The great Mandela keeps spinning:

The great Mandela keeps spinning
: Nelson Mandela backs down on his support for our war against bin Laden, according to Islam Online.

“Subsequent discussions with our family, friends and advisors have convinced us that our view may be one-sided and overstated,” Mandela’s statement said. The support for the war “gives the impression that we are insensitive to and uncaring about the suffering inflicted upon the Afghan people… We regret if the manner in which we stated our position gave any offence to Muslims in South Africa and throughout the world.”

Mr. Mandela, with this mealy-mouthed equivocating — fearful of offending any of your old allies and selling out your other allies — you put your struggle, your true freedom-fighting on the same level as bin Laden’s murder, you play a dangerous game of politics and PR and PC spin. The rest of the reasonable world and most of Afghanistan opposes bin Laden and now you’re not sure? For shame, sir, for shame.

(Link to the original South Africa Business newspaper story here.)

I keep losing their stupid knives anyway
: The Swiss allow their damned knives back onto their damned planes.

Mullah moola
: Slate finds the irony of the World Trade Center’s Muslim motif.

The value of vision
: Thomas Friedman’s column in the NY Times today is good. It’s about the need for vision.

Friedman hails President Bush for winning the war so far. But then he complains that Bush has “tried to use the tremendous upsurge in patriotism, bipartisanship and volunteerism triggered by the tragedy of Sept. 11 to drive a narrow, right-wing agenda from Sept. 10 into a Sept. 12 world. It’s wrong. It won’t work. It sells the country short and it will ultimately sell the Bush presidency short.” I don’t think Friedman is complaining about what Bush is trying to do, though; he’s complaining about what Bush is failing to do.

Friedman says that so far, we’ve succeeded in making the world safe for OPEC members to increase the price of oil, which they just did. So we, the taxpayers, have to pay for the billions of dollars of damage done to life, property, and the economy by these Arab terrorists and now we have to pay more for oil “because the Middle East regimes we’re protecting want to hike the price.” This, says Friedman, is “an outrage.” Amen.

He continues: “You’d think maybe the king of Saudi Arabia would say: ‘America, we’re as upset as you that Osama bin Laden and 15 Saudi youth were involved in the terrible attack on your shores. So we want to help America ó the engine of the global economy ó recover, as well as the developing world.’ ”

But that, of course, is a fairy tale. And so Friedman says that what Bush should be doing now is creating a national priority for energy independence so we are no longer hostage to these bozos. He’s right, so right.

But this is not the only pressing need competing for our attention. I’ve been writing about the need for a clear homeland security strategy (hello, Tom Ridge). Thomas Nephew and I have been writing about the need for a clear emergency health care strategy — in Nephew’s words, we should look at this as the Interstate highway project of our generation. You can list other such pressing priorities, I’m sure.

What we’re talking about here is the need for vision.

And what we’re also talking about is the difference between conservatives and liberals. Now don’t get all hinky and pissy on me about this; pay attention to the mere words (this comes right out of the Jihad vs. McWorld playbook): Conservatives protect and conserve what we have and that is just what we have needed in war. But to get us out of this ditch, to use this national unity we have to build our future, what we we need is the vision — a liberal, constructive vision — to rally us all around a pressing national priority or two and to execute that strategy. That’s what Friedman longs for. And he’s right.

: By the way, I was about to link to Friedman’s column and went to look it up on the NYT only to find out that they are charging $4.95 to get access to all his post-9/11 pieces. And what do we think of this? On the one hand, I read them already and paid for them a few times (for my home-delivery copy, for the copy I read on the overcrowded train, for my time reading the Times online). On the other hand, as a writer, hell, it’s always nice to think that we could be worth something. Vision has value.

Them ferners
: Can’t we all finally write off Pat Buchanan as a xenophobic twit? Drudge says his book will blame the problems of the world on immigrants. That’s the mirror image of the antiglobalism frenzy and the domestic version of the clash of civilizations. It’s about not being able to deal with the different.

15 Bytes of Fame
: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for his flattering link to my post on the objects I carry since Sept. 11. Thanks, too, to Will Vehrs of Quasipundit for his nice four-star review.

I saw a quick spike in traffic yesterday and guessed I was Instapundited; sure enough, I was. Glenn says he’s amazed when people tell him about the clicks he causes; he’s humbly amazed at the traffic he gets. I think that through his reliability, volume, promptness, and, of course, quality, Glenn is providing a new front page to the Web and people are clearly depending on him for that.

Numbers
: ABC News just released a poll that says:

- 91 percent believe America has changed in lasting ways since Sept. 11. Amen to that, my brothers and sisters.

- 55 percent believe their own lives have changed and — get this — 71 percent of those say it is for the better. At first, that may seem astonishing. But consider what we have all been going through and how we have changed in these momentous months. The poll doesn’t ask them how their lives have changed but I can speculate: They are glad to be alive; they are trying to take more time with their families; they may be taking more time with God; they can calculate their new priorities in life; they are living wiser. And as a country, we have found new unity and we have had to find new purpose. These give the dark cloud a lighter lining.

- Women, by the way, are more likely to say that their lives are changed and less likely to say they are optimistic. I always said women are smarter.

: Meanwhile, Steven Den Beste at USS Clueless says we should all be more optimistic because we weren’t attacked on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I hate to be the Eyore of the Terror Age, but I have to disagree for a number of reasons. First, these terrorists don’t take obvious dates as targets; they have a smidge more subtlety. Second, they are patient; they tried to blow up the World Trade Center once and failed and waited years to try again. Third, they did try again: Shoe boy is the evidence. I’m not resting easy. And I sure don’t want our government to rest easy. Tom Ridge: What did you do this New Year’s weekend?

: But I’ll leaven this with a little optimism (even if it may be 50 years out): Just over a half-century ago, half of Europe was killing the other half with us in the crossfire. Now they have the same currency. Progress. Slow, but progress indeed.

Shoe Boy’s new name
: Rantburg beat me to a Maxwell Smart reference in relation to Richard Reid, the shoe terrorist. I’ve been struggling with the right name for the bozo. Shoe Boy captures his lackey stupidity but not with sufficient comic poetry. Then I saw Rantburg with a, yes, smart reference to Maxwell Smart, considering that this is all about intrigue and shoes. (To all you kids who are too young to know this — which, I fear, is probably every damned one of you — Maxwell Smart was a sitcom secret agent whose phone was in his shoe.) Well, that’s it! He’s Maxwell Stupid.

: Get me rewrite: Reid Stott came up with the Maxwell Smart reference on Dec. 23. He wins.

Gawk
: Amy Langfield wandered downtown in Manhattan and found a five-hour wait at the new viewing platform at the World Trade Center. This is still bothering me: terrorism as tourism.

Off topic
: James Lileks exposes a horrid sin: People who mix flavored coffee with real coffee in grinders and pots and then sell us the contaminated result. I HATE THAT. Now that I’m a boss, I have used my despotic authority to intimidate colleagues and tell them they would be wise not to come within nose-shot of me with any damned hazelnut or French vanilla coffee; it poisons the air for hours; it coats the senses. I have similar views of open-mouthed gum chewing. These are important issues in the workplace, you know.

: Charles Johnson has been drinking too much caffeine, too.