micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Bush says he is an idiot and links and things

I didn't go with this yesterday because I thought it was something of a cheap shot but fuck it...

On Monday American Lord and Savior George C.W. Bush said, "September the 11th... changed how I viewed the world. September the 11th made me realize that America was no longer protected by oceans."

If Bush is being honest here, and I doubt he is, what he is effectively saying is that he was completely oblivious to the fact that there were a number of people who might want to attack the U.S. of A. before September 11, 2001 and that they could do so with a fair amount of ease. (If anything the attacks of "September the 11th" were more complex than more deadly attacks involving bombs likely could have been.)

Moreover Bush is saying that he was unaware of the events of December 7, 1941.

[Cue to Bush family living room Kennebunkport, Maine around 1985 where C.W. and H.W. have just finished watching Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda and Akira Kurosawa, 1970) on a Sony VCR]

"Wow what a great story," C.W. says.

H.W. responds, "son, you know..."

"I mean I understand a movie like a Red Dawn [John Milius, 1984] about the Cubans and Sandinistas taking over since they are as dangerous now as that Saddam guy would be if he turned on us or we turned on him," C.W. blurts out. "But Japan? Now why would those electronic geeks who make our VCRs and video games want to attack us?"

H.W. shakes his head while thinking, "good thing I have Jeb."


It is nice to know Bush is keeping us safe from by standing up to Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela. (Here is the transcript of our King's speech.)

In all seriousness, there might be a justifiable argument for isolating Cuba if the U.S. itself had a better bill of health wasn't partners with the governments of China, Colombia, Egypt and Turkey. Bolivia and Venezuela, whatever their faults, would hardly stack up their with Cuba unless the real criteria for exclusion (or, depending on how you want to look at it, inclusion) is not getting in line with what Uncle Sam wants, which of course is the real criteria.

Maybe a good rule of thumb is that when the President of the United States of America talks about human rights in another country, one is advised to always look to independent evidence to substantiate the charges and never believe that the Prez actually gives a shit.


Tom Regan of csmonitor.com looks at Richard Perle and David Frum's new book on Monday as does Jim Lobe in a Inter Press Service column from yesterday.

Go to them for more details on the text; I just want to focus on the fact that the book is entitled An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror. That's right, they are suggesting that "evil" can come to an "end." This is utopianism worthy of Marx and something that I wished I could share on even some small level. But as it is, I can't help but laugh.


Democracy and self-rule in Iraq?


"U.S. military forces in Iraq appear to have violated the laws of war by demolishing the homes of relatives of suspected insurgents or wanted former officals, Human Rights Watch said today," Human Rights Watch writes in a statement from yesterday. "In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch said that at least four house demolitions over the past two months appeared to be for purposes of punishing families of suspected insurgents or compelling their cooperation. Destroying civilian property as a reprisal or deterrent amounts to collective punishment, which is prohibited by the 1949 Geneva Conventions."


Luke Harding of The Guardian writes:

The international news agency Reuters has made a formal complaint to the Pentagon following the "wrongful" arrest and apparent "brutalisation" of three of its staff this month by US troops in Iraq.

"More than 240,000 soldiers and marines are to move into and out of Iraq from now to May, testing the military's ability to handle a major logistical feat while battling the Iraqi insurgency. From remote camps in northern Iraq to the port here, this swapping of forces amounts to the United States military's largest troop rotation since World War II," Eric Schmitt writes in a January 11 New York Times story.


"For me, there is no escaping the fact that the prewar intelligence estimates regarding Iraq's WMD programs—and particularly its nuclear program—were wrong. Iraq was not 4-5 years away from having a nuclear weapon, as I and the rest of the Clinton administration had been led to believe," Kenneth Pollack writes in a Slate dialogue.

In the same exchange, Paul Berman writes:

What was the reason for the war in Iraq? Sept. 11 was the reason. At least to my mind it was. Sept. 11 showed that totalitarianism in its modern Muslim version was not going to stop at slaughtering millions of Muslims, and hundreds of Israelis, and attacking the Indian government, and blowing up American embassies. The totalitarian manias were rising, and the United States itself was now in danger. A lot of people wanted to respond, as any mayor would do, by rounding up a single Bad Guy, Osama.

But Sept. 11 did not come from a single Bad Guy—it was a product of the larger totalitarian wave, and the only proper response was to comprehend the size and depth of that larger wave, and find ways to begin rolling it back, militarily and otherwise—mostly otherwise. To roll it back for our own sake, and everyone else's sake, Muslims' especially. Iraq, with its somewhat antique variation of the Muslim totalitarian idea, was merely a place to begin, after Afghanistan, with its more modern variation.

This argument is problematic even when taken on its own terms is that it suggests doing something, in part, for "the other" while at the same time explicitly stating that so long as "the other" was not a threat to "us" then any damage to "the other" would be something that could be tolerated. In effect, it says that the lives of those in Muslim countries and even Israel are only important to the extent that those lives impact those of us who live in the United States. It thus follows that if doing damage to such people would benefit the people of the U.S., then doing damage to them would be worth it.


Happy Iraq!


"President Bush ordered the Pentagon to explore the possibility of a ground invasion of Iraq well before the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, an official told ABCNEWS, confirming the account former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill gives in his new book," John Cochran ABC News writes. Nothing is mentioned about whether or not this official -"The official, who asked not to be identified, was present in the same National Security Council meetings as O'Neill immediately after Bush's inauguration in January and February of 2001"- said he had been made aware of any evidence that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction or even whether ABC News asked him about this.


Via antiwar.com (as are many of the links I throw out), Linda Diebel of The Toronto Star writes about "Surreal times at the Pentagon" in this December 28 piece:

We never learned the identity of the little boy killed by a 900-kilogram bomb on a Monday afternoon in Baghdad during the "shock-and-awe" stage of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

We knew only that Iraqi civilians scrabbled with bare hands to uncover his body in the devastation and that he was among 14 civilians killed in that particular attack, including a young woman who was carried out in pieces.

At the Pentagon briefing the next day, April 8, Maj.-Gen. Stanley McChrystal was upbeat about the "extraordinary" success of the attack. The four "bunker buster" bombs were intended for Saddam Hussein, who wasn't there.

No matter. The bombs hit their co-ordinates — so, mission accomplished.

The Pentagon even went to the trouble of hooking up two B-1 pilots by phone so they could enthuse about the incredible "adrenaline rush." ...

There was almost a carnival feel to the "embeds" at first. A lone, sombre voice from the U.S. media came from The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson, talking about scenes of civilian carnage on PBS with Charlie Rose.

It was surreal at the Pentagon. And always, from the top, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushed America's new global strategy of pre-emptive strikes and regime change. He was/is, in his own inimitable way, the public face of America at War.

Friday, March 21, two days after President George W. Bush launched "shock-and-awe," Rumsfeld gave his first boffo performance of the war. He talked about the great "humanity" that goes into targeting bombs.

All of column is worth reading.


From the "[e]ither you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" file, Scotsman.com writes:

ALMOST 100 countries have failed to enforce United Nations sanctions against the al-Qaeda terror network and Afghanistan’s ousted Taleban.

Heraldo Munoz, the chairman of the committee overseeing sanctions, called for those countries to be named and shamed into taking steps...

Only 93 countries have submitted reports on measures being taken to implement sanctions - less than half the 191 UN member states, he said.

Mr Munoz said possible reasons for the failure to comply with the requirement to submit reports include lack of political will, "reporting fatigue", lack of resources and technical ability, and problems with national co-ordination.



Interesting report by Ann Scott Tyson of The Christian Science Monitor on attempts to convince Afghans to ally with the U.S.


The email headline for this American Forces Press Service story was "Myers Thanks Mongols for Iraqi Freedom Help."


"North Korean officials told an unofficial U.S. delegation last week that many claims about their nuclear program were exaggerated and that they did not have a nuclear warhead or a program to secretly enrich uranium for such a weapon, said sources familiar with the trip," Barbara Demick of The Los Angeles Times writes.


" President Bush pledged yesterday to help India with its nuclear energy and space technology in return for India's promise to use the assistance for peaceful purposes and to help block the spread of dangerous weapons," writes Peter Slevin in yesterday's Washington Post "A series of reciprocal steps is designed to produce stricter Indian controls over the spread of weapons and technology, in return for expertise and supplies India has long sought from the United States, where a succession of wary U.S. administrations has refused to approve sales."


Matt Drudge has posted a "partial transcript" of comments by celebs at a moveon.org event held in New York City on Monday. Predictably some bloggers have deried these comments as being out of line, but what struck me is how moderate these comments are. Of course my idea of "moderate" would certainly be different if I thought Margaret Cho was "washed up has been comedienne," believed that having "contempt" for Bush made one a "moonbat" and thought of war as a fun activity.

And for those who think someone like Julia Stiles goes too far when she says, "I was afraid that Bill O'Reilly would come and, with a shotgun at my front door and shoot me for being unpatriotic" if she criticized Operation Iraqi Freedom while it was going on, I say just think of it as using exaggeration to get across a point about how certain segments of society saw -some still do see- any criticism of U.S. foreign policy that doesn't advocate the use of more force as treasonous and deserving of punishment. It is a lot like how in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq Team Bush said Saddam could attack the U.S. with biological and/or chemical weapons on any day when what they really meant was that they had not eliminated the possibility that at some point Saddam may have a notion to once again attempt to develop some weapons with which it would be possible for either him or allies that he might develop at some point to attack the U.S.


"The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider whether the government properly withheld names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks," the AP writes.


"The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police may set up roadblocks to collect tips about crimes, rejecting concerns that authorities might use the checkpoints to fish for unrelated suspicious activity," Gina Holland of the AP writes.


Bruce Schneier's January 9 salon.com piece "Homeland insecurity" is very much worth reading as is this MetaFilter post.


Scott McPherson on "Enola Gay, Just War, and Mass Murder." In high school debate and forensics I was often judged by a guy named Scott McPherson, although judging by politics, they are too completely different people.


BBC News writes:

A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans.

Only those authorised to use the internet from home like civil servants, party officials and doctors will be able to do so on a regular phone line.

The bill says the state telephone company Etecsa will use technical means to detect and impede access...

The government says the move is necessary to "regulate dial-up access to internet navigation services, adopting measures that help protect against the taking of passwords, malicious acts, and the fraudulent and unauthorised use of this service".

Yeah that makes sense.


"Many plant and animal species are unlikely to survive climate change. New analyses suggest that 15–37% of a sample of 1,103 land plants and animals would eventually become extinct as a result of climate changes expected by 2050. For some of these species there will no longer be anywhere suitable to live. Others will be unable to reach places where the climate is suitable. A rapid shift to technologies that do not produce greenhouse gases, combined with carbon sequestration, could save 15–20% of species from extinction," says Nature


Michael Hopkin of Nature writes:

Have you ever given a friend part of your dessert just so they will stop bugging you for some? You're not alone - chimpanzees and monkeys share their food with others to avoid hassle too.

The question of why animals give food to others is a tricky one. Previous theories suggested that generous animals might benefit from similar kindness at a later time.

But the no-hassle approach offers a simpler explanation, says Jeffrey Stevens, who carried out the study at the University of Minnesota. Scrounger and donor are both acting in their best interests - the beggar gets food and the other is left in peace...

It is analogous to a parent buying a child a toy just to shut them up, says Stevens. "It's a selfish way to stop the constant pestering," he says...

The harassment theory may explain many examples of human 'generosity', says Stevens. But he remains convinced that we are capable of genuine charity too. "It's a pretty decent analogy," he says, "but I think there's also a desire for us to help those who are less fortunate."

Stupid human.


"may be worse than Sars"


Labor law violations by Wal-Mart really aren't news, except that apparently it is Wal-Mart that has found them.




"America's Christian conservatives... are more American than they are Christian or conservative," says Alan Wolfe in this month's issue of Prospect. Much of the confusion that Wolfe alleviates -although he does not give this explanation- I believe is caused by the perception of "fundamentalist" practitioners of a religion being set apart and not impacted by the current epoch. (In part, if not primarily, this happens because such "fundamentalists" often see themselves in such terms.) Tariq Ali and others have argued that although such a belief is common about Islam that in fact "fundamentalist Islam" is a product of "modernity." (Arguably it is more the product of "postmodernity" but such a description is problematized by the fact that outlook of such practitioners is hardly postmodern. To be more precise, the "fundamentalist Islam" of today holds to a set of beliefs that is not postmodern but rather premodern. At the same time, the ideology of "fundamentalist Islam" is the result of a factors that largely stem from the unipolar world of the current and recent segments of the postmodern period.) Similarly, I would contend, "Christian fundamentalism" in the U.S. is shaped by broader sacred and secular currents as evidenced by the fact that no matter how "fundamentalist" a church is, there is almost certainly another one that would condemn it for not staying true to their preferred interpretation of their preferred translation of the Bible. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that "Christian fundamentalism" in the U.S. has the face of Uncle Sam and that "Americanness" will be at the center of any even moderately popular movement for increasing the influence of Christianity on the U.S.

Speaking of Christian fundamentalism in the Land of the Free, in their little talked about book Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri write, "Christian fundamentalisms in the United States have also continuously been oriented (in different times and different regions more or less overtly) toward a project of white supremacy and racial purity. The new Jerusalem has almost always been imagined as a white and patriarchal Jerusalem."

While Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. has a long history of racism and no doubt still have connections -the Bible arguably justifies slavery so this should come as no surprise- but I think Hardt and Negri go too far. They ignore Christian fundamentalism amongst non-whites -most notably blacks- and discount that, for whatever reason, many of even the "most fundamentalist" of Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. are not explicitly racist and largely seek neither to lessen racism and the effects of racism nor to strengthen racism or the effects of racism.


Leslie Camhi of The Village Voice profiles Saadi Yacef.


increasingly realistic outlook


"Many teen blogs are short-lived experiments. But for a significant number, they become a way of life, a daily record of a community's private thoughts -- a kind of invisible high school that floats above the daily life of teenagers," Emily Nussbaum writes in a fascinating piece from this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Key graf:

For many in the generation that has grown up online, the solution is not to fight this technological loss of privacy, but to give in and embrace it: to stop worrying and learn to love the Web. It's a generational shift that has multiple roots, from Ricki Lake to the memoir boom to the A.A. confessional, not to mention 13 seasons of ''The Real World.'' The teenagers who post journals have (depending on your perspective) a degraded or a relaxed sense of privacy; their experiences may be personal, but there's no shame in sharing. As the reality-television stars put it, exposure may be painful at times, but it's all part of the process of ''putting it out there,'' risking judgment and letting people in. If teen bloggers give something up by sloughing off a self-protective layer, they get something back too -- a new kind of intimacy, a sense that they are known and listened to. This is their life, for anyone to read. As long as their parents don't find out.
Although I don't write much about my personal life anymore, I am once again thinking that perhaps I spend way too much time blogging and that I do so because I tend towards compulsive behavoir and blogging isn't particularly destructive. The "damage" that it does really amounts to the time that I take to blog is time that I potentially could be spending on other things.

The thing about blogging is that the risks involved with it are small but so are the rewards.