– Elie Wiesel said that

– Elie Wiesel said that you cannot bring theater to Auschwitz or Auschwitz to theater and I finally understood what that meant back when I was a TV critic reviewing “Winds of War,” a gargantuan miniseries of WWII that tried — earnestly, I’ll give them that — to portray the horror of the Holocaust — and, of course, it could not, no matter how many depictions of atrocity it piled, one upon on the next. Sometimes, art fails; reality is too big for it. Now, in present tense, we face the World Trade Center. recommends Leon Wieseltier’s essay in the New Republic (excerpted in the NY Times). It shows how critics and artists and architects are trying — earnestly, I imagine — to put the scene of the World Trade Center onto their canvases and how they are failing, even offending in the effort. They try to ascribe poetry or vision or sense or even grace to what is, simply, ugly.

It is a wonderful piece: “You cannot leave ground zero as you leave other ruins, with philosophical reflections about the inevitability of decay, because what happened here was not decay, and there was nothing inevitable about it. You cannot leave ground zero as you leave other ruins, with the warm memory of nature growing over history, because here there is only history, and it is cold…. These are not the exotic and mysterious ruins of the past; these are the unexotic and unmysterious ruins of us….
“I cannot locate the balm in culture. It is just not my piety. I discovered this when I went into ground zero, in a red hard hat. I was not prepared for what I saw. I do not know how to express the quality of my shock, except to say that it banished culture completely from my mind. I fell dumb and stood there as if I had never read a book. My observations erased my memories. I was without allusions and without metaphors. Can a mind be naked? Then I was naked, without coverings. All I could do was look, and pray to see. The metal was the color of an infernal tarnish. I learned that yellow smoke is released when iron is cut. The hole in the sky was more striking than the hole in the ground. I watched the cranes scoop up soil from the pit, and then I grasped that it was not soil. There was no soil in this place. What they were moving was the substance that was formed out of the dissolution of everything and everybody that had been crushed and incinerated: a deathloam. There were spots of it on my boots. I shivered and moved away. And when I left it was not culture that was restored immediately to my consciousness. It was politics; policy; American action.”

– The Telegraph says we’ll have a somber Thanksgiving: “Americais not celebrating the collapse of the Taliban. Caution from the White House, a worsening recession, lingering despair over September 11 and persistent fears of terrorism have set a sombre mood as Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.” Well, sure. They also say it’s the media’s fault: “The lack of national cheerleading from the American media and their unremitting scaremongering and criticism has left people wondering: what next?” (First the media are accused of jingoism, then of not cheerleading — all the while they face danger at the front line. Can’t win.) So will this be a somber Thanksigiving? Of course, it will be. But I really believe that all across America this year, people will be rediscovering Thanksgiving as a time to be grateful for our families and our lives and good fortune even as we do fear what’s next — that makes the need to give thanks all the more urgent. So happy Thanksgiving.

– The FT wonders about the price of gathering news in Afghanistan: “Seven journalists killed within eight days in Afghanistan. Their deaths illustrate not just the usual hazards of war reporting but also raise agonising questions of responsibility for media groups feeding the round-the-clock news machine that now brings every big conflict into your living room.”

Little Green Footballs put up a link to a fascinating Atlantic profile of Samuel “Clash of Civilizations” Hungtington days ago but I finally managed to read it and recommend it, too. Huntington describes himself as a child of Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian who “believed that men are sufficiently wicked to require tough methods for the preservation of order. Huntington, an Episcopalian, was attracted to what he describes as Niebuhr’s ‘compelling combination of morality and practical realism.’ Though an ardent Cold Warrior, Niebuhr never succumbed to moral triumphalism, believing that history was more profoundly characterized by irony than by progress. Even if the United States were to win the Cold War, Niebuhr wrote in 1952, this outcome might only cause the nation to overextend itself, dissipating its power in an excess of righteousness.”

– Braver than I’d be: The day after four journalists are murdered in Afghanistan, a Guardian writer reports from the Taliban lines.

– Fly Osama Airlines: how bin Laden took over Afghanistan’s airline for his terrorism business.

CIA’s hunt for bin Laden.

Mirror plays up reported Bush-Blair rift over role and number of our troops in Afghanistan.

– Via Denton: A striking photo essay: Twlight of the Taliban.

– And here is one amazing photo among many from Here is New York.

– Debunking the Clinton speech myth: “On November 7, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University on foreign policy and globalization in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Within 24 hours, Clinton’s words had been twisted into the nonsensical allegation that the former president had blamed slavery and America’s treatment of Native Americans for the attacks. Even though this myth has been repeatedly debunked by Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler, among others, it continues to surface on television, radio and op-ed pages. The history of how this deception spread shows how newspaper editors and pundits can manufacture lasting stories about political opponents from nothing more than a few strokes of the pen.”

– The genuine Tourist Guy

– The genuine Tourist Guy surfaces. Via Ken Layne. But the fun continues.

– What is it with the Germans? Stern has an obnoxious cover: Stop This War! filled with celebrity antiwar idiocy (celebrities are out here but still in there). So singer Nina Hagen (yes, singers always set the best foreign policy) blathers about her “Afghan sisters” and another actress says, “The biggest art is peace.” Gag me with a mad-cow-disease bratwurst. Now I take a lot of crap from a surprising number of Americans for doing business in and liking Germany — but Stern could make me regret that. Sure, Germans lost the war to us but then we rebuilt their country; we became their ally; we fought for them in the cold war; yet now too many of them abandon us, attack us, and don’t even show the slightest shame that the attack on us was plotted in their backyard. Thank goodness Chancellor Schroeder had the guts to stand up to them. That makes me still like Germany.

– Christian Science Monitor on what’s next after Afghanistan: Trying to find and destroy cells all over the world; hard work. The story concludes: “The best outcome … might be the establishment of a ‘new post-cold-war deterrence,’ in which no nation willingly harbors terrorists, for fear of US action.”

– How to avoid pesky trials: Take no prisoners, says Rumsfeld in the Times of London.

– Powell knocks Israeli and Palestinian heads together. High time.

– It takes a country singer to tell the truth: Charlie Daniels wasn’t going to be allowed to sing his new anti-Osama country kickfest at the CMT Country Music Awards benefit and so he refused to appear. That has been spreading around the Internet lately and Snopes verifies the veracity of it. Among the lyics:

This ain’t no rag it’s a flag

and we don’t wear it on our heads

It’s a symbol of the land

where the good guys live

are you listening to what I said…

We’re gonna hunt you down

like a mad dog hound

and make you pay for the lives you stole

We’re all through talking and messing around

and now it’s time to rock and roll

These colors don’t run

and we’re speaking as one

when we say united we stand

If you mess with one you mess with us all

every boy, girl, woman and man

Charlie Daniels site

– Two Reuters journalists among the four feared dead in Afghan ambush; others are from Spain, Italy.

Matt Welch: “I know media-bashing is fashionable this season, but letís not forget to thank the people brave enough to cover the dangerous situation inside Afghanistan.”

Islam Online sees 9/11 as a PR opportunity for Islam. That’s unfairly stated but true nonetheless: In my community, people are eagerly going to lecutures to learn about Islam. That’s a good thing; education always is. But at the same time, including an Iman in your public event is suddenly the politically correct thing to do — and we’re taking that too far.

– Newsmax: Muslim cleric warns of extremists with nukes in the U.S. For what it’s worth…

Frontier Post (Pakistani) says the British may pull their special forces out for now.

– CNN exec says, Let reporters cry. If Dan Rather can, why can’t everyone?

– The Mirror finds an anthrax factory in Kabul. I’ll still bet, until I see evidence to the contrary, that this was a foreign attack. More from the Mirror.

– Nice point from Andrew Sullivan this morning on the new trilateralism, the arc from Washington to London to Moscow. (And that’s one more good thing about blogs: You don’t have to fill a column of type to make a point; good writers like Sullivan can cram a lot of IQ into just one graph.)… “THE ARC: Forget the broad coalition for action against al Qaeda. Forget the U.N., which has once again been shown to be essentially useless in a real crisis. Forget the E.U., which also dissolves into constituent parts at the first sign of gunfire. The only real alliance worth anything right now is a tripartite arc from Washington through London to Moscow. In Afghanistan, British and American troops are jointly fighting the war. The Brits have also been a handy bridge for Washington with the other European powers, as well as an indispensable diplomatic tool. The Russians for their part have provided hard intelligence, accommodation on missile defense, and lower oil prices. In the coming decade, I predict a massive Western investment in oil exploration in Russia – a giant quid pro quo after September 11. And last Friday, Tony Blair joined two remaining dots by offering a new role for Russia within NATO. On Saturday, straight from Crawford, Putin called Blair to thank him. Putin’s statement read: ‘Moscow highly esteems the practical reaction of the British leadership to the Russian president’s repeated suggestions on the need to alter the mutual relations between Russia and the Western alliance in response to new challenges.’ So we have a new entente cordiale between two old imperial powers and the current hegemon. This arc might come under strain if Washington aims next for Iraq – and, so far, the Brits have expressed panic at the very idea. But I deeply doubt that, when the crunch comes, the Brits will fiercely protest an Iraqi extension of the war. Blair has too much invested in this new alliance to watch it unravel now. Same with Putin. He sees the new alliance as a way for Russia to leap forward in international relations. And Bush finally has two foreign leaders he can trust. Neither unilateralism nor multilateralism: this trilateralism could actually work, i.e. do more useful things than employ professional diplomats.”

– I’m experimenting with Pyra’s Pyrads and Google’s Adwords. If you clicked through from either, bless you for increasing the overall clickrate of the Internet.

– Bin Who? Taliban says

– Bin Who? Taliban says it no longer controls bin Laden (or vice versa),but then, the Taliban barely controls its own bathroom movements days. Times of London speculates Yemen’s next. Who would take him?

– European authorities say they stopped chemical attacks against U.S. embassies in Europe — but more are at large.

Sunday Times of London: –

Sunday Times of London:
– Fascinating story of the new world of war: How the US killed Al-Qaeda leaders by remote control — “The Predator was providing a live battlefield television picture back to control rooms at the US Central Command in Tampa…”

– The battle in Mediastan: Brit papers fight their own war over the war… “Life under a tabloid regime may at times be nasty, brutal and short-paragraphed….” And in this fight, Andrew Sullivan is the cluster bomb: “With amazing swiftness and surprising finality, the enemy caved in last week…. Never before in the field of human conflict have so many armchair generals been exposed as idiots in such a short period of time.”The Guardian’s take.

– Intelligence officials estimate 70,000 (!) trained sleepers ready to attack us…. McVeigh’s bomb inspires binLaddites…. Flash-forward: If Pol Pot’s place can be a tourist resort, why not Kabul?

– And the Telegraph says we don’t want bin Laden alive. Probably true. How do you put him on trial? To quote: “President Bush has insisted all along that he wanted bin Laden ‘dead or alive’. It is now clear that he wants him dead…. The Prime Minister evidently realises that ‘justice’ for bin Laden can no longer mean months listening to lawyers in a courtroom in New York, the Hague, or anywhere else. It means a bullet in the back of the head, or immolation in a cave hit by a ‘bunker-buster’ bomb…. ‘I love death as much as you love life’, bin Laden told a Pakistani journalist who interviewed him last week. As the net closes around him, he may start to reconsider that judgment. He might now come to realise that he can inflict more damage on his enemies if, rather than dying in some vast blood-soaked conflagration, he decides to give himself up. The worst outcome for the West would be if bin Laden uses one of his televised appearances to tell the world that he wants to be tried by an international court. The Americans have already tried to make that option more difficult for him, by bombing his only outlet – the al-Jazeera television centre in Kabul – to smithereens. Let us hope that he stays in love with death, and never looks for a way to ensure that he receives a trial. For if he does, we might be forced to give him one.”

This wonderful web:
Yesterday, I threw out bait to three of my favorite webloggers hoping they’d tackle some new antiwar bilge from Brit John Pilger. I knew they’d do a better job than I could refuting the twit, for I was tired and sick (and sick and tired) and not as smart as any of them. So Matt Welch swallowed the bait and wrote an intelligent and reasoned yet nicely bitchy retort.

This is one of those moments that makes me marvel still at the wonders of the Web. I felt like I did when I was a plain print editor, handing a story to a reporter in a room filled with them: “Welch, see what you can find here.” And this Welch would return with the facts and a good story and thus news was made. Now the Web helps do that.

The Web — and webloggers in particular — add perspective that rarely could exist in print because newspapers and magazines and TV are all one-way media; editors are all about telling you what they think you should know. But the Web is about listening to the audience; the audience owns this medium. And the audience is smart; they call us in the media when we’re wrong (see Andrew Sullivan every day these days and also Nick Denton today on the war quagmirists).

It also still amazes me still how this audience can coalesce into community that freely and eagerly contributes value to each other; I see it every day in my job at Advance.net, where in just one of our local services the forum traffic on just one high-school sport can add up to hundreds of thousands of page views and thousands of posts a day; interactivity is the heartbeat and soul my services and our medium. Here, too, in the land of warblogs, there is a fast community forming. I’ve never met Welch, Ken Layne, Sullivan, Charles Johnson, Thomas Nephew, Dan Hartung, Reid Stott, or Bj¯rn StÊrk but I admire and like them (even if I often don’t agree with them) and feel as if I’ve come to know them and their views over beers instead of blogs. Damn, I love this.

– Note also that it took a web site, Rotten.com, to uncover the fact that the nuclear clues found in Kabul by the Times of London (I fell for this too) were really just an old parody. The web is a reporter (albeit often unreliable) that never sleeps.

– New tool #1: If you haven’t yet found this, Columbia U has created a neat Newsblaster that automatically categorizes headlines from major news sources. Pretty good. Long ago, the MIT Media Lab’s Fishwrap tried to do this. And, of course, Moreover does this with thousands of sources.

– New tool #2: At least it’s new to me… Vivisimo is a meta-search-engine that also categorizes search results very nicely and also offers searches of the web and of news.

– See, the Web is like real life. I’m already fearing that Newsblaster, Moreover, and Vivisimo will put us human Webloggers out of work.

– Any of the bloggers above could have fun, too, with the latest from Palestinian Prof Edward Said in Al-Ahram. Smelling defeat in Afghanistan and, coincidentally, for Yasser Arafat’s political dynasty as well — even as Washington and London start talking credibly of a Palestinian state — Said again executes the intellectual suicide of tying bin Laden’s terror with Western and Israeli sins in the Middle East. I had this same argument the other night with my minister, believe it or not. They both say there is justice in the Palestinian cause and there is injustice in America’s and Israel’s actions. Fine; we can discuss that. But how does that connect with a madman’s mass murder? If you try to tie them at all, you try to justify bin Laden’s actions — and, at the same time, you devalue and dirty any arguments about Palestine and America and Israel. There is no justification. What bin Laden has done is, yes, evil; it is terrorism; it is hate-motivated murder and everyone on every side should be agreeing at least on that. Separately, of course, we must find solutions to the problems in the Middle East but we cannot fall into the trap of doing that in reaction to murder and evil and terror. We cannot fall into the trap of letting the terrorist set the agenda by thinking that our sins led to his evil. Nothing leads to evil acts but evil itself.

– What he said: “No doubt, injustices and policies can be argued over, but not as root causes of terror” – Edward Rothstein in the NY Times via Andrew Sullivan.

– More smoking jets: They’re finding flight school ads and flight manuals in the Kabul houses. And now there’s a farewell letter from one of the hijackers to his girlfriend. In English, German.

– Timing is everything: Lake Effects giggles over Geraldo Rivera’s arrival as a war correspondent at just about the moment when the war (in Afghanistan, at least) is ending.

Sorry for light posting today.

Sorry for light posting today. Have a cold. Very grumpy. Would probably call for nuking countries and then wake up to regret it. Took red wine cure. Retreating to my mountain cave. Back tomorrow.

– The food angle: Times of London says we’re rushing to buy cupcakes as we hunger for comfort food. If only Boston Market could have held on, eh?

– If only you could buy Amtrak stock: Gunman shuts Atlanta’s airport. “If you want me to fly, you’ve got to stop this kind of nonsense,” said one would-be passenger.

Ken Layne, Matt Welch, Nick Denton: Have at him — more bilge from the Mirror’s John Pilger calling this a “war of lies.”

– More Russia love: “Our kids won’t even know we’re supposed to hate the Russians,” says Ken Layne.

– Now German love: Schroeder calls the Greens’ bluff in their complaints about sending troops to our war and he wins his vote of confidence.