Tag Archives: World Trade Center

9/11 still seared into our memory

Many millions of Americans are recalling a terrible day that dawned 18 years ago today. It didn’t start out that way, but it got dark in a major hurry.

They’re remembering where they were when they heard the news. Me? I was at work at the Amarillo Globe-News.

My colleague walked into the office and stuck his head in the door: “Did you hear the news. Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.”

I asked two questions: How big was the airplane? How was the weather? I don’t recall my colleague knowing it was a jetliner. He did say the weather in New York City was beautiful.

“What kind of moron would fly into a building?” I asked with all the appropriate derision.

I turned on a small TV I had in my office. I watched one of the towers burning. Then — in real and horrifying time — the world watched the second jet liner crash into the other tower.

In that moment, we knew what we had: an act of war!

The Pentagon was hit by a third jetliner. Then we heard about the Shanksville, Pa., crash involving a fourth hijacked airplane.

We would go to war in Afghanistan. We would toss the Taliban out of power in that remote land and then launch the hunt for al-Qaida terrorist leaders who masterminded the hideous attack.

I will admit to being frightened in the moment. Anger? Absolutely!

I wanted the nation to fill with resolve to defeat the bastards who committed this horrific deed. Sadly, I fear our nation has lost some of its collective resolve. We’ve been torn asunder by a war that President Bush launched against Iraq, telling us that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “something” to do with the terrorist attack … when he didn’t.

To be honest, I remain puzzled on how we “declare victory” in this war. Or if we can ever actually make that victory declaration.

However, the fight goes on. It must go on.

Trump signs important bill … but lies about its context

I was glad to see Donald Trump sign an important piece of legislation into law this week, the bill that extends medical assistance to 9/11 first responders for the next several decades.

He did so in a White House ceremony under bright sunshine. Sitting before him were many of the firefighters, medical personnel and police officers who rushed into the infernos — in New York and Washington — on that terrible morning nearly 18 years ago.

But then …

Trump did something that has become almost a standard part of his performance as president of the United States. He sought to insert himself into an event in which he played no role. Perhaps you heard him during the bill-signing ceremony.

He talked about going to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, hobnobbing with the first responders. He said he was “there,” but refrained from calling himself a “first responder.”

In truth, Donald Trump was not there. Reports surfaced immediately after the ceremony from New York fire officials who disputed Trump’s assertion that he was present in the rubble where the Twin Towers once stood. He was nowhere in sight, they said.

Trump did call a New York media outlet to tell reporters that Trump Tower was the tallest building in the city once the World Trade Center collapsed from the damage caused by the hijacked jetliners crashing into the towers.

This is the kind of behavior that is utterly reprehensible, so blatantly phony that it defies my ability to comprehend how this man gets away with it … time and again! I mean, for crying out loud, he didn’t even lift a finger to win congressional approval of the bill he signed into law.

He once claimed falsely that he watched “thousands and thousands of people cheer” while the Twin Towers burned and fell on 9/11. He said he lost “many friends” in the towers. Now he says he was present at Ground Zero while police, firefighters and medical officials did their grim job. He lied every single time.

This man cannot cease making himself part of whatever story is being told, no matter how tragic. A president needs to exhibit compassion, empathy and authentic humanity in these times. Donald Trump is utterly, categorically incapable of demonstrating any of those traits.

The president showed us yet again his absolute unfitness for the job.

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.

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?

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.

When did ‘fake news’ become what it’s become?

Once upon a lifetime or two ago, back before the Internet or even before the rise of some of current contemporary politicians, I used to think of “fake news” as something that bears little resemblance to what it means today.

That was before we even coined the term “fake news” as it has come to be known these days.

If someone were to present an item as “news,” but it turns out to be false, you’d just call it what it was: a fabrication, a prevarication, a lie. Thanks, though, to an adroit politician — who hates to be called one, even though that is what he is — many of us toss the term “fake news” around recklessly. If it’s negative, it’s “fake.” Even if it tells the truth, it’s “fake” in the eyes of those aligned with the target of such truth-telling.

Donald John Trump, the nation’s 45th president, has now turned the term into something of a rallying cry for the shrinking — but still substantial — base of Americans who still believe what he says.

The president’s standing among Americans is around 38 percent — give or take a point or two — who think he’s doing a good job. The rest of us, um, think a lot less of him. The Trumpkins of this nation glom onto the “fake news” mantra to discredit any news report seen as critical of their guy.

They don’t get the irony, though, of what they say about the media. If you want any clearer example of what I used to think of as “fake news,” you need look no further than the man who’s made it the rallying cry it has become.

Donald Trump is the king of fake news. Call him King Donald the Faker. To wit:

He perpetrated the lie that Barack Obama was constitutionally unqualified to hold the office of president; he cited a phony instance of “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11; he said President Obama bugged his campaign office after the election; he said “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Clinton and gave her the 3 million popular vote plurality she scored over Trump, despite losing the Electoral College vote; he implied there might be White House recordings of conversations he had with fired FBI Director James Comey.

What, I ask, do all these instances have in common? They’re all demonstrably false. They’re lies. They are made up events.

They are “fake news”!

Still, the president gets away with it in the minds of those who stand by their man.

I get that Donald Trump changed the rules of politics when he ran for and won the presidency in 2016. Brother, do I ever get it.

What continues to boggle my mind, though, is the very idea that this guy gets away with hanging the “fake news” label on media and news reports while being cheered on by those who ignore his own tawdry record of dishing out lies.

Trump keeps taking narcissism to new levels

My trusty American Heritage dictionary defines “narcissism” this way: An excessive love or admiration for oneself.

Do you think Donald J. Trump fits the bill?

Consider what he told The Associated Press in a rambling interview that seems to make zero sense when you read the transcript.

One of the things he mentioned was how the TV news/talk show ratings would zoom upward whenever he appeared on them. He said they were the “best since 9/11.”

Let that sink for a moment or two. The president of the United States somehow sought to equate the soaring ratings he brought to TV news shows to their coverage of one of the worst days in the history of the Republic.

Nearly 3,000 people died when the Twin Towers collapsed in Lower Manhattan, N.Y. More victims died at the Pentagon. Even more perished in that Pennsylvania field after passengers battled valiantly against terrorists aboard a doomed jetliner.

And yet …

The president manages to meld that terrible, horrifying tragedy with his TV ratings?

Trump is redefining narcissism. Indeed, they need to put his picture next to the dictionary definition of the word.

Even the fact checkers have become suspect

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I’m puzzled about fact checkers.

These are the folks and organizations that check the accuracy of declarations that politicians make.

They were at it again after Donald J. Trump’s fiery immigration speech. They sought to parse many of Trump’s contentions about illegal immigration.

Why the puzzlement?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/factcheckingthecandidates/fact-checking-donald-trump%E2%80%99s-immigration-speech/ar-AAilszb?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Well, many observers contend the fact checkers are as biased as the politicians, or the “liberal media,” or the print and broadcast pundits.

Hillary Clinton’s speeches get examined, too. The fact checkers “check the facts” relating to her declarations. She once proclaimed that she worked well across the aisle with Republicans to approve legislation that benefited the country. A fact checker determined that Clinton clearly overstated her bipartisan approach to legislating. Biased?

Trump’s “facts” get “checked” constantly. Indeed, there’s so much to verify, given the Republican presidential nominee’s penchant for saying that are demonstrably untrue. My favorite untruth is Trump’s assertion that he witnessed “thousands” of Muslims cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center. It didn’t happen, man.

I’m still trying to process this fact checking thing, though, to determine if the fact checkers are looking for holes in candidates’ statements because they disagree in principle with the politician they’re examining.

The ranks of the totally trustworthy are shrinking all around us.

Media simply ‘afflicting the comfortable’

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Journalism has its share of clichés that seek to define its mission.

One of them is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

It doesn’t betray a bias, per se. It simply defines one of the tenets that drives journalists to do their job with thoroughness, while being fair to those they are examining.

Thus, a group of journalists sat before Donald J. Trump on Tuesday and grilled the presumptive Republican presidential nomination on donations he said he made to veterans organizations.

Trump’s response was to throw a tantrum.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/01/opinions/donald-trump-tantrum-media-role-louis/index.html

The issue at hand dealt with whether Trump actually donated the amount of money he said he had donated to veterans organizations.

Washington Post reporters had detected a discrepancy in what Trump had said, that the money went to the organizations many months after he said he made the donation. So, media representatives questioned him about that discrepancy, only to have Trump respond with another round of name-calling and insults.

Trump seems to demonstrate a casual disregard for the facts. He said after the 9/11 attacks that he witnessed “thousands and thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

He didn’t witness anything of the sort.

Some pundits have accused Trump of being a “pathological liar,” defining it as a case in which the candidate tells a lie knowing it to be a lie and understanding full well that others who hear it also know it to be a lie.

It’s the media’s responsibility to ensure that candidates be held accountable for statements they make.

That’s what happened at the news conference Tuesday as the media grilled the candidate on what he said he’d done on behalf of veterans organizations.

Sure, they have “afflicted the comfortable.” It’s their job.

 

No, Ivanka … Dad hasn’t ‘elevated’ the debate

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Ivanka Trump’s love for her father is a beautiful thing to see.

Most of the time.

It becomes a bit less beautiful when she says things about the “contribution” dear ol’ Dad has made to the level of discourse in this year’s campaign for the presidency of the United States.

Donald J. Trump — Ivanka’s father — has “elevated (the debate) — he’s created dialogue around issues. It’s a powerful thing,” she said.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/279838-ivanka-trump-my-father-has-elevated-the-dialogue

I don’t believe that’s the case.

Trump has come under intense criticism from leaders in both major political parties for, let’s see, doing the precise opposite of what Ivanka Trump says he has done.

He has lowered the level of discourse. He has taken it to depths not seen in at least two generations.

Daddy Trump’s insults of other candidates have topped the charts.

He has ridiculed other candidates’ physical appearance, their eating habits, their level of “energy.” He has hurtful things about a journalist’s physical disability. Trump has said amazingly crass things about the alleged reasons another journalist asked him tough and pointed questions at a televised debate.

Ivanka Trump also disregards the lies Trump has told all along the way as he moves closer to becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

One stands out: Donald Trump said he watched “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. He’s also said the Mexican government is sending rapists, drug dealers and murderers to commit mayhem and misery on this side of the countries’ common border.

This is how his daughter — by all accounts an accomplished young woman — describes as “elevating” the level of discourse during the campaign for president.

She said her father is “honest.” He says what’s on his mind at the moment, Ivanka said.

There’s something to be said — although I don’t know what that would be — for that brand of “honesty.” Let us not, though, suggest that it elevates the quality of what has passed so far for political debate.