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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.
THE THINGS WE SAY. Mr. Gibson unloaded. On the plus side, I mostly forgive him. Not that it's for me to say or do, but I'm just saying that I don't believe he runs around thinking about how he hates the Jews on a daily basis. Or a conscious basis.
So let's set that aside.
And, goodness, please, we should all be forgiven for saying unbelievably stupid things when we're drunk. I ask for that, and I'll give that to Mel, and to you, and to you and to you.
It's an altered state, and it's not a good place, and when we're there, we're not our better selves.
So okay, too, about that.
But lots of people think this stuff.
About the Jews, you know.
That's what makes lots of us scared.
Also that whole history of, y'know, killing us. In major numbers, for no reason.
That doesn't excuse any over-reaction. I'm not saying that.
It's just that, gosh, darn it, we tend to see stuff like Mel's private opinion leaking out from lots of folks, when they're drunk or whatever. Good friends, even. Good people.
Unfortunately, it happens over and over and over and over and over and over. Decade after decade. Century after century.
So when people tell us to lie back and relax, that is, to quit worrying, to count on the larger world, to feel safe in the justice over other folks, and so on, well, we still worry. For a reason.
Because that's not so reasuring as it seems to those of us who know the history. Who worry. Who know that good people don't act on Mel's inner thoughts, but who also know that, well, lots of people have them.
We are told that in America, we shouldn't worry.
But the thing is, they said that in Germany, as well. Yeah, I know it's a Godwin's thing, but, still: entirely civilized place, where Jews were as integrated as anywhere.
And stuff happened.
So: Israel winds up reacting "disproportionately."
Funny, that. Who could imagine? Why would that be?
Every single night The same arrangement I go out and fight the fight Still I always feel This strange estrangement Nothing here is real Nothing here is right I’ve been making shows of trading blows Just hoping no one knows That I’ve been Going through the motions Walking through the part Nothing seems to penetrate my heart
Working on that, though.
It could be bunnies. Do you have a theory?
I want the fire back.
I don’t want to be Going through the motions Losing all my drive I can’t even see if this is really me And I just want to be alive
ALICE SHELDON/JAMES TIPTREE. I had a bunch of second-hand contacts with her, beyond, of course, loving her stories. I'd be better advised to wait to make a later, better, post, but as most might observe, when I tend to do that, I tend to wind up with no post at all, of which there has been a profusion of around here of late, and not just then.
I didn't know much about science fiction when I started writing James Tiptree, Jr., but I was interested in women's lives, and Alice Sheldon turned out to have a fascinating one.
... initially fills me with dread. Not knowing the key but somewhat esoteric essence of your subject is a bad way to start.
But my old friend Joanna says this:
"A first-rate biography, important and rewarding to everyone interested in science fiction or Tiptree's work or women's writing or Alli herself." —Joanna Russ
So that goes a tremendous way towards relieving my anxiety. I trust Joanna greatly in a matter such as this. (First met Joanna in '75 or so in NYC, and talked bunches then; became good friends in '79-81, in Seattle, when aside from her coming to many parties at my house, I also spent ~a week being her houseboy as she convalesced from back surgery, unable to rise from bed, and I cooked and cleaned for her; but we have various other background.)
Similarly, my old pal Bill, friends long before he sold a word, said this:
"The meticulous, emotionally intelligent biography of an extraordinary writer." —William Gibson
And Ursula said:
"An exemplary biography of a fascinating life." —Ursula K. Le Guin
So I feel good about this. Tentatively.
The one crucial thing missing from all this is the endorsement of Jeff Smith.
Jeff was Tip's literary executor, her contact with the sf world, the publisher of so many of her words and essays, the person who figured out who she was, and another old acquaintance of mine back in the day. Not to mention the publisher of two of the best sercon fanzines ever, and of the best sf symposia ever. (And back in the mid-Seventies, one of my friends, and so I was... well, anyway.)
I'm not clear why his name is missing here. Another old friend of mine, endlessly credentialed and longtime fan/etc., Andi Shecter, endorses the book here.
I could either write a bunch of e-mails, or post this. I'll do the latter. As usual, I'm way out of touch with the sf community. But, still, here's Tiptree/Sheldon.
Decent panel account here. Again with the old friends, such as Deb Notkin, and I knew Amanda Bankier back when I was reviewing fanzines in the mid-Seventies, etc.
Otherwise: I'm very out of touch, but, really, I'm not going to completely stop commenting, nonetheless, even if I inevitably am going to wind up pulling my foot out of my mouth on occasion. It would hardly be the first time.
Read The Rest Scale: as interested.
UPDATE: Jeff Smith writes me! He says all sorts of nice stuff! Er, both about me, and about the book!
I am glad for the internets, myself. I'm not going to quote Jeff unless he gives permission, but: he's much with the niceness for the book, and the whole back in the day thing.
I liked the back in the day.
ADDENDUM, 07/29/06: Jeff says it's okay to quote, so:
Hi, Gary. (After typing this up I didn't feel like registering, so I just copied it into email.)
It was funny to read your concern about my lack of comments on the Tiptree biography by Julie Phillips, because it seems to me that I've been talking about it _all the time_, and I should reign myself in a little -- but, yeah, probably very little of that has been online.
Anyway, it's a wonderful book.
When Gordon Van Gelder first approached me about this woman no-one had ever heard of who wanted to do a Tiptree biography (he was thinking of acquiring it for St. Martin's Press), I told him it probably wasn't a good idea just based on the papers of hers that I have: there would be a lot of letters from a 3-5-year period, then a period with no information, than another batch of letters, then a silent part. With all that she had done in her life, there were just so many holes in what we had access to.
Julie turned out to be an excellent researcher, though, and plugged a lot of those holes with her non-stop hard work. (It was supposed to be a three-year project, but it took her more like nine...to the book's benefit.)
She spent a lot of time in my house researching Alli's papers, and we talked over everything she uncovered. (She sent me copies of other things she would turn up during her research, with "look what I found!" notes.) I also read her early drafts and commented on them. So even though I can only take credit for .000001% of the book, I haven't formally endorsed it because I feel a bit like a collaborator on it.
But, yeah, I love it.
All best, Jeff
Cheap of me to quote so fully, but I am so very very weak at present.
Besides: Tip! Um, gosh, I so used to live for the skiffy. (And you folks who call it "sci-fi," well, um, stop that, damn it!)
“Clerks II” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompany parent or adult guardian). It has abundant obscenity and crude sexual humor. I can’t even talk about the donkey.
Read The Rest Scale: as interested in Kevin Smith. I'm a fan, myself.
Dargis' review of Shyamalan is amusing reading, as well.
IT was just around the time when the giant eagle swooped out of the greater Philadelphia night to rescue a creature called a narf, shivering and nearly naked next to a swimming pool shaped like a collapsed heart, that I realized M. Night Shyamalan had lost his creative marbles.
Gotta like any review that includes this sentence:
Mr. Shyamalan has yet to realize that one Giamatti in the hand is worth two scrunts in the bush, but maybe one day, after he’s recovered all those misplaced marbles, he will.
I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR MICHAEL WALZER. I've been fascinated, though utterly unsurprised, to see him being selectively quoted.
He speaks for himself, and I speak for me, but he's worth listening to.
I have many other related opinions, but I've not been posting about Topic A because, you know what? The last thing the world, and the blogosphere, needs on this is more opinion.
Indeed, an awful lot less opinion, particularly uninformed opinion, opinion derived from casual attention to the news, is always in dire need as regards Israel/Palestine/environs. More knowledge, less opinion: that's what's needed. Go make your own, balanced, caring, researched, in-depth, contribution there, for several years, and then we'll talk.
NOT BEING EVICTED (FOR NOW). Pshew. (See here for triggering event.)
I spoke to my landlord a few minutes ago. The bottom line is that he agreed to drop the ten-day eviction notice (at the end of the month) -- for now. He made no commitment whatever beyond that. He was very clear that for now it's only a temporary reprieve, and that he remained completely on the fence as regards me. (He specifically said "you have a reprieve for the ten day notice at the end of the month, for now, but you should look into other places.")
Long story short: I pled like crazy about how much I wanted to stay here, how much I liked it here, what a great landlord he was, how there had been a complete miscommunication between me, him, and the temp handy guy; I let him unload all about how unhappy he was with hearing that I was complaining behind his back, and that he had been on vacation, and it was the last thing he wanted to hear, and he'd just rather not have to deal with that, and he doesn't want to hear about the pool, and I hadn't shown him respect, and so on and so forth. Also, he didn't like that my kitchen area (which is about three-feet-by-two-feet; it's a sink so small a dinner plate won't fit in it, and two burners; no oven; under the burners is a tiny quarter-sized fridge with a freezer literally big enough for one tv dinner and nothing else) was messy, which is a valid complaint, because it was, since the faucet had been leaking and I hadn't been using it.
So I let him vent, and I kissed his ass like crazy, and hammered that I'd do anything it took to make him happy, that I'd never say a word about the pool to anyone, how apologetic I was for being disrespectful, and so on.
So he went on venting about how disrespectful I'd been, and finally said he'd forget about the 10 day notice, "for now," and "take it from there." He said I should "check out what else Boulder has to offer."
It most definitely wasn't the time to ask about renewing an actual lease. So this leaves me pretty darn nervous for the future. I certainly can't be surprised if at any moment in the future he takes it into his head to feel annoyed again, for whatever reason (god forbid he googles me and reads this), and decides at whim to evict me again.
Unfortunately, I've been assuageously reading apt ads for the past week, and the alternatives available to me stink.
If I had more income, obviously, I wouldn't have a problem; and that's been a problem, anyway, as everyone well knows, for the past couple of years, since I had to give up my last full-time job because my health wouldn't let me work more than sporadically (a condition that, alas, pretty much continues).
But on the limited income I have, as it is, I'm short a good $100/$200 a month, on the most minimal budget, after covering the rent and phone bill and a bit of food, down that much on otherwise getting the month's remaining food, and medications, let alone any other possible spending/expenses, save for what I can scrape together through occasional freelance/odd jobs, and people's most kind and generous donations.
So: will continue to work on what I can do about health, and therefore possible more or greater or steadier income.
Absent the income increase, were I forced to move, the only real choices seem to be roommate/housemate situations, absent great good luck in some cheap studio in town suddenly opening up.
There's the question of whether I'm stuck in Boulder, or could contemplate moving to Denver, where there are far more choices of apartments.
There are various problems with moving to Denver.
A huge limitation is that I don't have a car (or driver's license). Another is that since it's a two-hour-plus bus trip each way, from here, my ability to apt-hunt is extremely limited, particularly since at present I'm in sufficiently crap physical shape that (assuming the gout isn't acting up and keeping me from walking at all) at present I can't walk more than a half a block without stopping to rest, and if I have to walk more than 4-5 blocks, I'm pretty exhausted; much more and I'll start to collapse.
Another problem is that since I don't have a car, that although I've lived in Boulder for almost five years now, come December, I've only been to Denver once; I don't know the neighborhoods at all; I don't know what's good or bad, or anything about them; so I can't even guess what a neighborhood is like, save through the very inadequate resources of Yahoo Maps, Mapquest, and the rest of the internet, etc. This is very inadequate to judging how suitable a place/neighborhood might be.
So moving to Denver isn't out of the question, but it's very difficult.
Moving out of state, to a state with Medicaid coverage for single male adults, would be a great idea in many ways; not to mention a state with other social services, tenant laws, and so forth. But the problems with moving to Denver loom even larger with moving out of state, not to mention that I'd have to give up almost all of what little stuff I have, since I couldn't afford to ship/move it, though given how little stuff I have, that's by no means an overwhelming obstacle. It's something I will give further thought to, but I'd still need to raise a bunch more money to move further away, and start over (again), and I'd have to do the gamble of moving to a place sight-unseen. I'd have to come up with at least a couple of thousand bucks, I figure, to make it a serious option (probably ~$3k).
Back in Boulder, which is where it's most practical to otherwise stay, it's a small university town of about 83,000, with a major housing shortage. I most definitely can't afford to go over $500/month for rent and utilities (and that's continuing to be without cable tv or more than dial-up internet, of course). Options for independent studios at that price are few. And I dearly do not want to have to take up roommate/housemate living again if I have any possible choice.
Anyway, that's the situation. I might still hear from the landlord at any time in August, or thereafter, that he again is evicting me with a ten-day-notice (at the end of the given month). I can't really press him to give me a lease again -- the law allows it to be his whim to keep me on month-to-month, and there's nothing I can do about it.
I'll continue to examine options to move. But small as this place is, and broiling hot as it is in summer, and uncertain as the landlord is (who has otherwise basically been a good landlord), my options are limited until such time as I can be in better health and able to find myself able to find and do some more regular work.
Sorry for boring you with all this. I'll try to get back to at least attempting to be semi-entertaining/informative Real Soon Now. (Though, frankly, I'm apt to still be in shock and nervousness for a few days to come, I suspect; this situation has pretty well upset and depressed me.)
FARAH'S SF QUESTIONS. She's doing an academic survey on science fiction reading habits. She's a good egg, so far as I know, and worth supporting in her endeavors. Consider giving her a few moments of your time.
NOT AMAZING. This account of how the latest incarnation of Amazing Stories died is plausible and jibes with my rather dated and limited knowledge of the magazine, and genre magazine, business.
(For those new around here, I'm a long-ago former freelance employee/slush reader for Amazing and Fantastic Stories, and was even once offered the job of Managing Editor of Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry, by Tappan King, which I declined to work in book publishing; I've also done other magazine work in the distant past, such as at the fabulous and short-lived Pacific Northwest Review of Books, along with my background in book publishing.)
Never even saw a copy of that last incarnation of Amazing, though. But the printed sf magazine business has been beyond marginal for decades now.
I'VE NOT NOTICED MANY READERS FROM INDIA, IN INDIA, anyway.
[...] For reasons yet unexplained by the authorities, the Indian government has apparently directed local Internet service providers to block access to a handful of outlets that host blogs, including the popular blogspot.com. Indian bloggers have reacted with anger and confusion, accusing the government of censorship and demanding to know why their sites have been jammed.
[...] Last Thursday, a technician at a Bangalore-based service center of one Internet provider said the government had ordered the block of blogspot.com “due to security reasons.”
One might think more people might want to use Blogspot just in solidarity against censorship. Although at least one major blog that likes to write a lot about "freedom" bans even mention of the word "blogspot."
F: It’s ironic fans were concerned with you directed the first X-MEN and then they were upset when you weren’t doing X-MEN 3.
SINGER: It’s not unexpected. Fans are very intense about these things. For me, I know the task of juggling all those characters and adding the new one’s you ultimately have to add because of what the audience expects and then there was [director] Brett [Ratner] coming in the process, not in the very beginning. When I do one of these movies, I’m there Day 1. I develop the script, I co-write the story. I’m there from the very, very beginning. Here, he didn’t have that option, in light of all that, [the movie is] extremely impressive. And I had a good time.
I wouldn't want to parse too closely; it seems to me that he could give higher praise, but, then, maybe that's high praise by Singer's standards.
[...] People don't expect to run into someone who's having brain surgery next week squeezing the melons at Whole Foods. (Unless, of course, he's squeezing them and shrieking, "Why don't you answer? Hello? Hello?")
Self-indulgently, I've been dropping the conversational bomb of brain surgery more often than absolutely necessary just to enjoy the reaction. And why not? I deserve that treat. After all, I'm going to be having brain surgery.
[...] Writers devote a lot of creative energy to dreaming up reasons not to write. One of the all-time best came recently from Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, who told her readers that she was going to stop writing the column for a while because her husband had become Defense Minister of Poland, and she was moving to Warsaw.
It's twue. I almost blogged that, but didn't, but it's never too late!
Meanwhile, Art Buchwald continues not to be dead! (And even the North Korea Times takes notice, which even though they're not actually a North Korean publication, seems a bit odd, don't you think, unless Art Buchwald has been a secret North Korean agent all this time?)
But I find you good news admidst death and illness!
And from Time:
Editor's note: Kinsley's surgery took place on July 12 and went fine. His first words were, "Well, of course, when you cut taxes, government revenues go up. Why couldn't I see that before?"
May more people have successful surgery (though not unnecessarily!), and heal, and not die!
[...] While the base itself, all gravelled walkways, neatly painted signs and defensive blast walls you could eat your rations off, is as spick and tidy as any Colour Sergeant's sash, it's the faces of the men themselves that are, well, frankly, scruffy.
In my years as a defence correspondent, I've never seen a bearded British soldier. Not one that wasn't pictured being freed from captivity, or emerging from Special Forces deep cover.
But now every tenth Brit, at their base in the southern Helmand province, seems to be sporting the full range from stubble through straggling fluff to a full Rasputin.
It seems the long standing Army regulation that allows beards only on religious grounds has been suspended. In fact, throwing away razor and shaving foam is positively encouraged.
Why? It's nothing to do with any water shortage in temperatures that today reached 47C. Boxes of bottles are freely available with every encouragement to keep up fluid levels.
It's all part of the war for the most difficult territory to conquer, the human mind. In a region where virtually the whole population are Sunni Muslim, and believe beards have been worn since the Prophet, growing facial hair is regarded as every man's sacred duty. The fuller the beard, the more respect.
So to try and win over suspicious locals, for whom foreign armies have always been bad news, and to look less like crusader invaders the Taliban say they are, troops who patrol the surrounding country have been urged to quit the morning chin-scraping ritual.
"It's all part of trying to appear less intimidating, "explained Captain Marcus Eaves. "There's a thing here called 'Pashto Wali'. It includes a whole range of customs. Beard wearing is one of them."
Might it not be considered patronising, I wondered, the way Americans are sometimes viewed when wearing kilts in Scotland?
"Absolutely not," responded the clean-shaven Captain. "It's what the British Army does, showing respect for local tradition."
The soldiers themselves welcome the chance for an extra ten minutes lie-in after reveille.
Lieutenant Rob Phillips leads a twelve-strong patrol from Two-One Air Assault Battery through the town. A luxuriant red beard is revealed when he unstraps his hard hat, before chatting to locals.
"To them, it signals I am the commander. They've associated it with authority through all of their culture."
Let us pray that in whatever battles the British soldiers fight in Afghanistan, they don't have any close shaves.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. I dunno if Britain has any female soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. One might hope the contrast would be educational, but it would likely, I suppose, also be in many cases offensive. What to do?
PAIN, CAPTAIN! I'm much more tired of writing negative posts about myself, rather than interesting or funny posts about not-myself, than you are of reading them, is all I can say.
But it seems worth passing mention that yesterday I started developing pain in the left side of my mouth that grew over the day to classically maximal toothache. I got little or no sleep during the night, and aspirin and Tylenol and topical anesthetic have done little useful.
Add this to the other cranky-making, depressive, stuff currently occupying me, and it doesn't make for easy or much blogging until it passes.
[...] Weinstein, 51, was once a White House lawyer who defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-contra investigation. Three generations of his family -- his father, himself, both of his sons and a daughter-in-law -- have gone to U.S. military academies.
Now he's declaring war against what, for him, is an improbable enemy: the defense establishment. He is suing the Air Force in federal court, demanding a permanent injunction against alleged religious favoritism and proselytizing in the service. He has also formed a nonprofit organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to combat what he sees as a concerted effort by evangelical Christian organizations to treat the armed forces as a mission field, ripe for conversions.
Yet one of his favorite lines these days -- right up there with "sucking chest wounds" -- comes from the Officers' Christian Fellowship, a private organization with 14,000 active-duty members on more than 200 U.S. military bases around the world. In its mission statement, the OCF says its goal is "a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."
Ambassadors for Christ in uniform. According to the OCF's executive director, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Fister, it means that "the people around a military leader ought to see the characteristics of Christ in that leader." It is a national tradition reflected in "hundreds of writings and proclamations issued down through the ages by American leaders who claim divine protection for our nation, place our nation's trust in God and claim God as our source of strength."
Ambassadors for Christ in uniform. To Weinstein, who is both a Jew and a member of a military family, it is an abomination. It "evokes the Crusades." He says he can't believe that generals talk like this when the United States is fighting a global war on terror and trying to win hearts and minds in Muslim countries.
He starts to get riled up -- waving his arms, quoting the Constitution, saying "the Christian right wants people to think that separation of church and state is a myth, like Bigfoot." And then he pauses, something he does not do often.
"Let me make it clear. I would shed my last drop of blood to defend their right to hold that biblical worldview. They are absolutely entitled to believe that Anne Frank is burning in hell along with Dr. Seuss, Gandhi and Einstein," he says. "But I will not accept my government telling me who are the children of the greater God and who are the children of the lesser God. That's the difference. I will not defend -- I will fight them tooth and nail, and lay down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds -- if they engage the machinery of the state, which is what they're doing."
To Weinstein, it's also personal, and has been from the start: July 29, 2004.
He visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that day as a proud parent. His son Curtis, who was entering his second year at the academy, had just finished three weeks of combat survival training. Weinstein spotted him across a room and knew instantly that something was wrong. They drove off campus, in stormy silence, and pulled into a McDonald's.
"All right, Curtis . . . I can't take any more of this. What the hell have you done?" Weinstein remembers asking.
"It's not what I've done, Dad. It's what I'm going to do," Curtis answered, according to his father. "I'm going to beat the [. . .] out of the next person that calls me a [. . .] Jew or accuses me or our people of killing Jesus Christ."
At that moment, Weinstein says, "everything kind of telescoped. I could hear my heart in my ears. For a guy who talks a lot . . . I was speechless."
Weinstein says Curtis recounted eight or nine separate incidents in which cadets and officers had made anti-Semitic remarks. One came in the heat of athletic competition, when an upperclassman taunted: "How does it make you feel to know that you killed Jesus Christ?"
"What hurt me the most was . . . you know, he's a tough kid, he was the city wrestling champ of Albuquerque as a sophomore in high school . . . [but] he said, 'Dad, I don't really know what to do when they say that,' " Weinstein recalls.
The internal inquiry substantiated virtually all of his specific allegations. It found, for example, that Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, the commandant of cadets, taught the entire incoming class a "J for Jesus" hand signal; that football coach Fisher DeBerry hung a "Team Jesus" banner in the locker room; and that more than 250 faculty members and senior officers signed a campus newspaper advertisement saying: "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world."
But the Air Force's report concluded that there was "no overt religious discrimination," merely a "lack of awareness over where the line is drawn between permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs." In its motion to dismiss Weinstein's lawsuit, the Air Force maintains that it has already addressed and remedied the religious climate at the Academy, and that Weinstein's complaint cites no specific incidents in the Air Force at large.
The pushback from evangelicals has been intense. Focus on the Family and like-minded groups, many of which are headquartered near the academy, succeeded early this year in persuading the Air Force to soften its guidelines, so that the latest rules explicitly allow commanders to share their faith with subordinates.
More than 70 members of Congress have urged President Bush to issue an executive order guaranteeing the right of military chaplains to pray "in the name of Jesus" at mandatory ceremonies attended by service members of all faiths.
"I consider my constitutional right to discuss my faith without censorship or fear of retribution as valuable to the military and the future of our nation as the aircraft, bombs and bullets I am trained to employ," Air Force Capt. Karl Palmberg, one of the would-be interveners, said in an affidavit.
Imagine what Captain Palmberg, and his fellows, might say were their superior a believer in Satan-worship, or perhaps only a pagan, or mayhaps a Muslim, or conceivably someone whose faith was rooted in a Shinto spirit, and Captain Palmberg was exhorted at every meal, was prosletyzed to every day, and was instructed that one of these faiths was the foundation of all that was valuable in military life.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. Didn't Jesus say something about swords and plowshares, anyway?
Beware Mikey Weinstein's wrath:
[...] When his wife, Bonnie, takes one of his favorite See's chocolates, he reminds her of the label given him by a mega-church in the southeastern United States.
"I'm the Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan!" he says. "You can't just steal my candy like that."
I HURT MY SIDE LAUGHING. No, really. I'm just saying.
I'm catching up to Stargate SG-1, via Netflix, and I've gone through the seventh season, and I'm into the eighth, and da dee, da dum, yum, yum, and we start the episode, and Teal'c hits the guy's fist with his head.
And that's when I hurt myself on the left side; I pulled a muscle, laughing.
MOTHER-F*******. My landlord went out of town for a couple of weeks some days ago, leaving notice of other people to contact in case of various problems.
A few days ago, during heavy rain, my top-floor apartment sprang a small leak from the roof, with water pitter-pattering in a small way. I notified the guy whose number the landlord had left; he came, poked a hole in the drywall to drain it, and left.
Prior to that, we were casually chatting, and I completely casually mentioned the pool not being heated, and the lights back there not being on this year, and the a/c being non-existent.
Boy, I just found out what a terrible mistake that was.
The lights around the pool came back on a few nights ago, incidentally.
But the substitute guy knocked on my door a few minutes ago, and told me that he'd given the landlord a list of my "concerns" -- which I'd never asked him to do! I told him I didn't expect the landlord to do anything about the pool!
And he said the landlord's response was to give me ten days notice from the end of the month to move.
Naturally, I was shocked, and pleaded with the guy to plead my case to the landlord that I hadn't been complaining, and have no desire to move, and was basically very happy here, and so forth.
He comes back on the 19th, and I'll talk to him then. I certainly hope I can get him to change his mind, but, eff, eff, eff, he very likely may not. Damn! Hell! I have no money to move! I have about $80 to get through the end of the month. I don't want to move! Damn!
(And, yes, he completely has the legal right to do this; as I've complained before, he's refused to sign a new lease for two years now; and Colorado law gives the tenant basically no rights at all.)
Hell's bells. I've been depressed the last week, and not blogging much, due to old friends dying. (I should write more about rich; despite being really annoying at times -- like me! -- he was a terribly sweet guy, and I'd known him since I was 15, and been good friends with him, and I'm just really very bummed out, still, that he's gone.)
This really doesn't help.
More cursing here.
(At the very best, even if I manage to get the landlord to agree to let me stay, he's already been upgrading the apartments with added shelving and new heat-trapping windows; he'd told me to expect such work in my apartment sometime in the next couple of weeks already; I'll bet anything that even if he relents on evicting me that he'll insist on raising the rent, which he'd already hinted he planned to do and suggested that I wasn't paying as much as others due to turnover of many of the apartments via student tenants.)
Cursing. Sorry this isn't more entertaining and upbeat to read. Not feeling very funny just now.
Iraq's parliament speaker Thursday accused "Jews" of financing acts of violence in Iraq in order to discredit Islamists who control the parliament and government so they can install their "agents" in power.
Al-Mashhadani is a member of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi Accordance Front while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member of the Shi'ite Dawa party.
"Some people say `we saw your beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor,"' al-Mashhadani said. "These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew."
"I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqi money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq and come with the agent and cheap project."
"No one deserves to rule Iraq other than Islamists," he said.
By "agents," he appeared to be referring to secular politicians who do not identify themselves with religious or ethnic communities.
The high command of Rep. Katherine Harris's FL Senate bid plans to resign by the end of the week, two people familiar with the campaign tell the Hotline.
The departing staff includes Glen Hodas, Harris's campaign manager, her spokesperson, Chris Ingram, and Pat Thomas, her field director. The status of Harris's chief fundraiser, Erin Delullo, is not clear.
One person involved in the campaign said there was no single precipitating factor. "She's just very difficult to work with. It's all the same stuff. The more than we put her out there, the more she shot herself in the foot," this person said.
This slate of staff lasted just three and a half months; in April, Harris lost her campaign manager, Jamie Miller, and strategist Ed Rollins. Both have since become outspoken critics of Harris's.
Send your resumes to Harris now; if she doesn't hire you this week, maybe next week.
A conservative backlash to the massive street demonstrations over immigration is aggravating Republican leaders' carefully orchestrated plans to renew the landmark Voting Rights Act before the fall elections.
After Latinos came out in greater force than they have in decades to protest a House-passed immigration bill, conservatives persuaded Republican leaders not to force a vote last month to extend for 25 years the law that requires bilingual ballots in precincts with large non-English-speaking populations.
They joined with a group of Southern Republicans who object to extending the law's requirement that nine states have federal oversight decades after they quit hindering blacks' access to voting booths through Jim Crow laws.
BEAN FEST. Worry for the beans! I fear a terrorist attack may come at any time.
It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”
But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.
The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.
In addition to the petting zoo, in Woodville, Ala., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn., the auditors questioned many entries, including “Nix’s Check Cashing,” “Mall at Sears,” “Ice Cream Parlor,” “Tackle Shop,” “Donut Shop,” “Anti-Cruelty Society” and “Bean Fest.”
Who could question the determination and hatred of The Terrorists to attack these targets with all their might?
JIMI WAS THE CUTE ONE. Here we come, walkin' down the street, in our purple haze.
In one of rock's all-time mismatches, Jimi Hendrix and the Experience signed on as an opening act for the Monkees in midtour. After dates in the South, they played several concerts in July 1967 in the stadium at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills.
According to an account of the incident in "Oops," a new chronicle of modern fiascoes by Martin J. Smith and Patrick J. Kiger, Hendrix's temper boiled over at Forest Hills. The problem wasn't the performers, who got along pretty well. It was the Monkees' fans, who had little interest in the scary psychedelic dude who preceded their idols. Hendrix's riffs were drowned out by screams of "We want Davy!" (Davy Jones was a Monkee.) Finally, Hendrix gestured obscenely, with words to match, and stomped offstage.
A publicist had a master stroke, putting out the fictional story that opposition from the Daughters of the American Revolution had forced Hendrix off the tour. It worked. His next tour, before appreciative audiences, was a success, and within a year, he was a superstar.
He should have joined the Monkees. The tv show would have been far more interesting with him also doing those stop-motion popping-in-and-out gags.
Interestingly, Rosen, whose POV I present like many, because it's interesting and worth reading, not because I think him any more unbiased than anyone else or necessarily correct, says:
I supported a withdrawal certainly until 2005. In my articles, I was saying that an American withdrawal would prevent a civil war from happening and would force Sunnis and Shia to step up and take responsibility and to co-operate. And it would allow Sunnis to participate in the government.
But now that I think the civil war is sort of open and intense, I don't think an American withdrawal would make much difference and it's possible that an American withdrawal would actually make things worse because there will be nobody patrolling the borders and would allow even more foreign fighters to come into the Sunni areas.
It would allow greater intervention from Iraq's neighbours which will only increase the civil war. I think the Americans should leave. The Americans shouldn't be here occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis but an American withdrawal wouldn't make things better at this point because of the civil war.
At dawn, the sky over Baghdad turns red for a few minutes before sunlight breaks through the dust. Combat engineers have been clearing IEDs from the streets of Amiriyah since 3 a.m., but the 500 American soldiers about to descend on the western Baghdad neighborhood wait for the sun. Just as it rises, Apache helicopter gunships arrive overhead, and, in the blinding light above them, two F-15 attack aircraft begin circling in a wide arc.
As a U.S. foot patrol navigates its way through garbage-filled alleys, the residents of Amiriyah, which has become a dumping ground for headless bodies, emerge from their houses to plead for the soldiers to stay. Without the Americans, they say, it's too dangerous even to take out their trash.
Gunners swivel their turrets as the column passes a corner lot strewn with junk and, eerily, a rusted Ferris wheel. A flare dropped from an Apache floats down beside it like a Roman candle. American soldiers have died in its shadow, and, tomorrow, an IED planted here will wound several more. Tonight, American snipers return under cover of darkness to the Ferris wheel, where, after a short wait, they kill two men planting more bombs.
As its sense of ownership grows deeper with each year it spends here, the Army has created its own universe in Iraq--an ecosystem with its own values, requirements, and purposes. The din of politicians speechifying about the war, the faux moral posturing of opinion-makers who claim to speak in the name of "the troops," everything that Iraq has come to represent in the American imagination--it all melts away in the 115-degree heat. What's left is the machinery of a war that, having been called into being by civilians, no longer bears a relation to anything they say.
I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.
[...] The anatomy of this universe, as much as anything that happens in it, points to an essential truth about the Iraq war: It has a momentum of its own. This much becomes clear even in Kuwait, where, at a desert air base, hundreds of soldiers line up in front of signs announcing flights to Speicher, Q-West, and other bases in Iraq. It is after midnight, but, from the other side of the base, the golden arches of McDonald's still glow in the sky. "When it gets built up like this, it's the surest sign you're going to lose," a contractor who served in Vietnam tells me, alluding to the wasted years that must elapse before this sort of infrastructure can come into being.
You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.
[...] Outside, hundreds of them idle in the noonday heat, their South Asian drivers sleeping in bullet-raked cabs. In convoys of 30, they will head north to the border, crossing near the Iraqi town of Safwan for the 400-mile run up Main Supply Route (MSR) Tampa to Baghdad. Safwan, whose residents welcome the trucks with volleys of rocks, offers a fitting portal into Iraq. In response, the military has contracted to build an entry point farther to the west, at a site called K Crossing, and a new highway through the Iraqi desert to go with it. Whatever guides the invisible hand behind all this, it isn't the logic of withdrawal.
We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army.
[...] After flying from Kuwait to Baghdad, I head to Camp Liberty, where 1-10 Mtn's supply battalion prepares to head into the city with a load of concrete barriers for a checkpoint. The barriers come not from Kuwait but from the base itself, where the Americans have opened their own cement plant. Baghdad is rapidly disappearing behind a maze of blast walls, and the cement keeps coming: In the heat, men from the battalion clean the guns on their Humvees and swat away mosquitoes before delivering more of it.
I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight... razor... and surviving.
[...] A Goodyear-sized blimp with instruments to monitor the area floats above it, tethered to Baghdad Airport. The blimp, an essential part of the Baghdad landscape, has had its share of problems. Army helicopters keep clipping its ground wire, and it once floated as far as the Iranian border, where U.S. forces shot it down.
Liberty was constructed on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein's hunting preserves, and the base's most notable landmark, "Signal Hill"--a huge dirt rise with antennae and counter-fire radar at the top--was his shooting platform. Among the hunting aficionados here, word spreads whenever one of the dictator's imported African deer ambles by. He also stocked the man-made lakes from which Signal Hill was dredged, and, according to a contractor wearing a fly-fishing vest, Saddam chose fish poorly (carp won't respond to his lures). The lakes do serve a function, however. The Army just opened a water-bottling plant here, which can turn muck into half a million liters of drinkable water per day.
I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. [...] How many people had I already killed? There was those six that I know about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. [...] Shit... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?
[...] Officers at Liberty estimate that, for every soldier who leaves the gate regularly, seven do not. At FOB Sykes, one who does, Sergeant Frank Lucciarini, says, "The guys in the city hate the guys on the FOB. It's two different mentalities: You have the war fighter and the people who say, 'I gotta play softball tomorrow.'"
Oh man, the shit piled up so fast in Iraq you needed wings to stay above it.
[...] After the February bombing of the Shia mosque in Samarra, the number of U.S. patrols quadrupled in Baghdad. On a recent week, the Army sent 1,100 of them into the capital. It did so for a simple reason: Letting go has become the whole point of American policy, but officers know that, every time they let go of a sector, it comes apart at the seams.
The most important thing to understand about the way maneuver units fight the war is that no two of them fight the same way. 1-10 Mtn patrols constantly, but officers who served alongside it claim the National Guard brigade that preceded 1-10 Mtn rarely left the gate at all. Its sister brigade, 2-10 Mtn, which I visited last year, operated differently from both of them. The various operating styles derive, in part, from a philosophy of command in the Army that assigns nearly as much authority to the officer on the front line as the general back at division headquarters. Mostly, though, the brigades operate in a vacuum, with no strategy to guide them because no strategy has been offered.
No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ass. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.
[...] But the junior officers who patrol the streets daily will tell you that the most important condition--neighborhoods able to function without the Americans--won't be met for some time. The Iraqis who live there say the same thing. From the crumbling entryway to his house, a man in a tracksuit greets Snow. "We feel secure when we see the Americans," he says. "If you leave, every people here will kill each other." The patrol winds its way onto a block of large homes. On the porch of one, a middle-aged man named Nazar Al Jibouri introduces himself as a lawyer. He turns out to be a former Baathist, and, to judge by his palatial surroundings, the regime was good to him. None of this prevents him from submitting his own plea. "Until there is a correct army, the U.S. must not leave," he warns. "Or else we will have a disaster."
Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
[...] After 1-10 Mtn returned, says Snow, "the violence tapered back to pre-Samarra levels." Views of the Americans changed, too--one of the metrics tracked by Iraqi pollsters who conduct opinion surveys for 1-10 Mtn. The percentage of residents who said they felt secure spiked from 25 percent to 57 percent, while 88 percent said they felt safest in the presence of U.S. forces. Hence the logic behind the unit's return: "If people don't feel secure, what do you do?" Snow asks. "You put forces back into Baghdad."
Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat. He had only two ways home: death, or victory.
[...] Equal parts Lord Sauron and Dom DeLuise in a beard and white robes, the Sunni sheik can't stop laughing--about the fact that his wife, guessing he would be meeting with a female journalist, has gone on a jealous rampage upstairs; about the wisdom of Captain Jeremy Gwinn, a bright young officer who, having dealt with the sheik month after month, clearly doesn't believe a word he says; about the Shia, whom he insists account for a tiny minority of Iraq's population. And, when the conversation turns to the police, he keeps on laughing. "The good ones just take bribes," he says. "The bad ones rip off your head."
Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command? Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir. Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you? Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound. Kurtz: Are my methods unsound? Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir.
[...] Nor, with the exception of its senior leaders, does the officer corps seem that much more attuned to debates at home. The borders of the sectors where they work 20-hour days define their horizons. Even the brightest among them, explains one company commander, avoid broader discussions about the war--in many cases a conscious choice, he adds, for even to entertain doubts risks "taking a step into nowhere."
I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be. And if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything I did, everything you saw, because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me Willard, you will do this for me.
[...] The Army may have created its own universe in Iraq, but the outside world does intrude. [...] In the Pentagon's desire to hold up the deployment of additional brigades, he says, one may glimpse the future of the country the Army now calls home. There is none.
EINSTEIN'S ANGST. In 1915, he was struggling to complete his general theory of relativity, dealing with his estranged and soon to be ex-wife, moping about his bad relationship with his two young boys who lived in distant Zurich (particularly 11-year-old Hans Albert), and being anxious about David Hilbert chasing at his heels, among other stresses.
It's all in his just released letters. More here. Um, I'm not sure I wanted to know about the bit where he rants crankily about how "it would be urgently necessary that physicians conducted a kind of inquisition for us with the right and duty to castrate without leniency in order to sanitize the future."
Well, we all have our angry, off, moments. Can kinda see why his daughter didn't want these letters released until 20 years after her death, though.
WILKES/WADE/CUNNINGHAM/LEWIS. You've read all the accounts before, but Judy Bacharach's Vanity Fair piece has the virtue of being one of the the longest.
Okay, it has a lot of color, too. Boom shaka-laka! Sex and domination! Hookers-a-go-go! Corruption makes the world go round! (Sorry; just saw Syriana.)
The tie-in to CIFA is particularly interesting to me, understandably.
[...] "Absolutely, it was very secretive," Cynthia Bruno Wynkoop, who worked at MZM from 2001 until 2004, tells me. In fact, a lot of the work done by the firm was very secretive as well. Wynkoop, a lawyer, was hired out to work in Arlington, Virginia, on the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), with computer systems processing specific data. "Yes, you could call it data mining," she says.
Connections to look into: Senator Elizabeth Dole and Representative Virgil Goode.
[...] "Of course, I was pressured to give money to certain candidates — everyone was," says Wynkoop. "[North Carolina Republican senator] Elizabeth Dole and [Virginia Republican] representative Virgil Goode — they were highly recommended." (Goode's rural district is the site of an MZM facility.) "Wade would make remarks and let you know." She says she ended up giving $1,000 to the company PAC and $500 to each candidate. Indeed, Wade would eventually inform prosecutors, he not only pressured employees to make political contributions, in violation of federal election laws, but also illegally repaid some — in cash.
[...] But, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Wade told Harris exactly what he wanted over the dinner, for which he paid $2,800 at Citronelle, an elegant Washington restaurant: lots of federal funding to build a $10 million counter-intelligence facility in her Florida district. They also discussed the possibility of his throwing her a fund-raiser. In vain did Ed Rollins, who was then Harris's campaign strategist, warn the congresswoman (who is not allowed to receive gifts exceeding $50) that a $2,800 dinner and a fund-raiser might be interpreted as a shady quid pro quo for snagging millions of dollars for her benefactor. "Mitch, what a special evening! The best dinner I have ever enjoyed in Washington…. Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance," a thrilled Harris wrote by hand in a letter given to me by a former MZM employee. (After insisting she had "reimbursed" the restaurant for the meal, Harris switched positions recently, saying, "I have donated to a local Florida charity $100, which will more than adequately compensate for the cost of my beverage and appetizer.")
In 2005, Harris had a second dinner with Wade, for which, a friend of his tells me, he paid more than $3,300, and a few months later a Harris aide named Mona Tate Yost was hired by MZM.
There's more on Harris and Wade; best line:
[...] "I think Mitch made a mistake in trying to bribe Harris," a Capitol Hill source says, chuckling. "She's so incompetent she can't be bribed."
Here is a reassuring tidbit I'd not seen before:
[...] For a modest $140,000, I learn from the Federal Procurement Data System, MZM was hired to provide computer programming for the Executive Office of the President — a remarkable coup for Wade.
Makes you feel good to know, though, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-Lunatic) tries to blackmail Bush because of Bush's forcing out of ally Porter Goss. WaPo:
Much of Hoekstra's letter to Bush outlined the chairman's objections -- which were widely known -- to the appointment of Stephen R. Kappes as CIA deputy director under Hayden. Kappes quit the CIA in 2004 in a dispute with then-Director Porter J. Goss. Goss preceded Hoekstra as House intelligence committee chairman, and many Republicans remain loyal to him.
"Regrettably," Hoekstra wrote Bush, "the appointment of Mr. Kappes sends a clear signal that the days of collaborative reform between the White House and this committee may be over." He defended Goss for responding to Kappes's "demonstrated contempt for Congress."
Yes, it's very objectionable to get somebody back who wants to do their job, and not politicize the CIA for the nutbars ("collaborative reform," to translate for you).
UPDATE, 7/10/06, 9:01 p.m.: More on Hoekstra's allegations.
"We can't be briefed on every little thing that they are doing," Mr. Hoekstra said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "But in this case, there was at least one major — what I consider significant — activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on. And I want to set the standard there, that it is not optional for this president or any president or people in the executive community not to keep the intelligence committees fully informed of what they are doing."
But on Sunday, discussing how he learned of the administration's failure to brief the committee, Mr. Hoekstra said, "This is actually a case where the whistle-blower process was working appropriately."
"Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on," he said, adding, "They were right."
No, I have no idea what he has in mind. Also worth noting:
[...] Regarding the leaks of classified information, Mr. Hoekstra said at a hearing on May 26 that he thought that there should be strong protections for intelligence agency whistle-blowers who bring their concerns to Congress, reducing the risk of leaks to the news media.
"We need to make sure the whistle-blower process is an open door," Mr. Hoekstra said at the hearing. Otherwise, he said, when intelligence officers see something they believe to be illegal or unwise, "they just go, 'Well, I'll just go to the press.' "
Congress is considering stronger protections for whistle-blowers, and a bill approved by the House Government Reform Committee in April would make it easier for intelligence agency employees to report concerns without fear of retaliation from superiors. But last month the Senate passed a separate whistle-blower bill that excludes employees of the intelligence agencies from its protections.
COUNTING ALL BODIES. Or, "why is this body not like that body?" In Iraq, according to American policy.
Andrew J. Bacevich writes:
In Iraq, lives differ in value -- and so do deaths. In this disparity lies an important reason why the United States has botched this war.
But recall a more recent incident, in Samarra . On May 30, U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint there opened fire on a speeding vehicle that either did not see or failed to heed their command to stop. Two women in the vehicle were shot dead. One of them, Nahiba Husayif Jassim, 35, was pregnant. The baby was also killed. The driver, Jassim's brother, had been rushing her to a hospital to give birth. No one tried to cover up the incident: U.S. military representatives issued expressions of regret.
In all likelihood, we will be learning more about Haditha and Mahmudiyah for months to come, whereas the Samarra story has already been filed away and largely forgotten. And that's the problem.
The killing at the Samarra checkpoint was not an atrocity; most likely it was an accident, a mistake. Yet plenty of evidence suggests that in Iraq such mistakes have occurred routinely, with moral and political consequences that have been too long ignored. Indeed, conscious motivation is beside the point: Any action resulting in Iraqi civilian deaths, however inadvertent, undermines the Bush administration's narrative of liberation, and swells the ranks of those resisting the U.S. presence.
It's not that the United States has an aversion to all body counts. We tally every U.S. service member who falls in Iraq, and rightly so. But only in recent months have military leaders finally begun to count -- for internal use only -- some of the very large number of Iraqi noncombatants whom American bullets and bombs have killed.
Through the war's first three years, any Iraqi venturing too close to an American convoy or checkpoint was likely to come under fire. Thousands of these "escalation of force" episodes occurred. Now, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, has begun to recognize the hidden cost of such an approach. "People who were on the fence or supported us" in the past "have in fact decided to strike out against us," he recently acknowledged.
In the early days of the insurgency, some U.S. commanders appeared oblivious to the possibility that excessive force might produce a backlash. They counted on the iron fist to create an atmosphere conducive to good behavior. The idea was not to distinguish between "good" and "bad" Iraqis, but to induce compliance through intimidation.
"You have to understand the Arab mind," one company commander told the New York Times, displaying all the self-assurance of Douglas MacArthur discoursing on Orientals in 1945. "The only thing they understand is force -- force, pride and saving face." Far from representing the views of a few underlings, such notions penetrated into the upper echelons of the American command. In their book "Cobra II," Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor offer this ugly comment from a senior officer: "The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I'm about to introduce them to it."
Such crass language, redolent with racist, ethnocentric connotations, speaks volumes. These characterizations, like the use of "gooks" during the Vietnam War, dehumanize the Iraqis and in doing so tacitly permit the otherwise impermissible. Thus, Abu Ghraib and Haditha -- and too many regretted deaths, such as that of Nahiba Husayif Jassim.
As the war enters its fourth year, how many innocent Iraqis have died at American hands, not as a result of Haditha-like massacres but because of accidents and errors? The military doesn't know and, until recently, has publicly professed no interest in knowing. Estimates range considerably, but the number almost certainly runs in the tens of thousands. Even granting the common antiwar bias of those who track the Iraqi death toll -- and granting, too, that the insurgents have far more blood on their hands -- there is no question that the number of Iraqi noncombatants killed by U.S. forces exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of U.S. troops killed in hostile action, which is now more than 2,000.
Who bears responsibility for these Iraqi deaths? The young soldiers pulling the triggers? The commanders who establish rules of engagement that privilege "force protection" over any obligation to protect innocent life? The intellectually bankrupt policymakers who sent U.S. forces into Iraq in the first place and now see no choice but to press on? The culture that, to put it mildly, has sought neither to understand nor to empathize with people in the Arab or Islamic worlds?
There are no easy answers, but one at least ought to acknowledge that in launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression of U.S. idealism, we have waded into a swamp of moral ambiguity.
Moral questions aside, the toll of Iraqi noncombatant casualties has widespread political implications. Misdirected violence alienates those we are claiming to protect. It plays into the hands of the insurgents, advancing their cause and undercutting our own. It fatally undermines the campaign to win hearts and minds, suggesting to Iraqis and Americans alike that Iraqi civilians -- and perhaps Arabs and Muslims more generally -- are expendable. Certainly, Nahiba Husayif Jassim's death helped clarify her brother's perspective on the war. "God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here," he declared after the incident. "They have no regard for our lives."
He was being unfair, of course. It's not that we have no regard for Iraqi lives; it's just that we have much less regard for them. The current reparations policy -- the payment offered in those instances in which U.S. forces do own up to killing an Iraq civilian -- makes the point. The insurance payout to the beneficiaries of an American soldier who dies in the line of duty is $400,000, while in the eyes of the U.S. government, a dead Iraqi civilian is reportedly worth up to $2,500 in condolence payments -- about the price of a decent plasma-screen TV.
Indeed. It's hard to believe that this relative indifference to the value of Iraqi life isn't the largest factor working against U.S. forces in Iraq, after that is, of course, the fact that we're there in the first place.
What Iraqi with a innocent relative or friend killed "accidentally" by American forces could feel trust in or warmth towards the Americans? What Iraqi even simply forced to watch a member of their family forced on the floor with a literal American boot on his neck, while American soldiers laughed or taunted or cursed, could feel a desire to cooperate with Americans, or believe in their good will?
Or might not, in fact, a normal human reaction by an Iraqi be to conclude that Americans understand just one thing?
This is not to sympathize with, or justify in any way those who take up arms, or who support, the Iraqis fighting us. (And we won't even get into, here, the complex nature of the multitude of forces and groups fighting each other for power in Iraq; you have a sense of those complexities, I'm sure.)
But our indifference to the human cost of our use of force has come with a heavy price, and quite possibly more than one we will ultimately be able to afford.
The second-ranking American commander in Iraq has concluded that some senior Marine officers were negligent in failing to investigate more aggressively the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians by marines in Haditha last November, two Defense Department officials said Friday.
The officer, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, concluded that in the deaths, including those of 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair, senior officers failed to follow up on inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the initial reporting of the incident that should have raised questions.
It was not clear Friday whether General Huck or Colonel Davis, or Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, the senior marine officer in Iraq at the time, would be personally implicated. But if they were to be disciplined, they would be among the most senior American officers punished since the Iraq war started in early 2003.
"If" being a key word there. But, as well, if that happens, then it's also apt to be seen to some degree by Marines with some skepticism, until such time as senior Army officers are also disciplined in Iraq.
Then there's this:
An officer who served in Iraq with the Second Marine Division at the time of the killings in Haditha noted that a spate of recent cases in which American troops were being investigated for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians — including the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family in Mahmudiya — had raised concerns that commanders may be under pressure to make an example of Marine officers in the Haditha incident.
Which, needless to say, is the opposite concern of Iraqis.
THE STARS BLINK OUT. I just heard by e-mail from my friend Lenny Bailes that my longtime friend, longtime sf fan since the late Fifties, and sometime sf writer, rich brown, has died. I'd not even known he was ill.
I'd only just read the other day in the latest Ansible that Leslie Bloom, one-time NYC fan from my youth in the early Seventies, had died, as well as Brian Burley, longtime NYC fan.
And looking at Lennie's page, I see that one-time fan Greg Shaw, former editor of the great fanzine Metanoia, but better known as one of the founders of rock fandom, and as a rock historian, with his early Sixties zine, Who Put The Bomp?, and his later Bomp Records, has also passed away.
Man, this is depressing. Earlier I'd been thinking how the only person I'd really have talked with about Leslie would have been Anna Vargo, the love of my life, who died after her relatively short bout of cancer in January of 2005.
One by one, the stars in the sky -- even if Brian was something of a butthead, and rich could play one in writing, at times, too (but I liked him very much, mostly, regardless) -- go out.
The highest recommended dose of Extra Strength Tylenol sharply increased liver enzymes in healthy adults in a clinical study — an early sign of possible organ damage.
Lee said the latest study showed the maximum dose of Tylenol was too high. The maximum dose is 4 grams daily, or two 500 milligram pills every six hours.
Out of 106 patients, 41, or 39%, taking acetaminophen alone or with another drug experienced an increase in liver enzymes to more than three times the upper limit of normal, scientists said. Twenty-seven patients, or 25%, had enzyme levels exceeding five times normal, and eight patients, or 8%, had eight times the normal amount of enzyme.
Three times the normal level of aminotransferase is considered the threshold at which doctors become concerned about possible liver damage.
THE MORAL HIGH GROUND. The Atlantic is running a temporary blog with reports from the Aspen Ideas Festival (alas, more than a little high-priced for me to visit); a fair amount of interesting posts, though I gather not so many readers, if the fact that I'm the only person so far I've noticed who has left a comment has any bearing as a measure.
Sir Richard Dearlove, aka the former "C," the former head of Britain’s MI6, has been a panelist, which James Fallows has commented on a few times. Herewith the relevant quote:
Resolutely, Sir Richard continued his campaign of quiet subversion against current U.S. anti terrorism policy. To wit:
• The idea of a “war” against world terrorism made sense for a while after 9/11, but as time passes the overall strategy needs to change as well.
• And – the point he stressed time and again, even in a bonus comment after the official program session had ended – the Western world, notably the United States, was doomed unless it reclaimed “the moral high ground.” By the end of the Cold War, he said, there was no dispute world wide about which side held the moral high ground. As a professional spy master, he said that reality made it so much easier for him to recruit operatives – they would volunteer to come to him, because they believed in the cause. Therefore, as a matter of pure strategic necessity, the United States needed to behave according to its best traditions, not the exigencies of an open-ended wartime emergency. (I’m paraphrasing a little, but not taking too many liberties.)
This can't be over-stated. At risk of being idiotically redundant by vouching for what Dearlove says -- y'know, based on my vast experience as a super-spy -- but, okay, I write this blog and he doesn't; we also serve who also pajama -- anyone familiar with the history of Cold War espionage knows that most of the biggest coups in finding informants were "walk-ins," people on the other side who simply volunteer of their own initiative to help your side out (and, in fact, this was also the case for the Soviets, and unstated by Dearlove is the fact that on both sides often the primary motive was money, not ideology -- but ideology of one form or another, though not always the belief that the other side's professed ideology was superior, but sometimes a variant of a well-meaning desire for world peace, or somesuch was also a major motivator), rather than people an officer hunted up and dangled enticement or pressure or extortion in front of to recruit.
In many, though as I just mentioned, not all, cases, Soviet officials decided they liked the freedom they saw in the West, or that they'd seen enough to know that the official Soviet story about the West, that it was all a corrupt, crime-ridden, racist, repressive, place where capitalists stamped on the face of the little people, was a lie, or at least, not remotely the whole truth, and that the claim that the Soviet Union was a paradise of equality that gave a superior life to the masses wasn't true.
And Dearlove is, of course, right that the only possible way to win the war of ideas in the world, to make sure the massess of common Muslims in the world know that we are not, in fact, waging war on Islam, but only those whose ideology is of mass murder, is to make sure we don't do things that give credence to the opposing view, and to stand for justice and fairness.
This will not convince the small percentage of ideological extremists, including most of those determined to die for their cause and vision of theological totalitarianism, but that's not relevant. It's the overwhelming majority of the Islamic world that is not, in fact, currently interested in being Islamist extremists that we have to keep convinced, or make convinced, that we're a fair and just society, even if not one that has adopted their religion.
James Fallows (the author of the post I'm quoting, as well as various others, along with a half-dozen or so other Atlantic writers) goes on to say:
When American Democrats say things like this – as some of them occasionally screw up the courage to do – they are dismissed as pathetic one-worlders. The words are somehow more plausible coming from a man who would have been James Bond’s boss.
We should not be shaken, but we should be stirred.
[...] On the question of the Downing Street memo, Sir Richard complained that a “massive baroque construction” had been built up around what he said was a mere draft, a draft that he said he had amended. “A good amount” stayed the same, he said, but “there were some crucial bits that were changed.” It was the crucial question of what those crucial bits might have been that he kicked 100 years down the road.
On the question of how America’s loss of the high ground had compromised its ability to recruit spies, he said “we are building a wall of rejection” through morally compromising policies.
At the start of the panel, Sir Richard said that terrorist groups long familiar to Europeans, like the Basque separatists, had “a precise political signature.”
“We were able to comprehend the agenda of the terrorists,” he said. He also said that a terrorist group like the IRA would never have considered, or been suspected of considering, using WMD. “It still had a sense somewhere in it of political proportion,” he said. But fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, he said, “doesn’t have a clear political signature, and that makes it, to my mind, incomprehensibly difficult.” The phenomenon of Islamic terrorism, he said, was “something different.” He said that Al Qaeda was seeking to develop some sort of totalizing, unified theory of everything, “seeking a single explanation….This is a very traditionalist, fundamentalist way to understand the environment.”
OH, NO! THE ACLU HAS GOTTEN TO IRAQ, TOO! Thank goodness Bill O'Reilly is here to warn us, even if it takes me a few days to notice.
From the June 27 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: It just depends on how you want to wage the war. If we wage the war the way Saddam handled Iraq, then we would have already won. That means martial law, torture, murder, kicking in doors. You know, Saddam controlled that country for 25 years. He didn't have any insurrections. He didn't have bombs going off. And half the country wanted to kill him. You know, all the Shia hated him. And how'd he do it? Through terror. So we could do it. But then, you know, as soon as you look at one of these guys cross-eyed, the ACLU's got you sued.
GET THE JEWS. Publishing the addresses of Enemies Of The State is rapidly expanding in popularity. It's natural enough to move from The New York Times (which everyone knows is owned and run by Jews) to, well, Jews.
So if you think you're angry at me now, just wait until we post more cases. We love making you mad and will do all we can to see you become unglued.
And for those of you who say I'm a Jew hater, you better have your facts straight about my nationality as I am part Jewish (on my mom's side) and proudly so.
Lastly, thank you for all the hits to our site and getting us so much attention. You are helping us become the number 1 pit bull against the ACLU.
Yeah, arguably I shouldn't give them more attention, but I don't believe that leaving people to fester in the dark is always the best response. That includes people who think that "Jewish" is a "nationality."
And I've never bothered to link or say a word about "Stop The ACLU" before, despite being aware of them for more than a year or two or so, and sporadically looking at posts there.
What I won't do is publish the address of the people this bozo is persecuting. But this page goes on:
We are introducing our "Expose the ACLU Plaintiff" project and here'is how it goes. When an individual, group or even church (yes, there are churches that support the ACLU) is using the ACLU (or similar groups like Americans United, People for the (Anti) American Way, Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists) to facilitate removal of a cross, the 10 Commandments or other religious symbols or the ceasing of prayer from a school or government entity, we want the community to know about it. We will start with the [CENSORED] family which was responsible for the case against the Indian River School District in Delaware.
LIBERALS, TERRORISM, AND INTERVENTIONISM. I can't seem to stay awake today, for no good reason (having gotten a good night's sleep), and also generally feel like crap, for no good reason, and amn't very talkative, to boot.
But rather than let these sit in my files longer, I highly recommend as reading and pondering (and undoubtedly disagreeing, for many of you) material, the following two substantive and reasonably important pieces: this long recent interview with Paul Berman (yup, another; I've been meaning to post on it for weeks), longtime leftist pro-interventionist editor of Dissent, and this current George PackerNew Yorker piece, which ostensibly reviews several recent books, including Beinart's The Good Fight and James Carroll's almost-as-frequently-reviewed House of War.
Lots of good material to argue over in both pieces. I'm strongly tempted to do my usual pretty lengthy excerpts from each, or at least a lot from Berman and some from Packer, but I think for now I'll leave you to just read as much as you care to (all, though, I hope) of each.
HONORING FAITH, FREEDOM, AND RELIGION. All those conservatives who go on about the alleged suppression of religion in America (ha!)? I don't expect them to be talking much about Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart.
I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh, or Laura Ingraham to be doing broadcasts about him.
At the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in the small town of Fernley, Nev., there is a wall of brass plaques for local heroes. But one space is blank. There is no memorial for Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart.
That's because Stewart was a Wiccan, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to allow a symbol of the Wicca religion -- a five-pointed star within a circle, called a pentacle -- to be inscribed on U.S. military memorials or grave markers.
The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.
Stewart, 34, is believed to be the first Wiccan killed in combat. He was serving in the Nevada National Guard when the helicopter in which he was riding was shot down in Afghanistan last September. He previously had served in the Army in Korea and Operation Desert Storm. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
His widow, Roberta Stewart, scattered his ashes in the hills above Reno and would like him to have a permanent memorial.
She said the veterans cemetery in Fernley offered to install a plaque with his name and no religious symbol. She refused.
"Once they do that, they'll forget me. They don't like having a hole in the wall," she said. "I feel very strongly that my husband fought for the Constitution of the United States, he was proud of his spirituality and of being a Wiccan, and he was proud of being an American."
Wicca is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the country. Its adherents have increased almost 17-fold from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. The Pentagon says that more than 1,800 Wiccans are on active duty in the armed forces.
Federal courts have recognized Wicca as a religion since 1986. Prisons across the country treat it as a legitimate faith, as do the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. military, which allows Wiccan ceremonies on its bases.
"My husband's dog tags said 'Wiccan' on them," Stewart noted.
But applications from Wiccan groups and individuals to VA for use of the pentacle on grave markers have been pending for nine years, during which time the symbols of 11 other faiths have been approved.
Department spokeswoman Josephine Schuda said VA turned down Wiccans in the past because religious groups used to be required to list a headquarters or central authority, which Wicca does not have. But that requirement was eliminated last year, she noted.
"I really have no idea why it has taken so long" for the Wiccan symbol to gain approval, Schuda said.
Okay, I believe it's outright bigotry. But maybe there's some other reason. That would be?
[...] Stewart said that she is trying to educate people about Wicca, as well as to fulfill her husband's wishes. "Until he is laid to rest," she said, "I cannot rest."
We should, as a nation, let Roberta Stewart, and Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart, who died fighting for his country, rest as they wish.