Strange as it is to believe, I have been writing on this blog for TWENTY YEARS. Somehow, you and I are both still alive! I looked it up, and the traditional gift for this one is china, the modern “theme” is platinum, the gemstone is emerald, the colors are emerald and white and the flower is the daylily. God willing, in just ten days time, Mrs. TD and I will be celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary.
And so here we are. Well, not all of us. I lost TD Dad about six years ago, for example, and many of you have lost loved ones along the way. Indeed, in the plague year, the United States alone has lost nearly 700,000 of our countrymen from the COVID-45 plague alone (a plague year that so-called conservatives feel it is to their advantage to stretch out and make as bloody and painful as possible). Exactly a year ago, the nation lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sadly, one of her lasting legacies may be that she was replaced by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett who will lock in the downward trend of constitutional protections (except the Second Amendment) that we have been on for some time. Nonetheless, through it all (mostly) I have kept on with a sort of personal chronicle of the post-9-11 world as seen from my vantage point in New York City (of late, for most of the plague year, TD can only see the sites a dude can see from Brooklyn Heights), complete with my personal views on matters of the day. This particular enterprise somehow has, despite whatever else has gone on, persisted for a fifth of a century now, surviving the Dubya, Barack, God-help-us Trump and now Biden administrations.
Feel free to peruse the archives if you want to do your own retrospective. There is a reason for the disproportionate focus here on the Global War on Terror and its showpiece, the prison for Muslims at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. GTMO is now holding 39 men at a Spandau-like cost of over $11 million each (at least), all still while never having completed trials of the alleged 9-11 perps after twenty years; that would involve disclosing how badly we tortured them. At the outset, I had tried to figure out wtf was going on from the standpoint of my legal training: there are supposed to be safeguards in the law against the kind of things we have seen– locking up citizens like Jose Padilla in a military brig with zero Bill of Rights protections because “war on terror.” Torturing and disappearing prisoners of war in derogation of the Geneva Conventions because “war on terror.” The most massive surveillance apparatus in the history of the universe because “war on terror.” Of course, at the end of the day, none of this prevented us from just handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban who allegedly harbored the terrorists in the first place, though of course, we continue to have military bases in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and all over the Middle East and can “over the horizon” drone attack anyone we want, and the media blithely doesn’t tell the public about ongoing “operations” in Yemen and Somalia launched from bases in Djibouti that no one ever heard of, because “war on terror.”
I confess to a level of naïveté at one time, believing that institutions of American life, such as our courts (or, hilariously, our legislature) would step up to curtail these abuses. Eventually I realized that what was going on was simply part of a public relations collapse (the USA always did bad shit, but we had a very good PR program about how we were about freedom and democracy). This time, however, we said all of this out loud. Politicians talked about the torture and mass homicide out loud. And this was even before Trump. Terrorist Tuesdays, Barack? Eventually, I concluded that all of this was an unfortunate but inevitable symptom of late stage neoliberal capitalism, and my thoughts were finally crystallized in a book I wrote under my twitter nom-de-guerre Donald J. Putin, which I will immodestly describe as a unified field theory about why everything is going down the way it is (and I do mean going down).
To be frank, there isn’t much reason for optimism, and I don’t have much. The planet continues to hit record global temperatures, with Death Valley commonly hitting over 130 degrees this summer, temperatures well beyond what humans and most plants and animals can stand. And ever larger swaths of Earth are achieving unlivable temperatures. These temperatures, in turn, trigger intense storms, wild fires, floods, droughts, and conditions incompatible with our agriculture and civilization. Despite what we have been told for decades, the bad shit is here, now– and yet, our consciousness seems not to have evolved beyond continuing our vaunted lifestyles because that’s all we know how to do. To be fair, Jeff Bezos’s super yacht can un-do the ecological virtues of hundreds of millions of people, so let’s be real about the fact that we live in the elites’ world, and they just seem to be too psychopathic to give a sh*t if they kill themselves, let alone the rest of us. I’ll throw out one of my few causes for optimism in this area; feel free to support that project, and more importantly, if you know any really rich people, please tell them– because two or three rich people with senators on speed dial might actually be able to make it happen in a way that millions taking to the streets can’t and won’t.
And so here we are. This here blog’s first post was, quite literally, one week after 9-11, an event as you know from last week’s post, I observed from the scene. At that time, I was 38, Mrs. TD was however old she was, and the Loquacious Pup was not yet 2. Add 20 years to all of the above. Somewhere along the line, we adopted two grey cats; they are now 12. Alrighty then. We have had quite a run on what, I guess, is one of the oldest extant blogs around, and I hope we get to keep it up quite a while longer. Thank you for hanging around.