Bald Eagle Picture


1:29 AM
This looks serious--seriously funny! I just might put a Martin Luther Bobblehead on my Christmas (Reformation?) list. My father's a Lutheran Sunday school teacher. Do you think he'd get a kick out of it?

Sean Hackbarth |

12:45 AM
This past week's attack on Internet root servers demonstrates the resilency of the technology behind it. If crackers would have taken out the 13 root servers, average users wouldn't have noticed any problems unless the servers were out for hours or days.

"Net Attack Flops, but Threat Persists"

Sean Hackbarth |

12:31 AM
Paul Saunders points out that how we deal with Iraq and North Korea sends a signal to "tomorrow's Saddams." He writes,

Unfortunately, if anything is certain in international relations, it is the fact that the subtleties of one?s own decision-making process are rarely understood by others?sometimes including even close friends and allies. Al-Qaeda made a profound miscalculation along these lines in concluding from the American withdrawal from Somalia that the U.S. was incapable of serious military intervention abroad. Hostile regimes (including Pyongyang) may similarly view excessively delicate handling of North Korea as a sign of American weakness when confronted by nuclear weapons.

The focus needs to be on Iraq right now. As Saunder writes, the U.S. has allies in the Middle East who will accept war. That's not the case in East Asia. Also, an Iraq with nuclear weapons would be more inclined to let them be handed off to Islamist terrorists. A defeated Iraq would certainly send a message to Pyongyang.

"Iraq, North Korea, and the Law of Unintended Consequences"

Sean Hackbarth |


11:46 PM
It's over in Moscow. Fox News reports 20 bodies were taken from the theater after Russian special forces attacked the Chechen terrorists (Fox News inaccurately calls them "rebels").

"Russians Storm Theater; Kill Chechen Rebel Leader"

Sean Hackbarth |

11:28 PM
I only wanted Sen. Paul Wellstone to lose on Election Day. I didn't want him to die.

About the only thing we had in common was our height. (It gives me hope that short people can get elected.) We didn't agree on anything politically, but Paul Wellstone was a man of passion. Many times he demagogued his opponents, but you always knew where he stood. Just go to the left and stop just before advocating full-blown nationalization (except for health care) and you would fine Wellstone. He didn't need to take a poll to determine his stance; he just looked into his heart (that might have been his problem ideologically).

I spent four years going to school in Duluth, MN, and I don't remember ever meeting Sen. Wellstone. I might have shook his hand once, I just don't remember. It wasn't because of a lack of opportunities. Being a former college professor, he visited the UMD campus often. What I most remember about Wellstone is working really hard to get his GOP opponent, Rudy Boschwitz elected in 1996.

Godspeed, Paul.

Well, the hagiography has already begun. Look at this opening paragraph from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, the fiery Democratic populist who was known for his impassioned work on behalf of the underdog, died Friday morning when his plane crashed in woods on Minnesota's Iron Range. [emphasis mine]

I expect this kind of tribute on the Wellstone campaign website, not in a newspaper story that is suppose to be objective.

Now, the guy was passionate and fought for causes other politicians would cringe from (opposing war with Iraq for example), but all he did was for the "underdog?" Wellstone was a quasi-socialist who rarely saw a tax increase or a government program he didn't like. The newspaper could just as well wrote that he was "known for his impassioned work on behalf of government bureaucrats."

The Star Tribune makes up for their cheerleading with a fine biography on the late Senator. The St. Paul Pioneer Press also has a good bio. Even The National Review has something nice about the Senator. John Miller writes:

Wellstone may have sat at the far end of the political spectrum, but it was difficult to dislike him on a personal level ? even Right-wingers must admit that he would have made a good neighbor. Smiles and laughs came easily to him. His personal life, in fact, seemed quite conservative: He married young, had a few kids, and remained married to his wife, who was also on board the fatal flight, for 29 years. He could be feisty, but was rarely rude; even in Washington, there was still something of the college professor about him, acquired over the 21 years he spent teaching political science at Carleton College. When many Democrats talk about, say, extending unemployment benefits, their fists pound podiums, their ears billow smoke, and their faces turn red with rage. Not Wellstone. He spoke in measured tones, as if believing reasonable people will agree with him if they just listen long enough. He was an opponent of conservatism, but he was a decent man.

With Wellstone's death comes some serious politics. Minnesota Democrats may place former Vice President Walter Mondale on the ballot. The man is so old he makes New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg look like a spring chicken.

This isn't the first time Minnesota has had last-minute candidate changes. In 1990, Arne Carlson replaced Jon Grunseth because of a sex scandal. So it looks like Minnesota election law allows Torricelli-type switches.

"Wellstone Death Shakes Minnesota"

"Wellstone's Goal was to be Senator for the 'Little Fellers'"

"Wellstone: A Force of Nature in an Era of Caution"

"Paul Wellstone, R.I.P."

"Wellstone Off the Ballot; DFL May Name a Replacement"

Sean Hackbarth |


2:09 PM
Now, since the sniper has been caught, media attention can be placed on the hostage situation taking place in Moscow. Chechen terrorists have already killed one hostage.

"Chechens Kill One Moscow Hostage"

Sean Hackbarth |

2:06 PM
Police found John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, Muhammad's stepson. They're believed to be the sniper team terrorising the D.C. area these past weeks. Although Muhammad converted to Islam last year he's more closely connected to the Nation of Islam than al-Qaeda.

"Two Men Arrested in Sniper Case"

"Lives of Men in Sniper Case Studied" [via InstaPundit]

Sean Hackbarth |

1:05 AM
What do Democrats do in a tight election? Well, they could smother a state in television and radio ads. They could also go door to door to persuade voters that their candidate is the best. Or they could bribe them with quarters, soda, and pastries. I'll give you three guesses what the Jim Doyle campaign did. Jay Heck of Common Cause called the bingo game something "I would expect to see, you know, done in Chicago or New Jersey. It's troubling." The Wisconsin GOP is calling for the local D.A. to remove himself from the investigation because he's an active Jim Doyle supporter.

The dumbest thing these people did was do all this in front of a television camera.

"Wis. Probes Gov. Vote-Buying Charges"

"Bingo Game Spurs Probe of Doyle's Campaign"

"New! Doyle Campaign Exploits Mentally Disabled for Votes"

"Kenosha County D.A. Conflicted in 'Bingo-Gate'"

Sean Hackbarth |


3:03 AM
Mike Taylor's back in the Montana U.S. Senate race. He was going to get creamed before he dropped out, and he'll get creamed after he jumped back in. At least he isn't going without a fight. He's declared the last days of his campaign a "Countdown to Decency."

"Mike Taylor begins the 'Countdown to Decency'" [via Drudge]

Sean Hackbarth |

12:44 AM
On Friday, Blogcritics will start its weekly discussion groups with John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

Sean Hackbarth |

12:32 AM
Yann Martel's Life of Pi won this year's Booker Prize. The award has given Pi a sales boost on Amazon (#17 as of this post). Since it's fiction, I'm not really interested in the book, but this paragraph from the BBC story piqued my interest:

Betting on the prize was suspended well ahead of Tuesday night's event after a "dummy" web page was put online, which revealed the winner as Martel.

Organisers of the prize said this had been an internal mistake and denied the winner was already known, explaining the judges would not make their final decision until the day of the ceremony.

And the judges maintained their final decision was only made at 1830 BST on Tuesday night.

Those Brits will bet on anything.

"Joyful Martel wins Booker"

Sean Hackbarth |


11:19 PM
So, randomly shooting people around Washington, D.C. is all about money, ten million dollars to be exact. Then there's the excuse that "Five people had to die" because the sniper couldn't get through to police fast enough.

Enough of the psychobabble and ramblings about international terrorism. Just like Luke Helder, that wacked-out smiley face bomber from earlier this year, (probably) one person has successfully scared the living daylights out of millions of people.

"Angry Missive Complains of 'Ignored' Calls"

Sean Hackbarth |

8:16 PM
Chief Moose is negotiating with a terrorist(s). Tonight he publicly spoke to the sniper:

We have researched the options you stated and found that it is not possible electronically to comply in the manner that you requested. However, we remain open and ready to talk to you about the options you have mentioned.

Fox News says it has something to do with an 800-number. I think the police are desperate. They have few clues while more people get killed. Moose has already scared the hell out of every parent in the region, and now he's trying to deal with a person(s) who is manipulating the authorities and the press better than the Clinton administration. He's flapping in the wind while people walk around in fear.

"Sniper Message Warned Children 'Are Not Safe'"

Sean Hackbarth |

7:37 PM
One could claim I've smeared the Nobel Peace Prize committee and Jesse Ventura. Could I get a negative link from MSNBC?

HUMOR: "Bloggers Beg MSNBC: 'Smear Me Too'"

Sean Hackbarth |

5:56 PM
Chief Moose has assured that thousands of kids will be out of school for days, even weeks, until the D.C. sniper is caught. Today, he read verbatim the chilling postscript from a recent message from the sniper: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." Already edgy parents in the region now have more reason to panic even if the chance of their child getting shot is slight. Richmond schools already are closed and more closings will follow. Will these kids stay at home? No. These kids will be off to the mall, the movies, or where ever else kids go to hang out. Maybe that's what the sniper wants. A number of his victims were at retail locations. If he's really targeting children, getting more of them out in the open outside of schools could make his murderous job easier.

"Sniper: Kids 'Not Safe Anywhere'"

"Police Reveal Sniper Threat Against Children"

Sean Hackbarth |


4:50 PM
Jesse Ventura is a man who doesn't take his office seriously. He's considering resigning a few days before the new governor takes office just so Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk could become Minnesota's first woman governor. "I just thought it would be fun, the last week, to leave early and make Mae the first female governor of the state. Then they'd have to give her a portrait, and everything else that would go with it. I just thought it would be kind of humorous," said "The Body." Liberals should be mad at him for turning affirmative action into a joke. Serious people interested in responsible government should be upset that Ventura treats his office as a means of entertainment.

"Ventura Says there is a Slim Chance He Will Resign Before Term Ends"

Sean Hackbarth |

4:00 PM
Two weeks before Election Day and Wisconsin is knee deep in political turmoil. Three legislative leaders are charged with felonies for using their state offices for campaign purposes. University of Wisconsin professor Don Kettl considers this shake-up more important than the governor's race:

That brings us back to why this is more important than the winner of the governor's race. The Nov. 5 winner faces a staggering budget deficit, one far worse than the campaign has suggested. The candidates haven't spoken clearly about what they will do to balance the budget, for obvious reasons; their proposals would be too scary for the campaign.

As a result, though, the winner won't have won a mandate to take the tough steps required to solve the problem.

It will take uncommon leadership to put the true scale of the deficit on the table, to craft a plan to balance the budget and to win legislative support for it. The scope of any budget fix will, by necessity, be so broad that only a consensus-building approach can hope to work.

Sweeping away the forces that, for so long, produced legislative gridlock will give the new governor a better chance. The change in legislative leadership will thus have a bigger impact on what can get done than anything the gubernatorial candidates have debated.

But that will require a starkly different kind of gubernatorial leadership than was the case before. And with just two weeks to go in an election campaign, it injects a critical new question in the campaign: Which candidate is best suited to become the new kind of governor that job will require?

Since GOP Gov. McCallum is trailing Democrat Attorney General Jim Doyle, how about state Republican's pulling a Torricelli and bringing back Tommy Thompson? The greatest Wisconsin politician in the last 20 years could have great shot at fixing the state's fiscal illness.

"A Clean Sweep Would Help"

Sean Hackbarth |

3:38 PM
I come back from New York and all hell breaks loose: the D.C. sniper finds another target; a homicide bomber kills 14 in Israel; and Green Bay Packers iron man quarterback Brett Favre hurt his knee in yesterday's game.

We won't see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until the region is seriously shaken up (step 1: eliminate Saddam). Who knows if they'll ever catch the sniper. But as for Favre, the knee is only sprained and he'll probably play against Miami Nov. 4.

"Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 14 in Israel"

"Packers Expect Favre to Play Next Game"

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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