Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Nine-Eleven State of Mind (lessness)

The official mantra being intoned ad infinitum throughout the world today is "Never forget."

But notwithstanding the surface appearance of soul-searching with all the maudlin remembrances by the mainstream media in the wake of the "official" end to the Afghanistan War, there's still quite a bit of selective memory at work to help keep the mythology of "we were attacked for no reason other than they hate us for our freedoms" alive. The common 20th anniversary critique still hinges mainly on the overreaction to the attack by our leaders, and not what caused the attacks in the first place: the abandonment by the CIA of its Al Qaeda creation and its valuable asset in the proxy war against the then-USSR - a disgruntled Saudi ex-royal named Osama bin Laden.

As you probably heard, the CIA has embarked on a marketing campaign to display its softer side through the magic of Woke-Washing. As long as they hire more women and ethnic groups to prove their diversity cred while not actually diverging from their core mission of relentless regime changes, dirty wars and other rogue activities, then it's all good.

The New York Times's Maureen Dowd, therefore, dutifully bashed the "toxic masculinity" and machismo of the Bush and Trump administrations as the root cause for post-9/11 insanity and war, while also owning that such female hawks as Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton were enablers of same. But Hillary was mentioned only insofar that as a senator, she had voted with the Bushies to invade Iraq. Left unmentioned by Dowd was her later outsize role, as Obama's secretary of state, in the war of aggression against Libya and its oil.

Dowd actually characterized the media-hyped nutritious sandwich filling that was Barack Obama a "respite" from GOP male supremacy.

My response to the Times:

The "respite" that was the Obama presidency is a matter of style rather than substance. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations revealed in 2016 that his administration had dropped an average of 72 bombs a day, for a grand total of 26,171 in just that one year alone. Obama also vastly improved upon Bush's deadly record by expanding the secretive Special Ops campaigns to more than 70 percent of the entire globe, or 138 separate countries. So is it righteous to give Obama a pass for a "respite" just because he was the model of adult discretion and didn't wear his macho bellicosity on his sleeve like the oafish Bush and Trump? I think not, but telling the truth might destroy the carefully marketed mythology. Maureen Dowd does have a point about women leaders not being more peace-loving and kind than men. Who can ever forget Madeline Albright enthusing that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children during Clinton-era sanctions were "worth it?" And then there was Hillary Clinton laughingly bragging that "we came, we saw, he died" upon receiving news that Libyan president Gaddafi had just been sodomized to death with a bayonet. Libya, by the way, has become a modern slavery marketplace since Clinton played a major role in the "humanitarian intervention." The official "forever war" in Afghanistan may be over as far as US boots on the ground are concerned. Try telling that to the seven Afghan children killed by a US Reaper drone strike just the other week.

9/11/21:The Usual Suspects Perform

It could have been worse. George W. could have shown up and shared another piece of candy with Michelle while Bruce Springsteen crooned and strummed to the crowd in an act of anesthetized and sanitized remembrance.


Jay–Ottawa said...

In the list of watershed events in US history, 9/11 ranks high, very high. The hijackers, now in hell presumably, might console themselves with that. They must have had a bellyful of hate to willingly give themselves over as suicide bombers for the blowback of 9/11. Ridiculous to say they hated us for our freedoms. They were not jealous; they were exceedingly angry and believed they were acting in behalf of millions around the world. Their targets for obliteration on that day tell us exactly what they hated: the almighty dollar, represented by the World Trade Center; death, destruction and dominance, represented by the Pentagon; and hypocrisy, represented by the whited Capitol (the last of which lucked out thanks to passengers on United Airlines 93). What the hijackers accomplished in the long term was to trick the empire itself down the path to suicide.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Just saw the film Worth on Netflix. No matter whoever the hell made (or let) 9/11 happen, the initial victims were the thousands who died in those buildings. Worth does a good job reminding us of their stories and the impossible challenge for the Washinton-appointed Special Master to compensate the victims' survivors. A surprisingly affecting story for one centered on the crass lawyerly exercise of putting an equal sign between each life and its dollar value.

Erik Roth said...

The Anniversary of 9/11 is a Great Day to Reflect on Republican Hypocrisy —
GOP pols in the Bush years set the constitution afire and cheered America’s march toward authoritarianism, but now want you to know Joe Biden has them Petrified For Democracy. Are you laughing yet?
9/11/202 ~ by Matt Taibbi

September 11’s Never-Ending Story —
Looking back on two decades of media self-censorship, scapegoating and stenography

US Spent $21 Trillion on War and Militarization Since 9/11 —
September 11, 2021 ~ by Lindsay Koshgarian, OtherWords

A 9/11 Reflection: Remember “Their” Crimes, Forget “Ours” —
September 11, 2021 ~ by Paul Street

Instead of a ‘War on Terror,’ imagine if we spent the last 20 years fighting climate change —
At the dawn of the new millennium, we directed our national resources in the exact wrong direction.
But it’s not too late to turn things around.
Sept. 10, 2021 (originally published by In These Times on Sept. 7, 2021) ~ by Sarah Lazare

Saudi 9/11 Role Still Hidden by US Government —
9/11/2021 ~ by Russ Baker

9/11 and the Saudi Connection —
Mounting evidence supports allegations that Saudi Arabia helped fund the 9/11 attacks.
September 11, 2021 ~ by Eric Lichtblau, James Risen

Kat said...

I think Tulsi put it best. What a brave critic of empire she is:

Jay–Ottawa said...

Thanks for the heads up, Kat. I didn't realize Gabbard was that thoroughly
Hindu. She intends to ruffle the waters for attention with that tweet, calculating that she'll win more political ground than she loses, at least in the U.S., with such a sweeping statement against "the Islamic ideology."

Mark Thomason said...

I sent a similar comment to the NYT about Hillary's role. They waited 24 hours to post it, until nobody would see it. Meanwhile, things agreeing with their take went up all day. I had actually given up, and figured they'd never publish it at all.

Disagreeing with them is not longer much use. They no longer even pretend to other than their own partisan bias.

Karen Garcia said...


I don't think they posted mine at all- at least I never got the customary email notification, I very rarely bother any more. Long gone are the days when I would read articles mainly for the pushback-type
comments. The section is increasingly depressing. The #2 comment on the emergency rental assistance program characterized struggling renters as "squatters". So much for that storied liberal bias.

Mark Thomason said...

I have kept trying. Habit. It has gotten worse, steadily worse. It is not just bad, it is noticeably sliding, ever worse.

I do notice that the comments include real nastiness. I don't know if those are new, or they are allowing it through, or even selecting for it.

Your example of struggling renters as squatters is a good example. Nobody seems to notice that landlords have no hope of being paid for the year or more of down time unless the assistance program starts to work, so they stand to lose too, not just "squatters." Comments just hate on those hurt the worst by a widespread shutdown of the economy that hit us all more or less, clawing each other down. Are these people new, or were they screened out before but screened in now, and now put first up too?

I'm not sure anymore what I am seeing in this hot mess.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Mark and Karen,

Forgive me for telling you what you already know: the NYT is a propaganda sheet, not a dependable news source with a truly open forum. You may continue to submit comments, but don't expect different results from what you just described. When it comes to the NYT comments section, you're out; those echoing the party line are in. This has been increasingly so for years. Believe your lying eyes.

Mark Thomason said...

Jay–Ottawa -- "This has been increasingly so for years."

I have been submitting near daily comments for over 20 years. Yes, I see that it has been changing, "increasingly so for years." Clearly.

What I don't understand is what has changed inside the NYT. Is it the Editor, the owners, the marketing to on line audiences, changes in the moderators, some other things?

Most of the columnists and leading reporters are the same, and while they have *huge* limitations those are not new. That content source has the same really for longer than the 20 years of our Forever Wars, before the Dubya years and the rest, all fed for my lifetime by the same insider "sources" of lies from nameless bureaucrats.

Yet clearly things are changing, in a long and continuing slide.

Worse, there is no large source that is better. This is as good as it gets, but for independent outlets that screamed in outrage the whole time, but without ever showing real impact on events.

Karen Garcia said...

Jay and Mark,

The huge uptick in subscriptions and profits in the wake of the Trump victory and parallel Russiagate franchise made for a huge uptick in suddenly politically-engaged (and fearful) people writing comments. Previously, the Times had been struggling. Not as many people contributed to the comment sections, which. when I first began chiming in more than a decade ago, had allowed for 5,000-character essays. This was later reduced to 2,500 and finally to 1,500. Many contributors in the olden days were virtual shadow columnists, some of whom even developed cult followings. For the most part, the most popular commenters were progressive/leftist. There was still an algorithm at work, which saw many of our comments rejected or delayed for days at a time, but this orchestrated suppression was nothing like it is now.

Then there were the years of "verified" commenting, which I always had mixed feelings about. A lot of excellent contributors were not selected for it, and there was never an adequate explanation for who got picked or who didn't. In 2016, he Times had asked me to participate in a regular readers' election season forum and had even arranged for a
photographer to come to my apartment for publicity shots. Shortly before Trump was elected, though, this project was abruptly cancelled without explanation, the lead community moderator soon after quit or was fired, and the "verified" commenting system was discontinued.

It's all about the clicks and the money. The Times is no longer so much a newspaper as it is a multimedia streaming platform like Netflix, a platform where Ezra Klein has a "show" as well as a column. It even got rid of its local coverage in its transformation to the
monstrosity it is now. It makes no pretense of not being an integral part of the Democratic Party, which itself is an adjunct of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the CIA/"deep state" - in other words, the permanent ruling class.

If they won't allow me to keep my special introductory $4 a month subscription rate as they did last fall when I tried to cancel, then I will definitely be canceling next month when it expires again. Sometimes it feels like being in an abusive relationship.

With its staff of thousands, The Times does manage to do excellent investigative journalism once in awhile, plus it's fun in a gruesome kind of way to parse all the blatant propaganda, despite the fact that it's become so transparent and so sloppy that there is no longer that much sport in it. Favorite parlor games: detecting how many of its scare or falsely rosy headlines have nothing to do with the story and betting on how many paragraphs it will take to find the buried lede or even the complete ass-covering disavowal of the lede.

Mark Thomason said...

I agree with everything you just wrote.

However, I have a nagging feeling of something that remains unexplained, not yet revealed to me.

For timing, I see it in the capture of the NYT by the Democratic Party machine as part of the Hillary campaign and then her Russiagate excuse factory. The how, the mechanism of it, remains obscure to me.

I don't think an economic motive fully explains this. Yes, it had a role, and it was made to work as an financial method. However, my nagging feeling is that its start and its prime motive were not economics, that was just a nice side effect discovered along the way.

The inside story will be found in how Team Hillary captured it for the 2016 Campaign, and then how they hung on to it after that.

Some part of that must be that Trump discredited the Republican factions that had before maintained some countervailing influence at the NYT. Perhaps it was just an opportunity seized by Democrats. But that is a level of competence in realizing and exploiting opportunity that is beyond what I know of the Democratic Party (or Republican for that matter). They just are not built as highly competent operations able to exploit momentary opportunity.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Bear with me as I reach for religious metaphors. According to some theologians it seems as though we never quite lose our souls completely. Even a Pol Pot unconsciously holds back a little goodness ever susceptible to the miracle of salvation. The soul is like an invisible thimble of mercury poured on a surface, some of it momentarily separated and running over there, the rest motionless over here, always with the potential to be rejoined in artful form.

We –– as well as corporations the Supreme Court has declared as good as persons –– are good and bad deeply tangled. The New York Times is like that: less and less goodness to be found on the page according to true-left measure but not all bad. In fact, still the best available, bad at it is. The question for close readers is "do we continue to subscribe" with so much mercury, so much soul, badly contaminated?

I've heard NYT subscriber numbers have become the envy of big media journalism. At last they've found and settled into a profitable niche. Yet much of their mercury has blended with the sullied corporate-military-industrial-educational complex.

It's always about this time in the discussion that I raise the flag of boycott. These mercurial corporate souls are only attuned to the sound of money. Art, virtue, duty, shame mean nothing to them. You won't save them by giving them more money but by threatening them with poverty.

The prodigal son came home when he was broke. So will the Gray Lady when she realizes she's broke from dropped subscriptions and become the lady-in-waiting to swine.

Kat said...

Maureen Dowd isn't even a reporter. She's just an op ed writer and one of the lower sort even among the columnists. She deals in gossip which she likes to present as revealing deeper truths and surely not because she is lazy. She always seems to have the knives out for women in particular. She focuses on those at the top. In the news section it is quite possible to find reporting that features and tells the stories of ordinary Americans. There is some good reporting! I am excluding their reporting on Trump voters which they get terribly wrong. They are under the impression that his base is working class for some reason.
As far as NYT comments go, they are pretty centrist. They are equality of opportunity liberals. So, they might be in favor of things like single payer or free college education and believe these are the things that make Scandinavian countries equal-- but they are oblivious to the union density and other policies that lessen inequality in those countries. They think CRT goes a little too far (not that CRT is being taught outside of some institutions of higher education). They are only in favor of milquetoast reforms to policing. And they, like the right, believe cancel culture on campus is an actual problem.

Kat said...

And I forgot the big one-- the readers are most definitely anti open borders. Just read the comments to the story on the Haitian refugees. They sure deny American culpability in creating these crises. The comments are for the most part, stomach turning, as are the accompanying photos. How can people be so cold? I guess turning refugees away is always going to be a political winner unfortunately.