The Aftermath of 9/11 – Has it Been Worth It?

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Today marks 18 years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center changed the world forever, and not for just the States of America. 19 terrorist hijackers primarily from Saudi Arabia – 15 of them held Saudi citizenship, two were from United Arab Emirates, one from Lebanon and one from Egypt – seized control of four aircraft flying cross-country routes from Boston, Newark, NJ and Washington, D. C., to California (Los Angeles and San Francisco). Loaded with jet fuel, the terrorists utilized the planes as weapons, employing training that they had received at flight schools in the U. S. to pilot one plane each into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Washington and, after an uprising of the passengers on the flight, a forced crash landing in a field in Pennsylvania instead of its intended destination of the White House or Capitol Hill, home of the U. S. Congress.

The results of the 19 terrorists’ actions were immediate and numbing. 2977 people – and not all of them ever had any physical evidence of their existence ever recovered from the wreckage – were killed in the four instances, the worst terrorist attack on U. S. soil in the country’s history (the 1941 attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor technically did not occur on U. S. soil as Hawaii was a territory of the U. S. at the time, not a state). And, much like when Pearl Harbor was attacked, the response from the country was swift and powerful. But the question has to be asked – 18 years later in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, has it been worth it?

In the days following 9/11, first responders sifted through the rubble of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania, trying to find any survivors and, when it became apparent that there were no survivors, recover the bodies of those who were killed in the attacks. Meanwhile, the presidency of George W. Bush aggressively moved to act against an unknown opponent. In an address to Congress mere days after the attacks, Bush announced that a “war on terrorism” needed to be conducted and, with the blessing of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, received virtually everything that was asked, including wide-sweeping mass surveillance of citizens of the U. S. (the Patriot Act of 2001) and broad ability to conduct military actions anywhere in the world.

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That thoroughly expected military action is still ongoing. As a part of the actions given to the Bush administration, on September 14, 2001 a broad Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) was granted by Congress. This allowed the Bush administration to immediately attack – without the consent of Congress, who is the body that has the right to declare war against another country – anyone viewed as “responsible for the attacks of September 11” and any “associated forces.” The AUMF has since been used by subsequent administrations.

There has rarely, in the history of the U. S., been two documents that affected the future as much as the Patriot Act and the AUMF. With the Patriot Act, it became possible for the government itself to spy on its own people, something that would have been abhorrent to the founders of the country or, even more recent, those that fought against oppressive governments in Germany, Japan and Italy in World War II. With the AUMF, it basically allowed the government to wage war virtually anywhere in the world in the name of the “war on terrorism;” it has been used to justify military actions by not only the Bush administration but those of President Barack Obama and the current occupant of the White House in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Yemen, Georgia, Syria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Iraq and Somalia, among others.

But other, uglier actions arose from 9/11. Now called “hate crimes,” attacks against Muslims, Middle Eastern “looking” people, people of Asian descent (Sikhs in particular, who wear turbans that are erroneously confused with being associated with the Islamic faith) and others precipitously rose, blaming them for the actions of the 19 terrorists. This included taunting people in public and burning mosques all the way to killing people, when white supremacists took lives of those that “looked like terrorists” or were “towel heads” in a murderous rampage. It is arguable that these actions go on to this day.

Citizens themselves are not absolved of any responsibilities or blame for the devolvement of society since 9/11, either. If Watergate damaged the image of the country in peoples’ minds, the 2000 election controversy between Bush and former Vice President Al Gore and the actions of 9/11 totally destroyed any belief in a “just” government. These shattered thoughts and beliefs have tumbled over the past two decades into a massive snowball that ravages the psyche of the country in an avalanche of unsubstantiated thoughts and “alternative facts,” weaponized by extremists and employed by those to justify their philosophies.

Beliefs that the U. S. were a part of a “New World Order” (a phrase, ironically, uttered by Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush) brought about the idiotic conspiracy theories that 9/11 was an act by the Central Intelligence Agency and other nefarious operators, both domestic and international, to take freedoms from the citizens of the U. S. The use of fraudulent intelligence by the Bush administration that led to the Second Gulf War and the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein further ripped the fabric of the country. And the virulent rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle – that if you didn’t fully support “American” action, then you weren’t a “true American patriot” – contributes even today to the massive schism that exists in our political process.

The costs of the “war on terror” brought by the 9/11 attacks also have to be questioned. The human toll is striking and depressing simultaneously – the U. S. military has seen roughly 7000 deaths and tens if not hundreds of thousands of injuries from operations contributable to the “war or terror.” The civilian cost is estimated to be conservatively 1.3 million deaths, although some estimates set the total closer to four million. And the costs to cultural, religious and historic areas – ISIS has destroyed many sites of antiquity in their version of the “war on terror” – are too numerous to mention.

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The human costs are arguably the most important thing, but the financial costs of continuing the “war on terrorism” are approaching astronomical figures. Since 2001, it is estimated that the three U. S. presidential administrations that have conducted the “war on terrorism” have spent $7.6 TRILLION pursuing terrorist targets around the world and added $2.4 TRILLION to the U. S. budget deficit. This isn’t counting what other nations, including our NATO allies, have spent in their support of the actions following 9/11.

What has all of this brought to the U. S. and the world? “Terrorism” is something that can never truly be snuffed out. It is an action that dates back to biblical times (a Jewish group called the Sicarii would use concealed daggers to execute their targets in large crowds before slipping away and the Hashhashin, an Islamic sect, were a terrorist group in the 11th century that employed terrorist killings – the group’s name is where the word “assassin” comes from) but, in recent history, has moved from a “nation-state” action to a tool used by an individual political, religious or social group that has no traditional physical base of activity. It is one of the reasons that al-Qaeda (the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11), despite the protestations of the current administration, continues to thrive around the world.

And what has been the collateral damage from the aftermath of 9/11? In the U. S., we have raised a generation of children that know nothing but “war” and a misguided view of “patriotism” that is foisted by some who use that “war” as a political tool. In the world, there are people who have seen their families affected by the bombs of some far-flung U. S. drone attack, the bullets from a U. S.-made weapon or the ravages of imprisonment for “being (insert your religion or nationality here)” that has permanently implanted anti-U. S. sentiments in their minds. And the money that has been spent on the pursuit of “war” hasn’t been spent on areas to improve life for EVERYONE, significantly impacting all facets of life around the world.

On this 18th anniversary of 9/11 and in the future, as the costs both human and financial continue to rack up, we all must ask ourselves – “Was (Is) it worth it?” The nationalism that is becoming prevalent in the world nowadays can be directly traced back to 9/11 and it is something that has to be combated because it will only acerbate terrorism throughout the world. When it comes to the aftermath of 9/11, everyone has to have the ability to examine this question and plenty of other ones truthfully and come up with their own answers because this current situation cannot be continued in perpetuity. The current situation also cannot be allowed to flourish, lest it destroy civil society and plunge the world into an anarchistic state or theocratic or fascist rule. There is no such thing as “total security” and these thoughts present not only the people and leaders of the U. S. with a complex challenge but the world as well.

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Time to End This Charade…How Can ANYONE Support Donald Trump For President?

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When it began a few months ago, it seemed a fun little charade. When billionaire…what the hell DOES he actually do anyway?…Donald Trump descended the escalator of his Trump Tower complex in New York that fateful day in June, no one could have envisioned what has happened. The moment he opened his mouth, the U. S. as a whole should have arisen as one and shut down this gasbag asshole before he even got into motion. The problem is now it may be too late.

From that meeting, Trump has been an unrestrained fountain of idiocy and there are enough mouth-breathers out there to lap up every drop of his gruel. In that supposedly celebratory introduction of his campaign to the U. S. voters, Trump immediately came out saying that he would push all illegal immigrants out and send them back to Mexico. Calling them “rapists and murderers” Trump the dipshit assumed that every one of the “illegals” was from Mexico as he bastardized an entire nation. What backlash did he get from those statements, from the Republican National Committee? Silence. What did he get as condemnation from any Republican leader or other candidate who had declared for the race? Crickets…

This wasn’t the end of Trump’s bullshit bouillabaisse. In the very first GOP debate, Trump decided to castigate Fox News Channel reporter/anchor and moderator Megyn Kelly. Feeling a question was out of line, Trump the misogynist cretin went on a rampage later insinuating that Kelly was on her period with blood coming from “wherever,” hence the “grueling” questioning from her. He has continued to bastardize Kelly’s name and Fox News also. What have they done about it? Not a fucking thing.

There have been other truly mind-numbing incidences since this August tete a tete with Kelly (diminishing Senator John McCain’s military service, building a “wall” on the border with Mexico that they would pay for, etc.), but let’s fast forward to the last week or so as Trump has ratcheted the bullshit up even more. After the last GOP debate on November – and in response to falling behind Dr. Ben Carson in the polls in Iowa – Trump went on a 95-minute diatribe against Carson. In that screed against an opponent, Trump went to the point of stating that the voters of Iowa were “stupid” for wanting to support Carson and compared Carson’s statement regarding his teenage “pathological temper” to that of the mindset of a child molester.

The terrorist attacks in Paris – by European nationals radicalized by the Middle East terrorist organization ISIS, it has to be stated – was a truly stunning and saddening attack on a great European city. It also provided an opening for the GOP to use the incident to show how “weak” the Obama Administration has been in foreign policy (political demonization of a subject isn’t the exclusive domain of the Republican Party, but they’ve perfected its usage). Not to be outdone by the “weaklings” around him, Trump rocketed off the rails in his demonstration of his “foreign policy” knowledge.

To start with, Trump stated that he would “bomb the shit out of ISIS” as a method of taking care of a delicate foreign policy issue. This “bullshit in a china shop” mentality doesn’t stop there as Trump went on to declare that a “database” or registry for Muslims in the United States wasn’t a bad idea. He finished off this latest xenophobic rant by saying that he saw “Muslims” standing on the shores in New Jersey cheering as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11, an occurrence that there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE OF EVER HAPPENING!

What should have been the final straw – no, the final straw should have come the day after he announced his candidacy when the castrated RNC should have said “thanks but no thanks, Donald” – occurred on Sunday evening. Delivering his usual blindly racist, misogynist and xenophobic message to a bunch of droolers in Alabama, Trump was faced with one man apparently from the organization Black Lives Matter who questioned his stance on the subject of the treatment of blacks by law enforcement. Before any of the Secret Service agents on the scene could do anything, Trump bellowed, “Get him the hell out of here!” His brain-dead minions, ordered to act by their demigod, proceeded to beat, punch and kick the man in question and Trump later commented that “maybe he should have been roughed up” as if he were John Gotti ordering a hit on a member of the Bonanno Family.

Oh, and guess what? Trump may still run as an independent if he doesn’t feel he’s been “treated right.” He also hasn’t even bothered to issue any of his political platforms on any issue facing the country, instead continuing to say about those ideas “it’ll be great,” “it’ll be huge” or “you won’t believe how good it will be.”

The complete and utter madness that comprises the Trump campaign would be funny if it wasn’t so A) dangerously problematic, and B) fucking stupid. None of what Trump wants to do – from building a wall on our Southern border to the nearly Nazi-esque thought of rounding up 11 million illegal immigrants with an “immigration police” (already got that, asshole…it’s called ICE) or creating database watch lists on segments of society, “bombing the shit” out of things, ramping up taxes on Chinese imports, reducing taxation revenues without cutting spending (I could go on) – would be politically feasible or particularly helpful to the country as a whole. For all the empty feeling rhetoric of his campaign slogan – “Make America Great Again” – Trump would instead drive us into the depths of a catastrophic financial and political crisis.

The blame for the ascension of Donald Trump falls squarely in the lap of the RNC and the lower reaches of the conservative movement. The RNC, in an attempt to turn around the results of national elections and return to the White House, decided after 2012 to “streamline” their nomination process. This streamlining was originally supposed to reduce the exposure of the candidates to the general public (instead of the more than 24 GOP debates in 2011-12, only 11 in 2015-16) and, in twisting around the counting of the early primary states, was supposed to produce a candidate earlier. The logic for this was to move their candidate forward sooner to start the campaign against the Democratic nominee earlier than the GOP Convention in the summer of 2016.

This “planning” by the RNC has completely backfired on them. First of all, it opened up a free-for-all as to the nominee, with 16 eventual candidates announcing their intentions to run for President. That size of field would only serve to create and demonstrate the massive division inside the party, with center-right Republicans leaning towards Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, with Tea Party sympathizers going towards Ted Cruz or Rand Paul and with the religious right going towards Carson or Mike Huckabee (where the others fall in is anyone’s guess).

Secondly, the skewing of the early results in a rush to nominate a candidate could come back to haunt them. Because of the size of the field, it is possible that someone (like Trump) could usurp the early primaries and, if not earn the nomination outright, hold a sizeable chunk of delegates come convention time. Thus, everything that the RNC had looked to avoid would be caused in a brokered convention.

The RNC has also been completely castrated as to controlling the candidates. There is a point of disagreement with the opposition, but the RNC has not castigated Trump (nor anyone else, for that matter) when they make inappropriate statements regarding other candidates or blatantly racist stances that WILL have an effect come next November. The purpose of having a leadership body is to do exactly that…lead. The RNC has failed to do that.

The rank-and-file GOP also deserves a great deal of blame for allowing Trump to rise. Instead of the party drawing together to denounce the incomprehensible statements Trump was making and forcing him either to run a proper campaign or get the hell out, everyone chose to stay quiet, lest they offend the deeply conservative base of their party. This part, which has been shown to be less intelligent (no college degree) and not as rich (earning under $50,000 per year), also outnumbers the elite inside the Republican Party. As such, they have to be paid “lip service” towards their antiquated and borderline racist thoughts by allowing Trump to be their spokesperson.

These are the same people who have stated it would be good to hunt potential illegal immigrants on the border of Texas; who have stated without evidence that immigrants are taking jobs from real “‘Muricans” while at the same time stating these immigrants are “lazy” and would suck from the teat of government welfare (and the list goes on). Needless to say, these aren’t the brainiacs of the United States.

To the GOP, I would like to say there is still hope yet. You can still distance yourself from Donald Trump or, at best, force him into having to defend his statements and provide some policy points of what he would do as President. Those members of the Republican Party who have a functioning brain could then let their other brethren know that Trump isn’t the one to lead the party into next week, let alone lead the country for the next four years and present a logical alternative. If you continue down this track, GOP, you will be destroyed in the 2016 elections and it could inflict permanent damage.

As a personal note, I’d love to see a GOOD Republican nominee come to the fore. I think Rubio is on the right track (have a hard time seeing him getting the nomination after the complaints over Barack Obama, whose career is mirrored by Rubio) and there are younger members of the GOP that might have some ideas worth hearing. I hear much discussion about the “diversity” of the GOP, but I don’t see it when they step on the stage (one woman, a black man and two Hispanics don’t change the faces in the crowd behind you). I also don’t hear the diversity in thought when I hear the voices speak.

Am I angry about Donald Trump and his egotistical, idiotic exploits on the campaign trail? Yes, I am. A well-known former Libertarian vice-presidential nominee has said that a Trump presidency “would be fun.” I don’t look for my President to be a fucking comedian or an entertainer; I look for that person to actually be someone I can respect in the office, regardless of party (as much as I disagreed with the second George Bush, I still respected how difficult his job was and his efforts). If Donald Trump is the person who is sitting in the White House come 2017, woe to the nation of idiots that elects him.