– New York is planning

– New York is planning to build an observation platform over Ground Zero (NY Post story). Something isn’t right about this. I thought about going back to the site yesterday — an act of Thanksgiving reflection — but decided not to; there is really nothing to see but destruction and the one time I did go near there the parades of camera-toting tourists jangled me. I’m not belittling them; I know why they want to go. I know why Rudy wants to bring order to the scene with the observation platform. But still, there’s a sense of invasion of privacy about this. At the same time, the WTC leaseholder, Larry Silverstein, suggests building a river memorial near the WTC with the fill from the rubble and I think that’s an inspired idea. It will take time to decide what is right; we cannot rush this into memory.

Thanksgiving 2001:
– Another story from Britain says that “sorrow haunts gatherings for Thanksgiving.” Still, they miss the point. Yes, there is sorrow and fear and anger this year. Our newspapers are still filled with the stories of families robbed of loved ones. My nightmare last night: corralling my family to safety when a nuke hits New York. Yes, there’s sorrow, of course, there is. But that makes Thanksgiving all the more meaningful this year. As I’ve said since Sept. 11, I know precisely how lucky I am and how thankful I need to be. And we as a country know how thankful we are, how privileged and fortunate; that is why we have Thanksgiving every year and why we will celebrate it especially this year.

– Having said that, I’m going to spend the day with my family today and not blog; I’ll forego the addiction. I do this robbing a few minutes every morning and evening at the kitchen counter. Now it’s time to peel potatoes there instead.

– OK, just one more. A fine column from the Times of London on Blair’s optimism coming to pass. In an eloquent speech after Sept. 11, Blair said: ìThe memorial [to the victims of the terrorist attacks] can and should be greater than simply the punishment of the guilty. Out of the shadow of this evil, should emerge lasting good: destruction of the machinery of terrorism wherever it is found; hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between faiths; and above all justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed, so that people everywhere can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not the violence and savagery of the fanatic.î Anatole Kaletsky then catalogues the ways in which we can actually see the way to Blair’s vision coming true: New means of cooperation to fight poverty; new paths to peace in the Middle East; new alliances among the superpowers; and, finally, the chance that we all can defeat not only Osama bin Laden — to the relief of the Muslim world — but also terrorism. Perhaps next year, all the world should celebrate Thanksgiving.

– And if you still don’t get Thankskgiving, here’s the Guardian’s web guide to our quaint tradition.

– A Brit exec sues his company for not letting him leave traumatizing New York and return to Britain.

– Just like the Nazis, bin Laden leaves a paper trail: quotations of chairman Osama, club notes for extremists, primers on nukes found in abandoned HQ.

– The bin Ladens try to hire a London PR heavyweight “in a bid to distance itself from the errant terrorist.”

– The Taliban destroyed art and antiquities, says the LA Times: “There was something sadistic about the way two Taliban government ministers and their shock troops destroyed many of Afghanistan’s precious works of art. They did it with smiles on their faces. They walked through the National Museum here in the capital last year, inspecting each object to determine which ones depicted living beings. And then they raised their axes and brought them down hard, smashing piece after piece of Afghan history into oblivion.”

– Typically American gloating (allowed on Thanksgiving): The Guardian got a record 50 million page views last month. Is that all?

– The latest anthrax attacks

– The latest anthrax attacks — far from Washington, the media, and the mail — are calculated to scare us more, going after randon loners.

– The German aid workers tell the story of their frightening and strange captivity: eating worms, being put on display for gawking clerics who wanted to see their underwear… Times version. Original Stern version (in German). Headline: “We want to return to Kabul.”

– We all saw the pictures of the mob — and I do mean mob — rushing an Afghan theater to see the first movie there in years. We’ve all seen the pictures of people playing music again and looking lustily at pictures of show biz stars. But note that this is not our pop culture they’re craving (despite the constant accusation that our culture infects the world like smallpox). It’s Indian movies they love and Bollywood’s ecstatic, says the Times of India. The first movie to be released there “is inspired by the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines Boeing and the villain resembles Osama bin Laden.”

– Rush on satellite dishes.

– An amazing critical deconstruction of the bin Laden recruitment-cum-MTV video by Julia Magnet in the Telegraph [via Little Green Footballs}: “Osama bin Laden [beats] us at our own media game. With devilish cunning, he has plugged into the MTV generation – and it’s clear he knows how to reach us. I have spent all day humming militant Islamic songs. And I am a Jewish twenty-something from New York.”

– The Taliban says we should have forgotten Sept. 11 by now. Meanwhile, Patrick Ruffini takes Mickey Kaus justly to task for predicting, on Sept. 12, that the media would have forgotten it by Thanksgiving (how absurd): “Media coverage of the 9/11 attack often emphasizes that it will be a ‘long time before America gets back to normal,’ etc. The opposite is likely to be closer to the truth — we’ll get back to normal all too quickly, in keeping with the tendency (often discussed in this space) for the population to process information much faster than in former, less wired times. (Don’t you feel as if you’ve lived about a month in the past two days?) I suspect the story will be off the evening news by Thanksgiving — a denial, in a warped way, of the attackers’ disruptive goal.” HA to both.

– I’ll see your $25 mil and raise you… The Taliban puts a $50 million bounty on Bush’s head.

– At least Hitler has the guts to shoot himself. Bin Laden orders his son and aides to off him if he’s trapped.

CBS says the murdered journalists in Afghanistan had a big story: “Cutuli and Fuentes filed reports Monday about finding what they believed were capsules of deadly sarin nerve gas at an abandoned al-Qaida camp in the Jalalabad region. Fuentes’s story said he discovered a cardboard box with Russian labeling that said SARIN/V-Gas. His report said the box contained 300 vials of a yellowish liquid.”

WSJ on murdered journalists: “The public’s voracious appetite for news and a severe shortage of experienced war correspondents have proved, once again, a dangerous mixture.”

– Times of London editorial on the journalists’ deaths: “The readers of this newspaper, and all others which employ similar individuals, have benefited from the reportage that can only be delivered by those willing to place themselves in peril. It is a strange war indeed where more journalists seem to have been killed than, so far, either American or British soldiers. Seven reporters have been killed inside Afghanistan so far…”

– Reporters for Newsday and Cox had close call.

Maureen Dowd on the schizophrenia that is our president and our nation and our generation, when you get right down to it: “Many who came of age during the Vietnam War, wincing at America’s overweening military stance in the world, are now surprised to find themselves lustily rooting for the overwhelming display of force against the Taliban. Over the years the country’s ethos had gone from John Wayne to Jerry Springer, from gunfighter nation to anger-management nation, rugged frontier mentality to designer lifestyle mentality. Once we prided ourselves on being strong and silent. Then we got weak and chatty. And now we seem to be evolving to strong and chatty. We are pulverizing our enemies even as we try to show them a little compassion, crushing our foes even as we try to understand and address some of their grievances against us. We are functioning holding opposing ideas, new ones every day.”

Time.com offers three eyewitness reports from Afghan fronts: The self-proclaimed mayor of Mazar-e Sharif “and his men have the city, but as they consolidated control, they massacred 100 Pakistani Taliban fighters who were trying to surrender–and then watched as 12 of their own mullahs, on a peace mission to the Taliban resisters, were executed while clutching their holy texts. In retaliation, the Alliance soldiers then slaughtered the rest of the resisters.”

– Quakers face dilemma on pacifism in The American Prospect [via WoodsLot]: “Maurice Boyd, a longtime meeting member, stands to speak. His voice sounds a little unsteady. ‘I find my Quaker peace testimony stretched to its limit right now.’ Boyd’s hands grip the back of the pew in front of him. ‘Quakers were able to resist joining the cry for vengeance in the twentieth century,’ he says. ‘But now here is Osama bin Laden and people like him, people who want to destroy us and all that we hold dear.’ He pauses and takes a breath. ‘I’m in a crisis of the soul. I don’t know how much further I can go along the road–the road of peaceful resistance. I can only ask you to hold me in the Light.’ ” I went to Quaker school and respect them greatly. I called myself a pacifist for most of my life. Now I call myself a former pacifist (and I crassly sell Former Pacifist T-shirtshere).

Franklin Graham is sticking by his view of Islam as evil [via Relapsed Catholic]: “It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn’t Lutherans,” said Graham. “It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.” But I don’t want to argue about that; too easy. I want to complain that Franklin Graham and his father are trotted out all the time as representatives of protestantism but the truth is that they are not mainstream. Just once, I want to see a Congregational minister from New York (my present brand) or a Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia (just so happens my sister is one) or a Methodist minister from Washington make it onto TV to represent us in the mainstream. More on Islam Online.

– Washington Post: Military wants homeland defense command: “Any extensive use of federal troops on U.S. soil would come despite a traditional aversion to — and legal limits on — the use of military forces for domestic law enforcement. But the Sept. 11 attacks and the Bush administration’s declared war on terrorism have blurred the distinction between foreign wars and domestic crimes and prompted a rethinking of the Pentagon’s command structure and force assignments.”

– Swiss group wants to reconstruct the Buddha statue blown up by the Taliban. The group, New7Wonders.org, says it will work with the Afghanistan Museum in Bubendorf, Switzerland, first build a 3-D computer model and then build a 1:10 study model.

– Italian company Space Cannon wants to turn the sky over the WTC into a light spectacle for Christmas (in German).

– 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.