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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.

Sunday, August 13, 2006
GUNTER GRASS, WAFFEN SS MAN. Interesting, indeed, given his position in Germany, and as one of those who might be said to have participated in mediating for other Germans what being a Nazi meant, and what German guilt was and was not thought to be.

But I can't say that I'm impressed by his coming forward now, in the year 2006, at the age of 78, to finally confess.

His whole life as a writer has been a lie.

About being in the Waffen SS.

Not a small thing.

Not something to be redeemed by finally coming forward. Now. In 2006. At the age of 78.

He feels guilty?

Good. But not good enough.

And explain this to me:
Its members initially volunteered, but after 1944, as Germany's military strength was weakening, members were drafted at random from the male population. Grass, who had volunteered for the submarine forces at the age of 15 to "get away from the family" but had been rejected, was recruited into the SS in the winter of 1944-45.

Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied: "I'm not sure how it was. Did the draft order give it away, or on the letterhead? The rank of the signatory? Or did I first notice it when I arrived in Dresden?"
WTF? How do you get drafted into the Waffen SS (and at this point, given his lifetime of lying about this, I don't automatically assume he's telling the truth about being drafted, and not volunteering, either, but setting that aside) and not notice?

I'm a tad skeptical of this story. He didn't notice?

Yeah, pull my other one.
He said at the time that there was nothing "repulsive" about the SS to him.
That, I find perfectly plausible.
He did not give any details as to whether he knew whether his division, the 10th Tank Division Fundsberg was involved in any atrocities, but claimed that he never fired a single shot. He stressed his youthful naivety, and his desperation to get out of the corps because he found it gruelling.

"It was very hard. It was all there was. The only question you asked was: 'How do I get out of it?' So I infected myself with jaundice, but that only helped for a few weeks. Then the grind began again and an inadequate training with ageing equipment. In any case, I had to write about it."
How does someone "infect [themself] with jaundice"?

Maybe it's a translation error. Maybe he ate a ton of carrots, or took something, to give himself the appearance of jaundice, and that's what he meant. I don't know.
He said his feelings of guilt developed only in later years. "It was always combined with the question: 'Could you not have realised at that point what was happening to you?'"
Yes, I think so.
Grass said in the interview that he wanted to dispel the notion that Germans were unwilling victims of Hitler. Germans, he said, were enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi regime. "Of course they were seduced as well, but many were involved with enthusiasm.["]
At least he's being truthful there.
He said his writing was a way for him to deal with his personal guilt.
Yeah, you got away all these decades, for 60-plus years, being thought of as innocent in a way that you were not.

I wish I knew what the proper and adequate punishment for that should be, but it should be a lot worse than having felt guilty, but not guilty enough to do a goddamn thing about it for more than 60 years.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. Idiot Jews and idiot ex-Waffen SS members: no wonder I have misanthropic tendencies.

ADDENDUM, 2:42 a.m.: More words from Grass:
Did he miss the right opportunity to discuss his SS membership? "I don't know," says the author and poet. "It's certainly the case that I believed that what I did as a writer was enough. After all, I went through my learning process and reached my own conclusions. But there was still this lingering blemish."
See, when you volunteer for military service with the Nazis, and wind up in the Waffen SS, being a writer in future decades does not actually mean you're being moral by lying about it all these years.

After looking around the blogosphere a bit, and seeing a distressing number of responses to this that consist of apologetics and/or being "amused," I think I may have more to say about this after I've gotten some sleep.

ADDENDUM: 12:20 p.m.: More:
"Grass's confession right before the publication of his autobiography leaves behind a bad taste of book promotion," wrote Bild am Sonntag newspaper columnist Helmut Boeger.
Yes, there's that, too.
"Even after his admission, Grass remains Germany's most important living author. But he has lost his standing as a moral authority. He cannot be castigated for being a member of the SS ... But he can be for lying about it for 60 years."
Exact-a-mundo! Precisely.

Other salient facts (I was going to pull this out of web pages, but it's here):
Grass now admitted he volunteered for submarine duty at 15 but was rejected. He was later called up to the SS at 17.

Grass had previously said he was drafted in 1944 as a flak helper and held as a prisoner of war until 1946.
So he also eagerly volunteered to fight for Hitler, and he's lied about that all his life, too. This is no small thing. If he'd tried to emigrate to America, and been caught making that lie, for instance, he'd not have been admitted, and rightfully so.
"The fact he was in the SS at 17 is by itself a misdemeanor -- had Grass not been one to throw his weight around as a moral authority so much since then," Karasek told German radio.

"If I were cynical, I would say he did not reveal it sooner at the risk of not winning a Nobel prize. ["]
I don't think it takes all that much cynicism to observe that this is also true.
"After 60 years, this confession comes a bit too late," Joachim Fest, a leading historian, told Der Spiegel magazine. "I can't understand how someone who for decades set himself up as a moral authority, a rather smug one, could pull this off."

Grass biographer Michael Juergs was dumbfounded.

"I feel a personal disappointment," Juergs said.
The Heretik has a good post, including this quote from Grass's Nobel Prize lecture:
“The only reason I rehearse here these anecdotes of a petty bourgeois childhood after painting them with epic strokes decades ago in works peopled by fictitious characters is to help me answer the question “What made you become a writer?” The ability to daydream at length, the job of punning and playing with language in general, the addiction to lying for its own sake rather than for mine because sticking to the truth would have been a bore – in short, what is loosely known as talent was certainly a factor, but it was the abrupt intrusion of politics into the family idyll that turned the all too flighty category of talent into a ballast with a certain permanence and depth.”
Lastly, let me observe that we now -- finally -- know that Grass was in the 10th SS Panzer Division; moreover, according to this, he fought in a battle in 1945, and was wounded. So the claim to have never fought was also, unsurprisingly, a lie. (It would be difficult to have been in the 10th SS Panzer Division and never have fought; it's not as if Hitler kept them in reserve).

Here is a day-by-day chronology of their actions. They fought until the last day of the war. Grass says he was part of the Division "the winter of 1944-45"; during that time, they fought a vast number of battles. The idea that Grass twiddled his thumbs and hummed pacifist hymms -- and yet somehow ended up wounded -- he, a man who eagerly volunteered to fight Hitler, and who now admits that "there was nothing 'repulsive' about the SS to him," -- well, clearly he's not yet quite finished with the lying.

ADDENDUM, 8/14/06, 1:12 p.m.: Since this is getting a lot of hits, welcome, visitors. I hope you won't think it crass if I note that I'm poor and in poor straits, and health, and only get by with the aid of the kindness of donors who support my 'umble blogging efforts, and that I've got ~$30 to get through to the end of the month with; any donations, via the PayPal link at the top, however small or large, are much appreciated. Thanks to anyone who makes with the additional wuv, but otherwise thanks just for stopping by.

ADDENDUM, 8/14/06, 10:00 p.m.: A comment from the Sunday Times of London.
[...] It was Grass first and foremost who insisted the Germans “come clean” about their history and that his own generation should not try to pose as “victims” of Hitler’s National Socialist ideology.

Now the great advocate of facing unpalatable truths has lived up to his own standards, but a little late. The revelation came in an interview with Germany’s respected conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), and while it is certain to boost interest in his forthcoming autobiography it has done immeasurable harm to the writer’s squeaky-clean reputation.

Grass now says that, although he had told the truth to his wife, those he deceived included his own children and his biographer Michael Jürgs, with whom he spent countless hours apparently going over the minutiae of his life in the latter years of the Third Reich. Jürgs told The Sunday Times yesterday: “I’m deeply disappointed. If he had come clean earlier and said he was in the SS at 17 no one would have cared, but now it puts in doubt from a moral point of view anything he has ever told us.”
Grass also "...admitted that he believed in Hitler right up until the Nuremberg war crimes trials."

Here is a useful look at the Waffen SS. And a quote:
In November 1943 the commander of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg demanded that ‘every man should be trained to be a fanatical hater. It does not matter on which front the division is engaged, the unyielding hate towards every opponent, Englishmen, Jew, Bolshevik, must make every one of our men capable of the highest deeds’.
The 10th, "Frundsberg" Division was one of the handful of "elite" Waffen SS Divisions that received the best equipment, food, and so forth, and was most imbued with racist Nazi propaganda. I recommend reading this piece if you're not already intimately familiar with the history and nature of the Waffen SS; it was certainly not just another "purely military" organization.

ADDENDUM, 8/14/06, 11:21: Here is a lovely little photo:
Heinz Harmel, commandant of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg, being congratulated by Adolf Hitler on the receipt of his Oakleaves to his Knight's Cross. At the right looking on is Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Autographed by Harmel! Alas, it's been sold. But fear not! You can find more here for only $58! Who doesn't want autographed pictures of SS Generals?!

In fairness, I'll point out that Harmel was praised for his treatment of prisoners at Arnhem.

Minor footnote: Harmel wrote a book.

Some Babelfish reading!

ADDENDUM, 8/15/06: Last comment for now: lots of good German commentary and debate here. (Tip from reader jaywalker.) Here is one quite good critical take. Here is more. And many salient reactions here.

And to be clear: I'm not in any way accusing Grass of being a war criminal, nor am I advising anyone to not read his books; I long ago concluded that few artists or writers are without fault, often including moral fault, and that if one were to be strict about not appreciating their work at all, one would ultimately be left with little or no art of interest to enrich one's life with. And I've pretty much said what I had to say about Grass for now.

8/13/2006 12:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 19 comments


I was shocked and disappointed by this news, and have much the same reaction as yours, Gary. But one of the first things I thought of after learning of Grass's revelation was my father (who taught German language and literature). He was a great fan of Heinrich Boll, and not so much of Grass.

We talked about it a few times, and once he said that he couldn't put his finger on it, but that Boll seemed to be speaking much more from the heart, where Grass's talent was for invention. Remarkably on-target, now that we know what we know.

By Blogger Nell, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 11:25:00 AM  

I'm not sure how it was. Did the draft order give it away, or on the letterhead? The rank of the signatory? Or did I first notice it when I arrived in Dresden?

That's not saying he didn't notice; it's saying that at his age, he can't remember exactly, 60 years later.

Brad DeLong was also having a hissyfit about this, & I commented over there--no need to repeat myself. I will quote from an item that one of his commenters found:

Regardless of the record of individual combat units within the Waffen-SS, the entire organisation was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg Trials, except conscripts, who were exempted from that judgement due to being forcibly mobilised.

By Blogger Anderson, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 1:56:00 PM  

"That's not saying he didn't notice;"

"Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied...."

"Regardless of the record of individual combat units within the Waffen-SS, the entire organisation was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg Trials, except conscripts, who were exempted from that judgement due to being forcibly mobilised."

Yes, I've been quite aware of this since I was about 14.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 2:06:00 PM  

Some good commentary on this, Gary, but he may in fact have been truthful about not firing his weapon. I believe that studies after the end of WW II indicated that even in the most furious combat, only about 10% of soldiers will fire their weapons at the enemy, the rest being reluctant to either risk their lives to do so, so terrified that they cannot take any action, or are simply unwilling to take another's life. Studies of discarded weapons after battles in the American Civil War show the same figures, and there are many reports of soldiers who did fire, but intentionally high in order to miss their opponents.

Fortunately, modern training has improved the figures for most well trained armies, and now about 50%, I believe, fire their weapons in combat.

At any rate, what he says is now suspect anyway. I just wanted to mention that participating in battles and not fighting is entirely plausable.

By Blogger Stuart Morris, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 5:01:00 PM  

How is it that someone so well-known could get away with this lie for so long? Are the records of military service not available (or only available to the servicemembers themselves)?

Another question that occurs, after reading the updates and further comments, is: If you're in a tank division, is there any other role than being in a tank? Such as, driving a fuel truck, or...? What I know about WWII military logistics would fit into a comment box with many lines to spare.

By Blogger Nell, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 5:10:00 PM  

"Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied...."

Right; he noticed, he just couldn't recall any more exactly when.

I don't think that the conscription orders came with a big "SS" logo, or with an autographed photo of Himmler.

And if you've been aware of the info that I quoted ... then what is the big deal about Grass's conscription? Would someone explain to me what, other than his failing to have mentioned it before, makes this at all incriminating?

It appears from the chronology you've linked that during Grass's tenure, the unit spent most of its time trying to stem the Soviet advance into Germany. Barring some evidence that the unit, during this time, engaged in massacres of Jews or POW's, etc., it sounds like a wash.

By Blogger Anderson, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 6:21:00 PM  

Anderson, he didn't just "fail to mention it", he lied about what he did during the war.

Grass had previously said he was drafted in 1944 as a flak helper and held as a prisoner of war until 1946.

By Blogger Nell, at Sunday, August 13, 2006 9:37:00 PM  

Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied: "I'm not sure how it was. Did the draft order give it away, or on the letterhead? The rank of the signatory? Or did I first notice it when I arrived in Dresden?"

You can't read that without seeing it as an evasion.

Not, "How did you end up in the SS?" which has a straigthforward answer, but "When did you notice you were in the SS?" which is an absurdity. It alows him to evade the subject, it's a passive construction, he just happened to be in the SS.

By Blogger Faeless, at Monday, August 14, 2006 11:26:00 AM  

It is interesting that neither his audience, or perhaps the author himself, could tell the difference from being a socialist and being a national socialist.

By Blogger Rudersdorf, at Monday, August 14, 2006 12:38:00 PM  

His being in the 10th SS in the winter of 1944 doesn't mean that he participated in the battles of the 10th SS. Arguably he could have been in training; the German divisions typicaly handled their own training, which was often separate from wherever the combat division was.

Mind you, I think he's a weasel. He lectures the world for 50 years while just happening to overlook that he was a member of one of history's greatest criminal organizations? Riiiight. But division membership doesn't correspond to combat experience.

By Blogger Ernst Blofeld, at Monday, August 14, 2006 12:47:00 PM  

Being in, I think, the small minority of folks who have actually read The Tin Drum from stem to stern I can attest that Grasse's credentials as a literary giant are as falsified as his vigorous assertion to be some moral censor for the German nation, if not the world at large. Like Upton Sinclair's post-mortem confession of lying about Sacco/Vanzetti, we see yet more reason to take trumpeting moral braggarts as seriously as fishery biostats at the baitshop.

By Blogger megapotamus, at Monday, August 14, 2006 12:51:00 PM  

Grass' account is perfectly believable. I remember one time I got really drunk, and when I woke up I noticed I was in the Waffen SS. My gosh, was I ever embarassed! I'm sure this has happened to most of us.

Did the draft beer odor give it away, or the foaming head? The rank of the sour malt? Or did I first notice it when I stumbled over the empty Löwenbräu? I just don't know.

By Blogger TallDave, at Monday, August 14, 2006 12:53:00 PM  

Nell: "How is it that someone so well-known could get away with this lie for so long? Are the records of military service not available (or only available to the servicemembers themselves)?"

I'm sure lots of records were destroyed in the war.

"Another question that occurs, after reading the updates and further comments, is: If you're in a tank division, is there any other role than being in a tank? Such as, driving a fuel truck, or...?"

Sure, there were cooks and truck drivers and such, although in the hardest fighting, when it got desperate, which is to say, pretty much all the fights in the last months of the war, as well as many before that against the Russians, pretty much everyone would likely have had occasion to pick up a rifle or other weapon.

Rudersdorf: " It is interesting that neither his audience, or perhaps the author himself, could tell the difference from being a socialist and being a national socialist."

Well, no, not so much.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Monday, August 14, 2006 2:21:00 PM  

You are giving way too much weight to this issue. The Waffen-SS... Just because of the SS denotation, don't get you panties in a bunch. The Waffen-SS was not all that different than the Wehrmacht; it had nothing to do with the Gestapo or the Politics of Nazi Germany. The training was more intense, and there was 'some' political indoctrination, but all in all, it was a military formation, not a political one. (Unless you might be from the 3rd SS Division - The Death's Head; some of these thugs were involved in concentration camp guard rotations)
In Germany, these individuals do not receive a pension, or any benefits from being in the German military, because they were not part of the Wehrmacht. Pretty sad.
Don't paint a picture of this individual based on this affiliation until you have done your homework.
As a history major graduate, I recognize the harmlessness of this issue, it just is amazing to see how out of proportion this is being blown.
Before calling a spade an orange, make sure you know what a spade is.


By Blogger Relvig, at Monday, August 14, 2006 5:32:00 PM  

Relvig - pretty sad that members of the Waffen-SS don't receive pensions from the German government!! This was a criminal organization - why should the present German government, which is trying to distance itself from the Nazi past, pay those who committed war crimes? I'm not saying that Grass himself did so - we have no information on that point - but that it does not strike me as at all sad that men in such a force do not receive pensions.

Gary - thanks for this blog posting, it was very informative.

By Blogger Rebecca, at Monday, August 14, 2006 6:23:00 PM  

"The Waffen-SS was not all that different than the Wehrmacht"

I, like most historians, take a different view.

The Waffen SS was created as a racist construct by Himmler, intended originally to consist only of exemplar Aryans; although in later days it also had foreign volunteer units, and conscripts, its war crimes and atrocities were innumerable.

Moreover, the Frundsberg division was one of the few "elite" SS divisions.

Incidentally, SS personnel got pensions from the German government. See here, for instance, for the bio of Generalmajor Heinz Harmel, commander of the 10th SS Panzers, including about his pension.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Monday, August 14, 2006 8:54:00 PM  

This is just hysteria, fed by sloppy logic. Somebody here sure is a good hater but not much of a polemicist.

Here's one obvious clanger. "... and was wounded. So the claim to have never fought was also, unsurprisingly, a lie." Twaddle. By what logic does a wound prove that one fought? All that's involved in being wounded is standing some place which a piece of metal wants to travel through. Or being fire bombed. Or any of a number of the other little realities of warfare. Even civilians get wounded. Until we know that G. wasn't, say, a medic, or a cook, or a truck driver, or a radio operator, or a dispatch rider, or a stretcher bearer (it doesn't matter how intense the combat may be - somebody still has to do these jobs), we can conclude nothing from the fact that he was wounded. Squeals that he's lying when he says he "never fought" are premature. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't.

Bloody waste of time. What's gotten into Reynolds, anyway?

By Blogger BigDirigible, at Monday, August 14, 2006 10:00:00 PM  

On NPR yesterday, they were quoting a German critic who says that Grass has long been candid about being fanatically pro-Nazi as a teen. He even rejected accounts of the concentration camps, postwar, as being Allied propaganda.

If that's been public record, then being *drafted* into the Waffen-SS seems relatively small beer. Of course, maybe he's lying about being conscripted? But in late '44, I don't think the Germans were letting many 17-year-old boys sit around at home & listen to the radio.

(I have zero investment in Grass, btw--never read a book of his, etc.)

By Blogger Anderson, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 7:54:00 AM  

Small details are in the eye of the beholder. A few make us blind.

By Blogger The Heretik, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 5:41:00 PM  

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