The Toledo Rally

If you didn’t see the Trump/ Pence rally the other night here it is.

One of his best, hitting all the targets that need hitting, hard an in the X ring.

Destroying the Heartland

Did you see Tucker Carlson the other night, talking about Paul Singer? If not, here it is and for that matter, if you did, watch it again.

He’s spot on, judging by what I know. John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist adds detail to what Tucker says.

The point of highlighting the fate of this one town and the role of Singer in its demise isn’t to vilify capitalism or the free market in general, but to point out how the system is engineered to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. As Willis Krumholtz explains nearby in greater detail, the story of Cabela’s and the people of Sidney is an example of “financial engineering that paid a select few off, while the whole suffered.”

This critique goes to the heart of what the political right has been grappling with in the age of Trump. What is the proper role of the government ad public policy in American society? Whose interests should it serve?

Much of what’s behind Trump-era populism, not just in America but across the West, is the dawning realization that the post-Cold War global capitalist system doesn’t necessarily benefit working- and middle-class Americans—or at least that free trade and global capitalism aren’t unmitigated goods. They have costs, and those costs are borne disproportionately by ordinary people, the kind of people who get laid off from Cabela’s for no good reason other than it made Singer a pile of money.

This isn’t just an economic question. The role of government is also at the center of the ongoing Sohrab Amari-David French debate on the right about whether the public sphere can really ever be neutral and what, if anything, conservatives should do to advance what they see as the good. Libertarian-minded conservatives like French look at drag queen story hour and conclude, hey, this is just the price of liberty. We can no more use government power to prohibit drag queens in public libraries than we can use it to prohibit any other kind of free speech

Ahmari and others have challenged this way of thinking, positing that liberty has an object, which is the good, and that government’s role is not just to protect liberty but also to promote and defend the good. Things like stable and intact families, prosperous communities, and vibrant churches and schools aren’t merely what we hope might spring forth from unfettered liberty secured by a neutral and indifferent government; they’re the entire purpose of securing liberty in the first place.

The phrase A more perfect Union comes to mind. Our founders didn’t design a country to make certain individuals rich. They, and we mostly have no objection to that, it is the proper outcome of doing your job well. That doesn’t mean that doing your job well means to destroy the neighborhood or even the region.

Also in The Federalist and also linked above, Willis L. Krumholz gives a very good explanation of how this works.

Delphi, too, is a complicated story. The automotive parts company was coming out of bankruptcy before Singer bought it. That doesn’t excuse the mass-outsourcing of jobs, or policies that allowed this to happen even after a taxpayer bailout, but Singer doesn’t face the sole responsibility for what happened to those jobs.

Yet there’s a dark side to Singer’s brand of capitalism. For example, the case was surely made that Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops had “synergies.” They sell the same stuff, and the stores even look similar. But the two companies were separately profitable. Now, the combined company has a ton of debt, and little room to grow profit aside from cutting costs and using their newly acquired market power to increase prices.

Not only that, if everything is about shareholder returns, it should be noted that most mergers destroy shareholder wealth, not build it.

Hedge funds are different than private equity funds, and there are various types of private equity and hedge fund strategies. Many are totally benign, and often, private equity actually helps firms start up or recover from bankruptcy.

But there is a strain of private equity, known as leveraged buyouts (LBOs), that has been more destructive. In an LBO, a private equity (PE) firm buys a company. But that company is too big and expensive to be bought with the PE money alone, so paying out the existing shareholders requires saddling the company with oodles of debt. Often, 90 percent of the acquisition price is funded via debt.

But the PE firm doesn’t owe that debt, the company does, and some of the debt can even be used to pay the PE firm, and its partners, a dividend. The PE firm then exits the investment by re-taking the company “public” at what the PE firm hopes is a higher share price. At this point the PE firm has made money, and has no ties to the company it used to own, but that company still has the debt load.

OK read the articles and draw your own conclusions, I’m no expert, Thank God since I like to sleep at night, but I’ve watched over the last decade as Cabela’s has gone from being one of my favorite stores to a place I’d just as soon avoid. And closer to me, I’ve watched as Monroe Shock Absorbers has closed a plant that kept a town going, and as whatever Baldwin Filters is now, did the same to another town 10 miles away.

It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s eating the heart out of the middle of the country. Here, for my money, is one of the causes of many of the problems, including the opioids epidemic have their roots.

But Wait, There’s More!

I’m even less of an expert on who owns the GOP, although I’ve my suspicions. But I suspect Ace has a pretty good clue, and he’s one of very few who has the guts to call it as he sees it.

People like Paul Singer control the GOP and are effectively in a conspiracy against actual GOP voters. When Singer’s kid announced he was gay, Paul Singer basically mandated that the GOP become pro-gay marriage, and the GOP complied.

Another billionaire funder, Stanley Hubbard, told, in 2016, his own pet candidate Scott Walker that he must not question the Corporate Class Consensus on birthright citizenship and high levels of tolerated, supposedly illegal immigration.

Hubbard issued his rebuke, and Walker changed his tune to sing the Corporate Class anthem within a day.

Tuesday: Stanley Hubbard, a conservative billionaire who oversees a Minnesota broadcasting company and has donated to Walker’s campaign, confronts Walker on the issue during a lunch in Minnesota. Hubbard strongly opposes ending birthright citizenship, and he tells The Washington Post that he “might really quickly change my allegiance” if Walker pushs for such a repeal. Hubbard says he “did not get a real straight answer” from the candidate, but he comes away ready to write more checks to help Walker, adding, “I got the feeling that he is not at all anxious to talk about taking away those rights.”

A lot of “conservative journalists” are actually bought-and-paid-for propagandists for monied interests. You know how AEI “chairs” work? Specific billionaires fund specific “chairs” and give them to specific propagandists posing as “journalists.”

And

Meanwhile, Paul Singer calls the shots in the GOP. If you ever wonder why the GOP supports so many unpopular positions with incredible zeal and passion (such as vulture capitalism), and why the GOP runs away from some popular issues like border enforcement, and why the GOP takes the Democrat side on issues which are 50/50 (gay stuff, abortion), it’s because very rich liberals like Paul Singer, who have no interest in the GOP or conservatism except to pervert it into a tool to help put more money into their pockets,, have willed it so, and all of our chickenshit “representatives” can’t quit that sweet, sweet plutocrat money.

Pretty much, whenever the GOP is acting in what appears to be an inexplicably stupid or traitorous way, the reason is that, of course, they’re being paid to act that way, and they of course can’t admit that publicly.

It’s time to take this trash out.

Past time, actually. It’s been stinking for decades. But better late than never.

As for Ben Sasse, it was pretty obvious even before he was elected that he was a tool, long since bought and paid for. It’s people like him that cause us to hold our noses and vote for the least evil. It’s also why I almost never vote for an incumbent. And yes, I will be voting against him next year in the primary. In the general, we’ll have to see.

I see Sen Sasse has responded to Tucker Carlson, it is here. You make your own call, I have.

AG Barr at The Federalist Society

Attorney General William Barr gave the Barbara K Olson Lecture at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention.

It is a superb dissertation on the background and theory of the American system of government. I have never heard better. I highly recommend watching and paying attention.

Sometimes we forget, we have had, and we do ha some extremely intelligent and accomplished people in our government.

Since the AG said it all, there is little point to me adding my 2¢ worth.

Enjoy.

An Important Conversation

Last Friday, in the Daily Signal, Bill Walton wrote (mostly a transcript) of a podcast he did with Star Parker and Winsome Sears (R, VA) and the first black woman representative from Virginia. It’s very good, although it is very long it is well worth your time. It’s wide-ranging about the problems in the Black community and why the Republican Party doesn’t get more votes from it. Well, that was the aim, but the problems they see, and they mostly agree and expand on each other, apply to the white and Hispanic communities too. In fact, they apply right across western civilization. Here’s some of it.

Parker: Well, I came to believe what I believe by reading a proverb a day. I was believing the lies of the left for a very long time. I believed all that we even hear today, that my problems were somebody else’s fault. That America was racist and I shouldn’t mainstream. That I was poor because others were wealthy.

In buying all of these lies, I got very lost in my decision-making. So very early in life, [I] was engaged in criminal activity and drug activity and sexual activity and abortion activity and welfare activity, and then God saved me. Some gentlemen introduced me to the Lord and I changed my life. I went to school, I got a degree, I started a business. After the ’92 Los Angeles riots destroyed my business, I began to focus on social policy, and that’s how I came to run my organization, Urban CURE, today.

But if you ask, “How did you shape those views beyond just the personal responsibility that comes from knowing the Scripture and figuring out how to live through a daily proverb?” I started a business. That’s when I understood how extensive government is in the affairs of someone who just wants to buy an apple and sell it for enough to buy another one, and another one and another one. And [I] started being encroached by all types of three letters, from the IRS to the you-name-it. The disability, the environmental protection, a long list of all of [these] alphabets too.

Walton: Well, yeah, George McGovern became a conservative after he started a bed and breakfast.

Parker: Yes, exactly, you start finding out that, “Wait a minute, what has happened to our great country?” I think that’s what shaped my economic views. But what has shaped my philosophy and what drives me and my organization is my born-again experience.

Winsome Sears: Amen.

Walton: Winsome?

Sears: Well, I am a Marine and I had had my last child, my husband and I, and we were living in California at the time. It was right around the time of the election and George Bush Sr., he was running, he was a candidate and I was still a Democrat. I’m black …

Walton: This would have been ’88?

Sears: Yes. I’m black, I’m supposed to be a Democrat. It rhymes, OK. The whole family’s full of Democrats, so what am I? I am what I am. [Mike] Dukakis, his commercial came on and he said, “I’m going to expand welfare. I’m going to make sure that this, that, the other, we’re going to give you money and we’re going to… ” I thought, “But if that happens, my folks, they’re just going to be living on what they get. There’s nothing to propel them.” Then he said, “For abortion, I’m going to make sure abortion is this and legal and expanded and do this and public monies and public…” I had just had my baby and I thought, “Well, I don’t believe that.”

Then right behind him came George Bush Sr. with his commercial, and he said, “If all you have is welfare, is what the government gives you, you will never have anything to pass onto your children.” Then he said, “As for abortion, I’m going to try and make it less and less and less.” Then I said, “Oh my God, I’m a Republican.”

The next thing was, “How am I going to tell my family?” Because it’s almost as if I was changing my religion. It was a shock to me and I think to many black people; they really are Republicans because we are the most conservative, really, group. It’s just a matter of me getting in there and people like Star and everybody else getting in and saying, “Let us be who we want to be. You don’t get to tell me how to run my politics and I don’t get to tell you either. Just let us be free.”

Go and read it, it’s the best thing I’ve read in at least a week. My reader says 39 minutes, it’s worth twice that amount of time. And yes, I almost completely agree with them across the board.

Halloween and the Witch Hunt

And so, the charade continues. Fittingly, on Halloween, the House voted to conduct a partisan, all but Soviet-style impeachment inquiry. It was, of course, a party line vote, with every Republican voting against (as well as all 17 Repub amendment not allowed a vote, with two Democrats voting with the Republicans. Well, if I understand, that’s not quite right. It’s actually an investigation into whether there should be an impeachment inquiry. In short, the witch hunt continues.

Conrad Black, in American Greatness, has more.

[T]he pre-electoral schism in American politics seems now to have reached a point not approached since the Civil War. The Democrats have been successfully hounded by the Republicans for their unauthorized, in camera, selectively researched, and leaked “impeachment investigation.” Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is going to have its existence approved by the House, but with plausible deniability, so vulnerable Democrats in pro-Trump districts can claim they only voted to “look into it”—not to impeach the president for probable crimes of sufficient gravity.

This is just another palliative to cover the egregious antics of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), intelligence committee chairman and congressman from Hollywood. Now lurking constantly at Schiff’s side in his innumerable photo and sound-bite ops is his yappy attack dog, Rep. Eric Swalwell, also of California, perhaps the first elected Democrat to call for Trump’s removal, and for being the Democratic presidential nomination candidate who had the least support and was the first to be knocked out. Swalwell manfully accepts the invitations on Fox News that Schiff declines.

This can be seen as a tactical victory by both sides, as Pelosi obviously needs to provide some sort of veneer of seriousness to this burlesque, a concession to Republicans, but the White House will continue to ignore Schiff’s subpoenas. With a few exceptions, all Schiff can get as witnesses are anti-Trump ex-government employees whom the president cannot instruct to ignore his committee’s subpoenas.

It’s a pretty good gig for $174,000 a year. That’s not all that high actually for a mid-level executive, although it does seem high for these unemployable (in the private sector) clowns.

The implosion of the Russian collusion coup has reduced this farrago of nonsense of a “whistleblower” claiming frightful election-rigging crimes with the president of Ukraine (who denies it strenuously), a lame tale from the start.

Schiff proclaims every night on our screens that each invocation of the president’s incontestable right to withhold government personnel from Schiff’s subpoenas is “proof of his criminal behavior” and “obstruction of justice.” No sane American could attach a jot of credence to anything Schiff says—he is as believable as the radio traitor Lord Haw-Haw was when broadcasting to Britain from Berlin during World War II.

Demedia credibility has been squandered in years of false charges and now they have no chance of persuading the public that charges laid in the Russian and FISA matters are politically motivated. The president hasn’t spoken with Attorney General Bill Barr about it, and Barr hasn’t attempted to influence the widely respected special counsel John Durham, who has a bipartisan or nonpolitical staff, unlike Robert Mueller’s wolfpack of foaming Trump-haters.

The Demedia has no charges left to make. Their impeachment charade, if they get it to the Senate to be tried, will keep most of the Democratic presidential contestants in Washington during the primaries and it will be crowded to the back of the news-hour by Durham’s activities.

In short, Winter (in the form of AG Barr) is coming, and in an election year.

Conrad Black also writes but at National Review (I know, right?)

My research and intuition indicate that we have reached a turning point, and that all but the outright Trump-haters are disconcerted, and in growing numbers disgusted, by the cumulative pettiness, nastiness, and dishonesty of the assault on this president. As the longest-serving occupant of the office, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said, “The president is, preeminently, the head of the American people.” This fact is frequently lost sight of in partisan skirmishing, but it is always capable of being asserted if the facts warrant. This president has only, to my recollection, addressed the whole country on a national issue from his office once, and his appearance then was unexceptionable. However ill-considered some of his comments may have seemed (and been), he has not squandered or abused his ability to ascend to that role and has endured these three years of contumely and spurious challenge somewhat equably. He has presumably believed that eventually the effort to portray and convict him as an illegitimate felon would be seen as an outrage.

I believe the country is now sick of it. To be sure, Trump has exhausted even his supporters; it is hard work defending him, and that is why he generally outperforms the polls. But the country is beginning to see that it has been duped. There are a couple of almost hidden traits of the American people that are profound and imperishable and capable of being stirred, and that once aroused are invincible. One is the puritanical conscience of the country. Despite cynicism, hucksterism, all the gaucheries and inanities of banal and often craven political hacks, the plagues of bad taste, and the inundation of public life with money, often in unwholesome interests, almost all Americans fundamentally believe in America and all its legitimate institutions. For reasons as familiar to readers as they are to me, this presidency has not been the beneficiary of this inbred respect for the institutions of national public life. But the instantly confected fraud of an impeachable offense in the president’s relations with Ukraine and its president has now snapped the patience and indulgence of all but the Trump-haters so rabid they should be in straitjackets and padded cells. (There are millions of them, but they aren’t more than about a quarter of the adult population.)

I think so too, although I reached that point quite a while ago. What watching this farce, as a grownup has taught me is that contrary to what I thought at the time, Richard Nixon (who won 49 states in 1972) was railroaded – lynched if you will. I doubt that was the lesson the Witch of Frisco and the Corgressfool from Hollywood had in mind, but it is the one they are teaching.

America Goes to War

We all, if we are old enough, remember the horror we felt 18 years ago this morning. I happened to be home and watching the morning news, never, not once in my life have I been so shocked, and yes, angered. But we all were, I still remember the picture of a German destroyer coming alongside one of our warships on a NATO exercise,  rails manned, stars and stripes at the foretruck, and a homemade sign on the bridge, “We are with you”, it said.

We talk of this every year, as our parents and grandparents talked of Pearl Harbor, and it was the same kind of thing, out of the blue, mass casualties, and a coming together. Sadly that last didn’t last very long. My remembrance of the day is here, and I’ve spoken of the heroes of the day before as well, here. Both are, I think, worth rereading.

But we are continually learning more, and seeing people in a new light. Garrett M. Graff published in Politico last week an excerpt of his book: The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11. Even the excerpt moved me to tears and a huge respect for all those mentioned in it. I’m not sure how ‘fair use’ plays out here, but I think we should be all right with his chosen excerpt, and perhaps a couple pictures. I hope so, I want you to read this.

Gary Walters, chief usher, White House: It was a little bit before 9 a.m. when Mrs. Bush came downstairs—I met her at the elevator. As we were walking out, I remember we were talking about Christmas decorations.

Laura Bush, first lady: My Secret Service agent, the head of my detail, Ron Sprinkle, leaned over to me as I got into the car and said, “A plane has hit the World Trade Center.”

Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser, White House: I thought, Well, that’s a strange accident. I called the president. We talked about how odd it was. Then I went down for my staff meeting.

Matthew Waxman, National Security Council, White House: I had started about six weeks earlier as Condi Rice’s executive assistant. At about 9:00 o’clock, we would have a daily Situation Room meeting for the national security adviser and all the senior directors. It was during that meeting that the second plane hit.

Mary Matalin, aide to Vice President Dick Cheney: I was with the Vice President when the second plane hit, and we knew instantly that this was not an accident.

Condoleezza Rice: It was the moment that changed everything.

Matthew Waxman: We went into full crisis response mode.

Mary Matalin: We went right into work mode. While we were in his office making calls to New York, making calls to the president, making calls wherever they needed to be made, the Secret Service barged into his office.

Dick Cheney, vice president: Radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney: We learn that a plane is five miles out and has dropped below 500 feet and can’t be found; it’s missing. You look at your watch and think, Hmmm, five miles out, 500 miles an hour. Tick, tick, tick.

Dick Cheney: My Secret Service agent said, “Sir, we have to leave now.” He grabbed me and propelled me out of my office, down the hall and into the underground shelter in the White House.

Mary Matalin: My jaw dropped and the jaws of my colleagues dropped because we had never seen anything like that.

Condoleezza Rice: The Secret Service came in and they said, “You have got to go to the bunker.” I remember being driven along, almost propelled along. We had no idea where it was safe and where it wasn’t. We didn’t think the bunker of the White House was safe at that point.

Dick Cheney: They practice this—you move, whether you want to be moved or not, you’re going.

Gary Walters: The Secret Service officers started yelling, “Get out, get out, everybody get out of the White House grounds.” I remember early on, the chaos. People running, screaming. Fear was in my mind.

Christine Limerick, housekeeper, White House: The look on the faces of the Secret Service agents who were told that they had to stay—I will never forget that because we had at least the opportunity to flee.

Ian Rifield, special agent, U.S. Secret Service: We were fairly confident that plane was going to hit us. The supervisor in the [Secret Service’s] Joint Operations Center basically said, “Anybody who survives the impact, we’ll go to an alternate center, and we’ll continue.” It wasn’t a joke.

Dick Cheney: A few moments later, I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.

Commander Anthony Barnes, deputy director, Presidential Contingency Programs, White House: Vice President Cheney arrived in the bunker, along with his wife. The PEOC is not a single chamber; there are three or four rooms. The operations chamber is where my watch team was fielding phone calls. Then there’s the conference room area where Mr. Cheney and Condi Rice were—that’s the space that had the TV monitors, telephones, and whatever else.

Mary Matalin: It took a while for everybody to actually get to that area. It hadn’t been used for its intended purpose—which was to be a bomb shelter—since its inception.

Commander Anthony Barnes: Shortly thereafter, I looked around and there was Condi Rice, there was Karen Hughes, there was Mary Matalin, there was [Transportation Secretary] Norm Mineta. Mr. Mineta put up on one of the TV monitors a feed of where every airplane across the entire nation was. We looked at that thing—there must have been thousands of little airplane symbols on it.

Mary Matalin: The vice president was squarely seated in the center. It was emotional, but it was really work, work, work. We were trying to locate first and foremost all the planes. Identify the planes. Ground all the planes.

Commander Anthony Barnes: That first hour was mass confusion because there was so much erroneous information. It was hard to tell what was fact and what wasn’t. We couldn’t confirm much of this stuff, so we had to take it on face value until proven otherwise.

At 9:59 a.m., those inside the bunker—as well as millions more glued to TV screens around the country—watched in horror as the South Tower fell.

Mary Matalin: We saw the building collapse.

Commander Anthony Barnes: There was a deafening silence, and a lot of gasping and “Oh my god” and that kind of thing.

Mary Matalin: Disbelief.

Commander Anthony Barnes: There are four or five very large, 55-inch television screens in the PEOC. We would put the different news stations—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC—on those monitors. I remember Cheney being as flabbergasted as the rest of us were sitting there watching on these monitors. Back in those days, a 55-inch TV monitor was a really big TV. It was almost bigger than life as the towers collapsed.

Dick Cheney: In the years since, I’ve heard speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.

Mary Matalin: We had to go right back to work.

Richard Clarke, counterterrorism advisor, White House: Many of us thought that we might not leave the White House alive.

Matthew Waxman: One of the things we were all very conscious of down in the PEOC was that the White House Situation Room was staffed with our close colleagues and friends who were staying in those spots despite a clear danger. The Situation Room, which is only half-a-floor below ground, was abuzz with activity, from people who wouldn’t normally be posted there, but who felt duty bound to stay there to help manage the crisis. Especially early in the day, there was a palpable sense that close friends and colleagues might be in some significant danger.

Ian Rifield: There was a sense of frustration too, because we were sitting there. Everybody wanted to fight back. We’re trained to go to the problem, and we were sitting there. There was a lot of tension in that regard. You wanted to do something to protect the complex and the office of the president even better than we were, but we were doing the best we could with what we had. […]

Commander Anthony Barnes: I was running liaison between the ops guys who had Pentagon officials on the phone and the conference room [in the PEOC] where the principals were. The Pentagon thought there was another hijacked airplane, and they were asking for permission to shoot down an identified hijacked commercial aircraft. I asked the vice president that question and he answered it in the affirmative. I asked again to be sure. “Sir, I am confirming that you have given permission?” For me, being a military member and an aviator—understanding the absolute depth of what that question was and what that answer was—I wanted to make sure that there was no mistake whatsoever about what was being asked. Without hesitation, in the affirmative, he said any confirmed hijacked airplane may be engaged and shot down.

Col. Matthew Klimow, executive assistant to the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, Pentagon: No one had ever contemplated the need to shoot down a civilian airliner.

Major General Larry Arnold: I told Rick Findley in Colorado Springs [at NORAD’s headquarters], “Rick, we have to have permission. We may have to shoot down this aircraft that is coming toward Washington, D.C. We need presidential authority.”

Major Dan Caine, F-16 pilot, D.C. Air National Guard, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland: I handed our wing commander the phone to talk to the high levels of government to get the rules of engagement.[…]

Col. Matthew Klimow: It was a very painful discussion for all of us. We didn’t want the burden of shooting down the airliner to be on the shoulders of a single fighter pilot, but we also didn’t want to have that pilot go all the way up the chain of command to get permission to shoot. It was decided the pilots should do their best to try to wave the airplane off, and if it’s clear the airplane is headed into a heavily populated area, the authority to shoot can be given to a regional commander.

THE CALL

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney, F-16 pilot, D.C. Air National Guard: This sounds counterintuitive, but when the magnitude of the situation hit me, I really lost all emotion. It was really much more focused on, What are the things I need to do to enable us to protect our capital? What are the things I need to do to facilitate us getting airborne?

Brigadier General David Wherley, commander, D.C. Air National Guard, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland: My translation of the rules to Sass was, “You have weapons-free flight-lead control.” I said, “Do you understand what I’m asking you to do?” [Sasseville and Penney] both said yes. I told them to be careful.

Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville, F-16 pilot, U.S. Air Force: As we’re going out to the jets, Lucky and I had a quick conversation about what it is that we were going to do and how we were basically going to do the unthinkable if we had to.

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney: We would be ramming the aircraft. We didn’t have [missiles] on board to shoot the airplane down. As we were putting on our flight gear in the life support shop, Sass looked at me and said, “I’ll ram the cockpit.” I made the decision I would take the tail off the aircraft.

Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville: We didn’t have a whole lot of options.

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney: I had never been trained to scramble [mobilize] the aircraft. It would typically take about 20 minutes to start the jets, get the avionics systems going, go through all the preflight checks to make sure the systems were operating properly, program the computers in the aircraft. That’s not even including the time to look at the forms, do the walk-around of the airplane, and whatnot. We usually planned about half-an-hour to 40 minutes from the time you walked out the door to the time that you actually took off.

Col. George Degnon, vice commander, 113th Wing, Andrews Air Force Base: We did everything humanly possible to get the aircraft in the air.

Major General Larry Arnold, commander of the 1st Air Force, the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida: Bob Marr quotes me as saying that I told him that we would “take lives in the air to save lives on the ground.”

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney, F-16 pilot, D.C. Air National Guard: Seeing the Pentagon was surreal. It was totally surreal to see this billowing black smoke. We didn’t get high. We were at about 3,000 feet. We never got above 3,000 feet, at least on that first sweep out.

Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville: There was all this smoke in my cockpit. It made me nauseous to be honest with you—not from an Ugh, this stinks, it was more from an Oh my God, we’ve been hit on our own soil and we’ve been hit big. I couldn’t believe they had gotten through and they managed to pull off this attack.

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney: The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves.

Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville: They made the decision we didn’t have to make.

There is much more at Politico and  I really want you to read it all. It includes the transcripts and remembrances of the phone calls and cockpit voice recorder from Flight 93.

Too often we talk about heroes, and often we exaggerate. We don’t here, from Vice President Cheney right down to the passengers and crew that took down flight 93, we can truly say,  The soul of the United States of America in action.

Thus ended the first day, many would follow.

 

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