[star]The American Mind[star]

January 31, 2005

Dean's Going to Win

Howard Dean, M.D. is in a strong position to become the next DNC Chairman. It is much stronger than he ever was as a Presidential candidate when glowing media coverage and a powerful internet presence resulted in few wins in Democratic primaries and caucuses. Unlike last year, endorsements for Dean are also votes for the man. Today, the Association of State Democratic Chairs endorsed Dr. Dean. Harold Ickes, who considered running against Dean, M.D., and Wellington Webb both endorsed the ex-Vermont governor.

What these people are endorsing is a man who told a New York City audience, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire their discipline and their organization." [via Galley Slaves] Such a leader is good for the GOP and bad for the Democrats and the country.

"State Democrats Back Dean for DNC Post" [via Charlie Sykes]

UPDATE: Doug Ireland also thinks Dean, M.D. has sown things up. Then he asks, "Will Dean make much of a difference as DNC chair?"

The way he squandered all that money he raised, only to win just his home state, isn't encouraging in management terms. Worse, the scuttlebutt in Washington among those who've talked to Dean and his people is that he intends to keep on the DNC staff assembled by Terry "the bagman" McAuliffe, the outgoing DNC chair. That's deplored by party technicians who don't consider the McAuliffe staff up to snuff.

In any case, it will take more than a technical fix to right what's wrong with the national Democrats. A recent poll showed a 12-point drop in the party's favorability rating among Democrats since the election--reflecting the disillusionment of the party base with the party elites' centrist drift. In their weekly conference call, the mayvens who run the Democratic 527 extra-party groups are--our spies tell us--talking about planning for taking back state legislatures so they, and not the Republicans, will control the gerrymandering after the next census. There's little of "the vision thing' in such technocratic strategizing. Will Dean, who has ever proclaimed himself a "centrist" with a "healthy distrust' of the left as well as the right, be the man to steer the party to a new, moblizing course and message? I'm not holding my breath.


[via Hit & Run]

The title of this post probably means the death of Howard Dean, M.D.'s quest for the DNC Chairmanship.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If It's Good Enough for Iraq...

If purple ink is good enough to prevent some fraud in Iraq's election why not in Wisconsin elections. It's looks goofier than those "I Voted" stickers, wouldn't stop people trucked in from out-of-state or felons who can't vote, and wouldn't prevent incompetant poll workers from improperly registering voters, but it would stop multiple voting.

"Just an Observation"

"From the Mouths of Babes..."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 04:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Reaction to Judge Green's Ruling

Not much comment from any big name webloggers on Judge Green's ruling. That doesn't mean there isn't any interesting commentary. Here's Rand Holman's take:

And the very people she is seeking to protect are not Americans, they were not captured on American soil, and they are suspected terrorists, or have fired upon US Troops in an overseas military operation.

And "their" rights are not what American troops have fought and died for, your Honor.

The State Of... writes, "I think Judge Green's ruling is rightly decided. It makes no sense to say somebody is not protected by International Law." There's one HUGE problem with this thinking: The U.S. is governed by its constitution not international law. Yes, the U.S. must hold to treaties that have passed the Senate, but the integrity of any nation-state requires its own laws to be paramount.

Lyle Denniston offers his analysis that points out the Geneva Convention aspect of the case:

Second, she decided that at least some of the detainees – those captured as fighters with Taliban forces in Afghanistan – have a right under the Geneva Convention to an independent tribunal’s decision as to whether they are entitled to the protections due a prisoner of war. She rejected the Bush Administration argument that President Bush alone has the power to decide when the Geneva Convention applies. She did accept Bush’s conclusion that the Convention does not apply to Al Qaeda members.

UPDATE: Steven Taylor has no problem with Judge Green's ruling. He writes, "I do adhere to the notion that there are fundamental hunan rights, many of which are, in fact, detailed in the US Constitution." As do I. I just don't think it's the duty of a nation state to uphold the rights of non-citizens.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 04:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Weblog Birthdays

James Joyner's Outside the Beltway is two years old, and Michele Catalano's A Small Victory is four years old. I toast you both and hope you don't stop anytime soon.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 02:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Respect

WisOpinion.com's latest Political Stock Report is up. Kevin notes Wisconsin webloggers are missing. Could Milwaukee's voting problems have been as big a story if talk radio were only only ones harping on it? Maybe. But we do know the BBA helped take the story national. Should we be surprised that a website devoted to Wisconsin politics isn't mentioning their weblog competitors?

We do know more people have been reading the Journal Sentinel's collection of websites recently. Maybe the BBA should ask them for a cut of their advertising revenue?

"WI Blogosphere Gets the Shaft"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Morris' Folly Better in Audio

Todd Zywicki enjoyed the abridged audio version of Edmund Morris' dissapointing biography of Ronald Reagan.

First, it cuts out all of Edmund Morris's narcissistic ruminations on himself. Seriously, what was Morris thinking about? I supposed he was trying to make some sort of point about how any biography reflects the life experience and perspective of the profiler, not just the subject. Ok, ok we get it--mention it in the preface and move on. Anyway, the abridged book-on-tape version has a narrator who briefly describes these interludes and then moves on.

Second, Dutch does something that has become one of my favorite things for books-on-tape--it contains actual clips from Reagan's speeches, including many things I had never heard before. I love this aspect of the technology of books-on-tape. Why block quote a speech when you can insert an actual audio excerpt? I suspect that this is the wave of the future, which I really like. Just as a movie is different from a play, a book-on-tape is a different media from a book.


Now, why can't they come out with an abridged paper version of the book with Morris' character cut out? Then Dutch might be worth recomending to others.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Non-Combatants Can Go to Court

If some federal judges have their way the U.S. won't be able to hold any terrorists.

A federal judge ruled Monday that foreign terror suspects held in Cuba can challenge their confinement in U.S. courts and she criticized the Bush administration for holding hundreds of people without legal rights.

Judge Joyce Hens Green, handling claims filed by about 50 detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, said the Supreme Court made clear last year that they have constitutional rights that lower courts should enforce.


"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats," she wrote, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."


I'm galled that Judge Green thinks non-citizens have the same constitutionally protected rights as American citizens. In a metaphysical sense all people have the same rights--thus they're called human rights. This has to be approached differently in a world of nation-states, borders, and anti-terrorist security. If it's the U.S. government must respect the rights of non-citizens then President Bush's call last week to spread freedom across the globe isn't just American policy. It could conceivably be a legal obligation.

Right now, the military holds hearings where prisoners can appeal their status as enemy combatants. Periodic review seems sound since intelligence and security concerns require easier standards than criminal trials. Judge Green ruled those unconstitutional today as well.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the conundrum the Supreme Court has placed us in:

The hard truth is there are people in custody who would love to see thousands of Americans dead. Those in custody are the same types of evil thugs beheading foreigners and bombing Iraqis who are working to bring freedom to their country. The Bush administration and the American public now have to face a significant consequence of the Supreme Court ruling that prisoners held by the military have a right to a hearing. Since letting the prisoners go would guarantee future American deaths we have two choices: either we hold the most dangerous terrorists until they die; or we shoot them. (The CIA will just moved them outside the U.S. with a "rendition" and off them.) Human rights activists who seem to care more about the rights of America's enemies than Americans don't like to admit that's the dilemma we face. They worry about government abuses. That's something I'll grant has taken place, is taking place now, and will in the future. However, if it's a terroist being abused instead of an American killed then that's a tragic tradeoff I'm willing to make. It's us or them, and I know what side I'm on.

"Judge Backs Guantanamo Detainee Challenges"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 12:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

A CPAC Reminder

This is my occasional reminder that TAM will be covering CPAC 2005. TAM is a labor of love, a hobby, and not a money-making operation. Because of that I'm asking for your help in defraying some of my expenses.

For those of you who don't use PayPal here's an Amazon button.
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Another option is to buy items from Amazon through TAM. There's ad down the left side of the weblog. A third option is to add TAM to your blogrolls and tell your friends about this weblog. Whatever you do I really appreciate it. Your comments, contributions, and support put a big, sappy grin on my face almost everyday.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in CPAC 2005 at 09:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thune: Weblog Evangelist

Maybe Sen. John Thune was a little too plugged into weblogs. He had two on his campaign payroll.

"Senators Plugged into Blogs"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 09:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iraq Voted

My expectation for Iraq's elections were that great numbers would vote, but hundreds would die in terrorist attacks. Based on how things turned out I'm pleasantly surprised. Many, especially Shites, took part. I'm saddened that there was low turnout in some Sunni-dominated areas. We're only near the end of the beginning, but I'm cautiously opptimistic.

For a whole heck of a lot of blogospheric reaction, Steven Taylor is Iraq Election Central.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 08:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Faith and Freedom

Power Line's Deacon writes about how various groups must "keep the faith" for there to be a free Iraq. His look at democracy as a process dovetails well with this earlier post.

"Keeping the Faith"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 08:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Some Get It, Some Don't

Greg Borowski, my favorite Journal Sentinel reporter right now, offers up an article letting us know where things stand in the Milwaukee voter scandal. He makes an important point about any criminal investigation:

Indeed, the same open system that makes it easy to vote on election day, long a point of pride for the state, makes it difficult to determine later if someone voted twice, voted as someone else or intentionally used a bad address.

In other words, it is one thing to find a crime, another to identify who is responsible for it.


Borowski also notes how little Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann does about voter fraud:
Four years ago, after the Journal Sentinel reported that at least 361 felons had voted improperly in the city, McCann charged three people with illegal voting.

One was an attorney from Shorewood, and two were Milwaukee men, both of whom were listed in a newspaper story.

In the end, the charges were dropped because prosecutors could not establish that the three felons knew they were forbidden from voting while they were still on probation or parole.

And nothing came of the other 300-plus cases found.

Eugene Kane makes a hasty generalization about Milwaukee's voting problems. The fallacy being that since he didn't see any voter fraud on Election Day (was he looking?) none happened. He then tosses out this bon mot:

The pleas for drastic election reform in Milwaukee - the end to same-day registration, voter ID cards and other measures - seem more centered on finding ways to discourage citizens from voting, particularly those who exist below society's radar.

In Kanespeak that means critics are racists. We're complaining about Milwaukee's voting problems because we hate blacks and don't want them to vote.

Jim Stingl brushes off the possiblility of anyone committing voter fraud because he "yet to meet one."

Only the best, deepest thinking local columnists grace the pages of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Excuse me while I yank my tongue out of my cheek.)

"Fraud or Bumbling, Voter Problems Still Unnerving to Public"

UPDATE: The JS editorial board ignores the biggest story in their city and declares campaign finance reform to the state's #1 issue. Let's hope they get an earful from their new Reader Advisory Committee.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:57 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 29, 2005

Democracy Isn't the End Game

All the happiness and joy in these pictures reminds me to remind you that today's elections in Iraq are only a means to an end. I'm not one of those types who sees democracy as the end state. The end state is a free Iraq. A free Iraq is one where property rights and civil rights are respected. A free Iraq is one where people can dream big dreams, contemplate new ideas, and act on them without fear of death of restriction by government agent. A free Iraq is one where angry people employ the power of the pen instead of the power of the bomb. Democracy and liberty don't necessarily have to coexist. Hong Kong under British is an example. In the U.S. democracy is tempered by a constitution that limits (albeit imperfectly) government. And as we've seen in the U.S. democracy can hamper liberty. Iraq's elections continue the process where a limited yet effective government comes into existence.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iraq Votes

History is being made as I write these words. Voting has begun in Iraq. That's great news for Iraqis and Americans. For Iraqis it's another step on the road to liberty. For Americans it's one step closer to getting our soldiers home and making the world safer from Islamist terrorism.

I just want to point out the voting procedures for the Iraqi elections. In Iraq the method being used to prevent vote fraud through multiple voting is indelible ink put on a voters hand after they turn in their ballot. For Iraqis voting in the United States there's more levels of security:

The seven showed election officials their passports and registration cards. Each then dipped part of an index finger in purple ink, a practice aimed at preventing a person from casting more than one vote.

Compare that with Wisconsin where you can waltz into a polling place without identification, have someone vouch for you, and get a ballot. At least in Wisconsin you don't risk getting killed by a bomb. Someone tell Gov. Doyle that what's good enough for Iraqi expatriates should be good enough for Wisconsinites.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New New Order

"Krafty" is the first single from the upcoming New Order album Waiting For the Siren's Call. This will have to do until the album comes out in April for us in North America.

"'Krafty' New Order Confirmed For Coachella 2005"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 12:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

Remember the First Mate

Keep Captain Ed and his family in your prayers. Ed's wife just might be getting a new pancreas.

"Need Prayers"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Webloggers at Heritage

The Heritage Foundation hosted a discussion on weblogs and the media. Matthew Sheffield from RatherBiased.com, Paul Mirengoff A.K.A. Deacon of Power Line, and Kevin Aylward of Wizbang talked about Dan Rather and how the MSM is affected by weblogs. A great part of it was connecting a name to a face, especially in Kevin's case. He and I have known each other for a number of years only through the internet. It's nice to finally see what he looks like. It will be even better meeting him in person at CPAC.

"Heritage Panel Wrapup"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weird but Yummy

Twinkie sushi. It has no rice, so it's not really sushi, and no raw fish. It looks like sushi, and it just might taste good.

This find gives me an excuse to tell you about my experience eating a deep fried twinkie. I had it at the county fair last summer. Mine was put on a plate and covered with chocolate syrup. I was disappointed. The coating wasn't very crispy. When I bit into it the inside became mushy. The creme filling spread into the cake becoming a creamy, edible sponge.

[via #!/usr/bin/girl]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 10:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Big Question

Steven Taylor's post gets to the heart of Man as a political animal. Does a universal human nature exist? Taylor writes,

This debate is fundamental to the debate between those who believe that only in a context of freedom can human beings truly flourish and those who believe that a sufficiently well crafted application of the mind can design the “best” state.

It was at the core of the East-West conflict in the Cold War, it was at the core of the war against Hitler (and today’s observance of the horror that was Auschwitz is a testament to the evil the human mind can create), and is the philosphical basis of Bush’s second inaugural address, as well as the hope behind the elections in Iraq this Sunday.

Perhaps the assumption that there is a universal human nature is flawed. However, the alternative is a view of human beings in which ascriptive characteristics or specific behaviors become the delineator of human nature–and that is a dangerous road to take. If some of us have different natures, Auschwitzes become far easier to construct.


Different sides of many political discussions on ideas big and small can come down to the participants' view of this question.

"On Human Nature"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 10:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Journal Sentinel Issues Another Yawn

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an editorial about the new local-federal investigation of voting problems. It's about as sharp as your breakfast oatmeal. It reads like the editors had to get something out to the masses. Maybe they feel they have to keep up with talk radio and the webloggers? Within a lot of babble about discrepencies in voting numbers they make this suggestion:

For their part, lawmakers should put off enacting new measures until after the criminal probe concludes. For instance, Republicans have been pushing the idea of requiring voters to show a photo ID card every time they cast a ballot. Well, the investigation should reveal whether identification fraud, which such a rule attempts to combat, took place, and to what extent.

The board is being disingenuous. They don't want a delay in considering a photo ID requirement. They don't want one period.

"Editorial: Election Probe Welcome"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

1305 People Shouldn't Have Voted

We now know how easy it was to commit vote fraud on Election Day in Milwaukee. Greg Borowski strikes again.

Milwaukee officials said Thursday that 1,305 same-day voter registration cards from the Nov. 2 election could not be processed, including more than 500 cases where voters listed no address and dozens more where no name was written on the card.

But the revelation of the actual number of cards that couldn't be processed, far lower than previous estimates of 8,300 or more, raised new concerns, because it leaves a clear gap of more than 7,000 people who voted on Nov. 2 and cannot be accounted for in city records.


Why were some of the registration cards invalid? Borowski continues:
The city's own breakdown of the 1,305 cards that could not be processed showed 548 people were given ballots without listing an address on the cards and another 48 did not provide a name.

And among many other problems, 141 gave addresses later found to not be in the city. One of the cards provided to the newspaper shows a voter clearly listing "Wauwatosa" as her city of residence. Nevertheless, she received a ballot and voted in Milwaukee.


The woman from Wauwatosa couldn't be found. Her "phone is disconnected." That assumes she even exists.

Here's an example of one improper form. A Randal Jarosch didn't put an address on his form. Yet it was signed by a precinct worker. The number in the bottom right-hand corner of the form is the voter number. That means Jarosch was given a ballot.

It gets worse.

In addition to the cards that could not be processed, city officials have had nearly 2,800 verification cards - out of 73,079 sent out - returned as undeliverable. State law requires those be submitted to the district attorney's office.

That number is higher than the 1,200 invalid addresses found by the Journal Sentinel, because the newspaper's review did not cover apartment buildings, due to problems in how the addresses appear in data bases.

1305 plus 2800 equals 4105. That's over one-third of the way to John Kerry's 11,384 vote win over President Bush in Wisconsin. This is just Milwaukee. We still have to deeply look into places like Racine and Madison.

Milwaukee elections chief Lisa Artison continues to blame human error and the huge numbers of people that voted. Artison just has to look in the mirror to find out who's responsible for such poor training of poll workers. Both she and Mayor Tom Barrett refuse to even consider the possibility that vote fraud occured.

There is a problem with Borowski's story. He writes (emphasis mine),

Barrett said the problems did not shake his belief that voters shouldn't face a requirement to show a photo identification card at the polls before getting a ballot. He said the requirement would be a burden on some voters, particularly the elderly.

Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) soon are expected to introduce a photo ID bill, something Gov. Jim Doyle opposes and likely would veto.

Such a requirement may not have prevented the problems surrounding Milwaukee's registration cards - all of which, if current law was followed, should have come from people who provided identification.


Borowski fails to tell readers that another voter can vouch for a new registrant if he doesn't have any identification. Identification isn't needed.

"City OK'd 1,305 Flawed Voter Cards"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:24 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Feeding from the Trough

Amy Ridenour points out that pundits and journalists aren't the only ones who have conflicts of interest when it comes to government contracts. She writes,

Journalists aren't special (sorry, journalists!). If you should disclose a possible conflict of interest when writing an opinion column, you sure as heck should if you are testifying before Congress.

Or, better yet, decide to stop taking federal money.


"Federal Payola: Journalists Aren't Special"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 11:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Packers Thug Dies

Back in the 1980s, the Green Bay Packers were dreadful, full of has-beens and never-could-bes and lead by coaches who played under Vince Lombardi. An especially lousy time was the Forrest Greg era. His teams were happy to end up 8-8. But what really marked Greg's teams was all the thugs on them. Mossy Cade was convicted of rape while James Lofton was acquitted. On the field, who could forget Charles Martin bodyslamming Jim McMahon into the turf.

I bring these bad Packers memories up because Charles Martin died from kidney disease. He was 46.

"Former NFL Defensive Tackle Charles Martin Dies"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The CPAC 19

Here are the webloggers CPAC was dumb smart enough to give press credentials to.


CPAC isn't afraid of any webloggers. They are allowing Wonkette to run around freely, and I expect Radley Balko to be no-holds-barred.

Maybe the best part of this for me will be meeting those webloggers I read and connect with on a daily basis. BloggerCon I showed me how great it is to put a face to a weblog.

This is also a good time for me to ask for donations to help defray some of the costs of the trip. You can donate to TAM by hitting the tip jars below:

For those of you who don't use PayPal here's an Amazon button.
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Since I can't find a way to know who sends me a donation please send me an e-mail so I can thank you personally. If you don't then I thank you in advance.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Registering Vote with a Comic Book

State Senator Joe Leibham responded to Gov. Jim Doyle's statement that "I think we have a pretty good system… If you register at the polls, you have to show appropriate identification to show that you are who you claim to be and that you reside at the location." I knocked him down yesterday by pointing out the actual state rules. In a press release (PDF) Sen. Leibham said,

The Governor’s assessment of our system is inaccurate and understates the need for meaningful election reform. We have heard numerous stories from election day volunteers regarding voters using everything from comic books to magazines to register to vote. Not to mention, the horrific stories of abuse regarding WI’s relaxed vouching system that allows people to vouch for the identity of others prior to voting.

Leibham goes on to say that requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls is a "first step" in election reform. Hopefully the Joint Legislative Council’s
bipartisan Special Committee on Election Law Review will seriously examine Wisconsin's same-day registration.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trials Set for Racine Voter Fraud

Thanks to Brainpost for reminding me the Racine District Attorney is prosecuting voter fraud.

Two Milwaukee men, including one who ran for the State Assembly, await trial on charges of election fraud in Racine County.

Damien Donnelle Jones, 24, and Robert Marquis Blakely, 24, are accused of registering voters they never talked to. The two men were working for Project Vote, and were assigned to Racine to register people to vote in the Nov. 2 election. They are accused of multiple counts of election fraud and misconduct in office; Blakely is also charged with forgery.

Jones was a candidate for the Assembly's 10th District seat in Milwaukee on Nov. 2. He lost.

Both men have pleaded innocent to the charges. Jones' trial is scheduled for Feb. 8; Blakely's, for March 8.


If you only read the Journal Sentinel you'd know zilch about this. TAM was following Project Vote last fall [here and here]. In Milwaukee, two felons were found to be registering voters. That violates state law. Lisa Artison "revoked their status as deputy registrars," but there's no news if she asked E. Michael McCann to investigate.

"Two Milwaukee Men Await Trial on Fraud Charges Here"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Library Model

Mayor Tom Barrett was just on Charlie Sykes Show. After talking about school choice he answered some questions from Charlie about Milwaukee's voting problems. Charlie asked Barrett why he opposed requiring photo IDs at the polls. Barrett's answer was concern for the creation of a "two-tier" system where Brookfield (i.e. white) students had an easier time getting drivers licenses than Milwaukee inner city (i.e. black) students. Barrett also mentioned that Milwaukee Public Libraries require photo ID to check out books. The mayor didn't have the imagination to see a solution to getting valid IDs to poor, inner city voters. If libraries can take a person's photo on the spot if they don't have an ID, then why can't the election commission do the same? The infrastructure is already there. That Barrett didn't come to that conclusion means he has other concerns or interests pushing him.

UPDATE: TAM commenter steveegg points out a glaring flaw in Mayor Barrett's argument:

Just another hole in Tom "Milk Carton" Barrett's argument that because there's no
driver's ed in Milwaukee, we can't expect young blacks to have drivers' licenses -
only 16- and 17-year-olds have to demonstrate formal driver's education before
attempting to get their license. The last time I checked, 16- and 17-year-olds
DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE!

But they probably could get away with it in Milwaukee. (Oh, do I love my readers!)

Charlie Sykes' talk with Mayor Barrett is up on the web. Can anyone turn the Real Audio into an MP3?

UPDATE II: Arizona has gone much farther than anyone in Wisconsin is suggesting by requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote and photo ID at the polls.

"The New 'Show Me State', Arizona"

"AZ Says: 'Prove it'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 10:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

TT Memories

Ann Althouse is getting an Audi TT Coupe. She's right, it is a beautiful car. My best memory of seeing an Audi TT was in London a few years ago. I was in one of those double-decker buses. It stopped at a red light. What pulled up next to me was a cobalt blue Audit TT convertible with two gorgeous women in it. One a blonde the other a brunette.

At last year's Milwaukee Auto Show, I sat in a TT Coupe. It looked great on the outside, but in the inside it felt like I was sitting in a cave. That was a let down. Even more so since I now know I can get on with an automatic transmission

"The Audi TT Coupe"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 03:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lack of Disclosure

Maggie Gallagher and Howard Kurtz are in a little tussle over Kurtz's reporting of Gallagher's government contract. Gallagher denies being paid to promote President Bush's marriage initiative. Kurtz told Editor & Publisher she "has seen fit to blame the messenger."

In her defense, Gallagher claims she is being held to a new standard:

It is not uncommon for researchers, scholars, or experts to get paid by the government to do work relating to their field of expertise. Nor is it considered unethical or shady: if anything, government funded work is considered a mark of an expert's respectability. Until today, researchers and scholars have not generally been expected to disclose a government-funded research project in the past, when they later wrote about their field of expertise in the popular press or in scholarly journals.

I'm stunned by this admission. Gallagher is saying there are lots and lots of people writing articles in scholarly journals and widely-read publications who don't disclose their conflicts. This tradition has to stop. In an age where anyone can use Google to investigate possible conflicts of interest, writers' transparancy is the best defense. Plus, it's not that hard to add a line of disclosure to an article's bio.

"Gallagher Criticizes WP Article; Kurtz Rebuts"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 01:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Living Near Weirdness

Tom McMahon posts on the Bunyan Muffler Man of Clinton, Wisconsin. I grew up in Hilbert, less than 10 miles away. I never heard of such a statue until this moment.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Pleasant Surprise

At the bookstore last night, I helped a couple find knitting books. After taking them to the section, the gentleman asked to see Sean Hackbarth. I told him that was I only to be informed that he was none other than triticale. That's the first time a TAM reader has found me at work. Both he and his wife are pleasant. I was glad to meet them.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Joint Investigation of Election

The U.S. Attorney's office, the Milwaukee District Attorney's office, the Milwaukee Police Department, and the FBI will join forces to investigate the Milwaukee election.

That's good news. However, I'll be shocked if they can find a specific instance of voter fraud with enough evidence to prosecute. That's the downside of the secret ballot. As soon as a voter turns in their completed ballot all connection to the voter is gone. Hopefully this investigation will scare off those who will consider vote fraud in the future.

Because it will be so hard to find a specific instance of voter fraud state law must be changed to close loopholes and make it more difficult to cheat at the polls. At the minimum voters should show photo identification at the polls. Rules for receiving an absentee ballot have to be tightened. Just because you're not in the mood to go to the polls on Election Day shouldn't be a good enough reason to get an absentee ballot. Allowing another voter to "vouch" for a new registrant absolutely has to go. The big change would be ending same-day registration. It would give clerks time to tidy voter rolls. No politician so far has had the guts to even breathe this suggestion. As we've seen, Milwaukee's (and Wisconsin's) voting problems are systemic. Effective change will happen in Madison not in Milwaukee.

A question I have is who is heading the investigation. Will it be the crusading U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic or the plodding, plea-bargaining E. Michael McCann? Also, will the investigation be limited to Milwaukee? Racine has problems of its own, and we now know of one alleged instance of vote fraud in Brown County.

"Police, FBI Join Investigation into Possible Election Fraud"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Charlie, You Made Me Blush

Thanks to Charlie Sykes for highlighting my deconstruction of today's Journal Sentinel editorial. I would have heard his mention of TAM on his show this morning but I was falling in and out of a sleepy daze all because I worked so hard late last night on that post.

"Clueless"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Social Security Weblog

The Club for Growth has a weblog devoted to Social Security reform. This should be good.

[via Redstate]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

College Grad Voted Illegally

A St. Norbert College graduate has been charged with voter fraud for voting in De Pere while living in Illinois. Ignorance shouldn't be Marc Lacher's excuse because he has substantial record as a student:

Lacher, a May 2004 graduate, was president of the college’s student government association in 2003 and a student member of the college’s Board of Trustees in 2003-04.

Add alleged criminal to his resume.

Just as interesting as the story is Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski's statement that "This is the first of its kind that I’m aware of where we think someone voted illegally." Methinks Mr. Zakowski hasn't been looking very hard.

The Journal Sentinel editorial board may think TAM's picking on Milwaukee too much. Maybe pointing out this story will stop their clucking.

"St. Norbert College Grad’s Vote Results in Fraud Charges"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Problem? What Problem?

The Journal Sentinel editorial board finally speaks about Milwaukee's voting problems. They refuse to see a problem, want critics to stop picking on Milwaukee, and only want to tinker around the edges.

The editorial board calls their paper's findings that 8300 more votes were counted than voters, that 1242 people voted at addresses that don't exist, and that 10,000 registration cards can't be verified to be "discrepancies" and "errors." Maybe in some cases, but some they're also crimes. Anyone who put down a nonexistent address or vouched for someone they shouldn't have committed voter fraud.

No criticism is directed toward Milwaukee elections chief Lisa Artison. The newspaper doesn't demand an explanation from her about the 10,000 registration cards that can't be verified. There's no call for Artison to obey the law and ask District Attorney E. Michael McCann to investigate. The only criticism is leveled at Republicans who seek a voting process all Wisconsinites can trust.

Where the editorial board is factually wrong is when they write,

Reporter Greg J. Borowski noted that three-quarters of voters with wrong addresses registered on site on election day. Yet, to register, you must show poll workers proof of residence, such as a recent utility bill, a lease, a driver's license. So how is it that the residences cannot be found of some voters who produced such proof?

Someone should have them check out the state elections board website. Then they'd understand that ID, a utility bill, or a lease isn't needed if someone vouches for you. They shouldn't have to make the hard-working Greg Borowski do all the work for them.

The paper then thinks critics are picking on Milwaukee. Well, it is the biggest city in the state. Facts like the 10,000 unverifiable registration cards can't be ignored. If the paper was correct then why is there such scrutiny of Racine? TAM's been covering the "interesting" election happenings [and here] there for a while. Examining Milwaukee's poor election process is only the tip of the iceberg to Rep. Jeff Stone, the Wisconsin GOP, talk radio, and the Badger Blog Alliance.

Since the newspaper doesn't really see much of a problem they don't offer any solutions other than new technology. They continue to oppose the common sense idea of making voters show a photo ID before getting a ballot. The paper is correct in noting that requiring photo ID wouldn't stop a nefarious person from offering a bad address. IDs can be faked, and a person could use the address on the ID instead of the one they actually live at. The myopic paper can't grasp that the real problem is same-day registration. If voter registration ended a few weeks before Election Day election officials would have the chance to verify addresses.

"Editorial: Widen Election Day Focus"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 02:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Can't Say They Weren't Warned

Before Election Day, the Wisconsin Republican Party warned the City of Milwaukee about 5619 invalid addresses on voter rolls. The Journal Sentinel found that 186 people voted with one of those bad addresses.

This is proof the city failed to live up to its agreement with the Wisconsin GOP to make anyone using the invalid addresses register at the polls. Rick Graber, GOP chairman said, "We had an understanding. We had an agreement. For whatever reason, the city did not live up to its end of the bargain." Rep. Jeff Stone, who has been inquiring about Milwaukee's voter problems, said, "To have this information about the addresses out there before the election and have it ignored is another mind-boggling element of this whole thing."

Gov. Jim Doyle sticks his head in the sand by telling the newspaper, "I think we have a pretty good system. If you register at the polls, you have to show appropriate identification to show that you are who you claim to be and that you reside at that location."

Doyle perpetuates a lie. As I noted previously "it's possible to register to vote on Election Day WITHOUT showing a poll worker a photo ID." The most glaring loophole being another voter can vouch for you. We know someone claimed van loads of people in Racine registered on Election Day this very way [and here].

"City was Warned about Some Bad Voter Listings"

"Loopholes in Voting System a Symptom of its Openness"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Racine and Madison Voting Problems

Standed on Blue Islands has two hard-hitting posts on Wisconsin voting problems. In the first, Dirty Harry found out 22.5% of voters in Madison registered on Election Day. If only 10% of those voters can't be verified (as compared to 13% so far in Milwaukee) 2344 votes for John Kerry can be questioned. As Dirty Harry writes, "Add those to the probable 6500 ineligible Kerry votes in Milwaukee and suddenly Kerry's lead shrinks to 2,700, leaving Racine County and the rest of the state to look for."

Then we have Racine. A poll worker (name withheld unfortunately) tells the story of missing ballots at one polling place. Jib at BBA has some pictures [here, here, and here].

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Columnist on the Dole

Maggie Gallagher is the second conservative columnist to be outed for not telling anyone she was on the federal government's payroll. In 2002, the strong marriage advocate wrote an essay defending the Bush administrations marriage promotion plan. At the same time she was writing pro-marriage materials for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Gallagher's excuse was that "it never occurred to me" to disclose it.

Is it really that hard to remember you were paid by the government on a subject you're writing a column on? Gallagher's flipant response shows she doesn't take her lack of disclosure seriously. I rarely read any of her work, but this bit of news will guarantee I will skip over anything with her byline on it. Tribune Media Services felt the same way. They dropped her syndicated column. (With Gallagher and Armstrong Williams

Armstrong Willams' and Gallagher's indiscretions bring up an interesting set of questions. How should intellectuals (in lieu of a better word) work with the government? We all agree full disclosure is good to keep oneself intellectually honest. However, is it all right for them to take government money on subjects they'll later write on? What is the statute of limitations if any? Should outside intellectuals get paid at all?

In line with the last question is an example: is it ethical for the government to pay a scholar like Bernard Lewis to come to Washington, D.C. to speak to the State Department? Is it ethical for Lewis to accept such an offer? Is Lewis' scholarship tainted by being paid? Lewis is not the best example because he's never been shy about mentioning his meetings with Bush administration officials.

Gallagher wonders [via Andrew Sullivan] about these same questions:

My first instinct is to say, no, Howard, I had no special obligation to disclose this information. I'm a marriage expert. I get paid to write, edit, research, and educate on marriage. If a scholar or expert gets paid to do some work for the government, should he or she disclose that if he writes a paper, essay, or op-ed on the same or similar subject? If this is the ethical standard, it is an entirely new standard. I was not paid to promote marriage. I was paid to produce particular research and writing products (articles, brochures, presentations) which I produced. My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me.

Captain Ed sees Gallagher's error as less than that of Williams. He actually thinks her lame response was worse for her credibility.

Michelle Malkin is again disgusted and demands the Bush administration and any other paid pundits come clean.

Slant Point sees this as an "emerging proof of pattern" for the administration.

Jib comes clean with his past conflicts.

"Columnist Backing Bush Plan Had Federal Contract"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 12:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Shows What I Know

No Mel vs. Moore at this year's Oscars. Good rule of thumb: don't put money down on my predictions.

"'Aviator' Gets 11 Academy Award Nods" [via Captain's Quarters]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smacking Around the Journal Times

Drew at Darn Floor wipes the Racine Journal Times editorial board off the floor. Drew sees the critical focus on Wisconsin voting problems as an attempt to clean up a dirty voting process. the Journal Times thinks critics just don't want people to vote Democratic.

"Verification Postcards 'Just a Partisan Ploy'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 07:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's Just a Study

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to look at how Colorado funds higher education. That state allocates funds through college students. Pawlenty asked that it be studied by his administration. I'm amazed that there's actually hub-bub about a study. About Colorado's approach, Travis Reindl of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities said, "States wouldn't do this unless they had a gun to their head, and Colorado had a fiscal gun to its head." University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks said it was "a recipe to erode the strength and capacity of the university to support its educational and research programs." When two people who would like to see public universities get an unlimited budget complain about a study I suspect worry about the Colorado approach becoming law. It's also ironic that Reindl and Bruinicks are associated with centers of inquiry yet they complain when a governor attempts some of his own.

"Pawlenty College-Aid Plan Draws Criticism"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 06:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Too Harsh on Dobson

Last week, I ripped into James Dobson. My mistake was taking the NY Times story at face value. Glenn Reynolds points me to a Toon Zone opinion piece that rips on the Times:

I'm not interested in the "gay" angle to SpongeBob, and as an editor and reporter on this site I have no interest in gay marriage, gay rights or any of the other social controversies that so exercise Dobson. I think Dobson and his allies are very foolish to treat what sounds like a bland grammar-school video as a threat to American values; I think it is execrable that he should try piggybacking his social agenda onto innocent cartoon characters and their innocent creators.

But the Times, intentionally or not, appears to be guilty of the same thing. Deliberately or not, it appears to have twisted Dobson's position and imputed to him (without evidence) an argument he does not seem to have made. And in making SpongeBob sound like a martyr, it appears to be trying to piggyback a rival agenda onto his very thin shoulders: Save SpongeBob from the bluenoses!


And then there's a statement from Focus on the Family.

Based on this Dobson hasn't already turned into another Jerry Fallwell, but I won't be surprised if he does.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 04:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Guess I'm not "Normal"

Matthew Yglesias writes about paternalism. His position in a nutshell: he's not opposed to it. Paternalism to him is a pragmatic solution to a problem.

He does try to mix up different kinds of paternalism and shove them all under the same umbrella. He does this with both government social programs and voluntary charity ventures.

He also defines paternalism on the individual level as "trying to dissuade people from making bad choices about their lives." The key word is "dussuade." Paternalism is about taking control of another person's actions so they do what's "best" for them. The thinking being that individual isn't making good decisions so the paternalist must take over. Paternalism is beyond persuasion, it's about coercion. I can try to get someone to act in a way I feel is best. That isn't paternalism, that's attempted persuation. If I somehow force that person to do what I think is best, that's paternalism.

What set me off to writing this post was this Yglesias passage (my emphasis):

If, like a normal person, you think it's legitimate -- and, indeed, obligatory -- to use the coercive power of the state in order to help people, then you should also find it obligatory to deploy the coercive power of the state for paternalistic purposes when pragmatically appropriate.

Yglesias' "normal" people don't include libertarians, classical liberals, many conservatives, and probably a good number of the electorate. Also realize that Yglesias' sphere of legitimate uses of state power is so broad as to no way call it "limited"--the word is no where in his post. With the pragamtism he brings to the table state power would be unlimited in Yglesias' ideal America as long as it helped people.

I feel it's safe to say that Yglesias is a Parfitian--he praises one of his books. It's also safe to say he isn't a Hayekian like I am. Thus Yglesias' analysis doesn't take into account the "use of knowlege in society" (a title of Hayek's most important work). Understanding of this and any social problem would benefit from examining the depth and breath of knowledge available to individuals involved. We would better realize that wanting to do good and having enough resources at hand isn't enough to solve social problems. What is important is to understand that individuals use scattered bits of knowledge and limited views of the world to make their decisions.

"Paternalism"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 04:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Charlotte Simmons

Eric Berlin, a big Tom Wolfe fan, has a slightly lesser review of I Am Charlotte Simmons.

"Dumpster Bust Reviews: I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 03:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Crime Not a "Prank"

The Journal Sentinel editorial board buried the lede in their comment on the tire slashing charges. At the top they called the slashings an "election day prank." Only in the middle of the editorial do they label the crimes exactly what they were--voter supression.

The board also has lots of faith in E. Michael McCann. They write that he has a "well-earned reputation for honesty and dispassion." He also has a reputation for plea-bargaining. The Journal Sentinel editorial board is silent about reducing the charges.

"Editorial: Tire-Slashing was No Joke"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 03:25 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Milwaukee Voters' Addresses Don't Exist

The Journal Sentinel's Greg Borowski continues to put together some fine work on Milwaukee's Election Day problems. His latest find is that 1,242 votes came from voters whose addresses do not exist. Reporters found a park, a baseball diamond, an alley, and a bridge at addresses voters claimed in order to vote. What isn't surprising is that 75% of those bad addresses came from same-day registration. Mayor Barrett's chief of staff Patrick Curley took the ostrich approach and said this was no sign of fraud. If it wasn't fraud then why would a voter use a non-existent address? Lisa Artison, head of the Election Commission, said, "The results you obtained make it clear the new statewide voter system is very badly needed and long overdue." No long recitations on the definition of "estimate" this time. However as Borowski points out,

But that system, to be online late this year, will do little to safeguard against problems with same-day voter registration, or with the flood of registration cards the city received in the final days before Nov. 2.

It also doesn't get Artison off the hook for allowing poll workers to accept voter registration cards so poorly completed that a verification postcard can't be mailed.

"Over 1,200 Voters’ Addresses Found Invalid"

[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 03:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Finally!

Milwaukee District Attorney E. Michael McCann (Anyone know what the "E." stands for? If not, make something up.) filed charges in the Election Day tire slashing investigation. For those of you who don't remember this moment in Milwaukee political history, let me recap: Last Election Day, the GOP rented a bunch of rented vans to get voters to the polls. That morning, 25 vans had their tires slashed. A guard at the parking lot jotted down a license plate number of a car leaving the scene. That led to the arrested suspects that include the son of former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt and the son of newly-elected Congressman Gwen Moore.

With two suspects being sons of prominent Democrats many critics, including myself, wondered what took McCann, a Democrat, so long to file charges. McCann says it was the FBI's fault. His office was relying on that agency to interview people outside the state. He told reporters, You’ve got to understand how this looks elsewhere. It’s a tire-slashing case." He also took a shot at critics: "Those who know nothing about the progress of the investigation are perhaps a touch arrogant." (This is right up there with Lisa Artison's recent comment that "clearly there is an agenda at work here" in response to those criticizing Milwaukee's Election Day process.)

When you hear the Left complain about Republicans supressing the vote stick this story in their face.

For an HTML version of the criminal complaint and talk radio's Mark Belling yapping about it visit My View of the World.

Wendy at Boots & Sabers goes off on McCann for minimizing the crime. You can bet that if some GOP thugs trashed the cars of that were to take blacks in the inner city to the polls McCann would be filing civil rights and hate crime charges.

Will McCann plea-bargain these felonies down to misdemeanors? As Charlie Sykes points out recent history says so.

"5 Charged in GOP Tire Slashings"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 02:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Hot and Heavy

Thanks to a commenter for pointing out Jenna Bush's wild night at an inaugural ball. I still think that's an ugly dress.

"Jenna Bush, Post-Post-Post-Inauguration"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 08:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sex and the College Campus

I Am Charlotte Simmons is Tom Wolfe delving into college life. You'd think a 74-year old man would not be able to portray such an environment with any accuracy. Somehow the old reporter pulled it off. Being almost eight years out of college I'll tell you that I Am Charlotte Simmons is pitch perfect. He got teenager's cadence and obsessive use of "like" and "totally" down pat. Males' need to constantly watch SportsCenter as well as their need to get drunk are also spot on.

With Wolfe's pen sex becomes a character itself in this novel. If you've read his essay "Hooking Up" you understand Wolfe's fascination with the total removal of romance from sex. Sex for the students in the book is about quenching their carnal thirst. Look "cool," get drunk, find someone "hot," have sex, lather, rinse, repeat.

A shallow reader would assume the author is just obsessed with sex. A deeper reading of the book would find something more profound. Wolfe's theme in this novel is belonging. Characters are either trying to fit in, maintain their place in their group, or leaping up the social ladder.

The main character, Charlotte Simmons, comes from the hills of North Carolina. While in high school she only has one friend her age. She looks at the rest of her classmates as vulgar, stupid, lame people who will not move beyond the backwater of Sparta. She, Charlotte Simmons, is her class valedictorian with a 1600 SAT, and a full ride to the pinnacle of higher learning, Dupont University--think of it as Harvard but with really good sports teams. At Dupont Charlotte thinks she will live the "life of the mind." There she thinks she will be able to comisserate with those like her. Reality slaps her in the face the day she moves in when her country folks go to dinner with her rich roomate's parents. Class and status consciousness abound. The rungs of the social ladder are covered in spilled beer and used condoms.

Coed bathrooms, being "sexiled," frat parties, all these the reader experiences through Charlotte's naive eyes. While those around her are acting in ways in complete contrast to how her parents raised her Charlotte continues to take part. Her alternative is loneliness.

Charlotte has a desire to be cool. She wants others to see her hanging around cool people on campus. She likes showing off her legs sculpted from cross-country running. At a fraternity formal, she drunkenly laughs that one of the brothers is so vain. Ironically, all she has to do is look in the mirror to see someone else just as vain.

Charlotte's desire to belong with the cool crowd gets her drunk and in bed with a fraternity brother named Hoyt. In the weeks Charlotte hung around Hoyt she thought his smile and the way he touched her meant there was actual love behind the frat boy's lust. She gives up her virginity only to find she was nothing more than a conquest, an "accomplishment" to tell his fraternity brothers.

Charlotte forsook her mother's morals. Her punishment was her loss of innocence and a crushing guilt. This takes her into a depression which causes her grades to plummet which creates a vicious cycle. Without her school newspaper reporter friend/Rhodes Scholar wannabe Adam holding her in the night in his apartment and scolding her to get to her finals Charlotte wouldn't have passed anything. The tender, compassionate, accurate display of her depression was the most emotional, moving writing on the subject since Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon.

I won't give the ending away. I will tell you that on the surface it's a happy ending. Charlotte may be more comfortable at Dupont, but her life is a far cry from the ideal she had at the beginning of the school year. Charlotte may have thought she wanted a "life of the mind," but belonging won out.

Any accomplished novelist could set a story on a modern college campus. But when you read Tom Wolfe you expect more. The reporting as fiction (A.K.A. The New Journalism), the melding of high-level ideas like neuroscience and sociobiology, and the social satire place Wolfe a step above other novelists. But what makes Wolfe Wolfe is the zig-zag, BANG! ZAP! rat-tat-tat-tat style wordslinging. He is one of the few fiction writers who can rip off a paragraph that fills an entire page without the reader pausing. Sentences crackle, letters fly over you. Through it all Wolfe makes sure his novel doesn't fall into a postmodern morass. The plot moves forward, and the characters remain living, breathing creatures.



Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 12:47 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

DailyKos Take Down

Markos Moulitsas, A.K.A. DailyKos, argued against New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. A New Hampshire professor takes him apart by delving into Kos' weblog archives.

"Reformist Democrats Still Need NH Primary"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Walter Wriston: R.I.P.

Walter Wriston, former CEO of Citibank, died this week. His claim to fame: turning banking into an information technology industry. Wriston has a Wisconsin connection. In 1925 his family moved to Appleton, WI because his father was named president of Lawrence University.

"Walter B. Wriston: A Remembrance"

"Walter Wriston, Ex-Citigroup Chief Executive, Dies"

"Walter B. Wriston, Banking Innovator as Chairman of Citicorp, Dies at 85"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Johnny Carson, R.I.P.

In Heaven an angel just said, "Heeeeere's Johnny!"

Television legend Johnny Carson died this morning of emphysema. To me late night television will always be Carson's realm. He ruled his domain with charm and humor. After he left the Tonight Show in late night was not the same. Neither Leno, Letterman, or O'Brien have the same sense of timing and ability to interact with the audience. Michael Ventre writes,

The day television died was May 22, 1992, when Johnny Carson hustled out of a Burbank studio, leaving tear-soaked cheeks, 30 years of memories and a void that could never be filled.

Like music, television carried on, but it was never quite the same again. Carson was princely. He was to television what Sinatra was to music, what Brando was to acting, what JFK was to the presidency. He was Carnac the Magnificent’s alter-ego, as trusted and reliable as the turbaned Carnac was inept. (Answer: “Ben Gay.” Question: “Why didn’t Ben Franklin have any children?”

But Carson’s strength was his accessibility. You could take him to bed. Every night. Millions did.

I'll remember the golfswing and Carnak's envelopes sitting on Funk & Wagnals' porch. His comedy was risque enough to be primarily for adults but not raunchy.

Godspeed, Johnny.

"Late-Night King Johnny Carson Dies at 79"

UPDATE: There's some nice tributes to Johnny around the blogosphere:

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Ho Hum

Moping was the theme today. I'm still bummed Mother Nature stopped me from traveling to Minnesota today. No TAM presence at the MOB tonight, nor did I visit some friends from college. Since I knew there was a 0% chance of traveling today, last night I finished Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. I'm a big Wolfe fan, but I have to tell you this is he best novel of them all. I'll try to get a review up before the football games start tomorrow. My prediction on them: I'm going with the home teams--Pittsburgh and Philadelphia both win.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

A Complete, Utter Mess

For a quick summary of how messed up Milwaukee's election was check out this Brainpost post.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2005

8,000 More Ballots than Voters

Here's the info about more ballots than voters Mark Belling pointed out on his show today.

A Journal Sentinel review shows that the city's records list 269,212 people - those with confirmed addresses or who could be sent verification cards - as voting, while 277,535 ballots were cast. That suggests a gap of 8,323 voters who cannot be sent the cards.

In other elections in 2004, Milwaukee consistently had more ballots cast than people who voted.

We have to thank Greg Borowski of the Journal Sentinel for not letting this story fade away.

"Evaluation of Election Begins" [via Stranded on Blue Islands]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

Lost in Translation

Some in Norway didn't get Jenna Bush's hand gesture. They thought it was Satanic.

"Shock greeting from Bush daughter," a headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper Nettavisen said above a photograph of Bush's daughter Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.

"Bush Shocks Foreigners With 'Satanic' Sign"

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

More Ballots than Voters

Patrick reports that talk radio yapper Mark Belling told his audience there were 8,000 more ballots cast than voters in Milwaukee. What Patrick posts is very vague. I didn't hear Belling today so I can't tell you if there were more ballots cast than registered voters total on the rolls or more ballots cast than voters who checked in on Election Day. If either possibility is true then it's very interesting that news about Milwaukee election problems came out on a Friday. You'd think after last week Milwaukee City Hall would realize the BBA doesn't take weekends off.

"8,000 More?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

Snowed In

It serves me right planning anything travel related in the Upper Midwest in January. The plan was to west to the Twin Cities, go to the Minnesota weblogger confab, and visit some college friends. Mother Nature had other plans like dumping snow on me with high winds to make travel treacherous. Guess they'll have to do without me. Let's just say I'm not a happy camper.

"Winter Weekend Ahead"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Bush Twins at Inauguration

President Bush's inauguration means more opportunities to see the twins.

Here they are bundled up watching the parade.


bushtwins-inaugparade.jpg

Here they are at a ball.


bushwomen-inaugball.jpg

Jenna and Barbara a looking ok. But not as good as the night before at the Black Tie & Boots Ball.

bushtwins-tieboots1.jpg

Jenna looks especially nice above, but then we see the whole dress.

bushtwins-tieboots2.jpg

Ugh!

And who knew she was a Satanist--or Ozzy Osbourne fan?

jenna-tieboots.jpg

UPDATE: At the Black Tie & Boots Ball Jenna was spotted wearing a ring where an engagement ring would be. The First Lady's spokesman quashed a potential rumor. "She's still single," he said. What a relief!

"Jenna's Bling Isn't Engagement Ring"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 12:24 AM | Comments (4)

January 20, 2005

Dobson Morphs into Fallwell

Earlier this month I worried that James Dobson would "turn into a conservative Christian windbag like Jerry Fallwell." He didn't even last a month. Dobson's going after SpongeBob SquarePants for being a gay symbol. Whether it is is debatable. It's Tinky Winky all over again. Captain Ed thinks Dobson, as a Christian conservative leader, has a responsiblity not to be goofy.

"Conservatives Pick Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 11:45 PM | Comments (13)

Kemp Connected to Oil-for-Food

A benefit from Bill Clinton beating Bob Dole in 1996 is then we wouldn't have had a Vice President who was soft on Saddam like Jack Kemp was:

[Lanny] Davis confirmed that in 2001, Kemp personally approached Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell about a version of his proposal, in which Kemp and other emissaries would fly to Iraq and negotiate an arrangement by which United Nations inspectors would be allowed back into the country in exchange for a gradual phase-out of U.N. sanctions. Kemp talked to Cheney at a social gathering about the plan and was rebuffed, Davis and Kemp said. Kemp also telephoned Powell about his proposal in which the former congressman would be joined on a trip to Baghdad by Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, and an associate of former president Jimmy Carter. Powell “showed no interest,” Davis said.

After knowing the brutality Saddam put that country through I hope Kemp is happy Powell "showed no interest" in his idea.

Kemp has admitted he was in contact with an Iraqi-American who has pleaded guilty to charges in the Oil-for-Food scandal.

"FBI Grills Jack Kemp About Iraqi Contact" [via Oliver Willis]

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

Suspected Fraud in Racine

According to Stranded on Blue Islands, Racine GOP chairman Lou D'Abbraccio detects the whiff of voter fraud:

Of most concern for Mr. D'Abbraccio is thirty vanloads of voters brought in by liberal activists. Most of these voters had no ID or utility bills and it was the liberal activists themselves who vouched for them as residents -- as allowed by law -- allowing them to vote. At one point things got so ugly regarding challenges that the Attorney General had to intervene. It seems the people who vouched for the ID-less were refusing to sign a particular form swearing these voters were residents. The AG told them it was required and if they were found lying it was a federal offense. They refused to sign, the vans stopped coming, but hundreds had gotten through.

"A Revealing Conversation With A WI GOP Official" [via Darn Floor]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

A Tip of the Hat

Michele is celebrating four years of her weblog. She's more surprised than you it's lasted that long:

This is the longest I've ever stuck with a hobby/obsession. I usually treat my hobbies like flings, throwing them out the door the minute I realize they are taking up my precious time. What makes this obsession different? I'm not sure. But four years later, I'm still at it. Ok, maybe it's the friends I've made, the audience I've built, the give and take that comes with having comments and yes, the ad money, which isn't a whole lot but last month's take paid the electric bill.

Michele, I salute you!

"Four More Years!"

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

What a Knob

Thor Jeffrey Steven Laufer claims he stole items a construction sites to cover up his doorknob obsession. He's facing six counts of felony burglary. Yes, he has admitted to being in mental institutions in the past.

"Man Accused of Theft Claims Doorknob Obsession"

UPDATE: Jim Stingl has a little fun with Laufer.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

Webloggers are Breeding

Congrats to Dean and Rosemary.

"He's Here"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Another Example of Incompetence

Jib says that the Milwaukee Elections Commission mailing out verification postcards two months after the election is proof of incompetence. A more glaring example are the 10,000 same-day registration cards that can't be processed. If employees of the Elections Commission today can't divine enough information from them to mail out a postcard why did poll workers accept such poorly completed forms on Election Day? Poll workers shouldn't have given potential voters ballots unless they card was filled out properly. Responsibility for training poll workers lies squarely with the Elections Commission in general and Lisa Artison in particular. Artison is right: an "agenda" is at work here. The BBA's agenda is to fix Wisconsin's voting system.

"A Distinction Between Fraudulent and Incompetent"

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

Fighting Comment Spam

Google and others in the weblog software community have come up with a way for the search engine to ignore comment spam. There are plenty of big names involved which means this has a good chance of working. My question is how can those of us who use old versions of Movable Type get the fix? Will I have to upgrade to MT 3.0 (with its restrictions) or will a patch be made?

"Preventing Comment Spam"

[I expect some of you to just tell me to move TAM to WordPress. But with my previous experience in changing weblogging platforms I'm a bit leary.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 11:33 PM | Comments (4)

McCann's Feeling the Heat

After reading the Spivak & Bice column updating us on the Democrat tire slashing investigation I wonder if Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann is getting tired of the Wisconsin GOP, radio talk show hosts, and local webloggers getting on his back for taking so long--79 days and counting since Election Day. The only real news in this story is that Virginia resident Opel Simmons III won't be charged. We still have no idea when charges will be filed--it could be this week. We also don't know if McCann, a Democrat, will charge Michael Pratt and Sowande Omokunde, two sons of prominent Milwaukee Democrats. I'm chalking this up as a political pressure-reducing leak.

"Charges Imminent in Election Day Tire Slashing"

---

Here's another McCann item: State Senator Alberta Darling wrote a letter asking McCann to investigate Milwaukee's 10,000 (so far) bad registration forms. She told McCann if he wouldn't act she'd ask the crusading U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic to investigate.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Dean's in the Lead

The AP finally realizes Howard Dean, M.D. is the front-runner for the DNC Chairmanship. That's not a surprise since Dr. Dean is the only candidate running like he's after the Presidency. He had a rally in St. Louis last weekend, and now he's planning house parties. If they read TAM they'd have known this sooner.

But rank-and-file Democrats don't pick the DNC Chairman, power-broker activists do. Yet Dean is doing well on that front. Earlier this month, Rep. John Murtha, a pro-Iraq War Democrat endorsed Dean. The entire Florida delegation is backing the former Vermont governor.

The best possibility to stop Dean, M.D. is Martin Frost. He's an ex-Congressman so he has plenty of connections; he ran the Democrats' Congressional campaign committee; and he can raise money. It also doesn't hurt that Frost is from the Red State of Texas. Frost wouldn't have claim Dean, M.D. is too liberal. All he'd have to do is point out Dean's lack of Washington, D.C. links as well as his Presidential campaign flameout. It also wouldn't hurt to bring up the Kos-Teachout duel.

"Dean Gaining Early Momentum in DNC Race" [via Captain Ed]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 06:54 PM | Comments (1)

A Reminder

I'm headed to Washington, D.C. next month for CPAC, and I could use your help. Details in the post below.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 06:17 AM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2005

Badger Blog Alliance

It looks like we local webloggers have ourselves a name. TAM is a new member of the Badger Blog Alliance. At my suggestion we even have a theme song. I've also dipped into the group weblog with this post on a new, eye-catching Milwaukee logo.

"Welcome The American Mind"

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

New Voter Data

The Journal Sentinel has added lots of new information to its latest story on Milwaukee's 10,000 illegible registration cards. My comments on Lisa Artison's first public statements are below. I want to get into the new information because it shows us how vulnerable Wisconsin's voting system is to fraud.

About Racine,

Meanwhile, Racine officials said they do not send out any confirmation cards. And other cities, including Madison and Waukesha, have not completed the process, which the state Elections Board does not track.

Two paragraphs later, there's a mention that sending out verification cards is required by law. It seems Racine is ignoring that law.

Later in the story we get some numbers. That's good because we can see if Milwaukee is an anomoly. This past November, 277,535 voting in the City of Milwaukee. 84,000 of them were same-day registrants or about 30% of the total voters. In the Republican hotbed of Waukesha about 35,000 voted with 8,748 being same-day registrants or about 25% of total voters. In law-flouting Racine, 4,000 "new" same-day registrants voted out of 37,466 or about 10%, but that doesn't include those to registered because they had new addresses. In Madison 274,249 voted in the Presidential election with 17,467 being same-day registrants or a little over 6% of the total voters. Going by this new information we see Milwaukee's and Waukesha's same-day registrations at a much higher percentage than Racine's and Madison's. In 2000, 32% of Milwaukee's voters were same-day registrants. 7,153 of those cards couldn't be processed.

Don't expect much help from the State Elections Board.

[Executive Director Kevin] Kennedy said his office does not track how many registrations cannot be processed, or how many of the confirmation cards that are sent out are returned as undeliverable. Under state law, he said, any that are returned must be sent to the local district attorney's office.

That means it's up to E. Michael McCann do investigate the 10,000 bad registration cards. If his investigation of the Election Day tire slashings is any indication we'll be waiting a long time.

The final bit is the effect local webloggers have had on this story. The Journal Sentinel story put us in the same breath as the local talk radio yappers.

"City Elections Official Responds to Fraud Questions"

UPDATE: Captain Ed has been reading the same story and is comparing Milwaukee to Minneapolis. (Really Ed, Milwaukee feels more like St. Paul.) He writes,

For this election in my state of Minnesota, which allows the same kind of same-day registration, the number of successful same-day registrants (440,263) only accounts for 15.6% of all votes, and only 12% of the estimated total of registered voters in Minnesota. Even those numbers seemed high to us here, but next to Milwaukee, they're almost insignificant. In Hennepin County (Minneapolis), the most analogous to Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, the same-day registrations only account for 15.4% of the votes, while in neigboring Ramsey (St. Paul), they comprise an anemic 9.4% of the total number of votes cast.

Do a third of Milwaukee residents change their residency every four years and fail to re-register to vote? Or could it be that the overwhelming number of provisional registrations show a concerted effort to skew Wisconsin presidential elections in one particular direction? I find it hard to believe that two neighboring states could have such a wide variance in residency. Instead of focusing their ire on Bush's wide margin of victory in Ohio, the Senate should call for a federal investigation into the razor-thin results in Wisconsin for both 2000 and 2004.


Ed's "concerted effort" is another name for conspiracy which brings up a strong reason to discount voter fraud. The problem with any conspiracy is having a participant talk. People like to talk--especially when they think they have something juicy to tell. It's been 40+ years since JFK was assassinated. If the mob in conjuction with Cuba or the CIA had him wacked someone credible would have talked by now. The same can be said for accusations of voter fraud. Someone had to tell people to go to different precincts around Milwaukee and vote illegally. Yet no one talks. Maybe it's something cultural that allows people to keep secrets better when it comes to elections.

This isn't to say that voter fraud didn't take place. This will something that can never be proven in a metaphysical sense either way. So why bother focusing on this story so much? I see this a part of a bigger project to close some gaping loopholes in Wisconsin elections. We need to fix things to protect the integrity or the voting process.

"A Mighty Big Coincidence"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 08:49 PM | Comments (1)

"You're Fired!" But with a Melody

Donald Trump and Mark Burnett are considering an Apprentice musical. Since I don't like either Trump's show or musicals this has to be one of the worst combinations in recent memory. Now, a musical based on Trump's comb over...that could have potential.

"Trump, Burnett Weigh 'Apprentice' Musical"

UPDATE: A new Rambo movie is just as bad.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 06:57 PM | Comments (2)

Also Going to CPAC

Ace, who has an unhealthy obsession with Ann Coulter--ANY obsession with her is unhealthy--will be at CPAC.

"CPAC Credentials; Radio Appearance Tonight"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

BlogNashville

Hmmm... a BloggerCon in a Red State. It's about time. I'm going to have to save that date.

"BlogNashville: Save The Date"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Dean's a Rock Star

If grassroots Democrats could vote Howard Dean, M.D. would be a shoo-in for DNC Chairman. Last Friday in St. Louis, Dr. Dean had 400 come out for a rally. This is a sign the rank-and-file Democrats are not sobering up after their Presidential defeat.

"Howard Dean: He Still Has The Power" [via Steven Taylor]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 04:07 PM | Comments (1)

Lisa Artison Speaks

With today being the first working day of the week (yesterday was Martin Luther King Day) I knew the Milwaukee Voter Fraud story would develop. Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Lisa Artison responded to the story that at least 10,000 same-day voter registration cards were unable to be processed. Artison told the Journal Sentinel the number of registration confirmation cards that couldn't be sent out for the 2004 election was similar to the number in 2000. In 2000, 81,000 people registered and voted on Election Day. the election commission could only process 73,847 registration cards. Based on this, Artison called the charges of voter fraud overblown.

Lisa Artison may consider a large number of unprocessible registration cards to be par for the course in Milwaukee, but it's a pattern the could be used to commit voter fraud if it didn't already happen. For all we know about 10% of same-day registration cards are always illegible in Milwaukee. In 2000, AlGore won Wisconsin by only 5000 votes. Could Bush have actually carried Wisconsin then?

Artison told the Journal Sentinel voters had to show poll workers some form of valid identification before they got a ballot. However, I've pointed out that someone can register to vote WITHOUT showing a photo id. In fact, if a potential voter didn't have any proof-of-residence someone living in that municipality can vouch for him. Unintentionally, Artison points out a deep crack in the Badger State's election integrity.

"City Elections Official Responds to Fraud Questions"

UPDATE: Stranded on Blue Islands posts an example of how someone can register to vote without having any proof-of-residence. [via Brainpost]

Owen talked with Ms. Artison and has filed an open records request to examine the unprocessible registration cards. He also responds to the JS story I commented on above.

UPDATE II: Kevin, who's a little slow ;-), gets his shot in at Artison:

Does Artison really think that we're going to go away on this? The question isn't whether the Milwaukee Election Commission is perpetuating fraud or its gross negligence in doing its job. The question is whether the current system, with its loopholes the size of Mac trucks, is designed to help expedite fraud. In all likelihood, that answer is a resounding - Yes.

What we want is a system that puts fairness and honesty first. Isn't that 'progressive?'

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:42 PM | Comments (3)

U.S.S. Des Moines

When I was going to college in Duluth, MN a public debate brewed over putting the U.S.S. Des Moines on that city's shore. This morning, Charlie Sykes talked about the idea of bringing the U.S.S. Des Moines to Milwaukee's lakefront as a tourist attraction. (I should be spooked. That ship is following me.) Critics think it would be a big monstrocity that would ruin the views. Charlie posted links to photoshopped pictures made by Des Moines backers.

My take is that while it seems the ship wouldn't be a gangly obstruction it just doesn't fit Milwaukee. The city doesn't have a history involving navy ships. The shipbuilding that does occur in Wisconsin happens farther north in Manitowoc and Sturgeon Bay. In fact, Manitowoc has a maritime museum that includes a World War II submarine. Milwaukee isn't Norfolk, VA; Jacksonville, FL; or San Diego, CA. Brew City's ship history includes Great Lakes steamers and car ferries.

One point I must disagree with Charlie is his desire for a plan to be put together on how to develop the lakefront. To me that reeks of central planning. A plan put together today would only take into account some of the knowledge available today. (I'm getting a little Hayekian with you but bear with me.) In the future the public's needs and wants will change. That we can be sure of. A centralized plan created today would be a straight jacket for future Milwaukeans. It would also empower local officals who would enforce the plan. Based on events in the past few years that's not very wise.

Ideally, the lakeshore should be in private hands so market forces can determine how it should be used. However, Wisconsin is a state where it's practically a civil right for there to be public access to every square inch of waterfront.

"Ship Just Doesn’t Fit"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:24 PM | Comments (3)

Wisconsin Illustrator Wins Award

Kevin Henkes won the Caldecott Medal for his book Kitten's First Full Moon.

"One for the Books: Madison Author Wins National Prize"



Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 03:17 AM | Comments (1)

Social Security and the Democrats: Then and Now

President Bill Clinton in 1998:

Today, Social Security is sound, but a demographic crisis is looming. By 2030, there will be twice as many elderly as there are today, with only two people working for every person drawing Social Security. After 2032, contributions from payroll taxes will only cover 75 cents on the dollar of current benefits. So we must act, and act now, to save Social Security.

Senate Minority Leader Harry on This Week last Sunday:
Here's a crisis that doesn't exist. If I had a mortgage on my home for 40 years and I knew I could make the payments every month, would that be a crisis? The answer is no. We have no crisis. For the next 50 years, people on Social Security, if we do nothing, will draw a hundred percent of their benefits. Even after the 50 years if we decide to do nothing congressionally they can still draw 80% of their benefits. That's not a crisis.

[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 02:57 AM | Comments (2)

Dean Wins Florida

Howard Dean, M.D. did something AlGore couldn't do: win Florida.

The Florida delegation to the Democratic National Committee has voted unanimously to endorse Howard Dean to be the party's next chairman, bucking an effort to orchestrate an endorsement of one candidate by all 50 state party leaders at the same time later this month.

The decision, announced yesterday by Scott Maddox, the Florida Democratic chairman, is a major lift for Dr. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, and it is a shift in a contest where most Democrats have been holding back from endorsing any candidate in the crowded field.


A Dean Scream moment may be the only thing that will stop him from running the RNC.

"Florida Democrats Back Dean as Leader" [via Burnt Orange Report]

UPDATE: Dr. Dean has said that if he's elected as the new DNC chairman he won't run for President in 2008. Now I have a dilemma: do I back Dean, M.D. now for the simple reason that I'll have him to kick around on TAM for four years; or do I hope he loses so I can mock him when/if he runs for President?

"Dean Among Candidates Who Visit Missouri Seeking to Head DNC"

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

Mr. Hackbarth Goes to Washington and Needs Your Help

I've been invited to cover the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) next month in Washington, D.C. Following the path the Democrats and Republicans blazed by inviting webloggers to their shindigs, CPAC is giving a select number of webloggers the same credentials as other media. TAM was deemed worthy enough.

Here's where you come in. Going to CPAC won't be cheap. There's the flight and accomidations. Since TAM is a labor of love, a hobby, and not a money-making operation, I'm asking for your help. Along the left column of this weblog is a tip jar button. It's also below.

For those of you who don't use PayPal here's an Amazon button.
Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Another option is to buy items from Amazon through TAM. If I write about a book or music I try to make a link to Amazon. There's also an Amazon ad along the left side of the weblog.

Would anyone consider buying a BlogAd? TAM is starting to get some serious attention with the Milwaukee voter fraud story. Plus local radio yapper Charlie Sykes sees local webloggers as a rising force. Covering CPAC should also garner eyeballs. So for anyone interested in promoting their product or website to a Wisconsin or political junkie audience TAM might be perfect.

If you don't want a BlogAd, I'm willing to promote your website or product. Any promotional posts would be disclosed. I have no desire of becoming the next Armstrong Williams.

UPDATE: Robert Cox and Karol of Alarming News will also be at CPAC.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Same-Day Voter Registration

For readers outside of Wisconsin (and those Wisconsinites who don't know the law) here are the requirements for same-day registration:

AT THE POLLING PLACE ON ELECTION DAY: If you wish to register to vote at your polling place, you must bring proof that you have lived at your present location for 10 days preceding the election. For purposes of voter registration, a form of identification constitutes acceptable proof of residence if it includes:

  1. A current and complete name, including both the given and family name; and
  2. A current and complete residential address, including a numbered street address, if any, and the name of a municipality.

Forms of identification which constitute acceptable Proof-of-Residence (see numbers 2 and 3 above), when they contain the information specified above, include the following:

  1. A Wisconsin motor vehicle operator's license.
  2. A Wisconsin identification card.
  3. Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit or by an employer in the normal course of business, but not including a business card.
  4. A credit card or plate.
  5. A library card.
  6. A check-cashing or courtesy card issued by a merchant in the normal course of business.
  7. A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
  8. A residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day.
  9. A university, college or technical institute fee card.
  10. A university, college or technical institute identification card.
  11. An airplane pilot's license.
  12. A gas, electric or telephone service statement for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day.

At this time, Proof-of-Residence is all that is required of a voter in order to register at the polling place on Election Day. Although the Registration Form may ask for either the Driver’s License number or the last 4 digits of the Social Security Number a voter should not be turned away if they lack that information. If you cannot supply acceptable Proof-of-Residence, your registration form can be substantiated and signed by one other elector who resides in your municipality, corroborating your residency information. The corroborator must then provide acceptable Proof-of-Residence.


So, in Wisconsin it's possible to register to vote on Election Day WITHOUT showing a poll worker a photo ID. For decades Wisconsin was considered a "good government" state with little corruption. In recent years that reputation has changed--the latest involves the Menomonee Falls village president. The state's voter registration laws must change too.

"Wisconsin Voter Clarification"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:18 PM | Comments (3)

"Tortured Logic"

konopacki-cartoon.jpg
Talk about your "torturned logic." You'd think Albert Gonzalez was a blood-drinking, pain-craving tool of Satan himself.

[via WisOpinion]

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

40 Years Ago...

Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Milwaukee in 1964. Doug Hissom talks to local civil rights activists about racial progress in the past 40 years.

"Why King was Here"

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

January 16, 2005

*SIGH*

terrihatcher-2005goldenglobes.jpg
Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks, Charlie

I must not have sounded like a complete buffoon last Thursday. Charlie listened to my request for linkage (off the air) and delivered.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Speaker Tells Kids to Don Clear Heels

This story definitely goes into the "Say what!?!" file:

Management consultant William Fried told eighth-graders at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School on Tuesday that stripping and exotic dancing can pay $250,000 or more per year, depending on their bust size.

“It’s sick, but it’s true,” Fried said in an interview later. “The truth of the matter is you can earn a tremendous amount of money as an exotic dancer, if that’s your desire.”

...

Fried spent about a minute answering questions, defining strippers and exotic dancers synonymously. According to Jason Garcia, 14, he told students: “For every 2 inches up there, you should get another $50,000 on your salary.”


Where's Chris Rock when you need him?

"Calif. Schoolers Told Stripping Can be Lucrative" [via Government Bytes]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

Watchdog Wasn't Watching

Administration Secretary Marc Marotta's job is to cut state government waste. He wasn't doing such a good job last summer.

Gov. Jim Doyle's point man on eliminating government waste rang up $2,385 in cell phone charges over two months last year because of a bureaucratic foul-up, state records show.

Administration Secretary Marc Marotta made calls costing $972 in May and $1,413 in June.

The bills came in so high because Marotta's staff put him on the wrong plan when he switched cell phone providers last spring, said Marotta, charged by Doyle to cut the state's costs on cars, planes - and cell phones.

Marotta's staff caught the problem after the second bill arrived. Marotta did not personally review the bills at the time, he said.


Marotta is a talker. Last June, he talked for 55 hours on his cell phone.

"Waste Watchdog Rang up Huge Cellular Charges"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:35 AM | Comments (1)

Milwaukee Voter Fraud Update

While I was working for pay my fellow Wisconsin webloggers (we really need a name!) were working to keep the Milwaukee voter fraud story alive. Owen wrote a good piece explaining the whole thing. If Journal Sentinel editorial page editor Ricardo Pimentel were smart he'd put it in Sunday's paper. Rep. Jeff Stone was on Jeff Wagner's show Saturday, and Patrick has the audio. Charlie Sykes notes that Citizens for Responsible Government is calling for an audit.

I have two original items to add to the discussion. First, in Greg Borowski's story on Rep. Jeff Stone's revelation he mentions that something called Election Protection (EP) gave Milwaukee poll workers high praise in a report (PDF) released 01.06.05. That shouldn't be a surprise since EP is supported by People for the American Way, the Milwaukee County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Voces de Frontera, the NAACP, Operation Big Vote, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Wisconsin Citizen Action, the Faith Community for Worker Justice, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin. All Lefty groups who wanted John Kerry to win. EP can claim all it wants that it's non-partisan, but how non-partisan are its backers?

Second, to determine how out-of-kilter Milwaukee's same-day voter registration numbers are one should find out how many registered on Election Day statewide or in other cities. Did 25% of all Madison voters register on Election Day? How about in Racine, Green Bay, Appleton, or Eau Claire? Since I've found nothing helpful at the State Elections Board website it looks like we'll have to wait until Tuesday (remember, MLK Day) to ask government officials.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:07 AM | Comments (4)

January 15, 2005

Kos' "Other Clients"

Kos-Teachout yapping continues with a Friday night Slate article. (I guess Chris Suellentrop doesn't take it easy at the end of the week.) Suellentrop goes after Kos, not for his disclosure about being on the Dean, M.D. payroll (he says "those disclosures would be woefully insufficient" if Kos were a journalist), but for those unnamed people he won't tell anyone he worked for.

DailyKos raised money for a dozen congressional candidates this past election. Which, if any, of them paid Moulitsas for the honor of directing his grassroots minions to part with their wallets? If you gave one of Moulitsas' preferred candidates money, wouldn't you like to know if Moulitsas' endorsement was purchased?

...

If Moulitsas takes money from political candidates in 2006 and 2008 without telling you who's paying him, stop giving his recommended candidates your dollars. Here's what Moulitsas wrote about payola pundit Armstrong Williams' assertion that "There are others" on the government dole: "Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House's payola rolls." That's questionable logic, but let's take Moulitsas up on his challenge: Until names are named, we can assume every Daily Kos candidate this past election wrote him a check for his consulting work.

"Blogging for Dollars" [via My View of the World]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 10:59 PM | Comments (2)

Rather Should be Fired

Journal Sentinel tv and radio critic Tim Cuprisin is calling for Dan Rather's head.

The legacy of Edward R. Murrow is at stake here, and axing four off-camera folks unknown to the public just isn't enough. Neither is Rather's March 9 departure from the "CBS Evening News" anchor chair. He's supposed to remain as a correspondent at the very news magazine that aired the bungled story.

If CBS wanted to be really innovative they should just dump the evening news. It's an obsolete concept in a 24-7 news world.

"CBS Needs to Show Rather the Door"

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

January 14, 2005

Evidence of Milwaukee Fraud

Patrick covers the big news reported on Mark Belling's show. Patrick gets a little carried away with the hyperbole (Lisa Artison shouldn't be accused of election fraud; she's too incompetent to pull that off), but he provides us this important fact: 10,000 of the voter registration cards filled out by people on Election Day were unreadable. Yet poll workers allowed these people to vote. It's not out of the relm of possibility to think some nefarious people hopped from precinct to precinct, scribbled gibberish on a registration card, and voted illegally.

"Massive Vote Fraud in Milwaukee"

UPDATE: Here's Rep. Jeff Stone's press release (PDF) (Patrick incorrectly named him "Mark Stone."). Here's an important fact:

The total of voter verification cards sent out covers over 25% of the total of the votes cast in Milwaukee during November’s election. The total number of votes cast was 277,535.

More than one in four voters in Milwaukee registered the same day. There were problems with 12% of those registration cards. Duplicated cards I can understand and suspect that was a very small problem. What worries me are the thousands of unreadable cards. The validity of about 3.6% of the total vote from the City of Milwaukee is in question. And this doesn't include the voter verification cards that will be returned in the mail because of a nonexistent or incorrect address.

Before the election the Wisconsin GOP put together a list of 37,000 questionable addresses. The Milwaukee Election Commission reached an agreement with the party but didn't seem to care how well it was implemented. The party is still waiting for the Milwaukee Election Commission to give them a list of who voted in the election.

Too bad this story had to break on a Friday. Weekends have a way of taking people's minds off news stories. Did the Milwaukee Election Commission plan to give Stone the corrected numbers on the start of a weekend--a long weekend for those who have Martin Luther King Day off?

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Journal Sentinel is on the case...surprisingly. A reporter talked to some city officials. Lisa Artison, head of the election commission conveniently took a three-day vacation. Mayor Barrett's chief of staff offered no explanation about the messed up registration cards. Instead, he scolded Rep. Stone for not asking enough questions. Hey, Patrick Curley, Stone's been waiting months for this information. It's been Artison who's been slowing things up.

"Lawmaker Criticizes Voter Verification Process"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 08:53 PM | Comments (1)

A Curious Phrase

In this Washington Post story on how Team Bush will promote its Social Security plan, "objective" reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei insert this paragraph:

The campaign will use Bush's campaign-honed techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even Republican figures show it is decades away.

"Politics of Fear," that's the same buzzphrase Democrats used in last year's elections and what Sen. Ted Kennedy used in a speech a few days ago. I wonder what other talking points the two Post journalists use in their stories?

This isn't the first time Jim VandeHei has used this term to slyly criticize President Bush. Last year, he and Howard Kurtz wrote an "analysis"--an opinion piece not on the op-ed page--about how Sen. Kerry was "adopting President Bush's strategy of playing on the public's security fears and sometimes using incendiary charges to stoke them."

"Social Security Push to Tap the GOP Faithful" [via Political Wire]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 08:26 PM | Comments (4)

Abbas' First Test

The attack on a Israeli checkpoint by Palestinians has cause Israel to cease all meetings with the Palestinian Authority. James Joyner writes,

If Abbas wants to pretend to run a state, then he has to be accountable for military actions originating from his territory. If he can't stop the terrorists, there's no point in negotiating with him, since he hasn't the power to deliver what the Israelis need. If he can stop them but won't, there's also no point in negotiating with him.

"Israel Cuts Ties with Abbas until He 'Makes Effort to Stop Terror'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

Pentagon, Are You Reading?

My readers didn't let me down. Here are the top three wacky weapon ideas:


  1. MMM's "Static Charge/Ion Initiator: Enemy soldiers become giant fuzzballs and are easily identified by wierd hair." I dub it the "Randy Moss Raygun."

  2. marc's "Dean Scream replicator." Truly frightening. Too bad it's probably banned by the Geneva Convention.

  3. Smijey's "Orbiting marshmallow cannon."

[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 07:51 PM | Comments (1)

Guilt by Association

Efficency is good. In this case I can post about Howard Dean, M.D. running for DNC chairman and the continuing discussion about Kos' payments from him during the last Presidential campaign. Patrick Hynes tries a little guilt by association by wondering aloud if Dr. Dean endorsed some of Kos' more colorful posts. Hynes concludes,

Lest this seem like too much guilt by association, consider that as chairman of the Democrat National (sic) Committee, Howard Dean would be given the authority to hire scores of employees, consultants, and advisers to rebuild his party and combat the Republicans. The hiring of Markos Moulitsas Zúniga shows Dean has neither the judgment nor the temperament to fill those positions responsibly.

"Howard Dean’s Shrill Shill"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 06:47 PM | Comments (2)

New Packers GM

Ted Thompson is the new Packers GM. Head coach Mike Sherman still has his job, but he now has a new boss and only one year left on his contract. The latter point may hurt the Packers in finding a replacement for defensive coordinator Bob Slowik--assuming Sherman is smart enough to fire him. The conventional wisdom has it that a new coordinator would be nervous about coming into that situation since Thompson could fire Sherman along with all the assistant coaches after next year. If that becomes a problem, Thompson will have do decide if the team can afford to give Sherman a one or two-year extension and be willing to eat the remaining years if the Packers fall apart.

"Thompson Named Packers New GM"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Can You Top It?

Wacky brainstorming almost got a government grant.

The Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.

Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused "severe and lasting halitosis", making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.


I'm opening it up to my readers. Give me your goofiest, off-the-wall idea for a non-lethal military weapon.

"Pentagon Reveals Rejected Chemical Weapons" [via Electric Venom]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 01:22 AM | Comments (5)

Kill that Meme

Yesterday, I was hard on Kos over the "revelation" that he was on the Howard Dean, M.D. payroll. Kos is no Armstrong Williams because, unlike Williams, Kos made his arrangement known.

New new meme: Kos ≠ Armstrong Williams.

Earlier in the week Kos linked to the David Corn article where Williams claims there are other conservative pundits on the take. Kos' conclusion: "Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House's payola rolls." I wish the White House was paying me to promote its message (calling Karl Rove!). Unlike Williams, I'd tell you straight up there was an arrangement.

Glenn Reynolds has plenty of give and take.

"'Zephyr Can Go to Hell'"

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal story that quotes Teachout is freely available. [via Jeff Jarvis]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Beating Bush on SS

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza writes about how united Democrats are to even partial privatization of Social Security. He then offer some lessons from the HillaryCare debacle.

Lizza's article was about what Democrats should do, but what will kill any chance of Social Security reform is Republican weakness. The GOP controls both houses of Congress as well as the White House. They don't need any Democratic votes to pass the legislation. They might need Democrats to avoid a Senate filibuster, but parlimentary rules could avoid that. President Bush's problem is getting weak-kneed Republicans like Rep. Rob Simmons to support him. He said, "Why stir up a political hornet’s nest ... when there is no urgency? When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then."

So I see the chance of partial privatization to get passed as less than 50%. Reform probably won't happen until the Baby Boomers squeeze out all the built-up surpluses. Only when checks are threatened will Congress act.

"Hardball 101" [via Political Wire]

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

Post-Show Report

Talking about weblogs with Charlie Sykes and my fellow Wisconsin webloggers was fun. As I mentioned in my live posting it's tough being on with a bunch of other people. I had things to say, but I was a little nervous and didn't want to talk over anyone. I also wanted those not in the studio to get their say in.

As Kevin points out, I won the coin toss and got to post from the same computer the weathermen sit at. In a way that might have been a distraction. I know I spaced out at least one time either looking through some of my past posts or from seeing something in the Journal Sentinel sitting right in front of me.

Charlie opened the show to calls but either we were just too interesting or his audience was wondering, "Who are these guys?"

Having an audience of thousands was terrific, but just a great was putting weblog to face. Kevin, Owen, and I hit it off immediately. It shouldn't have been hard since we kind of know how one another ticks by reading each other's weblogs. I can't forget the weblog newbie Patrick at My View of the World and Blog General at BRAINPOST. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to really connect to them via the phone. Someday we'll all get together in one physical space. You know Lefties will be shaking in their boots at the thought of that.

Here are some points I'm taking away:


  1. Charlie Sykes actually reads his e-mail. I know he occasionally reads an e-mail from a listener on-air, but he and Owen e-mail each other often.
  2. Since Charlie reads his e-mail I should be able to get his attention if I notice something he hasn't. This two-way will only help Charlie's show and potentially boost TAM readership.
  3. If Charlie and us work together we could build a new, passionate, interesting voice in the Badger State. Kevin quipped that our little on-air gathering "feels a lot like the Northern Alliance Radio Network gang." Charlie Sykes is our big-name champion. He can help us get first-time readers. Our responsibility is to give those readers something interesting to consume. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
  4. And my offer of weblogging services to political candidates still stands.

Below the fold I have some pictures from just after the show.

charliesykes.jpg
Charlie Sykes

owen.jpg

Owen of Boots & Sabers

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:26 PM | Comments (5)

A Broken Ford and a New Owner

The post-show report will have to wait. We have breaking sports news. First, Milwaukee Bucks guard T.J. Ford won't be playing this season. Last year, he injured his spinal cord in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It's been almost a year and one surgery since then and Ford still can't even practice. Ford and the Bucks should be honest with their fans. I'll be shocked if the guy ever plays again.

"Ford Ruled Out for the Season"

---

Mark Attanasio being approved as the new owner of the Milwaukee Brewers is really the end of a process that began last October. Now, it's official.

"Baseball Owners OK Sale of Brewers"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Live from Milwaukee

Hello Charlie Sykes listeners. I'm posting live from his show.

---

I'm holding back. It's tough with so many guests, but I'm trying.

---

Had a brainfart but recovered.

---

Later, I need to write up my thoughts about the "power of the link."

---

Off-air, Owen mentions The Wheeler Report for state info.


---

The Badger Blog Alliance is covering the show live.

---

Charlie is opening it up for calls. This should be interesting.

---

Being so independent also means if you fail it's all your fault. No one to blame expect the person in the mirror.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 10:09 AM | Comments (9)

Webloggers on the Radio

This is a reminder that myself and a bunch of other local webloggers will be on the Charlie Sykes show this morning from 10-11 a.m. CST. Tune into 620 AM or listen to the webcast.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

Another Reason Not to Read Kos

Zephyr Teachout, a ex-Deaniac staffer writes that Markos Zuniga operator of Daily Kos was a paid consultant to the Howard Dean, M.D. campaign. It's funny, I never heard him ever mention that.

New meme: Kos=Armstrong Williams.

"Financially Interested Blogging" [via Instapundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 08:43 AM | Comments (1)

Sherman Out as GM

Being Packers country the top story this morning isn't Gov. Doyle's State of the State Speech. Instead, the Journal Sentinel reports Mike Sherman will be stripped of his general manager duties. Packers president Bob Harlan wants Seattle Seahawks front office man Ted Thompson to run the show. Next season is Sherman's last under contract.

The concern with Sherman has not been his regular season coaching record which is an impressive 53-27. What worries Packers fan like myself are his player personnel decisions, his inability to build a respectable defense, and not winning in the playoffs. Removing GM duties may help with getting better players. But Sherman may not like this demotion. A new GM will want to work with Sherman to seriously improve the defense. That will mean dumping defensive coordinator Bob Slovik who happens to be a close friend of Sherman's. No one knows how Sherman would react to to a GM telling him to ax his friend. Good chemistry between coach and GM will be key to getting the Green Bay Packers back on track for a Super Bowl run.

"Sherman May Soon Be Out as Packers' GM"

[Crossposted to SportsBlog.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

Human Hairball

You sell a lot of books when you write for The New Yorker. But you're remembered if you have hair like Malcom Gladwell.



Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

Bookseller Fired Because of Weblog

Joe Gordon was a sci-fi whiz for Waterstone's in Edinburgh. After 11 years of service, Gordon was fired for "gross misconduct" and "bringing the company into disrepute." All because of things he said on his weblog. The posts quoted by The Guardian include Gordon calling his boss "Evil Boss," complaining about not getting his birthday off, and referring to Waterstone's as "Bastardstone's." Seems like hardly reasons for firing a long-time employee. I respect anyone who's laste for 11 years in retail. If UK customers are anything like U.S. ones then Gordon has seen his share of days that just grind away. Methinks Evil Boss just wanted an excuse to ax Gordon.


"Blogger Sacked for Sounding Off" [via Blogcritics]

UPDATE: Captain Ed pretty much says Gordon was asking for it.

Free speech means a person is free to say whatever they want without fear of government sanction or prepublication censorship. It does not mean that a person is free from the consequences of his speech, a point that Hollywood stars also seem to miss whenever they feel the financial effects of the political activism that alienates broad swaths of their audience. Gordon has the freedom to call his manager Evil Boss in print and to call Waterstone whatever he wants. However, when his company finds out that he bad-mouths them in print - which, after all, has the added liability of handy proof of his speech - they have the right to terminate him for doing so, as long as they follow the terms of the union contract which governs his employment. That doesn't infringe on his right to speak his mind; it just reinforces Waterstone's right to associate with whom they choose. His speech can reasonably be construed to show disloyalty and an inability to work with his supervisor, as well as defamation and insubordination.

I agree with what Ed writes. However, he fails to point out that this may have been a poor business decision. Waterstone's lost a long-time employee, and they've created a working environment where employees won't feel they can express their opinions freely. Current workers may leave, and potential workers will wonder if working under such rules is worth it.

Gordon's comments were a tad childish, but firing him was overreaching by the company. That makes me suspect there was more going on an his weblog was the final catalyst.

"Rule #1: Don't Blog About Work Unless You Own The Place"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 09:30 PM | Comments (3)

Sykes to Feature Local Weblogs

Guess I can't stay up to late tonight if I want to be coherent when Charlie Sykes devotes an entire hour to SE Wisconsin weblogs. Sykes points out, "[T]he local media has never covered the local blogs at all." Oh how true.

"The WI Blogosphere"

UPDATE: I want to point out who will be featured tomorrow: Kevin of Lakeshore Laments; Owen of Boots & Sabers; Patrick of My View of the World; BadgerPundit; Blog General of BRAINPOST; and yours truly. We'll be on at 10 a.m. CST. If you're in the Milwaukee area tune into 620 AM. There is also a webcast available.

There is also a Badger Blog Alliance organized by Jib. The Northern Alliance might have some competition.

The upside is great exposure for all our weblogs. The downside is I don't think any of us will be able to cover it live unless Charlie lets us use one of his computers.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 08:31 PM | Comments (5)

Plan B

Ronald Bailey writes about a set of drugs called Plan B that taken after unprotected sex stop or prevent a pregnancy. The FDA is deciding whether to allow women over 16 to buy the drugs without a prescription. Bailey writes "that wider use of the pills could cut in half the nation's 3 million unintended pregnancies each year and in turn prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions." Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on how Plan B works. Bailey describes Plan B as "two high-dose contraceptive pills that either interfere with ovulation or fertilization, or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. It has no effect once an egg is firmly implanted in the uterine wall." The prevention of ovulation and fertilization should offer no concerns for the strictest of pro-lifers like me. A sperm or egg has the same moral status as a brain or skin cell. None of those are a unique set of DNA that left to nature would grow into a fully-developed human being. Preventing a fertilized egg from adhering to the uterine wall causes a very early miscarriage. That's a drug-induced abortion. Thus Plan B wouldn't prevent as many abortions as Bailey claims, it would actually be the method of abortion.

"Abort Plan B!" [via Dean's World]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 07:13 PM | Comments (25)

Queer Eye for the Straight Girl

You're telling me Bravo could only find one lesbian for their new make-over show?

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

Bush's Age Gap

Old people don't like President Bush's Social Security plan as much a young people. No surprise. That gap might be what gets squimish Congressional Republicans to stop the President's efforts.

"Age Gap May be Trouble for Bush"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 06:19 AM | Comments (3)

Not Going to the Ball

If you tried to get inaugural ball tickets through the Republican Party of Wisconsin you know the trouble you're having. The state party was only alotted 40. A GOP volunteer was told, "'People who are giving the money are going to the ball." When there are only 40 tickets to sell the "important" people have to be satiated. Others have found ways to get tickets through the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

"State Republicans Left out of the Party"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

Krispy Kreme is Fried

Stay away from Krispy Kreme. The stock I mean. The doughnuts are still the golden glazed goodies I dream about. The company decided to restate 2004 earnings. More importantly for investors the company might default on a credit line.

"Krispy Kreme to Restate Earnings for 2004"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 11:58 PM | Comments (4)

New JEW Video

I'm not one to mention music videos--I do remember when they were actually on MTV--but the video for the Jimmy Eat World song "Work" is set in Madison.



Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

Deja Vu All Over Again

Rathergate isn't the first time an independent panel has investigated CBS News.

The network found itself on the receiving end of a $120 million libel suit from Gen. William C. Westmoreland after a Jan. 23, 1982, documentary, The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The piece charged him with intentionally misreporting North Vietnamese troop strength to persuade President Lyndon Johnson that the war remained winnable.

CBS launched an independent internal investigation – as it did with the National Guard story – and eventually concluded that the report was seriously flawed. The principal correspondent on the piece, Mike Wallace, remains at CBS News. But its producer, George Crile, was chastised and fired. Mr. Westmoreland ended up dropping his suit before it went to a jury.


The two events are over 20-years apart but with similar results: the underlings get canned, but the stars stick around.

"Faceless Take Fall for CBS Blunder"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Heilbronner, R.I.P.

Robert Heilbronner, economic historian, died last week. I'm guessing his The Worldly Philosphers was the second-most read economics book of the 20th Century, behind Paul Samuelson's textbook. Many college students read that in an introductary econ class. The power of that book resided in Heilbronner's clear exposition of the ideas of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Keynes. He also brought the study of the subject back to its initial roots as moral philosphy.

Godspeed, Robert.

"A Realistic Socialist Dies"

"Professor and Economic Historian Robert Heilbroner Dies at 85"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 10:17 PM | Comments (3)

Not Shocked

Howard Dean, M.D. wants to be the next DNC Chairman. I think he'd be a detrement to his party and would weaken the GOP. Emmett Tyrell has a different take:

He is no radical. Whereas earlier champions of the left in the Democratic Party were left-wing ideologues -- for instance, Sen. George McGovern -- Dean is simply a party-line Democrat who left the practice of medicine because he relishes the great game of politics.

To be sure, he has since his youth as a counter-culture fellow-traveler in the 1960s picked up some of the sentimental memorabilia of that era, but his record in Vermont was that of a practical politician who very much wanted to be re-elected. He has no grand ideological scheme for America, just re-election in mind.


"I'm Running"

"Dean, Defeated Presidential Candidate, Seeks to Lead Democrats"

"Howard Dean to Announce Candidacy for Democratic Party Chairman"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

CBS Needs Conservatives

Hindrocket makes a great point about what CBS News could have done to prevent Rathergate:

True enough, but let me offer this alternative theory: the fundamental problem that led to the downfall of 60 Minutes and, perhaps, CBS News, was the fact that no one involved in the reportorial or editorial process was a Republican or a conservative. If there had been anyone in the organization who did not share Mary Mapes's politics, who was not desperate to counteract the Swift Boat Vets and deliver the election to the Democrats, then certain obvious questions would have been asked: Where, exactly, did these documents come from? What reason is there to think that they really originated in the "personal files" of a long-dead National Guard officer, if his family has no knowledge of them? How did such modern-looking memos come to be produced in the early 1970s? How can these critical memos, allegedly by Jerry Killian, be reconciled with the glowing evaluations of Lt. Bush that Killian signed? Why haven't you interviewed General "Buck" Staudt, who is casually slandered in one of the alleged memos? Why didn't you show the memos to General Bobby Hodges, rather than reading phrases from them to him over the telephone? Isn't it a funny coincidence that these "newly discovered" memos are attributed to the one person in this story who is conveniently dead?

And so on, ad nearly infinitum. But, because virtually everyone in the CBS News organization shared Mary Mapes's politics and objective (i.e., the election of John Kerry), skeptical questions were not asked. If there is a single overriding explanation for how a fake story, intended to influence a Presidential election through the use of forged documents, could have been promulgated by 60 Minutes, it is the lack of diversity at CBS News.


The Leftists inside CBS News are the same types who applaud racial preferences in universities and business in the name of "diversity." If they actually had real diversity--diversity of thought--then this embarassment might not have happened.

For a webified version of the CBS News report, thank Kevin at Wizbang.

"A Rather Sad Post Mortem"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Armstrong, Who are the "Others?"

David Corn had an interesting conversation with Armstrong Williams:

I asked if Williams had yet been contacted by the inspector general at the Education Department, the agency that had awarded the contract that supplied him $241,000 for promoting the NCLB measure within the African-American community. Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the education committee, and other House Democrats had already called for an investigation. Why should the IG contact me? Williams replied, noting he had been merely a subcontractor. Any thorough investigation, I remarked, would include questioning the subcontractor. He scratched his head. "Funny," he said. "I thought this [contract] was a blessing at the time."

And then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. "This happens all the time," he told me. "There are others." Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. "I'm not going to defend myself that way," he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.


I would love to know if there are any other conservative pundits covertly being paid. That way I know who to ignore.

"Armstrong Williams: I Am Not Alone" [via Solo Dialogue]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 08:32 PM | Comments (1)

Another Wine Weblogger

If she wanted to Lynne Kiesling could give Stephen Bainbridge a run for his money.

"Wine Review: Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard Syrah 2002"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

An Inconsistent Columnist

Pointing out Lefty hypocrisy is what makes talk radio yappers like Charlie Sykes so appealing. Sykes points out that Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane ripped on Armstrong Williams for being a paid pundit while only a a few months before praised local talk radio wacko Michael McGee for being a paid pundit.

Ironically both Williams and McGee had similar things to say when their deals (Kane referred to Williams' as a "hustle") were made publically known. Williams' excuse for taking Department of Education money to promote No Child Left Behind was "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in." Michael McGee told Kane he "OIC [Opportunities Industrialization Center] because I believe in what they are doing for people."

This is the same Eugene Kane who told an e-mail correspondent, "I live for the day when a bunch of white kids get killed in an accident and the first question from readers is 'where were the parents?'" Consistency is defintely not Kane's forte.

"The Hypocrisy of Eugene Kane"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

Defintely No Shuffleboard

The new Apple iPod shuffle (continuing the company's streak of unique capitalization) plays up its weakness. The weakness being the lack of a display on the gum-size music player. The marketers at Apple have now decided "Random is the New Order." Just load up a few hundred songs into the iPod shuffle and let the device's algorithms decide what will play. It looks neat, and the price ($99 for 512-MB) is great. More people will be joining the Cult of the iPod. Some might even decide to buy a new Mac mini--which looks perfect for college students or those who move often but don't need a notebook computer.

"The Apple iPod Shuffle"

"The Apple Mac Mini"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 05:54 PM | Comments (4)

Moon Men

Living in Wisconsin for almost my entire life, I knew Packers fans were the loyalist, nuttiest fans in all of sports. I knew about the guy who dresses up as "St. Vince" for every game. There's the "Packalope" who wears a helmet with deer antlers attached to them. Then there are the drunks who get on television for taking off their shirts during a December game. But I've never heard of fans mooning the visiting team's bus as it left Lambeau Field. That explains Randy Moss' post-touchdown celebration, but it doesn't justify him acting like an ass (pun intended).

"Colts' Dungy Comes to Moss' Defense"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 02:42 AM | Comments (3)

January 10, 2005

Memo Report Released

Dan Rather's job was saved. Lucky guy. It must be a benefit of being old. Four CBS News employees including Mary Mapes weren't so lucky. I'm in a hurry so I can comment on any of the report. So check out James Joyner's thoughts. He also has plenty of links.

"CBS Ousts 4 For Bush Guard Story"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 01:19 PM | Comments (2)

He Forgot Something

In an article Glenn Reynolds discusses propaganda using the Armstrong Williams affair as well as some historical moments. For some reason Reynolds misses not mentioning the facts that two webloggers were paid by Sen. John Thune to bash the heck out of Tom Daschle. Only after the election did the public find out the weblogs were on Thune's payroll. This most recent instance of media manipulation proves "the blogosphere is successful enough now, and enough people have noticed that success" that it has already attracted "parasitism." We don't need to wait for it; it's already among us.

"Trust -- But Verify"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

That Explains That

Instapundit and Wizbang were down to significant times this past weekend. I assumed it was a web hosting issue. RatherBiased.com proved me right. We see a downside to having a number of the most popular weblogs all hosted by the same company. I'm happy with DreamHost so TAM's not moving, but if I was I'd look for a company who didn't have a nice, fat script kiddie target as a client.

"Popular Blogger ISP Target of Hackers"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Jail Time for Armstrong

Jon Henke dug up the appropriate federal law that indicates the Department of Education/Armstrong Williams deal violated the law. Now Henke's asking that all guilty parties endure "jail-time, and/or substantive fines." Maybe Henke's trying to prove just how tough a right winger can be toward another right winger. Seriously, Armstrong Williams should be put in jail? Come on. There's fraud where the end result is people getting hurt, but at worst, Williams engaged in government-funded propaganda. The victims were Williams' listeners and readers who were mislead. Their damage is mildly psychic.

Bringing this lousy transaction into the light of day destroyed his credibility. Tribune Media Services dropped his syndicated column. And will anyone take what he says seriously whenever he's a cable news talking head? Williams' reputation is toast, and it will take years to repair the damage. Henke may think what Williams has suffered is just a slap on the wrist, but for a public intellectual (and I use that term loosely) to have their credibility flushed down the toilet it's more than a mere slap.

"Payola at the Highest Levels"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 01:02 AM | Comments (7)

Dean Down South

Howard Dean, M.D. and other contenders for the DNC chairmanship were down in Atlanta this weekend to court support. Dr. Dean's strategy was to just show up. That's a lot better than talking about the confederate flag.

"Dean, other DNC Chair Candidates Campaign for South's Endorsement"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

What Color is 24?

Cam wonders if 24 is going red--red state, not communist. I'd argue the show has never been blue state. Sure, President Palmer was a Democrat, but he was a get-tough, Joe Lieberman kind of Democrat. Howard Dean, M.D. he wasn't. In all three previous seasons Jack Bauer acted in ways that would make your typical blue stater march in protest in the streets. All this despite executive producer and leading man, Kiefer Sutherland, being an anti-administration Lefty (find his appearance on Charlie Rose last week).

"A Red State Drama?"

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

January 09, 2005

Vikings Vault over Pack

I don't mind my team losing to a better team. That's what happened today with the Vikings beating the Packers at Lambeau Field. What I do mind is an egotistical moron like Randy Moss mooning the greatest fans in the world then rubbing his ass on the goal post after scoring a touchdown. Why he wasn't penalized, I don't know. I do expect the NFL to fine him. If a Philadelphia Eagle happens to give Mr. Moss a late hit, I wouldn't feel bad. Moss has so much talent. It's wonderful watching him fly past defensive backs, soar into the air, and snatch a ball for a touchdown. But he's also a manchild who gets many people disgusted with professional athletes.

The loss to the Vikings is only the second ever home playoff loss for the Packers at Lambeau Field. The first loss came two years ago when Michael Vick. His future performance could change, but Mike Sherman is the worst post-season coach in Packers history.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 06:41 PM | Comments (12)

January 08, 2005

Rosemary Kennedy, R.I.P.

Rosemary Kennedy died yesterday at a Catholic home in Jefferson, WI. She not only had the distinction of being the inspiration for the Special Olympics, but unfortunately was one of the first Americans to undergo a lobotomy to treat her retardation. In a statement, the Kennedy family said, "From her earliest years, her mental retardation was a continuing inspiration to each of us, and a powerful source of our family's commitment to do all we can to help all persons with disabilities live full and productive lives."

Godspeed, Rosemary.

"Rosemary Kennedy, Sister of JFK, Found Peace in Wisconsin"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:57 AM | Comments (1)

January 07, 2005

Advice to Washington State GOP

It isn't just in Chicago where dead people vote. In Seattle (King County) we know of at least eight people who "voted" after dying. That's incredible dedication. What civic devotion to not let something like death get in the way of casting a ballot.

Enough with the sarcasm. From my limited following of the Washington State governor's race there's little chance the GOP will be able to force a revote. What the party must do is collect all the voting horror stories combine them with all the stories about Democratic misgoverning and get ready for the next elections. Their motto should be "Remember King County!" It should be used against any Democratic candidate who defended the governor's race results. If the GOP does it right they could smash the Democratics to damage them for a decade.

"Dead Voted in Governor's Race" [via Powerpundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 06:44 PM | Comments (5)

Armstrong Williams and Breeding Cynicism

Armstrong Williams hasn't been in my reading mix for years because he was pretty dull. Now, we find out the Education Department was paying him to talk about No Child Left Behind. It would have been nice of him to tell his audience he was a paid talking head. Even Williams thinks he acted poorly:

Even though I'm not a journalist — I'm a commentator — I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard. My judgment was not the best. I wouldn't do it again, and I learned from it.

If you take this Williams incident along with the news that John Thune paid webloggers to bash Tom Daschle there's now a bit of a pattern of GOP media manipulation. It's not healthy for the body politic for one party to breed such cynicism. I understand that nothing the GOP will ever do will satisfy Deaniacs or the wackos lurking at Daily Kos. At the minimum, a party doesn't want to induce cynicism with their own base. These tactics may be good short-term politics, but real policy change is a long-term effort. In a divided nation, alienation can lead to electoral defeat.

"U.S. Pays Commentator to Tout School Law"

"Education Dept. Paid Commentator to Promote Law"

UPDATE: James Joyner writes,

The ability to go directly to the public by "jawboning" is perhaps the most important power of the presidency with respect to domestic policy. I'm not exactly [sure] where the line should be drawn here, given the power of the so-called "New Media."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 06:31 PM | Comments (3)

January 06, 2005

Winter Wonderland

Winter finally smacked SE Wisconsin on the side of her face. Somewhere in this picture is my car.


snowcar.jpg

"Snow Snarls Freeways with Accidents"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:20 PM | Comments (6)

January 05, 2005

Iraq War Supporter Backs Dean

Pennsylvania Congressman, Vietnam war veteran, and Iraq War supporter John Murtha is lobbying his collegues to support Howard Dean, M.D. for DNC Chairman. In a race that appears to be among Dean, M.D., former Rep. Martin Frost, and former Rep. Tim Roemer Murtha's support may force Democratic Congressmen to, in the words of an unnamed senior lawmaker, "take a second look" at Dean, M.D.

"Murtha: Give Dean DNC Chair"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 07:56 PM | Comments (2)

Talking Turkey

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has some explaining to do. First, what happened to the turkeys a local Michigan food pantry gave to his staff to donate to the needy? It's been days since Conyers' office promised an accounting. All that's been heard is silence. Second, if the turkeys didn't go to the needy what kind of operation are you running that steals from a food pantry during Christmas? Until these questions are answered Conyers has no integrity to question anything about "compassionate conservatism."

"Where Did Turkeys Go?" [via Betsy's Page]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 07:40 PM | Comments (1)

Dobson Roars

James Dobson, head of the evangelical power house Focus on the Family, is getting political, really political. He sent a letter to his supporters threatening to go after six Democratic Senators if they tried to stop social conservative candidates from getting on the Supreme Court. Dobson has no qualms about getting knee-deep in politics. He told the NY Times, "I can't go back, nor do I want to."

I wonder if he'll turn into a conservative Christian windbag like Jerry Fallwell. I also worry he'll turn Focus on the Family into a conservative version of the NAACP.

"Evangelical Leader Threatens to Use His Political Muscle Against Some Democrats"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 07:25 PM | Comments (5)

January 04, 2005

What About Iraq?

Richard Gere spoke "for the entire world" while cutting a GOTV (Get Out The Vote) ad for the upcoming Palestinian elections. Should we be expecting a similar ad for the upcoming Iraq elections?

"Richard Gere Speaks 'For Entire World' To Palestinians"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

Weblogging Newbie

Hill Country Views, authored by Darrell Vaughn A.K.A. "Anselm," is a new weblog off to a promising start. There's this post on how a red stater can sound as elitist as a blue stater. It's now on my blogroll.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

CPAC Credentials

Unlike the Republican National Convention, CPAC actually has an announced process to hand out weblogger credentials. After a quick search on a few travel websites I could afford to go. So I filled out the form. Since Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Congressman, is keynoting the event that might give me a slight advantage. Michelle Malkin is plugging it so I have a feeling CPAC has gotten few takers for credentials. That means there's opportunity for lesser-known weblogs.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 11:10 PM | Comments (2)

Wide Open for Dean

Now that Harold Ickes decided not to become the next DNC chairman Howard Dean, M.D. is the big frontrunner. Dr. Duck's chief opposition is Tim Roemer. I can't imagine Democratic activists picking a pro-life man to lead their party. Realize the Democratic Party is so beholden to the "right" to kill the unborn that they refused to let any pro-life speakers come before their convention. Captain Ed may be correct that Ickes dropping out is a signal of the weakness of a Hillary 2008 campaign, but more importantly, a Dean, M.D.-led party will guarantee many more years of bitter political fights.

"Ickes, Kirk Pull Out of DNC Chair Race"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Howard the Duck at 10:09 PM | Comments (2)

Enough with the Blowout

I've given up on the USC-OU game. One half of USC tossing the ball at will all over the field was enough for me. I'm sure BoiFromTroy is very happy.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

One Word: Plastic

James Joyner links to a story on plastic bills replacing paper ones. I'm all for it. Plastic bills are hard to counterfit and they last much longer than paper ones. I just want the government to make U.S. bills green again, not the ugly pink they're becoming.

"Plastic Currency"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

BlogSpot Down

BlogSpot seems to be down. There's a few Wisconsin webloggers who use that. Bummer for me, and a bigger bummer for them. With the big bucks of Google behind it I didn't expect this to ever happen again.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

They Mean Well But...

It's great what celebrities are doing to raise money for tsunami relief. However, someone please tell some of them to keep things tasteful. Here's an example of what not to do:

Overseas, the 1985 African famine relief benefit song, "We Are the World," was being revived for relief efforts by celebrities including Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung. The latest rendition, called "Love," has new Chinese lyrics. The performers, and William Hung of "American Idol" fame, raised nearly $6.2 million at a weekend show.

Can Jackie Chan actually sing? And William Hung is a celebrity in name only.

"Celebrities Donate Millions to Relief"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 05:02 PM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2005

Making Nations Richer and Safer

Timothy Terrell presents some data showing a nation's wealth determines how deadly natural disasters are. To generate wealth states must "allow people to interact in the marketplace without government intrusion." He then counters the belief that more regulation and government programs are needed by using the all-important idea of tradoffs:

Regulation to put technological fixes into place takes away from other contributors to disaster mitigation. Requiring stronger structures means that people cannot devote as many resources to improving communication (to find out in advance about coming disaster), transportation (to get away from approaching calamity), medical care (to keep injuries from turning into deaths, or to treat post-disaster diseases), and so on. In fact, any government mandate is likely to overemphasize some fraction of disaster mitigation, rather than allow people to choose for themselves the appropriate mix. Government funding of tsunami warning systems, for example, may require such an investment in communications networks that medical care or transportation are underfunded. Trying to fund all of these elements of mitigation through the state implies such high taxation that the incentive to produce is reduced, and economic growth is stunted. In fact, more resources going toward disaster mitigation of any type means giving up other things that contribute to long life and well-being: a better diet, education, freedom from crime, safer workplaces, and family and religious obligations.

"Government-Enhanced Disaster"

UPDATE: One effect of the lack of wealth is poor infrastructure as noted by James Joyner.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 11:38 PM | Comments (6)

Taking Fewer Prisoners in Afghanistan

Thanks to Cybrludite there's a story on how U.S. troops are not taking as many prisoners in Afghanistan as they used to. Part of it is to get along better with Afghanis but another reason is to get anti-war lawyers off the military's back. It's come to the point where the Afghan operation is starting to look like an episode of Cops:

On Sunday, a U.S. soldier and a former militia leader were killed in a gunfight when American troops tried to search the man's home in western Herat province. McCann said the Afghan, Mullah Dost Mohammed, was a "known anti-coalition militant" and had fired first.

"U.S. Taking Fewer Prisoners in Afghanistan"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

Bush Sticking Hand in "Wasp Nest"

Cuts in future Social Security benefits will be proposed by the Bush administration. That will tick off the old people. (AARP will spend $5 million on an ad campaign.) For me, since I think all my S.S. "contributions" are going into a black hole, a cut in a promise that can't be fulfilled doesn't bother me. I'm sure a lot of people me age feel the same way.

"Social Security Formula Weighed"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 10:19 PM | Comments (6)

Wrapping Yourself in the Magna Carta

Julian Sanchez worries that America is standing at the abyss ready to sacrifice its freedom-loving soul because the Bush administration is thinking about holding terrorist prisoners forever. He even tries to make the Magna Carta his medieval ally. Later on, Sanchez admits there are different standards domestically and internationally. The primary role of the nation-state is to protect the rights of its citizens. I'm not a medieval law scholar, but I feel confident in claiming that the term "free man" in the Magna Carta didn't apply to invading armies.

Sanchez compares the domestic standard we use domestically with murder suspects with the nebulous standard applied to the Gitmo prisoners. There is two significant differences. First, there's a knowledge difference. For a domestic murder suspect it's much easier to collect evidence and interview witnesses. In the fog of war that's more difficult. The same judicial standards cannot be applied. Second, releasing a murder suspect due to lack of evidence doesn't endanger as many people as releasing a terrorist prisoner. At worst, the murder suspect could kill one or two before caught. A released terrorist would rejoin a network that has succeeded in killing 3000+ Americans in one day and shows no sign of ending their war.

His solution is giving those prisoners some kind of trial. But you can bet if that happened Julian Sanchez would first to gripe about the low evidentiary standards the government used to keep the terrorists locked up.

"Endless Detention: From Guantanamo to 'Camp 6'?"

UPDATE: Ace's argument is that the prisoners will be released at the end of the war.

Now, this is indeed a war that may go on for some time. But that does not change the basic rule that captured soldiers are held until hostilities end. And if Al Qaeda wants to make war for generations to come, that's just bad luck on their "soldiers," isn't it?

Al Qaeda can get its "soldiers" released any time they like-- by surrendering.


I would think such long-time rules of war would satisfy Sanchez, but I doubt it.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 08:22 PM | Comments (11)

South Dakota

South Dakota's governor, Mike Rounds wants Roe v. Wade overturned, and he wants his state to play an important role. An abortion-banning law almost passed the South Dakota legislature last year. Rounds wants to try again this year. However, some legislators wonder if the timing is right. "There are others that feel, 'Hey, let's see what happens with the Bush administration. Let's see what happens with the makeup of the Supreme Court.' Maybe 2005 is not the year. Maybe it's 2006," said one lawmaker. Thus the importance of an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.

"Gov. Vows to Sign Law Banning Abortions if it Passes Legislature" [via How Appealing]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

The Tsunami Hymn

The hymn's author's heart was in the right place. It's an attempt to empathize with the victims while asking the age-old question, "Why?" But the aesthete in me cringes. "Tsunami," "economies," and "sewage" need not be sung. It is better poetry than most rap.

"The Elephant in the Living Room"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 06:55 PM | Comments (1)

I Pass on I-Pass

The New Year brings new taxes. For those outsiders who want to drive on Illinois' toll roads the cost has doubled. You could always plunk down $50 for an I-PASS transponders. As for me, I'll stick with the train. I don't have to bother with Wisconsinite-soaking tolls or Chicago traffic, and it's just plain fun riding the rails.

"Buy Your I-PASS Before Tolls Rise" [via Chicago Report]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 06:43 PM | Comments (3)

Sweet!

Michele posts about Napoleon Dynamite:

Me, I loved it. In fact, it quickly moved up the ranks into my list of all time favorite movies. I just love the way it could have devolved into a cliched, feel-good-movie-of-the-year at so many points yet never did.

I too liked Napoleon Dynamite:

Despite being the most extreme dork in movie history he's more comfortable in his own skin than any other character in the movie. His older brother spends his days plugged into chatrooms yapping with his cyber-girlfriend. When she comes to Idaho to visit she transforms him into Eminem. Napoleon's uncle Rico can't get his mind away from high school football memories. Even Napoleon's grandmother tries to recapture her youth by motoring around sand dunes. Napoleon just chugs along asking a popular girl to the dance and helping his friend Pedro run for student body president. He doesn't try to live up to the expectations of others or relive a past that didn't exist. He's simply a good friend. In Napoleon Dynamite we have a movie that is touching, but not sentimental. Plus, it's incredibly funny.

"I Caught You a Delicious Bass"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Thow Them for a Loop

With the attention devoted to my post on Gitmo prisoners I could really mix things up by talking about why I'm against the death penalty. Unfortunately for you all, I'm tired and am calling it a night. Maybe tomorrow. Let me say the key to my thinking deals with how much of a threat someone is.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 10:41 PM | Comments (40)

Then Shoot 'Em

The CIA and the Pentagon want some White House direction on what to do with many of the terrorist prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Ideas include a 200-bed prison at Gitmo to "allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now" and a secret CIA prison that was scuddled.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is dismissive of the idea of the U.S. holding some prisoners for years or even a lifetime. "It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this," he yapped on Fox News Sunday.

Releasing enemies of the U.S. is a "bad idea" too. Imagine what the public will scream if one of those released terrorists pull off something worse than Sep. 11. Think I'm uttering hyperbole? Here's what happened when a number of prisoners who were no longer considered national threats were released:

Despite gaining their freedom by signing pledges to renounce violence, at least seven former prisoners of the United States at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have returned to terrorism, at times with deadly consequences.

At least two are believed to have died in fighting in Afghanistan, and a third was recaptured during a raid on a suspected training camp in Afghanistan, Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico, a Pentagon spokesman, said last week. Others are at large.

Additional former detainees have expressed a desire to rejoin the fight, be it against U.N. peacekeepers in Afghanistan, Americans in Iraq or Russian soldiers in Chechnya.

And these were the prisoners the military thought didn't pose a threat anymore. Those still in custody are presumably more dangerous.

The hard truth is there are people in custody who would love to see thousands of Americans dead. Those in custody are the same types of evil thugs beheading foreigners and bombing Iraqis who are working to bring freedom to their country. The Bush administration and the American public now have to face a significant consequence of the Supreme Court ruling that prisoners held by the military have a right to a hearing. Since letting the prisoners go would guarantee future American deaths we have two choices: either we hold the most dangerous terrorists until they die; or we shoot them. (The CIA will just moved them outside the U.S. with a "rendition" and off them.) Human rights activists who seem to care more about the rights of America's enemies than Americans don't like to admit that's the dilemma we face. They worry about government abuses. That's something I'll grant has taken place, is taking place now, and will in the future. However, if it's a terroist being abused instead of an American killed then that's a tragic tradeoff I'm willing to make. It's us or them, and I know what side I'm on.

"Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects"

"Senator Says Lifetime Terror Detentions 'Bad Idea'"

UPDATE: For some reason MT-Blacklist didn't DANEgerus' post. I found nothing offensive or spam-like in it so here it is.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 08:39 PM | Comments (44)

January 01, 2005

Truly Devastating

While none of the tsunami videos have shown a Hollywood-style 100-foot wall of water crashing down on villages, nature's power cannot be ignored in this BBC story.

[via Dean's World]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 06:59 PM | Comments (5)

A TAM Award Clarification

Kevin is happy to get a TAM Weblog Award, but he's confused about the criteria. I should have added this explanation like I did in 2003:

My criteria are simple: the weblogs have to be on my blogroll and I have to consider them insightful, entertaining, or have some good quality to keep me coming back.

Forget putting together nomination lists and public voting. I'm proud to say the TAM Weblog Awards are the most subjective, least democratic awards in all the blogosphere. It's simply the opinion of one weblogger who knows a good weblog when he sees it.

To those who didn't win, keep on trying. There were no repeats from last year so you know my opinions aren't set in stone.

"It's a Major Award!"

P.S. I finally watched A Christmas Story for the first time. It's cute. Even better, it's much shorter than It's a Wonderful Life.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)