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, 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.'"