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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
[...] "The total human experience on the Moon is less than 27 human working days – on a world that is the size of Africa," he says. "So whether the Moon is a stepping stone to Mars or a place of interest in its own right depends on knowledge we don't have yet."
To improve that knowledge, and to test the logistics and human factors of potential Mars missions in the bargain, Griffin proposes an elaborate lunar mission experiment. It would mimic the travel and landing time of a Mars mission by using the International Space Station as a mock Mars spaceship – and the Moon as a surrogate Mars.
"The experiment would consist of placing a crew on the space station for say seven or eight months, then taking them from the station and landing them on the Moon and asking them to survive there for nine months to a year, with no further assistance other than what they have brought," says Griffin.
"After that, return them to the space station for another six or seven months and then back to Earth. All with no extra assistance – because that is what it will be like when we go to Mars," Griffin continued. "Unless we can do that experiment successfully, the first crew to go to Mars will not come back."
Polling this week in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia shows that Barack Obama has gained a net 3 to 5 percentage points in each state compared to the previous Fox News/ Rasmussen Reports poll.
In Pennsylvania, Obama now leads by eight percentage points, 50% to 42%.
In Virginia, it’s Obama 50% and McCain 47%.
The candidates are within a single point of each other in Colorado (Obama 49%, McCain 48%), Florida (Obama 47%, McCain 47%), and Ohio (McCain 48% Obama 47%).
A number of other themes emerge from the data that are worth noting:
· In all states, Obama gained ground among unaffiliated voters. While the sample sizes in each state are small and the shifts often modest, the consistency of the result is worth noting.
· Obama’s favorable ratings are up slightly in all five states.
· Favorables for McCain are up slightly in three states (Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania) and down slightly in two (Ohio, Virginia).
· The number saying that they would not be comfortable with Obama as President fell in all five states. In all five, the number expressing such discomfort is at the lowest level since tracking began on September 7.
There are more numbers at the link. But these are the numbers that matter: not the national polls, which are irrelevant, since the popular vote is just a beauty contest.
You'd think people would have learned that lesson in 2000, but, no, most media and folks in general are still obsessed with meaningless national stats.
[...] STEPHEN COLBERT: There's not more news now than there was when we were kids. There's the same amount from when it was just Cronkite. And the easiest way to fill it is to have someone's opinion on it. Then you have an opposite opinion, and then you have a mishmash of fact and opinion, and you leave it the least informed you can possibly be.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; it's a nice interview of Colbert and Jon Stewart.
Remarkably, some people have criticized my decision to put my country first, but I’ll never be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis. I’ll never do that. I know that many of you have noticed it’s not my style to simply phone it in. I’m a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I believe our leaders belong in the arena — in the arena — when your country faces a challenge. Not on the road in a campaign. I’ve never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people and I’m not going to stop now.
[...] After interrupting his presidential campaign to come back to Washington on Thursday morning to try to push forward a $700 billion bailout deal, Mr. McCain remained in his condominium in Arlington, Va., until 12:30 p.m. Saturday, when he emerged and made a one-minute trip in his motorcade to his campaign headquarters around the corner.
Mr. McCain, who arrived home at 4 a.m. Saturday from the presidential debate in Oxford, Miss, could be seen in his car talking on his cell phone. But there was no word from his campaign on who he was talking to, or the extent of his involvement in ongoing negotiations.
By mid-afternoon, Mr. McCain’s closest adviser, Mark Salter, told reporters that Mr. McCain would not go to Capitol Hill on Saturday but would make phone calls to try to push the deal along. “He’s calling members on both sides, talking to people in the administration, helping out as he can,’’ Mr. Salter said.
Asked why Mr. McCain did not go to Capitol Hill after coming back to Washington to help with negotiations, Mr. Salter replied that “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone.’’
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition – hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked.
Shortly before the vote, McCain had bragged about his involvement and mocked Sen. Barack Obama for staying on the sidelines.
“I've never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people, and I'm not going to stop now,” McCain told a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “Sen. Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced. At first he didn't want to get involved. Then he was monitoring the situation.” McCain, grinning, flashed a sarcastic thumbs up.
“That's not leadership. That's watching from the sidelines,” he added to cheers and applause.
Doug Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior policy adviser, told reporters on a conference call that McCain "dedicated the past week" to addressing the problem but made "a conscious decision not to attract attention to John McCain."
"He's made dozens of calls," Holtz-Eakin said.
"John McCain understood that had he kept a low profile, talked with members of Congress as he did, asked them where they were in their votes, called those members who were reluctant. He was doing his job, and doing it with a low profile [that was] necessary," Holtz-Eakin added.
Holtz-Eakin told MSNBC that Obama was "phoning it in" instead of working hard on a rescue. "Where was Barack Obama for today?" Holtz-Eakin said. "He's phoning it in — phoning it in — one more time."
NAIL THE BASTARDS. Not to be overlooked because of today's small economic kerfuffle, attention must be paid to the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether criminal wrongdoing was committed in the case of the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.
An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.
At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.
The 356-page report, prepared by the department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, provides the fullest picture to date of an episode that opened the Bush administration up to charges of politicizing the justice system. The firings of nine federal prosecutors, and the Congressional hearings they generated, ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last September.
[...] The investigation, which uncovered White House e-mail messages not previously made public, offered a blistering critique of Mr. Gonzales’s management of the department. It called Mr. Gonzales “remarkably unengaged” in overseeing an unprecedented personnel review, and said that he “abdicated” his administrative responsibilities, leaving those duties to his chief of staff. It said that the process for deciding which prosecutors were fired was “fundamentally flawed.”
More troubling, the investigation concluded that, despite the denials of the administration at the time of the controversy, political considerations played a part in the firings of at least four of the nine prosecutors.
The most serious case, the report said, was the firing of David Iglesias, the former United States Attorney for New Mexico, who had tangled with two of his state’s leading Republican lawmakers, Senator Pete Domenici and Representative Heather A. Wilson, over what they saw as his slow response to voter fraud and political corruption accusations against Democrats in New Mexico.
“We concluded,” the inquiry said, “that complaints from New Mexico Republican politicians and party activists to the White House and the Department about Iglesias’s handling of voter fraud and public corruption cases led to his removal.”
But in looking into the Iglesias firing and others, investigators were hampered by the refusal of the White House to turn over internal documents and to make some major figures available for interviews. Investigators interviewed some 90 people, but three administration officials who played a part in crucial phases of the firing plan — Karl Rove, the former political advisor to President Bush; Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel; and Monica M. Goodling, former Justice Department liaison to the White House — all refused to be interviewed.
So, now the second most beautiful words in the English language when it comes to the Bush Administration: Special Prosecutor.
Oh, and who will it be?
[...] The new prosecutor, Ms. Dannehy, has been the acting United States Attorney in Connecticut since April. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she has been a prosecutor for 17 years and specializes in white-collar and public corruption cases. She led the prosecution of Connecticut’s former governor John Rowland, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to accepting $107,000 in gifts.
Let's hope for the best, and keep our eyes on this.
[...] In the case of Mr. Iglesias, for instance, the new evidence demonstrated in even starker terms the intense political pressure from Republicans to have him fired despite the strong evaluations he had received as a United States attorney in New Mexico.
Mr. Iglesias had tangled with his state’s leading Republican officials, including Senator Pete V. Domenici and Representative Heather A. Wilson, over what they asserted was his slow response to accusations of voter fraud and political corruption against Democrats in New Mexico. That pressure, the report concluded, led directly to Mr. Iglesias’s removal.
The administration tried to hide the political reasons behind Mr. Iglesias’s dismissal through public misstatements and “disingenuous after-the-fact rationalizations,” the report found, including the idea that Mr. Iglesias, a captain in the Navy reserves required to serve 36 days a year, was an “absentee landlord.”
The investigation also found that political pressures played a part in at least two other dismissals, despite the denials of the White House.
In Missouri, Todd P. Graves was removed as the United States prosecutor after complaints from the staff of Senator Christopher S. Bond, a Republican, about Mr. Graves’s refusal to intervene in a dispute between Mr. Bond’s staff and Mr. Graves’s brother. And in Arkansas, H. E. Cummins III, the United States attorney, was let go in order to make room for a protégé of Mr. Rove, J. Timothy Griffin.
WHAT ISRAEL SHOULD DO. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, having nothing to lose, speaks the truth:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published on Monday that Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians and that any occupied land it held onto would have to be exchanged for the same quantity of Israeli territory.
He also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.
“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper in the interview to mark the Jewish new year that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night. “The time has come to say these things.”
He said traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.
“With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop,” he said. “All these things are worthless.”
He added, “Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”
Over the last year, Mr. Olmert has publicly castigated himself for his earlier right-wing views and he did so again in this interview. On Jerusalem, for example, he said, “I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city. I admit it. I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.”
He said that maintaining sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem, Israel’s official policy, would involve bringing 270,000 Palestinians inside Israel’s security barrier. It would mean an ongoing risk of terrorist attacks against civilians like those carried out earlier this year by Jerusalem Palestinian residents with a bulldozer and earth mover.
“A decision has to be made,” he said. “This decision is difficult, terrible, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires, our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years.”
The government’s public stand on Jerusalem until now has been to assert that the status of the city was not under discussion. But Mr. Olmert made clear that the eastern, predominantly Arab, sector had to be yielded “with special solutions” for the holy sites.
On peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert said in the interview: “We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves, yes, this is what we have to do. We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
Elsewhere in the interview, when discussing a land swap with the Palestinians, he said the exchange would have to be “more or less one to one.”
Mr. Olmert also addressed the question of Syria, saying that Israel had to be prepared to give up the Golan Heights but that in turn Damascus knew it had to change the nature of its relationship with Iran and its support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia.
On Iran, Mr. Olmert said Israel would act within the international system, adding, “Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself.”
THE CRAZINESS. National Review Cornerite Jay Nordlinger writes:
[...] What’s depressing, to a person like me, is that Obama has mastered the trick of coming off as perfectly moderate — even when your career and thought have been very different. Listening to Obama last night, you would have taken him to be a Sam Nunn, David Boren type. No ACORN, no Ayers, no Wright, no community-organizin’ radicalism, no nothing. He certainly knows what it takes to appeal to people in a general election. Then, once he’s in — if he gets in — he will govern as far to the left as possible.
Of course, what's impossible for these guys to consider is the perfectly true notion that Obama is a moderate, centrist-liberal, politician, and not the Manchurian Candidate Commie Infiltrating Terrorist-Loving Uppity Black Panther Wannabe they've spent so much time assuring each other in their echo chamber that he Must Be. Bill Ayers! Bill Ayers! ACORN! ACORN!
Of course, they're certifiably insane, so no wonder the idea never occurs.
BRIAN M. THOMSEN was undoubtedly the sweetest, most guileless, editor I've ever met; he died on Sunday of a sudden heart attack.
A guy with a big bushy head of hair, nearly an Irish Afro, when I knew him, Brian threw me work from Warner Books in the Eighties, where he was one of the original editors of their fledgling Questar line, and was always fun to hang out with; he was funny, a good editor, always good company, and a mensch.
Harlan Ellison has a brief account from the non-permalinked discussion area of the Ellison Webderland website:
HARLAN ELLISON - Sunday, September 21 2008 15:31:22
VERY BAD NEWS
Just got a phone call from Paul Thomsen, in Kansas.
Brother to the Tor Editor, anthologist, and Sweet Guy
a long-time and very special friend of mine.
An hour and a half ago--New York--Brian went in to take a shower. Donna heard him close the door, and ten minutes later hear the crash. She managed to shove open the door, and Brian was gasping for breath on the floor. He died there, on the bathroom floor, in Donna's arms.
Paul is flying to NYC tonight or tomorrow early. Brian's mother in Kansas is "doing triage" as Paul put it. I won't be around, you'll understand, for a few days. The weight, ohgeezus, the weight.
SFWA.org writes (typos fixed):
Author, editor and anthologist, Brian M. Thomsen passed away on Sunday, September 21 from a sudden heart attack in his Brooklyn home.
Thomsen's career included editing at Warner Books in the 1980s, where he became a close friend of Julius Schwartz. He later headed the book and periodicals program at TSR, and more recently worked as a free lance editor at Tor Books.
Brian edited anthologies and wrote nonfiction, short stories and at least 6 novels. His first novel, Once Around the Realms, was published in 1995.
But he may be best known for co-writing Julius Schwartz autobiography, Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics.
Brian was Guest of Honor at a number of science fiction conventions where he was a popular raconteur.
Viewing will be Wednesday and Thursday at Ralph Aievoli Funeral Home 1275 65th Street, Brooklyn, NY (718-331-2100) from 2PM-4:40PM and 7-9:30PM. A Mass will be conducted at 10AM Friday at Our Lady of Angels Church, 7320 4th Avenue (718 836-7200).
Brian also wrote dozens of short stories, edited a number of anthologies, and had a couple of novels published.
I really wish friends of mine would quit dropping like flies. And how unjust that he should outlive Julie, who died at age 88, by only four years, when Brian wasn't more than a decade older than me, if that.
[...] Last year Drs. Peter J. Freed and J. John Mann, publishing in The American Journal of Psychiatry, reported on the literature of sadness and the brain. In 22 studies, brain scans were performed on nondepressed but sad volunteers. Sadness was mostly induced (subjects were shown sad pictures or films, asked to remember a sad event), although, in a couple of studies, subjects had recently experienced a loss. In the aggregate, sadness appeared to cause altered activity in more than 70 different brain regions. The amygdala and hippocampus both show up on this list, as do the front part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) and the anterior cingulate cortex. A structure called the insula (which means "island") also appears here—it is a small region of cortex beneath the temporal lobes that registers body perceptions and taste.
Empathy is more than being nice. It is the ability to feel what another person feels, and in its most refined form it is the capacity to deeply understand another person's point of view. The brain's empathic powers actually begin with fear detection.
Thus: your Amygdala leads to greater empathy.
You knew that, right?
[...] But empathy depends on more than an ability to mirror actions or sensations. It also requires what some cognitive neuroscientists call mentalizing, or a "theory of mind." Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading researcher in the study of autism, has identified the inability to generate a theory of mind as a central deficit in that illness. He has coined the term "mindblindness" to designate that problem. The corollary, "mindsightedness," requires healthy function in several areas of the brain. The processing and remembering of subtle language cues take place toward the ends of the temporal lobes. At the junction of the temporal and parietal lobes, the brain handles memory for events, moral judgment and biological motion (what we might call body language). And the prefrontal cortex handles many complex reasoning functions involved in feelings of empathy.
Not surprisingly, love also engages a whole lot of brain. Areas that are deeply involved include the insula, anterior cingulate, hippocampus and nucleus accumbens— in other words, parts of the brain that involve body and emotional perception, memory and reward. There is also an increase in neurotransmitter activity along circuits governing attachment and bonding, as well as reward (there's that word again). And there's scientific evidence that love really is blind; romantic love turns down or shuts off activity in the reasoning part of the brain and the amygdala. In the context of passion, the brain's judgment and fear centers are on leave. Love also shuts down the centers necessary to mentalize or sustain a theory of mind. Lovers stop differentiating you from me.
No, no, don't look at it like it's a bad thing: the point is, if you hurt, I hurt. And I want to help.
QUIT LITTERING. We need a Space Beautification Act. Space litter:
Higher than the highest clouds but much closer than the moon, the bulk of the junkyard stretches from the Earth’s surface to 20,000 miles overhead. There are tens of millions of pieces of rubbish there. Some of the pieces are rocks and dust from passing comets, but most of them are manmade and called “orbital debris” (pronounced duh-BREE).
There are some unusual things up there, like a camera that floated away from astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams in December 2006. Other astronauts have lost tools like wrenches and screwdrivers. In 1965 astronaut Ed White even lost a spare glove. Most of the junk, however, comes from large satellites and rockets that fell apart after they stopped working.
Together, all the space junk would weigh about 11 million pounds on Earth, or more than 3,000 cars. The largest piece is a part of a rocket about the size of a minivan. The smallest piece would fit on your pinkie fingernail with room to spare.
In 2007, the space junkyard grew by more than 100,000 pieces.
Here is what one fleck of paint did to to space shuttle Challenger in 1983:
PATRIARCHY BEATS ME UP TOO. That shouldn't be news to those who pay attention, but here's some evidence:
Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today.
It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities. The study raises the provocative possibility that a substantial part of the widely discussed gap in income between men and women who do the same work is really a gap between men with a traditional outlook and everyone else.
The differences found in the study were substantial. Men with traditional attitudes about gender roles earned $11,930 more a year than men with egalitarian views and $14,404 more than women with traditional attitudes. The comparisons were based on men and women working in the same kinds of jobs with the same levels of education and putting in the same number of hours per week.
Although men with a traditional outlook earned the most, women with a traditional outlook earned the least. The wage gap between working men and women with a traditional attitude was more than 10 times as large as the gap between men and women with egalitarian views.
The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, is based on information collected by a federal government survey over a quarter-century.
Averaged over the quarter-century, salaries ranged from $34,725 for working men with traditional attitudes to $20,321 for working women with traditional attitudes. Working men with egalitarian attitudes made $22, 795 on average, while working women with egalitarian attitudes made $21,373.
Livingston and Judge said there are two possible explanations: Traditional-minded men might negotiate much harder for better salaries, especially when compared with traditional-minded women. Alternatively, it could also be that employers discriminate against women and men who do not subscribe to traditional gender roles.
"Some would say, 'Of course traditional men earn more than traditional women -- they are both fulfilling their desires to play different roles in the home and workplace,' " said Judge, emphasizing that the researchers compared working men with working women, not working men with women who stay home. "Our results do not support that view. If you were a traditional-minded woman, would you say, 'I am fine working the same hours as a traditional-minded man in the same industry with the same education but earning substantially less'? I don't think traditional-minded women would say that."
[...] Making pennies has become a costly proposition for the U.S. Treasury. Prices of zinc and copper have spiraled in recent years, and it now costs 1.4 cents to make the 1-cent coin. So far this year, 3.6 billion pennies have been minted -- $36 million worth of change costing $50.4 million to produce.
Why the hell are we throwing away $14 million a year (or $50 million; see below) to make a coin nobody wants?
[...] In this great country, not even the most obscure subject escapes scrutiny, so I am able to report that the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Walgreens drugstore chain have estimated that handling pennies adds 2 to 2.5 seconds per cash transaction. Assume that the average citizen makes one such transaction every day, and so wastes (to be conservative) 730 seconds a year. The median worker earns just over $36,000 a year, or about 0.5 cents per second, so futzing with pennies costs him $3.65 annually.
I WATCHED BILL CLINTON LAST NIGHT on Letterman. Chris Rock had my reaction.
Jeebus. Bill Clinton talked and talked and talked and talked, and until his last two minutes, the words "Barack Obama" almost never crossed his lips, let alone saying one word about why anyone should vote for him, or vote for the Democrat, or support the Democrat. It was all about Bill, and Hillary.
He talked about how he liked John McCain. He found time for that. He talked about how "John McCain, or Barack Obama" should "relish" becoming President. But a preference?
Didn't have one. Not until the last two minutes of his more than half an hour of talking. (Here, at least for now, is a download/Quicktime .mov of his 23 minutes.)
Clinton talked and talked about why we had the financial problem, and all sorts of topics. Speak up for the Democratic nominee for President?
Not until some perfunctory predictions at the very end, that Obama would win.
I keep wanting to get back to liking the Clintons. But every time I think I'm back in, Bill throws me back out. (I have no complaints with Senator Clinton since her concession; it's Bill that I want to punch.)
It was this sort of stuff in the way they more or less ignored pushing for the election or re-election of other Democrats to Congress in 1994, 1996, and 1998, that drove so many of us Democrats wild with rage at the disloyalty and indifference of Bill Clinton towards the Party in general. The Clintons only cared about the Presidency, no matter that it meant they could pass little good legislation at all.
And now, Bill can't bother to talk up Barack Obama. Jeebus.
View The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Check out Chris Rock talking about white people killing moose. Alaska is "like the Road Warrior, with snow."
As in his appearance on the View, Bill Clinton offered the most tepid support possible for Barack Obama's presidential ticket on David Letterman's Late Show last night. After repeatedly invoking his vanquished wife Hillary, Clinton said the typical American voter will recall John McCain's heroic torture in a Vietnamese prison camp before deciding to "go the other way" and vote for... whoever that other candidate for president might be.
JED BARTLET SPEAKS. Aaron Sorkin writes (if the columnist is to be believed):
BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.
OBAMA Mr. President.
BARTLET You seem startled.
OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.
BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.
OBAMA Yes, sir.
BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.
OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?
BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —
OBAMA I have two.
BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.
OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.
BARTLET Is that what you came here for?
OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.
BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?
OBAMA Sir —
BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?
OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?
BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.
OBAMA What would you do?
BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!
OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?
BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?
OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.
BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.
OBAMA What’s the second step?
BARTLET I don’t care.
BARTLET “Break’s over.”
Works for me.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. We so have to win this election. Do something!
[...] Under a so-called claw-back provision, the secretary would have the power to force companies to recoup previous payments to executives of companies involved in the program. And Mr. Frank’s plan would give broad authority for the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, to audit and oversee the program.
But Mr. Paulson said that he was concerned that imposing limits on the compensation of executives could discourage companies from participating in the program.
[...] Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has declined by more than $2,000, more than 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance, over 4 million have lost their pensions, foreclosures are at an all time high, total consumer debt has more than doubled, and we have a national debt of over $9.7 trillion dollars.
While the middle class collapses, the richest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more money than the bottom 50 percent of Americans, and the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The wealthiest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion while Bush has been president.
Sanders has some remedies. Meanwhile, we have socialism for the rich. We have the whole package: nationalization of assets, and support for those "in need."
[...] Whether you call it a reorganization under bankruptcy or just a hellova fire sale, the process should resemble chapter 11 under bankruptcy. Any big financial institution that wants to clear its books can opt in. But the price for opting in is this: Investors in these institutions lose the value of their equity. Executives lose the value of their options, and their pay (and the pay of their directors) is sharply limited. All the money from the fire sale goes to making creditors as whole as possible.
Meanwhile, policymakers work on a new set of regulations to ensure transparency on Wall Street -- governing disclosures, minimum capital requirements, avoidance of conflicts of interest, and better ensurance against stock manipulation -- so that, once the bad debts are off the books, the new numbers can be trusted.
I repeat: This isn't a crisis of solvency or liquidity; it's a crisis of trust.
Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks - many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.
The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 - about 2.5 percentage points.
But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.
More than a third of all white Democrats and independents - voters Obama can't win the White House without - agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.
Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.
Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.
The AP-Yahoo poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.
Other techniques used in the poll included recording people's responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks' troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.
"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.
Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.
Among white Democrats, one-third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.
The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."
Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.
Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."
Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."
The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.
Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people's votes - including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers.
Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.
Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries - particularly whites with high school education or less - were motivated in part by racial attitudes.
The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
I'd like to say something wise about all this, but it makes me too mad.
New legislation would require the Attorney General to report to Congress whenever the Department of Justice issues a legal opinion indicating that the executive branch is not bound by an existing legal statute.
The bill, introduced September 16 in the Senate by Senators Russ Feingold and Dianne Feinstein, responds to the Bush Administration’s use of secret opinions from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to circumvent binding legal restrictions on domestic surveillance, torture and other practices.
Soon ordinary Janes and Joes can drop bombs on people!
[...] Last April, Gates complained that while running the CIA in 1992 he discovered "the Air Force would not co-fund with CIA a vehicle without a pilot." That stubborn thinking, he suggested, makes no sense as drones have flooded the skies over Afghanistan and Iraq and stretched the Air Force's pilot ranks. The press of war requires "rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not," Gates said.
Schwartz, significantly, is the first non-fighter pilot to head the Air Force in a generation (he is a pilot, but primarily of special-operations aircraft). To meet the soaring demand for drone operators, he says fledgling pilots will be used. But the service soon will "develop an unmanned aircraft systems operator career field with specialized training potentially distinct from current manned pilot training," he said. That will come as a relief to many young pilots who have feared having their flying careers crimped by being ordered to fly drones from Nevada's Creech Air Force Base. Schwartz said he wanted the separate training pipeline so that drone operators are not viewed as "a leper colony" by their colleagues still flying manned aircraft.
The demand for drone drivers is so great, Schwartz noted, that even retired officers may be recalled to fill the ranks. Some also argue that the Air Force ought to end the practice of regarding only officers, retired or otherwise, as eligible to operate drones. They point out that enlisted Army personnel fly that service's unmanned aircraft, and that enlisted airmen are known to spend a lot of time playing video games — a key skill in this line of work. "It does not take a commissioned officer with a university and leadership background, and years of training flying fighters and such, to fly something like a flight simulator," Air Force Cadet Michael Warzinski said in a message on an official Air Force website reacting to Schwartz's initiative. To which General Schwartz, who is said to be open to the idea, might say: one radical step at a time, Cadet.
Down the road, it's not hard to see that the logic tends to suggest that having a separate Air Force from the rest of the armed forces will make little sense. A separate Space Force, or ballistic missile force, maybe, but if you're doing close ground support from the ground, or just low-speed ground attack, why not let the Army and Marines do it themselves?
WOOT. Oh, excellent: I just got an additional $284.00 bill for the physician's fee from this same ER visit, to add to the $1,012.00, for a grand total of $1296.00. Woohoo.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.
Also, by the way, my free therapy for depression only lasts for 9 months at most. Technically, actually, it's only for 6 weeks, but I'm told there shouldn't, knock wood, be a problem about renewing it for nine months, six weeks at a time. Knock wood, again. But then it's all over.
WOODWARD'S SECRET THAT COULDN'T BE REVEALED. Remember how Bob Woodward was on about the goshwow new anti-terrorist techniques being used in Iraq?
Stuff like this?
[...] But the full story was more complicated. At least three other factors were as important as, or even more important than, the surge. These factors either have not been reported publicly or have received less attention than the influx of troops.
Beginning in the late spring of 2007, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies launched a series of top-secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. The operations incorporated some of the most highly classified techniques and information in the U.S. government.
Senior military officers and officials at the White House urged against publishing details or code names associated with the groundbreaking programs, arguing that publication of the names alone might harm the operations that have been so beneficial in Iraq. As a result, specific operational details have been omitted in this report and in "The War Within."
But a number of authoritative sources say the covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. Several said that 85 to 90 percent of the successful operations and "actionable intelligence" had come from the new sources, methods and operations. Several others said that figure was exaggerated but acknowledged their significance.
As part of an escalating offensive against extremist targets in Pakistan, the United States is deploying Predator aircraft equipped with sophisticated new surveillance systems that were instrumental in crippling the insurgency in Iraq, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.
In an indication of the priority being given to the Pakistan campaign, U.S. officials said the specially equipped aircraft were being pulled from other theaters to augment aerial patrols above the tribal belt along Afghanistan's eastern border.
American officials requested that details of the new technology not be disclosed out of concern that doing so might enable militants to evade U.S. detection. But officials said the previously unacknowledged devices have become a powerful part of the American arsenal, allowing the tracking of human targets even when they are inside buildings or otherwise hidden from Predator surveillance cameras.
Equally important, officials said, the systems have significantly speeded up decisions on when to strike. The technology gives remote pilots a means beyond images from the Predator's lens of confirming a target's identity and precise location.
A military official familiar with the systems said they had a profound effect, both militarily and psychologically, on the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq.
"It is like they are living with a red dot on their head," said a former U.S. military official familiar with the technology who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because it has been secret. "With the quietness of the Predator, you never knew when a Hellfire [missile] would come through your window."
The new Predator capabilities are a key ingredient in an emerging U.S. military offensive against Taliban strongholds and Al Qaeda havens in Pakistan.
The new surveillance technology being deployed on the Predators was developed as part of a special project within the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.
The CIA has been responsible for Predator flights over Pakistan but is now being pressured to cede some authority to the U.S. military. The agency declined to discuss details of the program.
The new system now being deployed was first used on aircraft in Afghanistan, then was installed on Predators in Iraq starting about a year ago. Officials said introduction of the devices coincided with the 2007 U.S. troop buildup in Iraq, and was an important, but hitherto unknown, factor in the subsequent drop in violence in that country.
The technology allows suspects to be identified quickly. "All I have to do is point the sensor at him," said a military officer familiar with the system, "and a missile can be off the rail in seconds."
The devices are roughly the size of an automobile battery, but are heavy enough that outfitted Predators in some cases carry only one Hellfire missile instead of two. At times, the systems also have been in short supply, requiring that crews move the devices from one Predator to another as they land and take off.
The unique capabilities have prompted competition among U.S. forces for access to specially equipped Predators, military officials said. The fleet being assembled for use in Pakistan has been assigned to the CIA and U.S. Special Operations Command, meaning fewer of the aircraft are available for conventional forces.
So: there you go.
William Saleton links to a bunch more on SSTW (Sense Through The Wall technology.) ("Validation of Xpatch Computer Models for Human Body Radar Signature").
I figure it'll be deployed by 2010 by Homeland Security in the U.S., if McCain is elected, and no less than a few months after that before it's allowed for use by local police departments against Alarming Domestic Terrorist Protest Threats, like, say, college kids planning to march somewhere.
THE LIVING ROOM CANDIDATE. Presidential tv commercials, 1952-2008, the full video; all of them. A political junkie's dream playhouse.
Ike-Bob works for me, but notably didn't work to elect Adlai.
I had no idea that Adlai brought the dove of peace and joy, though. If only my heart could have been a ballot that bears his name, because he's a guv nobody can shove.
Boy, the "Eisenhower Answers America" ads are lame, though; no one but Ike could have carried them off. "It's time for a change" is a slogan that could still work, however. And I love "Confessions of a Republican," an LBJ ad from 1964. Check it out as the Republican slowly goes completely mental. I totally want to see that ad remade against McCain.
And Nixon's ads in 1968 were as effective as I recall.
RALEIGH, N.C. - All of a sudden, North Carolina matters.
Now, just seven weeks before the election, North Carolina has become a general-election battleground, one of 13 states where both candidates are competing with television commercials and campaign staff on the ground.
Public polling shows a competitive race, though private surveys for both Republicans and Democrats give McCain an edge of anywhere from 3 to 8 percentage points.
The state has seen steady growth over the past four years as transplants from the more liberal Northeast were drawn to the region for jobs.
White-collar workers have poured into Charlotte's financial hub in the south, while recent college graduates and their young families have been drawn to plentiful jobs and quality education in the academic Research Triangle encompassing Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Retirees concerned about health care and the environment have settled on both sides of the state, from the eastern coastline to the western mountains.
Voter registration rolls illustrate the shifting tide.
State Board of Elections records show that Democratic registrations have risen 7 percent since the start of 2008, while Republican registrations grew about 1 percent. There are now about 40 percent more Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, although members of both state parties tend to be more conservative than their national counterparts. Registrations among blacks, a pivotal part of the Democratic base, are up almost 10 percent while white registrations are up 4 percent.
The number of registrations for voters who don't claim a political party jumped 11 percent this year.
Democrats control the North Carolina governor's office and have solid majorities in both legislative chambers.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's army spokesman says its forces have orders to open fire on U.S. troops if they launch another raid across the Afghan border.
Pakistani officials issued sharp protests to Washington after helicopters ferried U.S. commandos into Pakistan's South Waziristan region on Sept. 3 for a highly unusual ground attack into a militant stronghold.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press that, after the raid, the military told its field commanders to prevent any similar raids.
Abbas said that if it was clear that troops had crossed the ill-defined border into Pakistani territory, either on the ground or in the air, that troops should "open fire."
[...] General Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, told the Associated Press that after a cross-border assault in the south Waziristan region earlier this month, the military told its field commanders to take action to prevent any similar raids.
"The orders are clear," Abbas said in an interview. "In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: open fire."
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — A suspected U.S. missile strike killed at least six people Wednesday, hours after the top U.S. military officer told Pakistani leaders that America respected Pakistan's sovereignty amid a furor over American strikes into Pakistan's northwest.
President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.
The U.S. Department of Defense is denying Pakistani tribal leaders' allegations that Pakistani soldiers forced U.S. military helicopters to turn back to Afghanistan after the aircraft allegedly crossed into Pakistani territory.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman Monday said he investigated the alleged incident and found it "did not happen."
[...] The woman touted by John McCain as the most knowledgeable person in America on energy issues has been having a lot of trouble getting her basic energy statistics straight. Last week, Sarah Palin told Charles Gibson of ABC News that her state, Alaska, produced "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." On Monday, she told a campaign rally in Golden, Colo., that she had been responsible for overseeing "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Both claims are way off.
While Alaska is a leading producer of crude oil, it produces relatively little natural gas, hardly any coal and no nuclear power. Its share of oil production has been declining sharply, and the state now ranks lower than Texas and Louisiana. Alaska is the ninth-largest energy supplier in the United States, accounting for a modest 3.5 percent share of the nation's total energy production.
After nonpartisan Factcheck.org pointed out Palin's error in her interview with Gibson, the governor revised her statement somewhat, limiting it to oil and gas. But data compiled by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) contradict her claim that she oversees "nearly 20 percent" of oil and gas production in the country. According to authoritative EIA data, Alaska accounted for 7.4 percent of total U.S. oil and gas production in 2005.
It is not even correct for Palin to claim that her state is responsible for "nearly 20 percent" of U.S. oil production. Oil production has fallen sharply in Alaska during her governorship. The state's share of total U.S. oil production fell from 18 percent in 2005 to 13 percent this year, according to the EIA.
The McCain-Palin campaign did not respond to a request for an explanation.
Jewish voters have been receiving telephone calls from figures claiming to be pollsters yet trying to dissuade them from supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the upcoming election.
The callers introduce themselves as poll-takers who are gathering data for a public opinion survey and subsequently ask their interlocutors loaded questions whose tone infers that Obama holds anti-Israel views and is thus unworthy of Jewish votes.
The calls, which have been reported of late in Florida and Pennsylvania, were brought to public attention by the Jewish Council for Education, a pro-Obama organization that has worked to drum up support for the Illinois senator among prospective Jewish voters.
Callers posed questions asking if voters would reconsider their preferred candidate had they learned that "Obama had given money to the Palestine Liberation Organization", or that "the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and hoped for Obama's victory," or that Obama's political advisors are "pro-Palestinian," or that Obama once said "the Palestinians have suffered the most."
The "pollsters" also asked what would-be Jewish voters thought if they were told that the president of Iran also "endorsed Obama," or if they learned that Obama "supported a united Jerusalem and then switched his opinion and believed in a divided Jerusalem," or Jimmy Carter's "anti-Israel national security advisor is one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors."
Officials from the Jewish Council for Education are scheduled to convene a news conference in New York on Tuesday during which they are expected to reveal new information that sheds light on the mysterious campaign intended to smear Obama under the guise of a public survey.
[...] Charlie Condon, a former South Carolina attorney general who supported Mr. Bush in 2000 and is now co-chairman of Mr. McCain’s South Carolina committee, said the downward spiral the contest took was not surprising.
“Our primaries have a way of doing that,” Mr. Condon said. “There is a tradition of it, it is accepted behavior, and frankly it works.”
He added, “There are no regrets about 2000. To this day I don’t have one. If someone did those things, shame on them. But I did see that there was a need for bringing up issues.”
A Republican group is taking responsibility for a poll that has roiled the Jewish community by asking sharply negative questions about Senator Barack Obama.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, which is launching a campaign against Obama on behalf of Senator John McCain, sponsored the poll to "understand why Barack Obama continues to have a problem among Jewish voters," the group's executive director, Matt Brooks, told Politico.
Brooks, however, denied that the poll was meant to influence Jewish voters, and said it was a traditional poll meant to gauge the opinions of Jewish voters.
Comic writer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Justice Society of America) has been brought on to write the saga of the DC Universe Online massively multiplayer action game, from Sony Online Entertainment, in a first-ever collaboration with legendary comic artist Jim Lee, the company announced.
Okay, I’ll admit it: work on my new novel, Finch, is going well because every morning my long-suffering yet often amused wife Ann hides the router box and my cellphone. I get up around 7 a.m., I have my breakfast and watch something innocuous like BBC News or Frasier for about half an hour, and then get down to work. Around noon I take a break to get some lunch, then go back to it, usually at that point editing or organizing notes. Around 2:30 I call Ann on our landline and she tells me where the router box and the cellphone are (it has Internet access on it) so I can finish up the afternoon with necessary emails and other work, before going to the gym.
THE ADDINGTON YEARS. That's how these events may be remembered by some. Barton Gellman reports:
A burst of ferocity stunned the room into silence. No other word for it: The vice president's attorney was shouting.
"The president doesn't want this!  You are not going to see the opinions. You are out . . . of . . . your . . . lane!"
Five government lawyers had gathered around a small conference table in the Justice Department command center. Four were expected. David S. Addington, counsel to Vice President Cheney, got wind of the meeting and invited himself.
On this second Monday in December 2003, Addington's targets were a pair of would-be auditors from the National Security Agency. He had displeasure to spare for their Justice Department hosts.
Perfect example, right here. A couple of NSA bureaucrats breeze in and ask for the most sensitive documents in the building. And Justice wants to tell them, Help yourselves? This was going to be a very short meeting.
Joel Brenner and Vito Potenza, the two men wilting under Addington's wrath, had driven 26 miles from Fort Meade, the NSA's eavesdropping headquarters in Maryland. They were conducting a review of their agency's two-year-old special surveillance operation. They already knew the really secret stuff : The NSA and other services had been unleashed to turn their machinery inward, collecting signals intelligence inside the United States. What the two men didn't know was why the Bush administration believed the program was legal.
"This is none of your business!" Addington exploded.
The NSA lawyers returned to their car empty-handed.
It is unlikely that the history of U.S. intelligence includes another operation conceived and supervised by the office of the vice president. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had "no idea," he said, that the presidential orders were held in a vice presidential safe. An authoritative source said the staff secretariat, which kept a comprehensive inventory of presidential papers, classified and unclassified, possessed no record of these.
Addington's behavior with the NSA auditors was "a wake-up call for me," Goldsmith said. Cheney and Addington, he came to believe, were gaming the system, using secrecy and intimidation to prevent potential dissenters from conducting an independent review.
"They were geniuses at this," Goldsmith said. "They could divide up all these problems in the bureaucracy, ask different people to decide things in their lanes, control the facts they gave them, and then put the answers together to get the result they want."
After a few weeks, Goldsmith said, he decided the program "was the biggest legal mess I'd seen in my life."
"The attorney general and I think the deputy attorney general should be read in," Goldsmith said.
Addington replied first.
"Forget it," he said.
In late January, Goldsmith and Addington cut a deal. Comey would get his read-in. Goldsmith would get off the fence about the program, giving his definitive answer by the March 11 deadline.
"You're the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and if you say we cannot do this thing legally, we'll shut it off," Addington told him .
Feel free to tell the president that his most important intelligence operation has to stop.
Your call, Jack.
"I'm so glad you're getting read in, because now I won't be alone at the table when John Kerry is elected president," the NSA director said .
The witness table, Hayden meant. Congressional hearing, investigation of some kind. Nothing good. Kerry had the Democratic nomination just about locked up and was leading Bush in national polls. Hardly anyone in the intelligence field believed the next administration would climb as far out on a legal limb as this one had.
"Hayden was all dog-and-pony, and this is probably what happened to those poor folks in Congress, too," Comey told his chief of staff after the briefing. "You think for a second, 'Wow, that's great,' and then if you try actually to explain it back to yourself, you don't get it. You scratch your head afterward and you think, 'What the hell did that guy just tell me?'"
If you've missed all of this up to now, here is the key point:
[...] That was one reason Hayden hated when reporters referred to "domestic surveillance." He made his point with a folksy analogy: He had taken "literally hundreds of domestic flights," he said, and never "landed in Waziristan." That sounded good. But the surveillance statutes said a warrant was required if either end of the conversation was in U.S. territory. The American side of the program -- the domestic surveillance -- was its distinguishing feature.
By the end of February, Goldsmith and Philbin had reached their conclusion: Parts of the surveillance operation had no support in law.
[...] "I will accept for purposes of discussion that it is as valuable as you say it is," Comey said. "That only makes this more painful. It doesn't change the analysis. If I can't find a lawful basis for something, your telling me you really, really need to do it doesn't help me."
"Others see it differently," Cheney said.
There was only one of those, really. John Yoo had been out of the picture for nearly a year. It was all Addington.
"The analysis is flawed, in fact facially flawed," Comey said. "No lawyer reading that could reasonably rely on it."
Gonzales said nothing. Addington stood by the window, over Cheney's shoulder. He had heard a bellyful.
"Well, I'm a lawyer and I did," Addington said, glaring at Comey.
"No good lawyer," Comey said
How secret was The Program?
[...] Comey found Frances Fragos Townsend, an old friend, waiting just outside the Oval Office, standing by the appointment secretary's desk. She was Bush's deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. Comey had known her since their days as New York mob prosecutors in the 1980s. Since then, Townsend had run the Justice Department's intelligence office. She lived and breathed surveillance law.
Comey took a chance. He pulled her back out to the hallway between the Roosevelt Room and the Cabinet Room.
"If I say a word, would you tell me whether you recognize it?" he asked quietly.
He did. She didn't. The program's classified code name left her blank.
[...] Because Bush did not walk off the cliff, and because so much of the story was suppressed, an extraordinary moment in presidential history passed unrecognized.
"I mean, it would be damn near unprecedented for the top echelon of your Justice Department to resign over a position you've taken," Bartlett said.
There might be one precedent, he allowed. He did not want to spell it out.
"Not a good one," he said.
During the Watergate scandal, the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned, refusing to carry out Richard Nixon's order to fire the special prosecutor. Nixon lost his top two Justice officials, and that was called the Saturday Night Massacre.
Bush had come within minutes of losing his FBI director and at least the top five layers at Justice. What would they call that? Suicide, maybe?