Posts from July 22, 2004

About those Saudi flights

About those Saudi flights

: Michael Moore made much hay over the flights of Saudis out of the U.S. after September 11th. It’s as if the 9/11 Commission went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 and wanted to respond directly; it boxed a special section on page 329.

Here is a transcript of what Moore said:

MOORE (VO): It turns out that the White House approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis. [Listing of flights to Saudi Arabia.] At least six private jets and nearly two dozen commercial planes [Close Up:

We are the targets

We are the targets

: I flipped through a copy of the 9/11 Commission report I bought tonight and came upon this:

The lesson of 9/11 for civilians and first responders can be stated simply: in the new age of terror, they

CNN update

CNN update

: I’m in the Starbucks across from Time Warner HQ; still scheduled to go on at about 10:30.

: UPDATE: Hope you didn’t blink. It was quick: 20 seconds. That’s TV. That’s fine.

Convention news feed

Convention news feed

: Thanks to Dave Winer, here is a feed of convention bloggers. (Oddly, though, it doesn’t include Dave’s convention blog itself, so add this address to the list.)

The 9/11 Commission report

The 9/11 Commission report

: A few early reactions to the 9/11 Commission report; more to follow…

: The report’s summary focuses far too much (though not exclusively) on Al Qaeda as the enemy. Just as the report complains about a lack of imagination (read: vision) among governments current and past, the commission lacks the imagination to see that this is a much bigger issue and enemy than one group of terorist nutjobs.

This is about democracy and civilization and the Middle East. It is about religious fanaticism. To focus just on Al Qaeda is to be just as shortsighted as the commission believes recent administrations have been.

: It is good to see that the Commission’s recommendations talk about the need to reform the Middle East but it does not go nearly far enough, for it is scared to think that perhaps invading and democratizing Iraq could be a legitimate means of combatting terrorism in the future.

The language of the report is far too mushy: We must provide an “agenda of opportunity” to people in the Middle East. What is that? A UN report? Or regime changes?

: A key assumption of the report and the commission is that (as I say below but will repeat here) the government coulda, shoulda, woulda protected us against this attack and so this is governments’ failure and thus government’s fault. The truth is that we can’t fully protect ourselves against the insane acts of evil fanatics and we must remember to blame them.

To assume that we could anticipate and thus protect ourselves against the acts of madmen is mad itself. It deludes us into a feloniously false sense of security; it only builds up a blame game for the future after the next attack no reasonable person could anticipate occurs. So much of the commission’s work is built upon this foundation and that foundation is a crumble of wishes and blame.

: The commission remains downright disrespectful to New York’s finest and bravest. I dare any of these suits put on the uniform of those men and women.

: It says we should “attack terrorists and their organizations.” Well, yes. But do they have the stomach for literal military attacks in more countries in the Middle East? That what it will take.

: Based solely on the executive summary, the report itself lacks the vision to recognize how America and the world have changed because of terrorism and 9/11 and how the changes needed in the world are greater than any intelligence organization chart can prescribe.

This is bigger, so much bigger than a Warren Commission report. It’s not about one nut — Oswald or bin Laden — changing the world with one act. This is, instead, about more change that is still needed in the world. And the report does not seem to step up to that plate.

Vlogging (not flogging) the convention

Vlogging (not flogging) the convention

: Lost Remote’s Steve Safran will be video-blogging the Democratic convention.

9/11 in HTML

9/11 in HTML

: Jason Kottke performs a great service, putting the summary of the 9/11 Commission report online in HTML, with permalinks to individual sections. Thank you, Jason.

On CNN tonight: How we’ve changed since 9/11

On CNN tonight: How we’ve changed since 9/11

: I might be on CNN with Aaron Brown tonight (standing caveat: that can change) to talk about how we have changed since 9/11 because the 9/11 Commission report is being issued today (and because I was there).

I think it’s a great way to handle the story of the release of the 9/11 Commission report today: pulling back to get beyond the sniping and even the nitty-gritty lessons to examine what this all has meant to us as a nation.

I’m telling you this so you can add in what you think in the comment. I’ll start thinking out loud here at the same time. A start:

: Fear: The other night, I went to a focus group and heard a woman say that since 9/11, she checks CNN constantly “to make sure there’s not breaking news.” That hit me hard: We’re afraid. When something big happens, it’s going to be bad. It could affect us personally. Let no one tell you that America thinks it’s invicible (not that we ever truly did); we know our mortality now, we can measure our vulnerability and give it a color code.

: Unity: I hope we have not squandered the unity that 9/11 afforded us; I fear we may have but I won’t say it’s too late to regain it. This is why I had such problems with the way the 9/11 Commission comported itself much of the time — looking for blame, finding enemies within — and that is why I certainly had a problem with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11, finding the enemy atop. This is about us vs. them and we are not the them, damnit.

: Political shifts: On an individual level, I do believe that 9/11 grayed the blacks and whites of politics for many Americans. I certainly see that in blogs, where I find many kindred spirits. I was a liberal pacifist. Now I’m a liberal hawk. I was against Bush and still am quite unlikely to vote for him, yet I refuse to get caught up in the Mooreish conspiracy theories about the other side in politics. On a national level, I’m not so sure. We’re still being portrayed as red-state-vs.-blue at every border. I’ve argued (on CNN, so I won’t repeat myself) that we’re really not a nation divided but a nation undecided. But this is all up for debate.

: Anger: I’m certainly angrier, aren’t you? When I hear the news yesterday that the bastards have captured more hostages and that the head of an American was found in one of their refrigerators, bile rises. It’s all so damned senseless and uncivilized and criminal and, yes, evil. On one of the 9/11 anniversaries, I gave what could be argued was an unChristian sermon in my Congregational church saying that I could not forgive or forget. I just can’t.

: Family: We all hear people say this and I believe it in my own life and the lives of people around me: Family matters more since 9/11. I told you long ago that ever since that night, when I was lucky enough to return home, my children have said “I love you” whenever I leave them. They still do.

: Priorities: We also all heard people say that this would change their priorities in life. Apart from some rich folks who were lucky enough to quit their jobs and go find roses to smell, I don’t think 9/11 changed our individual priorities. Life still happens.

: Patriotism: I never would have worn a flag on my lapel or my bumper. I do now. Bastards tried to kill me just because I am an American so I’ll shout my Americanism.

: Isolation: Are we more isolated in the world? Sure, we are. Some are trying to kill us, others say they hate us, others won’t support us. And what is — and what should be — the American reponse? F’ em. Or at least that’s my response.

: Health: My own health has suffered but that has been because of inhaling the dust of destruction. But because of that, I read stories about the many ways 9/11 had an impact on the health of Americans, from depression to sleep disorders.

I have to run now. Will be back in a bit. But please do leave your thoughts in the comments — thoughts, contributions, not arguments with each other, please.

: UPDATE: Talking with the CNN producer just now, I was reminded of what Bill Clinton said when he introduced the Hunting of the President movie: that “in every hinge point in history we have a fight like we have now…. We will debate as we move to a new concensus about what it means to be an American in a 21st Century world.” That is what is happening now: America is changed. The world is changed. We are all trying to figure out what that means and fight it out as part of that process. It’s not over yet. We’re still digesting the change.

: In the comments, Terry Heaton says:

On the downside, I think our obsession with assigning blame has been heightened. It has translated into a self-serving acrimony that is close to being institutionalized