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.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

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

Monday, June 30, 2003
The Nazi Officer's Wife

The Nazi Officer's Wife (Liz Garbus, 2003), which aired on A&E last night, tells the story of Edith Hahn Beer, a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by taking on the identity of an Aryan woman and even marrying a Nazi party member. Relying primarily on interviews with Beer, narration by Susan Sarandon and archival footage of the period, the film is a gripping account both of the anti-Jewish sentiment that flourished in Germany under Hitler and Beer's own story. Most importantly The Nazi Officer's Wife implicitly shows how Nazism manufactured an identity for Germany that needed to both figuratively and literally kill the undesirable complexities of the real existing world.


A feature on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising would be a much needed addition to "The Holocaust" film genre.


"While Bush aides try to look calm, the search grows increasingly feverish. They predicted they would find Saddam Hussein’s arsenal of mass destruction as soon as Iraq’s experts could dare to tell the truth. Now the regime is gone, and Saddam’s best-known WMD officials are dead or in U.S. custody, shielded from the regime’s monstrous reprisals. There’s only one problem. What the survivors are saying is not what the White House wants to hear," John Barry and Michael Isikoff write in the June 30 issue of Newsweek. "THE DETAINEES SAY Iraq destroyed all of its banned munitions years ago, and nothing more was produced. The scientists have been threatened, coaxed, offered all kinds of incentives, including safe haven outside Iraq for their families. Nothing changes their stories."


U.S. Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat from California, has some not exactly complimentary things to say about the Bush Administration. Specifically Harman accuses Team Bush of "overstating the case" on weapons of mass destruction with regard to Iraq, as well as on ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's now deposed regime.


"The United States appears to be on the brink of sending troops to end the brutal civil war in Liberia," Adrian Blomfield writes in today's Telegraph. "Officials in Washington met round the clock over the weekend to plan a possible armed response - its first mission to Africa since the disastrous intervention in Somalia almost a decade ago. A statement is expected within the next few days, possibly as early as this evening."

Sunday, June 29, 2003
"As US forces discovered the bodies of two soldiers, missing since Wednesday, and a guerrilla ambush killed a further serviceman and wounded four others, a senior American officer warned: 'The first clear message that we have to take out of here is that this war is not over. I think that is pretty clear to all of us,'" Jo Dillon writes in today's Independent.


Let's see how long the truce lasts.


Up till a year ago I lived just a few blocks east of this Chicago "porch collapse."


Peter Kuper's take on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis looks like it will be interesting.


The Simpsons Lures

Saturday, June 28, 2003
A solution that could have been, and perhaps still could be

Remember the suspected bioweapons lab trailers that were found in Iraq about a month ago? You know the ones that went from being a weapon of mass destruction to not being a weapon of mass destruction in a period of no more than seven days and which reportedly are believed by British intelligence to have been used for artillery balloons. The latest word, as reported by the AP, is that the Central Intelligence Agency is sticking by its finding that the trailers were likely part of a bioweapons lab, despite a State Department claim to the contrary.

The CIA's view seems to be the most popular in the White House. "The President believes that they [the CIA], in this instance, have the best judgment because they were in the most authoritative position to have accurate information," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said on Thursday. "It's not only the President who thinks that, but so, too, does the Secretary of State."

This may be true and, for the sake of making a cheap semi-humorous political point, I will assume it is. I now plan to doubt just about everything that comes out of the State Department.


Speaking of the State Department, I was surfing their webpage for things to not believe when I came across this interview that Secretary of State Colin Powell gave for All Things Considered yesterday. In it we find out that those under Powell call him "Boss" as if he were Alan Lomax or something. Also in the interview, Powell says, "The imminent threat is that suddenly, this biological warfare lab, for example, could have been put into use. And the possibility that anything that came out of that lab or any of the chemical capability he had could have been given to terrorist organizations. And the point well, should we wait until we see a chemical device exploded or turned loose or some toxin released in London or Paris or Frankfurt or New York or Los Angeles and then decide we have an imminent threat?" This nothing but outright poppycock as 1) Powell is connected with the State Department, who we all know can't be trusted; 2) A long trail of info suggests that other members of the Bush Administration were saying that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; 3) Powell has said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. For instance on March 24, he said that Operation Iraqi Freedom " is part of this great effort to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and provide a better life for the Iraqi people by getting rid of this regime."


CNN has not one but two interesting stories about WMD programs that may have existed in Iraq. This AP story on the same topic is also worth reading.


"The U.S. military is investigating the deaths of two soldiers whose bodies were found Saturday 20 miles northwest of Baghdad," FOX News writes today. "63 [U.S.] troops have died since the war ended May 1. The military has confirmed 138 deaths prior to that date, while the names of several other casualties have not yet been made available."

Despite these deaths, yesterday Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reportedly denied that the U.S. was facing a guerrilla war in Iraq and instead blamed criminal elements in Iraq. While this might not be completely inaccurate, it does seem a bit much considering that few, if any, of the attacks on coalition troops have involved any other criminal activities such as robberies. The Iraqi criminal element almost certainly wouldn't be satisfied with just attacking the forces of occupation for the sake of such attacks, and so it seems safe to conclude that some other forces are involved.

Yesterday a CNN story about another attack that happened in Baghdad had this info:

"There is no doubt this was an organized attack, an ambush, and it represents an increasing level of organization and sophistication. What we're seeing is an urban guerilla force taking the initiative against the forces that are there," said a U.S. military official familiar with the latest briefings on the security situation in Iraq.

"We are seeing the elements getting traction, probing, finding a vulnerability, and there is no coercive apparatus to punish them, so we can expect ... more of this stuff. We don't have the secret police-type there to root out that insurgent force and never will, so we are at a disadvantage," he said.


"Syria says it has protested to the US Government over an American military strike thought to have been aimed at Saddam Hussein," the BBC reported three days ago. "The comment, made in the official Syrian Arab News Agency on Wednesday - nearly a week after the event occurred - was the first from Damascus. The Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the US ambassador to Damascus, Theodore Kattouf, to protest and demand the return of five Syrian soldiers wounded in the incident."


Has Bush forgotten?


The U.S. wouldn't be having any of these problems if around March 19 President George W. Bush had said, "Fuck Iraq! Let's show them a little American Know How and show the Japs they got off easy" before launching attacks designed to kill every person in Iraq.

Friday, June 27, 2003
The impact of a war that isn't always on

On June 17 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that U.S. Justice Department does not have to reveal the names of foreign nationals who were detained as part of anti-terrorist investigations after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks because doing so might, as the Justice Department argued, risk "national security." (Thanks to Jim Henley for the link.)

Two days later U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that Iyman Faris, a/k/a Mohammad Rauf "had pleaded guilty to providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack." In an official statement issued that day on the plea, the Justice Department describes Faris as "a senior operational leader in al Qaeda" and says Faris has admitted to meeting Osama bin Laden and giving assistance to al Qaeda for the purpose of potential terrorist acts. Faris is reportedly a U.S. citizen.

On Monday the Justice Department changed the status of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al Marri, a citizen of Qatar, from that of a person facing criminal charges to that of "enemy combatant" because he is alleged to be tied with al Qaeda.

"The FBI Friday issued a 41-count indictment against 11 men charged with conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas," CNN reported today. " Nine of the defendants, who are ages 23 to 35, are U.S. citizens, and the others are a Yemeni and a non-resident alien from Pakistan, said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia." Actually it was a grand jury that issued the indictment.)

These cases are representative of an inconsistency in how the U.S. is waging the "war on terror." Although the U.S. has been, for all intents and purposes, at war since September 11, 2001, the U.S., by which I mean the Bush Administration, has been unwilling to apply the "enemy combatant" status, under which a person would have to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and can not be tried criminally, to all who are captured in the "war on terror." After all, what is a person like Faris who has met with Osama and plotted terrorist actions against the U.S. if not the "enemy" in the "war on terror"?

So far in the "war on terror" we have seen that U.S. citizen captured in a foreign country can be treated as an alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." If captured in the U.S., a U.S. citizen can also be tried as an alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." The same is true of foreign nationals captured in the U.S.; they can be treated a alleged criminal or an "enemy combatant." Foreign nationals captured outside the U.S. have so far been treated as "enemy combatants" but Ashcroft indicated that this could change in his June 5 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary that followed his prepared statement.

Unfortunately Ashcroft's full testimony does not appear to be available online but, according to my memory of watching the hearing the following day on C-Span, Ashcroft said that the reason for this discrepancy in the use of criminal trials and "enemy combatant" status was that some allied countries were not willing to release alleged terrorists to the U.S. if these individuals were not guaranteed due process. This is laughable as an explanation since it does nothing to explain why al Qaeda members captured in the U.S. have received each treatment but it does get at an important point; rather than being a statement of fact, the status of "enemy combatant" has become a political tool for the Bush Administration. Figuring out why which status was used in each and every case is likely an impossible task, but it remains possible to see how the ability of the Bush Administration to vacillate on this matter benefits Team Bush.

Few words have greater sting in the U.S. than "criminal." A regular feature of the "war on terror" has been the Bush Administration's desire to label the enemies in the "war on terror" as being "criminal." By trying some of enemies in the "war on terror" in criminal courts, the Bush Administration is able to further this claim and, both implicitly and explicitly, label the "terrorists" -whoever they are deemed to be at the moment- as evil. But by having the option of not going to criminal trial, the Bush Administration is able to only pursue criminal cases it believes it can win and thus avoid the potential embarrassment of losing a case. (It arguably would do quite a bit to discredit the "war on terror" if a group a U.S. citizens said it wasn't convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" that those deemed as "terrorists" are in fact deserving of that label.) Even if a concern about secrets getting out and harming national security are valid, and they very well may be, this political consideration should not be discounted.

Ultimately this matter reflects an incongruity in the larger "war on terror," which has been conceived so broadly that it could go forever but where, besides al Qaeda, which has clearly been shown to be unsatisfactory to the Bush Administration as the sole enemy, there is no clear opponent and any potential opponent has to be built up before they can be taken down. To ignore the "war" part is to give up the ghost. To play the "war" card too heavily is make the imperial ambitions all too known.

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Is Bush the Anti-Christ?

"End Times" thought is a varied lot but much, maybe even most, of it agrees with Dr. Jimmy Lowery, who says the Anti-Christ will "make a false peace in Israel with its neighboring enemies, mainly the Arab nations." The Anti-Christ will, according to Scott Ross of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, reflect "a spirit of deception in the world system that promises a superficial 'peace.'"

In tomorrow's Daily Telegraph, Alan Philps writes:

Something radical has changed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The change is not the views of the Israeli top brass, who still believe in using an iron fist. It is not in the minds of the Palestinian extremists who send young men to blow themselves up inside Israel; they still believe in eternal struggle.

How then to explain the fact that Hamas, the Islamic extremist movement, is preparing to sign a three-month truce, obliging it to stop attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians?

In return for accepting what Palestinians widely see as a "surrender document", Hamas will get almost nothing from the Israelis, not even a promise that the lives of its leadership will be secure.

The change is not on the ground, but 5,900 miles away, in the mind of President George W Bush. He told the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, earlier this month that bringing peace to the Middle East was a "divine mission" for him.

The piece doesn't reveal how Philps knows these things and strangely seems to take Hamas having interest in the preservation of U.S. prestige as a given. And it should be noted that even if Philps reporting is correct on this matter, it does not necessarily mean that Bush is the Anti-Christ. Maybe he just wants to be that most famous of guests who doesn't show up.

That most wonderful of perfect documents

Today, as you have probably already heard, the Supreme Court of some country struck down a Texas state law that forbid acts of sodomy between people of the same gender. The vote was 6 to 3, with Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion and Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens signing on to the argument that basically said private consensual sexual acts between adults are constitutionally protected. Sandra Day O'Connor concurred, arguing that that law was invalid because it applied only to people in engaging in same-sex acts and thus was a violation of the equal protection clause. Anthony Scalia dissented by arguing that overturning this law meant that limiting marriage to different sex couples were now "on shaky, pretty shaky grounds." William Rehnquist signed on to Scalia's dissent. Clarence Thomas dissented with the argument that he did not see how this law was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

While I shed no tears for this law being struck down, I have to agree with Thomas here. The right to have sex with a person of the same gender as you is not going to be found in the constitution. Of course the whole idea of the document have hidden meanings that can be found and lost is quite bizarre. The gentlemen who wrote the document didn't agree on what it meant so you can interpret it any way you want, which might make sense if you are trying to give new meanings to songs like "Bombs Over Baghdad," "Born in the USA" or "Rock the Casbah," but makes no sense when trying to come up with workable laws. The idea that the meaning of the U.S. Constitution can and should change over time is similarly flawed, as what it actually means to say is that new consensuses can be reached on a societal level. But wouldn't it make a lot more sense to response to such situations by changing laws?

The devotion to the constitution that exists dulls political debate as well. Daniel Lazare persuasively argues in the November/December 1998 issue of New Left Review that people in the U.S. tend to only regard the civil liberties that can be traced to the U.S. Constitution as valid. What Lazare doesn't overly discount is that political discourse in the U.S. tends to impose desirable values onto that document. Sexual freedom is deemed to be a good thing and thus it must be found somewhere in that most wonderful of perfect documents. This distorts discussions in the U.S. greatly because seldom are proponents of gay rights willing to concede that the U.S. Constitution does not protect sexual freedom but that it is a human right and thus an amendment is needed to guarantee that right. A real discussion that doesn't necessarily involve wishful but false thinking can be had around that matter, but it might mean admitting "The Founders" were not in possession of perfect or even nearly perfect wisdom and vision. And for that reason, I doubt such a discussion will popularly happen any time soon.


We already have the cool weapons but you can't have any, the European Union and the United States said yesterday.


"A Marine accused of raping a 19-year-old Okinawa woman was turned over to Japanese police Wednesday even though he had yet to be indicted," Mark Oliva of Stars and Stripes writes in a report from seven days ago. "The move follows an announcement that U.S. officials will visit Japan to discuss changing the agreement regulating how Japanese courts treat U.S. military personnel. Marine Lance Cpl. Jose W. Torres, 21, was turned over to Okinawa police after a meeting of the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee."

"The US navy is considering relocating the Pacific Fleet's patrol and reconnaissance headquarters from Hawaii to Japan by the autumn, a news report said Saturday," Agence France-Presse writes in a Saturday report. "The move will be part of the global transformation of the US military presence, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said, citing unnamed sources."

"Okinawa's governor demanded U.S. forces leave the southern island, as residents marked the 58th anniversary Monday of the final land battle of World War II between U.S. and Japanese forces," writes the AP in a Monday report. "'We ask that the United States and Japan boost efforts to relocate U.S. bases from Okinawa and revise the U.S.-Japan security pact,' Keiichi Inamine said in a speech."


"Schindler and I are like peas in a pod," Mr. Burns once said. "We're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked, dammit!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Go Russell Mokhiber! It is nice to know there is at least one person who can ask tough questions of the Bush Administration. It is telling that more reporters aren't doing this.

And for the record,if I could ask Bush one question, it would have be. "Since the United States has used weapons of mass destructions and continues to possess weapons of mass destruction and many governements, including brutal dictatorships, have possessed weapons of mass destruction without using them, why is Iraq having weapons of mass destruction a certain threat?"

If, affter asking that question, John Ashcroft hasn't declared me an enemy combatant and detained me indefinitely, I would have plenty of follow-ups.

"COMICAL Ali [Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf], Saddam Hussein's ludicrous spin doctor, has been arrested in Baghdad, it was claimed last night," Paul Martin writes in today's Daily Mirror.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon has denied the report, Agence France-Presse reports today.

If he has been caught, I hope that U.S. Information Minister George W. Bush soon gets into contact with him so they can trade tips.


"New York Times reporter Judith Miller played a highly unusual role in an Army unit assigned to search for dangerous Iraqi weapons, according to U.S. military officials," Howard Kurtz reports in today's Washington Post. The story is very much worth reading.


Yesterday Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he had "no reason to believe that" senior members of Saddam Hussein's now deposed government had been killed in a strike near Syria last week. Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post has tallied the damage of another strike.


"British forces were hunting down gunmen who killed six British military police after a violent demonstration that left four Iraqi civilians dead, a British Army official said Wednesday," Bassem Mrous of The Associated Press writes today. "Iraqi gunmen - enraged by the deaths of their countrymen at the hands of British soldiers - killed two British military policemen during the demonstration and then stormed a police station, killing four more, local police and witnesses said."

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
"Environmental activists have demanded a clean up of radioactive waste in villages surrounding Iraq's Tuwaitha nuclear plant as fears grow for local people's health," the BBC writes today. The whole story is worth reading.


"Some say the war was justified even if WMD are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is 'better off' without Saddam Hussein," George Will writes in Sunday's Washington Post. "Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny -- on to Burma? -- it is unacceptable to argue that Hussein's mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for preemptive war."

While I agree with Will in principle, I think this is distortion of much of the "better off" argument, which says that removing Saddam was worth it because of the trouble he could potentially create so long as he was in office, which is different than just saying that war was justified as a means of improving the human rights situation in Iraq.


"Most Americans would support the United States taking military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons despite growing public concern about the mounting number of U.S. military casualties in the aftermath of the war with Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll," Richard Morin and Claudia Deane write in today's Washington Post. "President Bush last week said the rest of the world should join the United States in declaring that it "will not tolerate" nuclear weapons in Iran -- a vow that most Americans appear willing to back with force. By 56 percent to 38 percent, the public endorsed the use of the military to block Iran from developing nuclear arms."

It appears that the weapons-of-mass-destruction-in,-or-even-potentially-in,-the-hands-of-a-country-President-George-W.-Bush-says-is-a-threat-is-a-threat logic continues to be popular.


In a story from yesterday, the AP quotes U.S. House member and Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt as saying, "When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day." Can you say disturbing? Nobody who is bothered by the authoritarin practices of the Bush Administration, or who was bothered by a similar and in some ways even more authoritarian practices of Team Clinton, should line up to support Gephardt. (Thanks to Court Schuett for alerting me to the quote.)

Monday, June 23, 2003
"Peace" in the Middle East seems rather obtainable.


"In two split decisions, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that minority applicants may be given an edge when applying for admissions to universities, but limited how much a factor race can play in the selection of students," Anne Gearan of the Associated Press writes in a story from this morning. "The high court struck down a point system used by the University of Michigan, but did not go as far as opponents of affirmative action had wanted. The court approved a separate program used at the University of Michigan law school that gives race less prominence in the admissions decision-making process."

Maybe I am missing something but it seems to me that the most important element of this ruling is that Bakke is still the law of the land, but that UM's undergrad admissions policies were not in line with Bakke.


I know "sexless marriages is a serious issue and all but I couldn't help but laugh. The Canadians seem to be having a different problem. Their wickedness and immorality are to blame, of course. America is wise to be taking a step to avoid becoming the New Canada.


Are you Canadian and is your father like Homer J. Simpson? If so, enter this contest.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
No marketing campaign is more contrived than a marketing campaign that wants to avoid being perceived as contrived, Rob Walker reports in today’s New York Times. Well actually that isn't exactly what Walker reports but the message is clear.

Towards the end of the piece, after detailing some "poor behavior" -my term- by the company responsible for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Walker writes:

Does it matter? I actually doubt that a single P.B.R. drinker who hears the history of Pabst Brewing will give up the beer as a result. P.B.R. may be a ''political'' brand but not in a 1960's sense of political, which assumes a kind of zero-sum ideological game. In this politics, symbolic solidarity with the blue-collar heartland trumps the real thing. (Actually, the brand's growth is occurring in urban centers; it's losing share in the rural Midwest.) And you could argue that no-benefits line cooks, bike messengers and temps add up to new blue-collar equivalents.
Well maybe but it is quite odd that they none the less rely on the symbols of "authenticity " that comes from a very different group.

More of Walker's work can be found at robwalker.net.

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Because "Danger Zone" is strictly for flyboys

"U.S. troops psyched up on a bizarre musical reprise from Vietnam war film 'Apocalypse Now' before crashing into Iraqi homes to hunt gunmen on Saturday, as Shi'ite Muslims rallied against the U.S. occupation of Iraq," Alistair Lyon of Reuters writes today. "With Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' still ringing in their ears and the clatter of helicopters overhead, soldiers rammed vehicles into metal gates and hundreds of troops raided houses in the western city of Ramadi after sunrise as part of a drive to quell a spate of attacks on U.S. forces."


"U.S. forces acting on an intelligence tip raided an abandoned Baghdad community hall early Saturday and seized documents that may contain information about Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction," Jim Krane of the AP writes today. "The documents, bearing the seal of Saddam Hussein's secret service, were being handed over to senior intelligence analysts. Some papers referred to Iraq's nuclear program."


"American specialists were carrying out DNA tests last night on human remains believed by US military sources to be those of Saddam Hussein and one of his sons, The Observer can reveal," Jason Burke writes in tomorrow's Observer. "The remains were retrieved from a convoy of vehicles struck last week by US forces following 'firm' information that the former Iraqi leader and members of his family were travelling in the Western Desert near Syria."

Friday, June 20, 2003
Neal Pollack has issued the definitive statement of what historical revisionism is and isn’t.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Attendance at MSU home football games is expected to be lower this year than it has been over the past few years, Todd Schulz and Joe Rexrode report in today's Lansing State Journal.


Just An American Boy looks interesting as does Heartworn Highways.



Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Homer J. Simpson is the "greatest American." This is now a scientifically proven fact.


"Growing tension between Iraqis and occupying US troops in Baghdad has flared into violence, leaving two protesters and one US soldier dead," the BBC writes today. "The US military says a soldier opened fire after demonstrators started throwing stones at a military convoy outside the former presidential compound which now houses the US-led military coalition running Iraq."


“With major military operations continuing in al-Falluja, U.S. authorities should investigate the apparent use of excessive force against Iraqi protesters there on April 28 and 30, Human Rights Watch urged in a new report released today," Human Rights Watch writes in a news release from yesterday. "The 18-page report, 'Violent Response: The U.S. Army in al-Falluja,' challenges the U.S. military's assertion that its troops came under direct fire from individuals in the crowd of protesters on April 28. Human Rights Watch found no conclusive evidence of bullet damage on the school where the soldiers were based. In contrast, buildings facing the school had extensive multi-caliber bullet impacts that were inconsistent with U.S. assertions that soldiers had responded with 'precision fire.' The Human Rights Watch report also asserts that U.S. authorities failed to equip or adequately train the troops, primarily paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division, for the complex law enforcement tasks of military occupation. U.S. military and political authorities are also to blame for placing combat-ready soldiers in the highly volatile environment of al-Falluja without adequate law enforcement training and crowd control devices, the report said. Even translators were lacking."


"When a convoy of Fourth Infantry Division soldiers was caught in an ambush on Sunday, the soldiers opened fire to protect themselves and an Iraqi civilian bus was caught in the crossfire, the military said a day after the incident. The communique said six soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously, as the convoy passed through this agricultural town 22 miles north of Baghdad. It said the number of casualties on the bus was not known," Sabah Jerges of Reuters writes in a story from yesterday. "But the bus driver, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ali, 25, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he was passing a convoy of six or seven vehicles when he heard an explosion and the Americans fired wildly on the bus and on the roadside. Witnesses agreed with his account."


"The U.N. nuclear agency is debating a report that shows Iran has failed to comply with nuclear inspection agreements, amid allegations Tehran is seeking to get nuclear weapons," Voice of America News writes today. "The International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting in Vienna, will discuss how to react to the report by its advisers. The agency could condemn Tehran's failure to comply and appeal to permit more intrusive nuclear inspections on short notice."


"Hundreds of Iranians demanding more freedom demonstrated for the eighth consecutive night early on Wednesday and scores of protesters were arrested and some injured in rallies in seven cities," Jon Hemming of Reuters writes today.


"Pro-democracy protests which U.S. President George W. Bush called the start of a 'free Iran' lost some of their momentum on Wednesday leaving some wondering if overt U.S. backing had contributed to dwindling support," Paul Hughes of Reuters writes today.


"British and American intelligence and special forces have been put on alert for a conflict with Iran within the next 12 months, as fears grow that Tehran is building a nuclear weapons programme," writes Robert Fox in an Evening Standard story from yesterday.


The Taliban is gaining is strength in Afghanistan, reports Luke Harding in a June 18 Guardian story.

"Dozens of relief agencies have urged the United Nations to expand peacekeeping operations across Afghanistan amid growing concerns that rampant insecurity is jeopardising the country's recovery," the BBC writes in a story from today. "As the UN Security Council gathered for a meeting on Afghanistan, 80 agencies warned in an open letter that the situation outside the capital Kabul was so bad that many civilians had started to reminisce about the 'better days' under the Islamic fundamentalist Taleban regime."


Are we about to see a new period of relations between Pakistan and the United States?


Sometimes the U.N. isn't the enemy of all that is good and pure.


"Japan threatened today to cut aid to Burma unless the country's ruling junta frees the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi," The Guardian writes in a story from yesterday.


I don't really have anything to say about the situation in Benton Harbor, Michigan.


Thousands of devices containing radioactive materials, some of which could be used in producing weapons such as "dirty bombs," are unaccounted for, the United States General Accounting Office says in a June 16 report.

Erazem Lorbek has pulled out of the upcoming NBA draft, Joe Rexrode reports in today's Lansing State Journal.


Congrads to Steve Smith and Kevin Willis, as well as the rest of this team called the Spurs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
"The row over Iraq's missing weapons intensified in Washington yesterday as a leading Senate Democrat accused the CIA of deliberately misleading United Nations inspectors to help clear the decks for an invasion of Iraq," Rupert Cornwell writes in today's Independent. "The charge by Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, comes as Congress gears up for its own hearings into whether the Bush administration misinterpreted or manipulated pre-war intelligence on the scale of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein." The key paragraph is:
Mr Levin says that when the UN team under Hans Blix returned to Iraq last autumn, the CIA - contrary to what it claimed at the time - did not pass on its full list of 150 high or medium priority suspected weapons sites. This, in turn, enabled the US government to shut down the inspections quickly, opening the path for military action.

"An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist," write Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett and Gaby Hinsliff in Sunday's Observer.


"TONY Blair deliberately deceived parliament and the public, using 'shoddy' intelligence reports to justify a war with Iraq, according to damning submissions by two former Cabinet ministers," Jason Beattie writes in tomorrow's edition of The Scotsman. "In damaging testimonies to MPs yesterday, Clare Short and Robin Cook questioned the extent of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction programme as portrayed by the Prime Minister in the run-up to the Iraq war. Both the former ministers, who resigned in protest at the conflict and its aftermath, claimed that during their time in Cabinet they had been told by the security services that Iraq posed no imminent threat to Britain."


I think it is safe to say Neil Clark has an opinion of Tony Blair.


The 2003-04 Michigan State men's basketball non-conference schedule was announced yesterday. Tom Izzo says tradition is important and will likely have everything needed to make this the third straight season to publicly wonder if an easier non-conference schedule should have been booked.

Monday, June 16, 2003
"Slaughtered"? and other hyperlinks

American troops 'slaughtered' more than one hundred Iraqi civilians, most of them killed while asleep, at the early hours of Friday, June13 , eyewitnesses told IslamOnline.net.," Hossam al-Sayed writes in a June 14 IslamOnline.net story. "The U.S. forces deliberately opened fire from tanks and helicopter gunships at the houses of Iraqi civilians in Rawah, 400 kilometer to the north-west of Baghdad, killing tens of people, they charged."

Daniel Williams of The Washington Post filed a very different story that included these two paragraphs:

Officials in Washington said the site was a "terrorist training camp." However, there were no signs of firing ranges or other facilities that suggested military training. Residents of Rawah, three miles south of the camp, said the fighters had pitched their tents just three days before and were on the run from Samarra, a city about 100 miles to the southeast.

Nonetheless, the presence of such a large force underscores the breadth of anti-American armed opposition in central Iraq. Rawah residents said that the dead were mostly foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan. They were apparently supporting a wide range of Iraqi fighters who are harassing U.S. troops throughout the central region, from Baghdad north to Baqubah and Tikrit and west through Fallujah and Ramadi.

It will be, at the very least, interesting to find out what actually happened.


"Iraq needs a transitional administration within three weeks if it is to avoid a descent into chaos, the most prominent Iraqi leader acceptable to all sides told The Independent last night," Patrick Cockburn writes in an Independent story dated June 16. "Adnan Pachachi, a highly regarded former Iraqi foreign minister who is expected to play a big role in a transitional Iraqi administration, criticised the heavy-handed US sweeps that have cost more than 100 Iraqi lives, calling them 'an overreaction'. He said the Americans felt 'very vulnerable and afraid'."


"In October 2002, a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared jointly by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. But one month later, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report stating that there was "no reliable information" showing that Iraq was actually producing or stockpiling chemical weapons, U.S. News has learned," David E. Kaplan and Mark Mazzetti write in a June 13 U.S. News & World Report piece designed to interest other media outlets. "The DIA's classified November assessment mirrors a Sptember [sic] analysis that the agency made on the same subject." Key paragraph:

The newly-disclosed DIA report, classified "secret,'' is entitled, "Iraq's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapon and Missile Program: Progress, Prospects, and Potential Vulnerabilities.'' Its existence raises more questions about the quality of U.S. intelligence before the March invasion. In one section about Iraq's chemical weapons capabilities, the report says: "No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility." The report cites suspicious weapons transfers and improvements on Iraq's "dual-use" chemical infrastructure. Nonetheless, says a DIA spokesman, "there was no single piece of irrefutable data that said [Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein] definitely has it."

" Senate intelligence committee Chairman Pat Roberts said yesterday his panel will hold closed hearings and probably will produce a report on what U.S. intelligence agencies knew about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war and whether the Bush administration conveyed that information accurately to the public," Susan Schmidt writes in today's Washington Post.


The Taliban is apparently eligible for rehabilitation. (Thanks to Jim Henley for the link.)


In today's Washington Post, Laura Blumenfeld reports that Rand Beers, former "top White House counterterrorism advisor" to Bush, has some very critical things to say about Team Bush's counterterrorism efforts, including:

"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."
And this:
The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, "although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.

As for the Saudis, he said, the administration has not pushed them hard enough to address their own problem with terrorism. Even last September, he said, "attacks in Saudi Arabia sounded like they were going to happen imminently."

Within U.S. borders, homeland security is suffering from "policy constipation. Nothing gets done," Beers said. "Fixing an agency management problem doesn't make headlines or produce voter support. So if you're looking at things from a political perspective, it's easier to go to war."

There's more but keep in mind that Beers is now an advisor for Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry.


In a story from earlier this morning, Teruaki Ueno of Reuters writes:

Japan demanded Monday that the U.S. military hand over a Marine suspected of raping a 19-year-old woman on Okinawa in a case that looks set to fuel resentment of the U.S. military presence there.

The allegation, which follows several high-profile criminal cases involving U.S. military personnel based on the island, comes at a time when Washington is considering an overhaul of its forces in Asia, about a quarter of which are based in Okinawa.

Police in Naha, the capital, said they had obtained an arrest warrant for Lance Corporal Jose W. Torres, who allegedly raped a Japanese woman after punching her in the face on May 25.

The 21-year-old Marine, whose hometown was withheld, is in U.S. military custody.


"The Supreme Court upheld a controversial anti-crime policy in Richmond's public housing projects today, ruling unanimously that putting the streets and sidewalks of the complexes off-limits to nonresidents does not violate the constitutional right to free speech," Charles Lane writes in a Washington Post story filed less than an hour ago.


"Scientists say they've identified a flawed gene that appears to promote manic-depression, or bipolar disorder, a finding that could eventually help guide scientists to new treatments," Malcolm Ritter writes in an AP story from last night, that also notes that Dr. John Kelsoe of the University of California, San Diego is the "senior author" of the study. More:

Genetics clearly play a role. Kelsoe's work focused on a gene called GRK3, which influences the brain's sensitivity to chemical messages brain cells send each other. Defects in the gene might promote manic-depression by making people oversensitive to these messages, which are carried by dopamine and other substances, he said.

Kelsoe and colleagues found statistical evidence tying a particular variant of the GRK3 gene to the disease. They tracked the inheritance of this variant from parent to child in families with a history of bipolar disorder. Overall, the variant was passed along more often than one would expect by chance to a child who later developed the disease.

That suggests the variant promotes susceptibility to bipolar disorder.

The association between the variant gene and the disorder appeared in one group of 153 families and a second group of 275 families. That association is only statistical, and Kelsoe said researchers now are looking for biological evidence that this variant of the gene acts abnormally.


Ted Joans Lives


Plenty of a tickets are reportedly being sold for a horribly named basketball game.


10-10 forever.

Sunday, June 15, 2003
Two days ago The Lansing State Journal published this Todd Schultz column on Chris HIll and Tom Izzo.

Saturday, June 14, 2003
It is your duty to vote for "honourary Winnipegger" Homer J. Simpson as the "greatest American." I mean what did Mr. T ever do for anybody?

Friday, June 13, 2003
Barton Gellman of The Washington Post has written an excellent piece on the Army unit that has been looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thursday, June 12, 2003
Iran? North Korea? Cred?

"The intelligence community in the United States and around the world currently assess that Iran does not have nuclear weapons," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reportedly said yesterday.

"The assessment is that they do have a very active program and are likely to have nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time."

In a story from yesterday, Jim Wolf of Reuters writes:

The United States should be ready to smash North Korea's Yongbyon reactor if necessary to keep Pyongyang from trafficking in nuclear weapons, an influential member of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's advisory panel said on Wednesday.

"Whether we can effectively mobilize a coalition -- including China, Russia, the South Koreans, the Japanese, ourselves -- and so isolate them that they will abandon this program, that remains to be seen," said Richard Perle, an architect of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"That's certainly the preferable way to deal with it," he added in a speech to an Iraqi reconstruction conference sponsored by King Publishing Group, a Washington-based newsletter publisher.

"But I don't think anyone can exclude the kind of surgical strike we saw in 1981," he said, citing Israel's surprise air attack that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. "We should always be prepared to go it alone, if necessary," he said.

In other news, the credibility of the likes of Perle and Rumsfeld isn't the greatest.


Gregory Peck has passed away.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
All Hail Saddam the Liberator

Via Jim Henley, I found this article by Sherry Eros and Steven Eros on Hudson Institute website, which argues that Saddam's "criminal" actions make him responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks because Saddam's actions set off a chain of events that lead to those attacks. I've already refuted this thinking, but for the sake of the argument let's say that it makes sense. Operation Iraqi Freedom could also reasonably seen as a response to the Saddam's actions. If that is the case, then Saddam's actions can be seen as leading to whatever new level of freedom the Iraqis are now experiencing. Somehow I doubt many hawks will be making this argument.


"The US civil administrator in Iraq on Tuesday criticised 'meddling and interference' by neighbouring Iran, as relations between the US-led coalition and an Iranian-backed Iraqi political party continued to deteriorate," write Charles Clover and Mark Turner in a June 10 Financial Times story.

"Bullshit!" George Carlin said of a similar situation in his 1991 Jamming in New York performance. "That's our fucking job."


"At least 3,240 civilians died across Iraq during a month of war, including 1,896 in Baghdad, according to a five-week Associated Press investigation," the AP writes in a story from earlier today. "The count is still fragmentary, and the complete toll — if it is ever tallied - is sure to be significantly higher."

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Apocalyptic visions, ahistorical revisionism as a way of finding a justification and other notes

The Continuity of Government Commission -a commission which was formed last fall, is a project of the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, has the usual suspects as funders and as members- issued its first report six days ago. The report aims suggests the federal legislative branch can reconstitute itself after it has been wiped out -a second and third report will ask the same question about the executive and judicial branches- and gives a moderately interesting answer. "The only way," says the report, "to address the problem of restoring Congress after a catastrophic attack is to amend the Constitution to allow immediate temporary appointments to Congress until special elections can be held to fill vacancies or until matters of incapacitation are resolved." The preface to the report reads like the work of civic minded Mike Davis:

It is 11:30 a.m., inauguration day. Thousands await the noon hour when a new president will take the oath of office in the presence of members of Congress, the Supreme Court, family, and supporters. The outgoing president is meeting at the White House with his cabinet and top aides for a final farewell before attending the swearing in ceremony where the reins of power will switch hands. Television cameras have their cameras trained on the West Front of the Capitol, beaming live coverage of the event into millions of homes around the world.

Suddenly the television screens go blank! Al Qaeda operatives have detonated a small nuclear device on Pennsylvania Avenue halfway between the White House and the Capitol. A one-mile-radius circle of Washington is destroyed. Everyone present at the Capitol, the White House, and in between is presumed dead, missing, or incapacitated. The death toll is horrific, the symbolic effect of the destruction of our national symbols is great, but even worse, the American people are asking who is in charge, and there is no clear answer...


PROBLEM: If there were mass vacancies in the House of Representatives or large numbers of incapacitated members of the House or Senate, Congress would be unable to function for many months, leaving a vacuum in constitutional legislative authority. The Constitution provides only one method, a special election, for filling House vacancies. These elections take many months to hold while the seat remains vacant. If there were hundreds of House vacancies, the House might be unable to meet its constitutional quorum requirement of one-half the membership and would be unable to transact business. An alternative scenario, under a lenient quorum interpretation, would be the House continuing to operate with a small number of representatives—leaving most of the country unrepresented. The Constitution also does not provide an effective way for filling temporary vacancies that occur when members are incapacitated. With the real dangers of biological weapons, both the Senate and the House could be crippled if a large number of members were very sick and unable to perform their duties. The continuity of Congress also affects the presidency, as leaders of Congress are in the line of presidential succession. If the House of Representatives, decimated after an attack, elected a new Speaker, that Speaker could become president for the remainder of the term.

RECOMMENDATION: A constitutional amendment to give Congress the power to provide by legislation for the appointment of temporary replacements to fill vacant seats in the House of Representatives after a catastrophic attack and to temporarily fill seats in the House of Representatives and Senate that are held by incapacitated members. The commission recommends an amendment of a general nature that allows Congress to address the details through implementing legislation. It believes it is essential for such a procedure to operate under emergency circumstances if many members of Congress were dead or incapacitated, but the commission leaves Congress to decide the exact circumstances under which the procedure will take effect. It recommends that temporary representatives be appointed by governors or from a list of successors drawn up in advance by each representative or senator. Given the severe consequences of an attack on Congress, the commission believes that the amendment should be adopted within a two-year period.

Reading the document, I couldn't stop thinking of the great line in Tim Burton's 1996 farce Mars Attacks where President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) says, "I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad."


Your chance to go to the Thunderdome might soon arrive. In a story from yesterday, Deena Beasley of Reuters writes:

This is the way the world might end: A genetically engineered pathogen is released, debris from an erupting "supervolcano" blocks the sun or scientists in the biggest "bioerror" of them all accidentally trigger a matter-squeezing "big bang."

The demise of civilization has been predicted since it began, but the odds of keeping Planet Earth alive and well are getting worse amid a breakneck pace of scientific advances, according to Martin Rees, Britain's honorary astronomer royal.

Rees calculates that the odds of an apocalyptic disaster striking Earth have risen to about 50 percent from 20 percent a hundred years ago.

The 60-year-old scientist, author of the recently published "Our Final Hour," says science is advancing in a far more unpredictable and potentially dangerous pattern than ever before.

He lists as mankind's biggest threats: nuclear terrorism, deadly engineered viruses, rogue machines and genetic engineering that could alter human character. All of those could result from innocent error or the action of a single malevolent individual.

By 2020, an instance of bioterror or bioerror will have killed a million people, Rees contends.

I'd say that puts an "apocalyptic disaster" in perspective.

Perhaps North Korea will be involved in such a "disaster." Or maybe al Qaeda.

Daniel Pipes isn't worried the U.S. won't find WMD in Iraq because he doesn't believe it matters. In a History News Network piece from yesterday, he writes:

...WMD was never the basic reason for the war. Nor was it the horrid repression in Iraq. Or the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors. Rather, the basic reason was Saddam's having signed a contract with the United States, then breaking his promise.
The piece is laughable. He distorts the argument being made by the vast majority of critics of the Team Bush's war in Iraq with regards to the apparently still missing WMD and asserts, without evidence, that Monica Lewinsky scandal distracted President Bill Clinton from toppling Saddam's regime. And:
Then came 9/11, and a new American sense that the world is a dangerous place. The old casualness toward broken promises was no longer acceptable. Beginning in early 2002, President Bush began exerting pressure on Iraq to fulfill its agreement, or pay the consequences.

The result? The same old cat-and-mouse game, with Baghdad and the United Nations both hoping this would satisfy the U.S. government.

It did not.

The Bush administration rejected the pretense of U.N. inspections and insisted on real disarmament or a change in regime. When the former did not occur, the latter did.

The moral of this story: Uncle Sam enforces his contracts -- even if a few years late. Keep your promises or you are gone. It's a powerful precedent that U.S. leaders should make the most of.

Yep the main response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by the U.S. government was to start enforcing contracts. That's what motivated the people of the U.S.

There is an argument to make for ensuring that no country violate agreements that the U.S. finds to be important, but it wasn't the primary argument put forward by the President George W. Bush and friends to justify the war that would be known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is interesting that Pipes is engaging in historical revisionism not to get a better understand of the past but rather to justify other actions of the past.


Chalmers Johnson's informative "The Largest Covert Operation in CIA History" also appeared on History News Network yesterday.


In a horribly composed story -perhaps language has something to do with it- from yesterday about a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani of India and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that is said to have happened on Saturday, Chidanand Rajghatta of The Times of India writes:

Topping the agenda is the immediate question of Indian troops for Iraq, where the American military is getting bogged down in an increasingly hostile situation. New Delhi has so far hedged on US request on various technical grounds, but Rumsfeld is expected to aggressively push for an Indian commitment.

Also on the table will the more long-term issue of Indian military bases and training facilities for the United States amid a burgeoning defence relationship that has already seen joint exercises of the kind Washington usually reserves for its allies like Japan and South Korea.

Maybe Iraqis should start demanding to not have a military.


"Attacks on American troops are growing in frequency and sophistication across central Iraq, a crescent of discontent and hostility where many Iraqis remain opposed to the U.S. occupation of their country," William Booth and Daniel Williams write in today's edition of The Washington Post.


"U.S. and British forensic experts who examined an intelligence compound outside Baghdad today said the site was a mass grave that likely contained the remains of political prisoners and army deserters killed in the days or weeks before President Saddam Hussein fell from power," writes Sharon Waxman in today's Washington Post. "[U.S. Army Col. Ed] Burley, coordinator of the forensics team looking for mass graves in Iraq, said witnesses from Salman Pak told him that there had been more than 100 bodies in the grave, but it appeared that many of the bodies had been removed, in some cases by relatives. The forensic experts exhumed one body last week, buried about a foot deep in the earth, and determined that the victim had been recently executed. The experts said this discovery supported the witness accounts."


"U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties," Dafna Linzer writes in June 9 Associated Press story. "'It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time,' said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. 'We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future.'"

Monday, June 09, 2003

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times had two very interesting articles.

"Saddam Hussein's intelligence services set up a network of clandestine cells and small laboratories after 1996 with the goal of someday rebuilding illicit chemical and biological weapons, according to a former senior Iraqi intelligence officer," Bob Drogin writes in yesterday's edition. "The officer, who held the rank of brigadier general, said each closely guarded weapons team had three or four scientists and other experts who were unknown to U.N. inspectors. He said they worked on computers and conducted crude experiments in bunkers and back rooms in safe houses around Baghdad. He insisted they did not produce any illegal arms and that none now exist in Iraq. But he said the teams met regularly and put plans on paper to quickly develop weapons of mass destruction if U.N. sanctions against Iraq were lifted."

"As much as liberals abhor the conservative agenda, there is something far more frightening to them now - not that Republicans have an ideological grand plan but that they don't have one. Instead, the GOP plan is policy solely in the service of politics, which should terrify democrats everywhere," Neil Gabler writes in the final paragraph of an opinion pieces in yesterday's paper. Gabler, who is a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center, makes a persuasive case that this is Team Bush's intention, although it should be noted that similar arguments have been made about Democrats, but I doubt it will come to pass. And if it did, Republicans might regret what happens as such a change could open a space for some party, perhaps the Green Party or the Libertarian Party, to become a true opposition party.


Warren Vieth has a story in today's Los Angeles Times about the rush to make money reconstructing Iraq.


Things don't look good in the Congo, Indonesia or North Korea.


The three main Palestinian militant groups staged an unusual joint attack today on an Israeli Army outpost here, killing four soldiers and registering their clear and violent opposition to the American-led peace initiative. A fifth Israeli soldier was killed in a second attack later today in the West Bank city of Hebron," Ian Fishher writes in a June 8 New York Times story. The groups are Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.


I wonder if "G. in baghdad" is legit.


In a June 5 Chicago Sun-Times story, Bill Zwecker writes:

Is the ghost of Sen. Joe McCarthy alive and well in Hollywood? That is certainly on the minds of many outspoken liberals in Tinsel-town these days. The latest conspiracy theory focuses on the just-announced axing by ABC of very vocal anti-Iraq war activist Janeane Garofalo's new sitcom, ''Slice o' Life.'"...

A source close to Garofalo tells this column the actress and comedian was furious by the last-minute change and believes it's yet another example ''of a network bowing to the perceived power of the Bush administration. ... Janeane is convinced her politics and all the hate mail the right-wing lobby stirred up during the war is what is behind all this.''

An ABC spokeswoman denies that, saying this was a decision based strictly on the artistic merits (or lack thereof) of the show--with Garofalo's politics ''never coming into the decision-making process whatsoever.''

I'm doubtful but Garofalo's stance probably didn't help her. What is amazing is how Garofalo, who I like as an actor and comedian, is often painted as a radical when in fact she has very moderate, pro-United Nations views.


In a June 8 New York Times story, James Risen writes:

Two of the highest-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in American custody have told the C.I.A. in separate interrogations that the terrorist organization did not work jointly with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, according to several intelligence officials.

Abu Zubaydah, a Qaeda planner and recruiter until his capture in March 2002, told his questioners last year that the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Qaeda leaders, but that Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals, according to an official who has read the Central Intelligence Agency's classified report on the interrogation.

In his debriefing, Mr. Zubaydah said Mr. bin Laden had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Mr. Hussein, the official said.

Separately, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Qaeda chief of operations until his capture on March 1 in Pakistan, has also told interrogators that the group did not work with Mr. Hussein, officials said.

The Bush administration has not made these statements public, though it frequently highlighted intelligence reports that supported its assertions of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda as it made its case for war against Iraq.

The whole story is worth reading.


In a June 2 History News Network piece, Rick Shenkman reports Japan's history of militarism is, to put it kindly, minimized at the Japanese War Museum in Tokyo. Shane Green of The Age reported similar findings in an August 2, 2002 story.


Joseph McBride's Searching for John Ford: A Life looks like an interesting book.

Sunday, June 08, 2003
Weapons questions

Maybe President George W. Bush was on to something this past Thursday when he decided to stop talking about suspected biological weapons labs as proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In today's Guardian, Peter Beaumont and Antony Barnett write:

Tony Blair faces a fresh crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as evidence emerges that two vehicles that he has repeatedly claimed to be Iraqi mobile biological warfare production units are nothing of the sort.

The intelligence agency MI6, British defence officers and technical experts from the Porton Down microbiological research establishment have been ordered to conduct an urgent review of the mobile facilities, following US analysis which casts serious doubt on whether they really are germ labs.

The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.

Instead The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.

Damn Brits! I mean how could they? Didn't they know that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was soon going to become evil? I don't know how Margaret can live with herself!

To be honest, I'm not certain what an "artillery balloon" is and, for once, google isn't much help.

A story by Judith Miller and William J. Broad in yesterday's New York Times provided a different but similar take to the Guardian story:

American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.

"Everyone has wanted to find the 'smoking gun' so much that they may have wanted to have reached this conclusion," said one intelligence expert who has seen the trailers and, like some others, spoke on condition that he not be identified. He added, "I am very upset with the process."

The Bush administration has said the two trailers, which allied forces found in Iraq in April and May, are evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding a program for biological warfare. In a white paper last week, it publicly detailed its case, even while conceding discrepancies in the evidence and a lack of hard proof.

Now, intelligence analysts stationed in the Middle East, as well as in the United States and Britain, are disclosing serious doubts about the administration's conclusions in what appears to be a bitter debate within the intelligence community. Skeptics said their initial judgments of a weapon application for the trailers had faltered as new evidence came to light...

The skeptics noted further that the mobile plants had a means of easily extracting gas. Iraqi scientists have said the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons. While the white paper dismisses that as a cover story, some analysts see the Iraqi explanation as potentially credible.

I stress that the Times piece does include responses to the doubts raised by those deemed to be "skeptics."

Jim Henley has written not one but two excellent posts on this topic that go into a lot of the scientific details.

Former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon John Dean argues in a June 6 FindLaw piece that Bush lying about Iraq's WMD, or at least U.S. knowledge of WMD, wound constitute an impeachable offense. As pleasant as that sounds, and as Dean notes dishonesty on this matter from Bush has not yet been proven, impeaching him for the act would constitute a dramatic shift in how presidential dishonesty is handled as plenty of presidents before Bush have lied about foreign policy and received no such censure.

In my mind the following questions are of primary importance:

-It is beyond dispute that Saddam has chemical and biological weapons programs. What happened to the weapons, equipment materials used to produce such weapons and information on how to produce such weapons?

-What sort of nuclear weapons programs, if any, did Saddam have? If he had one, what happened to any weapons, equipment and materials used to produce such weapons and research on such weapons that existed?

-What sort of intelligence on Saddam's WMD programs was available to Bush? His predecessors? The leaders of other countries, most notably Great Britain?

-Assuming they thought Iraq had WMD or programs on such weapons at the time, how important was it to the Bush Administration to find any WMD and materials from the programs used to produce WMD once Operation Iraqi Freedom began? Why did it appear they weren't particularly interested in the matter?

If Saddam had WMD at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, why weren't they used?

There are at least a few plausible answers to all of these questions, even though an factual answer to each of them might not be found. Still, any answers would do a lot to clear up what happened.


"Iraqis carrying hammers and axes yesterday began to demolish a police station in the troubled city of Falluja in a public act of defiance against the US military," writes Rory McCarthy in yesterday's Guardian"In what appeared to be a well-organised operation a crowd of labourers, mostly young men and boys, sawed off railings and tore out the metal window frames from the three-storey building. Others, using mallets and metal poles, knocked down the outer wall brick by brick, and were slowly trying to break apart the building itself."

UPDATE: " An artillery balloon," Court Schuett has informed me, "is used to measure wind direction and speed along with a few other things to help in aiming artillery rounds." 4:33 p.m. 06/09/03

Saturday, June 07, 2003

"Our government is great," comedian Bill Hicks once said during a performance that Rykodisc released last year as Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1 Pittsburgh 6/20/91.

Hicks died in 1994, which is too bad because if he had lived till now he would have seen the government get even greater. Yes, despite the existence of fine instigators of laughter like Carrot Top and Dennis Miller, it is the government that has become the greatest humorist of the time.

Anybody who has studied the amazing career of Bob Hope knows are fighting men and women are a tough act to entertain. It isn't enough to tell a few corny jokes and then trot out Ann Margaret or John Wayne. No the soldiers who protect our freedom demand quality entertainment, which makes it all the more impressive how funny Vice President Dick Cheney was last Saturday when he spoke at U.S. Military Academy Commencement:

Wherever you are posted, wherever your career leads you, I trust you will always remember how others see the uniform of the United States. Your service might take you to the most stable place in the quietest of times, but that uniform is a reminder of what assures stability and keeps the peace. At other times, your service may take you to dangerous places; and there, the sight of an American in uniform will bring fear to the violent and hope to the oppressed.
And with that the crowd was literally in stitches. True I can't find any record of the cadets needing stitches, or even laughing at the remarks, but it must have happened. I mean this was less than two weeks after the U.S. military began working with the government of Sudan, which isn't widely known as a haven for freedom, and just three days before the President George W. Bush met with President Mubarak of Egypt, another country that isn't generally considered "free." Surely these brave and intelligent soldiers are buying the idea that they are a "hope to the oppressed" around the world. Surely they realize how crazy that idea is and were violently laughing when the Vice President said something so ridiculous.

And this hardly a new trend. Remember all that stuff about "democracy." Turns out it wasn't all that important! Not that any person with experience in modern humor would fall for it or anything.

Of course the Bush Administration isn’t just a bunch of clowns. They know that some actions, such as Operation Tribute to Freedom, deserve to be treated the utmost seriousness. "Operation Tribute to Freedom will be a sustained and widespread program of activities in appreciation for our men and women in uniform and the families that support them," reads the homepage of what Denise Brown of the American Forces Press Service has called "[t]he Pentagon's latest military operation." In the press release announcing the operation, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke saying, “In the coming days, weeks, and months, Americans across the country will have the opportunity to participate in nationwide and local efforts to thank returning servicemembers for defending freedom around the world."

The most important aspect of Operation Tribute to Freedom is not that it gives us an opportunity to thank our brave fighting men and women -we were already doing that- but that it makes it clear that all hawkish commentators, people who call in to agree with radio talk show hosts and just plain decent people who think it is "evil" to stand by if President Bush has suggested action are part of an Operation in the War on Terror. They are freedom fighters of the highest order!

What I would really like to see is for Bush is to combine the comic and the serious, channel some of the energy of Hicks in a badly lit club full of his team, smoke and booze and go on a rant. "How fucking stupid are these people who think I'm going to bring 'peace' to the Middle East?" I imagine Bush ranting. "Have they read the goddamn 'Roadmap'? It doesn't lead anywhere but more negations, and that's only if the Palestinians and all the other countries in the region do as we say. Of course that's nothing strange as the Iraqis are finding out. We will give the Iraqis control of Iraq when we are goddamn good and ready and not a second before they do everything we want them to do! And what sort of intellect does it take to actually believe any of that shit about freedom? Fucking idiots one and all I tell you. Of course it doesn't matter if someone does try to tell the truth. Yeah they can rail against me all they and encourage others to do so in the parlance of today but it won't make a fucking bit of difference. Here are the rules... If they are dishonest, my opponents get their ass handed to them. If I am dishonest, NOBODY FUCKING CARES!!! NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, NO BIG DEAL!!!! WHY? I'M FUCKING GEORGE W. GODDAMN BUSH AND THOSE ASSHOLES BEST LEARN TO ACCEPT IT!!!"

Friday, June 06, 2003
David Rees makes fun of New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the 25th installment of get your war on.

Speaking of Miller, Russ Baker has taken a critical look at her in a piece for The Nation.

Speaking of Baker, russbaker.com is worth a gander.

Thursday, June 05, 2003
Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who is angry about Bush

"One thing else we've done is we made sure that Iraq is not going to serve as an arsenal for terrorist -- for terrorist groups. We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents. This is a man who spent decades hiding tools of mass murder. He knew the inspectors were looking for them. You know better than me he's got a big country in which to hide them. We're on the look. We'll reveal the truth," President George W. Bush said today. "But one thing is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the Iraqi regime is no more."

Why is this guy not laughed at and mocked by every person who talks about him? I'm serious about this. The U.S. has taken an approach to finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that is, at least publicly, lackadaisical and yet we are all supposed to have faith that the administration is making a great effort because he says so. Why should anybody care all that much that a "terrorist network" does not get WMD from Saddam Hussein's regime if they ended up just picking up WMD or material for or research on such weapons? It makes no difference! None! And just seven days ago Bush said, "We found the weapons of mass destruction." Which is it?

And I'm getting real tired of this shit about liberation:

But most of all, I'm here to thank you. We are in a war on global terror, and because of you, we're winning the war on global terror. When we sent you into combat, you performed brilliantly. In Afghanistan, forces directed from here from Qatar, and headquartered in Tampa, you delivered decisive blows against the Taliban and against al Qaeda. And now the people of Afghanistan are free.

We have made it clear that we'll hunt the terrorists down. There's no place they can hide from the justice of the United States of America and our friends. And right now we've got -- we're on the hunt in the Horn of Africa. And of course, in the battle of Iraq, you set an example of skill and daring that will stand for all time. The very first strike in the liberation of Iraq started from right here, and many others followed. Missions of mercy are directed from here.

Our actions sent a long, clear message that our nation is strong and our nation is compassionate. And we also sent another clear message: Dictators can no longer shield themselves behind innocent people. Those who threaten the security of others now need to worry about their own.

Look the U.S. military has done plenty of good things in this "war on terror," but it wasn't out of any concern for the people of Afghanistan or Iraq. I guess I shouldn't be shocked by this but it is just amazing that Bush can actually talk about "liberation" as a good thing in the same speech that mentions actions that include working with the government of Sudan. If the people of Iraq deserve to be "free" -however that term is defined- then the people of Sudan at least deserve to not have their oppressors aided by the U.S.

But I guess that kind of logic -which is to say actual logic and commitment to consistent principles- isn't looked upon too kindly in the U.S. of A.