As the celebrations and pious remembrance ceremonies fade away, let us not forget some of the realities of the 9/11 attacks. Everyone know that 2996 people died in the attacks. Almost exactly the same as the number who died in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
The numbers are as interesting as they are tragic. The 2996 all died on one day, in a few hours. The Puerto Rican victims died over months, as the Trump administration did little to help the island recover from the brutal storm, and even encouraged carpetbagger efforts to exploit the tragedy for personal profits.
We take notice of people who die all at once. Like the cavalrymen at Little Big Horn. But we don't take much notice of those who die over time, even if in much larger numbers, like the Native Americans slaughtered for their land and resources, in much smaller groups, adding up to much larger numbers. Or the slaves who died of starvation rations and overwork, or just at the whim of an owner.
Thus it is with the deaths from Hurricane Maria and from 9/11. As we wait to learn what the Donald will tell us about how North Carolina, and then other states, suffered no damage from Hurricane Florence, we should see this as simply one more in a list of denials that are NOT the Donald's.
In 2006, the New York courts finally put an end to mayor Rudi Giuliani's efforts to deny medical care to first responders and others injured during the 9/11 attacks. The same Rudi Giuliani who now denies any problems in the Donald's administration, back after 9/11 denied that first responders and people in the city suffered medical or psychological injury from the destruction of the World Trade Center and other buildings.
Rudi Giuliani, who now defends the Donald's denial of global climate change, in 2001 denied the scientific evidence that the attacks caused dangerous air pollution that lingered for months.
Giuliani, who now defends the Donald's denial of global climate change, in 2001 denied the scientific evidence that the attacks caused dangerous air pollution that lingered for months. He encouraged people to come back into the city, to workplaces, and apartments and tourist attractions that were heavily polluted. Then when people started to get sick, he ordered the city to deny them medical care. They didn't need medical care anymore than the malingering first responders, he said.
It was evil, greedy lawyers who took the mayor to court, and litigated until October 2006, more than 5 years after the cause of the medical need. Those evil, greedy lawyers got the court to overturn Rudi's order, and allow malingering first responders and other people with injuries only they and their doctors could see to receive medical care.
This is the same Rudi Giuliani who raves about the Donald's efforts to put an end to the Affordable Care Act. Affordable care for anyone, first responders or struggling workers is anathema to him.
But Giuliani wasn't alone in his contempt for the first responders. Hundreds had died. But many more live with the consequences of risking their lives for others, for strangers, on 9/11. In December, 2010, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, filibustered an $8 billion measure to provide care for first responders whose needs had become more and more apparent over the years following 9/11.
The Republican Party recognized the reality that the public will notice mass catastrophes, but will largely ignore slow tragedies, even if they are worse than sudden deaths. So they announced firm, coordinated opposition to any help for the firefighters, policemen, public service employees, civil servants and others who served on 9/11, and were stricken by long developing, lingering, progressive injuries.
The Donald says that he like his heroes who don't get captured. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the entire rest of the Republican Party members of Congress like first responders and public servants who don't get injured on the job.
A shout out is due to the "Liberal Media" in this situation. When the Republican filibuster appeared about to succeed, and leave first responders with no health coverage for their lingering, or increasing, injuries, television comedian John Stewart devoted an entire episode of his Daily Show to the situation. Daily Show let a national audience see how "inside the beltway" politicians were trying to deprive 9/11 heroes of necessary medical care for injuries incurred during their heroism.
Daily Show's efforts were not enough to get the bill passed. But it apparently found a few Republicans with enough remnants of decency that they agreed to a watered-down bill, providing about ½ of the funding the bill had identified as necessary. The new law had a "sunset" provision, with Republicans hoping that injured first responders would have mostly died off by then. They made it expire in October, 2015.
But thanks, once again, to the Daily Show's John Stewart, and several sick first responders who traveled to Washington, D.C. to raise public awareness, the new Republican-controlled Congress reenacted the bill after it expired, in December, 2015.
The first version of a bill to provide injured first responders and other victims of the 9/11 attacks with medical care, had been introduced in 2005. Every effort to care for these heroes was defeated by Republican Party politicians until the December 22, 2010 bill. And, of course, on December 22, 2010, every Republican Party congressman went public with claims that they were giving a generous Christmas gift to the 9/11 victims.
In 2018, the Republican Congress took this attitude a step further. Dick Cheney had tried to privatize the Veterans' Administration, as his administration was starting wars around the globe. First, he asked the Republican Congress to slash payments for veterans' care. Then he proposed that private, for-profit medical corporations be given the task of caring for the veterans injured On the battlegrounds that he had started.
Even some Republicans saw the effort to destroy the VA and make care for wounded warriors a profit-center as a bridge too far. But they did allow Cheney to pack the VA with political and industry cronies, eager to use care budgets to increase their own bottom lines.
Then, after eight years of President Obama and Democratic efforts to weed corruption and waste out of the VA, The Donald and the now Republican-controlled Congress went back to trying to privatize veterans' care. Even with all the reports of corruption and mismanagement, the VA continued to receive higher patient satisfaction ratings than any private, for-profit healthcare provider.
Republicans saw those high patient satisfaction ratings as a problem, not as a good thing. With the U.S.'s longest wars, in the Middle East and Afghanistan, showing no signs of abating, and with the Donald promising vastly more war profits from engagements with North Korea and in the South China Sea, to start, congressional Republicans eagerly glommed onto plans to turn veterans' care over to private corporations.
On June 6, 2018, the anniversary of D-Day, when so many troops gave the last full measure of their devotion, The Donald signed a bill that allowed veterans to choose to go to private healthcare corporations, rather than VA doctors. The White House bragged about the effects of the bill, stating that it would lead to "virtually unlimited increases" in private corporate income and profits from treating veterans.
Getting "virtually unlimited" grasp on the federal purse for healthcare corporations was enough of a compromise to convince most Republicans to allow the VA to continue to exist for at least a few more years. So on June 6, having delivered "virtually unlimited" corporate access to veterans' tax dollars, every Republican Party politician went out to brag about how they were "helping," just as they did after being arm-twisted into "helping" first responders in 2010.
This September 11 saw Republican politicians around the nation make speeches about patriotism and public safety. Not one of those speeches mentioned Republican efforts to deny care to injured first responders. Not one of those speeches noted Republican efforts to destroy the Veterans' Administration and to shift "virtually unlimited" taxpayer dollars to private, for-profit medical corporations. And not one of those speeches mentioned the current Republican Party plan to slash corporate and 1%-er taxes even more, IF they hold their majorities in the House and Senate in November's elections.
We should all remember 9/11 and the aftermath, in which Republicans put corporate profits and tax cuts above the needs of injured first responders. While remembering the dramatic tragedy of that date, we must also remember the slow, less visible tragedy, spun over years, of Republican politicians letting first responders, victims and veterans sicken and die, out of the public eye.
We must remember. We must vote to end it.