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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holmquist's full archives are listed here.
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)
Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)
Saturday, January 31, 2004
I don't know what utopia would like exactly, but I do believe that it must include George W. Bush being locked in a small metal cage someplace where he can be visited on field trips by school children who learn about what a despicable person he is while they poke him with a sharp stick.
Friday, January 30, 2004
What about all that freedom?
The march to war affected our psychology and confidence. It is hard to be optimistic about the future when you turn on your TV screens and say, America is marching to war. War is not positive. War is -- it sends the signal that there will be uncertainty. We're not marching to peace.Funny how in the same speech Bush expresses certainty about war:
We will never forget the lessons of September the 11th. We will stay on the offensive. We will win the war on terror, and make sure that America is secure and free.Funny how I never learned "the lessons of September the 11th" let alone had a chance to forget them. Of course I don't remember what happened on "September the 11th." Was that the day Michael Jordan was going to announce that he was coming out of retirement?
And what about the freedom and liberty we can bring to people? You know the stuff that is "God's gift to humanity." Since we get to bring it God's bounty to the lesser parts of the world through war, why shouldn't it make us happy?
Bush has some explaining to do.
Another proud moment in America's fight for freedom. The only downside is we didn't get a war out of it.
"President Hamid Karzai signed Afghanistan's new constitution into law Monday, putting into force a charter meant to reunite his war-shattered nation and help defeat a virulent Taliban insurgency," the AP writes. "The constitution outlines a tolerant, democratic Islamic state under a strong presidency -- as sought by Karzai -- a two-chamber parliament and an independent judiciary... the text also declares men and women equal before the law."
The Taliban isn't happy with this document and the same can be said of some members of loya jirga, the group that drafted the document, who say it has been altered from the one they worked on. George Thomas of Pat Robertson's CBN News says the constitution does not protect non-Muslim religious rights:
The 162-page document begins by declaring "Afghanistan is an Islamic republic." Article two of the constitution states that, "Followers of other religions are free to perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law." But article three notes that, "No law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam."...Of course Thomas' concern isn't based solely on theory:
And, depending on how judges interpret Islamic law, Christian evangelism could be considered a crime. Under the new constitution, distributing Christian literature, holding Bible classes and raising money for Christian activities, could be considered against the sacred religion of Islam." Simbal Khan of Hi Pakistan reports that the document has been criticized by both Islamists "for lack of direct reference to the Sharia" and liberals "for failing to provide adequate guarantees for human rights." He also notes that:
...there have been few dissenting voices regarding the efficacy of the whole constitution building exercise. The panel of political analysts involved in the democratic and constitutional initiatives, conveniently ignored that such US-led foreign policy initiatives wreak violent changes within the target countries, affecting populations that are already undergoing tumultuous changes socially, politically, economically and culturally...***
The Afghan government's website is located at www.afghanistangov.org.
"The Pentagon is planning a new offensive in the 2-year-old Afghanistan campaign to stop remnants of the Taliban regime and the al-Qaida terror network, officials said Wednesday," the AP writes.
I'm shaking my head.
" The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, military sources said," Christine Spolar writes in a January 28 Chicago Tribune story.
The Army's top general said Wednesday he is making plans based on the possibility that the Army will be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006.Shocking.
In another story Burns writes:
Even with the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bigger challenge in the global war on terrorism is the threat posed by extremists in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the commander of U.S. forces in that region said Thursday.Note Abizaid is not talking about the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but about groups within those countries. Of course continuing to support those governments means supporting repressive states, which isn't always popular...
Stephen Graham of the AP writes:
The U.S. military is ``sure'' it will catch Osama bin Laden this year, a spokesman said Thursday, but he declined to comment on where the al-Qaida leader may be hiding.LOL for a number of reasons.
"I have a sense for things that are more important than people think - or sometimes less important," Glenn Reynolds says. (The quote is from Wired but I will assume it is correct since Reynolds links to it without a correction.) The sad fact is that there are a fair number of people who agree with him on this.
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Fire McClellan, says Max Standard
Max Standard wanted me to pass on this message that he recently sent to Bush.
Dear President Bush,***
David Kay testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services yesterday. I didn't see the testimony and I have yet to find a transcript but here are reports on the testimony from Simon Jeffery of The Guardian and Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.
Wolf Blitzer of CNN interviewed David Kay yesterday and the two did their best to excuse Team Bush. For the sake of the argument let's just say that there can be no doubt that bad intelligence was to blame. This means that NOBODY IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS THE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS TO WONDER IF THE THREAT THAT THEY MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BELIEVED WAS IMMINENT MIGHT NOT BE ALL THAT GREAT GIVEN THAT THE MOTIVE AND THE ABILITY HAS NOT LEAD TO THE ACT IN OVER A DECADE OR TO THINK THAT MAYBE THREATENING TO “KILL” SOMEONE WHO SUPPOSEDLY WANTS TO KILL AMERICANS MIGHT BE A RISKY MOVE. In short, it means they are all idiots. I don’t know about you but if I were in a room with a person who has a gun and wants to kill me, I probably wouldn’t spend all that much time threatening to do something about this person. I might say nothing, try to escape or call to help, but I wouldn’t spend months saying, “I’m going to do something about you. Just wait. I’m going to do something.”
On Tuesday's edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Richard Perle said the recent conquest of Iraq says to the world, "America is back." Unfortunately Stewart didn't ask him why this shit wasn't enough to tell the world that Uncle Sam was still around. Maybe the actions don't leave a long lasting imprint of the minds of the people of the world, which means that if the Bush Administration's suggested path of frightening the world into doing what the U.S. wants is to be followed, there will be a lot more of these wars.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
"grave and gathering" assertions
Yesterday George W. Bush said Saddam was a "there is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat to America and the world. There is just no doubt in my mind" and " I said in the run-up that Saddam was a grave and gathering danger, that's what I said. And I believed it then, and I know it was true now."
Bush usually demands that he back up any assertions that he makes so that people do not think he is making it up as he goes along, so we must assume that the fact that he did not explain why there was any reason at all to think "Saddam was a grave and gathering danger," let alone a "graver and gathering threat to America and the world," was merely an issue of time constraints and his decide not to bore those who were present, those who would view it on the telly and even those reading the transcript. Bush cares about us very much and respects us enough to recognize that our time is just as important as his.
No doubt it was for the very same reason that Bush chose to elaborate on his statement "we're now in the business of making sure Iraq is free and democratic. And that's important as well for long-term stability and peace in the world." Specifically our very honorable president did explain why freedom and democracy in Iraq is more "important" than freedom and democracy in, to name just a few examples examples, Colombia, Pakistan or Uzbekistan. I'm sure there is a good reason and Bush would give it to us if WE only had the time.
"Bush 2004 Campaign Pledges to Restore Honor and Dignity to White House," reports The Onion. (Thanks to blogdex.net for the link.) Personally I think they left off the best part of Bush's speech -the section where he said, "If you reelect me to the White House I promise to stop talking to the American people like they are all idiots."
Paul Koring reports on the Bush Administration's new rationale for invading Iraq in yesterday's Globe and Mail. (Thanks again to blogdex.net for the link.)
"U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq found new evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime quietly destroyed some stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons in the mid-1990s, former chief inspector David Kay said yesterday," Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank write in today's Washington Post. "The discovery means that inspectors have not only failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but also have found exculpatory information -- contemporaneous documents and confirmations from interviews with Iraqis -- demonstrating that Hussein did make efforts to disarm well before President Bush began making the case for war."
Kay is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Hopefully a transcript of that testimony will quickly be made available so that it is possible to see what he says without the filter of journalists.
UPDATE: "President Bush may seek an additional $40 billion or more for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year -- on top of the $400-billion military budget he will send to Congress next month, congressional sources and budget analysts said on Wednesday," Adam Entous writes in a January 21 Reuters story. "But Bush is unlikely to send the request to Congress until after the November presidential election to minimize any political damage, the sources said."
The British American Security Information Council's "Unravelling the Known Unknowns: Why no Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found in Iraq" is worth reading.
Charley Reese's "Threat of Terrorism" is worth reading, although I think it is a bit off for him to say Osama bin Laden "no desire to occupy the United States, nor does he wish to convert the West to Islam." He probably does but it isn't a high priority.
"The Defense Department plans to stand up more National Guard-staffed civil support teams trained to assist local authorities in the event of a weapons of mass destruction attack on the American homeland, a senior DoD official said Jan. 16," Gerry J. Gilmore of the American Forces Press Service writes in a January 20 story. Of course there is no need to fear these weapons in countries that Bush got to invade.
Bush wants to promotes sexual abstinence so it is interesting to note Leslie Akst's report in the September/October 2003 issue of Psychology Today
"virginity pledges" don't seem to have much effect on whether or not people have sex before marriage, according to a study.12:38 p.m. 01/28/04
UPDATE #2: Michigan State beat Minnesota tonight in overtime 79-78. MSU was down by as many as 23 in the first half but managed to find a way to win. Maurice Ager hit a three point shot with three seconds left in regulation to tie it while Paul Davis hit two free throws with 15 seconds left in overtime to give MSU the lead for good.
Beating Minnesota isn't the most impressive accomplishment but doing it in this matter says that this team has far from given up.
Despite being titled "Iraqi govt. papers: Saddam bribed Chirac," nothing in this UPI story indicates any documents saying "Saddam bribed Chirac" personally. I'm not saying it didn't happen. Just that it isn't mentioned in the body. Not that a certain law professor should be expected to understand this. Perhaps his motto should be "if it bolsters the aspects of the 'war on terror' that I like, there can be nothing wrong with it." 11:39 p.m. 01/28/04
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
It is good to know we are not all dead from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, or why it is time to invade Syria
Over the last few days I haven't been following the news, by which I mean read news stories on the web, as much as I usually do on account of having a cold and working on some writing projects.
Recently resigned weapons inspector David Kay, in contrast, has said he doesn't believe "large stockpiles" of weapons of mass destruction that Team Bush and others once said they knew were in Iraq actually exist. Kay reportedly told The New York Times that the Iraqis "were maintaining an infrastructure" for the production of weapons of mass destruction "but they didn't have large-scale production under way" even though Kay believes that might have been news to Saddam Hussein. (Kay also reportedly denied that there was any evidence that Iraqi Republican Guard units had chemical weapons to use against invading forces last year and suggested that there were fundamental problems in how U.S. intelligence agencies gathered info about Iraq.)
But perhaps that it is merely window dressing. Peter Beaumont writes in Sunday's Observer that "Pentagon and CIA officials appear to have accepted that there is little point in searching for weapons stockpiles in Iraq, and will now concentrate on auditing Iraqi claims of their destruction."
The Bush Administration's Official Shill Scott McClellan was in his usual fine form yesterday. McClellan's main point was " the decision that the President made was the right decision" not matter what, but he also added this fun note, "We know he had the intention, we know he had the capability. And, given his history and given the events of September 11th, we could not afford to rely on the good intentions of Saddam Hussein."
Intention to harm the United States? Check. Capability to harm the United States? Check. All said so as to refer to the situation right before the United States invaded? Check. All this adds up to McClellan saying Saddam was an imminent threat.
There was no word on what exactly McClellan's predecessor Ari Fleischer was talking about on March 21st of last year said, "there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. This was the reason that the President felt so strongly that we needed to take military action to disarm Saddam Hussein, since he would not do it himself. As the military effort continues, I think you will see information develop for yourself, firsthand. This is one of the reasons that there are so many reporters present with the military. In many ways, you will have these answers yourselves. You are there, you are on the ground. And you will find the answers and they will speak volumes themselves." As if that was not enough Fleischer also said, "Saddam Hussein possesses biological and chemical weapons, and all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."
In other words Saddam's real existing weapons of mass destruction were Team Bush's stated reason for invading Iraq in the early days of the invasion.
On a related note, "The invasion of Iraq ended the reign of a brutal government, but coalition leaders are wrong to characterize it as a humanitarian intervention, Human Rights Watch said in the keynote essay of its annual global survey released today," Human Rights Watch says in press release issued yesterday. "The 407-page World Report 2004: Human Rights and Armed Conflict includes 15 essays on a variety of subjects related to war and human rights, from Africa to Afghanistan, from sexual violence as a method to warfare to the new trends in post-conflict international justice."
"No President has ever done more for human rights than I have," G.W. Bush is believed to have said.
Prominent hawk Andrew Sullivan acknowledges "discrepancy between pre-war claims and post-war discovery" of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and chalks it up to an honest error on the part of those involved. "Notice I said: mistake. I do not believe and there is no reason to believe that there were any deliberate deceptions," he writes. Sullivan would be correct if it not for Bush's changing story on the reason for the war and continued references to the non-existent group known as "the terrorists," both of which show Bush could not care less about what Sullivan calls "keeping faith with the American people" or I would call being honest.
Of course if this was a "mistake" it means that the Bush Administration is incompetent as they weren't in a hurry to deal with what they sometimes said was an imminent threat, weren't in a hurry to find the weapons of mass destruction that they sometimes said made Saddam an imminent threat even after the invasion had begun and didn't, according to what Kay has reportedly told The New York Times, didn't see weapons inspections as a high priority or much of a need to secure documents and materials so that inspectors could find out what went on exactly with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and prevent the possibility of these items falling into the hands of one or more sections of "the terrorists." (If that were to happen, they might be able to develop weapons of mass destruction to use against the United States, something the average person could be forgiven for having thought was exactly the scenario that the invasion was said to have been launched in order to prevent.)
The best bet for hawks who can not or will not acknowledge reality is to hope that Bush does not allow the search for weapons to end so theoretically no conclusions can be drawn -before making any, McClellan said yesterday, "it's important first for the Iraq Survey Group to complete their mission"- and/or start advocating for war with Syria to get those weapons of mass destruction that can kill us all. Con Coughlin of The Telegraph reports Kay has said, "we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved." That said, James Risen of The New York Times writes that during an interview with that paper, "Dr. Kay said there was also no conclusive evidence that Iraq had moved any unconventional weapons to Syria... He said there had been persistent reports from Iraqis saying they or someone they knew had see cargo being moved across the border, but there is no proof that such movements involved weapons materials."
So why not go after Syria? Sure the intelligence might not be the strongest but that just means Uncle Sam needs to take over all countries if we are to remain 100% secure and safe. Perhaps the motto should be "finding items that could of use to the aunts and uncles of people who could train other people in the skills necessary so that at some point in time those people could apply for the job of helping the support personal to the scientists who have not proven that they would never be able to participate in weapons of mass destruction-related program activities in merely one country is not enough to secure the eternal security of America."
Monday, January 26, 2004
Empire & Frum
John Hawkins' interview with former Bush propaganda producer David Frum gives great insight into the empire being created by the "war on terror."
George W. Bush has said so many ridiculous and stupid things during his time as a national political figure that I can't help but wonder just how cynical he and his speechwriters must be for so willingly taking advantage of the public's general inability to think critically about they hear. But now, after reading this interview, I can't help but think that I might be wrong on this. Perhaps they aren't very intelligent or good at noticing logical inconsistencies for even as Frum attempts to refute the idea that the United States wants an empire, he says that an empire is exactly what the U.S. wants:
The last thing America is, is an empire. My counter example is; we very badly needed and expected to have Turkish support in the war on Iraq. The Turks didn't give it and that put a spanner in some of our planning. Now, imagine if this were the Romans. Imagine if the emperor Trajan were planning an operation in Mesopotamia and the Cappadocians told him he couldn't use their territory. He would have lined the highways with crucified Cappadocians. That's what empires do, they do not say, "Oh, we'll respect what your parliament says and come from another direction".A lot of (at least ostensible) confusion in the world, and in this case, results from different definitions of a particular term. If having an "empire" means controlling every aspect of the possessions of the Empire, then the U.S. does not appear to be seeking an empire. (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000) and Chalmers Johnson's Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Henry Holt and Company, 2000) provide two very different alternate treatments of the term.) If it means not allowing countries to do these things that weaken the empire's position in the world, as it can quite reasonably be defined, then Frum's own statement suggests that the United States is building an empire.
Autonomy and sovereignty are respected except when doing otherwise benefits the Empire.
Frum gives two examples of this in the interview. He says he favors a "Palestinian state" but only one that doesn't conflict with the interests of the U.S. And he opposes European unification. The frogs, Frum writes, "have their own ambition to build a kind of European superstate as a counterweight to the United States. That's partly for reasons of national vanity and partly to protect their not very competitive national economy. This would be a terrible mistake for Europe. We need to rethink the traditional American position of almost unreflective support for unification. We have to understand that the wrong kind of European reunification can create real problems for the United States."
It is not in our interest so it must be mistake for those involved. And if it isn't inherently, we will make it one.
But perhaps I should just take Hawkins' word on the matter. In what Frum calls "a brilliant piece," Hawkins -who as far as I can tell has no War State power of any kind- argues that the U.S. is "not an 'empire'" and has "no desire to become one" because "[o]ur ancestors came to America in the first place to GET AWAY from everyone else in the world."
I'm sure Ethan Edwards felt the same way.
To Frum's credit, he does acknowledge in the interview that U.S. support for dictators does have costs. Of course he does not consider the option of eliminating support for these countries without trying to control them. Intervention apparently is a given in the “war on terror” and the construction of an empire that dare not speak its name.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Giving up the ghost and other notes for January 25
"Pentagon and CIA officials appear to have accepted that there is little point in searching for weapons stockpiles in Iraq, and will now concentrate on auditing Iraqi claims of their destruction," Peter Beaumont writes in today's Observer:
[Charles] Duelfer has already laid out his stall, in the Washington Post in the autumn when he remarked on 'the apparent absence of existing weapons stocks'.It seems like I've said this before, but if it is determined that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the point of the invasion, the questions that need to be asked are:
-What did Saddam's regime have in the way of weapons of mass destruction after they got done with his massacres? If he had some at that point, when were the weapons of mass destruction destroyed?
-What did the W. Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration and the H.W. Bush Administration Know about weapons of mass destruction? What did they believe that they knew? What did they believe? How did their public statements match up with these answers? If there was a dichotomy, what is the explanation? If it comes to this, who orchestrated the deceptive or dishonest statements and what was/were the motive or motives?
-What efforts were made to find weapons of mass destruction?
-The U.S. government has of course said on numerous occasions that other countries are developing weapons of mass destruction. Are mendaciousness and/or the similar mistakes be behind these statements?
This quote from Slavoj Zizek's The Fragile Absolute Or, Why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? (Verso, 2000) seems appropriate for the times:
The notorious Iraqi 'weapons of mass destruction' offer [an] example of the objet petit a: they are an elusive entity, never empirically specified, a kind of Hitchcockian MacGuffin, expected to be hidden in the most disparate and improbable places... allegedly present in large quantities, yet magically moved around all the time by workers; and the more they are destroyed, the more all-present and all-powerful they are in their threat, as if the removal of the greater part of them magically heightens the destructive power of the remainder - as such, by definition they can never be found, and are therefore all the more dangerous...Fitting in a most ironic way, that is.
I do want to check this guy out.
I don't really care if U.S. military actions are unilateral or multilateral but those using the terms and making arguments about them should avoid what Andrew Sullivan has done -thinking that the U.S. saying it is going to do something and everyone else is free to join in and there might be some goodies if you do- is multilateral.
(Thanks to Avedon Carol for the link.)
I wish I could understand those who shill for Bush.
"Japanese telecom carriers, pioneers of internet-capable and picture-snapping handsets, have now come up with the world's first mobile phone that enables users to listen to calls inside their heads - by conducting sound through bone," AFP writes in a January 21 story. "The new phone is equipped with a 'Sonic Speaker' which transmits sounds through vibrations that move from the skull to the cochlea in the inner ear, instead of relying on the usual method of sound hitting the outer eardrum."
"Heil Hit-Slur!" by Terry Krepel.
In the hopefully immortal words of Seymour Paine:
The only way to rid the world and keep us safe is to eliminate, i.e., kill, everyone involved wherever they are. Why our government does not do this is, to me, criminal.***
UPDATE: Purdue beat my beloved Spartans 76-70 in overtime today in West LaFayette. MSU couldn't quite seal the win in regulation and then got beat in the extra minutes. Very tough loss:
"It's one of the more disappointing losses I've had in my career here because I know what this win would've meant," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "If we play that well, we'll win a lot of games."Michigan State finishes up this road swing Wednesday against Minnesota.
From his NATO headquarters in Brussels, Clark wanted to wage the war more aggressively, but back in the Pentagon, Cohen and Shelton were more cautious. They would give Clark instructions on, for instance, the scale of the bombing campaign. "Clark would say, 'Uh-huh, gotcha'," says NEWSWEEK's source. But then he would pick up the phone and call [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair and [Secretary of State] Madeleine [Albright]." As Clark knew full well, Blair and Albright were more hawkish than Shelton and Cohen. After talking to the State Department and NATO allies, Clark would have a different set of marching orders, says the source, who has spoken about the matter with both Cohen and Clark. "Then, about 1 o'clock, the Defense Department would hear what Clark was up to, and Cohen and Shelton would be furious."Sounds to me like something that shouldn't be a big deal but could be if opponents of Clark decide to believe it is.
The The Library of Congress' Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories is fascinating and troubling. (Thanks to profwhat/metafilter for the link.) Whenever I hear/read things like "We have always stood up for freedom," I think of slavery and feel like shouting, "DO A LITTLE HOMEWORK!" I mean slavery in the history of the United States certainly doesn't mean that the U.S. is always wrong and that there were no good things in the country before the abolition of slavery, but it does mean that if you believe that the U.S. is always right and just, you are fucking idiot and it wouldn't bother me that much if you are treated that way. 9:48 p.m. 01/25/04
Saturday, January 24, 2004
The power of belief
This morning on Fox & Friends -the #1 cable “this would be even more entertaining if nobody took it seriously" show- one of the hosts, the black guy, labeled Howard Dean’s much talked about words a “tirade.” The hosts also talked about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Interestingly the question of the day was, "No WMD Found: Does it Matter?"
There was no doubt that a mildly amusing performance from Dean and the break-up of two insignificant movie stars mattered, but whether or not the prez lied or whether U.S. intelligence gathering and analysis could be broken apparently are matters that reasonable people can disagree about whether or not they are important.
Now since "matter" was never defined, perhaps there is room to have an actual discussion. If by "matter" the mean "will the Bush Administration not be able to get away with it," I would have to say it probably doesn't matter. Team Bush will probably most likely get away with it. (Of course one of my main problems with "debates" and "discussion" on cable news programming and on many blogs is that the issue of whether or not X is right or wrong usually gets mixed in with whether or not X is popular even though in most, but certainly not all, cases these issues are independent of one another.)
The general mood amongst callers was that it didn't matter. That's interesting because the weapons that had to be stopped a year ago now apparently are harmless despite Bush's indication that not all is known about them. In fact, maybe we didn't need to have that fun little war in order to stay safe.
I'm not sure exactly what prompted the question but it seems likely that it had something to do with David Kay quitting and an interview with Reuters where Kay responded to "What happened to the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that everyone expected to be there?" by saying "I don't think they existed."
Howard Dean's mannerisms and sound on Monday earned him much ridicule so it is interesting to not that a truly ridiculous statement received no such response from many in the blogosphere. In a January 21 piece for The Age Caroline Overington writes about meeting a man who lost a son, a soldier in the U.S. military, in Iraq:
"But I never thought it was about the weapons," my seat mate said. And, although I can't remember his exact words, he also said something like: "We have always stood up for freedom, in our own country, and for other people."Always? This person needs to look up some history. Sorry but losing your son, or anything else, does not give you the monopoly on truth. (Would the father of an Iraqi soldier who died fighting the U.S. automatically be correct if they said, "my son was right to fight against the Americans"? Of course not!)
Overington's piece has the title of "They like Bush, and they are not stupid," even though she shows that at least some of Bush's supporters are in fact stupid.
What explains the difference in reactions?
I suspect it is a matter of what people want to believe. Those who want to believe America and Team Bush are absolutely correct in the "war on terror" will find reasons to think that, however comical or illogical. Those who want to believe Dean should receive no support will find reasons for to believe that. And, yes, those of us who oppose the "war on terror" will find reasons to support that opinion.
Is there a difference. I believe that I, for one, am able to acknowledge that contradictory aspects of the "war on terror" that I oppose, which is to say I do not see as all bad or as having no positive impacts.
But I'm sure others don't see it that way.
On a related note, is it possible that the reason just about nobody of any standing or with any audience has challenged Bush's use of "the terrorists" is because the term gained popular currency after the Bush Administration used it the days and weeks after "September 11," a time when serious criticism was something that most people in such positions were not willing to do for fear of offending the public?
If so, this perfectly illustrates the dangers of blind patriotism. It may feel good at the moment but it can lead to some terrible results.
Friday, January 23, 2004
Here is a transcript of this most unfortunate break-up that we can only pray our country will be able to get over in order to get back to the job Bush intends for us to complete - The Defeat of Terrorism:
Ben: Honey Buns, I have something important to talk to you about. Is it true that the LA Times will soon report that auditors believe the USO improperly billed the Pentagon for expenses incurred at the show you did in Afghanistan?
Jenny from the Block: Ye... Yes, I guess it is.
B-Af: I guess I have to break-up with you permanently now, fucking and everything. I just can't have you ruining my reputation. I've tried to move away from associating with Howard Zinn by appearing in stuff like Pearl Harbor but I think this will ruin my rep.
Never Mrs. Puff Daddy: Oh.
Matt Damon's Friend: Yes. I'm sorry.
I was rereading Bush's SOTU speech to see when if the applause related to the "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year" was noted. To Team Bush's credit, it was. But here is the whole graf from the official transcript:
Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.) The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)Who was applauding about how the terrorist threat not ending next year? Seems to me they need to held accountable.
No democracy till you do what we say, Jeff Jarvis thinks we should tell the Iraqis.
"Before he disappeared last week, Spalding Gray had been performing early versions of a new work that had long bedeviled him - a monologue about a car wreck more than two years ago that left him physically and emotionally scarred," Justin Glanville of the AP writes in a January 17 story.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
My beloved Spartans picked up their first win of the season outside of East Lansing last night, beating Northwestern, 73-61.
Another road game is next, against Purdue Sunday afternoon.
Matthew Barganier's "America 2004" is a great synthesis of art of criticism. As close to a must read as anything could be.
"Barry Crimmins responds to the 2004 SOTU Address" is also very strongly recommended.
From the not entertaining but still most certainly wroth reading is Amnesty International's "North Korea: Suffering in silence." I doubt sending a message to Kim Jong-il will do much good, however. Of course the same is true of messages to the elected leaders of most "free" countries.
"Afghanistan's religious authorities have reimposed a ban on television broadcasts of artistic performances by women after a 20-year-old clip of a woman singing without a headscarf ignited a battle between moderates and traditionalists," Hamida Ghafour writes in a January 16 Telegraph story.
On a related note, this January 19 Scotsman story by Borzou Daraghahi is interesting:
As Americans flood Iraq’s airwaves with radio stations playing harmless Western and Arab pop tunes, the young are turning elsewhere for their musical inspiration.Here is a different version of the story.
I probably shouldn't respond to this flood of fatuity from Jonah Goldberg:
For Bush to have lied, he had to have known that there were no WMDs, right? It's not a lie unless you know the truth. If you say something you think is true that later turns out to be false, we don't call that a "lie," we call that a "mistake."No. The Bush Administration repeatedly said that they KNEW that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction. Maybe they honestly believed that was the case, but if they did not know it to be true, they were lying.
This isn't difficult to grasp, although perhaps that is the reason some hawkish bloggers buy Goldberg's argument.
"The United States will move all of its troops out of metropolitan Seoul over the next three years without reducing the total number of forces in South Korea, both countries have agreed," David Briscoe of the AP writes in a story from this past Saturday.
"American law enforcement officials said Friday that they were trying to determine whether the Pakistani government was involved in a plot by a South African businessman to export trigger devices that could be used for nuclear weapons," Eric Lichtblau writes in a January 16 New York Times story.
Via HaCohen's article I cam across "Self-Hating Israel-Threatening LIST," which is far more depressing than funny.
Eugene Hernandez and Karl Beck of indiewire.com report that Bob Odenkirk "plans on co-directing 'The Mr. Show Movie' with longtime collaborator and "Mr. Show Movie" co-writer David Cross."
A January 14 georgewbush.com blog entry carries the headline "NBC News: Bush-Cheney Grassroots 'Unparalleled in Political History.'" The post focuses on an NBC News article by David Gregory. georgwbush.com apparently draws their headline from this graf, which they quote:
Legions of Bush-Cheney organizers are canvassing the country registering new voters in battleground states and signing up volunteers for help with voter turnout — a ground game that Bush advisers claim is unparalleled in political history.So in fact it is not something that NBC News said but rather something that "Bush advisers" have reportedly told NBC News.
I know this isn't a big deal but it seems like it is something that an at least half-way organized campaign would be able to avoid, unless they really did want to deceive. Of course I'm fine with this since it creates more jokes about last year's State of the Union gaffe.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Because I make fun of the Bush Administration's use of the phrase "the terrorists" so much, it could become lost that there is a serious issue here. By any reasonable definition, "terrorism" is an activity that has been engaged in for all of recorded history and there seems to be no reason to think it is going to stop any time soon. "Terrorists," or people who practice terrorism, are thus unlikely to be defeated and hardly form any sort of coherent group.
An example that illustrates this is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, which the State Department designates as a terrorist group and says has received funding from Saddam's now deposed Iraq regime. Sam Dealey reports in today's edition of The Hill that U.S. Rep. Robert Ney "will ask Attorney General John Ashcroft today to investigate a charity event for ties to an Iranian terrorist group backed by Saddam Hussein... The organizers, led by the Iranian-American Society of Northern Virginia, hope to raise $140,000 to help survivors of the earthquake in Bam on Dec. 26, which killed 30,000 people. But a number of sponsoring groups have strong ties to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), and the fundraiser may violate the prohibition on providing material support for global terrorism."
Sounds like a member in good standing of "[t]he terrorists and their supporters" until you realize that the State Department also says that the MEK has engaged in "terrorist attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad" and "now advocates a secular Iranian regime" even thought Iran is a charter member of the "axis of evil."
In other words, whatever else can be said about the government of Iran and the MEK, it is safe to say that the two don't get along and therefore any political discussion conducted on the basis of realism, as presidential speeches almost always are, that involves talking about "the terrorists" as some sort of unified group is fucking stupid and the fact that Bush is not laughed at for making statements about how on September 11, 2001 "[t]he terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States" is a sad commentary on the current level of political discourse.
Of course Bush wants you to think that terrorism "will be defeated." He isn't calling for any significant changes in biopolitical reproduction or thinking about how history shows that at least some people don't like being constantly told what to do by "outsiders" and have a tendency to respond violently, and perhaps have a greater chance of causing carnage now than ever before due to a variety of factors, most notably developments in science, but we are going to get rid of terrorism because Bush says we are going to get rid of it. Why doesn't he just say we are going to eliminate all murdering. That has about the same chance of achieving success.
Team Bush has to know terrorism won't be forever banished from the face of this planet, so by making this the ostensible goal, they are laying the groundwork for a war that will never be won. it can go forever, which is what I suspect they want at least until they find a new justification.
Last night's speech was the usual bullshit but I did find it interesting that Bush both came out against gay marriage and for abstinence. Apparently those dykes and faggots should never fornicate.
Bush also said, "parents and schools and government... must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children."
Apparently Bush sees himself and most people in the U.S. as at odds with "the culture," which is most certainly an interesting development.
In yesterday's Independent Noor Khan writes:
An American helicopter bombed a village home in southern Afghanistan killing 11 people, four of them children, Afghan officials said yesterday...The AP has more, while the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan says, "there is no indication that civilians were killed in that incident."
One of the main problems I have with proponents of war for "democracy" or "human rights" is there seems to be no interest in how much damage done to people is an adequate trade-off for the improving the situation for those who remain. If you had to kill all but 8 Iraqis in order to get "democracy" of a viable sort, I would like to believe that most honest advocate of invasions to improve the lives of people would concede that such a cost is too high for the United States, or anyone else, to just impose on a group of people. But where should the line be drawn? Seemingly this would be a very practical question for those like Christopher Hitchens who support wars of "liberation."
Recent events show "shows capture of Saddam Hussein has done little to weaken resistance," Patrick Cockburn reports in Monday's Independent.
"Three dozen mortar shells found buried in southern Iraq did not contain chemical blister agents as initially reported, the Danish army said yesterday," Rupert Cornwell writes in Monday's Independent.
UPDATE: There's a scene in "The Great Louse Detective," an episode from the fourteenth season of the greatest show ever, where, after discovering that Homer Simpson has pissed off quite a few people to the point that they want to do him physical harm, Sideshow Bob remarks, "None of this seems odd to you?"
That's exactly how feel about even this relatively decent analysis of yesterday's State of the Union speech. William Saletan appears to be intelligent yet he goes right along with looking at Bush's comments seemingly oblivious to the fact that Bush makes more than one ridiculous comment. And he isn't alone in this. Did I miss the memo about nobody can point out that Bush talks to people like they are idiots? 1:47 p.m. 01/21/04
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Message to Bush
To: President George W. Bush If there is anything you know, I Micah Holmquist age 26 can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country. Also please answer these questions: -Tonight you said, “The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States.” Presumably this declaration was made public on “September 11th" but when did all of “[t]he terrorists and their supporters” manage to get together and decide on a common goal? -Do you believe the people of Libya are free? If not, isn’t it a bad thing that “the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons” since it prevents Uncle Sam and his allies from liberating those people? -What is the definition of “weapons of mass murder”? And what does a state have to do to be able to have them? -Isn’t a bit odd that right after saying “American people are using their money far better than government would have” you talk about all the good that government can do for the economy by spending money? When did the dramatic shift happen when government started being able to spend money better than the “American people.” And since this wasn’t the case in the past earlier in your term, why didn’t you advocate the elimination of all government revenues? -What is your definition of “the sanctity of marriage”? -Do you believe federal money should be given to religious groups for use in programs that involve prostleitazation? Should all religious groups be eligible for federal money? Micah Holmquist P.S.: If you can send a letter to the troops ... please put, 'Micah Holmquist believes your commander in chief is a lying asshole.'"
If there is anything you know, I Micah Holmquist age 26 can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country.
Also please answer these questions:
-Tonight you said, “The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States.” Presumably this declaration was made public on “September 11th" but when did all of “[t]he terrorists and their supporters” manage to get together and decide on a common goal?
-Do you believe the people of Libya are free? If not, isn’t it a bad thing that “the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons” since it prevents Uncle Sam and his allies from liberating those people?
-What is the definition of “weapons of mass murder”? And what does a state have to do to be able to have them?
-Isn’t a bit odd that right after saying “American people are using their money far better than government would have” you talk about all the good that government can do for the economy by spending money? When did the dramatic shift happen when government started being able to spend money better than the “American people.” And since this wasn’t the case in the past earlier in your term, why didn’t you advocate the elimination of all government revenues?
-What is your definition of “the sanctity of marriage”?
-Do you believe federal money should be given to religious groups for use in programs that involve prostleitazation? Should all religious groups be eligible for federal money?
P.S.: If you can send a letter to the troops ... please put, 'Micah Holmquist believes your commander in chief is a lying asshole.'"
The first draft of this year’s “State of the Union” speech
[Editor’s note: While nowhere near as important as the most certainly all important results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, the guy in the White House, George W. Bush, is scheduled to give his State of the Union speech tonight. We here at micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links have uncovered the first draft of Bush’s speech, which we reprint in its entirety below.]
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, fellow citizens: As we gather tonight, our nation has never been better except for the usual problems, dire threats that my administration likes to pretend are in existence and the continued threat from “the terrorists” that I am determined to defeat and who of course are impossible to explain in the context of U.S. foreign policy. (Applause.)
Last year when I gave this speech I talked about the threat from Iraq, a threat that does not exist today. Of course it didn’t exist then either but you people are so fucking stupid you couldn’t figure that out. Even the fact that I spent over a year talking about needing to strike Iraq first to get rid of the threat that I sometimes said was imminent without any worry that Saddam might actually go ahead and do what I said he wanted to do, strike America did not clue you in any. And some say we need educational reform. (Laughter.)
So I went ahead with a fun little war in the name of whatever sounded good at the moment and all of you worth speaking to supported it, unless of course your were in on it. In that case, you just supported it! (Laughter.) A friend of mine told me that we best be careful because if we go too far with this, “somebody might point this out and expose our fraud.” But I told him if they bought that shit about “the terrorists,” they will believe whatever we tell them. (Applause.) Dick, I think you owe me some pretzels. (Laughter.)
I am obliged to mention the brave fighting men and women of the U.S. Armed Services, so here’s to you. (Applause.)
Do you remember September the 11th? (Applause.) Whenever I find myself starting to forget, I just think of the words of Darryl Worley, “Have You Forgotten? Have You Forgotten?” (Applause.)
I am a man of the future, not the past like those ANGRY freaks who don’t realize that life isn’t about getting mad, it is about getting even and then getting the maximum possible advantage. For that reason, or any other you can think of, you should not vote for them. As a passage from the Bible that Americans have quoted for generations says, “a vote for a Democrat is a vote for the terrorists. (Applause.)
So I will now talk about my reelection, which will happen this year in November. VOTE FOR ME! (Applause.)
Some of you who are with the terrorists might ask, “why should I vote for you President Bush besides the fact that you make sure that I don’t die each day from a terrorist attack?” Well because I am now the president and I will keep doing the same things this year. I will talk a good game about things I don’t care about at time but mostly I will spend my time talking about the battle for freedom so you can applaud. (Applause.)
This is fulfilling God’s will for the world, because America is God’s hand in the world He created in six days a couple thousand years ago. (Applause.) I hear it took Him a bit less time to create Mars if you know what I mean. (Laughter.)
May God continue to bless America more than all other countries and planets combined. (Applause.)
UPDATE: Bush gave a slightly different speech tonight. The major change was a call for pro athletes to stop taking performance enhancing drugs as their being so open about their use of them sets a bad example or something.
I may write something about the speech that isn't satirical, but right now I want to say that every Democrat that clapped for Bush is one reason I don't vote for that party. That said, I thought it was cool when what appeared to be an at least mostly Democratic section of the audience clapped when our Lord and Savior said, "Key provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year." Also, as much as it pains me to say this, it was cool when the camera panned to Edward Kennedy shaking his head after Bush had said one of the usual idiocies about protecting the United States from the danger that Iraq posed to our very well being, way of life and system of planning trips to the beach each summer. 10:49 p.m. 01/20/04
Monday, January 19, 2004
Today is MLK Day but I am more in the mood for Malcolm X's April 3, 1964 speech "The Ballot or the Bullet."
"A graphic US military video showing the killing of three Iraqi people is being circulated via the web after appearing on US TV news channel ABC News," Jemima Kiss of journalism.co.uk writes in a January 14 story. The war smut can be found here.
Perhaps this tape should be shown to these Iraqi fucks. Who ever told them anything about freedom or democracy?
Hindrocket and Glenn Reynolds cling to the delusion that Bush never said Saddam was an imminent threat. I wonder if they have come to understand that facts or logic matter little and are in on the game.
"The Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada said yesterday that he came within a centimetre of chopping off Tom Cruise's head while filming the Last Samurai," the AP writes in a story from Friday.
In another story published three days ago, David Fickling of The Guardian writes that Molly Kelly, "[t]he woman whose 1,000-mile childhood trek across the Australian outback inspired the 2002 film Rabbit-Proof Fence has died in the country's far north-west."
UPDATE: Thanks Bush we will soon be free of the Libyan threat. 8:46 p.m. 01/19/04
Sunday, January 18, 2004
So long it's been good to know you
Those weapons of mass destruction that once were so important and dangerous so as to justify the U.S. invading Iraq in order to avoid certain doom don't seem that big of a deal now, and they haven't for a while.
Tabassum Zakaria of Reuters reports in a story from Friday that an anonymous government source said on Thursday that Iraq Survey Group head David Kay "has told the CIA he will not return to his post" and that last month "officials described Kay as frustrated that no banned weapons were found and that some of his staff had been diverted to other tasks."
Hopefully we all won't die as a result.
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Notes on talk radio and perhaps other things
I listened to way too much talk radio yesterday.
Bill O'Reilly told me that the Showtime series The L Word will encourage lesbianism and lead to similar evil such as parents abandoning their children. O'Reilly added that he will watch the program because he is a "guy."
Rush Limbaugh informed me that it takes someone as "experienced" as him to follow the inconsistencies of someone like Wesley Clark. Apparently he isn't "experienced" enough to take on the inconsistencies of the Bush Administration.
Sean Hannity said that we were less than 300 days away from the re-election of George W. Bush and "ensuring the liberation" of the United States of America.
Michael Reagan told me that Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and Martha Stewart are manipulating the public via money and acting ability and that the reason ?people don?t like the Islam religion? is because of the Nation of Islam. (Have you forgotten, Michael?)
UPDATE: "World War III is Avoidable"
Andy Kaufman 10:39 a.m. 01/17/04
UPDATE #2: My President and his glorious war because it is right no matter what actually happened, says Lawrence B. Lindsey. It is one thing to say the prez and friends should be able to lie "about sex" but when it comes to lying about one of the primary justifications for a war, there ought to be a different standard.
Then again, As I said yesterday, probably nobody cares unless they are already convinced.
"An attempt by Iran's hardline Council of Guardians to ban many pro-democracy candidates from next month's parliamentary elections has caused a storm of protest. Will it all end in victory for the reformists, or repression?" writes The Economist.
"In a ground-breaking article to be published soon, hip-hop legend Russell Simmons will urge African-Americans to join forces with Jews, to fight anti-Semitism in Europe and the U.S." Shlomo Shamir writes in Wednesday's Haaretz. " co-written with Rabbi Marc Simmons article was co-written with Rabbi Marc Schneier to mark this year's observances of Martin Luther King Day in America... The new article is ground-breaking for being the first The new article is ground-breaking for being the first time an African American figure of Simmons' stature in popular culture has issued a denunciation of resurgent anti-Semitism. The article will be published this weekend in newspapers which reach Jewish and The new article is ground-breaking for being the first time an African American figure of Simmons' stature in popular culture has issued a denunciation of resurgent anti-Semitism. The article will be published this weekend in newspapers which reach Jewish and black readers across the U.S."
"Saudi Arabia will not allow anybody to attack the Islamic faith in the name of freedom of expression, Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, declared yesterday," P.K. Abdul Ghafour in a January 15 Arab News story.
Remember they are an ally in the "war on terror."
riverbend on "Shari'a and Family Law..."
Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003) will be distributed by 20th Century Fox with an NC-17 rating in the land that is hated "because we are free.". This move will result in the film not making any of the hundreds of millions it no doubt otherwise would have made. (The official site of the picture is here.)
The Dreamers opens in "select cities" on February 6. Upon hearing this news, Bill O'Reilly said, "This piece of garbage will destroy America by teaching young protesters that it is o.k. to fornicate and young fornicators that it is acceptable to protest. My testicles and I are looking forward to it."
Meanwhile the AP reports that police officers (you know the think blue line between us and a country that Osama would love, even if they are morally inferior to sailors) in Portland, Oregon are allowed to profanity on the job while dealing with people and, according to sources of Reuters, the son of the Secretary of State "has proposed barring the F-word from most radio and broadcast television, regardless of the context."
Personally I think it is absurd that "mainstream" news stories about this don't actually use "fuck." I mean that it what they are talking about and if someone has yet to hear that word and is reading about this, it seems like it is time for them to hear it even if Rockdale Citizen says, "TV profanity not acceptable."
Like much of his criticism Rosenbaum's harsh review of Star Wars: Special Edition is most certainly worth reading, although many of the contentions are highly debateable. This section is particularly interesting:
It can be, and has been, argued that all this is a glorious triumph of technology--which was also said of the  gulf war. Of course plenty of Americans lost or risked losing family members in that war, and I certainly don't mean to suggest that any of them experienced that event as light or lite entertainment. But for those of us who experienced the annihilation of Iraqi innocents and the partial destruction of Baghdad as bloodless zaps and light shows, it was a new kind of impersonal warfare, for some even a kind of masurbatory fantasy that Star Wars provided the blueprint for.Yes, but it is an expected element of "America's" spectator wars that nobody is supposed to acknowledge this. Instead "we" are supposed to pretend that it is anything but good fun. It is implicitly expected that "we" publicly wish this didn't have to happen and that it were only possible for "us" to watch fictional scenes of great violence, when in truth, I contend, such a sentiment only exists amongst most people in the U.S. when the target of the violence is the U.S. 3:21 p.m. 01/17/03
UPDATE #3: Faith rewarded
Last year Tom Izzo benched Paul Davis as they lost to Michigan 60-58 in Ann Arbor. Izzo said Davis wasn't putting out the necessary effort.
This year, in East Lansing and the first meeting between the two teams since then, Paul Davis lead all players with 22 points and MSU beat Michigan, 71-54. 6:09 p.m. 01/17/04
Friday, January 16, 2004
Are critics of the "war on terror" Principal Skinner?
The children of Springfield have taken over Springfield Elementary and are rampaging through the facility like they are in a Bakhtinian carnival. At one point they find out how much Principal Skinner gets paid a year and they decide that, including money he makes from painting in the summer, he must be a billionaire. Skinner denies this and says that if he were a billionaire he wouldn't live with his mother. In response, the children laugh. Skinner mutters something about how they are not responding to logic.
What interests me is how much people like me who criticize the "war on terror" come across as "Principal Skinner" compared to the children who just want to cheer for America, flags and feeling good about feeling good. (That doesn't include everyone who supports Team Bush and/or the "war on terror," of course.) I would go as far as to say that we most certainly do. They want to believe what they want to believe and "logic" won't get away. They are the group of children laughing because it is far easier to laugh at the individual than being the individual or even risk looking like you might be "the individual."
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Good cop Powell
Last year I said that Powell was effectively a "good cop" who only looked in comparison to the others and that his position actually reinforced the arguments of the "bad cops." (Think of it as similar to Slavoj Zizek's argument on "Why We Love to Hate Haider.") Powell said and says the same things that the less reputable members of the Bush Administration say but because he is viewed as "good" he is seen as having more credibility. If Rummy says it, it is viewed with, at the very least, suspicion whereas if Powell says it must be The God's Truth.
But Powell has done nothing to earn this position. He has executed and promoted the "war on terror" and all of the falsities involved -ranging form the concept of fighting "terror" to the administration's numerous problems in keeping a straight narrative about Iraq including whether or not "they" knew Saddam's regime had ties to al Qaeda- with that project. In short, whatever Powell may feel personally or would do if he were in control, he has carried water and chopped wood for Team Bush.
Too much shouldn't be made of this victory but it was MSU's best looking performance so far this season and Penn State did come into the game with three straight wins over Bucknell, Minnesota and Ohio State. Saturday's game against Michigan in East Lansing is huge for a variety of reasons.
I guess I should mention Brandon Cotton and this milestone:
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: Izzo received his first technical foul of the season for arguing a call early in the second half.***
Juan Cole's "Mass Demonstrations by Women, Others, Against Sudden Islamization of Iraqi Law" is an important read.
"U.S. tests on mortar shells found in Iraq and suspected of containing blister agents have turned up negative, though further tests will be conducted, a Danish army spokesman said Wednesday," Matthew Rosenberg of the AP writes.
This probably won't get as much attention as was bestowed up a report indicating that chemical weapons could be found in the shells did.
In a January 13 New York Post piece about comedy shows in the Big Apple, Raven Snook writes:
It's not exactly stand-up, but New Yorker Stephen Colbert, a correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (as well as the star of several recent Mr. Goodwrench commercials), will discuss "the future of comedy" along with fellow wits Calvin Trillin, Roy Blount Jr. and Nora Ephron tonight at 8 at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway,  864-5400).I feel that Daily Show reporters should not be allowed to do commercials since it weakens the trust I have in them. 12:08 p.m. 01/15/04
UPDATE #2: Who would ever think that Clinton might have been dishonest? Such an idea can't be considered. 4:48 p.m. 01/15/04
UPDATE #3: The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press writes:
Cable news networks are the most frequently cited source of campaign news for young people, but the Internet and comedy programs also are important conduits of election news for Americans under 30. One-in-five young people say they regularly get campaign news from the Internet, and about as many (21%) say the same about comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show. For Americans under 30, these comedy shows are now mentioned almost as frequently as newspapers and evening network news programs as regular sources for election news.I love the Daily Show but I worry about people who learn about politics from it. It is best understood when you know what actually happened.
If the quotes in this article by Bernard Weinraub of The New York Times are correct, the Dennis Miller is an idiot. Actually I'm pretty sure that's true no matter what the accuracy of these quotes.
One choice graf:
The Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Miller said, changed him. "Everybody should be in the protection business now," he said. "I can't imagine anybody not saying that. Well, I guess on the farthest end of the left they'd say, `That's our fault.' And on the middle end they'd say, `Well, there's another way to deal with it other than flat-out protecting ourselves.' I just don't believe that. People say we're the ones who make them hate us because of what we do. That's garbage to me. I think they're nuts. And you've got to protect yourself from nuts."Two more:
He said he had transcripts of some of Mr. Sahl's early shows and was amazed by them. But then he lost interest. Mr. Sahl, he said, became too close to the Kennedy family and was "a savage name-dropper." Mr. Miller added, "It always reminded me to watch myself."***
Margaret Cho on the "Magical Night with MoveOn.org."
"The Belgian High Court threw out a war crimes complaint Wednesday against retired U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks, backing a lower court ruling that Belgium had no jurisdiction in the case against the commander of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq," Constant Brand of the AP writes.
Perhaps hypocritical and self-serving triumphalism about a presidential candidate and making fun of a deposed dictator who, despite what the parody suggests, was nowhere near having nuclear weapons, is just more fun than dealing with a destructive and power-hungry president. Why engage in actual criticism when you can suck up to power? 6:12 p.m. 01/15/04