy. His White House rants — and I no longer will call them “briefings” — never contain a single expression of sincere empathy for the victims of COVID-19. They never speak to loved ones’ suffering, let alone to the suffering of those afflicted by the killer infection.

The other element deals with Trump’s inability or unwillingness to tell the truth. He lies about big things and small things. He lies about what he knew of the pandemic early on and lies about “friends” who have been stricken by the illness. He once lied about all the “friends” who died on 9/11, but there is no record of Trump ever attending a single funeral of anyone who perished on that terrible day in 2001.

Donald Trump has built his version of the presidency using the same blocks on which he cobbled together the business that was started for him by his wealthy father. He cannot resist seeking self-aggrandizement even in the face of the world’s dire health crisis.

Some of us saw this coming long ago. We couldn’t have predicted it would present itself in this particular context, but truth be told, we aren’t surprised in the least to see Donald Trump behaving in this hideous fashion.

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 rolled into one tragedy

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has issued fair warning.

Americans, Dr. Adams said, are going to endure our “Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment” as we continue to wage war against coronavirus pandemic.

I have no doubt that we are up to the challenge. We’ve been through hell already in our lives. I am 70 years of age and I’ve had a ringside seat to plenty of national crises.

The Vietnam War; constitutional crises; presidential impeachments; assassinations; fiscal calamity. They all have inflicted deep wounds on our national psyche, not to mention — in the case of the Vietnam War and other conflicts around the world — wounds on many thousands of Americans’ physical well-being.

We have somehow endured and emerged from those crises strong. Some have suggested we are stronger than ever. To that extent, I endorse part of the message that Donald Trump seeks to deliver, which is that we’ll emerge from this health crisis a stronger nation. I just do not want him to take credit for it … although I am certain he will seek to do so.

Our Pearl Harbor moment nearly 80 years ago thrust us into a world war. Millions of young Americans signed up immediately to get into the fight. My father, I learned just this past fall, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on the very day Japan attacked our fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Then came 9/11, an event that spurred a new generation of American heroes to join the war against international terrorism.

Yes, we emerged from that Pearl Harbor moment a mighty nation. It remains to be seen how we will rebuild ourselves after the terror attack on 9/11, although the signs look promising to me.

My hope now for the nation is that we exhibit patience and perseverance. Yes, we’re all learning to live in a world that requires us to observe new norms of behavior. Given the alternative to learning these new norms, I am willing to stay the course for as long as it takes.

We mustn’t rush back to what we think is normal. The killer virus does not respect the economic pain we’re enduring. It is singularly deadly. No amount of bluster is going to wish it away.

We got through Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We’ll get through this crisis.

We most certainly need a thorough look at our response failure

There can be no doubt that we need an independent blue-ribbon commission to examine the U.S. response failure early in the coronavirus pandemic.

There must be a commission modeled after the group that examined what occurred prior to the 9/11 terror attacks. The 9/11 commission was led by Republican New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and Democratic Indiana U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. It picked apart the national security breakdown that led to that terrible event when hijacked jetliners crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

What is happening now? How has the United States failed to be ready for the pandemic that has killed more than 20,000 Americans?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease doctor assigned to work on the Trump administration’s pandemic response team, said that an earlier response clearly would have saved American lives.

Our government didn’t act as quickly as it should.

The New York Times detailed how Donald Trump was told in late 2019 about the threat of a pandemic. He blew it off.

Indeed, the president continued to downplay the threat for weeks after it had claimed its first victims. It wasn’t until mid-March before Trump declared the pandemic a life-and-death fight against what he called “an invisible enemy.”

A commission charged with getting to the bottom of our failure is not a vehicle designed for political retribution. Its intent should solely be to issue the sort of after-action report that can ensure we remain in a state of constant readiness when future crises present themselves.

We will get through this crisis. Our nation is likely to emerge, as Donald Trump has predicted, stronger than ever. We all want that to occur.

I also want a blue-ribbon examination that delivers a blue-ribbon report that lays out what happened, or failed to happen, as the crisis was emerging.

This effort needs the full-throated endorsement of Donald Trump, who must not be afraid of what the findings reveal.

Trump exhibits monumental leadership void

The reporting of Donald John Trump’s daily briefings dealing with the coronavirus pandemic depresses me terribly. It tells me plenty about the president’s inability or unwillingness to lead a nation in distress.

More than 150,000 Americans have been stricken by the virus; nearly 3,000 Americans have died. The death toll is approaching the number of those killed on 9/11.

Donald Trump’s response at the Q&A sessions that commence during these briefings? He has attacked the media for asking him “nasty” questions. Trump told a respected PBS reporter that she needs to be “nice” to him, wondering why Yamiche Alcindor was no longer working for the New York Times.

This is not how a leader of a nation in distressed is supposed to comport himself.

President Bush led the nation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. He didn’t lash out at the media. He didn’t criticize his political foes. Bush talked candidly to us about the challenges that confronted us. The president reminded us that we weren’t at war with “Islam,” but were going to do battle with those who perverted that religion and brought destruction to our shores.

This president cannot rise to the level of a leader at war. He did call himself a “wartime president,” but has yet to demonstrate a single trait associated with that label. He exhibits pettiness, petulance, partisan pandering.

He attacks Democrats and the media. He denigrates governors who are on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.

This is not how a president who seeks to lead and unify a nation under siege is supposed to act.

It doesn’t matter to this president. He cannot lead. This individual who brought not a single moment of public service experience to the only political office he ever sought is demonstrating what many of us feared all along … that he isn’t up to the job.

Time of My Life, Part 47: 9/11 changed the dynamic

Events can shape people’s lives and even influence the direction their careers take.

The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 was a date that changed damn near everything in this country, not to mention the career I had chosen to follow.

I cannot prove this with actual, tangible evidence. It’s an anecdotal thing, to be truthful. But the 9/11 terror attack opened the floodgates for me as an opinion writer and editor.

I was working on 9/11 as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. I got word of the attack from a colleague who stuck his head into my office to ask if I had heard about the plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Well, the rest is history, right?

One element of that momentous day was the absolute flood of issues on which we could comment at the Globe-News. It never stopped after that terrible moment in our history.

There had been times in the years preceding 9/11 when I had to look for issues on which to offer editorial comment. As they say in the news business, “There are good news days and bad news days.” The good news days always gave opinion editors grist on which to comment; the bad days forced us to look for that grist.

The post-9/11 era — which lasted essentially for the duration of my career a dozen years later — often filled me with the greatest dilemma an opinion editor could face: too many topics on which to comment. 

There were a lot of days when I would go to work and have to face a decision. What issue can we set aside for another day? Think about that. I seemed to never face the problem of having to look for ways to fill that space on our opinion page with editorial commentary.

It was a curious phenomenon that I cannot quite explain even to this day. It just happened. The world was changing. The nation went to war against international terrorism. That era spawned issues that demanded leadership from newspapers that at that time were still considered beacons for their communities.

I hated the circumstance that caused that phenomenon to occur. However, I was oddly grateful that it did occur and gave me a treasure trove of topics on which to comment.

Those were the days, man.

Nix the ‘Chinese virus’ talk, Mr. POTUS

The Bigot in Chief just can’t resist tripping all over himself.

The Dallas Morning News noted correctly in an editorial today that Donald J. Trump finally began to sound like a leader when dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Then he stumbled again. He took to Twitter to refer to the pandemic as the “Chinese virus.” Yep. It’s China’s “fault.” Or so the president would have us believe with his idiotic Twitter rant.

The Morning News took note of how President Bush managed to soothe much of the nation’s grief after 9/11. He stood with Muslim-Americans and said they are as proud of the nation “as I am.” He said categorically that we are a nation of people of all faiths who share the same sense of common decency and kindness.

Trump just cannot get that notion through his thick skull. Oh, no. Instead he chooses to inflame mistrust toward Asian-Americans with that ridiculous “Chinese virus” reference.

As the Morning News commented: As many public health experts across the country have taken pains to explain, viruses don’t have nationalities, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to who can spread disease or become infected. Labeling coronavirus as a “Chinese” virus only contributes to the confusion and divisiveness in an uncertain time.

The president needs to step up and stop this moronic chiding of Asian-Americans who are in this fight along with the entire country.

This crisis seems vastly different from previous crises

I’ve been around awhile, a bit more than 70 years.

In my lifetime I have endured a presidential assassination, global warfare. I have witnessed a volcano erupt in real time. And yes, I have lived through health crises of all sorts.

None of those events has delivered quite the impact on our lives as the one that’s evolving at this moment. The coronavirus pandemic has brought a temporary (I hope) collapse of our national culture.

Think of this: Professional basketball, hockey and baseball have suspended their seasons; college basketball has canceled its men’s and women’s tournaments; Disneyland and Walt Disney World have closed; public schools are closing or are delaying their reopening after spring break; pro golf tournaments have been canceled or postponed; late-night comedians have suspended production of their shows, given that they cannot welcome audiences into their studios.

The president has declared a national emergency. Governors around the country are declaring disasters are at hand. Cities are banning events that bring crowds of assorted sizes.

Our popular culture is being affected in a major way by this coronavirus.

I am trying to remember a single event bringing this kind of disruption to our lives. I can’t remember it.

When the Japanese navy and air force attacked us at Pearl Harbor, the nation mobilized immediately but went about its life as we prepared to go to war. Our nation’s commercial air traffic was suspended for a time after 9/11, but yet we went to work the next day and our children went to school.

Yes, this one feels different. Our media are covering the ramifications of this crisis 24/7. They are far from exhausting every possible angle on this still-developing story.

As a former colleague of mine wondered on social media, he now will get to experience what he’s pondered over the years: How do people cope without being able to watch any sporting activity? I guess I can expand that to include going to any sort of event that brings crowds that get to laugh and cheer.

I long have called for patience and perseverance when government undertakes a project. My reference usually is of road projects or any sort of infrastructure capital construction.

We’ll need patience and perseverance in spades as we work our way through this health crisis. I also must add prudence.

Can this peace deal take root … with the Taliban involved?

You may count me as one American who wants like the dickens for the peace deal worked out with the terrorist group Taliban to work.

However, you also may count me as one who is suspicious to the max of any deal involving this treacherous band of cutthroat, extremist fanatics.

The Trump administration has announced a deal with the Taliban that will involve a fairly rapid drawdown of U.S. troops from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Donald Trump vowed to end our nation’s longest war. I want him to succeed in that effort.

The deal is fraught with peril.

It depends on whether the Taliban make good on their end of the deal, which includes a pledge to no longer support international terror efforts and to cease being a haven for terrorist groups … which is what got us involved in this war starting with the attacks on 9/11. We all remember that, yes?

I find it fascinating that when Barack Obama once said he would “talk” to the terror group, he was vilified by those who called him soft on terrorists. Now it’s Donald Trump who did the talking, but … where’s the criticism? Hmm. Go figure.

As the Associated Press reported: Under the agreement, the U.S. would draw down its forces to 8,600 from 13,000 in the next three to four months, with the remaining U.S. forces withdrawing in 14 months. The complete pullout would depend on the Taliban meeting their commitments to prevent terrorism, including specific obligations to renounce al-Qaida and prevent that group or others from using Afghan soil to plot attacks on the U.S. or its allies.

Can we really and truly depend on the Taliban to keep their word?

Let us hope so.