Tag Archives: 9/11

Hey, Mr. POTUS, what about the rest of the country?

It has become an established fact that Donald John Trump Sr. loves talking exclusively to those who support him no matter what.

He speaks their language; they adhere to his message.

The latest so-called “dog whistle” was blasted out today when the president fired off a Twitter message in which — and this is really rich — he actually denied that nearly 3,000 Americans died from the wrath brought to Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria.

He blames the death toll on Democrats who are intent on making him look bad. That’s it! The Puerto Rico territorial government’s death toll, revised way upward from a formerly official count of 64 fatalities, is a plot, a conspiracy.

He made this astonishing, idiotic and utterly baseless claim as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolina coast, threatening to bring even more havoc to the Eastern Seaboard.

Let’s talk, briefly, about his Puerto Rico remarks.

It’s easy to say that the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about. However, he knows precisely what he’s saying. He is speaking to his “base,” the 35 or so percent of voting-age Americans who are behind him to the very end. The base doesn’t care about the truth. It doesn’t care about reality. It cares only that Trump stands up to the so-called “mainstream media,” those who oppose him.

Trump himself declared during the 2016 campaign that he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes.” Americans were aghast in the moment when Trump said it. That boast doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous now.

So he continues to talk to the base. He continues to make assertions without a scintilla of evidence to back them up. Democrats are to blame for the deaths of all those U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico? Millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016? He watched “thousands of Muslims” cheering the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11? Barack Hussein Obama was born in Kenya and was ineligible to run for president?

That’s what I call “fake news.”

Fist pumps? Really, to commemorate 9/11 tragedy?

I’ve noted this before, but it came back in a big way this week as Donald J. Trump sought to commemorate the worst attack on U.S. soil in our nation’s history.

The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to Shanksville, Pa., to honor the memory of the airline passengers who battled the terrorists who hijacked the jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. United Flight 93 passengers fought the terrorists and crashed the plane in a field, saving possibly hundreds more lives.

It’s a tragic event. It is worthy of somber, quiet and dignified commemoration. The president’s arrival? It featured fist pumps and outward behavior that reminded observers of a political rally.

Hmm. I don’t quite know how to react to all of that.

Fist pumps at this event?

It’s been commented on since he became president that Donald Trump seems to lack the gene that compels presidents to serve as pastor in chief, comforter in chief. Trump doesn’t have it. He doesn’t rise to the occasion. His first and final instinct is to treat these kinds of events as political rallies.

Yes, he spoke seriously and somberly about the heroism exhibited on 9/11 aboard United Flight 93.

However, that was a moment in time. The event should have been treated the way one would expect a president to treat it: with solemnity and sadness.

It just makes me wonder whether this man, the president, is capable of comforting a nation in mourning.

Remembering 9/11 … with false praise

Donald J. Trump chose to remember 9/11 in a most curious — and shameful — manner.

Yes, he went to Shanksville, Pa., and delivered some moving remarks paying tribute to the passengers who fought the hijackers intent on crashing United 93 into the U.S. Capitol.

Then he returned to the Oval Office and boasted about how “great” the government performed a year ago when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. The response, he said, was the best in history.

Oh, but wait! The death toll in Puerto Rico has been, um, adjusted. Instead of 64 deaths, we now know that 2,975 Americans died from the wrath of the storm that ravaged the island territory.

It took a year to restore power. Food and water was painfully slow to arrive.

So, on the day supposedly dedicated to remembering the heroes and victims of 9/11, the president decided to lie — yet again — about the government’s response to a human tragedy in Puerto Rico.

Donald Trump’s penchant for self-aggrandizement continues to amaze many Americans. Sure, he has those who support him. They’ll cheer him on. Not me.

The president’s inability to set aside the false narrative about the government’s response to a tragic event demonstrates yet again the president’s ignorance about the complex nation he was elected to govern.

Recalling profound tragedy’s impact on us all

9/11 is seared into our memory. Most of us likely recall where we were when we heard the news.

I was at work the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 at the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News. A colleague came to work, stuck his head in my office and asked, “Did you hear the news? Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center?”

My first reaction? “What’s the weather like?” My colleague said it was clear and sunny in New York. “What kind of idiot would fly into a skyscraper?” I asked, rhetorically.

I turned on the TV. I watched the coverage of the burning WTC tower. Then the second plane plowed into the neighboring tower.

That … changed everything.

The entire nation knew at that moment we were under attack.

All of this occurred, of course, before the media were declared to be the “enemy of the people.” We all did what we do. We started gathering information, making phone calls to local sources to try to chronicle the events and their impact on our communities. We did that in Amarillo.

I won’t equate our efforts with those who ran into the burning buildings, but our attempt to keep our community informed of the events of the day were critical (a) to those who consume the news and (b) to those who seek to explain it.

I was proud to help provide some commentary, context and wishes of solidarity to the nation that was under siege from forces we hadn’t yet identified fully in the moment.

It was one of those days one never forgets.

Today we honor the heroes

Heroes never seek to achieve their special status. Events are thrust upon them.

Seventeen years ago today, on a bright Tuesday morning, events occurred in this country that created heroes who were reacting instinctively. They sought to protect others’ lives against the harm that had arrived without warning.

Terrorists commandeered jetliners. They flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, another one into the Pentagon, and a fourth jetliner crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after a titanic in-flight struggle between heroic passengers and the monsters who sought to crash that aircraft into the U.S. Capitol Building.

The date is now known simply as 9/11. You say “9/11” and everyone knows the date, what they were doing when they heard the horrific news.

I want to honor the heroes along with the victims today. The victims, nearly 3,000 of them, were simply going about their day. They were at work, they were in school, they were being cared for in day-care centers.

Terrorists acting in the name of some perversion of a great religion sought to strike at this nation. They awakened the fighting spirit of a proud people.

They produced heroes. They were the firefighters, police officers and medical personnel who ran into the burning buildings. They taught us the lessons of tried-and-true heroism.

Their legacy lives on to this day. It will live forever. Our nation should be grateful for all of eternity that they answered the call to their duty to serve the public.

‘You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard’

Of all the words written in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attack, which struck us 17 years ago, one essay stands out.

I want to share it here. It came from Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald.

I was proud to publish it in real time on the pages of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, where I was working on that day in 2001.

I feel the need to show it to you once again. Pitts captured fully our sense of rage, fear, pain once it became known that terrorists had plunged the weapon deeply in our national heart.

Read the essay here.

The war against international terrorism continues. Yes, we were able to “bring justice” to the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, thanks to the bravery and immense skill and precision of the SEALs and the CIA commandos who carried out the dangerous mission in May 2011. More evil men have stepped up.

I hope you get as much from Pitts’s essay as I did then … and as I continue to do to this day.

17 years later, the war goes on and on

It was a Tuesday morning. Jetliners flew into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Another one plowed into the Pentagon. A fourth jetliner crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field as passengers struggled valiantly against those who hijacked it.

The date was Sept. 11, 2001, now known colloquially as 9/11.

About a month later, President Bush — just months on the job — launched the war against the monsters who did the terrible deed.

And the war continues. It is the most unconventional of conflicts. We cannot declare victory and go home. The terrorists will lurk likely forever, for as long as human beings inhabit Earth.

The president stood on the rubble at Ground Zero, bullhorn in hand. He summoned the nation to unite in this struggle. For a time, we did.

The war will go on. It’s already the longest conflict in our nation’s history. Sure, we killed the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack, Osama bin Laden. We’ve killed many terror leaders and thousands of their minions. Others have emerged to take their place. We knew that would happen.

Our nation will recall the 9/11 tragedy on Tuesday. They’ll read the names of the victims who died when the Twin Towers burst into flames and fell. They’ll read the names of those who died in the Pentagon and in that Pennsylvania field. We’ll remember and honor the heroes who ran into the inferno to save others’ lives.

We also will honor and salute the men and women who have answered the call to duty as President Bush took us to war against a ruthless, cunning and elusive enemy.

None of us knows when this fight will end. We don’t even know if it will end … ever! We hear brave talk about how we’re going to destroy the enemy. However, it is just talk. I remain dubious as to whether we’ll ever rid the planet of every single terrorist or organization intend on sowing the seeds of fear.

I am one who supports the on-going war against terror. Yes, the cost of this war is terrible. However, as the president said when he launched the campaign against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorists in Afghanistan, it is far better to fight them there than to fight them here.

Seventeen years later, the war goes on.

This is just a little lie, but it’s a lie nonetheless

In the growing list of Donald J. Trump lies and prevarications, this one ranks as a minor-leaguer, not really worth a damn.

However, it illustrates quite graphically how the president’s fast-and-loose treatment of facts keeps rising up to bite him — and the rest of us — in the backside.

Former President Barack Obama delivered a speech today in Illinois that went straight after Donald Trump. The Obama speech marked the 44th president’s return to the political arena.

What, then, was the 45th president’s response to it? He told a crowd in North Dakota that he watched a little bit of the speech, but then “fell asleep.”

There you have it. Trump would have us believe that Barack Obama’s speech bored Trump so much that he couldn’t stay awake.

Do you believe Trump actually nodded off? Nope. Neither do I.

Which brings me to my point. Why in the name of bald-faced lying would Trump feel the need to say such a thing? Why couldn’t he just say that the speech did nothing for him? That he found it boring?

You see, this seems to get right to the point of what so many of us find so damn troubling about Donald Trump. He cannot tell the truth on anything, at any level.

I know that this lie won’t matter in the grand scheme of the chaos that rules the White House. It doesn’t involve public policy decisions. It certainly doesn’t measure up to some of the whoppers he has told: millions of illegal immigrants voting for Hillary Clinton; watching “thousands” of Muslims cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; having “proof” that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and, thus, was ineligible to run for the presidency.

Big lies. Little lies. I know there’s a difference. No matter the size of the lie, that Donald Trump would tell them is reason enough to be frightened by the president of the United States.

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!