American and British troops have

American and British troops have entered Afghanistan.

The White House gets testy with the media.

From Salon:

On the same day last week that “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw sat down to interview former President Clinton, executives for the program received unexpected phone calls from senior communications staffers at the White House, expressing disappointment about the decision to spotlight Bush’s predecessor.

While not asking the network to refrain from running the interview, they expressed the feeling that the Sept. 18 interview with Clinton would not be helpful to the current war on terrorism. Neither NBC nor the White House would comment on the phone calls, but sources familiar with the calls confirmed that they happened.

This news comes on the heels of revelations that President Bush and Air Force One were not, contrary to earlier White House claims, targets of the terrorists who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center Sept. 11. The White House is now saying that those claims, which it used to explain why the president didn’t return to Washington immediately that day, were a result of staffers “misunderstanding” security information.

On Wednesday, tensions between the White House and its media critics, real or imagined, threatened to rise even higher. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer took a slap at “Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher, who called U.S. military strikes on faraway targets “cowardly.” Fleischer blasted Maher, claiming it was “a terrible thing to say,” and didn’t stop there, noting “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”

Boonies look better: The NY Post reported yesterday that New Yorkers are heading to the ‘burbs to look for houses. Today, the Washington Post reports that richer New Yorkers are just moving to their summer homes; school attendance in the Hamptons is up.

From the Washington Post:

This is a diaspora of the rich and upper-middle class, a well-funded flight from the city’s death and destruction.

In the weeks since the World Trade Center towers disintegrated, a small but rising number of people who can afford to escape Manhattan are doing so. A quick count finds that about four dozen New York City families have suddenly enrolled their children in private and public schools in the Hamptons, along the gilded southern shore of Long Island.

A property caretaker in Montauk reports that 35 of his clients have moved back into their summer homes full time. Many other families — the numbers are difficult to pin down and change from day to day — have retreated to vacation homes in Upstate New York and the Jersey shore.

These New Yorkers have handsomely appointed second homes and incomes large enough to ease the dislocation. They talk of their move as a chance to soothe their nerves and calm their children.

But some emigrants prefer not to look back. They are moving permanently to the wealthier suburbs, enclaves 10 and 15 miles from New York. In Alpine, N.J., real estate agent Dennis McCormack said clients from New York City have signed $40 million worth of home contracts since the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I’ve experienced a crazy buying frenzy these past two weeks,” said McCormack, president of Prominent Properties. “All are from Manhattan, most live on the Upper East Side and have children.

Is it too soon for

Is it too soon for humor? Yes, unless it’s at the expense of our enemies. So it was risky — perhaps even incredibly stupid — for humor site The Onion to take on terror. But, amazingly, they mange it. Among the headlines:

– Rest Of Country Temporarily Feels Deep Affection For New York

– God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule

– President Urges Calm, Restraint Among Nation’s Ballad Singers

– Even the TV listings are funny.

Thanks. we needed that.

Call Bill Maher incredibly stupid — he deserves that and oh, so more after saying on Politically Incorrect that America is “cowardly” for lobbing missiles from 2,000 miles away while the terrorists who stayed in the jets were “not cowardly.” Incredibly stupid, insensitive, arrogant, idiotic, offensive… words fail in the face of such brainlessness. Network executives, sponsors, an army of columnists, and even the White House are attacking him and he deserves every slap. But I stop short of wanting to see his show canceled just because he said something offensive. We’ve gotten carried away with the power of offense in recent years: Anytime anyone says anything offensive, it’s the highest sin demanding the highest punishment. That’s not what we’re really about. We’re all smart out here in the audience; we can tell an idiot when we see one and we all know Maher is an idiot. We don’t need anyone to protect us from that; we can turn the channel ourselves. So maybe we won’t watch. Maybe his show will die of its own weight. Fine. But let’s not do anything to damage our right to free speech. That’s what we’re fighting for.

It wasn’t just Muslims who

It wasn’t just Muslims who were offended by the choice of Operation Infinite Justice as our military moniker for this war; my sister the Christian theologian found it offensive as well; many say it’s God who has the final, infinite justice. Even Pravda complained (mocking it as Operation Infinite Arrogance, Operation Infinite Hubris, Operation Unlimited Chutzpah). So now we have a new name: Enduring Freedom. Or you can pick your own.

Thanks to Jim Romenesko for the link to The NY Observer and the link (isn’t the Web grand) to an incredible Israeli site on terrorism and intelligence: Debka.

Never did like Starbucks anyway. The bozos charged rescue workers for frigging bottled water to treat shock victims.

From The Guardian: “A branch of the coffee chain Starbucks charged New York rescue workers for water to treat victims of the suicide attack on the World Trade Centre, it emerged today.Ambulance workers were forced to scramble in their pockets for money to pay a $130 (£88) bill for three cases of water used to treat victims for shock after the twin towers collapsed.”

I’m hoping this is the end not only of the age of irony but also of the age of coffee.

Rudy Guliani on Letterman (thanks

Rudy Guliani on Letterman (thanks to Ken Layne for the link to the video): “These cowardly terrorists tried to separate us, tried to frighten us and what they achieved in doing is unifying America more than it has ever been unified before.” Rudy knows. A few of my colleagues noticed yesterday that the fever to fly the American flag is universal: Ethnic and immigrant groups that didn’t do so before or that flew their native flags higher are now embracing Old Glory as their own. We are one.

Hollywood is suddenly rushing to protect us from reality. That’s the last thing we need. Instead of delaying movies with megatonnage they should be showing more of them. That’s the way it worked in WWII; that’s the way it will work in WWIII. If I were a network programmer (an ongoing fantasy) I’d be scheduling Kick Ass Week: the best of Schwarzenegger and Willis. What America needs now is something to cheer at. America needs adrenalin. America needs victories.

New Jersey is freaky, too, these days: The NY Post dubbed Jersey City TERROR TOWN on Sunday (that’s where I work, a block from all the action). And today, The Star-Ledger finds that the terror pilots rented planes here for practice runs at Manhattan. They were our neighbors.

Meanwhile, racial profiling returns to NJ with a different target. Is anybody going to argue?

Terror kitsch comes to Manhattan:

Terror kitsch comes to Manhattan: Street vendors of every obscure nationality are selling American flags; flag pins; red, white, blue (and yellow) ribbons and the ugliest damned T-shirts you can imagine, covered with artwork that would look gaudy next to a velvet couch and inappropriate messages (“I can’t believe I got out!”). It’s kinda comforting to see bad taste returning.

More T-shirt kitsch from Bangkok.

And bitchiness returns: Here are two great lines from the NY Times today. On the entertainment industry trying to learn restraint — “The new piety strikes an odd note: taste is not what some of these people do best.” And here’s Michael Kinsley snipping about Graydon Carter’s pronouncement that irony is dead — “In Vanity Fair, I found it sometimes hard to detect any irony in their respectful treatment of the psychological traumas of movie stars…. If Graydon is promising never to be ironic again, that is a bluff that we may enjoy calling over the coming years.” New York, New York.