micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Friday, May 31, 2002
Dave Douglas sent me a kind note this afternoon acknowledging my review of his May 4 concert in Chicago, which I first mentioned on May 8, so here is another plug for davedouglas.com and more importantly for the wonderful music this man creates.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is worried that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's new focus on terrorism will leave less resources to fight the "war on drugs," according to an Associated Press report. Given the results, maybe this isn't the worst thing in the world.

However, once Daley really thinks about the new powers the the FBI is getting -powers outlined by Holy Warrior John Ashcroft himself- don't be suprised if he changes his mind and decides that the likely violations of civil liberties these changes could cause is of equal importance to the loss of liberties caused by the "war on drugs."

Nobody seems to want to comment here but I guess nobody isn't commenting because they have the option. (Just as, despite the small number of hits that I get, nobody isn't reading me because of this blog.) That is is all well and good but I would appreciate any comments you leave either by emailing me at micahth@hotmail.com and through the use of the message function.

The inspiration for putting comments on this log -that is the reason I thought people might actually use them- was a thread on freejazz.org that used my essay "The Limits of Politics in Avant-Garde Jazz," from the BOOGIE! edition of Bad Subjects, as the starting point for a somewhat lengthy discussion that I did not initate but have participated in.

Seymour Hersh has an excellent piece in the current edition of The New Yorker on "Why the government didn't know what it knew" RE September 11.

For more on Hersh check out David Rubien's profile of him from the January 18, 2000 edition of Salon and the speech Hersh gave on April 26 at the Peter Lisagor Awards. (FWIW, it was at this dinner that I became an "award winning journalist.")

Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Charles Fishman of Fast Company has written a very interesting article on an Oklahoma bomb making factory.

In addition to seeing Dogtown and Z-Boys and doing a bevy of things I'm not going to write about, I used this weekend to read and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire and Nabiel Kanan's The Birthday Riots, see Mike Watt in concert, and listen a lot to Peter Brotzmann's Machine Gun and David S. Ware's Flight of I.

Monday, May 27, 2002
I saw Dogtown and Z-Boys on Saturday and hope to have an extended review published soon.

Saturday, May 25, 2002
The great David Rees has some new strips in his ever so delightful Get Your War On series. This one is the best of this bunch IMHO.

More hypocrisy on free speech from Glenn Reynolds. He just doesn't like it when those on the left speak up. Click here to see what the professor has to say about the rights of “those who take anti-American stances.”

All good Americans should go to whitehouse.org!

Friday, May 24, 2002
What makes the sins of communists so permanently damning? Yesterday on The Weekly Standard web site Lee Bockhorn attacked Ossie Davis for praising the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the organizers of PBSMemorial Day Concert on the Mall for having Davis emcee the event.

Bockhorn doesn’t think Davis should do this because everyone knew by the 1960s that the U.S.S.R. “had slaughtered tens of millions of innocent victims.”

However, Bockhorn never grapples this aspect of Soviet history not being qualitatively different from the history United States, as genocide against Native Americans was an integral part of the foundation of the U.S. Thus it logically follows that if any praise of the Soviet Union equals supporting the destructive aspects of that now defunct conglomerate nation’s history then any praise of the U.S. equals supporting the genocide of Native Americans, not to mention a host of other atrocities.

That is of course a ridiculous notion. as there are unquestionably many admirable aspects of the U.S. and its history and to deny their existence is to deny reality. I even acknowledge that the genocide against Native Americans, while not justifiable in any way, shape or form, lead to one of the most egalitarian distributions of land ever to have occurred. Furthermore every society when viewed broadly has admirable qualities and yet also a dark side. As Joe Lockard recently put it in a piece for Bad Subjects, “No nation-state exists without an inheritance of pre-foundational violence and a history of violent self-maintenance.”

And yet only certain countries get blamed for this in the popular political discourses of the U.S. In the pages of LA Weekly John Powers recently lambasted leftists in the U.S. who admire Fidel Castro despite that leader’s undisputable legacy of using “police-state tactics to keep himself in power” and “crushing free speech, purging revolutionary allies, imprisoning political prisoners by the thousands, summarily executing ‘counterrevolutionaries.’”

But how far are you going to go with this? As far as I’m concerned what the U.S. has done to Iraq over the last 11 or so years is worse than anything Castro ever did. The U.S. has contributed to the deaths of many thousands of people there for the crime of living in a country with a dictator who has never done anything the U.S. hasn’t done at one point or another. And Castro’s sins are beyond the pale?

The reason for this hypocrisy is the very standard on which it is based. People in the U.S. largely apply different standards to other countries than they do the U.S. Americans think America can make mistakes and/or, or as I argued yesterday, America is justified in doing things other countires should not be allowed to do. Namely dominating the world.

This site is now listed on blogdex but they have yet to crawl it.

Last night I went for a walk and took some time out to watch a worm. All I have to say is worms are cool!

Thursday, May 23, 2002
Speaking of The Simpsons, in season five’s “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” bartender Moe Szyslak summed how all too many people in the United States view other countries. “Freddy Quimby was with me the entire...night in question. We were collecting canned goods for the starving people in... er, you know, one of them loser countries,” said Szyslak during testimony in the trial that would eventually acquit Quimby of the charge of murder.

Yesterday Glenn Reynolds shared similar sentiments with the readers of his blog:

I'm hearing a lot of German talk about the United States' power not being "counterbalanced." I can understand German diplomatic concerns along those lines. I just can't understand why we should share them.

Either Reynolds believe that U.S. military power is always benevolent or he believes the U.S. is in the best position when it is the strongest country in the world and he want to revel in American seniority.

The first belief in just empirically false while the second rests on the idea that Americans should want and are justified in wanting their country to be as strong as possible. This argument can be only be justified by saying that it is also true that the people of other countries or ethnic, racial or religious groups should also want and are also justified in wanting the group they most identify with to be as strong as possible. This will lead to an empire –as defined in the traditional sense not how Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri define it in their book Empire- which, like all empires will not last forever and will do great damage to those being dominated and/or it will lead to destruction of everybody.

The only other way I can see to intellectually justify this lust and celebration of power is to say the U.S. at some point committed the antithesis of the “original sin” and is thus justified in doing whatever it wants. This is ridiculous for two reasons. One is that the U.S. has over time improved in a number of ways and become more democratic and just. Many Americans justify their patriotism by pointing to this very progress and arguing that the most egregious faults have in fact been corrected by the economic and political systems of the U.S. Personally I feel this is rather unnuisanced and problematic way of viewing social progress but that the progress happened is as undisputable. But these gains could only be made because there were injustices in the U.S. This doesn’t necessarily demonstrate an “original sin” –and keep in mind that in practical terms I do not believe in original and therefore uncorrectable “sins”- but it does knock how the possibility of the opposite.

At least as devastating to the antithesis of the “original sin” hypothesis is the fact that just as progress has been made in the U.S., there have also been many retreats from human freedom, however you define freedom, in this country. If the U.S. was birthed and lived in perfection, this would not be possible.

Reynolds and most of those like him probably don’t really think in philosophical terms about their love of U.S. power. As I said yesterday, “most of the bloggers who comment on politics revel in power.”

It appears like they view it as its own end and they don’t seem to care if that means dominating people around the world.

Last night’s episode of The Simpsons was probably the best of this mostly disappointing season. (Which isn’t to say that The Simpsons was not the second most entertaining show on television, with the top slot going to Matt Groening’s Futurama. I don’t watch a lot of television but the only other show that even comes close is the Late Show with David Letterman, and IMHO that show was often painful to watch due to the simple minded analysis of September 11 and its aftermath given by Letterman and how the show became at times nothing but propaganda for John Ashcroft and Rudy Giuliani. I still think Letterman is a tremendous with especially in segments like psychic sandwich.)

Anyway back to The Simpsons and last night’s episode, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Badge.” It featured some great satire about a lot of things including the "war on terror" with this following exchange:

Lisa: But Dad, we're trying to conserve energy.

Homer: If we conserve, the environmentalists win!

Ken Layne, who yesterday reminded those in “the Hate America movement,” “It's 2001, and we can Fact Check your ass,” has missed the whole the point of the joke by ignoring the symbolism. Perhaps he doesn’t get it because he just can’t imagine a show like The Simpsons, which he appears to be a fan of and admittedly is not guided by any consistent political ideology, actually criticizing the “war on terror.”

I don’t intend for this blog to continue to become as focused on my personal life at micahth.diaryland.com often did but I do feel like tying up a loose end RE thealchemist who I lasted mentioned on April 5.

Since then I have been in contact with thealchemist a few times and I’m not going to get into the details of those conversations or the particulars of how they come about but last night I had what I presume will be my last conversation with her ever. I finally told her most, although not all, of what I’ve felt and how I don’t want to live with this situation unresolved, and that as far as I’m concerned the situation will be unresolved so long as there is the possibility of her calling me out of the blue like she did early Monday afternoon. I accept a lot of the blame for this situation but I am not the only one at fault here and so I am not going to beat myself up about it regardless of whether or not thealchemist recognizes her role. It is unfortunate that this happened but it did. I couldn't deal with the situation and so I needed to end it.

Things did end on about as good of a note as could be expected, however. I told thealchemist that I was really glad I had met her and that I’d wished her the best. She seconded my thoughts. My last words to her were “enjoy life.”

thealchemist told me to “take care” and with that it was done.

If I could tell her one more thing, I would say I love her very much and probably always will. But even that doesn't express how I really feel.

As Neil Young has sung:

I'm an accident
I was driving way too fast
Couldn't stop though
So I let the moment last
I'm for rollin'
I'm for tossin' in my sleep
It's not guilt though
It's not the company I keep

Wednesday, May 22, 2002
If you go to the Chicago Sun-Times site, you can read "Stroger bristles over criticism of worker." The piece references an article by my friend Rupa Shenoy, even if it doesn't name her. Personally I think they should have just done a photo shoot of Rupa:-)

I'm not a fan of Star Wars so in theory I could care less about Jonathan Last, online editor of The Weekly Standard, backing the Empire but I suppose Aaron McGruder's cover of the June 3 issue of The Nation makes a bit more sense in light of this.

By the way, I just did a search for "Yachi Ninon" -see today's first entry- on Google but nothing came up.

Blogs can be cool and all -I wouldn't do one if I didn't think so- but I just do not get pieces like Paul Andrews' "News by the People, for the People," which appeared last week at Online Journalism Review. How exactly are blogs going to compete with the established media when bloggers do very little reporting and get most of their information from the media they decry?

And then there is this passage, "Ultimately, the mainstream media will likely continue to cover enfranchised sources, and online media will continue to empower the disenfranchised."

The mainstream media do mostly cover those in power, and that is a problem. But it is a mistake to think most bloggers have any interest at all in covering the disenfranchised. As far as I can see, most of the bloggers who comment on politics revel in power and love to mock those who critique power and its uses. (Occasionally they even make logical arguments against these critics.)

FWIW, as of late, I've been listening to the following discs at work:

-AALY Trio + Ken Vandermark Hidden in the Stomach (Silkheart) Pure shrieking joy.

-Susie Ibarra/Denis Charles Drum Talk (Wobbly Rail)

-Fugazi End Hits (Dischord) My friend fivestring suggested I hear this disc and since he is the one who got me listening to Fugazi, I decided to go with it. IMHO, however, there is a certain blandess to it and the disc is not nearly as good as 13 Songs or The Argument.

-Kenta Nagai and Tatsuya Nakatani a-un (self-released) Great avant guitar and percussion recording. Check out my thoughts on on a recent performance by Nakatani.

-Pharoah Sanders, Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph Spirits (Mah/Meta)

I am listening to more recent recordings at home but this list will have to do for now.

I just opened my email and found some span from "Yachi Ninon" with a subject line reading, " If you're not losing hair, don't open this.. ..."

I didn't open it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
I was just checking out Eric Alterman’s new blog, at msnbc.com, and followed the link to the “Springsteen Archive,” which ends being on the great Bruce Springsteen site Greasy Lake. From there I went to “Assorted articles” and found my review of "American Skin" from 2000. I do wish they would have deep linked to the review’s original home at Bad Subjects but I’m not going to complain, especially since the page does link to the main page of Bad Subjects and that is more than a lot of sites do.

Thursday, May 16, 2002
"People shouldn't be punished for demonstrating, or for counter-demonstrating, regardless of their views," writes Glenn Reynolds in his most recent column for Fox News.

That's all well and good but, to beat a horse worthy of additonal flogging, what happens when they take "anti-American stances"? What is the "price to pay"?

Yesterday I added comments to this log. Nobody has commented yet but that is because is this blog is all but undiscovered territory. Hopefully that will change soon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Somebody –I can’t figure out who- took the text of yesterday’s entry and posted it on indymedia.org. It lead to a few hits for this site and generated a few responses so I guess I can’t complain.

For a better reply to Walter Shapiro’s column, see what Matt Brown said in this post at Warblogger Watch.

Also, just so it is clear, nothing I said yesterday, or today for that matter, is meant to imply that there are not valid and serious criticisms of Noam Chomsky to be made. (And for some of those I suggest going to Bad Subjects, a zine I’ve written for, and checking out Joe Lockard’s review of 9-11 and Doug Henwood’s interview with Slavoj Zizek.)

Of course, Glenn Reynolds has a different take on this matter. On Friday he peppered lengthy quotes from Shapiro with calling Chomsky “an idiot” and saying people read Chomsky because “Maybe because, you know, they're idiots too?”

“Chomsky is an America-hating anti-Semite,” Reynolds said on Monday. ”if I were Chomsky, I'd hate myself.”

All of this actually is quite tame since on March 18 Reynolds said, “Those who take anti-American stances should realize that there's a price to pay.” (I first used this quote on May 1.)

William Bennett may have formed Americans for Victory Over Terrorism to combat anti-war views but even said, “We do not wish to silence people.” (Interestingly, however, this particular quote does not appear on AVOT’s site according to a search on google.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Last week USA Today ran a column by Walter Shapiro berating Noam Chomsky and his book 9-11, which concludes with "The best response to the frenzied e-mailed dispatches from this left-wing crank remains public disclosure and ridicule."

But ridicule is all Shapiro offers since he never actually refutes any of Chomsky's claims. Rather he just labels them as "shrill assertions."

This paragraph is particularly telling:

At the beginning of 9-11, Chomsky briefly puts aside his virulent anti-Americanism to label the Sept. 11 attacks as "horrifying atrocities." But pretty soon, he declares that bin Laden's "call for the overthrow of corrupt and brutal regimes of gangsters and torturers resonates quite widely." And rather than pursuing bin Laden, Chomsky suggests that it would "make a lot more sense" to "consider realistically the background concerns and grievances, and to try to remedy them."

There is nothing the least bit inconsistent about deploring the September 11 attacks but then recognizing there is a reason why people felt justified in committing them and why others some the attacks as justified. It is a fact that some people hate the United States enough to want to attack it so it would seem someone like Shapiro would want to understand why they feel this way. Keep in mind that understanding does not necessarily mean agreement.

Shapiro ends the piece by asserting that Bush's policies have plenty of faults but that "Chomsky's momentary popularity overshadows infinitely more reasoned critiques of Bush administration policies." He doesn't name any of these critiques. Apparently attacking "anti-Americanism" is more important to Shapiro than America attacking other countries.

Monday, May 13, 2002
opening notes

Welcome to micah holmquist's infrequent thoughts and links!

This is my log at its new home. The log was previously updated at micahth.diaryland.com and it is at that location that entries from April 20, 2001 to May 13, 2002 can be found. Some of the best pieces are " Eleven Questions for George W. Bush," "Dear President Bush" and "the ten funniest things that micah holmquist did, said or wrote in 2001."

Over time this log has taken a number of different forms but right now it is more or less a place for me to promote other pieces that I have done. (If I had my act together, I would just create a home page with my scraps of journalism but this will have to do till that day.) That said, there might be occasional bloggy pieces.

As for me, I live in Chicago and am an award winning journalist of sorts. I enjoy good music, good books, good food and quite a few other things.