Tag Archives: 9/11

Bush Library and Museum: worth your time

I finally made my way to the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas to see the nation’s latest presidential library and museum, the one carrying the name of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.

It’s a beauty. I want to share a couple of takeaways from it with you.

The 9/11 exhibit is stunning and so help me it doesn’t make it any easier to listen to the audio or watch the video of that horrendous day.

I want to call attention to a particular aspect of it. There’s a wall with thousands of names on it, reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, which has the names of 58,000-plus fallen servicemen and women inscribed on that long black granite wall.

The George W. Bush Library and Museum has an exhibit with the names of the passengers who died aboard those four jetliners hijacked by the terrorists on 9/11. Two of them flew into the World Trade Center; one into the Pentagon; the fourth one into that field in Shanksville, Pa. It also has the names of the victims who died in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

One name jumped out at me: Todd Beamer. It was an amazing moment. I noticed Beamer’s name immediately upon approaching the wall. He, of course, was the passenger aboard United Flight 93 who famously declared “Let’s roll” while leading the passengers in their valiant effort to wrestle control from the hijackers of the jetliner that plunged into the Shanksville pasture.

Just as the names in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial remind us of the loved ones left behind, so do the names inscribed inside the Bush Library and Museum.

It is powerful, indeed.

The second takeaway, related to 9/11, is the realization that watching the videos and listening to the reporting and the statements from the president so many years later don’t make it easier. Indeed, I get more emotional as the years tick away. It gets harder to relive that terrible day.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 defined the George W. Bush presidency. It thrust the still-new president into a wartime posture. It continued through the Barack Obama administration and is doing so now during the Donald Trump administration.

I am glad to have visited this marvelous exhibit. It contains much more, to be sure. It talks about the president’s HIV/AIDS initiative, his effort to reform education, the first lady’s desire to improve literacy among our children. It papers over, not surprisingly, the financial collapse at the end of the Bush presidency.

But . . . those names on the wall. Goodness gracious.

Have we gotten rid of ISIS permanently?

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

So said Donald J. Trump this morning via Twitter as he signaled a planned withdrawal of about 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

I am dubious of this declaration of victory. My concern is as it has been throughout the war on terror, which commenced after 9/11. It is that a declaration of victory is a tenuous proposition at best.

The Islamic State is not — as President Obama infamously described it — the “junior varsity” of terror organizations. ISIS is the real thing. They are monstrous murderers who have, along with al-Qaida, perverted a great world religion and used it to justify their horrendous attacks on fellow Muslims, let alone against Christians and Jews.

To suggest that we can declare categorical victory in the fight against ISIS is risky in the extreme.

How will we respond if ISIS launches another hideous attack in Syria after we have left? Do we send the troops back in?

The president has gotten some push back from congressional allies, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called a U.S. withdrawal from Syria “a big win for ISIS.” He said pulling out prematurely would be an “Obama-like mistake.”

This war against terror cannot possibly be concluded the way “conventional wars” have ended, with someone on one side surrendering and then signing documents signaling the end of a conflict.

I don’t yet know how you determine whether you’ve eradicated the last known terrorist from any battlefield. I just fear we haven’t accomplished that mission in Syria, or anywhere else.

Give thanks to Saudis? I don’t think so

The president of the United States says Americans should “give thanks” to Saudi Arabia for the relatively low cost of gasoline.

I don’t think I’ll do that.

I will give thanks instead to a domestic energy policy that has enabled the United States to achieve energy independence. I’ll give thanks to a president, Barack Obama, who had the foresight to insist on an energy policy that sought to develop alternative sources of energy.

I’ll also give thanks to automakers for developing more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. My wife and I own one, a Toyota Prius, that we gas up about every, oh, three or four weeks.

No, I don’t believe the Saudis are our friends. They are murderers. The president likes to foment fear of terrorists coming to this country from Latin America. Hell, the Saudis are the breeding ground for terrorist monsters; 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew those commercial jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 hailed from Saudi Arabia.

Am I going to give thanks to Saudi Arabia for anything? Cheap gasoline? Energy independence? For their alliance with us against Iran and other hardline states in the Middle East?

Hah! Hardly.

Looking back at bin Laden raid

The nation has been talking in recent days about the commando raid that took out Osama bin Laden.

I thought I’d share with you a video of President Obama announcing “to the nation and the world” the death of the terrorist leader. Here it is:

Perhaps the most relevant point I want to emphasize here is the president’s explanation of the tireless work done by anti-terrorism experts working for two presidential administrations. President Bush’s team began the hunt for bin Laden shortly after 9/11, then handed it off to President Obama’s team.

It took time, patience and perseverance for our intelligence community to find bin Laden in that compound in Pakistan.

Yet there came the unfounded and idiotic criticism from Donald J. Trump that the team that took out bin Laden should have done it “much sooner.” He laid the criticism at the feet of retired Admiral William McRaven, the man who coordinated the effort that resulted in bin Laden’s death in May 2011.

Trump doesn’t know what transpired between 9/11 and the raid that eliminated bin Laden. So his criticism of McRaven is tasteless, ignorant and despicable.

I thought you might want to hear from Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, how this huge event came to pass.

The warrior responds to POTUS

Back and forth they go.

The president and the decorated Navy SEAL are at each other’s throats. I’m pulling for the SEAL.

Donald Trump — as is his tendency — fired off a totally inappropriate tweet challenging whether the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command could have taken out Osama bin Laden “sooner” than he did.

That commander is retired Admiral William McRaven, on whose watch U.S. commandos killed the 9/11 mastermind in a firefight in Pakistan.

McRaven had the temerity to declare that Trump’s attack on the media presents the “greatest threat” to the nation. Trump responded with that hideous Twitter taunt about the bin Laden raid.

McRaven has answered the president. He stands by his comment about Trump’s attack on the media. Trump also had accused McRaven of “backing” Hillary Clinton. McRaven said “no.” He isn’t a fan of the former Democratic presidential candidate. He also said he backs all presidents, because he respects the office. McRaven also notes in his response that he served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama while leading the Special Operations Command.

He told Trump, “When you undermine the people’s right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.”

If only the president understood the damage he does with his reckless and feckless rhetoric.

‘When I can, I tell the truth’

Wow! I’m just now catching my breath.

The quote in the headline comes from the liar in chief, the president of the United States, Donald John Trump Sr.

He said it to ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who scored an interview with the president after a campaign rally this week.

Karl asked the president about the veracity of his statements. He said, “Well, I try. I do try. I always want to tell the truth.” Man, that is astonishing in the extreme.

When someone says they “try” to do something, I have found it is code for admitting they fail to do something. “I am trying to lose weight.” “I am trying to quit smoking.” My favorite is when you invite someone to an event and they respond, “I’ll try,” which always means “I can’t make it.”

I understand full well that presidents on occasion have to shade the truth for, say, national security purposes. They cannot reveal all that they know for obvious reasons. Trump’s lying is vastly different from that type of fibbing.

Donald Trump’s “trying” to tell the truth doesn’t account for the gratuitous nature of his lies. He said he tells the truth “when I can.” Baloney! That doesn’t explain the countless whoppers he has told: witnessing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; the United States is “the only country” that grants birthright citizenship; he has “proof” that Barack Obama was born abroad and was unqualified to run for president.

Hey, I’ve only peeled the top layer off the thousands of lies Donald Trump has told.

More lies than we can count

The Washington Post Fact Checker has detected more than 5,000 lies in the 600 or so days since Trump became president. It adds that the pace is quickening.

Just as George Washington reportedly said “I cannot tell a lie,” Donald Trump cannot tell the truth.

That is no lie.

We have presidents … and we have Trump

I have been listening to comparisons between Donald Trump and his three immediate predecessors, namely their reaction to extreme acts of violence.

The preceding presidents knew how to rally a nation, to speak to our better angels, to show strength and resolve in the face of tragedy.

President Clinton dealt with the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995. He urged us to ignore the angry voices that prompted Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Federal Building, killing 167 people, including many children.

President Bush stood on the rubble at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11. He took a bullhorn, threw his arm around a New York City firefighter and told the nation that the terrorists “who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon.”

President Obama wiped away tears as he spoke of the slaughter of 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Now we have Donald Trump. Someone or some group is sending pipe bombs to Democratic politicians, a donor, a former AG, a cable news outlet and an legendary film actor/political activist. Does the president demonstrate any sense of fear or compassion for the recipients of these packages?

Oh, no! He blames Democrats for fomenting the anger, along with the “mainstream media,” which he says is guilty of sending out “fake news.”

Then he pokes fun at calls to be more “civil” in leading the public political discourse.

The current president simply doesn’t measure up to the three men who preceded him in performing this fundamental duty of his high office: unifying and healing a nation in distress.

‘Middle Easterners’ in the caravan mix?

Donald J. “Fearmonger in Chief” Trump is at it again.

He said the “caravan” of refugees heading for our nation’s southern border contains “criminals” and “unknown Middle Easterners.” Does the president have any evidence of it?

Of course not! He never produces evidence of anything when he makes these bellicose assertions. It makes his crowds cheer. It fires him up. He speaks the language that his “base” understands and to which it is drawn.

The unknown Middle East component, of course, harkens back to 9/11 and the view being promoted by those on the far right that the Middle East is populated by millions of Muslims who “hate America” and will do whatever they can to do harm to Americans.

So now, according to Trump, they’re slipping into the crowd of Latin American refugees and are heading toward our soft underbelly.

I wish I had an answer to what we should do when that “caravan” arrives along our Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California borders. I don’t.

I do not believe the president is helping quell the fear of many Americans by suggesting — without attribution — the notion that the refugees are full of criminals and “Middle Easterners.”

No. Donald Trump is stoking the fear. That’s what he does. It is how he rolls.

Waiting for some expression of horror from POTUS

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who lived in the United States and worked for the Washington Post, died a gruesome death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

His captors began cutting him apart as he screamed for his life. They dismembered his body and took it … somewhere.

A U.S. journalist dies at the hands of murderers from a country ruled by a mega-rich family. And the president of the United States cannot find the words to declare his abject horror at what happened to this man?

Donald J. Trump continues to sidle up to authoritarians. We have Russia. There is North Korea. Or the Philippines. Trump cannot condemn these rulers for the hideous acts that occur under their rule? So it is now with Saudi Arabia, an ostensible ally of the United States of America.

Let’s remember, though, that 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia.

Sure, Trump has declared the “event” in the consulate to be “awful” and “unacceptable,” but then he buys into the Saudi government’s lame explanation that Khashoggi died in a fistfight with his captors.

Are we to believe that these monsters then dumped his body somewhere, anywhere after a fistfight?

How the U.S. president can accept this phony explanation is stupidly mind-numbing in the extreme.

Sickening.

Reporter died in a ‘fight’? Then gets disemembered?

A hideous event that resulted in the dismemberment and death of a journalist who lived in the United States has taken the strangest turn possible.

Saudi Arabia government officials have confirmed that Jamal Khashoggi is dead. He died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He reportedly was cut into pieces while he was still alive by Saudi agents.

But now the Saudi government says he died in a fight at the consulate. With whom? Why? Do we now believe that Khashoggi died because he got into a tussle?

What happened to his body?

Saudi officials say they have arrested 18 individuals. One of the suspects reportedly died in an automobile accident. The Saudis have fired five men linked to the tragic event in Istanbul.

It needs to be said that Saudi Arabia is an ostensible ally of the United States of America. The Saudis are about to make a major arms purchase from this country. Donald Trump hasn’t yet condemned the attack, other than to say “it’s a bad thing,” and other words to that effect.

Khashoggi wrote for The Washington Post. He lived in Virginia and had been a U.S. resident for many years. His gruesome murder has shocked and repelled many Americans.

As for the Saudi relationship with this country, it needs also to be said that of the 19 terrorists who attacked this country on 9/11, 15 of them were Saudis. Yet the Saudi government said at the time that the attack was the work of Israeli intelligence agents, that it was an inside job meant to implicate Arab nations. What horse manure!

The president of the United States needs to turn the heat up full blast under the backsides of the Saudi royal family, which also has been implicated in this matter. He should do so on behalf of a journalist and his grief-stricken family.

I don’t believe for an instant the Saudi “explanation” that Jamal Khashoggi died in a fight.