I regret that after 30 years of writing columns in this market, including ten with this newspaper that I love very much, this local conversation has come to an end. However, I believe that if the newspapers of the country pool their resources, we can send an Arnold-Schwartzenegger-style robot back in time to kill the inventor of the Internet, and then our future will be much brighter.
You can imagine what the advisers are telling Junior Assad: "Your statues are much stronger than Saddam's. His were hollow, and bolted in place with inferior metal; yours are solid, and are anchored to a depth of three feet. Let the American tanks come! Their gears will strip and their engines whine in defeat as they attempt to pull down your statues!
The al-Qaida cell broken up near Buffalo, N.Y., contains some citizens who also found themselves in Afghanistan, training for the Great All-Around Satan Smiting. Treason? Oh, of course not. They were on a religious pilgrimage and got lost. Happens all the time. I knew a kid who went to Lutheran Bible Camp and turned up six years later in a Christian Identity compound with a shaved head and a Hitler mustache.
The not-quite-sort-of lie works here too - often an ad will announce that "Congressman Johnson voted for a bill that gave tax breaks to companies like Enron." True - although the bill allowed all companies to accelerate depreciation of copying machines. Yes, Enron benefited, but Enron also benefited from the revolution of the Earth around the sun. Hardly an argument to freeze the planet in one spot.
What unnerves so many liberals about talk radio? Simple: It's the unapologetic nature of the conversation, the unwavering sense of certainty. Where's the nuance? The shades of gray? We all know truth is a fragile butterfly dancing in and out of shadow and light, and these guys act as though truth is a rhino charging across a sunlit veldt.
Wait until France gets a hard shot in the nose. Wait until France reacts with some nasty work. They'll get a golf-clap from the chattering class over here and a you-go-girl from Red America. France could nuke an Algerian terrorist camp and the rest of the world would tut-tut for a day, then ask if the missiles France used were for sale. And of course the answer would be oui.