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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.

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"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?

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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!)
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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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
WHAT WE'RE GOOD FOR. Keep in mind, when you listen to us:
[...] Neurological patients with a damaged orbitofrontal cortex lose the ability to modulate the amygdala, a source of unruly impulses; like small children, they commit mortifying social gaffes like kissing a complete stranger, blithely unaware that they are doing anything untoward.
Keep in mind:
Socially artful responses emerge largely in the neural chatter between the orbitofrontal cortex and emotional centers like the amygdala that generate impulsivity. But the cortex needs social information — a change in tone of voice, say — to know how to select and channel our impulses. And in e-mail there are no channels for voice, facial expression or other cues from the person who will receive what we say.


Without the raised eyebrow that signals irony, say, or the tone of voice that signals delight, the orbitofrontal cortex has little to go on. Lacking real-time cues, we can easily misread the printed words in an e-mail message, taking them the wrong way.
Things we've learned:
[...] Flaming can be induced in some people with alarming ease. Consider an experiment, reported in 2002 in The Journal of Language and Social Psychology, in which pairs of college students — strangers — were put in separate booths to get to know each other better by exchanging messages in a simulated online chat room.

While coming and going into the lab, the students were well behaved. But the experimenter was stunned to see the messages many of the students sent. About 20 percent of the e-mail conversations immediately became outrageously lewd or simply rude.
Anyone surprised? But had you heard about this?
[...] Last October, in what The Times of London described as “Britain’s first ‘Web rage’ attack,” a 47-year-old Londoner was convicted of assault on a man with whom he had traded insults in a chat room. He and a friend tracked down the man and attacked him with a pickax handle and a knife.
Nice to see them get the name of the newspaper right, too, since so many American news sources will often refer to the non-existent "London Times."

Parting observation, from earlier in the piece:
[...] Flaming has a technical name, the “online disinhibition effect,” which psychologists apply to the many ways people behave with less restraint in cyberspace.
So remember: don't always immediately do what your own amygdala tells you to do; only immediately obey Your Master Amygdala Here. Don't think about it! This is your warning! Obey! Our unruly impulses are wise!

And kiss a complete stranger sometime.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Just another iteration of this; it's the yearly flutter of these stories.

2/20/2007 06:38:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Sunday, February 18, 2007
DEMOCRATS AND VIETNAM. Rather than adding on another addendum to this post, I'll urge you to read that one, and then I'll note here that I'd not previously read Rick Perlstein's Legends Of The Fall, from January 25th, because it's behind TNR's paywall, but here is a copy which isn't. Go read it, please!

When Senator Hillary Clinton stepped up to the microphones Wednesday to introduce her new anti-surge bill, the language was so defensive you’d think she was proposing to outlaw Christmas–not to stop one of the most unpopular ideas a president has ever dared to propose. She framed her bill not as an effort to keep President Bush from adding more troops to Iraq (though a Newsweek poll suggests that only 23 percent of Americans support adding troops) but as a bill to add troops to Afghanistan. Most importantly, she made sure to emphasize, “I do not support cutting funding for American troops.” (She repeated that on the NewsHour the next evening: “Instead of cutting funding for American troops, which I do not support because still, to this day, we do not have all of the equipment, the armored Humvees, and the rest that our troops need… .”)

If Americans didn’t think so irrationally about war and the politics of ending it, more people might have thought to ask: Who had suggested she had? Who was she defending herself against? Why would the most cautious politician in the Senate commit anything so morally enormous as “cutting funding for American troops” as they faced a dangerous enemy on the battlefield?

It was one of those Faulknerian moments where the past is not dead–it’s not even past. In fact, no senator in history I’m aware of has ever proposed such a thing. It’s just that we think they did. There is a popular fantasy that liberals in Congress, somehow, at least metaphorically, abandoned American troops in Vietnam–and that, if liberals had their way, they’d do it again in Iraq.


The fact that Hillary Clinton has to sprinkle any Iraq speech with irrelevancies about how she won’t leave American troops without armor is testament to the most perversely successful propaganda campaign in American history. And who’s the figure most responsible for the absurdity? Our new, late, secular saint: the thirty-eighth president of the United States, Gerald Ford.

The first time the Senate actually voted to suspend funding for American military activities in Vietnam was in the summer of 1973, two months after the last American combat brigades left, by the terms of a peace treaty Nixon negotiated. That amendment passed by a veto-proof majority–encompassing Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals–of 64 to 26.

Peace was not quite at hand in Vietnam. The corrupt, incompetent, and hardly legitimate South Vietnamese government in Saigon was fighting for its life against the advancing Communist forces from the North. Early in 1974, Nixon requested a support package for the South Vietnamese that included $474 million in emergency military aid. The Senate Armed Services Committee balked and approved about half. A liberal coup? Hardly. One of the critics was Senator Barry Goldwater. “We can scratch South Vietnam,” he said. “It is imminent that South Vietnam is going to fall into the hands of North Vietnam.” The House turned down the president’s emergency aid request 177 to 154; the majority included 50 Republicans. They were only, as I wrote in The New Republic (”The Unrealist,” November 6, 2006), honoring what Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger privately believed. They had gladly negotiated their peace deal under the assumption that South Vietnam would fall when the United States left. What would it have cost to keep South Vietnam in existence without an American military presence? The Pentagon, in 1973, estimated $1.4 billion even for an “austere program.” Nixon and Kissinger were glad for the $700 million South Vietnam eventually got (including a couple hundred million for military aid), because their intention was merely to prop up Saigon for a “decent interval” until the American public forgot about the problem. By 1974, Kissinger pointed out, “no one will give a damn.”


Apparently, they didn’t tell Gerald Ford. He addressed the nation in April of 1975, eight months after becoming president, and implored Congress for $722 million in military aid. The speech was overwhelmingly and universally unpopular–the kind of thing that made Ford seem such a joke to the nation at the time. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak called it “blundering.” Seventy-eight percent of the public was against any further military aid; Republicans like James McClure of Idaho and Harry Bellmon of Oklahoma opposed the appropriation. Republican dove Mark Hatfield said, “I am appalled that a man would continue in such a bankrupt policy”–and Democratic hawk Scoop Jackson said, “I oppose it. I don’t know of any on the Democratic side who will support it.” The Senate vote against it was 61 to 32.
All utterly verifiable truth, as I also just discussed here, including here, here, and here.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

2/18/2007 08:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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WHICH LITTLE PIGGIE WILL IT BE? Gong Xi Fa Cai, or however it's properly transliterated these days: Sun nin fai lok, or Guo Nian Hao, also seem to be choices, where it used to be Gung Hoy Fat Choy in my yout.

Regardless, happy Chinese New Year to you in this new Year Of The Golden Pig (or Boar, if you prefer; just so it's not the Year of The Piggish Bore, because I remember hating that one).

Which reminds me that I've been forgetting to mention that my SiteMeter currently says:

Total 1,002,040
Having gone over one million sometime last weekend.

And I also never got around to mentioning that last December was the fifth anniversary of this blog. I laugh, and wave my private parts, at all you john-and-janey-come-lately bloggers, who weren't blogging before the second year of the 21st Century!

Amygdala hasn't been seeing its best days of late, and naturally hits, readership, and links, are way down, but we'll see what our mighty multitude of editorial teams can do about that, as we continue to journey together, you and I, into the future!

Read The Rest Scale: oh, go find a good parade, with fireworks, and dim sum nearby.

2/18/2007 01:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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HE'S A BIG PICTURE GUY. Niall Ferguson scolds Barack Obama, remarkably including this:
[...] Sure, Barack, you voted against the war. Somehow you intuited that the intelligence on Saddam's WMD was bogus - no mean feat for a rookie senator.
It was a particularly astonishing feat, given that the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq passed the Senate on October 11, 2002, and Obama was elected to the Senate in November, 2004.

I realize these are incredibly obscure facts, and that almost everyone thinks Obama has been in the United States Senate for many years, so a distinguished expert commentator like Ferguson couldn't possibly be expected to know such niggling details.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 shorter version: Obama should realize that if the U.S. withdraws, there will be slaughter in Iraq. Unlike up to now.

Okay, in fairness, his point is that it will get worse. The question of whether the U.S. can, in fact, prevent this, doesn't, however, arise, but is merely assumed. It's not even worth discussing, clearly.

2/18/2007 12:47:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, February 17, 2007
STRENGTHENING OUR ARMY. Here's how George W. Bush and Richard Cheney are doing it.
The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called “moral waivers” to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army’s moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent.

Waivers for less serious crimes like traffic offenses and drug use have dropped or remained stable.

The Army enlisted 69,395 men and women last year.


The Defense Department has also expanded its applicant pool by accepting soldiers with criminal backgrounds and medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure and attention deficit disorder, situations that require waivers. Medical waivers have increased 4 percent, totaling 12,313 in 2006. Without waivers, the soldiers would have been barred from service.
Apparently the plan is to not go to war with the small number of felons that you have, but the larger number you'll be able to recruit. Bob Gates is an improvement over Donald Rumsfeld already!

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. The Army has also raised the maximum enlistment age to 42. They'll be ready to take me, soon.

Note: this is not in the least an "anti-military" post; it is an "anti increasing the number of felons in our Army" post. I think that's an entirely "pro-military" idea, myself. And also not to say that ex-felons can't necessarily make good, of course. But as the article dryly notes:
[...] many criminals have at some point exhibited serious lapses in discipline and judgment, traits that are far from ideal on the battlefield.
On the other hand, god forbid we should allow gay soldiers to serve. Better to have burglars, robbers, and those guilty of aggravated assault. They're better for unit cohesion, clearly.

2/17/2007 10:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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[...] This world is invisible to outsiders. Walter Reed occasionally showcases the heroism of these wounded soldiers and emphasizes that all is well under the circumstances. President Bush, former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and members of Congress have promised the best care during their regular visits to the hospital's spit-polished amputee unit, Ward 57.

"We owe them all we can give them," Bush said during his last visit, a few days before Christmas. "Not only for when they're in harm's way, but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds, or help them adjust after their time in service."
Instead: well, read about the reality.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. And last week:
The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012.

After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.


The number of veterans coming into the VA health care system has been rising by about 5 percent a year as the number of people returning from Iraq with illnesses or injuries keep rising. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans represent almost 5 percent of the VA's patient caseload, and many are returning from battle with grievous injuries requiring costly care, such as traumatic brain injuries.

All told, the VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House budget office, however, assumes that the veterans' medical services budget — up 83 percent since Bush took office and winning a big increase in Bush's proposed 2008 budget — can absorb a 2 percent cut the following year and remain essentially frozen for three years in a row after that.
Because there will be no new wounded veterans after that, along with no more war! The "surge" will be over and withdrawn by September! Hurrah!

ADDENDUM, 2/19/07, 3:17 p.m.: The second part of the story by Anne Hull and Dana Priest. Everyone should read about Mologne House. It's difficult reading, but on the Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.

2/17/2007 05:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CONGRESS' WAR POWERS. Sorry my blogging has been so light, of late. But one point I have to get off my chest is my irritation at the way endless obfuscation, and outright lies, are gushing forth from supporters of the war in Iraq, about what Congress can and can't do about military affairs and actions.

One such ignoramus or liar is, of course, David Brooks (February 16th, PBS Newshour):
[...] So we're going to get to a debate where Jack Murtha is going to say they're going to pose restrictions and conditions on the money that's being spent or on the way the troops are rotated in or out.

And at that point, you not only have a big debate because you've got two alternative policies; you have a huge constitutional crisis, because you will have people in the White House saying to people in the Congress, "You guys are micromanaging troop levels in a war. You can't do that." And that really will be a big moment.

If you want to get the troops out, call for a resolution that calls for getting the troops out. Don't monkey with the rotation schedules and the conditions. I just think it's indirect. It's not honorable. Do it straightforwardly.

RAY SUAREZ: Do you recall anything like this happening, a rebuke to a president's policy during a time of war?

DAVID BROOKS: Not to a military operation that's already under way. The surge is under way. The troops are going out there. And so, after it's already under way, I don't recall anything like that.
Ignorant, or lying: pick one. (Neither did Mark Shields even contest Brooks' ludicrous claims; can't PBS hire anyone who has a clue about American history and politcs?)

Congress has a long and consistent history of using its Constitutional powers to limit, or stop, or prevent, wars. Period, end of story. There is no "controversy" about this, nor any sort of "potential Constitutional crisis," and those who claim otherwise are, at best, utterly ignorant of elementary U.S. history, including that within my lifetime, or simply Telling Big Lies.

December 1970. P.L. 91-652 — Supplemental Foreign Assistance Law. The Church-Cooper amendment prohibited the use of any funds for the introduction of U.S. troops to Cambodia or provide military advisors to Cambodian forces.

December 1974. P.L. 93-559 — Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. The Congress established a personnel ceiling of 4000 Americans in Vietnam within six months of enactment and 3000 Americans within one year.

June 1983. P.L. 98-43 — The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983. The Congress required the president to return to seek statutory authorization if he sought to expand the size of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.


November 1993. P.L. 103-139. The Congress limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994, permitting expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.
A longer version here, and the PDF with citations here. As stated:
[...] Broadly speaking, the Congress can:

* Condition, limit, or shape the timing and nature of troop deployments and the missions they are authorized to undertake;
* Cap the size of military deployments; and
* Prohibit funding for existing or prospective deployments.
Other examples:
[...] October 1994. P.L. 103-423 – A joint resolution regarding U.S. Policy Toward Haiti. Congress supported a “prompt and orderly withdrawal of all United States Armed Forces from Haiti as soon as possible.”


July 2000. P.L. 106-246 – Military Construction Appropriations and For Other Purposes – Personnel Ceiling in Colombia: “no funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act (including funds described in subsection (c)) may be available for— (A) the assignment of any United States military personnel for temporary or permanent duty in Colombia in connection with support of Plan Colombia if that assignment would cause the number of United States military personnel so assigned in Colombia to exceed 500; or (B) the employment of any United States individual civilian retained as a contractor in Colombia if that employment would cause the total number of United States individual civilian contractors employed in Colombia in support of Plan Colombia who are funded by Federal funds to exceed 300.”


June 1973. P.L. 93-50 – Supplemental Foreign Assistance, “None of the Funds herein appropriated under this act may be expended to support directly or indirectly combat activities in or over Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam by United States forces, and after August 15, 1974, no other funds heretofore appropriated under any other act may be expended for such purposes.”

December 1982. P.L. 98-215 – Defense Appropriations Act. In what became known as the Boland Amendment, Congress prohibited covert military assistance for Nicaragua.


September 1994. P.L. 103-335. The Congress declared “no funds provided in this Act are available for United States military participation to continue Operations Restore Hope in or around Rwanda after October 7, 1994, except for any action that is necessary to protect the lives of United States citizens.”


June 1998. P.L. 105-85 – Defense Authorization Bill. The Congress prohibited funding for Bosnia “after June 30, 1998, unless the President, not later than May 15, 1998, and after consultation with the bipartisan leadership of the two Houses of Congress, transmits to Congress a certification— (1) that the continued presence of United States ground combat forces, after June 30, 1998, in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is required in order to meet the national security interests of the United States; and (2) that after June 30, 1998, it will remain United States policy that United States ground forces will not serve as, or be used as, civil police in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
All perfectly Constitutional, and in many cases voted for by the majority of Republicans. The bills were signed, in various cases, by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush; none claimed these bills were in any way un-Constitutional.

Of course, Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution says:
The Congress shall have power to[...] To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;


To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Also notable is that it's Article I of the Constitution that lays out the powers of Congress. It's only Article II, following, that then lays out the power of the Presidency, and Article III that describes the power of the Judiciary, for what that's worth.

See also my post on What Congress Did About Vietnam. And The War Powers Act.

An analysis of what the War Powers Act says; it includes:
[...] Section 4(a)(1) requires the President to report to Congress any introduction of U.S. forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities. When such a report is submitted, or is required to be submitted, section 5(b) requires that the use of forces must be terminated within 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes such use or extends the time period. Section 3 requires that the “President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing” U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities.
An analysis, by the Congressional Research Service. of Presidential compliance with it, including that of George W. Bush. Among G. W. Bush's acts of compliance:
[...] Presidents have submitted 115 reports to Congress as a result of the War Powers Resolution. Of these, President Ford submitted 4, President Carter one, President Reagan 14, President George H.W.Bush 7, President Clinton 60, and President George W. Bush 29. For a summary of the 111 reports submitted bythe Presidents from 1975-2003, see CRS Report RL32267, The War Powers Resolution: After Thirty Years. The following is a summary of reports submitted by President Bush George W. Bush since January 2004.

(112) On January 22, 2004, the President reported to Congress “consistent with the War Powers Resolution” that the United States was continuing to deploy combat equipped military personnel Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of NATO’s Stabilization Force (SFOR) and its peacekeeping efforts in this country. About 1,800 U.S. personnel are participating.

(113) On February 25, 2004, the President reported to Congress “consistent with the War Powers Resolution” that, on February 23, he had sent a combat-equipped “security force” of about “55 U.S. military personnel from the U.S. Joint Forces Command” to Port- au-Prince, Haiti to augment the U.S. Embassy security forces there and to protect American citizens and property in light of the instability created by the armed rebellion in Haiti.

(114) On March 2, 2004, the President reported to Congress “consistent with the War Powers Resolution” that on February 29 he had sent about “200 additional U.S. combat-equipped, military personnel from the U.S. Joint Forces Command” to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a variety of purposes, including preparing the way for a UN Multinational Interim Force, and otherwise supporting UN Security Council Resolution 1529 (2004).

(115) On March 20, 2004, the President reported to Congress “consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” a consolidated report giving details of multiple on-going United States military deployments and operations “in support of the global war on terrorism (including in Afghanistan),” as well as operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Haiti. In this report, the President noted that U.S. anti-terror related activities were underway in Georgia, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Eritrea. He further noted that U.S. combat- equipped military personnel continued to be deployed in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led KFOR (1,900 personnel); in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the NATO-led SFOR (about 1,100 personnel); and approximately 1,800 military personnel were deployed in Haiti as part of the U.N. Multinational Interim Force.
Don't let them lie to you. What Congress has always been able to do, it still retains all power to do.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 9:18 p.m.: This blogger also points out some past Republican bills, which failed, but which made clear the majority of Republican opinion in the House of Represenatives at the time, including:
11/9/1995- H.R. 2606
Title: To prohibit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense from being used for the deployment on the ground of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of any peacekeeping operation, or as part of any implementation force, unless funds for such deployment are specifically appropriated by law.
[Passed 243-171; 214 “AYES” votes were by the Republicans; failed in Senate 22-77]


12/13/1995- H.R. 2770
Title: To prohibit Federal funds from being used for the deployment on the ground of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of any peacekeeping operation, or as part of any implementation force.
[Defeated 210-218; 190 “YEAS” votes were by the Republicans]
There are others. Why did the Republicans hate our troops, and hate America?

ADDENDUM: 2/18/06, 7:56 p.m.: A bunch of relevant comments from me, and others.

ADDENDUM, 2/18/06, 10:28 p.m.: See also this newer post, please.

2/17/2007 02:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Friday, February 16, 2007
[...] The state recently paid $21 each for about 500 talking urinal-deodorizer cakes and has put them in men’s rooms in bars and restaurants across the state.
Read The Rest Scale: up to you.

Oh, and in an absolutely stunning development here, it snowed again last night, and this afternoon, radically shocking all, it started snowing again.

2/16/2007 04:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
NOT A DARK KNIGHT DETECTIVE, but Joss Whedon has moved from Wonder Woman to a bat, directing tomorrow night's episode of The Office. Whedon:
[...] While much of the focus is on a student art show that includes the work of Pam (Jenna Fischer), there's also a bit about a bat taking up residence at Dunder Mifflin. "I was thinking I was doing something just about people," he told TV Guide during a break in the shooting. "Then there was a bat-stunt meeting, an animatronic-bat meeting.... I thought, ‘This is what I'm running away from!' There was only one bat in the entire run of Buffy. We couldn't afford it."
I've only seen small amounts of either version of The Office -- I seem to have lost the half-hour sitcom-enjoying piece of my brain in recent years -- but I'll check this out. (One of the actors gushes, if you care.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5, as fanatic about Mr. W. A comment on his style.

Oh, and incidentally, for a change of weather around here, it snowed most of yesterday. Then, in a stunning turn-around, it's been snowing heavily all day today.

Fortunately, the weather report for tonight predicts 8 degrees Fahrenheit, and some snow. So that'll be different.

2/14/2007 12:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Friday, February 09, 2007
WHAT'S THE PASSWORD, ROCCO? Chinese internet dives.
GEDONG, China -- There was no sign, but Gedong's teenagers knew the way. Down a dusty alley just off Jicui Park and a few minutes' walk from local schools, the curtained door beckoned. Inside, in a dingy back room off the kitchen, a clutch of adolescent boys crowded around six computers and stared at the images flickering on their screens.

For the equivalent of 35 cents an hour, the youths were playing computer games in an underground Internet cafe, one of a half-dozen information-age speak-easies in this little farming and coal-mining town in Shanxi province 220 miles southwest of Beijing. For those unable to afford their own computers -- the vast majority here -- going online in a clandestine dive has become the only option; the local Communist Party leader banned Internet cafes nine months ago as a bad influence on minors.

"If they dare to reopen, we might launch another campaign to shut them all down again," proclaimed Zhang Guobiao, party secretary for the surrounding Fangshan County.


Tian Puma, who runs an Internet cafe in his apartment, said he knows a lot of Gedong residents who disagree. But most seemed to be the adolescent boys who patronize his shop and the other computer speak-easies around town.

"The party secretary of this town has no idea of what the Internet is," sneered a teenage boy outside another underground cafe, this one a large establishment in a courtyard next to a bicycle shop.

In a national online survey taken after the controversy erupted among Internet users across the country, the Web site found support and opposition about equal at 48 percent of those questioned.

In any case, adolescents walking the coal-dusted streets of Gedong last week seemed to have little doubt where to go when they want to get online. "In less than a month after the ban, the Internet cafes all reopened," said Cheng Qiong, 15, a second-year middle school student.


Asked how he escapes enforcement of the ban, Liu smiled, wiggled uncomfortably in his seat and said, "Well, that's kind of hard to explain." Pushed, he said the secret is "relationships" between the owner and the police.
Said the owner, Rick, as the local police chief came out of the back room with his MMORPG-earned cash, proclaiming that he was "shocked, shocked" to find internet connecting going on. Meanwhile, at the neighboring cafe run by Ugarte....

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; a smile is just a smile. I picture a Chinese Peter Lorre, as well as Sydney Greenstreet.

2/09/2007 07:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Thursday, February 08, 2007
THE SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS. Douglas Feith declares: my work not unlawful.
Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.).


In that summary, a copy of which was obtained from another source by The Washington Post, the inspector general concluded that Feith's assessment in 2002 that Iraq and al-Qaeda had a "mature symbiotic relationship" was not fully supported by available intelligence but was nonetheless used by policymakers.

At the time of Feith's reporting, the CIA had concluded only that there was an "evolving" association, "based on sources of varying reliability."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Feith emphasized the inspector general's conclusion that his actions, described in the report as "inappropriate," were not unlawful.
Good enough for me! Critics should back off now, and support the president!

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; it's one of those oh-it's-good-they-noticed items. Wait, there was something fishy about the Iraq-al Qaeda claims? You don't say? Good of you to get back to us about this so promptly.

2/08/2007 11:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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AN HOUR LATER, YOU'RE POOR AGAIN. Our secrets revealed.
SHANGHAI -- Showcased in bookstores between biographies of Andrew Carnegie and the newest treatise by China's president are stacks of works built on a stereotype.

One promises "The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish."

Another title teases readers with "The Legend of Jewish Wealth." A third provides a look at "Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives."


In the past few years, sales of "success" books have skyrocketed, publishers say, and now make up nearly a third of the works published in China, and perhaps no type of success book has been as well marketed or well received as those that purport to unveil the secrets of Jewish entrepreneurs. Many of these tomes sell upward of 30,000 copies a year and are thought of in the same inspirational way as many Americans view the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

Among this booming genre's most popular books is William Hampton's "Jewish Entrepreneurial Experience and Business Wisdom." It comes packaged in a red-and-gold cover, and a banner along the top brags that it was a "gold list" bestseller in the United States. Among Hampton's credentials, according to his biography: "Business Week editor," part of the "pioneer batch of Harvard DBAs," "professor in business strategy and philosophy" with "many years of experience in Jewish studies."

More on that set of claims in a moment.
You can imagine they're rock-solid, if you like.
[...] Several of the books, despite their covers, focus on basic business acumen that has little to do with religion or culture. But others focus on explaining how Judaism has ostensibly helped Jewish people's success, even quoting extensively from the Talmud.

Practically every book features one or more case studies of the success of the Lehman brothers, the Rothschilds and other Jewish "titans of industry and captains of finance," as one author put it.

Some works incorrectly refer to J.P. Morgan (an influential Episcopalian leader) and John D. Rockefeller (a devout Baptist) as Jewish businessmen.

Yin Ri Shuai, a 29-year-old from Henan province, west of Shanghai, who is opening a cosmetics franchise, has purchased and read two such success books. Recently, he was back at the Shanghai City of Books, flipping through some recent titles.

"I feel they are interesting not only because they teach about business but because they teach about family and education and other values," Yin said.

Most Chinese people have never met a Jew -- they number fewer than 10,000 in a country of 1.3 billion people.


The cover of January's Shanghai and Hong Kong Economy magazine wonders, "Where does Jewish people's wisdom come from?"

Jewish entrepreneurs say they are bombarded with invitations to give seminars on how to make money "the Jewish way."

Last year, a Jewish businessman's family was featured on a popular TV show. As the husband and wife gave viewers an introduction to the Jewish faith, the cameramen went around filming the family in action as they performed mundane household tasks. Reporters asked them what they ate.

Zhou Guojian, deputy dean of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said people in China may be so fascinated by Jews because they feel both cultures share a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

In his opinion, though, there is one big difference. Many Chinese businessmen have "Chinese restaurant syndrome," Zhou said. "They are content with small-scale enterprises; they are happy just to make a living. But Jewish people want to be the best and make a huge company."
Everyone knows that Jews only all run huge companies.
[...] He Xiong Fe, a visiting professor in Nankai University's literature department, estimates that more than half of the books are fakes, written by people who are not familiar with Judaism or Jewish history and who have made up their qualifications.

"There are only a few books that have value," said He, who has lectured on such topics as "Why are Jewish people so smart?" and "The mystery of the Jews."
It's fortunate that such an expert is available to speak out about this. Unfortunate that his lectures aren't available online in English.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. This sort of thing has been around Japan for quite a few years; I'm utterly unsurprised that it's also in China.

If Martians were to be found, they'd probably have a few who were speculating about the Jewish money behind our spaceships. (And others warning that the Jews were behind the coming Earth war on Mars, but that the speaker is finally willing to courageously break the taboo on this critical topic, no matter the consequences.)

2/08/2007 02:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007
WHO SAYS THAT NORTH KOREANS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR? The last line I'll quote here seems strangely familiar, doesn't it?
BEIJING - North Korea expressed its readiness Thursday to discuss initial steps of its nuclear disarmament, raising hopes for the first tangible progress at international talks on Pyongyang's atomic weapons program since they began more than three years ago.

"We are prepared to discuss first-stage measures," the North's nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan said on arriving in Beijing for the six-nation negotiations set to start later Thursday.

Media reports have suggested the North may agree to freeze its main nuclear reactor and allow international inspectors in exchange for energy aid as a starting step to disarm.

But Kim said any moves by North Korea would be determined by the United States' attitude.

"We are going to make a judgment based on whether the United States will give up its hostile policy and come out toward peaceful coexistence," he said, adding that Washington was "well-aware" of what it had to do.
And then the North Korean envoy said "heh."

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

2/07/2007 09:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SO NOW YOU CAN DO ANOTHER BUFFY OR FIREFLY MOVIE. Joss Whedon is out as Wonder Woman writer and director.
[...] Whedon announced the news Friday on a fansite, chalking it up to creative differences. "I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked," he wrote on Studio and agency sources confirmed the development.
Joss's Whedonesque post here.
You (hopefully) heard it here first: I'm no longer slated to make Wonder Woman. What? But how? My chest... so tight! Okay, stay calm and I'll explain as best I can. It's pretty complicated, so bear with me. I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.

Let me stress first that everybody at the studio and Silver Pictures were cool and professional. We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time. I don't think any of us expected it to this time, but it did. Everybody knows how long I was taking, what a struggle that script was, and though I felt good about what I was coming up with, it was never gonna be a simple slam-dunk. I like to think it rolled around the rim a little bit, but others may have differing views.

The worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that the studio just keeps hammering out changes and the writer falls into a horrible limbo of development. These guys had the clarity and grace to skip that part. So I'm a free man.

Well, sorta. There is that "Goners" movie I can finally finish polishing, and plenty of other things in the hopper I've wanted to pursue. I'm as relieved as I am disappointed, and both of those things lead to drink, so that's a plus. Truly, you may be hearing some interesting things brewing in the coming months. But all potential jets therein will be visible.

But most importantly, I never have to answer THAT question again!!!! And you don't have to link to every rumor site! Finally and forever: I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistant front-runner. I didn't have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script. (No! Rim! There was rim!) That's the greatest relief of all. I can do interviews again!
There's another two lines, if you care.

And here part 1 of a fresh interview with Whedon, and here Part II. Lots of news about plans for Buffy characters.

Speaking of which, a catchup blog post on what all the Buffy alumni are currently up to.

Read The Rest Scale: as seems shiny to you, and doesn't give you the wig.

ADDENDUM, 2/8/07, 2:34 p.m.: Third part of the Whedon interview here, on the Buffy comic; fourth part will be posted tomorrow.

ADDENDUM, 2/9/07, 10:44 a.m.: I hadn't heard about the neo-Battlestar Galactica direct-to-DVD movie probability before. Or that Stan Lee will be doing a Heroes cameo.

2/07/2007 08:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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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

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
RUDY. This seems quite right.
[...] Lillian Barrios-Paoli, who also served under both mayors, was Mr. Giuliani’s welfare commissioner, among other jobs. She offered another perspective. If Mr. Koch said to his advisers that he wanted to kill all 12-year-olds, she said: “I can think of 10 people who would say, ‘Please, get a life! What, are you crazy? No way!’ And there’d be a big argument and at the end of the day, somebody’s judgment would prevail.

“If Rudy would say, ‘Let’s kill 12-year-olds,’ there would be deep silence in the room, and then somebody would say, ‘That’s brilliant!’ And then somebody else would say, ‘Have you thought of 13-year-olds, too?’ ”
Anger at Mayor Giuliani wasn't exactly restricted to radical leftists, I'll also point out:
[...] Mr. Giuliani’s refusal to meet with certain black elected officials, even after the police shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from Guinea, angered Mr. Koch so much that, he recalled, he even decided to participate in a demonstration.

“And so — only in New York City can this happen — I called Al Sharpton, who was in charge of the picketing in front of Police Plaza, and I said, ‘I want to get arrested. I have to get arrested early,’ because I was teaching at a college near Boston, Brandeis, and it was on a Monday, the one day I went there. ‘Can you arrange to get me arrested at 10 o’clock?’ ”
There are other good quotes in the story; this is all about the new biography by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober; maybe I'll pick it up at the library at some point.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5.

2/06/2007 10:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT YGLESIAS AND LIZARDBREATH SAID about the comparative market efficiencies of private companies, and government, and why privatization mostly isn't what it's cracked up to be by most conservatives and libertarians.

Not a topic crackling with excitment, but an important one, and an argument that comes up as often as you're interested in hearing it.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5, and also for the original NY Times piece on the explosion in the federal government's use of contractors. (I read both the Times and Matt yesterday, but Lizardbreath's elaboration was enough to make me want to leave myself a note on where to find the argument again in future.)

2/06/2007 01:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, February 05, 2007
FATAL ATTRACTION IN SPAAAAAACE. You don't read this every day about members of the astronaut corp.
A NASA astronaut is being held without bail after police say she attacked her rival for another astronaut's attention at Orlando International Airport Monday.

Lisa Marie Nowak drove more than 12 hours from Texas to meet the 1 a.m. flight of a younger woman who had also been seeing the astronaut Nowak pined for, according to Orlando police.

Nowak -- who was a mission specialist on a Discovery launch last summer -- was wearing a trench coat and wig and had a knife, BB pistol, and latex gloves in her car, reports show. They also found diapers, which Nowak said she used so she wouldn't have to stop on the 1,000-mile drive. Reports show that after U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman's flight arrived, Nowak followed her to the airport's Blue Lot for long-term parking, tried to get into Shipman's car and then doused her with pepper spray.

Nowak, 43, is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery and destruction of evidence. Police considered her such a danger that they requested she be held without bail in the Orange County Jail, reports show.

A married mother of three, Nowak told police that she was "involved in a relationship with," Bill Oefelein, another NASA astronaut, which she categorized as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to the charging affidavit.

Oefelein, who piloted the most recent shuttle Discovery flight in December, could not be reached Monday night at home in Houston.


Shipman told police that after waiting two hours to get her luggage, she noticed a woman in a trench coat waiting near the airport taxi stand. When Shipman boarded a shuttle bus to long-term parking, the woman followed, according to police.

When Shipman got into her car in the Blue lot on Cargo Road, reports show, she heard "running footsteps" coming toward her. Nowak tried to open the car door, then claimed she needed a ride, or use of a cell phone.

"No. If you need help, I'll send someone to help you," Shipman responded, reports show.

Nowak claimed she could not hear and started to cry.

"Ms. Shipman rolled her window down about 2 inches, so Mrs. Nowak could hear her... Mrs. Nowak sprayed some type of chemical spray into the vehicle, at Ms. Shipman's face," a detective wrote.

Shipman sped away to the parking lot's toll booth, where she asked a parking employee to call police.

The first officer to reach the Blue lot, saw the suspect drop something black into a trash can at one of the parking shuttle stops. Within minutes, Shipman identified Nowak as her attacker.

A steel mallet, several feet of rubber tubing and hand-written directions to Shipman's home were recovered from Nowak's car, which was parked at a nearby LaQuinta Inn, reports show.

Picked up shortly before 4 a.m., Nowak was questioned until about 5 p.m. when police took her to the county jail.
Seems to be a toss-up whether this was on the way towards the first confirmed zero-g sex, or the first murder in orbit, or both.

I predict everyone covering this tomorrow; you read it here first!

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 2/6/07, 10:46 a.m.: The NY Times finally has the story I told you about yesterday; it's on the front page, top, as I predicted. The charges have been upped to Attempted Murder.

ADDENDUM, 2/8/07, 1:32 p.m.: A longer account.

2/05/2007 09:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TOKYO - Mitsutoshi Fukatsu has been with his wife for three decades, but their lives have grown apart. As a busy stationmaster in central Japan, he has usually come home only to eat, bathe and sleep.

Now with retirement looming, the 56-year-old wants to get to know his wife better. He calls her by her name, Setsuko, instead of just grunting. And he says he recently learned a new phrase: "I love you."

Fukatsu is among a small but growing group of men who took part in Japan's second annual "Beloved Wives Day" last week in hopes of salvaging their marriages by doing something different — paying attention to their wives.

"For about a year now, I've been starting to help out with the housework," Fukatsu said. "I can't stay at my company for ever. I have to return home. But right now, I don't feel like I have a place there."

Last year, the Japan Adoring Husbands Association set itself up and designated Jan. 31 as a day for men to return home at the unusually early hour of 8 p.m., look into their wives' eyes, and say, "Thank you."

On Wednesday, the village where the association is based held a renewal-of-vows ceremony for a local couple in their 50s and handed out prizes to three top "doting husbands."


Tsumagoi, whose name sounds like the words "wife love" in Japanese, is marketing itself as a romantic destination for married couples.

Last year, it invited couples to an event called "Shout Your Love from the Middle of a Cabbage Patch" — where husbands took turns hollering romantic messages against a backdrop of Tsumagoi's wide open fields. About 100 people came.
I hope they cleaned up the wet spot.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. Clearly the U.S. needs more cabbage patches. (Doll jokes: too obvious.)

2/05/2007 12:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ZAMMAR REDUX. Back in June of 2002, I wrote a post entitled "Where Is Zammar?"

The issue? "...the danger of allowing the government to unilaterally decide that they know certain people are guilty terrorists."

Zammar was a suspected terrorist who disappeared mysteriously, then, with the U.S. government suspected. I wrote a bunch, including this:
And we can't, of course, simply not care because "these people" are Arabs, or Moslems, or, horrors, foreigners, and thus we are in no danger of being caught up in a Kafkaesque fiasco of confusion and mistreatment, as clearly some Moslems have. A) If they come for "them," sometime they may indeed, at a later date, come for us. B) It's inhuman to treat people differently based on Them not being Us.

This is not "political correctness," but simple humanity and justice, and, indeed, self-protection.
Only days later, Zammar was found.
A key figure in the Sept. 11 plot who fled Hamburg, Germany, last October has been held in secret detention in Syria after being first arrested in Morocco and expelled to Damascus with U.S. knowledge, according to German and Arab intelligence sources.
At the time, we were doing this:
[...] We're acquiesing, or encouraging, or possibly causing, the disappearing of people so they can be turned over to regimes like Syria, so they can use their famous persuasive techniques, and presumably turn results over to US agencies.
I wrote a few subsequent updates on Mohammed Haydar Zammar.

Here is today's.
HAMBURG -- The decision by Munich prosecutors to press charges against CIA counterterrorism operatives for kidnapping a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, won widespread applause last week from German politicians and the public. "The great ally is not allowed to simply send its thugs out into Europe's streets," lectured the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

But there has been an awkward silence and no prosecutions in the parallel case of another German citizen, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who was also covertly abducted in a CIA-sponsored mission after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The difference: German agents were directly involved in the Zammar case, providing crucial information to the CIA about his travels and making a secret trip to Syria to interrogate him after he landed in prison there.


After insisting for years that they couldn't confirm his whereabouts, German diplomats in Damascus have scrambled to provide him with a defense attorney and consular assistance.


He's seen as being in a different category because there's the impression that he's a bad guy, and he's not around to defend himself," said Cem Ozdemir, a German legislator in the European Parliament and member of a committee that has investigated CIA activities in Europe. "Even if he is a bad guy, he doesn't deserve to be tortured."

Details of the German role in Zammar's disappearance have emerged gradually in recent months as legislative panels in Berlin and Brussels have conducted investigations into CIA counterterrorism operations in Europe.


Zammar reemerged last October, when a European Union official monitoring trials in Damascus saw him in a state security court and notified the German Embassy. If not for the chance encounter, Zammar might have remained out of sight forever, Pinar said. "No one in the world would have known," she said.


Former inmates in Syria, including Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was similarly targeted for rendition by the CIA but later released, have said that Zammar was kept in a tiny cell in a special prison wing. They said prisoners were regularly tortured, and that Zammar -- who tipped the scales at 300 pounds when he lived in Hamburg -- had lost about a third of his weight.
His secret trial is on charges that make him eligible for the death penalty.

The odds seem fairly high that Zammar was connected to the September 11th plots, and terrorism. But who wouldn't trust secret Syrian courts to come to a just conclusion?

My final "where's Zammar?" post may be a pointer to his grave.

Alas for those in the U.S. government who would find it useful to now point to an example of Syrian evil, in their torture, and secret courts, it would seem difficult for the U.S. to find the moral high ground upon which to criticize Syria.

But have faith! Consistency not being their strong suit, nor fear of hypocrisy, I'm confident that our leaders could find a way, should they wish.

But I don't expect them to publicize this case.

However it comes out, there doesn't seem anybody left -- nor was there at the start -- to cheer for.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

2/05/2007 10:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, February 04, 2007
FRACKING RULES OF WAR. Robert Farley rereads Michael Walzer, contemplating and analyzing how he applies to the Cylons. An excellent break-down.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5, though possibly only if you like neo-Battlestar Galactica.

2/04/2007 05:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUNSHINE. Every Senator and Congressional Representative should be shamed into doing this.
Jon Tester stands out from the other 99 members of the Senate in these ways:

The organic farmer wears cowboy boots with his dark business suits. He sports a buzz haircut that is more Marine drill sergeant than wavy-haired senator. He passes more people on his five-block walk from his Washington apartment to the Capitol than he might see in a week in Montana.

And then there's this: He posts his daily schedule on his Web site for all the world to see.


Tester's early days in office have been filled by half-hour meetings that start at 8 a.m. and stretch until sundown. He's hosted the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee and Big Timber Montana. He sat down with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the major freight railroad in the West, as well as the union which represents its labor force, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. One day, he had three separate meetings with three different Indian tribes.

Every session with lobbyists, constituents and other lawmakers is conscientiously recorded, including names, affiliations and the duration of the meeting.

"I just wanted to give people an opportunity to see who I meet with," said Tester, a freshman Democrat who unseated three-term Republican Conrad Burns, helping the Democrats win control of the Senate. "I believe in transparent government and this is my effort."

Before the newcomer's staff got his Web site up and running, they taped a paper copy of his daily schedule to his office door. "But we realized that doesn't do a lot of good for the people back in Montana," said Matt McKenna, his communications director.

Tester's schedule is quite detailed, including entries describing his visits to the Senate gym and dinners with his wife, Sharla. "I just thought it would be easier than trying to explain gaps in time," he said.

In the House, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, a freshman Democrat from Upstate New York, is doing something similar. Although she gives less detail than Tester, Gillibrand lists her work-related meetings each day on her Web site.

"I was trying to think what are ways to restore public's confidence that special interests don't have overwhelming influence," said Gillibrand, who promised during her campaign to publicize her schedule. "And I figured the best way is to provide information about who members are meeting with."

She does not describe the duration of meetings or include personal appointments. "If I have lunch with a girlfriend, I don't want that on the schedule," Gillibrand said. "This is not Reality Congress, where you live the life of a congressman. I'm not going to post how many calories I eat today. This is about ethics reform, letting people know who's bending your ear."


"This is a recognition that 60 percent of Americans punch a clock, report on time sheets how much time they work and how they spend at time," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the foundation, which would like nothing more than a law requiring lawmakers to make their schedules public. "Why shouldn't members of Congress do the same?"
I'm not going to bet on either how long they'll keep doing this without gaps, or on how many other people in Congress might pick up the practice ("everyone" won't be any time soon, though maybe someday), but who doesn't think this is a superb idea that all Senators and Representatives should engage in?

To be sure, it relies on the legislators' being honest: nothing stops them from meeting lobbyists in off-hours in private, or staying in touch with them via e-mail, or intermediaries, and so on. But it's a start on a small, but important, addition to openness in government.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Kudos to Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Jon Tester (Democrats).

2/04/2007 05:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A TRAUMATIC AND UNHAPPY OUTCOME: Having been right about Iraq.
[...] For people who were pilloried, penalized or warned to be careful because of their opposition to a powerful president's war, vindication is nothing to celebrate. It is a victory most bitter.

"Emotionally, it's a very traumatic and unhappy outcome." That is retired Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan. "How can you be happy about being right about the disaster that's been created?"

It weighs on him.

"Vindication is not pleasing," he says. "Even some of my friends have noted: the more vindicated I've been, the more irritable I become."


Vindication is a difficult and complex concept and one that has to be considered with many caveats, such as those presented by Zbigniew Brzezinski when asked if he felt vindicated.

"If vindication was accompanied by a sense that America is likely to undo the damage they have done and can dis-embarrass itself of the tragic involvement, then my answer would be yes."

But Brzezinski, former national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, scarcely believes such course corrections will happen.
Of course, the big question now is if we can prevent war with Iran.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. The article would be more pleasing if it beat the crap out of Chris Matthews, instead of just mentioning him in passing. (I wasn't right about Iraq before the war: I was a wishy-washy fence-sitter, of no use to anyone.)

2/04/2007 12:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, February 03, 2007
IT'S A SMALL WORLD, AFTER ALL. I used to love the New York Panorama when I was a kid.
I was five years old when the 1964 World's Fair opened. My parents had bought a quantity of admission tickets many months in advance, because, as I recall, it was well-advertised that this would be necessary to avoid waiting for months to get in.

The tickets lay on the top of my parents' dresser for months. I kept looking at them, and anticipating the magic of this "World's Fair." I couldn't bear the wait.

Setting that topic aside for the moment -- and the Unisphere! And the Hall of Science! And the other wonders! -- the New York Panorama impressed me mightily. As it did in future years, when it stayed open in the New York Pavilion, after the Fair finally came to an end in 1965 (the Hall of Science, and a handful of other buildings stayed on, growing more decrepit by the year, though the New York Pavilion changed into the Queens Musuem in 1972 -- a joke compared to the venerable Brooklyn Museum, I have to say as a native Brooklynite, though).
[...] The panorama, the museum’s centerpiece, is widely known as the world’s largest architectural model of a city, and yet remains relatively obscure. Yes, there have been live tour guides and headphone tours, but for decades the extent of its presentation apparatus has been the aging dimmable house lights.

Museum officials have long wrestled with ways to revitalize the model and expand its possibilities. They even mused about asking New York developers and building owners to sponsor a model in the panorama in return for a little sign on it plugging the real building.


The model was built with incredible topological and architectural accuracy. Its roughly 895,000 tiny buildings, streets, parks and bridges are made mostly of wood and plastic and all built to scale, from bridge length to park acreage to skyscraper height.

The 321 square miles of the city’s five boroughs are sprawled over the model’s 9,335 square feet. An inch equals 100 feet, Far Rockaway is a jump shot from Central Park, and the 1,500-foot-tall Empire State Building is 15 inches. The beach at Coney Island is just over 13 feet long, the Staten Island ferry would travel 22 feet, and the Bronx Zoo covers 1,500 square inches.

The panorama, which lacks people, traffic, trash and other real-life elements, was originally built for $672,000. Other than a 1992 overhaul that modernized many of the low-rise buildings and added newer structures, this upgrade is its most significant. It cost $750,000, part of which was originally earmarked for a “Tribute in Light” to replace the 13-inch gray blocks that represent the twin towers. But tests indicated that the light would be seen only if there was dust in the air, so for now the blocks remain in place.

The new presentation equipment, a stack of computerized audio and sound equipment, sits high on a balcony. It is connected to video projectors, speakers, automatically controlled spotlights and a network of colored lights around the perimeter, near the ramp that affords viewers a bird’s-eye view of the metropolis.

Mr. Finkelpearl said the presentation recalled some of the original bells and whistles that accompanied the panorama when it opened at the World’s Fair and is meant to give viewers the feel of a helicopter ride over the city. Viewers rode in fake helicopter cars on tracks around the periphery of the model. Narration was provided by the newscaster Lowell Thomas (who uttered the “center of civilization” line).
I don't know how many times I got my parents to let me ride that fake helicopter around the fake NYC, but I recall it as at least a dozen.

I'm glad that it's been revitalized.
[...] One recent weekday Mr. Finkelpearl stood on the walkway for a demonstration of the 12-minute presentation about New York and Robert Moses and how the model was built partly to emphasize his accomplishments in consolidating the city with bridges and highways connecting the boroughs.

Each borough is spotlighted, as are the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers. Ellis Island is lighted, and you can hear the sound of voices of the huddled masses. A strobe light depicts the chaos of Midtown Manhattan.
That I appreciate NYC history, and thought Robert Caro's mammoth biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, the best biography, out of the hundreds I'd ever read by then, when it came out in 1974, and I was 15, only helps.

But the New York Panorama was probably my first encounter with virtual reality.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

2/03/2007 01:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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THE OTHER DETAINEES. How many have noticed how we're treating them?
RAYMONDVILLE, Tex. -- Ringed by barbed wire, a futuristic tent city rises from the Rio Grande Valley in the remote southern tip of Texas, the largest camp in a federal detention system rapidly gearing up to keep pace with Washington's increasing demand for stronger enforcement of immigration laws.

About 2,000 illegal immigrants, part of a record 26,500 held across the United States by federal authorities, will call the 10 giant tents home for weeks, months and perhaps years before they are removed from the United States and sent back to their home countries.


But civil liberties and immigration law groups allege that out of sight, the system is bursting at the seams. In the Texas facility, they say, illegal immigrants are confined 23 hours a day in windowless tents made of a Kevlar-like material, often with insufficient food, clothing, medical care and access to telephones. Many are transferred from the East Coast, 1,500 miles from relatives and lawyers, virtually cutting off access to counsel.

"I call it 'Ritmo' -- like Gitmo, but it's in Raymondville," said Jodi Goodwin, an immigration lawyer from nearby Harlingen.

An inspector general's report last month on a sampling of five U.S. immigration detention facilities found inhumane and unsafe conditions, including inadequate health care, the presence of vermin, limited access to clean underwear and undercooked poultry.


With roughly 1.6 million illegal immigrants in some stage of immigration proceedings, ICE holds more inmates a night than Clarion hotels have guests, operates nearly as many vehicles as Greyhound has buses and flies more people each day than do many small U.S. airlines.


Detainees are subject to penal system practices, such as group punishment for disciplinary infractions. The tents are windowless and the walls are blank, and no partitions or doors separate the five toilets, five sinks, five shower heads and eating areas. Lacking utensils on some days, detainees eat with their hands.

Because lights are on around the clock, a visitor finds many occupants buried in their blankets throughout the day. The stillness and torpor of the pod's communal room, where 50 to 60 people dwell, are noticeable.

Goodwin described a group of women who huddled in a recreation yard on a recent 40-degree day with a 25-mph wind. "They had no blanket, no sweat shirt, no jacket," she said. "Officers were wearing earmuffs, and detainees were outside for an hour with short-sleeved polyester uniforms and shower shoes and not necessarily socks."

Perhaps more troubling, lawyers said, large numbers of immigrants have been transferred from Boston, New York, New Jersey and Florida, far from their families and lawyers. Because some immigration judges do not permit hearings by teleconference, detainees are essentially deprived of counsel.

Immigration violators in the United States are held on civil grounds and have no right to appointed lawyers.
Pissant bleeding heart lefties, caring about this crap: don't they understand these people are illegal, and thus should suffer until they learn not to break American law with their insidious conspiracies to covertly invade us and take over America?
[...] Joining a lawsuit last week, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that severe overcrowding at a Corrections Corp. facility in San Diego poses an unconstitutional risk to detainees' health and safety, arguing that as administrative detainees, illegal immigrants should be treated better than convicted criminals.
Of course the ACLU would claim such nonsense! Don't they understand that illegal criminals should be treated worse than convicted criminals, because... just because! They're illegal!

Besides, convicted criminals shouldn't have any rights -- everyone knows that! Let them rot, because they could never be anyone we know or care about.

Clearly all the terrorsymp commies who are bleeding all over the place about these foreign criminal infiltrators, and their so-called "human rights," should be locked up alongside the alien invaders.

It's a start, anyway, on a law-abiding, law-respecting, America.

Isn't it?

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

2/03/2007 11:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THEY DIDN'T LET THE WOOKIE WIN. The force did him in.
The buzz on Hollywood Boulevard on Friday was over the Chewbacca who police say crossed over to the dark side in front of hundreds of tourists at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

LAPD officers arrested "Star Wars" street performer Frederick Evan Young, 44, of Los Angeles in his furry brown wookiee costume Thursday on a charge of misdemeanor battery for allegedly head-butting a tour guide who complained about Young's treatment of two visitors from Japan.

The incident — witnessed by Superman and other impersonators — is the latest clash outside the landmark cinema between visitors and performers dressed as movie and cartoon characters.


Authorities said it began when a Star Line Tours guide allegedly observed the Chewbacca character harassing two young girls from a rival Japanese tour company.

Guide Brian Sapir said that when he asked the performer not to touch the visitors, Young became angry.

"You could see in his eyes he was exploding beneath the mask," Sapir said Friday. "He yelled at me, 'Nobody tells this wookiee what to do!' "

After a security guard suggested that the 6-foot-5 Young take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard to cool off, he became more agitated, said Sapir, 32. "He threw off his mask and walked toward me and slammed his head into my forehead."

Other guards held Young for police. He was later released on $20,000 bail and is expected in court later this month, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.

A police source said that a Superman performer witnessed the altercation and was interviewed by police.
Young needs to get the right lawyer to show up in court and wave his hand in a mystical gesture, as he says "this isn't the wookie you're looking for."

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

2/03/2007 11:00:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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