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Archives for 9/11/2001

9/11 San Francisco: “Wars”


On the morning of September 11th, a friend came round to join me as neither of us felt much like working. We went down to Zazies, a cute little French brunch place in San Francisco’s Cole Valley which ran out of food. No one else had felt much like working either – not the delivery guys, anyway. Somehow or other we got into a conversation with another table about Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug baron.

I don’t remember the details of that conversation but I should have realized that the Bush administration would use the excuse of 9/11 to take us into yet another endless “war” just like the “war” on drugs. At the time, probably as an attempt to get away from the harsh reality of watching my software business crash to the ground, I had been reading a great deal about the drug “war”. Some time later I looked at NarcoNews, which is a lefty anti-drug war and anti-US policy in Central America site run by an American journalist called Al Giardano. His contributor Catherine Austin Fitts had put up a picture of the Twin Towers in flames, with the single headline “Cui Bono.”

Now I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. I do think there is some question over whether Flight 93 was actually shot down, and I find the pictorial evidence of what happened at the Pentagon extremely odd – there appears to be no evidence of plane wreckage. But we can let the tinfoil hat crowd chase all that down. It’s pretty irrelevant anyway because what followed is what really matters.

In some ways what we’ve seen since then is just a repeat of things that have happened before when America has gone to war on dubious evidence. The Spanish-American war was manufactured by the then dominant media. led by William Randolph Hearst. Did FDR ignore the Japanese warnings about Pearl Harbor? Maybe. My friend from the CIA said about Iraq,”Sure they use faked evidence, but they weren’t exactly the first ones to do so — have you heard the Gulf of Tonkin?”

I’m also well aware that the terrorist attack could have been much worse. After all had they hit the bottom of the Twin Towers instead of the top, maybe 10,000 people would have died instead of an estimated 2,700. Some response was necessary, even if a police action to root out the perpretrators rather than an endless “war” would have been a more pragmatic and more rational response – with a better outcome. But then this is a country that seems to like wars that are endless and endlessly fundable, rather than ones that follow the Powell Doctrine of having a limited, achievable objective and then getting out when you’re done.

But as a relatively new American citizen (my application was actually in process at that time), I was distressed by the deaths and injuries in both the actual attacks and in the subsequent wars. So I’ve been to 9/11 vigil memorials in London, and peace rallies in San Francisco. What’s saddened me the most has been the cavalier and insincere way in which the opportunists who randomly found themselves in power at the time have both shredded the better ideals of America, and abused that power for their supporters’ own financial and ideological ends.

They had better choices available at the time, but the choices that were taken severely limit the prospect for us making a better post-9/11 world.

Posted by Matt Holt at 1:45 AM | Permalink

The Health Care, Gay Marriage Re-run


Quick quick. What’s the connection between gay marriage and universal health care? The answer is that they’re the two political issues that San Francisco and Massachusetts agree on, while the rest of the nation thinks they’re nuts! But are they?
In both places, the executive leadership, Governor Mitt Romney in Mass and Mayor Gavin Newsom in SF, have been somewhat forced to lead the charge on those issues in order to avoid being impaled by their left flank. And both men are regarded as being way too out there for their national parties to recognize that they exist.
Romney of course has got the hardest line to tread on the gay marriage issue – it was forced on him by the courts and he obviously could do without it. He personally has to deal with his Mormon upbringing – the LDS excommunicate gays when even the Catholics don’t. Then there’s the conservative Republicans who hate gays at the urging of James Dobson, Jesus, Ecclesiasticus or someone else more than 2000 years old. Those are the ones who will (likely not) vote for him in the primaries in 2008. But then he has to deal with his current constituents, so it’s a little tricky because he has to talk out of both sides of his mouth.
Newsom took a good look at the national polls, which show that young people don’t care much about the gay issue and that even oldsters are caring less. As his national ambitions can wait until those youngsters get older, he figured that out that neutralizing his pesky left flank was well worth the flack he’d get for the gay marriage stance from the befuddled wuses that run the national Democratic party. Getting lots of publicity was a bonus too, and now he has no effective political opposition on his home turf and is regularly touted for national office.
Interestingly the homes of these two ambitious politicians, Massachusetts and San Francisco, are also the only places where there’s anything approaching a serious political discussion about universal health care. Earlier this year Romney signed a universal coverage bill in Massachusetts which has somewhat mythical accounting behind it, but is based on an individual mandate. Despite a symbolic veto which he knew would be overturned, Romney’s bill also includes a teeny employer mandate. If employers don’t cover their employees, then they get fined a derisory amount (which is far less than the cost of providing said benefits). But the main funds for the new system come from a combination of diverting Federal funds and charging individuals for their coverage.


Posted by Matt Holt at 11:19 PM | Permalink

Breaking a Caterpillar Upon A Wheel?


So Ben Domenech’s tenure as the token conservative blogger at the Washington Post is over. The real journalists are all in a huff about plagiarism. And the more aggressive of my fellow travelers on the left are enjoying the moment. But I have to ask, is what he did wrong that big a deal?

I don’t know Ben — obviously my fellow Spot-oner Josh Trevino does, having co-founded with him —and equally obviously I don’t agree with 99% of his political views. In addition, what happens to one young conservative punk don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. There’s plenty more opportunist cannon fodder to take his place.


Posted by Matt Holt at 11:20 AM | Permalink

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