D-day plus one.

I was right to sit out 9/11. No one gives a shit where anyone was, how they felt, what was running through their minds. Do they? I certainly don’t, although for those of you who collect such things, I’ll keep it brief: Getting ready for work; shocked; and pissed that it took NPR so long to get their act together. There’s nothing like driving to work, knowing the country is under attack in at least two cities, and hearing Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac” on your preferred news source.

To be sure, though, there was little enough of that. More common, today, was the rueful conservative, like, ohhhhh, Jonah Goldberg:

“Remember 9/11!” once looked like it was going to be a battle cry for the ages up there with “Remember the Alamo!” Now, the only aspect of 9/11 that is acceptable on a bipartisan basis is sadness. Obviously, with that much carnage and suffering there’s a place for the sadness. But why only sadness?

If I had said in late 2001, with bodies still being pulled from the wreckage, anthrax flying through the mail, pandemonium reigning at the airports, and bombs falling on Kabul, that by ‘07 leading Democrats would be ridiculing the idea of the war on terror as a bumper sticker, I’d have been thought mad. If I’d predicted that a third of Democrats would be telling pollsters that Bush knew in advance about 9/11, and that the eleventh of September would become an innocuous date for parental get-togethers to talk about potty-training strategies and phonics for preschoolers, people would have thought I was crazy.

For the record, I know a lot of Democrats, and to my knowledge, none of them think Bush knew in advance about 9/11, although the whole country knows he got a fairly specific memo on the subject a month ahead of time, if that’s what you mean. And I apologize for getting a haircut on the Date That Changed Everything, but my roots were getting embarrassing. By the way, how many people do you know can even tell you the date the Alamo was attacked?

Then there’s James Lileks:

It seemed right away like it would be a big war, three to four years – Afghanistan first, of course, then Iraq, then Iran. The idea that it would have stalled and ended up in diffuse oblique arguments about political timetables would have been immensely depressing. There was a model for this sort of thing, a template. Advance. But that requires cultural confidence, a loose agreement on the goals, the rationale, the nature of the enemy and the endgame. We don’t have those things. Imagine telling someone six years ago Iran would be allowed, by default, to make nuclear weapons. They would wonder what the hell we’d done with half a decade, plus change. What part of 25 years of Death to America didn’t we get, exactly?

Wha-? I missed this memo. I thought the idea was to invade Afghanistan and get Osama bin Hidin’ dead or alive. “Then Iraq, then Iran?” I must have been reading different newspapers. “The idea that it would have stalled and ended up in diffuse oblique arguments about political timetables would have been immensely depressing.” Well, hell yes, but you skipped another immensely depressing part — that before the arguments were about “political timetables,” they were about the massive botching of the job and the refusal of anyone in the administration to take any responsibility for it. And now we’re stuck with a chattering class of neocons stateside who act like a pissy girlfriend who says, “I shouldn’t have to tell you what you did. You should know.”

Ned Flanders manque Rod Dreher:

God, it’s hard to remember how scared we all were then. And that’s nothing to apologize for. Nothing like that had ever happened to our country, at least not the mainland. None of us had any idea what was coming next. …

It was a magnificent feeling we all shared, that national unity in the days and weeks after America was attacked. We all knew it couldn’t last, I guess, but didn’t you think, or at least hope, that something had changed forever, and for the better? As long as America was a victim, we were united domestically, and the world was on our side. When we decided to fight back, that ended that. We fought back foolishly, to be sure, and as Jonah notes, President Bush handled the politics of this thing badly. Big mistakes have been made. We all know that. We all live with that.

He’s big on this, telling others how “we all” feel or felt about whatever. I’m reminded of Tonto — what do you mean “we,” white man? And what’s this “magnificent” stuff? All this revisionist history! I recall a world that stood with us pretty much up until we started rattling sabers at Iraq. I guess that falls under the umbrella of “the politics of this thing,” the stuff that was “handled badly.” Well, when you put it that way…

Enough. Fortunately, we have Britney Spears to distract us. Something we can all enjoy together, as a nation. It’s a magnificent feeling:

Hoping to solve the mystery of how Britney Spears, a seasoned performer with many memorable faux-lesbian and python-related VMAs performances to her credit, came to prance across that Las Vegas stage as listlessly a past-her-prime, breakfast-shift stripper who’d just been shot in a fishnetted haunch with an elephant-grade tranquilizer dart…

“Breakfast-shift stripper” — if that doesn’t make milk squirt out your nose, nothing will.

Wandering back to 9/11…I give a lot of people a lot of slack for almost everything that was said between 9/11 and, say, New Year’s. It was a crazy time for everyone. There was a certain LarryCurlyMoe-ness in the air, only not funny. In one of Alan’s late father’s expressions, no one knew whether to shit their pants or wind their watch. I recall horrible things being said right out loud, and slightly less-horrible things being published in the newspaper. There was a Friday morning, probably the first Friday afterward, when I was sitting in the newsroom near the police scanner, and about every five minutes a call came in to check out some swarthy person seen walking down someone’s street — and this in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If anyone knew what the hell was happening, they weren’t telling. Emotions were high. My BFF Deb and I had a trip to Florida planned for that December, a four-day spa getaway at The Breakers in Palm Beach she’d won in a contest, and she said she thought maybe we should donate it to a firefighter’s widow, because would we even be able to enjoy ourselves? (Reader: We didn’t give it away, and we did enjoy ourselves.)

I wasn’t feeling too good myself. But I got over it. A lot of people got over it. If, six years later, we haven’t made 9/11 a national day of remembrance, all I can say is: The president told us to go shopping when the wound was raw.

Ech. Enough. How about some fun bloggage?

The new Thin Thighs in Two Days: A Clean House in 19 Minutes. Sure.

For once in my life, I’m out in front of a trend, although it would be stretching reality to call me a Spokes-Model:

Meet the beautiful bicycle girls of New York, a breed that bears little resemblance to the hard-charging, Spandex-short-wearing species of 20 years ago. Those women were athletes, pumping the pedals, fighting to win. Getting somewhere. Today’s girls—and one always thinks of them as girls, even if they’re well into their 40’s—are more meandering, their long legs flashing along the pot-holed alleys of SoHo and the boutique-lined bike lanes of the West Village. Eco-conscious and ethereal, they wear flowing frocks and gigantic sunglasses but never helmets. Their hair flutters in the breeze as they leave a trail of swooning male pedestrians in their perfumed wake. They’ve been known to weave up the Brooklyn Bridge, holding up traffic as they absent-mindedly chomp on almonds, steering through a stop sign while texting on their BlackBerries.

Local celebrities like the actresses Naomi Watts and Chloë Sevigny and the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen have all championed living the green life in this most public and only incidentally calorie-burning way. “I go every day to work on my bike,” Ms. Bundchen told the Daily News a couple of years ago. “It’s faster than a car, and cheaper.”

So I’m not in New York, lack flowing hair, almost always wear a helmet, never bike in a dress and don’t text while riding. And I’m not a celebrity, actress or Brazilian supermodel. Otherwise, this fits me to a T. (I do have big sunglasses. Ray-Bans.)

So if you see me, wave.

Posted at 7:50 am in Current events |

36 responses to “D-day plus one.”

  1. Cathy D. said on September 12, 2007 at 8:35 am

    I think living in the Midwest, and being largely untouched by events that were so world-changing to so many, was rather a surreal experience, and continues to be. Took a trip to NYC last May to really sink in, actually, and even then it was blunted, what with “ground zero” now being a construction site. Strangely, it was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge that got me–the images of the dusty, stunned people walking home across it came to mind.

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  2. brian stouder said on September 12, 2007 at 9:04 am

    The ‘breakfast shift stripper’ line WAS a goodie; but I knew this cheapshot HAD to be coming behind it…

    “MTV wanted her to wear a corset outfit. It would have looked great and covered a lot of things up, but she hated it and didn’t think it was sexy enough.” Instead, Spears changed into a spangly bra-and-underwear outfit she’d brought with her that emphasized her weight gain over the last year

    ‘her weight gain’? This sounds akin to ‘her rapidly progressing leprosy’

    Leaving aside her train wreck of a career path, the woman is easy on the eyes, despite the insatiable pop-culch demand for anorexic teenaged flavors of the month (such as the naked Disney ‘High School Musical’ waif)

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  3. LA mary said on September 12, 2007 at 10:04 am

    The New York Post said she danced like she had a pantload. I liked that one.
    What a strange idea of sexiness our Brit has. What a strange idea of reality our Lileks has. I wonder if he wears panties.

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  4. nancy said on September 12, 2007 at 10:09 am

    To be sure, I didn’t think she looked so bad. I wouldn’t mind being that “fat.”

    Here’s a Salon piece that will make you feel guilty about laughing, however.

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  5. alex said on September 12, 2007 at 10:15 am

    In the days immediately post-9/11, there was a Fort Wayne hate crime story that vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, a very strange story.

    An out-of-towner of Indian descent drove himself to the ER, bleeding profusely, claiming to have been accosted at the motel where he was staying. The perpetrators were two people who asked him for directions, then called him a “towel-head” or “camel jockey” or some such. Then they made him strip naked and they crudely “circumcised” him with the big knife they were wielding. And made off with his wallet.

    As regards Jonah Goldberg’s reflections on 9/11, people always thought you were crazy, Jonah, ever since you came in riding on your mother’s apron strings by way of Monica Lewinsky’s coattails. If people had said that your talentless ass would be a widely read syndicated columnist a decade later, they would have been the ones thought mad. I doubt that a third of Democrats are telling pollsters that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, but I do know that until relatively recently a much higher percentage of Republicans believed that we were in Iraq to avenge 9/11 — no thanks to heavy-handed neocon sacks o’ shit like you.

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  6. harry near indy said on September 12, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
    Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter, eh?


    after you mentioned goldberg, lileks, and dreher, these lines from the maltese falcon came to mind.

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  7. brian stouder said on September 12, 2007 at 10:32 am

    This passage from the Salon piece hits it squarely –

    As has been pointed out before, she embodies the disdain in which this culture holds its young women: the desire to sexualize and spoil them while young, and to degrade and punish them as they get older. Of course, she also represents a youthful feminine willingness — stupid or manipulated as it may be — to conform to the culture’s every humiliating expectation of her.

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  8. LA mary said on September 12, 2007 at 11:19 am

    For Connie…Frisian news!


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  9. Julie Robinson said on September 12, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    The “Clean House in 19 Minutes” offers more propaganda from the “FlyLady”, who is like Martha Stewart on steroids. You can sign up for tips on cleaning and organizing your house at her website. Beware–your inbox will fill with 20 or more emails everyday. It will take you longer to read them than to do the chores. And of course, you just may want to consider ordering her fantastic feather duster or other overpriced gadgets, since you will be inundated with testimonials on how they changed the writer’s life.

    So, let me get this straight: I have to keep my sink and house sparkling, cook gourmet meals, raise perfect children, earn lots of money, and perform better than Brittney in the bedroom. Who could possibly fulfill all those expectations? No wonder so many are on anti-depressants.

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  10. LA mary said on September 12, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I wonder where the bicycle girls lock up their vintage bikes when they go into shops. Nice bikes vaporize in NYC. I wonder if they wear those cute boots to bike around in slush.

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  11. nancy said on September 12, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    From the tone of the story, it’s plain they simply crook their finger at a nearby male, melt him with a smile and then leave him to guard their bicycles with their lives while they buy organic chard or something.

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  12. Danny said on September 12, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    The women I see along my routes are, almost exclusively, of the spandex-short-wearing athletic types. And I know that some of them are commuters. I respect that and the fact that they all have the common sense to wear a helmet.

    This one Aussie girl is unbelievable. Big girl in that she is probably close to 6-feet tall, but just as beautiful as anything and with these huge, muscular, awesome legs. She is a straight-up cycling assassin. Even many guys must bring their A-game to not get embarrassed by her. She would kick the livin’ crap outta any of these wimpy celebrity chicks.

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  13. Danny said on September 12, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Holy freakin’ shee-it! The reunion is on! A new compilation CD with 24 remastered studio tracks. A re-release of The Song Remains the Same with 6 extra tracks (on CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray HD-DVD).

    And there are very, very strong rumors that there will be an ’08 tour.

    All of this with John Bonham’s son, Jason, sitting behind the drum kit.

    I am giggling like a school boy.

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  14. LA mary said on September 12, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I saw a guy last weekend, nice looking mid thirtyish, riding an old bike with no fenders, carrying a big pink pinata over his shoulder. I thought he must be a really nice guy.

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  15. Ralph Hitchens said on September 12, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    You’re right and often funny about everything you write about, but one thing you’re wrong about — Bush did not get “a fairly specific memo” on August 6, 2001 about the forthcoming terrorist attack. The declassified PDB referred to al-Qaeda attacking US targets (no shit?), hijacking aircraft (where, when?), something about federal buildings (huh?), and wound up saying that the FBI was on the case (Whew! Back to cutting brush.). Typical CIA scattershot blather. We have to give the President a pass on this, much as we might like to do otherwise.

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  16. brian stouder said on September 12, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    I saw a guy last weekend, nice looking mid thirtyish, riding an old bike with no fenders, carrying a big pink pinata over his shoulder. I thought he must be a really nice guy.

    Or else the son of a bitch just stole a pinata from someone’s backyard, ruining some poor little boy or girl’s birthday party!

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  17. Danny said on September 12, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    If there is one thing I know about pinata’s, it’s that they’re dangerous. This from watching America’s Funniest Videos.

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  18. Andy Vance said on September 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Bush did not get “a fairly specific memo” on August 6, 2001 about the forthcoming terrorist attack.

    All right, you’ve covered his ass now.

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  19. brian stouder said on September 12, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    The book Nance mentioned a few months back, The Looming Tower, is just a tremendously readable, valuable narrative about the run-up to that cataclysmic day.

    One question, regarding those who point to things like the memo and Clarke’s power point presentation, enroute to building an indictment against our then-new president:

    What is the objective difference between ‘connecting the dots’ (a very GOOD thing) and ‘cherry picking’ the available intelligence (a very BAD thing)?

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  20. ellen said on September 12, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Connecting the dots = sifting through available intelligence and seeing patterns that suggest possible outcomes

    Cherry picking = starting with the desired result (we want to remove Saddam from power) and sifting through the available intelligence to find items that justify that result, while ignoring all information that might lead to rejection of desired result.

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  21. brian stouder said on September 12, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Fair enough, Ellen.

    Applying this to Iraq, I agree that W was avid to go to war with them, in 2001. But the complication is that, regardless what we think of him or Wolfie or Cheney (et al), we had just come through a decade wherein Iraq had indeed started (not just one but) TWO major regional contingencies (aka ‘War’) – first with Iran and then with Kuwait.

    Perfectly reasonable people (such as President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Senator Kerry, and Senator Clinton, to name several D presidents and potential presidents) viewed Iraq as a major threat to regional stability, and a clear weapons of mass destruction threat to the world.

    I don’t disagree with Senator Kerry (or Clinton) that authorizing the war powers was the right thing to do at that time, and that President Bush horribly misplayed (or ‘f#$%ed up’) the very strong hand congress dealt him.

    By way of saying, the people who started with a desired result certainly existed, but so did many who honestly, earnestly worried about what Iraq was capable of in 2001, and particularly as NYC and Washington and Somerset PA had active funeral pyres burning.

    And not for nothing, one recalls that Pakistan wasn’t on the best terms with us, but very quickly ‘got right’ with America; Saddam had exactly the same chance right after 9/11/01, and threw it away.

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  22. Jeff said on September 12, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    …ditto Libya, and North Korea slowly coming around to the community o’ nations (thanks to diplomacy from the supposedly undiplomatic Bush admin), and there hasn’t been a suicide bomber in Israel in some time. If Iran wasn’t working overtime to get bombs into Iraq, and Syria letting Hezbollah set up a new set of launch zones in southern Lebanon, we’d have a fairly peaceful world these days, and making a concrete move on the hinge-point nation of Iraq has been key to swinging that door around.

    But it’s still all about the fact that Saudi Arabia is our biggest problem, and for a host of economic and diplomatic reasons no one in DC is gonna talk straight about it, which will include anyone on the D-side who may well be elected next go ’round. When they get the briefing on how the Saudi oil fields are wired to blow, who holds the dead-man switch, and how utterly hopeless the internal situation there is, the most damnable thing the Bush admin *hasn’t* done is push us more aggressively to alternative energy research. And i don’t know that they aren’t — who knew about the Manhattan Project in 1944?

    There: is that covering Bush’s behind? Whatever it is, make sure to run your family budget figures with $5-7 gallon gas in about three years, no matter who wins the election.

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  23. john c said on September 12, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Mr. Hitchens … seems to me the memo was specific enough to, oh, beef up security at airports enough so that, I don’t know, guys on a terrorist watch list can’t get on planes with box cutters. Seems to me the root of the problem was that Clinton’s people were scared shootless of Osama attacking us, and Dubya’s people were gonna be damned if they’d be scared shootless of anything Clinton’s people were scared shootless of. I certainly don’t blame Bush for the attacks. And what I just said might not have stopped them. But I like it when my government at least tries. So the president most definitely does not get a pass.

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  24. Julie Robinson said on September 12, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I think that Bush, naive and inexperienced as he was, truly believed we would go into Iraq and spend about the same amount of time as Daddy’s war. On that count, he must have had a lot of agonizing moments.

    But why was he naive and inexperienced? Remember, this is a man of wealth and privilege who had never traveled outside the US. That stuns me. He coasted through life without doing any hard work or thinking. Daddy, or Daddy’s friends, were always there to bail him out.

    Only this time it didn’t work. We will pay the price in so many ways, for many years to come.

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  25. john c said on September 12, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I consider myself a moderate Democrat. I loathed Bush from the start, but remember thinking this very specific thought right after 9-11: We are truly in a national crisis. People have risen to the challenge in the past and maybe this mope will. If he does, Republican or Democrat, God Bless him.
    I think a lot of people thought something along those lines. What we’ve learned, sadly, is that we truly have a moron for a President, a shallow, anti-intellectual who thinks you can run the free world like you run a hack oil company, and who thinks that lying doesn’t matter as long as you have the biggest army.

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  26. joodyb said on September 12, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    and then there is this (mcclatchy newspapers, tues editions):

    WASHINGTON — Two numbers scrawled in a notebook that belonged to terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui could have given the FBI a chance to identify several of the Sept. 11 hijackers before they struck six years ago, according to officials familiar with the bureau’s massive investigation of the attacks.
    The notebook entries recorded the control numbers for two Western Union wire transfers in which suspected al-Qaida coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh, using an alias, sent Moussaoui $14,000 from Germany in early August 2001, before he went to the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan to learn to fly a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
    A check of Western Union records might have uncovered other wires for similar sums of money to Binalshibh — who had been turned away at the U.S. border four times because he was a suspected terrorist — from an al-Qaida paymaster in Dubai. On one receipt, the paymaster listed a phone number in the United Arab Emirates that several of the hijackers had called from Florida.
    FBI headquarters, however, rejected Minneapolis FBI field agents’ requests for a national security warrant to search Moussaoui’s belongings after he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2001. One agent, Harry Samit, was so convinced Moussaoui was a terrorist that he sent scores of messages to FBI headquarters pressing for a search warrant.
    It’s not clear whether the FBI could have traced the money and calls fast enough to pre-empt the Sept. 11 attacks, but the rejection of the warrant requests meant they never had the chance.
    Instead, Moussaoui’s tattered blue spiral notebook sat in a sealed bag at an immigration office, unopened until after four hijacked jets slammed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, killing 2,972 people.
    FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said Monday the bureau had “worked diligently on the case” but that “the trail of evidence was complex and additional information was not available until after the 9-11 events.” He declined further comment.
    Officials familiar with the Sept. 11 investigation and with the items in Moussaoui’s possession when he was arrested provided McClatchy Newspapers with the most detailed description to date of FBI agents’ pre-Sept. 11 path toward the hijackers. The officials declined to be identified because the decision not to seek the warrant has caused friction and embarrassment within the FBI.
    (((there’s more, but you get the idea.)))

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  27. Ricardo said on September 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    I worked at the LA “twin towers”, California Plaza in 2001. From the 43rd floor, my window looked out to the east to see the much shorter buildings and the air traffic make their turns toward LAX. They closed the building and sent us home just after I arrived.

    Since they halted train service, I had to catch a bus back to Orange County to pick up my car at the train station/baseball stadium. I had my radio and headphones on, but no one knew what they were talking about. One of the airheads asked a Foxpert what would be good targets in the LA basin. “Downtown buildings…” (whew, I just got away from that) “…and Disneyland” My bus was just dropping me off at the front gate. The guys were waving off cars at the gate. It was only the second time the Magic Kingdom closed the doors. First time was 11/23/63.

    Late that night (it was very quiet without things flying around) I heard a fighter jet approach and fly over about 4am. I’ll not forget that sound.

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  28. Ricardo said on September 12, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Oh yeah, John c, a couple of days later Bush told us to ‘do our business all around the country’. I thought he was talking to our dogs.

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  29. Michael said on September 12, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Bah. I don’t like to rehash 9/11 because the second thing I thought, walking into the IU Union and seeing the smoking tower on the TV, was “Reichstag”, and in this one thing, Mr. Bush has not failed me.

    The first thing was — holy shit THERE’s something you don’t see every day.

    You know what? The actual specific damage there was nothing to the United States. Compare it to the damage Hitler did in Europe, then come back and tell me it was at all significant. The only damage it did was in America’s collective head — it was a bee sting, and the last six years have been anaphylaxis. Not sure yet whether it was fatal shock, but the patient still doesn’t look good.

    Now these same people, after 9/11-ing for years to justify stupidity and blood in Iraq, telling us a tinpot third-world embargoed communist was as dangerous or more dangerous to our mighty nation than the heavily industrialized Germany we faced down and beat while fighting on another front entirely — those people are now telling us we’re in an existential fight with Iran over the fate of Western Civilization. They’ve been at war with us for thirty years, and it’s been an existential threat, but we just … haven’t noticed? Does anybody but me see how fricking stupid that sounds?

    I spent a lot of time and energy being liberal and anti-war between 2001 and 2004-ish, killed my business thinking about politics instead of noticing the recession, ran up a shitload of unpaid back taxes and debt while killing my business, and every day I watched a pack of deadbeats getting richer and richer off America’s pain, all because of America’s Reichstag and the willingness of the American people to treat international politics like a horror movie. And that fucking monkey, excuse my freedom, can’t even wipe the smirk off his face, even now.

    I just don’t care any more. America will recover from its panic attack, or it won’t. It doesn’t matter what I do or say. And that’s what 9/11 means to me.

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  30. ashley said on September 13, 2007 at 1:45 am

    Breakfast-shift stripper reminds me of an establishment around Lake City, Florida called “cafe risque”. It’s a regular truck-stop like cafe, except the waitresses are topless. Not really in a good way, either.

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  31. Joe K said on September 13, 2007 at 6:30 am

    I imagine to the people in the towers and on the planes, it was more then a bee sting.
    If you lost your business for the reason you say, tough shit, What else was Bush suppose to due, he was telling us all to not let fear control our lives, sounds like another pres back in the day. Does “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” ring a bell?
    If it happens again, and it could very well, and a Dem is in office who are you going to blame then?

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  32. Kim said on September 13, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Wow. What a post. I had to take blood pressure recalibration breaks after each topic, then again after reading the comments. It’s clear who needs to read The Looming Tower (tho everyone should.)

    This is what I thought when I read “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”: We have nothing to fear but our so-called leaders and our herd mentality.

    I keep a daily thought or word or lyric or something for the family to contemplate near the front door. The following has made regular appearances, and I tell my kids it’s important to think about what it means, no matter your politics.

    Nazi leader Hermann Goering, speaking to a psychologist to whom the Allies had granted access to all prisoners during the Nuremburg Trials, put it best.

    We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.
    “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

    “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

    “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

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  33. LA mary said on September 13, 2007 at 9:49 am

    I was awakened by fighter jets too, that night. I couldn’t get back to sleep.
    Ashley, now I have to think about waitresses serving up plates of fried eggs while being topless “not in a good way.” This is a bad thing to imagine

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  34. Danny said on September 13, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Ashley, I thought that “not in a good way” line was classic too.

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  35. Ralph Hitchens said on September 13, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    “All right, you’ve covered his ass now.” Andy Vance, I’m just saying this in the spirit of fairness for which we liberal Democrats are justly praised. And John c, read the declassified PDB. It’s vague, all over the map, and (as I said) ends up by saying that the FBI has launched many field investigations. This sounds to me like a reassuring note that would defuse alarm. (I say this as someone who, back in the day, worked on National Intelligence Estimates and often discussed with my IC colleagues how to “pitch” key information to policymakers.)

    None of this, of course, excuses the failure of this and previous presidents to grab the DCI and FBI Director, knock their heads together, and demand that by God, they will share ALL information concerning terrorist threats or he will by God fire their sorry asses. Joodyb, maybe Zacarias Moussaoui knew something or maybe he didn’t, but for sure the CIA knew that two al-Qaeda operatives met with colleagues in Malaysia in 2000, that at least one of them had a valid US visa, that the two of them went to the USA, where they hung out for a while with people the FBI were loosely surveilling, before going on to join 17 other jihadists on 9/11. Had those two been picked up it’s possible the whole plot might have unraveled.

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  36. brian stouder said on September 13, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    but for sure the CIA knew that two al-Qaeda operatives met with colleagues in Malaysia in 2000, that at least one of them had a valid US visa, that the two of them went to the USA, where they hung out for a while with people the FBI were loosely surveilling, before going on to join 17 other jihadists on 9/11. Had those two been picked up it’s possible the whole plot might have unraveled.

    Indeed, that is a key nexus..or might have been a nexus – between the trails the FBI was following, and the ones that the CIA were following. I’ve read (in The Looming Tower and elsewhere) that institutionally (pre-9/11), FBI always wants to take the information they gather and ultimately arrest and indict people, whereas the CIA wants to protect and cultivate their sources of information – and therefore their modes of operation basically clashed.

    CIA had a paid informant rooming with two aQ hijackers in California, and the goal was to turn them into useful sources of information. (CIA was skirting their prohibition on acting in the US by utilizing a Saudi paid informant for that task) The FBI’s investigations in the aftermath of the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen lead them to many names and connections – which ideally would have meshed with what the CIA knew.

    Anyway – I think if you could conjure an alt-history where those California guys get arrested, you still have the Florida guys…maybe they simply move up their go-codes? Maybe one less plane in the air? Who knows

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