Donate to American Red Cross here. Donate to The National Coalition for the Homeless here.
All The News That Gives Me Fits

WWW Amygdala

Our Mysterious Name.



Photo (©) David Hartwell. August 7th, 2010.


Blog advertising supports bloggers!

I currently blog politically/policywise at Obsidian Wings.

Follow GaryFarberKnows on Twitter

Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!

Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.

Blogroll is now way down below! You may be on it!

Site Feed

Feedburner RSS Feed

LiveJournal Feed

Gary Farber

Create Your Badge

Above email address currently deprecated!

Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz!

Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!

Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.

You must either open a Google/ Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software:

Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion. Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.

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.

In return: free blog! Thank you muchly muchly.

Only you can help!

I strive to pay forward. Please also give to your local homeless shelter and street people: you can change a person's life.

Hundreds of millions of people on planet Earth are in greater need than I am; consider helping them in any small way you can, please.

Donate to support Gary Farber's Amygdala:
Please consider showing your support for Amygdala by clicking below and subscribing for $5/month! Free koala bear included! They're so cute!

To subscribe for further increments of $5, simply click above again, after completing one, for as many $5 subscriptions as you desire!

Advance notification of cancellations are helpful, but it's all up to you.

Thanks so much for your kind generosity.

Additional options! $25/month Supporter subscription: click below!
$50/month Patron subscription: click below!

Variant Button!
Subscription options|Start Petition

"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 their teachers."
-- Socrates

"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?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"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).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"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)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"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."
-- Batman


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 cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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

This page best viewed by you.

Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...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

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

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.
-- Ogged

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.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

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


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

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

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
The Group News Blog Scrutiny Hooligans
Respectful of Otters
Max Blumenthal
Two Glasses
Running Scared
Sadly, No!
WTF Is It Now?
William K. Wolfrum
Rox Populi
Angry Bear
Crooked Timber
No Capital
Alternative Hippo
The Rude Pundit
Ezra Klein
Trish Wilson's Blog Jon Swift, RIP
Jeremy Scahill Mercury Rising
Cup 0' Joe
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!)
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Feministe SF
Progressive Gold
Paperwight's Fairshot
Biomes Blog
Progressive Blog Digest
A Tiny Revolution
Yellow Doggerel Democrat
Pros Before Hos
Michael Bérubé
Notes From Underground
Bob Geiger
Adam Magazine
Reptile Wisdom
Steve Gilliard archives
The Poor Man
Neal Pollack
Jesus' General
Running Scared
Paul Krugman
Hendrik Hertzberg
Murray Waas
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Kevin Drum @ MoJo
Political Animal
The Big Con (Rick Perlstein)
Talking Points
Dan Perkins
TomPaine weblog
MoJo Blog
Jim Hightower
Chris Floyd
Michaelangelo Signorile
Naomi Klein
James Wolcott
Bear Left
Lean Left
Left i
The Left Coaster
Upper Left
Here's What's Left
Left in the West Daily Howler
Common Dreams
Smirking Chimp
Moose & Squirrel
Make Them Accountable
Failure is Impossible
White Rose Society
Velvet Revolution
Political Strategy
The Daou Report
Meryl Yourish
Blogwise Paul Krugman
Gene Lyons (or)
Joe Conason
Sadly, no!
Walter Jon Williams
Stiftung Leo Strauss
Crooked Timber
Gordon's Notes (John Gordon)
Bruce Sterling
Ian McDonald
Antick Musings (Andrew Wheeler)
I, Cringely
I Blame The Patriarchy
LawClanger (Simon Bradshaw)
Carrie Vaughn
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol)
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow)
Jesus's General
Mick Farren
Dave Clements
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod)
Terra Nova
Whatever (John Scalzi)
Michael Swanwick
Demography Matters
Justine Larbalestier
The Law west of Ealing Broadway
Inspector Gadget
The Yorkshire Ranter
Kung Fu Monkey
Pagan Prattle
Gwyneth Jones
Brain Windows
Informed Comment: Global Affairs
RBN Exploits
Progressive Gold
Kathryn Cramer
Halfway down the Danube
Fistful of Euros
Joe Conason
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson)
The Panda's Thumb
Martin Wisse
Wave Without a Shore
Scrivener's Error
Talking Points Memo
The Register
Plagiarism Today
Juan Cole: Informed comment
Global Guerillas (John Robb)
Information Warfare Monitor
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes)
Simon Bisson's Journal
Ethan Zuckerman
Encyclopaedia Astronautica
Warren Ellis
Sociopath World
Brad DeLong
Hullabaloo (Digby)
Jeff Vail
Jamais Cascio
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood)
Mark Safranski
Dan Drake
Geoffrey Wiseman
Libby Spencer of The Impolitc
Zeno is always HalfWay There
Aaron Krager may Have A Point
Scholars & Rogues
Blog Sisters
Better Things to Waste Your Time On
Taking Barack To The Movies
Not An Accident: Peace To All
Scott McLoud
The Secret Recipe Blog
Terri Windling's The Drawing Board
Damn Dirty Hippies Are Everywhere
Progressive PST
Ryan Harvey's Even If Your Voice Shakes
Matthew Cheney's The Mumpsimus
Jazz From Hell
The Angry Black Woman
Computational Legal Studies
Laure lives at Apt. 11D
Vylar Kaftan
Spocko's Brain
Twistedchick's Wind in the trees
Greg Palast
Jeff VanderMeer has Ecstatic Days
Nadyalec Hijazi has Velvet Migrations
Emily Jiang is Writing with Iceberg in Tow
Global Voices Online
Ethan Siegel Starts With A Bang
Don Herron goes Up And Down These Mean Streets
Punditry Nation
Frank Denton still has a Rogue Raven
Geri Sullivan is On The Funway
Emily L. Hauser – In My Head
The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
Carl Brandon Society
John Hodgman
Streetsblog San Francisco
William Cronon is a Scholar As Citizen
Right Wing Watch
Democracy For America
Hoyden About Town
Bernard Avishai Dot Com
RealTimeSatelliteTracking &ISS
Rachel Holmen's Maple Leaf Rag
SF Signal
Tachyon - Saving the World One Good Book at a Time
The Duck Of Minerva
Abu Muqawama
Abi Sutherland's Noise2Signal
Clarisse Thorn
Whirled View
Adam Serwer
Stuff White People Like
Berkeley Today
The Disorder Of Things
Howling Curmudgeons
The Gun is fired by C. J. Chivers
Raven Brooks's Coffee Is For Closers
Spin Your Web
More Red Ink
Rickety Contrivances Of Doing Good
Brad Ideas
Asking The Wrong Questions
Ambling along the Aqueduct
Committee To Protect Journalists
The Bloggess

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.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
WHAT CONGRESS DID ABOUT VIETNAM provides many lessons for what it can do about Iraq. Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history at Boston University writes an excellent article here.

I've become ever more aware, in recent times, of how just how far in time the Vietnam War is receding in our cultural memory as a set of actually remembered events, rather than a set of impressions largely colored by hindsight and contemporary politics.

The fact is, if you're younger than me -- and I'm 48 -- you pretty much are too young to recall and know much about the war, and its domestic side, unless you've carefully studied it, and if you're even just a bit younger than that -- which is to say, anyone under 40, which is more than a few people, I'm told -- you remember Reagan, not Vietnam. (Heck, someone my age wouldn't know much at all about Vietnam if you weren't a highly precocious news junkie and history buff from the age of 6-7 on.)

(And if you're younger, you only remember Clinton, of course.)

And not all that many folks read a lot of history, be it of Vietnam, the Cold War, or what have you.

As a result, of course, the Right has had considerable success at spreading their Dolchstosslegende, their stab-in-the-back version of history, in which we lost in Vietnam not because it's impossible for a corrupt, and incompetent, regime, with no strong claim to historical nationalistic legitimacy, to win against a strong, uncorrupt, relatively competent, legitimately historically nationalistic, regime, in a civil war, but because Liberals Hate America and are loser-defeatists.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of American citizens had turned against the war by 1968, and that Richard Nixon won election, and re-election, on a platform of getting us out of Vietnam, and proceeded to spend years slowly withdrawing us, as per the fervent wishes of all but a tiny minority of Americans, are as irrelevant to that Dolchstosslegende as any other facts that are commonly available to those who actually either remember the events of the era, or read more than a few books on the Vietnam War.

So Zelizer's article will doubtless be informative to many who can't provide a recap on their own.

And, of course, this is directly relevant to our contemporary experience in Iraq, and what we now face in preventing a disastrous war with Iran.

Read the whole thing, but a few quotes:
[...] Between 1964 and 1975, many legislators forced discussion of difficult questions about the mission, publicly challenged the administration's core arguments, and used budgetary mechanisms to create pressure on the Pentagon to bring the war to a halt. A number of liberal Democrats started in the mid-1960s as some of the most vocal critics of escalation in Vietnam; by the early 1970s they were wielding the power of the purse.

Many observers have glorified the role of the media and anti-war protestors in forcing an end to one of America's most disastrous foreign policies. But numerous members of Congress deserve equal respect, and can serve as a model for legislators who are today challenging the president.
The key point about Vietnam, of course, is that it was a completely unnecessary war, in addition to having been disasterous. Johnson had plenty of political room to not escalate it.
[...] Early in Lyndon Johnson's presidency, prominent Democrats privately (and to a lesser extent, publicly) challenged the expansion of America's involvement in Vietnam. Congress created a serious political opportunity for Johnson to avoid escalation. At the same time that Johnson was hearing from hawkish advisors such as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the State Department's Chairman of the Policy Planning Board Walt Rostow, a number of legislators bluntly argued that his advisors were wrong. Senator Frank Church of Idaho said that sending troops into Vietnam would be a "hopeless entanglement, the end of which is difficult to see." While most Democrats were unwilling to publicly speak against the president, many privately urged the administration to explore alternatives to escalation, including J. William Fulbright, Albert Gore, John McClellan, George McGovern, Stuart Symington, and John Sherman Cooper (a Republican). In December 1963, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield wrote Johnson that the administration should cooperate with international officials seeking to find a settlement. "What national interests in Asia would steel the American people for the massive costs of an ever-deepening involvement?" he asked. Conservative Democratic Senator George Smathers reported to the president in 1964 that he was having trouble finding legislators who thought "we ought to fight a war in that area of the world." According to New York Times reporter Max Frankel, "It is beginning to look as if the Democrats plan to be their own most vigorous critics in this year's election debate."

The advice that most troubled Johnson came from the senior southern hawk, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia -- Lyndon Johnson's mentor in the Senate. In some of the most chilling telephone conversations from the Johnson presidential archives, Russell explained to Johnson why this war could not be won and how unimportant the conflict was to the outcome of the Cold War.
You can find all the transcripts, and audio, of this phone call, and many more, here. Another archive is here, with a focus on Vietnam here. This specific Russell conversation -- and Russell was a baron of military support and oversight in the Senate, it must be recalled -- is here, among other places on the web.

Zelizer continues:
On May 27, 1964, President Johnson called Russell to ask him for advice on the "Vietnam thing." Russell called the situation the "damn worse mess I ever saw" and warned it would lead to a difficult war against the North Vietnamese and Chinese in the jungles. Russell said the U.S. position was "deteriorating" and that it looked like "the more we try to do for them [the South Vietnamese government], the less they are willing to do for themselves." Russell said Americans were not ready to send troops to do the fighting. If it came to the option of sending Americans or getting out, Russell said, "I'd get out." When Johnson asked him what was at stake, Russell responded that the territory was not important a "damn bit" to the United States. Russell also said he was concerned that McNamara was not as "objective" as he needed to be and that he didn't understand the "history and background" of the Vietnamese. Although Russell publicly insisted on using as much force as possible after Johnson committed the United States to the conflict, privately he continued to express his fears.
Zelizer discusses the way the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed, which authorized action in the region quite similarly to the way the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) allowed George W. Bush to attack Iraq, even though he claimed it was just to strengthen his negotiating hand.

After that:
[...] The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution did not make a full-scale war inevitable. Following his landslide reelection in 1964, Johnson had even more political space to make a choice. Vice President Hubert Humphrey privately urged Johnson to call for a withdrawal, since 1965 was "the first year when we can face the Vietnam problem without being preoccupied with the political repercussions from the Republican right ..."

At the time, historian Fredrik Logevall has argued in Choosing War, "in terms of his domestic flank, Johnson had considerable freedom of action on Vietnam after the election. The political context he faced with respect to the war was a much more fluid one than is often suggested, with little or no national ‘consensus' about which way to proceed." Through their willingness to criticize the Vietnam hawks and raise questions about expanded U.S. involvement, congressional Democrats had played a central role in creating this important opportunity.
Unfortunately, this did not happen as regards Iraq.

If only something like this had happened in 2003:
[...] As the war in Vietnam progressed, however, and the military situation deteriorated, a few Democrats used the power of congressional investigation to force the administration into a contentious public debate. The most significant proceedings were Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee hearings in February 1966. Eighteen months after passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Fulbright decided that he could no longer stand by the president in a war he opposed. He was worried, as were most members of his committee, that the administration's optimistic assessments were wrong and that a huge buildup of troops would be required in the coming years. He also felt personally betrayed by the president, who had promised to act with restraint.

Fred Friendly, who headed CBS News, convinced his superiors to cover some of Fulbright's hearings live and to preempt the normally scheduled shows (such as the popular children's program Captain Kangaroo). In response, the administration scheduled events to distract public attention. The president held a summit with the South Vietnamese leadership in Hawaii the evening before the hearings started. Nonetheless, the Fulbright hearings provided the nation with the first glimpse of such administration officials as Secretary of State Dean Rusk, George Kennan, and former Ambassador to South Vietnam General Maxwell Taylor confronting difficult challenges about the war. When Rusk told the committee that, if the United States did not stand firm militarily, "then the prospect for peace disappears," Fulbright challenged almost all of his assertions. The senator insisted that there was no need to escalate operations in Vietnam because the conflict did not involve the vital interests of America and could easily be a "trigger for world war." The president personally called Stanton to pressure him to take the highly rated hearings off the air. CBS, also concerned about the financial cost of preempting popular shows, obliged.
But lessons are to be learned here:
[...] Congress also forced the administration to deal with the budgetary consequences of the war.


In one respect, the antiwar coalition scored its most important victory when, upon taking office, President Nixon announced his policy of Vietnamization: The United States would gradually withdraw its forces from Vietnam to let the South fight the ground war on its own. Nixon's decision was as political as it was strategic: He had become convinced that he had to end the ground war if he hoped to undermine the liberal media and the Democratic Congress. Nixon's goal was to somehow "break the back of the establishment and Democratic leadership ... [and] then build a strong defense in [our] second term." Initially, his strategy worked. "The president has joined us," Church boasted, "he is now on the same perch with the doves ..."

Notwithstanding this huge policy shift -- and also because it took Nixon four full years to withdraw U.S. ground forces from Vietnam -- Democrats continued to challenge the administration. Nixon's aggressive claims about executive power goaded the opposition. On June 25, 1969, the Senate, by a resounding vote of 70 to 16, passed a "national commitments" resolution that stated that the Senate needed to repair the balance between the branches of government when dealing with foreign policy. That summer, Fulbright demanded that the administration admit there was a secret plan whereby the United States would help fight any insurgency in Thailand. Under pressure, Nixon announced a reduction of the U.S. military presence there. Following a two-week trip to South Asia, Mansfield began to demand that Nixon start reducing the size of U.S. military forces in the region. Some Republicans joined in. New York Representative Charles Goodell proposed a bill that would establish a deadline of December 1970 to pull troops out of Vietnam.

On December 16, 1969, Congress finally used the power of the purse. In a closed floor session, Church and Cooper offered an amendment to a defense spending bill to prevent the further use of money in Laos or Thailand. The amendment received the support of 73 senators. Church called the amendment a "reassertion of congressional prerogatives" on foreign policy. It survived the House-Senate conference committee, and Nixon signed the legislation.
There's much more. I recommend reminding yourself of all of it.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. Someone else who might be heeded, and read -- even though you know that he's a looney-tune far-leftist wacko child molester: even though! -- is Scott Ritter on Iran.

ADDENDUM: see also the documents here on the end of the war, and here on what Congress did. This is an excellent bibliography on the Vietnam War, overall and in detail. Here is another. Another. Here is another document archive.

2/07/2007 11:14:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Joseph, at Saturday, February 10, 2007 11:08:00 PM  

Maybe there was a "stab in the back" and maybe there wasn't. In the long run it didn't matter because we won Vietnam. Will either side of the debate on whether Iraq is another Vietnam take notice?

Maybe we can establish a military base there, redeploy the troops currently in Iraq to Vietnam and send Arnold Schwarzenegger to Iraq to explain what's going on. ("I'll be back.")

By Blogger Joseph, at Saturday, February 10, 2007 11:11:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Bookmark and Share

This page is powered by Blogger.

Visitor Map