Tag Archives: 9/11

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.

What has happened to ‘America’s Mayor’?

Of all the amazing characters who have been caught up in the sausage grinder that passes for a network of friends and associates of Donald John Trump, the transformation of one of them interests me greatly.

What has become of the man known as America’s Mayor?

Rudolph Giuliani has sidled up next to Trump as his personal lawyer and in the process has become the butt of jokes from damn near every late-night comedian in the country; he has morphed into a cartoon character depicting an out-of-control, unhinged fanatic.

Oh, my. It’s astonishing.

I remember how this man emerged as a champion of New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. He stood strong and resolute. He comforted his constituents who were shocked and stunned by the horror of that event. Time magazine named him its Person of the Year for 2001, a richly earned designation for the mayor.

However, over time he seemed to become full of himself. He ran unsuccessfully for president. He’s been divorced a couple of times.

Then along came Donald Trump and there was Rudy, backing the Republican candidate for president.

He reportedly argued on his own behalf for an appointment as attorney general.

Then he joined himself at the hip to Trump when the president got into trouble over the Ukraine matter.

All the while, he has made a spectacle of himself, spouting buffoonery whenever possible. He talks blithely about investigations into Trump foes’ matters. His TV behavior becomes grist for jokes.

I don’t get it. None of it makes sense.

All I am left to do is shake my head.

Killing of murderer underscores nature of this fight

The killing this week of Qassem Sulemaini underscores a fundamental question about the crisis that was thrust on this country on 9/11: How we do declare victory in a war against international terrorism?

Sulemaini led the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He had buckets of American blood on his hands. He needed to be hunted down and killed. And so it happened in a drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and his forces have been fighting against Iraqis and U.S. troops.

More than 18 years ago this country was dragged into a war of someone else’s choosing. Al-Qaeda terrorists pulled off a stunning and cunning surprise attack on this country from which we likely never will recover emotionally, at least not as long as there are Americans still living who remember that terrible day in 2001.

We went to war. President Bush said at the time that our fight was not with Muslims, but with those who perverted their faith into a demented justification for the act of evil.

And so the fight has gone on and on.

Our special operations forces killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in May 2011. They went into action again in October of this past year and killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. They, too, needed to die. Did their deaths or the death of Sulemaini spell the end of their terror networks? No. They all found someone to replace them; Sulemaini’s deputy commander has stepped into the commander’s role in Iran.

I don’t intend to suggest this country should give up fighting the terrorist monsters. I merely intend to seek to put this fight into what I hope is a proper perspective.

We should acknowledge that terrorists have existed since the beginning of civilization. The 9/11 attack at the beginning of this century emboldened them. They have become more brazen than before. Moreover, the rest of us are paying more careful attention to their hideous rhetoric and, yes, their actions.

We can take some comfort in the tactical victories our side is able to score: the deaths of terror leaders and the battlefield successes we can secure as we seek to defeat the terrorist monsters.

I cannot stop wondering, however, whether a declaration of victory against terror is even possible. The terrorists, I fear, possess a deep bench full of lunatics who are willing to die for some perverted cause.

Therefore, the fight must continue.

Hoping for an actual breakthrough with Taliban

(Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) 

Oh, my … I do hope for an actual peace treaty with the Taliban.

Such an agreement could end the longest war in U.S. history, the one that began in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attack on this country.

Donald Trump ventured to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, broke bread with the troops and then announced to the world that peace talks with the Taliban had resumed. Remember, though, that he broke these talks off after an attack by Taliban fighters that killed an American serviceman.

What was so appalling at that moment was that Trump was going to bring the Taliban to Camp David while the nation was commemorating the 9/11 attack. Bad call, Mr. President.

So, now the talks are back on, as the president has said.

I want the war to end. I grew weary long ago of hearing of our men and women dying in combat. I am going to hope for the best here.

One word of caution: We are negotiating with a cunning, hideous, gruesome bunch of monsters. The Taliban are among the worst of the worst that humankind can produce. I worry that they cannot be trusted as far we can throw any of them.

If these talks produce an actual agreement and if it means an end to the nation’s longest war, then count me in.

Let us be wary, though, of the monstrous cabal with whom we are dealing.

Trump’s penchant for lying goes on and on and on …

Donald Trump declared he was “too busy” to watch the televised impeachment inquiry hearings in the House of Representatives.

“Too busy ” doing what remains a mystery to many of us, but that’s what he said.

What, then, did the president do on Friday during the second day of hearings? He fired off a Twitter message that former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch said would “intimidate” future witnesses. Indeed, the president commented in real time on what the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was telling members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Therefore, the president was watching the hearings. He wasn’t “too busy” tending to statecraft.

Why does the Prevaricator in Chief continue to lie?

I have referred to his “gratuitous” lying. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He lies for the sake of saying the first thing that enters his skull and flies out of his mouth. Why would he tell the nation he would be “too busy” to watch the hearings when he was watching them?

I don’t get this guy. I don’t understand what rattles around inside his noggin that compels him to lie. What’s more, he’s proven to be a bad liar. He’s not good at it. He says things that are demonstrably fictitious.

Case in point: He has told the nation that he lost “many friends” on 9/11 inside the Twin Towers as they collapsed. He did not. It has been shown that he didn’t attend a single funeral for anyone who died on that terrible day. Yet he lies about losing friends?

To my way of thinking, that fits the description of a “gratuitous lie.” It is something he says because, well, he can.

Donald Trump is never “too busy” to tear himself away from a TV set whenever he is the subject of whatever is being broadcast.

No one’s keeping score, Mr. POTUS … except you!

Donald Trump is now engaging in a “Can you top this?” game involving the dispatching of international terrorists.

Disgusting!

The president had the gall to say that the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “bigger” than the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden. While he was taking questions from reporters Sunday after announcing al-Baghdadi’s death at the hands of Army Delta Force commandos, Trump decided — and this is no surprise — to suggest he had one-upped the mission authorized by President Barack H. Obama to kill bin Laden.

Oh, he did say that killing the al-Qaeda leader, bin Laden, was “big,” but then he said taking out the Islamic State honcho was an even more significant event.

Well, I won’t enter a debate over which death was bigger. It is pointless and irrelevant.

I just want to re-state what I said earlier, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death was a gigantic blow to ISIS. Moreover, I applaud the president’s decision to authorize the mission.

It was huge. Then again, so was the Navy SEAL mission to kill bin Laden, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed 3,000 innocent victims in both cities.

Why in the world does the president of the United States choose to cheapen a monumental military victory with an idiotic boast that this take-down was bigger than an earlier one?

Utterly bizarre.

War on terror: a conflict with no end in sight

While the world digests the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of U.S. Delta Force and CIA commandos, it is grappling with what the Islamic State leader’s death means in the war against international terrorism.

I want to offer this perspective, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death won’t signal the end to the war against terrorists, let alone against the Islamic State.

It is my view at least that 9/11 signaled a new era in U.S. geopolitical activity that doesn’t appear to have an end anywhere in sight.

We’ve known for many decades that terrorists were out to “get” us. The 9/11 attack 18 years ago simply burst that awareness to the front of our minds. Al-Qaeda’s daring attack signaled to us all that we were perhaps more vulnerable than we ever thought.

So the war has commenced. I share the critics’ view that the war on terror has taken a bizarre turn at times, particularly with our invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the misery that the Iraq War brought, given that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda, nor did it possess weapons of mass destruction.

However, the war on terror is likely to continue until the world no longer contains terrorists willing to die for the perverted cause to which they adhere.

In other words, we’ll be fighting this war forever.

Whether we fight at the level we have been fighting remains to be seen over the span of time. If 9/11 taught us anything it should have taught us that we cannot let our guard down for a single moment.

Not ever.