TCS Daily

Creepy Crawlers and AOL = America Off Line

By James K. Glassman - October 30, 2001 12:00 AM

NEW YORK - After a swing to the South and West, I am back in New York. Back to a city where the remains of nearly 5,000 people are still entombed in the rubble of the World Trade Center towers. New Yorkers are sad and wounded; they are carrying on, but they are damn angry, too. And they should be. What is this nonsense about collateral damage in Afghanistan? I was glad to hear Rumsfeld put it into perspective today in his news conference. No, the U.S. is not trying to kill civilians - as the terrorist monsters did on Sept. 11 and as the Germans, Japanese and (yes, indeed) Americans did with great ability in World War II (we baked Germans alive, Nazis and non-Nazis, when we fire-bombed cities and we incinerated Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and those tactics ended the war and saved millions of lives). The only way to avoid civilian casualties in the short term is not to fight - which will only encourage our enemies to kill more civilians in the long term.

Also, what is this nonsense about the war not moving quickly enough? We didn 't win a victory in a major battle in World War II until 11 months after it started. The Pacific at the start was a disaster. This is a new kind of war, and our military is learning to fight it - slowly, methodically and ably. New technology is coming - advances in intelligence, firepower and bioterror defense - and we will defeat these monsters.

But President Bush was right from the start: It will take time. The truth is that the American people are more patient than the thrill-a-minute electronic media, with those inflammatory, often days-old crawlers at the bottom of your TV screen. So far this has been a war in which newspapers have done an excellent job; television gets a "D" from me. And that's charitable.

America Off Line

A colleague sent me a clip from an article Thursday in InternetNews headlined, "Road Runner: We Don't Do Windows XP." (How many pieces about the Windows operating system use the cleaning-lady metaphor? About as many as talk of "turbulence" when the earnings of airlines decline.) Anyway, the point of the piece was that the folks at Road Runner, which is the second-largest cable Internet service provider (ISP) with 1.2 million subscribers, does not support the "new operating system (OS) for its customers and will not support its use on the cable network."

Why not? Good question. One would think that a large ISP would support an operating system that will soon have millions of users. But, as InternetNews points out, "It seems very convenient that a cable ISP owned primarily by AOL Time Warner, the largest ISP in the world and a direct competitor with the Microsoft Corp. (the second-largest) for dial-up and broadband Internet users worldwide, does not support the software of the most popular OS ever assembled."

Very convenient! Imagine the shoe on the other foot. What if Windows XP did not support AOL? What if you couldn't use AOL on a computer with a Microsoft operating system, or, if you could and had problems, Microsoft technicians would not help you out? AOL - a company that likes to fight its competitive battles in the courts or by lobbying politicians from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento to Brussels - would scream bloody murder.

Good Trade

President Bush was downright eloquent today in an address on African trade. One likely result of Sept. 11 will be more trade and broader trade - if Congress cooperates by giving the president the power to negotiate through Trade Promotion Authority.

But here's what Bush said to African leaders: "When nations open their markets to the world, their people find new ways to create wealth. When nations accept the rules of the modern world, they discover the benefits of the modern world. This vision of progress is not owned by any nation or any culture. It belongs to humanity, every African, every Muslim, every man or woman who wants to make it real.

"Good governments, of course, will look different from place to place. Cultures must preserve their unique values. Yet everywhere, east and west, north and south, there is a model of successful development, a market economy, trading with the world that respects human rights and the rule of law. Every nation that adopts this vision will find in America a trading partner, an investor and a friend. And it`s for this reason that America welcomes and supports the new African initiative put forward by visionary African leaders."

Equal Treatment Under the Law

Finally, speaking of visionary leaders: Former President Gerald Ford, 88 years old (and looking terrific when I saw him in June) said in an interview published today in the Detroit News that the federal government should treat gay couples the same as married couples. "I think they should be treated equally. Period." Asked specifically whether gay couples should get the same Social Security, tax and other federal benefits as married couples, he replied, according to the News, "I don't see why they shouldn't. I think that's a proper goal." I would put the goal more simply: Sexual preference should be a non-issue in public policy.

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