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

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Blair and Shock and Awe

British Prime Minister Tony Blair plays an odd role in the "war on terror." On one hand, he is an ambitions leader in charge of a country with one of the world's most powerful militaries. On the other, the country powerful enough to do much on its own and so Blair works as a junior partner with the United States as a way of being in on the action. One could say that in the realm of foreign policy Blair is a glorified advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush.

This was the implicit message in Blair's speech before the U.S. congress this past Thursday:

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but in fact, it is transient. The question is, what do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty. That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. We're not fighting for domination. We're not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. We're not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds. And this is not a war of civilizations, because each civilization has a unique capacity to enrich the stock of human heritage. We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind -- black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent -- to be free -- free to raise a family in love and hope; free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts; free not to bend your knee to any man in fear; free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.

That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go. I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.

And our job -- my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond -- our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty.

It should be noted that Blair's interest in a role like this began before September 11, 2001 and was most noticeable around NATO's 1999 bombing of some parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Whether Blair enjoys being in this position or is in it only out of practicality is an open question.


It was only today that I finally slogged through Blair’s speech before Congress after several terminated attempts due to the generally boring nature of the speech. I managed to get through it today by simultaneously listening to Bill HicksShock and Awe: Live at the Oxford Playhouse, Invasion Records new release of material from a November 11, 1992 performance. As I did, I was struck by how Hicks –a citizen and resident of the U.S. speaking in Great Britain- received a response similar to what Blair –a citizen of Great Britain speaking in the U.S.- got last week. Both had the audiences responding positively to just about everything they said. I don’t know if that is a common experience for Blair, but it wasn’t for Hicks, who passed away in 1994, as the recordings Rant in E-Minor (1997) and especially Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1 Pittsburgh 6/20/91 (2002) make clear. The results are quite interesting. Hicks seems to create a false antagonism with the crowd during “English Porno” by suggesting that they aren’t into fuck flicks and pics when their response, at least as far as I can hear, actually indicated no such thing.

The material is largely similar to that found on Arizona Bay (1997), which makes sense given the date of Shock and Awe’s recording. Hicks’ musings on the arts, culture, politics, religion and war, however, are significantly different than what is found Arizona Bay, where material has either been added or deleted. Speaking about the 1992 presidential election that was just eight days old, Hicks gets off his best line of the recording. “The reason I didn’t vote for him,” he says of then sitting President George H.W. Bush, “is because he is a mass murderer.” Interestingly Hicks then gives voice to false hope about then President Elect Bill Clinton. “I’ll play that extra nickel on… you know… an extra liter of petrol just knowing little brown kids aren’t being clubbed to death like baby seals in Honduras so Pepsi can put a plant down there… I’ll pay the extra nickel.” The raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas and Clintons bombing of Iraq would dash such thoughts as made clear on Rant in E-Minor.

The biggest problem with Shock and Awe is that is has been heavily edited, with very noticeable cuts coming between and even during cuts. It appears that all of the bits heard on the disc are included in full and listeners are treated to some crowd reactions and then Hicks’ response but the edits are distracting since they are appear to have been done for no other reason other than to cut down on time and fit the release onto a single disc. A two-disc package would have been nice, especially since the performance does not appear on The Bill Hicks Bootleg Archive.

The delivery on this disc is noticeably laid back compared to many Late Hicks recordings and the profanity and misogyny that has colored most of his extended material is less prevalent than expected, although by no means absent. Towards the end the stand-up get philosophical. “Do I have message?” he asks before giving his own answer. “As scary as the world is, and it is, it is merely a ride in the amusement park of the universe. It is merely a ride. It has thrills. It has its chills. It has its ups. It has its downs.” And Shock and Awe is an important addition to the catalog of one of the most important performers of the sound recording era.