1. Osama bin Laden. That OBL still breathes oxygen and eats hummus is a stain upon our banners. Not killing bin Laden was the single greatest disappointment of the Bush Administration, in an Administration that had lots of big disappointments (for conservatives, yes). And for all Obama’s big talk during the campaign – “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell — but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives” – he’s done bupkis, too. Carthaga delenda est, the old Romans used to say, and I feel that way about OBL.
2. Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He’s in custody, but again, every day he lives is a stain upon our banners. There has to be some way to navigate through the dense and impenetrable legal thicket that keeps KSM and his cohorts with their date with the hangman, and hopefully that will happen sometime before his “compassionate release” due to health care reasons. Pfui.
3. Ground Zero. If you’da told me, on the first anniversary of 9/11, that the Freedom Tower (or whatever they are calling it) would not be completed unti 2013 (if that!), I would have called you a liar and plotted ways to smuggle a skunk into your car. But that’s what’s going to happen. This is what the site looked like as of yesterday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Freedo_twer_update.jpg). Pathetic. This is what the memorial site looks like as of July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wtc_construction_update.jpg). Double pathetic. We can do better. Can’t we?
4. Airport Security. I hate airport securiy as much as the next guy. I’ve been detained three times for absolutely no good reason (once because I was late for a plane (through no fault of my own), and twice because I took one-way flights into and out of Reagan National). It sucks. The shoe thing sucks. The petty superiority of everybody who I have ever come in contact with at TSA sucks. But they are 0-for-the-last-eight-years, and you got to give a little somethin’ to a record like that. (And you Mexican airport security people, wake up over there.)
5. Obama. No terrorist attacks under his watch so far, at least one big-time terrorist squashed by an airstrike in Pakistan, Gitmo is still open, and he’s making all the right noises about increasing our footprint in Afghanistan. A lot better record than I expected.
6. Technology. One of the things people forget about 9/11 is that’s the day when CNN instituted the non-stop news ticker at the bottom of the screen. (I remember this because I was watching the news coverage with my boss, who is blind – we kept talking about stories on the ticker that didn’t have any relevance to what the talking heads were saying, and it ticked her off.) Imagine if 9/11 happened today, what with all the social networking stuff out there – people Twittering the attacks, people having to tell all their Facebook friends that they were OK. In a country where people go slighly off their bearings if Gmail is down for an hour, imagine if all the big news sites were down today as much as they were during 9/11? Makes you think.
7. God. I went to a memorial service in a park in Austin right after 9/11 sponsored by some church or other – after not really setting foot in a church for over a year – and the idjit leading the service called 9/11 a judgment on America for all our sins. I left and haven’t been back except for maybe the holidays, and not all of them. Not that I don’t believe in God, not that I don’t love Jesus – I do, sometimes in spite of myself – but I’m just not going to participate in communal worship if it means I get blamed for horrible terrorist acts because I’m not nice enough to some people or because I don’t give enough money to the poor or whatever other sins I happen to commit.
8. Sa-lute. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ground_Zero_Spirit.jpg)
(And just completely in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, here’s what I wrote eight years ago today. It ain’t enough, but it’s something.)