Good Sunday Morning!
As if you didn’t know, one week to go with voting day next Monday, September 20. With Advance Polls now, I know this reaches you on a day when you are heading out to vote. We are buoyed by Annamie’s excellent debate performance, heralded by journalists – Don Martin, Andrew Coyne and others as the winner!
Yet, unexpectedly perhaps, I am feeling the need to write you about ashes.
Yesterday, in the embrace of much needed rain, we scattered ashes. I managed to carve some time out of an intense schedule, to get to Salt Spring Island, to be with those near and dear to my adopted mom, Dorothy Cutting, for a ritual of remembrance. As many of you will know, I dedicated this campaign to Dorothy as she left this world on August 16th, in her 91st year through medical assistance in dying.
When my mother died in 2003, Dorothy said, “Don’t worry sweetheart. I’ll be your mommy now,” which was as sweet and unexpected as any act of love in my life. I miss her terribly.
Yesterday was also the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre. Ashes of a different kind. So painful. So paralyzing.
It occurs to me that I may have an uncommon number of connections to that moment.
My dear friend Richard, whose son was late to work, emerging from the subway before he could make his way to his desk at height in the South Tower.
My stepson Sasha, working as a New York assistant district attorney, in the adjacent building with the well-known steps seen in the opening credits, week after week, to “Law and Order.” He and work colleagues watched in horror from their windows as people fell to their deaths to avoid the fire.
My daughter in law, Cristie, then Sasha’s girlfriend, was drawn closer to her now husband. Traumatized, they clung to each other. The next day with all flights canceled, he rented a car and drove them non-stop – home to Toronto.
My godfather, actor Cliff Robertson, was in his Sesna flying over Manhattan from his home in East Hampton, Long Island that morning. He thought he saw a thunderstorm ahead in a large storm cloud. He told us, “And then I saw the second plane hit. I realized we were under attack. Within seconds, I received instructions to divert to Harrisburg Pennsylvania and land and stay there.”
And my friend from Sidney-by-the-Sea Rotary, Mike Jellinek, who, as incredible as is it may seem, was the person in control of the North American Aerospace Defence Command Centre (NORAD), and its fortress inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado – known as “the Mountain.” Canadians take turns with S military in filling that role.
Mike answered a lot of my lingering questions.
I had wondered about the 9-11 narrative. Reading Gore Vidal’s book, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, I was persuaded that something was fishy in the failure to scramble F-16 fighter jets once it was confirmed that planes had been hijacked.
Gore Vidal pointed out normal procedure was to get in the air fast and be prepared to shoot down a hijacked plane. He recounted the events around the death of pro golfer Payne Stewart, once his private plane deviated from its prescribed flight path.
“Air force F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the private plane as it flew north-west, but were unable to detect any sign of life behind the aircraft windows …”
Gore Vidal laid out a very convincing case that someone in authority must have told those fighter jets to stand down. This always bothered me.
So I asked Mike. The answer was relatively obvious. Despite Gore Vidal’s genius, he missed it. Once the terrorists turned off the transponders, no one could track them. What anyone in air traffic control or the military could see was thousands of dots – every aircraft airborne. To find the hijacked planes was to find a needle in a haystack. That’s why Cliff was diverted to Harrisburg. Not inefficiently, but very quickly. Every pilot of every plane was told to land, with flight paths to a safe landing.
No one told the F16s to stand down. Everything moved quickly. But not quickly enough.
I remembered when the bombs had gone off in the basement of the twin towers in 1993. I watched on the evening news (if memory serves) the architect who said (with lamentable hubris), “this building is designed to withstand a direct hit from a 727.” And I thought, “why would he say exactly what it is designed to withstand? They can find something beyond those parametres.”
I became friends with the extraordinary Maureen Basnicki, whose husband Ken died in the Twin Towers. She led the charge for the legislation to permit litigation from victims of terrorism against governments that harbour terrorists. But still, she has not been compensated.
Twenty years after the attack, so many are hurting. And then come the 911 “truthers.” I have been attacked for supporting their call of an inquiry into 9-11. I have supported them, not because I think there is anything to hide, but because I think there are answers to hard questions. Denying people the right to even ask the questions drives the conspiracy theories deeper down. It fuels and feeds an ever- spiralling number of conspiracy theories. From QAnon to people who fear COVID vaccinations inject a tracking microchip.
We are always better served by transparency.
So, a deviation from the election, but let me bring it back around.
8 days to go. The feeling on the ground here is good. This is a report from one of the volunteers on our lawn sign crew:
“I’ve put up many signs and this election at four houses I was treated like a freaking celebrity. The whole household came out to wave at me. They were excited. That’s never happened before. Let’s hope it’s a good omen!”
Thanks Bill! I sure hope so!!
Love and thanks to all,
PS. many of the SGI debates are on line. Here is the one from Salt Spring Forum
Click HERE to watch recording of the debate on YouTube.