A Danger To The Republic Part III

Listen to the chants; they happen at almost every Republican rally.  I’m not talking about, “Drill Baby Drill” (which has more double entendre possibilities than could even be explored in just a few short pages).  I’m talking about the groundswell of a chant, the one that starts after some supposedly patriotic statement has been made by some supposedly patriotic individual (my apologies to the REAL Republican patriots out there, you know who you are).  It will begin innocently by one individual and spread throughout the crowd like fire in a a pure oxygen atmosphere.  It is that “USA” chant, and what may have once been a source of pride, is sounding more like a mandatory rallying cry at a local Bund meeting, or heavens help us; a full scale replica of the 1932 Nuremberg Rallies.  You can hear it in that distinction if you listen carefully from another room and hear it over and over again; in much the same cadence that those chants from Nuremberg echoed through the air.  You don’t even have to see the images played in front of you, you can see them in your mind.

That was my experience while listening to the Republican Convention when I was in my office writing.  Those chants would rise up, and suddenly the world would turn black and white, and Leni Riefenstahl would be swooping down all over the arena trying to get the best shot possible, and if it wasn’t just perfect enough…we’d do it again.  If you know “Triumph of the Will”, director Riefenstahl’s magnificent opening scene is something to behold.  The movie starts out slowly, as Hitler descends from the heavens on an airplane to convene a rally of the newly-elected Nazi Party in Nuremberg.  The thousands upon thousands of people chanting “Heil!” throughout is an experience you never forget.  The nighttime rallies with huge cauldrons of flame and masses of people carrying torches are indelible images, and iconic ones of Nazi Germany.  This was not just a movie…it was a DOCUMENT, like so much of what the Nazis made because they were certain the Third Reich would last 1000 years.

Eventually, I had to capitulate and watch some of the Convention.  Of course I just HAD to see Noun-Verb 9/11 Giuliani (can we get him his own Palin name from that Internet Palin Baby Name generator?).  There he was, his comb-over long gone (along with his second wife and whatever relationship he had with his kids), standing in front of a giant view of NYC from the Jersey side on a huge screen behind him…with the two Towers prominently missing.  As he slowly started to work up the crowd, the chant kept coming, and coming…and I looked at the faces at the people, and they were exactly the same frozen faces of adulation of over 70 years before.  All that was missing were the torches and the cauldrons, but I don’t think Minneapolis Fire Codes would have permitted that.  He was soaking up the chants of “USA!  USA!  USA!” in the same rhythmic cadence that the people of Germany threw at their leaders 76 years ago.

What was readily apparent at that last Republican Convention was that the old political party was DOA.  It was replaced with a group of Neoconservatives and Evangelicals who plan on carrying out a very frightening agenda: nothing less than the total domination of a good part of the planet, all under the guise of “freedom under God”, for lack of a better term.  Two ideologies for the price of one.  One side gets to have their cronies and supportive corporations get rich; the othr gets to save the souls of the sinners as we sweep across the globe in glorious triumph bringing the light of civilization with us.  Or perhaps the torch and cauldron too.

In the past few days we have had monumental events happen in the United States: a major hurricane that has decimated a great deal of Texas; two days where the stock market dropped a total of 945 points (or roughly 9% of its total volume), one major Financial Institution went belly-up, another was bought by Bank of America, and now the Feds are bailing out AIG by giving them a loan in return for an 80% stake in the company.  Congratulations!  You now own part of AIG!  (I wonder if we get to see a dividend or get a discount?)  Governor Moosebrain and her McCain lackey’s are trying to stop an investigation which she earlier agreed to support with her openly cooperating, bringing attention to a matter which should have been trivial…at least on the surface.  When you get a cadre of eager attorneys sent up the the frozen North to work on what appeared to be a small, local affair…that means there’s more to what’s going on up there than is even on the blogs, let alone the MSM.  Like the break in to a certain psychiatrists office, the firing of a beloved State Official could be the tip of an iceberg of corruption that would keep Polar Bears away; they’d rather take their chances with global warming and the North Atlantic than go near this one.  McCain is reeling backward on the road, in his speeches, and it’s starting to show in the polls.

While it certainly looks as if the light of day is finally beginning to shine through the fog of falsehoods and outright lies, don’t count these people out yet.  It’s not just the potential for voter fraud which is a danger to the Republic, it’s the voters themselves.  WE are the danger to the Republic.  Sooner or later this race is going to come down to some dirty politics and sheer stupidity, all of which the American Public will eat up heartily like Aunt Mary’s Irish Stew.  Americans love their politics with a certain amount of dirt and tainted information, and those who don’t usually will not be heard because their voices are lost in the cries of “USA!” in a rally somewhere.  Dissent is not permitted.  Do not question what is being put in front of you, be it Republican or Democrat.  Do not ask any more questions than you have to.  Accept the answers as the truth, and go about your business.  Move along, nothing to see here…

Americans cannot, and will not, think out of the political box.  If we did, there sure as hell would be more than two major Political Parties in the United States.  If we thought outside of the box, we would have qustioned George W Bush’s service record more closely and ask him just what he was doing for a few weeks when he was AWOL.  If we thought outside the box, we would have tried to put the brakes on the Iraq War and pressure our Representatives and Senators to get concrete, indisputabe evidence that should be presented OPENLY infront of the American People.  If we thought outside the box we would not have taken impeachment immediately off the table when the Dems came into power; we would have had enough evidence to put both the President and Vice President through the impeachment process, remove them from office, and charge them with war crimes.

The problem is, we like to compartmentalize everything and place it into little boxes that we cannot get out of.  We have created our own prison, and we are jailer and inmate at the same time.  We have the key to free ourselves, we just don’t use it.  The true danger to the Republic is not one man, or political party…it is US, the American Voter who would rather do what they are told and believe whatever you are told in whatever box you have placed yourself in.  The biggest danger to the Republic is the American Citizen.

So while the Neocons go off and try to force democracy and freedom and our version of God down someone’s threat as we hold a gun to their head and tell them to accept it like some modern day Spanish Inquisition, we must remember this.

Freedom is not given at the point of a gun, nor is it “allowed” by Government. It is the birthright of everyone on this world. Freedom to BE who and what you are, and the RIGHT to carry that journey with no interference from anyone with no harm to anyone.

Our Founders knew this to be true. Our Constitution GUARANTEES the Freedom of the Journey that I just described. It is up to the individual to take that opportunity for “life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness”.

We just need to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our Founders and take this journey honestly, with no hesitation and no doubts. We have the means to achieve that in this Election and we should be faithful to the trust they put in us to maintain their idea of a “more perfect Union”. We cannot be a Union if we are Divided…Lincoln and the brave men in our costliest war proved that, and died for the cause.

Lincoln said it better than I ever could:

“The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. -Abraham Lincoln”

TOMORROW: the next to last part of the Republic Series.  Both of these final pieces will deal exclusively with John McCain:  “A Danger To The Republic Part IV: John McCain”

An Angry Interlude

Before I go off an post the next installment of the “Republic” series in a few hours, I  need to acknowledge a few things, and make you aware of others.

The MSM has been totally downplaying the disastrous situation that is unfolding in Houston right now, as people are without food, water, power, and gasoline.  This coming from several bloggers who have witnessed lines at supermarkets that stretch around the block, hundreds at the check-out counters, and fights breaking out between people over everything and all of the above.  This is not pretty, and most of it involves the complete failure on the part of FEMA to get their shit together.

I have a friend who volunteered a few weeks ago in Louisiana after Gustav, and she said that the BRAND NEW FEMA SHELTER was a joke: a kitchen with no way to cook anything, sewage drains that backed up into the building because of bad plumbing, no air conditioning, and having hundreds of evacuees dumped on the shelter when they informed the FEMA people that the place was not safe.  FEMA was carting these people around like cattle.  It appears that the same is going on with the survivors of Ike; and NO ONE IS COVERING THIS.  Granted, we have a massive Financial Crisis on our hands; but we are forgetting about displaced and disgusted Human Beings who are trying to survive.  THIS IS AMERICA, DO SOMETHING GODDAMNIT!  Help get this story out in your Blogs.  AND MAKE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES AWARE OF IT AS WELL, because they are not mentioning a damned thing.

I’ll post something later…but right now this has me pissed off like you have no idea.  This is a cover-up by the government and the media to hide the incompetence of FEMA and the rest of the clowns at the so-called Homeland Security Department.  GET OFF YOUR FAT BUREAUCRATIC ASSES AND DO SOMETHING!

UPDATE: LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE FINALLY GOT THE MESSAGE: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26762567/

The Unheralded Paragons

In my former life (which seems a million miles away these days), I used to be a Vice President for JPMorgan Chase.  Yes, your long haired once a hippie always a hippie, ex-burn out and formerly drunken scribe, used to work in Corporate America.  As in Ivory Tower Corporate America…for 17 years at JPMC no less.  I dealt with people who existed in what I used to call the “Adminisphere”.  That’s the place where you go when your Title and Pay Grade take you to where the air is thin because you are going higher up in the Ivory Tower.  Well, I was on the border of the Adminisphere at the higher echelon of Middle Management; I dealt almost exclusively with Senior Veeps and above…hence, a really good idea of what The Adminisphere is, and where my layer of Corporate Atmosphere ended.

These are the guys who don’t want the details, all they want is everything condensed into a nice 10 page deck or Powerpoint presentation.  These are the guys who will love your presentation but will bitch about your font size and type.  These are the guys who will request another 10 page deck to a question they have when a simple answer from you at the meeting should have sufficed.  And these are the very same guys who, when they get into The Adminisphere, are handed their Golden Parachutes just in case they have to jump or are forced out of that Ivory Tower.  Or if it falls.  Oh, and one more thing…they will not hesitate to turn on each other and eat their young.

My old job used to involve incentives for a group of individuals in the bank; roughly 6,000 of them in fact.  I had a $28 million budget which I consistently managed to the penny and usually saved the Bank a few million dollars a year because there would be no waste.  I probably could have saved them a lot more, but we had the usual threats of legal action of a bonus wasn’t paid because of “X”, even though they really didn’t deserve it. (These were the real whiners in the economy, Ladies and Gentlemen, the ones who have and want MORE.)  Rather than deal with the lawsuit, we paid them to shut up.  I argued against it, it wasn’t the right thing to do in my book, but hey…it was their money.  If they wanted to spend it and waste the shareholders’ good faith, go ahead.  Such were the typical directives that came forth from the mighty Adminisphere.

I used to do quarterly bonus cycles, and one of those cycles just so happened to fall right during the first two weeks on September.  After the 9/11 attack, we had no office to go back to.  I worked out of my home, while others worked out of other corporate locations close to them while our building was supposedly being cleaned and decontaminated.  We would have a daily conference calls at the beginning and end of each day to review what we had done, and what we needed to do the next day.  Business partners who I dealt with (including the Adminisphere) had my home phone number where I could be reached so we could continue doing business as usual.  A number of people knew I was caught in the middle of the attack and were sympathetic, but just continued to go on as if nothing had happened.  Only one Executive really took the time to talk with me, ask about my family, was there anything she could do, etc.  Thank God for her, because without that one, lone soul to cling on to; my impression of Corporate America would have sunken even lower than it already was.  For the most part, it was all about the money.

Even though I was totally at the edge of a breakdown in those early days after the attack, I still managed to pay 6,000 people ON TIME and UNDER BUDGET.  Months later, my Boss (who is worthy of several posts on his own…definitely at another time) who was a complete and total anal retentive individual was harping on me for some little thing.  Maybe it was the size of the font in a deck, maybe it was his incessant looking over my shoulder to make sure that I worded an e-mail properly…who knows.  One day, I just turned to him and said, “You know , after 9/11 I managed to pay everyone on time with absolutely no waste in the budget, even though I was a basket case.  You think that one person ONE PERSON would have just said a simple , ‘Thank you for your hard work’ to me.  I just wanted to hear a thank you…I wasn’t interested in money.  Just a simple thank you note from some one Senior that would have been nice to have in my file.”

His response: “It was your job.”

It was at that moment that I realized that Corporate America and I were heading on an inevitable collision course that would come to a head a few years later and culminate in my having a nervous breakdown, going on disability, and eventually leaving the Company altogether.  It was at that moment that I realized that no matter how much hard work I put into my job, how hard I worked to get up high in the ranks, no matter what I could ever do…it was all for THEM.  THEY OWNED ME WHOLESALE, and that’s the way it is with anyone working for Corporate America today.  Just ask the 12,000 Lehman employees who are out of a job while their CEO walks away with a Golden Parachute of $22 million.  Just ask any poor soul working in an office, pushing papers, and keeping the economic engine running in a way that no one could imagine, and certainly no one recognizes.

After 9/11, people acknowledged the heroes of the Police and Fire Departments and First Responders (rightfully so).  The forgotten, Unheralded Paragons of that day and the days after were the thousands of people who worked in the Financial District and kept this country’s economy moving.  If it weren’t for them, then America would surely have collapsed economically seven years before it has.  If it weren’t for the Unheralded Paragons, going back day after day and endangering their physical and mental health, America would not have been able to exist.  Today, they still perform their thankless jobs for their Corporate Masters, upholding the economy while getting no recognition at all.  No ceremonies.  No bonuses.

Not even a thank you.

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” – James Madison

TOMORROW: A Danger To The Republic Part III

A Danger To The Republic: Part II

The biggest one day point drop on the NYSE happened today, and yet all we are hearing from the McCain Camp is: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”  The President said, “We can deal with these adjustments…”  ADJUSTMENTS?  STRONG ECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS?  WTF are these guys smoking, and how long have they been smoking it?  As a recovering alcoholic, I can usually tell you when someone’s had way too much to drink.  These two clowns are totally WASTED.  I have never, ever seen such callous disregard for compassion for the American people, let alone our intelligence.  Well, Johnny Boy and Chief Idiot, let me explain some basic economics to the two of you, OK?

The first lesson is this: housing drives the economy.  People build more houses; the industries that provide the materials for the houses contribute to the economy; the home buyer purchases long and short term durable goods and services; and banks and financial institutions are happy because all of this is due to a mortgage and a nice tidy little credit line they provide for their customers.  The same thing happens when you purchase an older home, only you put more of those construction guys to work on home repairs.  This is how it is supposed to work; this is something that is taught to you on the very first day of College Economics 101.  I remember it well, because it was one of the courses that were required of me to fulfill my Degree in Journalism.  Yes, even journalists are supposed to know something about the economy.

Another thing I always knew was that in order to get a loan, you had to have not only good credit, BUT A JOB to go with that.  You see?  That makes the American Dream come true for people: a job, a home they can own, and a sound economy.  So what did we get?  An Economy run amok by pure SPECULATION on how well the Housing Market would do.  Institutions bundled these mortgages into nice, little bundles and sold them off to investors.  One problem folks: a lot of those people who own those very same homes NEVER HAD A JOB OR AN INCOME OR GOOD CREDIT at the time they got those Mortgages because the Banks and Mortgage Brokers ALLOWED them to.  So did the Federal Government by deregulation of a good deal of the financial sector.

The Chief Idiot is supposed to have a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.  HARVARD.  I guess he really put that degree to good use when he ran a number of businesses into the ground in Texas.  I guess he really reached back into that vast cavernous echo chamber known as his brain, and pulled out some of that wisdom and applied it to the American Economy.  Johnny Boy has already said he doesn’t know much about Economics.  And today, after 500 points were lost on the NYSE; Lehman Brothers went belly-up and took with it who knows how many jobs; and Merrill Lynch was bought out by Bank Of America…the self- described non-Economist is just about even in the polls with Barack Obama.  Well, Johnny Boy…I hate to break it to you but you and your Frozen Phony Sidekick are in for a wake up call.  You better make sure you got this election fixed nice and tight Johnny Boy, because after today, your lead in the polls is gonna plummet.

I don’t want to hear the “change” mantra from you Johnny Boy, just like you were spewing out all day today saying how you’ll take on the Wall Street crowd and the Washington establishment and get it all fixed just fine.  The only “change” I think you can do with any appreciable skill is removing one Depends and putting on another.  The only “change” The Ice Princess knows is choosing a new pair of pumps or a handbag, all the while muttering under her breath “Bush Doctrine…gotta remember…Bush Doctrine…”.

For the past eight years, this Administration has done nothing but run up a defect to an all time high, the way I used to run up bar tabs.  Hell, at least I paid my bar tabs.  The biggest Pork Barrel project going right now is the Iraq War, at a cost to the American taxpayer of $10 BILLION a month.  Want change, Johnny Boy?  Let’s start there, because that’s one earmark that 4,000 families could have been better off having been removed by your big campaign trail Sharpie 5 years ago.  Want change Johnny Boy?  How about all those chances you had to say “no” to deregulation of the financial services sector?  How about all those tax cuts that you opposed on the basis of not being worthwhile unless you cut spending.  What happened to THAT John McCain, Johnny Boy?  The one who occasionally made sense…the one who didn’t side with the Chief Idiot 10 percent of the time.  I guess THAT John McCain has died a premature death because he sold his soul to the Right Wing of his Party.  He has been reincarnated as Herbert Hoover.

The true danger to the Republic is not only John McCain and the rest of the Republican Establishment who are CLEARLY responsible for this mess, it is also the Democrats in Congress who went along with the deregulation.  In fact, the entire Congress (mostly under Republican control from 2001-2006) has been too busy running a war we never should have gotten into in the first place, it ignored the economic warning signs over the past several years in the hope that the Market would “straighten itself out”.  It allowed Phil Graham to run rampant deregulating to the point that the protections that we once had in place since the Great Depression were gone.  Try that imaginary Recession on for size, Phil…and yes, I’m whining.  Just like millions of other Americans who are sick and tired of no one running an economy that needs to compete in the modern world.

Face it, we no longer control the world’s economy…the world controls US.  We are the biggest consumers and the biggest debtors.  We outsource our jobs to other countries taking away jobs from Americans.  Hell, we even outsourced the damned war by letting companies like Halliburton do everything…right down to cleaning the toilets.  (And no, the Virgin Mary would not be proud to…well, you know…).  Now, we have our major financial institutions going the way of the Dodo.  The fundamentals of this economy are not sound, Johnny Boy.  They might be for you and your 12 houses and your wife’s beer distributorship (which is no longer parented by an American Company; Annheiser-Busch is owned by a Dutch company).  The danger to the Republic is Congress’ ignorance of an economic meltdown and the American Public’s willingness to re-elect the very same people who got us into the mess in the first place.  The danger is electing a man who has NO CLUE on how to run an economy.  Yes, from the same Party who gave you the greatest crisis since the Great Depression comes…more of the same disasterous policies.  The greedy investors and corporations which tried go make a quick fortune got to dance for a while.  My father had a saying, “If you want to dance, you gotta pay the fiddler”.

Well, break out the fiddles folks, because Rome is burning.

“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.” – John Adams

TOMORROW: The Unheralded Paragons

A Danger To The Republic: Part I

My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” – Ronald Reagan

That was supposed to be a joke.  So is Sarah Palin.

Never before in my lifetime have I ever seen a more unfit and unqualified candidate for the office of The Vice President of the United States.  The frightening possibility is that she may very well become President due to the various health issues that have plagued Senator McCain in the past.  These, of course, are well documented.  It’s what is NOT documented that worries me.  John McCain has offered access to his medical records only ONCE, and they were released to the press in a room where no cameras, phones, or Internet devices were allowed.  They were only available for a few hours…THOUSANDS of pages; only for a few hours.  This is a frightening prospect because we have no idea about the complete medical picture of potentially the next President of The United States.  This video on You Tube offers some opinions by physicians and details of the data that was able to be accessed by the media:

When you enter that voting booth on November 4th, pretend that lever or button is the one connected to a frightening future of nuclear annihilation.  We are not just talking about John McCain here (I’ll get to him in another post), we are talking about the very real possibility that Sarah Palin could become the 45th President Of The United States due to her Boss’ current and/or future state of health.  It’s bad enough we are dealing with a man who most likely has Acute PTSD, a hair trigger temper and what looks like the onset of senility; we will be dealing with a woman who is clearly unprepared, unqualified, and unimaginable as President Of The United States.  She is not only a danger to this Republic, she is a danger to Humanity.

Consider her fast ascent in the Republican Party; which is now securely in the hands of the Right Wing Neocons and Evangelicals (READ: NUTCASES).  Why has she advanced so far in such a short amount of time?  Why is it that when there were so many other men and women (ESPECIALLY women) candidates who were eminently more qualified to be Vice President, McCain chose Palin?  If McCain was looking for a woman on the ticket, why not choose Kay Bailey Huchison or Olympia Snow; both of whom are very much in the Conservative camp, but are not Pro-Life?  Why indeed?

Palin’s rise seems too good to be true from the outside, but from within the Neocon Camp, it reads like the best script ever written.  Here we have everything the Neocons are looking for: Right Wing Right To Lifer (even MORE extreme than most Pro-Life candidates), NRA Credentials (lifelong member), tough image as a hunter and outdoors-type, mother of five.  She has slowly been groomed by the Alaskan Republicans to be in their inner circle while appearing to be outside of it; hence, her false image as a “Reformer and Maverick”.  She has been virtually unknown outside of Alaska…and THIS is the best part for the Neocons.

Anonymity.  Who needs Skull and Bones when we have Wolf and Antlers?  The PERFECT Vice Presidential Candidate to forward the Neocon Agenda even further and possibly ensureing McCain’s compliance as well.  The PERFECT Candidate to groom for her eventual succession to the Presidency either by death or election should McCain win in the fall.  The PERFECT Candidate with which to manipulate the public for two short months and get their attention while preparations are being made (just in case) to steal the election and ensure their continuation of power.  The PERFECT Candidate with which to deflect any attack or investigation into her short (and possibly corrupt) Political past by crying “sexism” at every available opportunity.  What a great tandem with the lies put forth on a daily basis by the McCain campaign in the hopes that if the public hear the lies enough times, it will become the Truth!  Just ask Joseph Goebbels.

What her Neocon mentors and trainers are not factoring into the Big Equation is one constant: ambition, as in Sarah Palin’s.  Throughout her life she has been ambitious, which by itself is certainly an admirable trait, but coupled with a thirst for power that is insatiable, is a dangerous recipe for ANYONE to deal with.  Perhaps even her current Mentors.  There may come a time where the Student becomes the Master, and the former Master the Servant.  This will make the Anakin Skywalker/Obi-Wan Kenobi relationship pale in comparison.

So after they have polished off their diamond in the rough and properly taught her the fanatical ways of their ilk, Sarah Palin will no longer be the so-called hockey Mom whose lack of foreign policy knowledge was severely brought to fore over the course of Charlie Gibson’s interviews.  She will no longer be the token woman on the Republican Ticket.  She will no longer even be the butt of jokes, even on Saturday Night Live.  She will simply be not only too big for her handlers to control, but for any of our Elected Representatives at ANY level of Government to control either.  She will have all the power she ever wanted, and a Nuclear Arsenal and Armed Forces to back her up.  She will have all the power she ever wanted to do “God’s Will”.  And after that, she will have achieved nearly all she set out to do.

God better move over; because she’s coming for Him next.

“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.” -James Madison

TOMORROW: A Danger To The Republic: Part II

One Storm Over, Another One Brewing

One thing I noticed about all the coverage of Ike today was the lack of any comparison with Katrina.  Based on what I was seeing, it looked as bad at the very least.  Houston however, posed a completely different set of problems than New Orleans did with the amount of skyscrapers there.  My former employer (JP Morgan Chase) had their building lose many windows; the glass littering the streets below.  (They have the tallest skyscraper at 75 stories).  One news report stated that there were folders strewn on the streets noted “Highly Confidential” on them.  Not a good thing for a large corporation trying to keep its edge and reputation intact in a very questionable industry these days.

Outside of Houston, the flooding looked intense; and Galveston was completely devastated.  4 million customers (that’s HOMES not people…so multiply that by at least two and you’ll get the number of people affected) are without power and 100,000 homes are believed destroyed.  I think after all is said and done, Ike may be more costly than Katrina.  Not in terms of human life (only 2 dead so far; but many missing who decided to ride Ike out) or property…but the economy.  The oil refineries that process 20% of American oil have stopped production for a number of days, and there is no word on when they will begin starting up production again.  While both campaigns put out sympathetic statements today, John McCain noted that there may be tough times at the gas pump and he was concerned.

OK Mac…thanks for the note of sympathy as we’ll hit $5 a gallon soon and heating oil prices will skyrocket.  Thanks for the sympathy as you head off the long-range attack strategy of the Dems who will most assuredly use that to bolster their case against 8 years of hell under this Administration.  Thanks for the sympathy as you’ll have no problem paying the bills on all of your homes and SUV’s because you married into money.  To quote your running mate: “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Speaking of Governor Moosellini, she had a “Welcome Home, Sarah” pep rally in Alaska that drew 2,000 (according to the campaign, but was in the “hundreds” according to a local TV station…in Anchorage, no less.)  650,000 had the chance to see her in a ballroom that had only “hundreds” out of a 5,000 person capacity.  You think that the next Joan of Arc would have managed to muster a hell of a lot more than that.  Maybe she didn’t say her prayers last weekend while she was cramming for Charlie Gibson’s interview (which, I thought was very well done on Charlie Gibson’s part).  Then again, she probably missed a day of foreign policy cramming as Joe Lieberman takes Saturdays off and had to make it up somewhere.  How else would she have not known what the Bush Doctrine was?  She did manage to know that Alaska was next to Russia…who she would have no hesitation in starting a war with.

While Joan (who will be having a lovely stake and bonfire prepared for her shortly…see below) was returning to the Lower 48, a group of brave souls attended the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” rally, which was better attended than the Palin rally!  Some great pictures and all the details from our intrepid friend AK Muckraker on Mudflats.  AKM has been doing an incredible job of bringing out the truth about Sister Sarah since her anointment two weeks ago.  Mudflats is the place to go to get the inside information of what’s really going on behind the scenes in “the only State in our Union above the Arctic Circle” (Geography lesson courtesy of Saint Sarah of Wasilla).

The storm that is arriving has been brewing over the past few weeks with the various outright lies that the McCain campaign has been pushing as truth.  It’s been churning with the various allegations about Governor Bullwinkle (apologies to Wassamatta U) and her various hiring and firing practices.  Her lack of any knowledge outside of Alaska.  Her complete and utter lack of a discernible brain pattern that doesn’t involve fashion and perhaps “American Idol” (apologies to Clay Aiken).  From the front page of the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?hp

This should capture the rest of the Mainstream Media’s attention and get to the core of this incompetent power mad individual.  John McCain better get a food taster if he’s elected; I have a feeling 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton would be preferable to having 4 years of a modern day Marie Di Medici looking over his shoulder.  Because the only cross McCain will be looking at on the ground might very well be his own.

TOMORROW: How I really feel about Sarah Palin in that post I promised you the other day, complete with the latest in scandal and spin.

“You win every time you say ‘No I won’t’ one more time than They say ‘Yes, you will'” -Captain John Sheridan (Babylon 5)

Hang In There Texas And Mudflats!

In light of the situation going on with Hurricane Ike, I’ll put off that Palin column a day or two given the fact that we might have ourselves a really bad situation in Houston and Galveston.  I just can’t bring myself to publish something that pales in comparison to a horrible storm.  Please send positive vibes to our fellow brothers and sisters in the affected areas so that they may pull though with strength, hope, and courage.

Also best wishes go to Mudflats posters/readers attending the “Alaska Women Reject Palin” rally, which will be happening the same time as a farewell/pep-rally for Governor Moosellini on Saturday.  They are going to be small in number, but big in spirit.  Hopefully their First Amendment Rights will be protected, and not interfered with by those who wish to stifle the truth and the triumph of the Human Spirit.  Blogger Extraordinaire AK Muckraker will be reporting from both venues.  All the details are here: http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/dueling-palin-rallies-in-anchorage

So much has gone on the past two days, my head is all over the place.  Thanks again for the recent comments re: Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down.  Stick around…I have a lot more to say, I promise…just ask my wife and kids!

Pax

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.Mahatma Gandhi

Day 2,558

On September 12th, 2001 I awoke screaming.  It was 2 in the afternoon; my wife had let me get as much rest as I could that day…but the first of the nightmares had become a part of my world.  I still get them, only this time I don’t remember a lot of them.  The only way I know I have one is when I wake up screaming and in a cold sweat, or when my wife and daughters come into the bedroom to see if I’m OK.  It’s gotten better, but not a hell of a lot.

In short: I’m suffering from acute (and debilitating) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Oh, I was also diagnosed as bi-polar in 2004 in addition to the PTSD, and I finally admitted I was an alcoholic and stopped drinking (with a LOT of help) on March 27, 2006.  There’s a lot of stuff that I plan on (and need to) write about regarding these past 7 years…but that’s for the future.

So what’s next?

Well, for me it will be (as always) taking care of my kids while my wife is at work (she’s a Registered Nurse and Saint…and not necessarily in that order).  It will also involve daily posts on this Blog, as well as a memoir about the past seven years of my life that I finally got back to writing after too long an absence.  Trust me, you couldn’t script a better movie ( I’m hoping that Mister Speilberg will direct, and Bradd Pitt can play me…yeah, RIGHT!  LOL!) if you tried.  But it’s my life…and it’s damned painful to go back and write about.  You try revisting all your mistakes, sins, triumphs, and tragedies; it’s not pretty.  It is necessary and cathartic for me though and between that, the kids and this Blog, I’ll have my hands full.

And what’s next for you, for all of us?

Will we have learned anything from the tragedy of 9/11, or will we continue to be a bellicose and belligerent people who show no mercy and regard for human life?  Will we finally wake up and see that there is more to Being Human than merely being a Human Being?  Will we finally realize that this country is in deep trouble and things need to change BIG TIME, starting with the President all the way on down to the Town Dog Catcher?  Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to wake up and get ourselves together, because as I posted somewhere today than Man is transitory, the Soul is not.

We have this world of ours and our place in it for a reason.  Why we are here, and who put us here, is always up for debate; those questions have caused more death and destruction in our history than any other.  Clearly, the answer to those questions can come in a much more peaceful and enlightening manner.  We can dream and make ourselves better, or continue down a path of destruction that will surely cause the end of all of us.  We have a choice…it is not to late to alter the path we are on.

Most certainly if we do not, than I will have a lot more company sharing my nightmares.

COMING TOMORROW: A post about our wanna be VP, Governor Moosellini.  Trust me, this one you wont want to miss.

AUTHOR’s NOTE: A big thanks to all of you who have read and e-mailed me and given me your faith and support.  It really helped get me through today (9/11/08) more than you could ever imagine.  Please pass that generous spirit on to others in your life.  We draw strength through each other when we show compassion…pass that gift on to anyone you see today.  Next to love, compasson is probably the highest state of Humanity we can attain (at least in my opinion).

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO MUDFLATS AND ITS WONDERFUL WEB-HUMAN, AKMuckraker! Thank you so much for your link to here and your own 9/11 post; it’s appreciated and I’ll try not to let your trust and faith in me down.  You do AMAZING work up there in the Frozen North keeping the Flame of Truth burning brightly through the long Alaskan night!

“I am the arrow sprung forth from the bow; no hesitation, no doubts.  The path is clear” -Jeffrey David Sinclair (Babylon 5)(jms)

A Silent Awakening

It’s the day that I dread every year; it can’t get here slow enough and it can’t go away fast enough but it arrives on schedule.  For me, September 11th is all about when a major part of my life ended; several years of crisis and upheaval began; and over the past two years, a process of self-understanding and healing had begun.  I am usually very somber and quiet on this day.  I do a lot of writing, spend some time playing some music or composing a new piece, or just hang around with my wife and kids very grateful to be here and very thankful to be alive.

On the last night of the Republican Convention, a so-called “tribute” film about 9/11 was run which featured the more graphic aspects of that day.  It was clearly an attempt to   capitalize and claim political ownership of 9/11 rather than inspire and respectfully commemorate that day.  It was exploitation of the innocent and the afflicted, and unbelievably insensitive at best, disgusting at worst.  The MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann (who was anchoring the coverage at the time) was visibly shaken, he himself having lost friends in the attacks.  He begged the audience’s pardon as he gently slammed what he had just seen.  For two people who are usually not at a loss for words, Keith in the studio and I watching at home, were connected in our grief, dumbfounded silence and disgust. (Keith knew how to channel his righteous anger and disgust in his brilliant “Special Comment” piece on last night’s “Countdown”.)

My first instinct was to go and write a very emotional piece; the angle of the angry survivor taking umbrage.  Then I realized that in addition to me being way to emotionally worked up to collect my thoughts and write something coherent, there had to be something better than the knee jerk response.  I simply walked away from the Mac and hope that either I would collect my thoughts and go down the original path I was going to go, or maybe the muse would call me in a different direction.  Perhaps inspiration would come from doing exactly the opposite of doing what I wanted to do.  Every year I write a commemorative piece on the Anniversary of the attacks, and this year would be no different.  In previous years, it was always about me: my feelings, my hopes for the future.

This year is different, because this time I will be talking about YOU.

The very fact that video was shown at the RNC suggests a lack of awareness of the part of most people in this country about what that day is really all about.  Of course, it is a time to remember our losses of friends and family.  It is a time to remember those souls who passed on who we may not have known personally,  but who at some point in our lives may have come in contact with us; six degrees of separation and all of that.  It is a time for those of us who survived and/or witnessed the events firsthand to try and come to grips with how much our lives have forever been changed.  It is a day when all of America recalls exactly where they were and what they were doing, and to share in the sense of loss and remembrance.  It becomes a sense of community and oneness. On that day we no longer belong to a political party; we are simply Americans, human beings who realize the fragility of life and the horror of the dark side of the human soul.

What the 9/11 Anniversary is NOT about is ownership of patriotism by any one individual or political party on that day.  It is not about wanting to seek revenge against the Terrorists even more on that day than any other.  It is not about promises by political candidates to do more to combat an unseen enemy, nor is it a time to solely laud our military and first responders all the while forgetting the thousands of office workers who continued to work in the Downtown Manhattan Financial District for years afterward.  Thank God we haven’t reached the point of “9/11 Anniversary One Day Sale” signs in stores; but the way things are going in this country, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that eventually happens.

You see, what is beginning to happen is the Anniversary is starting to take on a form of it’s own, shaped by those who happen to be in political power at the time.  It is starting to lose it’s reflective and contemplative quality in favor of forced and manufactured  patriotism.  The coverage of the memorial services have been reduced over the years so that even now only two local stations in the NYC area will be broadcasting the ceremonies in their entirety.  The media message is being narrowed like the end of a funnel, and eventually all of the meaning will have been channeled in dribs and drabs so that the Anniversary completely loses its meaning altogether.

As I said earlier, this is about YOU this year, not me.  It’s about what YOU can do to help keep 9/11 a sacred day of reflection and reverence rather than a political showcase.  It’s about what YOU can do to help by ensuring that the souls of the dead are respected as their names are read into the wind every year.  It’s about YOU not falling into the trap of using 9/11 as a focus for revenge and a fear card to be trotted out at every opportunity someone in a political party wants to make a point about how we need to sacrifice our freedoms for protection.  It is about YOU standing up and saying “Enough!” when you are asked to send a Son or Daughter off to a war that is about something that the United States has no business being involved in.

This is also a day when WE should realize that the answer to our disputes lies not at the tip of a bayonet and a gun.  This is a day WE should count our blessings to be alive, and help those who are less fortunate; perhaps spend the day visiting returning Iraqi War vets suffering from PTSD and letting them know someone cares…because the Federal Government sure as hell doesn’t.  WE allowed those brave men and women to be sent off on a Fool’s Errand, sometime pulling several tours of duty…all because we were lied to by the President and The Vice President…and WE did NOTHING to stop it when we found out it was a lie.  WE questioned someone’s very patriotism when they did not support the War.  WE allowed ourselves to become so distracted in Iraq that our very security at home was threatened because of a severe lack of National Guard troops.  This all happened in OUR watch; we all share the blame and dishonor of being silent when we should have been boisterous.  We cost thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis their lives by our complicity and complacency.

I am a firm believer that those of us who survived that horrible day were spared for a reason: we are Messengers.  Not Messengers of God, or the Universe or any other Divinity or non-Divinity of your choice…rather, messengers of the Human Race.  I believe we are gradually awakening to this fact; many of us beginning to write about our experiences (like myself), combined with a different view of the world and our lives as a result of 9/11.  While I have begun the painful process of recalling the events of that day for a memoir I am writing, other Survivors I know have been braver and gone back to the site of the attack to confront their inner demons in an attempt to understand themselves so that they may perhaps help others.  I see an awakening beginning to happen in other Survivors I know…and we’re beginning to talk about it more…not just   about the events of that Tuesday in September, but what have been gestating inside of us over the past seven years.  We are beginning to tell others that there is an awareness of self that was never there before, an understanding and compassion for others that has been magnified.  A feeling that now, more than ever we need to be loving rather than hateful; that a connection exists between us as Human Beings that is stronger than any national border, religion, or skin color.

AND WE WILL NOT BE SILENT, NOR WILL WE BE SILENCED ANY LONGER.

For too long we have remained on the sidelines and stood by as our world began a dangerous spiral downward toward God only knows what end.  We were there at the very beginning of all of this, and it is now time to step forward and try and stop the slide into oblivion that our politicians have put us on.  The time has come for peace and justice, not just for our country, but for all nations.  It is time to spread the message.  It will come by way of blogs like this one.  It will come by word of mouth.  It will come by music and art and audio and video.  But surely, the message will come.

All YOU have to do is listen to it, and pass it on.

Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down

I am a Survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

There are moments in History where you know where you were when they happened, and sometimes you become a part of History yourself.  I’ve been to some famous sporting events, watched the first man walk on the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was on the Tappan Zee Bridge when I found out Miles Davis had passed away, and I had to pull over once I got off the bridge, and cried my eyes out while “My Ship” played softly on my car stereo.  There are moments when you see History and you choose History.  Then there are moments when History chooses you.

When I woke up that Tuesday Morning, I had no idea what was about to happen to me; nor did I have any idea of how much my life would change over the course of the next seven years…but that was a moment History chose for me to be a part of.  It began a very long journey into depression and alcoholism, recovery and triumph over my inner demons.  It began a period of self-discovery and awareness that was not there before in my 40 years on the planet.  But all of this is for a later time.

What I would like to do now is reprint a piece I wrote a few days after 9/11 while I was still very much in shock and totally unsure of what happened and where I was going next.  It has been printed on several web sites over the years, and it resides in the Library of Congress as part of a collection of written history from eyewitnesses and survivors of that day.  It is graphic and intense, but it is MY story of that day…the day when my world, and everyone else’s changed forever.

———Phoenix Uncertain: Originally written on Thursday, September 13, 2001—————-

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

I need to write all of this down right now, while the smells, sounds, and experiences of the past few days are fresh in my mind. I also need to do this now because I’ve gotten some clarity in the past few hours and I don’t know how long that will last for. I have alternated between disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and anger…and sometimes all of these simultaneously. On Tuesday, the man I was ceased to exist. The light has been extinguished from my eyes. I’ve tried to explain things to my wife and broke down every time. I cannot even begin to explain to my daughter Katie how lucky she is to have her Daddy around, nor can I explain to her why her Daddy screams in his sleep or why he shakes for no reason. I cannot explain to her why every time I head a loud sound or bang, I practically jump out of my skin. All I can do is try and take the medication that keeps me normalized and try and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Now that I’ve just popped a “happy pill”, I’ve got 8 hours to write this all down, before I descend into my own abyss once again. In the past 72 hours, I have witnessed events that I never thought I would see with my own eyes. What you are seeing on your television is absolutely nothing…and I do mean NOTHING…like it actually was to be there. I keep telling myself that something or someone must have had a greater plan for me, and that is why I am alive today instead of being buried under a ton of rubble. Perhaps that plan just to write this document of my experience to share with others so that they may carry on the memory of those who survived like myself, and the memory of those who were lost. Perhaps it is to share with you that amidst all of the evil, I witnessed some of the finest moments of compassion and humanity that I have ever seen…an affirmation of a belief that I have always held: that we have greatness inside all of us. Perhaps it is about the redemption of my own soul, for like Saul on the way to Damascus, I’m slowly coming to the realization that my life has indeed reached a turning point. I also know that there is no going back to the person I was, and I just have to figure out just who the hell I am now.

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

TUESDAY, September 11th, 2001: 7:22 AM, Little Silver Train Station, NJ
Kissed my wife and daughters good bye as they dropped me off at the station. Took my coffee, laptop, and briefcase…bought a copy of the NY Daily News. Thankfully since the NY Giants/Denver Broncos game ended late, I don’t have to read about how my team was defeated. Read through the paper all the while sipping my coffee on the one hour ride to Newark NJ, where I will catch the PATH Train (a subway between NJ and NY) to the World Trade Center, just 3 blocks from my office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan. 8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

8:45 AM, WTC Path Square (located in the center of the WTC Complex, 1 story Below Ground, where there’s a Shopping Mall)
Reach the top of the escalator, and begin to fix my laptop. As soon as I get myself situated…something happens…a sound…something different. Sounds like a crash at first…then a low rumble…then a “whoosh” throughout the complex. People are starting to run, and once others see people running, they too scramble for the exits. At this point, I think it’s a good time to get the hell out of there, and start to run toward the exits as well. Someone, in his or her haste to get out, knocks me over. I’m falling face first toward a plate glass window in one of the shops. Somehow, I manage to contort my body so that I land on my left knee pretty hard, but my face hits the floor. I’m dazed…compose myself for a minute…and realize I have to get out no matter what just happened. My knee is killing me, but the endorphins take over, and that pain is quickly gone. I feel something warm on my chin, and realize that it’s blood. My fall knocked one of my front teeth into my lip, putting a nice gash in it. I wipe some blood away, and follow another crowd into the lower level of the Border’s bookstore, which also has an exit to the streets…it’s much less crowded, and a calmer exodus of people. I reach the street and exit into the air. There is a burning smell…I’d never smelled anything like it. There are thousands of papers falling from the sky in a quiet procession of calm amidst the chaos. A paper rain, much like one of those party favors that you might have had when you were a kid…you know, the fake champagne bottles filled with confetti. I start to walk across Church Street. I can see smoke, but because I’m so close to the tower, I can’t really see anything. I begin to walk westward toward Broadway past St Paul’s Chapel. As I walk, people are looking up at the North Tower, then looking back down at my blood stained face. I see their eyes are filled with confusion. When I reach the corner of Broadway and look up I can finally see what happened. There, at the top of a building that is approximately ¼ of a mile long is a HUGE hole…several stories in length…plumes of smoke and flame billowing higher into the air. I can only stand there, watching in disbelief as I realize that what we had all feared had probably taken place: a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

APPROX. 9:00 AM, Broadway
It’s funny how the mind operates. You know, kind of like when you see a magic trick, you can’t believe what you saw…or when your team makes a triple play…or when you witness a birth. You know you’re seeing something, but your mind sends signals that it’s just not possible, but there it is. From out of the Tower, I’m seeing debris fall…but it’s coming in very irregular intervals. Usually, debris falls in a pattern as a structure is weakened, and at the same rate of descent. This debris was sporadic, and it wasn’t just falling in a straight line from the Tower…it was arcing. I saw it happen once, twice…but on the third time, I saw what I thought was debris MOVE, I thought I saw arms move…and I realized that debris cannot move, nor could it have arms. I had just seen people throw themselves from the North Tower to escape the consuming flames. I began to shake, began to shout “No F***ing way!” and “Oh my God” at the top of my lungs. Someone came over to me and put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was all right. I think I said something to the effect I was, but they offered me a bottle of water and some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. I accepted and I asked if they had seen the explosion…and that’s when they told me it was a plane that had crashed into the North Tower. They also told me it was an airliner. The brain couldn’t register that one really…except for the fact that I thought it was a terrible accident, and thank God it wasn’t a bomb. Another person in the crowd came up to me and asked if I needed help getting to where I was going. I realized that my hands were trembling and couldn’t hold either the tissues or water steady and my knees felt weak. Brain kicks in again: yeah, take this guy up on his offer. It turned out he worked for my company but at another location. We began to walk toward my building, and I notice some debris along the way. About a block from my office, right in front of the Federal Reserve Building I see some debris that catches my eye: some tacky looking upholstery that looks like it came from an airline headrest. It was then that I saw a seat cushion and an armrest…THANKFULLY empty.

APROX 9:12 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I walk one block further south to my building, and reach the Plaza. Just as I’m about to turn to enter my building, I hear the whine of jet engines. I look down the block at the South Tower, and see a fireball engulfing the building, showering flaming debris across the skyline, arcing outward and in my general direction. There is a low, rumbling sound, very much like what I had heard earlier…a sound that grew as the flames spread and debris rained down upon Manhattan. The crowd begins to run frantically toward the east, away from the falling debris. I overhear someone say that it was another jet that collided into the South Tower. It was then I realized that this was no accident, that my greatest fears were realized: we were under attack. It was at that moment, I knew that I had to somehow survive this…get the hell out of there…and get home to my family. I had just become a modern day Ulysses.

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

APPROX 9:20 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I’m pretty superstitious. I usually sit in the same seat for a baseball or football game if my team is winning. I never pick up a penny “tails up”, and I don’t walk under ladders. In some convoluted manner, the Universe played a trick on me, for I work on the 13th floor of my building. It never bothered me before, but on a day like Tuesday, there was just no way I was going to go up into my office…so I decided to go downstairs to the Branch to use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was OK. (A footnote here and an important one because it’s going to come into play later: The Branch is an underground structure, kind of like a rectangular “donut”. It is just below the Plaza, with a circular glass enclosure in its center containing a fountain. There is an opening at the top of this enclosure to the Plaza to let light in. From the Plaza level, there is a circular wall that allows viewing of the fountain from the Plaza, and it’s quite beautiful when viewed from inside the branch at the level of the fountain.)

Just before entering the Branch, I meet up with a co-worker who sees me and is pretty amazed at my condition at this point…I can only imagine: A deer in the headlights look accompanied by a bloody face. I try and tell him what’s happened so far. It turns out, he’s not going to his floor either…and he helps me into the Branch. Needless to say, the Branch had been closed to all but employees with ID. I also know the Branch Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and many of the staff well because I’ve worked with them directly when I was in the Branches myself. I got in there; they sat me down and got me some first aid as well as some water. I called my wife, told her I was OK and told her of what I was going to do next: try and take the Staten Island Ferry and get to either my parents or my in-laws and have them drive me home. I just wanted to get the hell off Manhattan as soon as possible, especially with the thought that there were two ¼ mile buildings a few blocks away that had the possibility of collapsing. I called my parents and told them of my intentions as well. Needless to say, I’m pretty shaken up at this point. I decide to sit a few minutes to try and relax, collect my thoughts, and move on. A woman named Maxine (who I’ve never met before) sat with me and comforted me. She also spoke with my wife during my phone call and said she was taking care of me. God Bless her…she was a BIG help. We turned on the radio to listen to the news, to see exactly what had happened, and it was just as we feared: two jet liners were hijacked and were rammed into the World Trade Center…and one other thing that hit us all like a ton of bricks…the Pentagon was also attacked the same way. Nothing was the same anymore.

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

APPROX 10:15 AM 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Some people talk about a “New World Order”. At this point in my life, there was definitely a New World, but anything but order. I had finally calmed down, and was about to make my way toward the Staten Island Ferry when the unthinkable happened: That ROAR happened again…that ungodly Roar that still was imprinted in my head from the last few hours… …And then I saw the debris and smoke fill the glass enclosure around the fountain. The ground shook, and we all began to rush toward the escalators that would take us to the vault sub-basements in the Plaza. We arrived down there followed by a cloud of smoke and dust…we made our way through passages that led to the underground cafeteria where security told us to go. My first thought was that my building was attacked, but something completely unexpected happened. We had just found out that one of the icons of the New York Skyline, one of the World Trade Towers had crumbled to dust…and that rubble had spread across Lower Manhattan, washing across the Plaza. We were told to stay put…it was safer here, and there was NO visibility AT ALL outside. More people started to file into the cafeteria…all of them covered in dust…stark white ghosts with terrorized eyes peering from the rubble that had been strewn onto their bodies. Among them were two people who worked in my department. I rushed up and the three of us hugged and held onto each other. We got a table in the cafeteria; got some of the water and wet rags they were handing out to help us breathe. …And we sat…for two hours…and waited for news of when we could leave the building. In the meantime, there was another dull roar in the distance…THAT ROAR… …And the other Tower had fallen. …And God only knew what the rest of the world outside looked like.

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

APPROX Noon, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Now I know what my cat feels like when I let him out of his carrier after we bring him back from the vet. He always wants to get the hell out, and yet he steps out gingerly, unsure of what he can expect. I kind of felt that way as I exited our building after we were told to head toward the East River. I also felt like a B-Movie actor on one of those bad 50’s “Day After…” movies, the ones usually used for cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. There was dust everywhere, and it looked like it was snowing in September. There had to be two inches of dust and debris on the streets as CJ (one of those guys I mentioned earlier who worked with me) and I made tracks for the South Street Seaport. We’re wandering around, towels around our faces like some post-apocalyptic version of TE Lawrence and The Shadow trekking across the Nafud, or Paul and Jessica across Arakis in “Dune”. We looked back where the Twin Towers had been…the same two towers CJ and I came through every day from the PATH (she’s from North NJ)…the same two towers that had dominated the skyline since we were children (we’re both 40, born a month apart). There was nothing. Absolutely nothing…except for a huge black cloud where those beautiful towers once stood gleaming in the sunshine. It was as if you used a photo program on your PC, highlighted the Towers, deleted the image and filled the blank area with smoke. It hurt to breathe (and I’m a smoker, so I can just IMAGINE what a non-smoker would have felt). The dust stung your eyes and skin. It was raining dust…a horrible snowfall on a late summer day…a snowfall that contained pieces of building, asbestos, paper, jet fuel, and God only know what else. I was reminded of Good Friday for some reason… We finally got to the River, and began to follow the exodus uptown toward God knows where. All CJ and I knew was that we had heard there were ferries still running to NJ (the SI Ferry was shut down at this point, so my first plan was abandoned) and we had to catch one. The air was clear, and I decided I REALLY needed a cigarette at this point (NOTE: A martini was my first choice, but the bars were closed). I offered one to CJ…who hasn’t had a cig in 10 years…she took it, we lit up and moved on.

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

EAST RIVER ESPLANADE: Approx. 12:30 PM
I’m thoroughly convinced that The Universe has a sense of humor. CJ and I stop and look out at the river just below the Brooklyn Bridge. We can see hundreds of people walking across the Bridge to Brooklyn, the same for the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. It’s actually a beautiful day; there are no clouds in the sky…there are people just sitting on benches on the esplanade looking out at the water…some are fishing…some are making out. Order amidst chaos. We had just come from chaos into one moment of perfect beauty. I think to myself that this is really a beautiful day, and I imagine myself at the Shore or in my backyard with my kids…and then it hits me… …No beach to walk on unless I get home. No backyard and no kids and wife unless I get home…and God only knows what else happens on this day. Snap back to reality…we’ve got to get home. CJ and I meet a Police officer who says ferries are leaving from Pier 11 for NJ and directs us Uptown. Just a slight problem…Pier 11 is just South of us a few blocks, so CJ and I are headed in the wrong direction. Like I said, the Universe has a sense of humor…

SOMEWHERE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Approx., 1:00 PM
CJ and I have walked for a while. I’m still carrying the laptop and briefcase, and I really can’t feel the pain in my knee yet, but at least my lip has stopped bleeding. Needless to say, both my shoulders are killing me. We walk around trying to find Pier 11, just Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to find Oz. We walk through neighborhoods that we would never walk through regularly, and people are coming up to us and asking if we are OK (we’re covered in dust at this point). They give us water and comfort. We see others helping people…a woman in a wheelchair giving directions and a bottle of water to two people…four people hugging in the middle of a street glad to find each other…Police Officers with their arms around people offering them comfort as well as direction. I realize at this point what my Dad always said about the blackout of 1964 (he was trapped in the subway) that New Yorkers are people who put all differences aside when in a crisis. We finally find a cop who points us in the right direction…we head back downtown.

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

PIER 11, New York, NY: Approx. 2:00 PM
We found OZ. No emerald city here, just a bunch of ferries that were going back to New Jersey. CJ and I parted company here. She headed back to Jersey City and one of the few remaining trains that were running out of Hoboken. I got on a high-speed ferry bound for the Highlands on the Jersey Shore, about 10 miles northeast from my house. I decided I’d worry about how to get home from there…I’d walk if I had to. The Police search our bags before we get on… The ferry is VERY comfortable, complete with bar that is, unfortunately closed…it costs approx. $18 each way, about twice my cost for the trains (which were NOT running at this time), but they were ferrying everyone at no cost. They gave us water, and there were two clergymen on the boat, a Catholic Priest and a Minister, both Chaplains of the Highlands Fire Department. A call comes over the loudspeaker asking for 50 volunteers to take the next boat. People get up and leave, willingly with no problems. I see the Priest and yell out, “Father, are you riding this boat?” He says yes. I decide to stay.

NY HARBOR, Approx. 2:20 PM
The boat leaves, and the Scarecrow decides to look back at the Emerald City. The Towers are gone. The Black Void is still there. The Scarecrow loses what Brains he had left and breaks down. Like the Towers, I’ve just crumbled into a pile of rubble.

IN TRANSIT THROUGH NY HARBOR AND THE ATLANTIC:
The Minister sees me and comes over to talk. He was in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. I tell him what I’m feeling, and he tells me what happened to him. He’s describing what I’m feeling to a “T”. I’m amazed that someone else can describe what I feel…and realize just how fragile we really are as humans…and I also realize at this point, I’m not the same person who woke up that morning. We both pray publicly. It is my first time praying in public since I was 14. Like I said, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

CATHARSIS IX: …And Say ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

HIGHLANDS, New Jersey Approx. 3:00 PM
We arrive in New Jersey The Minister walks me off the boat and asks if he can do anything else, and I tell him he did more for me than anyone in a very long time. I follow the crowd off the gangplank. We are told that we will have to present ID. We are also told that if we are covered in dust we will have to be decontaminated. I am told to go to the “left” line. My belongings are put in a bag; my laptop and briefcase are scrubbed by men in isolation suits by hand. I am told to stand forward a man with a fire hose that then proceeds to spray water on me from head to toe. As he is doing this, I can see the NYC skyline in the background. What two gleaming towers, had once dominated, was now dominated by a huge cloud of smoke and a gaping hole where the towers should be. I was told to turn around so they can spray my front. They do so…and I have been baptized into the New World. I’m handed my belongings, and a Police Officer takes my statement as he was informed that I was in the WTC when the first plane hits. It’s the second time that day that I’ve told my story…but this time more emotions are coming out…and I find I cannot look anyone in the eyes when I talk to them… I’m directed toward a bunch of vans, busses, and private cars where I’m told that someone would drive me home. I walk slowly, drenched…laptop and briefcase still present…away from the water and toward a parking lot. All I can do is stare straight ahead and make no eye contact with anyone. I feel like I’m there (here) but somewhere else. A woman named Doreen asks me where I’m going, and I tell her. She says she volunteered to give rides to people, and really has nothing to do…mainly because she was just laid off from Nike the day before. She offers me her cell phone to call my wife…it’s the first time we’ve spoken my phone call in the morning. I tell her I’m coming home in a few minutes. Doreen assures her I’m shaken, but OK. We drive off to my home.

CATHARSIS X: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

We arrive at my house…and I run to my wife (holding our month-old daughter) and my 4 year old daughter, Katie. Everything comes back to me in a big rush…I break down. We all thank Doreen, and I give her a big hug goodbye. In the next few hours, I try and explain things to my wife…and some of them I can…most of them I cannot. We call my doctor who tells me to go to the ER at the Local Hospital for a chest x-ray and some tests…apparently the stuff I was exposed to may have contained asbestos…and God only knows what else. While getting tested, they had me speak to a Psychologist…just like others who were coming in. I told my story the best I could, and she was a HUGE help for my family and me. I needed to talk and I did…and I realized that there is a lot I still have to deal with.

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

I’m hanging in there as best as I can…and for the past five hours, I’ve been spilling my guts out for those of you I know, and those of you I do not. This has been my story, and there are thousands of others such as I. I mentioned before that I am not the same person I was when I woke up on Tuesday. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who the hell I am anymore…but these things I do know: *I am a Father of two beautiful girls *I am a loving husband of, quite simply, the most amazing woman on the planet AND THOSE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT ARE MY LIFE! Please…just take the time to hug your kids, wife, partner, loved ones…NEVER take them for granted! Hold on to your friends and keep them close…chances are that this has touched us all in one way or another.

We have all been transformed in one way or another by this event. We are all filled with a plethora of emotions…I certainly know I am.

Let us work together to seek justice for those who have been killed or injured. Let us offer a hand to those who need it, whether or not they have been there first hand. Let us all show the strength of humanity and compassion that we are all capable of. Let us rebuild our city, our nation, and our fragile planet.

Let us go forward with one voice that says we shall never allow this to ever happen again.

God Bless You, Your Families, The United States Of America, and our Beloved Planet.

Arkangel3 BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

And So It Begins…

If anyone is a fan of Babylon 5, you’ve pretty much guessed that I am as well, based on the title of this entry and the title of this Blog.  I need to get that out of the way for two reasons, first (and foremost) to acknowledge the fantastic work of J. Michael Straczynski the creator and writer of the series, as well as countless other television programs and graphic media.  It is quite simply one of the most influential and landmark Science-Fiction shows ever done for television.  It had a profound influence on me, not only as a writer but as an inhabitant of this small world we inhabit and my place in it and in the grand scheme of things.

Second, and most important: one of the major philosophies of the show was about Mankind’s ascendance beyond our fragile world and into the void of space; about how we, as a species, have the potential for greatness within us…if only we can acknowledge our Humanity by getting past…well, our Humanity!  It is also about choices, consequences and responsibility; how you make a choice, the consequences of that choice on your life and those around you, and taking and accepting responsibility for your actions.  It seems so simple on one level, and yet in today’s very complex world, all of our choices have a much more profound impact than they have ever had at any time in our history.  A simple decision you make today can impact the future of your children and the world tomorrow.

Basically, all of the choices we make in our lives boil down to the Past, Present, and Future all interacting at the same time, crossing pths simultaneously…intersections in real time.  This Blog will most certainly be about Politics a lot of the time, as I am a Political junkie, and I have been for as long as I recall.  It will also be about observations on current events and the Human condition.  It will be about where we have been, are at, and where we are going as a species.

As you can imagine, this will not be a Blog filled with graphs and statistics.  It will definitely be a Commentary from Yours Truly about everything I just mentioned and then some.  As a Stay At Home Dad, I also have a plethora of tales to tell from the Homefront as well.  I hope it will be informative and engaging as well as entertaining.  If I get you to laugh or cry or walk away thinking about something, then I’ve done my job.  My Comments Section is unmoderated, so please feel free to say what’s on your mind about the topic; just try and keep it civilized and somewhat family friendly.  I may originally be from Brooklyn and can pretty much handle anything, but some of the other readers might be sensitive to certain things, so keep that in mind when replying.

I look forward to our adventures together.

And so it begins…