- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2002

Nobles:The airline crew and passengers of United Flight 855, for fast action during an unexpected in-flight fight.

Perhaps passenger Pablo Moreira was so fed up with airline food that he simply had to see the pilot about hiring a decent chef. That would explain why he was frantically kicking the cockpit door kung-fu style in the middle of the Miami to Buenos Aires flight.

Mr. Moreira's fellow passengers became rather alarmed when they realized he wasn't simply trying to soften up his breakfast roll. Without even bothering to return their tray tables to an upright position, several of them leaped into action. They were helped by one of the co-pilots wielding a small ax stored in the cockpit.

The ax whacks and passenger punches subdued Mr. Moreira, who was handcuffed, isolated and denied a coffee refill. While he has been returned to the United States and will be interrogated, there are no plans to torture him by force-feeding him airline food.

Even if Mr. Moreira is simply nuts, his failure to carry out his plans, and the response of the crew and passengers, should give potential terrorists plenty of food for thought. After all, it wasn't so long ago that passengers and crews jammed up in a hijacking were supposed to be as compliant as little lambs. No more. Since September 11, passengers and crews have been remarkably hard-boiled about dangerous-looking people (excluding flight attendants carrying the in-flight meals). Would-be hijackers with half-baked schemes should realize that, like Mr. Moreira, they will probably be toast.

Knave: Author Norman Mailer, for his heart-burning attack on the "patriotic fever" gripping America.

This Wednesday, Mr. Mailer told London's Daily Telegraph, "What happened on September 11 was horrific, but this patriotic fever can go too far," adding, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself."

On the last point, at least, Mr. Mailer was speaking on a subject with which he has an intimate familiarity. His Pulitizer-prize-winning novel, "Armies of the Night," is filled with serving after serving of self-serving remarks and indigestible narcissism. When not discussing the quiverings of his internal cavities, Mr. Mailer manages to describe his protest, and subsequent arrest, at the Pentagon.

Mr. Mailer might be forgiven for producing such literary excreta if he had somehow found some feeling for anyone other than himself on September 11. After all, he was born in New Jersey, he grew up in Brooklyn, and he did some time around the Pentagon.

Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Mailer's heart stopped beating long ago. His brain clearly isn't working now.

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