Good morning on this fine Monday!
I hope you had a great weekend.
Before you drink that first cup of joe, let me assure you that I don’t want to spoil anyone’s day. Since I’ve been out of America since 1999 and was in London on 9/11, I’ve got very different views than those who watched the Towers burn live.
I understand there will be a difference in viewpoints, and I will proceed as gently as possible.
Across the Pond, On the Desk, Mouth Agape
It was a rather ordinary Tuesday in Canary Wharf. I remember not being hungover, as that in itself was an event for me back in those days.
Since LBS ran Monday night classes for my Master’s degree, I always headed to the Windsor Castle pub with Trav and the boys after class for a few before the Tube shut down for the night.
In those days, I was a heady 26-year-old whose ambition far outweighed his knowledge or skills, working as front office support before I got my shot on the trading desk.
It was a slow day, as I remember, until the first plane hit.
If you work on a trading floor, you can “feel” the news. When 1,100 people react simultaneously to an event, it electrifies the ether.
I looked up, and honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad.
The perfectly horizontal gash in the building should’ve told me otherwise.
As the tower smoldered, I recall thinking, “How the hell can anyone fly into that? It’s harder to hit it than to miss it.”
Flashback to Lehman (When It Was Solvent)
The Twin Towers were the tallest buildings on the eastern seaboard, and I used to watch them fade into view whenever I flew back to London from Newark.
I immediately thought of my bartender at the Greatest Bar on Earth, Frank.
When I was a pup at Lehman Brothers (rest in peace) in 1997-1998, I used to walk across the bridge from 3 World Financial Center to the World Trade Center at 5:30 pm every Friday.
From there, I’d take the fast elevator up to the Greatest Bar on Earth – the restaurant was called Windows on the World – and as soon as I’d pop my head in, Frank would hold up a bottle of Tanqueray.
I was 23-years-old, making $36,000 a year, and this guy made me feel like Warren Buffett.
By the time my ass hit my barstool, a Tanqueray martini (with three olives, please!) would be waiting for me.
I’d have a few of those and be hammered.
Then I’d walk over to the window and put my forehead against the plexiglass. I’d watch the clouds sweep below my feet and into the building. It was heaven, indeed.
I’d then hold my thumb and pointer finger about a half-inch apart to measure Lady Liberty’s height in New York Harbor.
From there, we’d go out on the town. Maybe to Pravda or Chez Es Saada. If we were casual, maybe Bleeker Street or the Wall Street Kitchen.
That’s when New York was genuinely the most fantastic city in the world. My heart is heavy writing about it and America in 2021.
Back to London in 2001
Like most, as soon as I saw the second plane hit, I knew something sinister was afoot.
London went on high alert and closed its airspace.
Phones started ringing. “Are you ok?”
Nearly 3,000 weren’t. That was their last morning.
My cousin Michael, pictured third from left in the above picture, helped save a man’s life that day. Big Props!
I remember a work colleague of mine later saying, “You were either there, or you weren’t. And I’m glad I was there.”
But sitting 3,500 miles away in London gave me the blessing – or curse – of detachment.
And since that fateful day, this is what I’ve seen.
Screw Your Freedom!
Arnie, Arnie, Arnie. Seriously, what the f*ck?
Could you imagine back in the late 90s Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Immigrant, Kennedy in-law, future governor of California uttering that phrase?
This was a man for whom former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch floated the idea of rewriting the Constitution so that he could run for president.
Jesus H. Christ.
Sadly, this isn’t a one-off. Or a slip of the tongue. Look around you. Too many Americans feel this way right now.
I’m going to say it right here: since 9/11, Americans – especially its government – have been panicking at the slightest vibration.
Let’s rip off a list of things American citizens have allowed their government to implement since 9/11.
- The Patriot Act
- The War on Terror
- War in Afghanistan
- War in Iraq
- CIA black sites and waterboarding
- Moving terror cases from civil courts to military tribunals
- The Department of Homeland Security and the arming of local police
Quick question: do you think we’d have shut down the economy or the country following a virus outbreak if not for 9/11?
If so, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
For all the justified tears for lost loved ones on that fateful day, Americans, in general, have acted in a way utterly contrary to the country’s founding philosophies.
This isn’t a singular short-term observation. Now, this is a 20-year trend going in the wrong direction.
For all his faults, Donald Trump stemmed the tide, especially with regards to the Middle East. Many Americans whine about the Muslim ban, which, funnily enough, no Muslims ever complained about.
His peace deals, or at least staying America’s itchy trigger finger, did a world of good.
We’ve already seen the disastrous decision-making of “foreign policy expert” Sleepy Joe Biden and its harmful effects.
It’s not going to get any better. Even if Biden resigns and calls it a day early, we’ll have to deal with President Kamala Harris, who hasn’t demonstrated a single shred of competence in any area for ten months.
So it’s up to the American people as it should be.
But this passive, wait-and-see attitude no longer works. Heck, you’ve been watching and waiting for 20 years.
Action is the order of the day.
While you’re in America, that action ought to be civil disobedience. And of course, if you think the situation is past salvation, then our plan looks perfect:
- Second passport
- Online business
- Get healthy
With that, I’ll leave you to finish your coffee.
Have a wonderful week ahead.
All the best,