Tag Archives: 9/11

Will we stand alone at the next big attack?

A commonly held notion in the wake of the 9/11 attack was that we shouldn’t concern ourselves over if another attack would occur, but we need to focus on when it would take place.

It’s good to remember at this point that when we collected ourselves after the horror of that event and went after the terrorists who did the deed, we had much of the world rally with us. Our friends in Europe and the Middle East were there. So were our allies in the Far East and in South Asia.

The European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization both rallied behind us in our retaliatory strikes against the terrorists. Their fighting men and women died alongside ours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

OK, so let’s fast-forward to the present day.

Two previous presidents — George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama — have come and gone. We have a new one at the helm, Donald J. Trump.

Whereas Presidents Bush and Obama courted our allies and sought to ensure they would be there when the chips were down, we now have a president who has decided to call the EU a “foe,” he has denigrated NATO’s value in today’s world, while excoriating its members for failing to pay more for their shared defense.

All the while, Donald Trump has thrown himself at the feet of Vladimir Putin, the Russian strongman, and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean despot. He calls them “strong leaders,” “intelligent,” and people he “trusts.”

This leads me to the question that is lurking in the back of many observers’ minds. When the next terror attack occurs — and while none of us wants it to happen, we must be mindful that it very well could — are we going to be able to call on the very allies the president has insulted time and again?

My fear is that we’ll fight the next war alone.

You can take this to the bank: Never mind that Trump says that

“I, alone” can repair the nation’s ills, not even the greatest nation on Earth can fight wage this international fight all by itself.

Thus, we might be forced to reap what Donald Trump has sown.

‘Deep State’ emerges as villain

I was waiting for this to occur.

A member of Congress, a Republican and a founder of something called the Freedom Caucus, has now accused the “Deep State” of conspiring to get him tossed out of Congress.

Several former Ohio State University wrestlers say they were sexually abused by a team doctor and that Jim Jordan — an assistant coach at the time — looked the other way. They say he did nothing to stop it.

Gordon says the Deep State is working to conspire against him.

Who or what is the Deep State? I understand it is supposed to mean those in power who are immune from voters’ wishes. Wikipedia describes it thusly: It is a term used “within political science to describe influential decision-making bodies believed to be within government who are relatively permanent and whose policies and long-term plans are unaffected by changing administrations.”

So, it’s the Deep State at work against Jordan, a champion of the little guy. Right along with Donald J. Trump, the billionaire who became president after spending his entire professional life engaged exclusively in self-enrichment, self-glorification, self-aggrandizement and self-adoration.

The Deep State has now become a throwaway term. It’s right up there with the “mainstream media” and the “Washington elite.”

Deep State is fairly new to the American political vernacular, even to those who spend a good bit of time studying politics and the people who practice it.

However, like most conspiracy theories, any Deep State notion presumes that its members — whoever the hell they are — are able to concoct some plot, execute it and then keep it all secret.

This notion is as nutty as the conspiracies that linger over the murder of President Kennedy, that President Bush masterminded the 9/11 attack or that President Obama was born in Africa.

Deep State? It’s fake news, man!

How will history judge this presidency?

Is it too early to begin thinking about how history is going to judge Donald J. Trump’s term as president?

I think not.

We’re well into the second year of Trump’s time in office. I am beginning to ponder how history might end up categorizing this most unconventional, chaotic, tumult-filled presidency.

Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal; Gerald Ford restored a sense of decency in government; Jimmy Carter was bedeviled by the Iran hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan is remembered for restoring the nation’s sense of confidence; the Cold War ended on George H.W. Bush’s watch; Bill Clinton got impeached and he oversaw tremendous economic growth and the balancing of the federal budget; George W. Bush took us to war against terror after 9/11 and endured a financial collapse that rivaled the Great Depression; Barack Obama helped rescue the economy and ordered the death of the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

Trump’s time in office?

I have begun looking back on it and I keep coming up with a course that hasn’t yet been charted.

He took office in January 2017, delivering a grim and foreboding inaugural speech and then ratcheted up his war against the media. He has described reporters as the “enemy of the American people.”

He uses “fake news” to disparage anyone who reports anything negative about him. He has burned through several Cabinet secretaries and key White House advisers.

Trump awakens  every day and fires off tweets attacking anyone who sits in his crosshairs.

The president is facing a serious shellacking in the midterm election coming up later this year. Democrats might retake the U.S. House; the Senate is within reach, too. Then it might really, really rocky for the president as he sets up a re-election campaign for 2020.

He signed a tax cut into law. He has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He pulled us out of a deal that seeks to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Trump yanked the United States out of a climate accord signed by virtually every other nation on Earth.

Through all of this, the president refuses to acknowledge what intelligence officials have said already, that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election and has declared war against the FBI and the Department of Justice.

What a legacy — so far. I am quite certain we’ll have a whole lot more drama in store as this presidency heads toward the next election.

Stay tuned.

What became of America’s Mayor?

Rudolph Giuliani used to be a revered public figure. He stood tall amid the rubble of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan and rallied a stricken city in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

Time magazine named him Person of the Year in 2001. It was richly deserved. Giuliani became America’s Mayor.

Then something happened to him. He decided to get involved in national politics. He dressed in drag to spoof something or someone. He ran for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2008.

Rudy Giuliani has gotten a bit strange. If you saw his shtick at the 2016 Republican National Convention, then you understand my point. If you haven’t seen it, take a look:

His latest gig is as Donald J. Trump’s lawyer, representing the president as he does battle against what he calls the “witch hunt” being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Giuliani has managed to step all over Trump’s denial about hush money being paid to a porn star; he argues now that the president cannot be subpoenaed or indicted by the special counsel, even if Mueller produces evidence that Trump broke the law.

Giuliani has become a shill. He has behaved in a seriously unattractive manner as he defends the president against Mueller’s investigation in whether Trump obstructed justice or “colluded” with Russians who interfered in our 2016 presidential election.

Honestly, I much prefer the former Rudy Giuliani, the man who faced down terrorists while standing in the rubble.

The “new Rudy” is acting like a clown.

Mark it down: Trump finally defines ‘fake news’

This might be a landmark day — of sorts — for the Donald J. Trump administration.

It’s the day when the president of the United States finally explained what he means by “fake news.” He did so, naturally, via Twitter:

The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?

“Network News about me is negative (Fake) … ”

There it is. Do you get it? Finally, the president comes clean and admits what almost all of us have known already.

He has been impugning the integrity of the media for the past couple of years. He labels all news he dislikes as “fake.” The irony of course is too rich to ignore, given the president’s own propensity for promulgating real “fake news,” which I interpret to be a synonym for “lies.”

The Obama birther story, the “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, some phony-baloney link between Ted Cruz’s father and Lee Harvey Oswald. All lies. That’s what I call “fake news.”

Negative news coverage in Trump World is “fake” too?

In the president’s goofy mind, perhaps it is. Except that it isn’t.

How will the former America’s Mayor do this job?

I have no legal background. I spent a career writing news stories and offering commentary on issues of the day as a journalist.

There. That said, I am going to express some bafflement at Rudolf Giuliani’s decision to join Donald J. Trump’s legal team with the aim of finding a quick conclusion to a special counsel’s expansive and exhaustive examination of allegations of collusion involving the 2016 presidential election.

I stood behind the former New York mayor when he rose to the challenge of repairing his city that was shattered by the attack of 9/11.

Giuliani reportedly has plenty of shared history with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who’s been conducting the investigation. Indeed, Mueller became FBI director right before the 9/11 attack (see picture above).

But since that time, the former mayor has become a political pit bull. He is a fierce defender of Donald J. Trump, whose campaign is being examined by Mueller and his team of legal eagles.

I am having trouble understanding just how this man, Giuliani, intends to persuade Mueller to button up his examination quickly. The way I understand it, Mueller is a meticulous prosecutor, careful in the extreme to protect evidence gathered.

What’s more, Mueller already has indicted some individuals close to the president’s campaign. There appears to be much more ground to plow before he brings this probe to an end.

As Politico reports: Mueller likely still has much work to do. At a minimum, he must see through his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including bank and tax fraud and is set to face trial starting in July.

So, the question remains: How is the man once called “America’s Mayor” going to push Mueller to conclude at least portions of this investigation in a speedy fashion?

This layman out here in Flyover Country doesn’t see any way in the world that will happen. Robert Mueller will conclude this investigation at his own pace … if he’s given the chance to complete his work.

Look out, ‘radical Islam’

President George W. Bush told us in clear and unequivocal terms while the nation grieved over the 9/11 attack: We are not at war with Islam.

President Barack H. Obama followed that message to the letter. On the night he announced the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president told us that bin Laden was not a “Muslim leader,” but that he was a “mass murderer of Muslims.”

A new president has taken over. Donald J. Trump has just nominated Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state and has appointed John Bolton to be the new national security adviser.

These two men — not to mention the president — seem intent on changing the narrative. They want to take direct aim at “radical Islam,” as if the terrorists with whom we are at war represent a great world religion. They do not. They have perverted Islam to fit some ruthless ideology.

As Politico has reported: Both Bolton and Pompeo will now be working for a president who has alleged, with no evidence, that American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks, and who has proposed banning all foreign Muslims from U.S. shores. Critics say the personnel moves suggest Trump’s worst instincts on how to approach the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims will find receptive ears among his foreign policy aides.

Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, who will be leaving the State Department and the National Security Council, respectively, were thought to have some sort of moderating influence on Trump. But the president has shoved them aside, elevating two more fiery confidants to help formulate U.S. foreign policy. They are likely to seek to steer the president toward a position that mainstream Muslims might interpret to be more hostile to their religious faith.

That, I suggest, is a dangerous trend.

The killers with whom we have been at war since 9/11 need damn little pretext to recruit new militants to follow their perverted cause.

‘So much fake news’

Every time Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump Sr. throws out the “fake news” allegation, I am reminded only of one thing: The president lacks any sense of self-awareness.

You know the type. These are people who accuse others of doing what they do. It’s a form of projection. Perhaps it’s a pathological condition.

Whatever it is, Trump’s got it. Or he lacks it.

The president fired off a tweet after the “60 Minutes” interview with the porn queen who says the two of them had a fling in 2006. He called it “fake news.”

Sure thing, Mr. President. I happen to believe her. She’s more credible than the president of the United States. Yes. A porn actress is more believable than the head of state. What in the world has become of this world?

And … why is that? Because the president is the king of fake news.

He perpetuated the lie that Barack Obama was not qualified to serve as president because he allegedly was born in another country. He lied about President Obama wiretapping his offices in Trump Tower after the 2016 election. He lied about witnessing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

He lies without any sense of shame or guilt.

Through all of this, the president has the stones to slap the “fake news” label on any news story he deems to be negative.

Fake news are those items that are demonstrably false. They are made-up tales. They are lies put forward by those who cannot tell the truth. These tall tales are meant to defame others, to do damage to others’ credibility.

The president will never look inward while he accuses others of fomenting “fake news.” It is left to the rest of us to do it for him.

The Liar in Chief is a disgrace to his office.

No shortage of commentary grist

I can peg the day when it all began.

It was a Tuesday. Sept. 11, 2001. A colleague popped his head into my office that morning and asked, “Did you hear? Someone flew a plane into the World Trade Centers.” I asked, “Was the weather bad?” He said no; the weather was beautiful. “What kind of moron would do that?” I asked. I turned on the TV — and then watched the second jetliner crash into the other WTC tower.

The horror began.

It hasn’t let up. That was the day that as an opinion journalist — an editor and an editorial writer — that I’ve never had to struggle to find topics on which to comment.

More than one person has asked me about how I am able to write so frequently on varying subjects. I don’t really have a good answer. The only thing I can trace it to occurred on 9/11.

That singular event granted editorial writers such as yours truly with a sort of professional “dream scenario.”

It goes like this: My task for many years after that horrifying event was to decide which subjects I could set aside for another day. The opposite of that option is struggling to find subjects to write about to fill a gaping space on the editorial page.

Those opportunities seem — mysteriously, I should add — to have mushroomed into many other facets of commentary. In the weeks and immediately after 9/11, as the United States prepared to retaliate and as we searched our national soul for what happened on that terrible day, we were consumed by the act and our national response to it.

I stayed at my daily print journalism post for another 11 years after that day. Then my career at the Amarillo Globe-News ended. I have continued my passion for commentary damn near daily since I walked away from a rewarding and moderately successful career.

And in this strange and unexplainable way, I have maintained the pace that was set on 9/11. A day does not arrive that fails to produce something on which to comment. Yes, this blog has spent a lot of energy commenting on matters relating to the presidency of Donald Trump. I am able to look elsewhere, too.

Such as right now, commenting on the environment that produces such a rich harvest of topics on which to pontificate.

It’s great to be alive in this day and time! Yes?

Tom Hanks: Man of many IDs

Tom Hanks has become the go-to actor to portray historical — even iconic — figures.

I heard today he’s been cast in the role of Fred “Mister” Rogers in a new biopic that tells the story of how the late Presbyterian minister rose to fame as a children’s storyteller.

It’s clear to me that Hanks has emerged as the preeminent male actor of our time, or perhaps of any time.

Look at the record.

The guy has won two best-actor Oscars. Back to back!

Get a load of this, too: He’s portrayed the late U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, with whom I became acquainted while covering him in East Texas; Chesley “Sulley” Sullenberger, the “hero of the Hudson River,” the jetliner captain who made that astonishing landing in New York — on the water; the late Ben Bradlee, the famed editor of The Washington Post; Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, the space flight known for the dramatic rescue of the three-man crew after an in-flight explosion on its way to the moon.

I spoke with Rep. Wilson not long after the 9/11 attack. I called him for some perspective on al-Qaeda, given that he worked to supply arms to the mujahadeen in their fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Wilson was damn-near giddy at the news that Tom Hanks had agreed to portray “Good Time Charlie” in the film titled “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

I never met Bradlee and I don’t know Lovell or Sulley.

Still … I give Hanks huge props for landing this opportunity to portray yet another American icon.

I am sure Mister Rogers would applaud this bit of casting.