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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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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
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
OBAMA: WRONG. Isikoff here provides no encouraging words.
[...] According to three sources who attended the meeting, Obama reiterated his intention to retain a version of the military-tribunal system established to try terror detainees and said his administration will likely end up adopting some form of "indefinite detention" policy to justify holding some selected suspects without trial. Still, Obama brusquely rejected suggestions by some of those present that, in doing so, he was adopting key tenets of Bush-era policies considered unacceptable by his liberal supporters.
The sources, all of whom asked not to be identified because of the White House insistence that the meeting was private, also said Attorney General Eric Holder sat by silently while the president curtly dismissed the idea that his Justice Department should criminally prosecute at least one Bush administration official for torture, if only as a symbolic move to demonstrate that actions such as waterboarding will never be tolerated again.
It was at that point, toward the end of the meeting, that one attendee raised the idea of criminal prosecution of at least one Bush-era official, if only as a symbolic gesture. Obama dismissed the idea, several of those in attendance said, making it clear that he had no interest in such an investigation. Holder—whose department is supposed to make the call on criminal prosecutions—reportedly said nothing.
YOU HAVE TO BE RICH TO BE POOR. Excellent story in the Washington Post explaining the facts of life of being poor to those who have no clue. (Single page version, though missing the accompanying photos.)
[...] Poverty 101: We'll start with the basics.
Like food: You don't have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe's, where the middle class goes to save money. You don't have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar.
A loaf of bread there costs you $2.99 for white. For wheat, it's $3.79. The clerk behind the counter tells you the gallon of leaking milk in the bottom of the back cooler is $4.99. She holds up four fingers to clarify. The milk is beneath the shelf that holds beef bologna for $3.79. A pound of butter sells for $4.49. In the back of the store are fruits and vegetables. The green peppers are shriveled, the bananas are more brown than yellow, the oranges are picked over.
(At a Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, the wheat bread costs $1.19, and white bread is on sale for $1. A gallon of milk costs $3.49 -- $2.99 if you buy two gallons. A pound of butter is $2.49. Beef bologna is on sale, two packages for $5.)
Prices in urban corner stores are almost always higher, economists say. And sometimes, prices in supermarkets in poorer neighborhoods are higher.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 37 million people in the country live below the poverty line. The poor know these facts of life. These facts become their lives.
Time is money, they say, and the poor pay more in time, too.
When you are poor, you don't have the luxury of throwing a load into the washing machine and then taking your morning jog while it cycles. You wait until Monday afternoon, when the laundromat is most likely to be empty, and you put all of that laundry from four kids into four heaps, bundle it in sheets, load a cart and drag it to the corner.
"If I had my choice, I would have a washer and a dryer," says Nya Oti, 37, a food-service worker who lives in Brightwood. She stands on her toes to reach the top of a washer in the laundromat on Georgia Avenue NW and pours in detergent. The four loads of laundry will take her about two hours. A soap opera is playing loudly on the television hanging from the ceiling. A man comes in talking to himself. He drags his loads of dirty sheets and mattress pads and dumps them one by one into the machines next to Oti.
She does not seem to notice. She is talking about other costs of poverty. "My car broke down this weekend, and it took a lot of time getting on the bus, standing on the bus stop. It was a waste of a whole lot of times. Waiting. The transfer to the different bus."
"When you are poor, you substitute time for money," says Randy Albelda, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "You have to work a lot of hours and still not make a lot of money. You get squeezed, and your money is squeezed."
The poor pay more in hassle: the calls from the bill collectors, the landlord, the utility company. So they spend money to avoid the hassle. The poor pay for caller identification because it gives them peace of mind to weed out calls from bill collectors.
Then there's credit. The poor don't have it. What they had was a place like First Cash Advance in D.C.'s Manor Park neighborhood, where a neon sign once flashed "PAYDAY ADVANCE." Through the bulletproof glass, a cashier in white eyeliner and long white nails explained what you needed to get an advance on your paycheck -- a pay stub, a legitimate ID, a checkbook. This meant you're doing well enough to have a checking account, but you're still poor.
And if you qualify, the fee for borrowing $300 is $46.50.
"You pay rent that might be more than a mortgage," Reed says. "But you don't have the credit or the down payment to buy a house. Apartments are not going down. They are going up. They say houses are better, cheaper. But how are you going to get in a house if you don't have any money for a down payment?"
There is also an economic cost to living in low-income neighborhoods.
"The cheaper housing is in more-dangerous areas," says Reed, who lives in Southeast Washington. "I moved out of my old apartment. I hate that area. They be walking up and down the street. Couldn't take the dog out at night because strangers walking up and down the street. They will knock on your door. Either they rob you, kill or ask for money. If you're not there, they will steal air conditioners and copper. They will sell your copper [pipes] for money."
Money and time. "I ride the bus to get to work," Nicholas says. It takes an hour. "If I could drive, it would take me 10 minutes. I have to catch two buses." She gets to the bus stop at 6:30 a.m. The bus is supposed to come every 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes, she says, it comes every 30 minutes.
When you are poor, you wait.
In Raleigh, the buses are mostly once an hour, go only to a very limited number of places, and if you have to take two buses, as you almost always have to do, and sometimes you even have to take three -- both ways -- you wind up having to wait 45 minutes for both the second and third bus, and a trip that's twenty minutes each way by car becomes literally an expedition you have to start at 8:15 and won't get home from until 6 p.m.
And let's not neglect this:
[...] All these costs can lead the poor to a collective depression. Douglas J. Besharov, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says: "There are social costs of being poor, though it is not clear where the cause and effect is. We know for a fact that on certain measures, people who are poor are often more depressed than people who are not. I don't know if poverty made them depressed or the depression made them poor. I think the cause and effect is an open question. Some people are so depressed they are not functional. 'I live in a crummy neighborhood. My kids go to a crummy school.' That is not the kind of scenario that would make them happy." Another effect of all this, he says: "Would you want to hire someone like that?"
Alas that ABC News doesn't believe in video you can embed. Version with text.
But the damn duck did the same thing last year:
What's not in last year's version is either the video of Joel catching the baby ducks as they jumped to what would otherwise have been their death, or the video of momma duck leading her ducklings to water.
JAVAID IQBAL. I wrote about Javaid Iqbal, and what happened to him in the Brooklyn then-INS detention center, in 2004, here.
Since few folks will remember this case, let's look back:
Before the World Trade Center attack, Javaid Iqbal was a Pakistani immigrant proud to be known as "the cable guy" to customers on Long Island, where he had lived for a decade and married an American. Ehab Elmaghraby, an Egyptian, had a weekend flea market stand at Aqueduct Raceway and a restaurant near Times Square where friendly police officers would joke, "Where's my shish kebab?"
But within weeks of Sept. 11, 2001, both had been picked up by federal agents in an anti-terror sweep. For 23 hours a day, they were locked in solitary confinement in the harsh maximum-security unit of a federal detention center in Brooklyn - the one cited by the Justice Department's inspector general last year for widespread physical abuse of its detainees.
The accusations are similar to those now being made against military officers guarding prisoners in Iraq.
The lawsuit charges that the men were repeatedly slammed into walls and dragged across the floor while shackled and manacled, kicked and punched until they bled, cursed as "terrorists" and "Muslim bastards," and subjected to multiple unnecessary body-cavity searches, including one during which correction officers inserted a flashlight into Mr. Elmaghraby's rectum, making him bleed.
At that point, the papers charge, he was confined without blankets, mattress or toilet paper to a tiny cell kept lighted 24 hours a day, and was denied adequate medical care or communication with his public defender. He said his attempts to pray or sleep were disrupted by guards banging on his door.
Elmaghraby spent almost a year in that detention center. Iqbal for nine months. Why? What was the evidence against them?
[...] Mr. Elmaghraby was picked up on Sept. 30, 2001, in his apartment in Maspeth, Queens, when federal agents were investigating his Muslim landlord, apparently because years earlier the landlord had applied for pilot training. Mr. Iqbal was arrested in his Long Island apartment on Nov. 2 by agents who were apparently following a tip about false identification cards. In his apartment they found a Time magazine showing the trade towers in flames and paperwork showing that he had been in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, picking up a work permit from immigration services. He was detained for nine months before the F.B.I. cleared him of any terrorist link.
Yes, Iqbal had a Time magazine! Lock everyone up who read about September 11th in Time!
Who is from a Muslim-majority country. And has some trivial offense to investigate.
That's what we were doing then.
One might defend temporarily picking up people on such suspicion for a brief time, in the wake of September 11th. One might. But defending the way such people, who were picked up in such widespread sweeps, were treated with such brutality, is something else again. Holding them for most of a year, is something else again.
It's clear that guards at the detention center were treating prisoners with brutality purely because they were Muslim foreigners, and thus could be scapegoated for the attack on our country.
As the New York Times wrote:
[...] Though the lawsuit is not being filed as a class action, it is about more than redress for the mistreatment of two individuals singled out because of their race, religion and national origin, said Alexander Reinert, a lawyer for Koob & Magoolaghan, which joined with the Urban Justice Center, an advocacy organization, to prepare the papers.
"The case is about ensuring that in times of crisis we stand by the principles that are most important to our country, and those are principles of fairness and equality embodied in the Constitution," he said.
And what of Javaid Iqbal?
[...] Mr. Iqbal, 37, who lost 40 pounds in detention, said he suffers from chronic digestive problems, pain and depression and is still struggling to reconcile the two sides of America he experienced.
In a telephone interview from Faisalabad, Pakistan, he spoke wistfully of his early, around-the-clock jobs as a 7-Eleven clerk and as a gas station attendant in Huntington, N.Y., where customers brought him Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas gifts. But he is so haunted by memories of the terror, pain and humiliation that the federal officers inflicted on him, he said, that he starts to shake at the sight of his own brother, a policeman, in uniform.
"Before I go to prison, the America that I know is a beautiful country and Americans are such beautiful, kind, humble people," he said. "When I go to prison, I see there a different face of the United States of America."
What was that different face we showed him?
[...] Unlike Mr. Elmaghraby, who spent his whole detention in the maximum-security unit, Mr. Iqbal was housed with the general inmate population for the first two months after his arrest. But on the evening of Jan. 8, 2002, he was told that he had a "legal visit" in a room on another floor.
Instead of a lawyer, he found more than a dozen federal officers waiting for him. As he and the lawsuit tell it, several officers picked him up and threw him against the wall. He said he heard one ask a senior person, "He's the one?" and when the reply was affirmative, an officer pressing Mr. Iqbal's head into the wall turned it around, looked him in the face and said, "Welcome to hell, buddy."
At that, he was dragged to the floor, kicked in the stomach with steel-toed shoes and punched in the face, he said, and the officers screamed death threats and curses as they beat him up. "Then the senior person said, 'Just take him out of my sight.' "
Hatred seemed to determine the rules on the unit in ways large and small, the men said. On cold days when it rained, Mr. Iqbal was left outside for hours without jacket or shoes. When he was returned to his cell drenched, officers turned on the air-conditioning, he said. At one point, the lawsuit said, Mr. Elmaghraby was mockingly displayed naked to a female staff member.
What's this got to do with John Ashcroft, then Attorney General?
[...] The inspector general's report said last June that Mr. Ashcroft's policy was to hold detainees on any legal pretext until the F.B.I. cleared them, even though such clearances turned out to take months, not days, because they were given low priority. It said little effort was made to distinguish between legitimate terrorism suspects and the many people picked up by chance during the investigation.
Why, after all, bother? They're all dark-skinned Muslims, and thus pretty much terrorists, or at least terrorist-lovers.
[...] Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said a lawsuit filed by the man, Javaid Iqbal, must be dismissed at a preliminary stage because he failed to allege a plausible link between the officials’ conduct and the abuses he said he had suffered.
All that Mr. Iqbal’s suit plausibly suggested, Justice Kennedy wrote, “is that the nation’s top law enforcement officers, in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack, sought to keep suspected terrorists in the most secure conditions available until the suspects could be cleared of terrorist activity.”
This is what our country has finally said to Javaid Iqbal, and Ehab Elmaghraby, and their families, and their fellow Pakistanis, Eqyptians, and people of the Muslim world.
This is our American justice.
This is our American justice:
[...] “It should come as no surprise,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks should produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the purpose of the policy was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims.”
Why will we miss David Souter? This is why:
[...] “Iqbal does not say merely that Ashcroft was the architect of some amorphous discrimination, or that Mueller was instrumental in some ill-defined constitutional violation; he alleges that they helped to create the discriminatory policy he has described,” Justice Souter wrote.
Justice Souter added that the majority had engaged in a sort of legal sleight of hand, ignoring a concession from the government that Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Mueller would be liable were Mr. Iqbal able to prove they actually knew of unconstitutional discrimination by their subordinates and were deliberately indifferent to it.
Instead of accepting that concession, Justice Souter continued, the majority decided that even proof of such knowledge was insufficient.
In his dissent, Justice Souter wrote that the assertions in Mr. Iqbal’s lawsuit, coupled with the government’s concession, should have been enough to allow it to proceed. At the early stages of a suit, Justice Souter added, such assertions need merely be plausible.
“The sole exception to this rule lies with allegations that are sufficiently fantastic to defy reality as we know it: claims about little green men, or the plaintiff’s recent trip to Pluto, or experiences in time travel,” Justice Souter wrote. “That is not what we have here.”
This is our American justice.
One might as well be making claims about little green men taking trips to Pluto via time travel, if trying to hold our highest officials responsible for their actions.
That is our American justice.
The one small spot of hope here is that this denial of justice isn't the last chance for Iqbal and Elmaghraby (and all the others who were so detained and treated):
[...] Justice Kennedy, who was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that Mr. Iqbal’s “account of his prison ordeal could, if proved, demonstrate unconstitutional misconduct” by officials other than Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Mueller. Justice Kennedy added that the lower courts may yet decide to allow Mr. Iqbal to amend his lawsuit to make more specific allegations about the complicity of the two men.
I again wrote more about this case in 2006. Here's what Iqbal thought then:
[...] "I am not afraid," Mr. Iqbal wrote last week in an e-mail message about his return. "I am also sure that justice will be served because peoples of U.S.A. are justice-loving people regardless of race and religion."
Way to let him, and all of us, down.
I'd like to hope these men will finally see true justice in an American courtroom. (Although justice a decade or so delayed is not true justice.)
But if it doesn't happen, and that's the way I'd bet, it'll be, in the words of Justice Kennedy, no surprise.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Text of the SCOTUS opinion.
One reason this case strikes home for me is that, as a born and bred Brooklynite, it truly strikes home for me that this took place in Brooklyn. As I wrote in 2006:
[...] I once lived on Ocean Parkway, by the way, with plenty of similar Arab neighbors. I grew up in Midwood, Brooklyn, which was once largely Jewish, Italian, Greek, a bit of Irish, and other largely European-descended immigrants. In later decades, when I returned to live there for a time, it had becoming increasingly Jewish, but also considerably Pakistani, South Asian, and Arab, as well.
All very nice people. My neighbors. These guys could have been my neighbors.
NO INDUSTRY IS MORE ALL-AMERICAN THAN the prison industry. Naturally, proud employees engage in Take Your Child To Work Days, thus earning this headline: "43 stun-gunned at prisons' Take Your Kids to Work Day"
A total of 43 children were directly and indirectly shocked by electric stun guns during simultaneous ''Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day'' events gone wrong at three state prisons, according to new information provided Friday by the Florida Department of Corrections.
Also, a group of kids was exposed to tear gas during a demonstration at another lockup.
Find out about the work environment of mom or dad! It's fun! You might want to grow up to do this!
[...] He said the children, who ranged in age from 5 to 17, were all children of prison officials.
In nearly every case, the guards had permission from parents or grandparents to administer the ''electronic immobilization devices,'' McNeil [the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections] said.
McNeil repeatedly stressed that the stun-gunning only happened at three of the 55 institutions and that it wasn't part of a widespread practice. Still, he acknowledged that it was ''logical'' to assume other children had been shocked on other take-your-kids-to-work days.
[...] So far this year, none of the devices have been used on the 100,000 prison inmates -- only the children of DOC workers.
Canny: inmates might fight back.
[...] During the investigation, officials also learned that officials at Lake Correctional Institution demonstrated the use of tear gas, which endangered some of the kids.
All part of preparing them for growing up!
These Days are always so educational; I don't know why they aren't at least quarterly, if not monthly.
Just think how many more kids could benefit from frequent visits to prison, to get stunned, or locked in, or tear gassed, or brutally beaten, or shived, or engage in giving a brutal beating, or learn how to use cigarettes as currency, or how to buy drugs in prison. The educational possibilities are unlimited!
KEEPING OUT THE RIFF-RAFF. If you're not British, you may or may not have noticed that Britain has been having a huge scandal over the expenses of Members of Parliament. As in, the public has suddenly found out just how abusive MPs have been in claiming all sorts of absurd and unwarranted expenses.
[...] Such a hilarious throwback to Tory grandiosity. It cost £2,000 to dredge the moat - the moat! - around Douglas Hogg's Lincolnshire country estate.
I don't know if that's reasonable, given that I don't live in a house with a moat. I call someone who does. Lord Saye and Sele, 88, has lived at Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire for the last 40 years, although it has been his family seat since 1337. His moat covers three acres, which dwarfs Hogg's - as does the cost of its upkeep. Last winter, it cost £22,000 to repair some of the stone banks around it and there is more to do.
"It's a great pleasure having a moat, but very expensive. We did dredge it about 35 years ago," he remembers. "One summer we had a man come with a drag line and he pulled tonnes and tonnes of rubbish out of it - rushes and weeds, silt, that sort of thing. You probably only need to do that once every 100 years. Other than that, you need to make sure there are not too many rushes and water lilies growing."
One of the good things about having a moat, says Lord Saye, "is that you don't need a swimming pool" (let us not forget the several claims for pool upkeep by MPs including Michael Ancram and James Arbuthnot). "My wife and children go in, but I can't remember the last time I did."
It must be a very grand feeling to own a moat. "Yes, it's a very good thing to have," says Lord Saye. "It also keeps rabbits and deer out, and probably people as well." The angry mob, I think he means. Good news for Hogg, then.
When the election comes, will you vote for the party that charges taxpayers for its MPs' chandeliers, helipads and moats? Or for the one that bills the public purse for supplies of diapers, soft porn and Kit Kat bars?
That, in essence, is the decision now facing British voters.
As a lurid parliamentary expense-account scandal expands to ridiculous proportions, with revelations yesterday that MPs billed swimming-pool plumbing, castle moats, country-manor helipads and $25,000 gardening bills as parliamentary expenses, some very telling realities of British politics have begun to emerge.
They range from $3.93 charged for Tampax by a (male) Tory MP to a $4,000 king-sized bed billed by the leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats to $252,000 billed by the Tory deputy speaker for expenses related to a country house he owns mortgage-free.
Or Sir Michael Spicer, who billed $11,300 for nine months of gardening, including something listed as a "helipad." Or Oliver Letwin, who charged $4,000 for replacing a pipe beneath his tennis court. Or David Heathcoat-Amory, who billed $674 in horse manure.
A senior cabinet minister, Hazel Blears, claimed $4.43 for a Kit-Kat bar from a hotel minibar. A junior minister expensed taxpayers $10 for Pampers. Another senior minister, Jacqui Smith, billed $20 a month for a subscription to the Playboy Channel, apparently on behalf of her husband.
Mr. Brown himself hasn't escaped the scandal: He got caught paying his brother, a bank executive, $11,650 for the cleaning of his London flat during two years he was living in Downing Street. It was a legitimate claim, and smaller than the $37,192 billed by Mr. Cameron for his London flat, one of three properties he owns.
I HAVE TO BUY A NEW COMPUTER. A quick note from someone else's computer: as per previous entry, my motherboard died, along with, apparently, the graphics card. (I had a hint of this in last-month's keyboard failure, which entry I don't have time to link to at the moment.)
If you'd like to help me get back online with a newly acquired computer, do please feel free to hit the paypal buttons in the sidebar. Naturally, this comes while I'm still up in the air about when I'll have to find a new place to live, and what I'll be able to do about that when I have to, as well as, of course, what the outcome of my Social Security disability application will be, so I remain immensely financially anxious.