Sunday, December 31, 2006

The other countdown

I am old enough that watching the New Year's Eve countdown is boredom exemplified. But there is a competing countdown this year: According to the Iraq Coalition Casualties website, U.S. military deaths in Iraq were at 2998 as of 12/30/2006. December is already the deadliest month in two years.

Will we be treated to another "milestones are meaningless" speech from Tony Snow on the very same day he wishes us Happy New Year?

Update: 3000 it is. I was going to write a snarky, bitter coda full of celebratory sarcasm, but the warbloggers have proven themselves unwilling/unable to understand the concept, and I have no appetite for becoming their whipping boy.

My deepest sympathies for the dead and wounded and their families. To the Commander in Chief you are fodder units; to me your loss is especially tragic because it was so unnecessary.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Huge net neutrality win

Save the Internet has the details.

The intertubes war isn't over, but I can see the end from here.

If this holds, lefty blogging will live to kvetch another day.


Sen. Lieberman seeks 'more troops' for 'winnable' Iraq war

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) has written an op-ed for The Washington Post in which he explains his reasons for why more troops are needed in Iraq. Lieberman argues that the war is "winnable," yet acknowledges that "more U.S. forces might not be a guarantee of success" in the fight.

If you like something, feel it is important, and vote for a candidate for office who also believes in it, you are not a moron.

On the other hand, let's assume you are strongly opposed to something -- say, for example, the Endless War -- as the good people of Connecticut were. And let's say that, like the good people of Connecticut, you had a Senator who was gung-ho until the day he was defeated in a primary by a candidate who shared your strongly held belief, at which point the defeated warmonger suddenly began to make vague anti-war noises.

And let's also assume you took the former warmonger's new anti-war noises at face value, and re-elected him.

When that Senator reverts to war-mongering even before the next Senate session begins, what should we call you, the anti-war voters who sent him back to Washington?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Off topic rant

Politics is taking the rest of the year off, and thus so have I been (from blogging, anyway). But that does not mean that I find nothing to bitch about.

Mrs. Bluememe and I took a few days to head off to another (slightly) warmer place. We flew, then rented a car. I always ask for the cheapest car when traveling. But as often happens, we were "upgraded" -- to a Chevy HHR.

Living in California, the only time I am generally exposed to the domestic auto industry is through rentals. I drive imports; so do all my friends. Thus I get irregular snapshots of the viability of what's left of the Big Three when I travel.

GM is in serious trouble.

I am a Car Guy, and have been since I was a toddler collecting Matchboxes. There is, shall we say, a certain tension between my automotive aspirations and my political views. But unless and until I have the means to buy a McLaren F1, it will be largely academic.

So I have at least as much expertise in criticizing stupid cars as I do stupid pols. And the HHR is the dumbest car I have driven in years.

It has all the traditional GM virtues of course -- numb steering, a transmission seemingly uninterested in connecting the engine to the drive wheels, hopeless ergonomics, cheap, hard plastics, sloppy fit and finish, and so on. But the new stuff is shocking: outward visibility borders on the criminal. The A-pillar (the roof support between windshield and front doors), when combined with the blocked-off portion of the door frame, is literally a foot wide, creating a dangerous blind spot. The windshield itself is such a narrow slit that I have to lean a foot forward to see stoplights. There is no trip odometer. The poorly marked power window buttons are at the bottom center of the dash. The headlights are dim.

The last car I had that this 2006 vehicle would have a chance of beating heads up was a 1982 Accord.

Next year Toyota expects to take over from GM as the #1 auto manufacturer. I see no reason to expect that GM is going to halt its slide into oblivion.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Weak in Review

First, apologies for the very sparse posting. I have been absurdly busy with a new venture, and simply have not been able to devote sufficient time to blogging to keep up. With a little luck, you will see what I am up to in a few months' time, but it is all hush-hush at present. And for the next couple of weeks, I am likely to be well below normal in bandwidth for this Meme.

Of course, the Republican obscenity machine has been in slow mode for the last week or so anyway, so it isn't like there have been a lot of major stories going unprocessed. Washington is quiet, and the whole blogosphere seems bloated and logy with eggnog right now.

But looking through the retrospectoscope finally offers a bit of satisfaction. Collectively we accomplished something this year. I am convinced (as is, apparently, Time Magazine) that what we do with the Intertubes made a material difference. Bluememe is but one in the army of ants. But the collective helped change Congress. And that change will mean a change for us, too.

As Atrios has pointed out (can't find the link), Democratic control of Congress will change the scope of meaningful discussion for us. Policy debate was meaningless; now influencing the votes of Dems might actually matter. Throwing rocks at the stupidity of the Republicans will now be a (sadly) necessary but insufficient role for the blogosphere. Adjusting to the new circumstances may take time.

But that is all for another day. Happy Holidays/Christmas/War on Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Kwaanzaa/Solstice/Yule and anything else I may have omitted. Thanks for reading, commenting and caring.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My 15 minutes?

This blog just got cited on the CBS website.

Blogger Tom DeLay Drops Hammer On Liberals, Ex-GOP House Leader Launches A New Blog - CBS News
Rep. Tom DeLay, former House majority leader, has entered the blogosphere. And liberal bloggers are not rolling out the cyber welcome mat.
DeLay was quick to anticipate the outspoken ways of bloggers. According to, the site will have a way to "filter out" those with dissenting views, and according to numerous reports, many negative comments that escaped the filter have already been removed from the site.

James Risser, over at, claims to have rescued and posted many of those negative comments about DeLay.

Many liberal bloggers were amused that DeLay's blog received so many negative comments in the first place. "Folks like DeLay are not exactly down with the reality of democracy in such unadulterated form," a blogger at Blue Meme writes.

Fame has not changed me.


Surely you jest

Bush appropriates Chanukah moral in depicting current threat from Iran

President Bush and his Cabinet have seized upon the Maccabean message of refusing to give in to tyranny to reinforce Bush’s refusal to deal with Iran as a means of resolving Iraq’s burgeoning crisis. In at least one closed meeting, Bush made the connection explicitly.
Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have rejected the study group’s calls to bring Iran and Syria into regional talks on Iraq as long as those nations continue to back terrorism and Iran does not comply with international demands to stop a program that could culminate in nuclear weapons.

The tone was set with Bush’s annual Chanukah message, released last Friday hours before the holiday began.

“After Jerusalem was conquered by an oppressive king and the Jews lost their right to worship in freedom, Judah Maccabee and his followers courageously set out to reclaim Jerusalem from foreign rule,” Bush said. “Though their numbers were small, the Maccabees’ dedication to their faith was strong, and they emerged victorious.”

It was a contrast with Bush’s Christmas message, which was focused on compassion.

“In this season of giving, we also remember the universal call to love our neighbors,” Bush said. “Millions of compassionate souls take time during the holidays to help people who are hurt, feed those who are hungry and shelter those who need homes.”
On Monday night, Bush presided over the menorah lighting inside the White House.

“We pray that those who still live in the darkness of tyranny will someday see the light of freedom,” he said, accompanied by his Jewish Cabinet members: Schwab, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Bush’s linkage of the Chanukah message and Iran was explicit earlier Monday at a meeting that was expected to focus on Jewish higher education. White House Chanukah meetings change in theme from year to year; previous years have featured day school educators and rabbis.

This year, participants said, Bush seemed more interested in discussing Iran.

“A lot of the conversation centered on Iran and on the president’s conviction that they not be allowed to pick up a nuclear weapon,” said Avi Mayer, a University of Maryland undergraduate who was one of four students representing Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. “He said there’s no use in propping up despots, they have to be confronted and brought to task for their actions.”
“There was a common refrain of the importance of values and how values are the most valuable antidote” to despotism, Sandler said.

Bush said that despite declarations of piety from Muslim radicals now fighting the United States, he doubted that they believed in God.

“ ‘Terrorists’ can’t be God-believing people,’ ” Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, quoted Bush as saying.

The list of obvious counter-examples to this desperately stupid statement about the relationship between religion and terror is both non-denominational and virtually infinite in length. But since Dubya seems to be taking inspiration from Jewish history:

The exploits of Lehi, 1940-50

The bombing of the King David Hotel, 1946

And, since the Bush Administration believes that Gitmo prisoners furthered the cause of terrorism by taking their own lives, may I present: Masada.

I don't have time for the exercise, but I suspect it would be harder to come up with a list of terrorists who did not believe in God. Clearly suicide bombers are going to be religious -- who is more likely to strap C-4 to his chest: the guy who expects to gain admission to heaven for his sacrifice, or the one who rejects the very idea of heaven?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lawrence O'Donnell nails it

When I first heard President Bush accuse Democrats of wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, I knew that America was going to cut and run from Iraq. When a war turns so bad that an American president feels compelled to start warning against cutting and running, the clock starts ticking on when we actually will cut and run. The Nixon administration spent five years figuring out how to cut and run from Vietnam and managed to get more American soldiers killed during Kissinger's utterly pointless "peace" negotiations and the withdrawal period than were killed during Lyndon Johnson's full-on war period. There has been much speculation about how smart George W. Bush is, but not even his most adamant defenders have ever suggested he is smarter than Nixon. So, we have every right to expect that Bush will not be even as good as Nixon at cutting and running. Bush will leave the end game to his successor who, with the American people's approval, will cut and run by following some variation on the Iraq Study Group's report. All hell will break loose when we leave Iraq no matter when that occurs.

Other parts of the column, not so much. But damn.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another tell

I just watched a bit of the coverage of Rummy's retirement festival. The effusive praise clearly signals that the option has been renewed on the Grand Guignol he helped create.

But the interesting tell was something his old friend Dick Cheney said. Cheney called Rumsfeld "the toughest boss I ever had."

Ruminate on that a moment. Allow it percolate through your brain.

Ready? OK, would you conclude from that statement that

(a) Rummy was a tougher boss than is George Bush, the (in theory) elected President of the United States?


(b) Cheney does not consider Bush to be his boss?

Please elaborate and defend your answers. Papers are due next Friday.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

1936, here we come

Saudis tell U.S. they may back Iraq's Sunnis

One of my many unfinished columns, written when the "Is Iraq a civil war?" was still a live , if absurd, question) draws some parallels between Iraq and the Spanish Civil War. The announcement a few days ago by Saudi Arabia that it may throw massive support behind its Sunni brethren in Iraq is the most ominous indication yet that a repeat of the SPanish Civil War may be a best-case scenario.

For those not up on their history, the fascists, under Franco, squared off against the left-leaning Republicans. Spain became a proxy war and an entr'acte for the cataclysm of WWII.

The Republicans received weapons and volunteers from the Soviet Union, Mexico, the international Communist movement, and the International Brigades, while the Francoists received weapons and soldiers from Italy and Germany, logistical support from Portugal, and support from Roman Catholic nations such as Ireland.

Now Iraq is rapidly assembling the dramatis personae for a detailed re-enactment. Iran will back the Shia, Saudi Arabia the Sunni. Both countries have the resources and the motivation to scorch Iraq for many years. The opportunities for massive escalation are countless.

And the beauty part? It may be that the only thing keeping the Saudis and Iranians from launching Spanish Civil War II is our continued presence.

One of the columns I did finish was "Who you calling a fly?", in which I pointed out more than a year ago that we are the ones stuck to the flypaper conservatives were offering as a justification for our Iraq policy. I was right then, but I fear that this fact is now an order of magnitude more horrifying in its implications. Even worse, I can easily imagine a scenario in which the Bush Administration not only seizes on this nightmare as justification for staying the course, but actually fans the flames of this horror-in-waiting. After all, the neocons have been talking about, and encouraging, a clash of civilizations since even before 9/11. In their twisted world view, bringing about such a war is infinitely preferable to admitting failure by withdrawing. Evidence has not been a major component of their arguments so far, but the mess they made could actually reach a point at which leaving will unleash a whirlwind even worse than the disaster we already caused.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reflections on Liberalism

One of my favorite aphorisms lately is this: A liberal is someone who is right, but too soon.

I had cause to think about that when I recently read a book called "The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World". The book, which was published in 2000, is not really about politics per se, or about liberal politics. But the book provides some useful perspectives on just how far liberals moved the political debate from, say, 1950 to 2000 -- and how far conservatives have moved it back in a few short years since. The authors ask an insightful question:

How many of these are acceptable to you today?

--White supremacy, using systematic violence and discrimination against Native Amercians, Asians, Hispanics and African Americans.

--Discrimination against women in the legal system and the workplace, and abuse common at home.
--Commitments to wars like the one in Vietnam by foreign policy elites, with no real input from the people.

--The McCarthy-era suppression of civil liberties in the name of anti-Communism.
--Treating the psyche as steeped in sin, or as nothing but a sewer of unconscious drives, rather than full of human potential.
--Gay and lesbian bashing.

The conservatives really do want to pretend that 50 years of progress never happened. And their success in rolling back the clock has been staggering.

I heard pieces of an interview on NPR with the author of a new book about Earl Warren by Jim Newton. It really brought home to me how the things that are really totemic of the America that I love are largely products of the Warren Court, and thus of relatively recent vintage. The Bill of Rights is a lofty and essential document, but it was largely toothless before 1960. And it is now in serious danger of going back to the hollow place whence it came.

The American public didn't really understand the value and power of the Bill of Rights then. It doesn't now. I think that may be the essential conundrum of the American experiment -- the fact that our democracy depends on rights the majority would gladly jettison. That's how fragile this experiment remains.

Monday, December 11, 2006


You may have heard that former important person Tom DeLay has started a blog. You may have also heard that said blog allowed unmoderated comments -- briefly.

The comments were purged, of course. Folks like DeLay are not exactly down with the reality of democracy in such unadulterated form. But a savvy blogger managed to snag and copy the comments before they followed DeLay's career into the ozone.

The comments include massive amounts of juvenile obscenity, of course. But there were a few highlights:

I like to smother myself in tapioca pudding and play the bongos in front of the fireplace. Looking for S/W/M who shares same interests.

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter Tom Delay
WoW! America's poster-child for white entitlement, greed, authoritarianism and the exploitation religion for corporate interests finally has a blog! The intertubz are finally complete... Go back to your hole Tom. Your "conservative revolution" is dead. No one cares what a ignorant exterminator has to say anymore, now that we are all pretty sure you're a criminal.

Though in all honesty, keep posting. This should be entertaining... in a "rubbernecking a car accident" sort of way.

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter raoul duke

But this one hurts:

Everyone already assumes bloggers are unemployed losers... thanks for reinforcing that stereotype...

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter Marc
All this AND lumped in with Tom DeLay. My heart swells with..... pride. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A pictorial dictionary

Since Sisters Broder and Will and the rest of the Gang of 500 in Washington seems to be obsessed with the lack of civility in our debate, I thought I would help bring clarity by offering some useful examples of civil and uncivil discourse:











The preceding was a presented as a public service.

Friday, December 08, 2006


A number of people seem to be under the mistaken impression that there is still a debate about Iraq. That might have been true as recently as last week, but is certainly no longer the case. Thanks in part to the Baker-Hamilton Commission and Bob Gates, two things are now obvious to all, beyond debate:

1. What we are doing is not working.

2. We are going to keep doing it.

Simple, yes?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hmmmmm.... perhaps "Mr. Justice Bluememe"....

I haven't talked about it much lately, but long-time readers may remember that I am Senior Recidivist with the Poor Man Institute for Freedom, Democracy and a Pony. You may even have visited the John Steinberg Memorial Virtual Reading Room and Kittenarium at the Institute. Virtually reading and kitteneriuming are often thankless work, but like taking out the garbage or wrapping a Baggie around your hand before picking up your dog's poop, somebody has to do it.

Anyways, the really nice thing about parking your butt in a political think tank is that, if you place your bet (butt?) well, you are well-positioned for a high-level government post when your spiritual leader takes political power.

It is therefore a terribly exciting time here at the JSMVRR&K, because the remarkably telegenic The Editors (see above) , the head of the Institute, has announced that he is running for President of the United States on the Connecticut For Lieberman Party ticket.

So, should we all be saluting President Editors in 2009, I expect that my loyal service will put me at the top of a very short list for --- yes, Supreme Court Justice.

My qualifications:

=More than 2000 published* opinions**.

=Pubic hair.

=Absolute, unblinking worship of my patron.

=Already have a robe.

=And, finally, an actual law degree, on the off chance that sort of thing matters to you.

*Assuming "posted in Blogger"= published.
**Assuming "Richard Cohen is an idiot" = an opinion.

Wow -- from lowly blogger to possible ascendancy to the highest court in the land. I guess the old saying is true: Do what you love, and the opportunity to help dismantle the Constitution will follow.

Oh, and for those who might worry that running a dinosaur for President is a bad idea:

That worked out pretty well.

At least for the dinosaur.

A telling moment from the Not-Rumsfeld hearings

The most significant thing overall is that the bar is set so low in terms of expectations from Bush appointees -- even among fellow Republicans -- that a willingness to wave hello to reality from a safe distance warrants a ringing, unanimous endorsement. Thus will Secretary of Defense Not-Rumsfeld be welcomed enthusiastically by one and all, his own unsavory history notwithstanding.

Bob Geiger has some of the main highlights from yesterday's hearings. But I heard a few minutes on the radio in the car yesterday that resonated with me. (I can't find a reference to these specifics online, so this is from memory.)

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was going on about one of the things he thought was a real problem in Iraq: that "we" do not have enough prisons in Iraq, and that the Iraqis seem to keep releasing people we think ought to remain locked up. Hoe also pointed out that Alabama has nine prison beds for every one in Iraq.

I think these two statements tell us a great deal about the Republican mind. Sessions is still having trouble grasping why the shiny new democratic government we gifted to the Iraqi people cannot control the country at the very same time he fumes that they can't seem to keep locked up the people we tell them to. When Plato offered up Thrasymachus to tell us that justice is the will of the stronger, he could have been sketching Senator Sessions. The conceptual difficulty plaguing Sessions is a bit of confusion as to who really is the stronger in Iraq. (Hint: as Secretary Not-Rumsfeld seems to understand, it is Not-Us.)

If you insist on maintaining the illusion that Iraq is still a country, and that it has a government, sir, it is unseemly to expect that government to lock up people indefinitely just because another government wants them to. Though you seem perfectly happy to lets such things be done by our own lawless government, it is a bit unrealistic to expect other lawless governments to accede to our whims.

The other thing that struck me is the way Sessions pointed to the "prison bed gap" between Alabama and Iraq as a mark of pride. Now granted, I would feel a helluva lot more comfortable wandering Mobile than I would Fallujah. But (a) it seems near - universal that Republicans think that the way to make themselves safer is to build more prisons. And (b) Saddam Hussein ran a very tight police state for decades. His torture and intimidation apparat was reputedly vast. And yet Alabama is set up to hold almost an order of magnitude more prisoners?

(Of course, as Slate points out, Sessions also said:
"I talk to those who've lost their lives, and they have that sense of duty and mission."
So I guess his spiritual allegiance to the President is hard to deny.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Something's wrong -- Sully is making sense

Andrew Sullivan is like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're gonna get. I read him when I first discovered the blogosphere, and thought he was interesting. Then he was an idiot. Then he was alternately deluded and insightful. But lately most of his stuff has seemed pretty good.

Today's The Gathering Storm paints a chilling but plausible picture of what could be coming as a result of our Iraq folly.
My own darkest fear is that the Middle East is at the beginning of its own period that Europe experienced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: a massive, sectarian, regional bloodbath. I hope this won't happen. I hope to be proven wrong again. But I fear the process is already underway. The best hope for Iraq is perhaps a temporary surge in U.S. troops to make one last effort at some effort at a relatively peaceful de facto partition, before the near-inevitable U.S. withdrawal and subsequent involvement of Saudis and Egyptians in support of the Sunnis and the Iranians on the side of the Shia. (At this point, I'd be relieved if we can save the Kurds.)

The major powers in the Middle East, in other words, are on the verge of behaving like the major powers in Europe centuries ago: they will act as expressions of national interest but also of sectarian theology. And they will fight a terrible war before they agree on a chastened peace.

Joe Bob sez check it out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Clueless -- and built to stay that way

The Mainstream hears our footsteps. They are jealous of us -- of our editor-free process, of our unsullied passion, of our nimbleness and outrage. Thus their pathetic, clueless attempts at cartoon villain "We're not so different, you and I" takedowns, like this one:

New on the Web: Politics as Usual - New York Times

You might think that with the kind of rhetoric bloggers regularly muster against politicians, they would never work for them. But you would be wrong.

Over the past few years, bloggers have won millions of fans by speaking truth to power — even the powers in their own parties — and presenting a fresh, outsider perspective. They are the pamphleteers of the 21st century, revolutionary “citizen journalists” motivated by personal idealism and an unwavering confidence that they can reform American politics.

But this year, candidates across the country found plenty of outsiders ready and willing to move inside their campaigns. Candidates hired some bloggers to blog and paid others consulting fees for Internet strategy advice or more traditional campaign tasks like opposition research.

After the Virginia Democratic primary, for instance, James Webb hired two of the bloggers who had pushed to get him into the race. The Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont in Connecticut had at least four bloggers on his campaign team. Few of these bloggers shut down their “independent” sites after signing on with campaigns, and while most disclosed their campaign ties on their blogs, some — like Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits — did so only after being criticized by fellow bloggers.

Dear Wankers:

I was not granted a halo the instant I opened an account with Blogger. There are good bloggers and bad, ethical and not so much. What makes us an essential complement to (and often antidote to) the insipid, toothless product you are paid to line our birdcages with is not diminished if the same forces that have corrupted most of you have also corrupted some of us. The blogosphere matters because it is too diffuse and unruly and disorganized for it to matter if one of us tries to cook the books. The ability of any one blogger to corrupt another is vanishingly small. You are rigidly hierarchical, we are ad hoc; you are centralized, we are diffuse. You completely misunderstand the essential difference between us and you: it is the blogosphere as a whole that matters, not any individual blogger.

When Judith Miller put the New York Times into the tank in the runup to the Iraq war, the game was over -- the entire mainstream press fell into lockstep. In contrast, when Jason Leopold reported via Truthout that Karl Rove had been indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald, the blogosphere quickly jettisoned the story's credibility.

That points to our essential strength and thus your essential weakness. The voracious iconoclasm of (at least the left half of) the blogosphere is inherent and structural. We are like an ant colony, except that we require neither queens nor drones. You can stomp on a few of us, but the larger organism is unaffected. And unless you learn to coexist with us, you can expect to ruin your picnics for years to come.



P.S. Oh, and as made clear by the accompanying "graphic" (Wowser -- I guess we will have to stop calling you the Grey Lady now!) the one blogger you are able to point to who apparently hid his political work went on the payroll of Republican Saint John McCain.

Update: I crossposted this @ dKos. In response to a comment from coffeeinamrica, I realzied something I think may be more significant than the original post:

The other reason the MSM is stuck on "bloggers getting paid by pols" beef is not about the conflict issue -- it is, plain and simple, about the money. In their world, money is precisely equal to power. If they can keep us stuck in believing that purity equals poverty, they think they can keep us powerless.

Smarter than I thought, but still doomed to failure.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bush's willing executioners

My hard drive is cluttered with columns I started and never finished. One of them never got much beyond the title of this post, a reference to Hitler's Willing Executioners," Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's landmark book. The book shattered the myth that the Nazi's hoodwinked an innocent German populace, who knew not what they did. Goldhagen showed the pervasive, omnipresent antisemitism that preceded the Final Solution, and the widespread, knowing participation in it. I in turn was going to write about the ugliness in ordinary Americans that enabled the tragic horrors in Iraq.

But I couldn't have done it any better than this:
When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.

The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us."

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of "the threat in our midst" would alleviate the public's fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.

"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL (, which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland.

"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.

"Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."

The show aired on November 26, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and Klein said in an interview afterwards he had been surprised by the response.

"The switchboard went from empty to totally jammed within minutes," said Klein. "There were plenty of callers angry with me, but there were plenty who agreed."


Those in agreement are not a fringe minority: A Gallup poll this summer of more than 1,000 Americans showed that 39 percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.

Roughly a quarter of those polled said they would not want to live next door to a Muslim and a third thought that Muslims in the United States sympathized with al Qaeda, the extremist group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
These people who would brand or deport or imprison or execute their neighbors on the basis of religion are probably the very same people who shake their heads in bewilderment at the ethnic and religious violence now convulsing Iraq.

If there is anything beyond dumb luck to modern American exceptionalism, it is little more than that such criminal insanity has somehow been kept at bay by the few who see such barbarity in our midst and find a way to keep the bottle stoppered.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Paging Dr. Bloor...

Calling others bonkers is merely an avocation for me, albeit one I enjoy immensely. Dr. Bloor does it for a living, which perhaps explains why he has been so reluctant to do so in this blog. ( I know I get antsy when asked to answer legal questions off the clock.)

But perhaps Dr. Bloor will favor us with a professional take on this story from a few days ago:

"A collective “I told you so" will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

"Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.'"

Failing such elucidation, I will choose to believe that Mr. Lohse is on to something.

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