[star]The American Mind[star]

May 30, 2002

The FBI's new intelligence gathering

The FBI's new intelligence gathering policies must be watched closely to prevent abuse. What shocked me was learning that agents couldn't to go public places or search for counterterrorist information on the Internet unless they had approval. That means agents couldn't even do a simple Google search on bin Laden links in the U.S.

These new policies don't assure that the FBI will get and use the information it gathers correctly. Information from Arizona combined with that from Minnesota could have given officials more warning that a big terrorist attack was planned. 9.11 may or may not have been prevented. We will never know. What we do know is that the FBI must do a better job analyzing and acting on the information they already have. Internal change has to happen and heads should roll.

"FBI Gets More Freedom for Domestic Surveillance"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2002

It's good to know that

It's good to know that San Francisco, that bastion of free speech, doesn't respect the speech of pro-lifers. Am I shocked at the hypocricy? No. That area is governed by liberals with a mindset where their political beliefs are precious, but the opposition's are evil and must be squelched.

"Pro-lifers Censored in San Francisco"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

Great, another season of watching

Great, another season of watching a decrepit, hobbled Ozzy wandering around cursing incoherently. I watched a few episodes and do not understand the buzz. Instead of laughing at this family, I felt sorry for them. Ozzy's home life consists of painting in what looks like a coloring book, while complaining about pets. He limps around at home, yet somehow gets it together to put on a high energy show. Have they ever shown Ozzy taking shots so he can stand up straight on stage? The kids are just weird-looking teenagers who are allowed to swear in front of their parents. Sharon is the most normal. She's a workaholic who runs Ozzy's career and takes care of the heavy metal god.

There is some sense of a normal family life. Ozzy and Sharon don't let their kids do anything they want, and they hold them accountable when they break the rules. Overall, it's just bland television. It's what the Real World has become: banality edited into 30 minute segments. Except, the Osbournes have no Barbie doll look-a-likes.

"MTV Signs Osbournes to New Season"

[UPDATE: Paul Cantor writes that "Ozzy and his clan are just plain likable." He also thinks the Osbournes uphold family values--something Dan Quayle also noted in a speech a few weeks ago. These points don't take away from what I see as boring television. It's mildly entertaining in a freak show kind of way, but it quickly becomes tiresome.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2002

If it has any decent

If it has any decent amount of gameplay, America's Army could be one of the most effective pieces of wartime propaganda in U.S. history. The Army is giving the game away for free, so their goal must be to get as many teens playing this game as possible. After completing missions in the Quake-like "Operations" portion of the game, those teens may hunger for the real thing and join up.

Since the game was designed by the Army, it should be very realistic, giving civilians an inside look at how a platoon works. But will it show the bloody, ugly side of war? It's not all glory, courage, and victory. It's also death, pain, and agony. I'll soon find out, because my free copy is on its way.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

No shock in this small

No shock in this small corner of the Web over Brian Williams as Tom Brokaw's replacement. I saw it back when he became the number one pretty face at newly-created MSNBC. What Williams won't be able to do is bring viewers back to network evening news. All-news cable channels and the Internet have changed news viewing habits forever. I'm guessing that Williams will be the last anchor of the "Nightly News." Eventually, NBC will see that news is best left to cable and will end the newscast.

"Williams to Succeed Brokaw in 2004"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

Prediction time: No one will

Prediction time: No one will ever be convicted for the murder of Chandra Levy. I base this on the following quotes of Dr. Jonathan Arden, D.C.'s chief medical examiner:


In this case there was not sufficient evidence to ascertain conclusively the specific injury that caused her death.

It is possible that we will never know the specific injury that caused her death.

I cannot determine whether she died there or was brought there.


Dr. Arden doesn't know where she died, what she died from, or when she died. Nevertheless, he thinks she was murdered. She probably was, but to convict requires evidence. If the police find anyone with the motive and opportunity to kill her, the suspect will have a field day with the medical examiner. It wouldn't take Johnny Cochrane to turn a prosecutor's case into a sieve.

This should be my first and only five minutes on this story. Case closed. Move on and let true crime writers like Anne Rule figure out what happened.

"Chandra Levy Was Murdered, Examiner Says"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

Rod Dreher had the Bayou

Rod Dreher had the Bayou at LSU. While going to UMD, I had the Anchor--even though it was across the bridge in Superior, WI. Just like the Bayou, the Anchor was a dive. The chairs, stools, and tables were old. The doors to the bathrooms didn't completely close. There was some pinball machine that was straight out of 1985.

Did it have charm? Sure, a little. The place had a nook where board games sat on shelves--not that I remember anyone ever playing them. You always saw a sailor who just arrived back from delivering a load of taconite. Some grizzly woman fried hamburgers and fries in the back.

But the reason friends and I went to the Anchor was the cheap beer. On Monday nights, you could get a big pitcher of Budweiser for $2. Bring 5 friends along and you were guaranteed a great buzz.

Besides the cheap beer, my best memories of the Anchor are laughing at College Democrats believing the same socialist bunk after quaffing a few. Were College Republicans any better? We still believed the same conservative beliefs late into the night, but at least our ideas were correct in the first place.

I wonder if the Anchor is still around. I have no desire to find out. Somehow going into a college bar years after being in school wouldn't feel the same. Returning to the Anchor would be like trying to relive the past. What's done is done. We should learn from the past, but not wallow in it. But do they still serve their 3-pound burger, the Gutbuster?

"Memorializing the Bayou"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:04 AM | Comments (0)

I'm still hunting for the

I'm still hunting for the Gould-Marx connection. Here's a paragraph from the Times of London obituary:


Yet Gould never allowed his political radicalism - which he espoused sometimes in circumstances that demanded a good measure of personal courage - to compromise his belief in individual human rights. Marxism is now long out of fashion, but the beliefs he expounded in the prime of his career could perhaps best be described as those of a libertarian Marxist.

A group of Net-savvy Marxists mourned the death of Gould [note 5.24 entry], but it doesn't explicitly say they considered him a comrade-in-arms.

"Times Obituary: Stephen Jay Gould" [via Peter Pribik]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2002

To all those who are

To all those who are serving or have served to defend the U.S., thank you. Your sacrifice is not forgotten around here.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2002

It was too daunting a

It was too daunting a task for the newly created Transportation Security Administration to have federal workers running airport security checkpoints by 11.19. The TSA is now resorting to $500 bonuses to keep current security workers from finding other jobs until they're fully trained or replacements are found.

Airport security was passed only for Congress and the President to demonstrate that they were doing something about airline security. They made no case that a properly monitored collection of private firms couldn't do the job better. (Europe contracts security out to private companies.) So now, we're stuck with nationalized airport security with all its bloat and inefficiency.

"Airport Security Revamp Sputters"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2002

I may slap someone silly

I may slap someone silly if I hear anyone cry out about the planet running out of room for people. Japan's worried that their population will begin decreasing by 2007. The U.N. says Japan would need to bring in millions of workers just to stabilize the workforce.

If this happens (population predictions have bounced from one extreme to the other almost as much as global warming/ice age predications) immigration is one solution. Another is plain old entrepreneurship. Businesses and factories crying out for workers will have to redesign their business methods. Computers and robots may have to fill the worker gap. Maybe Japanese workers will have to push back retirement and work longer because of longer lifespans. What Japan shouldn't do is try to out guess the market and subsidized particular solutions. More than likely, the government would guess wrong and cause even more problems.

"Population Trends Pose Major Risks For Stability In Japan, Elsewhere"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

The EU says they don't

The EU says they don't want a trade war with the U.S. over steel tarrifs. The Reuters story mentioned talks that would lower tarrifs on other goods to make up for increased steel tarrifs. It would tick off U.S. farmers but don't be surprised if agricultural duties are lowered. Bush gave farmers a huge gift by signing the farm bill last week. He has political wiggle-room here.

"EU's Lamy Says U.S. Steel Dispute No Trade War"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2002

The Culture of Death rears

The Culture of Death rears its ugly head. I'm apalled by Cynthia Fields' comment:


The doctor took away my rights. If I had known she [7-year old Jade] had a birth defect like this, in the blink of an eye I would never have had her.

Ms. Fields thinks she has a right to a perfect child. No, she doesn't. No one can impose their will on Nature. Chance is always present. Good and bad happen. We must accept that fact. Life is a blessing, not the curse she thinks it is. Fortunately for Jade, her retardation prevents her from understanding the horrible words her mother said.

We will only see more and more of these "wrongful-birth' lawsuits. With better control over human reproduction, people expect fewer "mistakes." Plus with the option of abortion, problems can just disappear.

"Family of Disabled Child Settles for $1.65M"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

Sen. Russ Feingold said, "People

Sen. Russ Feingold said, "People have to pay money to get their music played." Hey, Russ, people also pay money to get their stuff on grocery shelves, and few complain about the lack of diversity of products in supermarkets.

I'll admit most music on radio stinks. What I won't accept is orders from Washington organizing the radio industry. People who don't like commercial radio have plenty of options: non-profit radio; the Internet; satellite radio; CDs; MP3s. Radio giants like Clear Channel will only change when they think it will help the bottom line. If you don't like what's playing, don't listen. It's as simple as that.

"Critics Seek Limits on Radio 'Payola'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:17 AM | Comments (0)

Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland admitted

Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland admitted to paying off a man accusing him of sexual assault. The Archbishop denies abusing Paul Marcoux when he was a student at Marquette University in the 1979. When you take the Journal Sentinel story and combine it with a 1980 letter from Weakland to Marcoux, the easiest conclusion to make is that Weakland is a gay Archbishop who succumbed to temptation.

The letter shows that both these men were troubled. Marcoux was dealing with depression, thoughts of suicide, and a break up with another lover. Weakland was dealing with his feelings for Marcoux and his vow of celibacy. Weakland writes:


During the last months I have come to know how strained I was, tense, pensive, without much joy. I couldn't pray at all. I just did not seem to be honest with God. I felt I was fleeing from Him, from facing Him. I know what the trouble was: I was letting your conscience take over for me and I couldn't live with it. I felt like the world's worst hypocrite. So gradually I came back to the importance of celibacy in my life - not just a physical celibacy but the freedom the celibate commitment gives. I knew I would have to face up to it and take seriously that commitment I first made thirty-four years ago. I found my task as priest-archbishop almost unbearable these months and I came to realize that I was at a crossroads - and I knew I had to get the courage to decide.

In the end, Weakland abandons the relationship calling it "the greatest renunciations the Lord has asked me to make for His Kingdom."

There are two problems with Weakland. First, he is a gay Archbishop who kept his sexuality away from the eyes of his parishioners. Since I'm not Catholic, I don't know if this is a breach of trust. Catholic doctrine opposes homosexual acts, but I believe homosexual priests are acceptable as long as they are celibate. Second, Weakland used $450,000 in church money to keep Marcoux quiet. To use Andrew Sullivan's words "that money was stolen by the archbishop from his parishioners."

"Weakland Accused, Denies Sexual Abuse"

"Milwaukee Archbishop Admits Settlement with Accuser"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2002

I knew my readers wouldn't

I knew my readers wouldn't disappoint me. According to Lowell Ponte, the late Stephen Jay Gould had a picture of Lenin above his desk. He was also raised by a communist father. A New York magazine article called Gould's politics "socialist" and his view of human history "Marxist." I've discovered an interview for Skeptic magazine where Gould is quoted as saying "It's true, my father was a Marxist so I had that background," but he also said he's proud of his "conventional liberal political attitudes." In a Washington Post obituary, it states, "Critics sometimes called him a Marxist" (emphasis mine). Then there is an essay in Gould's The Panda's Thumb where he parallels his "punctuated equilibrium" with Marxist dialectics.

This is a start, but it's not definitive. It appears Gould kept his politics rather private, but with the numerous essays he wrote there has to be something where his political worldview stands out. Please keep the e-mail coming. We'll get to the bottom of this.

"Political Scientist"

"Look Who's Stalking" [thanks Rick]

"An Urchin In A Haystack"

"The Scientist Who Wrote Rings Around The Earth"

"Stephen Jay Gould, Punctuationalism, and Dialectics"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

The Senate passed fast-track trade

The Senate passed fast-track trade authority for President Bush. This better get Bush back onto the free trade train.

"Senate Hands Bush Major Trade Victory"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2002

Peggy Noonan writes that Pres.

Peggy Noonan writes that Pres. Bush put tariffs on steel and signed the pork-laden farm bill because he is focusing on the war. He doesn't feel pressure from his base because we (including me) know the war is most important.

Granted, Bush's number one priority as commander-in-chief must be fighting the war, but at what cost? When America achieves victory, we will still be stuck with with a new trade policy that disrupted the decades-long trend of trade barrier reductions. We'll also be stuck with a farm bill that reversed 1996's small movement toward a free market in agriculture. After laws are passed, there is tremendous inertia preventing them from being reversed.

In his book, Crisis and Leviathan, Robert Higgs put forth the theory that government grew as a result of national crisis. Economic panic from the stock market crash of 1929 brought about the quasi-socialist New Deal. World Wars I & II gave us more expansions of government power. Those expansions of power didn't disappear after the crisises vanished. An expansion that affects almost all Americans, income tax withholding, was started in 1943 to fund the war. Now, no one seriously considers its abolishment. In the short term, Bush's tactics to win a Republican congressional majority may work, but the effects may last beyond any of our lifetimes.

Noonan thinks Bush's base understands his political tactics, but a few more cave ins and conservatives might come to the conclusion that fighting for a conservative Republican Congressional majority isn't that important since the President won't fight for conservatism.

"Dubya's New Deal"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

Stephen Jay Gould was a

Stephen Jay Gould was a mighty defender and innovator of Darwinism. Whether you accepted the idea that Man was derived from proteins in a mud puddle or the result of divine inspiration, he was well known intellectual who's ideas will long outlive him.

I thought Gould had some link to Communism. I thought at one time he admitted to being a Communist/Marxist. I haven't had any luck finding any information via Google, so I'm doubting myself. If you know of any interviews, essays, books, or web pages that link Gould to Communism/Marxism, please e-mail me. If you're positive that a few of my neurons misfired, let me know too.

Godspeed, Stephen.

"Stephen Jay Gould, Biologist and Theorist on Evolution, Dies at 60"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:24 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2002

Why didn't Democrats complain that

Why didn't Democrats complain that the farm bill was a sop to the rich? Because it increased government's power. Will Sam Donaldson do a story on the pork-laden bill? Probably not, since he got $29,106 in subsidies from 1996 to 2000.

Steel tariffs and this awful farm bill--Bush sure isn't showing off his economic conservative credentials.

"Wealthy to Reap Bounty of Farm Bill"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Rumsfeld says terrorists will get

Rumsfeld says terrorists will get nukes; Director Mueller says Palestinian-style homicide bomb attacks in the U.S. are likely; Dick Cheney said another major attack is "inevitable;" and Tom Ridge warns about possible attacks on apartments. All this is CYT--Cover Your Tush. If and when something horrible happens, government officials can use these statements to say, "See, we were on watch, and told the public to be aware. There was no dereliction of duty here."

America is a big, free land. People, both good and bad, come here to experience that freedom. Having such freedom from government eyes allows bad guys to run around planning evil things against us. Unless we want to sacrifice our freedom, another terrorist attack will happen. We could heed Fareed Zakaria's advice and set up a domestic intelligence agency, but do we want government to given easy access to our mail, telephone, and electronic communications? Or we could heed Patrick Ruffini's argument for preemptive strikes at possible national threats?

What these warnings do is reinforce the notion that post-9.11 is a different world. The days of watching reports of overseas terrorist attacks and feeling relieved that it can't happen here are over. We all still have that sense of unease, but it will pass. People living in Jerusalem, Belfast, and London have experience many more terrorist attacks than either New York City or Washington, and they've managed to continue functioning. Americans will do the same.

"Rumsfeld: Terrorists Will Get Nukes"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

Transportation Undersecretary John Magaw, Secretary

Transportation Undersecretary John Magaw, Secretary Norman Mineta, and Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge don't want pilots to defend their planes from hijackers. Instead, they place their faith in air marshalls who can't be on every flight. Hijackers, knowing air marshalls could be on the plane is somewhat of a deterrent, but knowing that every pilot could be armed would be better. The best would be to allow passengers to bring their own weapons on board. Since many states already have concealed carry laws that have reduced violent crime, this doesn't seem ridiculous. I'm pretty sure a terrorist would avoid any flights originating from Texas or Georgia. Pilots are our first and last lines of defense up in the sky. They deserve a fighting chance.

"DOT Says No Guns in the Cockpit"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

Nearly expired Coca-Cola was repackaged

Nearly expired Coca-Cola was repackaged from white neighborhoods and sold in minority neighborhoods. My initial reaction is to say, "So what?" Notice that it wasn't expired Coke; it was "nearly expired" soda. Also notice that the local bottler didn't charge the stores in the minority communities full price. What this looks like is just plain good logistic strategy. The bottler found where the soda could be sold quickly before it expired. They got revenue for nearly wasted product, and minority consumers got a deal on Coke. Maybe that's why the local NAACP chapter isn't immediately screaming racism.

"Coke Resold Nearly Expired Soda in Minority Neighborhoods, Workers Say"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! The planned

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! The planned additon to the Royal Ontario Museum looks like an alien civlization planted itself like a parasite onto the original building. There is no respect for the surroundings. It's designed to showcase the designer, not add to the building. The end result is a design made to stroke the ego of the architect. This is a building for Earth: Final Conflict, which is fitting since it's filmed in Canada.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:22 AM | Comments (0)

While the media claimed mailbox

While the media claimed mailbox bomber, Luke Helder played in a punk band, OC Weekly sets the record straight:


The first few bars of "Back and Black" sound like Nirvana covering the Wipers (which is what all the best Nirvana sounded like anyway). That?s fine. But then Helder gets to sing--sorta like Ani DiFranco, oddly--and Kurt starts rolling in his lipstick-and-overwrought-poetry-covered grave. And the song "Conformity"? It sounds like rural Minnesotans covering Nirvana, which may be hard to listen to, but that alone doesn?t make it punk rock. Apathy--as Mr. Helder would likely be the first to tell you, if he weren?t incommunicado in federal prison or something--is total grunge.

Of course grunge--a horrible label put on a decent genre of music--is derived from punk. Mix in some Black Sabbath-style heavy metal with a pinch of 80s hair metal and you've got the Seattle music scene a la 1991.

"Poseur Explosion"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:31 AM | Comments (0)

Companies, like Stanley Works, moving

Companies, like Stanley Works, moving their addresses (but not physical entities) to overseas may be the effect of a U.S. legal system gone wacko. At least that's what Paul Craig Roberts suggests. Here's how Roberts views the American legal landscape:


Today, the U.S. legal system has been laid low by: a great profusion of law and regulation, much of which is contradictory; class action and plaintiff civil suits that blame deep pocket defendants for the plaintiffs' mistakes; unscrupulous prosecutors who abuse their powers; asset freeze and forfeiture laws that have destroyed the security of property; and Benthamite legal influences that have stripped away the individual's protections, which were once the glory of the Anglo-American legal system.

Today, not even lawyers know what the law is. This is due not only to the law's sheer bulk, but also to the ability of prosecutors and regulators to create law on the spot by interpreting statutes and regulations to suit their purposes. In effect, law has become a kind of silly putty out of which prosecutors and police fashion bills of attainder.


Both Walter Olsen and Philip Howard have documented the law run amuck.

A stable rule of law that everyone understands is crucial to economic development. Individuals need to know what the rules are, who enforces them, and what the consequences of violated them are in order to enter them into their economic calculations. A runaway legal system abused by officials as well as scheming lawbreakers adds uncertainty to peoples' calculations. That can force some to give up their enterprises or to move them to places with more stable legal regimes.

"Fourth in a Series on America's Imperiled Future"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2002

Jim Lehrer sees the future

Jim Lehrer sees the future of news, and it doesn't include the major networks. Matt Drudge quotes PBS' top news man, "They go about the business of entertaining and leave informing to others."

I haven't watched Dan, Peter, or Tom in years, and much of America is ignoring them too. With all-news cable channels and the Internet, losing the nightly news would be a real loss.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

How perceptive of Mike to

How perceptive of Mike to notice that "a Sith Lord controls the Senate," and he's not talking about Darth Sidious.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2002

No need for me to

No need for me to add anything about how much President Bush knew about terrorist attacks pre-9.11. That story is a non-story. Bush only received vague information about potential hijackings--little to deserve a counter-response that would have put a blanket on U.S. air travel.

The real story is the media feeding-frenzy. "[T]he story is now about the story, not about the alleged facts that gave rise to it," to use Michael Uhlmann's words. Other than Hardball and the brief blurbs on Fox News Channel, the media has forgotten that war is still being waged in Afghanistan. Troops are still hunting down Al Qaeda and Taliban soldiers. That's what's really happening right here, right now. Instead of covering that, the press jumps on what President Bush might have known and when he may have known it.

The Democrats for their part see this as a chance to knock Bush down a notch and show the public that he isn't a great as the public thinks he is. By going down this road, the Democrats repeat the strange accusations of Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) who believes Bush kept his knowledge of 9.11 quiet so his corporate buddies could get rich off the war. When McKinney made those comments, her fellow Democrats distanced themselves from her. Now, they sound like they're reading from her press releases.

"Starving for a Story"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2002

Attack of the Clones is

Attack of the Clones is magnificent! Visually, it's the most spectacular Star Wars yet. From the lighted urban landscape of Corusant to placid Naboo to two armies clashing on Geonossis, Lucas takes viewers to imaginary places better than any other movie maker has ever done. The action and special effects are relentless and magical. Wondrous new creatures to gaze at along with a take-charge, kung-fu Yoda make for jaw-dropping visuals. The acting at times is stiff, but it's never been the series strong point. Nevertheless, Hayden Christensen as Anakin shows the emotional turmoil that will later push him to the Dark Side.

What impressed me the most about Clones was the epic scope of the plot. The political bickering in the Senate is not the only sign of the Republic's decay. Knowledge is being lost. More and more Jedi are becoming arrogant and they're losing touch with the Force. Planets want to leave the ailing Republic. In response to this, the Senate give Chancellor Palpatine immense powers. He raises an army of clones (that he's had secretly grown) to fight in the insurrection. In the climatic battle scenes, we see Jedi and proto-stormtroopers fighting side-by-side. It was very eery to watch the defenders of justice fighting with an army that would one day enslave a galaxy.

I've only seen it once, but I think this movie has staying power. I'm not just talking about at the box office this summer. For years to come, fans will never tire of popping Clones into the DVD player or flipping it on when it's on television. There's more heft than The Phantom Menace, with even more stunning scenes. I need to see it again.

"Forceful Return of George Lucas' Serial Thriller"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2002

Open Source guru, Eric Raymond

Open Source guru, Eric Raymond has joined the collective weblog organism. In a post on Luke Helder, he connects his pipe bomb spree to the pathetic state of modern art.


It was inevitable, I suppose, that sooner or later terrorism would become bad performance art. It's easy to condemn pipe-bomb-boy for callously putting people at lethal risk with his toys, but difficult to summon up the kind of personal hatred for this perpetrator that Al-Qaeda's flamboyant fanatic nut-jobs have so richly earned. I think our ire might be more properly directed elsewhere -- at all the people who have cooperated in dumbing down the definition of `art' so completely that Luke Helder actually thought he was doing it.

Once upon a time, art had something to do with achieving a meeting of minds between artist and audience. The artist's job was to rework the symbols and materials of his culture into expressions that affirmed and explored the values of that culture and pleased audiences. Artists operated within interpretive traditions that they shared with the non-artists in the audience. The truly able artist earned the privilege of making his work personal and individual, but only by successfully finding an audience and communicating with it in acceptable conventional terms first.

In the late 19th century Western culture began to admit a new definition of `art' and a new role for artists. Under the influence of modernism and various post-modern movements, artists began to see their job as the systematic subversion of the interpretive traditions they had inherited. "Back to zero!" was the cry. After zero, the new goal could no longer the meeting of minds in a culturally shared commons, but rather that the audience's minds should be invaded by the disruptive brillance of the artist's individual insight.

In the hands of a few early moderns -- Stravinsky, Brancusi, Picasso, Joyce -- the new agenda produced astonishingly fine work. In the hands of too many others, it produced vacuous, narcissistic nonsense. Luke Helder inherited its most vulgar form -- the notion that all the artist is required to do is "make a statement" about the contents of his own muddled mind, and it's the world's job to catch up.


Raymond echoes Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word.

"Terrorism Becomes Bad Art"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:59 AM | Comments (0)

Good stuff from Jonathan Chiat.

Good stuff from Jonathan Chiat. He points out that "prior to Israel?s offensive in the West Bank, suicide bombers were striking at nearly a once-a-day rate. Since then, they?ve struck at a rate closer to once a month." He also writes, "[H]istorical facts mesh better with the idea that Palestinian violence results from Israeli weakness than with the idea that it results from Israeli strength. The Palestinians may never really accept Israel?s right to exist, but they may make peace if they conclude that destroying Israel is impossible."

While Chiat doesn't explicitly state it, the conclusion echos Ronald Reagan: Peace through strength.

"Exploding Myths"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:08 AM | Comments (1)

Arafat is calling for reforms

Arafat is calling for reforms and new elections, but Reuters got it right when its story said, "Arafat unveiled his proposals in broad strokes but with scant detail." We also have to see if serious action follows Arafat's words. But he may see this as the only way he can remain a player in this game.

"Arafat Calls for Palestinian Reforms, Elections"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2002

Is the baseball players union

Is the baseball players union crazy? Don't they realize that another strike could drive even more fans away from the sport and kill it? Baseball is disfunctional the way it is; another work stoppage won't fix that.

"Baseball May Strike by August" [via Drudge]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

Alright, I'll give Jimmy Carter

Alright, I'll give Jimmy Carter a little credit for criticizing Castro on Cuba television. But that's not a hard thing to do. I've never been to Cuba, and I know how poor and oppressive that island prison is. I still do not think that makes up for airing his public feud with the Bush administration in a foreign land.

"Carter Criticizes Both Cuba, U.S. Trade Ban"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2002

Frank Gaffney has a fine

Frank Gaffney has a fine article on Carter's Cuba visit. He writes,


It is outrageous -- but hardly surprising -- that Jimmy Carter would put himself into a position where he will be shamelessly used as a propaganda foil against his own government. To be sure, he has done it before. By his participation in Potemkin tours of Cuban factories and other sites at this juncture, however, he is not only lending credibility to a regime that makes no secret of its hostility to the United States. The ex-President is overtly undercutting the current President's policy of insisting on regime change in Cuba and the liberation of the long-suffering people of that island as a precondition to normalizing economic and political relations between the two countries.

"Ex-Presidential Misconduct"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:25 AM | Comments (0)

Jonah Goldberg's latest column got

Jonah Goldberg's latest column got me thinking about elitism. I'm an elitist. I believe that some ideas and people are better than others. Copernicus' model of the universe was better than Ptolemy's. Darwin better explained how traits got passed on to descendants better than Lamarck. Capitalism is a much, much better way to run an economy than Communism/Socialism. Judeo-Christian civilization is historically better than Islamic civilization. Brett Favre is a better quarterback than Randy Wright. Shakespeare beats the pants off of Woody Allen any day. Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and any other rap-rock acts shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath with Anthrax's and Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise."

Some of these are pretty obvious, while others do offer some debate. Regardless of my comparisons, I'm not afraid of establishing standards of quality and comparing people, ideas, and art to those standards. To do otherwise is intellectually dishonest and lazy.

I'm not resorting to a knee-jerk feeling that respect and tolerance toward others requires that I reject standards. No one does this in real life even if many people "don't want to judge." Everyday people make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Paper or plastic? Country music or (eek) smooth jazz? Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green? We do this because we all have definite opinions on things.

Being uncritical because we fear of being too elitist means we start accepting the bad along with the good. What happens is those very terms vanish, and we're left with a bland sort of everything. The world becomes a jumbled mess because we're too afraid of judging one object from another. The NY Times becomes as legitimate as the National Enquirer. Britney Spears is the equivalent of Ella Fitzgerald. Paul Krugman is considered to be as good an economist as F. A. Hayek.

Goldberg rightly doesn't want to "eliminate altogether the positions they should rightly hold." Instead, we must reject those "who believe that a bone through the nose is equivalent to a moon launch."

Criticism implies that something is better than others. A critic should compare the subject being reviewed with the critic's set of standards. Good criticism points out the good and bad regardless of how sympathetic the critic is of the subject. Matt Welch finds that Marc Cooper's review of a Gore Vidal book fails as good criticism. Welch writes,


By saying that some of Vidal's rhetoric "may or may not be hyperbole," and giving his own disagreement with Vidal's insane 9/11 remedies a big "so what", Cooper is basically arguing that specific ideas and statement simply don't matter. What matters, as Cooper states elsewhere in the review, is that Vidal "writes not from hatred but from a profound love betrayed and defiled, proudly casting himself as a noble defender of "the American Republic against the American Global Empire." What matters is that Vidal has been prolific, that he stands in opposition to things Cooper doesn't like, and that he writes "eloquently." Gore's heart is in the right place, so why bust his chops on an exaggeration or two?

Cooper takes no stands on Vidal's positions. Is he afraid of sounding too judgmental?

Welch explains that bad criticism is not good for the subject. "Failing to challenge those we sympathize with actually ends up insulting their intelligence, infantilizing them." That feels a little like having different standards for racial groups under affirmative action programs. Under represented groups obviously can't compete with the dominant white male, so let's make up some new standards.

What elitism and good criticism do is let people know that there is good and bad, right and wrong. They put ideas and people up on a pedestal and show us all the possibilities of Man. They also encourage people to compete with new and better ideas and art. Elitism and criticism are not tools of the dominant socio-economic class. They're tools to appreciate the greatness of Man and to continue his greatness.

"In Defense of Elitism"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:56 AM | Comments (0)

If you're opposed to a

If you're opposed to a high school using the name "Packers" for their teams, you probably just love the latest PETA nuttiness. In a letter to Austin, MN High School, the group said the name Packers was "nothing to be proud of." Well, while messy and monotous, meatpacking is honest work. Animals go into the factory and wholesome food comes out.

But what about the animals? Well, they're killed. Do I feel bad about that? No. They're mere creatures put on this planet to satisfy Man's wants and needs. These are creatures who don't recognize their own existence. To apply human standards of rationality and emotion onto a cow, pig, or chicken is ridiculous and robs those terms of any meaning.

Notice that PETA sent a letter to a Southern Minnesota school instead of the more famous Packers in Green Bay. They know it's hopeless to promote their cause in an area where the third most common conversation involves deer hunting (#1 being the weather; #2 being the Packers).

"Animal Rights Group Wants High School Packers Teams Renamed" [via Andrew Sullivan]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2002

Does Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity

Does Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity understand politics? He criticizes President Bush for campaigning against a Democrat for a Texas Senate seat. Nyhan writes,


Bush is now presumptively defining Democrats as obstructionists (and nonindependent thinkers) simply for being members of their party. Kirk has not cast a single vote in the Senate -- indeed, he has repeatedly expressed his desire to work with the president.

Uh, Brendan, that's how party politics work. The goal is to get more people from your party elected than from the other party. Because if you have more of your guys in the Senate, you can control committees, bills, debate, and confirmations.

As the opposition party, the Democrats in the Senate aren't standing aside and passing anything Bush wants. Instead, they are promoting their own agenda while finding issues to run on in the fall. The ultimate goal of party politics is to get your ideas made into law. What the parties do is lay out their ideas then at the same time poke holes in those of their opponents. This mild, non-violent form of warfare involves many different tactics and strategies. One tactic is to slow down and "obstruct" bills and nominations an opposing party wants to get through.

Based on this political reality, Bush has every reason to oppose a Democratic Senate candidate just for being a Democrat. If more Democrats get elected to the Senate than Republicans, then they retain control and can prevent Bush from getting things he wants passed. Moreover, Bush can rightly claim that any Democratic Senate candidate would be an "obstructionist" to his administration because that candidate probably would not vote for Bush's bills.

"No Beating Around the Bush"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:32 PM | Comments (1)

Jimmy Carter has a vendeta

Jimmy Carter has a vendeta against the Bush administration. How else to explain his public questioning of the government over Cuba's bioweapons program? Carter says officials didn't inform him about Cuba's possible help to rogue states. Administration officials, including Colin Powell stand by their intelligence. It's one thing to question the accuracy information, but it's another to publicly question it and challenge your own government in front of a man (Castro) who's thumbed his nose at the U.S. for years.

This isn't the first time Carter has questioned the veracity of the Bush administration. Last May, Carter wrote an op-ed criticizing the administration's energy policy. He wrote that it was "based on misleading statements" and that they were "careful to conceal" facts about the California electricity crisis.

Fidel must just be eating this up. He gets an ex-President to visit him. Not only that, he gets the man who he helped lose an election by cleaning out his jails and psycho wards and dumping the refuse onto Florida's shores. Then on top of that, this man publically criticizes the present administration. Castro's got plenty of anti-American ammunition out of Carter's visit for at least 3 four-hour speeches. Thanks, Jimmy. Thanks for kissing up to that thug Castro. Thanks for trying to embarass a government you once headed. Once again you've failed your country.

"Carter Questions Cuba Terror Claims"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2002

Fredrik Norman is living the

Fredrik Norman is living the good life.


Life is good when you can kick back in the garden outside your home, with a notebook connected wirelessly to the Internet, a glass of cold Fanta and a cute cat right by your side, and watch a live stream from American TV on Ayn Rand. Ahh. If those Muslim kooks want to take this away from me, they're going to have to fight pretty damn hard. A toast, to progress!

I'm guessing the Ayn Rand show he was watching was the American Writers series on C-SPAN.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

In a political economic context,

In a political economic context, Bush's steel tariffs stink. First, it protects inefficient domestic steel producers from adapting to a more competitive, international market. Second, it opened a Pandora's Box of protectionism. Democratic Senators won't give Bush fast-track trade authority unless he agrees to environmental and labor concessions. The new steel tariffs were suppose to help get fast-track through. Instead, it's embolden special interests while ticked off our major trading partners who are putting together retaliatory tariffs. The administration must abandon this path and move back to a principled advocacy for reduced trade barriers.

"Downhill on Trade" [via Global News Watch]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

Be wary of graduates from

Be wary of graduates from Swathmore College. Here's a portion of an e-mail from a Swathmore student.


Recently, a Swarthmore student was arrested by the FBI for possessing pornographic images of pre-pubescent children and soliciting sex from a minor over the internet. And wouldn't you know it but everyone came to his defense, writing letters to the Phoenix (our school paper) that this student posed no threat to the community. One girl, who is a student and has a 5 year old-daughter, responded to these letters by claiming that as a mother, she thought the pedophile posed a grave threat to the community. Well, she was lambasted in private forums as worse than a pedophile because she had chosen (gasp!) not to have an abortion when she was a pregnant teenager. So that about seems to be the consensus here, that a girl who chooses not to have an abortion is worse than a pedophile. Oh well. I suppose this sort of thing happening at Swarthmore won't surprise many, but I was shocked.

She's not the only one shocked. Swathmore also has coed dorm rooms. I shutter to think what college life will be like when I send my children (none yet) to school.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

I had a feeling NRO's

I had a feeling NRO's The Corner was Blogger-powered. The URLs seemed mighty familiar. Since it's now listed as a Blogger "Blogs of Note" my suspicion is confirmed.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

There are a couple Wisconsin

There are a couple Wisconsin links in this Sunday's NY Times Book Review. First, Ann Packer's The Dive From Clausen's Pier is set in Madison and New York City. After Carrie Bell's fiance becomes paralyzed from a swimming accident, she must choose between her stale 9-year love and self-fulfillment. Not my kind of book.

Next, Sue Graham, a "former debutante from Milwaukee," writes about life with jazz great Charles Mingus in Tonight at Noon.

"The Dive From Clausen's Pier: Choosing Between Betrayal and Self-Betrayal"

"Tonight at Noon: Epitaph for Jazz's Angry Man"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

Steve Den Beste points out

Steve Den Beste points out that most carbon dioxide production is through natural processes. No matter how many laws California or Washington, D.C. passes, they can't stop bacteria in termites from releasing the greenhouse gas. Den Beste writes:


Collectively, human activity releases approximately 7 billion tons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere. Natural processes release 150 billion tons each year. In other words, humans are responsible for less than 4% of the CO2 release each year...

Kyoto seems pretty pointless.

[via A Coyote at the Dog Show]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

It's been over eight months

It's been over eight months since the attacks on New York and Washington, yet it feels more distant. So much history has passed already: the attacks; national mourning; flags flying everywhere; Anthrax via mail; Afghanistan liberated; homicide bombers attacking Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis has taken so much attention away from 9.11, but like the twin towers used to do in NYC, there's still a big shadow over us. On that Tuesday in September, we saw how evil Man could be. But we also discovered (actually re-discovered) how good Man could be. Heartbreak and sadness fill Officer Paul Mauro's account at Ground Zero. He writes:


Only occasionally is there more than this. One bag reveals a severed human foot, the toenails painted a heartbreaking violet. And this is what shocks you, what sits you down with a nauseated, displaced feel of a world spinning awry. Not the gore or the lack of it, but the small details that point tellingly to fragile lives caught in the maelstrom.

Officer Mauro also got much needed public appreciation. He recalls getting a sandwich from two women. With it was a note saying, "Thank you for your bravery," and "God bless you." Simple and touching.

"One Ground Zero Cop's Heartbreaking Account of Days Just After 9/11"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2002

The sexiest intellectual battle right

The sexiest intellectual battle right now is over biotechnology. There have been plenty of articles, weblog posts, and even a petition drive. Just recently, Francis Fukuyama released his Our Posthuman Future to really get the debate going.

But another heated intellectual battle has re-ignited with the release of Thomas DiLorenzo's The Real Lincoln. This battle is being waged in conservative and libertarian magazines and websites. In The Real Lincoln, DiLorenzo tries to de-mystify Lincoln from the favorable books written about him over the years. He punctures the notion that Lincoln went to war to free the slaves. Instead, DiLorenzo writes that he did it "to save the union." DiLorenzo doesn't stop just with slavery and the Civil War. He goes on to argue that our current Leviathan state got its first legs from Lincoln's administration.

Lincoln defenders are a passionate lot and don't take such critisism lying down. Writing in the Spring 2002 issue of the Claremon Review of Books, Tom Krannawitter rebuts DiLorenzo. He calls The Real Lincoln "the latest attempt to finish the job so ignobly begun by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865," and then quips, "that his aim is not nearly as good as Booth's."

The most powerful of Krannawitter's points is his examination of a quote DiLorenzo ties to Lincoln claiming he didn't believe that "All men are created equal." The quote is actually from a Virginia minister, and Lincoln was using it to criticise the man's position. While not anywhere close to the intellectual fraud of Michael Bellesiles's Arming America, it certainly appears to be either sloppy thinking or anti-Lincoln spin.

Having read little about Lincoln and the Civil War except from high school textbooks and McPherson's outstanding Battle Cry of Freedom I can't take a firm position. I lean toward the Lincolnphiles because the war did end slavery and preserved the nation. However, I'm sympathetic toward sessionist positions. Remember, the United States itself was created by seceding from the British Empire. The Founders called it "revolution." Lincoln critics like DiLorenzo also point out the many, many abuses that took place during the war. I credit them for that.

"Dishonest About Abe"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2002

Former Green Bay Packers coach,

Former Green Bay Packers coach, Dan Devine died. The Packers had this to say about Devine:


Perhaps best known for his success in the college ranks, Devine spent four seasons with the Green and Gold, accumulating a 25-27-4 record from 1971-74 as he maintained the duties of both head coach and general manager. It might have seemed meager at the time, the legend of Vince Lombardi still casting such an enormous shadow, but history looks upon Devine's Green Bay career more kindly.

No mention is made of the story about distraught Packers fans killing Devine's dogs. Sorry, I couldn't find a link to the story. Anyone know more about it? Godspeed, Dan.

"Dan Devine Dies At 77; Remembering His Packers Career"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

Have faith in the Saudi

Have faith in the Saudi peace plan? I don't because in that theocracy they have men like Sheik Salleh Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Sheik who said, "The suicide bombers are permitted. The victims are considered to have died a martyr's death." I would like to blame this all on the Wahabi strain of Islam, but I've heard few Islamic voices declare homicide bombers as enemies of a "religion of peace"--to use Pres. Bush's words.

"Once Again"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

Ha'aretz reports that President Bush

Ha'aretz reports that President Bush agrees with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Arafat can't be dealt with in negotiations. Sources say the plan is to agree to negotiations after "structural changes that would ultimately sideline Arafat."

Bravo! No more chances for Arafat. He's failed his people and must disappear. I wonder what Colin Powell thinks of this?

"IDF Massing Troops Near Gaza in Preparation for Retaliatory Strike"

"Arafat's Out"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2002

Econoblog could be really intersting.

Econoblog could be really intersting.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

A smiley face?!? A smiley

A smiley face?!? A smiley face!?! Luke Helder has moved from anti-American terrorist to strung out loon (no offense to any fine bird readers). Since his beliefs parallel the Heaven's Gate cult, I would have expected the bombing pattern to look like a crop circle or some astronomical chart, but a smiley face?

One reader e-mailed:


This has LSD written all over it. Forget the MJ, he went right to the big
stuff.

I see that. Smiley faces and acid go together like white on rice. (Brown on rice for you more health conscious readers.)

During his hearing in Reno, he just starts hitting it off with his lawyers and the judge like they're all hanging out in the dorms of UW-Stout. Here's some of what went on in the courtroom:


As the session began, the judge asked if Lucas John Helder was his true name. "Yeah, that's correct," Helder answered.

"Do you understand that you don't have to make any statements?" McQuaid asked.

"Most definitely," the suspect responded.

"If you do make a statement, it could be used against you," the judge said.

"For sure," Helder replied.


Does Helder even know what serious trouble he's in? Does he realize how many people he hurt and almost killed? This just screams of insanity, but there has to be more to this. In a week, this story has gone from frightening to the beginnings of a Saturday Night Live skit.

"Police: Suspect Planned Smiley Face Bomb Pattern"

[UPDATE: The FBI says that Helder threatened to blow up a mailbox in Minnesota in 1998. This may be the beginnings of a pattern.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2002

Welcome everyone who's found my

Welcome everyone who's found my little neck of the Web via InstaPundit. I have another post on Luke Helder below. Hope you come back for more than just comments on mailbox bombers.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

Rem Koolhaas' idea of a

Rem Koolhaas' idea of a new EU logo demonstrates the current problems with modern art. First, it's glaringly ugly. Second, it's a conglomeration of many ideas--here being all the national flags of EU states--with little thought. The British Union Jack loses its royalty by becoming only a few bands of red, white, and blue. Finally, there's no meaning behind it. It doesn't symbolize anything. The logo is just a bunch of colorful lines slapped together with little thought. With the American flag the stars represent the individual states, while the red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies that broke off from Britain. By looking at that flag, you can see the historical span of a nation. You look at Koolhaas' creation and you wonder what's wrong with the television.

"EU May Get New 'Bar-Code' Logo" [via Plastic]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

Despite the conventional wisdom (i.e.

Despite the conventional wisdom (i.e. Big Media), Pim Fortuyn wasn't the Dutch version of Le Pen. Much of his platform consisted of restructuring bureaucracies and cutting red tape. What linked Fortuyn with Le Pen was his resistance to endless immigration. Fortuyn wanted immigration restrictions because he feared the illiberal Islamic culture of many newcomers. He also opposed it because he didn't see the Netherlands as an "immigration country" due to high population density. There are no racial or anti-Semitic attacks. If I had to describe Fortuyn's political philosophy in a few words I would call it "reform libertarianism with a Pat Buchanan touch."

Positions of Lijst Pim Fortuyn [via The Corner]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

If Arafat is really serious

If Arafat is really serious about ending the bloodshed and moving toward peace, he should offer to work with Israeli forces in destroying Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and any other terrorist groups operating within Palestine. After today's homicide bombings, the PA condemned them by calling them "terrorist crimes." That's a start, but the PA must convince Israel that they want and end to all this is. To do that, Arafat must declare terrorist organizations enemies of Palestine and then have them eliminated.

I have little faith that Arafat will do that. He just has too many connections to groups behind the bombings. He also doesn't want peace because then Arafat would have the difficult time of actually trying to build a prosperous Palestine. He's kind of like Castro. As long as he has some outside force to blame, he can continue to be the victim and hold power.

"Sharon Anger over Suicide Bombing"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Mailbox bomber, Luke Helder has

Mailbox bomber, Luke Helder has been captured and has confessed to his terrorism spree. The man the FBI considered "armed and dangerous" tossed a gun out his car when authorities pulled him over. While prosecutors across the Midwest filed charges against Helder, he remains in a Reno, NV jail under suicide watch.

What should we make of this guy? The reason he may be under a suicide watch is because he was wearing a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. The picture of him being led in handcuffs by police show him with a goofy grin on his face. He's even slightly grinning in his mug shot. He certainly doesn't look too distraught. Is he posing for the cameras?

I ask this because Helder's father said, "I think he's just trying to make a statement about the way our government is run. I think Luke wants people to listen to his ideas, and not enough people are hearing him, and he thinks this may help."

Luke Helder's ideas appear to be laid out in a letter sent to a University of Wisconsin-Madison newspaper. In the letter, he denys the existence of death. Death is just a concept created by people who don't understand what happens beyond. In notes found with mailbombs on Friday, Helder wrote, "There is no such thing as death. The people I've dismissed from this reality are not at all dead."

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram has put Helder's possible motive best by calling them "strong philosophical religious beliefs." His statements feel more spiritual than political. They have a cultish quality that reminds me of the Heaven's Gate cult who made itself infamous in 1997. The cult said, "We know that it is only while we are in these physical vehicles (bodies) that we can learn the lessons needed to complete our own individual transition, as well as to complete our task of offering the Kingdom of Heaven to this civilization one last time." This falls in line closely to Helder when he writes, "The body is a temporary learning experience. You learn in the body, and play out of the body". Both beliefs about the body parallel each other. What differs is Helder makes no mention of space aliens, spacecraft, or having to leave one's "vehicle" (body) to go to the "Next Level."

Jonas Cord thinks Helder's ideas may be derived from the "The Punk/Vegan/Rage Against the Machine crowd." Based upon my brief comparison between Heaven's Gate and his writings, I think Helder may be caught up in some cult with anti-government feelings from a drug paraphenlia charge.

FBI: Suspect Admitted to Making Pipe Bombs"

Text of Letter Helder Sent to UW Newspaper

"Pine Island Remembers Helder as Polite, Ordinary"

"Dad Aids Son's Capture"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2002

TAM's international correspondent based in

TAM's international correspondent based in London, Eric G (not to be confused with Ali G) provides this coverage:


Sunday's pro-Israel rally in Trafalgar Square reportedly attracted about 40,000 demonstrators. A pro-Palestinian counter-rally on the same day drew an estimated 300. Numbers aside, London in particular is home to a substantial, or at least vocal, Muslim community.

American readers may be interested in at least one contrast between the two events: The pro-Palestinian rally was discredited to an extent by its inclusion of flag-burning and anti-Semitic slurs, in juxtoposition with the pro-Israelis, who channelled their passions through music and constructive criticism. Both events received a couple minutes of coverage on the evening news and a half-dozen paragraphs in the middle of daily newspapers.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

Luke John Helder, the man

Luke John Helder, the man wanted in connection for the recent mailbox bombings spree is a resident of Pine River, Minnesota and a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (about 65 east of the Twin Cities). WTMJ radio in Milwaukee is reporting that Helder is 21 or 22 and an art and industrial design major at the univerisity. UW-Stout's specialty is in applied arts. Some of the majors you can earn at UW-Stout include construction, applied science, engineering technology, technology education, and packaging. So, Helder may have had access to tools and materials to make pipe bombs while in school.

"FBI Names Pipe-Bomb Suspect"

"UW-Stout Student Sought in Pipe-Bomb Case"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

Add Rush's album to a

Add Rush's album to a bumper crop of new music for 2002.

"Rush Vapor Trails"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:52 AM | Comments (0)

Glenn Reynolds has discovered someone

Glenn Reynolds has discovered someone with more traffic-pushing power than him.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:24 AM | Comments (0)

Mark Byron provides a fine

Mark Byron provides a fine summary and quick analysis of the events in Europe. Note the European concern about immigrant assimilation and state centralization. That continent has been in convulsions ever since they passed the Mastrict Treaty. 9.11 only intensified the Islam-immigrant issue.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 03:10 AM | Comments (0)

Scott offers some interesting comments

Scott offers some interesting comments and quotes about urban sprawl and the "New Urbanism." Included is this chilling comment from Jim Kuntsler, author of The Geography of Nowhere:


The argument that people like driving around in their SUVs and living in pod subdivisions is really beside the point. People also like shooting heroin. People also like drinking too much. People like eating more fatty food than is good for them. There are a lot of things that people like that the world does not necessarily reward them for.

Within the chest of New Urbanism lies the heart of an authoritarian. Count me in favor of sprawl then.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:36 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2002

Last month, during my vacation

Last month, during my vacation to London, I had the unfortunate privilege of seeing the aftermath of a huge pro-Palestine rally in Trafalgar Square. Rumors were that 80,000 packed the place. I was admiring fine works of art in the National Gallery while the "fun" was taking place outside. The only way I knew something was up was the announcement that the main entrance to the museum was closed due to the protesting masses. When I finally ventured into the square, the rally was over, and people were murmuring this and that before leaving. The lasting memory I have of the protesters is seeing a shirt calling for a free Palestine. On the shirt was a map of what a free Palestine should look like. It wasn't just the West Bank and Gaza. It was the area from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. A free Palestine to the shirt-wearer meant the rubbing out of Israel. I got chills.

I bring this anecdote up, not just to fill you in a part of my English adventure, but to let you know that a big pro-Israel rally will take place today in the same Trafalgar Square. If you're in London and attend the rally (that means you, Eric), let me know how it went.

Israel Solidarity Rally [via muslimpundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

Condeleeza Rice, on Fox News

Condeleeza Rice, on Fox News Sunday said,


We also are making a major push to talk with the entire world about getting the kind of leadership for the Palestinian people that they deserve -- one that is not corrupt, one doesn't cavort with terrorists, and one that is democratic, transparent, and respects human rights.

She went on to say,

And we are going to be very clear that the Palestinian leadership that is there now, the Authority, is not the kind of leadership that can lead to the kind of Palestinian state that we need. It has got to reform, it has got to make changes in the security apparatus, in the constitution, in the way that it leads.

While saying a few times that the Palestinians could choose their leaders, her words suggest the Bush administration wishes Arafat would disappear from the Middle East picture. If this is the case, then it's right in line with Ariel Sharon's position that Arafat isn't a appropriate peace negotiator.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

Bravo! Bravo! The U.S. is

Bravo! Bravo! The U.S. is pulling out of the International Criminal Court. Collin Powell played nice when he said, "Since we have no intention of ratifying it, it is appropriate for us, because we have such serious problems with the ICC, to notify the depository, (the) Secretary General, that we do not intend to ratify it, and therefore we are no longer bound in any way to its purpose and objective." It's a seriously flawed concept to create a world court without a world government (something I don't support). Who would hold the court accountable if it abused it's powers? Since it's tied to the U.N. would the ICC extend the U.N.'s perpetual opposition to the U.S. and Israel?

"Powell: U.S. Will Disengage From World Criminal Court"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

What a shock! Le Pen

What a shock! Le Pen lost. Not that that wasn't expected. More interesting will be French Parlimentary elections. If Chirac can get a center-right majority, he might actually get some things done. If not, then his scandals will plague him. The discontent with having to vote against Le Pen may encourage French Leftists to come out in droves to make sure Chirac doesn't get his majority. Chirac's landslide victory was largely anti-Le Pen. He might not be so lucky in a few weeks

While Le Pen got slaughtered at the polls, his number one issue will be addressed. Le Pen ran on law and order. Chirac has said he will emphasise fighting crime. While seldom getting elected, fringe candidates like Le Pen do push issues to the forefront. But in this case, it freaked out people all over the planet (except for me).

"Polls Show Landslide Chirac Victory"

"Chirac Wins French Election Runoff Against Le Pen, Exit Polls Show"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2002

Why I bother with Paul

Why I bother with Paul Krugman, I don't know. Does this man have any idea about supply-side economic thought? Not by the looks of this paragraph:


The alleged economic justification for these moves [tax cuts]--which is, of course, that they will promote economic recovery--is so thin that I doubt anyone believes it. ("I was thinking of buying a new car, but I'm worried about my taxes in 2011.") What it's really about is exploiting a window of opportunity. Mr. Bush is still riding a wave of wartime popularity; the public still doesn't know how bad the budgetary situation is.

Ignoring the silly claims made by President Bush that tax cuts were needed to increase demand, the purpose for tax cuts is to create more incentives for entrepreneurs to invest and build businesses. High tax rates encourage people to hold on to their money instead of taking risks on new ideas. By lowering rates, people are more inclined to take a chance on starting a new business, expanding production, or plowing money in a new idea.

Krugman misses this because he's steadfastly within the mainstream Keynesian school where macroeconomic elements are the only thing seen. Supply-side (and I would include Austrian economics even though it isn't specifically supply-side) focuses on microeconomic elements. Tax cuts stimulate individuals to take more risks which cause macroeconomic effects. Krugman's whole economic approach along with his cynicism makes him blind to this. The one who ends up looking the most ignorant is Krugman.

And this guy might win a Nobel?

"Window of Ignorance"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:33 AM | Comments (0)

Francis Fukuyama's Our Posthuman Future

Francis Fukuyama's Our Posthuman Future appears to be the most important book published this year. I know, there's lots of time left for some even more thought-provoking tome to come out. But the response to it already shows he's challenging deeply held positions. I haven't read it yet (it's still on the large, large "must read" pile), but what intrigues me most from the reviews is his discussion of human nature. Knowing the essence of human nature will make finding answers to biotech questions much easier. Human nature also goes to the heart of politics and political philosophy. Is Man, by his nature, good? Does Original Sin (if it exists) forever corrupt Man's quest for perfection? Is there such a thing as Progress? If so, to what end is Man progressing? How do people decide when enough Progress is enough? Can Progress be stopped at all? Who stops it and how?

So many questions, so many answers. Fukuyama takes his conception of Human Nature from Aristotle. This shows that these questions have confounded human minds for centuries. It also shows that there may be human universals if people of the 21th Century can learn from a man from ancient Greece.

"Our Posthuman Future: Biotechnology as a Threat to Human Nature"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

There shouldn't any surprise that

There shouldn't any surprise that our present war sparks curiosity in all aspects of war. War movies are big--think Behind Enemy Lines even if it wasn't that good. The upcoming Memorial Day holiday may for once focus on the real meaning behind the holiday--those who gave their lives to preserve our freedom. War-related books have sold well in the past few years with the immense popularity of Stephen Ambrose, warts and all. Now, Patrick Wright comes along with his Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine. Bruce McCall notes that Wright "liberates military history from the military expert's blinkered view and places the saga of the tank in human, political, philosophical and occasionally even metaphysical contexts that draw ideas into his book the way a magnet draws iron filings."

"Tank: Annals of the Land Battleship"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2002

Can we end this ridiculous

Can we end this ridiculous notion that Arafat gained power through free and fair elections? He rose to power like any other thug does: he bullies, shoves, and murders his way to the top.

"Arafat, Elected?" [via Reductio]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2002

Human Rights Watch is already

Human Rights Watch is already indicting Israel for war crimes. When will they issue a similar report denouncing Palestinian crimes? They say they're working on "a separate report on those responsible for suicide bombings directed against Israeli civilians." Those attacks have been going on for months with no outcry from this group. But when Israeli forces go on the offensive to prevent future homicide bombings, HRW comes out quickly with a report bashing Israel. A little one sided from these eyes.

This is not to say that everything the IDF did in Jenin was appropriate. Crimes may have occurred, and they should be dealt with by the Israeli government. For instance, there is some evidence that Israeli soldiers had Palestinian civilians open doors they believed to be booby-trapped. However, HRW doesn't mention that Palestinian fighters used civilians as protection and to later claim Israeli atrocities. HRW's chief investigator, Peter Bouckaert said civilians weren't forced by Palestinian fighters to stay in Jenin, but that could be because the civilians support the terrorists and oppose Israel. Remember, the Arafat-controlled media is constantly spewing anti-Israel propaganda. That doesn't mean it was right for Palestinian fighters to continue to hide among civilians. Maybe HRW will notice this in a future report.

"Israel/Occupied Territories: Jenin War Crimes Investigation Needed"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

The fight for freedom is

The fight for freedom is constant. Although the U.S. is the greatest country on earth, Deroy Murdock notes Marx's ghost haunts much of our public policy.

"Mayday, Mayday"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2002

Great news! Jimmy Eat World

Great news! Jimmy Eat World wanders to Milwaukee 8.3.02.

"Performance Update: Jimmy Eat World, John Mayer"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Ten thousand brave Cubans may

Ten thousand brave Cubans may have signed a petition demanding Castro to respect human rights, but don't expect this thug to change his ways. He's like Arafat: once a ruthless thug, always a ruthless thug. There are no principles behind his actions. It's all just a continuous grasp of power. The Cuban economy stinks, then blame it on the Yanqui embargo. The U.N. Human Rights Commission called Cuba on its human rights violation, then create a huge public protest denouncing the "treasonous sycophants" who dared tell the truth about the Communist prison island.

In a twisted way, I wish Castro was developing weapons of mass destruction. Then the U.S. would actually get serious about liberating Cuba. Cuba would be on the axis of evil list along with Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Invasion plans would be coming together to avenge the Bay of Pigs. But as long as Cuba isn't a threat to the U.S. our unofficial policy is to wait until Castro dies then see what happens. The ones who suffer the most are those trapped under Castro's heal. That includes a little boy--Elian Gonzalez--sent back to that awful place with the help of the U.S. government.

"A Cuban Petition" [via OxBlog]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

The Palestinians now concede that

The Palestinians now concede that 56 died in the Battle of Jenin, not the hundreds claimed by some. Kofi Annan is considering not sending a U.N. investigation team since a massacre didn't take place. This news won't stop the Arab street from proclaiming the evils of "war criminal" Ariel Sharon.

Throughout the propaganda battle over Jenin, the Israelis have been more open and truthful about what happened. While Palestinians and their sympathizers screamed to anyone who would listen about the mass graves and atrocities, Israel offered pictures that showed little of the camp was actually damaged. They also didn't stop reporters from interviewing soldiers who were fighting there. What Israel has objected to is the U.N. investigation team, and for good reason. History has shown that the U.N. has been more sympathetic to homicide bombers and their cause than Israel's right of self-defense.

"Jenin 'Massacre' Reduced to Death Toll of 56" [via Drudge]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Now, U.S. and Czech intelligence

Now, U.S. and Czech intelligence don't believe Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi official before the 9.11 attacks. It won't stop preparations for Iraq's liberation, but it will certainly give war opponents ammunition.

"No Iraq Meeting for Atta"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Stephen Ambrose has lung cancer.

Stephen Ambrose has lung cancer. How this news will affect future writing is unknown.

"Historian Stephen Ambrose Diagnosed with Lung Cancer"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)