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From Hell, Mr. Bush

Well, here it is.

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

Our President gave an uninspiring and not terribly plausible speech last night and again this morning. Government officials, deadly bipartisan speakers and leaders all, gave leaden speeches at the Capital yesterday and today, but they all sounded like Ronald Reagan compared to George Bush. The Bush Cliché O'Matic Doctrine united our people only by the contention that men who committed suicide in murdering of fifty thousand or more yesterday were, somehow, cowards. They were evil individuals, who probably support the feudal, patriarchic Islamic social ideal of stagnation and ignorance, but they were not cowards. President Bush looked overwhelmed and sounded clueless about what to do after a day of running from bunker to bunker. He is a man who shrinks from the occasion. The two Senators from New York gave the best speeches.

I said fifty thousand. It may be that the death toll yesterday was greater than our losses in the Vietnam War. That isn't hysterical, given that normally there would be twenty to thirty thousand people in the two World Trade Center Towers, and that the collapse of that structure and the domino effect on the other buildings which also collapsed plus the choking, toxic dust spreading like a volcanic explosion down the streets of Manhattan might double the loss. Plus the airline passengers, plus the Pentagon. Could be, you know. Could be. Only about a thousand living people have made it to New York hospitals, hardly any. Where are the others? Unhurt? Nobody survives the collapse of a one hundred ten-story building, burning in airline fuel at a temperature hot enough to weaken construction steel. The fire was so hot that people jumped seventy stories to sure death rather than endure it. Absolute hell.

In history, debacles have been attributed to great evil and betrayals of supernatural proportions. They are rarely admitted for what they often are: the result of incompetence and laziness on the part of the victims. Yesterday was the predictable result of corrupt, under-paid, and under-motivated personnel at security centers at airports - Boston's Logan airport was a famously insecure place - and too many airline passengers: the gaping sphincters who equate the questions of security officers and every trivial inconvenience about bring forty boxes of carryon as a violation of the Constitution and fully the equal to the Holocaust and the Killing Fields. That's right. Us.

Yesterday, you needed only three people who could steer three planes famously easy to fly, but each team probably had several, and even Osama Ben Laden probably doesn't have oodles of proto-pilots. It seems that the ringworm community colleges of Florida have been recruiting heavily in the Third World to attend their flight training schools, and several of the suspects were graduates. The people on the Boston plane that hit the Pentagon had knives, no guns. In short, this does not necessarily have the whiff of great planning and great training. It requires people to force open the cockpit, quickly stab the crew, and then one conspirator need survive to read a compass or follow a highway into New York or Virginia and attack two of the biggest buildings on earth, visible for many miles from the air. The question is how come our air traffic controllers didn't notice the almost immediate and clearly alarming changes of course and absence of contact with the cockpit? How come no warning? Only the Pittsburgh crash plane inspired warnings. Incompetence.

How hard was it to get knives aboard? Every year for the last decade, every television station in the country has done a piece about how easy it is to bypass airport security. Humor columns are full of articles about some athlete, coach or rock star having firearms cook off in the passenger cabins of the airlines. Because of the drug war and ethical culture, baggage handlers have been bought off for years, and absolutely nobody thinks it difficult to smuggle stuff around. Because we have been a nation of lard butts and corrupt druggies, everyone insists on hand baggage for the cabin and wants everyone else's baggage searched but not their own. Virtually nothing gets checked.

How hard were these acts, really? Not hard. Twenty suicide bombers, of which there is no shortage given the futureless lives of young Muslims, with airline schedules. If realizing that cross country planes have lots of fuel upon takeoff is a sign of the genius of Ben Laden, as some idiots were suggesting yesterday, it is more indicative of our stupidity.

We lost more citizens yesterday than in any other day, including the worst at Antietam or Gettysburg. It will be horrible beyond emotional ability to appreciate. I myself am numb. So are most of you. But history will show that yesterday, for all the carnage and horror, was a mere reality check for the United States. The country is that strong. Isn't that amazing? It'll be rebuilt in five years.

Some want to turn this into a war, but I fear that is the wrong way and this was a case of premeditated mass murder. I am not reminded of Pearl Harbor, or any other of the Procrustean templates into which the media has tried to mold this tragedy. I recall again the adage of Vinegar Joe Stillwell and his assessment of Chaing Kai Chek. He tried to fight an idea with force. He didn't understand the idea, and he didn't know how to use force. Most of America's enemies do not understand it, because they attack the very things that will only inflame, only guarantee great retribution to no lasting damage here.

I hope we do not mirror their stupidity in the immediate future in our blood lust. And I hope we do not permanently sacrifice our freedoms at home for temporary vengeance abroad. We did in 1917, and it took fifty odd years to recover. Sort of.

My opinions are my own, not this station's.