The Morning Our Nation's Childhood Died

In some ways, it seems like yesterday. In some ways, it seems like 10 lifetimes ago.

It was in the morning, and I was just about to jump into the shower. At that time, I worked afternoons on WFLA in Tampa, Florida. My big, huge box television, a Sony Trinitron, was on really loud in my house in Velrico, Florida.

I was in the bathroom, and I heard the Today Show say it looks like a small plane has hit one of the twin towers. I came out in my boxers with my toothbrush, and I said out loud as if Katie Couric was somehow or another going to hear me, That's not the hole of a small plane.

RELATED: WATCH--9/11 Remembrance

I quickly jumped into the shower because I knew whatever it was that we had planned to do that day was about to change. But I thought, This plane thing will probably change today, and it will be out of the news in a couple of days. I jumped into the shower, and I got out. I'm listening, and I hear a second plane hit. And I called Stu, my producer at the time, and said, Stu, we're at war. We need to get to the studios.

As I drove, with unnoticed mismatched socks and wet hair, we heard the towers collapse. I stepped on the gas, and I thought to myself, Who? Who would want to kill -- how many people are in there? 30,000? 100,000? It's two vertical cities. Who would want to kill 50,000 people? For what reason? What have we done? Who are these people?

I had forgotten that in '98 or '99 I was on the air at WABC in New York City, and out of frustration one night -- and anger -- I warned the audience that within a decade, Osama bin Laden would act on his promise of death, and there would be blood, bodies and buildings in the streets of New York because we were so focused on left and right politics, that you can't even see the truth right in front of you.

What I had talked about earlier in that hour in '99 was Osama bin Laden's promise in the '90s to do to the U.S. what was done to the former Soviet Union --- and that was divide, demoralize and collapse it from within, and exert pressure from without.

That day in 1999 when I was on the air, my conservative audience was angry with me because I was defending Bill Clinton's airstrike on the aspirin factory. Do you remember that? The aspirin factory was bombed, and everybody was saying, He's just trying to do this to get his name out of the headlines because of the Monica Lewinsky thing, and all you're trying to do is excuse him. All you're trying to do is help the Democrats win in the next election." And I was like, No. Will you please listen to the words of Osama bin Laden. I didn't even know who this guy was until we bombed the aspirin factory. And then I went and I read his words, and I'm like, Oh, my gosh. Yes, we should kill this guy.

And the president's detractors at the time, I mean, they were saying that Bill Clinton would only do this to distract him from his sex and perjury scandal, and it didn't take a vast right-wing conspiracy to believe he would do that because he had so soiled himself, if you will.

The Clintons had done enough to increase the fog of the partisan war that you could no longer see anything. Most of what I heard that day was that nobody knows who Osama bin Laden is. This guy's a nobody. And we're the United States of F-ing America. Like that guy in a cave is going to do something to us. You're just trying to get Al Gore elected. You're just trying to excuse Bill Clinton. You're just whipping up fear to help the Democrats win the next election.

Boy, some things never change. The fog of partisan war --- George Washington warned us about it. It stopped us from seeing the attack that would come just a couple of years later.

Back on September 11th, 2001, I didn't remember that episode of my talk show on ABC. It wasn't until Osama bin Laden was mentioned as the mastermind that later Stu and I looked at each other and said, Wasn't that the guy we talked about at ABC?

Once I heard that, I knew our life was going to change for a while. But we would make it, if we could just stay together and stay awake. But I knew somehow or another this was going to be harder to solve than just war. It was bigger than just killing those in caves who were responsible. I think all of us knew somewhere inside, This is going to change everything. And it did.

Our kids don't even know the America that we knew. They don't remember how free we really were. How secure we actually felt. How innocent and ignorant we were table to easily remain. How much we trusted each other and how much we trusted our government. How much we thought, Oh, that stuff will never happen. Our kids will never understand that. They will never see it because the world won't go back to that.

In a time where we would have never put up with someone telling us that they were going to search us so we could get on to an airplane, in that time, Snowden was a child. But if he were an adult and he would have done what he did back then, if he would have exposed the government for spying and eavesdropping on American citizens, we would have been outraged by his revelations, and I think we would have declared him a hero.

But as I typed out these thoughts the other day, the world has changed so much, I used my fingerprint that I gladly gave to Apple to type it out.

I remember the days following the strike, the skies were so quiet. There wasn't a plane in the sky, except that I lived by MacDill Air Force Base. And I remember the stealth taking off.

We didn't know that the government was flying the Saudis out and the Bin Laden family out of the country. We just assumed that any plane we did hear was a fighter protecting us. I remember watching Congress holding hands and singing hymns together. And I remember foolishly thinking, Wow, we're all alike. We all believe the same things. Look at us. We all believe that this is the greatest country in the world, that our Constitution is worth defending.

So much since 9/11 has been lost, but little did I know that our faith in each other, our faith in the basic ties to one another would be the hardest and the last domino to fall. The idea that we all didn't love America, that we all didn't think that the Constitution was inspired and sacred. I thought we all knew that it was the combination of business and government and money that was bad --- not wealth itself, not the rich themselves, not even the political system --- but the combination of all of those things: business and government and greed.

I really didn't think we saw color anymore, and I know we didn't on 9/12.

9/11 was the hardest day as a citizen I had had up until that point. But the next day, 9/12 and perhaps as long as a month after that, were the proudest days to be an American citizen because, for a short while, none of us cared about doing well. We all cared about doing good.

Tania and I flew to New York as soon as planes were flying again. And I remember flying in over the city at night. It was completely dark. Only the body recovery effort was lit, only Ground Zero itself. There were about five passengers on the plane, all of them were going to Ground Zero. And we all fell silent as we approached.

The next morning, I stood in the still-smoldering rubble. It took me a decade before I stopped smelling that smell. If I smelled it again, I would tell you what it was. But up until just a few years ago, thank God, it went away. I could still smell it.

I'll never forget the first time I saw military Humvees and automatic weapons in the streets of New York. The island of Manhattan with a chain-linked fence. And where there wasn't a chain-linked fence, there was a fence of men in blue that you couldn't get past.

I didn't know what to say to America in those days. I remember praying the week of 9/11, just days before I went national, and I said, Lord, you have the wrong guy. I didn't take my life seriously. I didn't take the country seriously. I'm a jokester. I'm a joke. I'm a rodeo clown. You have the wrong guy. I don't know what to say.

I remember grasping for words on 9/11. People listening, saying, What does it mean? And I said, I don't know what it means, but I promise you, I will do my job to figure it out, and I will tell you the truth. We're in this together.

I really thought for a long time that we would be able to go back to our bliss of ignorance, that when I said we could go back to the way we lived before, that we could all go back to our jobs and our family and to go back to that place where we didn't care about anything, we weren't paying attention to anything. We didn't have to. They would take care of that in Washington.

But it was our bliss that got us to 9/11. And it's our collective hardship that got us to 9/12.

What did the terrorists do to us 15 years ago? They didn't take down our economy like they had hoped. They did much, much more, and they used a weapon of mass destruction more powerful than airplanes. They used us. They used our ignorance, our corruption, our political greed, our ignorance, our apathy. They used our two-party system. They used our religious differences, our lifestyle differences to crush our foundation and to crush one another. And it's working.

As we found on 9/11, even steel under enough intense pressure and heat buckles and fails. And our bonds are no different. But we also learned on 9/11, over a field in Pennsylvania, it only takes a couple of people who think they have absolutely no power to change the course.

Yesterday on 9/11, I prayed almost the same prayer, Lord, you have the wrong guy. I don't know what words . . . I have no words to help. And the words that I do speak seem to make more trouble because too often, they're not your words. Let me begin again. Let us all begin again.

It is the anniversary of September 12th. Anyone who is old enough to recognize it, recognizes it as one of the greatest days ever to be an American. Let's reflect on that today.

Featured Image: Screenshot from The Glenn Beck Program, September 12, 2016.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.