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

WWW Amygdala

Our Mysterious Name.



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


Blog advertising supports bloggers!

I currently blog politically/policywise at Obsidian Wings.

Follow GaryFarberKnows on Twitter

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

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

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

Site Feed

Feedburner RSS Feed

LiveJournal Feed

Gary Farber

Create Your Badge

Above email address currently deprecated!

Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz!

Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!

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

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

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

I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.

I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.

If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it -- you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.

In return: free blog! Thank you muchly muchly.

Only you can help!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much for your kind generosity.

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

Variant Button!
Subscription options|Start Petition

"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

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

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

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

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

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

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

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

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

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181

Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9

Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6

Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7

This page best viewed by you.

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

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

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

People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Monday, August 31, 2009
I'd say that of any Wes Anderson film.

But from the book by Roald Dahl?

Meryl Streep ... Mrs. Fox (voice)

George Clooney ... Mr. Fox (voice)

Bill Murray ... Badger (voice)

Owen Wilson ... Coach Skip (voice)

Willem Dafoe ... Rat (voice)

Jason Schwartzman ... Ash (voice)

Michael Gambon ... Franklin Bean

Adrien Brody ... Rickity

Wes Anderson ... Weasel (voice)

Brian Cox ... Boggis

Anjelica Huston

And, of course:
Wallace Wolodarsky ... Kylie
Must. See.

View The The Trailer Scale: 4 out of 5.

8/31/2009 06:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 28, 2009
MAXIMIZE THESE, I'm saying to myself about this. (Yes, Wikipedia is often unreliable, but it's also often highly useful.)

I've actually been more or less trying to follow these guidelines since forever, without knowing about Grice, but it's fascinating to see them formalized and with an academic theory behind them.
(Grice, Paul (1975). "Logic and conversation". In Syntax and Semantics, 3: Speech Acts, ed. P. Cole & J. Morgan. New York: Academic Press. Reprinted in Studies in the Way of Words, ed. H. P. Grice, pp. 22–40. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1989))
And many other papers and writings, besides, those examples.
Grice's Maxims

Maxim of Quality

Be Truthful

* Only say what you believe to be true.
* Only say what you have evidence for.

A: Should I buy my son this new sports car?
B: I don't know if that's such a good idea. His record isn't so great.
B: Oh, absolutely. He's only totaled two cars since he got his license last year.

Maxim of Quantity

Quantity of Information

* Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange.
* Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

A: Where is the post office?
B: Down the road, about 50 metres past the second left.
B: Not far.

Maxim of Relevance


* Make your contribution relevant to the interaction.
* Indicate any way that it is not.

A: How are you doing in school?
B: Not too well, actually. I'm failing two of my classes.
B: What fine weather we're having lately!

Maxim of Manner

Be Clear

* Avoid unnecessary prolixity
* Avoid ambiguity.
* Be brief.
* Be orderly.

A: What did you think of that movie?
B: I liked the creative storyline. The ending was really a surprise!
B: It was interesting.
If more people paid more attention to making sure they agreed on the meanings of terms and usages they're using with each other, and assumed good faith, we'd have a lot less Stoopid Internet (and oral) arguments.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. How utterly little I know of formal linguistics and social science!

Geoffry Leech's Politeness Maxims are also very good.
[...] The tact maxim states: 'Minimize the expression of beliefs which imply cost to other; maximize the expression of beliefs which imply benefit to other.'


Leech's Generosity maxim states: 'Minimize the expression of benefit to self; maximize the expression of cost to self.'


The Approbation maxim states: 'Minimize the expression of beliefs which express dispraise of other; maximize the expression of beliefs which express approval of other.'


The Modesty maxim states: 'Minimize the expression of praise of self; maximize the expression of dispraise of self.'


The Agreement maxim runs as follows: 'Minimize the expression of disagreement between self and other; maximize the expression of agreement between self and other.'


The sympathy maxim states: 'minimize antipathy between self and other; maximize sympathy between self and other.'
RTRS: 4 out of 5 for more explanation, elaboration, examples, and links.

8/28/2009 08:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
WATCHING THE SKIES. On February 17th, 2007, this blog passed one million Page Views since I installed Site Meter, some months after I started blogging the last week of December, 2001.

This morning, the total number of PAGE VIEWS is:

Total 1,368,787

And this morning, sometime in the past hour or so, the total number of Unique Visitors passed: VISITS

Total 1,000,029

Thanks, everyone!

It's about time! Now will you put me on your blogroll, pretty please?

8/26/2009 07:06:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
CALLEY: WRONG, BUT RIGHT. Yesterday, William Calley, the only person ever held responsible for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, a massacre of over 300 unarmed women, children, and old men on n March 16, 1968, apologized, making his first public statement in forty years.
Under the headline “An Emotional William Calley Says He Is Sorry,” Dick McMichael, a former television news anchor in Columbus, Ga., broke the news last Wednesday on his blog:
“There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” William Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus today. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”
[...] The former lieutenant served just three years, largely under house arrest, after his original life sentence was reduced by the Army.

Just before Mr. Calley was released in 1974, Linda Greenhouse reported in The New York Times that three months in a prison barracks had been “his only prolonged incarceration.” As Ms. Greenhouse wrote, powerful supporters intervened as soon as he was sentenced in 1971:
Three days after the conviction President Nixon ordered him released form the stockade at Fort Benning, Ga., and placed under house arrest in a comfortable two-bedroom apartment. There he received frequent visits from a staff of secretaries and a steady female companion.
[...] A few months later, The Times noted: “A Harvard survey of public attitudes toward First Lieut. William L. Calley Jr. has found that two-thirds of those questioned said that most people would shoot unarmed civilians if ordered to do so.”


Mr. McMichael wrote:
I asked him for his reaction to the notion that a soldier does not have to obey an unlawful order. In fact, to obey an unlawful order is to be unlawful yourself. He said, “I believe that is true. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd Lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.” He said that was no excuse, just what happened.
He's right.

Here's where the story goes all "he said, she said" and goes wrong in so doing, by stenographically presenting The Other Side, as modern reporting so mindlessly almost always does:
William G. Eckhardt, the chief prosecutor in the My Lai cases, who is now a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told The Lede on Monday, “I think we ought to be clear that his statement is incredibly self-serving.” Mr. Eckhardt said that “the best polygraphic evidence I had” indicated that Captain Ernest Medina, who was Mr. Calley’s commanding officer, did not issue an order for the platoon to execute civilians during the operation in My Lai.
That's probably technically true. It's extremely unlikely Captain Medina explicitly gave an order that said "go into this village, and mercilessly slaughter everyone in sight," or any explicit order anything like that.

You know, Captain Medina only did this:
[...] In an essay on the case published in 2000, Mr. Eckhardt wrote that Captain Medina, who was also charged with murder but ultimately acquitted, had “ordered his men to destroy all crops, to kill all livestock, to burn all houses, and to pollute the water wells of the village” but noted that there was “an important disagreement concerning his reported orders to kill non-combatants. Significantly, he gave no instructions for their segregation and safeguarding.”
But that was enough to get Medina acquitted.

What the stenographic New York Times fails to report is this. Just, please, go read the whole post.

The summary point: our country committed innumerable war crimes in Vietnam during that war. And very little made it into the mass media of the times, or until recently, much beyond the relatively obscure historical record.

(And, incidentally, that fact was enough to a difference in who was elected president in 2004. Because not enough people knew enough about what really happened, and falsely believed, instead, that John Kerry was a liar who hated and smeared his own country, as well as all the U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam.)

As the Sunday New York Times Book Review (a separate publication from the newspaper) described last year!
Villagers, acting as human minesweepers, walked ahead of troops in dangerous areas to keep Americans from being blown up. Prisoners were subjected to a variation on waterboarding and jolted with electricity. Teenage boys fishing on a lake, as well as children tending flocks of ducks, were killed. “There are hundreds of such reports in the war-crime archive, each one dutifully recorded, sometimes with no more than a passing sentence or two, as if the killing were as routine as the activity it interrupted,” Deborah Nelson writes in “The War Behind Me.”

The archive, housed at the University of Michigan, holds documents from Col. Henry Tufts, former chief of the Army’s investigative unit, that reveal widespread killing and abuse by American troops in Vietnam. Most of these actions are not known to the public, even though the military investigated them. The crimes are similar to those committed at My Lai in 1968. Yet, as Nelson contends, most Ameri­cans still think the violence was the work of “a few rogue units,” when in fact “every major division that served in Vietnam was represented.” Precisely how many soldiers were involved, and to what extent, is not known, but she shows that the abuse was far more common than is generally believed. Her book helps explain how this misunderstanding came about.


“Get the Army off the front page,” President Richard Nixon reportedly said. Investigations were a good way to do that. A cover-up attracts attention; a crime that is being looked into does not. The military investigations, Nelson argues, were designed not to hold rapists and murderers accountable, but to deflect publicity. When reporters heard about a war crime, they’d call the Army to see if it would provide information. If they suspected a cover-up, they’d pursue the story. If a military spokesman said an investigation was under way, the story was usually dropped.
Please go read the rest.

What's the connection to today? Twofold.

1) John Yoo's torture memos argued that:
[...] After reciting various authorities to this effect, the memo then twists that legal formulation and concludes that "In sum, the defense of superior orders will generally be available for U.S. Armed Forces personnel engaged in exceptional interrogiations except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."
During the Vietnam War, at least the pro forma legalities that mass murder and torture were, you know, illegal, and wrong were maintained, no matter that very few were ever prosecuted, and serious investigations were buried:
[...] For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians - in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public.

They dropped grenades into underground bunkers where women and children were hiding - creating mass graves - and shot unarmed civilians, in some cases as they begged for their lives.

They frequently tortured and shot prisoners, severing ears and scalps for souvenirs.

A review of thousands of classified Army documents, National Archives records, and radio logs reveals a fighting unit that carried out the longest series of atrocities in the Vietnam War - and commanders who looked the other way.

For 41/2 years, the Army investigated the platoon, finding numerous eyewitnesses and substantiating war crimes. But in the end, no one was prosecuted, the case buried in the archives for three decades.


# Commanders knew about the platoon's atrocities in 1967, and in some cases, encouraged the soldiers to continue the violence.

# Two soldiers who tried to stop the atrocities were warned by their commanders to remain quiet before transferring to other units.

# The Army investigated 30 war-crime allegations against Tiger Force between February, 1971, and June, 1975, finding a total of 18 soldiers committed crimes, including murder and assault. But no one was ever charged.

# Six platoon soldiers suspected of war crimes - including an officer - were allowed to resign during the investigation, escaping military prosecution.

# The findings of the investigation were sent to the offices of the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense, records show, but no action was taken.

# Top White House officials, including John Dean, former chief counsel to President Richard Nixon, repeatedly were sent reports on the progress of the investigation.

To this day, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command refuses to release thousands of records that could explain what happened and why the case was dropped. Army spokesman Joe Burlas said last week it may have been difficult to press charges, but he couldn't explain flaws in the investigation.

The Army interviewed 137 witnesses and tracked down former Tiger Force members in more than 60 cities around the world.

But for the past three decades, the case has not even been a footnote in the annals of one of the nation's most divisive wars.
But the Bush Administration tried to, and succeeded, at least for a time, a time we are still living through, at making torture legal, and authorized.

2) Iraq and to some degree, Afghanistan, of course.

What happened in Abu Ghraib was -- similarly to My Lai -- followed up by blaming only a "handful of bad apples" and prosecutions were made only of them.

In both Vietnam, and Iraq, policies that led, respectively, to indiscriminate slaughter, and to mass abuse of prisoners (at least), were enacted at high levels. And nobody high in the chain of command in Vietnam was ever held responsible, and so far, no one as regards prisoner abuse (or worse?) in Iraq has ever been held responsible.

(And somehow I never blogged this absolutely must-read account of an interrogator in Iraq, of Marc Garlasco, and CPT Ian Fishback.)

William G. Eckhardt, the chief prosecutor in the My Lai cases, holds today that William Calley, the lowly lieutenant, who agrees that "In fact, to obey an unlawful order is to be unlawful yourself," is "incredibly self-serving" by implying, and more or less directly claiming, he wasn't the only one guilty.

Calley is wrong to have waited forty years to have spoken up. Forty years worth of wrong.

But in the end, what he says is right, and William G. Eckhardt, the speaker for the law, the man who represented our law, the law of the United States of America, is wrong.

And that's the connection to today in America, ladies and gentleman.

We live in a country that's still refusing to officially investigate the comitting of "legal" torture, and still refusing to dare look at "higher ups" for the torture they're responsible for, let alone whether they were responsible for war crimes such as Abu Ghraib, and mass killings of prisoners in Afghanistan.

So far, all we have is that yesterday, this occurred:
Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. today opened a preliminary investigation into whether some CIA operatives broke the law in their coercive interrogations of suspected terrorists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- prompting sharp criticism from both the right and the left.

Holder said that he decided to establish what he called a "preliminary review" after he conducted a thorough examination of past reviews of the interrogations, including an internal CIA investigation completed in 2004 by the agency's inspector general and separate reviews by Justice Department internal affairs watchdogs and line prosecutors.

"As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," Holder said in a statement. "The department regularly uses preliminary reviews to gather information to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a full investigation of a matter. I want to emphasize that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow."
Will those responsible for making torture "legal" ever be brought to justice? Or even held to public, official, account, through any sort of official investigation, truth commission, or accounting?

The very best we can say today is: "answer cloudy, ask again later."

We can but hope there is, ultimately, some justice for the victims of American injustice of the past decade.

So far, this sort of hope is not the change we needed.

It's not enough. Not nearly enough.

And that's the lesson we can learn from having to wait forty years for someone to even admit that they were wrong.

A mere lieutenant.

Who is still being held to be the scapegoat he was then, and remains.

Will we have to wait another forty years, and still see no justice for those truly responsible for America's war crimes?

Maybe you can, to quote another past presidential campaign, keep hope alive.

It's still all we've got.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

I'd really be pleased if people would read this full post about Vietnam War crimes, let alone if they could find time to read the linked Toledo Blade Pulitzer Prize winning set of stories on Tiger Force.

And I'd be equally pleased if people read John H. Richardson's Esquire story from August 2006 on interrogation in Iraq. These are things you need to know about.

The original blogger at "Dick's World" has a bunch more posts, by the way, including Why William Calley Chose to Speak at the Kiwanis Club. Calley has also been asked to speak in Vietnam.

ADDENDUM, August 26th, 2009. 3:52 a.m.: On August 7th, 2007, I quoted one of the Nixon tapes:
[...] But wait! Nixon and Kissinger on the My Lai massacre and Lt. William Calley:
[...] President Nixon: It’s really—it was such an amazing sort of a public furor. It surprised us all, surprised the press and all the rest. But it was probably a good thing that the country had that little spasm.

Kissinger: That’s right.

President Nixon: It—get them a chance to pop off steam and then we came on and cooled it off a little, then came on with an announcement. We gained a little initiative, I think, as a result of it, don’t you think?

Kissinger: Oh, yes. And it, no matter what they say now, no one can construe that outburst as a dove outburst, even if it took the form, perhaps, of wanting to get out of the war. It was the frustration of the people who are not committed to win the war.

President Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: And—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: That’s quite a different thing.

President Nixon: Exactly, and I think the liberals really know this. They—

Kissinger: Deep down, the liberals know this.

President Nixon: They are in shock by it, because, they were sort of hoping that the whole nation would, you know, sort of say, “Well, now, we’ll punish these”--

Kissinger: That’s right. What they wanted was a feeling of revulsion against the deed. In fact, the deed itself didn’t bother anybody.

President Nixon: No, they, matter of fact, the people said, “Sure, he was guilty, but by God, why not?”

Both laugh.
Thus the noble cause of the freedom of the people of Vietnam.
Res ipsa loquitur.

See also the following relevant past posts on Richard Nixon: here, here, here, here, and here.

ADDENDUM, August 26th, 2009, 9:43 a.m.: Thanks, P.Z.! Thanks, Crooks and Liars! Thanks, Publius!

ADDENDUM, August 26th, 2009, 12:43 p.m.: I should mention that there were American soldiers at My Lai, who knew right from wrong: Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who put his helicopter and body between the soldiers engaged in the massacre, and their Vietnamese victims (whose country we were ostensibly there to "protect"). See also Ron Ridenhour.

ADDENDUM, August 31st, 11:54 p.m.: Thanks, Vance Maverick at Edge Of The American West!

8/25/2009 04:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 21, 2009
EVER BEEN TO A WORLDCON, OR WORKED ON ONE? See here. Or maybe you have some interest in sf fan history?

A professor with the Information and Communication Studies Program at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John (New Brunswick, Canada) is looking for a lot more than just filling out a survey of people who were in Montreal (though that, too), but more importantly:
I'm currently developing a long-term research project on the history, structure and organization of Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention*).


I'm also hoping to conduct interviews with former organizers and attendees of previous Worldcons. If you have attended or helped to organize a previous Worldcon and would like to help me with this research please contact me.


Call for documents & info from past Worldcons- I am currently in the development stages of what will be a long-term research project on science fiction/fantasy fandom and Worldcon. At the moment I'm seeking help from past Worldcon attendees and organizers. I'm trying to locate programmes from all of the Worldcon conventions up to the present.

The cons for which I still do not have a copy of a programme are listed HERE.

I'm also interested in minutes of business meetings, and similar documentation of bid and con committees. One element of Worldcon history that interests me is the geographic origins of participants.

I'm looking for previous Progress Reports that indicate how many members are coming from what areas of the world to attend that particular Worldcon. This documentation will be valuable in analyzing the history, structure and organization of Worldcon over time.
I've written her, but you can, too.

While I'm mentioning this, in case you're interested, too: the 1958 Solacon Program Book.

Some info on 1953's Philcon II.

Timebinders sf fanhistory group and email list.

General fanhistory stuff.

Many sf fanzines, mostly recent, but some older ones, are here.

Earl Kemp's zines, and Dick and Nicki Lynch's Mimosa, particularly have lots of fanhistorical material, including lots of stuff on past Worldcons, as well as all sorts of fine material on all sorts of other topics.

Some past Business Meeting records that Jerry Lapidus taped and transcribed from late Sixties Worldcon BMs is here.

1963 Worldcon Runners Guide, by George Scithers is here.

If you're highly masochistic, you can at least temporarily watch and listen to the entire Preliminary Business Meeting of this year's Worldcon here. I can't imagine more than a few fanatics wanting to, though. (It must be a sign of twitching urges to degafiate to some small degree that I actually watched it all, myself -- that, or weird masochistic nostalgia.)

This has been your fannish links post of the day. Original tip to inquiry via Cheryl Morgan.

ADDENDUM, August 22nd, 3:08 p.m.: Cheryl Morgan also gives some links to fan writers new and old in her report on the "Best Fanwriter" panel at Worldcon. I commented further at that post.

Also, more Anticipation Worldcon stuff.

ADDENDUM, August 30th, 2009, 8:16 p.m.: I ran across a reference to one of those former surveys of attendees at a Worldcon I was thinking of. In this case, it was Iguanacon, in 1978.

Here's a link to a review in Chuq Von Rospach's old OtherRealms zine, from 1986, about the resulting book: Dimensions of Science Fiction, by William Sims Bainbridge, Harvard University Press, 1986. Hardback, 278 pages.

Do a "find" down to "William Sims Bainbridge" from that link to get to the review, if interested.

8/21/2009 01:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 20, 2009
WHAT IT MEANS TO REQUIRE AND END A FILIBUSTER. I'm sick of repeating myself in blog comments on this.

For future reference:
"AND by all means, lets require the filibusterers ACTUALLY TO DO IT."

I don't understand why various people keep repeating variants of this without explaining how to get around the problem Hilzoy outlined. As Brandt Goldstein explained, making the other side filibuster is far more of a problem for one's own side: how is this a good idea?
[...] While a filibuster would seem to be more taxing on the side doing the talking, that isn't necessarily the case. The filibusterers need only one person in the Senate chamber at any one time, prattling away. The other side must make sure a quorum—a majority of all senators—is on hand, a constitutional requirement for the Senate to conduct business. If there's no quorum after a senator has demanded a quorum call, the Senate must adjourn, giving those leading the filibuster time to go home, sleep, and delay things even more. To ensure a quorum during the rancorous civil rights filibusters, cots were set up in Senate anterooms, and majority senators presented themselves in bathrobes during early-morning quorum calls.

Those seeking a quorum can even demand that the Senate's sergeant at arms arrest senators who aren't present and drag them into the Senate chamber, a measure that has led to absent senators playing hide-and-seek with police officers around Capitol Hill.
This is what needs to be changed.

What's needed is for these rules to be changed, rather than to just repeat over and over and over that we should make the other side filibuster while this problem exists.
"it's time, for instance, to change the filibuster rules again. It was 66 votes; it's 60 now; how about 55?"

I prefer leaving it at 60, but limiting it only to judicial appointments, which are lifetime, and thus deserve a higher bar.

But eliminate the filibuster for anything else.

I'm open to the idea of some form of more limited compromise, but the current abuse that makes having to get cloture the norm is ahistoric and an abuse.

"I mean FDR-type fiery rhetoric. What's wrong with that?"

Harry Truman: “I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.”
"Make it cost something politically to actually use the obstructionist tactic."

As as endlessly pointed out, this tactic is vastly harder on the party which opposes the filibuster, which has to keep a full majority of 50 Senators waiting near the chamber for every moment the filibuster is going on, while the filibustering party need maintain only one Senator at a time to keep the filibuster ongoing.

If you wish to propose correcting this situation, you need to propose exactly how you're going to change that, not just vaguely say that the filibustering side should -- somehow, in some completely unstated manner -- be made to pay a higher price to maintain the filibuster than the side that opposes it.

Making fifty Senators have to stand around, unable to leave the Senate building, for weeks on end, is paying more of a "price" than maintaining one Senator at a time to speak in the chamber. This is the issue. This is why one side doesn't "force" the other side to "actually filibuster." Because look at who is actually paying the far higher price if you try to do that.

What do you propose to cure this? If it's workable, I'm probably for it.
"I don't remember the old-timey filibusters well enough to know whether the majority having to hang around is so. And I don't have time right now to look it up."

I just remember: how they had to fill everyone's offices and the cloakroom and all with cots, and how cranky everyone got at having to show up in the chamber in bathrobes.
And arrest Senators to get them to show up.

Wednesday, February 24, 1988 12:00 AM:
Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) was carried feet first into the Senate chamber by Capitol Police early today as Democrats ordered the arrest of absent senators in a dramatic filibuster showdown over a Democratic bill on spending in senatorial campaigns.

Packwood's arrest came after Democrats forced filibustering Republicans to hold the Senate floor in nonstop session through the night in an attempt to wear down their opposition to the bill.

But as midnight approached, Republicans called the Democrats' bluff by ordering a series of quorum calls and then vanishing, leaving only Minority Whip Alan K. Simpson (Wyo.) to hold the floor. Democrats were unable to muster a quorum on their own and, in a highly unusual move, voted to have the sergeant at arms arrest absent senators in a move to keep the Senate in session until a quorum of at least 51 senators could be obtained.

Shortly after midnight, a posse led by Sergeant at Arms Henry K.

Giugni marched through the Capitol in pursuit of Republican senators, who apparently had gone into hiding, in a maneuver reminiscent of earlier filibusters in which senators sometimes registered in hotels under assumed names to avoid being rounded up for votes.

Later, the posse combed the Senate office buildings and found Packwood, who, as he noted after he was deposited on the Senate floor, "did not come fully voluntarily."

Within minutes, one of the absent Democrats, presidential candidate Paul Simon (Ill.), arrived and the Democrats had their quorum. Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said he regretted the arrest but said he had no alternative and congratulated Packwood "on the fine spirit with which he accepted the inevitable."

Cots were set up for senators in rooms near the Senate chamber, and earlier in the day, Byrd had put the Republicans on notice that they would have to talk, not just threaten to talk, in order to sustain their stalling tactics against the campaign spending legislation.

"I have every intention of staying in continuous session until something happens, until something breaks," he said.

If the Republicans pause too long and lose control of the floor, Byrd warned, he will call for a vote on the bill. Democrats have the votes to pass the legislation but are at least five votes short of the 60 required to break a filibuster.

"It's going to be a long, long debate," Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) agreed as Republicans accepted the challenge and vowed to stand firm against what Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) described as a "silly exercise" that would impede rather than expedite chances of a compromise.

Republicans dismissed Democratic suggestions that they might succumb to public pressure. "We're absolutely solid," McConnell said.

"They {the Democrats} are just trying to attract some attention," said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

"We hope everyone has his knapsack and sleeping bag," Simpson said.
I'm not saying they shouldn't do this again. I'm just pointing out, for the nth time, that it's harder on the anti-filibusters than the filibusters, and that's why it's so hard to get around to doing it.
[...] Technically, a filibuster is made possible by Senate Rule XIX, the rule governing floor debate, which directs any senator who wants to speak to "rise and address the Presiding Officer." Once recognized by the presiding officer, a senator can keep speaking as long as he or she wishes, day and night, provided that the senator: 1) remain standing and 2) stay in the Senate chamber. This can be hard on: 1) the knees and 2) the bladder, which is why Strom Thurmond deliberately dehydrated himself in a sauna before taking to the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes to rail against a civil rights bill in 1957.

While orating, a senator is permitted to drink only water or milk—the latter according to a ruling found in the encyclopedic Riddick's Senate Procedure, a 1,500-page volume containing 200 years of rulings on arcane matters of Senate governance. Also, the senator may only speak two separate times on any one issue. Facing these constraints, senators who want to filibuster may tag-team, each sermonizing as long as possible—often until hoarse—before yielding the floor to the next speaker. Everyone is free to deliver a second speech on the issue, after which they can make motions or offer amendments—taking turns expounding upon those, too. The filibuster process can last for weeks or more, the record being 75 days in 1964.

Nor must a senator confine herself to the issue or nominee in question. Under Senate rules, senators can talk about anything when they have the floor. In 1935, Sen. Huey Long of Louisiana suspended passage of a bill by lecturing on the Constitution, section by section. When he ran out of text, he recited recipes for fried oysters and something called "potlikkers." In the early 1990s, Sen. Al D'Amato resorted to song — including, one observer recalls — The Yellow Rose of Texas. And on Wednesday, Sen. Robert Byrd kept tradition alive by reminiscing about the courtship of his wife.

The strategy behind the filibuster is obvious—hold up other Senate business, creating pressure to put aside nominees or bills as everything else on the agenda gathers dust. The filibuster tends to be more effective near the end of a term, when Congress is racing to push through as much legislation as it can. But it can be a powerful tool at any point, signaling to the president, public, and press the heartfelt views of minority senators. Southern Democrats in the '50s and '60s, for example, threw everything they had into filibusters against civil rights legislation. They failed, but they stayed in the headlines for months.

While a filibuster would seem to be more taxing on the side doing the talking, that isn't necessarily the case. The filibusterers need only one person in the Senate chamber at any one time, prattling away. The other side must make sure a quorum—a majority of all senators—is on hand, a constitutional requirement for the Senate to conduct business. If there's no quorum after a senator has demanded a quorum call, the Senate must adjourn, giving those leading the filibuster time to go home, sleep, and delay things even more. To ensure a quorum during the rancorous civil rights filibusters, cots were set up in Senate anterooms, and majority senators presented themselves in bathrobes during early-morning quorum calls.

Those seeking a quorum can even demand that the Senate's sergeant at arms arrest senators who aren't present and drag them into the Senate chamber, a measure that has led to absent senators playing hide-and-seek with police officers around Capitol Hill. As recently as 1988, officers physically carried Sen. Robert Packwood onto the Senate floor at the behest of then-Majority Leader Byrd.
Again: it's doable. But the anti-filibustering side has to be even more determined than the filibustering side. That's why filibustering is such a non-idle threat: because it's a heck of a lot easier to filibuster, troublesome than it is, than to break a filibuster, if you don't clearly have 60 votes on your side.

And I'll point out again that Ted Kennedy isn't in a position to vote.

It can be done. But that's the answer to the constant refrain of "I don't understand: why don't the Democrats just make the Republicans carry out a filibuster?"

Answer: it's a huge task to carry out. Are Democratic Senators prepared to have the entire caucus live in the Senate building for a month or two, never leaving, while the Republicans just send in two Senators at a time? Do you think that's something they can afford to do casually?

Either the Democrats can manage to conjure up 60 votes, which means all 58 Democrats, plus Independent Bernie Sanders, including ailing Robert Byrd, not including Ted Kennedy, therefore plus at least one Republican -- or they can't break a filibuster unless somehow the Republicans screw up. It's just that simple.

People who keep saying "but we have 60 votes! I don't understand!" indeed, don't understand.
"The problem, as I see it, isn't that the filibuster exists, but that it's been used too cavalierly in recent years."

I've said many times that I favor limiting the filibuster solely to judicial appointments, on the grounds that they're lifetime appointments, which makes them different than legislation, which if limited to being passed by majority vote, can be repealed by later majority vote.

Appointments to the federal courts, on the other hand, require impeachment and conviction by the entire Senate, for "high crimes and misdemeanors."

So far, in the history of the Republic, we've had six federal judges impeached and removed from office. Four more were tried and aquitted. And one resigned in the middle of proceedings.

It's not done often. In the 20th century, it's only been:
# Charles Swayne, judge of the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Florida; acquitted Feb. 27, 1905.
# Robert W. Archbald, associate judge, U.S. Commerce Court; removed Jan. 13, 1913.
# George W. English, judge of the U.S. District Court for eastern district of Illinois; resigned Nov. 4, 1926; proceedings dismissed.
# Harold Louderback, judge of the U.S. District Court for the northern district of California; acquitted May 24, 1933.
# Halsted L. Ritter, judge of the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Florida; removed from office April 17, 1936.
# Harry E. Claiborne, judge of the U.S. District Court for the district of Nevada; removed from office Oct. 9, 1986.
# Alcee L. Hastings, judge of the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Florida; removed from office Oct. 20, 1989.
# Walter L. Nixon, judge of the U.S. District Court for Mississippi; removed from office Nov. 3, 1989.

So I think filibustering judicial appointments is reasonable; it's a very high bar to get a federal judge out of office.

But otherwise, I think we can probably eliminate the filibuster, and have less evil than is presently being done with it as used today.

I've only come to this opinion fairly recently, as I'm actually extremely conservative about changing the ways our government functions. But the way the filibuster has been used in recent years has been a dramatic change from earlier decades, and I consider it an abuse that has passed the point of being tolerable, and must be stopped.

I'm open to other proposals.
I don't want to have to write this post or these comments again.

tgirsch made a reasonable suggestion that:
(For judicial appointments, I support making all such appointments require a 2/3 majority for confirmation. Most appointments, except for the controversial ones, pass with near-unanimous support, and it would prevent either side from packing the court with divisive nominees.)
As well as:
How about changing the rules of the filibuster so that all 40 who oppose cloture must be present the whole time?
I'm not fussy. The current abuse must be stopped.

But I'm sick of explaining, as I've been doing since at least 2005, why it's not just a matter of "making the other side stand up and filibuster." Enough, already, with the ignorance of what's involved.

Read The Rest Scale: eh, if you want more discussion; I imagine this is TMI as it is.

But, also, on judicial filibusters, and the Republican position in 2004.

ADDENDUM, August 26th, 5:39 a.m.: See also this excellent piece on the filibuster's history by Greg Koger at The Monkey Cage.

ADDENDUM, July 4th, 2010: Sarah A. Binder on the history of the filibuster.

ADDENDUM, July 24th, 2010: Much filibuster data.

8/20/2009 04:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Y SO SERIOUS II. Gender, sexism, and LGBT issues in the sf world are all serious issues, so let's note a few things.

Cheryl Morgan linked the other week to to Orbit's chart of popular elements in fantasy book covers.
(Click for larger view.)

Interns are useful! Tim Holman, publisher of the U.S. and UK Orbit imprint, writes:
What does all this mean? Well, the most commonly seen element appearing on fantasy books published last year was, it seems, the sword. Closely followed by glowy magic, castles, and dragons. I suspect a few covers contained all these elements. Meanwhile, fans of unicorns, maps, and stilettos had a disappointing year, and perhaps were lost to other genres.

I haven’t yet correlated these elements with sales of the books surveyed, but we have the technology. I wonder if it will prove that glowy magic, while prevalent, might not guarantee glowy sales? Or if unicorn-lovers represent a vast untapped market? It wouldn’t surprise me. More research is clearly needed, but this is an important starting point and I’d be prepared to devote literally minutes to the task if that’s what it takes.

In the meantime, special thanks to Caitlin, our summer Orbiteer, for this groundbreaking work.
In turn, this was picked up by a Grauniad book blog post made by Alison Flood, who adds:
[...] One author proudly points to the German edition of her novel, which included a mix of all the elements: "a dragon, a sword, glowy magic (OK, it was a rainbow), a wolf, a staff, horses, castle on a mountain, and a worried-looking damsel, although she does appear as if she could handle herself in a fight, thank you very much. There was also a skull, some keys, a pendant and a heap of armour." Good going, German publisher!
Flood, while picking up on Cheryl's suggestion that degrees of cleavage should also be surveyed, and responded to by Homan that degrees of male pecs should also be included, finds this site on terrible sf/fantasy book covers.

Flood also notes the winner of Orbit's contest for a hypothetical Worst SF/Fantasy Book Title Ever. The winner? "Across a Trembling Sea the Cyborg Fairies Dance."
[...] It was an incredibly tight race, with Rise of the Fallen, Book Seven, The Pre-Antepenultimate Battle in second place, but in the end the Cyborg Faries put down the Fallen.
[...] Our fearless art director is warming up her Photoshop as we speak, but before she can start we need two more key cover elements: the author name and the reading line.
Over at Rockhoppers Daily Grind, they discover Comically Vintage, a site for very, ah, questionable, or just odd, old comics panels and related images.

For instance:
The great Scott Shaw, whose Oddball Comics should be of interest to anyone who is, er, interested in oddball comics, wrote about Butch Dykeman, from the 1950s comic ""Popular Teen-Agers," which also featured character Toni Gay.

Generally, over at Comically Vintage, there's a lot of spanking and commanding going on, as well as characters having a gay old time.

Others are just -- well, Jimmy Olsen always had a bad time of it in the Mort Weisinger years:
Speaking of Weisinger, I've made a lot of jokes over the years, based on how bugfuck weird so many of the covers and stories he supervised were, that he must have been on acid, but it seems that he may have had real emotional and psychiatric problems.

As Tom Crippen notes:
[...] When the first wave of baby boomers hit 8–12, the period's target age for comics, the comics they bought were Weisinger's Superman titles. Superman comics were read by the most kids at the youngest age. Marvel was what we moved on to; DC was baby stuff, but that means it got wedged pretty far inside our minds, into a zone more warm and private than some of us (by which I mean myself) like to realize. Giant red ants, household animals with capes, dialogue balloons about the compressibility of Superman's costume — it's all one of the biggest exhibits in the superhero hall of fame. The sheer number of Weisinger-provided gimmicks even helped bring on a new stage in pop-culture development. They recurred from issue to issue and title to title over enough years to produce a self-contained body of lore — what by 1965 Weisinger described as a "mythos."


Of course, a lot of Silver Age DC has an unhealthy, neurotic air. The Flash doesn't just find himself with a giant domed head — people laugh at him for it. Batman has to go limping out of town, ragged and feeble, and behind him a massive orange sun is setting; not only that, but it's lopsided. DC covers back then had a weakness for rejection. Marvel heroes might get beaten, but DC heroes were denied love. They were humiliated and betrayed, exiled, told no one needed them now ("We Have Hyper-Man!"). Marvel heroes knew they would have their ups and downs with the public. DC heroes existed to be paragons, the best face of authority; society's love was built into the deal. Then the deal would get revoked and the poor hero would find himself denounced as a failure or hypocrite. Fingers drawn by Neal Adams would point at the supposed hero. Of course, in any given story, events pretty soon bounced back to normal. DC practiced bungee storytelling — a story's appeal depended on one extreme image, a cover or title page, that showed circumstances being dragged as far as possible out of normal. The rest of the story was spent on letting them hurtle back where they belonged. By story's end, reality had hit reset and the next story could go ahead.

When it came to superheroes, a DC editor's target audience was too old for happy larks but too young for continuing storylines. It made sense to grab the kids with the promise of isolated, extreme events, but the events couldn't involve a lot of shooting or fighting (house rules). They had to be extreme in some other way, such as a messing about with reality's basic terms. Superman wasn't supposed to have a lion's head, but he did have a lion's head. Superman never goofed off, but here he was goofing off. One advantage of this approach, to get technical, is that the jolt comes from the break with a basic reality; the thing that constitutes the break doesn't have to be so remarkable in itself. A man goofing off is nothing, really. But Superman goofing off... It's a given that Superman does not sit around taking it easy, and the given makes the story possible. When you're generating plots, an approach like this really slashes your expenditure of imagination. That pays off if your job requires the generation of more than a hundred stories a year for the same small group of characters.
It's all interesting stuff for anyone who grew up on Weisinger-era comics; other folks, probably not so much.

More seriously, back at Cheryl's, she's noticed The Outer Alliance, where:
[...] the idea is that the blog functions on three levels: education, support, and celebration of LGBT contributions in SF/F writing.

Who is invited into the Outer Alliance? Anyone who supports the community’s tenets and is committed to engaging in intelligent discussion about LGBT issues in SF/F. This is a group founded in the belief that the best course against bigotry and discrimination is by rising above it, not stooping down to it.

This group is open to all writers (professionals and fledgelings alike) of SF/F (speculative, horror, paranormal, etc)–and their friends–of any inclination. The idea is that this is an alliance, so as long as you uphold the tenets of the Outer Alliance (see below) you’re welcome in.
Meanwhile, it's always wise to keep in mind your white privilege.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5 for the last link; otherwise, who can turn down a good salacious comics panel, or wacky Jimmy Olsen cover? Okay, maybe you can, in which case don't click.

Note to self: include more pictures of swords, glowy magic, castles, and dragons in blog posts.

ADDENDUM, 6:29 p.m.: On not-serious, and swords, and castles, a 40th anniversary, one night only, Monty Python Reunion performance in NYC, on October 15th! Who wouldn't want to be there?

8/18/2009 05:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

Y SO SERIOUS? Okay, the last couple of posts may have been downers. So, swiped directly from Mark Evanier, a mother cat adopts and nurses a baby panda!
You may now squeee.

Via John Robinson, Drew Olbrich shows us the actual distance of our moon from the Earth:
View The Rest Scale: pandas and cats, living together! How small we are! (Yes, also a comment on politics: I'm so serious!)

8/18/2009 03:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

THE DISAPPEARED. I wrote here: "I understand the problem with 'government' having the power to incarcerate and execute people."

Incarcerating and executing are two separate things.

"But I don't know what society would look like in the absence of that power."

Who, exactly, has proposed we eliminate the power of government to incarerate people?

"Even though many mistakes are made, I would guess that the large majority of convicts are, in fact, guilty of their crimes."

First, the nature of some of these crimes people are imprisoned for (article from May, 2005; actual study here):
A study of FBI arrest and conviction data by a Washington think-tank has underscored a dramatic shift in US drug policy in the decade of the 1990s. "The War on Marijuana: The Transformation of the War on Drugs,", released Tuesday by the Sentencing Project, reports that from 1992 to 2002, the proportion of drug arrests involving marijuana increased from 28% to 45% of all drug arrests, while arrests for the much more dangerous cocaine and heroin decreased from more than half of all drug arrests to less than 30%.

After crusades against heroin in the 1970s and crack cocaine in the 1980s, total drug arrests continued to spiral upward from 1.1 million in 1990 to more than 1.5 million per year in 2002. Marijuana arrests accounted for more than 80% of the increase, the report found.


So far this decade, people have been picked up (or added to) arrest records for marijuana possession at a rate of more than 600,000 a year.

Although only 6% of marijuana arrestees were charged with felonies, some 27,000 pot criminals were serving prison sentences in 2002, giving the lie to the oft-repeated claim by law-and-order types that "nobody goes to prison for marijuana."


In fact, the study found, more than 6,600 people, or nearly one-quarter of imprisoned marijuana offenders, were doing prison time simply for possession, and apparently doing prison time simply for possession.
"Even though many mistakes are made, I would guess that the large majority of convicts are, in fact, guilty of their crimes."

And we know that, given the fact that we know of large numbers of innocent people being convicted, given the fact that the best known stats are on the most examined cases, which are death penalty cases, and murders, and that the stats would be far worse on lesser crimes, and given that we know false confessions are constantly generated, eyewitness identifications are highly unreliable, forensic evidence is frequently badly handled (it isn't the fantasy pseudoscience seen on CSI on tv), and plea bargains are constantly made by innocent people, we know that at least a large minority of people in jail are innocent of the crime of which they're accused.

Our "justice" system is a nightmare and a travesty, as are the conditions of our prisons. But hardly anybody cares until they're sent to one, in which case suddenly they become enthused for the cause of prison reform.

Try checking out all the state Innocence Projects, but note that they almost entirely concern themselves with murder cases and death penalties. Lesser penalties for lesser crimes go barely noticed.

THE FIRST innocent American defendant to be exonerated by DNA evidence was Gary Dotson of Chicago. Before his conviction was overturned on Aug. 14, 1989, he'd spent 10 years in prison and on parole. This year, on April 23, Jerry Miller obtained the 200th DNA exoneration, also in Chicago. He had served 25 years for a rape he did not commit.

Two hundred innocent prisoners exonerated by DNA — plus more than 200 other exonerations that did not involve DNA. That sounds like a lot. But over 18 years in a criminal justice system that sends hundreds of thousands to prison each year? How frequent are wrongful convictions?


But DNA testing requires biological evidence; it has only been useful in a fraction of rape convictions and a scattering of murder cases (if the killer bled). Rape and murder account for fewer than 2% of felony convictions and a much smaller percentage of all convictions.

As it happens, we're just beginning to learn something real about the rate of false convictions. The Virginia Department of Forensic Science recently found a large group of closed rape files with untested DNA, which will make possible the first systematic study of false convictions. So far, tests on a small preliminary sample are troubling: two previously unknown wrongful convictions out of 29, or an error rate of 7%.

We can also learn from death sentences, which are reviewed much more carefully than other criminal convictions, so more errors are caught. Of the 3,795 defendants sentenced to death from 1973 through 1989, 86 were freed because of DNA or other new evidence of innocence. That's 2.3%. Of course, some of those freed may be guilty, while others still on death row are no doubt innocent. So last year, Michael Risinger, a professor at Seton Hall Law School, did a study of death row DNA exonerations only. His results? Among defendants sentenced to death between 1982 and 1989 for murders involving rape, at least 3.3% were innocent.

The good news is that the great majority of convicted defendants in the United States are guilty; the bad news is that a substantial number are not. Is an error rate of 2% or 3% or 5% high or low? That depends on your point of view and your purpose.

If 1% of commercial airliners crashed on takeoff, we'd shut down every airline in the country. That would be nearly 300 crashes a day. If as few as 1% of criminal convictions are erroneous, right now there are more than 20,000 innocent defendants behind bars.
All well and good, if one isn't a friend or relative. Besides, they probably are guilty of some other crime.

Like smoking or selling marijuna. Or because of a sexual witch hunt.

And what happens to you in prison? How about, as I wrote in 2004, sexual slavery?

But only bad people get sent to prison. Like in Tulia.

Where you can be just killed by the system itself, no matter your sentence. Let alone by another prisoner.

After all, no industry is more American than the prison industry. And Supermax is especially comfy.

Don't count on your public defender, either.

Of course, you may be locked up just because you're crazy, and we have nowhere else to put you.

Or we could lock you up just for selling dildos. Or vibrators.

Thank goodness our prison system keeps growing.

Prison Pete is still there.

And nobody should be put in solitary confinement for over 90 days.

And I just mentioned what we're doing with sex offenders.

But it's all good, because America is a great country.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for the links.

8/18/2009 01:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 17, 2009
NOTHING NEW. It makes a little nuts whenever someone complains that politics in America today is so much more violent and dangerous and extreme than it used to be. I went off again the other day:
"Even going back to the 60's, which are very fresh in my mind, I don't think the actual feeding of the anger that is being done today existed to quite the same level, and that was a very chaotic period at both ends of the political spectrum."

I'm sorry, John, but I just don't believe this in the slightest. The Sixties were just endlessly more violent in political violence in America than anything remotely resembling 21st century America (or America in the Nineties, or Eighties, for that matter).

Riots were rampant everywhere. People were plotting armed insurrection. The political leadership in the White House feared armed insurrection. There were tanks on the streets of Washington. Thirteen thousand people were rounded up and held in RFK stadium, The National Guard was shooting kids on college campuses. Bombs were being set off. Black Panthers were being deliberately killed in fusillages of bullets by cops and FBI. Groups both left and right were busily arming themselves for the coming domestic war. People were beaten and assaulted in zillions of different protests. Cops were "pigs" and kids were commie hippies.

I don't see that we have a hundredth, even a thousandth, of the political violence in America today that we had between, say, 1962-1975. (Say, they released Squeaky Fromme from prison yesterday, speaking of.) Nothing remotely comparable.

You talk about threats, but we had actual dead Kennedys and shot Wallaces, and shot kids, and Freedom Marchers, and hundreds of thousands of people wounded in urban violence and riots and protests, as well as many hundreds killed in rampant National Guard and police violence both generally in the ghettos, and particularly during riot times, in the Sixties, when authorities (police and National Guard) would literally roam the streets randomly firing machine guns at people, windows, anything that moved, and killing lots of people that way. Hundreds of them.

In comparison, you bring up that "we know that at some town halls, guns have been found, we know that in at least one case a Congressman was physically threatened if not assaulted"?

I'm sorry, but this is, well, nuts. In 1971, the fricking Capitol was bombed [and State Department and Pentagon]. How the heck can you compare any of that to contemporary times? Where are the burning cities? Where are the hundreds of dead Americans killed by the police and National Guard? Where are the bombings in response? Where are the stormed buildings, and assassinations and riots, and massed hardhat beatings of hippies? Where are the shot newspaper columnists? Where are the beaten Justice Department aides? Where are all the actual dead people from all this?

You say that "the 60's, which are very fresh in my mind," and then say that "I don't think the actual feeding of the anger that is being done today existed to quite the same level," and I say wha? and wtf?

Try Nixonland for a reminder of how it all was, if you haven't read it, I suggest, no matter how fresh memories of the Sixties seem to you. I regard myself as quite expert on the U.S. in the Sixties, fanatic, even (and I don't make claims of knowledge lightly), but I still regard it as a superb summary, so I'm not attempting to in any way insult your degree of familiarity or memory of the Sixties. I'm just recommending an excellent book.
Earlier in that thread, I had argued that the crazies weren't actually crazier today:
[...] And one reason is that, really, I don't see that those who were crazy to impeach Clinton, and obsessed with all their theories about Hillary's lesbian-based murder of Vince Foster because of the drug-running they were doing out of that airport in Mena, Arkansas, etc., were less ugly and ignorant than the crazies today, or than the folks who were convinced fluoridation was a communist plot led by communist agent Dwight Eisenhower. I don't think they were less numerous, either, although I don't have any numbers at hand to point to.
Sunday, Rick Perlstein supported me:
[...] In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House "found in the files a blueprint for socializing America."

When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his proposals to anchor America's nuclear defense in intercontinental ballistic missiles -- instead of long-range bombers -- and form closer ties with Eastern Bloc outliers such as Yugoslavia were taken as evidence that the young president was secretly disarming the United States. Thousands of delegates from 90 cities packed a National Indignation Convention in Dallas, a 1961 version of today's tea parties; a keynote speaker turned to the master of ceremonies after his introduction and remarked as the audience roared: "Tom Anderson here has turned moderate! All he wants to do is impeach [Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl] Warren. I'm for hanging him!"

Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn't lack for subversives -- anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and '50s.

The instigation is always the familiar litany: expansion of the commonweal to empower new communities, accommodation to internationalism, the heightened influence of cosmopolitans and the persecution complex of conservatives who can't stand losing an argument. My personal favorite? The federal government expanded mental health services in the Kennedy era, and one bill provided for a new facility in Alaska. One of the most widely listened-to right-wing radio programs in the country, hosted by a former FBI agent, had millions of Americans believing it was being built to intern political dissidents, just like in the Soviet Union.

So, crazier then, or crazier now? Actually, the similarities across decades are uncanny. When Adlai Stevenson spoke at a 1963 United Nations Day observance in Dallas, the Indignation forces thronged the hall, sweating and furious, shrieking down the speaker for the television cameras. Then, when Stevenson was walked to his limousine, a grimacing and wild-eyed lady thwacked him with a picket sign. Stevenson was baffled. "What's the matter, madam?" he asked. "What can I do for you?" The woman responded with self-righteous fury: "Well, if you don't know I can't help you."

The various elements -- the liberal earnestly confused when rational dialogue won't hold sway; the anti-liberal rage at a world self-evidently out of joint; and, most of all, their mutual incomprehension -- sound as fresh as yesterday's news. (Internment camps for conservatives? That's the latest theory of tea party favorite Michael Savage.)

The orchestration of incivility happens, too, and it is evil. Liberal power of all sorts induces an organic and crazy-making panic in a considerable number of Americans, while people with no particular susceptibility to existential terror -- powerful elites -- find reason to stoke and exploit that fear. And even the most ideologically fair-minded national media will always be agents of cosmopolitanism: something provincials fear as an outside elite intent on forcing different values down their throats.

That provides an opening for vultures such as Richard Nixon, who, the Watergate investigation discovered, had his aides make sure that seed blossomed for his own purposes. "To the Editor . . . Who in the hell elected these people to stand up and read off their insults to the President of the United States?" read one proposed "grass-roots" letter manufactured by the White House. "When will you people realize that he was elected President and he is entitled to the respect of that office no matter what you people think of him?" went another.

Liberals are right to be vigilant about manufactured outrage, and particularly about how the mainstream media can too easily become that outrage's entry into the political debate. For the tactic represented by those fake Nixon letters was a long-term success. Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people's voices means they should treat Obama's creation of "death panels" as just another justiciable political claim. If 1963 were 2009, the woman who assaulted Adlai Stevenson would be getting time on cable news to explain herself. That, not the paranoia itself, makes our present moment uniquely disturbing.

It used to be different. You never heard the late Walter Cronkite taking time on the evening news to "debunk" claims that a proposed mental health clinic in Alaska is actually a dumping ground for right-wing critics of the president's program, or giving the people who made those claims time to explain themselves on the air. The media didn't adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of "conservative claims" to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims. Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as "extremist" -- out of bounds.

The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest. Latest word is that the enlightened and mild provision in the draft legislation to help elderly people who want living wills -- the one hysterics turned into the "death panel" canard -- is losing favor, according to the Wall Street Journal, because of "complaints over the provision."

Good thing our leaders weren't so cowardly in 1964, or we would never have passed a civil rights bill -- because of complaints over the provisions in it that would enslave whites.
The lurkers support me in email.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, August 23rd, 2009, 5:06 p.m.: Rick Perlstein also took questions and answers on his piece.

ADDENDUM, August 24th, 2009, 7:53 p.m.: Also, what Timothy Blee said. Via Matt Yglesias.

8/17/2009 04:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 16, 2009
WHY YOU'RE READING THIS, OR "DO YOU LIKE EGOBOO?" Besides the fact that I'm fascinating, and you love me? Maybe because you got here via Google or other search. Probably because you're somewhat of an internet addict. And if you're really active online, you're looking for egoboo.

Here's why.
[...] But to Washington State University neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, this supposed pleasure center didn't look very much like it was producing pleasure. Those self-stimulating rats, and later those humans, did not exhibit the euphoric satisfaction of creatures eating Double Stuf Oreos or repeatedly having orgasms. The animals, he writes in Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, were "excessively excited, even crazed." The rats were in a constant state of sniffing and foraging. Some of the human subjects described feeling sexually aroused but didn't experience climax. Mammals stimulating the lateral hypothalamus seem to be caught in a loop, Panksepp writes, "where each stimulation evoked a reinvigorated search strategy" [...]
This is, of course, not at all like you or I behave on teh interwebs!

We don't have this, right?
It is an emotional state Panksepp tried many names for: curiosity, interest, foraging, anticipation, craving, expectancy. He finally settled on seeking. Panksepp has spent decades mapping the emotional systems of the brain he believes are shared by all mammals, and he says, "Seeking is the granddaddy of the systems." It is the mammalian motivational engine that each day gets us out of the bed, or den, or hole to venture forth into the world. It's why, as animal scientist Temple Grandin writes in Animals Make Us Human, experiments show that animals in captivity would prefer to have to search for their food than to have it delivered to them.

For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.
Okay, that is about me. And probably you.

It's all about the dopamine:
[...] The juice that fuels the seeking system is the neurotransmitter dopamine. The dopamine circuits "promote states of eagerness and directed purpose," Panksepp writes. It's a state humans love to be in.


Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling? Thank dopamine. Our internal sense of time is believed to be controlled by the dopamine system. People with hyperactivity disorder have a shortage of dopamine in their brains, which a recent study suggests may be at the root of the problem. For them even small stretches of time seem to drag.

An article by Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic last year, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" speculates that our constant Internet scrolling is remodeling our brains to make it nearly impossible for us to give sustained attention to a long piece of writing. Like the lab rats, we keep hitting "enter" to get our next fix.
I can still read books. But I do it a lot less often than I used to. Mostly I keep clicking on another link, and reading. And clicking on another link, and reading. And sometimes writing a response. And then clicking on another link, and reading. And then rechecking the site where I wrote something to see if there's a response. And then clicking on another link....
[...] Wanting is Berridge's equivalent for Panksepp's seeking system. It is the liking system that Berridge believes is the brain's reward center. When we experience pleasure, it is our own opioid system, rather than our dopamine system, that is being stimulated. This is why the opiate drugs induce a kind of blissful stupor so different from the animating effect of cocaine and amphetamines. Wanting and liking are complementary. The former catalyzes us to action; the latter brings us to a satisfied pause. Seeking needs to be turned off, if even for a little while, so that the system does not run in an endless loop. When we get the object of our desire (be it a Twinkie or a sexual partner), we engage in consummatory acts that Panksepp says reduce arousal in the brain and temporarily, at least, inhibit our urge to seek.

But our brains are designed to more easily be stimulated than satisfied. "The brain seems to be more stingy with mechanisms for pleasure than for desire," Berridge has said.
Which, as Emily Yoffe, author of this article, notes, only makes sense: it's what give us motivation.

There's elaboration on the theme of "Just how powerful (and separate) wanting is from liking is illustrated in animal experiments." Of course, a very logical man once observed:
"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical; but it is often true."
[...] Berridge has proposed that in some addictions the brain becomes sensitized to the wanting cycle of a particular reward. So addicts become obsessively driven to seek the reward, even as the reward itself becomes progressively less rewarding once obtained. "The dopamine system does not have satiety built into it," Berridge explains. "And under certain conditions it can lead us to irrational wants, excessive wants we'd be better off without."
Perhaps like seeking internet feedback, and egoboo? Perhaps. Or perhaps that's healthy socializing. I suppose it depends upon degree.

What I do know is that I tend to have an addictive personality, and I'm entirely addicted to the internet, and have always been an information junkie, long before the internet, via endless books, the library, used book stores, periodicals, and all around research. Yes, it's an addiction.

But is that a bad thing? Only if it interferes with me otherwise having a healthy life. So probably the answer for me leans towards somewhat of a "yes."

But I want this!:
[...] Novelty is one. Panksepp says the dopamine system is activated by finding something unexpected or by the anticipation of something new.
Neophilia and new information roolz.

And if you don't have some of that tendency, why are you reading this, anyway?
[...] If humans are seeking machines, we've now created the perfect machines to allow us to seek endlessly. This perhaps should make us cautious.
I think I'd better Google some more on this.

Read The Rest Scale: well, you've been warned, now, haven't you?

Trivial note to sf fans, on the spreading of our cultural memes/words: Egoboo, the game.

See also this accurate Mark Frauenfelder piece from Wired in 2000, on "Revenge of the Know-It-Alls," which makes the same connection:
[...] One of the top-ranking Epinionators, Bonies7, explains it on a message board: Using the site is "as addictive as the most powerful stimulant known to man," he writes. "Why does it work? Because it plays so well to the egos we all possess."

That's it. The neurochemical rush of pure ego boost on Epinions is as fine as anything you'll find in a paper bindle or a plastic vial. Epinions is a concentrated, pharmaceutical-free source of ego gratification, delivered via quantified feedback. And understands this. The site is like a Skinner box codesigned by Rube Goldberg and the creator of Sim games, in which rats take turns pressing levers in order to deliver jolts of pleasure to their fellow rodents' brains. "The cool part of Epinions," posts one user, "is waiting and seeing how people rate your reviews."


Science fiction fanzines have a word for the rush you get when you see your name in print: egoboo (short for ego boost). A distant predecessor of Usenet, the fanzine got its start in the late 1920s, when the sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories began running a letters column in which readers discussed the scientific principles behind the pulp mag's tales. The column included the street addresses of the fans. This led to the formation of fan clubs, many of which began publishing their own newsletters, and these newsletters eventually became known as fanzines. A 1949 issue of The New Republic ran an article about the hundreds of fanzines in existence at the time, explaining that sci-fi fans "seem to be infected with a virus. ... They correspond with other sufferers, sometimes in letters running to 12 pages."

Letters columns could take any number of twists and turns: What might start out as a discussion of Charlemagne's campaign to Christianize Europe could, in the course of subsequent issues, spin off along three separate trajectories - one on how to solve Fermat's theorem, another on the proper way to construct a funeral pyre, and a third on the evils of adding fluoride to the water supply. (A common saying among science fiction fans: "All knowledge is contained in fanzines.") Getting a letter published in someone else's fanzine was one of fandom's great ways to score egoboo; getting praised for your letter in the next issue was even better. Richard Eney wrote in his 1959 Fancyclopedia II that fandom itself "may be defined as an infinitely complex system for the production of pure egoboo."

You might say that the Internet is an infinitely complex system for the commercial exploitation of egoboo, where - on dozens of new "knowledge exchange" Web sites like Epinions - people are offering up their opinions and answering questions on everything from setting up a Web server to comparison shopping for inflatable sex dolls.
Fancyclopedia II, the 1959 version, compiled by Dick Eney, is here, by the way. The original Fancyclopedia was done by Jack Speer, who only died last year, and who compiled the original in 1944.

8/16/2009 12:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 14, 2009

From here: "The dire warnings of 'big, confusing bureaucracy,' 'some bureaucrat making life-or-death decisions for you,' 'resources will have to be allocated"--what country have these people been living in?"

As I said, it just goes to people's core prejudices as to whether they believe Reagan's formula from his First Inaugural Address: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," or not.

These people seem be believe, as a corallary, that big corporations, including insurance companies, are not the solution to our problem; the solution is to keep studying the problem.

Curiously, these same people tend to support/follow politicians who have among their primary financial supporters, large insurance companies and health care providers. This is all coincidence, I'm sure.

Americans have been shouting at each other variants of "government is socialism, which is totalitarianism" versus Roosevelt's -- Teddy, that is, formulation, for over a century:
[...] He brought new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.

He took the view that the President as a "steward of the people" should take whatever action necessary for the public good unless expressly forbidden by law or the Constitution." I did not usurp power," he wrote, "but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power."


As President, Roosevelt held the ideal that the Government should be the great arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to none.
I've given long quotes here from this speech I commend that speech to everyone; or, at least, my shortened version therein.

A yet much shorter set of quotes from that speech:

I am well aware that every upholder of privilege, every hired agent or beneficiary of the special interests, including many well-meaning parlor reformers, will denounce all this as "Socialism" or "anarchy"--the same terms they used in the past in denouncing the movements to control the railways and to control public utilities. As a matter of fact, the propositions I make constitute neither anarchy nor Socialism, but, on the contrary, a corrective to Socialism and an antidote to anarchy.


As a people we cannot afford to let any group of citizens or any individual citizen live or labor under conditions which are injurious to the common welfare. Industry, therefore, must submit to such public regulation as will make it a means of life and health, not of death or inefficiency. We must protect the crushable elements at the base of our present industrial structure.

The first charge on the industrial statesmanship of the day is to prevent human waste. The dead weight of orphanage and depleted craftsmanship, of crippled workers and workers suffering from trade diseases, of casual labor, of insecure old age, and of household depletion due to industrial conditions are, like our depleted soils, our gashed mountain-sides and flooded river bottoms, so many strains upon the National structure, draining the reserve strength of all industries and showing beyond all peradventure the public element and public concern in industrial health.


We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.


It is abnormal for any industry to throw back upon the community the human wreckage due to its wear and tear, and the hazzards of sickness, accident, invalidism, involuntary unemployment, and old age should be provided for through insurance. This should be made a charge in whole or in part upon the industries the employer, the employee, and perhaps the people at large, to contribute severally in some degree. Wherever such standards are not met by given establishments, by given industries, are unprovided for by a legislature, or are balked by unenlightened courts, the workers are in jeopardy, the progressive employer is penalized, and the community pays a heavy cost in lessened efficiency and in misery.


No people are more vitally interested than workingmen and workingwomen in questions affecting the public health.


In the National Government one department should be intrusted with all the agencies relating to the public health, from the enforcement of the pure food law to the administration of quarantine. This department, through its special health service, would co-operate intelligently with the various State and municipal bodies established for the same end. There would be no discrimination against or for any one set of therapeutic methods, against or for any one school of medicine or system of healing [....]

Our aim is to control business, not to strangle it--and, above all, not to continue a policy of make-believe strangle toward big concerns that do evil, and constant menace toward both big and little concerns that do well. Our aim is to promote prosperity, and then see to its proper division.


The only effective way in which to regulate the trusts is through the exercise of the collective power of our people as a whole through the Governmental agencies established by the Constitution for this very purpose. Grave injustice is done by the Congress when it fails to give the National Government complete power in this matter; and still graver injustice by the federal courts when they endeavor in any way to pare down the right of the people collectively to act in this matter as they deem wise; such conduct does itself tend to cause the creation of a twilight zone in which neither the Nation nor the States have power.
But Teddy Roosevelt was doubtless a communist dupe.

Also, earlier, much shorter, snark from me here.

Read The Rest Scale: well, there's my earlier, longer, excerpts of Teddy's speech to the Progressive Party he formed (aka "The Bull Moose Party").

But let's go to their platform, which is to say, Teddy Roosevelt's platform, of 1912:
[...] HEALTH

We favor the union of all the existing agencies of the Federal Government dealing with the public health into a single national health service without discrimination against or for any one set of therapeutic methods, school of medicine, or school of healing with such additional powers as may be necessary to enable it to perform efficiently such duties in the protection of the public from preventable diseases as may be properly undertaken by the Federal authorities, including [...] co-operation with the health activities of the various States and cities of the Nation.


The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice. We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for: [...] The protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use [....]
Commie, commie, commie!

We need to study these proposals longer: we can't rush into such complex issues.

8/14/2009 11:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

Bookmark and Share

This page is powered by Blogger.

Visitor Map