Dec. 1st, 2003

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Maureen Dowd explains to us, extrapolating from her perch above Manhattan, how 9/11 looks to the average american on a perch above Manhattan
The ugliness of Al Qaeda's vicious blow to America is obscured by these prettified designs, which look oddly like spas or fancy malls or aromatherapy centers. It's easy to visualize toned women with yoga mats strolling through these New Age pavilions filled with waterfalls and floating trees and sunken gardens and suspended votives. Mass murder dulled by architectural Musak.

The designs are reflections of our psychobabble culture, exuding that horrible and impossible concept, closure.

Oh, gosh, Mo.

Speaking for the small splinter groups of americans who aren't toned women carrying yoga mats - as a matter of fact, some of us don't even regularly encounter toned women carrying yoga mats - and who don't patronize spas and aromatherapy centers, stick to politics, OK?

Because while it's vaguely amusing as unintended satire, these maundering columns where you extrapolate the universe from your bellybutton lint are a little too convenient for all those folks out there who think New Yorkers are solipsistic and pampered and think they're all that on a coulis of lemongrass essence.

L'etat, n'est pas vous.
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because if we catch armed terrorists, the terrorists have won.

At least the Attorney General seems to think so.

Actually, this is old news. Just another thing you have to elide while you're giving the president the benefit of the doubt.
ATTORNEY GENERAL John D. Ashcroft's narrow-gauge interpretation of Brady Law controls on gun purchases may be thwarting the tracking of suspected terrorists who purchase weapons in this country. Though the FBI has a background-check system that notifies counterterrorism agents when suspects on its terrorist watch list attempt to buy guns, the rules as read by the Justice Department prohibit those same officials from obtaining details if the gun transactions actually occur. Thus a terrorist suspect/gun shopper may be traced by agents. But as The Post's Dan Eggen reported, Justice Department officials are abiding by a provision that bars authorities from sharing information with investigators about those who succeed in buying the weapons.

So for suspected members of a terrorist organization, the sanctity of gun ownership makes a try worse than a buy. As Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) observed, "This policy is mind-boggling. We could have a nationwide lookout for a known terrorist within our borders, but if he obtained a weapon, the Justice Department's policy is to refuse to reveal his location to law enforcement officials."

It is not that difficult to buy firearms in this country, given gun show loopholes and the number of variations on assault-style weapons that are on the market and not covered by a federal ban. An al Qaeda training manual recovered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan included a chapter on the ease with which firearms can be obtained in the United States; it urged followers to "obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably an AK-47 or variations." AK-47s are prohibited under the current ban. But terrorists in the market for them may find that help is on the way: The ban is due to expire next year.
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A hearty happy birthday wings out to the loquacious pup (daughter of the talking dog and the gracious Mrs. TD) who I understand enters the land of the four year olds today (although HM and her lowly parental consorts celebrated at stately dog manor yesterday, followed by wicked good pizza and the best stracciatella in brodo I've had in years, which to my delight appeared on the menu as "egg drop soup").

The girls held out against exhaustion cheerfully until unusually late in the evening, especially when you consider that cake frosting and backyard soccer and multiple glittering Barbies were involved.

Our best wishes go out to the TDs as they face that yearlong experiment in household guerilla nerve warfare wondrous time that is life with an intelligent child of four.

Probably the warfare stuff was just HM.

The loquacious pup has, I must say, a world-class giggle, and she's the cutest thing ever in her gingham Dorothy dress.
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who I love
...Clearly, being in favor of peace is not sufficient grounds for an FBI surveillance effort -- right? We don't investigate and start files on people in this country for their political opinions. Even opinions so extreme, so extraordinary, so unheard of as believing that war -- on the whole, really -- is not a good thing.

Ah, but perhaps these peace people -- these lovely, gentle, harmless, pacific peace people -- perhaps they are being infiltrated by people who are not real peace people. This has in fact happened in the past -- people with no real interest in peace join peace groups and try to manipulate them for their own purposes.

I am pleased to report that peace people are perfectly well of aware of this, on the qui vive, en garde, ready, prepared to fend off these interlopers. Their rule is simple: "Anyone Who Suggests That a Peace Group Do Anything Illegal Is Automatically Assumed to Be an Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

This rule stems from years of painful practical experience with FBI efforts to spoil, stain and blacken the reputation of the peace movement. Consequently, you can understand the peace people being ill at ease over the news that their tax dollars are now being used by the FBI to spy on them.

But don't peaceniks get arrested a lot? A few of them do -- the American Civil Liberties Union is now investigating over 300 cases of peace protesters who were arrested unfairly and/or violently during the lead-up to the war in Iraq, using videotape of the arrests -- a tactic that the FBI memo outlining the new crackdown describes as "intimidation" against the police.

Some peace people also use civil disobedience as a tactic. For those who need a refresher course, civil disobedience -- as opposed to just getting arrested at a demo -- is deliberately breaking a law you consider unjust and being prepared to pay the legal penalty for doing so. Those engaging in civil disobedience do not attempt to avoid or evade arrest, they go willingly, often limply, and stay in jail singing "Kumbayah" as long as the law prescribes. Not a public menace.

So just whom is the FBI attempting to infiltrate and foil here? Why, it turns out, anarchists. Anarchists have been associated with demonstrations against world trade agreements -- it says right in the FBI memo -- and protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Furthermore, these anarchists wear black masks and run around breaking store windows, a tactic that is not only a breach of the peace but also considerably less effective against GATT and NAFTA than singing "Kumbayah."

So, I have a question -- really just a suggestion here: If the FBI is worried about anarchists opposed to free trade agreements, why doesn't the FBI infiltrate anarchist groups that are opposed to free trade agreements, instead of the peace movement? Eh? Why should one's freedom be undermined or should one be a suspect because one is for peace? Are we not allowed to be for peace? What would Jesus say?...


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