Bald Eagle Picture

7.12.2002

11:20 PM
There's lots of buzz at The Corner over Rod Dreher's column on conservatives accepting cultural behaviors associated with liberals.

I have rarely let my politics affect my cultural tastes. If I only listened to "conservative" music, I'd be stuck with Ted Nugent and King's X. (The latter is a great band. While not explicitly conservative did make a beautiful anti-abortion song "Legal Kill" and mentioned how much Jimmy Carter taxed them in "Complain.") If I only read "conservative" books, I'd only be reading Shakespere and ignoring Tom Wolfe, the most innovative conservative writer of the 20th Century.

Good art, music, books, and ideas aren't good because they're conservative, liberal, socialist, or libertarian. They're good because they display Man at his best through melody, poetry, logic, or imagination. They're most in tune with Truth.

But beyond cultural taste, there's appearance. I'm a conservative/classical liberal but I refuse to look like one. I've had my ear pierced for over seven years. The only times I haven't worn it is when I worked for a religious conservative group in Minnesota as a lobbyist, and that was only during work hours. I've also have had a goatee most of the time since college. In fact, I have a funny story to tell about my appearance. In 1994, Bill Clinton came to campaign at my school, UMD. When tickets for the rally were being given to students, I was mistaken by a College Democrat for being a sympathizer. What tipped him off was my shaggy hair and goatee. The only thing missing to make me a true Lefty was a hemp bag and some Birkenstocks.

My appearance gives me a little bit of edge that sets me apart from your typical staight-laced conservative. I think conservatives shouldn't be button holed , so I think my appearance does a little to break down stereotypes. Plus it's a display of individualism, a conservative ideal.

"Birkenstocked Burkeans"

Sean Hackbarth |



8:48 PM
According to the White House, the price of war and increased government spending is a $165 billion deficit. The new number was revised due to a faltering stock market.

"Bush Forecasts 56 Percent Surge in 2002 Deficit"

Sean Hackbarth |



8:41 PM
How preventing CEOs from getting loans from their own companies stops another Enron or WorldCom is beyond me. Sure, it's a nice perk that average people don't get, but CEOs aren't average people, and such a decision should be left to the company's shareholders not Senators like Charles Schumer. Here's why this law would be goofy: if passed, Bill Gates wouldn't be able to get a loan from Microsoft, and he's the biggest shareholder. Other companies have similar situations. Like I said before, this should be up to shareholders and the market can consider it in the company's share price.

Already, politicians are going overboard in trying to do something--anything--to appear to the public they're fighting corporate fraud. Let's first let the investigators and prosecutors do their thing before possible over-regulation is passed. If law enforcement can't convict due to loopholes in current law, then the Congress should go to work. Of course, that's in an ideal world. We live in a world where an election is in the fall, and politicians from both parties want to take the lead on this issue so they can bash their opponents. It's good politics, but not good policy.

"Senate OKs Ban on Executive Loans"

Sean Hackbarth |



8:35 PM
TAM International Correspondent, Eric G. takes off on my brief comments on recent 9.11 books:


At the risk of adding to an already enormous reading list:

W.R. Mead's Special Providence is, in my opinion, the most articulate analysis of how American culture gets translated into foreign policy and how it's received overseas.

How Did This Happen?, put together by the editors of Foreign Affairs, ranges wider in terms of policy analysis. Richard Betts, for example, sets American intelligence successes in counter-terrorism besides the failures. Alan Wolfe, in a piece called "The Home Front," remarks on American pragmatism and, Jerry Falwell's crowd aside, a notable lack of hysteria. Presciently, Michael Mandelbaum describes the policy consequences of Sept. 11 as a sharp focusing of diplomacy, a loosening of restraints on the use of force, calls to tackle the causes of terror, and the urgent removal of certain types of government. Did Saddam get a proof?

The Age of Terror, co-edited by Strobe Talbott, has longer, more ruminative essays about American power and strategy. Two British historians--Paul Kennedy, now at Yale, and Niall Fergusson of Oxford University--play Athenians to the new Rome by turning to the past for lessons. Perhaps the outstanding essay here is from J.L. Gaddis, the dean of American diplomatic historians. He reflects from a height on America's foreign-policy failures in the 1990s and calls on it now to assume its world responsibilities more consistently.

Joseph Nye's The Paradox of American Power is about why an unrivalled military and economic power still needs allies or partners and why, as world leader, America should rely also on soft, persuasive kinds of power: the appeal of its values and culture. Even Nye's multilateralism is tempered, however. Without rebuffing international support, America should be ready to go it alone to protect vital interests or when cooperative solutions become recipes for inaction.

What We Think of America, is in another vein entirely. Ian Jack, editor of a London-based literary quarterly, asked 24 non-American writers across the world to describe what the U.S. means to them. Is America, he asked them, really so disliked? If so, why? You would be wrong to expect a set of anti-American sermonettes. With exceptions, these short pieces express admiration--even love--for Americans and American life. The ifs and buts are for American policies.


All the above books mentioned are in the foreign policy relm. It offers international perspective that Americans (myself included) have lacked for too long. On top of that, I recommend the works of Bernard Lewis.

Add a nifty comment or e-mail me something profound and you too might make it onto The American Mind.

Sean Hackbarth |



7:06 AM
A Washington Post story tried to put ex-Harken Energy director and now President Bush in the same evil light as ex-WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers. Rich Galen stops that in its tracks:

The story points out that Bush got a loan to buy stock in Harken Energy. This used to be considered a good thing, having employees, officers, and directors showing their dedication to their company by actually investing in their company.

But down in the third graf, the usually precise Allen wrote, incorrectly:

"Corporate loans to officers came under scrutiny after WorldCom . . . revealed it had lent nearly $400 million to Bernard J. Ebbers to buy the company's stock when he was chief executive. He resigned in April as the stock price tumbled."

Uh. No. Bernie Ebbers (as detailed in Mullings of May 1, 2002: "Greed") had bought a half billion dollars worth of companies for his own account and had pledged WorldCom stock to the banks as collateral.

When the stock price of WorldCom began to drop, the banks wanted more collateral. To avoid selling his WorldCom shares to cover his loans, or - perish the thought - selling the companies he had purchased, Ebbers convinced WorldCom to lend him $400 million.

In one case director Bush borrowed money from the corporation to invest IN the corporation. In the other case, CEO Ebbers borrowed money from his corporation to buy OTHER corporations - for himself.


"Hark(en)! I Hear the August Story's Roar"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:54 AM
It's amazing to what lengths people will do to come to the U.S. Buying visas from a U.S. embassy working in Qatar let some come here to work and live the American dream, but it's an obvious weak point that could be taken advantage of by terrorists (one of the 70 arrested lived with 9.11 terrorists in Virginia).

"7 in Wisconsin Among those Accused in Qatar Visa Fraud"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:47 AM
Another baseball game went into extra innings at Miller Park last night. Only this time there was actually a winner. Note to Bud Selig and the players: This is how fans want games to end--even All-Star Games.

"Brewers Untied in Extra Innings"

Sean Hackbarth |

7.11.2002

7:06 PM
Joe Morgan calls this year's All-Star Game "the day baseball once again hit the bottom."

"In a Tie, Baseball Loses Again"

Sean Hackbarth |



7:06 PM
Joe Morgan calls this year's All-Star Game "the day baseball once again hit the bottom."

"In a Tie, Baseball Loses Again"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:41 PM
Bud Selig's statement that a baseball team may not meet payroll just smacks of being a diversion to draw attention away from his horrible All-Star decision. Why do I suspect that? Because a baseball executive is already saying it won't happen by July 15 but could happen later in the season.

"Selig Says One Team Might Not Make Payroll"

"Baseball Says all Teams Will Meet July 15 Payroll"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:31 PM
Bud Selig isn't the only one who should be publicly ridiculed over the All-Star tie. Local radio talker Mark Belling is reporting that many players were partying it up at a bar in downtown Milwaukee when Selig made the decision to call the All-Star Game a tie after 11 innings. Now we know what Selig, A.L. manager Joe Torre, and N.L. manager Bob Brenly meant when they said they ran out of players. Barry Bonds was on his way to LA for the Espys, and others decided it was better to leave Miller Park and start celebrating even while the game was going on.

Players' excuses were lame and didn't understand the passion of their fans. LA Dodger Shawn Green said, "At that point, you couldn't really go on. This is an exhibition, and we were out of players."

Shawn Green is just wrong. The All-Star Game isn't a mere exhibition game. Exhibition games don't mean anything. An exhibition game is where the Chicago White Sox came into Miller Park last year to give stadium people a dry run at the new stadium before the regular season began. An exhibition game is the annual game in Cooperstown celebrating the newest entrants into the Hall of Fame.

The All-Star Game is more than that. It's a celebration of a great sport's players and history. While way too sentimental (all the kids running around the field was sickly sweet), the pre-game was just such a celebration.

If the All-Star Game is only an exhibition game as Green claims, then why were fans charged $175 per person for a package that included tickets to the Futures game, Home Run Derby, and the game itself. Fans who paid that much (and even more through ticket brokers) didn't think it was just an exhibition game. The only people who think it wasn't a special game are Bud Selig and myopic players.

How can anyone top The Washington Post's Tom Boswell? His opening paragraph is accurate and heartbreaking:

There should be a sign here outside Miller Park that reads: "Game called on account of incompetence and indifference."


Boswell has lost any faith in Selig as commissioner:

There are men who are suited to their period and rise to the occasion. And there are other men, no better or worse on the whole, who are painfully ill-suited to their times and the problems they face.

Selig is the latter. Anybody who can't see that, after the 11th inning on Tuesday night, just isn't paying attention.


Boswell also writes that Selig refused to stand up to the players and side with the fans who are the reason everyone was there:

Baseball acted just as it so often does. The managers were scared of their players. Oh, what if somebody gets a sore arm, what if some other manager gets mad at me. The commissioner was petrified to act like a leader and say, "Play one more inning, damn it, so we have time to prepare the crowd for what's going to happen."

Without the time to make 30 phone calls to reach a consensus, Selig was frozen. Oh, what will Don Fehr say if one of his precious dues-payers files a grievance because he got back to the hotel too late to order room service?


But Boswell hopes that good could from this disaster:

Actually, the farcical ending was so bad that it may actually bring some good. Every player and every owner heard those angry chants. The Brewers crowd usually only gets annoyed if the beer is warm or the bratwurst is cold.

Perhaps players (though it's a lot to hope) will think, "We owe the sport more than we're giving back. How can we demand respect if we don't respect the game itself?"


"Baseball's Tie That Binds"

"As Baseball's Leader, The Commissioner Strikes Out Again"

Sean Hackbarth |



4:55 PM
Here are few points I'm adding to Mike's thoughts on Bush and Harken:

Bush was so sure of his innocence that he waived attorney-client privilege and let the SEC talk to his lawyers. Unlike WorldCom's Bernie Egger's who took the Fifth before a Congressional committee, Bush held his hands up and said, "Take a look. I've got nothing to hide."

Harken bought Bush's Spectrum 7 but didn't think Bush was important enough to join their management. They put him on the company board and hired him as a consultant because of his name and connections. Bush wasn't on the company board's executive committee so he had limited knowledge of Harken's financials.

Mike also mentions the importance of intent:

That's important because Bush's knowledge and intent are important elements of any "insider trading" allegations. If he didn't know about the bulk of the losses, and cleared the stock sale through the lawyers first, then there's no way he could have had the evil intent his critics claim he had.


From Byron York's story, Bush sold the stock because he needed money to help buy the Texas Rangers. It was an asset available to Bush and he sold it. Unless sinister evidence appears, this seems to be the most reasonable explanation.

"The Facts About Bush and Harken"

Sean Hackbarth |



2:55 AM
Take this anti-traders: globalization is good for the poor.

"Globalization Cures Poverty: Study"

Sean Hackbarth |



2:40 AM
Steve Chapman points out that maybe new legislation isn't the best answer to corporate irresponsibility. After noting that there are already 300 federal laws dealing with stock fraud, he asks, "Does [Sen.] Leahy really think there's some new form of misbehavior that we've never bothered to outlaw?" Chapman looks to current law as well as market reforms to prevent future scandals.

"Real and Phony Remedies for Corporate Corruption"

Sean Hackbarth |



2:07 AM
After listening to "Destiny" over and over because it's so gorgeous, I figured Zero 7's Simple Things would be a good album, but I had no idea it's as good as Bill Aicher claims:

It's an album of lust, spirituality, and empowerment; and it's an album which will undoubtedly increase the world's population as a result of its mere existence.

"Musical Sexplorations"

Sean Hackbarth |



1:41 AM
I'm glad to know Amnesty International is finally focusing on Palestinian murders instead of Israeli forces intent of stopping future attacks. Better late than never.

"Amnesty Raps Palestinian Attacks on Israelis"

Sean Hackbarth |

7.10.2002

4:09 AM
Maybe Milwaukee baseball is jinxed. The Brewers have been mediocre for almost twenty years. Their new stadium barely got through the state legislature and badly divided the community. Construction was set back a year after a crane fell on it killing three workers. The stadium governing board is arguing with the contractor of the retractable roof over cost overruns. The roof makes strange noises when it opens and closes (it looks like the problems were fixed during the All Star events, since I've heard no mention of roof problems) and leaks when it rains. Now, after a delightful few days where Milwaukee became the center of the baseball universe, it had to be marred with Commission Bud Selig's horrible decision to end last night's All Star game as a tie. Until that fateful decision, the game was full of great catches, outstanding hits, and wicked pitches. It was a great game befitting a great stadium and a great host city. Now, no one will remember Tori Hunter's leaping catch, or Barry Bonds' home run, or Damian Miller's two doubles. Milwaukee's All Star Game is tagged with being a tie--the only other being caused by rain in 1961.

Sure, all the pitchers were used up and no one wanted anyone to get hurt, but no effort was made to end the game with a winner. Neither American League manager Joe Torre nor National League manager Bob Brenly put a position player on the mound to give fans a real ending to the game. Instead, Bud Selig decides that enough was enough and the game would be over after the 11th inning.

Selig's explanation is "Given the health of the players, I had no choice." None of those pitchers could warm up again and go another inning? In this day of sports science and training, the modern pitcher isn't capable of going an extra inning? Old school pitchers like Milwaukee Brave Warren Spahn and St. Louis Cardinal Bob Gibson could have done it. If not a pitcher, then a position player should have stepped to the mound to continue the game. All those players are good athletes. Many of them even pitched in high school or college. After all the pitchers were used, the fans wouldn't have expected great pitching if someone came out from left field to pitch. What they would have gotten was a memorable ending to a memorable game.

Doesn't Selig get that baseball is at a precipice? Doesn't he understand that with a threatened players' strike, steroid allegations, and continued disparities between large and small market teams, that fans are tired of being given short shrift? Selig decided that 11 innings were just fine for an All Star game. He didn't think it was important to give the fans a winner.

People like Brewer great Robin Yount can comfort Selig by thinking that people will understand his decision in time, but they don't put this snub in perspective. The All Star Game isn't about player accolades. It isn't about showing off a city to the rest of the country. The All Star Game is a treat for the fans. It's the one opportunity of the year to have the game's best players all in one spot. It wouldn't be much for a player to take a small risk and give the fans a winner.

Selig talks about being in the middle of a baseball renaissance, and for a brief time in 1998, America was transfixed with the Boys of Summer. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were spectacular in their chance of Roger Marris' home run record. The Yankees awed us with their record-breaking season. Baseball could have taken advantage of their new found fan devotion, but they didn't. Serious structural problems still plague the game and owners and the players' union don't seem to understand that it needs to be fixed in order to save the game.

Sports reporters like CNNSI's John Donovan can piously say that "It's not really a game. It's a show. Nobody cares about winning." It's easy for him to say because he's probably seen plenty of All Star Games in person. It's old hat to him. But tell that to the guy (or gal) who's been a Brewers season ticket holder for years, spent a lot of money on All Star tickets, and wanted to enjoy the Midsummer Classic. That person understandably feels robbed. That doesn't justify the actions of the morons who threw things onto the field, but I understand their anger. Baseball has stuck knife after knife into the backs of its fans and always assumed they'd come back. Sometime it will stab them and the fans will just (figuratively) die.

Look at soccer. Many critics, me included, don't like watching the sport. But the recent interest in the World Cup in the U.S. (even when the games were shown in the middle of the night or early morning) should worry Baseball. People have sports entertainment options. They don't want to be played for fools, and ending the All Star Game in a tie was another instance of baseball playing fans for fools.

Baseball doesn't have a monopoly on summer sports. Everyone involved in baseball better understand this and get serious or baseball will cease to be America's Pastime.

"Fit to Be Tied"

"Selig Makes a Difficult Call"

"Yount Feels Selig's Pain"

"All-Star Game Ends in 7-7 Tie"

"No Winner or Loser at All-Star Game"

Sean Hackbarth |

7.9.2002

1:41 PM
I don't see much for Najeh Davenport's Packer career if it isn't even his first training camp and he's already in trouble with the law.

"Packers Fullback Charged with Burglary in Miami" [via Drudge]

Sean Hackbarth |



1:08 PM
EBay will buy PayPal. As a business strategy it makes sense. EBay now can cover more aspects of the online auction process. Buyers and sellers can post, bid, and pay through only one person. It should streamline efforts of major sellers while making it easier for new buyers.

The purchase may cause fear in some EBay users. They may feel that since EBay now has PayPal and will eliminate their Billpoint payment system, that choice will be strangled. I don't think average buyers and sellers will be worried. EBay's biggest clients will make the loudest complaints. Then there's Evan who worries about PayPal reducing its innovation. All EBay has to do to avoid ill will is to reassure people that other online payment systems can still be used. Such openness is an EBay strength.

What I noticed from EBay's purchase is it's following Amazon who has an internal payment system that customers use for auctions, used products, and non-Amazon payments (those begging boxes on many weblogs). Unless Buy.com starts making some inroads on Amazon's new products turf (and their current price war could do some damage) I see online consumer commerce becoming a war between Amazon and EBay. While each company does have their own niches--Amazon sells mostly new stuff, while EBay dominates the used market--each is moving into the other's turf. The quest for growth will continue to push these companies.

"EBay Pays for PayPal"

"EBay To Buy PayPalFor $1.5B"

"S&P Upgrades eBay and PayPal on $1.5 Billion Stock Deal"

Sean Hackbarth |

7.7.2002

2:30 PM
I've thought about doing a little compare/constrast among the recent books responding to 9.11. I've consumed Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About America (outstanding) and Bill Bennett's Why We Fight has been tempting me. Maybe after I'm done with Michael Novak's The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. After reading Michael Lind's review, I'll avoid Roger Rosenblatt's Where We Stand: 30 Reasons for Loving Our Country. The book is filled with "conventional liberal opinions," not much more than Rosenblatt's bland PBS commentaries.

Lind ends up prefering D'Souza over Bennett because of the latter's religiosity. For Lind, that doesn't lend well to persuading centrists and progressives--a vital point in Lind's opinion.

D'Souza wrote a smart polemic that transcends the events surrounding 9.11. The ideas D'Souza takes on are the same ones that have opposed Americanism. Islamic fundamentalism, the Left, and conservative pessimists all are wary of the vibrant, dynamic, optimistic nature of America. Decadence, selfishness, and change happen here faster and with more intensity than anywhere else on earth. But what American freedom also allows is people to live their lives without too much outside interference. If one wants to live as a fundamentalist Christian conservative, he can. A whole parallel culture has arisen to satisfy those desires. If one wants to live a life of sexual and hedonistic abandon, there are the S&M freaks in many cities. The loss of control and the exposure to different ways of life may be what really disturbs America's critics.

"Three Patriotic Sages Respond to a Defining Moment"

Sean Hackbarth |

ABOUT
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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