Friday September 17th 2021: JJ McCartney’s Friday Extravaganza LIVE

The Friday Extravaganza is LIVE today as we present this vivid set of illustrations of what is WRONG in America today:

Commentary/Opinion from Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal:

I want to stay with 9/11 to say something that struck me hard after the ceremonies last Saturday. The grief felt and expressed had to do with more than the memories of that day 20 years ago. It also had to do with right now.

It had to do with a sense that we are losing the thread, that America is losing the thread. We compared—we couldn’t help it, it is in the nature of memory—the America of now with the America of 20 years ago, and we see a deterioration. We feel disturbance at this because we don’t know if we can get our way back. The losing of the thread feels bigger than ideology, bigger certainly than parties. It feels like some more fundamental confusion, an inability to play the role of who we are, and to be comfortable in who we are.


Certainly, most obviously and geopolitically we lost the thread in Afghanistan. We went there 20 years ago to make quick work of mass murderers who’d attacked us, and those who’d harbored and helped them. But we didn’t get the man who gave us 9/11, he escaped, and attention turned elsewhere, to Iraq, and we just stayed and walked in circles and came up with new words to rationalize the mission and it all turned into a muddle of confused intentions. Ten years in it was like the drunken song, “We’re here because we’re here.”

Having lost the thread in the war we then with an almost magical consistency lost the thread in the ending of it. It was a frantic calamity of ill-thought-through actions and mistaken agendas. The horrifying part was that it couldn’t have proceeded without a willful ignoring of reality.

Evidence of a lost thread: 9/11 was a deeply communal event. We were all in it together, wounded together and mourning together. We dug deep, found our best selves, and actually saw the best selves in others. The spontaneous community of those who showed up at the hospital to give blood, of those on the top floors of the towers who gathered to try to lead people out, of those on the plane who banded together to storm the pilot’s door—“Let’s roll.” It wasn’t just you, you were part of something.

The country we are experiencing now is one of people in different groups ganging up on each other. We all see this. It’s all division, driven by identity politics, race, gender, class. Twenty years ago we were grateful for cops, now we denigrate them and they leave and we argue about why they left. A rising generation of voters who were children when 9/11 happened and who became conscious of history during the 2008 economic crisis see (and have been well taught!) the imperfections, mistakes and sins of their own country but have no human memory of the abuses of other systems, of how damaging deep socialism, and communism, have been. The passion of their emerging beliefs will engender opposing passions. They already are.

Just about every large business in America is now run by its human resources department because everyone appears to be harassing and assaulting each other, or accusing each other. Is this the sign of a healthy country?

Following the trauma and drama of 9/11 we started discovering in some new way our nation’s meaning—what it was in history, meant in history, meant to us. We talked about it. We saw: The first thing the firemen did after the towers fell was put up the flag.

Twenty years in our history is treated as all sin, sin, sin. We’re like mad monks flagellating ourselves. We are going through a nonstop condemnation of our past and our people and their limits and ignorance. It isn’t healthy. Reflection and honest questioning are, but not this. And so much of it comes from our most successful and secure, our elites and establishments. Regular people look and think, “But if our professors and media leaders and tech CEOs hate us, who is going to help us think our way out of this mess?” And they know someone has to, because they know in a way elites can never understand, because they have grown so used to security, that no nation can proceed in the world safely and fruitfully when at bottom it hates itself.

Watching the ceremonies last weekend it was understandable if you thought: We started out rediscovering our love and wound up obsessed with our sins. We started out together and wound up more divided than ever, driven apart by opportunists who set us at each other’s throats.

And of course it all plays out in a million political and cultural issues. The pandemic came, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence (we hope) and somehow that shared experience became another opportunity for division. Government had to be deft and persuasive and honest about what it didn’t know and didn’t have, and often failed. But government can always regulate, spend and tax. We’re no deficit hawks in this corner but doesn’t U.S. public debt going toward $30 trillion feel a little . . . high? And dangerous?

When a country has lost the thread it gets a mob breaking into the U.S. Capitol going for the ballots that will ensure and formalize a presidential election. When it’s lost the thread it can no longer maintain a rough consensus—it doesn’t even WANT a rough consensus—on how we vote.

And there are the million goofy things that are insignificant and yet somehow feel . . . telling. The Met Gala the other night showed the elite of a major industry literally losing the thread. Google the pictures. It was a freak show. There was no feeling of a responsibility to present to the world a sense of coherence or elegance, to show a thing so beautiful it left the people who saw it aspiring to something they couldn’t even name. All this was presided over by a chic and cultivated woman who is cunning and practical. If freaky is in she’s going freaky deaky to the max. Follow the base, even if it’s sick. Do not lead. Leading is impossible now.

That’s what I see with leaders all over America’s business life. What follows the lost thread is go-with-the-flow. Even when you know it isn’t going anywhere good. Especially when it’s going nowhere good.

What are regular people doing? My sense is they’re trying to hide from the national, figuring they’ll make strong what they can make strong—the family, the school, the local. They’re not trying to “maintain control” or “retreat,” they’re just trying to make things work. But what does it mean for a country when its most sober and thoughtful people are essentially trying to hide from it? To hide from the accusations and division and the growing air of freakishness, from the whole cultural revolution and the woke regime, trying to enforce boundaries between “that” and “us.” And knowing all the while that, as they say, you may be through with the culture but the culture isn’t through with you.

I feel certain this whole story will have some effect on, maybe a big effect on, the next election and the one after that. Just people feeling, knowing, that we’ve lost the thread, need to get it back, and wondering what we can do to help make that happen.