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, December 31, 2002
Micah Holmquist's Favorite Blogs in 2002

The following are the blogs I most enjoyed in 2002 in each of eight categories. I read a lot of blogs so the competition was fierce. To be eligible, I can not be involved with this blog nor I can I ever have had any face-to-face or voice contact with the blogger.

Favorite Blog for Links, Links and more Links:The frontpage of antiwar.com.

Favorite Blog for Left/Liberal Commentary: Lisa English's Ruminate This

Favorite Blog for Conservative Commentary: Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant

Favorite Blog for Libertarian Commentary: Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings

Favorite Blog for a Person's Comments on Their Own Life: Glovefox's Mindscapes, Heartstrings & Soul-searching

Favorite Blog to Read for the Writing not the Ideas: Ken Layne

Favorite Blog for Intentional Humor: Neal Pollack

Favorite Blog for Unintentional Humor: Glenn Reynolds' instapundit.com.

Monday, December 30, 2002
Well this kind of puts a damper on the new year

Toledo beat my beloved Spartans, 81-76, in a men's basketball game played tonight. Michigan State is now 8-3 on the season. Their next game is Saturday on the road against Oklahoma.

This blog has been reviewed by Jay Roberts of bloggyopinions.com. I believe that if I were evaluating my blog I would say pretty much the same thing he did.

Sunday, December 29, 2002
My review of the William Parker Quartet's Raining on the Moon is up and available for your reading enjoyment at jazzreview.com.

Saturday, December 28, 2002
My beloved Spartans defeated Jacksonville State, 76-52, in a men's basketball game played this evening. The team is now 8-2. Their next game is Monday against Toledo.

Notes on the North Korean situation

“I woke up this mornin' and none of the news was good,” Steve Earle sings in “Jerusalem.”

As the song’s title might indicate, Earle was talking about the situation in Israel and its occupied territories. The news in that part of the world is by no means good –see this post by Jim Henley for more on this- but the statement is equally true RE North Korea, a country that is moving ahead with a nuclear energy program for purposes that it says are peaceful but the United States suspects that the purpose is militarily development, specifically developing nuclear weapons. (As regular readers of this blog know, just building nuclear weapons is not in and of itself an aggressive act and yet popular debate in the U.S. with regards to countries like Iraq and North Korea usually ignores history and assumes that any country that develops nuclear weapons which the U.S. does not like is going to use them immediately against the U.S. and/or its allies. “North Korea says it has nuclear weapons,” I wrote in October as the set-up to joke about this point. “If history has taught us anything, North Korea will now begin attacking the U.S. of A. with their nukes just like every other country that has ever come to posses nuclear weapons has done.”)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated on Monday that the U.S. could use military force to solve “problem” of North Korea developing nuclear weapons. “We [the U.S. military] are capable of fighting two major regional conflicts,” he said. We're capable of winning decisively in one and swiftly defeating in the case of the other. And let there be no doubt about it."

The North Korean government has responded with apocalyptic threats that basically say they will go as far as to “destroy the earth” in order defend their country.

There are plenty of sure-fire solutions to this problem but no certain solutions avoid the firing of weapons. Still a few things need to be said.

-After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, I was amazed at the number of Americans who were shocked at what had happened. It seemed to me, and still does seem to me, that any country that wages war as frequently as the U.S. does is going to be attacked is going to be attacked sooner or later by those seeking revenge. You may believe that such people are purely evil and that there is no justness in their cause but it is ludicrous to deny that they would feel that way and that some would act on their beliefs. Similarly, IMHO, naivety doesn’t even begin to describe the people who didn’t think that there was at least a possibility that North Korea would respond to being called “evil” by a President who is waging a war against “evil” by not bowing over but rather getting tough.

-War is in nobody’s interest, with the possible exception of the Bush Administration. The North Korean government would surely be defeated, many people from at least three countries –the North Korea, South Korea and the U.S.- would lose their lives and the damage done could be beyond tragic. The Bush Administration *might* be able to come out of a war looking strong but I wouldn’t bet on it and the costs involved aren’t worth that outcome to any decent person.

-If North Korea were to use weapons of mass destruction against South Korea –and of course I don’t want that to happen-, many in the world, including South Koreans, are likely to blame the U.S. and say that the U.S. wants to wage war without end and that the real victims are the people of other countries, including those with governments that support the U.S. in the “war on terror.” The U.S. would likely be seen as no longer able to offer protection and people throughout the world might begin to demand that their governments ease, if not end, military alliances with the U.S. This could possibly increase the popularity of al Qaeda in Muslim countries due to the group being seen as one of the main forces willing to stand up to the U.S. None or some of this might not be fair but I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of it happen.

-There is something in the human spirit that doesn’t like the idea of negotiating with those you believe are evil. The U.S. government is certainly saying it won’t negotiate with such people. “We will not give in to blackmail,” said State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker on Monday. “The international community will not enter into dialogue in response to threats or broken commitments, and we're not going to bargain or offer inducements for North Korea to live up to the treaties and agreements that it has signed.” That’s all well and good in theory but more than a bit hypocritical coming from a government that deal with a government that regularly violates international treaties and agreements it is party to and cooperates with more than one brutal government in the “war on terror.” But most importantly, it denies reality. Are we to really believe that being able to say you did “not give in to blackmail” is more important than being attack with nuclear weapons and at least thousands of Americans dieing? In the near future lots of governments and groups that do not like the U.S. are going to have nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. At some point, in order to survive, the U.S. is going to have to accept this.

-While there are probably some who love brutal dictatorships run by incompetent megalomaniacs, I think people of all other political stripes can agree that the government of Kim Jong II needs to be overthrown.

Friday, December 27, 2002
We don’t like to talk about the colony-to-be

Given the amount of time I spend reading, thinking and writing about Iraq, it is a bit surprising to realize that over the last week I haven’t heard any member of extended family bring up the country in discussion. They’ve had hours upon hours to talk about anything they wanted to talk about but Iraq never comes up.

I don’t find this heartening since we have a president, George W. Bush, who wants overthrow the government of a country, Iraq, that has endured over 12 years of bombings and sanctions at the hands of Uncle Sam and yet still has not harmed the United States in any real way. The prez speaks of Iraq being a dangerous threat but goes about dealing with the problem with no more urgency than the Swedish Chef brings to cooking. Quite simply, if Bush isn't lying about the threat posed by Iraq, then he is incompetent at defending the U.S. A public that doesn’t bother to think about this is IMHO a public that can be manipulated into supporting just about anything since doing so allows them to get back to their comfortable lives.

If only the stakes weren’t so high.

In happier news, Google graphics like this always make me smile. I guess this one just illustrates the joy that Christmas brings me.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Christmas day was just another wonderful Christmas day in my life. My parents and I opened a few gifts this morning -I received, amongst other things, a poster that features hundreds of characters that have appeared on The Simpsons- but there will be plenty more of that as we usually don't finish opening gifts till January 1. We had a wonderful brunch with some neighbors and then my mom's side of the family came in the afternoon. They were their usual selves, although perhaps in better form -and I mean that in a good way- this year.

I did find out from the son of one of my cousins that one Mr. Potato Head, who is no longer allowed to smoke, comes with a military helmet. The logic behind this is simple. Smoking is a socially unacceptable way to harm yourself and others while the military is a socially acceptable way to do the same.

I just finished reading a 1952 edition of Santa Claus Funnies that I gave to my mother, who collects Santa Claus items and I was quite delighted. As angry as I can get and as cynical as I am about almost everything else, there is something about Christmas that always makes me happy and feel like a kid. Hopefully I will never lose that feeling.

If you celebrate the holiday, I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I'll get to the new year later.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002
We should have guns. The towelheads shouldn’t. (A Christmas shopping story that can now be told.)

On Monday I went to Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, Michigan to get a monocular to give to my dad for Christmas. When I called them in the morning I was told they only had one monocular left and so I had it put on reserve.

Jay’s is a large store with everything you could need that goes along with fishing, guns and hunting. Apparently all items on reserve at Jay’s are in the gun department and in order to pick up an item you have to wait in the same line as the people who want to look at the handguns. The white male in front of me was slender guy who looked to be in his thirties and wore a ponytail and a thick black beard. He wore leather boots, camouflage pants, an Operation Desert Storm sweatshirt and a National Rifle Association baseball cap. Because I have a thrill seeking side, I engaged the guy and the following is my notes on our conversation.

Me: So what’d you think we should do about Saddam [Hussein]?

Him: Bomb the hell out of ‘em!

Me: Is more than one bomb really needed? I mean he is only one guy.

Him: No Iraq.

Me: May I ask why?

Him: They want to kill us!

Me: Really? How many Americans has Iraq killed over the last 12 years or so? The number is barely in the hundreds even if you count the Gulf War and the U.S. has killed many more Iraqis through bombings, sanctions and turkey shoots. Maybe Iraq should…

Him: Where the fuck did you get that idea?

Me: Oh I don’t know. I guess that instead of killing innocent animals and humans, I like to read.

Him: I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Saddam wants weapons of mass destruction and he’ll use them!

Me: The U.S. has used weapons of mass destruction. Should we be bombed…

Him: That was different.

Me: How so?

Him: That was World War II.

Me: Would it have been less justifiable in World War I?

Him: [Shakes his head. Raises his voice.] If we let Saddam get those weapons he will kill us.

Me: O.K. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this. By the way, I noticed your hat. I assume you are opposed gun control.

Him: Yeah.

Me: Why?

Him: It is my Second Amendment right to own a gun.

Me: Don’t you think that the U.S. denying Iraq the right to weapons of mass destruction when it has such weapons itself is a form of gun control? If you really believe in the right to bear arms, it would seem that you would believe that Iraq has the right to bear arms like the U.S. does.

At this point my friend shook his head and turned around in a clear sign that he was done with the conversation. At that point I realized that there were three others guys staring at with looks of pure hate as they waited in a line in a store that doesn’t exactly sell tofu. “I want to get out of here,” I thought to myself even as I continued to wait in line. “I hope they aren’t packing.”

Like last year, I went to Christmas Eve service at Zion Lutheran Church with my parents. Unlike last year, the sermon contained no support for the “war on terror.”

While it isn’t my weapon of mass destruction, I figure as long as you support American Global Domination, as I believe most Americans do at this point, you might as well possess a theology that with compatible your imperial ambitions. Such is certainly less hypocritical than calling for “peace on earth” while supporting Uncle Sam killing innocent people because they are in the way of a military operation in a country that the secular god of the U.S. of A., President George W. Bush, says is evil.

Oh yeah, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Armageddon Time

I was introduced to the music of The Clash the weekend before Memorial Day in 1995. I was attending Operation Bentley, which brought high school juniors from throughout Michigan to Albion College for a week of local and state government simulation. On three nights during the program, I violated curfew to hang out with a girl from Grand Rapids with closely cropped red hair named Melissa during the evening. We laid on picnic tables in a park near the dorm we we were staying in, smoked some pot –a first for me- and talked about the likes of Noam Chomsky and Allen Ginsberg. Mostly, however, we just listened to music on the boombox she had. I brought some John Coltrane and Sonny Sharrock while she supplied The Clash.

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this group I’d never heard of before. I liked the politics but was enthralled by the energy and the vocal combinations of Mick Jones and Joey Strummer on cuts like “Capital Radio” and “Police & Thieves.” The group combined punk, soul and reggae in a way that blew my mind and exposed me to the connections that lie beneath similarly irreconcilable styles. The music didn’t deny darkness in the world but it also made you want to live, if only to feel more.

Over the years I listened to more and more of The Clash but it wasn’t till last year that the group’s brilliance stood out to me. On September 12 I listened to all my Bill Hicks CDs as I needed to hear a voice saying I wasn’t crazy for hating the past, present and future actions of the U.S. military and thinking that terrorist attacks are inevitable when you act the way the U.S. does. That was something I needed but the evening of September 13 was even better as I listened The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope, London Calling, Sandinista!, Combat Rock and Live: From Here to Eternity. The Clash never hedged on the problems of the world and, as Jim Henley has noted, didn’t glamorize anybody because it was politically correct to do so. Whereas Hicks told me it was o.k. that I didn’t have patriotism oozing out of body, The Clash told me that turbulent times not only don’t necessitate following leaders but require truthful people to be absolutely honest, even when lies are more comforting. “London Calling” was the song in my head till two days later when I found out my beloved dog Lucky was about to die. Hicks and The Clash made it clear to me that I should not forget that the, in the words of Hicks, “liars and murderers" who ran the U.S. government on September 10 were still in charge.

None of this is to say that the men who made up The Clash were beyond approach. I am appalled that they have allowed “London Calling” to be used in car commercials and Strummer, who passed away on Sunday, was actually a supporter of the “war on terror.” Reportedly he said last year, "I think you have to grow up and realize that we're facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn't do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they'll get." That may be true but I think one of those “religious fanatics” is President George W. Bush who wants kill everyone he has to in order to remake the world.

The strength of The Clash will always be there music, which nowadays seems very relevant. “"It's not Christmas time, it's armageddon time," Strummer once riffed while the Clash was performing “Armageddon Time” in the early 1980s. Given the “war on terror” and the news out of North Korea, he might as well have been talking about today.


I am Charlie Brown

Which Peanuts Character Are You Quiz

(Thanks to Glovefox for the link.)

Monday, December 23, 2002
If you just listened to politcal debate in the U.S. you might think that there is a possibility the U.S. and Iraq will not fight war. If you follow the news, you might think otherwise.

The great Joe Strummer has passed away. Shortly before reading this news minutes ago, I had begun to listen to London Calling. I will try to write more about this soon but right now I plan to listen to some music.

Sunday, December 22, 2002
I just saw a pickup truck that had a decal one of those Calvian urinating images. This one had the character taking an unauthorized leak on "Bin Laden."

It was spelled exactly like that.

I bet the GOP is glad Strom Thurmond wasn't born in October.

"The United States and Britain are planning a massive seaborne invasion of Iraq from the Gulf as the first stage in any ground war, a British defense ministry source said on Saturday," writes Peter Graff of Reuters.

"North Korea disabled U.N. surveillance equipment installed at one of its reactors Saturday, prompting the U.N. nuclear agency to express "deep regret" over the action and issue a new call for restraint," writes William J. Kole of the AP.

Michigan State beat South Florida, 65-56, in a men's basketball game played yesterday afternoon. The team is now 7-2 and will be in action again on the 28th against Jacksonville State.

Saturday, December 21, 2002
Skippy is asking people to name their favorite Christmas songs and movies. (Thanks to Glovefox for the link.)

In terms of a song, I have to go with Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

In terms of a movie, I have no strong opinions.

James M. Capozzola has taken Norah Vincent to task:
Hey, I made the Los Angeles Times today!

No, I’m not in the news section, I’m on the op-ed page. No, I didn’t write an article, I was mentioned in one. No, not by name, merely in a cowardly veiled reference. And not by anyone of any significance, just Norah Vincent.

That is the most amusing part but not the most substantial.

Link Crusader has included me in its list of "Politically Left Weblogs" that are "Liberal, Progressive, Anti-Bush" and "All Very Good." (Thanks to Skippy for the link.)

What I don't understand is how John Hawkins' rightwingnews.com got on the list.

The Lansing State Journal's Jack Ebling writes:
John L. Smith doesn't waste time.

On his first full day as Michigan State's 23rd head football coach, the former Louisville leader took a walk around campus, met with the media, retired a number, redesigned the Spartans' uniforms, interviewed prospective assistants, made his first MSU recruiting calls and scheduled prospect visits - all before dinner.

The details are in the article.

Friday, December 20, 2002
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking into ways to increase the amount of time soliders can go without sleep, reports Amanda Onion of ABC News.

"The Bush administration, concluding that Saddam Hussein is not serious about disarmament, turned today to convincing the U.N. Security Council that it should declare Iraq in violation of world demands and authorize war," writes the Associated Press in a story published today.

Kudos to Senator Patty Murray of the state of Washington for acknowledging that people outside of the U.S. of A. are not solely motivated by evil. (Thanks to Matt Drudge for the link.)

Of course this makes Murray a traitor to many and I am sure that we will soon hear calls for her to step down and be denounced in a fashion similar to Trent Lott, if such calls haven't begun already.

Tony Blair told the British armed forces that they need to prepare for war.

Of course one might look at the news and think that the United States and Great Britain are already waging war on Iraq.

In case you didn't already know, Trent Lott has decided to seek to be the Senate Majority Leader again.

This is unlikely to be a popular view but I think the real message is its o.k. to appear to be racist unless of course it becomes noticed.

gangsofnewyork.com is a neat site.

The Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg writes:
With the deployments currently under way, President George Bush could go to war soon after January 27, when the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is to report to the UN security council on the progress of the inspections.
I'm looking forward to wearing red, white and blue as I watch our brave fighting men and women take out the menace known as Saddam Hussein.

Seriously, what is Bush going to do other than go to war? He'll look like a liar if he announces that Iraq isn't enough of a threat to go to war against. Actually he looks like a liar now but few people have caught on so maybe, just maybe he could get away with not going to war with Iraq but I really doubt it.

There is no reason to fear the loss of freedom.

I hope this works out even it doesn't excite me

Former Louisville coach John L. Smith is now the head football coach at Michigan State.

I guess I would like to believe I hadn't actually heard this

A few hours ago I was browsing in Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan when I heard a male voice in back of me say, "Hey fag."

Then a second or two later the same voice says, "You looked!"

I turn around and I see two white males in their early 20s. One had a book about chess in his hand.

Thursday, December 19, 2002
Ken Layne might not get every Simpsons joke but he understands "Jeebus."

Andrew Sullivan writes:
SO IT'S WAR: How else to interpret the U.S.'s judgment that the Iraq arms dossier is incomplete? The only reason not to say so explicitly today is because we need more time before we attack. I can see no other rationale for delay. It's a good sign Colin Powell is the front man for this assessment. It carries more weight coming from one of the more conciliatory members of the administration. But the truth is, Saddam has given no possible lee-way for conciliation. The blizzard of obfuscatory documents hasn't worked. The administration was right to take its time. The more patient we are, the tighter the noose around Saddam gets. And then it starts in earnest. I'd put the odds of war early next year as close to 80 percent now.
I put the odds as closer to 100% but what do I know? The part I find interesting is, "we need more time before we attack." You would think by now that the Bush Administration would have its act together and be ready to attack. What is taking them so long? Could it possibly be that they have all the time in the world because Iraq is not a threat?

John L. Smith?

A second missile defense system will make me feel even safer.

Americans will start feeling good about themselves again in late January

"The Bush administration has set the last week in January as the make-or-break point in the long standoff with Iraq, and is increasingly confident that by then it will have marshaled the evidence to convince the U.N. Security Council that Iraq is in violation of a U.N. resolution passed last month and to call for the use of force, officials said yesterday," writes Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung in today's Washington Post.

First they came for...

Reuters' Jill Serjeant writes:

Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle East citizens were in southern California jails on Wednesday after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with immigration authorities only to wind up handcuffed and behind bars.

Shocked and frustrated Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles, neighboring Orange County and San Diego in the past three days under a new nationwide anti-terrorism program. Some unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as 1,000.

At all times remember there has been no loss of freedom in the U.S. of A.

So Saddam can't attack us till late January

"As top officials of the Bush administration wrestled today with the question of whether to declare that Iraq had committed a 'material breach' of Security Council resolutions, Pentagon officials said they have given preliminary approval for sending as many as 50,000 troops to the Persian Gulf region, a move that would allow President Bush to order an attack against Saddam Hussein by late January," write David E. Sanger and Julia Preston in a December 18 New York Times story.

In an October 24 speech Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said:
It is clear that potential adversaries will pursue any means they can to exploit the vulnerabilities of a free society. They will exploit the freedom and privacy rights in the West.
Somebody should Wofowitz the me that says the War Party Line is that they hate us because we are free and want us to eliminate all rights that President George W. Bush does not want to eliminate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Click here to find out where the next terrorist attack is scheduled to happen.

This is really sad

"In the ever-competitive sports marketplace, female athletes are finding there is one surefire way to get attention and generate some income: remove the duds," writes Randy Starkman of the Toronto Star.

The "I believe Bush" blues

MSNBC says the current team in the White House isn't in a hurry for war:

Administration officials have privately said for days that Bush considers the declaration laughably inadequate. But advisers are ready to recommend that Bush allow the weapons inspectors to go ahead with their work while using the declaration’s omissions to increase public pressure on both the United Nations and Iraq, the officials said.
What!?! We need to get a move on it if you ask me.

A Wise Man named President George W. Bush once said:

We know he was close to one at one point in time; we have no idea today. Imagine Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon... Imagine how the world would change, how he could alter diplomacy by the very presence of a nuclear weapon.
The same Wise Man has also said, "we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

They could attack us any day now and yet we are waiting. Why? Why? Why? It is almost as if that wise man has been lying to us or doesn't care about our safety. I'm trying to be a Good Loyal Patriotic God Fearing Republican Voting American but this makes it very hard. I don't know what to do. I want to Get My War On by waving a flag as I watch American Planes Drop Bombs but The Wise Man just doesn't want it to happen!

What is wrong? After the Cowardly attacks of September 11 the wise man stood boldly defiant to the rest of the world who wants all to die because they hate freedom! The Wise Man made it clear that America would stay strong, "United We Stand," "These Colors Don't Run" and "God Bless America." The world hated The Wise Man because unlike Bill Clinton, The Wise Man was a man of Honor and Integrity and made it clear that to respond to the attacks with anything other than a Never Ending War and rolling back civil liberties was Letting The Terrorists Win! Now The Wise Man wants to wait. With each passing day the forces of evil get stronger. If we don't act soon they will have all the rings and use their weapons of mass destruction on America!

We Must Defeat Evil!

Bomb Iraq!

Bomb A Few Other Countries For Good Measure!


Supposedly this is the order of succession to become president but I just don't believe it. The Al Haig seat has to be third at worst.

The Pew Research Center recently released the results of its opinion poll study "What the World Thinks in 2002."

The results are too numerous for me to cover here but I found it quite interesting to read the results of a poll that asked U.S. citizens whether they thought "nuclear weapons," "religious and ethnic hatred," "AIDS and other infectious diseases," "pollution and other enviromental problems" or "the growing gap between the rich and the poor" posed "the greatest threat to the world." You can read the results yourself by going to page 12 of this PDF document but 33% of the Americans surveyed answered nuclear weapons, 32% said religious and ethnic hatred, 14% said the rich/poor gap, 11% said infectious diseases, seven percent said enviromental problems and the remaining three did not answer or said they had no opinion.

Personally I will take Americans' fear of nuclear weapons seriously if and only if Home Depot sees an uptick in business due to people wanting to fix up the family bomb shelter.

"The United States and Britain have piled more pressure on Saddam Hussein, accusing him of 'omissions' in the Iraqi weapons declaration but at the same time giving him another chance to make amends," writes Paul Reynolds today in a piece for BBC News.

Human Rights Watch has recently issued two interesting reports about Afghanistan.

"'We Want to Live As Humans': Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan" details that Afghan women are still oppressed legally.

"Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use by the United States in Afghanistan" argues that the United States did not take all reasonable cautons to limit the number of civilain casualities during its bombing campaign of Afghanistan, in part because the U.S. has not done everything it could to remove bomblets which could continue to cause deaths in the future.

Progressive Gold now lists me. I guess if you apply enough times, you will eventually get added since I've filled up the form several times since November 12.

The ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose is another blog worth a gander.

Sajit Gandhi's DESIBLOG has plenty of good stuff of international relations and culture.

For the record, yes I am jealous of Gandhi because he works at the National Security Archive.

Now, like always, is not a good time to view the world as consisting of pure good and pure evil

It is a universal temptation to see the world as divided into two camps, with one being good and the other being evil. Not surprisingly most people believe that they are on the side of good.

President George W. Bush has certainly his “war on terror” as a good vs. evil struggle. Last year, on September 20, he said, "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Bush expanded on this theme in his January 29 State of the Union speech by asserting that there was an “axis of evil” of countries that wanted to do evil things.

University of Tennessee law professor and internet commentator extraordinaire Glenn Reynolds is a proponent of viewing the “war on terror” as a battle between good and evil. He made this clear yesterday by approvingly quoting a column by Michael Barone of U.S. & World Report that argues that the "war on terror" is a war against "evil leaders" and "evil ideas."

It might seem intuitive that a war against al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein is a war against evil –it doesn’t to me but I understand where those who think it is are coming from- but the situation gets a lot more complex when attempting to account for opponents of escalating the war with Iraq who live in the U.S. and profess no sympathy to Saddam or countries that do not support one aspect or another of the “war on terror.” Remember that in a war between good and evil where all who do not support good are evil, there can be no middle ground.

Reynolds’ response to this issue has been to charge that those who oppose aspects of the “war on terror” are siding with evil. He argued last week that those who oppose an escalation of the U.S. war against Iraq are "objectively pro-Saddam” since Saddam also does not want an escalation of the war and if those who oppose escalation get what they want, Saddam will also get what he wants.

Reynolds’ response to this issue has been to charge that those who oppose aspects of the “war on terror” are siding with evil. He argued last week that those who oppose an escalation of the U.S. war against Iraq are "objectively pro-Saddam” since Saddam also does not want an escalation of the war and if the those who oppose escalation get the what they want, Saddam will also get what he wants. As I articulated here and here, this reasoning only makes sense if one believes that anybody who opposes the use of U.S. military force to remove X is automatically a supporter of X. If you are like Reynolds and don't like Australia’s gun laws, then you need to support U.S. military action to change those laws to avoid "objectively" supporting them, according to Reynolds’ logic.

Yesterday Reynolds made a parallel argument by contending that Germany is “rooting for the other side” because Germany opposes the U.S. escalating the war against Iraq and German defense firms have worked with Iraq since 1990. Reynolds muddies the debate by throwing around the term "pacifist" around as if it was impossible to be legitimately opposed to the U.S. escalating the war without being a opposed to the use of violence in all cases but the larger problem with this argument is that it treats Germany as a single unified and undifferentiated entity where every person and business agrees with the government and the government agrees with every one of its citizens and businesses. This is absurd and the news story that Reynolds cites even notes that the deals were "covert" so it doesn't appear that the government of Germany was encouraging these transactions since 1990. Furthermore Reynolds even acknowledges that U.S. defense firms were have amongst those that have worked with Iraq. Unless the Professor is willing to nonsensically say that the U.S. is "rooting for the other side" because of these transactions, his entire argument falls apart.

That isn’t the only absurdity involved in viewing the world as a struggle for good vs. evil. In order to believe Bush's words that "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," one has to ignore that the Bush Administration is trying to work with some individuals it says are tied with terrorists. And one has to ignore that Reynolds himself said in July that he hopes Saudi Arabia's government will soon "fall to factions sympathetic to Al Qaeda" because that will provide a better justification for taking over Saudi Arabia. Sure he explains that he only feels that way so it will be easier to implement "corrective action" on, or against, the Saudis but it still represents "rooting for the other side."

It is worth emphasizing that constructing a world that consists of one good side and one evil side involves, as I pointed out two paragraphs ago, treating complex entities like countries as a single unified force. In a way viewing the world as consisting of pure good and evil is a self-fulfilling prophecy because one has to ignore a lot of nuances to get to that conclusion.

The search for all-encompassing and unified sides of pure good and pure evil may be tempting but it won’t lead to understanding the world as anything but a caricature of what it really is. Occasionally in history there are entities of pure evil but their opponents are never purely good. We need to start acknowledging this.

Two reputations take a beating

Hillary Clinton and Rush Limbaugh ran into each other recently and were more than civil, reports Josh Benson of The New York Observer.

Shocking news

"President Bush is likely this week to declare Iraq in "material breach" of a United Nations Security Council resolution on disarmament, but is not expected to cite it as an immediate case for war, U.S. officials said early on Wednesday," writes Steve Holland of Reuters.

worldprayerteam.org is calling on people to pray for peace in Iraq, by which they apparently mean the United States gets what it wants because Iraq surrenders.

This reminds me a lot of Michelle Malkin's "Thanksgiving prayer 2002" as the basic message of both is that God shoud support the U.S. in all its military endeavors.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Should I laugh or frown?

Today's Cadillac News features and article by Lesa Ingraham entitled "Santa delivers." The first two paragraphs on this inverted pyramid feature read:

Santa isn’t the only one brining holiday cheer.

Postal carriers around the country are collecting and delivering thousands of presents and cards.

Yep that's right. The story has nothing to do with the title and the first two pargraphs even come out and say this.

The Michigan State men's basketball team just beat Loyola Chicago, 80-54. The team is now 6-2. Their next game is Saturday against South Florida, who beat Wright State on Saturday.

I'm listening to the Tom Izzo Postgame Show and it is safe to say Izzo isn't happy.

Can you say propoganda?

Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample of the Armed Forces Information Service writes:

Despite a few misfires and a ground-based booster system that's back on the drawing board, the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency says he is confident the system "will work."

It has to.

The United States currently has no overall proven defense capability against an enemy ballistic missile attack. In light of threats by hostile states and terrorist groups, however, President Bush directed the Pentagon today to begin fielding initial defense capabilities by the year 2004. He cited the need "to protect U.S. national security and the security of its allies and friendly countries."

I wish I had this magical power to will something into being.

Is this the plan for the escalation of the war on Iraq?

"The Defense Department, arguing that an increasingly popular form of wireless Internet access could interfere with military radar, is seeking new limits on the technology, which is seen as a rare bright spot for the communications industry," writes John Markoff in a December 16 New York Times story.

"Excerpt from My Autobiography or A Slice of My Life So Far--My First American Experience: America—My Reintroduction into Marginalisation" by Glovefox is as close to a "must read" as I have seen on a blog.

Unorganized comments about The Simpsons

Thirteen years ago today the very first half-hour edition of The Simpsons, "Simpson's Roasting on a Open Fire," aired.

I didn't watch the premiere but do remember many of my sixth grade classmates at Cadillac High School talking about it. It wasn't till January 28, 1990 and "There's No Disgrace Like Home" that I watched my first episode. From that moment on I was hooked and remember for the rest of the year watching the show weekly regardless of whether or not I had seen the episode before. My dad wasn't as religious about it as me but if it was an episode he hadn't seen before, he made a point of seeing it. At the time we weren't getting along and watching the show was one of the few things we could do together without yelling at the other. I find this interesting because I have since talked with a number of people about my age who wer forbidden to watch the show by their parents.

As much as I loved The Simpsons, at first I assumed it would be just a fad and quickly become something other than "must see tv." Those thoughts ended on December 6, 1990 and the airing of "Bart the Daredevil." The plot involves Bart's dreams of becoming a daredevil like his idol, Evel Knievel parody Captain Lance Murdoch. In a dream about this vocation Bart hears an announcer say:

Ladies and gentlemen, the ten-year old who's brave and bold,
when he's not in class, he's risking his ass,
the world's greatest daredevil, Bart Simpson!
My dad and I burst out with uncontrollable laughter at the point and hardly stopped till we had seen the whole tale of how Homer J. Simpson suffered great pain to prevent Bart from doing so. The episode was hillarious but also established the characters as likeable people.

I started watching reruns daily during the summer of 1996 and didn't stop when I went to college that fall. I didn't have many friends in college and I spent more than three of my four years in school highly depressed but The Simpsons gave me great joy during many times when music was the only other source of that feeling. I was quite proud in the spring of 1997 when I realized I said "Doh!" naturally when something went wrong. People who know me know are often amazed by how it sometimes seems I can't get through a conversation without referencing the show. That's come from watching the episodes over and over, something I don't regret at all.

One could be quite philosophical about the greatness of The Simpsons by making comparisons to Plato’s Republic and the like but my honest feeling is that the show succeeds because of great writing for characters that I care about. I believe it really is that simple, and that important.

This is a joke, right?

Personally I would like to see tax cuts where the individual tax payer gets to say what programs are to be cut by the amount that he or she otherwise would have payed.

As soon as this missile defense system is up and running I will feel safe as there is no reason to doubt the effectiveness of such a system.

Why can't I get away?


Monday, December 16, 2002
Apparently it is "weasely" to criticize Trent Lott about his controversial comments unless call for his resignation from the Senate or at least no longer being Majority Leader. (Link courtesy of Glenn Reynolds.)

At the risk of being "weasely," I don't think he should resign from the Senate and, not being a Republican, I don't believe I should be telling the GOP who should and shouldn't be one of their leaders. I believe that any decently informed voter in Mississippi should have known about Lott's position on the issue of race -his now infamous statement wasn't at all out of line with his record- and I think even a racist has a right to run for office and be elected. What this says about the area that elects such a person and a party that will have such a person not only as a member but in a position of leadership is an entirely different manner.

"The Defense Department is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries, senior Pentagon and administration officials say," write Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt in a December 15 New York Times story.

Click here for an excellent post by Jim Henley on the siding with Saddam question. Henley does pay me a compliment:
What Micah has been doing for some time is looking at the dynamics of proliferation from the perspective of the potential antagonist of the US...

I've previously written that Micah expresses more sympathy with the country's antagonists than I'm comfortable with. But guess what? It doesn't matter. What matters is whether Micah's empathy gives him and us a clearer picture of how potential opponents will think these issues through. In fact, it does. If anything, what many would call Micah's "anti-Americanism" makes him especially useful to us pro-Americans - it makes him better able to imaginatively inhabit our actual and potential adversaries. The insight benefits us, because you can craft sounder policies when you know what your adversary actually thinks and wants.

I couldn't agree more. Also check out the next, and final, paragraph:
(That's not to say you give them everything they want or agree with everything they think. It is to say that you're acting from knowledge rather than ignorance, or worse yet, prejudice.)
I guess my rule for people in the United States is that if you want the government in engage in policies and actions that anger people around the world to the point where some of them want to harm the U.S., U.S. interests and people living in the U.S. then you should acknowledge that casualities are a price that will be paid and be willing to criticize the U.S. when you feel it is necessary and be able to defend those policies. I for one have little respect for somebody who wants war with Saudi Arabia but doesn't come out and say that Operation Desert Shield -which was designed to protect the Saudi ruling elites- was a mistake.

Line of last night

Last night’s episode of The Simpsons, “The Great Louse Detective,” was very funny. Somebody was trying to kill Homer J. Simpson so in the world of Springfield this means that Sideshow Bob gets to temporarily leave prison to help find the would-be assassin. Hilarity ensues.

The line of the night has to go to Homer J. for “Mmmmm… steamed Gentile.” What makes this a particularly great quote is that I know I will probably soon have a use for it in the world that I never see a life sized Homer walking in.

Now I'm a terrorist.

Bill Hicks would have turned 41 today.

Al Gore won't run for the Presidency in 2004. Assuming he doesn't plan to run after that, this way he will always be able to tell himself and have his supporters believe that he won every Presidential election he ever ran in.

Sunday, December 15, 2002
Operation TIPS is dead, reports Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice.

In related news, you can keep track of John Poindexter, reports Paul Boutin of Wired News.

My beloved Spartans defeated Kentucky, 71-67, in an excellent men's basketball game played yesterday. Nobody would be disappointed if the games played in early April are as is intense as this one was.

The team is now 5-2. Their next game is Tuesday against Loyola Chicago.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Friday, December 13, 2002
Henry Kissinger has quit the panel investigating intelligence failures and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which likely means tha the panel will end up with the same finding it would have reached with Kissinger but that these findings will be more accepted.

How did Iraq get its weapons of mass destruction? By buying them from the United States, report Neil Mackay and Felicity Arbuthnot of The Sunday Herald.

The article goes a bit too far by not acknowledging that allegation that Iraq has been developing weapons of mass destruction in the last few years without anything that could be construed as U.S. aid but the larger point that the U.S. government has sold Iraq materials that they have used to make weapons of mass destruction out of still stands.

Those of you who don't want to go to war but want the United Nations weapons inspectors to do their job should avoid hypocrisy and volunteer to be a weapons inspector in the United States.

Can we be honest for a second?

"Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals. And the founding ideals of our nation and, in fact, the founding ideals of the political party I represent was, and remains today, the equal dignity and equal rights of every American," President George W. Bush said yesterday in response to the Trent Lott controversy.

The desire by Americans to believe that there country was founded on perfect ideals that have at worst been not implemented seems ingrained in the culture. If Bush's comment is to be believed, it means that every slave owner and supporter of slavery who fought on the winning side of the Revolutionary War wasn't a supporter of the "founding ideals" of this nation. It means that the the Constitution of the United States didn't live up to "founding ideals" of the U.S. until the Thirteenth Amendment. And if that is the case, what exactly are the "founding ideals"? Where have they been written down? Are they anything but whatever Bush believes are good ideals at the moment?

Just to see how it feels I think Americans should say to themselves that the U.S. of A. has, at least in some ways, improved since the founding of the country and that these improvements were not destined to happen or simply the further realization of the "founding ideals" but rather took place because of changes in attitudes and beliefs and social struggles to make the country more just in ways that some, many or all of the founders of the U.S. did not conceive of and/or would not have supported.

Departing Spartan receiver Charles Rogers is this year's Biletnikoff Award winner. I just have to wonder how good he will be if he learns to start catching the seemingly easy balls.

Meanwhile the search for football coach continues.

There is no Axis of Evil

The Iraqi opposition Uncle Sam likes is pursuing ties with Axis of Evil member Iran, report Judity Miller and Lowell Bergman of The New York Times. This is nothing new. Last month The New York Times reported the United States was attempting to side with Iranian backed Iraqi exile Ayatollah Muhammad Bakir al-Hakim.

My guess is that if you view President George W. Bush as an honest and/or honorable man that this might be a bit difficult to understand given that on September 20 of last year he said, "“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Of course if you are like me and view Bush as a lieing power mad leader with no principles other than that the U.S. should dominate, it makes a lot of sense.

What this really gets at is the ridiculousness of viewing the “war on terror” as any one war. Rather it is a catch-all description for a series of domestic, foreign and military policy changes and actions that gets its justification from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, even if the policies have little or nothing to do with those or any other terrorist attacks. There can be no one war because there is no one enemy. What there is are, for one reason or another, individuals who want to commit terrorism against the U.S. as well as non-mutually exclusive but not necessarily united states that fund these terrorists and which want to build weapons of mass destruction possibly for use against the U.S., although no evidence of such intentions has become publicly available. The individuals, groups and states that make up these various categories are not united amongst themselves and are often antagonistic to one another. Quite simply, there is no Axis of Evil.

I want to thank Jim Henley for the link.

I never thought I’d be so disappointed with a link from Instapundit

After writing "If you don't favor war with United Kingdom, you support the Official Secrets Act," I emailed Glenn Reynolds to alert him to the post since it was largely a response to something he had written. Reynolds responded by linking to me and writing:

And I don't think it's any answer to say, as Micah Holmquist does, that: "This is exactly why nuclear weapons are going to be a sought after commodity by countries around the world for the forseeable future. They provide protection, something many countries are trying to obtain in light of the White House's imperial ambitions."
A few things need to be said:

1) Reynolds presents my comments out of context. As my original post makes clear when I wrote what Reynolds quotes me as writing I was responding to him writing about the United States was unlikely to invade North Korea because North Korea has achieved, in Reynolds own words, "a military position that makes invasion prohibitively expensive."

2) As far as I can tell, Reynolds is saying that my comments are an example of an antiwar voice who appears to be siding with President George W. Bush's enemies. Since unlike most bloggers I don't really want the U.S. to win the "war on terror," this comments is understandable if not exactly accurate. Still I doubt Reynolds has read much of my blog and since in that entry I was merely explaining why a country might want weapons of mass destruction, it appears that the real message is that in Reynolds' mind anybody who goes against the War Party Line about other countries wanting weapons of mass destruction exclusively for the purpose of attacking the U.S. -a belief that requires ignoring facts and history but which dominates the popular debate surrounding whether or not the U.S. should attack Iraq- is effectively siding with the enemy. Talking about those Bush deems as the "enemy" in terms that recognize them as anything but 110% evil apparently isn't acceptable.

3) Reynolds ignores my argument about how the U.S. military could do lots of things and that if you believe opposing war with Iraq means siding with Saddam Hussein, then presumably you also believe that not favoring war with the United Kingdom means support for that country's Official Secrets Act. The same argument could be made with countless other examples including Canada and its single payer health care system, Japan and its tariffs and the Netherlands and its legalization of marijuana. In other words, if you don't support using the U.S. military to change those countries policies in those areas, then according to Reynolds' logic you are supporting those policies. It isn't exactly an intelligent way to look at the world.

4) At the risk of sounding petty, I’m disappointed by how few hits I got from Reynolds. Yesterday I got 62 page views which is good for me but isn't unheard of even on days when I don't get a link from something with as many readers as Reynolds has. In contrast, links from antiwar.com, Nick Denton, Spoons and Matthew Yglesias have generated more hits. Maybe Reynolds' readers just aren't interested in reading somebody who goes against the War Party Line.

Thursday, December 12, 2002
Today's Washington Post features an interesting story by Barton Gellman about possible links between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government.

I'm extremely doubtful and will remain that way till I heard President George W. Bush connecting specifically connecting al Qaeda and Iraq as part of an attempt to see war with Iraq. If that happens, I will still have my doubts because I don't exactly trust Bush but until such an arguement is made I just can't get over the oddity of Bush not using this argument when he wants a war with Iraq as badly as he does. Any connection between the two would immediately create broader support for his war aims so if the evidence exists, why isn't Bush using it?

If you don't favor war with the United Kingdom, you support the Official Secrets Act

On Tuesday I noted that Glenn Reynolds had said that those who oppose the U.S. attacking Iraq are effectively with Saddam Hussein. Responding to criticism from others, Reynolds has elaborated on that statement. His basic argument is that Saddam's strategy is now to try to delay war untill the antiwar movement in the U.S. has enough strength to prevent the U.S. from attacking. The idea that antiwar voices in the U.S. are going to stop a war is lamentably laughable but I suppose Saddam doesn't much else to be hopeful about at this point so who knows?

The problem with Reynolds' argument is that it assumes as a given that the U.S. is going to take Saddam out of power -read takeover Iraq- as a given and that any opposition to such an action is holding back the forward progress of history. In contrast, while I certainly expect that the U.S. will soon be escalating its war with Iraq, I don't see such an action as normal. The assumption that the U.S. will take over Iraq seems logical because of how much it is talked about but that doesn't actually mean that it is and/or should be an historical given.

If taken to its logical conclusion, Reynolds' argument means that anybody who opposes using the U.S. military to get rid of X is effectively a supporter of X. The United Kingdom has the highly undemocratic Official Secrets Act, which prevents subjects from finding out information about the actions of their government. Presumably the U.S. could take over the U.K. to get rid of this act but does this mean anybody who doesn't favor the U.S. governement doing this objectively support the Official Secrets Act? The answer is, of course not! Opposing the use of U.S. military force to remove something or someone from another country does not necessarily mean supporting that thing or person.

Or to look at it another way. Reynolds is big on pointing out the ties between al Qaeda and the government of Saudi Arabia. Assuming that these ties are exactly what Reynolds believes they are, and using his own logic, this means that anybody who supported Operation Desert Shield, which was intended to protect the government of Saudi Arabia from Iraq, effectively supported al Qaeda. George Herbert Walker Bush presumably has a lot of explaining to do but I have yet to read Reynolds getting on his case about this.

On another note, in the instapundit.com post this entry is responding to, Reynolds writes:

The reason why we aren't invading North Korea is that it would be too hard, not least because North Korea has managed to pull off what Saddam Hussein is still trying to accomplish: a military position that makes invasion prohibitively expensive.
This is exactly why nuclear weapons are going to be a sought after commodity by countries around the world for the forseeable future. They provide protection, something many countries are trying to obtain in light of the White House's imperial ambitions.

My thoughts on the Trent Lott controversy

Up till now I haven't blogged about the Trent Lott controversy for two reasons. I do believe that his comment about how "we wouldn't of had all these problems over all these years" if Strom Thurmonds Dixiecratic run for the White House in 1948 has been successful was racist but I already knew that Lott was a racist. His ties to the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens might not be household knowledge but it isn't exactly something that isn't known either. If you didn't care about Lott being connected with such a group before December 5, then I don't see why you should care all that much about these comments unless you are like Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan and your main concern seems to be that having a person like Lott who has made such comments in a prominent position hurts the GOP.

More importantly, in a country where it is does not cause outrage that U.S. policies over the last 12 years or so have caused, according to a conservative estimate, 100,000 Iraqis to die prematurely, I find outrage over Lott's comments to be a tad hypocritical. The message seems to be that if you live in the U.S. you have a right to liberty but if you don't live in the U.S. you don't deserve anything better than death if the U.S. decides it wants to kill you. That is a sick message and while I doubt many people consciously view the situation that way, their selective outrage seems to indicate that such is the case.

One thing that I have to see mentioned in any news or blog coverage of the Lott controversy is how this situation indicates that the Republicans have been less than perfectly honest for years when they say things like, to quote Linda Chavez, "Republicans in Congress actually supported the two most important civil rights bills on record, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in higher percentages than Democrats did." This is true but igonores the fact that the composition of these two political parties was about to change and that civil rights was the catalyst for this change. Namely many Democrats of Thurmond's variety would join the Republicans.

Brief notes on the Star Wars missile defense system

The Star Wars missile defense system failed in a recent test, reports Sky News.

While this isn't reason enough to say such a program should be scrapped since all programs fail before they sucdeed, I can't help but note that this failure is receiving less attention from the Armed Forces Information Service than a successful test did in October.

In related news the government of the United Kingdom is saying that participating in the Star Wars program with the United States will not put the U.K. at greater risk.

IMHO there are three major concerns assosciated with the Star Wars system. One, it might fail when needed and result in killing innocent people in country which may or may not have hitherto been uninvolved in one of the conflicts Uncle Sam is addicted to like Jake La Motta was addicted to boxing. Two, the system could work and allow the U.S. to attack other countries will little fear of retaliation thus creating a bully who can't even be bothered with the difficulties of an empire. If trying to scare other countries with the fear of retaliation is something the U.S. can do, then it is something other countries should be able to do towards a country with a bloody record like the U.S. has. Finally, the system could work and will thus force enemies of the U.S. to take out their rage through what are considered "terrorist" actions. Given how the U.S. reacted to the September 11, 2001 attacks, my guess is that such attack will not spawn reflection but rather the continuation of an unlimited war.

The often interesting magazine Reason has started a blog.

I would take criticism of "the latest minor-celebrities-against-war mediafest" a lot more seriously if I didn't live in a country where I'm made to feel strange because I don't care about neither the movies and shows these people produce nor the which credit cards and soft drinks they are paid to endorse.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
I'm still a threat to "adam stevens."

While I am confused as to why the U.S. let Yemen keep the scuds, I am glad they did.

From the no comment needed department

"LDS Church leaders met with the chairman of a Jewish organization in New York City on Tuesday to discuss an apparent breach of the faith's agreement not to practice proxy baptisms for Jewish Holocaust victims," writes C.G. Wallace of the AP.

Me I'm a member of Landover Baptist.

As soon as the check clears...

The U.S. nuclear strategy concisely stated

The National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction makes it clear that the United States will use nuclear weapons in retaliation to being attacked by weapons of mass destruction.

But of course any country that Uncle Sam doesn't care for, like say Iraq, that trys to develop nuclear weapons is doing so exclusively for offensive purposes as the citizens of these countries are unable to conceive of using weapons for defensive purposes.

"adamstevens" thinks I'm a threat!

Back in October I had some dealings with "Adam Stevens."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I highly suggest heaving over to villagevoice.com and reading Nat Hentoff's column "We'll All Be Under Surveillance" and Tom Robbins' article on how West Point is preparing for the escalation of the war on Iraq.

The current state of Andrew Sullivan's "Blogging Revolution"

Andrew Sullivan says he needs donations to keep on blogging and "show that this medium can not only spawn new forms of journalism, but also provide a direct revenue stream from readers themselves." Later he writes, "So please make blogging history, and give this site a financial and journalistic future."

I'm all for readers giving money to their favorite bloggers if they want to but has "The Blogging Revolution" Sullivan wrote about earlier this year really evolved in his mind to nothing more than the search for a "direct revenue stream"? Is writing propoganda for the "war on terror" -excuse me, war on terror- so as to combat the enemies of freedom and ensure a "disproportionate" response" no longer a meaningful pursuit for Sullivan?

My faith has been shaken.

Bush's Charade

I doubt hawks -whether they are in power or merely opinionated- really care but Iraq is right when it says the U.S. is using the weapons dossier to get its war on. (Apologies to David Rees.)

The whole going to the United Nations for authorization and then letting inspectors try to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction is really just a charade. The Bush Administration wants war and it is going to get war just to show the world that it can fuck up other countries when it wants to.

If you doubt this, consider two points. Firstly, assuming that Iraq is an immediate threat, why is the Bush Administration content to take its time with war? They say that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and imply that this in and of itself makes them a threat to God and Country, Truth and Justice and Freedom and the Survival of the American Way of Life and yet don't act like the threat is real. Either the Bush Administration is lying about the threat or cares nothing about the safety of Americans. (Actually both clauses could true but you get my point.) Secondly, if Iraq is such a threat, it means that the war the U.S. has waged against Iraq since 1990 has been ineffective and yet killed thousands if not millions of Iraqis via bombings and sanctions. That is tragic in and of itself but would be possibly explainable as good intentions leading to bad results except for the fact that the Bush Administration doesn't criticize those policies, which tends to indicate that the goal of U.S. policy towards Iraq since at least Operation Desert Shield hasn't been about keeping Americans safe but rather doing harm to Iraq.

Given all of this, and you can reach your own conclusion as to whether or not the Bush Administration is mendacious, incompetent and/or evil, how could any person who is isn't stupid or evil be comfortable with the Bush Adminstration's drive for war?

Yeah we need another Mad Max movie. The first one wasn't good solely because Mel Gibson didn't speak but it didn't hurt.


(Link courtesy of Clark Humphrey.)

It is a good thing I don't say everything that runs through my mind

A man has been sentenced to 37 months in the slammer for joking about burning Bush.

I never would have guessed the Rawhide Kid was gay. The idea that somebody who has written for Howard Stern is assosciated with the project worries me.

Oppose the escalation of the war on Iraq and you are siding with Saddam, according to Glenn Reynolds.

Cool we may get to know who is supplying Iraq.

In the immortal words of Bill Hicks:

They’re arming the fucking world man. You know we armed Iraq. I wondered about that too, you know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out:

“Iraq: incredible weapons - incredible weapons.”

How do you know that?

“Uh, well... We looked at the receipts Haar.”

“Ah but as soon as that check clears, we’re going in.”

“What time’s the bank open? 8? We’re going in at 9.”

Yesterday's freedom fighter is today's Hitler.

Apparently President Bush can talk now!

Monday, December 09, 2002
The Santa business isn't quite what it used to be.

Don't take pictures of Vice President Dick Cheney's motel!

You see Cheney can do what he wants while you, His subjects, can't.

Pentagon officials say the U.S. military could strike Iraq within weeks, Toby Harnden and David Blair report in today's Telegraph.

Widespread email overload a myth according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"More than 10,000 people defied riot police to gather outside Teheran university in a show of support for reformist students and a sign of a wider dissatisfaction with the regime," writes Wendell Steavenson in today's Telegraph.While that is impressive the following bit should be kept in mind:
Teheran University has 50,000 students and most of those interviewed said they had gone to their classes as usual and had not been involved in the political activities during the day.
How popular the protesters are with those who don't protest is the real question.

From the department of unreassuring news

Drug czar John P. Walters says the Department of Homeland Security will reinvigorate the war on drugs, the AP reported last Thursday.

"All governments are liars and murderers"
-Bill Hicks
Iraq's dossier on its weapons of mass destruction program has arrived at the United Nations. I feel the need to say how I feel about this since I haven't been perfectly clear about it in the past.

Althought it wouldn't shock me to find out that the Bush Administration is lieing when it says it has proof Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction, my gut instinct is that Iraq probably does have weapons of mass destruction and is continuing to develop them for reasons that may be perfectly logical. I do not believe that the United States has any right to tell any other country what weapons it can or can not develop given the Uncle Sam's brutal record. And don't try to tell me that it is the United Nations that is really trying to disarm Iraq. The United Nations is only doing what the U.S. wants and, as I argued in "Was the United States post September 11 just a Dress Rehearsal?", the U.N. has no credibility because it has failed to be a counterweight to the U.S.

None of this means that I like the idea of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. It just means that weapons of mass destruction bother me no more in the hands of Saddam Hussein than they do in the hands of George W. Bush. Maybe they even bother me less.

My beloved Spartans defeated Cleveland State, 79-47, in a game played this past afternoon. They are now 4-2 on the season. Next up is Kentucky on Saturday.

Friday, December 06, 2002

The great jazz pianist Mel Waldron has passed away.

I'm unlikely to be able to blog tomorrow so you won't get quick analysis from me but it will be interesting to read the Iraqi document on its weapons of mass destruction programs.

Click here to read, in PDF, the recent decision in the Jose Padilla case where a judge ruled that an American citizen can be held as an enemy combatant, although still would have the right to legal counsel.

What I find more interesting than the decision is how few are questioning how the Bush Administration wants to hold one person they alledge is a member al-Qa'ida indefinitely as an enemy combatant while engaging in a criminal prosecution of al-Qa'ida member Zacarias Moussaoui. The White House appears to be saying they are not adverse to using evidence but don't feel the lack of evidence should get in the way of them doing what they want. If Presidents are allowed to act in this way, abuse will happen and more likely than not sooner rather than later.

Two dreams remembered over the course of four nights - this has to be some kind of record

Tuesday I noted remembering an ocean liner dream from the night before. This morning I woke up and knew I had been dreaming about seeing a concert at the Candlestick Maker, a performance space run by Michael Zerang in the northwest Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park that I described in "Making Candles with Michael Zerang and Fred Lonberg-Holm." A quartet was playing with Peter Brotzmann on reeds and Hamid Drake on drums. I've seen both play at the Candlestick Maker more than once so that part and was listening their intense duo disc The Dried Rat Dog before going to be last night so that part is easy but I find two elements of the dream more difficult to understand, or at least more interesting. Brotzmann and Drake were playing with a bassist and trumpeter but I have no idea who the musicians were. What I do remember is both were tall black men with slender builds and light complexions. The bassist had dreadlocks and was wearing blue jeans and a white shirt. The trumpeter had a green button-up dress shirt on and khaki pants. The other thing that stand out is that I have no idea what the music this quartet was playing in my head sounded like. There just is no sound in my memory.

Today's Independent features an interesting piece by Robert Fisk on how the U.S. of A.'s war against al-Qa'ida.

Escalation of the war with Iraq draws nearer.

Thursday, December 05, 2002
Now Glenn Reynolds is equating opposition to the U.S. attacking Iraq with anti-Semitism.

Yeah so?

"The White House said Thursday it possesses solid evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and rejected Baghdad's denials, saying they have no credibility," writes Barry Schweid of the AP.

The Federation of American Scientists says it has evidence the United States has weapons of mass destruction.

It is also widely believed that the U.S. has used weapons of mass destruction.

A guy you made have heard of who's last name is Bush says al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks last week in Kenya.

I'm suprised to say it but I have to agree with Glenn Reynolds on this.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002
I bet Tom Izzo still isn't particularly happy

After losses to Villanova and Oklahoma State, the Michigan State men's basketball team rebounded and actually scored more points than Virginia tonight, 82-75. The team is now 3-2. Their next game is Sunday against Cleveland State.

A win is a win but MSU couldn't deliver the final blow to Virginia tonight and let them hang around despite outplaying them on the whole.

Ignoring history makes it easier to be bellicose

Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan charged today that United Nations weapons inspectors are spies for Israel and the United States.

Knowing that Iraqi officials are always mendancious, Scott Ott and Glenn Reynolds don't think much of the charge.

They are right of course as the U.S. has never done such a thing in the past and certainly wouldn't begin now.

It is good to know Glenn Reynolds still appears hungry for attacking Iraq, if only to prevent the U.S. from having to commit genocide I suppose.

Quotation marks and the "war on terrorism"

Andrew Sullivan writes:

QUOTATION MARK WATCH: Have you begun to notice how some commentators (mainly on the left but also on the paleo-right) have begun to put the term "war on terrorism" in quote marks? I wonder what part of the phrase they don't buy. That we are fighting terrorism?
While I doubt Sullivan has been reading me, I do put the "war on terror" and the "war on terrorism" in quotes so I figure I should explain to my dozen or so regular readers why I do it in case it wasn't obvious.

President George W. Bush has used the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as the justification for many things that are not directly about fighting terrorism against the U.S., including war with Iraq. I'm fond of quoting an October 7 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio where the President said:

Some citizens wonder, after 11 years of living with this problem [or Iraq having weapons of mass destruction], why do we need to confront it now? And there's a reason. We've experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact, they would be eager, to use biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

In other words, the United States should go to war with Iraq because something bad happned to the U.S. over a year ago. This is sheer idiocy. Why don't Uncle Sam use those famed terrorist attacks as a reason to go to war with Israel and United Kingdom? Both have nukes and sure they are allies of the U.S. at the moment "but," in the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson, "who knows what tomorrow will bring?"

The answer is that there is no evidence that either Israel or the United Kingdom was involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or have intentions of harming the U.S. It would be illogical to after them for doing nothing because something bad happened to the U.S. just as it is illogical to go to war with Iraq because of the events of September 11, 2001. Now it is a whole different story if someone wants to argue that the U.S. should go to war with Iraq because Iraq is a threat or some other reason that does no involve saying the U.S. has the right to do whatever the hell it wants to anybody, anywhere because nearly 3,000 people died in America a little less than 15 months ago. I don't agree with those arguments but they don't necessarily have the flaw of using an unconnected event to justify war.

Getting back to the matter of using quotes, since I do not believe that the "war on terrorism" is primarily about fighting terrorism, I find it problematic to use that term as if it has any meaning beyond a political slogan that Bush can use to to describe just about any action, external or internal, that he wants. In other words, the "war on terrorism" is anything that Bush wants it be. It is his agenda. I don't like it but I do recognized it is being waged.

For the record, I don't expect Sullivan to understand what I am getting at since he has been at least as quick as Bush to use the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to justify a broad agenda. Last year, on the afternoon of September 11 in a post entitled "EVIL," Sullivan wrote, "The response must be disproportionate to the crime and must hold those states and governments that have tolerated this evil accountable." While most Americans were in shock, Sullivan like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was plotting empire.