On that crisp, clear September morning, I was driving to Jersey City, NJ from my place in CT for a consulting job on an upgrade at a Port Authority bus terminal. Ironically, to improve security at the site. My plan was to drive across the George Washington Bridge, and then take Routes 1 and 9 south to JC. As I listened to a local radio station giving traffic reports, I heard that my planned route was carpeted with accidents and delays that would have added 30 minutes to my commute. Plan B kicked in, which was to drive into downtown Manhattan, and take the Holland Tunnel and get to JC that way. A rumbling in my left rear tire told me I had a flat that ground the tire down to the rim. I pulled over to the shoulder to call for help. A Westchester County assistance vehicle pulled in behind me about 5 minutes later. A guy named Frank promptly changed the tire, but I only had a dinky compact spare, which I could not ride at high speeds. My only choice was to get to a service station and buy a new tire. After a 45-minute delay, I got my new tire and started listening to the traffic reports. By that time, the first plane had hit the Trade Center tower; had I not gotten the flat, I would have arrived lower Manhattan just as the plane struck (No, Jesus didn’t save me).
I lost a cousin, a NYC fireman, in the attack, and almost lost another cousin who was scheduled to have lunch with fellow brokers at the Windows on the World Restaurant, on the 106th and 107th floors of the WTC Tower 1. The meeting was cancelled at the last minute, and he later watched as a half dozen jumpers from those upper floors crashed and splattered on the sidewalk right in front of him. Friends, and the children of friends worked on the ground zero cleanup and they are still suffering the consequences. Half of the floors of the first tower had girders sheathed in asbestos. Christie Whitman of the EPA assured everyone that the air quality was fine. Many of the police and firemen who died could not be reached because their radios were incompatible. Rudy Giuliani failed to push for earlier changes that might have fixed this. Rudy also moved the emergency services communication headquarters into WTC Tower 7, so he had a convenient place to hump his girlfriend Judith Nathan on his lunch break.
How the f*ck did it all happen? Return with us now to those thrilling events of yesteryear that led up to the 9/11 disaster. Forgive the rambling- I am old and still harboring a fulminating, incendiary anger at the principals, and my fellow Americans, who are the most easily frightened, ignorant, and compliant sheep on the planet. Who got the dyslexic cretin, alcoholic George W. Bush to run for president? None other than Rush Limbaugh (and millions from RW contributors), who praised him far and wide on his show. W, who never worked a day in his life, and who never succeeded at anything, should have been clobbered by Al Gore in the 2000 election, but more on that later.
Let’s start back at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991. Thomas and Anita Hill were sworn in and gave conflicting testimony about his sexual behavior toward her. Clearly, someone had committed perjury. The only solution would be to bring in more witnesses, but hapless, feckless, foot-in-his-mouth Senator Joe Biden refused to allow it. Serial, congenital cowardice by house and senate Democrats would continue to play a role in later events leading up to 9/11 and well beyond. Thomas (“…a high-tech lynching.”) was confirmed by the Senate and was on the court in time for Bush v. Gore.
Roll up to the 2000 campaign for president. Al Gore got the nod as president, and then, in one of a number of stupid decisions, Gore chose whiney Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Gore, trying to distance himself from the sleaze attached to Bill Clinton, refused to let Clinton campaign for him, and chose a “devout” Jew (that lost about 5 states right there) as his running mate. No matter that Lieberman was a serial adulterer; Gore wanted a clean break from the past.
Gore’s campaign advisers must have been closet Republicans, for all the good they did him. In the first debate, Gore was given a softball question about Bush’s qualifications for president. He should have knocked it out of the park, referring to Bush’s abysmal record in Texas, and his own 8 years as VP, but he let it pass. When I saw that, I though to myself “He has just lost the presidency.”
Election night, 2000. A close race, with all eyes on Florida. Some of the networks said Gore won it, others hesitated. Jack Welch, head of GE and NBC, went to see Tom Brokaw in the studio and ordered him to call the election for Bush.
Brokaw complied (announced his retirement a year later), and the media pressure was on in favor of W.
Enter Republican thugs from Texas, bussed in by Tom DeLay, who pounded on doors and threatened election officials who were struggling with hanging chads and other irregularities. Bush then sued to stop the recount, the first time in American history that a presidential candidate appealed to the Supreme Court to get elected. In addition to the presence of Thomas on the court, who should have recused himself because he was appointed by GHW Bush, Antonino (Torquemada) Scalia had a son working on the case before the court and also should have recused himself. They rendered their 5-4 decision and the Dems sat dumfounded, their default position. Lieberman caved and so did Gore, saying he would abide by the court’s decision. Had I been Al Gore, I would have demanded a United Nations investigation of voter fraud in Florida, but no such luck.
In 2001, we find a White House still fighting the Cold War. Cheney cut $52 million from the anti-terrorism budget. Enter stage right with the little-known 6 August 2001 CIA Presidential Daily Briefing, which was delivered by a courier to W at his ranch. He dismissed the messenger, saying “You’ve covered your ass,” and went back to cutting brush. The memo read “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” and on the same page “…Bin Laden“…prepares operations years in advance” and “…Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft…”
Not explicit enough of a warning if you don’t read the memo. Then comes the 9/11 attacks, and the windup to the war, and we all knew Bush wanted to get Iraq’s oil for his Texas cronies, and to show his father how tough he was. The Iraq War Resolution on 11 Oct 2002 passed the Senate 77-23 (21D, 1R, 1I) and the House 296-133 (126D, 6R, 1I), and every new appropriation for the illegal war(s) was heartily supported.
Can it get any worse? I’m already hunkering down for a Rick Perry presidency. I’m ready for a triple shot of Tequila. I self-medicate. Thanks for reading.