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

Tuesday, August 06, 2002
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?