15 years later: Inside Air Force One on 9/11

Fifteen years after 9/11, it’s pretty clear the overall change in America has been negative. Our country continues to emphasize outsized fears about the remote possibility of death by terrorism, and emphasize the threat of radical Islam over more reasonable and significant concerns (both foreign and domestic). It’s an emphasis that might win votes, but is a huge distraction from pressing issues. It’s also borne a subtle shift in how America sees danger, with a renewed emphasis on being preemptive. Whether via done strikes overseas or unconstitutional significant surveillance of our citizens, we’ve allowed the spectre of 9/11 to shift the burden of action from our government to individuals. It’s a scary change that began fifteen years ago, and that we’ve all been too welcome to permit. As citizens, we should expect our government to embrace ever level of overreach and power we permit it — it’s been our failure that has allowed the course things have taken.

“We’re the only plane in the sky.”
And after reading this oral history, you can understand the perspective of some in government. I love the first-person perspective of oral histories, and these interviews from those who were on Air Force One during the 9/11 attacks is incredible. It certainly obliterates liberal complaints that W cowered, ran or otherwise dodged his duty. I found it incredible to believe that there was so little information available to the leader of the free world during an attack on the country. This piece only affirmed my affinity for a flawed president who, nonetheless, led us through as about a challenging a day as America has had since the 1940’s.

Oil drilling and Oklahoma’s sleeping fault lines
The claims about fracking as an environmental disaster have always seemed a little over-blown to me. This analysis by FiveThirtyEight on Oklahoma’s recent seismic activity actually seems to confirm that. They do assign responsibility for the activity to the oil and gas industry (with a big assist to the state’s unique geologic history), but interestingly enough, it’s primarily the decision to pump wastewater into the ground, not fracking, that seems to be causing the problems. This pumping back into the ground is a feature of older technology — and the article’s inference is that newer drilling techniques, be it traditional or fracking, aren’t fraught with these issues. 

Lack of transparency is a threat to national security
I can’t be the only person who was amazed to discover that Newsweek is still in existence when it published its look at Donald Trump’s foreign business arrangements. The consistent thread in this article — and in similar ones on his tax returns, charitable foundation, and personal wealth — is that the complex nature of his finances makes it difficult to truly understand anything. I’m supportive of this for a private individual, but when you decide to run for President, the American people ought to have a reasonable expectation of transparency. His complex financial overseas are especially urgent: if we’re going to consider empowering him to determine America’s foreign policy stance, it’s essential we know where his interests lie. Yet another move that continues my confusion with anyone who supports him.