A Very Bad Day

Planes Strike the Twin Towers

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was getting ready to go work on my Mom’s condo; she was about to sell it, and although it had quite recently been redecorated top to bottom, I had a lot of spit-polishing to do, even after laboring over it the previous weekend.  Oddly for that hour, I got a call from my landlord, who had an office in the building and I usually saw before I left for work.  He told me that both World Trade Center Buildings had been hit by planes, the second while he watched, and one had already collapsed.

I hung up.  For the first time in my adult life, I wished I had a TV.  Fortunately, Mom was going to pick me up in a few minutes, and I was glad I was going to her house, which had TV’s everywhere.  On the way to her condo in Lake Oswego, Joan and I had quite a while to speculate about what happened, but barely spoke at all.  As soon as we got inside, we both turned to the flashing screen.

The day was a blur of discordant images, some missed and only heard while I washed windows, cleaned rugs, and touched up paint.  We marveled at the bravery and earnestness of then-local news reporter Ashleigh Banfield, who looked so determined (and perky) covered in poisonous ash, and both correctly assumed this day would make her career.   We were both equally disdainful of President Bush to begin with, but his cowardly absence that day, when Laura (!) had to stand in for him while he, the fucking President, cowered on a plane made us both despise him afresh.  We gaped in silence at the endless loops of video that showed jumpers and flames ad nauseam.

When it was time for lunch, we went to a nearby restaurant where, naturally enough, TV’s were all on and tuned to the local network affiliates.  On the local news a reporter darkly intoned that the First Interstate Bank Tower (built as First National Bank in 1972, now Wells Fargo) had already been evacuated.  Loudly, and  to no one in particular, I said, “No bad seventies skyscraper is safe.” and Joan and the whole room cracked up in nervous (and relieved) laughter.   We all felt safe in the leafy and strategically unimportant hamlet of Lake Oswego, Oregon, from whatever those dirty Habibs were up to.

Later, when we were back at Joan’s, Bush finally appeared, and although he quite admirably discouraged racist and vengeful feelings against Muslims as a group (a surprisingly civilized move that today would go over like a fart in church amongst Republicans….), he also strongly hinted that war(s) would ensue.  I balked initially at the idea of a nascent desire  for war amongst traumatized Americans, but a call a few hours later from my liberal little brother, who gloried in the idea of a military retaliation, set the tone for the debacle of the ensuing decade-plus.

Because of one terrorist attack over ten years ago, we’ve created a generation of young Americans (as well as converted older ones) into believing that the exact thing, our relentless militarism, that creates terrorism will somehow prevent it, and we cheer illegal war crimes and illegal government spying in equal measure; things we so recently considered anathema.  That we can bomb and torture our way to safety.  That we can start a Holy War and expect no casualties on our side.  That we can ever give up enough of our hard-won civil liberties to be completely “safe.”

Yes, September 11, 2001 was a very bad day, but not in the way being so theatrically “remembered” today.  It was a bad day in that it made it possible for a cadre of cuckoo, illegally empowered authoritarians  to make all subsequent days immeasurably worse for the vast majority of the Earth’s inhabitants.  Two “wave” elections and a new President later, we not only haven’t learned anything, but it seems we’ve also forgotten critically important things we used to know, before.

That’s the real tragedy of this day.

 

20 Comments

  1. michlib says:

    Amen, Hag. In a truly sad way, we’ve let the bastards beat us twice.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Or four or five times, depending.

  3. Teddy says:

    Thanks, hag. This sums up my thoughts very closely.

    We lost so much that day, and we’ve lost even more since.

  4. Austin says:

    Can you elaborate on our “relentless militarism” (I’m admittedly a little slow) and just which civil liberties I no longer enjoy?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, before 9/11, wars were a tad more difficult to sell, as were ever-increasing military budgets. Now both parties agree on both.
      And, if you ever valued those pesky rights of privacy (4th amendment), free speech, and whatnot, you have to admit after the rollup of Occupy and the dawn of warrantless surveillance and even murder, a big portion of the Bill of Rights has gone down the drain, too.
      There are other things, but you might want to start small.

      • RUKidding says:

        Don’t forget that Obama has claimed the right assassinate US citizens without even an attempt at capturing and trying them.

        And then there’s endless blow back for whistleblowers like Pfc Bradley Manning, who attempted to pull back the curtain on what’s really going on. Purported Constitutional Law “Professor” Obama blatantly & very publically declared Manning *guilty* before he was even charged with anything.

        I could go on for pages. I’ll just leave it at that.

    • mikeinportc says:

      Maybe you should change your screen name to “Rip Van Winkle”?

  5. RUKidding says:

    Thanks. Good commentary.

    I’m way more cynical and am of the camp that believes that 9/11 was either deliberately planned by the PTB and/or “permitted” to happen because it enured to their benefit, as in CHA-CHING! I’m entirely too cynical about the whole fetid mess, albeit I am, of course, dreadfully sorry for those who lost their lives (just collateral damage to our 1% overlords), as well as the truly brave & heroic first responders who’ve been treated like shit by the USG (yet more collateral damage for the serfs).

    The flag waving & fake patriotism pushed at us rubes by the PTB is sick-making. OUR USG used this attack to wage ongoing, endless, expensive WAR Inc on the Muslim world – of course, funded in part by the Sunni Saudi’s – and it’s all in the name of “terrorsim,” which, in many ways, was at least avoidable.

    As for me on 9/11/01, I was still in the initial stages of grieving the loss of a very very dear & close friend 2 days earlier. I came out of the shower (on the left coast) and happened to hear *frantic* talk on the radio. Turned on the tv to witness the crash of the second tower. I had to turn off the tv, as I couldn’t absorb anymore.

    I went to work that day bc of a huge project that had to get done, so I was sequestered inside the whole day – the rest of the staff got the day off. When I drove home, there were TONS of people out in the streets, on freeway overpasses, with signs & flags with all this patriotic-y chauvanism freely being expressed. I thought: uh-oh, WAR, Inc’s a-comin’.

    It was all very surreal, though, and sort of dream-like due to my grieving & inability to really connect (right then) with what had happened. Sort of like being in a Hollywood movie, where they turn down the sound but the protagonist is wandering around a very noisy and busy landscape.

    Such was my detachment from events that I was surprised to learn that most businesses were closed when I attempted to go grocery shopping that evening. I ended up watching deer-in-the-headlights W with some disgust, but he was, putatively, the CiC. Like you, I was impressed that he didn’t go rad on the asses of the Muslims, but I also KNEW that the Bush Crime Syndicate was very much in bed with the Saudi’s… and so, the rest is history.

    CHA-CHING!!!$$$$$!!!!

  6. cocktailhag says:

    I’ve always been pretty certain they let it happen, but the reasons weren’t solely about money. “War Presidents,” as Bush longed to be long before he was, uh, elected, do have more power, especially by morphing dissent into treason, they can do whatever they want. And Bush did.
    Basically, the war comes home, where it is much more useful. Fifteen years ago, could you have imagined ever seeing such huge police presence, often heavily armed, just everywhere? Cops firing tear gas grenades, dressed up like Star Wars? Uniformed military?
    You’ve gotta have all that before you can really swipe all the money, so they did have their priorities right.
    But the neocons are crazier than that; those John Bolton types really believe it both necessary and desirable to try to take over the world. If nothing else, at least Obama’s foreign policy team isn’t an insane asylum.

    • RUKidding says:

      I think we’re both talking about the same thing, essentially, or, perhaps, two sides of the same coin. Yes, our Overlords are all about power, dominance & control, and they always have been so. This nation has always been imperialistic on one level or another – whether it was domestic imperialism (eg, taking away land from the native americans, plus other European or Central American nations who laid claim to it) or international imperialism.

      Team USA has just followed a very typical model of aggressive militaristic imperialism from long ago. Alexander the so-called Great springs to mind, as do Ghengis Kahn & Julius Ceasar. And like those former empires, they center cannot hold due to financial constraints, etc.

      Whatever Dick Cheney was up to or John Bolton or KKKarl Rove or Doug Coe or the Bush Crime Syndicate… it ends up always being about follow the money.

      My take is that the Saudi’s have been bascially running the show for years bc BushCo’s been in hock to them for many decades now. The Saudi’s stir the pot in the nations of Islam based on the Sunni belief system and by being opposed to the Shi’ites & the Bathists, etc.

      We want the BigOil, and we want the hegemony in the ME, Africa and Asia (often Islamic nations), and so we do-si-do with King Abudallah. And now here we are, 9/11/12, and the natives in the ME are restless and once again “attacking Team USA for our alleged freedumbs.”

      Why those ungrateful so-and-so’s. Those dirty mooslinz don’t like Team USA’s “kinetic military actions” and being droned? Why, why, why … how unamerican of them!!

      I’m not quite as sure as you are (but remain willing to be informed) that Obama’s foreign policy team isn’t in the “asylum.” That’s mainly bc I tend to feel that Obama’s being “run” by BushCo. But that’s just me. Duly noted that Obama bowed very very deep & low to Saudi King Abdullah, just like the Bush’s do…

      • Austin says:

        …My take is that the Saudi’s have been bascially running the show for years bc BushCo’s been in hock to them for many decades now…

        Actually, the relationship was established by FDR when he signed Executive Order 8926 in 1943, which stated that, “the defense of Saudi Arabia [is] vital to the defense of the United States.” And yes, it was about oil, as it is today. So BushCo just continued our position that as a nation, it is in our interest to maintain access to Saudi crude.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Well, I suppose it was in 1936 or whatever, but today it’s like handing an obese hoveround user another 16-pack of Ho-ho’s. Oil, be it Saudi, ours, or anybody else’s, is pretty much gone in either 30 or 100 years, depending on how fast we intend to waste it. And a whole polar ice cap disappeared last week.
          Don’t you think the money for oil wars could be a tad less improvidently spent about now?

          • Austin says:

            We’re not the only nation using oil and certainly no the growing the fastest. I agree that oil is a finite resource, but technology allows us to discover more and recover from areas that were previously unacceptable. I don’t think you’d enjoy a world without oil. How we allocate the national treasure is always fair game for discussion. I think that Egypt and Libya, for instance, should do without a few our tax dollars for a while. Had heard about the ice. Is it the Artic or Antarctic that is devoid of ice now?

          • cocktailhag says:

            Of course we aren’t, but that’s not the point; we use the most per capita by a long shot. These new wonder technologies like deepwater drilling, fracking, and tar sands are are all disasters waiting to happen, given the larcenous and incompetent boobs that run these corrupt monopolies.
            (Not to mention the governments who kowtow to them.)
            For certain applications, like jet and rocket fuel, oil probably has no replacement, but for nearly everything else, it does. In Europe, but specially Switzerland and the Nordic countries, railroads are being upgraded to move freight off the highways, which both lessens congestion and the need for bigger roads and reduces carbon output.
            How would you like to explain to your grandchildren that nobody but the very rich can afford air travel anymore because we burned up all the oil in leaf blowers and Hummers?
            The fact that other countries are using more oil ought to be a reason to reduce our own consumption rather than an excuse not to.
            It’s the arctic where the sea ice is receding, finally creating a real Northwest Passage (and some more dangerous places to drill), but it’s worse in the Antarctic, where this summer for the first time a huge chunk disappeared entirely. So, both.

  7. mikeinportc says:

    I managed to avoid all the sanctimonious, pseudo-religeous, remembrances yesterday. In fact, I didn’t hear one mention of it of any sort. My reaction to 9/11, these last few years, has been about what Glenn Greenwald’s was to the attack on the US consulate. What I’ve seen and heard the last 4-5 years , has been nauseating, and getting more so, as time passes. Without mention of the millions that have suffered in the ostensible response to 9/11/2001, any commemoration is a delusional, narcissistic,hypocritical, farce.

    I’ve always been pretty certain they let it happen, but the reasons weren’t solely about money. “
    I would think that’s nuts, except Dick Cheney is involved. I’d guess that they had some inkling that something was up, but didn’t realize the magnitude of it. Probably expected something of nuisance level (except, of course, to the “little people” that happened to be there), such as the USS Cole bombing. Something that could be exploited to justify their agenda, of a National Security State, invading Iraq (negotiations underway 5/01, at the latest), etc. It’s been pretty much forgotten, but congressional hearings on the first gulf war, (Sept. ’91?) revealed that Cheney was repeatedly, and urgently warned by his people, over several days, that an invasion of Kuwait was imminent. He didn’t pass the info on to anybody, and, as far as anyone can tell, do anything about it. Did he let that one happen, so we could defeat, and replace that uppity Hussein guy? No answer to that one, as our intrepid newshounds have never asked.

    I remember it very well, the beginning of a (seemingly) perfect day, warm, cloudless, with a cool breeze. The kind of day that happens once every few years, here in Mildewville. Oddly, yesterday was also one of those days. Such days still give me queasy chills.
    I was off, and heard reports of smoke coming from the N Tower, on the car radio, on my way home from a grocery & post office trip. Small planes had come close recently, so the idea of an accident occuring was a concern, but nothing momentous. Sat on the porch steps with coffee and radio, still enjoying the day. When the radio people seemed to get conflicting reports , I went inside to check on the television babblers. The second plane hit about five seconds after I got it on. Along with being stunned by watching so many die, live, I also had a sick feeling about what the response might be . ( Btw Austin, I still remember what we lost, even if you don’t .) The night before, I had been reading a NYT(?) article on the reported assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, so did hazard a guess on the source of the 9/11 attacks , and what was to shortly follow.

    I was surprised, and relieved, by W’s attempt to tamp down any violence directed at American Muslims . It was probably the best thing he ever did.

    Had a couple of other sick-feeling moments that day. My brother and his girlfriend were supposed to fly from Boston to LA, somewhere in that time frame. We (Northeast) were supposed to not tie up the phones, so as to avoid crashing the networks. Waited until the next day to call. Fortunately, they had already gone, and returned. Also, when somebody put up a map of the nuclear facilities that the planes were near, and could have targeted. Yikes! Btw, they made a circle – I’m near the center. :o )

  8. mikeinportc says:

    ps (Austin) one of the things we lost was the expectation that criminal will eventually make it to court, regardless of who they are, or what they’ve done. Relatedly, I think we lost a lot, with the death of OBL, that is a truer picture of him. I’d expect that we wouldn’t have gotten the monster, that’s such a convenient enabler of the military-industrial-prison-security-financial-political complex, but just a guy, one that’s not much different from Bush,Cheney, and fellow-travelers. That is, just another rich,arrogant, entitled, asshole, playing the Great Game with other people’s lives.

  9. cocktailhag says:

    They knew it was going to be hijackings and flying planes into buildings, that’s why Bush hid out for a month in Texas, and people in Ashcroft’s inner circle had been ordered not to fly commercial. They wanted it to be big, like PNAC’s “New Pearl Harbor.” And look how well it worked for them.
    I had war dread right from the start, but never could I have dreamt up what actually happened. The flight suit? Abu Ghraib? The Dixie Chicks? Ari Fleischer darkly intoning, “watch what you say; watch what you do..”? Had it been fiction, it would have been too over the top to be plausible, but there it is.
    Too bad about the nukes…. My personal meltdown in waiting, Trojan, not only closed but they dynamited it. Like it never happened. Now all we have to worry about is Hanford, which may make the Columbia glow sometime soon.

  10. mikeinportc says:

    Re the ” watch what you say” bs, I actually read the transcripts, &/or watched the dubbed/captioned OBL videos. What they were afraid of was the many gratuitous insults directed toward Saddam Hussein and the Baathists. It would have been harder to sell the Iraq war if most people knew of the enmity between AQ & the Hussein regime. I already knew of it, but then again, I pay attention, and remember. ;)

    Along the same lines as your post, CH : http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/