Terrorists strike India- Terrorists attack

Terrorists strike India
– Terrorists attack India’s parliament. They had been warned of bin Laden attacks. MSNBC report. Times of India report. Photo: Violence in the shadow of Ghandi’s statue at Parliament.

Hitler’s home video
– The government just released the bin Laden party tape. He’s sitting, eating, grinning about the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he knows about the time between the attacks and he gloats that our government thought a coup was underway. He calculates the death. The smoking jet:

UBL: (…Inaudible…) we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (…Inaudible…) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.

Shaykh: Allah be praised.

For a complete transcript of the tape, click here (it’s a PDF file).

HTML version of the tape transcript here.

– I’ve not cried once since Sept. 11 but I’ve come close a thousand times — especially, every day, when I read the profiles of the victims and heroes of our tragedy in the New York Times, an endless, I’m afraid, collection of heart-wrenching stories of the lives lost. Here the numbing numbers of 9/11 become individuals again with stories to tell and with widows and children who are left with memories. Then, yesterday, I had on Fox News at work and ended up watching the internment of Charles Burlingame, the pilot of the jet that was crashed into the Pentagon. There have been so many funerals in New York that they’ve become one stream of tears and bagpipes. But because of the news surrounding this funeral — the fact that rules were waived so he could be buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery — there was coverage on TV and, again, this became the story of an individual. You can’t see his widow and hear Taps without feeling the sorrow in your soul. Now, this morning, I pick up the Times and read the story of Patricia Flounders, a widow of 9/11 who could not bear the loss of her husband. She committed suicide.

Here is the story from her hometown, New Orleans.

Get me rewrite
Matt Welch has an in-depth (we journalists just love that phrase) look at the state of journalism and columnizing in the post-weblog world, with lots of smart (of course) things to say about old and truly new media:

What do warbloggers have in common, that most pundits do not? Iíd say a yen for critical thinking, a sense of humor that actually translates into people laughing out loud, a willingness to engage (and encourage) readers, a hostility to the Culture War and other artifacts of the professionalized left-right split of the 1990s, unchecked joy at discovering clever people, a readiness to admit error, tendency to write with passion and emotion, a radar attuned to personal responsibility, a sense of collegial yet brutal peer review Ö

I think he left out one thing. I was talking on IM one night with my blog mentor, Nick Denton, marveling at how great (albeit economically impoverished) weblogging is and and why that’s so and Nick summed it all up in two words:

No editors.

And I is one. But he’s right. So much of the appeal of blogdom is its immediacy, honesty, and unsanded, unvarnished, rough-edged but personal and passionate individuality. That can’t work in many print publications; the genius of People is that it has a voice as a magazine and creates a tremendous economy of words and pictures (I learned more about tight writing there than I did at a tabloit). That’s right for People. Blogs are right for the Web, the medium we the audience own. Anyway, speaking like the old war horse that I am, this reminds me of the day a dozen years ago when I was trying hard to hire (I presume he won’t mind me telling the story) Stephen Hunter, now the Washington Post movie critic and a thriller writer, a straight-shooter if I’ve ever met one. We asked him what he thought about editing and at first he started to kiss our rears about how enriching the editing process is. But then he stopped himself, shook his head and said: No, I don’t believe that. You know, I shoot guns. I like guns. I think a bullet is a beautiful thing. Too beautiful to waste on an editor….

– And here a good Glenn Reynolds Fox News column that inspired Welch.

If the web had a laughtrack
– Great line from Little Green Footballs on a Chronicle article about John Walker, the rat traitor superdoofus: ìNever mentioned in this article is the psychological impact of naming your child after a famous brand of Scotch…”

Shucks, thanks, Dad- Christian Science

Shucks, thanks, Dad
Christian Science Monitor reports that bin Laden fled Tora Bora 10 days ago and left his 19-year-old son in charge to take the American bombs. Slimeball. This from a Saudi financier who was in the caves. “He says that most Al Qaeda members do not leave their elaborate cave complex unless they have to relieve themselves.”

Tacky Taliban decorating
– Reporters take tours of Mullah Omar’s former home: a chandelier over his bed; Formica installed on walls to look like wood; bizarre plastic statues; pink tile; his & hers toilets. Says the Independent: “Mullah Omar’s house resembles nothing so much as a seventies motel.”

Hello, new readers: Scroll down
– If you’re looking for the piece to which there were lots of kind links, scroll down to the day below. Hearty thanks to Matt Welch, Charles Johnson, Reid Stott, turboblogger, Glenn Reynolds, Ken Layne, Kathy Shaidle, and Tim Blair for nice words and links to my look at life three months later. Thanks, I needed that.

– Radio this a.m. said Afghans told a Pakistani paper that bin Laden and Omar are dead. I don’t believe it yet. I’ll wait to see what happens when Drudge wakes up.

– Went to Internet World yesterday. Looked like Tora Bora: dark and deserted. Blame it on Internet pffft. But also blame it on 9/11, for the show had to be postponed and in its delayed, afraid-of-travel, depth-of-recession form, it was small and sparsely populated. Sad. Damn those fundamentalist freaks; they are ruining so much. Yet at the same show, Bob Pittman, COO of AOL Time Warner, delivered a convincing argument that the real Internet boom is just upon us, that apart from advertising — which is cyclical — online is growing. Broadband, new entertainment devices, home networks, and mostly smarter, better online services will mean huge business growth. He’s right. But that requires us to get our guts back as an industry, an economy, and a country; we have to innovate again and take the risks that come with that. On the convention floor, we still looked scared. That has to end. We’ve won the war, damnit.

Three months after: A changed

Three months after: A changed man
– Three months ago today, I survived the black cloud. I inhaled the pulverized, vaporized, terrorized remains of the World Trade Center and it changed me, fully and forever. Now, months later, I find that change in me is not diminished; it is deeper and wider. It will not leave me.

Of course, there are many for whom the change is far more painful and profound. Read these stories about the lives of widows and survivors — “the living remains” — in the Washington Post. Read this in yesterday’s New York Times about the spirit-numbing work at what used to be the World Trade Center. Next to these people, I am absolutely fine. I am extraordinarily lucky — blessed, even. Still, Sept. 11 changed me as it changed us all. But I can’t speak for you, only for myself. Now, with even the brief perspective of these few months, I am startled at all the differences in life:

First and foremost, there is, of course, my family. Every day when I leave for work and every night at bedtime, my children and I are obsessive about saying, “I love you.” That small act fills my heart, of course. But I also know that fear lies behind it. Safety is now constantly on our minds; when stories of anthrax and smallpox and nukes pile on, we feel powerless to guarantee our family’s security; we worry and then we wonder whether we’re nuts for worrying. Work is still work. But politics and pettiness are even harder to take now. Life is too damned short.
In politics, I’ve endured not just change but ideological whiplash. I was never politically correct but I was liberal and from youth I held fast to pacifism, which was my response to Vietnam, my belief that it had to be the right answer. But now our generation has faced our Hitler in bin Laden and we find a mortal and moral need to defend against evil. So I am now a former pacifist. I’m a goddamned hawk and delighted at the victories so far (what a great day for an al-Qaida surrender). I’m even wearing a tacky red, white, and blue pin on my lapel; I might as well be wearing it on my sleeve. I’m a goddamned patriot. Sometimes, I don’t recognize myself.
Religion — or rather, belief — has not changed for me. After the Holocaust, God was indicted for various crimes of neglect and sins of omission and each of us is His jury, acquitting Him or finding Him guilty or sentencing Him to death. I’m no surer about Him today than I was yesterday, just as confused. Yet in other aspects of religion, I have a much clearer focus now. More than ever, I see the dangers of fundamentalism. That, as I’ve said in these virtual pages, is what this war is really about.
The Web has changed for me, too. I’ve worked here for seven years now but thanks to the world of Weblogs, I’ve found a new dimension to it and met — albeit virtually — many smart people who are grappling with the same news and issues we all are. This weblog has allowed me to stay close to this story; that’s why I do it; I can’t get away from it.
A few days ago, I had to go downtown in Manhattan and so I decided to walk by the World Trade Center, retracing my steps on Sept. 11 once more, taking in the scene once again. But there was nothing to conclude from being there. It is now a gigantic hole in the city; Sept. 11 does not live on there. It lives on in the memories of the heroes and victims who died there. It lives on in the battle against evil, the battle to protect our families and our future. It lives on in the many changes in our lives — that is now Ground Zero.

More from the California crockpot-

More from the California crockpot
– From the West-Coast-based Pacific News Service, another idiot article, this one asking whether John The Rat Traitor Superdoofus Walker is the first of a trend.

I wonder, how many more John Walkers are there in America? Is it possible that fundamentalist Islam ó angry, violent, focused ó could find a new generation of converts, not in inner-city black America, but from white American suburbs, like Littleton, Colo., or Marin County, Calif.?

Crap. Walker is just one lunatic, one nut, one crazy doofus fool traitor idiot. There is no trend here. A trend would assume that Walker put a single synapse’s worth of real thought behind what he did. A trend would assume that we are raising a generation of idiots and doofuses. We are not. The only doofuses I see are the ones going to work in West Coast journalism.

– More of my politically incorrect geographic profiling below.

Yankee ingenuity
– The Federation of American Scientists compiles the evidence that the antrax came from a U.S. government program. Still doesn’t say, though, that the stuff couldn’t have been stolen and spread by a ferner. [via Die Zeit]

The Greatest Reality Show Of All Time!
– Who knows whether to believe it — it is the Mirror, quoting bin Laden’s estranged wife, on Russian TV .. that’s three strikes — but still, who can resist? They say that bin Laden will commit suicide on TV — ordering his sons to shoot him — and thus trigger the mother of all terrorist attacks on the U.S., the U.K., and France. I used to work for TV Guide; I can write the treatment for this one: I was thinking Regis or Joe Rogan for the host but Geraldo may be better — he’d pick up the gun and shoot binny himself. And maybe we can steal from the old Larry the Lobster skit in the early days of SNL: The audience gets to call in and vote whether to kill him. Of course, the vote would be overwhelmingly in favor of pulling the trigger but it’d feel good to vote — pop culture as catharsis — and the 900-number fees could go to the victims families (just please, not through the Red Cross). For that matter, we could make this into a pay-per-view special. You’d pay, wouldn’t you?

Happy Chanukah to us all
– Another remarkable Rossi Ranttoday. She gathers up dreidels and geld and chocolate cars, determined to bring Chanukah to Ground Zero. She survives tourists and finds her goal. Do yourself a favor: Click here.

California, land of crackpots and

California, land of crackpots and crap thinking
– I used to live in San Francisco. Loved it. I was a columnist on the Examiner, six days a week, man about town, the latest would-be Herb Caen of the Pepsi Generation. Beautiful views, great food, nice weather, good bars, hills, fog. I defended the place when it was called the capital of crackpots, back in the days of Jonestown and the Moscone/Milk murders. I said it was just bad luck that San Francisco attracted a few nuts.

But the inanity from the Left Coast simply won’t end. Now San Francisco is embracing — not just sympathizing with or defending but embracing — its native son John The Rat Traitor Superdoofus Walker as one of its own. Every blogger on earth has cut apart every syllable of this piece from the Chronicle, which called Walker “a product of the Bay Area culture.”

Now today come more straight-faced idiocy — a Chronicle story blindly defending that culture and then this:

Those willing to sacrifice for their beliefs deserve respect — even if what they believe in is foolish. As a teenager, American Taliban fighter John Phillip Walker gave up a comfortable life in Marin County and traveled halfway around the world to put his life on the line for his religious convictions. How many of us are that courageous?

It is one matter to be tolerant. It is quite another matter to be stupid. And somewhere along the line, the capital of the state of Political Correctness lost that distinction. In this upside-down society, democracy does not rule; everyone rules. Any opinion is as good as the next if it’s held with self-righteous passion; that is the ultimate virtue. And in this world, “offending” is the ultimate crime; if you dare say something that offends anyone you are wrong even if what you say is right. Thus anything — even Walker — is tolerated for fear of offending anyone — even Walker.

So, yes, Walker is a product of the Bay Area culture, but it’s certainly nothing to brag about. He is a product of a place where tolerance — which is a good thing, a damned good thing, an American principle, something to treasure and nourish, to be sure — has become synonymous with just not thinking, with tolerating anything for the sheer sake of tolerance: the orthodoxy of everything. We are not supposed to criticize or ridicule or even wonder about what Walker did because that might offend him, because being different is “courageous.”

What a crock of crackpot crap. A little criticism and ridicule might have stopped this kid from giving his soul to the devil. A little bit of truly free speech — unafraid of “offending” someone or questioning someone’s “convictions” — might have shown him a different way, might have made him think, ferchrissake (oh, pardon me, I should say: fermuhammadsake).

But no amount of tolerance can erase the truth that John Walker is responsible for his actions. Doesn’t matter why he did it. No Twinkie defense for this one. He fought with despots. He fought against us.

If San Francisco wants to claim this man as a product of its culture then it is time for that culture to ask what went wrong.

The real analysis of Walker
Newsweek tomorrow analyzes the fall of Walker better than a Mill Valley shrink could:

Most teenagers, when they rebel, say they want more freedom. John Walker Lindh rebelled against freedom. He did not demand to express himself in different ways. Quite the opposite. He wanted to be told precisely how to dress, to eat, to think, to pray. He wanted a value system of absolutes, and he was willing to go to extreme lengths to find it.

Fault line
– I think it’s time for my newfound blog friends Matt Welch and Ken Layne, proud Angelenos, to start a campaign to secede from Northern California.

– Frank Rich goes after the frightening John Ashcroft (the man who’s holding the job Rudy Guliani should be holding, damnit!):

While I wouldn’t dare call it treason, it hardly serves the country to look the other way when the Ashcroft-Ridge-Thompson-Mineta team proves as inept at home as the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell-Rice team has proved adept abroad. In the Afghan aftermath, the home front is just as likely to be the next theater of war as Somalia or Iraq. Giving a free pass to Mr. Ashcroft and the other slackers in the Bush administration isn’t patriotism ó it’s complacency, which sometimes comes with a stiff price….

The attorney general keeps boasting that he is winning the war on terrorism at home and keeping us safe. But he provides no evidence to support his claim, even as there’s much evidence that he’s antagonizing his own troops (the F.B.I., local police departments) and wasting their finite time and resources on wild goose chases that have pumped up arrest numbers without yielding many (or any) terrorists.

If questioning our leaders’ competence at a time of war is treason, take me to the nearest military tribunal. But the one thing we learned on that Tuesday morning, I had thought, is that it’s better to raise these questions today than the morning after.

‘The living remains’
– A quite wonderful story in the Washington Post this morning looking past the flags and speeches and politics to the lives that have been changed by 9/11, every day and forever.

September 11, nearly three months gone, is now a shared American narrative, a communal myth, based largely on fact, that tries to make sense of what seems unexplainable. A cast of everyday heroes. Pure good versus satanic evil. Common purpose and resolve. The myth comes wrapped in a neat package and is sold on the street. The coffee table photo books rushed for Christmas sales, the flag lapel pins, the tourists buying their FDNY caps in Times Square, these are for the outside consumers of legend. But those on the inside know harder truths that accompany and at times collide with the myth. They are real people facing the rawness of what happened and what it did to them. The debris of September 11 keeps rolling through their lives…

For a Sunday
– Beliefnet.com just published a good and wise book — all the more amazing because it’s a quick book — about 9/11 with brief essays and sermons from clergy and spiritual leaders, along with comments from the site’s community. I’m halfway through and I’m finding plenty worth thought and quote. A few lines from Rabbi David Wolpe of L.A.:

I am angry. I am angry at God and at human beings. I am angry at the manifold idiocies and indifference that have permitted such hatred to flourish.

Don’t tell me we should not blame God since human beings did this, because even though God gave us free will and we are culpable, I also know that God fashioned our hearts and our world. Must we be angry with those who do evil? Absolutely. We must also be angry at God, for to be angry with God, as Elie Wiesel has taught us, means to be in a relationship to God. I feel God in my fury and love God in my bewilderment….

We must be careful. We have great power. Power means moral choice. We should feel gratitude that we have such choices. To be powerless is not moral, it is merely powerless. Jews remember too vividly the days we had no power…. Do not lament power. We know too much history. It is the only bulwark blocking the abyss. Powerlessness in the face of evil leads to Auschwitz.

And from Shmuly Boteach, celebrity rabbi, more wisdom from Weisel:

Once, when I hosted Elie Wiesel at Oxford, a teary-eyed student asked him, “Mr. Wiesel, why did God allow the Holocaust?” Wiesel just looked at the student sympathetically and said, “I cannot — I dare not — answer your question. Because if I do, I fear that you will sleep easier tonight.” And truth be told, I would rather stay awake being angry that God has allowed this devastation to happen, than to sleep easier that those who suffered deserved what they got.”

And there is a piece by Bishop John Shelby Spong arguing that it is a childish wish to look for a God who would “intervene in human history to accomplish miraculous rescue. We know intellectually that such a God is but a phantom of human hope.”

Now this is not all angry and hopeless. It all says that the responsibility to act is ours. It all calculates the same moral equations we’ve seen in political discussions here in Blogdom — left v. right, sensible left v. left, anti-anti-war v. anti-war, everybody v. Chomsky — and comes to the same answers but from a different direction: from above. I find that comforting: politics and religion — that is, sane religion, not fundamentalism — meeting at the same place.

No stinking — er, I mean, stinky — terrorists here
– The Washington Post found a guide to infiltrating the infidel West with lots of useful tips: Shave… Play evil Western music to fool them… Wear used clothes so you look lived in… And best of all, use deodorant — on your skin, not on the clothes.

More evidence
It’s not as if we needed more evidence of his guilt but the Washington Post reports the government has a tape of bin Laden talking about the 9/11 attacks and giving proof he planned them. They’re debating whether to release it. Well, of course, you release it. What the hell are you protecting us from? We have a right to see our enemy.

Hate me
– Robert Fisk, self-hating Brit journalist, writes his first-person load o’ crap about being beaten by Afghan thugs: “I couldn’t see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn’t blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find. So why record my few minutes of terror and self-disgust under assault near the Afghan border, bleeding and crying like an animal, when hundreds ñ let us be frank and say thousands ñ of innocent civilians are dying under American air strikes in Afghanistan, when the ‘War of Civilisation’ is burning and maiming the Pashtuns of Kandahar and destroying their homes because “good” must triumph over ‘evil’?” Why, indeed?

Of course, it’s my fault you’re mugging me
– Tim Blair, blogger from down there, tears apart Robert Fisk (below) for excusing the mob of Afghan thugs who beat him up, believing that he has more kinship with them — his obvious enemies — than us because he, like them, is anti-American.

Dead or alive
– Britain opposes the death penalty for bin Laden. Can’t disagree, I’m afraid.