Tag Archives: 9/11

Biden ‘speaks his mind’?

Michael Kinsley, the liberal columnist and one-time TV commentator, once famously quipped that a “gaffe” occurs when a politician “speaks his mind.”

So it is, then, that President Biden well might have been speaking his own mind when during a speech in Poland he said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

Oops, Mr. President. You’ve just spoken against U.S. policy, which supposedly forbids any effort to bring about “regime change” in a foreign government. Oh, but wait! Didn’t we do that when we went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and then went to war in Iraq less than two years later while hunting down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?

Both those efforts resulted in regime change. The Taliban, though, are back in power in Afghanistan; Saddam Hussein is dead, having been hanged for his crimes against humanity.

The White House is trying to take back what President Biden said, that our aim isn’t to remove Putin from office even as we condemn him for launching his illegal, immoral and illogical invasion of Ukraine.

I am not going to sweat much about what the president said. He was telling us what he thinks ought to happen, not necessarily predicting that it will happen.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You must see this TV broadcast

Forgive me for shilling for a TV show. I can’t resist the urge to do so.

“60 Minutes” premiered its new season tonight by telling a single story during the course of its hourlong broadcast.

It told the story of heroism on 9/11. The heroes were the firefighters who answered the call when the jetliners flew into the Twin Towers.

If you are able to watch it On Demand, I encourage you to do so.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed many surviving firefighters, children of those who died in the chaos, colleagues of those who perished. They all told the same story. The firefighters who died when the towers collapsed did so because they were faithful to their oath to “protect and serve” the public.

These men and women accounted for 343 deaths on 9/11, the number of New York City firefighters who died because they ran into the flaming buildings.

It was a compelling news report on arguably the most compelling event of the 21st century.

If you can, I urge you to watch it. All of it. Moreover, be prepared to swallow hard.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Keep eyes on all the balls

It was 20 years ago this weekend when terrorists yanked us out of our anti-terror lethargy.

Two decades on and we’re still — at least I hope — on high alert about foreign terrorist organizations that want to harm Americans.

It was said not long after 9/11 that “there is no question about ‘if’ we get again, but only ‘when.'” We haven’t been hit in the manner we experienced on that gorgeous Tuesday morning in New York, in Washington and in Shanksville, Pa.

Guess what. We have more causes for concern now than perhaps we had on 9/11.

President Bush, on whose watch the 9/11 terror attack occurred, warned us anew over the weekend about the threat of domestic terror. We must remain vigilant, alert and ready to respond to the corn-fed, home-grown, right-wing (mostly) terrorists who lurk among us.

We saw evidence of the domestic threat on 1/6. Yep, those who stormed the Capitol Building, threaten to “hand” the vice president of the United States, sought out the speaker of the House of Reps and defecated on the floor of the halls of government were dangerous in the extreme.

What does mean in terms of lessons learned from 9/11?

It tells me we need to keep our eyes peeled not just offshore, but in our own backyard as well.

I am going to implore our members of Congress — specifically the men who represent my interests — to stand with the president in the event he is forced to respond to domestic, as well as international, terrorists. U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Van Taylor — all of whom are Republicans — need to adhere to the time-honored axiom that partisanship should end when our national security is threatened.

That means when threats arise from the heartland as well as from foreign lands. There can be no difference in the ferocity we respond.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Bush speaks blunt truth

Former President George W. Bush told the world a blunt truth while honoring the heroes who confronted foreign terrorists on 9/11.

He said this:

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come, not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said in a speech Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” he said. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.”

“And it is our continuing duty to confront them,” Bush added.

Yes, Mr. President. It certainly is our duty.

Sadly, tragically and to his everlasting shame, one of President Bush’s successors not only has failed to “confront” the enemy within, he has encouraged them to act. I refer, of course, to the 45th POTUS — the dipsh** who shall remain nameless in this blog.

I understand that President Bush’s remarks have been hailed by Democrats and irked supporters of the 45th POTUS. Hmm. Imagine that, if you dare.

I cannot help but wonder why in the name of all that is holy does anyone object to the words of a former wartime president on whose watch we sought to confront international terrorists. Of course he is correct about the threat of domestic terrorists. He echoed the words spoken two years ago by FBI director Christopher Wray — appointed by POTUS 45 — who said the same thing about the domestic terrorism.

I will stand with President Bush on this one.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Message is still profound

I want to share with you a column written late in the day when terrorists struck our nation 20 years ago and threw us into a period of national grief.

It comes from a brilliant essayist, Leonard Pitts, Jr. I was proud to publish it when I was editing the opinion pages of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

I will post it again right now and let these words speak for themselves … once again.

***

It’s my job to have something to say.

They pay me to tease shades of meaning from social and cultural issues, to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, cultural, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse.

We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though — peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people you, perhaps think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel.

Both in terms of the awful scope of its ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and indeed, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

You see, there is steel beneath this velvet. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

Still, I keep wondering what it was you hoped to teach us. It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred.

If that’s the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re about. You don’t know what you just started.

But you’re about to learn.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

9/11 reminds me why I am glad we left

The commemorations we have witnessed today as the nation marks the 20th year since the 9/11 attacks have taken us — in my mind at least — on a dual-track remembrance.

I am reminded of how unified we were immediately after the attacks. President Bush called us to arms to fight the terrorist network that launched the attack. We stood behind the wartime president … for a time.

Then he took us into Iraq. The Iraq War was launched on false pretenses. We invaded a sovereign nation, removed a hated dictator and then got bogged down in another conflict with no clear motive for engaging the Iraqis in the first place.

We took our eyes off the key enemy: the Afghan terrorists.

President Bush infamously said at one point during his time in office he didn’t think much about Osama bin Laden. His successor, President Obama, made it the nation’s mission to bring justice to the mass murderer. Our special forces did so in May 2011.

Yet the war in Afghanistan dragged on.

And on and on …

Which brings me to the second track. President Biden ended that war. I am more glad today than ever that he acted when he did. It is true the withdrawal could have been executed more cleanly. But our troops are off the battlefield.

We have removed the world of thousands of terrorists. No, they aren’t exterminated. Others have stepped up to replace them. Indeed, the Afghan War had turned into a never-ending struggle against an enemy that cannot possibly be wiped off the face of the planet.

However, we retain — throughout unsurpassed military and intelligence capability — the ability to search out and destroy anyone who intends to do us harm the way Osama bin Laden did on 9/11.

May always remember the attacks of that horrific day. May we also always remain alert to the danger that lurks.

However, let us also avoid the kind of quagmire — and that’s what it became in Afghanistan — that always exacts too heavy a price.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Football game = diversion

I do enjoy the occasional welcome diversion from the issues of the day. One of them came across my sight this afternoon.

The Oregon Ducks played the Ohio State Buckeyes in a college football game in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 in the nation; the Ducks came in as the No. 12-ranked outfit.

The Ducks won the game in the stadium they call “The Shoe.” It was filled with 100,000 or so screaming fans. Dare I say they weren’t wearing masks? Oh, what the hey … I’ll save that one for another time.

I am an Oregon native. I didn’t attend the U of O, but I cheer for them when they show up on national TV. I did so today, alarming Toby the Puppy when it appeared near the end of the game the Ducks would win.

We all need to have our attention yanked away from those things that dominate the TV airwaves, or the printed pages of newspapers, or our computer screens.

My wife and I rolled out early this morning to attend a 9/11 commemoration at a fire station in Princeton, Texas, where we now live. It was a wonderful event. They played “Taps.” They hoisted the flag and then lowered it to half-staff. The deputy fire chief delivered some heartfelt remarks about the heroism we all witnessed 20 years ago today when the terrorists attacked us.

Then we went about our day.

I took some time away from scouring news sites for matters on which to comment. I just cheered for my favorite college football team.

Dang! It was great to see the Oregon Ducks win a huge football game in front of the whole nation.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Unity: Is it impossible to find?

Political unity shouldn’t be this hard to find; it shouldn’t be this elusive.

It most certainly is, however.

The nation is honoring the sacrifice we endured on 9/11. Part of the honor has been to salute the unity we felt when President Bush called on us to fight the terrorists who hit us hard, who killed all those Americans.

We answered the terrorists with one clear and forceful voice.

That was then. The unity we felt in the moment didn’t last long. Bush eventually decided to expand our war against terror by invading Iraq in March 2003. The president lied to us. He told us the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction; they didn’t. He also sought to tell us that the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks; he didn’t.

We’ve been divided ever since.

Two decades later we are now fighting an even more insidious enemy. It’s a pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans, far more than who died in the 9/11 attacks.

President Biden is seeking to unify us against the pandemic. He can’t find the formula. Our divisions have been cast along partisan lines. Democrats push for vaccine and mask mandates; Republicans resist them both. Think of this for a moment. Our entire nation is being struck by a virus, yet the president can’t unify us.

Surely we don’t require an attack from a foreign enemy to bring us together. Or do we?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We are changed forever

We know where we were and what we were doing when we got the word 20 years ago today … correct?

On that landmark Tuesday morning I was sitting at my desk at work in Amarillo, Texas. A young man with whom I worked on the editorial page of the Globe-News, came to work, stuck his head in the door and said, “Did you hear the news? A plan flew into the World Trade Center.”

That’s about all Dave Henry knew at the moment. I asked him about the weather. It was sunny and clear in New York, Henry said. My first thought was that a moron had flown the plane into the WTC by mistake.

I turned on the mini-TV I kept in my office. The “Today” show came on and a few minutes later, all hell broke loose as the second plane flew into the other WTC tower. We heard later that morning about the Pentagon and then about the crash in Shanksville, Pa.

Terrorists had hijacked four jetliners intending to do serious harm to this nation. They succeeded perhaps beyond the wildest dreams of the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who would be delivered justice a decade later by special operations forces sent to kill him by President Obama.

I don’t know what lessons we learned from that horrifying event. I can think of only one constructive lesson, which is that terrorism is a threat that cannot be extinguished. It will lurk in the evil souls of individuals for as long as they exist among us. The lesson will be that we must maintain the highest level of alert. Always and forever.

They paid tribute this morning in our North Texas community to the lives lost and the heroism displayed by firefighters, police officers, first responders and those passengers who fought the terrorists before crashing the plan in Pennsylvania.

They lowered the flag to half-staff at the Princeton Fire Department Station No. 3, the newest such station in our city. The ceremony was brief, but poignant. We learned about a firefighter who died in NYC on 9/11, Anthony Rodriguez, whose sister lives in Princeton and that the fire station we visited this morning was built in his memory.

The ceremony was brief. Our hearts will remain broken for as long as we remember the events of that day and the war that followed for two decades after the attack.

Mostly, though, I choose to salute the brave men and women — such as Anthony Rodriguez — who ran into the flames.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Some ex-POTUSes get it; others, well …

A note came from a social media friend, a fellow who happens to be a former judge in the Texas Panhandle.

He writes: Our former presidents have different agendas tomorrow. George W. Bush is giving keynote remarks at Flight 93 National Memorial. Barack Obama will be at the remembrance ceremony at Ground Zero. Donald Trump is giving commentary for a boxing match in Florida. I guess he couldn’t find a way to make money off of it.

I haven’t heard how former President Bill Clinton will commemorate the event. I don’t expect former President Jimmy Carter to venture far, given his increasingly frail health.

But my friend does offer a fascinating critique on how POTUS 45 is spending the day tomorrow to mark the 20th year since the terrorists changed our country forever.

Yep. No doubt about it. POTUS 45 is a miserable piece of sh**.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com