Sunday, September 10, 2006

9.11.06


Five Years.

For all the now-forgotten Y2K prattle over when exactly it is that a century actually ends, there is no doubt anymore anywhere when the 21st Century began.

It began five years ago, roaring out of our nightmares and down out of the sky.

Everyone has their memories of that day. Private memories of smells and stares and sobs, and tribal, national memories that fused us all-too-briefly together in a way unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

There is no need for fancy writing to retell a story that has already become as familiar to us as the faces of our families. You saw three thousand people murdered same as me. Some of you saw it in an airport lounge. Some crowded around a television in a break room. Some at home, with three phones going.

Some of you had to sweep the ashes of the dead out of your homes, or wash it out of your hair. I can’t image what that must have been like, which is why ornate words fail.

This generation is not going off to fight a Nazi horde who have conquered Europe, or a Great Depression that has beaten us down into poverty and despair. Instead, living though these times is our destiny, and the outcome is not fixed in the stars or fated in our genes.

We can each choose to stand and fight where we can as best we can, or we can choose to lie down and let this beautiful, consensual hallucination called America die, but never doubt the choice is ours.

Five years ago the specific job of taking point on that mission -- of guiding us through our particular, bewildering tangle of culture, rage, modernity, technology, faith and globalization -- fell to George W. Bush.

And he has failed us.

He has failed this country in ways so numerous, comprehensive and catastrophic they would have been incomprehensible to us on September 10, 2001.

In a backwater era of threatened only by 11% inflation and small, faraway wars, Bush would have come and gone as another forgettable, one-term chief executive, like the whiskered what’s-their-names who pad out the 19th Century White House rolls. He would have been remembered primarily for the historical quirk of being the second man to follow his father by name and title into the White House, and he would have faded into the substrate of historical trivia, a relatively harmless nobody.

But instead he was here -- foisted on us by a minority of voters and a slim majority of judges -- in our hour of need, and for the last five years he has failed every test.

Every test of manhood and bravery.

Of competence and of compassion.

Of seriousness.

Of focus.

Of clarity.

Of leadership.

Of statecraft.

He stands tall today only among a hard core minority of hardwired acolytes and bigots and their panic-peddling media because only in the dark AntiAmerica of their imaginations does a creature like George Bush shine.

Only in their nightmare vision of a nation kept intentionally terrified and on its knees can a man like George Bush have stature.

He has -- in the space of five years -- lost American cities, treasure, credibility, armies and wars. Outside of Jefferson Davis in the last days of the Confederacy, how many American leaders can match a record of failure that spectacular?

Not since Gorbachev presided over the annihilation of Chernobyl, the bloody defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan and the collapse of his empire, has one human being been so present at the destruction of his nation’s institutions.

However the comparison with Gorbachev falls tragically short in two particulars.

First, Gorbachev inherited a decrepit system that was almost fully necroted and ready for the grave. Bush, on the other hand, inherited a nation that was prosperous, at relative peace, and which enjoyed a bottom-line of respect -- grudging or otherwise -- from most of the community of nations. Bush, on the other hand, has been instrumental in our downfall: it has been on his watch and with his wholehearted and energetic support that America was driven off the cliff and into cataclysm.

Second, I delighted in the fall of the Soviet Empire: the implosion of that stifling tyranny was all to the good. But I miss America. The America that could have been. The America whose ideals I adore. The America who, by drags and stumbles and sometimes at the point of a rifle, tried to move a little closer to a more perfect union.

George Bush is an insult to that America.

A living insult to our honored dead.

It has been an awful five years. Awful. Awful for the terrible losses of that day, and for the arrogant squandering of the rare opportunities those terrible losses bequeathed to us. And since fancy words fail, I fall back on music like I often do.

On this film of David Bowie in concert



for the words and music that most fit the way my heart feels when I see these images and think about the history of these last five years.


Pushing thru the market square,

so many mothers sighing


News had just come over,

we had five years left to cry in


News guy wept and told us,

Earth was really dying


Cried so much his face was wet,

then I knew he was not lying


I heard telephones, opera house,

favourite melodies


I saw boys, toys

electric irons and T.V.'s


My brain hurt like a warehouse,

it had no room to spare


I had to cram so many things

to store everything in there


And all the fat-skinny people,



and all the tall-short people



And all the nobody people,



and all the somebody people



I never thought I'd need so many people


A girl my age went off her head,

hit some tiny children


If the black hadn't a-pulled her off,

I think she would have killed them


A soldier with a broken arm,



fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac



A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest,



and a queer threw up

at the sight of that


I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour,


drinking milk shakes cold and long


Smiling and waving and looking so fine


don't think you knew

you were in this song


And it was cold and it rained

so I felt like an actor


And I thought of Ma

and I wanted to get back there



Your face, your race,

the way that you talk


I kiss you, you're beautiful,

I want you to walk



We've got five years,

stuck on my eyes


Five years,

what a surprise


We've got five years,

my brain hurts a lot


Five years,

that's all we've got



We've got five years, what a surprise

Five years, stuck on my eyes

We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot

Five years, that's all we've got

Five years
Five years
Five years
Five years

44 comments:

tech98 said...

I've always compared Bush to Brezhnev, a mediocre party hack hoisted way above his level of competence. A willfully ignorant, perfumed corrupt fuck obsessed with his privileges and status, as an executive mostly concerned with papering on a faux image of success while institutions rotted from within. Architect of the panicked, ill-conceived and disastrous invasion of Afghanistan which sapped the capabilities and destroyed the confidence of the Red Army.
Brezhnev, it was said, was the kind of hack who, when his colleagues were looking with dismay upon a decrepit scene of Soviet urban life, would simply shut the curtains and pretend it wasn't there.

See any parallels?

But Brezhnev's failures were to the world's benefit, while Chimp's will hurt us all in ways we cannot yet fathom.

basilbeast said...

Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Jer. 31:15

Jeremiah wasn't much listened to either.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Drift - where do we go from here?

dj

eddie blake said...

....speachless...

that was BEAUTIFUL...

...MELANCHOLY....

...and RAGE-STOKING..


...all at the same time..

...Bowie would be PROUD..

US Blues said...

DG: delivering the goods, brilliant and poignant, once again.

beq said...

Well done.

cleter said...

wow.

fahrender said...

amen.

now, let's go out and do something about it.

PwapVt said...

You rock drifty.

Bludog said...

Really very nice piece --

justme said...

Shit, drifty.

I'm not supposed to get weepy at work.

Karen McL said...

YoUrs is about the Only *9/11 In Memorium* post I can read.

*weep*

Erik said...

Nicely done...I'm going to link from my site. Thanks.

Truth & Beauty...

Gay Veteran said...

"...the simple truth is that there is something terribly wrong with this country...."

V for Vendetta

Gentlewoman said...

Thanks, driftglass.

Scout said...

goosebumps.

g1lgam3sh said...

Outstanding .. that's it really, just outstanding.

jurassicpork said...

Damn, dude. That's more worthy of being linked on Crooks and Liars than prolly any damned thing that I've ever had linked there.

I'll have to become a better blogger now becausae of this and step it up a notch. ;-)

Good work, dude. Keep up the good fight.

tomkitty said...

Wonderful. Just wonderful. Thank you for this.

Masher1 said...

Most Excelent post. Very good Job.

Anonymous said...

“To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men” Abraham Lincoln
George Bush is to blame for nothing. He was what he was and he is what he is. The collective blame falls to us. The political state of this country is no ones fault but the peoples (US). This is was not and is not the Soviet Union (yet). We can and do express our will. However, only one person stood up in the United States Senate and spoke out against the most egregious power grab of post 9/11, the PATRIOT Act. What has happened in the past five years has been our failure to stop what is being done in our names. This is an ongoing experiment in a government of by and for the people and if we do not act like it then there is no one to blame but ourselves. We ‘vote’ in many ways besides the ballot box and we have been voting for what we have for a long time. It is now time to resolve to change what we abhor or stand in silence in the world.
Beautiful post.

annie said...

Dang drifty you continue to best your self. I've been lurking around making you my first stop every day for well over a year now and am constantly amazed at your ability to put what I feel into words. When I see you linked at C&L, I feel sort of maternal towards you and think "that's my boy"! Keep fighting the good fight.

SongCoyote said...

Dear Driftglass,

What did 9/11 cost me? It cost me nothing.

I don't know anyone who lived there at the time. I didn't lose any family. I don't know anyone personally who lost any family (though in one case it was a near thing - by 1.5 hours). I was not directly, personally, materially affected by the tragedy. So: I lost nothing.

Except that sharp and shining light of innocence, jaded though I am in all too many ways. I am not a "Patriot", and I am a conscientious objector to service in the armed forces... but I love America and the hopes and dreams and freedoms we enjoy here - and the great privelege we have simply to live in this horrendously rich country.

I lost nothing except an edge of hope that, dammit, we can all get along. And then I saw that edge blunted further as more and more horrors were heaped upon the world, with so few of them actually seeming to touch the current administration.

I have protested, and written letters, and supported - monetarily and otherwise - rebuilding and peace efforts. I have made my voice heard, if not as much as I might. And dammit, my voice is getting more and more pissed off.

I thank you for taking the time to create such a moving, heartfelt, and personally honest memorial. Peace be with you, and may love be in every heart.

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, Drifty..........Sigh, sniff, sob. A memorial that is truly worthy of those that are gone forever and of the fleeting feeling of innocence that is now totally wiped away from our collective eyes.
I am NOT watching the Chimp-in-charge tonight of all nights as he broadcasts from the Oval office. I would be far too infuriated and that would not be productive. It would gall me to hear him take the memory of 9/11 and turn it into, yet again, another chance for the RNC to score points. Your salute to the memory of that day is truly on target and it really moved me.
Thanks,
Crazygrrl_in_Mass

clarke said...

Jesus. That's one of the best things I've ever seen.

And no, I will not "narrow it down a little." In the category of Things That I've Seen, that piece falls under the subheading of Best Ever.

And I've seen a not-insubstantial number of things.

I've been wanting to cry all day. Thanks for the assist.

dmg said...

oh my god.
that was tremendously powerful, literally unforgettable.
your words so focused on the target, the music and pictures so brilliantly matched.

in a day that has been unusually difficult to get through, you offer a dose of catharsis and a call for action, all at once.
thanks, man.
thanks.

cieran said...

Sir DG:

Yours is first among blogs, as always. Great work!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Brought a tear to my eye. Well done.

-Stu

driftglass said...

Thank you, most sincerely, one and all.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me. A friend of mine posted a friend of yours post to this... I would very much like to share it with my friends on my blog... may I?

regardless, thank you.
(((huzg)))
Metta

from Livejournal.com

Loveandlight said...

Implications that people in power in the government may have been complicit in 9/11 may not be welcome here, and because it's Uncle Drifty's blog, he's at liberty to delete this if he so chooses.

This website, however, contends some things that it endeavors to back up with hard physical science, and if the claims made here are true, the time for saying only things that people want to hear is long since passed.

expatjourno said...

Oh, God. I'm still weeping. How did it come to this?

I'd like to see that run as a TV commercial. Those bastards.

Gay Veteran said...

loveandlight: it would not suprise me that Bush-Nero deliberately looked the other way (and I'm not saying they did), but this regime is too fu*king incompetent to have pulled off 9/11. They couldn't organize an orgy in a whorehouse.

Anonymous said...

Drift,

I envy you the ability to express yourself like you do.

When I think back on the disbelief, the horror, the realisation that I had neglected my education severely in not understanding how, and why, a thing like this could happen to America, the dawning realisation that I had been living in a fairy tale about my native land, the mounting disgust and anger at how the world's compassion and support was refused, ridiculed and then subverted into a grab for power... and then November 2004.

Words fail me.

Thankyou for being there as you are.

I pity America. I will not wish her ill, but I cannot wish her well.

driftglass said...

Metta,
Fine with me.

tnarey said...

Haaa haa haa, It's great to see another fine example of BDS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_Derangement_Syndrome

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure about BDS but I know I don't like to be misled and provided false information to support the war in Iraq. What John Murtha says makes sense to me. rapidapprove

tnarey said...

What John Murtha says makes sense to me.

To what, Cut & Run. & start becoming isolationists?

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Enlightenment said...

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

gruaud said...

Ah, what bitter tears I shed.