14 years later, how the world has changed

I still remember everything about 9/11/01 clearly. The disbelief at first hearing about the attack. School being closed early. The panic and anxiety on the T as rumors spread about more attacks. Like everyone else after 9/11, I wanted to fight back. To defeat the terrorists. To make sure it never happened again. Sadly, I've become progressively more horrified by the erosion of liberty and changes in the government we've seen since then. Blame gets pegged on conservatives for a lot of this, but as a conservative, I can tell you: this isn't conservative. Look not further than the fact that what began under George W. Bush has only been expanded by a nominally liberal president. 

The Nation, which I never imagined agreeing with, has a great piece this week on how Bin Laden succeeded with 9/11. I hate to say that when I think about the culture of fear we've created, the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security, our illegal surveillance and murder of American citizens, and everything else since the attacks, I think they're largely correct that 9/11 was:

Everything Bin Laden hoped it would be
Part of living in a free society is the danger that some might exploit it to do others harm. That's been true in our nation's history, and has been used by some for acts of murder and terror. But that same freedom is what makes America great. If truly bad people want to harm us, they will, no matter how much surveillance we put on people or how many drones we deploy. It's why we ought to err on the side of liberty, get on with our lives, and look to the future — not the omnipresent ghost of 9/11.

This article is on the nose for the first 3/4. I disagree with the sinister undertones regarding the Bush presidency, as I don't think they were looking for excuses or exploited 9/11 intentionally. I think like all of America they were scared, overreached, and now (like the Obama presidency) enjoy the power they have and are terrified of giving it up, lest they be blamed for the next attack. Sadly, I think Bin Laden largely did succeed in his goals with 9/11, and that the country has been changed for the worse because of it. The question is whether we're brave enough to face our fear, roll back the government's questionable activities, and embrace a world that's freer and slightly more dangerous.

Public sector unions are a problem
My view of unions is generally negative. I find their use outdated, their organization corrupt, and their methods damaging to the economy. After reading my piece in The American Interest,I'm reconsidering my viewpoints. I had not realized how much of the current union movement was driven by public sector unions. This article has helped me understand that much of my negativity is not driven by private sector unions, but rather those in the public sector. As usual, TAI asks some good questions. Namely: why is it that public sector employees need union protection, anyway?

From Olympian to escort
Suzy Favor Hamilton went from being an Olympic runner to a high-priced escort in Vegas, not because she needed the money, but because she wanted to. This peek into her double life and the impact of its exposure has me thinking a lot about the traditional image of prostitutes as exploited women, and the arguments for and against the legalization of prostitution. Really interesting to read about someone who prostituted because they genuinely enjoyed it, but fought to keep it secret because of societal repercussions.

The brewing conservative revolt in the Vatican
Pope Francis seems to be doing everything he can to drag the church into the 21st century, yet is facing more resistance than I could have imagined inside the Vatican. The Washington Post looks at some of the conservative figures in the church hierarchy fighting against reforms to the Vatican bank, the Pope's message of inclusion and mercy, and other changes that will "ruin" the church. Nothing has inspired me more to think about re-engaging as a Catholic than the idea of helping advance the pope's agenda.

Refugees coming home to roost
Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. The refugee crisis in the world now is terrible, but is largely a result of Europe ignoring the problems at its own doorstep. In many of the articles I've linked about Russia, there's a theme of anxiety about Europe's current fractious approach to foreign policy. We're seeing a result of that here, where Europe has largely turned a blind eye to crises in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. They didn't deal with the issues there, and now they'll need to deal with them at home.

The NFL's Patriots hatchet job
The NFL is barely 24 hours into its new season, and Roger Goodell is doing well to defend his "worst commissioner in sports" title. While the article has since received a "tighter edit" — here's an ESPN hatchet job on the Patriots, no doubt supported by the NFL. Simmons says it all better than I ever could: haters gonna hate.