Mass Murder And Mental Illness.

Despite the fact the US has already experienced 293 mass shootings this year as recorded by gunviolencearchive.org, the president and the GOP do not want to talk about the single biggest issue that contributes to gun violence: Easy access to guns. I’m not referring to shotguns, hunting rifles and six-shooters. I’m referring to weapons of war – AK-47s, AR-15s and 50-caliber sniper rifles – weapons that have no place in the hands of civilians.

Even after the most recent mass murders in El Paso, Dayton and Odessa-Midland, the president and the GOP seem unable to summon the courage to go against the NRA to pass legislation for universal background checks or to pass legislation that would, once again, ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Instead, they seem ready to pass legislation focused on mental health.

It’s a ruse…another con from the conman-in-chief.

Certainly, there is a need for more mental health facilities, more in-patient treatment centers, and more counselors. Far too many of the mentally ill are now housed in prisons with no access to treatment. And when their behavior becomes extreme, they are moved to solitary confinement for the rest of their lives where most Americans can forget they ever exist.

But the truth is, focusing on mental illness will do little, if anything, to stem gun violence. That’s because the vast majority of those with mental illness are far more of a threat to themselves than to others.

The most likely to commit mass murders with guns are white nationalists and neo-Nazis – extremists, many of them Bible-thumping racists who want to turn back the clock on America to make it white again. People who can’t stand the inevitability of the US becoming majority non-white in the next few decades. People like those in Charlottesville who marched with torches shouting, “You will not replace us.” People who were resentful of the election of President Barack Obama and who have been inspired by Trump, the racist in the White House who, after seeing video of Charlottesville claimed “there were good people on both sides.”

The only thing that will curb gun violence in the US is to keep the most lethal weapons out of the hands of extremists by passing universal background checks, passing red flag laws, and passing laws banning the sale of weapons of war, including high-capacity magazines. But I would urge Congress to also pass funding to treat those who are mentally ill. Especially, the one who most obviously is suffering from mental illness and who controls the most lethal weapons of all: President Trump.

Destruction Of The US. (Part Three – Racism and Discrimination)

One of the many ways that Trump and the GOP are destroying our democracy is through discrimination – creating fear of those who look different, who speak a different language, who practice a different faith, or who love someone of the same gender. Under the guise of rejecting “political correctness” the GOP and its propaganda outlets, such as Fox News, have emboldened their followers to blame the “other” for all of their social and economic problems.

Their political strategy has led to a divisiveness not seen since before or after the Civil War. It has also led to increasing violence.

For example, inspired by Trump, two Boston brothers brutally attacked and urinated on a homeless Hispanic man. Three Trump supporters in Kansas planned to bomb Somali immigrants. A white male in Washington stabbed an interracial couple, citing Trump’s rallies. The young man who rammed his car into a crowd of people protesting the racist Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killing Heather Heyer was emboldened to act by the election of the most overtly racist president since Woodrow Wilson or, perhaps, even Andrew Johnson. An ardent Trump supporter in Miami was moved to send package bombs to Democratic leaders and the media he believed engaged in “fake news.” Likewise, the mass killers in Pittsburg and El Paso were inspired to act by Trump. In addition, there have been many less visible and less successful domestic terrorists who were inspired to violence by Trump.

Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has led to dozens, maybe hundreds, of threats and hate crimes against brown and black people – some of them US citizens – for daring to speak Spanish or to look like immigrants. In addition, there has been a growing number of hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. GOP-nominated judges have sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians on so-called religious grounds (the religion of hate). And the rhetoric of GOP candidates and supporters has inspired anti-abortion protesters to murder doctors, nurses and patients at medical clinics.

At the same time, the Trump administration has used ICE and CBP to engage in a form of violence against immigrants – many of them seeking asylum from dangerous and hopeless situations – by ripping their children from their arms and, in some cases, placing the children in foster homes or putting them up for adoption. They have crammed immigrants into cages with no toiletries, no soap, no showers and no beds, often without sufficient room to even lie down.

All the while, Trump’s supporters, including many so-called evangelical “Christians” have cheered.

And, for decades, the GOP has practiced racial discrimination by gerrymandering districts to minimize the impact of black voters. They have purged people of color from voting lists. They have demanded photo IDs from state motor vehicle departments then closed the locations in black districts. They have also closed polling places in black areas, forcing voters to stand in line for hours.

The GOP has intentionally positioned itself as the party of choice for white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-immigrant militias, and “Christian” evangelicals. Its candidates have all been endorsed and funded by the NRA, which has made gun violence possible, perhaps inevitable. And Trump has even been endorsed by the David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK.

What do all these groups have in common? They are all paranoid, feeling that they are persecuted by the educated and secular “elite.” They fear that our white Christian culture will be “diluted” by people of color and people of other religions. They fear they’ll lose the advantages of their white privilege. And they fear a government that limits their freedom to rape and pillage the land, air and water; a government that forces them to pay for their fair share of infrastructure; a government that denies men the right to control women; a government that denies them the ability to discriminate without consequence.

For more on the subject, I encourage you to read Bring The War Home, The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew.

Destruction Of The US. (Part Two – Justice)

While much of the nation is fixated on Trump’s alarming statements on Twitter and outraged by his many personal transgressions, he has quietly gone about reshaping the federal court system for a generation or more.

When Trump entered office, there were nearly twice as many judicial openings as when Obama entered office. Indeed, the 108 vacancies at the beginning of Trump’s term (many kept vacant by the obstruction of Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell) represented about one in eight lifetime appointments. With a compliant Senate, Trump almost immediately filled the Supreme Court seat that had been kept open for nearly a year by McConnell. In his first 200 days, he also nominated 43 other federal judges, 7 of which were quickly confirmed. Most, if not all of these nominees were proposed by the very conservative Federalist Society. And all met the approval of “Christian” evangelicals who not only hope to overturn Roe v Wade. They are dead set on turning the US into a theocracy with the help of their “Chosen One.”

According to Wikipedia, as of August 14, 2019, the US Senate has confirmed 146 Article III judges nominated by President Trump, including two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, 43 judges for the US Court of Appeals, 99 judges for US District Courts, and two judges for US Court of International Trade. A priority has been placed on relatively young nominees who can serve for decades.

Additionally, Trump’s two US Attorneys General have reshaped and politicized law enforcement as never before.

His first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, dropped recommendations from the previous administration dealing with the findings of abuse by law enforcement, the courts and the city government of Ferguson, Missouri. He dropped investigations into white supremacy groups and other domestic terrorists. He rescinded DOJ guidance for schools which was designed to protect transgender students in bathrooms and locker rooms. And, as a southern “Christian” theocrat, he sided with a cake shop owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Sessions undermined a major voting rights case in Texas by deciding that his civil rights unit would no longer investigate patterns of excessive force and racial profiling by local law enforcement. He threatened to withhold US grants from cities that designated themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants. He decided that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was “an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch” and could not be defended in a court challenge by Texas and other states. More disturbing, under his “zero-tolerance” policy, Sessions ordered the separation of children from parents seeking asylum and crossing the United States’ southern border. Sessions proudly proclaimed, “If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.”

Sessions also revoked an Obama-era policy that gave federal prosecutors discretion in making decisions about charges in drug cases. And he reversed another Obama-era policy by announcing that the Justice Department would continue to use private prisons.

By almost any measure, Trump’s second Attorney General is even worse. William Barr was nominated by Trump based on his opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. He quickly rewarded his new boss by misleading the public about the Mueller Report, falsely announcing that there was no collusion and no obstruction (a conclusion disputed by more than 1,000 former US attorneys and prosecutors). Taking it a step further, Barr even stoked conspiracy theories by announcing his intent to investigate FBI agents, CIA agents and others over the origins of the Mueller investigation, unabashedly stating, “I think spying did occur.” He chose not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court, potentially leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to a predatory insurance industry. And, more recently, Barr tried to block Mueller from testifying before Congress, ultimately limiting his testimony to the redacted report.

Perhaps the greatest threat posed by Barr is his belief that, contrary to the Constitution’s First Amendment, there should be no separation of church and state. Moreover, he has stated that he will oppose any attempt by the legislative branch to pass secular laws. He has also steadfastly refused to respond to lawful requests and subpoenas from Congress – the branch of government that the Founding Fathers considered most important as evidenced by it establishment in Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution.

It’s startling to think that the man charged with defending our Constitution either hasn’t read it. Or doesn’t believe in it.

The Cowards On The Right.

In my lifetime, the leaders of the right have evolved from courageous WWII veterans, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and Robert Dole, to a group of cowards and provocateurs who hide behind desks and rally others to do their hateful bidding. For example, when Trump was eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War, he could have volunteered. He could have been drafted. Or he could have had the courage, as many did, to simply refuse to participate in an illegal, immoral and ill-considered war. Instead, he used his daddy’s influence and wealth to receive a deferment for “bone spurs.”

But that was only a hint of the cowardice yet to come.

Trump talks tough. But his words are as phony as his orange combover. He teases and spins and blows out a torrent of hate directed at the most vulnerable in our midst. He attacks the disabled, the grieving parents of fallen soldiers, and starving refugees as shamelessly and relentlessly as he once attacked women by the pussy. Then, after encouraging his legion of racist Trumpanzees to do his dirty work, he steps back to admire what he has created. When it inevitably turns ugly, he disavows any complicity or connection. He’s as reluctant to take credit for his hate speech as he is to confront Putin over election meddling. Such was the case in Charlottesville. In Miami. In Pittsburg. In Gilroy. And, most recently, in El Paso. There will be many, many more.

And he’s not the only one responsible for the growing white supremacist movement in the US. Almost equally accountable are the cowards behind the microphones: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson, Tomi Lahren, Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, the crew of Fox and Friends, and others. And we must not forget the hateful contributions of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and the full range of Republican miscreants.

Rather than have an honest discussion about policy, like Trump, these cowards blame their listeners’ and their constituents’ problems on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and people of color. Not a single one of them would stand up to face an opponent of equal standing one-on-one. Rather, they prefer to punch down to hurt the most vulnerable: Minorities, immigrants, refugees seeking asylum, and children. Even then, they often resort to cheap shots.

Despite their rants, they claim no responsibility for the death threats directed toward a Muslim congresswoman of color. They disavow a connection between their words of hate and crimes against those they have targeted. Yet they continue to create hateful memes, to retweet the words of like-minded white supremacists and to make up hurtful lies. Then, when someone is physically hurt, they cry crocodile tears. And they run when challenged.

Thanks to these cowards, our nation is hopelessly, and perhaps permanently, divided. It is not so much a political divide as it is a division of character. And a division of facts.

Too often, I have encountered their supporters who spout the “facts” as they know them. But their “facts” are wrong – the products of propaganda repeated by the aforementioned cowards, as well as Facebook, YouTube, and Breitbart. Even when shown the truth as reported by independent sources such as Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, the AP, Reuters, BBC and others, the supporters merely dismiss it as “fake news.”

How does anyone break through that?

Almost as often, I have encountered seemingly nice people who support the GOP’s racism. These are people who seem to be good neighbors, family members and co-workers. People who would never think of harming another. They claim to be patriots. But they are willing to suppress the minority vote. They claim to be good Christians. But they are somehow unable to understand that their support of Trump’s party results in denying others – gays, transgenders, people of color, and people of other faiths – their civil rights and, in some cases, their lives.

How does one discuss policy with someone like that? What can you have in common with someone who is unmoved by children in cages?

It seems to me that “the land of the free and the home of the brave” no longer applies to all Americans. Maybe it never has. Under this administration, many are having their freedom challenged. And too few are brave enough to stand up for minorities and the most vulnerable.

Why 2020 Could Be Deja Vu All Over Again.

Despite Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress that the Trump campaign sought, embraced and used information supplied by Wikileaks and Russia, and despite his report that outlines numerous instances involving obstruction of justice, GOP congressional representatives refuse to admit the possibility that Trump has committed any wrongdoing. Indeed, many acknowledge that they have not read the Mueller report.

Further, despite Mueller’s warning that Russia has stepped up its plans to interfere in the 2020 elections, Mitch McConnell and the GOP-controlled Senate refuse to vote on any legislation intended to tamper-proof our election system. Why? Well, for one thing, McConnell has shamelessly accepted campaign donations from the makers of some of the most vulnerable computerized voting machines. For another, he sees no benefit in doing so. Russian interference benefited his party in 2016 and he likely expects to receive further tens of millions in campaign assistance from Russian oligarchs in 2020 as his PACs did in 2016.

And it must not be forgotten that, in a clear signal to Putin, Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he is willing to accept dirt on his political opponents from foreign governments for his re-election campaign.

These are all obvious signs that Republicans plan to steal yet another election.

During a recent interview on NPR, a former Facebook executive predicted that the 2020 election will be different. Instead of creating false accounts on social media to promote fake news as they did in 2016, he believes they will plant false narratives with US citizens and rely on them to distribute their propaganda. As an example, he referred to the Seth Rich conspiracy theory saying that the conspiracy originated with Russians, but that it was soon picked up and widely distributed by American right-wing media. (It was not only a regular story on Fox News. It was promoted by such “authorities” as Alex Jones Infowars and the mysterious – dare I say fictitious – QAnon.) More troubling, he says that Russia’s goal for 2020 is to seed chaos in the US. So he believes that Russia will execute a cyber attack on voting data (or at least give the appearance of one) to create doubt with the outcome of the 2020 election. That will lead the losing side to reject the outcome and perhaps resort to violence.

If that is the case, you can be certain that, if/when Trump loses, his supporters will be armed, locked and loaded. After all, in 2016, Trump convinced his followers that the election was rigged. In the event of a Hillary win, they threatened to “use their 2nd Amendment rights” to remedy the situation. Imagine what they will do if they think Trump is removed from office unfairly.

If the Russians are successful in 2020, it will pose a lose/lose problem for Democrats. If the Democratic nominee wins, he or she will very likely have to face the prospect of an armed insurrection which will further divide the nation. And, if the president-elect backs down under threat, it will cement the power of the lunatic right.

In either event, the beneficiaries will be Russia and the GOP.

Russia will benefit by a divided and weakened US. The division will also continue to benefit the GOP, which is desperately trying to maintain control of the oligarchy they helped create. Even if the GOP loses control of both the Senate and the White House, Moscow Mitch or his replacement will continue to block any and all initiatives intended to ensure fairness in our elections. They will continue to fight making voting machines tamper-proof and creating a paper trail. They will continue to fight all attempts to end gerrymandering. They will continue to fight the expansion of voting hours and the number of polling places. They will continue to fight automatic voter registration. They will continue to fight any efforts to limit the dirty money used to buy elections. And they will continue to fight any attempt to eliminate or modify the Electoral College.

They will fight these things because they have seen the studies that show a clear majority of Americans favor Democratic policies. They see the increases in voters of color. And they know free and fair elections will make them a minority for generations.

The 2nd Amendment: What Were The Framers Thinking?

To many gun owners, and especially to the NRA, the right to own guns is as sacred as the right of free speech. The Constitution, after all, includes the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights immediately following freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assembly and the right to petition the government. There it is in black and white: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

However, that’s not the complete wording of the 2nd Amendment. Conveniently, the NRA ignores the first and, I believe, most important part: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” Reading the amendment in its entirety changes the meaning of the amendment dramatically.

So what were our Founding Fathers really thinking when it comes to guns? According to historian, constitutional scholar and author Fergus Bordewich, they devoted little time or discussion to the issue. In an interview on Democratic Perspective, he says, “You would think that something that looms so large for present day Americans must have been something that loomed large for those who crafted the amendment. Not so. I read the debates. And I recommend to anyone who is getting annoyed by what I’m saying here to go read the debates. All the papers for the first congress are in print. It was kind of a collective shrug, frankly. There was no discussion whatsoever of this as a fundamental human right at all.”

This should come as no surprise to any thinking American. The Founders were creating a nation governed by the people. Their only real concerns regarding tyranny revolved around defending the nation from the British to the north and the Spanish to the south, and from giving too much power to a president who might try to become king.

According to Bordewich, “There was no mystery in the [2nd] amendment except that it’s badly written. It’s badly worded because we can still be sitting here 200 odd years later debating what they actually meant. And it’s perfectly clear, if you know the history and context, that they were talking about guns that would be handled by people who belonged to a militia.” That is supported by the fact that the amendment that immediately follows, the 3rd Amendment, prohibits soldiers from quartering in a house without permission of the owner – an issue that had risen out of the actions of the British army prior to and during the Revolutionary War. In other words, the Founders and most American citizens of the time were extremely wary of creating a standing army.

So what changed? How did we get to the point where nearly anyone can go into a gun shop and walk out a few minutes later with a powerful weapon of war? What led us to accepting hundreds of mass shootings and tens of thousands of non-suicidal gun deaths each year as the price of freedom?

Bordewich responds, “You get there by having a powerful, ruthless lobbying organization that’s backed by the arms industry that wants to sell a lot of guns and has convinced people that they are somehow threatened by reasonable legislation to control guns.”

Indeed, many Americans now seem more willing to put limits on the other rights enumerated in the Constitution than they are on guns. If that ever happens, we will have lost our democracy.

The Difference Between Muslim Extremists And Many Christian Evangelicals.

Spoiler alert: There is almost none!

Muslim extremists in the mold of ISIL and al-Qaeda are willing to martyr themselves to kill non-believers based on the bizarre notion that they will be greeted in the land of milk and honey by 72 virgins. On the other hand, extreme Christian evangelicals are willing to incite war in the Middle East by financing settlements in the West Bank based on their belief that establishing Israeli control of the “promised land” will lead to the return of their “Messiah.” As the story goes, that will prompt God to destroy the Earth while lifting true believers into heaven with the promise of everlasting life. For the same reason, many evangelical Christians deny that humans are contributing to climate change despite all of the scientific evidence that their inaction will lead to the extinction of more than a million species, the death of virtually all ocean life and rising sea levels that will displace or kill much of the Earth’s human population.

To these evangelicals, how the Earth is destroyed is of little concern. They are convinced the destruction will lead to their “rapture” one way or another.

Both types of extremists yearn to live under a theocracy based on the laws of their faiths. Both are contemptuous of other faiths. Both believe in the subservience of women. While Muslim extremists believe that women should cover themselves in public, many evangelical Christians view women as mere conveyances for children. Indeed, they are willing to impose the death penalty on any woman who dares to have an abortion for any reason, even in the case of rape or incest or threat to the life of the woman. They also believe that contraception is in defiance of God’s will.

Both groups believe they are persecuted. In fact, that is one of their primary tools for recruitment. Both refuse to accept that some of their accepted beliefs are the result of faulty translations of the scriptures. Both ignore the many contradictions in their gospels as well as the historical context in which they were written. And both groups are immune to conflicting information. They offer no room for discussion, debate or compromise. Indeed, they believe that doing so would be a betrayal of their faith.

Additionally, the extremists in both groups are masters of hypocrisy. We learned that some of the Muslim terrorists watched porn and visited strip clubs before committing their terrorist acts. Members of ISIL and Boko Haram have used rape as a weapon of war and have taken young women as slaves to bear their children. Meanwhile, many evangelicals live and preach “prosperity gospel” in complete contrast to the teachings of the man they claim to follow. Their leaders live in lavish mansions, are transported about in private jets, and some have been found to have engaged in embezzlement and other forms of financial fraud. And all of them enjoy the tax-free status of their religions.

Some of the evangelicals who are most outspoken against gays have been found to have gay lovers. Others have engaged in extramarital affairs. Some have even been found to have paid their mistresses to have abortions. And, recently, we learned that Jerry Falwell, Jr’s endorsement of Donald Trump came only after Trump’s “fixer” helped extort someone from releasing Falwell’s “embarrassing” photos.

Of course, there are extremists within virtually every religion. Yet, somehow, only one group of extremists is almost universally condemned by the majority population of the US. One really must ask why.

Trumpism: Revenge Of The Misfits.

There has long been a phenomenon relating to those who have difficulty fitting in with polite society – people who look different than others; who are darker, bigger, taller, shorter, fatter, clumsier, or poorer. After being ostracized, bullied and left out, once they find others who have suffered from the same issues and band together, they, too, become bullies. And often they become more ruthless than those who have abused them.

I believe that phenomenon, combined with the anonymity of the Internet, is at the root of the rise of hate groups.

The Internet has become the sanctuary and gathering place to haters of a great variety. Most of these are people who have some sort of grievance: Young men who are unable to establish a relationship with a woman, those who despise the government and the so-called coastal elites, those who are jealous of people who are more educated and socially adept, those who fear different customs or different religions, and those who blame all of their problems on black and brown people, immigrants and refugees. The Internet affords these people a place to connect with the similarly aggrieved. It’s especially useful to white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The anger of all of these haters has been mainstreamed by media such as Breitbart, right-wing radio and Fox News Channel. Moreover, Trump’s disdain for political correctness (i.e., polite and civil discourse) has given the haters a license to say and do whatever they feel.

We saw this in Charlottesville at the gathering of the “alt-right,” in Charleston at the Emanuel African-American Episcopal Church, in Pittsburg at the Tree of Life Synagogue and, most recently, in Christchurch, New Zealand at the Muslim mosques. These atrocities were all committed by people inspired by Trump’s attacks on Mexicans, Latinos, Muslims, people of color and Democrats – attacks that have been amplified by his most ardent followers on underground racist websites such as 4Chan and 8Chan.

Trump is the reason the number of active hate groups soared to an all-time high in 2018. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors such things, at the end of 2018, there were 1,020 active hate groups – white nationalist, neo-Nazi, anti-black, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim groups whose members are willing to commit crimes. And these groups don’t even include the less organized “sovereign citizens” like Cliven Bundy and those who aimed their guns at government BLM employees and commandeered a nature preserve in Oregon. And they don’t include the Republican Party, which has become a hate group in its own right determined to punish opponents, suppress votes and deny civil rights to people of color, the LGBTQ community and Muslims.

Worse, thanks to Trump and his sycophants, these hateful ideologies are spreading around the globe. Indeed, Steve Bannon, Trump’s former Chief Strategist has been traveling Europe to spread his message of hate and fear financed by the billionaire Mercer family. At a recent European rally, Bannon told his audience that he wears the term racist as a badge of honor.

The goal is to unite the extreme far right to take over political control of western Europe. To what end we can only speculate. But it seems the intent is to destabilize western governments for the benefit of the oligarchs and autocrats. And, based on resentment of Syrian refugees and some long-standing grievances, they have had some success in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, even Sweden.

Unless our traditional political institutions are able to figuratively and literally disarm this movement, we can probably expect to see many more episodes similar to what we just witnessed in New Zealand.

Remembering 9/11.

Since 2001, September 11 has become a somber occasion – a sad reminder of an attack on American soil that shattered many lives. Almost every American who was alive at the time can remember where they were and what they were doing when New York’s World Trade Center towers came down.

That day impacted everyone – some far more than others.

I have known people who were in New York that fateful day, people who worked to clean up the site in the aftermath, people who were in the air and rerouted to airports outside the US. All of their lives were dramatically changed in a moment; a flash from the explosion of jet fuel; a massive cloud of dust; the unknown of what and who would be next.

Sadly, there are casualties from that day that have been overlooked or forgotten, such as the first responders who worked around the clock to help survivors and to find the bodies of the dead. Many of these people have been stricken with cancer and other diseases, yet had to fight Congress in order to receive funding for the health care they need. Many of the first responders have prematurely died as a direct result of that day. Many have suffered from PTSD and taken their own lives in percentages that far exceed the suicide rate of other Americans.

Indeed, it is expected that the premature deaths of these heroes will exceed the deaths of the 2,977 original victims of 9/11 by the end of 2018!

In addition, there are other things about that day that have been largely ignored. In the tribalization of our national politics, too many Americans have refused to acknowledge that the Bush administration had clear warnings of the impending calamity. Richard A. Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, has written about running around Washington with his “hair on fire” trying to warn that we were about to be attacked. The PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) of August 6, 2001 was headlined “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US.” The text of that PDB even included the possibility of the hijacking of aircraft.

Many of us never knew or have forgotten about the British immigrant Rick Rescorla who, as Security Chief for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, accurately predicted the attack on the World Trade Center towers and created an emergency evacuation plan. On the day of the attack, he led 2,700 people to safety before he died after going back into the tower to look for stragglers.

Too few of us recognize that many of the victims of 9/11 were citizens of other nations.

Too many US politicians have conveniently overlooked the fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists were from our so-called ally, Saudi Arabia, in order to maintain the flow of Saudi oil to world markets. The same Saudi regime that bombed a school bus full of Yemeni children with US-made weapons and US-provided guidance. The same Saudi Arabia that is responsible for creating and exporting a radical and hateful form of religion based on Islam.

Too many of us have forgotten that America’s longest-lasting war – the war in Afghanistan – which began as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks is still raging and still costing the blood and treasure of our nation. Too many have forgotten that the invasion of Iraq was falsely tied to 9/11, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,800 members of the American-led coalition. And almost no one recognizes that the radicalization of Islam began in Saudi Arabia. That it was exported to Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And that its flames were fanned by US-sponsored propaganda created by a former professor from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

So, on this somber day, I would suggest that you remember the issues and mistakes that led up to that fateful day in 2001 and that still plague us today in order that we not repeat them. And I would suggest that you remember all of the heroes and victims, including the first responders and the families of those who have died.