"Scary" is right ...


I saw a Daily Show montage this morning in which every Republican candidate shouted some version of the argument that Democrats would "raise taxes" and "lose the war" in Iraq. Bush said the same thing yesterday. I get pretty depressed by the state of the world when I see this kind of thing because of how stupid these people assume voters must be. Who started this war that we are now losing and will continue losing until we've finally admitted we lost? Who destroyed the fiscal balance they inherited from the Clinton administration and helped cause the single worst reversal of fiscal fortune in the country's history? And just how would a Democratic House or Senate "raise taxes" without Bush's signature on a bill? Does anyone think they are about to assume a "veto-proof" majority? In other words, the Republicans are running a campaign on what is, whatever you happen to believe politically, pure nonsense. And not only do they expect it to work, none of the smart-guy pundits think to call them on it. Sad, sad, sad, particularly when you think about how many hundreds of thousands of people must die in Iraq and elsewhere, for this idiocy.

[R]eality can no longer be avoided. It is beyond U.S. power to prevent bloody sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq. All of these things and more became unavoidable the day that U.S. forces invaded.

These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years.

-- "How to cut and run" by William Odom. What a wimp! (From November 1981 to May 1985, Lt. Gen. Odom served as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Headquarters, Department of the Army. From 1985 to 1988, he served as the director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan.)

U.S. soldier murdered by Iraqi police -- and then the coverup began, here.

A ref worked: It's not in the head.

IRREGARDLESS (not a word).

Or, you could sign up for a 24/7 root canal ...

You could not make this stuff up: "On Air Force One on the way home, [Karl Rove] made a rare appearance in the press cabin, handing out chocolate-covered pecans to the reporters. He waved the lid of the tin theatrically and said, 'Sweets for my sweets!' "

Ever seen Colbert lose it? Pretty funny.

(Thanks again, Petey.)

Haunted songs for All Hallow's Eve.

From the Benton Foundation:


Before last week's deadline, the FCC had received more than 122,000 comments on media ownership with the expectation of more to come. Consumer advocates and public interest organizations have united to pressure Republican commissioners, who hold a 3-2 majority, to retain current limits on broadcast ownership. The vast majority of Americans still rely on locally owned TV stations and newspapers as their most important sources for local news and information, according to Gene Kimmelman, vice president of the Consumers Union. "Cable and Internet are no substitutes," he said. The groups argued that in markets with fewer dominant media companies, independent and local media competing against each other are more likely to air diverse opinions and provide more ownership opportunities for minorities. More consolidation and media concentration will likely result in fewer minority-owned stations and fewer stations airing local news content, said Ben Scott, policy director of the Free Press.


The circulation of the nation's daily newspapers plunged during the latest reporting period in one of the sharpest declines in recent history, according to data released yesterday. The slide continues a decades-long trend and adds to the woes of a mature industry already struggling with layoffs and facing the potential sale of some of its flagships. Over all, average daily circulation dropped by 2.8 percent during the six-month period ended Sept. 30, compared with the period last year, according to an industry analysis of data released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Circulation for Sunday papers fell by 3.4 percent. The figures appear to be the steepest in any comparable six-month period in at least 15 years. Newspaper executives also attribute some of the decline to deliberate strategies to eliminate so-called bulk sales to third-party sponsors that offer papers free in places like hotels. Advertisers view them as having little value because the readers getting them did not pay for them.

A public service announcement: The second tribute to benefit the Music for Youth Foundation will take place at Avery Fisher Hall on November 9 with Patti Smith, Rosanne Cash, Phil Lesh, Natalie Merchant and Philip Glass, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Allen Toussaint, Joan Osborne, and many many others each performing a Dylan song. Last year's Joni Mitchell show was wonderful, but more importantly the cause is a great one, which you can read about here. You can read about the show here, where it says that the $125 tickets are sold out. But if you're interested in going at that level, I'd be willing to try and help you out and believe me, these are great seats. (I derive no benefit in any way from this, for the record. I just think it's a great cause.) So write me below if you do ...

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Steve Bottoms
Hometown: Colorado Springs

Hi Eric,

Paul Burgess writes, "We have suffered more than 2,300 combat deaths in Iraq so far. Not one was in vain. Not one."

Um, 2,300? I'm sure the other 500+ families who've lost loved ones might have a problem with Paul's childish screed as he doesn't even have the decency to get the number of combat deaths even close to right. And this is one of the grownups that took over the White House?

Thanks again, Ralph (and Joe).

Name: Paul Goode
Hometown: Redmond, WA

In Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria writes:

But with planning, intelligence, execution and luck, it is possible that the American intervention in Iraq could have a gray ending -- one that is unsatisfying to all, but that prevents the worst scenarios from unfolding, secures some real achievements and allows the United States to regain its energies and strategic compass for its broader leadership role in the world.

Which begs the question: What planet does he live on? What makes Zakaria or anyone else think that the Bush Administration -- which couldn't get out of a paper bag with a box cutter -- will suddenly demonstrate "planning, intelligence, and execution"? He himself renders the remainder of his article -- eight pages worth -- moot by predicating on a premise that is DOA.

Name: Brian P. Evans
Hometown: San Diego

How interesting to see Andrew Sullivan on Real Time with Bill Maher last week. He whined about how they weren't talking about Iraq. It seems he hasn't figured out that the reason why we can't discuss is Iraq is because he was one of the people who poisoned the well with regard to that discussion, calling anyone and everyone who disagreed with him and the president regarding our need to invade Iraq traitors to their country: A statement he still hasn't retracted nor apologized for. Oh, he can rant and rave about the mess Iraq is now, but he can't seem to take responsibility for his part in cheerleading us into it and how his principles failed him utterly. It is not enough to simply say that it was wrong to invade Iraq. He has to come to terms with his thought processes for why he thought it was a good idea then, why he thinks it's a bad idea now, and how he has changed his foundational outlook of the world to prevent such a travesty from happening again.

This was so clearly shown in his repeated comments (along with Pelosi's) about "true conservatives." This is a clear case of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. It is commonly used by people who associate with others based upon a common cause who find they don't really like what the other members are doing, usually when they are in the minority. It's an attempt to disavow themselves from the group while still claiming group privilege. I'm sorry, but the conservatives in power are just as much conservatives as Sullivan and Pelosi. If they don't like what the conservative group they associate with currently stands for, they need to break away from that group, not whine that the leaders aren't "true" conservatives. Obviously the majority of people who think themselves to be conservative think those are the principles of conservatism or they wouldn't be the leaders.

And speaking of Pelosi, she was pulling out the "both sides are doing it" canard over and over again, but was never able to come up with an example of how the left was guilty of the same corruption as the right. Now, is there corruption in the Democratic Party? Of course there is. But there is a distinct difference in size and scope. It is disingenuous to say that the person who steals a few dollars from the coffee fund is guilty of the same level of embezzlement as the person who raids the pension fund. To use Pelosi as an example, does she really think that under a Democratic administration, the very companies who are the worst polluters would be allowed to write pollution standards the way they did under the Bush Administration? The Democrats may not be the greenest party, but their subservience to industry is nowhere near the Republicans.

And alas, Bill, who has called people on that concept (the corruption in the Democratic Party pales in comparison to the corruption in the Republican Party), failed to call her on it.

Name: Wm. Weissbeck
Hometown: Schererville, IN

Larry of Oak Park makes an excellent point. But the fault lies in the MSM's inability or unwillingness to explain a court's reasoning. Whether it was Bush v. Gore or eminent domain, the media offered only the most shallow overview. Whatever you might think of lawyers and judges, legal opinions go on for pages and pages, because sometimes it takes pages and pages to fully explain things. To this day the MSM misses the point of the eminent domain decision: it was only that the Constitution's eminent domain clause does not specifically prohibit the taking of property by a public body, even though that taking may be intented for a purely private use. Eminent domain still requires the government to pay just compensation and still entitles the property owner to contest the valuation in court. For years, states and municipalities have struggled with the use of eminent domain for purely public purposes -- roads; semi-public -- blighted neighborhoods; and purely private and/or non-blighted -- taking land to build a parking lot for a private stadium development. Legislatures have over time cut back on the use of these later two basis without any help from the Supreme Court or right wing hysteria. The press and the hysterics overlook that these development decisions are being made by their own local elected officials. These are not autocrats.

The issue is how to balance a majority's desire for a particular use of land and the individual's steadfast refusal to agree. This was the same tension that had to be resolved in order to permit zoning laws. It is not a Democrat or GOP issue. It might be small government vs. large (paternal) government matter. But does anyone really think that wealthy developers are more likely to use their influence (as Justice O'Connor feared) on elected Democrats or Republicans? Of course when you are gulf coast Mississippi development and a hurricane rolls through, you can rely on your senator and governor to smooth the way.

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

There are so many rhetorical elephants in the Iraqi living room it's hard to identify them all, but one of the most obvious gets hardly any attention at all. As we've trained more troops/police and turned more territory over to them the level of violence has skyrocketed. Survivors of the bloodshed consistently complain that the insurgents are Iraqi soldiers, policemen, health ministry officials, or other members of the government. The same story comes from Sunnis and Shiites alike. It's time to face the most horrible reality so far in this godforsaken hell on Earth that we've created. The U.S. government is training and arming the antagonists in the rapidly escalating Iraqi civil war. It no longer is a matter of how much worse things will be if we leave. It's a matter of how much worse the inevitable will become if we continue to along the present course. If we eventually end up "fighting them here" it will be because once again we have created our own enemies, a consistent theme throughout the history of the last 100 years at least.

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


In the summer of 1769, British troops were stationed in Boston (as a response to our taking exception to the Townshend Revenue Act and the Sugar Act.) They had been there for almost a year and frictions with the colonists had increased.

When there was case involving an attack on the guard on Boston Neck, Judge Dana addressed some of the British soldiers, who'd been involved, at a preliminary hearing. Think of the Iraqis speaking to us when you hear his words:

"Who brought you here? Who sent for you? By what authority to you mount guard, or march in the streets with arms? It is contrary to the laws of the Province, and you should be taken up for so offending. We want none of your guards. We have arms of our own and can protect ourselves. You are but a handful. Better take care not to provoke us. If you do, you must take the consequences."

Not only are all people created equal, they tend to react equally to the presence of foreign soldiers, however well-intentioned, on their soil.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.