I wrote this on the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack

My feelings and my story have not changed, but I relive every year. And I live every year.

9/11 +10

It has been ten years, three children, and a marriage since terror, grief, anger, fear, and an overwhelming helplessness filled me all at once, for the first and only time in my life. There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands or more, posts about September 11, 2001, being written and posted right now. I would be willing to lay a heavy bet that many of them are being written through a blur of tears. This one is.

I searched for awhile for an image or two to insert into this post, and realized that I don’t want any images here except for the one that is in my heart tonight. I avoided all pictures, posts, and media coverage of the memorials today. My memorial is in ten years of September 11ths that have seen my children grow and my life go on, while so many others did not. It is a guilt that I think many of us never admit to when we relive this day every year. I have talked to enough people, been to enough events, and read enough to know that we DO relive it. Sharing the “where were you” stories is our own form of apology to those who did not get to go on, to see their children grow up, to those who did not get to have children, or see grandchildren. We share, and no matter how many years pass, that sharing and reliving will never ease that unspoken guilt that is there. In sharing, though, we also come together again as we did in those days following the attack on us all.

Like everyone reading this, my life changed forever on that morning. I was a workaholic then, already addicted to my life on the web. I happened to be home that morning because my, then, only child had just had his tonsils removed. He was sleeping, I was online chatting with a friend via ICQ and getting together a list of things that had to be done that day during my time away from the office, and planning a party. September 11th is my ex-husband’s birthday. We weren’t married then, and I was excited to be finalizing the first surprise party of my planning for him. It was really a great morning, and a lifetime ago.

During my back and forth on ICQ, I got a message that plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The person I was talking to worked at a bank in Manhattan. He sent that message and then another right after. I will never get the sight of those words on my screen out of my head. The second message said “Oh God. Do you know how many people are in that building?”. I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, except that I should go turn on the television.

I surfed news channels until something came up live and began to watch the speculation about the plane, the cause, the possible damage and loss of life. I watched and speculated myself. I got a few more messages from my friend who said he was going to the break room to catch the news and he would keep me posted. The next thirty minutes where the most vivid of my life. They stand out more than my wedding, than giving birth four times. This is no special story, everyone reading this has one, but I have to relive it, too.

I called my father and then I walked into my sunny kitchen, still speculating along with the newscasters, and filled my coffee cup. I was halfway across my living room, eyes on the television, when the second plane came into view. I saw it hit the second tower, live, while I was on the phone. I dropped my coffee cup, hit my knees and said into the phone, “Daddy, what is happening?”. I had not called my father “Daddy” in probably twenty years before that moment, and I have not since. I remember him very slowly saying ” I don’t know.”. Then there was a small hand on my shoulder and a raspy voice in my ear asking me if he could have a popsicle, because his throat hurt very much. He was four then. I hung up the phone and one look at my son told me the truth of what I had not grasped while seeing it happen live. I may have hurt him a little by scooping him up and holding him so tightly while I dissolved into sobs. I know I terrified him. He must have asked if I was okay twenty times before I loosened my grip on him and got a little bit of one on myself. I stood up, my knees soaked in coffee, and took him into the kitchen and away from the television. I remember purposely not looking back then. I had someone to take care of, someone who would ask a million impossible to answer questions about what had happened and why it scared me so much. It happened that way, of course. The rest of the day was spent like many of yours: unending news coverage, a roller coaster of emotions, conversations with friends and relatives and co-workers. We cancelled the party. It was a long time before we had another on his birthday.

As I write, it is already September 11th in New York. My new online friends have been sharing all day. I read their tweets, but didn’t respond to any of them. I read the memorials go by in my timeline and read every word of every one. Each was a reminder that there are children who are now ten or eleven or twelve who do not remember their parent or parents. That there are people who are ten years older and wonder if they might have had a grandchild in the last ten years if not for the day that changed every single life in this country. We all think these things, we all relive. I watched you all do it all day on Twitter and Facebook today.

Try to remember to not only relive, but to live. Really live.

originally posted at Conservative Daily News.

Trayvon, Martin and John

On November 22, 2013, we will mourn the fiftieth anniversary of the loss of President John F. Kennedy. To some, he’ll be remembered as king of Camelot. To some, he’ll be remembered as the president who could have stopped the Vietnam War. For some, he’ll be remembered at playing the greatest game of chess with the Soviet Union and winning (The Cuban Missile Crisis). He’ll also be remembered as the greatest president that ever lived, attempting to bridge the races. But he’ll also be remembered as the man gunned down by the CIA, FBI, Dallas Police Department, Lydon B. Johnson, Mafia, by the driver of the limousine. And believe it or not, even as openly committing suicide in Dealey Plaza. Take your pick, everyone can be pinned to the assassination. Its a rabbit hole.

Five years after the loss of John, the world witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. A civil rights leader gaining ground, one who was uniting both black and white, he found himself gunned down in 1968. A few months later, Senator Robert Kennedy suffered the same fate. But prior to the both of them, in 1965, the life of Malcom X was taken.

In all these instances, in each assassination, millions of American people do not believe lone assassins prevailed. Millions of Americans, not on just garbage evidence, some quite convincing at first look, have built cases that one or more members of government bodies have been behind the blood loss. In each case, the goals of the assassinations were multiple. Some say it was to continue the war in Vietnam. Some to keep the races against each other. Some to keep groups in turmoil or keep some above others.

But you know what even trumped the John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories? What became the newest rabbit hole?

September 11, 2001 saw the greatest assault on American soil since Pearl Harbor. In fact, Hawaii wasn’t even a State of the United States when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. So technically, 9/11 was the greatest assault since the War of 1812. Within days, “9/11 Was An Inside Job” sprout up everywhere. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, members of the Project for the New American Century, the CIA, FBI, Israeli Mossad, Pakistan’s ISI and the news networks themselves have been implicated as saboteurs. And to what purpose? To keep the Haves having and the Have-Nots having not. Or Peak Oil. Or…whatever.

Upon examination of the theories above, very little stands as deserving much attention. Yet, the question is, why doesn’t anyone believe the official government accounts? Why do few (forget just Americans, let’s count millions worldwide) believe the Warren Commission conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone against Kennedy? Why don’t they, including King’s own son, believe James Earl Ray was solely responsible for killing King Jr,? And what about Waco and Oklahoma? Why do so many believe the FBI started the fire at the Branch Davidian compound in 1993 or blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building in 1995? Why the elaborate conspiracies?

There’s so many reasons WHY. But aside from the X-Files being really cool and that conspiracy theories are always kinda fun and exciting, understand that the Federal Government has given us every reason to doubt them.

How many times have “official sources” lied to cover up truths? Let’s dig up some old dirt.

Conflicts in Vietnam began at least in the 1950s. But to get the United States into full-blown war, the US needed a pretext for war, something the American people could rally behind. That came in August 1964 when President Lydon B. Johnson claimed that North Vietnam attacked American Destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Only problem is, it never happened. But it was enough for a decade plus war with Indonesian nations.

In 1975, the Church Committee was established to study government operations involving assassinations and were alarmed to find that, indeed, many had occurred. The CIA had involved itself with attempts against Castro and Lumumba and successes against Allende (who, incidentally took his own life before capture on…September 11…1973). And although the results were to ban assassination by any employee of the federal government, after September 11, 2001, standards were relaxed. Orders to get Osama Bin Laden and associates were authorized. And, as of recent, Senator Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate to protest the use of military drones to assassinate Americans on American soil.

There’s also the injustices of COINTELPRO, the counter intelligence program run by the FBI to infiltrate organizations it felt were threats to the government. From the late 1950s to early 1970s, the FBI mingled with, spied on, stirred up, committed acts of violence against and yes, conducted assassinations to “preserve national security”. Their definition, of course. Reputations were smeared and groups were discredited.

The United States Government has engaged in so many acts of shitness domestically and abroad that it’s no wonder why the American people don’t believe them when they sport halo-hats at press conferences.

As of late, we found that the IRS is targeting political groups not in line with liberal politics. Tea Party and Constitutional groups were being flagged in 2012 for further scrutiny. We’ve been treated to finding out the NSA is collecting vacuum style, gobs of emails, texts, phone calls, faxes, and all that is digital. And, as mentioned above, drone use against American citizens on American soil appears to have been at the very least, thought of. (Does it surprise anyone after Operation Northwoods revelations?)

And now we have the latest. The Community Relations Services (CRC) of the Department of Justice sent “peacekeepers” to protests after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman (April 2012). According to Judicial Watch, documents obtained on their doings show that they did not quell, but, “the group actively worked to foment unrest, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel and hotel rooms to train protestors throughout Florida. The peacekeepers also met with officials of the Republican National Convention, scheduled for several months later in Tampa, to warn them to expect protests in connection with Martin’s death.”

Wow.

I mean really…wow.

Some things change. Some things don’t.

When we see the federal government actively taking a side, stirring the pot, before a verdict even, what are we to think? Regardless on where you stand on the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, should the federal government be training protestors? Based on its escapades over the past several decades, there’s only going to be one outcome. Bad.

What are we to make of all this? The IRS targeting certain groups. The NSA scooping things up, picking targets based on…who knows. The Department of Justice conducting what may be a form of COINTELPRO in Florida?

Granted, all branches of government should be concerned about the outcome of the Zimmerman/Martin case. The Rodney King case in 1992 sprung riots divided along racial lines. Who knows how the Zimmerman/Martin case will fall out. We might know in a matter of days. Testimony will close soon. But based on history and the current revelation that there’s been some flies in the stew, I wonder, does someone behind the castle walls still want to see the division between black and white? A division between Haves and Have-Nots? A division to keep us from organizing because if we keep fighting amongst ourselves, if we keep believing in outrageous theories, if we keep yelling at the projection of Oz instead of Oz himself, will the Lords and Ladies remain above the serfs? Or is this just a game of whoever is in power gets to carry the big stick?

Sissy Journalism Fails to Cut at the Roots

Benghazi. Benghazi. Benghazi. For a week now, the angle to come at this has plagued me. What are we dealing with? What’s the story? A terrorist attack spawned by an anti-Muslim movie? An unchecked riot? A lie from the Obama Administration about what exactly happened? What’s the biggest thing worth covering here? Who cares, right Hillary?

In discussing this issue with my partner here at Freedom Cocktail, Alan J. Sanders, he encouraged me to ask why the Fourth Estate, the press, isn’t going after the Benghazi issue. Why is the Fourth Estate not upholding its check on government tyranny, largess and cover-ups? Why has the Fourth Estate failed in its duty to cover the Obama Administration’s lies about Benghazi? While I agree more hunting on this matter would be a positive thing, I think there’s a bigger, more neglected story here.

Then, this morning, on The Libertarian News and Commentary Facebook page, they displayed a picture of a car with this bumper sticker: Critical Thinking: The Other National Debt. Sometimes, the angle writes itself.

The most frustrating, yet enjoyable part about writing is the quest. Most writing isn’t done at the computer. Most writing isn’t done hunched over a leather bound journal. Most writing isn’t done on a yellow legal pad. Most of my writing is done while I’m driving, lying on the couch, staring out my window, watching my kids play in the front yard or wandering through a museum. These are the times when a writer plays hide-and-seek with the topic at hand. And once found, then, and only then, does he pick up the pen.

The story surrounding Benghazi is big. It is not just about Benghazi, this story spans back to American beginnings with war with the Barbary States. This story runs through America’s history culminating at its worst on 9/11. And it has most recently shown itself in Boston where two Muslims, taking the Qur’an at its word, caused chaos during the marathon.

This story is so big…and the Fourth Estate seems to care only whether or not Benghazi was the result of a terrorist attack or an uncontrolled riot and how far the Obama Administration went to cover up negligence.

Hillary Clinton may have been somewhat right regarding the Benghazi incident; in that, what difference does it make if it was “…because of a protest or…because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans?” In either case, what Benghazi was was a continuation of Muslims, holding to Muslim belief per se, going after the infidels. Yet the Fourth Estate remains silent about it. Instead they want to know if the Obama Administration covered up a terrorist attack by using a cover story about stirred up Muslims over a YouTube video. It kinda-sorta doesn’t matter. In either case, we’re dealing with stirred up Muslims who really believe.

Since its beginnings, the United States has had to bump and grind with Muslim, not extremism, but Muslim belief per se, as defined in the Qur’an. The Qur’an makes no mistake that unbelievers are condemned to be tortured, killed and maimed in the name of Allah. There are over one-hundred passages in the Qur’an calling it the duty of a good Muslim to wage war against the unbeliever, that the duty of a good Muslim is to “Slay them wherever you find them” Qur’an (2:191-193).

The banter over Benghazi, the fact that Muslim belief per se is the problem, is not being addressed by the Fourth Estate. I am quite sure the problem is that the press is scared to step on the toes of a religious belief and seem insensitive, while those very toes deserve to be crushed. The press is bogged down with whether or not the Obama Administration lied about what took place. And, while this is a worthy path to travel, the bigger, and neglected, story is that we still have a lot of medieval thinking fuckers out there with no regard for human life unchained by their Holy Book’s rules.

We are lucky that most Muslims don’t take every word of the Qur’an as action items. We are also very lucky that Jews and Christians have cherry picked the pleasant parts from the Old and New Testaments and conveniently forgotten (or ignored) the passages calling for forms of torture and butchery on par with the horrors in the Qur’an. Wouldn’t it be quite awful if modern Jews and Christians still stoned to death unruly children? (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Or if they demanded a God-Given right to own slaves? We are lucky indeed, that the modern world of scientific findings and a maturing social collective has weeded out, for the most part, the practice of such ancient thinking and customs. We are lucky most people, even though they continue to call themselves Jews, Christians or Muslims, have chosen to remain friendly and civil to each other, to practice their customized versions of old religions and not infringe on their neighbor’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are lucky that most people, regardless of religious belief or lack thereof, do practice critical thinking, reason and logic on a regular basis.

* Critical Thinking.

* Logic

* Reason

These attributes, if practiced regularly and routinely, can save us from future Benghazis, Boston Bombings and future Manhattans. If only the people responsible for those atrocities had thought it out critically, they might have seen how misinformed they were. These, attributes, if ingrained in youth, can save kids from gun violence through either neglect, misuse or out-right abuse. It can also save kids from taking candy from strangers or losing their lunch money to the latest playground scam. It can save adults from get rich-quick schemes, being taken by a “psychic”, falling for a charismatic leader with poor intentions or anything else in the Land of Woo. These attributes and these alone, should become habits, practiced in every aspect of life, and these alone will save you from being taken in by liars, deceivers and con-men. Even if they turn out to be members of the Obama Administration who spun Benghazi to put themselves in a better light.

The Fourth Estate should be showing the face of an authoritarian group of Muslims trying to bring back the Ottoman Empire. It should be exposing this for what it is: One group of people wanting to tell the rest of us how to live and committing violent acts when we don’t do so. Instead, we’re caught up in more trivial matters. Until we pull up our big-boy pants and address the real cause of Benghazi, Manhattan and Boston, we’re going to get hit again. It is here, I wish more journalists travelled. It is in these waters, the more serious truth seekers should be wading. It is in times like these, I truly miss journalists like Christopher Hitchens. We need more Hitchens.

christopherhitchens460

Reconsidering the Game of RISK

North Korea says, “We’ll rain fire down upon the White House.”

North Korea says, “We’ll test missiles whenever we want.”

North Korea says, “We’re closing the North/South border.”

North Korea says, “We’re moving missiles around, preparing to strike.”

North Korea says a lot of shit.

And South Korea yawns and says, “North Korea does this all the time.”

There didn’t used to be a North and South Korea. After World War II, the peninsula was reclaimed by the Allies from Japanese occupation. The Soviet Union took control of everything north of the 38th Parallel while the United States took the south. It’s been a game of political tennis over that border ever since, going hot once from 1950 to 1953. Over thirty-six-thousand American casualties ensued.

This is how good intentions go bad. Korea gets liberated by the Allies then, instead of leaving, the Allies stay. War and threats of war become normal waking states.

The same thing happened in Germany at the end of World War II. Germany was divided and the camps didn’t leave. Both sides, although allies in a bigger war, turned sour. Threats over a line drawn in Berlin almost turned hot in 1961, causing the construction of the Berlin Wall.

So all this occupation started in 1945 and while Germany was finally reunited after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Korea remains divided. And while the United States military remains ever present in Germany despite no threats from or to that nation, it also remains ever present in South Korea where threats pour in so often, the South says, “Eh, happens all the time.”

Why are we there? And why are we still in Germany? And Japan for that matter? It’s because when you ask for (or forcefully get) the assistance of the United States, we stick around. Everywhere we send an aircraft carrier or parachute in troops, we stay. We never complete a mission and go home. We’re the Herpes of the world, never quite killing our host, just irritating the hell out of them.

In trying to track down how all this started, how the United States went from “…entangling alliances with none”, I couldn’t find an Ah-Ha moment. At first, it seemed like the meddling in Hawaii might have been it, the time when American businessmen used their influence in Washington to get U.S. troops to assist with the overthrow Queen Liliʻuokalani. This was, after all, the first time Americans had executed an overthrow of a foreign government. But although the first regime change, we have to go back even further.

How about the constant push westward and the Trail of Tears? Yeah, that counts as regime change. And when we ran into the Pacific ocean, we didn’t stop. We continued across the ocean and took Hawaii, then the Philippines for a time from Spain. So it appears Americans are naturally a migrating bunch to the trembling of the world. The most recent occupation is that of Iraq. Despite the Obama Administration’s insistence we’ll be out soon, it ain’t gonna happen. Guaranteed. Our embassy over there is larger than the Vatican. We’re not giving up that kind of real estate.

The United States has military personnel in one-hundred-and-thirty countries, nine-hundred bases. The sun does not set on the American empire. We have bases in rather friendly, non-hostile places (England, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Greenland, etc). We have bases in countries which are in constant turmoil (Israel, South Korea, Iraq, etc). We have bases in countries who’s friendship is questionable (Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc). We’re so involved in everyone’s business, not just at home, that it’s going to happen – we’re going to have enemies. Some, individually, as in the case of Osama bin Laden. Others come in the form of foreign governments like North Korea’s Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Why do we warn children not to poke sticks into bee hives when, as adults, we prod without discretion?

Our military in foreign countries has been justified on the grounds that we need “jumping off points”. If we get attacked by North Korea, we’re already in the South. No waiting period to respond by having to engage in a slow roll from California. But let’s understand something. If we weren’t fooling in South Korea, the North would probably care less about us half a world away. Let’s also remember that despite our huge worldwide military presence, none of it stopped Osama Bin Laden, the orchestrator of the greatest attack on the American mainland since the War of 1812. What did Osama say about his motive? He told us. Several times. He warned us through interviews with journalists that if we didn’t stop meddling in Muslim countries, he was going to act. He came through on September 11, 2001. Big time. And while I find that act unforgivable, accepting that the United States had to take action, take out Al-Qaeda and must continue in the fight to re-lid Pandora’s Box, I can’t help thinking that it could have been avoided.

A few days before the 2004 presidential election, Osama was on video again. He said,”People of America this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan, and deals with the war and its causes and results. Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain to us why we don’t strike for example – Sweden?”

When I hear North Korea running it’s tin cup along the bars, I am reminded of Osama’s words. Will we learn from 9/11? Or end up provoking a country that has nuclear capabilities? I don’t want to find out.

It’s also been said that, in our defense, we’re “guests” in the countries we have bases in. Short of Iraq and Afghanistan today, maybe that is true. But I ask you, how would you feel if North Korea were guests of Canada and Mexico? I don’t have to speculate. History already has an example. The Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1962, the Soviet Union moved nuclear missiles onto Cuban soil (with Castro’s permission). The American public went nuts, Duck & Cover went into high rotation and the Kennedy Administration threw up a naval blockade to stop more from coming in. The United States and Soviet Union came the closest the world would ever see of nuclear war. It’s almost by luck and accident that the button wasn’t pushed back then.

Time to bring the men and women in uniform home. I see news coverage of dads and moms who have been away for a year or so. I see them return, greeted by mothers, wives, husbands, children. Seeing that uniformed soldier hugging his loved ones back on American soil tears me up. I’ve never been in the military. The closest I came was toy soldiers on the kitchen floor with my father. Or, World War II re-enactments with the British 9th Paratroopers. But I can sympathize. Come on, bring them home. No more Osama’s. No more Kim Jong Uns. Come on.

There is only one incident in American history where, despite the Libertarian inside me wincing and telling me that it was just Teddy engaging in dick waging, I kind of dig. In 1907, then President Theodore Roosevelt felt it was time to announce to the world that the United States was ready for the big time. He sent the newly formed naval ships, dubbed the Great White Fleet, on a worldwide tour. The purpose was to demonstrate that America was now capable of sitting at the grown ups table; or, as my father explained, “Teddy was saying, fuck with us, you fuck with this.”

I have no problem with acts like this from my country. No problem flexing some muscle and demonstrating this fully operational battle station to deter foes. But let’s bring all of our troops home. Germany and Japan and most of our other allies are rich and strong enough to defend for themselves. Why am I, in Livonia, Michigan, paying tax dollars to support South Korea, which irks North Korea, when we should just pull out? We left Vietnam. We can leave South Korea…and Japan…and Germany…and Brazil…and Greenland for Christ’s sake. Greenland. Let’s not be herpes.