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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
PLACEHOLDER: Apologies again for lack of posts. New job, ten hours a day at, two hours plus traveling too and from, more training, and vastly more learning related to -- that sort of thing.
Plus, my housemate took a tumble down the stairs yesterday, and was concussed and now largely bed-ridden, for some time to come, and this on top of multiple past concusions (and I'm, of course, trying to take care of as best I can).
On top of that, a housemate who signed on to stay until August decided he'd prefer to, um, well, screw us, and leave, because it was his preference, thus leaving us money-short and hunting for a new housemate, and money-short.
But at least maybe the next housemate might not expect us to do all his cleaning, hoovering, scrubbing, washing, picking up broken dog-type-parts, and dog-caring for him; ya never know.
Meanwhile, a bus strike in Boulder starts on April 2nd, leaving me completely screwed, and I'm pre-occupied trying to set up coping mechanisms for that.
Getting to work via 2 hour walk each way wouldn't be great (yes, I'm checking out borrowing a bike, but there are other problems).
So I'm behind on all sorts of stuff, including tons of new technologies required for my new jobs, let alone possible shocks at blogsites which I'm still assuming are temporary glitches, even if they've been there for about a week before I had time to notice (remarkably! Checking out even favorite blogsites not prioritity of my life! People offended!)
Sorry about missing The Lion In Winter again tonight, though, on Turner Classic Movies. Always one of my favorites, and a great combo with Anne of A Thousand Days.
Meanwhile, I'm never going to promise to punch a schedule here, but I'll always be back, and I hope I'll have Good Stuff.
Richard N. Perle resigned today as chairman of an influential Pentagon advisory board in the wake of disclosures that his business dealings included a recent meeting with a Saudi arms dealer and a contract to advise a communications company that is seeking permission from the Defense Department to be sold to Chinese investors.
he departure, announced by the administration, came after growing criticism of Mr. Perle's business ties while he was serving as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a collection of experts and former government officials who have access to classified information and are unpaid advisers to the defense secretary on military issues. The Pentagon said Mr. Perle, who has many friends in the senior ranks of the administration and was appointed to the chairman's post in 2001 by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would remain on the board.
He still stays on the board. He still has the Ear, or rather The Voice To The Ear. It's not a far fall, but a gentle one into fig leaves.
The communications company, Global Crossing, also announced that Mr. Perle had decided to sever his ties with it.
Earlier this week, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, asked the Pentagon to conduct an examination of Mr. Perle's business dealings. And on Wednesday, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, wrote a letter to Mr. Rumsfeld urging him to force Mr. Perle to choose between his job on the Defense Policy Board and his business.
In a letter to Mr. Rumsfeld dated Wednesday, Mr. Perle said he was "dismayed" that criticism of his business ties was distracting Pentagon officials while they were grappling with the war in Iraq.
"I have seen controversies like this before, and I know that this one will inevitably distract from the urgent challenge in which you are now engaged," Mr. Perle wrote. "I would not wish to cause even a moment's distraction from that challenge. As I cannot quickly or easily quell criticism of me based on errors of fact concerning my activities, the least I can do under these circumstances is to ask you to accept my resignation as chairman of the Defense Policy Board."
Last week, Mr. Perle defended the appropriateness of his fee arrangement with Global Crossing, which had agreed to pay him $600,000 on top of his $125,000 retainer if the Pentagon and other government agencies approved its sale. But in his letter, Mr. Perle reversed himself and said he would not accept any compensation resulting from completion of the deal. He also said that "any fee for past service would be donated to the families of American forces killed or injured in Iraq."
See the fig leaves flutter through the air, magically alighting on Perle. He did nothing wrong, and not he's not going to do it anyway, and besides, all that money, which is was fine to take, but which now he won't take in future, though there's nothing wrong with it -- that money will go to little American children whose families have suffered in wars in which, of course, he himself has had no influense or say. It's a just a random act of charity, purely coincidental in timing in these other matters.
What a good good man Richard Perle is. See?
And he's never bitter, never angry, the Prince of Darkness. Serenity covers his skin like a cloak, a cloak over his gleamingly clean and clear conscience.
In a brief phone conversation this afternoon before the Pentagon's announcement, Mr. Perle sounded angry. Asked whether he had resigned, he replied: "Let me just tell you something. If I had, you'd be the last person in the world I'd want to talk to." He then slammed down the phone.
A softspoken, gentle man. And now we look at another question, of Global Crossing:
In an affidavit that he signed but that was never filed in the bankruptcy proceeding, Mr. Perle said he was retained by Global Crossing to gain the approval of the transaction by the committee because of his former job as an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration and his current position on the Defense Policy Board.
"As the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, I have a unique perspective on and intimate knowledge of the national defense and security issues that will be raised by the C.F.I.U.S. review process that is not and could not be available to the other C.F.I.U.S. professionals," he said, referring to the committee.
Mr. Perle said that he had not read the affidavit carefully before he signed it and that the reference in the affidavit to the Defense Policy Board had been "a clerical error" that should have been deleted.
Oopsie! Just a typo! Kind of a large typo, though, wouldn't you say? A 51-worder, packed with acronyms and meaning.
He just accidentally wrote "a unique perspective on and intimate knowledge of the national defense and security issues that will be raised by the C.F.I.U.S. review process that is not and could not be available to the other C.F.I.U.S. professionals." It just accidentally spilled out of his fingers, or his dictatation, and he had no idea he was soliciting shielding of Global Crossing from Congressional attack. He'd just forgotten that this was written to a Congressional Committee, and instead absentmindedly thought he was gayly strolling out on the Mall, chatting to himself, for no reason, as he is wont do do. What a carefee guy Richard Perle is! Doesn't that make you feel good about him? bragged that he had to examine Mr. Perle's business dealings.
As a result
In recent days, criticism began to rise from Democratic lawmakers. Mr. Conyers asked the inspector general at the Pentagon to examine Mr. Perle's business dealings. And Senator Levin sent a letter to Mr. Rumsfeld expressing "deep concern" about the reports of Mr. Perle's business relationships.
"I believe that Mr. Perle should be asked to make a choice," Mr. Levin wrote, "between stepping down from the Defense Policy Board or making a commitment not to have any further contact with D.O.D. officials on behalf of a client, not to allow his name to be used in connection with any such contact, and not to accept any fee that is contingent upon an action of the Department of Defense.
GOOD TIMING: Always good to see a sound newspaper merely several months late on a story.
Real soon now, the Grauniad will also discover Slashdot, and the New York Times.
After that, eager stories about "Google."
And how educated we will all be then.
And how honest that the Guardian can't bring themselves to actual provide the link to "Salem Pax"'s Blogspot site. It's not as if Blogspot, after all, is dependent on links to Baghdad going down, so one has to think they're either stupid, dishonest, or, um, dishonest.
Okay, maybe ignorant. That's always a good bet.
Soon: late breaking news -- turn of the millenium, Y2K problem over-estimated, steam power works, most of the time, and Adam Sandler movies still mostly to be avoided.
FREQUENCY: Apologies for disappearing from the all-blog, all-the-time, front. I've started a new job as of Monday, and it's keeping me offline for at least 10 hours a day.
And then there's that crazy "sleep" thing I'm fond of. So I'm afraid that blogging will be quite lighter for some time to come, though I do hope to start working back to some more daily blogging in evenings Real Soon Now.
I'll next be off Wednesday and Thursday, and while some of that time may be spent doing wacky offline stuff, like maybe watching some movies, or playing some computer games, or whatever, it's entirely possibly you'll see more blogging then.
I regret the lessening in posting -- and reading -- but it's not something I have any choice about unless y'all want to start hitting those PayPal buttons far more frequently than once every couple of months, at the rate of about one out of a a thousand Unique Vistors.
5:50 CST CNN Has just announced that the President will be going to Camp David for the weekend.
No. I'd be disturbed by the idea that Bush was planning to stay at the White House to personally direct which division should go where, a la Herr Hitler, or even at the lesser level of direct direction of military forces that Winston Churchill was fond of.
It seems faintly odd to me that someone who has such a negative opinion of Bush as Avedon has is simultaneously, seemingly, disturbed at the idea that this incompetent man is going to Camp David -- which has communications facilities comparable to the White House, in any case (Bush is reputedly very fond of the video-conferencing technology, which is certainly an area ripe for a parodist, should one wish to go there) -- and not being more hands on with his incompetence.
This strikes me as the political equivalent of the old joke in the East Coast US Jewish community about the two old ladies at a Catskills resort (such resorts famous for the huge heaping servings of food in their dining rooms): "The food here is terrible!" "Yes, and such small portions!"
Public Notice - If you seriously maintain that "neoconservative" is a code word for "Jewish," you are an ass. The only question is whether you're an ignorant ass, one who somehow missed a thirty-year-plus intellectual tradition and yet feels unaccountably qualified to comment on political matters, or a dishonest ass.
I have great respect with Jim, no matter that, of course, we have some political differences -- I have some political differences with nearly everyone, after all, and don't, to earn my respect, require others to adhere to my opinions, but rather merely to display some general ability to reason thoughtfully -- but this is a bit over-strong, perhaps?
Jim makes the error of using "is," and producing a general rule, rather than discussing specific usages.
It's neither correct or accurate to universally say that "'neo-conservative" is a code word for 'Jewish,'" nor to say that "'neo-conservative is never a code word for 'Jewish,'" because, like most such statements, either one may be true. In some cases one is true, in other cases the other is true.
Each one is capable of being either a true or false statement, depending on what statement from who is being described.
"Neo-conservative," instead, can be a code word for "Jews," but need not be.
Generally speaking, in the majority of political discussions, "neo-conservative" is not going to be a code-word for "Jews." In other circumstances, such as when, say, Pat Buchanan is writing, "neo-conservative" definitely is at least largely a code word for "Jews." In yet other circumstances, there may only be a tinge of code-wording. And, of course, in many circumstances, it's not just unclear, but impossible to tell without, at the very least, considerable knowledge of and experience with the speaker, if not outright being a mind-reader. As a default, of course, under neutral circumstances, one should assume the best. (If you're not a pessimist, anyway.)
On the other hand, circumstances are not always neutral in a world where anti-semitism is not non-existent. Our world.
So all in all, I'd have no disagreement if Jim had merely stated his emphatic opinion that "neo-conservative" is an entirely legitimate word to use to describe a certain political "movement"/flavor and in most cases in which he encounters it, it in no way has any tinge whatsoever of code-wordism. That's fine and true. Unfortunately, Jim -- in a bit of heat, if my Tone Detector isn't completely off -- stumbled into going unnecessarily further, to the point of -- my reading, anyway -- at least implying an absolute statement that "neo-conservative" can never, and is never, a code word for "Jews," which has the misfortune of not being so. I do expect that it's pretty rarely, likely to the point of never, so used by the sort of people Jim reads and engages with, thus accounting for his degree of emphasis.
I do hope, however, that Jim doesn't think I'm an "ass" if I observe that not everyone is as sensible as Jim, and that Patrick Buchanan just happens to be an example of an anti-semitic writer and thinker who does, in fact, considerably mean "Jews" when he attacks "neo-conservatives." Or mean "Jew-lovers."
Sorry: "amen corner."
And Pat Buchanan is not unique and alone in this. Especially of late.
Jim responds. Kinda. I confess I'm not following what he's saying as clearly as I'd like to.
AM I MISSING SOMETHING or is it not showboating idiocy for the CBS reporter (I missed her name, though I'll probably catch it later) in Kuwait City to be giving a live report to Dan Rather in a gas mask simply because, earlier in the day, a couple of missiles were lobbed at Kuwait (three guesses as to who launched them), and there is an "alert"?
3/20/2003 10:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
SIGHTS: Ted Koppel live right now, with the Third Infantry Division, as an unending stream of Bradley APCs and M1-A1 Abrams tanks and fuel carriers streams past, into Iraq, behind him.
This "live from the war" thing is weird; there's never been anything like it before. Imagine seeing Patton, live, swiveling his tanks to charge into the Ardenne.
Somehow it's particularly eerie hearing the tank treads grinding away -- probably because, as a civilian, I'm most familiar with the sound from movies. But this is no movie.
As a separate thought, I don't believe I ever before heard anyone say what I heard a local newscaster say last night, as they swung from a brief weather report (much in the Denver area was still closed today and will be closed tomorrow, despite the fact that the storm ended by this morning -- many schools, government offices, schools, and the like, are still closed, and the snow drifts are still high), and the newscaster said "and now, back to the war."
THE OFFICIAL MEMBERSHIP LIST of the coalition. 45 countries, technically, though some are a tad, shall we say, small. The, um, South Pacific seems to be strongly on our side, which is terribly reassuring. The might of Micronesia is with us!
No sign yet of Grand Fenwick, but I'm sure they'll come to our aid should be we truly be at need. (Via Angua.)
ADDENDUM: I just took a glance at what Fox is saying -- they're the only other "network" doing all news tonight -- but then, they're pretty much a sponsor of this war, so that makes sense -- and the newsreader/anchor just said with a straight face that this fact that it is "45 nations" makes this "the second largest war mobilization in history."
I realize that, like the aforementioned tanks, unending streams of bullshit pour from the mouths of Fox commentators and newscasters, but it's still striking to hear it. (Remember, I'm, extremely uneasily, a supporter of this war -- but that doesn't mean my brain has melted.)
KANAN MAKIYA'Swar diary. Makiya is one of the most prominent and interesting Iraqi exile dissidents.
When I heard President George Bush deliver his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein on Monday, I could not help but puzzle over one crucial omission: the word "democracy." Why, I kept on asking myself, did he choose not to use it? Now only hours remain before the U.S. military rips apart Saddam Hussein's despotism. I seem to have spent the last 25 years of my life working toward this moment. The effort has been marked by cycles of frustration and elation, painfully elusive opportunities and betrayed promises. Since the end of the Gulf war, every piece of good fortune for the Iraqi opposition has been interwoven with disappointment and bitterness. Over the years we in the opposition have carefully parsed every word, cadence, and image of every public American pronunciation about Iraq. I heard the president say that Iraqi "liberation" was close at hand. But why did he not utter the one word that would ensure that what he was about to do in Iraq would enter the annals of history as one of its great moments?
In spite of his omission, I am more confident than I was ten days ago, when I returned to America from Kurdistan. During these last few days, over the course of many visits, I have met with Vice President Dick Cheney, twice with Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and twice with Jay Garner, the director of the new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. I came away from these meetings with the fears that I had developed inside northern Iraq--fears shared by all my colleagues in the Iraqi opposition--assuaged, at least in part. I came away filled with new hope for an American-Iraqi partnership, which is the only way democracy can come to this benighted land. I came away reassured of this administration's commitment to the vital and difficult work that lays before us in building a new kind of order in Iraq long after the war has come to an end.
FAINTLY DISTURBING, and I don't know if it should be more or less. That's what this resignation is.
The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.
Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.
Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.
"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."
A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer familiar with the resignation agreed that it was not a protest against the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but confirmed that frustration is widespread in the anti-terror establishment and played a part in Beers' decision.
"Randy said that he was 'just tired' and did not have an interest in adding the stress that would come with a war with Iraq," the source said.
The source said that the concern by the administration about low morale in the intelligence community led national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to ask Beers twice during an exit interview whether the resignation was a protest against the war with Iraq. The source said that although Beers insisted it was not, the tone of the interview concerned Rice enough that she felt she had to ask the question twice.
"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."
Maybe there's a lot of significance looming behind this, maybe a little. I don't know. I know the arguments, but I don't have enough inside sources to fairly judge just now. So I put it out there. One good point of Bamford's, an excellent author/reporter/researcher:
"It is absurd that the president of the United States mentioned in a speech before the world information from phony documents and no one got fired," Bamford said. "That alone has offended intelligence professionals throughout the services."
It is, alas, unsurprising in its consistency. We've yet to hear about anyone being fired over September 11th, or any other modern day intelligence failure. On the one hand, it's good that people aren't being scapegoated; that causes fear and unwillingness to stick one's head out in a bureaucracy; on the other hand, genuine responsibility exists, and responsibility for unwarranted failure can, surely, on occasion, be fairly isolated?
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 for a bit more detail.
Scientists have developed a new data transfer protocol for the Internet fast enough to download a full-length DVD movie in less than five seconds, the California Institute of Technology said today.
The protocol is called FAST, standing for Fast Active queue management Scalable Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
The researchers achieved a speed of 8,609 megabits per second (Mbps) by using 10 simultaneous flows of data over routed paths, the largest aggregate throughput ever accomplished in such a configuration, Caltech said in a news release. "That is 153,000 times that of today's modem and close to 6,000 times that of the common standard for ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) connections."
NEAT TRICK: Somehow or other, some element of the US took over Iraqi state radio to announce "today is the day you've been waiting for!" and other such incitement. ABC has reported this on the air; here's the breaking website mention:
ABCNEWS reported that the U.S. military was broadcasting messages in Arabic over Iraqi state radio airwaves.
AIR RAID SIRENS in Baghdad. The networks are all live. Bush to address nation at 10:15 p.m. EST, a bit less than half an hour from now.
ADDENDUM: CBS's David Martin at the Pentagon now reports that this was a special "target of opportunity" strike via cruise missile that Bush specially authorized this afternoon to hit some "element" of the "Iraqi leadership" they thought they had a temporary fix on; the main cruise missile attack is yet to come.
ADDENDUM II: ABC says it was F-117s and Tomahawks. III: As expected, Bush is saying we're in the early stages. IV: ABC (I'm flipping around, and they seem to be breaking faster than anyone else at the moment) says it was about 40 Tomahawks and some 2000-lb-ers from F-117s. V: CNN says "two dozen" Tomahawks. But who's counting?
PALEOS AND NEOS: David Frum usefully analyzes what is, in fact, new about the "paleo"-conservatives, and what is false and hateful in their claims, and their attacks on "neoconservatives."
Fact I Did Not Know:
Justin Raimondo, an Internet journalist who delivered Pat Buchanan's nominating speech at the Reform party convention in 2000....
That fits wonderfully with the rest of Raimondo's maunderings about Israel being implicated in September 11th and general (not universal, of course) kookiness.
Good line by Frum:
Frustrated ambition is not a propitious foundation for an intellectual movement.
Many excellent quotes illuminating the history of "paleoconservatism." Samuel Francis:
Francis advocated a politics of uninhibited racial nationalism -- a politics devoted to the protection of the interests of what he called the "Euro-American cultural core" of the American nation. He argued that the time had come for conservatives to jettison their old commitment to limited government: A "nationalist ethic," he wrote in 1991, "may often require government action."
So, Chronicles advocated protectionism for American industry and restrictions on nonwhite immigration. It defended minimum-wage laws and attacked corporations that moved operations off-shore. And it championed the Southern Confederacy of the 1860s and the anti-civil rights resistance of the 1960s.
Francis in particular scolded NATIONAL REVIEW's conservatives for their isolation from America's "grassroots." He chose an interesting means of illustrating his point: "Of the twenty-five conservative intellectuals whose photographs appeared on the dust jacket of George H. Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, published in 1976, four are Roman Catholic, seven are Jewish, another seven (including three Jews) are foreign-born, two are southern or western in origin, and only five are in any respect representative of the historically dominant Anglo-Saxon (or at least Anglo-Celtic) Protestant strain in American history and culture (three of the five later converted to Roman Catholicism)."
Now Francis had the helm of an ideological movement of his own. "[A] new American Right," he wrote in 1991, "must recognize that its values and goals lie outside and against the establishment and that its natural allies are not in Manhattan, Yale, and Washington but in the increasingly alienated and threatened strata of Middle America. . . . A new Right, positioning itself in opposition to the elite and the elite's underclass ally, can assert its leadership of Middle Americans and mobilize them in radical opposition to the regime."
Remarkably, Patrick Buchanan and the other "paleos" who railed against American involvement in the "faraway" Mideast and the rest of the world ("America First!") found a cause, though:
Human beings yearn to identify with something bigger than themselves. That's why patriotism sways the heart. When patriotism falters, something else takes its place. For a good many of the paleoconservatives, that something was, for a spell, Serbian nationalism.
The Yugoslav civil wars divided conservatives. Some -- William F. Buckley Jr., Richard Perle, John O'Sullivan, and Republican political leaders like Bob Dole -- advocated an early and decisive intervention against Slobodan Milosevic. Others -- Charles Krauthammer, Henry Kissinger, and (to drop a few rungs down the ladder) I -- argued against.
Pat Buchanan, one can say, permitted a dual loyalty to influence him. Although he had denied any vital American interest in either Kuwait's oilfields or Iraq's oilfields or its aggression, in l991 he urged that the Sixth Fleet be sent to Dubrovnik to shield the Catholics of Croatia from Serbian attack. "Croatia is not some faraway desert emirate," he explained. "It is a 'piece of the continent, a part of the main,' a Western republic that belonged to the Habsburg empire and was for centuries the first line of defense of Christian Europe. For their ceaseless resistance to the Ottoman Turks, Croatia was proclaimed by Pope Leo X to be the 'Antemurale Christianitatis,' the bulwark of Christianity."
Chronicles, though, along with most of its writers, followed Thomas Fleming into a passionate defense of the Serbian cause. Even if all the war crimes alleged against the Serbs proved true, Fleming argued in 1997, "they are trivial in comparison with anything done not just by the Germans, but by Americans in recent years." When the U.S. and NATO finally went to war against Serbia, Fleming identified himself with the enemy side: "[W]e have to be as faithful as the Serbs in preserving our heritage," he said in a June 1999 speech, "as brave as the Serbs in fighting our enemies."
It speaks for itself. Here's another edifying quote:
"The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people." -- SAMUEL FRANCIS, SPEECH AT THE AMERICAN RENAISSANCE CONFERENCE, MAY 1994.
Frum points out, and further discusses:
Of all the limits against which the paleoconservatives chafed, the single most irksome was the limit placed by civilized opinion upon overtly racialist speech.
What's up with Francis lately?
Francis's speech at the 1994 conference of the white-supremacist American Renaissance organization, for example, ultimately cost him his job as a staff columnist at the Washington Times. Today he earns his living as editor-in-chief of the Citizens' Informer, the newspaper of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor group to the White Citizens' Councils of the segregated South; he moonlights as an editor of The Occidental Quarterly, a pseudo-scholarly "journal of Western thought and opinion."
Big surprise, eh? Frum rightfully hammers the point:
For the paleos, however, race and ethnicity were from the start essential and defining issues -- and so they remain to this day.
These people are not fascists. Possibly it may not even be fair to call them "proto-fascists."
But they are surely proto-proto-fascists.
But wait. What is another critical part of their ideology?
Racial passions run strong among the paleos. And yet, having read many hundreds of thousands of their words in print and on the screen, I come away with a strong impression that while their anti-black and anti-Hispanic feelings are indeed intense, another antipathy is far more intellectually important to them.
I think you know what that antipathy is.
After the defeat of his friend Buchanan's second presidential campaign, Sobran wrote: "The full story is impossible to tell as long as it's taboo to discuss Jewish interests as freely as we discuss those of the Christian Right. Talking about American politics without mentioning the Jews is a little like talking about the NBA without mentioning the Chicago Bulls." Sobran was following MacDonald's advice: "It is time to be frank about Jews."
And thus we'll be "frank" about "neoconservatism."
At a June 2002 conference sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, the leading Holocaust-denial group, Joe Sobran defined "neoconservatism" as "kosher conservatism."
Are we all clear?
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. Know your enemy. Know my enemy. And if you find yourself on the left making common cause with these people: stop and wonder why.
RIGHT MAKES MIGHT: Good thinking people come together for sodomy.
I'll rephrase. No, I'll just quote:
The constitutional challenge to the Texas "homosexual conduct" law that the Supreme Court will take up next week has galvanized not only traditional gay rights and civil rights organizations, but also libertarian groups that see the case as a chance to deliver their own message to the justices.
The message is one of freedom from government control over private choices, economic as well as sexual. "Libertarians argue that the government has no business in the bedroom or in the boardroom," Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute, said today, describing the motivation for the institute, a leading libertarian research organization here, to file a brief on behalf of two gay men who are challenging the Texas law.
Dana Berliner, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice, another prominent libertarian group here that also filed a brief, said, "Most people may see this as a case purely about homosexuality, but we don't look at it that way at all."
In 1986, when the court decided Bowers v. Hardwick, half the states had criminal sodomy laws on their books. Now just 13 do. Texas is one of four, along with Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, with laws that apply only to sexual activity between people of the same sex. The sodomy laws of the other nine states -- Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia -- do not make that distinction. The Georgia law that the Supreme Court upheld was later invalidated by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Will Bowers v. Hardwick be overturned? I'm not holding my breath -- I'm pretty doubtful, actually -- but one can hope. One can hope.
Read The Rest Scale: if you're interested in personal freedom in America, 5 out of 5.
MY HERITAGE: I received an unexpected, somewhat surprising, e-mail, that I imagine many other bloggers have now received.
You've been discovered! Tim Rutten's Media column in today's edition of The Los
Angeles Times is the latest example of the traditional media's newfound appreciation of the growing influence of bloggers on America's public policy debates.
Our job at The Heritage Foundation is to provide useful resources - objective data and conservative analysis and commentary - to journalists, analysts and commentators of all stripes. But we aren't quite sure how to do this with the blogger community.
So this email is an invitation for you to participate in an experiment. For the next month, we will periodically email to you short notices about significant Heritage studies, publications and events. At the end of the month, let us know if these notices were helpful. If not, tell us at any time, and you won't get any more. If you find you only want those notices regarding specific issue areas - foreign policy, welfare reform, etc. - we'll limit our future emails to you thusly. If you want to continue receiving all of the notices, let us know that, too.
Regardless of your perspective on the issues of the day, we are confident you will find Heritage materials useful in your effort to provide the kind of incisive, immediate and thoughtful commentary and analysis made possible by blogging.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Laura Bodwell Marketing Manager
Mark Tapscott Director, Media Services
This is close enough to spam to faintly irritate me, but I'm certainly gratified to know of this new Heritage propaga--, er, public education outreach program. It is clueful of them to expand into blogging. I'll be interested to see what bulls--, er, information they choose to send out, and note where it shows up from which bloggers and whether any won't acknowledge it.
3/19/2003 01:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
HEY! REMEMBER THE 80'S? REMEMBER EL SALVADOR?: It used to be all the rage. The country just plumb went out of fashion long before the turn of the millenium, along with Nicaragua.
The party of El Salvador's former leftist guerrillas claimed victory in more than 100 of 262 mayorships at stake in elections, and its leader said the results showed Salvadorans were hungry for change.
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, also claimed to have increased its number of seats in congress in Sunday's vote, drawing even with their former conservative adversaries in the country's 1980-1992 civil war -- the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA. Salvadorans voted for 262 mayorships and 84 congressional seats.
The important post of Mayor of San Salvador has gone to the FMLN after the former two-term FMLN Mayor bolted the party, ran on the ticket of a smaller party, and lost.
According to unofficial projections, ARENA could end up with 29 seats in congress -- the same number it currently holds -- while the FMLN could boost its seats from 25 to 31. Both parties would have to look for alliances with the smaller parties to gain a congressional majority.
Best of all, the election was peaceful. And, hey, only five people were reported killed in campaigning, which isn't bad for El Salvador.
In other news of the Eighties, John Travolta stars in a new motion picture.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 for a bit more detail. (Via Geitner Simmons.)
WHO'S WHERE?: Kinda like "where's Waldo?," but in reverse.
Reporters for American news organizations are streaming out of Baghdad. That raises the possibility that relatively few American journalists would remain to cover a battle for the city.
ABC News, NBC News, Newsweek and The New York Times, among major organizations, have told their staff members to leave the city, where the most important fighting is widely expected to occur. Time magazine and the Fox News Channel said they had reversed plans to send correspondents there, even though the reporters had visas.
The BBC, Reuters and other services based in Europe have promised to stay despite the risks. So has Peter Arnett, who, as a correspondent with CNN became the face of the gulf war in 1991. He is now reporting from Baghdad for National Geographic Explorer and MSNBC. He is also contributing to NBC News, which owns MSNBC along with Microsoft.
Like other newspapers without correspondents in Baghdad, The Times would rely on reports from news services, Ms. Mathis said. News organizations with reporters in northern Iraq, including The Times, planned to send them back to the city as soon as the situation seemed safe.
Google News remains our (sometimes confused) friend.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 for a bit more detail, particularly on hassles leaving Baghdad.
OH, HELL: This won't mean anything to 99% of my readers, but Harry Warner, Jr., one of the most famous, longest-lived, longest-active, science fiction fans in the world, the most famous "letter hack" in the field since the 1930's, the premier historian of science fiction fandom, has died.
It barely seems possible.
I've visited Harry, a famous hermit, at his house, twice in decades pass. I received my first letter from him when I was 12 years old. I'll miss him, there will never be another like him, and this news makes me very sad. (Via Avedon Carol.)
GOOD NEWS FROM EGYPT: One hardly ever gets to write that line. But Saad Eddin Ibrahim has been "acquitted."
An Egyptian court today acquitted Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a U.S.-Egyptian rights activist, after his second retrial in a contentious case that had strained ties between Cairo and Washington.
Charges against Ibrahim included defaming Egypt and illegally accepting and misusing European Commission funds. He was arrested June 30, 2000, and sentenced last July to seven years in prison following his first retrial. He was freed in December pending a new hearing before the country's highest court.
"We here have a case where the most prominent libertarian in Egypt and the most important sociologist in the Arab region has spent three years of his life being dragged through courts," Kassem said. The appeals court, he said, was not subject to political pressure.
The United States had protested Ibrahim's conviction by saying it would oppose extra aid to Egypt on top of the $2 billion in U.S. funds Egypt receives each year. The U.S. Embassy welcomed the court's decision.
Samantha Morton has revealed she turned down a $1 million film deal because she was asked to wear a skirt.
The actress, who famously wore a Sex Pistols T-shirt to the Oscars, and a pair of flip-flops to meet the Queen, starred in Minority Report last year.
But she says she turned down another Hollywood film in a row over what to wear to dinner with producers.
Morton makes the confession in a BBC3 documentary, in which she discusses her idea of beauty.
She says: "I was offered a film, quite a high-profile film, I think that it was the first time that I had been offered $1 million, and they said I'd got the job.
"I'd screen tested opposite the guy - I'm not going to say any names - and I had got the job. I was invited to dinner with the producers and stuff.
"There was an instruction to my manager to wear a skirt. I just said 'f*** off '. I didn't say no, I said f*** off. I was like 'How dare you say that?' - I probably would have worn a skirt that night but, because I was told to, I was like 'go f*** yourself.' "
Morton adds she dismisses conventional images of beauty in favour of spending the day dancing and drinking tea at a pensioners' tea party in north London.
She says: "I grew up in a culture - maybe it's a working-class thing - where people make a concerted effort to live. I think that is really attractive."
I hate spunk.
Naw, just kidding. I like this. Never mind the bollocks. Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.
ZOG: In case you hadn't noticed it, Saddam Hussein's come-and-get-me-coppers announcement specifically:
...added a warning to the "American, English and Zionist invading aggressors" that they faced defeat.
"Let these discredited people know that Iraq does not set its course on orders from a foreigner, or choose its leadership in accordance with instructions coming from Washington, London and Tel Aviv, but solely in accord with the wishes of the people of Iraq," an official Iraqi News Agency summary said.
To the generals, he described war with the United States as "the decisive battle between the army of faith, right and justice, and the forces of tyranny and American-Zionist savagery on the other."
Surely an oversight that he didn't remember to say "American, English and neo-conservative invading aggressors." I guess he didn't get the memo.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 for no real news out of Baghdad.
WEATHER NOTE: It's been snowing non-stop for days in the Front Range/Denver area. Some areas have reported 65 inches of snow.
Denver has had several collapses of industrial roofs; one of DIA's terminals has ripped open. That last has never happened before.
Everything is closed today: schools, government offices at every level, businesses, buses, US Post Office (so much for "neither sleet nor snow, yadda yadda"), Denver International Airport, most highways (I-70 included), everything. Including my new place of work. Yay!
Forecast: snow, blowing snow. Thank god we're not (yet) in one of the areas where power has gone down. Alfred Packer remains a well-remembered figure around here.
ADDENDUM: Naturally, shortly after I posted this, our power went out. Fortunately, it was only for a couple of hours. I hadn't read the Denver Post yet when I posted, or I'd have known that some areas, in fact, reported eight feet of drifts, and that this is only the second time in history that Denver International has closed.
Natalie Maines' comments about President Bush cost the Dixie Chicks the top spot on the Billboard country singles chart this week. Airplay for Travelin' Soldier, which had hit No. 1 the previous week, dropped 15% last week. Nearly all the decline came late in the week after reports that Maines told a London concert audience, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
Okay. But wait!
A pop remix of Soldier by Sheryl Crow was sent to adult-contemporary stations this week by Columbia Records.
Presumably this from Sheryl "No War!" Crow should go over better. After all, she's got Michael Moore to shoot her video.
Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5 on all of it unless you're fascinated.
Apple Computer Inc.'s original iMac -- the multicolored, gumdrop-shaped desktop computer that many credit with saving the company -- is history.
Apple stopped selling the old iMac in its main online store yesterday. A company representative confirmed that the original iMac line, unveiled in 1998, is being discontinued, but didn't comment further.
"Computers have become fashion, and that was last year's style," said Paul Saffo, director of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based think tank Institute for the Future. "It's like selling last year's pattern of shoes."
ROGER EBERT ON POLITICS IN MOVIE REVIEWS, AND MARK STEYN:
But you raise a larger question: Do political opinions belong in movie reviews? When they are relevant to the movie, of course they do. Where did so many Americans get the notion that there is something offensive or transgressive about expressing political opinions? Movies are often about politics, sometimes when they least seem to be, and the critic must be honest enough to reveal his own beliefs in reviewing them, instead of hiding behind a mask of false objectivity.
When I read other critics on tricky movies, I seek those who disagree with me. For example, Mark Steyn, the conservative political columnist, doubles as the film critic for the Spectator, a conservative British weekly that has been my favorite magazine for more than 25 years. I read his reviews faithfully. Presumably they are informed by his conservatism, but since he is such an intelligent and engaging writer, I would rather be informed I am wrong by Steyn than correct by a liberal drone. If you disagree with something I write, tell me so, argue with me, correct me--but don't tell me to shut up. That's not the American way.
Telling people to shut up seems pretty American, actually. Just not right. Not everything popular in America is right. Which Roger would agree with me. And he's otherwise right.
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5 on this topic; you can read the rest of his "Answer Man" column if you like, though. Among other topics it mentions the bizarre fact that TNT has, apparently, been removing the word "terrorist" from "Back To The Future" (as in "who shoot Doc Brown"). I gues they're a bunch of armed Arab car critics, now. How curious.
CRINGING FOR MARTIN SCORSESE is what Frank DiGiacomo does in the pages of the New York Observer.
Cringing at the idiotic talk show host questions Scorsese must endure on his Oscar campaign tour, cringing at the necessity of such a tour to potentially win an Oscar these days, cringing at what a tour involves these days.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 if you love movies and find Scorsese interesting. Otherwise don't worry about it.
HAVING YOUR INTERROGATION CAKE AND EATING IT, TOO is more or less the theme of this TNR Onlinepiece which cheerfully asserts that harsh torture is neither necessary nor helpful to getting useful information out of terrorism suspects, such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Good news, wiping out, if not any possible moral angst attached to contemplating whether torture is ever called for, any need for such contemplation, if taken at face value.
While there is some value in applying physical force to terror suspects--as one former CIA counter-terrorism case officer told me, "Anyone who tells you that torture is completely ineffective, I think, is historically naïve"--and therefore some reason to worry about it, physical force is at best one small element of a successful interrogation. Far more important is a carefully calibrated battery of questioning techniques--"the ability and personal characteristics [of the interrogator] ... of outsmarting the detainees," as University of St. Andrews terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp puts it. Critics are right that American intelligence officials may not be especially concerned about Mohammed's human rights. But even if they're not, they're unlikely to rely primarily or even heavily on physical force when questioning him--because there are simply much more effective ways to extract information.
But one of the surprising aspects of the ongoing interrogations of Al Qaeda detainees is that the more senior captives--like Abu Zubaydah, or Mohammed's associate Ramzi Binalshibh--have been remarkably willing to talk. Rather, the problem when it comes to these high-ranking terrorists is what they divulge--typically, an intricate lattice of fact and fiction. In the words of a former FBI official, they "mak[e] up stories that are credible enough" to sow doubt and uncertainty into any investigation.
As a result, questioning techniques designed to sort out truth from lies tend to be far more important than physical techniques designed simply to get people talking (as are verification procedures, like cross-referencing confessions with phone intercepts and computer files). And the key to good questioning, intelligence experts say, is to exploit specific aspects of a suspect's personality.
There's more detail here, outlining how. But I have to question this chipper outlook, that so easily sets aside any moral question simply by sweepingly declaring that it won't, in fact, come up, when this conclusion is based on a bunch of quotes form "University of St. Andrews terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp" and the assertion of Spencer Ackerman, assistant editor at TNR.
Perhaps they are entirely correct. I'd like to think so. But I have to note that we're still turning suspects over to countries such as Syria and Kuwait, at present. And they don't seem to have gotten this chipper news of the Better Way, so far as I've heard.
Nor am I willing to take the word of Mssrs. Ranstorp and Ackerman, simply because they say so. I'd like to see a good deal more cross-referenced support to believe that this is, in fact, so.
STRAYS are supposedly straight guys pretending to be gay to get laid. I rather suspect this is more of a magazine story (British Cosmopolitan, to be specfic) than a real phenomenon, but it's an amusing story.
GOOGLE THE OBSESSIVE: There are endless articles on Google and so I blog only those rare ones with something new to say.
Such as thisFast Company piece with interesting information both on how Google the company works, and on how the Google search engine is tweaked.
They also pursue a seemingly gratuitous quest for speed: Four years ago, the average search took approximately 3 seconds. Now it's down to about 0.2 seconds. And since 0.2 is more than zero, it's not quite fast enough.
When someone enters a query on Google for "spiritual enlightenment," it's not clear what he's seeking. The concept of spiritual enlightenment means something different from what the two words mean individually. Google has to navigate varying levels of literality to guess at what the user really wants.
This is where Googlers live, amid semantic, visual, and technical esoterica.
By some estimates, Google accounts for three-quarters of all Web searches.
That's why Google must correctly interpret searches by Turks and Finns, whose queries resemble complete sentences, and in Japanese, where words run together without spaces. It has to understand not only the meanings of individual words but also the relationships of those words to other words and the characteristics of those words as objects on a Web page. ( A page that displays a search word in boldface or in the upper-right-hand corner, for example, will likely rank higher than a page with the same words displayed less prominently. )
It's why the difference between 0.3 seconds and 0.2 seconds is pretty profound. Most searches on Google actually take less than 0.2 seconds. That extra tenth of a second is all about the outliers: queries crammed with unrelated words or with words that are close in meaning. The outliers can take half a second to resolve -- and Google believes that users' productivity begins to wane after 0.2 seconds.
And it's why, most of the time, the Google home page contains exactly 37 words.
In fact, 10 full-time employees do nothing but read emails from users, distributing them to the appropriate colleagues or responding to them themselves.
It says that it gets 1,500 resumes a day from wanna-be Googlers. Between screening, interviewing, and assessing, it invested 87 Google people-hours in each of the 300 or so people that it hired in 2002.
When Rosing started at Google in 2001, "we had management in engineering. And the structure was tending to tell people, No, you can't do that." So Google got rid of the managers. Now most engineers work in teams of three, with project leadership rotating among team members. If something isn't right, even if it's in a product that has already gone public, teams fix it without asking anyone.
CHEESE-EATING SURRENDER MONKEY writes thoughtfully on French/American perceptions.
But couldn't I be both French and pro-war? Or more to the point, couldn't I simply hold a more nuanced position, estimating that the costs of a war probably outweigh the benefits, while also believing that French president Jacques Chirac's hardball diplomacy is as harmful as George W. Bush's?
Beyond the obvious historical simplification, two false premises shocked me: the idea that France was ungrateful, and the assumption that French gratitude was owed to a specific Bush administration policy rather than to the American heroes of an earlier era.
Indeed, this latter assumption seemed to trivialise the sacrifices of America's greatest generation by reducing them to a cynical bid to secure unquestioning obedience and acquiescence to all American policies. Like every Frenchman, I am certainly grateful to America for the liberation of France. I am certainly grateful that General Patton and the US Third Army (and not the Russians) liberated my grandfather, a resistance fighter working for British intelligence, from the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald. But do I ask Americans to support Chirac's policy in Africa to thank France for its help during the American Revolution?
This observation saddened me. I already knew it was part of my transatlantic identity to defend America in Paris and Europe here, and never to feel politically at home in either place. But suddenly this wave of cliches and reduction to nationality seemed overwhelming. There was not much I could do if people wanted to see Frenchmen only as appeasers or as peace heroes. Objectivity and nuance seemed lost. This saddened me not really as a French citizen, but rather as a someone who loves America.
THE PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQI KURDISTAN APPEALS TO THE LEFT via the Observer:
Watching the debate on Iraq, I am often perplexed, sometimes frustrated. As a Kurd, I know war is a devastating undertaking and should be questioned. But in the end a fundamental moral argument needs to be made for a war of liberation to save a people from tyranny. Many on the Left ignore the daily reign of terror the Baathist regime inflicts on Iraqis, yet the human rights of Iraqis should also be their cause.
But some principled people, mainly left-wing, understood our plight. While others funded Saddam, our allies pointed out the inconsistency of calling for democracy in eastern Europe while supporting a murderous dictator in the Middle East.
Where are these friends now? Regrettably, many are denouncing a war that would liberate Iraq. Like those who shunned us in the Eighties, some of our former friends find the martyrdom of the Iraqi people to be an irritant. They avert their eyes from the grisly truth of our suffering, while claiming concern at the human cost of war.
The cost to Iraqis of sparing the Baathist dictatorship is rarely calculated. Iraqis are overlooked by an anti-Americanism that does not understand why we need military action to break our shackles. Some call for civil disobedience to impede the bid to free Iraq. In Iraq, civil disobedience is a death sentence.
CLASSIC. Pack journalism is a cliche, and it's well known that editors daily read the other major papers looking for a story they missed, and that the paper most so read is the NY Times. (And British newspapers are amazingly guilty, in their US coverage, of commonly merely copying American newspaper stories and putting their own spin on them.)
But this stands out as an example of as close to plagiarism as a paper can get without quite being laid open to the charge.
Read The Rest Scale: only if you want to compare and judge.
I'M NOT SURE HOW TO REACT TO THIS, and perhaps it's unfair of me to react to what I perceive as its tone. But people do that sometimes.
Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg says Jews are no more likely to support the war than anyone else. Which is obfuscation by statistics. Jewish-Americans are generally liberal, they support the war more than most liberals. Goldberg says Jewish conservatives are no different than any other conservatives, which misses the point. There would hardly be any Jewish conservatives if it wasn't for Israel and the Middle East. Update: Jonah Goldberg, writing in the National Review's weblog, says that Jewish conservatives predate the Bush administration, and its support for the Likudnik agenda. Again, he's blurring the issue. In a poll last year, 81% of Jewish respondents said they saw Bush as a strong supporter of Israel, and 46% said they were more likely to vote for him because of the 'war on terrorism.' In 2000, only 18% of Jewish-Americans voted for Bush. Another poll showed that, if an election were replayed, Bush would now get 42% of the Jewish vote. Goldberg pretends that political affiliation is the only factor in determining support for the war. That's preposterous. Jewish liberals are much more hawkish, and much more supportive of the administration's Middle East policy, than non-Jewish liberals. They are a crucial component of the pro-war coalition.
Well. And how do you plead to the indictment, Jews?
This follows on Nick's previous entry:
His latest column in American Conservative is, for most of its length, interesting. Buchanan, a one-time Republican candidate for the presidency, draws the connection between support for Israel and support for the war on Saddam, which is a fair observation. He lists the American Jews in government and the media who are pursuing a Likudnik policy in the Midde East. Fair enough. And he says that the charge of anti-semitism is "designed to nullify public discourse" -- and I can't argue with that. But he ruins his own contribution to the public discourse with the following extraordinary outburst.
Oh. Darn. Patrick Buchanan ruins his "interesting" "observation" about Jews and anti-semitism.
How unexpected. And he's such a thoughtful commentator on the subject, usually.
Oh, this is ridiculous. James Moran, the Virginia congressman, has apologized after suggesting that the strong support of the Jewish community had pushed the US into war with Iraq. To which the right response is, not outrage, but hmmm, and so? Of course Jewish-Americans, attached to the notion of a Jewish homeland, want to remove one of Israel's most dangerous enemies.
No matter minor facts such as that American Jews support the war at a lower percentage than America in general, and oppose it by a higher percentage. No matter. I wonder why a higher percentage of non-Jewish Americans want to remove Saddam than American Jews do?
A Dana Carvey punchline springs to mind. Perhaps a variant.
Could it be that... most American Jews are traitors to Israel? That must be it! What else could explain it? It appears they're traitors to something in Nick Denton's mind:
However, enough Jewish writers and influencers have gone over to the hawks, or the angsty undecideds, to leave America's anti-war movement intellectually depleted. The American Left, without Jews, is reduced to a bunch of lumpen Stalinists, and posturing students who say no to war as foreplay before their demo sex.
Nick sounds betrayed here. Fortunately, he has advice:
So the massed ranks of the rabbis, the professional Jews and the politically correct -- all piling on Moran -- should cool it. They're paranoid about any discussion of Jewish power in America, reflexive in their response, and too ready to call any opponent an anti-semite. Don't debase the term.
I'm glad we have Nick Denton to stand by with helpful advice, learned in the history of anti-semitism as I gather he is.
Nick, what is your point in all this maundering about "Jews"?
ADDENDUM: Judith Weiss has substantive must-read comments. Max Sawicky comments at length on Jews and neoconservativism and how to analyze it all. Not addressing Nick Denton, but on the allied front of James Moran and this excellent WashPoeditorial I commended in e-mail to "John Smith" of the Lincoln Plawg, Mr. "Smith" has a lengthy reply in which he thoroughly doesn't get it, alas. William Leon has more on Congressman Moran's former statements. Need I say that all these links are very much worth reading?
ADDENDUM II: Amptoons responds at length on the Kevin Drum questions. ADDENDUM III: Nick Denton responds. Judith Weiss replies to Nick's response. Meryl Yourish also has words.
FREEDOM TOAST & WHATNOT: Terrific (of course) post by Matt Welch on why it's, in both minor and major ways, disturbing to see such petty-ass nonsense (my words) as the French renaming thing and the unnecessarily exaggerated hostility towards "old" Europe.
...doing things like snubbing Schroeder after the elections, or renaming cafeteria food, gives the impression of a petty and over-sensitive power, ready to punish friends for disagreeing. Quickly, this practice will discourage the free exchange of ideas (like, but not nearly as bad as, the way Chirac wants the post-commie kids to shut up about their pro-America stance). It will obstruct the flow of good information, and probably has (countries like Portugal and Bulgaria are incentivized to support us blindly at a time like now ... which is not to say at all that that's what they're *doing*, but to say the built-in incentive is there, and we will suffer if it grows).
...I think it's incumbent upon the most powerful country in the world to develop thick skin, and respond to childish bullshit by rising above it, rather than sinking down to its level.
POLITICIZING LITERATURE: Michael J. Totten writes:
Sen. John Kerry tells Vogue magazine that Pablo Neruda is his favorite poet. And so Ramesh Ponnuru at National Reviewsays
It figures that his favorite poet would be a Commie.
It figures, eh? The old gutter swipe never gets old, does it? Never miss an opportunity for low-rent back-alley red-baiting.
Of course John Kerry likes Communist poetry. Inside every doe-eyed liberal is a bloodthirsty Stalinist just trying to get out, like the chest-exploding creature in Alien. Right?
Come off it.
I love Pablo Neruda's work. So what if he joined the Chilean Communist Party. I also admire the work of Jorge Luis Borges, the extreme rightist literary grandmaster from Argentina. Does that say anything about me personally? Sure. I like Latin American literature. (Shrug.) So? Am I unfit for office now?
Neruda is dead. Borges is dead. Their politics, though obnoxious, are irrelevant to most of the work they left behind.
The great crime of totalitarianism is that it politicizes everything. There are places politics should never go. Literature is one of them. Most of Neruda's and Borges' work is apolitical. Especially that which is read and admired today.
To place an ideological litmus test on poets, to shame a writer's admirers because of the dead man's politics, is to politicize literature as totalitarians do.
Mr. Ponnuru, Pablo Neruda wrote love poems. He wrote odes to this, and odes to that, even an ode to salt. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature. So he's John Kerry's favorite poet. What does that say about Kerry? It says he has good taste.
Conservatives wonder why the left says they act like Joseph McCarthy. Well, there you go. We're called socialists and communists for every little thing. Pick up a book of love poems and the next thing you know you're mugged and libeled by the GOP.
Neruda was a communist and Borges was some kind of fascist. But they were also men, they were also artists. I cherish them both.
Neruda is dead. Borges is dead. Their politics are dead. The work they left behind is alive.
WILL IT FIRE DUMB-DUMBS?: These South African guys claim they'll soon be starting production of the ever-rumored smart gun. I'll believe it when I see it.
In conjunction with the biometric sensor, the electronic chip located in the gun’s pistol grip will be encoded with a range of additional information regarding the user’s personal details, including fingerprints, identity number, and licence status (that is, whether the firearm is for personal protection, hunting, police or military use).
The device is designed to empower a country's authorities with absolute control over the gun's life history, says Van Zyl.
Oh, that'll be popular in the US.
Read The Rest if you're interested; lots of details.
US TO TURKEY: STAY OUT OF KURDISH IRAQ. Good. If only we hold to this, enforce it, and don't screw the Kurds (again).
After weeks of frustrating delays, the Bush administration has all but given up on persuading Turkey to let U.S. forces use its territory to invade Iraq. Instead, it is now focusing on "discouraging and deterring" the Turkish government from sending troops across the border, a senior U.S. official said today.
As a result, the U.S. diplomatic effort in Ankara has shifted to ensuring that Turkey keeps its troops out of Iraq. A diplomatic team led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy to northern Iraq, warned Turkey that any incursion would have a "very negative effect" on relations with the United States and pose dangers of fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish and U.S. forces, the senior U.S. official said.
But Khalilzad told the Turkish government that the agreement was void because Turkey had not approved the U.S. deployment.
"The situation now is that it's all off," the official said. "We don't have an agreement, and we don't want them to go in unilaterally. The mission now is to discourage and deter them from going in, and to reach an understanding with them on legitimate issues of concern."
I have no confidence we'll stand by the Kurds, but we should. I fear it will go badly for them, as it already is beginning to.
IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID: It's deja vu all over again.
A Gallup poll this month showed a decline in Americans' confidence to a seven-year low, with 36 percent satisfied with the country's direction and 61 percent dissatisfied. It is a decline that began in December 2001. The ABC News-Money magazine's gauge of consumer confidence released this week showed that 23 percent of Americans thought the economy was in good shape, the fewest in more than nine years.
"The number one concern is the impact [Iraq] is having on the economy and the harness it's putting around certain sectors and causing negative growth," GOP strategist Scott Reed said. "It's reaching into all nooks and corners, and causing great concern in both corporate boardrooms and small businesses and their bankers."
If consumer confidence and employment are not growing substantially by early next year, Bush's reelection could be jeopardized. "The conventional wisdom is: People need to sense that the economy is growing in a way that's benefiting average people's lives anywhere from four to eight months in advance of an election, so that optimism has truly sunk in," said Gene Sperling, who was President Bill Clinton's economic adviser.
KURDISH COMEDY: It turns out Saddam Hussein doesn't have a sense of humor about himself.
Wait, he ordered the comedians killed! That's so funny!
After the film came out, Faili spent the next four years in hiding, surviving six assassination attempts. I tracked him down to a muddy housing estate in northern Iraq where he lives in retirement. He said that he got into Saddam impersonating after his parodies of the dictator went down well with friends. "There are not many people who can imitate Saddam's Tikrit accent," he said. "I used to watch videos of him. You notice that he moves very slowly."
I was wrong. Saddam is such a funny guy, he had one of his own doubles shot! Is that hilarious, or what?
SPYING AT THE UN: A belated pickup of this accurate LA Timesstory following up on the Observer's UN spying story (the one they keep repeating that, uh, differently justified "dirty tricks" label about).
Bulgaria's ambassador, Stefan Tavrov, said that having the U.S. eavesdrop on their missions was almost a mark of prestige for smaller countries. "It's almost an offense if they don't listen," he said. "It's integrated in your thinking and your work."
A U.S. government official with experience at the world body confirmed that American administrations long have relied on spying at the U.N., and not just during times of crisis.
"We've always done it," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's routine."
In addition to secretly intercepting telephone calls, e-mail, faxes and other private communications of foreign delegations at the Security Council and General Assembly, the official said, the NSA has targeted U.N. peacekeeping operation offices and other potentially sensitive parts of the U.N. bureaucracy.
"It's not dirty tricks," said Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive, a private research group on intelligence issues in Washington. "It's at worst standard intelligence collection. I'm sure we monitor communications of lots of U.N. delegations."
Of course, if there were something remarkable about this, the National Security Archive would be the first people -- okay, second, after British newspapers -- to be screaming about this. (The difference is that the NSA -- no, not that NSA -- people know what they're talking about.)
I've neglected to previously mention here that the memo was essentially confirmed by this arrest. I'll note that I stood in the face of numerous posters, some considered by some to have "expert knowledge" who were "expertly" explaining the memo was a fake, on this comment thread to say that:
I'm actually inclined to give the memo's possible authenticity the benefit of the doubt, and I suggest comparing -- so far -- the debunking of it to the similar "proof" of Laurie Garrett's Davos memo being a fake (professionals would never misuse jargon or make errors!; that proves it's a fake!).
Advantage Amygdala, blah, blah, blah.
Read The Rest Scale on the LA Times piece: 5 out of 5.
CAN YOU AFFORD NOODLES?: This is one of the biggest stories in the world, and I suspect most bloggers will pass right over it, as I've not noted many Sinologists, amateur or otherwise, out there. I may, of course, be All Wrong.
But it's huge that, as feared by some, Jiang Zemin is hanging on as head of the Military Commission, retaining formal ultimate power, after all.
Wen Jiabao spent Chinese New Year's Eve in a coal mine sharing dumplings with miners. Hu Jintao spent the night shivering with herders in Inner Mongolia.
There was a dual message: We care, and we're different from Jiang Zemin, the departing Chinese leader.
Hu became China's president today, appointed by the rubber-stamp legislature. Wen will become premier on Sunday in the smoothest transfer of power in Communist China's 54-year history. But their crowning glory will be overshadowed by China's current president, Jiang, who today held onto his post as head of the army, guaranteeing him continued influence in Beijing.
As Hu and Wen seek to carve out an identity separate from Jiang, analysts say, there is concern among Chinese officials that a power struggle could paralyze the country. In theory, Hu will reign supreme as general secretary of the Communist Party and Wen will run the government, but Jiang outranks them both in the party hierarchy.
"Two centers strung together equals trouble," two military delegates to the Congress told Jiang and Hu, according to the Web site of the People's Liberation Army Daily. "Multi-center means no center and no center means nothing is accomplished," the Web site quoted the delegates as saying.
In two days, Wen passed through three counties and five villages, visiting the homes of 10 farmers and low-income city folk.
He peppered them with questions, all reported by China's state-run press. "Can you afford noodles?" "During the holidays, can you eat meat?" "Do you have enough firewood in the winter?" He admonished city officials to ensure that a poor widow had decent medical care and pretended to look for work at a job center. Only street sweeping and window washing were available.
Meanwhile, the government shut down another newspaper:
Li Rui, 85, the personal secretary to the founder of Communist China, criticized Mao for creating a cult of personality and subsequent leader Deng Xiaoping for failing to carry out political reforms. The interview was published March 3 in 21st Century World Herald, a weekly newspaper.
In addition, Li, for the first time in any major Chinese newspaper, praised Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party general secretary. His death in April 1989 touched off a wave of student protests that ended with the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
The newspaper opened last year, and its circulation had risen to more than 200,000. Sources close to the paper said the order to halt publication came from the Guangdong province propaganda department.