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

Saturday, August 31, 2002
My beloved Spartans beat Eastern Michigan earlier today, 56-7.

For better or worse, this means one thing and one thing only; Michigan State University has a better football team than Eastern Michigan University. Now maybe this doesn't sound like much but as fan of the Spartans since I cared about any football games let me tell you that the two worst days for Spartan football during my fandom were in 1991 and 1992 when they lost to Central Michigan University. A win is a win is a win.

Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton has passed away at the age of 1994. I can't say I was his biggest fan but his talent was beyond question. Click here for more on Hampton's career courtsey of allmusic.com.

Misnomer is an interesting weblog from Dru Oja Jay, who contributes to Monkeyfist.

I don't know much about the War and Law League but their site has a lot of interesting essays on how the U.S. governement is supposed to engage in wars according to its own laws.

Over at Spiked, Brendan O'Neill's latest piece, "'A link between Saddam and bin Laden? No way'" essentialy is an interview with Alex Standish, editor of the Jane's Intelligence Digest. As the article's title suggest, Standish doesn't think Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are working together but the final two paragraphs are more important:
'One of the charges laid against Saddam is that he openly preaches anti-Americanism. Of course Saddam is not a democratically elected leader, but one wonders how many other countries might come in for regime change for not liking America - even countries with democratically elected leaders, like Venezuela. It sometimes seems as if we're moving towards a new era of interventionism - and that is potentially dangerous.'

According to Standish, the desire for regime change could backfire in the end. 'In Iraq there is no guarantee that if we topple Saddam we will get the regime we want. There is likely to be great instability - and possibly even an Iranian-style revolution in Iraq, which would have unquantifiable consequences.'

If an "Iranian-style revolution" were to happen, my guess is that the U.S. would just obliterate the entire country.

Of course, nobody is sure who the next long term symbolic whipping boy will be.

Friday, August 30, 2002
John Pilger's "Iraq: The Lying Game" is a good piece on how the house of cards upon which the case for attacking Iraq gets rebuilt in different ways after every time it gets knocked down.

There appears to be a deal in baseball thus presumably making Glenn Reynolds and Todd of Todd's Place unsure what will happen in the November elections.

In the mid 1980s, when I was in grade school, I was a huge baseball fan. I collected the cards and memorized stats but then my interest waned in middle school. I still followed the game up till about 1998 when it became clear that the Tigers weren't good that season and weren't going to be good any time soon. Now I just don't care.

Call me a fair weather fan or what not, but I have realized that I don't follow sports so much as I follow teams. Speaking of which, the only football team I actually want to win starts playing tomorrow.

One thing I do find odd is how a lot of people, including my father, like to criticize Major Leage Baseball players for being greedy while they love the minor leagues. I hate to break this to such people but the minor league players are trying to get to the big leagues. They want to play in games where their performance is treated as the product and the fans care whether they win or lose. And, oh yeah, they want those big salaries.

It Takes one to Know one

In a post from Tuesday, Douglas Anders writes:

Amid the war news, economic news and federal budget news, we ought not to forget that there are other, older abuses that the Bush administration is guilty of. Micah Holmquist reminds us of one.

By the way, he is now a contributor to the excellent HorowitzWatch, a previously great site that is now even more worthy of your attention. Mr. Holquist [sic] was one of the first friends of this weblog, so he clearly is a man of uncommon good sense and discernment.

I’m flattered. I’m truly flattered. Run don’t walk to read his blog for a bevy of good posts including his notes on Three Kings, a film that I really should make an effort to see.

The New York Post's Eric Fettmann is wondering why American's aren't still angry about the September 11 terrorist attacks.

I suppose my anger doesn't count.

Thursday, August 29, 2002
Yesterday I noted an exchange between David Horowitz and HorowitzWatch, a site that, for the record, I've recently started writing for. Horowitz has replied and concedes that he was wrong saying, "Score one for the nitwits" and "Nitwits Score."

Insults apparently are a way of life.

We are Talking Over!

According to a report from Reuters:

The United States will seek Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites)'s ouster regardless of whether he lets U.N. specialists resume inspections of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

"The case for regime change is broader than just WMD (weapons of mass destruction)," the official told Reuters, speaking on condition that he not be identified.

Later it reads:
However, the United States would continue to press Saddam to readmit U.N. inspectors and live up to previous commitments to disarm, he said.
In other words, there will be no incentive for Hussein to actually do this but the United States will keep trying nonetheless.

Zachary B of College Sucks has recently suggested that September 11 be National Flag Burning Day.

Aaron Hawkins runs the excellent Uppity-Negro.com blog and has a fun suggestion as to who should be invading Iraq:
Fuck the random lottery draft shit. They need to just fire up Google, see who's seriously enthused about invading other folks, and specifically get them to do it. I expect you'd see a rash of foot injuries.
The responses to this entry are worth reading as well.

Of course, the cynic in me thinks most of these hawks with a keyboard, connection to the net and no military experience have already followed the lead of FOX News and believe that their current typing is part of the war effort.

Why doesn't Scott Ritter just accept lies like a good American?

Former Marine and weapons inspector of Iraq for the United Nations Scott Ritter is critical of VP Dick Cheney's recent bout of bellicosity. Speaking on yesterday's edition of PBS' NewsHour, Ritter said:

what Vice President Cheney said to the American people [RE weapons inspections] is tantamount to a lie. The CIA knows that, Hussein Kamal, the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein when he defected clearly stated that under his instructions all weapons programs were eliminated. This is fact. He didn't lead us to a document. The Iraqi government did. The bottom line is inspection worked.
RE Iraq's ability to produce weapons since the removal of inspectors, Ritter said:
I made it clear when I testified to the Senate in 1998 that Iraq could reconstitute significant aspects of its weapons program within six months of inspectors being withdrawn. It's been four years, so absolutely Iraq has some potential. We have to keep in mind that the weapons they had in 1991 came from factories that had been destroyed. So for Iraq to produce weapons today they would have had to reconstitute a manufacturing base since the time inspectors left in December 1998. That's not simply done.

Iraq would have to reacquire new technology, rebuild factories and then produce the weapons. They could make some progress in chemical weapons unless they got large scale fermentation units, the concept of a massive biological weapons program is ludicrous and on nuclear, look, Iraq solved the design problem. They know how to build the device and they could build a device today, minus the fissile core. They would need a reconstituted enrichment program that was eradicated completely and this is not something that’s going to be done void of detection. The Israeli army chief of staff came out yesterday and said he is not losing any sleep over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. If Israel, which will bear the brunt of any Iraqi attack, isn't concerned, I don't see why Dick Cheney is.

Your blogger doesn't aggree with Ritter on everything. He wants to contain Iraq while I believe that any such attempt is just one method of the United States trying to control Iraq and deny that the U.S. has a moral right to do that. Still containment would be preferable to the U.S. using Iraq as a target range "because," as I said yesterday, "it can and to show the world that Al Haig's country is in charge." (O.K., I'll admit it, that is one of the funniest things I think I've ever written and I just had to use it once more but, in the interests of moving forward, I hereby swear to my readers that they will never read me write on this blog again save for nostalgic purposes.)

(Thanks to Les Dabney for the link.)

UPDATE:Andrew Edwards has provided not one but two reasons to doubt Ritter's honesty. (8/30/2002 11:49 a.m.)

If you head over to me-zine.com, you can combine some of the more interesting bloggers on the web, including myself and Lisa English who pointed me to this site via her blog, and "roll your own me-zine." Other bloggers can also sign up.

Speaking of Ray Hanania, I've been going through his site and enjoying it a lot. I don't agree with everything Hanania says -his recent critique of Edward Said seems to miss the point of the role of intellectuals, for instance- but he is a very talented writer and appears to have a good soul, which is usually important for a columnist.

I suggest paying particular attention to the following things on his site:

-"Arab American Humor & Thoughts," this is Hanania's blog and, although it is not updated with the greatest of frequency and avoids one of the elements that usually make blogs distinct, links, it is worth reading. Especially good are his two most recent entries, "I Long for the Days when People Mistook Me for an Iranian" and "Riding the CTA L to Memories."

-"Challenges facing the development of professional Arab American Journalism," a good useufl essay that came out earlier this month.

-"Ray Hanania's Messages to: Arab audiences, Jewish audiences & American audiences -- a working document," interesting and pulls no punches.

-"Statement from Ray Hanania on the "Jackie Mason" controversy," what it says.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
In light of this post, I'm starting to wonder if Alley Writer is a joke much like Uncle Sam probably is. Then again both of them might just be jingoists who don't follow or Ignore what Bush is saying.

The Hag Strikes Back!

O.K. this isn't solid but Max Sawicky says he has read somebody quote the great Merle Haggard as saying:

I think we should give John Ashcroft a big hand...(pause)...right in the mouth! . . . The way things are going I'll probably be thrown in jail tomorrow for saying that, so I hope ya'll will bail me out."
Nearly two years ago, Haggard was quoted as saying, "If you call this a free society, you'd have to be really stretching the phrase, I think."

Also, Matt Welch has noted that Haggard is interested in starting his own talk radio show. I'm not at all sure what what he's talking about when mentions his "37 years in travel on this planet" as he travels began a lot earlier than 1965. Still I'd love a Haggard talk show.

Haggard probably doesn't have anything approaching consistent politics but he is a very interesting and passionate person who doesn't have a lot of tolerance for hypocrisy and has occasionally shown the ability to be self-critical.

Maybe he should just start a blog since he has also said, “I think the computer, the communication on the Interweb (sic) — that just might save our freedom.” And continued, “They can’t stop it; the government can’t get in there and do something. There’s a possibility that the sleeping giant might come alive and take this country back.”

UPDATE: Alexander Cockburn has quoted Cheryl Burns of Kasas City as noting these comments from Haggard about Ashcroft.

David Horowitz's latest entry features a picture of him in a bathroom with a cute dog on the sink while he talks on the phone. That alone is worth the price of admission but the one time revolutionary leftist chides HorowitzWatch for not using their real names. James M. Capozzola has responded saying that most contributors do use their real names so this isn't a big deal. Actually, this shouldn't be an issue even if everyone of us was using a handle since the criticisms made of Horowitz and FrontPage Magazine on the site are serious and legitimate. What difference does it make to him if he knows our actual names?

In other news, on his personal blog, Capozzola has some good entries on Norah Vincent and the Ray Hanania/Jackie Mason controversy.

I've spoken with Hanania a couple of times and found him to be a charming guy but don't really have anything to say other than you should check out his website and read his book I'm Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America.

Also, I thought Chicken Soup was a funny show.

Spoons thinks there is some sort of consistent rationale for Uncle Sam attacking, or at least should be, and yet is unable to accept that America will (almost surely) attack because it can and to show the world that Al Haig's country is in charge.

I thought Bush and Co. already said they hate us because they hate freedom

The State Department is having a conference next week to find out why anti-Americanism exists in the world and figure out ways to counter it, according this report by the AP.

Do check out "Federal court rules secret US 'terror' courts are illegal'" by Andrew Gumbel of The Independent.

Les Dabney, who has been kind enough to add me to his Hotlist, doesn't like the cops in his town and wants vouchers so he can hire his own security detail. Can someone please explain the flaw in his logic?

I take a certain degree of pride in being listed by Spoons as a member of "The Other Side," even though this signifies that he can't tell the difference between a liberal like Josh Marshall and myself.

President George Herbert Walker Bush is eligible to for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I'll want that postcard. (Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Hi Ho, HI Ho It's Off to Baghdad We Go!

I've been reading the Vice President Dick Cheney's important, landmark, remember where you were when you first heard it because you'll be telling your grand kids about it, FrontPage Magazine needs to link to it speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention and boy am I shocked. Who would ever possibly in a million times google years have thought they would hear a member of the second Bush administration would talk about Saddam Hussein in less than glowing terms? And the evidence provided by this dashing obvious gentleman of letters is simply smashing.

I have a lot going on the next few days so blogging will probably be brief.

Now I've said this before a couple of times, and thought it at countless points, and then gone ahead and blogged hard so I'm not going to say there won't be any blogging. There just probably won't be very much. Think "War Without End Amen" not "Always Justified."

Monday, August 26, 2002
It is most likely within your ability to and read my entry "Always Justified" at HorowitzWatch.

It doesn't suprise me that Brendan O'Neill is critical of slackers.

I highly suggest checking out the Steve Earle interview that appeared in yesterday's New York Times. Its an interview that barely scrapes the surface but he does briefly address Toby Keith, John Walker Lindh, Bruce Springsteen and Karla Faye Tucker.

I love Earle and am glad to see him getting this publicity but it seems a bit unfortunate that it is coming now and not closer to September 24 when the Jerusalem will be in stores.

According to my counter I've now had over 3,012 pages views -most of those were probably me- since I began this blog on May 13.

That's a little over a thousand more than I had on August 6 and, if my math is right, about 50 views a day.

Douglas Anders has a post on the proposed war against Iraq that is worth reading.

Nabil al-Marabh was one of the roughly 1,200 Arab and/or Muslim men who were arrested and detained without in the United States last year after the September 11 terrorist attacks on suspicions of being terrorists. He has now come forward to say he was beaten while in custody and that his treatment at New York City's Metropolitan Detention Center was “worse than hell,” reports Emma Simpson of the BBC News.

I've recently become a contributor to the already excellent and very impressive HorowitzWatch, which critically covers David Horowitz and the others who write for frontpagemag.com. Since I've already been doing a bit of this my addition to lineup -which already includes founder James M. Capozzola, Scoobie Davis, Adam Magazine, Yuval Rubinstein and Watchful Babbler- should make a for a good fit.

Although I highly recommend reading Horowitz Watch I will post a link to my contributions on this site.

War Without End Amen

"Lawyers for President Bush have concluded he can launch an attack on Iraq without new approval from Congress, in part because they say permission remains in force from the 1991 resolution giving Bush's father authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf, according to administration officials," write Mike Allen and Juliet Eilperin in today's Washington Post.

Ken Layne is "disgusted and bored by this War on Iraq talk." However, Layne does want the U.S. to go to war with Saudi Arabia due to his own inability to differentiate between the government the Saudi government and Saudi nationals.

Last Thursday Layne "explained" why "they hate us" and, in what must be a shock to Osama bin Laden, it has nothing to do with U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. It is so nice to know that we have an journalist of Layne's caliber to tell us what's what.

Sunday, August 25, 2002
Well it was a weekend

Yesterday evening I attended my maternal grandfather’s 91st birthday party and that was o.k. He is a man with many stories and experiences. Sometimes it takes lots or pointed questions to get him started but once you do, the anecdotes don’t stop coming.

Of course this event also meant hanging out with the same people I spent last Christmas with. They were relatively tame, however, and all I have to say is that I’m not sure if it was ever funny to hear somebody complain about people speaking Mexican but it certainly isn’t anymore.

Today I went with my parents and Fred to the Allegan County Antique Market. On the way there we were listening to oldies radio station WODJ and I kept making jokes about how Elvis Aaron Presley was the King and his music was all an oldies station should play. Then at 8 a.m. a program came on the played devoted to Elvis and I realized that the joke was no longer funny.

By the way the greatest Elvis songs ever are Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings’ “Suspicious Minds” and the Dead Kennedys' “Viva Las Vegas.”

The antique show was fairly cool, although the usual assortment of black face and Nazi “memorabilia” was on hand for the virtually all white crowd that number in the thousands to purchase. I wonder if Islamic Fundamentalist paraphernalia will be a staple of antique shows in 50 or 60 years.

I haven’t been to this show since 1994 but I had gone many times previously and have picked up a slew of treasures. This year I picked up a Planet of the Apes mug copyrighted 1967, a Marge Simpson figure that was a Burger King freebie in 1990 and a couple of Pez containers including a 1980s light blue Batman. The very first Pez container I ever got was an identical light blue Batman that my dad gave me in 1989. I don’t collect very all that vigorously but my collection does number at around 170 different figure designs and about a third as many duplicates. My favorite containers have to be Homer J., Droopy Dog and my feetless elephant with an orange base. The collection was displayed at the McBain Community Library in McBain, Michigan earlier this year.

Then on the way home, my parent’s van had some trouble, which made it impossible to drive for long distances. We ended up having to take it to a dealer and get a rental car. That delayed us getting back to Cadillac by five and a half hours or so but it happened.

Saturday, August 24, 2002
Today's edition of The Independent features a piece worth reading by Robert Fisk on the need for journalists to remain independent of the legal process.

Friday, August 23, 2002
Humor is apparently something that John Hawkins does not understand.

Norah Vincent, who I last mentioned yesterday, writes:
What the hell kind of hypocritical crap are we pulling in Central Asia? Surely we can bring ourselves to make more of an effort to square the moral politics of the war on terror with the logistical maneuverings we feel we have to make to fight it? Pakistan has been an ally since 9/11 for obvious reasons, but we cannot therefore turn a blind eye to obvious injustice. Don’t the people of Pakistan deserve a move toward, not away, from self-governance? Shouldn’t they hear our condemnation of the blatant move Musharraf has made in the other direction?
I haven’t seen such naivety since Sunday. How a person who has studied U.S. military actions could write this with a straight face is beyond me.

Repeat after me, there is much to debate about why the United States acts the way it does to other countries but the motivation has never been, is not and it is hard to imagine ever will be to help people in other countries.

Should the United States have been conquered?

On the August 19 edition of CNN's Crossfire David Horowitz said:

Well, look, it's not like slavery hasn't been studied for 100 years. Just to take the unpaid labor, a segment -- slavery was a monstrous, immoral institution, and that's why it should be condemned. But if you are looking at it economically, two economotricians won the Nobel Prize for studying slavery and they came up with the figure of 10 percent of a slave's wages were unpaid labor because the slave, after all, got food, clothing and housing.
And of course the freedom to purchase those items as they wanted in accordance with their full citizenship in the United States. The man in charge of frontpagemag.com continues:
Now, you and I, Tucker [Carlson], and James [Carville] and Ron Walters pay -- 30 percent or 40 percent of our labor is unpaid because it goes to the federal government. So this is -- there's -- this isn't the issue.
Well some people believe that taxes amount to a form of slavery but Horowitz would have discount from that total everything the government does for him, which includes bombing the hell out of other countries every so often and secretly detaining people the employees of his god have deemed to be terrorists.

(Thanks to Yuval Rubinstein for pointing this out.)

In a related matter, On August 6 I noted that David Horowitz of frontpagemag.com does not know, or chose to ignore, that other countries outlawed, including Great Britain, abolished slavery before the United States did.

In light of this, I'd like to make a challenge to all people, such as Dan Savage, who believe the United States should be taking over countries that violate the human rights of the people within their borders in order in order to establish freedom for those people. Would any country that had abolished slavery before the United States did have been justified in attacking, invading and conquering the United States in order to abolish slavery? Please explain your answer.

The Northern Alliance appear to have committed war crimes towards surrendered Taliban soldiers in November, reports Babak Dehghanpisheh, John Barry and Roy Gutman of Newsweek.

Les Dabney wondered on Sunday "how the misadministration is going to spin this."

Five days later we can see that the Bush administration hasn't had to spin this at all and I believe the reason stems from timid reporters and the fact that Americans don't really care. I am suprised this hasn't gotten more coverage in the press outside the U.S. and amongst more critical commentators, although Eric Alterman, to his credit, did note the story.

Thursday, August 22, 2002
In the "no independence will be tolerated and don't even think about dissent" category, head over to frontpagemag.com right now and you'll see a link to this story about how Gulf War allies are mostly unsupportive of attacking Iraq now. It is described on frontpagemag.com as "Many Gulf War Allies Betraying US on Iraq Attack."

Is it even possible to take the writers of this site seriously if they talk about not wanting the U.S. to take over the world? No.

Norah Vincent has recently started blogging and while the prose isn't quite what I've come to expect from her, the results aren't bad whether she's bashing Ann Coulter or praising Robert Crumb. That said, while I enjoyed the entry on Crumb, I think her argument is wrong in a nusanced manner. Crumb, whose work is very impressive and worth picking up, is misogynistic not because he thinks women have undue power over him but rather because he uses his belief in women having power over him and his own self loathing as an excuse for the hatred of women. The fact that he makes this all clear in his work and is aware of what is going on doesn't change that he feels that way.

On another matter, on Tuesday Vincent argued that feminists should support the war on terror as it will liberate women around the world from oppressive countries. In any given country that might happen and it might not but don't be fooled in into thinking that such is the goal of U.S. policy, anymore than better governance for Iraq is.

(Thanks to Ken Layne for the link.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2002
I've responded to this post by Matt Welch RE calls for censorship around Ted Rall’s “terror widows” cartoon with the following:
Keyes hedged but did suggest that he woud support censorship against Rall if other means were not enough. In a March 11 column he wrote "this brutal and inhuman comic strip was not debate – it was an assault on the decent national sensibilities crucial to the war effort."

Further down he said:

A free people should normally suppress such activities through private moral judgment and association. Pornographers should be shunned by all, and likewise Mr. Ted Rall should have been fired immediately by those with professional authority over him, or in contractual relations with him. Such action in defense of the decent judgment of this people in regard to 9-11 would be more than sufficient to keep such as Mr. Rall from subverting our national resolve.

But it is worth remembering that when serious and sustained attempts to undermine public opinion on a matter genuinely essential to national life cannot be resisted by other means, governmental action may be necessary. For governmental action is also the action of a free people...

This certainly sounds like somebody who at wouldn't have a problem with the principle of imprisoning critics of the war if they were harming "the war effort."
If anybody knows of any other calls, and I'm not sure there were any, please leave a message for Matt or tell me.

Today is the 10th anniversary of Ruby Ridge. Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute has a good piece on the topic. About the only thing to add is I believe there is a connection between the actions of law enforcement at places like Ruby Ridge, Waco and Washington D.C. and what the U.S. military does around the world. The attitude is the same.

Why start now?

"At least a handful of ranking members of al Qaeda have taken refuge in Iraq, U.S. intelligence officials said yesterday," writes Bradley Graham in today's Washington Post.

If you read the whole story, and I do suggest doing so, you find that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made the announcement but declined to give any specifics as if there was no reason for anybody to be skeptical about such an announcement at this point in time. Rumsfeld didn't elaborate where the al Qaeda members are located or even if they are allied with Saddam Hussein's government. Graham's story did say:

Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said in an interview with CBS News yesterday that members of al Qaeda are operating in Iraq, but in the northern part of the country under the control of Kurdish opposition leader Jallal Tallabani, "an ally of Mr. Rumsfeld."

"It is not under the control of the government," Aziz said.

al Qaeda members have allied themselves with forces allied with the U.S. in the Balkans, so this shouldn't be dismissed or consider impossible.

Douglas Anders says that Matthew Yglesias' post on this topic "reinforces my posts: the Bush administration ought to make the case to the American people."

He's right in theory but realistically Bush and co. are more likely to say they, and the salesmen before them, have gotten this far by keeping the public in the dark save for occasional scraps to justify the chanting of three letters -not three syllables- and doing the same will continue to serve them fine in the future.

Proud moments for the fourth estate

In an August 15 story for the Press Gazette, Jule Tomlin writes:

US news organisations “censored” their coverage of the US campaign in Afghanistan in order to be in step with public opinion in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a CNN senior executive has claimed.

Coverage of the war in Afghanistan was shaped by the level of public support that existed for US action, Rena Golden, the executive vice-president and general manager of CNN International claimed.

Speaking at Newsworld Asia, a conference for news executives in Singapore, Golden said: “Anyone who claims the US media didn’t censor itself is kidding you. It wasn’t a matter of government pressure but a reluctance to criticise anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people.

The whole story is a must read and I hope some warbloggers do read it and do wonder if their great service was really what they have claimed it was. (Thanks to Amir Butler of Warblogger Watch for the link.)

Salon's Eric Boehlert published a story in Monday's edition where he looked at why the media is afraid to tackle the Fire Department of New York. The following passage is is notable:

Jimmy Breslin, the longtime New York City columnist, currently writing for Newsday, calls the media's reluctance to puncture the cloak of heroic inevitability surrounding the FDNY's Sept. 11 deaths a disgrace. "Three-hundred and forty-three firefighters die" he fumes, "and nobody fucking says anything?" In several of his columns, Breslin has blamed Giuliani for not getting the Fire Department radios that worked and for not fixing the endemic communication problem between the police and fire departments.

He also blames a new generation of journalists for coverage that fails to provoke passion. "The big thing in the press is total absence of anger. They're the best-educated people we've ever had but there's nothing inside them to get mad. They're sheep," he said in an interview. "Name one person at a newspaper or on TV who got mad about firefighters dying by city negligence. Where, among the millions of sob stories about funerals, show me one phrase raised in anger. There's a famous saying you don't hear in this country much anymore. 'The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who pursue neutrality in times of crisis.' That goes for the fucking press, too."

Well I don't know if there's anything to add except that it always seems a bit strange to blame sheep. This is human behavoir and acting liking propogandists for power isn't honorable whether you a reporter, columnist, blogger, smart ass or anyone else for that matter.

Some want to keep the media compliant to power so they complain about Eric Alterman's mild sympathies for the Palestinians or they fume about the New York Times supposedly trying to prevent the United States from attacking Iraq. Howard Kurtz has a good piece in today's Washington Post about the latter. None of it looks very impressive since it is unclear how much more neutered the mainstream media can get.

Some, of course, accept what they are told as fact and, as I explain in "Propaganda Acceptance and Rejectance," some don't.

15 days ago I made a point about how it was hypocritical for David Horowitz to claim to claim to be a supporter of the Constitution when writers are frontpagemag.com, a site that Horowitz is the intellectual guru of, place a higher value on the war on terror than that document. Click here and see that Horowitz himself places a higher value on the war on terror. I wonder if he would be saying the same thing if Gore were president.

dailykos.com is a great blog from an Army vet. (The site is owned by Kos del Mar of San Francisco, according to betterwhois.com.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2002
A History

Four years ago today President Clinton decided to go after Al Qaeda by unloading some weapons –an activity that presidents are usually the best and the worst at- on Afghanistan and Sudan.

The strikes hit various targets, including a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, but they got the job done and Al Qaeda hasn’t even thought of attacking America or Americans since.

About four months later Clinton decided that the usual belligerence towards Iraq was not enough and began Operation Desert Fox, with honors to a Nazi General. This prompted at least one American to say, “There will be no Christmas in Iraq this year” and was sufficient to wipe out the threat posed by Iraq.

Monday, August 19, 2002
Ample high carb snacks to Douglas Anders for adding a link to this site under the "Great Blogs" heading. I really should figure out to add a bunch of links to the left. (Pun recognized.)

I wonder if Mike Silverman can find anybody who meets all his standards for being an "idiotarian"?

Somehow it doesn't suprise me to see another hawk who argues against straws rather than actual anti-war arguments. The thing is that I really doubt people like Silverman realize what they're doing.

Ambrose Bierce would be spinning in his grave if such a thing were possible.

Sunday, August 18, 2002
Propaganda Acceptance and Rejectance

Ladies and gentlemen, attention please
Come in close so everyone can see
I got a tale to tell
A listen don't cost a dime
And if you believe that we're gonna get along just fine

-Steve Earle

Call me skeptical of public opinion polls, as well as what I saw from Americans during the Persian Gulf War and in the weeks after September 11, but I have a hard time believing that the majority of Americans support attacking Iraq. It is just hard for me to accept that a majority actually believes Iraq is a threat or are comfortable and supportive of the United States military picking on a country so that the world knows who’s in charge.

But then today I came across Matthew Yglesias saying the following:

I think you need to think harder about where, exactly, the injustice lies. Presumably it's not that the goal of US policy toward Iraq — replacing a brutal dictator with someone better — is unjust it's just that the means by which Bush proposes to accomplish this (war, with its attendant loss of human life) that are unjust. Therefore, you need to consider what you could do to reduce that injustice. Acts of civil disobedience (refusing to pay taxes, for example, which I think is what Thoreau did) is not going to prevent the war from happening and thereby spare the lives of Iraqi civilians. All it will do is increase the odds that either (a) the war will be long and bloody or (b) that the US will lose the war. You may think that both of those outcomes are worse that (c) the war never begins but they're both worse than (d) the US wins a short and sweet campaign. If you think war is inevitable, then (c) is off the table and we should be working to accomplish (d).
Well there is an argument to be made against any entity having the right to impose its rule on others but it seems more important to note right now that Yglesias, who usually comes across as an intelligent guy, believes “that the goal of US policy toward Iraq” is “replacing a brutal dictator with someone better.”

That’s right, U.S. policy isn’t about oil, political and military power or protecting Americans from an attack. It is about improving governance in Iraq, according to Yglesias.

This seems absolutely ridiculous in light of U.S. history and the fact that, as Yglesias has acknowledged there are plenty of other countries that are controlled by brutal leaders. “Now who’s being naïve?” Homer Simpson once asked Marge.

Now who’s accepting propaganda as fact?

I remember a long lecture that my seventh grade shop instructor gave about the Gulf War the week after the bombing had begun. The teacher, whose name I don’t recall, blustered on about his experiences in the Army and the nobility of America and the U.S. cause. “It’s about freedom not oil,” he shouted.

At the time I was opposed to the war but unsure of my position. I didn’t believe that the U.S. was justified in attacking Iraq but I also wanted to fit in and, for better or worse, I once wore a yellow ribbon to fit in with the other kids at Cadillac Middle School.

It would have been easy for me to welt under the pressure of this guy’s verbal waving of the flag, oiling of the guns and launching of the missiles but I didn’t. Having read just a few magazines and seen an episode or two of Donahue on this topic, I knew that Kuwait had not been a “free” country prior to August of 1990 and that Saudi Arabia was anything but free. In other words, I knew there was no reason to believe the Gulf War was about freedom and that this instructor was wrong.

I’d given up trying to fit in by eighth grade and perhaps just drifted so far away from the “mainstream” that I have a hard time imagining how anybody could believe as this instructor did, and probably still does, about Gulf War or how Yglesias believes about its much awaited remake after inconsistently entertaining sequels. And yet people do.

The thing about believing that the U.S. is primarily interested in helping the Iraqi people is that if you accept that, you’ll follow the war on terror wherever Bush and the future salesmen take it. And that will lead to plenty of injustice.

This afternoon Jim Henley wrote an entertaining response to today's first entry that I agree with.

Do check out his blog for fun yet pointed posts like "How About Never? Is Never Good for You?"

Kudos to Douglas Anders for this post.

Yesterday's New York Times featured a not exactly shocking but still important story by Patrick E. Tyler about military officers who say the United States gave military assistance to Iraq during its war with Iran in the 1980s despite knowledge that Iraq had chemical weapons such as sarin gas and was using them in the war.

The U.S. is now part of the Axis of Evil, according to this sarcastic post by Grady Oliver at Warblogger Watch.

It should be noted that their are at least allegations out there that the U.S. has itself used sarin gas.

It should also be noted that an August 1 report by Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute charges that the U.S. has allied itself with regimes with ties to terrorists as part of the war on drugs.

The previous two points would serve to back up Oliver's contention if it weren't for one clause in "The Real Bush Doctrine":

If and so long as the United States deems any country, group of individual to not be a terrorist or aiding terrorists, that country, group or individual is not a terrorist or aiding terrorists regardless of whatever actions or activities they engage in.
I know "The Real Bush Doctrine" isn't officially the law of the land but it might as well be when you look at the actions of "the appalling people who rule us." (Alan Bock of antiwar.com has attributed this phrase to Richard Cowan of marijuananews.com.)

E's Ted Casablanca asks, "Has America had enough of J.Lo?"

Given my positions on matters of actual importance, the fact that I find the concepts of the vast majority of Hollywood movies to be insulting to my intelligence, and the fact that I dislike Jennifer Lopez's music and have seen one and only one movie that Lopez has starred in, I dare not speak for "America" but my answer is yes. I do try to see all Drew's movies though.

Right Wing News proprietor John Hawkins asks:
…how could anyone who knows about 9/11, the 'War on Terrorism', the Bush Doctrine, & the 'Axis of Evil', think that [invading] Zimbabwe should make just as must sense as [invading] Iraq in Bush's eyes?
Let’s see…

Both countries are run by thugs who brutalize their own people. Both countries could probably attack the United States on some level if they wanted to. No convincing evidence has been made public that either country has any intention of attacking the U.S. now or even wants to attack the U.S. in the abstract. No convincing evidence has been made public that either country has tried to attack the U.S. in recent memory.

It seems to me that the two countries are fairly similar in this regard. I would be interested in reading someone explain why Iraq is a greater threat to the U.S. than Iraq is, if there answer was not based on arguments that the U.S. can and/or should dominate the world, geographic location, misunderstandings about religion and/or race.

Uncle Sam is back with his usual bile. He label Jim Henley and myself as "abettors" of "the communists and Muslims who want to take over this country." He believes we should be "punished!!!!!" More specifically, he calls me "Micah 'Ossama Is My Hero' Holmquist."

Was it something I said?

Saturday, August 17, 2002
A word about Uncle Sam

Jim Henley is wondering whether Uncle Sam "is sincere, frothing jingoism or ham-handed parody."

Earlier today I said:

I tend to think Uncle Sam is a joke but if that is the case, his/her tactics don't make sense. I mean why bother the people who disagree with those that you are mocking.
It might be important to note that if you go to unclesam.blogspot.com, you will see that the posts are by "anti noam." Back in March and early April there was a blog located at antinoam.blogspot.com that was full of racist calls for genocide against Arabs and Chinese people as well as conspiracies theories about how antiwar.com, Bad Subjects (a publication that I've written for, FWIW), Tom Daschle, indymedia.org, musicians and others artists, Ron Paul, people of color in the United States and basically anybody who was not a member of the GOP and a supporter of the war on terror working together to install "socialist slavery." He encouraged violence against anybody who he deemed an "enemy" of the U.S.

It wasn't really funny but it was so far out there that I had to think it was a parody. I don't know what happened to anti noam or if Uncle Sam is the same person but they seem to have the same ideology. One thing about antinoam.blogspot.com was that it was updated several times a day, IIRC.

antinoam.blogspot.com isn't on the web anymore but I did find traces of him here, here, here, here and here.

I've been listening to the preview of Steve Earle's Jerusalem that I mentioned in today's second entry. It's good stuff with plenty of the angry energy and stark imagery that Earle specializes in.

Although "Conspiracy Theory" features an R&B chorus in its narrative about the malicious uses of power, musically Jerusalem isn't a step forward for Earle like The Mountain and Transcendental Blues were. The songs are mostly variations of the lumbering rockers that have populate his material before but the lyrics are plenty potent. The title cut looks at "death machines" and the tensions between Palestinians and Israelis but still holds on to optimism. "Ashes to Ashes" is a warning for empires while "I Remember You" is a ballad about love that features Emmylou Harris on vocals. The best tracks on Earle's album are often the obligatory duets but "I Remeber You," as good as it is," doesn't hold a candle with the infamous "John Walker's Blues." There, searing guitar distortion and agonized vocals chronicle why an American kid would join the Taliban. It may be the strongest post 9-11 musical statement created yet.

It's impossible to fairly judge an album after hearing less than half the tracks but this looks like it could be good stuff and proof that Earle remains the most interesting musician who works with a guitar.

Click here for a review I did of a February 23, 2001 Earle concert.

Thursday's entry prompted Steven Kite to write:
Most people who liked Lord of the Rings liked it because they compared Sauron with Osamma and rooted for good against evil. Since you side with evil in the real world, what do you enjoy about it?
I'm not even sure if this is worth responding to but here goes.

1)J.R.R. Tolkien's characters were known before September 11. They were known before a 1998 or so when word of live action movies based on The Lord of the Rings began to circulate. They were even known before the animated features The Hobbit,The Lord of the Rings and The Return of the King, all of which are vastly superior to Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring. You see these characters were in books. I know this hard for many to accept. I myself struggled with it for years but eventually I learned to accept this. The sooner you do, the better.

2)I reject the idea that I "side with evil in the real world." You right to call this "the real world" but you seem to miss the point that absolute good and absolute evil are far more common in what Hank Hill likes to call "make believe stuff." In the world that exists, shades of grey are the norm.

FWIW, I'm critical of both religious fundamentalists and those who want the United States to take over the world. Since I live in the U.S. and am governed by people whose primary mission is having the U.S. dominate the world, most of my cutting remarks are directed at Bush and co.

Speaking of Steve Earle, head over to artemisrecords.com and check out the preview of Jerusalem.

It has crashed my browser three times now but what I've heard has been very good.

The Real Bush Doctrine

Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times featured an important piece by George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley on how U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft intends to build detention camps for U.S. citizens that have been deemed “enemy combatants” in the war on terror.

There won’t be trials of these people and they won’t have any legal recourse. They will be held captive until the war on terror is over, which presumably means until violence that the U.S. does not like has been eliminated. You know forever. And if Ashcroft, who presumably isn’t doing anything that bothers President Bush all that much, gets his way, all any U.S. Attorney General will have to do is say that a person is an “enemy combatant” and they will be considered as such and subject to indefinite detention. Your offense might be belonging to a terrorist group but it just as easily could be owning a copy of Empire.

Steve Earle has sung, “No judge, no jury, no hangman, no justice in Ontario” and while it is tempting to change that last word to sum up the situation, there really isn’t any need to. These indefinite detentions, which have already happened to Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, are simply the internal expression of the war on terror. On July 12 your humble blogger wrote that the real Bush Doctrine for the “War on Terror” was:

The United States reserves the right to label any country, group or individual as being terrorists without any evidence. The United States then reserves the right to do anything it wants to these countries, groups or individuals.
That formulation is largely correct but should be updated to:

The United States reserves the right to without any evidence to deem any country, group or individual as being terrorists or as aiding terrorists. The United States reserves the right to do anything it wants to any country, group or individual it has deemed to be a terrorist or to be aiding terrorists. If and so long as the United States deems any country, group of individual to not be a terrorist or aiding terrorists, that country, group or individual is not a terrorist or aiding terrorists regardless of whatever actions or activities they engage in. Having created this doctrine, the United States reserves the right to modify this system as it pleases. Thank you for compliant servitude.

Friday, August 16, 2002
In honor of Elvis, I plan to spend tonight listening to Rust Never Sleeps.

Thursday, August 15, 2002
This video of Leonard Nimoy, the host of In Search Of, singing "Bilbo Baggins The Greatest Little Hobbit of Them All" is one of the few examples of the net living up to its potential.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
"Another loser is Micah Holmquist. He too needs to be punished. His site is full of calls for sedition and treason," writes anti noam at unclesam.blogspot.com.

In a response to this entry, Uncle Sam writes:

Then you are scum! The Branch Davidians were freaks who got what they deserved for mocking Christianity!!!! IT IS SAD THAT CONSERVATIVES CAN'T SEE THIS! I HATE KLINTON AS MUCH AS ANYBODY BUT HE WAS RIGHT IN THIS CASE!!! jUST AS HE WAS RIGHT TO BOMB IRAQIS AND BUSH WILL BE RIGBHT TO TAKE OVER THEIR PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A COUNTRY![bold and caps in original]
That's almost as funny as the joke from me that got this "thread" started!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002
For a great piece of satire head over to Warblogger Watch and read "US suspected of hiding motives for mass destruction" by Igor Boog. Note the accurate impersonation of Seymour Hersh.

If George W. Bush would give even an ounce of credit to Bill Clinton, today’s “Presidential Economic Forum” could have been a lot more entertaining. I can just imagine Bush saying, “I’m going to do to Iraq what Clinton did to Branch Davidians.”

Some heavy rain storms last night shut down my cable modem service for a while and I wasn't on the net between last night and just a few minutes ago. Oddly, by far the heaviest rains came between 6:30 and 7:00 this evening. I was riding in a car in dowtown Cadillac and saw streams of water at least six inches high slushing around. It only should have been frightening.

Monday, August 12, 2002
It is unclear who "lip" other than a guy who posts comments on Warblogger Watch a lot but his/her response to this question from "Ammianus" makes it clear that lip favors genocide against Arabs.

Glenn Reynolds appears to think too much money is spent on the war on drugs but of course he isn't bothered by the greater amount spent on the military.

Sunday, August 11, 2002
Harassing people who comment on “arab sites” is a “Bugs Bunny-like prank” according to Glenn Reynolds.

What episode did I miss? I don't remember that wascally wabbit doing anything like this.

Reynolds, of course, wants the United States military to humiliate Arabs, hopes ”factions sympathetic to Al Qaeda” take over Saudi Arabia as that will justify U.S. military action against that country and once said, “Those who take anti-American stances should realize that there's a price to pay.”

So, to sum things up, Reynolds knows nothing about cartoons, wants Al Qaeda to grow in power so that his country, the U.S., can kill and humiliate Arabs and wants to punish people who voice unacceptable views.

In downtown Mantion, Michigan, there is an auto parts store with a sign out front reading, "GOD BLESS OUR US MILITARY."

Saturday, August 10, 2002
This blog is the fourth site to show up if you do a search for "blogger amherst massachusetts" on google. Click here for the offending entry.

Friday, August 09, 2002
Today's edition of The Independent featured a column by Robert Fisk, which, like everything Fisk writes, is worth reading. I love how he integrates descriptive language into his reporting.

In the same paper, Adrian Hamilton suggests that since the United States is undemocratic and abuses people around the world, its government needs to be overthrown. While I agree with the Hamilton's sentiments and appreciate the fact that he is spending time on how to best defeat the U.S. government, I think he should spend more time on how to force the Americans to act responsibly. The occupying force will have to be brutal as the Americans see any sign of leniency as weakness and it will take more than "five to 10 years."

After those Wrangler ads featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" debuted last year, I wonder if anybody's response amounted to "What's next? "London Calling" being used to sell Jaguar cars?"

Thursday, August 08, 2002
Fox News has an interesting poll going on right now where they ask "Saddam Showdown: Can we take him?" The three options are, "Yes, he's no match for us," "No, he's predicted victory" and "I'm not sure."

First of all, its interesting how they have personalized the conflict as if the individual poll respondents are likely to personally fight with Hussein, who often doesn't get his last name used at all.

Secondly, are the results going to reveal anything about anything worth knowing?

Speaking of Springsteen, Bruce played "American Skin (41 Shots)" last night, reports Eric Alterman of MSNBC.

Alterman notes that performing this after September 11 might be considered "chancy" but if anything that song is a celebration of community that should have have been more judgemental.

A better review comes from Roger Friedman of Fox News, who also skewers Al Gore.

Yesterday's edition of The Guardian included a tribute to Bruce Springsteen by Sarfraz Manzoor.

Sooner or later, hopefully, I will finish my review of The Rising.

Tuesday's edition of The Independent featured a great piece by Robert Fisk on the impact that the "war on terror" is having on Afghanistan. Today's edition of the paper has another good column by Fisk entitled "Return to Afghanistan: Families of the disappeared demand answers."

Atrios is "Waiting for West Nile to be blamed on the Iraqi bioweapons program..."

I wish I'd thought of this.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002
Some time away from the net has given me some additional perspective on the “humiliating Arabs rational for the U.S. attacking Iraq” thread.

Nick Denton began the discussion by saying he wants America to attack Iraq not to protect the U.S. from any threat or any other concrete goal but rather so that Arabs will be humiliated and forced to change their ways “if they want a future.”

I responded with some practical problems with this idea on Monday and then yesterday with some ethical and practical issues. To this point, the only response I’m aware of came from Howard Owens who said the U.S. has the right to impose its will on other countries “Because we’re better.”

In reality, it appears the hawks neither care about the practicalities of attacking and invading Iraq nor the possible consequences of doing so. They want America to take over Iraq because they believe America has the right and is right to attack, invade and conquer any country they deem to be inferior, which in this case means any other country in the world.

If one accepts this outlook on the world, the U.S. could justifiably start murdering billions of people in China, Germany, Israel and Uganda this evening because those savages don’t live in country up to the standards of America. And if any of the unappreciative survivors attempted to respond with force –as some no doubt would given how evil those non-Americans tend to be- they would just be continuing to perpetuate their backwardness. They would be wrong to respond since the U.S. was only killing ungrateful subjects.

All Hail King Sam!

Sorry, but I’ve looked at what the U.S. has done and continues to do to other countries and I’ve also looked at what happens when any group of people with weapons, power and determination decide they have the right to rule the world. Combine this attitude –the attitude that Denton has proposed- with the means of the U.S. and the term holocaust becomes anachronistic.

Eric Mauro has correctly pointed out that I've confused him and Atrios. I'm not sure why I made the mistake but I've corrected it as both of these smart individuals deserve to be considered on their own.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002
Glenn Reynolds has returned to the "humilating Arabs rational for the U.S. attacking Iraq" thread and says that it is o.k. for the U.S. to kill people who want to kill Americans.

Funny, Iraq could use the same principle to justify killing Americans.

Steven Baum has a post worth reading on the "humilating Arabs rational for the U.S. attacking Iraq." (Thanks to Atrios for the link.)

Scott Rosenberg of Salon has noted the discussion of the "humilating Arabs rational for the U.S. attacking Iraq."

Matthew Yglesias has linked to my post about Horowitz and the U.S. Constitution and added some positive words like "this Micah Holmquist post takes the H-man to school..." (I've left a comment on this post.)

In another post Yglesias argues that he believes the "humilating Arabs rational for the U.S. attacking Iraq" makes sense as a "private reason" but not a "public reason" for attacking Iraq. Essentially he is saying that "The idea that strong social systems ought to militarily crush weak ones in order to demonstrate their own superiority is no good as a general principle" but that in this case, with other justifications for attacking Iraq, this principle serves to motivate the U.S. to attack Iraq.

The first thing that needs to be said about this is the idea that the U.S. needs no additional motivation for invading Iraq. The only things that have kept Bush from doing so up to now are logistics and possibly questions about how to best take over the country or even if military action is a good idea.

Secondly, it should be noted that if the goal of "humiliating Arabs" is not sufficient enough in and of itself to take over Iraq then Nick Denton's original argument goes out the window since he doesn't buy any of those other rationales.

Nick Denton has responded to Dave Winer by saying the he is also the son of a Holocaust survivor. Click here to see the significance of this.

This is a perfect example of the point I made in the previous link about how a person's status of having had a particular experience does not give them the definitive answer on topic X because there are likely to be other people with the same experience who feel differently about X.

Grady Oliver of Warblogger Watch has kindly sent some readers my way via this link.

Nick Denton has linked to the previous entry.

Nick Denton is standing by his problematic and disturbing theory that the United States should attack Iraq to humiliate Arabs and force them to become like the west "if they want a future."

Denton has published the thoughts of Christopher Kotowski who says:

If you really want to humiliate, then you'd have to do it in a grand, total, undeniable and very bloody scale: Iraq + Syria + Iran + Saudi Arabia + Gulf States + others? It's not just about winning; it's about inflicting a boundless defeat that all people can relate to - death and destruction must reach every corner of society.
Yeah that will convince them how great of a country America and the west is. The Ziggy Marley song "G7" comes more readily to my mind.

Denton, to his credit, has also published the critical musings of Peter Mass without responding. He does respond to the comments of Dave Winer, which I mentioned yesterday, saying:

Not an unreasonable point. But I'd draw a different lesson. The Arab world has long felt humiliated, it's already dangerous. If you are going to defeat your enemy, do so conclusively, as the US and UK defeated Germany in the Second World War.
What exactly conclusive victory against states that haven't acted attacked in the U.S. recently would constitute is left unsaid by Denton who adds, "One could equally well say, to paraphrase Winer: watch out for appeasement, that's where holocausts come from."

The theme of a future "holocaust" comes up in the next entry where Denton responds to an email from Eric Mauro. Mauro contends, correctly in my opinion, that Denton's proposal for humiliation puts the U.S. in the position of being the most likely to commit genocide since it will be Uncle Sam telling others that because they are not as advanced as Americans that they need to change and will be forced to change by bayonet and bomb. Denton replies by more or less saying that Mauro's concerns are baseless since Arabs are allowed to live in the U.S., a few states with large Muslim populations can trade with western nations and Mauro can criticize military actions and "warn against genocide."

Yes these things are true but that is the point. Denton believes that the U.S. can welcome parishioners of "a kinder gentler Islam" while at the same time humiliating Arabs through military force so the former does not refute the latter. Denton seems to be falling for the trap of thinking that if America is progressive in some respects that it either can not be regressive in other aspects or should be excused for being regressive in other aspects.

After quoting the comments from Glenn Reynolds that I noted in yesterday's final post, Denton quotes a post from Wiener who says:

In addition to being a technologist and living on the west coast of the US, I am also the first-generation American son of Holocaust survivors, born and raised in NY. Does Nick have any insight into my thinking? Clearly not.
Denton responds:
...Dave Winer's anxiety about another Holocaust is noble.

But we should despair were only Holocaust survivors and their children, themselves growing older and fewer, capable of insight into genocide. And bringing in an emotion-laden family history, unless it's simply to introduce some fact, can have the perverse effect of closing down a discussion. You can't know how I feel: it is an argument at once unanswerable, and unpersuasive.

I tend to be with Denton. Dick Gregory writes in Nigger, his autobiography, of an incident where he learned that being black in the U.S. does not necessarily mean that a person is qualified to speak about what it is like to be black in the U.S. The same logic can be applied to all sorts of situations and is strengthened by the fact that agreement on any particular issue amongst people with a common experience is hardly a given. There are no doubt other people who would justify their support of the humiliation goal by recalling their own experiences or the experiences of their ancestors' in the Holocaust. (Something similar often happens in the U.S. in discussions of Israel, or rather Israel's relationship to Palestinians and other states in the Middle East.) Other people thus have to make up their own mind.

Most recently Denton has linked to three entries on other blogs that are critical of Denton's justification for attacking Iraq.

There are probably other discussions of this matter that I am unaware of, but if this debate is to mover further it seems to me that Denton and other supporters of humiliating Arabs need to address some questions:

1)What moral justification do western countries, and America in particular, have to impose their way upon others? How would this imposition be different from what supporters of the "war on terror" contend Islamic fundamentalists, such as those in Al Qaeda, want to do to the entire world?

2)What would the process of humiliating Arabs look like from beginning to end? Or, since war can be something other than predictable, what would the end goal of this process be and what would means would be used to achieve it?

3)Yesterday I gave a slew of practical objections to the idea, what is your response to them?

Over at frontpagemag.com, David Horowitz attempts to refute a book reivew that is critical of the U.S. Constitution by Rick Hertzberg that recently appeared in The New Yorker. Horowitiz's piece doesn't appear to have much of a point other than that America is good and leftists are bad so it is interesting just how many points the former traitor gets wrong or are just plain odd:
Challenging America’s founding principles is fair enough, even perhaps at a time when both the nation and its ideals are under ferocious attack. But Hertzberg’s authorial voice in this article has an emotional edge and a disturbing animus that does not seem so fair.
What does Horowitz want Hertzberg to do? Say he is wrong and then make his argument?
Prefacing his assault, Hertzberg notes that he is not the first to strike at the Founding: "Treating the Constitution as imperfect is not new. The angrier abolitionists saw it, in William Lloyd Garrison’s words, as a ‘covenant with death and an agreement with hell.’… Academic paint balls have splattered the parchment with some regularity." According to Hertzberg, however, this critical facility is confined to intellectual and political elites. For the unwashed mass, questioning the Constitution remains unthinkable: "But in the public square the Constitution is beyond criticism. The American civic religion affords it Biblical or Koranic status, even to the point of seeing it as divinely inspired. It’s the flag in prose." This makes the terrain dangerous for vanguard reformers like himself, particularly now: "The Constitution of the United States is emphatically not something to be debunked, especially in the afterglow of sole-superpower triumphalism."

But can Hertzberg really be referring to this country as one in which the Constitution cannot be challenged? Did he miss the feminist clamor over the Constitution’s failure to protect women, or the movement for an Equal Rights Amendment that this sentiment spawned? Is he oblivious to the complaint from the right that the framers failed to provide a defense clause for the unborn? Was he comatose in the aftermath of the last presidential election when agitated Democrats, including United States senators and the former First Lady, called on the nation to scrap the Electoral College and alter the way the Constitution has mandated our choice of presidents for over two hundred years?

The examples that Horowitz cites only show how deeply engrained the Constitution is as, save for scrapping the Electoral College, all of these other ideas have originally and largely been argued within the context of how they would fulfill the existing Constitution. And how much talk of getting rid of the Electoral College has there actually been?
What really upsets Hertzberg is not any superstitious attachment Americans may have to the sacred cow of their Constitution, but his own isolation from the conviction of ordinary Americans that the system has worked pretty well — enough to make America a "beacon of light" to the rest of the world.
Horowitz could be exhibit A in terms of showcasing the existence of a "superstitious attachment" to the Constitution since he himself believes that nobody should argue against the document sans saying that they are wrong before they begin.
Hertzberg’s perverse distance from his countrymen is even more manifest in his opening remarks about the Founding itself "The most blatantly undemocratic feature of the document that the framers adopted in Philadelphia in 1787 was its acceptance — indeed, its enshrinement — of slavery, which in its American form was as vicious and repugnant as any institution ever devised by man."

Ever devised by man? What about Auschwitz? The Soviet gulag? How about the slavery in Egypt that built the pyramids? How about the institution of virgin sacrifice among the Incas? How about black slavery in Cuba or Brazil? Perhaps Hertzberg is unaware that in Carribbean slave societies the mortality rates for slaves exceeded the birth rates. Perhaps he is ignorant of the fact that slavery in the United States was the only slavery in the West whose environment encouraged the natural generation of the slave population so that, between the signing of the Constitution and the Civil War, the slave census in the United States increased more than five-fold, whereas everywhere else in the Hemisphere slaves had to be imported annually to make up the manpower deficit caused by attrition.

Horowitz seems incapable of understanding that Hertzberg didn't say slavery was worse than those other horrors, he merely said it was at least as bad.

And on the second point, Horowitz seems oblivious to the fact that it was an invention of the "new world" that slavery got passed down from generation to generation. Furthermore a lot of data suggests that towards the final years of slavery in the U.S., that slaves had a higher standard of living than freemen who were common laborers. Should slaves have been happy with their lot because it was better than what others had and those other people largely had chosen their lot in life. Horowitz seems to want to justify slavery here.

To write, as Hertzberg does, that the Constitution enshrined slavery is worse than a mere distortion of the facts. Far from glorifying the institution, the framers avoided even using the words "slave" or "slavery" because the majority of them abhorred the institution and were determined to end it — in fact were convinced it would shortly die of its own reactionary weight.

Hertzberg’s distortion of the intentions of the founders does not end here. Listing the constitutional compromises they made with slavery, he writes,

"Most notoriously, under Article I, Section 2, a state’s allotment of seats in the House of Representatives (and, by extension, its Presidential electors) was determined by counting not only ‘free Persons’ but also ‘three fifths of all other Persons.’ This is simply diabolical, because to the insult of defining a person held in bondage as three-fifths of a human being it added the injury of using that definition to augment the political power of that person’s oppressors."
But far from being either an insult or an injury, the three-fifths compromise actually weakened the power of the Southern slaveholders who had demanded that, "slaves should stand on equality with whites." Had the framers counted slaves as five-fifths — and not merely three-fifths — of a person, they would have maximized the voting power of the slave states.
The point that Horowitz misses is that the Constitution did not consider some humans to be real humans and that to place it on the pedestal as the greatest statement of liberty ever is going a bit far.
Hertzberg’s distortion of this history is even worse than it appears, because it is based on the suppression of a more basic fact: All the constitutional compromises with slavery were necessary in order to achieve the Union that, within twenty years, abolished the slave trade and, within a single generation, freed the slaves themselves...

In 1787, the American founders had just completed the only successful colonial rebellion in human history, defeating the greatest empire of the age. If the Northern states had rejected a compromise with the South, it is perfectly reasonable to imagine the British imperialists (who burned the White House in 1812) would have forged an alliance with the Southern slave states and crushed the North. Then slavery would have been institutionalized throughout the continent; there would have been no Civil War; and it is anyone’s guess when the slaves might eventually have been freed.

My guess is no later than 1865 since Great Britain abolished slavery in England and all of its colonies in the 1833. Now it is possible that the ability to retain the land now known as the U.S. might have extended the life of slavery in Great Britain so all of this is, as Horowitz correctly implies, speculation. But while we can't make precise judgement -especially becuase it is unclear how to correctly factor in the likely continued rebellion and resistance by the inhabitants of the land that would come to be known as the U.S.-, this doesn't not mean that we don't have an idea and it is a mixture of arrogance and ignorance on the part of Horowitz to think that slavery might never have been abolished if the U.S. had not remained independent of Britain.

It is also odd to argue that the Constitution lead to the abolition of slavery when one factor lead to the Union defeating the Confederacy in the Civil war was Abraham Lincoln's unconstitutional suspension of habeas corpus. In short, the abolition of slavery only happened in the U.S. after the Constitution was violated. The Constitution and liberty were on different sides of the aisle.

But that probably isn't a big deal to Horowitz since it appears that the writers of frontpagemag.com, which is run by Horowitz, don't have any problem with habeas corpus being suspended in the case of Jose Padilla. All of which leads to the question, does Horowitz really believe in the Constitution?

Over at Warblogger Watch, Grady Oliver has a post noting that hawks aren't celebrating what happened 57 years ago today.

When I read the post, the Tom Paxton song "What Did you Learn in School Today" jumped into my head.

Yuval Rubinstein runs two blogs worth mentioning.

MKUltraWatch, which appears to just be getting started, looks critically at Mickey Kaus of Slate.

Groupthink Central has been around for a few months and is described by Rubinstein as "trite cliches and inane ramblings from a disillusioned lefty."

Rubinstein covers a lot of ground on this blog but some of his better posts, like this onefrom today and this one from yesterday, are about Israeli politics and society. I'm also particularly fond of his theory on why hawks are so determined to get Saddam Hussein. But perhaps the best part of the site has to the links section and what he lists in the "Humor" category.

According to the counter that the fine folks at Nedstat have provided to me free of charge, this log has had over 2010 page views since May 13. I have no illusions about this being impressive given how many hits other sites, blog and non-blog, get but I could be doing worse. Over 71% of those page views have come after July 9, FWIW.