Bald Eagle Picture

6.15.2002

3:31 AM
AlGore may be a green, egghead, liberal weenie, but he's not a terrorist threat. A constitutional threat, but not a terrorist threat. But that didn't matter to security people who gave AlGore the special treatment twice. The biggest threat from AlGore on an airplane is boring passengers to death by yapping about the environment, and how he got more votes than the guy sitting in the White House.

"Ex-VP No Airport VIP"

Sean Hackbarth |



3:13 AM
Ronald Pestritto uses Flag Day to wonder if both liberals and conservatives want to fight for America's founding principles.

Liberals have for decades advocated ? and largely consummated ? a rejection of the limited government of the founding in favor of a modern welfare state. Starting about 100 years ago, Progressives like Woodrow Wilson decided that the Declaration and Constitution were "out of date," and inaugurated the idea of a constantly evolving, unlimited government. This makes it all the more ironic that it was Wilson who formally established Flag Day ? since he mocked what he called the "blind worship" of the founding and complained that "some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence."

Likewise, today's conservatives have cause to question how they have acquitted themselves ? perhaps even more than liberals, since conservatives are supposedly dedicated to "conserving" America's principles. Prominent conservative leaders today have essentially abandoned the aims of their counterparts in the 1980s and early 1990s to scale back the modern state. Gone is talk of eliminating those portions of the federal bureaucracy created to implement the failed policies of 1960s and 1970s liberalism. Instead, Republicans today help push through historic increases in funding for the Department of Education.

Even the current strategies in the war on terrorism, unfortunately, make one wonder whether the government is more interested in curtailing the rights of its own citizens or in taking the fight abroad, to those regimes that hate us and sponsor those attacking us. Our conservative administration makes plans for a new federal bureaucracy of "homeland security," while it shies away from making real war on terrorist regimes out of fear of offending our "friends" in the Arab world and the quasi-socialist governments in Europe.

Throughout our history, brave Americans in both the military and in politics have fought mightily to prove themselves worthy of Washington, the men he addressed, and the principles for which they battled. Let this Flag Day be a spark for those of us in the 21st century to continue in that noble tradition.

"What Does the Flag Stand For?"

Sean Hackbarth |

6.14.2002

1:19 AM
Today is Flag Day. Don't be bashful. Wave that flag with pride.



I'm happy to know that this tradition started in my fine state of Wisconsin.

Sean Hackbarth |

6.13.2002

11:13 PM
Hooray, there's something worth reading on Salon.com.

Stan Liebowitz, Microsoft defender, looked into file sharing. Intuitively, he thought the music companies should be hurting from lost sales. The numbers haven't panned out, so the University of Texas at Dallas economist is re-thinking his assumptions.

I try to let data tell me what's actually happening in the world. And when the theory says one thing and things don't work that way, then I say something's missing in the theory. A priori, I had a belief that [file sharing] was different and it was likely to cause real harm. That's what the Cato piece was about.

But if a year from now, when the economy picks up, we still don't see a decline of 15 to 20 percent at least, then file sharing is having a very small impact, considering how massive the downloading is. It's not that say, 10 percent of record sales is a trivial amount of money, but it's not going to be the death of the record industry.

Leibowitz sees a future where people legally and easily get their music online. It may take upwards to a decade because of micropayment problems and conflicts with brick-and-mortar retail outlets. A problem I see with downloading music is broadband access. Until more people have a wide data pipe running into their computer, music downloading will remain the passtime of college students and workers with kind (or blind) bosses.

"File Sharing: Innocent Until Proven Guilty" [via InstaPundit]

Sean Hackbarth |



5:01 PM
Which has a better chance of becoming law in Cuba: the Varela Project which supports a referendum calling for civil liberties or Castro's constitutional amendment calling Communism "untouchable"?

"Castro Calls on Cubans to Back Single Party State" [via Popshot]

Sean Hackbarth |



3:34 PM
I re-read the story on White House damage for my own clarification. It doesn't specify which keyboards needed to be replaced. Thanks to those of you who pointed out security concerns and added expenses to these keyboards. If they were from computers used for secretive government work, then a more expensive and secure keyboard would be in order. But I don't think that all those replaced keyboards were from computers that processed classified information. What I think happened is the media/policy people rather than the military/intelligence/diplomatic people were the jerks who did the damage. Given the mess in Florida after Election Day, they would be the ones with an ax to grind.

J. Kerner is correct to bring the focus back onto the culprits. He writes, "The GAO should round up ALL of the former employees and require that they ante-up for the costs involved." I say take them to People's Court.

For any of you interested here's the Complete, Unofficial Tempest Information Page.

Sean Hackbarth |



3:12 PM
Welcome to new readers who discovered this little weblog via OpinionJournal's Best of the Web. Kudos go out to James Taranto for the link. Now, if I can get Citizens Against Government Waste to issue that press release.

Sean Hackbarth |

6.12.2002

12:10 AM
I still have no answer to what good a byline strike is. Louis Menand notes that Washington Post reporters have tried this before with no success. What a byline does--besides stoke one's ego--is "They tell you that a person--not a committee or an institution--produced the words you are about to read, and is prepared to stand behind them." I'm sure Post management quaked when they were told about the strike.

Last week, Post Watch linked to a few stories about past byline strikes.

"Says Who?" [via Media News]

Sean Hackbarth |

6.11.2002

7:59 PM
Paul Krugman accepts the Clintonian spin that they really cared about the country. Or as he puts it, "the Clintonites really, truly believed they were doing the right thing." That was why Clinton supported NAFTA and the Mexican bailout. Krugman doesn't mention the item that will forever be associated with Bill Clinton's Presidency: impeachment. Does Krugman actually think that Clinton's lies to a grand jury and the public was his way of "doing the right thing?" Isn't it more likely to admit that Bill has such a huge ego and a huge appetite for vice that there was no way he would allow his opponents to drive him out of office. I wouldn't really want Krugman to answer that; he's just an economist.

"The Rove Doctrine"

Sean Hackbarth |



3:45 PM
Both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Washington Post want "dirtybomber" Jose Padilla to have access to a lawyer and put on trial in a civilian court. Let's suppose these editorial boards had their way and Padilla got his trial. Then suppose Padilla was found not guilty and released. Then suppose Padilla carried out his dirty nuke attack. After the death and panic would these papers print an editorial apologizing to the American people for sacrificing American lives to preserve Padilla's civil rights?

I'm not advocating giving the government a free pass to hold anyone they suspect of being a terrorist. Oversight must be a priority to prevent abuse. However, the criminal justice system may not be the best way to protect American from terrorists.

"The Dirty Bomb Plot"

"Detaining Americans"

Sean Hackbarth |



3:18 PM
Paul Wolfowitz had some fine remarks at the ceremony celebrating the rebuilt portion of the Pentagon destroyed on 9.11:


Wisdom, strength, endurance, freedom, those are qualities that do define America, qualities we see across America every day, qualities we see in you, the workers in hard hats and boots, armed with hammers and saws. With your hearts and your hands, you have rebuilt this symbol of American values and strength stone by stone, and we thank you.

You, our builders, adopted that battle cry that Todd Beamer led the passengers on that flight over Pennsylvania. "Let's roll" is what he said, and "Let's roll" is what you said. And that's exactly what you've done. You've healed this wall, and in doing so, you are helping to heal our nation.

...

And because we are Americans, because of what we stand for -- our enduring values; our right to govern ourselves, to live in safety and security, to enjoy peace and prosperity, justice and freedom; to find and worship God in our own way -- all of those things that define who we are and what we stand for -- because of them, we will not only rebuild, but we will be better than we were before. That is also what America means. It is home to unfounded -- unbounded optimism and pride in what we can accomplish together.


Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Remarks at Dedication Capsule Ceremony

"'Dedication Capsule' Installed Behind Rebuilt Pentagon Facade"

Sean Hackbarth |



3:06 PM
Eugene Volokh provides [via InstaPundit] some needed legal perspective on how to deal with citizen terrorists. Mark Belling, a Milwaukee talk radio host, is on record as saying that citizens will have to give up some rights to be better protected from terrorists. Potential abuse could happen by giving the government and the military a free pass when it comes to incarcerating citizen terrorist suspects. Volokh does seem too worried because of American tradition against "greater use of military justice against civilians." During WWII, the public endured food and fuel rations. The war ended and those economic controls were removed. A similar pattern could happen with this war.

If we know when the Islamist War has been won, then I would know when the use of military justice could contract. Unfortunately, President Bush hasn't said what victory is. Is it when bid Laden is captured or killed? Is it when Iraq is liberated? Is it when Islamism is ended as the state religion in Saudi Arabia? Donald Rumsfeld has said again and again that the Islamist War is a "different kind of war," but is this war so different that we won't know when we've won? Once victory is known and achieved then we can try to a state of normalcy. Not complacency mind you, but a state where extraordinary state powers would not be the norm.

Sean Hackbarth |



2:49 PM
The effects from a "dirty nuke" would be far more psychological than anything. If such a weapon exploded on Wall Street, it would close down those markets for months. The financial world would grind to a halt until the physical markets could set up operations elsewhere. NASDAQ wouldn't be harmed as much since it's an electronic marketplace. If terrorists wanted to shut down the U.S. bond market, a dirty nuke in downtown Chicago would certainly do the trick.

"Panic, Economic Turmoil Would Be Fallout from 'Dirty Bomb' Attack"

[UPDATE: Iain Murray writes that the economic effects from a dirty nuke outweigh the number of possible casualties. He calls a dirty nuke a "paper tiger."]

Sean Hackbarth |



2:29 PM
$4850 isn't a lot of money when it comes to the multi-trillion dollar budget of the federal government, but when wasteful spending happens it should be pointed out. The Bush White House spend almost 5-grand to replace 62 keyboards damaged by outgoing Clinton staffers. That comes out to $78 per keyboard. After a quick price check at Price Watch, I've determined that either the White House spent way too much for keyboards or went on a spending spree and got fancy wireless keyboards. The Microsoft ergonomic model is going for less than half what the feds paid. I even found keyboards going for $12. This detail is just begging for a Citizens Against Government Waste press release.

"Vandalism Suspected at White House" [via C-Log]

Sean Hackbarth |



2:09 PM
Jon at C-Log replied to an e-mail/post I sent him about his gripe with Tivo. (I won't get on him too much for misspelling my name--I'm always glad for a link.) I'm not as concerned as Jon about ads sent to my Tivo. Jon worries that the company's business plan will end up "where one has to pay extra to great rid of the annoying ads."

Two comments:

  1. That ads aren't really annoying. They appear as options to watch on Tivo's menu. You're not forced to watch them. You can ignore them with no fuss to your Tivo use.

  2. The days of free media are over. They died with the bursting of the Internet advertising bubble. When media is digitized people have tremendous control over those bits. Favored bits can be raised to the surface of one's attention while other bits can be filtered away. Spam filters are primitive, but they keep some of junk e-mail out of our in-boxes. Software programs can stop banner and pop-up ads from appearing in our browser. Web filtering software is designed to allow access to some web sites while locking out others. The fast forward button on Tivos and Replay TVs can be grouped into these filtering technologies. Since people can now avoid advertising, companies will be less inclined to buy ads. In order to pay for new programming, media companies will have to make up the revenue by charging viewers. Web sites like Salon.com already have been forced to go to a subscription model for premium content to try to break even. With the continued ability of individuals to package digital content to their lifestyles, I expect to see formerly free content to become pay-per-view. We should get ready for this new era in media. Pay-per-view certainly looks to be inevitable.



Sean Hackbarth |



1:34 PM
The Heritage Foundation's initial view of the President's proposed Department of Homeland Security is positive. Michael Scardaville writes that the new department "should result in new efficiencies, not new bureaucracy." His concerns are with the new department not sharing needed security information with other agencies a la the FBI and CIA and with the 88 Congressional committees and subcommittees that would have jurisdiction over the new department.

"The President's Proposal to Create a Department of Homeland Security: An Initial Assessment"

Sean Hackbarth |



1:45 AM
The Yahoo beta cleans up a lot of the clutter that's grown on the current version. Most importantly, search has its priority near the top of the page. The icons along the top remain so there's easy access to e-mail, My Yahoo, and stock quotes. There's nothing revolutionary here, which is good. Yahoo's popularity and growth stem from its ease of use. This beta continues that pattern.

Sean Hackbarth |



12:17 AM
Jon Garthwaite has a Tivo (good for him) and is complaining about some Sheryl Crow and feng shui videos. He's ticked that he's forced to watch them and can't delete them. As a fellow Tivo owner, I saw those videos, but I wasn't forced to watch them. I took a few seconds to see if they were interesting. They weren't, so I watched something else. Jon, no one's forcing you to watch that stuff. Relax. Tivo's just trying to find some way to make money. If they can't do it, we might have to go back to the television Stone Age where we had to program our VCRs.

Sean Hackbarth |

6.10.2002

11:45 PM
In an interview, Professor Thomas DiLorenzo, author of The Real Lincoln says that the Civil War was fought over economic interests. The North favored tariffs and government-funded improvements from those duties. While DiLorenzo briefly mentions Lincoln's view of slaves, he doesn't say anything about the peculiar institution as a cause of the war. In fact, the man who became the first Vice-President of the Confederacy gave a speech saying that slavery was the reason the South seceded in the first place. Granted, the causes of the Civil War were complex. Moral issues coincided with economic and constitutional issues to tear the nation apart. Neglecting to give serious attention to slavery in an analysis of the Civil War is ahistorical. If slavery had little to do with the Civil War, then we should consider the chances of a split in the Union if the South didn't allow slavery. I think it would be very difficult to assume that regional tensions would have still boiled over.

What I see in ignoring slavery is a minimization of the human rights issue and a maximization of the property rights/states rights issues. This paleo/pro-South sect of the libertarian movement leaves a blemish on the movement as a whole.

"Confronting the Lincoln Cult"

Sean Hackbarth |

6.9.2002

11:02 PM
Orrin links to an article by James Ostrowski attacking the moral claims for fighting the Civil War. Ostrowski doesn't have a knee-jerk defense of the South like some paleolibertarians seem to have. He does write that "force may be rightly used to end slavery--after all other means for ending slavery have failed." He then writes,"force must be strictly limited to accomplishing that end and must not violate the rights of third parties by means of taxation, conscription or mass murder" (emphasis mine). Mass murder? Admittedly, I'm a casual Civil War buff (Gettysburg was just a gorgeous movie) so I may not be familiar with mass murder committed by Union forces. Sure, thousands--both soldiers and civilians-- died and were injured. Land and property were destroyed, but where were the acts of mass murder? Ostrowski doesn't offer any details. The closest I can think of a war crime occurring during the war was inhumane treatment of Union soldiers at the Confederate prison camp, Andersonville. Maybe he considers unjust (in his opinion) wars to be equal to murder?

Ostrowski continues his attack on the Union complaining about "taxation, inflation, conscription, confiscation, destruction and the mass killing of non-slave holders." Once again he mentions "mass killing." with no detail. But regardless of that, Ostrowski is living in a utopian fantasy if he thinks the Civil War could have been fought without taxes, destruction, or conscription. Taxes were needed to fund war efforts. When taxes couldn't be raised fast enough, the government started up the printing presses with the result being inflation Ostrowski complains about. Destruction and death are inevitable in war; that's its very nature. It isn't pretty, but it's reality. Now, conscription I would argue is form of slavery. Forcing men to offer their very lives against their will violates the inherent right to ones own life. That the North used such a method is hypocritical, but the South also employed conscription. Ostrowski doesn't mention that.

Why many libertarians sympathize so much with the slave-holding South has always perplexed me. My best theory is that they see the conflict as a battle of two evils. Between an anti-tariff, slave-holding South that endorsed the right of secession and an economic Hamiltonian, abolitionist North with a leader who desired to preserve the Union at all costs, they chose the South. To feel better about their choice pro-South libertarians amplify every aspect of Northern tyranny while minimizing the South's greatest sin--a sin which was the reason the South seceded in the first place.

"Civil (Libertarian) War?"

Sean Hackbarth |

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When I'm not pondering the fate of the universe, I'm reading, writing, or selling books. Here you'll find comments on politics, culture, books, and music. Not necessarily in that order.

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