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9/11, Clinton health drama

September 12, 2016

Wow, busy day. By coincidence, I’ve been stuck indoors for roughly the last 24 hours. Weird timing.

This will be a “diary” type blog entry, to mark what might be an unexpected turning point in the 2016 election, but first an obligatory meditation on 9/11 and its aftermath.



9/11 was one of those things that eventually changed everything in my understanding of how both the US government and the national media both respond to crises. I grew up in NYC. Not born there, but enough to love it and feel for years that it should be my home. (I’ve since decided I like natural spaces and fresh air better).

But I’m going back a little now. With my own eyes, I saw the hazy smoke rising in the distance, from the WTC … in 1993. So when in 2001 they said it was “completely unexpected”, the New Yorker in me said “ummm, what are you talking about?”. Within hours it was reported that they found passports of the attackers, despite conditions hot enough to take down a steel frame structure (itself a small miracle). Ok, I said, whatever the real explanation is, they’re keeping it secret for national security reasons. Fine. Don’t ask questions. Don’t be a conspiracy theorist. But it’s one of those things you file away in the back of your mind.

Then came the go-get’em media frenzy aimed at Arabs (at the time, the teevee didn’t bother with the difference between Arabs and Muslims). This was a 180 degree turn from everything I was taught growing up in NYC about the value of diversity, openness, the importance of respect in healing the US’s awful history of race relations, etc.  Then came the Iraq war, Colin Powell’s powerpoint at the UN, which I watched live with my dad, who was a retired chemist. At one point while Powell was going on about chemical weapons, my dad started to laugh, it was like a load had been lifted. Turns out he recognized some of the rusty old equipment in the photos. It was some kind of totally generic process equipment of 50’s or 60’s vintage, like a boiler or something found in almost any industrial facility. Kindof like if the police raided a meth lab, and decided, of all things, to show the media a photograph of a rusty Craftsman air compressor as evidence of meth production (my analogy) — as opposed to saying “we found specific chemicals used in the process”. Anyway he thought it was BS. Colin Powell’s past wasn’t exactly spotless. Ok, a data point. Turns out it was indeed BS … There were protests, but the national media were by and large on board with the NeoCon gameplan.

Fast forward another couple of years. By 2004, you could see things were not going according to plan in Iraq. Another moment I remember was watching one of the Bush-Kerry debates on TV with a group of friends, this specific group was young (my age), science-y ivy league. It was the debate where Bush for some reason was waving around a 2×4, talking about construction and economy and building the future, but perhaps doubling as a religious (cross?) symbol for his evangelical base? I guess Bush family speechwriters like big metaphors – thousand points of light? Anyway, I put a lot of energy into election politics that year, especially during the Dem. primaries. (seeing the media abruptly pull the plug on Dean was another data point, even though he wasn’t my pick). My friends, family, and coworkers were more mainstream than I but I understood that – it was educational to watch everyone. That was a charged political year for people in my world.

So back to that 2004 debate. There was great dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, the patriot act, the lies… and Kerry should’ve been beating Bush over the head with it, and the moderator even gave him several leading questions to try to elicit that response. But Kerry backed off – touched the subject only in the gentlest way, never accused Bush of doing anything wrong. At that point I knew Kerry wasn’t going to win (ended up voting for Nader). That was also a sign, a big sign, about how these things work with the Republicans and Democrats basically backing each other up, in spite of every kind of evidence of the opposing party’s policies being plain wrong. The group I was watching that debate with, were having none of that. They were satisfied with “at least he’s not Bush”. We cared deeply for this stuff, and wanted badly for the Democratic candidate to win (despite earlier disagreements over who it should be). The spell was not yet broken.

In 2008 Obama similarly telegraphed his intention to provide “continuity” to the Bush national security state. But he was African-American, and that itself was important enough that he got a pass on the foreign policy. Anyway who was I gonna vote for, McCain?  The positive spirit made that a really fun and happy election at least. A woman I worked with was friends with a lot of the entertainers who organized the Obama events where I live – I remember having a slow conversation with her one time while we ran into each other jogging and ran together for a while (the words come slow so you don’t screw up your breathing while running, it’s actually not a bad way to talk). She was trying to convince me Obama would finally reverse the Bush/NeoCon policies. I remember this look of deep, sincere, heartfelt “I belive” in her eyes. (Didn’t hurt that she was good looking, either). I started to tell her that I thought Obama quietly but pretty clearly said he wouldn’t make any radical changes in foreign policy. But then I thought, why mess up this beautiful feeling she’s having… I think there was a lot of that.

The point of all this rambling is that the lesson learned since 9/11 is that (A) the two parties are playing for the same team, (B) the national security obsession is just an excuse for an endless list of projects that aren’t really about anyone’s security, and (C) the official news portrayal of this is rather worthless. (D) for any normal person, the last thing they want is to deal with these realities.

Isn’t this all so painfully clear this year? It was probably that way forever, but the events following 9/11/2001 is what made it obvious for me. So 15 years later, where has the US come in relating to the middle east? Look at Libya. Syria. Something is still very broken in how we are doing things.

Part 2: The actual diary entry I intended to to write when I started.

For the first time in a while (i.e., since the Lewinsky thing), I felt genuinely bad for Hillary Clinton. Videos this morning of her passing out while being ushered away from a 9/11 event. After the coughing and the memory loss… She is struggling.

Together with the “basket of deplorables” comment to other day, this could be quite the one-two.

Even though I think Clinton belongs in jail for her Libya work, I’m not at all happy that Trump will probably benefit from this meltdown she is having.

To all the media people who flocked to her side through the now transparent BS — especially before her nomination — in what way did you think that backing her up would help you accomplish any of your goals? There’s now a chance that all you’re going to have to show for your “well intentioned” compromises is going to be a Trump presidency. Thanks a lot.

This is why we need to have viable 3rd parties in US politics.


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