Tag Archives: 9/11

Dear Mr. President: Ditch the ‘fake news’ mantra

There you have it, Mr. President. That’s my New Year’s resolution for you to ponder … that is, if you read this blog.

I’ll try to shoot you a copy of it and hope you’ll take a moment to read it.

This “fake news” yammering you keep tossing out there is, um, tiresome, boring and oh so very lacking in self-awareness.

You, sir, are the master composer of fake news.

You have revived the lie about President Obama being born abroad and being unqualified to serve in the office he vacated nearly a year ago after serving two successful terms; you lied about Hillary Clinton getting votes from millions of illegal immigrants; you lied about witnessing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; you lied about losing “many friends” in the towers on that terrible day.

Don’t you get it, Mr. President? Every time you accuse the media of putting out fake news, you expose yourself to the very same accusation — which is tangibly and demonstrably more accurate than the bogus allegations you make about the media.

Why not start semi-fresh in 2018? You can do that by declaring your intention to stop repeating that phony mantra about fake news. It disserves the nation you were elected to lead and you vowed to “unify” after you took your oath of office.

You have failed to unify us, Mr. President. Pitting the media against America doesn’t make anything or anyone “great again.”

Happy New Year, Mr. President.

Now, get to work.

No ‘real Christian’ would do this

You likely cannot see the writing on the side of the building shown here.

It says “Happy birthday, Jesus Christ.” Then it adds, “From a real Christian.” The building happens to be a mosque in Clovis, N.M., the only such house of worship in the city.

What does one say about such a disgusting act?

I’ll start with this … whoever did this is no “real Christian.” He or she is a religious pervert. He or she is as faithful to Christianity as the perverts who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

Scripture teaches us many lessons about how Christians should act. Vandalizing property that belongs to those who follow another religious faith is nowhere to be found in either the Old or New Testaments.

Indeed, what I think we have here in Clovis is an act of terrorism. The dictionary defines the term as an act that seeks to make some sort of political point.

When police capture whoever is responsible for this hideous act, perhaps they can consider asking Curry County prosecutors to charge them with committing a terrorist act.

Real Christian? Whoever did this is nothing of the sort.

We’re winning the ‘war,’ but the fight will go on

Iraq has declared victory in its war against the Islamic State.

It has declared that ISIS is defeated in Iraq. The terrorist fighting force no longer is able to wage war against the Iraq military machine. Good news, yes? Of course it is.

But wait. What about the terrorist who tried to kill innocent victims in New York? He is “ISIS-inspired,” according to the FBI and New York law enforcement officials. How are we going to stop these monsters? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” terrorists from perpetrating their evil acts against civilized society?

We cannot?

A Bangladeshi immigrant is now recovering from his injuries after he terrorized people in a New York train station. He tried to blow himself up, but failed.

Bold pledges and declarations of our intent to “destroy” the Islamic State shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, our military forces have taken out many thousands of ISIS fighters; they killed or captured many ISIS leaders; they have disrupted ISIS’s command and control network.

The fight should go on. It must go on.

We are going to fight this war, however, for as long as terrorists exist anywhere on Earth. U.S. and Allied forces bombed Germany to ashes during the World War II; our forces killed thousands of Nazis; Adolf Hitler killed himself in that Berlin bunker.

Did that eradicate Nazi sympathizers in Europe — or in the United States of America? No! Nazi lone wolves are still on the prowl throughout the world.

This post-9/11 world continues to teach us a hard but necessary lesson, which is that we cannot let our guard down — ever — against those who would do us harm.

They are everywhere.

They wanted to get into the fight

My late father was 20 years of age on Dec. 7, 1941.

Pete Kanelis was a second-year student at the University of Portland (Ore.) when word filtered back to the mainland about the “dastardly act” in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

It didn’t take Dad long to make up his mind on what he wanted to do. He wanted to get into the fight. He waited about two whole months before going downtown. He went to the armed forces station and sought to enlist in the Marine Corps. The door was locked. He walked across the hall to the Navy office and signed up.

He was after all, young and full of what might be described as “p*** and vinegar.”

He would become one of about 16 million young Americans who responded just as he did. He went looking for a fight and oh, brother, he found it. The Navy sent him to the Mediterranean theater, where he fired a 3-inch, 50-caliber deck gun at Italian and German aircraft.

He was part of the so-called “Greatest Generation.” I was — and still am — so very proud of his service.

The attack at Pearl Harbor, which occurred 76 years ago today, defined a generation. Dad’s generation — virtually all of them, as near as I can tell — fought willingly in that great conflict. Their hearts were broken at the prospect of a foreign power killing so many of our young Americans — on American soil to boot!

They answered our nation’s call, did their duty and then came home to help build a postwar country that has set the economic and military standard around the world.

I’ve re-thought a bit the notion that Dad’s generation was the “greatest” this nation ever has produced. I am not yet willing to hand that title to another generation of Americans, but my sense is that today’s young Americans are competing with Dad’s brethren for the title of “greatest.”

Many of today’s military men and women dropped what they were doing one Tuesday morning, on Sept. 11, 2001. Let’s call them the “9/11 Generation.”

I’ve actually met young Americans who joined the military because they, too, wanted to get into the fight — just as Dad did so long ago. I recently made the acquaintance of a young physical therapist at the Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo. She joined the Navy right after 9/11 because — like many of us — was enraged at the attack carried out on U.S. soil.

Whereas Dad and his brethren enlisted — or were drafted — to serve “for the duration” of World War II, the current fighting force has been deployed multiple times to battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, I long ago lost count of the deployments a cousin of mine has served in those conflicts before retiring from the Army.

It’s good today to recall how an earlier generation of Americans surrendered their relative comforts to take on a direct and existential threat to their nation’s way of life.

Dad was one of them.

No war against Islam, but against religious perverts

Barack H. Obama made a critical point the night in May 2011 when he told the world that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden in a daring raid in Pakistan.

The president reminded us that “we are not at war against Islam. Osama bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims.”

The al-Qaeda leader is long dead. His legacy continues to spread mayhem, murder and misery. More than 200 Muslim worshipers died today when terrorists detonated a bomb in a Cairo, Egypt mosque. The killers appear to be affiliated with the Islamic State, the monstrous outfit that has supplanted al-Qaeda as this country’s No. 1 international enemy.

And that brings me to my essential point. It is that we are at war with religious perverts, not mainstream Muslims. President Bush made that point abundantly clear just days after 9/11; President Obama echoed his predecessor’s assessment during his two terms in office.

Are we hearing such rhetoric from Donald J. Trump? Well, the president did fire off a tweet today condemning the “extremist ideology that forms the basis for their existence,” referring to the ISIS offshoot that is taking responsibility for this latest barbaric act.

I want the president to state categorically that our struggle is not against Muslims or the faith they worship. It is against the monstrous perverts who kill indiscriminately.

Sign of the times: security concerns at holiday events

I cannot possibly watch every cable and broadcast news channel at once, but I am pretty certain they are saying essentially the same thing about the big Thanksgiving Day parades in some of the nation’s major cities.

Security is tighter than ever at them all.

This is a sign of the times. This post-9/11 world of ours has alerted us to the dangers posed by international and domestic terrorism.

They have presented themselves in horrifying ways, with goons running over spectators with motor vehicles. They detonated explosives. There have been stabbings and shootings.

New York City and Philadelphia are staging big parades today. The rest of us out here in Flyover Country will watch on TV — and many of us will hold our breath that we can get through this happy day and give thanks that tragedy doesn’t strike.

It’s the ‘optics’ that keep bedeviling the president

Donald J. Trump had to know about the damage done by his long-distance feud with San Juan, P.R., Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

The president surely knew it would be better for him to make nice with the mayor who he had criticized for her “poor leadership” after she criticized the federal response to Puerto Rico’s suffering in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s savage beating.

I fear he didn’t act on that when he went to Puerto Rico. He engaged in at least one peculiar public-relations stunt when he was video recorded tossing rolls of paper towels at a crowd of well-wishers. Someone will have to explain to me what that was supposed to tell us about the president’s concern for those U.S. citizens who are suffering from the hurricane’s devastation.

Then he sat in a meeting with local officials — which included Mayor Cruz — and said that Puerto Rico has cost the United States “billions of dollars, but that’s all right.” I heard that and thought, “Huh?”

The president keeps fluffing this part of his job description, the one that labels him “comforter in chief.”  He’s not making the grade.

President Reagan donned that mantle perfectly after the shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986; President Clinton did it as well in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995; and of course, President Bush stood in the Twin Tower rubble, bullhorn in hand after 9/11, and said “the world will hear all of us soon.”

And can anyone forget the sight of President Obama leading a church congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the memorial for the victims of the Charleston, S.C., massacre?

Trump hasn’t yet been able to demonstrate the capacity he needs to show in these times of intense national grief.

Puerto Ricans are suffering. Yet the president treats his visit there like some sort of performance on his part.

He’ll get another chance on Wednesday when he flies to Las Vegas. He’ll get an opportunity to show Americans he cares about that community’s suffering after the madman opened fire at the hotel and casino, killing 59 people and injuring 500-plus more in a hail of automatic weapon fire.

Do you have faith that the president will become comforter in chief?

Me, neither.

A second ‘Day of Infamy’ still burns

Sixteen years ago our world changed.

Americans started the day, Sept. 11, 2001, like any other day. Then the news came bursting forth from New York City and from Washington, D.C.

Jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. The images still burn seemingly as brightly as the flames that burst from the Twin Towers.

Then came news that the Pentagon had been hit by yet another jetliner. That image isn’t recorded. But the crash hit at the heart of our vast military complex.

We would learn later that morning of a fourth jetliner that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Passengers sought to wrest control of the aircraft from more terrorists. A struggle forced the plane to plunge into the ground.

I was at work that morning at the Amarillo Globe-News. My colleague came in, stuck his head in the door and asked: “Did you hear about what happened in New York?” I responded, “What?” He said a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

My next response was another question: “What’s the weather like?” My colleague said it was gorgeous. I blurted out a profanity while wondering out loud, “What kind of bleeping idiot would crash an airplane into the World Trade Center?”

I turned on my TV. I watched the tower burn. Then I watched, right along with the rest of the nation, the second plane crash into the second tower.

That … was no accident.

And, thus, our world was shattered into a million pieces. Three thousand lives were lost. The families and other loved ones of those who died were shattered permanently. There never will be repair coming for them.

As for the nation, I am not sure we’ll recover fully, either. We would go to war in Afghanistan. Later we would take the fight into Iraq. We are now waging a war without a foreseeable end against terrorists who claim to be acting on behalf of fellow Muslims. They are murderers; they are not religious zealots, let alone leaders.

President Roosevelt called the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii not quite 60 years earlier a “date which will live … in infamy.” It has done exactly as FDR predicted.

The other day of infamy that we’ve all shortened into “9/11” will share forever that frightening distinction.

The enemy is different than those who bombed our ships and planes. Today’s enemy does not represent a sovereign nation. It represents a profoundly perverted ideology. It is more cunning, more elusive than those we defeated so many decades ago.

This fight will require maximum perseverance.

Another date to mark a war with no end in sight

I refuse to call Sept. 11 an “anniversary.” I reserve that term to commemorate weddings and other happy beginnings.

9/11 is none of that. It’s coming up Monday. Sixteen years ago terrorists commandeered four jetliners; they flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers; one flew into the Pentagon; one crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a titanic struggle between passengers and terrorists.

Roughly 3,000 people died on that terrible day.

Not long after that, President Bush sent young Americans to war against the terrorists. The Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given shelter for the monsters, fell to our forces. The war raged on and on and on.

In March 2003 the war spread to Iraq. We toppled a dictator, who later was captured, tried and hanged. We were told we went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t find any.

What the 9/11 date will remind me on Monday is that we very well may never — at least not in my lifetime — be able to end this war against international terrorism.

President Bush handed the struggle off to Barack Obama in 2009. The fight went on.

In May 2011, President Obama announced “to the nation and the world” that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind. We cheered the news. Crowds gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA! USA!” We got the main bad guy.

What happened after that? The war went on.

The Islamic State surfaced during this time. ISIS has continued to bring havoc and horror. There have been beheadings and bombings.

The war rages on, despite the arrest of and deaths of several key ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders.

Our enemy is cunning. He is smart. He knows how to hit “soft targets.” His victims primarily are other Muslims, which puts the lie to the notion that we are “at war with Islam.” As President Obama said while announcing bin Laden’s death, our enemy comprises a cabal of murderers who have declared war on Muslims as well as they have on Christians and Jews.

This year, President Obama handed it off to Donald Trump. The new president campaigned foolishly on the pledge to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda. He boasted that he knows “more than the generals about ISIS.” He doesn’t.

No matter the level of presidential boastfulness, the fight will rage on. We’ll keep killing terrorist leaders. Others will slither out and take the place of those we eliminate.

How do we prevent more “soft target” incidents? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” from driving a motor vehicle into crowds? Or how do we stop those from igniting bombs at sporting events or other places where large crowds of victims gather?

9/11 is no anniversary. It’s not a date to celebrate. It’s a date that should serve to remind us of the threat that has lurked among us for far longer than we ever imagined.

And it lurks to this very day.

The war will rage on.

First responders deserve our honor 24/7

First responders are back in the news.

They’ve answered the call in recent days to assist along the Texas Gulf Coast. They are responding at this moment to those who’ll need them in some U.S. territories in the Caribbean and in South Florida. They answer the call daily when homes burn, when motor vehicles crash or when people suffer an assortment of medical emergencies.

The Texas Panhandle War Memorial is going to play host on Monday to a ceremony commemorating the 16th year since the 9/11 attacks on our nation. It starts at 8:45 a.m. at the memorial grounds, next to the Randall County Courthouse Annex on South Georgia Street and the Canyon E-Way.

I feel the need to speak about those individuals. We ought to honor them daily, maybe even hourly. We should thank them when we encounter them.

The War Memorial seems a fitting place to honor them. After all, the memorial offers tribute to those who gave their last full measure in defense of the nation. Those plaques that surround the garden contain the names of the fallen from the Texas Panhandle dating back to the Spanish-American War of 1898.

When you think about it, those are the names of first responders of another kind. They went to war. They fought and died in defense of the nation they all loved.

I admit to being not as faithful in expressing my own gratitude to first responders — the firefighters, police officers, the emergency medical techs, the military personnel. We see them all the time. My wife and I — on occasion — have paid for service personnel’s meals.

But we all ought to extend a hand when we encounter, say, firefighters shopping for groceries at the supermarket or police officers having lunch. You get the idea.

They perform a unique service to the public they serve. They run toward danger when it presents itself.

I am left to use this forum to offer a simple two-word salute, which I know is insufficient.

Thank you.