« The Events That Led Up to Haditha | Main | But for Me, It's Monday »

September 11, 2006

Comments

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great awful task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead campaign donors we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion dollar contribution -- that we here highly resolve that these dead contributors shall not have died donated in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom oppression -- government of the people GOP, by the people GOP, for the people GOP, shall not perish from the earth.

Ars Technica is hosting a marvelous collection of pictures showing the world's shared grief on 9/11. It's important, if appalling and tear-bringing, to see those now, and remember that we had the world's sympathy and good will and pissed it away thanks to fools, knaves, and villains at their top of our country, who couldn't see anything beyond their own delusions and personal power. I am freshly sad for and ashamed of my country today, that we've managed no better than this, and frehsly despairing of what the next generation can possibly hold for us except the shared suffering created by the powerful few and their toadies and dupes below.

But there was a time when we had respect and good wishes, and it's good to see it again.

Prediction: The GOP operatives will pull the exact same set of dirty tactics they've pulled for the last three elections, and the Democrats will be taken completely by surprise. Again.

Billmon points to a recent WaPo story:

"The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads."


That's the party of character for you, restoring dignity and honor to high office.

He's intending to line up 9/11 families

(OT?) some of the rescue workers are dying now; they were told the dust would be safe. One shouldn't be working but has to, to pay the bills. Who will help them?

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1868914,00.html

Welcome back, hilzoy.

The politicization of 9/11 to the end of increased power for either party is repugnant, and should not be tolerated. That aside, I'm going to wait and see if this actually comes to pass before reacting.

That aside, I'm using this day to reflect and remember. Because I don't think I can type too many more words, today, that aren't posting rules violations.

That aside, I'm going to wait and see if this actually comes to pass before reacting.

Right. There will be plenty of time to write blog comments afterwards if it does come to pass.

Does anyone else feel like they're stuck in a loop of the 2002 midterms, with the post-Hamdan legislation taking the place of the war?

I second Slarti. This is a day for reflection and renewed commitment.

And I hope, probably in vain, that neither party will use today for political purposes.

Let that be tomorrow, if it is to be at all.

And I hope, probably in vain, that neither party will use today for political purposes.

they've been using it that way for the past 1800 days. why stop now ?

"That aside, I'm going to wait and see if this actually comes to pass before reacting."

"And I hope, probably in vain, that neither party will use today for political purposes."

You're both joking, right?

I mean, you HAVE to be joking.

Either that, or you haven't been paying any attention to US politics since 2002.

Which is it?

FWIW, one side's take on politicizing 9-11.

Casey, I did say "probably in vain" and I was speaking about the events today, 2006.

September 11, 2001 has been, is and will continue to used by both parties, but more shamelessly by the Republican Party.

Slartibartfast: The politicization of 9/11 to the end of increased power for either party is repugnant, and should not be tolerated. That aside, I'm going to wait and see if this actually comes to pass before reacting.

Meanwhile, 9/11 was the Clenis's fault!

Sorry, Slarti, but all bets are off. The Republican party and its vast network of ideological and corporate backers have already declared war, and they have established that there is nothing sacred. Nothing. The GOP is firing rhetorical RPG's from the mosque, so the rules of engagement have to be revised. As wingnuts like to say, it's time to honor the threat.

What has already come to pass is that a group of Republican activists, supported by a Republican exucutive who was a former activist and power broker, succeeded in using ABC to deliberately and intentionally spread lies internationally and nationally for the purpose of distorting the historical record and influencing the election. I really don't have any patience any more with people who continue to rationalize, minimmize, or ignore the behavior of the Republican party. It's way part time to get real about them.

It's way part time to get real about them.

I'm curious what, precisely, that means. Can you elaborate, lily?

It means I'm a lousy typist when I'm mad. Well, lousy all the time, but especially...

your wait is over: Vote GOP or Die

GOP 06: we have nothing to offer but fear itself

lily,

OK. I was just intrigued by the comment and thought there might be more to it. For what it's worth, your typing seemed fine to me. In fact, it wasn't until I just reread it that I realize you substituted 'part' for 'past.' My mind read it as 'past' until I saw your remark about your typing.

Ahem. Your GOP and its enablers at work.

I'm having a hard time being anything other than bitter today. I don't like it.

It's hard to say put politics aside--it's still going on, however I may feel about it. I don't just mean the President's speech...I just read a revised draft of Senator Graham's and Senator Warner's bill, and it includes exactly the changes to the war crimes act and habeas corpus/court stripping provisions I was afraid of. They are probably going to voting on these issues in the next week or two. Graham's and Warner's bill is the MODERATE one, the one the Democrats had signalled they would support. The press does not really seem aware of this, and liberal weblogs seem a lot more concerned with an ABC TV movie.

In short--I think we're screwed. I hesitate to say that, because I tend to be overly pessimistic about things, and that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But that's what it feels like right now.

And today I read this:

If we get attacked again, we know who to blame. Not the administration, which has worked overtime to defend the homeland, but the lawyers, courts, and members of Congress who are responsible for disastrous policies that lead to situations like this — counterterrorism officials having to purchase insurance against lawsuits by, among others, terrorists.

That's just Levin being Levin; I should know better than to read anything he writes, especially today. What really gets me is the extent to which everyone in Washington--the Republicans, the Democrats, the media--seems to think that American voters more or less agree with him.

I think they're actually wrong about that, and that it's actually more insulting to the average voter than it is to me. But it's depressing, and again, it can become self-fulfilling.

One of the few clean emotions that does remain is affection for New York City, and for big crazy cities in general (Chicago, London, Istanbul). Ken Livingstone's speech after the London bombing still gets to me, as does the end of E.B. White's "Here is New York":

The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.

All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm.

It used to be that the Statue of Liberty was the signpost that proclaimed New York and translated it for all the world. Today Liberty shares the role with Death. Along the East River, from the razed slaughterhouses of Turtle Bay, as though in a race with the spectral flight of planes, men are carving out the permanent headquarters of the United Nations -- the greatest housing project of them all. In its stride, New York takes on one more interior city, to shelter, this time, all governments, and to clear the slum called war. New York is not a capital city - it is not a national capital or a state capital. But it is by way of becoming the capital of the world...

This race -- this race between the destroying planes and the struggling Parliament of Man -- it sticks in all our heads. The city at last perfectly illustrates both the universal dilemma and the general solution, this riddle in steel and stone is at once the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of nonviolence, of racial brotherhood, this lofty target scraping the skies and meeting the destroying planes halfway, home of all people and all nations, capital of everything, housing the deliberations by which the planes are to be stayed and their errand forestalled.

The UN didn't quite live up to his hopes. But the city itself does.

The "lofty target scraping the skies and meeting the destroying planes halfway" that sticks in my head, when I re-read White's words, is not the UN headquarters, but the Empire State Building. Specifically, the 34th floor, which I learned last November houses the offices of Human Rights Watch. (I was mildly scandalized at a non-profit paying those rents, but apparently they actually have a lot of trouble keeping the building fill and offer big discounts to NGOs.) The people that Levin, Rumsfeld et. al accuse of wanting the terrorists to win work in the most attractive terrorists target still standing on the island of Manhattan. And of course, they're a lot safer there than they are when they're doing field research.

So. Here's to the capital of everything, and to everyone struggling to forestall the errands of destroying planes.

Ars Technica is hosting a marvelous collection of pictures showing the world's shared grief on 9/11.

Don't mean to pick on Andrew, but I wonder if looking at this might make you reconsider this point of yours in your recent post

Does moral authority get you a lot? Probably not; nations have interests, not friends, and being popular overseas does not necessarily translate to increased leverage in the diplomatic arena.

Hi hilzoy, Katherine, Andrew, Bruce, Slart, everybody. A whole lot of feelings on the net today. I admire those who can keep an even keel and not get swamped.

A lot of Republicans died on 9/11. Nancy Olsen and a bunch of young financial gurus.

I'll hate again tomorrow.

lj,

Not in the slightest.

I'll plug Instapunk post Instapundit pointed:

What would the past five years have been like, I couldn't help wondering, if debate and criticism had proceeded atop the civil platform of agreement that the President was really trying to do his best in a terrible crisis that almost no one had anticipated? Imagine that everyone had been sober and serious all along, as if the responsibility were theirs and not someone else's. Imagine that the opposition to the administration's policies had been more substantive than personal, focused on alternative proposals rather than autopsies of irrevocable decisions past. Imagine that all of us were dealing with today's reality instead of pet grievances from months or years ago. Isn't it possible that the critics might have had more impact on events, that the defenders of American policy might have listened and responded more thoughtfully?

You can decide all these questions for yourselves, but I know I would have been more open to opposing views if their proponents had not insisted that doing the right thing required a first step of denouncing the president as a fool, a liar, an opportunist, and a closet tyrant. If I put aside the partisan emotions such postulates inspire, I have enough breathing room to perceive that my own views have changed again and again over the past five years. On September 11, 2001, I wanted to nuke Afghanistan, I wanted the world to tremble in fear of American military might, I wanted to go Roman Empire on the whole smelly, barbarian world. I wanted bin Laden and everyone he had ever met vaporized into a radioactive cloud. But Bush did not launch the B-52s and ICBMs. I was irate when I asked the question a lot of people just like me were asking at the time, "What is he waitng for? Just go DO it."

But you can't nuke a country of 15 million people because some of its residents killed 3,000 Americans. I would have recognized that fact if I had been the one making the decisions in the Oval Office. But I wasn't. I had the luxury of not being responsible for how the nation responded to an act of ultimate depravity and viciousness. Indeed, we have ALL had that luxury. All of us, that is, but the most vilified man on Planet Earth, the one man who has had to be continuously responsible for protecting the United States of America throughout each of the 2,628,000 minutes since the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

I have a dream, too, which is a lot like the post DaveC quotes, but proceeding from the opposite set of assumptions.

To me, the story of our post-9/11 experience starts on the day the GOP decided they could use the creation of the Department of Homeland Security as a wedge issue to win the 2002 elections, by painting the Democrats as soft on the terror threat. They consciously decided they'd rather live in a partisan environment than enjoy the fruits of unity, because they thought it was to their advantage, and I guess so far it has been.

The fact that anyone can look back on the last five years, and wonder nothing more than "what if the Democrats had opposed in a more responsible manner?" is just staggering to me.

"throughout each of the 2,628,000 minutes since the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center."

That's a depth of fetishization of 9/11 I didn't imagine existed.

Isn't it amazing how Bush supposedly bears no responsibility for the 9/11 attacks themselves, but each and every moment of safety since 9/11 is to his eternal credit?

I'd make a lousy President. But you know, I'm a MUCH worse hitter than Bobby Bonilla, and I still used to complain about him. If they don't want the awesome responsibilities of the office, and can't handle a lot of criticism, including some unfair criticism, they shouldn't run. No President in the history has had an electorate that "listened thoughtfully" to all his ideas, including some much better Presidents than this one. The idea that this is the source of our problems is completely beyond me.

DaveC,
What you quote is a chicken and egg sort of thing. Instapunk obviously believes that the villification of the president began first, whereas I can only think that I supported the war in Afghanistan _and_ the invasion of Iraq because I thought that both were attempts to deal with actual problems. That Afghanistan has become a sideshow and that Iraq didn't have WMD in the first place makes me think that granting this president all of the slack in the world would not made anything better. Blaming me or other people who get upset about this (and, DaveC, quoting Instapunk's rhetorical questions does precisely this) is blaming the victim.

Social trust, I think, partakes of what moral authority is, and when someone has no moral authority, then every action is (and should be) examined with the question 'Why are they doing this?' in mind. Whereas you (assuming that you agree with Instapunk) want to blame the people who were manipulated and lied to.

Andrew's view seems to suggest that social trust qua moral authority isn't something that is all that important anyway. Of course, he may feel that it is important interpersonally, but when it gets scaled up to nations, it loses meaning. However, if someone lies to me to get me to do something, the next time that person asks me to do something, I'm going to decide on a lot different criteria than if s/he hadn't and I can't see that nations would act any differently.

Or he may be reflecting a view that derives from the military, which is that you salute the rank, not the person inside. These are fair points, but I wonder why moral authority loses any importance precisely when it is pointed out that we have undeniably lost it? I hear Cartman saying 'respect mah authoritah, respect mah authoritah, ahh, well, who cares about that crap anyway'

That's a depth of fetishization of 9/11 I didn't imagine existed.

I'm waiting for someone to say they don't agree with this fetishization, but we should wait until someone cites the number of seconds since 9/11 before jumping to such a hasty and rash conclusion.

Andrew's view seems to suggest that social trust qua moral authority isn't something that is all that important anyway.

That is not my intent. I believe moral authority is of great value at the interpersonal level.

Of course, he may feel that it is important interpersonally, but when it gets scaled up to nations, it loses meaning.

This is correct. Very few national governments act on the basis of what they believe to be right, as opposed to what they believe to be best for their national interests.

Please note that, simply because I do not believe that moral authority has much if any effect on the actions of nations, that does not mean I do not think we should not still attempt to amass that authority. Doing the right thing should not be predicated on the assumed rewards for so doing.

As you may know, Andrew, I disagree completely. Being known as the kind of people who don't torture suspects has all kinds of benefits, and being known as the kind of people who do torture suspects all kinds of detriments. There are those who think that being known as torturers will act as a deterrent: surely the Iraqi insurgency has put to rest a lot of thinking about deterence, and the idea that weakness draws attack.

(I particularly like the twin Limbaugh ideas that they attack us because they think we're winning and they attack us because they think we're weak. One proposition is nicely validated no matter what happens.)

Oh well, the flypaper theory has worked out very well for us here. We give them targets over there so they don't have to attack us here, and I got my tax cut too.

Charley,

Actually, we don't disagree, you just don't understand what I said. I have not once suggested that we should torture suspects or that there are not benefits to be gained by taking actions that would gain us moral authority. I merely question whether that will change how nation-states interact with us.

But if you'd rather argue with strawmen, don't let me stop you.

I have not and do not suggest that you are an advocate of torture. I think that being known as a place that does not torture suspects does change how nation states interact with us. Do you disagree, or are you just going to argue with strawmen?

And me without my lighter...

I thought that I had made that clear enough in my two previous comments, but I'll try again. Yes, I disagree with that contention. While there may be some small changes on the margins, I don't think the majority of nations decide how they are going to interact with us because they think we do or do not torture suspects.

Small Changes At The Margins = For Want Of A Nail. For some values of nail.

Point understood, though.

And you are probably correct that, in a struggle that will take a number of years, even marginal changes can make a big difference.

Kevin Drum's rebuttal to posts like the one DaveC cited.

if their proponents had not insisted that doing the right thing required a first step of denouncing the president as a fool, a liar, an opportunist, and a closet tyrant

umm... the first three were well established long before he even took office. and he hasn't done a damn thing to change any of them in the years since.

and Steve's 7:31 is going on a bumper sticker.

I recall vividly how I felt about Bush on 9/11. I'd been apathetic about the election, and a touch disappointed by not surprised by any of the visible developments in Bush/Cheney policy since then. I hoped passionately on 9/11/2001 that Bush would rise to the occasion, as mediocre people have done before, or at least that he would get the counsel of people prepared to do well in the crunch. I approved of his fairly swift moves to forestall anti-Muslim bigotry (and still regard that as a good deed in a naughty administration). I approved of the demands on Afghanistan, and of the war there; I didn't expect genius in reconstruction, but looked foward to the emergence of Afghanistan as a country that might be no worse off than, say, a lower-ranked Latin American country.

The contempt, fear, and loathing all came later. I gave my support to the steps that seemed good and even some that I had doubts about, for the sake of constructive influence. I didn't know then how little any of it would matter.

DaveC: In all honesty, I didn't bother reading the rest of the article past the first sentence. There simply wasn't any point.

Watched part two of “The Path to 9/11” a few hours ago. For those of you who didn’t see it, it was interrupted about halfway through for a 15 minute address by the president. Also, for those who did not watch, the film presented the audience with everything the Bush administration wants us to think about 9/11 and the GWoT – especially how important it is to throw laws out the window in pursuit of intelligence and military action. What was interesting about the address was not that he repeated the message of the film, but that Charles Gibson made a point of telling us that the address was not political (“The speech tonight, the White House has been at pains to say, is not political.”). To reinforce its supposed apolitical nature, after the address George Stephanopoulos told us the same thing. There is but one party . . .

If what I saw tonight is any indication, the speculation on Rove’s tactic above should not be surprising.

Instapundit writes:
“On September 11, 2001, I wanted to nuke Afghanistan, I wanted the world to tremble in fear of American military might, I wanted to go Roman Empire on the whole smelly, barbarian world.”

In spite of the less reactionary reflection later, this is just the sort of thinking that the film and the president’s address was meant to provoke, as he reminded us that the terrorists want to destroy our way of life (for no reason that is ever mentioned here or anywhere else other than pure evil), repeated the clash of civilizations nonsense, and pressed us to renew our resolve in fighting The War.

To send the military to solve a socioeconomic problem is a weak, wrongheaded, and ultimately ineffectual solution – assuming one actually wants the problem solved. And the problems in the Middle East, despite how much the official story leads us to believe that it is a function of religious fundamentalism (a symptomatic response) and is motivated solely by evil, are socioeconomic ones. I understand that our military is the biggest, strongest instrument in our toolbox, the reverence we accord the military profession, and the military might we possess and often feel justified in using in the name of our own safety, wealth, and American exceptionalism. But is it possible, just possible, that it is the wrong tool to use? That it is unfit, at least as it has been applied, for the problems facing us and people living in places like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon? Is our response to 9/11 via the GWoT really the only thing we are capable of doing? If the application of military force is the only thing we can come up with, what does that say about us? What sort of society relies on constant recourse to military force?

Using the victims of 9/11 to provoke the nation to further an agenda that calls for permanent war* and justify the deaths of countless others is beyond political. It’s pathological.


*In the address, while making comparisons to WWII and the Cold War, the president stated that we were only in the early stages of this current war.

Is it tomorrow yet? Can I hate now? Been a hard day.

To send the military to solve a socioeconomic problem is a weak, wrongheaded, and ultimately ineffectual solution – assuming one actually wants the problem solved.

I don't think that the 9/11 conspirators were motivated by a socioeconomic problem.

You might have saved yourself some keystrokes, DaveC, if you had simply written "N'uh uh!"

DaveC,

What is your suggestion for what motivates people to resort to terrorism, fundamental religious doctrine, and other extreme measures to solve what they see to be the problems in their lives and societies? Is your suggestion an adequate explanation for all the terrorist attacks across the world?

My point is to address causes, not symptoms.

I think that Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein (especially during Kuwait / Gulf War I), thought, and Iran now thinks that if they could get total control over the entire region, particularly the Persian Gulf, then they could establish an empire. Their motivations seeks different ideological ends, surely. But it appears to me that on their side that it's all about the oil - if they can control that, they can do whatever they want.

I don't think the majority of nations decide how they are going to interact with us because they think we do or do not torture suspects.

But many nations are driven by the opinions held by their populace. Thus, they aren't going to stop interacting with us, but they are not going out of their way to help us. Of course, when they do this, (a la Chirac in Lebanon) people denounce them for putting their own selfish interests above the greater good. There is that line from Gandhi about 'You must be the change you want to see in the world.' Before, the US could have been argued to be, at least from time to time, that change. Now, it is simply another nation that thinks might equals right and seeks to create scapegoats to justify its actions.

"Before, the US could have been argued to be, at least from time to time, that change. Now, it is simply another nation that thinks might equals right and seeks to create scapegoats to justify its actions."

That is interesting, because I had not heard before that you believed the US was the change.

That's because you always misattribute quotations, so I can't be sure what you think I wrote...

"That's because you always misattribute quotations, so I can't be sure what you think I wrote..."

This from the person who doesn't understand jokes even after they are explained to him by multiple people (comments 26-35) and then tries to use them as a rhetorical club?

Or was that someone else?

For the record, I am one of the few people here who bothers to respond to a large number of those who comment. I typically quote and then respond. Out of the tens of thousands of comments I have responded to I have certainly confused attribution a handful of times--especially in the 200+ comment threads. Recently I tend to put the name before the quote to make it easier for myself and everyone else. I will continue to try to make it better than it is today and hope that I may someday avoid the impression in the eyes of people, like yourself, who never make mistakes that I "always misattribute quotes"--liberal_japonicus.

I would tell you to take a break, Sebastian, but it seems like you have, since your snark about what my positions are comes after a long break, I think. I'm sorry I upset you, but when you have such a onion paper thin skin, there's really not any observation I can make that wouldn't upset you. Of course, I might be a bit sensitive since I just re-read this thread because a recent comment appeared. But I do think you have me beat on the hyper-sensitivity thing.

There is a really great comment by Keith Olbermann at Crooks and Liars about 9/11 and commemoration. It is here. Plus, it even has a Twilight Zone reference.

Thanks for the March 2005 reminder that my understanding of your 'debating' style was correct from more than a year ago. I had thought that this was a recent phenomenon, but now I see that it existed from the beginning.

The BBC broadcast "The Road to 9/11" last night and Sunday night. Mockumentaries aren't my favorite thing - fake camera wobble, shots deliberately out of focus - but I thought this was particularly bad. I wrote to the BBC enquiring what on earth they thought they were doing, "celebrating" the anniversary of September 11 with a 6-hour party political broadcast for the Republican Party.

If I get a decent answer out of them, I'll post it on my journal.

Details are still sketchy, but the US embassy in Damascus has apparently been attacked by gunmen.

Whatever, Sebastian. Not that you would just come in to drop some snark that makes the sum of what you have read the basis for an appropriate judgement or engage in a supercilious threadjack. It is thanks to the efforts of people like you that the blogosphere is the place of calm, reflective contemplation that it has become. You are a virtual Ghandi.

Jes, could it be related to something like this?

Etienne de Villiers' [the Chairman of BBC Worldwide] previous posts have included President and Managing Director, Walt Disney International EMEA, and President, Walt Disney International Television

I have a feeling that Disney has several leverage points on BBC.

Watched part two of “The Path to 9/11” a few hours ago.

Not me. I watched The History Channel's Countdown to Ground Zero, which was quite good. Even if it didn't really address the geopolitics, it gave a high-truthiness reenactment at a fine level of detail.

If it's not crystal clear to everyone that Clinton was partially responsible for bin Laden's continued ambulatory state by the time of 9/11, then there's deep denial all around. Responsibility, not blame. OTOH, if there isn't some counterbalancing recognition that there was widespread apathy toward the ME terrorist threat prior to 9/11, there's deep denial of another flavor. This is how I see it, anyway: some bad things happened in Clinton's administration, Clinton walked the line that he saw fit in dealing with (or not dealing with, as the case may be) the issue, and we wound up with a couple of smoking holes in the ground in NYC. There's a price to action as well as a price to inaction; I have no doubt that if Clinton had imagined anything like 9/11, he'd have acted differently. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably is thinking with their ideology.

Hijacking the deaths of thousands of Americans for political gain, though, just stinks no matter who's doing it. I'm starting to think that we're really in the midst of a civil war in which violence just hasn't quite broken out yet. Much is sacrificed toward the end of victory, but if victory there will be, it won't be an honorable one.

LJ, Sebastian's got the joke right. If you're looking for deeper levels of meaning that somehow subvert the first and simplest level, you're looking too hard. I do feel some gratitude for the assumption of complexity, but it's unearned.

Slarti: OTOH, if there isn't some counterbalancing recognition that there was widespread apathy toward the ME terrorist threat prior to 9/11, there's deep denial of another flavor.

The mockumentary I watched went into three or four hours of detail about how Clinton was totally, completely, absolutely to blame for why Islamic terrorists (and specifically, al-Qaeda) were able to make a terrorist attack on the US in 2001.

But didn't happen to mention that Bush had received a memo from the CIA spelling out that a terrorist attack was planned in September... and had responded to that urgent memo by going on vacation. We know from what happened with Katrina that Bush doesn't care to be interrupted for anything when he's on vacation, and his staff fear doing so. (Nor, of course, did the mockumentary use the actual footage available showing Bush's actual response to 9/11: listen to grade-schoolers reading My Pet Goat.)

One specific example: the mockumentary invented a scene in which permission was being urgently asked to take out bin Laden, and Sandy Berger put a stop to it. Never happened. It's not even a dramatization of the truth; it's a straightforward lie. "Balancing" that lie is another lie: the mockumentary invents a scene in which, while United 93 is still in the air, Bush gives permission for it to be shot down. It's presented as a tough but necessary decision. Never happened: in reality, as the 9/11 Commission report specifically says, Bush and Cheney didn't get around to discussing the possibility of shooting down the hijacked planes until after United 93, the last of the planes, had crashed.

It was a stunningly badly-made film, too. I kept watching it on Sunday night for a number of reasons, which included: having a purring cat comfortably asleep on my lap; having a big hole to darn in one of my favorite jerseys; and not quite believing it would stay this bad. On Monday night, I didn't watch it start to finish - it was on, but I kept going in and out of the room, getting other stuff done.

It was one more chapter in the Republican Party's continuing use of 9/11 as a party political event - the which, though you now claim you find it repugnant, I've never noticed you criticizing your party for before. Even now, your half-hearted criticisms seem to be based on some notion that this is a bipartisan problem, rather than a Republican issue. If you don't like what your party is doing with 9/11, Slarti, the time to start protesting about that would have been in 2004, at the very latest.

This is how I see it, anyway: some bad things happened in Clinton's administration, Clinton walked the line that he saw fit in dealing with (or not dealing with, as the case may be) the issue, and we wound up with a couple of smoking holes in the ground in NYC. There's a price to action as well as a price to inaction; I have no doubt that if Clinton had imagined anything like 9/11, he'd have acted differently.

Like trying to stay in power, given that Bush was known to be a hopeless incompetent? Clinton and his administration warned Bush and his incoming administration about terrorist activity, and handed over all information and plans for dealing with it. Bush and his administration did NOTHING for nine months. Trying to blame Clinton for Bush's abject failure seems to be a kneejerk reaction from Republicans - and accusing people who don't blame Clinton for a disaster that happened on Bush's watch of "thinking with their ideology" gets a Karl Rove Special award.

LJ: I have a feeling that Disney has several leverage points on BBC.

Disney has several leverage points, probably, on most broadcasting companies. And no doubt this mockumentary was being pushed at the BBC, as it's being pushed worldwide, as a faithful and balanced account of the events leading up to 9/11, rather than - as it actually was - a party political propaganda piece. If I don't get a good answer from the BBC about why they showed it, I intend to write again, copying the letter to my MP.

So far, I've heard that American Airlines is planning to sue ABC for slandering them: various other people slandered in this mockumentary are also making noises. And as it was broadcast in the UK, a libel trial could happen under British law, which is considerably biased towards the person slandered. There was a disclaimer afterwards saying this was "not a documentary", but I have no idea if a British judge would consider that to be sufficient, given how hard the film's makers were pushing the film as a "true account".

"Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton"

how long after someone takes office do current events become even partially their responsibility ?

more specifically: at which point did Bush's wise guardianship take over from Clinton's lazy negligence ?

Cleek: at which point did Bush's wise guardianship take over from Clinton's lazy negligence ?

Dunno. As far as I can tell, for some Republicans, Clinton is still in charge: he's Bush's Snowball.

Slarti, the time to start protesting about that would have been in 2004, at the very latest.

I'll have gotten onto that right away!

Slarti: I'll have gotten onto that right away!

Cool. Time machine. But an apology or some expression of self-distaste for your support for things you now think are "repugnant" - but didn't then - would be technically simpler, and probably use up less non-renewable energy.

Knowing what I know now, I might just have abstained, Jesurgislac. I have no idea what I might have to apologize for, though.

Charley,

I owe you an apology for my overreaction last night. As always, I should have taken a moment to reread what I wrote before posting. I apologize for my rudeness.

it appears to me that on their side that it's all about the oil - if they can control that, they can do whatever they want.

Dave, pal, it's a well established fact that only nutcases believe "it's all about the oil."

Slarti: I have no idea what I might have to apologize for, though.

Supporting a party while you know it's doing things that, through a change of heart, you say you now think are repugnant. Obviously, you didn't find the Republican Party's politicization of 9/11 repugnant in 2004: you now say you do find that repugnant. That's fairly strong language, and if you mean it sincerely, I'd expect you to be feeling horrified and apologetic for your wholehearted support of behavior that's now (you claim) become repugnant to you.

Clinton walked the line that he saw fit in dealing with (or not dealing with, as the case may be) the issue, and we wound up with a couple of smoking holes in the ground in NYC.

And true though that may be, a willingness to even write this sentence without automatically also including the name of the President actually in office at the time suggests either partisan fervor, disingenuity, or an appalling carelessness about historical fact.

suggests either partisan fervor, disingenuity, or an appalling carelessness about historical fact

Or it could be that all this is in the eye of the beholder. Partisan fervor, appalling carelessness, etc. right back at you.

Slarti: Or it could be that all this is in the eye of the beholder.

You really have no better defense for trying to claim that your blaming Clinton rather than Bush for 9/11 is non-partisan?

I mean, given the fact that this thread is entitled "Remembering 9/11", and given the fact that I was talking about some of the reasons the ABC docudromedary didn't appeal to me...I have no idea where you could possibly be coming from, Paul.

I don't suppose we could all agree that no American president from Carter to Bush II covered himself in glory when dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism and leave it at that, rather than going back and forth for days on whose 'fault' 9/11 was?

You really have no better defense for trying to claim that your blaming Clinton rather than Bush for 9/11 is non-partisan?

Here's my defense for you having that impression: you read what you think I'm saying, not what I'm actually saying. I didn't say anything even close to what you said I did.

You can get that, or not. I'm guessing not, given your history.

I don't suppose we could all agree that no American president from Carter to Bush II covered himself in glory when dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism and leave it at that, rather than going back and forth for days on whose 'fault' 9/11 was?

Unless I've slipped involuntary into German, I'm pretty sure I said something a lot like that.

Slarti,

In what language does a statement like

"This is how I see it, anyway: some bad things happened in Clinton's administration, Clinton walked the line that he saw fit in dealing with (or not dealing with, as the case may be) the issue, and we wound up with a couple of smoking holes in the ground in NYC. There's a price to action as well as a price to inaction; I have no doubt that if Clinton had imagined anything like 9/11, he'd have acted differently. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably is thinking with their ideology."

constitute commentary on any President other than Clinton?

Yikes.

Can we possibly ditch the personal snark? As far as I've been able to tell, everyone who has participated in this thread is a decent person of good will, and while all of us have, at one point or another, displayed our normal human fallibility, none of us has done so in a way that merits being jumped on.

In what language does a statement like...constitute commentary on any President other than Clinton?

It doesn't. But that point isn't going to make itself.

If your point is that I can't say anything nice about Clinton without saying something nice about Bush, well, it's a free world.

Given that the entire point of the post in dispute is that one cannot judge Clinton's actions as if he knew 9/11 was coming, I'm puzzled as to what y'all could possibly find objectionable.

Maybe someone can explain?

"If your point is that I can't say anything nice about Clinton without saying something nice about Bush, well, it's a free world."

Since I don't view the comment in question as saying anything particularly nice about Clinton, your response does not seem to apply to me.

However, I am still at a loss to understand how one gets from the comment you made to the one by Andrew that you appear to be saying "I'm pretty sure I said something a lot like that." Maybe something got lost in the translation, but I don't see how you can possibly think you said, as Andrew did, "no American president from Carter to Bush II covered himself in glory when dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism and leave it at that", since you neither said anything about the other Presidents, nor left it at that about Clinton.

Ok, I hereby amend my prior statement to "what I said is not in disagreement with what Andrew said".

Christ All-Effing-Mighty. Maybe, if each of us just bloody well said what we bloody well meant - without a bunch of circumlocutions and mealmouthisms designed to obscure what that meaning is - we can have a threat which is NOT 'jacked by such cowflop as "I know you think that's what I said, and it might even seem like that's what I said, but if you refer to this here comment I made 45 minutes ago - not to mention taking into account my established pattern of deliberate obfuscation - what I said."

I would certainly agree that (at least) since Carter, US Presidents have done very poorly in the Middle East. Each of them contributed to the idea that the US can be hit without significant chance of retaliation. Carter did so with the Iran hostage situation. Reagan did so in Lebanon . Bush I did so with Libya and by allowing Saddam to remain in power after invading Kuwait. He also helped engineer the political resurrection of Arafat, which was an enormous mistake. Clinton continued the trend with his response to Saddam effectively ceasing inspections, and various other incidents including some with bin Laden, and most famously (though not having to do with bin Laden) Mogadishu. Bush II for the most part continued the trend before 9/11. Afterward he invaded Afghanistan which initially called into question the prevailing (in the Middle East) myth. His reluctance to commit troops however played into the glass jaw idea. Failing to commit sufficient ground troops in Iraq has reinforced the whole idea.

Each of these Presidents made significant missteps which have all trended the same direction in the Middle East. Carter and Reagan are easier to forgive than the others because they had to deal with the significant threat of the USSR. The other three don’t have that excuse.

Dammit. That last line in my comment should, of course, be:

deliberate obfuscation - you'll realize that that is not, in fact,what I said.

Casey,

I'm not sure what you mean. Could you be a little clearer? ;)

Maybe, if each of us just bloody well said what we bloody well meant

I said exactly what I meant. And then some people read something entirely unlike what I said into it. I get that you think I'm the problem, Casey, so I apologize for this and future failures on my part to take measures to prevent various logical follies and assumptions of bad faith committed by others.

Because it's all my fault.

And now, as yesterday, all I have left is profanity, so I'm away for a while.

About all I had left was profanity, too, but Kevin Drum's teaser about conservative opinion leaders abandoning the Republican party cheered me a little. As far as I'm concerned the only good Republicans are the former ones.

Seb- "Bush I did so with Libya and by allowing Saddam to remain in power after invading Kuwait."

Here is a different assessment of this assertion from Berkowitz">http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300080115">Berkowitz and Goodman. Lest any partisan hackles be raised, please note that the policy they criticize here is Clinton's covert attempts to stir up a Kurdish rebellion in 1996.

Moreover, if the covert operation had succeeded, its net result would have been a weak Iraq. Most experts agree that Iran, not Iraq, is the most significant potential threat in the region. One reason the objectives of Desert Storm were limited to liberating Kuwait was that U.S. leaders believed we needed a viable Iraq to counterbalance Iran. If we turned Sadam into the "Mayor of Baghdad," we would have created a power vacuum in the region. Dealing with Iran would have been more difficult than ever.

How weak might have Iraq become following a successful covert operation to destabilize Sadam's hold on power? Recall Afghanistan, where the CIA supported the mujahideen for almost a decade. Witness the moonscape that currently passes for Kabul, and you will see that even "successful" covert actions of this magnitude are impossible to plan with precision, and often end as horrible, bloody affairs. (141)

[Berkowitz, Bruce D. and Allan E. Goodman Best Truth: Intelligence in the Information Age. Yale UP (2000)]

Sorry that there is no link to a digital version of this passage. You can find it and the surrounding few pages on either Google Book or on Amazon using "Search inside this book" and searching for "moonscape".

Given our current straits, do you disagree with this assessment?

Slarti -- don't go.

To amplify my previous comment: personally, I am really angry right now. I feel as though my ability to just plain mourn something that I ought to be able to just plain mourn -- and moreover something that should be sacred and inviolable -- has been displaced by the allegedly "liberal" media deciding to air a completely scurrilous piece of fiction, by my vice president saying that I am "validating" the terrorists, by the horrifying idea that we are going to spend not just one day, but the next few months, having 9/11 used for political purposes by someone who, as far as I'm concerned, has done enormous damage to our security, and who therefore has less right than anyone to use 9/11 for his own ends. I am furious that our country has been left at risk, but I am also furious that my grief, and everyone's, is being used as a political tool.

(To be clear: I think it's fine to use 9/11-related issues politically, and to ask questions like: have we done all we could for homeland security? Has invading Iraq made us safer? And so forth. But I think that using 9/11 itself is just plain wrong.)

I just want to mourn, and I am not being allowed to do so, and it makes me furious.

But I am not, not, not furious at Sebastian, or Slarti, or anyone else on the rightward side of our commentariat/posters/whatever. I am furious at Bush and Rove and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And it would be wrong of me to take it out on any of them.

Besides, it would be a real mistake, I think, to forget who I am really angry at. It's too important.

Slarti,

"Given that the entire point of the post in dispute is that one cannot judge Clinton's actions as if he knew 9/11 was coming, I'm puzzled as to what y'all could possibly find objectionable.

Maybe someone can explain?"

This deserves an answer, and I am surprised that someone who has stronger feelings on this matter than I has not stepped up to the plate as yet. Since no one has, I'll take a whack.

From a Democrat's perspective, this year's discussion of 9-11 has been dominated by a series of speeches by the Administration, from Rumsfeld to Cheney to Bush himself, not terribly subtly making the point that anything short of blind obedience to the Administration's handling of the War on Terror is treasonably appeasing the terrorists, followed by leaving Democrats out of the formal Ground Zero ceremonies, followed by one of the paragons of the SCLM presenting a "documentary" (which was heavily vetted to rave reviews on the right side of the aisle but no copies could be provided beforehand to the left) which sought to portray the Clinton Administration as falling down in fighting the war, while airing not a word against Bush's handling of it. In other words, a heavily hyped narrative portraying Bush as flawless, Clinton as the demon, and Democrats as untrustworthy.

While there is some daylight between your initial comment, apportioning responsibility but not blame to Clinton, and the general narrative over the last few weeks, the differences are not, from this jaundiced eye's view, all that large.

But I am not, not, not furious at Sebastian, or Slarti, or anyone else on the rightward side of our commentariat/posters/whatever. I am furious at Bush and Rove and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And it would be wrong of me to take it out on any of them.

I agree. I only get mad when you put on your George Bush Halloween mask, and expect me to take you seriously.

I said exactly what I meant.

You criticized Clinton for 9/11. You referenced no other President in your criticism, not even the one who was in power at the time of 9/11.

And then some people read something entirely unlike what I said into it.

We shouldn't have understood that you intended to put the primary responsiblity for allowing 9/11 to happen on Clinton, just because that's what you actually wrote?

And now you're - once again - blaming everyone else for not managing to figure out what you really meant, as opposed to what you actually wrote?

And it would be nice if you would take responsibility for what you're trying to say, and at least acknowledge that you didn't succeed in communicating it very well. Again.

I agree with Hilzoy - I don't want you to go. When you're not in the mood to be obfuscatory/blame everyone else for not understanding what you wrote, you are very good online company. This problem has been raised with you before, several times.

I am, however, less forgiving that Hilzoy: I am angry with people who supported Bush and Rove and Cheney and Rumsfeld, and who even now don't appear to comprehend that there was anything wrong with their support of Bush and Rove and Cheney and Rumsfeld and their attacks on us for opposing them - even though time has proved our opposition right, and their support profoundly wrong.

Dantheman et al.-- just before the offending bit Slarti said

"If it's not crystal clear to everyone that Clinton was partially responsible for bin Laden's continued ambulatory state by the time of 9/11, then there's deep denial all around. Responsibility, not blame. OTOH, if there isn't some counterbalancing recognition that there was widespread apathy [i.e. Bush and Republicans...hence "OTOH" and "counterbalancing"] toward the ME terrorist threat prior to 9/11, there's deep denial of another flavor."

Clinton made some mistakes in foreign policy, for which he is responsible. But trying to assign blame to Clinton for what followed while claiming credit for averting all the terror strikes that have not happened since denies the corresponding responsibility which the current administration shares for having done so little themselves prior to 9/11. The crucial difference here is between blame and responsibility.

How is that difficult?

In haste, I offer the following anecdote: I had a meeting yesterday that I was distinctly unthrilled to be at for many reasons, and about halfway through I (subconsciously) decided to be ruthlessly literal. The chair of the meeting was asking me about a particular policy and I answered all of her questions precisely. And I mean, precisely, with the full weight of my logical pedantry behind me; everything I said was completely correct, responded exactly to the question she had asked, and meant not one damn iota more.

That particular exchange took literally ten times longer than it should have and nearly ended in a screaming fit. Voices were certainly raised by the end, though I don't think any permanent hostilities resulted.

Now I don't feel as badly about this as I probably ought to, partially because the chair of the meeting is... notoriously prone to making assumptions about the world, or your comments, that are simply wrong. [She's seriously the worst mind-reader I've ever met, and I say that with some affection.] And I felt, and continue to feel in some obstinate way, that I was "teaching her a lesson", that I was illustrating a deeper truth, and so forth; the "really f***ing annoying" variant on the Socratic method, if you will.

But the truth is? We were both being jackasses, and retarded to boot. I should've simply said what I meant and answered her questions including the larger context rather than playing the hostile witness; and she should've asked the questions she meant to ask, listened to what I said in return and stopped trying to fill in the blanks, especially given how bad she is at that sort of thing. Would've been a lot easier on both of us, not to mention a hell of a lot easier on the other people at the meeting.

What relevance this anecdote has to the present situation, I leave to the reader to decide.

How is that difficult?

Beats me. But thanks, you've given me something to say that's within the posting rules, even if it's only "thanks".

What relevance this anecdote has to the present situation, I leave to the reader to decide.

JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN!!!

aiieeeeaaaahhh!!!!

Slarti:

If it's not crystal clear to everyone that Clinton was partially responsible for bin Laden's continued ambulatory state by the time of 9/11, then there's deep denial all around.

Well, at least you said partially responsible, and that is correct.

And how about it also being crystal clear that the Republican leadership in the time of Clinton undermined whatever Clinton did try to do in order to get bin Laden? And we all remember how Republicans in the 90s complained about Clinton's lack of effort against terrorists, and campaigned in 2000 to improve on that effort, right? And thereafter, actually did something to improve on the Clinton record, right?

Whatever failings people like to ascribe to Clinton pre 9/11, it should be crystal clear that they apply doubly to the Republicans. At least, that is the starting point now for the argument.

In any event, it is also crystal clear that the party most devoted to politicizing 9/11 and casting blame on the opposing party is the Republican party, even if it is necessary to lie in order to do so as in Path to 9/11.

If you want to end this wrangling, write that you think that Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for 9/11. We can then enjoy quibbling about the extent to which blame laps slightly more into the other camp, but we can put an end to the false Republican claims exploiting 9/11 for political gain.

Or maybe you don't want to do that.

nous,

I am aware of that, having said "While there is some daylight between your initial comment, apportioning responsibility but not blame to Clinton, and the general narrative over the last few weeks, the differences are not, from this jaundiced eye's view, all that large." (emphasis added)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad