The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, if you’re Dick Cheney, that is. And Rudy 91uliani has an entire second career because of today. For those roughly 95, 96% of Americans who don’t live in a city targeted on 11 Sept. 2001, and the roughly 85-90% of Americans who don’t live in a city likely to be targeted at all, we who live in those cities that were say “get the f*** over it already; God knows we have.”
We have greater reason to fear the loss of loved ones from more mundane homicides… or illnesses… or accidents… than we do now, or ever really have, from terrorism. But it’s so much more politically satisfying to have this bogeyman out there against whom we can launch our [kickback heavy] military forces. Of course, it’s the wrong tool, insofar as OBL and AQ aren’t and weren’t going to launch columns of tanks at anyone or otherwise make themselves vulnerable to simple military attacks like naval or airstrikes; they will “fight dirty” using seemingly invisible saboteurs and murderers that are best combatted using intelligence (in every sense of the word), and those other dirty words, “law enforcement.” So naturally, after seven years of military deployment, and seven years of improvising on our most fundamental values (that would be “torture”)… the specific perps of 9-11 are, as far as we know, still out there. And even those such as KSM who may be in custody are actually beyond “justice” because, of course, they were tortured, and hence, cannot be tried, even in the kangaroo kourts we have set up to try them. Nuff said, I suppose.
In 9-11’s past, I have highlighted some of the unsung heroes of 9-11; last year I added to my usual commemoration of volunteer paramedic Richie Pearlman (who heroically rushed into the WTC to assist people, despite not being paid to do it) with a commemoration of Morgan Stanley security director Rick Rescorla, who saved many Morgan Stanley employees with his good sense to train for a 9-11 type emergency and then on the day, get people the f*** out (while sadly, he and three others went back in to rescue unaccounted for personnel).
My own story is more mundane: my then-office was across the street, so I watched events through my window, until, at roughly 9:20 am, I headed to court for a trial scheduled that day (which, of course, did not happen that day), and then walked home, watching the North tower finally implode while walking in the automobile lanes of the upper deck of the Manhattan Bridge (something I did for the first time; I repeated that in the August 2003 blackout… on 9-11, as on other occasions, New Yorkers largely saved themselves, without thanks to “people” like Rudy 91u1iani). Later the same week, I learned that on top of that, I lost my job, as the law firm was displaced. The toxic pall in the air hung for months over not just lower Manhattan, but over our Brooklyn neighborhood. On “the day,” a friend lost his brother in law in one of the planes; one of my law clients was a fireman; and someone with whom I rowed freshman crew was a Port Authority employee. All were killed in an instant, along with thousands of others.
And so here we are now… seven years later. I have every confidence that today, as usual, will be exploited for its political hay (even as the major candidates declare “truce for a day.”) “Ground Zero,” which both McCain and Obama will visit today, is still a hole in the ground (kind of like much of later-ravaged New Orleans). Our national can-do and get-up-and-go spirit has, of course, amidst the fantasy of unbridled capitalism, plain old gotten up and left. And at this point, I realize that our own national vigilante/revenge fantasy has been… pretty much pointless. Thousands of heroic Americans are dead or physically maimed or otherwise scarred for life from combat in irrelevant theaters (which these days include Afghanistan as well as Iraq). OBL and company have gotten us to overreact, just as they wanted, in a scale beyond their wildest fantasies. And, as we try to put yet more lipstick on the pig of our nation’s never-ending stupid response lo these seven years later… I see every indication that, as with everything else, the American people have learned nothing.
Assuming New York City isn’t a nuclear wasteland by this time tomorrow, here’s hoping I’ll see you here this same time next year.