The Terrorists Won

It is getting harder and harder to believe that September, 11, 2001 was, well, almost NINE YEARS AGO.  To hear our politicians speak, you’d think it was last week.  We’ve grown accustomed to onerous waits and pointless hoop-jumping in airports, endless and expanding wars all over the globe, militarized policing, the mainstreaming of torture, and even sacrificing prosperity at home to pay for it all, but you’d think we’d have a hard time keeping the fear going after so much time, considering our notoriously short national attention span.  Nearly twice as many Americans have been killed in the resulting wars, and every major city in the country would love to see a few million square feet of empty space vaporized, if only to drive down exploding vacancy rates.  Osama Bin Laden’s goal, if you’ll remember, was to destroy us by provoking just the sort of wanton overreaction we provided, and he succeeded, and has now been able to turn his attentions to environmental concerns, since the U.S. is circling the drain more dramatically than in his wildest hopes.  He’s moved on; we haven’t.

The reason for this curious obsession with the past in a culture that can’t remember what happened yesterday is that “The War on Terror” was never anything more than a business plan, and its investors set it up to be a long-term thing.  The much feared “Peace Dividend”  after the collapse of our only conceivably threatening “enemy,” the Soviet Union, simply had to be eliminated, if the prerogatives of the Imperial Presidency were to remain….  secrecy, ever-expanding government power, black budgets, and a lot  taxpayer money to spend as one wished.  In peacetime, people do expect that they taxes they pay to the government will return as benefits, they are uncomfortable with the secrecy and violent tendencies of an overbearing government, and worse, they also might even respect the patriotism of dissent and stand for constitutional principles on occasion.  What righty could put up with that?  The Soviet Evil Empire had to be replaced with something grossly inflated to become “Islamofascism,” and in their more lurid fantasies, a “Caliphate’” in which Ay-rabs would screw all of our dames and then make ‘em wear head scarves.  Really.  A lot of Fox News watchers believe this to this day.  Turbans are much scarier than those fur things those Russkies wore, too, so what the hell?

The absurd thinness of the arguments that support treating September 11 as though it were the Holocaust (except in this holocaust, the Jews won afterward and spent their lives putting a can of whoop-ass on anybody who looked like a Nazi…) ought to discredit them so thoroughly that they would have no place in public discourse, but there they are, nine long and miserable years later.   The same people that led us into our current losing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan now have their greedy eyes on Iran, and the gasbags on television just sit there, listen, and pretend that these people aren’t crazy.  Of course, since almost all of the gasbags cheered for the wars themselves, this is easier to do for them than it is for you, the viewer, who thought they were all nuts the whole time.

FOX has found its niche in all of this; Nixon once calculated that he had 30% of America no matter what he did…  the “don’t confuse me with the facts” crowd was his “base,”  and now his former campaigner, Roger Ailes, sells them dentures, gold, and golf estates as the ratings skyrocket.  The rest of the MSM, not so much.  You see, some, not all, news watchers might want to watch something that isn’t utter horseshit, for which they would obviously choose FOX anyway, but no media outlet wanted to be the only one so doing, so all of the TV Networks and newspapers except Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) seem to have tossed up their hands, donned their flak jackets and said, “Let’s go with the horseshit.”

History, unlike television careers, is important, and it moves along.  If Roger Ailes’ repulsive mug belching tinny Bushisms and shopworn fearmongering doesn’t shame the rest of the MSM to start calling such vermin out on their lies, nothing else will.  His comments were worse than mere lies, they were old, tired lies that got voted off the island in 2005, as even the stupidest bobblehead ought to have seen that.  Lies are like ties; you shouldn’t be caught in an old one.  But caught they were, and although they’d looked smashing in “everybody else was fooled, too,” and even “that’s old news ” looked good in the right lighting, “Gee, look at this crazy person we’ve been believing all this time; let’s go to commercial” wasn’t very flattering at all.

The crisis of the News Media, and the resulting crisis of our democracy, is that there is no competing with FOX, and because the rest of our media missed this fact at a pretty crucial moment, Osama can worry about glaciers melting now, which is a good thing, because we can’t be bothered.  Too many other problems.


  1. sysprog says:

    Ben Stein :

    The behavior of the feds here is not just worrisome. It is something beyond that. But, Mr. Holder, here is a line from the civil rights struggle I worked in before you were born: We are not afraid. And we’re not going away.

    Ben Stein is six years older than Holder.

    Stein must have been one heck of a kindergarten rabble-rouser.

    Roger (not the bad one) Ailes says that Ben Stein’s “Free James O’Keefe” movement will be following on the success of Ben Stein’s “Free Credit Report” movement.

  2. DCLaw1 says:

    Nice piece, although it makes me sad. On a lighter (more sardonic) note, it resonates with my new Republican Superfriends installment.

  3. meremark says:

    Good minds, well written, fresh and in parallel.

    Further goodness continues in the comments of the thread here, and there:
    Full Body Scans - Continuing Loss of Liberty due to Crackpot 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, By Michael Fullerton, OpEd News .COM, February 1, 2010.


    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, time to put my hard hat on over my curlers again. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, it would have had to be invented….. The post-game show was clearly prepared for a rollout.

  4. Moribund. That’s a good word for all of these phenomena, which are related even when they don’t seem to be on the surface. Sometimes it makes me wonder what it’s like to young in America these days. If I had to guess, I’d say that conditions are way more stifling for our children and grandchildren than they were for us, and God knows, conditions were bad enough then, although for the most part only in elementary and high schools, and in the workplace. Employers have always committed atrocities against their employees, but they didn’t used to have the unqualified support of every other institution of the society in doing so — or at least that’s how I remember it. (Then again, we did have the draft, which, let me tell you, was no joke in 1965.)

    And yes, I realize that not every commenter here is over sixty. Tell us, Hag, Heel, et al.., something about growing up in the Eighties — what was it like to come up under –gag — Reagan, Thatcher, Kohl and Mitterand. If you can stand it, or course.

    The corporate surveillance society took a long time to fully hatch, and to purge the last vestiges of organized opposition. The paralysis of the Democrats, it seems to me, is just the final piece of the puzzle. Now, the only folks out there with new ideas are the kids at Apple, Genentech, Monsanto and the wonderful materials science research facilities who put God knows what in our permacrease trousers and metallosheen lip gloss. All of them appear to be wholly-owned before they even get out of high school.

    If there is any good news, I suspect that we’ll have to look for it in the abstract principle that tells us that so much potential energy capped by so much constipation and stupidity is bound to burst somewhere, and soon. After all, even the Soviet Union only lasted seventy years.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Actually, as a kid I thought things were really getting better; Vietnam had discredited imperial wars, I thought permanently, here in Oregon marijuana had been decriminalized, and even the Republicans seemed relatively normal, certainly not racist. Then along came Reagan, and I had to sign up with Selective Service to get student loans. Wars were declared on everything, especially drugs and gays, and pretty soon all the BS I thought was over was back and worse than ever. Clinton offered a respite, not a rollback, and the Republicans (and the media) have continued their rightward march ever since. It’s bizarre to me that people accept this; worst of all, our nominally Democratic President.

    • Ché Pasa says:

      I remember the shock when Reagan was elected governor of California. I know you do, too. His eight years in the Corner Office at the Capitol were a foretaste of what was to come on the national scene.

      We tried to warn everyone.

      They wouldn’t listen.

      And now look at what a fine mess we’re left with, too.

      • I do. Oh indeed, I do. It hurt worse than Nixon, I think, probably because I was one of those immigrant California patriots who believed he’d found paradise, and would have done anything — anything — to defend it. I also remember holding a wake for our fair state with a group of my friends after the passage of Proposition 13.

        We’ve lived long enough to be vindicated, but it gives me no pleasure at all to say so.

  5. retzilian says:

    Does anyone here really believe that OBL opined about global warming and climate change and is really making these tapes/videos?

    I think these are spoofs made by the AQ version of James O’Keefe.

    Seriously. Wake me up when things make sense again.

  6. mikeinportc says:

    Saw some of the Senate hearing today,re the budget, with Geithner, et al. In all the fretting over the debt and the deficit, nobody mentioned the Pentagon budget, or any of the rest of the alphabet soup. ( Can we please retire the CIA?)( I was [mentally] screaming $708(+33)B!!!!$7hundred&41freakin’BILLION!!!!!) Last week I heard a congresswoman from MA bring it up, briefly. It got no discerable notice by anyone else in the room. Maybe I imagined it, but she had the look of somebody that just let out a long loud one in the middle of the sermon. :) She didn’t press the point .

    A few individuals I know, often start their political bitch sessions with complaints about taxes, and the voracious/rapacious/greedy/power-hungry louts that create them . Mention of the costs of empire(in different terms) usually draw a blank stare. Even when there’s further discussion, that gets short shrift, then goes down the memory hole. Don’t know what it’ll take to make it sink in .

    I had one idea, awhile ago . (That I know won’t happen, but even the proposal, by Grayson,Paul, Kucinich, or simiar, might help.) Don’t know if I mentioned it here, don’t think so, but if so, I apologize for the repeat . ( *^#@$%! concussions ;) An orphan tax. Assessed to every individual. No exceptions, for any reason. Separate, and dedicated to a fund for the orphans we create. Must be paid separately, & in person , kids included, at your nearest federal building ( or, to spread the nuisance, any government office, at any level?). In consideration of the poor, maybe it wouldn’t necessarily have to be enough to cover the whole cost, just enough to be noticeable. ( $5? $10 $X?). Might even make more of an impression, if it was small , as an inconvenient remindr of the central problem?

    Some hope on the media front :

    Al Jazeera English is coming to Canada, ( Ready for the Billo/MM/Rush/Hannity outrage? ;) , with an eye southwards. It’s managed by the former news chief of the CBC. He was disenchanted by the growing “Americanization” of Canadian media , and headed off to Qatar.

    When it takes off( I thinhk it will.) , the US media mght just puzzle their (pin)heads over it, and try to imitate it . Maybe some will even figure out that it’s actual(shhh!) J-O-U-R-N-A-L-I-S-M, i.e. the quality of the content, that drives their success. Maybe
    some will even reform in time to avoid going under.??????

    • cocktailhag says:

      I doubt reform is in the offing… probably the conglomerates will just fold up their news tents, since they’re no longer under any obligation to provide news as a public service. Al Jazeera is a great alternative, until the emir dies or decides to pull the plug. (Kind of what happened to most good American newspapers.

  7. mikeinportc says:

    And yes, I realize that not every commenter here is over sixty. Tell us, Hag, Heel, et al.., something about growing up in the Eighties — what was it like to come up under –gag — Reagan, Thatcher, Kohl and Mitterand. If you can stand it, or course.

    Well WT, where to start? A few things come to mind. Reagan et al probably did affect my course of life . I was considering a military carer. I missed on the last cut for the Coast Guard Academy . ( Don’t tell you why, but guessing it was some injuries,including, & maybe especially cosmetic ones to chin & knees, and not being captain and president of everything . CGA is fussier than the others) Still considered the other Academies. Judging by my classmates that got in, I could have done so. Also considered other military career options. Then the talk started about invading Nicaragua. I was dead set against it, but felt that if I was in the military, I’d have to shut up and do my job. Didn’t want to be in that position , so foreswore the military option. I expected Vietnam-era type protest and upheaval , if we did go there. Don’t know if that was realistic, but that time, it felt like that. The bs level helped open my eyes further.*

    It also reminds me of some lean times. At the same time that that (over)stuffed shirt, Sec. of Ed. Bennett, complaining about colege students using their aid money for cars and stereos, some that I had already awarded, were cut,(In #%$##^$n’ Sept!) too late to make it up. Really had to cut corners. Went through a winter in Syracuse (went to SUNYCESF) with just sneakers. Most annoying thing was having to concentrate on where I walked,(instead of the big things :) ), to stay dry . Learned to skip meals and eat cheap.( & to find every wild apple/crabapple wihin a ~3mi radius ;) Went from a 190 lb lumberjack-type, to bouncing between 135-140 lb. ( I’m ~1/4″ under 6′). Good thing I caught a lot of fish that summer. Anybody need a recipe for Rock Bass/Bluegill/Smallmouth Newburgh? :)

    My Young Republican friends were in their glory. I expected to hear about some of them by now, politically .Not wingnutty enough for the present day, though. Maybe they missed the boat?
    One enterprising YR got himself some lovin’ out of the Grenada episode. He and I just happened upon a knot of young lovlies that we knew, discussing it, right after the news broke. He managed to spin it into the first spark of the coming global conflagration. We’re all gonna get drafted and die! (his finshing flourish) . Got some we’re-gonna-miss-you hugs then, and probably somethin’ more later.;)(He was a gentleman, so wouldn’t tell, even when there was something to tell, or so he said :) ) Me? Nada. I faded into the background, so as not to let laughter ruin his schtick.

    A couple other things that stand out, are the hiring ( & my anger at) of people to not do their jobs (Watt, for ex), and the constant worry that they’d play nuclear chicken until we got barbecued.

    I also remember when the great TAX-CUTTER’s work came calling . My immediate boss, making ~ 5-6X what I did, was happy with his check. He was going to keep almost $1000 extra, for the year . Then I opened mine, expecting something more modest, but something. Nope! My taxes went up! about 50c/week. ( Guess somebody had to pay for it ;) ) My introduction to Voodoo er …..Trickle Down .

    * With some Native American (Onondaga, & maybe others), & Quaker ancestry***, I was born into a family with some skepticim/cynicism toward the great American mythos. Fortunately, I also had some teachers along the way that taught the truth not just the usual pieties. One even used Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as a text book . Spent about a month on it (in conjunction with other material), not just a casual mention .

    *** One kid called me a “Red Nigger”. That was educational.(Really!) Worked with him about 10 years later. Asked him about it . He said he didn’t mean it, just he worst thing he could come up with, meant to agrivate. ( He was good at it- got tied to the RR tracks with his own shoestrings. [They just scared him. Came back when the train sounded in the distance]) I believed him . His girlfriend was black/arab(Egyptian?) .

  8. Ché Pasa says:

    The reason for this curious obsession with the past in a culture that can’t remember what happened yesterday is that “The War on Terror” was never anything more than a business plan, and its investors set it up to be a long-term thing.

    Too true. And yet there is genuine fear among the Ruling Class and their cronies and enablers. Look how they tremble at that poor Nigerian wretch and his underpants, how they run around hysterically screaming about how dangerous civilian trials of terrorists are, how they are constantly in a tizzy about the Arabs under their beds. I know there are those who think these are manufactured “fears” and not real for the elites at all, but I beg to disagree. They are terrified. Maybe not so much about the odd suicide bomber, though that can turn them into jello.

    Maybe more because their position is more and more fragile and untenable. Think about how Soviet PTB must have felt as they sensed — but didn’t yet see — their cozy little system coming apart.

    The Business Plan is only working for a few, and those few are stealing from one another. What’s left? Yes, I know, plenty. But it’s not enough, and China has cut up their credit card.

    They know they’re trapped.

    And Osama? As you say, he’s moved on.

    We can’t.

    • Today on Democracy Now (God bless Amy Goodman) there was an interview with two of the original freedom riders, one white, one black. I’d recommend it, if for no reason other than the way it puts into perspective all the bullshit fearmongering about terrorism, and all the juvenile military posturing and flag waving too, for that matter. Americans with real courage aren’t hard to find, if you know where to look. We do indeed have a proud heritage, and it ain’t the one Glenn Beck is selling.

  9. cocktailhag says:

    That is it, isn’t it? Even bank robbers know enough to leave when the vault is empty; why do the righties stick around? I guess because Dubai isn’t so hot anymore. no pun intended.