Bald Eagle Picture


5:21 PM
We're at the point where using the word "Africa" to sell something is consider "insensitive." No one is saying it's wrong; it's just insensitive. The McAfrika hamburger is a marketing failure not because of the complaints from the P.C. crowd. It doesn't work because it's a stupid name. When I think of a hamburger, Africa doesn't pop into my head, even if the burger is served in a pita instead of a bun.

"New from McDonald's: the McAfrika Burger (Don't Tell the 12m Starving)" [via Drudge]

[UPDATE: The McAfrika is probably the talk the blogosphere now since Glenn Reynolds posted on it. He accuses Norweigan whiners of stereotyping Africans. He also found a picture of the burger. That thing would fall apart onto my lap after the first bite.]

Sean Hackbarth |

4:24 PM
The great Bernard Lewis delves into why Osama bin Laden is still popular in the Arab world. His popularity comes from deep in Arab folklore.

In the Middle East as in Europe, there is a strong tradition of bandit heroes, challenging authority and eluding capture. The tradition is indeed longer and stronger than in Europe, since it has continued from the Middle Ages into modern times.

If Osama is dead, but no body is found people will still follow him. It would be like the Shi'ite myth of the Tweleth (Hidden) Imam.

Orrin Judd doesn't like Lewis' Robin Hood reference.

"Deconstructing Osama"

Sean Hackbarth |

3:35 PM
Weird story of the day:

Zac Monro played a mean guitar as he jumped on an outdoor stage in northern Finland, but he didn't even strike a chord.

As the red sun set behind the dark fir trees, he changed tactics and rolled on his back while thrashing madly with his hands--enough to give him the Air Guitar World Champion title for a second straight year.

I may have found my calling.

"Briton Wins World Air Guitar Crown"

Sean Hackbarth |

3:27 PM
A group at Baylor University say adult stem cells (ASC) may not be a flexible at transforming into other cells as once believed. Research as shown that embryonic stem cells (ESC) also have their problems, but it gives ammunition to backers of (ESC). This is just one groups of scientists and their anecdotal evidence doesn't prove that ASC won't be as useful as ESC. But if it is discovered that ASC aren't as medically helpful as ESC, I won't be jumping on the bandwagon of embryo harvesting. My argument against harvesting embryoes is not utilitarian, it's moral. Since it's a Western value not to use other individuals as means to other's ends; and since I consider human life to begin at conception, then this new information surrounding ASC doesn't change my opinion. Just as we don't harvest organs for needy patients from prisoners (unless we're China), human embryoes should not become the biggest cash crop of the 21th Century.

"Adult-Stem-Cell Research Shows Some Limits"

Sean Hackbarth |


11:23 PM
Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping is correcting webloggers he felt took far too much from the controversy surrounding Millennium Challenge 2002. He writes that the exercise was rigged, and that's not a problem.

Well, duh. It was supposed to be. If it hadn't been it would have been a colossal waste of money.

Paul Van Riper found a way to sink the U.S. fleet in the Persain Gulf. Two things could have happened afterwards: 1. continue the game with the lost fleet, possibly denying troops needed training; or 2. you could "refloat" the the fleet and continue on with the game, noting in the final analysis the sinking. Going with the second option just makes more sense.

Then Sensing points out that the Army Times story doesn't appear accurate given that Marine Lt. Gen Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs told reporters that Van Riper didn't resign from the exercise.

Chuck Watson also has some insightful thoughts.

For the record, my concern was technological hubris. Van Riper found a way around U.S. military gizmos with a low-tech approach--sending messages with motorcycles and minarets. Such ingenious tactics must be respected by the military.

Sean Hackbarth |

11:10 PM
Brothers Judd, thanks for the generous link to my post on Tom DeLay's great speech.

Sean Hackbarth |

10:56 PM
The New Republic adds onto Tom DeLay's speech for reasons to attack Iraq.

What is it, then, about the villain in Baghdad that should provoke the United States to rid the world of him? One spectacular thing: He is the only leader in the world with weapons of mass destruction who has used them. He used them against Iranian troops and against Kurdish civilians. This is what makes Saddam Hussein so distinguished in the field of evil. Morally and strategically, he lives in a post-deterrence world. We do not need to speculate about whether he would do the dirtiest deed. He has already done the dirtiest deed. That is the case, and "the case."

Not that hard to comprehend is it?

"Best Case"

Sean Hackbarth |

10:43 PM
Courtesy of IMproPRieTies, here's a link to the Army Times' article on Paul Van Riper and Millennium Challenge 2002. It's much more detailed about what the military thought was the purpose of the exercise and how Van Riper thinks military strategy should be developed.

"War Games Rigged?"

Sean Hackbarth |

5:54 PM
So far, the only mentions in Big Media I've found of Tom DeLay's important speech is a little blurb in Howard Kurtz's latest column and one paragraph in the NY Times. The press is still talking about Brent Scowcroft's opposition to war, yet the best argument so far for war gets little attention.

"Disappearing Act"

"Bush Promises Patience on Iraq"

Sean Hackbarth |

5:40 PM
A Saudi banker blames Jews for the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by September 11 family victims.

The American-Zionist scheme against the Saudi economy ... became more clear with this baseless lawsuit.

"Saudi Bankers Deny Funding Terror" [via The Corner]

Sean Hackbarth |


11:42 PM
Europe must just love Tom DeLay's speech on war with Iraq. [Go to this page and select "08/21/2002: The Imperative for Action" under Speeches.] I'm sure writers for the Guardian and Independent along with pols in Germany, France, and Belgium must have especially liked it when DeLay said,

While the once great nations of Europe abdicate their responsibilities, danger grows. The spread of devastating weapons accelerates.

And support by terrorism's state sponsors continues beneath the scenes.

Despite the expanding capabilities of terror regimes and the growth of evil organizations, Europe peddles excuses for inaction.

They demand we accept consensus as a first principle. They wish to direct the enterprise, but retreat seems to be their only war plan.

Make no mistake about it, we're at war and we don`t have time to dawdle.

Those Europeans also won't like this passage:

Europe stands paralyzed because European leaders seem unable to grasp a very fundamental principle: There's no moral equivalence between those defending freedom and the terrorists and tyrants who seek to deny it--first to their own people, later to others.

I'd love to say DeLay read yesterday's TAM post. He probably didn't, but this part of the speech certainly restates my argument for toppling Saddam:

This fight is no longer about reacting to the attacks on New York and Washington. It's about stopping killers from robbing more widows and orphans of their loved ones. It's about preventing attacks on Chicago, Miami, Seattle, and yes, Houston.

Who doubts that terrorists seek tools to do grave harm to the United States? And, once a madman like Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons, there's no telling when an American city will be targeted at his direction or with his support.

And so we must move ahead. Despite weeks of feverish hand wringing over the refusal by many to acknowledge the overwhelming supposed missing body of evidence against Iraq's dictator, the case is self-evident.

Saddam Hussein is the most dangerous man in the world today. We say that because he's used chemical weapons against his own people. He's invaded his neighbors.

And he concentrates the energy of his regime on developing and manufacturing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Unrepentant for past crimes and ungoverned by reason or morality, he relentlessly seeks tools to commit infinitely worse offenses against humanity.

DeLay even offers another reason to attack Saddam:

In 1993, he tried to assassinate former President Bush and the Emir of Kuwait.

The evil tyrant has yet to pay a price for that crime.

Then here's a passage that sounds like DeLay took it from any number of webloggers:

Removing Saddam from power and liberating the Iraqi people would do more to advance the war against terror than any step we've taken yet.

Removing Saddam would send a clear and unambiguous signal to every other state sponsor of terror: "Shape up, because the price of subsidizing terror is now more than you can afford."

Returning their government to the people of Iraq would signal democratic reformers around the region that the United States is deeply committed to expanding freedom.

It would demonstrate that we stand ready to help any willing country discover the blessings of self-government.

And, by assisting reformers in Iraq to govern themselves, we would show that the United States has no intention of ruling in place of fallen dictators.

But most importantly, ending Saddam's dictatorship would deprive terrorist groups of refuge, training, support, and access to Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

These thoughts are so parallel to those by Glenn Reynolds, Stephen Den Beste, and others, that I'd love to know how influential warbloggers are with DeLay and his staff.

DeLay has made the case for toppling Iraq as well as any public figure. It's better than anything the President has said. even though the speech echoes the totality of the President's thoughts on Iraq. This speech should rally the pro-war crowd after a few weeks of anti-war hollering.

Sean Hackbarth |

11:35 PM
John Podhoretz calls Blue Crush the Flashdance of the 00s.

"Flashdanceing on Water"

Sean Hackbarth |

9:58 PM
Alright, the Milwaukee MEETUP didn't work. Maybe it was the weather. Nasty storms with wild lightning passed through tonight. I don't know if anyone showed up. A few people were in the cafe, but no one really looked like they were waiting for anyone. If you were there, sorry I didn't notice you. I was the dude in glasses with the white and green t-shirt. I'll try this MEETUP thing one more time next month. Heck, I'll even be the defacto host. Pick a place and we'll have a little confab.

Sean Hackbarth |

5:20 PM
This is a great start to James Lileks' latest:

Hold on, hold on. Let me get this straight. CNN reports the story like this:

German tactical police stormed the Iraqi Embassy Tuesday, ending a five-hour siege and rescuing hostages taken by an obscure group opposed to the regime of President Saddam Hussein.

The Embassy, of course, is Iraqi soil. Am I to understand that Germany invaded Iraqi territory all by itself, without consultation with the UN or its allies? Under what law? Under what international agreement? German tactical police - the very term ought to send shivers up anyone?s back. Who will stand up to these rogue armed unilateralists? Are we now to assume that Germany feels it can shoot its way into any embassy because it says it's rescuing "hostages"? Nowhere in these stories will you find the root causes of Iraqi discontent - no, it's just the usual bang-bang oil-poisoned warmonger solution. As if storming an embassy, subduing the occupiers and freeing the clerical staff accomplishes anything people can point to in 500 years. We must denounce these Gestapo tactics, and ask ourselves what drove these militants, these resistors, these freedom fighters to their desperate acts. Obviously, the problem is Saddam -

Uh, hold on, wait a minute -

Sean Hackbarth |

4:51 PM
I'll be at the Milwaukee Blog MEETUP at the Bella Caffe. Camera will be at hand, so I'll try to post some pics later tonight. No promises.

Sean Hackbarth |

4:36 AM
Yeah, crazy Cynthia McKinney lost. Bob Barr lost too. Not so happy about that.

"Barr, McKinney Lose in Georgia Primary" [via Oliver Willis]

Sean Hackbarth |

4:19 AM
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on preemptive strikes (reporter's question included for context):

Q: Okay, skip the international law part. What makes a preemptive strike okay, acceptable?

Rumsfeld: Well, I would make the case that there are a whole series of things that ought to be looked at, and that there isn't a single one that's determinative, and that what one would have to do is to evaluate those and weigh them.

And the construct I would suggest would be what are the benefits -- what are the advantages and disadvantages of not acting? And of course, the advantage of not acting against the moon would be that no one could say that you acted; they would say, "Isn't that good, you didn't do anything against the moon." The other side of the coin, of not acting against the moon in the event that the moon posed a serious threat, would be that you'd then suffered a serious loss and you're sorry after that's over. And in weighing the things, you have to make a judgment; net, do you think that you're acting most responsibly by avoiding the threat that could be characterized -- X numbers of people dying, innocent people -- and it's that kind of an evaluation one would have to make.

Rumsfeld was worried that the question would be about Iraq so he used the moon instead. So, despite the Secretary's objections, let's apply his construct to Iraq. Would the U.S. avoid more innocent deaths (both American and Iraqi) by acting than by not acting? That's the crux of the issue. If Saddam wasn't developing weapons of mass destruction and didn't have a history of using them on enemies and his own people and wasn't allowing al-Qaeda members to currently stay in Iraq (Rumsfeld calls this "a fact") then destroying his government and liberating Iraq wouldn't be the right course of action. If Saddam weren't doing the nasty things he's doing, then he wouldn't be a threat to the U.S. and wouldn't deserve a nastier version of Desert Storm. But we know Saddam's history with chemical weapons. He used them in the Iraq-Iran war and he used them on Kurds. We know he's developing a nuclear weapon. We know Saddam is supporting Palestinian homicide bombers; and if al-Qaeda is in Iraq, then they're there with permission of Saddam. Rumsfeld said, "Well, in a vicious, repressive dictatorship that has -- exercises near-total control over its population, it's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country." So, Saddam has access to WMD, the desire to build even greater weapons, the will the use them; and he is allowing members of a vicious terrorist group safe-haven in his country.

If no U.S. military action occurred, what could be the result? A continued Saddam-led Iraq would, in time, build a nuclear bomb. There's no question. With a nuke at hand, what would Saddam do with it? He could wave it around and threaten countries in the Arab world to do his bidding. He could even become the leader of the Arab world with the strength and guts to challenge the West. It could turn into a real Clash of Civilizations. Or he could allow al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group to take the weapon or its technology and let them attack the West. There's even the possibility that Saddam could try his best to guard the secret to his newfound political power, yet fail to protect the knowledge and materials from terrorist groups. In the end, there's a good chance that anti-West terrorist groups would end up with a nuclear weapon or the ability to build their own.

With such knowledge in terrorists' hands, any city on the planet would be in danger of being vaporized. Suppose Seattle was the unfortunate target, and it was learned that the nuclear technology came from Iraq. The President would ask Congress for a declaration of war, and it would be quickly given. There would be war in Iraq with an American public so angry they wouldn't care how many Iraqi civilians died. Many would call for Iraq to be turned into a sea of radioactive glass. There would be no mercy and Iraq would be destroyed.

Imagining this scenario of inaction, let's count the bodies. Millions dead in Seattle. Millions dead in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers killed. All because Saddam was allowed to continue building WMD.

Now, if the U.S. attacks Saddam it could be quick and decisive. The biggest numbers I've seen have a potential U.S. force of 200,000 attacking Iraq. It could be less if an Afghanistan-style operation took place. It certainly would be less than the 500,000 troops of Desert Storm and significantly smaller than battles in World War II and Korea. With smart weapons and our highly trained military, Iraqi civilians would get killed--that's a tragedy of war--but they would be kept to a minimum. Troops on both sides would die.

With Saddam defeated, Iraq would start on its path to freedom. It wouldn't be guaranteed, and it certainly would be rocky (see Afghanistan). The U.N. sanctions would be lifted and Iraqis could start trading with the rest of the world.

Examining a scenario of action, we see that troops on both side were killed along with Iraqi civilian casualties. What we wouldn't see is the millions of corpses from a destroyed American city along with the millions of Iraqis who died in the U.S. ruthless counterstrike.

Would attacking Iraq be as clean cut as my thought experiment? No, the drama of real life always tosses in an unknown factor that could alter perceptions and assumptions. Nevertheless, these scenarios of inaction and action provide a reasonable place for continued discussion.

DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace

Sean Hackbarth |


4:12 AM
It's great that CNN is showing the al-Qaeda tapes. The public must know the extent our enemies will go to to destroy us. What I wonder is did CNN give copies of the tapes to the U.S. government to boster their intelligence? Last night, Aaron Brown said government officials were allowed to watch the tapes, but he didn't say if the officials got copies of their own. If CNN didn't offer copies, then their so-called neutrality helps anti-Western Islamists who would do anything to destroy the freedoms that allow CNN to do its job.

"CNN Shows al-Qaida Poison Gas Tapes"

Sean Hackbarth |

2:17 AM
What generals, military analysts, politicians, reporters, and interested citizens should take from Millennium Challenge 2002, a three-week American war game, is that technological arrogance by a superpower can lead to defeat. In the simulation, an enemy Arab force, named Red, abandoned sending orders electronically and used motorcycle messengers and code words from minarets. The result was severe damage of an aircraft carrier group and amphibious invasion force. An AP story says "Much of the Blue force's ships ended up at the bottom of the ocean." Now, those setbacks didn't stop American forces from victory, but it serves as a sign that a clever, quick-striking enemy could inflict heavy casualties. The effects militarily and politically could lead to American defeat. All this from some technique that bypasses American technological advantage.

What's disturbing are the comments from Red military commander and ex-Marine general, Paul Van Riper. He devised the motorcycle messenger tactic. He worries that Millennium Challenge was "an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue (friendly forces) `win.'" Van Riper felt constrained in the tactics and weapons he was allowed to use. The fleet Van Riper practically destroyed magically reappeared in order for the simulation to continue. That makes sense in order to fully evaluate all the people and operations that went into the war game. However, it gives all us war backers an understanding that American military power is not infallible.

"U.S. Explores a New World of Warfare" [via Drudge]

"Ex-General Says Wargames Were Rigged" [via Drudge]

Sean Hackbarth |


8:11 PM
The NEA suggests to teachers that they shouldn't assign blame on the September 11th attacks to any group because

Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise.

Yet when it comes to teaching tolerance, the NEA points to a PBS lesson plan that blames the U.S. for internment of Japanese Americans and abuse of German Americans during World War II. Charles at Little Green Footballs call this "indulging in a virtual orgy of American self-loathing."

No mention is made that the U.S. fought to free Japan and Germany from ruthless dictators. Also, no mention is made that the U.S. established free nations in both countries in the wake of World War II. For the NEA and PBS, America can do no right. We're wrong in assigning blame to Islamist Arabs even though 15 of the 19 were Saudi Arabian nationals. We're wrong to assign blame to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda because no legal authorities have proved they're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. They ignore the fact that bin Laden practically took credit for the attacks, gloating tht he didn't expect the twin towers to fall. Also, we're wrong to come to the conclusion that there's a whole lot of anger toward the U.S. and the West in the Arab world. The dancing Palestinians in the streets on September 11th along with the endless stream of anti-West essays and the glorification of homicide bombers demonstrate the Culture of Death prevalent in the Arab world.

Heaven forbid that little things like facts get in the way of Leftist notions of tolerance.

"NEA Delivers History Lesson"

Sean Hackbarth |

6:57 PM
Those who don't understand the vile nature of the Islamist threat must watch the how-to chemical weapons video. The video shows that al-Qaeda will use any weapon available to kill as many Americans (and her allies) as possible. Chemical weapons analyst, John Gilbert comes to this conclusion:

The implication is that al Qaeda, or another terrorist group, could create a number of different ways of attacking people, for example, in an enclosed area, such as an airport lobby, or in a theater or a train or a bus. Another is that it could be used against individuals selectively, who are targeted for assassination.

In the video, a dog is killed by some unknown gas. It might have been nerve gas, or it could have been cyanide. These evil people wanted to see how it would affect a living creature. First a dog, next an American?

How will those critics of a war on Iraq respond to this video? After seeing the video, you know damn well the Islamists have no compunction to using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Their goal isn't just war on Western terms. Their goal is to kill as many people as possible. After looking at the video, you know the Islamists won't stop with chemical weapons. If available, al-Qaeda would with no hesitation attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. What country has a beef with the U.S. and would be more than happy if al-Qaeda "accidentally" got a hold of a nuke? I'll give you a hint: the answer has four letters and it begins with an "I" and ends with a "Q." This tape reinforces the reason to liberate Iraq. A regime change would not only free Iraqis from Saddam's heel, but reduce Islamist terrorists' access to WMD.

"Disturbing Scenes of Death Show Capability with Chemical Gas"

Sean Hackbarth |

6:27 PM
The latest count has 2,819 deaths in the World Trade Center attacks with over 6,700 total casualties.

"WTC Victim Toll Lowered by Four"

Sean Hackbarth |

12:25 AM
I'm cleaning out my stash of bookmarked pages and found this essay by Hans-Hermann Hoppe summarizing the ideas of his most recent book Democracy: The God That Failed. In the essay, Hoppe likes Monarchy over Democracy for time-preference reasons.

Theoretically speaking, the transition from monarchy to democracy involves no more or less than a hereditary monopoly "owner" the prince or king being replaced by temporary and interchangeable monopoly "caretakers" presidents, prime ministers, and members of parliament. Both kings and presidents will produce bads, yet a king, because he "owns" the monopoly and may sell or bequeath it, will care about the repercussions of his actions on capital values. As the owner of the capital stock on "his" territory, the king will be comparatively future-oriented. In order to preserve or enhance the value of his property, he will exploit only moderately and calculatingly. In contrast, a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.

Like Christian Michel, Hoppe goes the anarchist route advocating what he calls "natural order." (Hoppe is a pal of Anarchy Lew Rockwell.)

In a natural order every scarce resource, including all land, is owned privately, every enterprise is funded by voluntarily paying customers or private donors, and entry into every line of production, including that of property protection, conflict arbitration, and peacemaking, is free.

This feels too utopian. All problems seem to vanish in Hoppe's "natural order." It's too pat and doesn't take into account the future messiness Man always seems to get himself into. Nevertheless, it's provocative and throws plenty of stones at the "Democracy is the Goal" crowd.

"Democracy: The God That Failed"

Sean Hackbarth |


11:30 PM
Som is an electronic musician who creates lush, soothing tunes. Some carry the highly sincopated breakbeat of drum and bass, while other songs go with a mid-tempo 4-4 beat. What Som offers is melodic, chillout trance that is relaxing, enveloping, and satisfying. "Sweet" and "Whill" be tossed into any downtempo mix for tasty change of pace.

Sean Hackbarth |

8:46 PM
Fareed Zakaria cuts through the mythology of the greatness of Democracy. We now live in an age where Democracy is the rule for more than 50% of the population, yet "half of the 'democratizing' countries in the world today are illiberal democracies." In these countries, the rule of law isn't dominant and many civil rights are abridged. Zakaria sees limited government--constitutionalism--as more important for freedom than democratic process.

Finally, we need to revive constitutionalism. One effect of the overemphasis on pure democracy is that little effort is given to creating imaginative constitutions for transitional countries. Constitutionalism, as it was understood by its greatest eighteenth century exponents, such as Montesquieu and Madison, is a complicated system of checks and balances designed to prevent the accumulation of power and the abuse of office. This is done not by simply writing up a list of rights but by constructing a system in which government will not violate those rights. Various groups must be included and empowered because, as Madison explained, "ambition must be made to counteract ambition." Constitutions were also meant to tame the passions of the public, creating not simply democratic but also deliberative government.

He goes on to write,

Democracy without constitutional liberalism is not simply inadequate, but dangerous, bringing with it the erosion of liberty, the abuse of power, ethnic divisions, and even war.

"The Rise of Illiberal Democracy" [via Harrumph! Yeah, right...]

[UPDATE: I'll add a link to Christian Michel's anarchist critque of Democracy. Although I see the need for a monopoly of force under jurisdiction of a democratic state, Michel notes that Democracy itself is no protection from tyranny:

Never mind what these goals may be (such as becoming a world power, improving citizens' standard of living or propagating a cultural model). The democratic ideology, like modern science, sees itself as wertfrei, or devoid of any reference to values. There is nothing in the ideology of democracy that prevents the majority from reintroducing torture in interrogating suspects, for instance, or from confiscating the property of Jews or any minority.

Michel gave the speech at an ISIL conference I attended in France last year. I didn't get to see it live because I had to be in Paris the next day to catch my flight home.

"Why I Am Not A Democrat (I Prefer Freedom)"]

Sean Hackbarth |

7:09 PM
From Virginia Postrel's latest NY Times column, Professor Sala-i-Martin gets to an important point about economic development and income inequality:

One would like to think that it is unambiguously good that more than a third of the poorest citizens see their incomes grow and converge to the levels enjoyed by the richest people in the world. And if our indexes say that inequality rises, then rising inequality must be good, and we should not worry about it!

According to Professor Sala-i-Martin, as long as all strata are getting richer, who really cares if the rich are becoming more better off?

This point is vital to any discussion about the supposed need for government to tax the well off just so it can redistribute it to those not so well off. Economic growth isn't a zero sum game. There isn't one big apple pie and if the rich take a big slice, then that's so much less left for the poor. No, economic growth is when people better meet the wants and needs of others. Intel will come up with a new microprocessor that doubles the speed of their current chips. They will sell the chip at the same price as they initially sold the slower chip. If I buy that chip for my computer (assuming all things being equal), I'm better off because I have a faster machine to post interesting thoughts and download porn--I mean pictures of GOP babes. Intel's better off because they got the money from my chip purchase. We both benefited and are better off. Now, someone with little understanding of exchange could see the transaction as only benefiting Intel, because the Silicon Valley behemoth ended up with a few hundred dollars that was once sitting in my pocket. What that person misses is the little piece of silicon I got in return for the money I gave Intel. I think I'm better off with the chip than without, and Intel thinks they're better off with my money than without. We're both subjectively better off than before, or we wouldn't have entered into the exchange.

Next, this must be applied to globalization. Noam Chomsky and just about anyone who's written for IndyMedia think poor nations are being exploited by multi-national corporations. Workers in Third World nations toil in sweatshops while Americans get cheap khakis at The Gap or cheap trinkets in gas stations. But here's the dirty little secret: those workers want to work for them. For them, $2 a day is a lot better than the 25-cents they were earning plodding around in a rice paddy or digging a ditch. Sewing together a pair of wrinkle-resistant Dockers sure beats unemployment. Are these the greatest jobs in the world? Nope, not by a long shot. The hours are long, and the work is hard and sometimes dangerous. But what it is is a start to further economic development. No matter how much foreign aid is pumped into a place like Nigeria, an Intel microchip fabrication plan will not spout up and offer high five-figure engineering salaries. The most valuable resource developing countries have is cheap labor. In time, that labor pool will benefit from the knowledge and business practices of their multi-national benefactors, and they will move on to making more valuable goods and services.

An example of this is Taiwan. For years, they were used as sources of cheap labor. Many of my toys were stamped with "Made in Taiwan." As the Taiwanese economy has developed, they've moved into more technical areas. Many of the world's memory chips are produced there as well as durable goods (Dell notebook computers and HP printers) made by contractors. It's now at the point where business are moving their operations from developed countries like Taiwan to countries like Vietnam and Thailand where the labor's cheaper. Sure, people are displaced, but countries like Taiwan are better off from the international investment. The multi-national corporations are better off, but developing countries are too. The rich win; the poor win. It's a win-win and a good thing.

"The Rich Get Rich and Poor Get Poorer. Or Do They?" [via Right Wing News]

Sean Hackbarth |

1:36 AM
The premise of The Washington Post's David Von Drehle and Juliet Eilperin on the GOP's anti-business rhetoric is flawed. Their first paragraph states,

Not since the days of Theodore Roosevelt have so many Republicans been talking so mean about big business.

They then give some quotes from Republican lawmakers crying out for executives to go to jail. This is a far cry from T.R.'s calls for expansive new laws and agencies to regulate business. Roosevelt got the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act passed into law. T.R. also ordered antitrust suits. The recent corporate fraud law passed is no where near the level of regulation T.R. advocated, and no one in the GOP is calling for anything like T.R.-style measures.

Far from the GOP turning on Big Business as the story's headlines states, Big Business is shrinking from politics this year. Von Drehle and Eilperin write,

First, Republican fundraisers are concerned about a possible drop-off in corporate contributions. Big business donors may be less willing to court criticism by giving large sums to the GOP -- even as labor unions, a key funding source for Democrats, get fired up.

"Business is hunkered down," a prominent GOP lobbyist said. The rising anti-corporate tone "is having a stifling effect, rather than an energizing effect," on the willingness of big business to enter the fray.

GOP pollster, Glen Bolger is spinning a bit when he says, "As long as Republicans have a level of aggressive response and talk about how corporate wrongdoing should be punished, people are siding with the Republican message." However, the jist of what he says is correct. If the GOP offers a response to corporate corruption that doesn't look like they're giving crooks a pass, they should be fine. A more important message that must be honed is how to get the sputtering economy moving again. Unless bombs start falling on Iraq and tanks roll into Bagdad by Election Day, the economy will be voters' primary issue.

The reporters must be given credit for pointing out the most important races: the three Senate races in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri. Whichever party wins the majority of those races will probably control the Senate (advantage: GOP).

"As Voters Seethe, GOP Turns on Big Business"

Sean Hackbarth |

1:12 AM
Judge Jeffrey L. Simmons in Vinton County, OH told prosecutors they couldn't seek the death penalty for Gregory McKnight because the county couldn't afford the defense attorney fees. This is odd on a couple of levels. First, Judge Simmons is allowing questionalble financial considerations to trump justice. If the judge thought Vinton County could afford McKnight's lawyer fees, then it would be alright to go ahead. For Judge Simmons, the pursuit of justice isn't the most important factor here. Instead it's legal costs. Second, the judge performed a disservice to the victim's family. Too bad for Cynthia Murray, mother of Emily Murray, that her killer was found in a poor county. I'm sure that makes her feel better.

Now, I'm oppsed to State-sanctioned killing beyond defense. The death penalty is morally flawed while other means of punishment are available. But what Judge Simmons has done is determine county budget priorities instead of leaving that to officials who were elected just for that purpose.

"Citing Cost, Judge Rejects Death Penalty"

Sean Hackbarth |

12:54 AM
A former Palestinian Authority treasurer calls Arafat corrupt. "I found out how he took aid money and contributions that were earmarked for the Palestinian people to his own account," Jaweed al-Ghussein told Ha'aretz. He's now in a British hospital after being relased from house arrest in Gaza. I'd love it if al-Gussein would tell the world how Arafat banked enough cash to make himself a billionaire. Enquiring minds want to know.

"Arafat Foe Calls Him Corrupt"

Sean Hackbarth |

12:25 AM
Yikes! The suit against all those associated with al-Qaeda is $116 trillion(!). That's the mother of all lawsuits.

"$116 Trillion Lawsuit Filed by 9/11 Families" [via Right Wing News]

Sean Hackbarth |

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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