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 07, 2004

The issue of the intelligence of supporters of the "war on terror," as opposed to the intelligence of American Lord and Savior George W. Bush, has become something of a hot topic.

In Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer Neil Starkman argues that stupidity on the part of large swaths of the public is responsible for Bush's popularity:

The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.

You know these people; they're all around you (they're not you, else you would not be reading this article this far). They're the ones who keep the puerile shows on TV, who appear as regular recipients of the Darwin Awards, who raise our insurance rates by doing dumb things, who generally make life much more miserable for all of us than it ought to be. Sad to say, they comprise a substantial minority -- perhaps even a majority -- of the populace.

Politicians have been aware of this forever; they cater to these people. They offer simplistic solutions to complex problems. They evade directed questions with non-sequiturs. They offer meaningless, jingoistic pap instead of thoughtful policy. And these people, the "S" people, eat it all up with a ladle.

Jeffrey A. Tucker charts a similar course in lewrockwell.com piece published yesterday entitled "Stupid Vogue."

In this month's issue of Reason Brendan O’Neill asserts that beneath much of liberal and leftist complaints about the dishonesty of the international War Party "suggest a disregard for the public" because members of the public are capable of making up their own minds and that these complaints also to an attempt by liberals and leftists to absolve themselves of failing to successfully counter pro-invasion propaganda. "[T]he influence of propaganda is determined by the broader political climate and by the general level of public debate," O'Neill writes. "If those who are anti-war spent less time wringing their hands over Big Bad Bush and the fickle people, and more time developing a coherent case against war, then maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. Surely the pro-war lobby is best challenged by being shouted at, rather than shouted about."

O'Neill's piece, which is partially a review of Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq (Tarcher/Penguin, 2003), is best understood as a continuation his argument that anti-war forces are far too impoverished of politics and as result the pro-war argument appears stronger than it would otherwise. There is plenty of merit to this argument so far as it goes, and O'Neill has regularly pointed out the problematic politics of those who are subjectively anti-war, but all of this leaves out the issue of analyzing how the recent past happened. The arguments of Team Bush for either some aspect of the "war on terror" or the "war on terror" in totality take place during a time "when," O'Neill correctly writes, "serious political debate is hard to find." Understanding how they responded to such a situation is essential to understanding how they were able to successfully promote the "war on terror" and get away with their many absurd statements.

The response of antiwar.com's Matthew Barganier showcases another problem with O'Neill's argument:

What does one say, what can one say, to the kick-ass jingo (even one with gobs of raw intelligence) who cannot locate the countries he/she wants bombed? How much can one do in a 1,000-word essay to change that person's mind? Won't he/she be much more likely to accept Pentagon/Fox music videos that reinforce his/her gut beliefs? I've had friends and family members--ones who can find the countries they want annihilated-- compliment me on my work, tell me how it made them think, then go right back to gushing over George Bush and Bill O'Reilly. Sometimes tossing one's hands up and laughing is the only option.
Sometimes it seems like it is the only option.

The public" may or may not be stupid but that the Bush Administration certainly talks to them like they are. From “the terrorists” to the “threats” that come in and out of existence based solely on the rhetorical needs of the Bush Administration, they play the public for saps who lack even the most basic training in logic.

By not responding negatively to these claims the public effectively says they don't mind being talked to like they are idiots, either because they don't care or don't realize it. Either way is disturbing. I certainly don’t think every supporter of Team Bush or the “war on terror” is stupid –there are reasons to logically support Bush and friends that range greatly in validity- but I must admit to not understanding how any intelligent person who cared about the foreign policy of the U.S. would not be disturbed by the mendaciousness of the Bush Administration in this area.

I suspect that the Bush Administration fully knows how idiotic they sound. Recently C-SPAN ran an interview with Team Bush Shill Scott McClellan that was conducted on December 23. As I flipped to the program I heard McClellan talking about how it was important to "uphold the dignity" of the White House. It sounded good but a bit strange till I realized he was talking about the need to dress up at the White House, except for on weekends when things could be a bit more casual McClellan was quick to clarify.

What the fuck is the message here? "The Bush Administration is dignified because of the clothes we wear on days that The Wall Street Journal is not published on. Please ignore our lack of honesty when it comes to reasons to go and kill non-Americans"? They have to know how idiotic stuff like this sounds to anybody who is critically thinking about what is said. But perhaps the key there is that only those who are applying a bit a thought and not simply soaking in all that they hear will realize the disgusting nature of these comments.

My theory is that most of those with flags on their SUVs and foreheads don’t really care what the reason for the war is. They just want the thrill of rooting for their “team.” Tell them what the reason is and they will accept it, not because it makes sense but because they were told it was the reason to go bomb some undesirables.


One more thing that needs to be considered is that the media doesn’t do anything even close to what could be called a good job of keeping the Bush Administration honest. Most of the questions they ask of officials are softballs. When one of them does have enough nerve to ask a real question, they rarely respond to the official’s non-answer or nonsensical answer with a statement on the problems with that response. Occasionally, however, that does happen but it doesn’t matter since hardly anyone will report on the exchange and not enough read transcripts or watch C-SPAN. It certainly won’t be the lead story on ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC MSNBC, NBC or PBS.

While it would be nice to see that, I have doubts about whether it would make much difference. I suspect that too many people in the public would just respond, “hey you leave Rummy alone. He is working hard to defend America. You and your thinking should just shut up!”

And, given their track record, the mainstream media would probably do a poor job of holding Team Bush’s feet to the fire if they even tried. Some examples…

-Albert Eisele and Jeff Defour report in today's edition of The Hill that it looks Donald Rumsfeld turned down Time magazine's offer for him to be the "person of the year." Since Time isn't likely to ever give the honor to a "bad guy" again -Osama didn't get in 2001- one can only conclude that the editors think highly of Rumsfeld.

-In an AP story from Yesterday Mohammed Daraghmeh writes:

Palestinian aid groups have refused to accept money from the U.S. government because of a requirement they sign a pledge the money would not be used for terrorism, organizers said Monday.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has given Palestinian groups $1.3 billion in the past decade and is a key source of funding for the cash-strapped organizations.

But USAID enacted the anti-terrorism pledge requirement at the end of 2002 for new grants given worldwide.

Specifically, USAID demanded that groups worldwide sign a document pledging not to ``provide material support or resources to any individual or entity that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in or has engaged in terrorist activity.''

As a general rule writers should refrain from using the fourth paragraph of a piece to contradict a statement a statement they made in the first.

-Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times writes:

Americans are as deeply divided over party, ideology and values as they are over the legitimacy of the presidency of George W. Bush, a new poll shows.

The splits are so profound that Mr. Bush and his Democratic challenger might as well be campaigning in two different, but parallel, worlds, said John Zogby, who conducted the survey for the O'Leary Report, published by political analyst Bradley S. O'Leary...

The results highlight the division of views between the 30 so-called "red states" won by Mr. Bush in 2000 and the "blue states" (20 states and the District) carried by Democrat Al Gore.

The views in the red states and blue states are so divergent that they can be considered as two nations, Mr. O'Leary said at yesterday's press briefing with Mr. Zogby.

Mr. O'Leary said the poll revealed the most meaningful divisions emerged not in the usual geographic categories of East, Midwest, West and South familiar to political strategists and the press, but in groupings he called "precincts," where there are concentrations of voters who share the same social and economic interests and the same values.

Maybe the press is stupid as the public.