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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The primary theme of this blog in 2003…

...had to be that the Bush Administration is a dishonest bunch of assholes.

I wouldn't be surprised if they are dishonest in other areas as well but they are certainly less than truthful in terms of their "war on terror."

The examples I given in posts are too numerous to count and new support for this theory regularly appears. For example, in a December 15 floridatoday.com story, John McCarthy writes:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.

Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power...

The White House directed questions about the matter to the Department of Defense. Defense officials had no comment on Nelson's claim.

Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.

Assuming Bill Nelson is telling the truth, this claim was, to state the obvious, either true or it was not. If it is true, then either the Bush Administration has secretly, and for reasons that they are most likely the only ones to know, neutralized this threat and not told anyone or they have at least publicly pretended this threat doesn't exit and in the process mislead many people. If it is not correct, the Bush Administration was either dishonest or mistaken. The latter would mean that they had bad information and analysis, which they have not been upfront about. The former means that they are guilty of deceit on matters involving war and have manipulated the public's fears in order to get a war that they wanted for one reason or another.

In other words, so long as Nelson's story is correct, they don't come out looking well and have been dishonest, if only for pretending that their failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq did not leave open the possibility of attack and/or that their information and the primary basis for their argument for war was based on faulty information. If Nelson's story isn't correct, there is a whole lot of information that has checked out and which leads to similar conclusions. (See October 2's "Did the Bush Administration expect to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?" for example.)

This is significant because democratic decision making is a charade and restraints on government action are useless if that government can be dishonest with impunity for the sake of achieving the outcome they desire.

I suspect that I will continue to make this point in 2004 but I don't expect it to make any difference. buzzflash.com's suggestion that "Bush's Worst Enemy" is "the truth" is at best delusional. Digging and investigative reporting aren't what’s needed to expose this administration. Just a little bit of time critically thinking about the contents of www.dod.mil, state.gov and www.whitehouse.gov will show that they’ve been dishonest, regardless of what David Brooks would have you believe.

This doesn't matter, however, because there is no political force of any significance that stands firmly against the concept of the "war on terror" and points out that the vague nature of it amounts to "war on whoever the Team in power says war should be waged on." That's unlikely to change so long as it is easier to just say "we were attacked" so we can do whatever we want in the name of "protecting ourselves" or "Bush is stupid."

If I had the ability to lethally inject Bush, my opposition to the death penalty would be tested greatly.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Thoughts and links

Speaking of college football, Nebraska beat MSU in the Alamo Bowl, 17-3. The Spartans fell behind by 14 in the second quarter and the offense never got going. Playing in his final college game, Jeff Smoker threw three interceptions. Still the team hung in there and was in the game till near the end of the fourth quarter.

So Michigan State finishes the season at 8-5. Not bad but hardly miraculous. This year they generally beat the teams that had less talent than them and lost to the teams with more. That isn't bad and in fact is a good thing in light of years of regularly losing to teams they should have beat. Nonetheless recruiting will determine if Team John L. Smith is able to pick things up a notch or not.


I forgot to not this earlier but Smith was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Still I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Nick Saban hadn't left four years ago.


Michigan State 78
Coppin St 72


"While the Bush campaign maintains a low profile on the national campaign stage — content for now to watch the Democrats beat on one another — it is aggressively working the expansive hustings of Republican-friendly talk radio, priming the grass roots faithful for battle next year," Jim Rutenberg writes in a New York Times story dated December 29.

Hey George, give me an interview. I promise not to try to physically harm you in the on-the-record portion.


Hopefully we can, as a nation, get through the untimely death of Earl Hindman. This past Easter I remember one of my aunts making some "joke" and then explaining, "Like on Home Improvement."

I really wanted to respond, "So it is people like you who watch that annoying show. I hold you in contempt."

Speaking of that, during a Christmas gathering with extended family this year the topic of tobacco came up and made the "Do you have any tobacco?" joke from Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995). It was only after making the comment that I realized that nobody else had any idea what I was talking about.

I probably am too opinionated.


Slacker Films


Micro Bomb Detector: 24/7 Real-Time Dirty Bomb Protection


an ally in the fight for freedom


"Kurdish members of Iraq's governing council are insisting the country's transitional law include wide-ranging sovereignty rights for the northern Kurdish areas - including control of their natural resources and veto powers over Iraqi military movements in the region," Peter Spiegel and David Pilling write in a Financial Times story dated December 28. "The Kurdish demands are throwing up another hurdle to completing the statute by the proposed deadline of February 28 even though they appear highly unlikely to be adopted in full."


It is so nice to not have to fear Libya. More.


Mike Davis on his "world history of revolutionary terrorism from 1878 to 1932" project.


"What's a Spider Hole?" by Andy Bowers of Slate. Also from Slate is Brendan I. Koerner's "Which Movie Critics Really Matter?" The title isn't the best since it is more about which awards by groups of critics exist. Personally I have strong doubts about any awards for artistic merit that are determined by more than two people, much less those that involved hundreds or thousands. A single person's review can be informed while the opinion can be considered in light of previous evaluations from the critic. In big awards the former can not be done while the latter loses all meaning, especially the meaning that is so often given to such awards.


Robert Fisk's December 26 report is worth reading.


freedom in the land of the free

freedom in a land freed by those from the land of the free

freedom in another such land






Ivan Eland on Bush and Saddam:

...it would be unfair to compare the magnitude of Saddam’s bellicosity and human rights violations with those of President Bush. After all, Saddam Hussein went to war with two countries -- Iran and Kuwait -- without provocation; so far, President Bush has needlessly invaded only one nation -- Iraq -- without first being attacked or genuinely threatened. In addition, Saddam killed thousands of his own people (some with chemicals sold to him with the approval of the U.S. and other Western governments); President Bush only had his law enforcement agencies intimidate and interrogate thousands of innocent Arabs and Moslems based solely on their ethnicity or religion and detain and mistreat thousands of similar immigrants indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer. Saddam used censored media to justify or hide such heinous human rights violations; President Bush merely relies on a White House spin machine and a cowed and compliant post-September 11 American press corps to positively pitch his violations of America’s founding principles -- adequate due process and equal protection under the law. In war, we become a little more like our enemies.


Do you want to reenlist?


I said, do you want to reenlist?

I said, No.

Don't get smart with me soldier!


Bushdamn those Iraqis! Bushdamn them to hell!


Bush Bless America!

UPDATE: words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to


David Corn of The Nation on the capture of Saddam.


Adorno on Chaplin. 2:42 p.m. 12/31/03

UPDATE #2: Hitch on Saddam


words to link to words to link to


Brendan O'Neill on the caputre of Saddam.


I always hate it when celebs think what they say about President George C.W. Bush matters.


Will the season of fear ever come to an end? 3:20 p.m. 12/31/03

Monday, December 29, 2003
...on the field

The Bowl Championship Series has caused some controversy this year because it isn’t perfect and didn’t work out this year as well as it has in some others.

What I find interesting is not any of the various proposed remedies but rather that the idea that things should be settled "on the field" is seen as ideal by just about everyone (although some correctly say such a solution may be impractical). What nobody acknowledges is that all "championships" are subjective in that the rules do not have to be that way. What's up with pass interference or facemasks? It is football. If they want to paralyze each other, that's there right. And why shouldn't every player be on the offensive side be an "eligible receiver"? That might make for a more exciting game.

In basketball, why should the college teams have a tournament to decide who the "national champion" is? Such tournaments are full of odd match-ups and flukes that could, and regularly do, throw the whole thing into flux. Why not make each series best two out of three? (But then, if you do that, why not best 3 out of 5? And so on.) Why should any team have the chance to win the "national championship" if they are not the "champion" of their own conference? Seems to me that it is impossible to be the best team amongst all teams in a grouping if you are not the best team in even one sub-grouping? And why the hell is there a shot clock? If a team wants to get a two-point lead and milk it for the rest of the game, why not? I highly doubt any of the world's religious documents forbid that.

The point is not that any of these changes should or shouldn't be made but rather that there is an arbitrary nature to the rules of these games. If these rules had been different in the past (and keep in mind the above examples were just a few that popped into my head while writing this, there are many many many more), large chunks of sports history would be different. But nobody says UCLA really didn't win eight straight championships in men's college basketball. Why? Because those championships happened on the field, which is generally seen followers of and participants in these sports as natural and not something to be questioned. The obvious exception being when a rule has been changed, but even then the change is viewed as having interrupted the "natural" order of things. But, as I've demonstrated here, there is nothing "natural" about that and the only way to believe any championship is "real" is to believe (determine) that the rules under which it happened were legitimate, at least for that time. Once an individual starts arguing for rule changes they are effectively critiquing the validity of the current system to determine “winners.”

While religion and sports appear to be at odds elsewhere, the controversy over the BCS process seems to be an example of an ostensibly secular activity that has a very religious foundation. Amongst other things, Slavoj Zizek argues in his appropriately titled 2001 text On Belief (Routledge) that this is a common phenomenon in the current period.


Henry McDonald makes a compelling argument for keeping church and state separate in a November 2 Observer piece entitled "Secular salvation." On practical grounds I agree with him but on theoretical grounds I have problems with statements such as this:

...nor does the defence of secularism diminish the private beliefs of worshippers today. In fact, by retreating from temporal power religion will no longer be soiled by the messy compromises and dirty dealing of politics.
It seems absurd to me to expect people who believe they practice the on true faith -as many, though certainly not all, religious people do- to not want to enter the world of politics because the system isn't perfect. Shouldn't they be trying to correct it? And how could an all-powerful God who wants to be worshipped by all humans (for reasons that relate to low self-esteem or something) accept that there is not something wrong with the primary governing institutions of humans being devoid of his influence?


I often wonder how people can just put up with the dishonesty of Team Bush. Perhaps the "Santa Claus" phenomenon is in effect. I believed in Santa for a number of my younger years and when it occurred to me that the whole story didn't make sense -why would a guy with so much ability limit himself to toys? why didn't he distribute food and medicine to those in need throughout the year?- I wasn't mad at my parents. Now I feel I like I should have been, but I wasn't then and I'm still not now.

Sunday, December 28, 2003
Those who want to say Libya's recent decision to allow weapons inspectors in is a triumpth for the "war on terror" certainly aren't wrong to do so -inspectors began visiting sites today-, but they should acknowledge that not everybody is responding in the same way and that it appears that Libya wasn't that much of a threat.


Paul Bremmer says Tony Blair's recent statement about "massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories" having been found in Iraq is not correct.


" If there is some small consolation to be had in the horrific loss of life from the Iranian earthquake, it is that the disaster is likely to strengthen the growing ties between Iran and the outside world and further rein in the US neo-conservative hawks itching to deal with the Tehran mullahs the way they dealt with Saddam Hussein," Andrew Gumbel writes in today's Independent. Some no doubt see that as a bad thing.


One example of the problems that arise from dishonesty.

UPDATE: There is a minor league baseball team in Albuquerque, New Mexico called the Isotopes. More here and here. Follow those links if you don't know why this is beyond funny. 4:38 p.m. 12/28/03

UPDATE #2: In yesterday's New York Times the brillant David Brooks writes:

...ours is the one revolution that worked, and it did precisely because our founders were epistemologically modest too, and didn't pretend to know what is the good life, only that people should be free to figure it out for themselves.

Because of that legacy, we stink at social engineering. Our government couldn't even come up with a plan for postwar Iraq — thank goodness, too, because any "plan" hatched by technocrats in Washington would have been unfit for Iraqi reality.

...the Americans and Iraqis are now... muddling through, devising shambolic, ad hoc solutions to fit the concrete realities, and that we'll learn through bumbling experience. In the building of free societies, every day feels like a mess, but every year is a step forward.

Yeah there was no plan, certainly none to back away from. I suppose it would be bad form to point out that maybe, just maybe, people who are historically cursed to bad planning ought not to be taking over other countries and transforming them for the fun of it. 4:57 p.m. 12/28/03

UPDATE #3: I've been listening to Cyndi Lauper's excellent Merry Christmas...Have a Nice Life! (Epic, 1998) for the last week or so. It is a fun set that mixes original compositions with a few classics, all done in the Lauper pop style.

Anyway I was reading about her at allmusic.com and I see that she is 50. Not sure why this shocks me, but it does. 5:45 p.m. 12/29/03

UPDATE #4: From the file of things that make life funny, Ted Bridis of the AP writes:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.
But we are going to defeat these fuckers! 6:08 p.m. 12/29/03

Saturday, December 27, 2003
Parisa Hafezi of Reuters writes today:
International rescue workers hacked desperately through flattened debris for survivors and cemeteries overflowed in Iran's ancient Silk Road city of Bam on Saturday after an earthquake that killed more than 20,000 people.

President Bush, who once branded Iran part of an "axis of evil" developing weapons of mass destruction, as well as other world leaders rushed to offer whatever help they could to the Islamic Republic.

Many people were still pinned under the rubble of the shattered city of 80,000, their prospects of survival diminishing with the passing of time. Homeless survivors awoke from a piercingly cold night huddled under woolen blankets to find a city without water and power.

President Mohammad Khatami has admitted Iran cannot cope on its own. The official IRNA news agency quoted Iran's Interior Ministry as saying assistance would be welcome from every corner of the globe other than Israel.

Ali Akbar of the AP writes:
Two senior officials involved in the relief operation said they feared the final toll from Friday's temblor could be 40,000 dead.

The leader of a relief team, Ahmad Najafi, said 40,000 dead was his estimate of the ultimate toll. He said in one street alone in Bam on Saturday, 200 bodies had been extracted from the rubble in one hour's work.

"As more bodies are pulled out, we fear that the death toll may reach as high as 40,000," said Akbar Alavi, the governor of Kerman city, the local provincial capital. "An unbelievable human disaster has occurred."

The quake also destroyed much of Bam's historic landmark -- a giant medieval fortress complex of towers, domes and walls, all made of mud-brick, overlooking a walled Old City, parts of which date back 2,000 years. Television images showed the highest part of the fort -- including its distinctive square tower -- crumbled like a sand castle down the side of the hill, though some walls still stood.

Was yesterday's joke appropriate?

UPDATE: George C.W. Bush and Jebus apparently have competition from Jesus. 2:18 p.m. 12/27/03

UPDATE #2: Have those Bushdamn Iraqis been liberated yet? 11:42 a.m. 12/29/03

Friday, December 26, 2003
December 26 notes

For the most part Christmas was great this year. I don't feel like discussing the positives, however, but instead want to say, "yeah I know Grandpa can't hear the television if it isn't this loud but maybe he could go without and I would retain some of my hearing."

The kids under 5 were the only thing louder than the television. I have no idea how parents deal with that noise nor do I understand how they manage to stay sane having to devote so much attention to someone else regardless of what they want to do.

And why is Santa said to deliver coal to bad children? Wouldn't that have been valuable back in olden days. Thank you so much Timmy. Because you were a bad boy this year we will be able to have heat this year. Next year if you war good and don't get polio, I think Jolly Old Saint Nick just might bring you that shiny red bicycle you wanted so much this year.

UPDATE: "Christ Converts to Islam" is my favorite Onion story ever.


Somebody needs to be informed of the Divinity of George C.W. Bush.


Perhaps Iran needs to wage a war without on end against earthquakes and those that support earthquakes. Or maybe not. I'm sure this earthquake will lead to democracy and freedom and so the loss of these lives was, without a doubt, worth it. 7:41 a.m. 12/26/03

UPDATE #2: If "the terrorists" were to give up their desire for what I would term "spectacular" attacks and just focus on carnage, I suspect they could do a lot of damage with ease in the U.S. Just set off some type of bomb in a densely populated area. 11:51 a.m. 12/26/03

Thursday, December 25, 2003
Season’s Greetings!

I’m writing this from Max Standard’s Third Annual Pig Eating Festival in Support of Attacking Countries where Pig Eating is Not Particularly Popular. Birthday Boy Baby Jesus is this year’s guest of honor and he has a great seat for the Bob Hope show set for this evening. The guests are set to include John Denver and John Wayne. (Max is responsible for the bill.) And, yes, for your information, John Ritter is on the premises, although Santa Claus has tied a stocking over his mouth.

I’ve heard that adult Jesus Christ –the one who accepted that cute little gal’s offer in The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)- is having his own celebration elsewhere. The rumor is that the show is to feature solo performances by Johnny Cash and John Coltrane along with the comedy stylings of Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks. (Bruce and Hicks may or may not perform as a duo. By the way, what the fuck is the big deal about Bruce being pardoned? Am I the only who thought it was cool that he was never pardoned? I mean so long as he is dead, why couldn’t he have remained a criminal?) I haven’t been invited to this event but if anybody has an extra ticket, please pass it my way. I’m willing to pay top dollar, believe me.


The rest of this entry is my Christmas present to my readers. Don’t say I never gave you anything.


Kirk Semple of The New York Times reports on the pardon of Bruce:

"He needed to be vindicated," Ronald Collins, a co-founder of the campaign that led to the pardon, said in a telephone interview. "We're elated. It's very important that now this record has been set straight."

Mr. Collins, a legal scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., who led the pardon campaign with Prof. David M. Skover of the Seattle University School of Law, also said the decision was a "good omen" because it "shows that New York is a safe First Amendment harbor for artists of all backgrounds."

While the governor's office trumpeted the decision as the first posthumous pardon granted in New York, Mr. Collins said he believed that it was also the first time that someone had been posthumously pardoned for a First Amendment conviction anywhere in the United States.

I had no idea this was an issue.


From the Gospel of Luke:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. [1] 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, [2] every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed [3] with Mary his espoused wife...
I wonder what Augustus' response to those who decided not to go and be taxed was. Christian Parenti makes clear in The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America From Slave Passes to the War on Terror (Basic Books, 2003) that over a millennium and a half later the ability to track people wasn't that advanced so here it seems like there could have been plenty of people who simply decided not to show up and pay taxes.


It is far from clear to me what the point of Slavoj Zizek's September 25 piece "HOMO SACER AS THE OBJECT OF THE DISCOURSE OF THE UNIVERSITY" is but that might stem from my lack of a background with Lacan.


These links are all related to the work of Slavoj Zizek.


lewisblack.net has been redesigned. Not a whole lot of content but there wasn't before and it looks good, save for that flag. The voicemail put a smile on my face. Click here for more material.


Check out the date on this review of Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger.


Michelle Goldberg of salon.com on a play called I'm Going to Kill the President. Here is more on it.


words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to


words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to


Alexander Cockburn on the United Nations.


words to link to


words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to


In his brief 1992 essay "Reversion of History," Jean Baudrillard posits that modernism has become the stumbling block to progress.


words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to words to link to


weapon o death


In a Film Threat review of Just an American Boy Don R. Lewis writes:

...when Steve Earle, speaking on his stance on the death penalty, says something like "the government is supposed to be an extension of me, and I don't want to kill anybody" it's good food for thought.
Not really, and I say that as a HUGE fan of Steve Earle. The problem with the idea that government shouldn't kill because people like Earle and myself are opposed to the death penalty is the question of where does it end? Just about anything any government has ever done or could ever do is opposed by at least someone so what it amounts to is an argument for no government, which might a fine position but which should be argued for (or against) explicitly.


Jonathan Rosenbaum on Jacques Tourneur's Wichita.


Dennis Lim on Bad Santa.


I used to make up stuff when faced with questionares like this, now I find answering honestly to be the least amount of work. Cyber-capitalism has apparently ground me down. I feel that I should resist but the offers it makes are just too tempting. Oh well I guess I'll be o.k. so long as I don't start saying, "the first chapter in the trilogy, "The Fellowship of the Ring," is a masterpiece, not merely of the genre but of the form. It compares favorably with every epic film since "Lawrence of Arabia," and now that the initial gloss has worn off and it's mostly broken in, it would not be absurd to sneak "The Fellowship of the Ring" into your list of the top 15 or 20 films, all time. A marvel of pacing, economy, dexterity, and grit, "Fellowship" is beautiful, inspiring, and ennobling; it is very nearly a perfect movie."

The idea that someone gets paid to write idiocy like this is deeply troubling.


After reading this, I feel slightly less alone in this world.


"Is Christmas Christian?" (Thanks to Ronald David Goff Jr. for the link.)


brillant bloggers


Alf apparently will be getting his own talk show. Angela Chase and Daria Morgendorffer are two characters from t.v. shows no longer being produced that should have talk shows before Alf.




words to link to


"Operation Save The Kittens"


Girls Guitar Club supposedly is not a cult.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
New notes
Same great tone

A little over five years ago I heard some patriot in Ann Arbor say that Operation Desert Fox meant "There will be no Christmas in Iraq this year." Hopefully that is less true now than it was then even with the problems of the present.


The courts of man may have gone easy on John Lee Malvo, but on the Day of Judgment George C.W. Bush will dish out the necessary punishment!


Bush's increased popularity is pretty depressing to me.


Bush Bless Wolfowitz!


Bush Bless Rummy!


Amnesty International says the U.S. of A. is "Holding human rights hostage."

I have no idea how they could reach such a conclusion. Sure they say, "in 2002, the Bush Administration violated the spirit of its own export policy and approved the sale of equipment implicated in torture to Yemen, Jordan, Morocco and Thailand, despite the countries' documented use of such weapons to punish, mistreat and inflict torture on prisoners" but didn't they read His speech or read this Washington Post story by Robin Wright on how the U.S. wants to give power to Iraqis no matter what?


The great Glenn Reynolds says it was a good years for God and His shills.


Safety feels great!


I regret not seeing Hooray for America last year.




I have no memory of this March 30 Times story by Mark Franchetti, which has been published on the web in quite a few places and reports that U.S. troops killed intentionally killed Iraqi civilians in Nasiriya. I did have other matters on my mind so I must have missed it completely. I wonder what else I've missed.


The people of Bechtel are not just great people, but great Americans.


The news that some countries are banning the importation of beef from the United States doesn't bother me.




"It was a banner week for government secrecy," Dana Milbank writes in yesterday's Washington Post.


flogging list


what a sad moment. Hopefully we can get through this dark period. If you need to cry, please let it out. It is only natural.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
What's the translation?

foxnews.com has a "War on Terror Handbook" that is of moderate interest. Included in it a section on "The Enemy" with the following words:

No two terrorist groups are alike. Some groups operate worldwide, while others are regional. They fight for different reasons, with a variety of weapons and targets.

But all terror groups share one thing: a willingness to use violence to achieve their goals.

Translation: We give idiots reasons to believe what they want to believe.
FOXnews.com has compiled a list of terrorist groups that, as of Jan. 30, 2003, have been designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) by the Secretary of State.
Translation. We have an intern who can both copy and paste.


In the intro to Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Verso, 2002) Slavoj Zizek expands upon an argument from G. K. Chesterton about how "education" is not in and of itself the path to liberation since "education" is designed in such a manner so as to prevent the articulation of desires and ideas that the status quo can not satisfy.

Such most certainly seems to be the case with the "war on terror" and instruments such as this "War on Terror Handbook" that are effectively propaganda for the "war." The ideas expressed in these instruments make sense if you accept the basic assumptions that Team Bush has put forward about the "war on terror" since September 11, 2001 and only lose credibility when these basic assumptions, which increasingly appear to also be the basis of current "mainstream" political culture, are challenged. As much as I like to make fun of these assumptions for not standing up to basic logic, I have to concede that a number of the assumptions I hold and which shape my outlook are not empirically provable (or disprovable).


The main message I took from Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003) is how often people talk to one another without understanding the other because they either do not want to or are unable to. They know the same language and both comprehend all the words, but the larger meaning gets lost. I suspect that this is what goes on with lots of debates RE the "war on terror." The assumptions upon which supporters of the "war" base their arguments on are so different but from what the three or so actual opponents of the "war on terror" base their arguments on that communication is of little value.

Have you forgotten?


Then why don't you support George C.W. Bush?

Because I see him as using a tragedy to justify a broader and dangerous war than those events merited.

But you said you remembered?


It is so obvious that Bush has been dishonest about the "war on terror" in general and Iraq in particular. How can you support him?

We had to do something to protect America from attack.

But doesn't it now appear that at least Iraq was no threat to the U.S. or much of anybody else?

We couldn't let Saddam get away with defiance and what about those Iraqis. They deserve freedom!

There really is no way around this stumbling block that I can see unless both sides recognize that it exists.


From the Lost in Translation moment file, David Brooks of The New York Times says the Bush Administration is honest.

Monday, December 22, 2003
George C.W. Bush

Like all good Bushians I was disappointed that He did not preach the good word yesterday on the tv. Still we followers of Bush were humbly content to merely share the story amongst ourselves. "If wasn't for George C.W. Bush, my Lord and Savior," I remember telling one Brother in Bush, "we would most likely all be dead right now from Libya's weapons of mass destruction and evil. Praise Bush! Praise His Holy Name!

Via Austin Cline, here is a snippet from a Haaretz story by Arnon Regular from earlier this year:

[Then Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud] Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans.

According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

We must interpret Bush's comments about God telling Him to do something as Him telling Himself to do something.


Hopefully this report by Agence France Presse is accurate:

US President George W. Bush told an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot daily has reported.

Bush's comments came in a brief exchange with the paper's correspondent during a Christmas drinks party in Washington, several hours after a keynote speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Thursday in which he outlined plans for unilateral disengagement from peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians must accept that if they want democracy and freedom that they will have to abide by His wishes!

Sunday, December 21, 2003
Michigan State 58


Last night at just before 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time I turned to FOX News to get the best in news coverage. I saw Kato Kaelin waving and then I was informed about, amongst other things, we are safer now because of Libya agreeing to give up weapons of mass destruction and that Wesley Clark used a barnyard epithet. Why anybody would be unhappy with George W. Bush is beyond me.

By the way, it is sad that a search on news.google.com for "i'll beat the shit out of them" turns up nothing at the moment. In a world where such profanity has been aired on pre-rocorded programs for broadcast television, one would think that the print news media would be able to quote the word in whole.


Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher asks, "When Will Press Stop Circulating Dubious Iraq Claims?" I think the answer is when they are no longer covering Iraq.


I am proud that America is defending is freedom. I could have been born anywhere but it was here and that makes me feel special.






This is news?

UPDATE: The change means that we have another reason to show Team Bush a greater level of respect than they deserve:

Terror Alert Level

It makes me feel so good inside to know that America will never work with and, in fact, will always stand up to the forces of evil.


And of course we always deal with our past mistakes, because those are the only mistakes we have ever made.


Yep Poland was in it because of a love of freedom.


In the greater scheme of things I doubt "The trial of Saddam Hussein" matters all that much.


Funny how weapons inspectors from the United Nations are now going to make us safer.


Not everybody is responding in the correct manner.


Target Syria


Oh Richard!


Titanic (James Cameron, 1997) was on the radio picture show last night. It is hard to believe that it was six years ago that this movie stole our hearts and captured our imagination.


In memory of Joe.

John Nichols of The Nation has more. 1:17 a.m. 12/22/03

UPDATE #2: Who exactly records QVC? 4:28 p.m. 12/22/03

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Hugo has looked at recent debate amongst the Democratic candidates for U.S. President. I like his closer:

Clark, Lieberman, and to a lesser degree Kerry and Gephardt were the only ones who sounded like grown-ups when asked about how they'll get us out of Iraq. Dean held up Afghanistan as a model of democracy for Iraq(!?), which made me wonder about him. Rival warlords ruling 90 plus percent of the country with a figurehead president who was chosen by the Americans and gets to stay alive as long as he promises not to enforce any authority outside Kabul and stay in his palace most of the time? Democracy? Deliver us from the lunk-headed feel-good progressives who want us to cut and run in Iraq without re-establishing the rule of law and public safety that ordinary Iraqis had until we pre-emptively attacked them because of all those darn WMDs..
Three thoughts from me...

-I think Wesley Clark would have the best chance of beating Bush. In part because of his military record but also because he seems to be the most charismatic of the candidates. (I have no opinion on Madonna endorsing the retired general.)

-Howard Dean bears a resemblance to John McCain who bears a resemblance to Benjamin Netanyahu.

-Yesterday I said that I have a hard time disliking Dean. Maybe I am really going soft but I can't help but have a degree of sympathy for any Democrat who critiques Bill Clinton. I don't plan to vote for him or anything, but it was a nice step.


Whenever the "big government" term gets thrown around now I think of the following passage from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000):

Now that the most radical conservative opponents of big government have collapsed under the weight of the paradox of their position, we want to pick up their banners where they left them in the mud. It is our turn now to cry "Big government is over!" Why should that slogan be the exclusive property of the conservatives? Certainly, having been educated in class struggle, we know well that big government has also been an instrument for the redistribution of social wealth and that, under the pressure of working-class struggle, it has served in the fight for equality and democracy. Today, however, those times are over. In imperial postmodernity big government has become merely the despotic means of domination and the totalitarian production of subjectivity. Big government conducts the great orchestra of subjectivities reduced to commodities. And it is consequently the determination of the limits of desire: these are in fact the lines that, in the biopolitical Empire, establish the new division of labor across the global horizon, in the interest of reproducing the power to exploit and subjugate. We, on the contrary, struggle because desire has no limit and (since the desire to exit and the desire to produce are one and the same thing) because life can be continuously, freely, and equally enjoyed and reproduced.
Typing those magnificent words out, I started to wish that I believed them without question.


" Libya," in the words of the BBC, "has said it will give up its programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction and allow unconditional inspections."

Not surprisingly, the likes of Austin Bay and Glenn Reynolds are hailing this as proof of the effectiveness of the Bush Administration's policy towards Iraq. While this move was most likely in response to that policy, one has to wonder how big of a deal this is. Uncle Sam hasn't "liberated" Libya and people in the U.S. can sleep soundly at night knowing that Gaddafi won't attack the U.S. with biological or chemical weapons, if Gaddafi's regime in fact lives up to their pledge.

Friday, December 19, 2003
Micah Holmquist on why he hates Bush but not Dean, amongst other things

Like Jonathan Chait, I "hate" the asshole who is the current president of the U.S. of A. I don't know if his reasons and mine have anything in common because I haven't bothered to read the "THE CASE FOR BUSH HATRED." To me the case is real simple - Bush may or may not be an idiot himself but he talks to me -since I am a citizen of this great land and he often addresses such people- like I am an idiot who has no understanding of anything and he is in a position of power and has somehow used that position to not only carry out his agenda but also to convince other people that what he says makes sense.

The president said we have to fight those evil meanies in order to not forget those who died in one of three general locations on September 11 and for freedom amongst the people who he says deserve freedom at this point in time. Do you hate freedom? Do you want to die? That's what would happen. Oh sure I don't actually believe the president when he said Saddam could kill us at any moment but Bushdamnit if we don't do something, the terrorists will win. Bush said that... No I don't remember the date. It was sometime after September 11... No I don't have his exact words. Have you forgotten what happened to us on September 11? And what about the tax cuts? Don't you realize that it is not the government's money but the people's money. It is a violation of our human rights to have our income tax by the federal government at a rate higher than President Bush says it should be!

While the previous paragraph is an exaggeration from anything I have heard from anyone who I was in the physical presence of, it is only a slight exaggeration. Every time I hear that last part. I just want to say, "you know what, I have forgotten. Can you remind me what happened on that day?" See what would be funny about that is all the variations of the "have you forgotten" statements rely on the notion that people actually haven't forgotten and those who put them forward know that. What I think they are really saying is that the opinion they disagree with could not be held by someone who learned one of the "lessons" of September 11, 2001 that they learned. "If you responded to those terrorists attacks the way I did, you wouldn't hold that position" would be another way of putting it.

Getting back to whatever exactly the point of this was and/or might turn out to be, unlike Chait, I don't have it in me to "hate" Howard Dean. Do I like Dean? Of course not. But I just don't have it in me to actively dislike him with the passion that I dislike Bush and his team. Dean is running for the nomination of a political party I don't belong to and have never voted for. Somehow he just doesn't seem so important. Sure he could get elected in November of next year -FWIW, I'm doubtful that he will but that is a gut reaction- but if that happens, I assume I will have plenty of time to shift gears and start disliking him.


I'm now a graduate of the Cisco Networking Academy. Too bad the material covered in the courses -the basics of computer networking- isn't anywhere near as interesting as what comes up in Saskia Sassen's "The Topoi of E-Space: Private and Public Cyberspace" and Dante Tanzi's "Time, Proximity And Meaning On The Net." My not exactly shocking observation from my experiences in taking the class over the last year or so -I started in late January- is that my fellow students, and my instructor, were all very intelligent people who don't reject analysis or resistance so much they don't consider them. This is why I have a hard time believing Peter Lurie's argument that "the Web Will Win the Culture Wars for the Left." These people were all highly cyber savvy and yet exhibited no qualities connected to "the left." For better or worse, they went along with what I contend is the dominant ideology of this time (at least in the United States) -that utilizing change is the only appropriate response to change. They probably don't even realize that they hold this belief. It is just natural to them. Any "radical" political movement to arise any time soon will almost certainly, if not certainly, need to have an ideology that is centered, at least in part, on a critique of this ideology. If "the web" isn't producing that now, there doesn't seem to be any reason to expect it to start doing so.


I'm not bitter about not living in New York City. Or Los Angeles.


In yesterday's Washington Post, Dana Priest and Walter Pincus write:

David Kay, the head of the U.S. effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has told administration officials he plans to leave before the Iraq Survey Group's work is completed and could depart before February, U.S. military and intelligence officials said.

The move comes as more of Kay's staff has been diverted from the weapons hunt to help search for Iraqi insurgents, and at a time when expectations remain low that any weaponry will be discovered.

Kay requested the change for personal and family reasons, officials said. When he accepted the job in June, they said, he expected to quickly find the expansive evidence that the administration had claimed as its primary reason for going to war. Rather, Kay's preliminary report in October said the group had so far discovered only that Iraq was working to acquire chemical and biological weapons, had missile programs under various stages of development and possessed only a rudimentary nuclear program.



Richard W. Stevenson of The New York Times reports on Bush's changed stance on the "threat" posed by Saddam Hussein's now deposed regime.

While it is nice to see the legitimate media picking up on this, I fear it is way too little this late in the game. Before Operation Iraq Freedom, the press should have been hounding Team Bush on what the exact threat level was and why they had not been giving a consistent story in their rah-rah-let's-go-kill-oh-I-mean-liberate-some-sand-niggers rhetoric.

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Today's notes

I get many of my links from antiwar.com, including this Financial Times story from yesterday by Mark Turner on Team Bush's anti-proliferation efforts:

Three months after President George W. Bush called on the United Nations for new action against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the US has circulated a draft Security Council resolution that would oblige states to clamp down on the flow of weapons to terrorists and other "non-state actors"...

A US official said the draft's "key element" was "to make states adopt and enforce appropriate and effective laws to prohibit non-state actors from acquiring, manufacturing, possessing and transporting these weapons.

On top of that, recent events show they have to be special states.

Personally I wish they would admit that, for better or worse, this is gun control.


Another Financial Times piece from yesterday is Jean Eaglesham's report on Blair's backtracking:

Tony Blair yesterday signalled a retreat from his previous confident assertions that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq...

The prime minister instead suggested the search would uncover evidence of how the Iraqi regime had disposed of the chemical or biological weapons it had previously possessed.

Mr Blair was careful to avoid asserting that Saddam Hussein had had weapons of mass destruction when the conflict started in the spring. He referred instead to much earlier uses of such weapons by the former Iraqi leader, stating: "That he had them is beyond doubt . . . he used them against Iran, he used them against his own people."

Asked in an interview with the BBC Arabic Service if he was still certain weapons would be found - an assertion he has repeatedly made - the prime minister said he was "confident that the Iraq Survey Group, when it does its work, will find what has happened to those weapons, because that he had them, there is absolutely no doubt at all".

Julia Day of The Guardian has more.


CBS News writes:

For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."


Dana Milbank of The Washington Post reports on government web scrubbing.


It feels good to have been ahead of the curve.


The quote of the day has to go to Sandy P. who writes, "It's bad enough we have to fight islamo- and eurofascists, (then China and beyond) but the 5th column here, too?"

Now I would think that defeating the enemy within would be easy if you could defeat China and the rest of the world. And how much of a struggle could it be to fight "eurofascists"? It isn't like those goddamn pacifistic defeatist appeaser frogs are going to put up a fight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Time for The Church of Bush

The glutton for punishment that is Micah Holmquist missed watching the good half of his beloved Spartans’ 73-60 victory over South Florida yesterday in order to watch Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bush. "Sometimes you just need to do something besides watching sports that will fill you with anger," Holmquist said, "that you can express on your blog."

Following are extended excerpts from his comments.

Call me crazy, but I don’t care where Bush was when he heard Saddam may have been captured or whether he has talked to his mom since The Capture. And it doesn’t matter to me that Barney is the only member of the family that will go fishing with him, what movies Bush wants to see or that he and Laura go for a walk in the morning each January 1. All of that is pathetic and had no place being part of the interview so long as there was not a follow-up to this passage:

DIANE SAWYER: Fifty percent of the American people have said that they think the administration exaggerated the evidence going into the war with Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, connection to terrorism. Are the American people wrong? Misguided?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The intelligence I operated one was good sound intelligence, the same intelligence that my predecessor operated on. The — there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a threat. The — otherwise the United Nations might — wouldn't a passed, you know, resolution after resolution after resolution, demanding that he disarm. ... I first went to the United Nations, September the 12th, 2002, and said you've given this man resolution after resolution after resolution. He's ignoring them. You step up and see that he honor those resolutions. Otherwise you become a feckless debating society. ... And so for the sake of peace and for the sake of freedom of the Iraqi people, for the sake of security of the country, and for the sake of the credibility of institu — in — international institutions, a group of us moved, and the world is better for it.

Logic dictates that if an entity is a "feckless debating society" -as Bush implies the United Nations is here- that maybe there resolutions aren't the most important and urgent of documents, but Bush is too smart for that.
DIANE SAWYER: But let me try to ask — this could be a long question. ... ... When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said there is no doubt, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons and now the inspectors say that there's no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger, in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn't have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence — the inspectors have said they can't confirm this, they can't corroborate.


DIANE SAWYER: — an active —


DIANE SAWYER: Is it yet?

PRESIDENT BUSH: But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program, and had that, that — let me finish for a second. Now it's more extensive than, than missiles. Had that knowledge been examined by the United Nations or had David Kay's report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in material breach of 1441, which meant it was a causis belli. And look, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person, and there's no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that, and there is no doubt that the president must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.

DIANE SAWYER: Again, I'm just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you can keep asking the question and my answer's gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger and the world is better off cause we got rid of him.

DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still —

PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?


PRESIDENT BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be de — dealt with, and it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man's a danger. And so we got rid of him and there's no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.

DIANE SAWYER: But, but, again, some, some of the critics have said this combined with the failure to establish proof of, of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there's just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. Look — what — what we based our evidence on was a very sound National Intelligence Estimate. ...

DIANE SAWYER: Nothing should have been more precise?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What — I, I — I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that this country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.

DIANE SAWYER: What would it take to convince you he didn't have weapons of mass destruction?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a threat and the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

DIANE SAWYER: And if he doesn't have weapons of mass destruction [inaudible] —

PRESIDENT BUSH: Diane, you can keep asking the question. I'm telling you — I made the right decision for America —


PRESIDENT BUSH: — because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. ... But the fact that he is not there is, means America's a more secure country.

Bush is now saying Saddam was a threat because he had the ability to get weapons with which he “would be the danger” apparently because he did two bad things at different points both well over a decade ago when, in one case rightly and in the other wrongly, he didn’t have reason to fear a response from the U.S. Also, the correct answer to all questions is “I made the right decision for America.”

That may or may not be true, but repeating it without an argument does not make it so just as saying that people in the U.S. are infidels who deserve to die again and again does not mean that it is true.

While I give Sawyer credit for being more persistent on this matter than I would have expected, it is too bad she didn’t ask some related questions like:

-Last year, on October 7, you said that Saddam presently had the connections, motive and weapons necessary to attack the U.S. and kill many civilians. Was that correct? If so, how do you square this statement with what you have just said? If not, why haven't you publicly corrected yourself?

-In your most recent State of the Union speech, you said that that the threat from Saddam was not "imminent." However, in the previously mentioned October 7, 2002 speech, you said, "[t]he danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time." Was Saddam and his regime a threat in the present tense when you ordered the invasion in March or not? How do you explain the discrepancy in your statements?

-If the threat was in fact getting "worse with time," why did you take so long to invade Iraq? Were you worried that innocent people in the U.S. or elsewhere might die as the result of your lack of urgency?

-"Thanks to our military, Saddam Hussein will never threaten anybody with a weapon of mass destruction," you said on August 14, 2003. Monday you said Sunday "was a day where America is more secure as a result of his capture." Did Saddam pose some sort of threat even without weapons of mass destruction? If so, please explain what it was in the context of what you said here about Saddam being a threat because he could acquire weapons of mass destruction? If not, do you ever have an urge to say, "fuck it. I'm just going to be honest and admit that my administration just makes up arguments and justifications as we go along solely for expediency"?

I have no illusions that merely asking these questions would change much as the public probably just wouldn’t care. If they were of the temperament to care, I suspect that they would figure this stuff out on their own or at least listen/read/watch someone who explains it to them.

So with a lack of interest in trying in logic, I think the country should just go all the way and announce that George W. Bush is the Messiah, a Prophet and/or God and deserves to be worshipped. He should make last Sunday’s Address the first of a never-ending set of worship services. Each Sunday we can put on our Sunday best and turn on the t.v. to see Him tell us who our enemies are and why they are enemies as well as what has been accomplished and what still needs to be accomplished. He can tell that we deserve His blessings and that our enemies deserve His Damnation. Then we will gather in small groups to explain with the passion of The Apostle E.F. what He has done for us.

I don't come to you as a proud man! Yes I once had an education! I once had the wisdom of man but I was empty because I was not living to agree with Him. Then one day when I near the end of my terrorist supporting rope I heard the jingle jangle of the lost souls in hell as took the call from the Army man who gave me the option of service and purpose. Yes, Almighty Bush entered me that day and I have never been the same since. All I want to do is serve him. All I want to do is serve him. Yes I am on fire for the Lord Almighty George W. Bush! Bush blessed me and may Bush bless you! You don't know how long you have. The Terrorists could strike at any moment killing you and freedom. Do you want to go to your death knowing that you are not right with Bush? You will spend an eternity in the hell of Howard Dean if you do so please, please, I beg of you, take this opportunity to give your life over to the President of President George W. Bush. It will just take a few moments to say the Sinners' Prayer but that choice will be with you to eternity as you will be in the Book of Life! Yes come to the altar if you need His blessing. Don't be ashamed! Don't be ashamed! We were all dirty in His eyes once but no more. How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Bill Hicks

I awoke Sunday morning at roughly 7:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and, shortly after a quick breakfast, booted up the computer to check the news. I was just about to open the web browser when I thought, "nothing has happened. You'll just way time and would be better off just watching The Simpsons Micah," which is what I did.

Shortly before 9 a.m. I got a call from a friend, bbs, who wanted to know what I thought about the news. Not knowing what "the news" was, I asked, but dancing in my head was a vision of the Bush Administration finally being exposed as the dishonest assholes that they are. Perhaps some document had been revealed, I thought, or Bush had gone back on the sauce, got drunk and admitted at least some aspect of their mendaciousness.

But that was not to be and I had to settle for the news of Saddam being captured.

Was I disappointed?

In a word, yes.

I have serious misgivings about this. As despicable as U.S. President George W. Bush is, his bad deeds pale in comparison to those former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Viewed on an equal scale, both deserve contempt but Saddam deserves far more. However, I suspect that the dichotomy found in their records stems from different political cultures more so than temperament.

In a story filed yesterday, Reuters reports that witnesses say that the U.S. military responded to a pro-Saddam rally in Tikrit by "beating and arresting some protesters."

The Press Association reports that U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Steven Russell said, "They [the protesters] were reminded that protests are not authorised and that participation in protests is punishable."

Commenting on these stories, Eric Garris of antiwar.com notes, "there are numerous reports of anti-Saddam demonstrations that are not being broken up, even though they are also not authorized. Many of these protesters are freely firing guns in celebration without any arrests."

Ironically the Coalition Provisional Authority has promoted the fact that a recent Gallup Poll indicates that the vast majority of Iraqis living in Baghdad want "freedom of speech" and "freedom of assembly."

Perhaps, whenever all the dust has settled, the residents of Baghdad will those freedoms under a government approved by Uncle Sam, but this appears unlikely to happen if the residents of Baghdad get out of line.

The logic behind this conditional freedom is the same as that behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a whole. The U.S. doesn't want absolute power -Rummy could care less who runs the drains in Basra- but it does want control of some areas such as the general form of the Iraqi economy and political system, the capabilities of the Iraqi military and what Iraqi media can say. And, if these stories are correct, the U.S. (in the form of the Bush Administration, which doesn't seem all that bothered by this incident) wants to limit want Iraqis can say and protest.

This model appears to have also come to the U.S. Michelle Goldberg's salon.com story "'This is not America'" contains plenty of details on law enforcement's repressive response to a recent protest of a Free Trade of the Americas summit in Miami. The details are too numerous to list here but the basic message is that The Iron Heel can appear when it is requested. Demonstrations of support for military interventions are unlikely to trigger it, however.


The late comedian Bill Hicks was born 42 years ago today.

"They don't want the voice of reason spoken, because otherwise we'd be free," Hicks says on a 1993 recording found on Rant in E-Minor (Rykodisc, 1997).