Posts from February 2002

Dragging feet: The NY Post

Dragging feet
: The NY Post reports that the Towers of Light memorial has been approved by the city but now some damned bureaucrat is dragging his heels on whether the site can take the weight. Fine. We don’t want the lights to sink into landfill. But rather than whining about it, he should be getting off his ass and getting the facts and making this work. This is important to to hearts of New York and the world.

A “Tribute of Light” memorial to World Trade Center victims got Mayor Bloomberg’s blessing yesterday – but was stalled because its sponsors waited until the last minute to get clearance to use land in Battery Park City.

“I can’t expect to approve something . . . I don’t know . . . will work,” said Tim Carey, president of the Battery Park City Authority.

Carey said there were numerous unanswered questions about the illuminated tribute – including whether its 88 high-wattage xenon spotlights are too heavy to sit on the Hudson River landfill that makes up the proposed site.

“I have to have the hard facts first. We have to ensure the engineering is done properly so we do not cause something to . . . sink in the landfill,” Carey said.

“If it’s not feasible through the engineering I can’t make it happen. There’s a way to do business here.”

If Rudy were still in charge, he would pull together the people involved, crash their heads together, and humiliate them into making this happen. Mayor Mike is too busy planning his weekend hideaways.

Wurtzel, the strip
: Jim Treacher has more Wurtzel comics.

They call this win-win
: BP announced it will not longer give money to any politicians. So smart. Payola probably didn’t really pay off efficiently anyway. You stay out of PR trouble. And you save money. You concentrate on business instead. What a concept.

: Nice line from the poor head of Enron, Stephen Cooper: In the NY Times, he says regarding employees and other creditors:

After putting their time and energy into the hard-charging Enron, “all of a sudden, they get `bageled,’ ” as he put it in a interview this week. “If it happened to me, I’d be livid.”

Bageled? As in zeroed out, a reference to a bagel’s shape? Or a reference to the fact that executives got Enron’s dough and the employees were left with the hole?

Vote for the spammer: I

Vote for the spammer
: I hadn’t seen this yet: Political spam. I got two emails right in a row pushing Bill Jones as a Republican candidate for California governor. Says the candidate:

This is a new and unique experiment. For the first time in history I am trying to make the Internet the vehicle to provide information to the people of California – NOT 30 second TV ads.

I believe that Democracy is enhanced when the voter has factual information instead of propaganda and that the Internet has the power to transform politics and political campaigning.

So while other candidates for Governor are spending over $10,000,000 dollars on 30 second TV ads, I am trying something new.

The good news is that this was sent to the email address I use only on this blog — which means that whoever engineered this for the pol is paying attention and respect to blogdom.

The bad news is that THIS IS SPAM and we hate spam as much as we hate annoying 30-second commercials and annoying phone calls from political groupies and politicians themselves.

And by the way, I don’t live in California.

But I give the guy a point for getting to this before every other damned politician in the world.

The pause the refreshes: 30 to life
: Good post on More Than Zero on infamous product placements for Coke cans: on Skilling’s Enron testimony and more. Says a commenter there: “Tastes Great, Less Skilling.”

Bad meets worse
: The Times of London says American tobacco companies are accused of breaking the trade embargo with Iraq to smuggle cigarettes in. That is either an unpatriotic act or an act of clever terrorism: If Bush doesn’t get ’em, the tar and nicotine will.

And I was too chicken to go to DisneyWorld
:A new Rossi Rant:

My brother is going to Israel.

We’ve been talking about this for years: me meeting him and his family, in Israel on Passover.

The reason he e-mailed me to tell me about his spontaneous trip to the holy land was not to invite me, however, but to ask when he could fax me a copy of his will.

Nice times we live in.

Now I find myself torn.

Do I squish a last-minute trip to Israel this month, or do I stay home safe and sound in … hmm … ummm … Manhattan??!

Terror tourism
: The Washington Post tags along with tourists coming to New York to see Ground Zero.

For better or worse, it’s now what defines New York tourism. For months, city officials have been groping for the right way to handle the prickly issues of etiquette, decency and morality as thousands come to bear witness to the devastation of Sept. 11.

Given the high demand, it was only a matter of time before the private sector jumped in….

It’s the filming and the photographing that can upset some family members the most.

“You wouldn’t go to a cemetery and start filming somebody’s tombstone,” Michael Cartier, 24, says.

President of the family support group Give Your Voice, Cartier lost an older brother, James Marcel Cartier, an electrician, in the twin towers collapse. His remains haven’t been recovered.

“There’s a certain etiquette and reverence that’s involved when you go to a cemetery,” Cartier says by phone. “I think this is part of history. I think that people need to be there, people need to see it. But there also has to be an understanding that there are people around you who are grieving and facing the harsh reality that this very well may be a final resting place.”…

Around the corner and up a ramp is the viewing platform.

The Baltimore group waits its turn at the wooden ramp, as the clamor of jackhammers echoes.

Finally, Elkins, Stevens, the Russells and the rest reach the platform, standing alongside other visitors. Here, everyone vies for an unobstructed view, for a good camera angle, a glimpse of something meaningful amid the workers and their cranes.

The visitors look confused, maybe a little stunned. They are not sure what they are seeing and what they are to feel about it. It’s a common reaction now. There are no huge mounds of debris, no clouds of dust and smoke. It looks, basically, like an orderly excavation project….

Becky Russell seems in a hurry to leave. She started out as a skeptic about this visit and ends as one.

“I don’t know. I don’t know” is almost all she can muster in response to a question about her reactions to ground zero.

Finally, she adds, “I can’t say I feel any better.”

Prisoners of uncertainty
: Two very different views of the fate of our 500 Afghan prisoners. The NY Times says their fate is uncertain and they may be held just so they don’t pick up arms again. But the Times of London says that the Pentagon admits it has insufficient evidence to send any of the prisoners to a tribunal and that it has failed to capture bin Laden’s key cronies.

America has failed to compile evidence identifying any of the 500 prisoners it is holding from the Afghanistan war as suitable candidates for a military tribunal, the Pentagon conceded yesterday.

The admission is a major setback for the United States, which claimed that it had detained senior members of Osama bin Ladenís al-Qaeda network and the Taleban regime.

Despite holding the prisoners for weeks, and in some cases months, interrogators lack enough details to build a case against them that could be put before a specially-convened hearing, the officials said….

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, described the prisoners last month as ìvery hard casesî who had ìdemonstrated their determination to kill themselves, kill others, and/or escapeî.

But yesterday, addressing the prospect of putting any of them before military tribunals, Victoria Clarke, the Pentagon spokeswoman, said: ìThereís not a sense that weíve got a person or two people that we feel are really likely candidates.î

Dear Ken, Dear George:

Dear Ken, Dear George
: Ken Lay and George Bush’s letters at the Smoking Gun [via Die Zeit]

East meets West
: Nick Denton took up Ken Layne‘s challenge (who would dare not?) to set up a meeting of bloggers while in New York. It was a small, select affair: Amy Langfield, Nick, and me at the fashionable Conde Nast cafeteria. Only Amy fit in. Ken and I didn’t. But then, I never do. We took the opportunity to badger Nick into leaving San Francisco (before he is ridden out of town on a rail) and moving to New York. San Francisco is so last millenium. And New York needs a bigger blogger community. We cannot be outdown by L.A., of all places.

: There is a bigger New York blogger get-together on March 1. Unfortunately, I can’t make it; I have important duty that night delivering pizza for my kid’s school fun night.

: And Amy writes today about the dangers of reporting; they come not only in places like Pakistan.

I’ve been in very few war zones, but I can tell you that over the years I’ve done hundreds of things as a reporter – thinking I had some sort of magic reporter safety bubble around me – that I never would have done otherwise. I walked alone into how many houses with suspicious men? I’ve gotten into cars with strangers, walked into freshly cleared bomb threat zones, written things that put people in jail or cost them their jobs. Someone stalked me at one of my newspaper jobs, going so far as to slice up pictures and other items on my desk one night. I got my first death threat while editor of my college paper. While I weighed each of those risks in the process, you are never 100 percent sure of what you’re getting into.

Blogenres: We have a poetry

: We have a poetry blog. Why not a comic blog?

Your crow, sir
: Andrew Sullivan did a great job nya-nyaing all the quagmirists who said we’d be stuck in a losing war in Afghanistan and rubbing their noses in their pessimistic errors.

Now let’s nya-nya Mr. Sullivan, too. What’s good for the goose…

I’m reminded of his quote of 9/160/1 [via webpan via Woods Lot via Follow Me Here]:

The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country – the great red zone that voted for Bush – is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead – and may well mount a fifth column.

Decadent left? Fifth column? Nya-nya.

Every decadent coastal liberal I know is supporting the war and reclaiming the flag.

Road rage
: Britain is considering tracking where you drive with a satellite snoop and charging you for every mile. This from the same country that charges you for TV.

As my father would say: This is bassackwards.

If people are driving, it’s because they want to and need to. One of government’s most fundamental jobs is to accomodate that need with roads.

If anybody ever tried that in America, there’d be a revolt. Come to think of it, maybe this explains why we did revolt.

On the other hand
: Britain remains our friend. The Observer says Tony Blair will come to the U.S. to plot war on Iraq and show his support.

Managing up
: The Observer also explains why Blair is sticking close to us:

The challenge, it turns out, faces not America but the rest of the world. Rather than Americans having to handle decline, everyone else must try to manage this goliath. The challenge is made more severe by an American administration which, from tearing up international treaties to trampling over Geneva conventions, combines an instinct for unilateralism with absolute certainty about the justice and urgency of its mission. It’s a moot kind of victory for the campaign against terrorism when Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and the CIA foresees Afghanistan spiralling into civil war.

But a great triumph it has been proclaimed in the heads of President Bush and those who are guiding him to unleash further hostilities against anyone that America identifies as her enemy. The voices of restraint in Washington are decreasing in number and influence….

Relations between America and Europe, their oldest and most natural allies, are descending to a nadir not seen in more than half a century….

One European leader has set himself apart by refusing to utter a particle of public criticism of the United States. The wider the continental drift, the further Tony Blair stretches himself to straddle the chasm. He is sticking to the strategy that he instinctively formulated in a matter of minutes following the attacks on the Twin Towers. He continues to calculate that leverage over Washington is maximised by being the unswerving ally. That does not make him an unqualified admirer of this Oval Office. The intellectual capacity of Dubya is not highly rated within Downing Street. One of Mr Blair’s most influential foreign policy advisers regards George Bush as ‘imbecilic’, a global village idiot. The Prime Minister might secretly agree. Even if he did, he sees as much point hectoring America as there is in heckling a juggernaut.

Those in his government and party who expect Mr Blair to restrain Mr Bush’s ambitions to strike against Iraq are likely to be disappointed. The intelligence material that the Prime Minister sees makes him genuinely disturbed – it would not being going too far to say petrified – about Saddam Hussein’s potential ability to use weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair is not against removing the Iraqi dictator. He is only concerned that the Americans produce a plan that actually works….

There are evident risks in Tony Blair’s approach. But it is a bit more dignified and intelligent than whining. He has come to the correct conclusion that resentful sniping at America has no traction on the megapower. The United States is not going to listen to lectures from Europe about American responsibilities. Not until Europe demonstrates a much greater willingness to start addressing its own responsibilities.

Sane Francisco?
: Another reason for Nick Denton to dislike San Francisco (and move to New York):

Nearly 1,000 anti-war protesters marched Saturday in San Francisco, chanting that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and campaign against terrorism are inhumane and an excuse to erode civil liberties….

Protesters carried placards that read “War is Terror,” “Books not Bombs” and “Schools Not Jails.”

Beliefs: Leftist vs. not leftist
: Many have linked to Tristin Laughter’s wise essay (at Blogs of War) on how a friend’s death on 9.11 made her reconsider her political beliefs. I agree with most everything she says; I went through a similar conversion, which I wrote about here, discarding my pacifist beliefs to see that we had a moral obligation to fight this evil, to protect ourselves from its threat.

I want to quibble with just one thought she has here:

Now I know, in a visceral, human way, that the United States has enemies in the global arena, enemies capable of a brutality and a barbarism which marks their depravity. If being an American Leftist today means being defending that, then, I can’t be a Leftist. Fortunately, outside of youth culture, outside of punk rock world and aging baby boomers, there is a stabler and smarter Left which recognizes and contains the complexity of a truer vision of the U.S. I hope the appalling rhetoric of the Left’s culture heroes in the wake of Sept. 11 gives other politicized young people pause, even if they did not lose a friend.

My quibble is a small one but important in the label-wars of blogdom. I fear that I hear her molding herself to a label: “If being an American Leftist today means…” That is backwards. A person should start with her own beliefs and then, if a label fits, she can wear it; if not, not.

I despise the PC idiocy of people who call themselves liberal; I’m ashamed of their tyranny of language and belief; I am embarrassed by their artificial sentimentality. But that does not mean that I should reject certain beliefs just because some people believe them. I believe that society has a moral obligation to help care for those who cannot care for themselves; I believe that government and regulation are not all wrong. So am I liberal?

Similarly, I cannot abide the sanctimonious selfishness of people who call themselves conservative; I’m offended by their attempts to coopt God and country as their own; I am disgusted by their compulsion to demonize their opponents. But I believe that this war is right; I believe that business is not bad. So am I conservative?

I am what I am. And I believe that every individual is capable of reaching his or her own belief (and changing them, too). I hope that people do not believe what Chomsky or O’Reilly believes just because they believe it. I have more faith in the electorate — in the masses — than that. That is why I don’t get hot-and-bothered by alleged media bias of either stripe; I think that the people, the voters, are quite capable of deciding for themselves whom and what to believe. That is what democracy is all about.

Beliefs: Why I’m not a Presbyterian
: I was raised a Presbyterian. My sister, of whom I am quite proud, is a Presbyterian minister. But I’m not a Presbyterian anymore and here is the main reason why. Once again, the Presbyterians have voted to forbid the ordination of gays.

What sanctimonious bigots they are.

I left the church 25 years ago, offended by the un-Christian backbiting I found in my congregation then, and I returned only because I had children and wanted to give them the choice I had. We tried two Presbyterian churches but they were ruled by more spiteful backbiting that was abetted by the bureaucrats in the denomination’s heirarchy; at one of them, as I said the other day, I was attacked for liking Cheers because it had sex. But worse than anything, I found that one of the congregation’s leading bodies had voted to oppose gays in the ministry; they went out of their way to do this. I called the minister a bigot and quit. I refused to raise my children in this atmosphere of hate.

We searched around and found a Congregational church where people are allowed to believe what they believe, where hate is not preached.

: Ted Barlow on religon and homosexuality (the post begins, “Kevin’s…).

: Missouri Synod Lutherans are worse. They don’t want to pray with nonlutherans. As if God is a religious bigot.

: Speaking of religious bigots, here we have Pat Robertson on Muslims. Not that he’s all wrong this time…

Beliefs: Starbucks and yoga
: I great line from Tim Russert in an otherwise foolish column by William Powers in the National Journal: “Russert quoted from something he’d recently read, a remark by a young woman who said: ‘I haven’t been to church in a long, long time, but Starbucks and yoga just doesn’t do it anymore.’

Homeland security, Israeli style: A

Homeland security, Israeli style
: A woman shopping in an Israeli grocery store shot a terrorist suicide bomber, averting disaster. From the Jerusalem Post:

At least one small explosion did take place, leaving one customer lightly wounded but causing no casualties, said Jerusalem Post reporter Margot Dudkevitch. Nails from one of the explosions littered the floor. Further tragedy was averted when a woman shopping in the packed supermarket apparently saw the terrorist trying to set off a second explosion and shot him twice in the head from close range.

Instapundit: Please don’t use this as another justification for gun-love. This is Israel.

Sticks ‘n’ stones
: The NY Times reports today on the new and redefined words and phrases that are front and center in our collective vocabulary after 9.11 — “9.11” itself taking on a momentous new meaning. From the American Dialect Society comes a long list:

: 9/11 in all its forms

: ground zero

: burka, burka blue, women of cover

: theoterrorism (hadn’t heard that one but I like it)

: weaponize and weapons-grade

: homeland security

: debris surge, debris storm (I called it just The Cloud)

: shuicide bomber (a tasteless Leno)

: “so September 10”

: “Let’s roll!”

I would add:

: anthraxophobia

: jihad as an all-purpose adjective

: bin as an all-purpose prefix

: I know other bloggers would add Islamofascist and anti-idiotarian (not yet in common usage, I’d say)

: I hope my coinage, “he decade,” catches on

What else? Send nominees here.

: Here are, as Little Green Footballs aptly put it, the heartbreaking satellite images of the World Trade Center before and after. Credit: [via Den Beste]

: The NY Times reveals more frightening data about the flights that hit the World Trade Center. The second jet, which hit the south tower, was traveling faster than the first jet and that is the latest theory on why that tower fell first even thought it was hit later (my unscientific opinion is also that the second jet hit lower and so there was greater weight atop the melting steel beams).

In any case, the statistics are harrowing. That second jet, the United plane, was traveling at an estimated 586 mps, 100 mph faster than the first jet. The Times says it “was moving so fast that it was at risk of breaking up in midair as it made a final turn toward the south tower, traveling at a speed far exceeding the 767-200 design limit for that altitude, a Boeing official said. ‘These guys exceeded even the emergency dive speed,’ said Liz Verdier, a Boeing spokeswoman. ‘It’s off the chart.’ ”

I have nightmares not just about what did happen that day but what could have happened.If these people had missed their target and slammed into the ground, the spread of damage would have been huge, the carnage even worse. If the Tower had toppled even sooner or in a different direction, more would have died. At the speed at which these evil lunatics were traveling, this and more could have happened. And so many millions of close calls (mine included) would not have been close calls.

A memorial
: It appears there may be an agreement on a temporary memorial to New York’s 9.11 victims. Says the NY Post:

temporary memorial park honoring the victims of Sept. 11 may include a glass structure etched with the names of everyone who perished, sources said yesterday.

Sources said the idea, still in the early stages, calls for a glass box or a small dome that would fit over sculptor Fritz Koenig’s “Sphere” – a massive bronze artwork recovered from the World Trade Center site.
The glass could be etched with the names of all the nearly 3,000 trade center victims.
The favored location is a small, triangular park known as “teardrop park” on Murray Street in Battery Park City, the sources said.
The idea surfaced as a separate proposal, a month-long “Towers of Light” tribute sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society, has made progress – but still hasn’t gotten City Hall approval.

I think this is a fitting beginning.

Blog wisdom
: Many have wisely linked to the National Post story on blogging quoting the wise Ken Layne. I want to quote him here too just because I agree with him so damned much, having learned the lesson about personality when I wrote newspaper and magazine columns and now that I am relearning it in blogging:

Layne hopes more newspaper columnists might learn something from bloggers’ attitudes. “U.S. papers are so damned dry,” he said. “I mean, who picks up the paper and says, ‘I wonder what the Pentagon reporter has to say this morning.’ The good bloggers are not much different from old-time newspaper columnists. They have a style, they have a personal connection with readers, they don’t seem like factory-made op-ed writers. Maybe newspapers will inject some of this first- person style into the news columns. What I hope news sites learn from blogs is that personality matters.”

: And, by the way, I forgot to congratulate Layne et al for being blog-cloned on Fox News, which is also wise to take notice of the power of blogs.

Lassie would be proud
: A British animal org is awarding two guidedogs who led their owners to safety on 9.11 a special medal.