[star]The American Mind[star]

April 30, 2003

Some are More Equal Than Others

On the announcement that France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg have created a defense union, President Jacques Chirac said,

Quite naturally a multi-polar world is being created, whether one likes it or not. It's inevitable. For balance to exist, there will have to be a strong Europe. Relations between the European Union and the United States will have to be a partnership between equals.

Equality between Europe and the U.S. won't happen until Europe switches its spending from lavish social welfare spending to tanks, planes, and guns. It's hard to be equals when your military is dependent on U.S. airplanes for transport.

"'Old Europe' Presses Ahead with Plans for an EU Army" [via Drudge]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 01:36 AM | Comments (2)

Iraq's Economy

How should Iraq's economy be reformed? Should a version of Russian-style "shock (and awe?) therapy" be employed or a more incremental Chinese approach? David Warsh touches on this issue with some perspective from economists who were involved in Eastern European economic reconstruction.

What is crucial to success is adapting any reforms to local rules and customs. Policy makers need to take full advantage of Iraq's unique time-and-place specific knowledge. An understanding of how the economy operated under Saddam and an understanding of the rules and customs of Islam (both Shia and Sunni) are required to build the institutions and laws needed to allow Iraqis to take risks, create jobs, and grow the economy.

A book I'd recommend is Hernando De Soto's The Mystery of Capital. In it, De Soto emphasises that simple, fair rules need to be in place for people to buy and transfer property or to start a business. If government regulation is so onerous then that activity only moves to the black market.

"What Have We Learned?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2003

Free State Project

The Free State Project, at first glance, appears to be a pie-in-the-sky libertarian plan to create a little lib utopia on earth. These ideas come and go. There's the plan to create a low regulation, low tax region in Costa Rica (Limon Real) and there's the wild idea that Somalia is a great place because its central government collapsed years ago with nothing to replace it. In the FSP's case, there's actually some realism to it. The plan is to organize thousands of libertarians to move to a chosen state and work within the political system to cut taxes, regulations, and end government busybodying. It isn't like they're running off to an island (or building one of their own) and creating a libertarian paradise from scratch. So, from that realistic aspect, the FSP doesn't constitute wackoism.

However, their movement would amount to peanuts even in a small state. Suppose Wyoming was the chosen state. 20,000 libertarians would make up around 4% of the population. Granted, they could make up a higher percentage of the voting population if all 20,000 were adults. But even with the FSP's most optimistic estimate the libertarians would be a small (yet vocal) political minority. Not a sure-fire way to achieving their libertarian dream.

But suppose this group of colonizing libertarians actually took over a state government. State tax, spending, and regulations could be cut, but there are a host of rules, regulations, and unfunded mandates imposed by the federal government that couldn't be tossed aside just because the state government wills it. The state government could try to "end collaboration between state and federal law enforcement officials in enforcing unconstitutional laws," but if a federal judge ruled against the state that would leave them in a dilemma. Either they could grudgingly accept the ruling or challenge the legitimacy of the ruling creating a constitutional crisis. Something like that happened in 1861 with bloody consequences.

Gung-ho libertarians are now promoting their own states as THE state. Later this month, there will be a conference in Montana where Westerners will make their case that the state finalist should be in their region. I wonder what Craig over at mtpolitics.net thinks about this?

I wish the FSP guys the best of luck. If they pull it off there will be a free-market, free life example for the rest of the U.S. and the world to look at. I just won't be expecting it in the near future.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2003

Stem Cells in Teeth

Scientists have found stem cells in baby teeth. Can we now get over the claim that turning human embryoes into stem cell farms is the future in this research?

"Baby Teeth Revealed as Source of Stem Cells"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

Hollywood Blacklist

Has actor Ron Silver been ostracized by fellow Hollywood types because of his pro-war stance? I'll let you be the judge:

Silver, a cofounder of the Creative Coalition, a generally liberal Hollywood activist organization, was an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq.

Asked if he has received any flak from other celebrities such as fellow Creative Coalition founder Susan Sarandon for his outspoken support of the war, Silver quipped, "Absolutely none, absolutely none, we just don't talk anymore."


"Pro-War Celebrities Bash Hollywood Anti-War Activists" [via Boycott Hollywood]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

Big Music's Small Piece

If Harvard law professor Terry Fisher is right, then those who are downloading illegal songs of the Net to stick it to Big Music are inflicting a lot of collateral damage. Let me quote from Orin Kerr's post:

I understand that the record companies have done some pretty bad stuff in the past, and of course they are the industry that every one loves to hate. If I understand Fisher's figures correctly, however, record company profit makes up only about one percent of the price of a compact disc. If record companies decided to operate on a not-for-profit basis, the average price of CDs would drop from $18 to $17.81. This is certainly news to me. Am I missing something, or does downloading hurt local retailers the most-- with artists, record companies, and manufacturers all taking their share of the hit as well?

A problem I see with Fisher's conclusion is if Big Music gets such a small portion from a CD sale then why did companies like Sony and AOL Time Warner get into the business or stay in it? When the music market was doing better a few years ago were they making their sliver from volume?

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Tis Better to be Feared than Loved

Steven Taylor (of Poliblog fame) ends his column on the post-Iraq War world with this:

There can be no doubt that it would ultimately be a better world if we existed in a state of mutual love, but clearly the world is not made up of the loving. There are numerous individuals and states that wish harm on the United States, and no amount of desire on our part to "play nice" is going to make them like us. As a result, putting some fear in the hearts of terrorists and dictators works in our pursuit of national security and world peace.

"Iraq War May Give U.S. Needed Fear Factor"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

Galen and SARS

Rich Galen might be a hypocondriac. Dealing with heart bypass surgery and all its complications probably had something to do with that. What Galen's SARS story does offer is much needed entertainment on top of the scaremongering.

"SARS Boy"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

Draft Recap

In a first for Packers fans, first round draft pick, Nick Barnett e-mailed this message to his new fans:

Dear Packers Fans -

Being drafted yesterday was exciting to begin with, but being drafted by the
Green Bay Packers just added to the experience.

Nothing can beat playing for an organization like this, with such great
tradition, an excellent coaching staff and great current players.

When the Packers picked me in the first round I was with family and friends
in Barstow, Calif., watching the draft on TV. Last night I drove two hours
from Barstow, Calif., to L.A., and then took a 12:45 a.m. flight to get to
Green Bay this morning.

Once I got here I met with my coaches and talked to the media. Then my
linebackers coach, Mark Duffner, took me to see Lambeau Field for the first
time.

Just walking out of that tunnel you can feel it -- the tradition, the vibe
that is going to be there on game day. I can't wait to see all the
Cheeseheads in the stands! I think I have a Lambeau Leap in my future and
I'm ready get out there.

I want Packers fans to trust that I'm going to work hard to be the best that
I can be. I really want to have an impact on this team and help us win a
Super Bowl.

I'm excited to be your first-round pick. Go Packers!

-- Nick Barnett


The theme of this draft was speed. The Packers want to build a fast defense that gets to the ball quickly and makes big plays. What they want is an NFC North version of the Tampa Bay defense. To really emulate the Bucs they'll need to find a dominant defensive lineman. A qualm I had with the Packers' draft was little emphasis on wide receivers. Mike Sherman must be satisfied with what he has. I'm not, but maybe a vetern receiver will be available through free agency when teams do some salary cap cutting.

"Packers Go on the Offensive Defensively"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:53 PM | Comments (3)

April 27, 2003

Packers Notes

I have no insight to offer on the Packers' two draft picks. I've never heard of either of them. What I am happy with is the emphasis on defense. Mike Sherman didn't pull any wild deals to draft a quarterback as the heir to Brett Favre. That's probably because he took Ron Wolf's advice on this year's crop.

What caught my eye were these few paragraphs about last week's signing of Eric Crouch:

Former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, the St. Louis Rams' third-round pick last year as a wide receiver, will play quarterback in his debut with the Packers in minicamp this week.

"I can't believe how he went through waivers and no one claimed him because of the athlete that he is," Sherman said. "He's certainly someone we can work with.

"He also can run around in practice and challenge our defense while he's developing in our system. One thing I wanted to get done in free agency was find a running quarterback who could give our defense a look in practice."


For any Chicago Bears fans reading this I'll give you a little help in reading between the lines: Mike Sherman thinks Kordell Stewart will the the Bears' QB the Packers will have to deal with. With Jim Miller's constant injuries it makes sense. And when you consider there's Minnesota's Dante Culpepper also in the division and a possible meeting with Atlanta's Michael Vick in the playoffs, the defense needs to be exposed to very mobile quarterbacks.

For my Minnesota readers I ask you this: How is Mike Tice allowed to coach your team? The guy's incapable of making trades and drafting players in the alotted time, he can't get picks signed in time for training camp, and he doesn't win on the field. Can someone inform Tice that there's no time out on Draft Day. I'd offer some sympathy, but anything that lets the Vikings be a losing laughingstock is good before my green and gold eyes.

"Wolf's Advice: Take a Pass"

"Vikings Get Williams After ''Passing'' at No. 7"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 02:34 AM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2003

The Bigot Party

On its weblog, The New Republic has now labled Sen. Santorum a bigot and tells us the GOP is THE place for overt and covert bigotry in American politics. Based on this, I'm a bigot in the view of The New Republic because I don't think acting on homosexual desires constitutes moral behavior. Note I'm morally opposed to that; I've made no mention of whether homosexual behavior should be illegal. My libertarian instincts tell me there shouldn't be sodomy laws, but it might not be the place of the Supreme Court to made that legal decision. According to TNR, myself and others with my moral view are intolerant, bigoted people who have no qualms about marching American down the path to Taliban Afghanistan.

Based on this logical leap, Santorum opponents could justly declare the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarrandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and anyone who opposes the Bush administration on any aspect of the Islamist War anti-American. It's just as much of a stretch to say war critics are unpatriotic as to say Santorum and people with his moral beliefs are bigoted.

Western civilization was built on foundation that balances Reason with Christianity (broadly defined). Now, with science, technology, and social liberation as powerful forces affecting our society, many are concluding that religious-based morality has no place in the body politic. Sounds a little bigoted to me.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2003

TAM is a Newt (Gingrich?)

Yippee!! (as in Anakin from Phantom Menace) Based on the Bear's Ecosystem, TAM is no longer an Insignificant Microbe. It's now a Slithering Reptile. This is as good a time as any to bleg for links. If you're a reader who has a weblog, consider putting TAM on your blogroll. If you want to do a link exchange, send me an e-mail and I'll look at your weblog. If you don't have a weblog of your own, but wander around the blogosphere tell some of your favorite webloggers about TAM. I wouldn't be plastering this space with my thoughts if I didn't want people to read them. Let's spread TAM love across the globe.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

Andrew, Get Over Santorum

I'm getting tired of Andrew Sullivan going off on a moral crusade to purge the Republican Party of anyone who finds gay sexual acts to be immoral and to label people with those beliefs "intolerant." He's already called me (not directly) a "fool" because I'm tolerant, yet still support the Republican Party. I'm also tired of him creating a crisis where none really existed which only gives the Democrats--a party more opposed to human liberty (especially economic rights)--ammuntion to use against the GOP.

To find backing for his crusade, Sullivan quotes an editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times where it reads,

How can we have any hope of creating a democratic government in Iraq free from domination by repressive religion if we cannot free our own laws of official faith-based biases inflicted on our fellow citizens?

It's a poor argument because the U.S. imposed democratic governments on both German and Japan after World War II. That was before Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement, before Stonewall and the gay rights movement, and before the countless affirmative action programs designed to end racism in society. Somehow a less tolerant United States did pretty well with those two countries.

In defense of Sen. Santorum, John Hawkins offers a good piece. Sullivan should pay attention to this important point where Santorum talks about opposing homosexual acts:

Some people apparently have a big problem with that. If so, then they have a problem with just about every Christian church in America that preaches "love the sinner & hate the sin" and a large majority of Americans who agree for the most part with what Santorum said. There's a reason why the vast majority of Americans don't support gay teachers, gay adoption, gay scoutmasters, etc. Of course, those same people probably wouldn't favor allowing porn stars or people who are heavily into BDSM to be teachers, adopt kids, or be scoutmasters either. The American public may tolerate aberrant lifestyles, but they don't approve of them.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

Gephardt "Fixes" Health Care

Patrick Ruffini takes a risk and analyzes Rep. Dick Gephart's (D-MO) solution to our heath care crisis. How his eyes didn't completely glaze over when mentioning SCHIP and COBRA is beyond me.

"Gephardt's Big Empty Bang"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 02:51 AM | Comments (0)

Kindergarden Diplomacy?

Newt Gingrich just might have a point about the ineptitude of the State Department. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones told the AFP, "What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that." How very diplomatic of her. Was that the approach taken with France and Germany?

"Top US State Separtment Official Calls Gingrich an 'Idiot'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2003

Me Be Illin'

There will only be one post tonight. That's because I'm sick. My initial guess was strep throat because my father had it a few days ago, but my throat is feeling better. Now, my head is stuffy, and I have aches and pains.

But no pity for me please. I'll be fine. To make it appear that this is a serious post, here's Glenn Reynolds on the Santorum sodomy spat (pretty good aliteration for a guy with a congested head?), and Newt Gingrich went off on the State Department.

For your amusement, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have just released some rare songs on MP3. Unlike file sharing, this is both legal and ethical. Have at them, they should be good.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 11:12 PM | Comments (3)

April 22, 2003

Applebaum's Gulag

There have been some really interesting new books to come out already this year. There's Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam which is living up to my expectations. There's Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom, which could be the most thought provoking foreign policy book since The End of History. Yale University Press has come out with an edition of John Stewart Mill's On Liberty. Mill's essay along with the companion commentary finally got me to read the libertarian classic. Now out is Gulag: A History, a book David Frum calls "the first book in English to compile the whole mass of knowledge about the Soviet prison-camp system." All these books, and we're not even to May.

"A Must-Read" [via Power Line]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 06:50 PM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2003

Compromising Position

The White House is willing to phase in tax cuts. The House's plan of $550 billion and the Senate's plan of $350 billion are both way below President Bush's $736 billion plan. With a war and Iraqi reconstruction to be paid for, Bush will have to compromise with squeamish Republicans. John Snow would take a 50% cut in the dividend tax if Congress were to phase in its elimination over 10 years. A phase-in would mean it would just be tossed to another Congress and/or President. Snow also said it was possible to delay the cut on the top marginal income tax rate. If I had a choice I'd fight for the income tax cut. Cutting the dividend tax would do well in preventing future Enron/WorldCom-like scandals by putting up a barrier to accounting magic tricks, and it might give a boost to stock prices, easing some of the public's economic uncertainty. But cutting marginal income tax rates would do more to spur economic growth. People would be more willing to take risks if the top rate were down to 35% instead of 38.6%. More risk-taking would do well for overall economic growth.

Larry Kudlow notes tax writers are working on faster business depreciation write-offs. If enacted that should boost capital spending. That would be especially good for companies in high tech depressions like JDS Uniphase [see chart], Juniper Networks [see chart], and even Cisco Systems [see chart].

"White House Considering Phased-in Tax Cuts"

"Streamlined but Sturdy"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2003

Cannonball Run

While in Best Buy today I couldn't resist the DVD of Cannonball Run for $10. After watching it tonight, I have no regrets. It's a Hollywood mash-up filled with so many celebrities. There are the stars, Burt Reynolds, Farah Faucet, and Dom DeLuise, but you can't forget Roger Moore, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Burt Convy, Jamie Farr, and Jackie Chan (his first American movie?). It was laugh-out-loud funny. If you can't chuckle after hearing the Captain Chaos "Dun Dun Duuun!" then you just don't have a sense of humor. One problem with the movie was it didn't have enough Burt Convy. More Burt Convy. Are old episodes of Password on DVD?

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 10:48 PM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2003

The Obligatory Cop Killer

In another example that the anti-war movement has lost its marbles, at last Saturday's ANSWER march in Washington, a protester held a sign that read, "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, US Out of Iraq".

"Permanent Protest" [via OxBlog]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 11:53 PM | Comments (2)

Dr. Atkins: R.I.P.

Now that Dr. Atkins died, will his followers go out and eat lots of steaks to salute his high protein/low carbohydrate diet? If so, should I have bought some cattle futures?

"Diet Doctor Knocks Noggin, Expires"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

Bull Durham and War

Dale Petroskey, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, got the message that his cancellation of the Bull Durham event, where anti-war celebrities Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, was out of line. In a letter, Petroskey writes,

There was a chance of politics being injected into The Hall during these sensitive times, and I made a decision to not take that chance. But I inadvertently did exactly what I was trying to avoid. With the advantage of hindsight, it is clear I should have handled the matter differently.

Petroskey's mistake was assuming Robbins and Sarandon were going to be jerks and pull a Michael Moore at the Oscars. What happened is Petroskey looked like the jerk, and a super-patriot one at that.

Robbins could have taken Petroskey's gesture graciously. Instead, in a statement, he snarkly stated, "I appreciate Petroskey's non-apology apology and his realization of the perils of paper trails."

To make up for the mess he started, Petroskey should reschedule the event. The Hall of Fame should honor the best baseball movie ever made. Invite Sarandon. She's prettier and hasn't been a public jerk like Robbins.

"Hall President Apologizes for Not Calling Actors Before Canceling 'Bull Durham' Event"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 10:55 PM | Comments (4)

April 17, 2003

More on Lewis' "Crisis"

I'm posting another review of Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam. David Pryce-Jones wrote this one. Since Lewis is the most respected and visible Islam scholar in the West, any new book from him should be looked at as an event (at least for those with an interest in the national security and current events).

Pryce-Jones concludes his review:


Bin Laden and other Islamists are eloquent and capable, fashioning an ideology compounded out of immutable ancient stereotypes and contemporary preconceptions about the West. For them, the United States is now leader of the House of War, and its downfall will be the fulfilment of the House of Islam's pristine vision of world-conquest. To them, suicide-terrorism is a religious and political duty.

This is unprecedented, Lewis emphasises, as well as contrary to the faith. Islam expressly forbids suicide, and condemns to hell-fire whoever dies by his own hand. The jihad of those claiming to be the most pious of Muslims has no Islamic legitimacy.

The majority of Muslims wish to enjoy a society with accountable government and human rights. The West has to help them modernise and reform in order to achieve these ends. Lewis makes things very clear: either we succeed in this, or bin Laden and other Islamists will usher in a dark future for the world, and especially for Islam.


"The Longest Conflict in History" [via Reductio]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

Yorn Hasn't Forgot a Thing

Pete Yorn is back with his Day I Forgot. Past music history has looked poorly on second albums of breakout artists, but after a few listenings of Day Yorn won't go the way of Hootie and the Blowfish. Like his Musicforthemorningafter he continues with his meloncolie pop rock that sounds more like the Eagles than I really want to admit.

For a pop album to really win me over the chrouses have to be sharp, punchy, and totally appetizing. "Come Back Home" and "Crystal Village" both meet those critieria. "Pass Me By" has atmospheric "Ooooos" that smooth over a song so well. Then the strongest song, "Long Way Down" comes at you with the best chorus on the album. The words, melody, and guitar riffs fit very well.

Day isn't a second coming of Yorn. He doesn't change his sound. In fact, the songs on this album could have been added as a second disk to Music. For fans who were looking for Yorn to "grow" they'll be dissapointed. But for those, like me, who heard a good thing with Yorn the first time, they should be satisfied with Day I Forgot

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2003

Howard on the Security Council

Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard wants France's power on the U.N. Security Council (an oxymoron, especially to freed Iraqis) diminished so that body can be "a far better expression of world opinion." Howard proposed adding Japan, India, and a South American country in a three-level structure. What will Chirac say when he visits Australia in July?

"Howard Seeks to Demote France in UN" [via ESR Musing]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

Ruffini Powered by MT

Patrick Ruffini's weblog is now powered by Movable Type. I'm not the only one who found frustration moving a large weblog over to MT.

For all the sophistication of MT in pure content-management, I found the process of managing the physical data involved in the changeover very cumbersome.
...
The rebuilding process could have also gone a lot more smoothly. Obviously, this is a challenge when dealing with any large chunk of data, but even after several rebuilds, my individual entry archives are still only about 50% built-out. My server has this annoying habit of timing out after the first batch of pages, and I was only able to get to the point where I'm at by tricking MT into attempting to rebuild everything in one fell swoop, rather than in 40 page increments. (Not even Greymatter was this flakey.) And any failed attempt means I have to start over.

If you have a long-running weblog with lots of entries I don't recommend the move to MT unless you're a whiz-bang MT geek well versed in databases.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 07:09 PM | Comments (1)

Thanks for Nothing

Mark Levin holds Democrats accountable. I'm fond of Jimmy Carter's comments only a few weeks before the war started:

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home.

A "clear improvement" is the destruction of torture chambers like the one found in Nassiriya. If we would have listened to Carter and his ilk men like Sheikh Lami Abbas Ajali would still be beaten, shocked, and tortured while France, Germany, and Russia debated the legality of going to war.

If I were a newly freed Iraqi, I'd say to Jimmy Carter, "Thanks...for nothing!"

"The Anti-Liberation Front"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 04:34 PM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2003

Journalistic Ethics or Moral Bankruptcy?

The most shocking news of last week wasn't the sudden fall of Baghdad. It was CNN's Eason Jordan admitting in the NY Times that he and his company buried (no pun intended) stories about Saddam's brutal regime to stay in Iraq. There's been plenty of weblogging commentary so I'll just offer this from Kevin Whited (who's Reductio Ad Absurdum should be on your daily reading list):

Some might say that Mr. Jordan's startling editorial yesterday -- and subsequent comments defending his actions -- indicates some remorse and guilt for not having reported these crimes. Surely such introspection is a first step towards morality, but one can't help but wonder after watching Mr. Jordan flop this way and that if the secular Left is even capable of assessing morality (instead preferring to hide behind such noble efforts as protecting its sources and "journalistic ethics" -- too often no ethics at all).

"The News We Kept to Ourselves"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Baghdad Bounce

Military victory has given Tony Blair's Labour Party a popular boost. 64% to 24% think it was right of Britain to go to war. It just goes to show that being on the right side of a cause even with great public opposition isn't necessarily politically damaging.

What does this mean for President Bush's re-election? Nothing at all. There's the obvious that this is a poll of British voters, and the not as obvious fact that Election Day 2004 is 19 months away. Bush knows about this too well from his father's inept campaign in 1992.

"Baghdad Bounce Gives Blair Commanding Lead in Poll" [via The Command Post]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Warriors Running Out of Steam

You know the anti-war/anti-American protest are petering out when a march in Washington, D.C. today went to the offices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. When all else fails, protest globalization.

"Protests Continue But Thousands Gather to Cheer Troops"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)

Bernard Lewis' Latest Book

With Bernard Lewis' new book The Crisis of Islam we are blessed with a scholar who is both honest and sympathetic to his subject when presenting the wide span of Islamic history and culture. However, in Kenneth Pollack's review, he finds something lacking:

Lewis still has not grappled with the deeper questions for his readers. He still has not offered his explanation for why the Islamic Middle East stagnated, why its efforts at reform failed, why it is notably failing to become integrated into the global economy in a meaningful way and why these failures have produced not a renewed determination to succeed (as in East Asia over the past 50 years, and arguably in India, Latin America and even parts of sub-Saharan Africa today) but an anger and frustration with the West so pervasive and vitriolic that it has bred murderous, suicidal terrorism despite all of the Islamic prohibitions against such action.

Crisis is on my to-do list. I'll let you know what I think after reading it.

"The Crisis of Islam: Faith and Terrorism in the Muslim World"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2003

Eric G Where are You?

To the offical TAM International Correspondent:

Attempts to contact you by various methods have proven ineffective. The publisher of TAM as well as the past editor of the Probitas (and his wife) worry that you might have been kidnapped and taken to Baghdad, Tikrit, or *gasp* Paris. E-mail or leave a comment to this post. Remember, we'll still love you even if you were a human shield (U.S. Wanker).

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 03:46 AM | Comments (2)

Ditch the Debt

Maybe in the post-Saddam world, the U.S., France, Russia, and Germany can agree that Iraqi debt reduction will help. Treasury Secretary John Snow has already begun talking to his French counterpart about it, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has a resolution in Congress supporting it. Since Iraq owes lots of countries lots of money, by default, any debt reduction will have to be unilateral. For that reason alone, France should just love it.

"U.S. Push To Forgive Iraq Debt Underway" [via The Command Post]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2003

U.S. "Marauders"

You would think seeing cheering Iraqis stomping on a statue of Saddam would bring warm feelings to everyone's hearts. Not so in the case of Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane.

To the uninformed eye, it's hard to tell whether this is jubilation or anarchy.

Even harder to know is whether the ordinary citizens of Iraq were more excited about the arrival of coalition troops or simply relieved the bombing had finally stopped.

The Iraqis were so relieved about the end of the bombing (which hasn't stopped) that they've offered handshakes, hugs, and tea to U.S. troops. Looks like jubilation to me.

Sure, the images from Baghdad were inspiring on some levels, but they also were incomplete when it comes to divining the actual hearts and minds of most Iraqi citizens in regard to this war.

In the history of human aggression, it's a good bet whenever an occupying army arrives in a war-torn country, most civilians are smart enough to put on the welcoming act whether they mean it or not.

My suspicion is most longtime Iraqi residents - who have lived under a repressive regime much of their lives - operate under a general rule of thumb:

When in doubt, cheer for the guy with the most guns.

Nothing can be what it appears to be. For Kane, cynicism trumps visual reality.

But wondering about the motives of happy Iraqis isn't enough for him. Kane then has to go and rip on the troops that drove Saddam's thugocracy into oblivion.

My problem with our liberating forces wasn't with their stated purpose, but rather with their decorum.

My mother always taught me to be respectful in someone else's house.

But that certainly wasn't the case with the group of cigarette-smoking American soldiers caught lounging with their feet on the furniture in one of Saddam's palaces earlier this week.

We all know Bush is quick to assume the "get-tough" Texas cowboy persona in front of the United Nations.

But is it really appropriate for our troops to act like a bunch of marauders?

In Kane's world one person's liberators are another's marauders. Our soldiers are people who endured weeks of gunfire to free a people from dictatorship and protect the U.S. from future attacks. After putting up with enemy tanks, snipers, and suicide bombers, our troops deserved to savor their progress. Note, that the troops were lounging in one of Saddam's palaces, built on the suffering of Iraqis.

Real marauders don't make pain-staking efforts to not his civilians. Marauders don't bother with the laws of warfare. Marauders bash their way through things regardless of who gets hurt or killed. Marauders rape, pillage, and collect booty. Mr. Kane, out troops have done so such thing. They've acted with great poise and have displayed tremendous respect for the Iraqi people while being ruthless with its brutal regime. They aren't marauders, they're liberators and protectors.

I won't even bother with Kane's complaint about the renaming of Baghdad International Airport. No need to bother with such pettiness. However, I must address his last point:

But for many who opposed it, the shots of cheering Iraqis and toppled statues do nothing to address the main concerns.

Mainly:

Is this what America will be for the foreseeable future, a bullying superpower that punishes any foreign country that dares to step out of line?

Kane just doesn't get why we had to topple Saddam. It wasn't about Iraq stepping out of line, it was its ABC weapons, its links to terrorism, its past regional aggression, and its threat to the U.S. Iraqi liberation is a wonderful byproduct. Kane and his ilk will look at this as "bullying" but reasonable people view this as justified self-defense.

"Were Iraqis Jubilant the Bombs Stopped?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 10:35 PM | Comments (1)

"U.S. Good. No more Saddam."

It was simply amazing to watch that Saddam statue fall among the crowd in Firdos Square. While not being a sign that the war is over, it does prove that the Ba'aths won't be terrorizing Iraqis anymore. That moment in time is a pleasant reminder that all the suffering, deaths, and treasure was worth it to bring freedom to those who didn't have it.

While many have posted the picture of the statue falling, I'll leave you with this one of a Saddam mural going up in flames in Kirkuk. Much like his brutal regime.

saddamburning.jpg
(via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

"Marines Welcomed as Heroes, Confront "Human Shields" in Baghdad"

"Wary Soldiers Hope for Better Days"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

Needs a New Paint Job

Saddam's love boat is no more. [via The Command Post]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

Al-Jazeera Leaving Iraq

For a network who thinks it's the target of military attacks, I'm shocked at this statement by news editor, Ibrahim Hillal:

We still have four reporters in Baghdad, we will pull them out. We have one embedded with US forces in Nassiriya; we want to pull him out.

For a country that supposedly hates al-Jazeera, it's awfully nice of the U.S. to let one of their reporters hang out with the troops.

"Fury at US as Attacks Kill Three Journalists" [via The Command Post]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 03:12 AM | Comments (3)

Strength in the Muslim World

If Afghanistan was any indication, an allied victory in Iraq won't create hundreds of bin Ladens. Daniel Pipes gives reasons why this might happen. I sympathize most this one:

As bin Laden himself put it, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." An allied victory will establish who the strong horse is, diminishing the ardor of its enemies to fight.

Peace through strength is still useful long after the end of the Cold War.

"100 Bin Ladens on the Way"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 12:49 AM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2003

Sen. Edwards on Defense Spending

Should Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) get the Democratic nomination, the GOP should be a little wary of slapping the "liberal Democrat" label on him. Last Sunday, he told an Iowa peace activist that was opposed to military spending cuts. "It is on this issue that you and I disagree. I think it's important for us to maintain our strength," said Edwards. He also said he supported the Iraq war.

"Edwards Defends Backing Iraq War"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Reporters Killed in Baghdad

People die in war. That's the most unfortunate result. Buildings are destroyed and land decimated, but the loss of human life is the saddest. Buildings can be rebuilt, and land can be replenished, but science hasn't found a way to bring back human life once it's been snuffed out.

For some news organizations and journalists, certain classes of human life are more important--more "newsworthy"--than others. CNN (especially Christiane Amanpour), the Arab networks, Reuters and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) are demanding investigations and explanations for why U.S. troops hit some buildings and killed people. Do they care because they were military targets (Saddam or Chemical Ali)? Or that it was some accident of killing Iraqi civilians or friendly fire? No, these journalists are upset because fellow journalists got killed.

A U.S. tank fired on the Palestine Hotel where journalists still in Baghdad have been staying. Military officials have said there were gunmen in the area. The tank may have been firing at what they believed were enemy binoculars, but actually were television cameras. In another attack, a bomb was dropped on Al Jazerra's office, killing one. This attack sparked this response from the conspiratorial IFJ:

The IFJ says that this attack is a shocking mirror of the destruction of the Kabul offices of Al Jazeera by American forces during the war in Afghanistan. "It is impossible not to detect a sinister pattern of targeting," said [Adrian] White.

The IFJ has gone so far as to call the attacks "Crimes of War." Most of their press release is filled with attacks on allied (U.S.) forces with a small mention of Iraq using journalists and civilians as human shields. It's nice of the IFJ to put Saddam's regime on the same moral plain as the U.S.

In his own statement on the deaths, Reuters Editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank put on his army cap and questioned the "judgement of the advancing U.S. troops."

We should all lament the deaths of people. They were endowed by God with life. In this time when the Culture of Death slowly sinks its claws ever more deeply into society, holding all human life precious becomes even more important. Yet the IFJ et. al. have become obsessed with the deaths of three people. Their outcry cnad calls for investigations didn't happen when the bodies of U.S. soldiers were found when Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued. There haven't been calls from the IFJ to look into the friendly fire accident that killed 18 Kurds and Americans in northern Iraq. But when three journalists die everyone should drop what they're doing and find out exactly what happened and determine who should be "brought to justice" to use the IFJ's words.

In the big picture right now, journalists aren't that important. Sure, they have provided the close-up coverage of war that's never been done before. But they aren't there to liberate Iraq and to rid the world of a ruthless tyrant and his weapons. Journalists aren't there to make the world safer, that's what the Allies are there for. They're there to tell us what's happening and to stay out of the story as much as they can. Journalists were killed, and that's awful, but their complaints are making them part of the story. Just ask Peter Arnet if that's such a good idea.

"Three Journalists Die in Baghdad Attacks"

"U.S. Attacks Kill Three Journalists"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 06:22 PM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2003

Legally Ripping the Beasties

David Skinner digs into the Beastie Boys' anti-war track, "In a World Gone Mad." He doesn't have anything good to say about it:

The beastly protest song--"In A World Gone Mad," it's called--is the Beastie Boys taking themselves seriously, despite a long and hilarious run that would recommend they do otherwise. Available via free download on their website, it has all the chest-beating of a Beastie classic without any of the redeeming lightness. But not only is it heavy, it is dumb. And worst of all, the protest track is musically banal, its squeaky sound and nervous rhythms a step backwards for these bold musicians.

For more on anti-war songs, there's my article over at Enter Stage Right.

"Stardumb: Beastie Boys"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 07:35 PM | Comments (3)

Pulitzer Prize Winners

If the Pulitzer Prize committee handed out awards based on a writer's influence, then Colbert King wouldn't have won this year's award for commentary. When I read that he won, I asked myself, "Who is Colbert King?" It's uncomfortable for a news junkie like me to have never heard of King. He must not be a conservative, or I would have stumbled upon him in my tours through the Right side of the blogosphere. After going through the King columns submitted to the prize committee, I'm disappointed I missed a fine thrashing of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), a wrenching portrait of a crime scene, and a biting attack on the religious double standards of Saudi Arabia.

On the book front, Robert Caro won for his latest volume of LBJ's biography Master of the Senate, and Rick Atkinson won for An Army at Dawn, his first volume of a World War II trilogy.

"2003 Pulitzer Prize Awards"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)

Savor the War Progress

The allies are now moving at will in Baghdad and Basra. U.S. troops are even staying the night in one of Saddam's palaces. Only a few dozen tanks have been knocked out in less than three weeks, and allied casualties around 100. It's shocking when you remember all the critics going off on Rumsfeld for putting together a "horrible" battle plan.

Since there will be lots more fighting before Iraq is secured, we shouldn't celebrate victory. But you could always stick it to your anti-war, Bush-bashing "friends" with a t-shirt from RightWingerWear.com.

"American Troops Occupy Saddam's Palace"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2003

Jayhawks Snack on Eagles and a Star is Born

My how much things can change in a week. Last weekend, Marquette could do no wrong in their smashing victory over Kentucky. Last night, they got their clocks cleaned to a Kansas team that played suffocating defense and pushed the ball like it was a lay-up drill. It was painful to watch guard Travis Diener not getting any breathing room to make a pass. I grimised everytime the Warriors missed easy shots and the occasional wide-open jumper. I was hoping really hard that Kansas wouldn't reach 100. And what really hurt was that this game might have been Dwayne Wade's last as a college player. If it was his last game I really wished he would have shined on that national stage.

However, later last night, Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony rose to the occasion, put the Orangemen on his back, and led them into the national championship game by beating Texas. Regardless of Monday's outcome, Anthony could go into the NBA draft and be a lottery pick (I'd guess #2 behind LeBron James). He can shoot, pass, handle the ball, post up, rebound, take the big shot, and be a leader on his team. He can do all that, and he's only a freshman. Big things are in store for him.

"That's All She Wrote"

"Very Big Easy"

"Kansas Blitzes Its Way to Title Game"

"Big-Time Anthony Ready for Big Monday"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

Chemical Weapons in the Euphrates

No wonder U.N. inspectors had trouble finding Saddam's chemical weapons. He had them dumped into the Euphrates.

What kind of man allows chemical weapons to be dumped in a river? The same man who used them against civilians and lets his thugs terrorize the public. The same man who cares about absolute power more than the lives of his soldiers who charge to their deaths against U.S. armored columns. Will this news get Greenpeace to support the war? I won't hold my breath.

"Deadly Chemicals are Found Dumped in River" [via Lt. Smash]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 01:17 AM | Comments (2)

RIAA Sues File Swappers

I may be the only person under the age of 30 who supports the RIAA suing students who "shared" music from their computers. The cases filed don't deal with those people who burn or e-mail a song here and there for a friend. In the case filed in Michigan, the RIAA claims a student was offering 650,000 music files. That's about 43,000 albums of music, and all of it for free. That means the artists and the "evil" (I'd call them stupid) music companies didn't get their cuts. Unlike the Napster lawsuit, these cases go to the real copyright infringers and not technology.

Some will say it serves those music bums right. They rip off consumers by selling over-priced CDs with only one or two songs that are any good. Critics may even be right, but that doesn't mean the answer is creating an intellectual property anarchy by ignoring copyright law. Think this through: just because something is easy and free to do doesn't make it morally correct. A better response to expensive albums filled with dreck is to not buy them. While the downturn in music sales hasn't seemed to knock any sense into the record companies the slump will force change or they'll cease to exist.

You can read more over at Blogcritics.org [here and here].

"Music Industry Sues Students Over Alleged File-Swapping Networks" [via Volokh]

UPDATE: Richard Eriksson went off his illegal MP3 habit. One reason he did it is "because artists who do it for a living deserve to be paid for their creation, irregardless of how pompous the artist or crappy the music."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 01:01 AM | Comments (3)

April 05, 2003

Paid to Weblog

Eric Olson of Blogcritics.org fame is weblogging for fun and profit. Hello, Journal Sentinel guys, I'm your man. I usually disagree with your editorial page, but so does your best talk radio host (and unlike his, my weblog actually has links).

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

What About the North?

Army and Marine troops are now in Baghdad, and the Brits are patiently surrounding Basra waiting out Ba'ath Party members and paramilitaries (who want to surrender). But other than the destruction of an al-Qaeda-associated terrorist camp, little news has come from north of Iraq. From reports I've gone through there isn't even a push from the north down to Baghdad. There are reporters in the north, some embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, but if big things are happening they aren't being noticed by the tireless news tickers on every news channel, the front page of news web sites, or tv anchors.

The way trends are going Baghdad may fall while northern Iraqi cities are still under Ba'ath control. How long cities like Tikrit and Mosul would hold out to the Allies without Saddam or his minions in power is unknown.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2003

CNN Hero

CNN's medical reporter, Sanjay Gupta, crossed the line from journalist to getting his hands bloody in order to save a child's life. Gupta performed brain surgery on an Iraqi child. The boy didn't make it, but he wouldn't have had a chance if Gupta try.

"CNN Medical Correspondent Operates on Iraqi Child" [via Drudge]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 03:33 AM | Comments (3)

Bush International Airport

This AP story looks into how the Allies might use the Saddam International Airport. If the plan is to isolate Baghdad or to attack the city, the airport will make a good place to bring in supplies (both military and humanitarian) and to launch strikes into the city. As a way to resupply troops, the airport would stop Iraqi irregulars from harassing supply lines.

Although the airport might not be completely secure, troops took the time to rename it Bush International Airport. With the way the war is going, President Bush won't need the honor of having an airport named after him. He'll probably get an aircraft carrier. Instead, how about Rumsfeld International? It sounds pretty good to me.

"Airport Could Be Used As 'Superbase'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 03:01 AM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2003

Forces Enter Baghdad

Despite 90-100 degree temperatures, allied forces moved to within 10 miles of Baghdad's city center. Troops are already trying to secure Saddam Huessein International airport.

It's no surprise that with the good news, stocks went up.

To catch up with the war, The Washington Post has a good summary of today's events.

And to keep up with the latest in war news in almost real-time go to The Command Post.

"U.S. Troops Attack Baghdad Airport"

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

Yeah!!! Uh, I mean, too bad

Jennifer, if you need a shoulder to cry on, come my way.

"Jennifer Garner, Hubby Split"

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

Japan and the A-Bomb

If Japan is any indication, it could take years to determine the extent of Saddam's ABC weapons programs.

"Hirohito's Nukes"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 03:42 AM | Comments (2)

Media's and Wall Street's Manic Depression

Now that Allied (U.S.) forces are on the move once again, the press coverage is favorable. This USA Today story starts out like this:

War planners and government leaders in the USA and Britain made two key assumptions about a war here — the Iraqi regular army wouldn't put up much of a fight and the Iraqi people would greet coalition forces as liberators.

There's been non-stop debate on American news shows about those assumptions since the war began. Many analysts have been arguing that the planners and politicians were wrong. They point to stronger-than-expected Iraqi resistance in the campaign's early days and what seemed to be a near-total absence of popular support for coalition troops.

But as the war enters its third week, there are growing signs that those assumptions may be proved accurate — a development that, if true, could speed coalition efforts to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power and smooth efforts to install democracy in Iraq.

The media's war temperature is bobbing up and down as much as Wall Street. Adam Shell told his readers to "just monitor war headlines" and that will show them which way the market will go.

"Entering War, U.S. Planners Made Two Key Assumptions"

"Stocks Take Direction from Tone of War News"

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

Green in Racine

On Tuesday, Pete Karas was elected to Racine, WI's city council. Karas now isn't just a weblogger who was running for office, he's now a weblogger in office. It will be interesting to see how much he'll post and what, if anything, about the internal politics of a mid-sized city.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 01:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

500-1

If Michael Kelly's assessment of the 3rd Infantry Division's kill ratio is correct (1000 Iraqi soldiers killed to 2 U.S.) and similar across the country, this war may be the most lop-sided in history. Kelly writes,

As Col. William Grimsley, commander of the division's 1st Brigade, put it, the Iraqis have not so much attacked American positions as impaled themselves on them.

"A Real Test: Restraint During War"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 02:47 AM | Comments (2)

Moynihan Report

If, instead of broad accusations of racism, policy-makers accepted Daniel Patrick Moynihan's "hard facts" on the collapse of the Black family, millions might not have had to endure the social and economic hardships of broken families.

"Moynihan was Prescient, but Pilloried for Facing Hard Facts" [via SCSUScholars]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 02:02 AM | Comments (1)

TiVo + Patriot = Big Brother?

From Television Week:

Under the USA Patriot Act, passed a month after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the feds can force a noncable TV operator to disclose every show you have watched. The government just has to say that the request is related to a terrorism investigation, said Jay Stanley, a technology expert for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Under Section 215 of the Act, you don't even have to be the target of the investigation. Plus, your TV provider is prohibited from informing you that the feds have requested your personal information.

Bummer. Now the Feds can find out about my unhealthy obsessions with Battlestar Galactica and Sportsnight.

"Is Your Television Watching You?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

Keegan on War Status

John Keegan gives his opinion of how well the allied forces are doing in Iraq:

In a conventional military environment, not so heavily influenced by the surveillance of the media, any commanding general might reckon the campaign had made highly satisfactory progress so far. It has secured most of the territory and facilities over which it needs to operate, has a secure base, has acquired its own resupply port, dominates the enemy and is not threatened by large-scale civilian disorder.

The critical phase, the battle for Baghdad, has still to be reached. It is inconceivable, however, that the American Army will not defeat the Republican Guard outside the city and such a defeat, in all likelihood, will rapidly bring about the city's fall.

Critics and war watchers buzzing from the cable channels' news crawler should just take a deep breath.

"This is Not Vietnam - the Allies are Well on the Way to Victory" [via The Command Post]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 01:45 AM | Comments (5)