[star]The American Mind[star]

July 31, 2005

Repairing Discovery

Here's another post in my continuing rant on why the space shuttle is pointless. Astronauts might have to make repairs on Discovery's heat shield.

A couple of short strips of material dangling from Discovery's belly may require an unprecedented repair by spacewalking astronauts, if engineers determine there's even a possibility that the problem could endanger the shuttle during descent, NASA said Sunday.

Teams of experts were scrambling to understand just how serious the problem was, with heated discussions raging on what to do, if anything.

NASA doesn't have any idea how critical this is. For all they know gap fillers pop out on every mission. Only now are hyper-sensitive engineers looking for anything that slightly increase the risk to the astronauts.

Some wise man in Congress (yes, I'm laughing at that one too) should stand up and declare the shuttle program to be an embarassment and waste of money. No body on Capitol Hill has the guts to do that because they'd then be labled "anti-science" or "anti-space." And it would probably stick even though we know so much human knowledge is being gleaned from people closely studying heat tiles. Wow, I feel like we're getting that much closer to coloninzing Mars.

"Discovery May Need Unprecedented Repair"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

A Fad is Dead

The company behind the low-carb Atkins died filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today.

Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the company that promoted low-carb eating into a national diet craze, filed for bankruptcy court protection Sunday, a company spokesman said.

Atkins has been hurt by waning popularity of its namesake diet, which focuses on eliminating carbohydrates such as bread and pasta as a way to shed weight. The diet quickly became one of the most popular in U.S. history, spawning numerous derivatives and a virtual cottage industry of low-carb regimens but also drew criticism from many experts for its focus on fatty foods and low fruit and vegetable consumption.

Who knew federal court was open on a Sunday? Why can't the post office be open then too?

"Low-Carb Pioneer Atkins Files Chapter 11"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)

Return of the Webloggers League

This is a post to my friends who have challenged me the past few year in fantasy football. Again I've started up the Webloggers League to see who can lay claim to being the greatest fantasy football mind in the blogosphere. While the league name will be the same the place we will do battle has changed. Yahoo doesn't have any evening times to do a live draft. But thanks to a free market NFL.com is an alternative. The draft time is 08.22.05 at 8:30 pm EDT. That should give you plenty of time to make proper arrangements. Of course the time isn't locked in stone. A really, really good sob story and some cash under the PayPal rug would help ;-).

Here are the league rules. They don't seem out of the ordinary. Lucky for me I won't be able to mess with them (to my detriment).

There's room for 12 teams. I'm giving priority to those who were in the league last year. If you want to play send me an e-mail (sean--at--this domain name--dot.com) or leave a comment. I'll then get you all the info to join.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 06:35 PM | Comments (2)

Thieves Target Retail

Organized crime has gone domestic. Gangs and crime rings now shoplift razors, prescription drugs, CDs, DVDs, and my favorite, hair-growth products. Yes, there's an black market to help balding men. The Washington Post reports:

Retailers and theft experts say criminals have discovered that large profits can be made relatively easily, and without much risk, by stealing merchandise from crowded, understaffed stores. They say the most stolen items tend to be high-priced, widely used products that are routinely sold in chain stores: over-the-counter medicines, razors, film, CDs and DVDs, baby formula, diapers, batteries, hair-growth and smoking-cessation products, hardware, tools, designer clothes and electronics.

Shoplifters might spend all day going from store to store, then sell the goods they've stolen to the fence for 10 or 20 percent of their retail value, said Chuck Miller, a retail security consultant in Great Falls and author of "Organized Retail Theft," a handbook published this month for industry professionals. Fences then aggregate the products from multiple shoplifters and sell them at flea markets, online or to bodegas and convenience stores, he said.

America's car-friendly road system and its resultant sprawl of retail centers not only conveniences shoppers but makes it easy for thieves to hop from store to store before a retail chain notices they've been struck.

Department stores and drug stores aren't the only targets. Bookstores are also targets. They contain small valuable items that can quickly be resold or "returned" for cash or other more-easily sold merchandise.

Much of the problem is pointed out in the Post story. Stores are understaffed. The ceaseless desire for maintaining profit margins, keeping labor costs down, and not raising prices for fickle, internet-informed consumers makes stores vulernable to shoplifting. It also doesn't help if the government isn't talking shoplifting seriously. An anti-theft official for Walgreens, Jerry Biggs has one example:

"I'm going after a guy right now that's been arrested 56 times," Walgreen's Biggs said. "I've got to put together a case that can show this isn't your typical little shoplifter."

The day after making that statement, Biggs called back to say he had just arrested the same shoplifter for the 57th time.

You'd think after the third time the police or a prosecutor would have taken this seriously.

"Retail Gangs: A New Breed of Thieves"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2005

My Grandfather Had a Sense of Humor

My grandfather's funeral is on Tuesday. He wrote out his funeral preparations before he died. One of the requirements was he only wanted a 15-minute service. That sounds like my grandfather. He wasn't the type to want to drown in sorrow. My grandmother thinks 15 minutes is just a tad short. Since my grandfather knew so many people during his 82-year life it might take more than 15 minutes to get all the people into the church.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

No More HP iPods

Hewlett-Packard selling iPods didn't make sense to me. They didn't add any technological innovations and they didn't take on Apple on price. I have an HP iPod but I don't ever think about that company when I use it. iPod=Apple, just as Steve Jobs wants it to be. Apple didn't care since the deal put iTunes on HP computers. Now, HP is ending the reselling arrangement. No big deal.

"HP to Stop Reselling iPod Music Player"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

Blogosphere Reaction to Frist

Augustine at Redstate.org lashes out at Sen. Frist calling him a "traitor" and more:

Bill Frist is a man without principles. He does not deserve polite acceptance of his treachery by any Republican. And any party that truly believes in a culture of life does not tolerate such men in positions of leadership. It should not tolerate Dr. Frist.

In the most damaging stab at Frist Augustine compares him to Sen. Arlen Specter, no idol to conservative activists.

James Joyner agrees with me that Frist blew his chance at the Presidential nomination but writes, "If, somehow, he managed to nonetheless win the nomination, though, a more centrist position on this issue would be helpful in the fall campaign against the Democratic candidate."

As always, ScrappleFace finds a way to mock the news:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist today announced his support for expanding federally-funded stem cell research in hopes of finding a cure for his own addiction to tax dollars.

"Although I am a conservative, my addiction drives me to steal money from average Americans and spend it on my pet projects," said Sen. Frist. "Perhaps government-owned scientists will be able to conquer this unfortunate condition by slicing up human embryos."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 03:57 PM | Comments (3)

Maybe a Shuttle Launch in 2005

Writing has taking my mind off current, personal events. I think of weblogging as comfort food for my mind. I'm going to pound on that dying horse that is the space shuttle program.

Today, NASA chief Michael Griffin said he really, really wanted to have another launch in 2005. That will depend on getting the foam on the main fuel tank fixed in time for the small launch windows in the fall. This is how risk-adverse NASA is now:

The launch windows later this year are very limited, however. The first is Sept. 9-24, and the second is a couple of days in November. That is based on the Earth's orbit and the hours of daylight a shuttle could be launched so it could be photographed to watch for problems.

Unless all eyes are glued to the shuttle to watch for flying foam they won't launch. Spectacular nigh time launches have been nixed. Safety is now the #1 concern. It's not about how much the mission could advance science and technology. If NASA engineers and big wigs find something slightly wrong a launch will be ditched. This isn't the same NASA that survived the accidents of Apollo 1 (who's investigation commission completed its work in only two months) and Apollo 13. NASA's new unofficial motto is "any failure is unacceptable." The agency is a ghost of its hallowed past.

"NASA: Another Shuttle Could Launch Soon"

[Add to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]

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

Two Approaches

My sister and I are handling my grandfather's death differently. She went to work. I called the bookstore to tell them I wasn't coming in. Nothing would have gotten done, too much inside my head, and I would have been asked all night by my co-workers how I was feeling. My sis is going to help out my grandmother tomorrow. My plans are still in the air. I'm not sure what I can do plus I still don't know what I'm feeling, thus the previous post "uncomfortably numb." It sounds like the funeral will be on Monday.

A time like this calls for comfort food. I've started with a box of Raisinets. Sweet chocolate and chewy raisins remind me of simple, fun times watching movies. It makes me feel good during this tough time.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Frist: Harvest those Embryos

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist now supports federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. By "growing in office" (a euphamism for a Republican becoming more liberal) Frist now conflicts with his pro-life stance. He can also kiss goodbye to his chance of becoming the GOP Presidential nominee in 2008.

"Frist Breaks With Bush on Stem-Cell Bill"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

Uncomfortably Numb

My grandfather passed away last night in his sleep. This wasn't unexpected. He has been going in and out of the hospital for years. His mind always remained sharp; it's just his body that left him down. More later.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 10:04 AM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2005

I Dare You! I Double Dare You!

Let me be very clear: I don't want Helen Thomas dead. But whenever I hear someone make an outrageous threat I want to see if they'll actually do it. Helen Thomas as threatened to kill herself if Dick Cheney runs for President. As Vice President he has never said he'd run to be Bush's successor, but I'd just love to see what "Old Bag" Helen would do. Would she find a tall Washington, D.C. building and leap to her death? Would she die quietly? Yeah right! She'd probably broadcast her intentional demise on the internet. She'd scream that it was all Bush's fault as drove a knife into her chest.

"What An Ego Helen"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 09:52 PM | Comments (2)

Put It Out of Its Misery

The shuttle fleet--all three of them--have been grounded because foam flew off the main fuel tank. Continuing the shuttle program is pointless. NASA must cut its losses and move on. The shuttle had its time. Its now the past. Time to look to the future.

"NASA Grounds Shuttle Fleet"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2005

Silly Season

When you combine a slow, summer news cycle with an election next year you get a crazy stunt like sending an opponent 1400 hyperdermic needles. Elizabeth Kastner was a moron for keep them for the sole purpose of sending them to Assembly Speaker John Gard, but Gov. Jim Doyle's office was even more moronic to assisting. This incident even garnered a police report.

John Galt writes,

Is it too much to ask that our governor have a maturity level that nips inappropriate and incivil antics in the bud – even if they come from supporters of his? I’d like to think it is not. But instead of stopping this dangerous and downright tacky tantrum in its tracks, Governor Doyle has placed his imprimatur on it and dispatched his staff to participate in it and even defend it. That action demeans the office of Governor and speaks volumes about what a petty, classless boor Jim Doyle the person is.

Kevin gives us a dossier on "Crazy" Kastner.

This is going to be one long governor's election. Woe is us.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

Words Mean Things

The Bush Administration is starting to use a new phrase in their battle against Islamist terrorists. The "global war on terror" has been replaced with "global struggle against violent extremism." Not only is this even less elegant than the GWoT it's also less meaningful. On Sep. 11, 2001 the U.S. was attacked by terrorists followers of Islamist ideology. It wasn't simply followers of Islam who attacked us. It was a totalitarian ideology that piggy-backed onto that religion. President Bush started using GWoT for diplomatic reasons; he didn't want to offend slow-thinking Muslims who would turn our nation's struggle into a clash of religions and the rise of American imperialism. Critics did it anyway so Bush's strategem failed. He would have been better off verbally targeting Islamists from the start.

"Global war on terrorism" implied the U.S. would go beyond Islamists. Groups like the IRA and the Basque separatists in Spain also are terrorists, but the U.S. has done nothing to stop them. The war's focus has been on toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, finding Osama bin Laden, and liberating Iraq. All involve Muslims and Islamists. So the term GWoT was politically correct spin.

Another problem with the GWoT is terrorism is a means to an end. We're fighting an end. That is an ideology that wants us to convert to Islam, follow strict Islamic law, or die. Since terrorism has been around since Man first discovered ways to terrorize each other at the begining of time the war against a means will never end. That doesn't bode well for limited government. A state of permanent war isn't viable. Either the public will tire of the hyperbolic rhetoric or government will harden its grasp.

Getting even more vague and now calling the Islamist War a "global struggle against violent extremism" robs our efforts of even more seriousness. When the U.S. was attacked Islamists declared war on the U.S. Now, our government wants to play nice and go after "violent extremism." Yes, Gen. Myers is correct that victory in this war will require "all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power." But that was the case when opposing the Soviets and international Communism. Economic vitality, alliances, and culture we used to win the Cold War. Oddly back then, Republicans weren't afraid to call that conflict a "war." It was communist-sympathizing Leftists who bashed Cold Warriors (both Democrats and Republicans) for increasing tensions with the Soviets with such harsh words as "evil empire."

Language is vital. Words mean things. We must call as spade a "spade." Knowing who is our enemy will help lead us to victory. Otherwise we'll be flailing away just waiting to get sucker punched again.

"U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War" [via The Corner]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

David Clarke: Flake

Thank god David Clarke never became Milwaukee mayor. Sure, the man makes some good conservative statements, but the guy has a lousy management style. It sure looks like Clarke retaliated against Deputy Michael Schuh for his critical comments of the sheriff in a union newsletter. Clarke pretty much admitted it when he told reporters,

One cannot expect, internally, that if they make some criticism against the sheriff that they will never be reassigned, that they will be immune from accountability.

Then there's Schuh's new assignment:
His sweeping list of duties includes collaborating with elected officials to find money for a "comprehensive strategy to restore order."

He is also to remove all abandoned cars from streets, alleys and yards, and identify all landlords and work with the city to bring their properties into code compliance.

Clarke whipped his new plan together last Friday, the same day Schuh's criticism was published. What timing!

Clarke's statements to Charlie Sykes and other talk radio yappers made him a potential political rising star. We're finding out he's just a vindictive blowhard.

"Sheriff Defends Deputy's Move"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 06:24 AM | Comments (2)

Daily Blog Roundup

TAM is featured on today's Daily Blog Roundup.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 06:16 AM | Comments (1)

July 26, 2005

Blogsphere Screw-Ups

Charlie Sykes wasn't the only one to make a mistake. Chris Muir, creator of Day by Day--the unofficial official comic strip of the blogosphere--blew it twice in one strip. Both men have made amends, and a lot faster than most MSM.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 08:30 PM | Comments (2)

A Useless Launch

Discovery had a successful launch. I have mixed feelings. I'm glad NASA pulled it off. I'm always proud of American resilence, but the shuttle is old technology. Man won't conquer space with the risk-adverse methodology of the space agency. It took over two years just to get the shuttle ready for launch. Then a fuel gage malfunctioned and that postponed the launch for two more weeks. The agency is too worried about another accident mothballing the shuttle program--not a bad idea. Engineers are staring at footage from 110 video cameras to see if Discovery was damaged during lift off. That's no way to run a productive, efficient space program.

Rand Simberg writes,

Right now, NASA's hypersafety philosophy has made spaceflight hyper expensive (though not particularly safe). Rather than unrealistically making failure not an option, we need to embrace the fact that failures will occur occasionally. What we have to do is make sure that failures aren't as expensive as they were in the case of Challenger and Columbia (and numerous other lesser NASA program failures). What that means is making it cheap to fail, which in turn means making it cost much less to make attempts. That won't happen until we develop much more robust systems, with much more activity. But investing further millions into Shuttle (not only in terms of money spent fixing things, but the costs of continued delay, which are substantial) in a futile effort to make it any safer than it currently is, is a fool's errand.

SpaceShipOne (at the EAA in Oshkosh) has shown entreprenuers going out on the edge can get Man into space. That's the path to take.

The shuttle program is 30-years old, and it hasn't gotten Man any closer to a permanent presence in space (three-month stays on the orbiting white elephant international space station doesn't count). The U.S. managed to lead the world in microprocessor production without the government creating the Semiconductor Manufacturing Administration. It's time for NASA to put the shuttle out to pasture.

"NASA Studies Debris Recorded During Launch"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 07:46 PM | Comments (1)

Remembering Mom

When she isn't snarky Maureen Dowd can be quite touching. Her tribute to her late mother proves that.

"A Woman Who Found a Way to Write" [via Drudge]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 06:19 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2005

TAM Book Series: South Park Conservatives

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of what I hope is a continuing series of interviews with authors and their books. We no longer have C-SPAN's Booknotes, but I hope the TAM Book Series will partially satisfy book lovers interested in non-fiction books. Publishers and publicists if you have a book you think would be great for this series leave a comment or e-mail me at sean--at--theamericanmind--dot--com.

It's cliche to consider our youth the future. But cliches, while banal, do contain meaning. Young people and politics is always ripe as a book idea. Their views change and with them future political currents. Brian Anderson, senior editor of City Journal, ran with Andrew Sullivan's term "South Park Republicans" and produced South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.

South Park Conservatives better describes an "attitude or sensibility" than a political philosophy. That's what I got from my interview with Brian Anderson. The foundation of modern conservatism starting with Edmund Burke was the conservation and slow reform of presently-existing institutions. Today's SPC's are more interested in conserving "life free from the intrusion of the PC police."

The essence of the book is how new forms of communication are bypassing the newspapers, magazines, and network television talking heads past generations relied on. Books, cable channels, talk radio, weblogs, and even comedy are letting people tired of stale, liberal views express themselves. Anderson was gracious enough to take part in an e-mail interview.

What are "South Park Conservatives" trying to conserve?

Andrew Sullivan coined the phrase "South Park Republican" a couple of years ago to refer to someone who is in favor of a strong military, is fiscally conservative, and is socially liberal, at least on some matters. I use the SPC term a little more loosely to refer to an anti-liberal—someone who may not be on board with everything supported by today’s Republican Party, especially when it comes to things like censorship and popular culture, but who looks at today’s politically correct Nancy Pelosi liberals and wants nothing to do with them. What the South Park Conservative in this sense wants to conserve is life free from the intrusion of the PC police.

In the book, I find lots of evidence for this attitude—and it’s far more an attitude or sensibility than a fully developed world view—among college students, many of whom want nothing to do with campus political orthodoxies, and in a current of social comedy whose archetype is the Comedy Central cartoon South Park itself, which satirizes not just conservatives but also, mercilessly, the Left.

Do these SPCs have any historical or philosophical underpinning for their views? This doesn't feel like Buckley-style conservatism.

As I say, as I’m using the term, it represents an attitude and not a fully developed philosophy of life or politics. But there’s no question this anti liberal spirit is a bit more anarchic and, yes, vulgar, than Buckley-style conservatism. One of the comedians I write about, Nick Di Paolo, a two-time Emmy nominee for comedy writing and the co-creator of the Comedy Central cartoon Shorties Watchin’ Shorties, told me he’s a big Buckley fan, but you wouldn’t describe his humor as Buckleyesque in tone—on the contrary!

What are your favorite weblogs?

I really enjoy and look in on the following regularly (I’ll exclude your fine blog, since you’re interviewing me, and this is off the top of my head): Power Line, NRO’s Corner, Andrew Sullivan, Polipundit, OpinionJournal’s Best of the Web, Instapundit, Captain’s Quarters, Professor Bainbridge (including his wine obsessions), Right Wing News, Libertas (the conservative film blog), Dan Drezner, Kausfiles, the Conservative Philosopher, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Chrenkoff (whose work on Iraq and Afghanistan is brilliant), the BrothersJudd, and the RadioEqualizer (invaluable on radio ratings). I’m a big fan of RealClearPolitics, Arts & Letters Daily, Frontpage, and TechCentralStation, and like everybody else with a computer, I read Drudge all the time.

One of the most gratifying things about the publication of South Park Conservatives for me has been the interest from bloggers and websites. Of course, I’m writing about the new media revolution, so it’s perhaps understandable that some of the pioneers of new media are interested in what I’m writing. Plus, there really haven’t been many books written yet on the blogosphere; it’s still too new a phenomenon.

Do you like the term "blog?" (Me, I hate it, and use it as little as possible.)

What can one do? It’s not the most elegant of words, admittedly—it sounds like a gastro-intestinal eruption of some kind. But it’s the term that has stuck and it won’t go away now, so we might as well get used to it. And sometimes there is an eruptive, gastro-intestinal quality to blogging!

Why do Lefties like Cass Sunstein fear more media choice? Isn't more choice more liberating? Do they fear a diminishment of their status?

Sunstein’s argument can be summed up in a sentence: "People will get the news they want, not the news they need"—the news we need being that delivered by the old, liberal-dominated media. In the twenty-first century republic.com, this argument runs, we’ll all enclose ourselves in ideological bubbles, the truth be damned. Democracy will suffer from cyber-balkanization.

I find this stunningly arrogant, elitist view, though other liberals have echoed it repeatedly.

I think the logic of the Internet in particular makes this worry wildly overstated. In my book, I quote the Yale law prof and blogger Jack Balkin, who spells out that logic: "[M]ost bloggers who write about political subjects cannot avoid addressing (and more importantly, linking to) arguments made by people with different views," he explains. "The reason is that much of the blogosphere is devoted to criticizing what other people have to say. It’s hard to argue with what the folks at National Review Online or Salon are saying unless you read their articles, and, in writing a post about them, you will almost always either quote or link to the article or both." In other words, the blogosphere is much closer to an electronic agora than a world of ideological bubbles.

When liberals make this argument, I tend to hear frustration over the loss of their monopoly over the institutions of opinion and information: "Oh, if only we could go back to the days when CBS News and the New York Times handed down the news from on high, and all the not-too-bright folks out there would accept it as given." Those days—thankfully—are gone for good. I love Jeff Jarvis’s formulation: news is becoming much more of a conversation. And that’s healthy. South Park Conservatives is above all a celebration of that new reality.

Do you see a stratification forming in the blogosphere where big-name weblogs primarily link to other big-name weblogs? Is that bad or a sign of a maturing medium?

I think you will see new sites and bloggers rising to the top, even as some of the big names scale down a bit, as Sullivan has recently done. Keep in mind that 12 percent of adult Americans are now reading political blogs, which is remarkable for a medium that barely existed five years ago but is also just a beginning. I think that percentage will continue to rise in the years ahead, and who knows which blogs will capture the interest of the expanding blog readership?

With the rise of best-selling conservative books, some people still think big bookstores (Barnes & Noble, my employer, for example) are being biased. Why do you think that?

I don’t think the chains themselves are biased at all—just walk into a Barnes & Noble or a Borders and you’ll usually see conservative books piled up everywhere. And of course Amazon offers easy access to all books, conservative ones included. The chains have really helped right-of-center authors because they’re profit-driven and don’t have an institutional politics in the way many independent bookstores do, which tend to be run by left-wingers.

Chain bookstore employees are a different matter. Recall the postings on the Borders employee union website last year, in which store clerks recommended "forgetting" to stock Unfit for Command or finding the copies mysteriously damaged and sending them back to the publisher. "I don’t care if these Neanderthals in fancy suits [read: conservative book buyers] get mad at me," spluttered one Borders worker. "They aren’t regular customers anyway. Other than ‘Left Behind’ books, they don’t read. Anything you can do to make them feel unwelcome is only fair." Now that’s a perfect example of what I call "illiberal liberalism"—suppressing ideas and arguments rather than allowing an intellectual marketplace to flourish. What would John Stuart Mill think?

Is there a stereotype for a college conservative today? What is it?

I spent a lot of time talking with college kids who placed themselves on the right for this book, and it became immediately clear that no stereotype really holds any longer—certainly not that of the bowtie-wearing, clean-cut young Republican of yesteryear. They’re likely to be blasting Eminem and watching South Park, even as they work, say, to form a pro-life group on campus.

What role is religion playing in the rise of college conservatism? Doesn't that conflict with South Park vulgarity?

There has been a striking religious upsurge on college campuses over the last decade—MIT actually has more than a dozen Christian fellowship groups active on its campus, to take just one example. A recent UCLA survey found that three-quarters of college juniors helped develop their identities, and 77 percent of college juniors claim to pray. The aggressive secularism of the Left today would make it hard for a lot of these kids to get on board. But there are many factors feeding the rise of college conservatism—the political correctness prevalent on many campuses, for instance, drives many students nuts. What bright kid is going to have anything but contempt for sensitivity workshops—what mind-rot!

As for vulgarity, I think most younger Americans, religious ones included, take it in stride. They’ve grown up with HBO, hip-hop, R-rated movies, and Bill Clinton getting cheap sex in the White House and having every pundit in the country talking about it. That’s why I think it unwise to push for the extension of FCC regulations to cable and satellite media, as some GOP pols have proposed. It’s a quick way to alienate a lot of younger Americans who might otherwise like Republican ideas on social security and even the proper role of the judiciary.

How fast did it take you to write and publish the book? Are new technologies making it easier to get conservative books published?

It took me about eight months to a year to write the book—but I have a demanding job at City Journal, which slowed me down a bit. The new technologies are making it easier for conservative authors to publish books—in fact, there’s never been a better time to be a right-of-center author. Just a few weeks ago, Simon & Schuster, another powerhouse New York publisher, announced it was launching a conservative imprint, joining Penguin’s Sentinel and Crown Forum as new conservative publishing ventures. The rise of the new media has allowed right-of-center authors to find audiences for their books without relying on the New York Times Book Review, which in the past hasn’t treated conservative books very well (I remember Katha Pollitt’s sneering review of Allan Bloom’s profound Love and Friendship several years back as a particularly low moment; with Sam Tanenhaus editing the review these days, it seems to be getting more balanced.) I’ve done scores of talk radio interviews, blog interviews, and cable news appearances for this book.

What happened to Andrew Sullivan? The man who was the most eloquent proponent of President Bush's war policy ended up endorsing Sen. John Kerry.

I think Sullivan has followed his conscience, though I regret where it has taken him. His position on social issues, gay marriage in particular, made it increasingly difficult for him to support the Bush administration, and he has grown increasingly critical of how we've done things in Iraq.

His sense of what conservatism means owes much to the great British political philosopher Michael Oakeshott, but that skeptical, secular conservatism, as Irving Kristol once explained in an interesting essay, is in significant tension with America's "exceptional conservatism," which is both religious and optimistic in its main variants. Thus, it's possible to see how Sullivan gravitated toward Kerry. He's writing a book on conservatism, which will doubtless discuss these issues.

Once weblogs moved beyond spaces for tech geeks conservatives quickly dominated in numbers and readers. Why do you think that happened? Is that the case currently or has the Left risen up to the Right's challenge? Do the Left and Right treat weblogs differently? Are there any parallels to magazine publishing?

Conservatives were ahead of the curve in exploiting the new medium of blogs, and quickly established a strong and influential presence within it. The right-of-center blogs were offering perspectives-especially on September 11 and its political aftermath-that were being slighted by the mainstream media, so it's no surprise there was a significant audience for it.

Left blogs have been increasing their "marketshare" in recent months, which I think has mostly to do with the political climate in the country. The Democrats have been imploding politically, and there are a lot of angry, frustrated left-wingers out there looking to vent.

Conservative intellectuals constantly cite thinkers like F. A. Hayek, Edmund Burke, and others. You don't see the same from Liberal intellectuals. Does the average, well-informed Leftist have as well-developed an intellectual foundation as your average well-informed Rightist? Other than John Rawls--who I would argue many Leftists are not familar with--who are Leftists' big inspirations?

You're absolutely right. There is a lasting body of political reflection from conservative thinkers. Left-leaning thinkers don't seem to have as many living sources in this sense. Who reads Walter Lippmann or Harold Laski today? Even Marx is read more for historical interest than for truthful observations on the functioning of society. On the contemporary scene, an intellectually inclined Leftist might look to Richard Rorty or Antonio Negri, Habermas and Foucault maybe, but there would be little agreement on a well-developed intellectual foundation.

You told me, "A recent UCLA survey found that three-quarters of college juniors helped develop their identities." Do you mean Christianity or religion "helped develop their identities?"

The survey mentioned religion, not Christianity, but presumably most of the students in question were Christians.
Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Sykes' Libel Case

My fellow Wisconsin webloggers haven't let me down in talking about Robert Miranda's libel case against Charlie Sykes. James Widerson recalls Sykes contacting him to see if he remembered Robert Miranda attending a 1991 pro-war rally at UWM. Owen at Boots & Sabers reminds me Sykes only had the offending post on his weblog for a few hours. He took it down, but the post could still be accessible if you knew where to look. Sykes has retracted his original reporting. That may lead to a settlement before the trial starts Tuesday.

I'm a fan of Sykes and have been on his radio show. I have a bias. But still, what Sykes has done is commendable. He posted a story in good faith and when he discovered it was flawed he stepped back from it. Was he perfect in his retraction? No. It feels very defensive to issue a full-blown correction just before a libel trial is set to begin. I haven't heard him mention his correction on his radio show. I would hope he'd do that if he hasn't already. However, Sykes' correction is far different from one in the Journal Sentinel. With the newspaper you have to dig around to the corrections section (where is it anyway?). Sykes treated his correction just like any weblog post. As Owen writes,

The duty of any good blogger is to correct that information in a public way as soon as he or she knows that it is false. But even if the information is corrected, the original incorrect information can remain on the web forever.

"Libel Suit Against Sykes"

As an aside, Miranda originally claimed he wasn't in Milwaukee at the time of the 1991 rally. When pressed by Milwaukee Magazine he said, "I don’t know how I can prove where I was."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

Stripper Economics

$134,000 a year! If you got it, flaunt it.

"Did You Know"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 02:49 AM | Comments (6)

New Bob Mould

From how much I like the single "Paralyzed" Body of Sound should be a good album and nab a TAM Music Award. It comes out tomorrow. You have a choice of plain old album or the "Deluxe Edition" filled with extras and remixes.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 02:29 AM | Comments (0)

I Wonder if They Read TAM

Project 21 jumped on the Kossites who wanted to immediately begin digging up dirt on Judge Roberts' young son.

If they got the idea from TAM, great. I'd just like the credit. Egoboo is always good.

"Liberal Internet Activists Suggest Investigating Nominee's Toddler"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2005


Political Calculations hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

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

The Disneyworld of Football

No one would know anything about Green Bay, WI if it weren't for the Packers. Yes, the football team is an important part of the city's identity. But you really start to get carried away when you start naming oodles of streets after Packers. The city is getting close to turning their "small-town-takes-on-big-cities" image into hokey, tourist kitsch.

"Packers Fans want Streets Renamed"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 07:15 PM | Comments (1)

Take That, Che. You Too Daniel Ortega

After seeing this t-shirt I immediately plunked down my $15. It will go great with my "Viva La Reagan Revolucion" t-shirt. I'd get some Contra Cafe coffee too, but I wouldn't drink enough to get through a pound before it went bad.

[via Instapundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 02:48 AM | Comments (2)

Sweet Swing

This swing is one reason I've been a Ken Griffey, Jr. fan for years.

Oh, by the way, the Brewers crushed the Reds. Too bad his injuries will prevent him from snagging the all-time home run title.

"Milwaukee 11, Cincinnati 7"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

Lonely Butt

Yes vs. Sir Mix-a-lot, "Owner of a Lonely Butt." It rocks!

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2005

Lance Secures Victory

Lance Armstrong wins his first stage of this year's Tour de France, and with it sews up his seventh straight tour victory.

"'It was Never Going to be Enough against Lance Armstrong.'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

Windows Vista

The next version of Windows has an official name. Forget "Longhorn" and say hi to "Windows Vista." Well, it rolls off the tongue and isn't clunky. It sounds a little too pleasant since you can expect a mess of problems when it comes out. There will be security holes, bugs, compatibility issues, and annoying new ways to do things. Then there will be the problem of trying to shove Vista on machines currently running XP. Expect the new operating system to be a resource whore.

"Next Version of Windows Named 'Vista'"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 01:05 AM | Comments (1)

Bombs Rip Through Egyptian Resort

Egypt-flag.gif We're all Egyptians too!

At least 49 people have died in three car bomb attacks in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. I have little doubt al-Qaeda or a related group is behind the attacks. This attack along with the ones in London and Baghdad show the Islamists really want to turn up the intensity. They are also demonstrating their targets are more than just those nations who liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. Egypt was a target because isn't Islamic enough or Islamist--it certainly wouldn't hurt if they were democratic. To the Islamists you're either with them or you're an infidel and deserve to die. Innocent Egyptians suffered for that evil thinking.

"49 Dead and 200 Hurt in Egyptian Blasts"

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

July 22, 2005

A Kossite at WaPo

While not digging into a 5-year-old's private life (does he even have one?) Washington Post writer Robin Givhan "givhs" into her inner Bush-basher and goes after Judge Roberts' family for looking too traditional:

It has been a long time since so much syrupy nostalgia has been in evidence at the White House. But Tuesday night, when President Bush announced his choice for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, it was hard not to marvel at the 1950s-style tableau vivant that was John Roberts and his family.

There they were -- John, Jane, Josie and Jack -- standing with the president and before the entire country. The nominee was in a sober suit with the expected white shirt and red tie. His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers.


Separate the child from the clothes, which do not acknowledge trends, popular culture or the passing of time. They are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money and a cut above the light-up/shoe-buying hoi polloi.


In announcing John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, the president inextricably linked the individual -- and his family -- to the sweep of tradition. In their attire, there was nothing too informal; there was nothing immodest. There was only the feeling that, in the desire to be appropriate and respectful of history, the children had been costumed in it.

Too traditional? "Costumed" by history? Yeesh! To Lefties like Givhan everything personal is political. As Michele Malkin points out "a mother and her children just wanted to look nice for the most historic moment in her husband and their daddy's life."

"An Image A Little Too Carefully Coordinated"

"Patent-Leather Hegemony"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 02:20 PM | Comments (1)

The Islamist Enemy

Chad Evans writes that the war we face is indeed a religious war. It's just not against Islam.

"The Enemy We Face"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

Coburn Supports Roberts

About Judge Roberts Sen. Tom Coburn said, "My litmus test is, do they believe in the limited role of the court in terms of following and interpreting the constitution and not making policy, and I'm convinced right now that he is interested in limiting their decisions to what constitutionally they're supposed to do."

But here's the kicker:

Coburn said after his meeting with Roberts that he would have preferred a nominee who would reverse Roe v. Wade, but said it was "more critical to get someone "who's on the side of the Constitution and its strict interpretation."

What was said behind closed doors? Did Coburn ask Roberts about abortion? I and much of the American public want to know his stance.

Coburn may be resigned to accept legalized abortion until the American culture more strongly rejects it. It doesn't hurt knowing abortions are at 30-year lows in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Roberts needs to explain if Roe was the court making policy. If he doesn't think so then he needs to explain where in the constitution abortion is mentioned. What authority did the court have to yank that decision away from individual states?

Or Coburn might be convinced Roberts takes a "neutral" stance on abortion, the same stance as Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas. That would be make this pro-lifer and anti-judicial activist quite happy.

"Roberts Wins Another Endorsement From GOP"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 01:25 PM | Comments (3)

Not a Federalist

Judge John Roberts has never been a member of the Federalist Society, that group of conservative lawyers--a "gigantic networking club" to use one description. I don't care how many conservatives are praising his nomination--they don't know as much about him as they want you to believe--I worry this guy is another David Souter.

Why is President Bush so scared to nominate an easy-to-see conservative? Maybe Bush isn't as conservative as many of his supporters think he is.

"Roberts NOT a Federalist Society Member!" [via ACSBlog]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 12:34 AM | Comments (9)

July 21, 2005

Roberts Not a Confident Choice

Judge John Roberts may turn out to be even more conservative than Justice Scalia. However, we don't know his judicial philosophy very well. He's only been a judge on the D.C. appelate court for two years. Even though he helped write an anti-Roe legal brief during the Reagan administration he said that landmark case settled law in a Senate nomination hearing.

Dennis York steps into the wayback machine and finds some eerie parallels between Roberts' nomination and Justice Souter's. Just replace Souter's name with Roberts' and it sounds like President Bush 41 was talking like his son.

Augustine at Redstate.org takes a positive but not a gushing "pop the champagne corks" view.

Even if Roberts is willing to trash Roe v. Wade Wisconsin Right to Life points out [PDF] there would only be four justices opposed to keeping Roe the law of the land.

President Bush was afraid to nominate someone who everone knew would be an originalist or strict constructionist. Daniel Flynn writes, "What's the point of Bush taking such a risk when he holds all the cards?" Roberts may be as conservative as Robert Bork, but no one knows. This is a sign of Republican political weakness. Odd since Bush won two Presidential elections and helped his party solidify their majorities in the Congress. You'd think with this string of victories he and other Republicans wouldn't be afraid of choosing a polarizing candidate.

Does Bush, Rove, Cheney, Frist, and Dole think the American electorate could quickly swing to the Democrats and cost the GOP political offices? Maybe. They may be looking at the poor reaction to their party's championing of the Terri Schiavo case and wonder if voters are worried about a party getting too big for its britches.

"Coulter Splits on Court Pick"

"Don't Assume Roberts Is Another Souter Just Because He Doesn't Have A Long Paper Trail"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2005

Missing Wisconsin Woman

I post this e-mail alert as a favor to my sometimes-weblogging partner Shawn:

Tracey Marie Breure, age 16, was last seen on Saturday, July 16th, 2005 after leaving work at the Super-Valu in Osceola, WI.

She was driving a white, 1996 Ford Taurus, WI plates 124-JHN.

She is believed to be in the company of Ryan Anthony Hall, age 20 of 124 Main St. Luck, WI.

It is not known if she left of her own free will or not.

Any help you can provide in getting the word out would be greatly appreciated.


Anyone with information should contact the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department at 715-386-4701 and us at 715-497-5731.

Don't worry. TAM won't become Natalie Holloway North.

UPDATE: Tracey is safe. The U.S. Border Patrol stopped her when she tried to cross into Canada. Shawn and I would both agree, "Praise God."

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

Another Case to Tar Roberts

Look for a recent case on the treatment of Gitmo prisoners, Hamdan v Rumsfeld, to be used by Democrats and Leftists to make Judge Roberts look like a wild-eyed crazy man. This will go along side the "french fry case" [and here].

"The Largest Battle Of The Roberts Confirmation War"

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


When Kossites decide to go after judicial nominee's kids they should first figure out if they're old enough to have done something damaging to their parents. Jack Roberts looks a little young to care about his sexuality and to be an addict.

UPDATE: Some sensible commenters have properly bashed the idea of trying to smear a little kid. Bravo to them. Obviously not all Kossites are wacked out.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 01:12 AM | Comments (9)

July 19, 2005

Defending Roberts' Opinion on Hedgepeth

Beldar looked at Roberts' Hedgepeth opinion and is pleased with what he saw. Roberts wasn't happy with police arresting a girl for eating a french fry in a Washington, D.C. metro station but the question was whether any constitutional rights were violated.

John Hinderocker adds:

Roberts' opinion is a good example of conservative jurisprudence. He begins by noting that "No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation," and pointing out that the policies under which the girl was "apprehended" have since been changed. Nevertheless, the controlling law was clear, and the court was not authorized to second-guess the wisdom of the District's policies: "The question before us," Roberts wrote, "is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution." One basic difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives understand that there are any number of ideas that may be stupid, but are not unconstitutional. As Roberts wrote: "Rational basis review does not authorize the judiciary to sit as a superlegislature."

The Hedgepeth case may tug at certain heartstrings, but it plainly was decided correctly. Roberts wrote for a 3-0 panel affirming a district court decision, so the conclusion was unanimous. It's hard to paint a judge who is part of a unanimous consensus as "out of the mainstream."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

Roberts Watch

TTLB has a Roberts tracking page, and NRO's Bench Memos has plenty of running commentary.

UPDATE: Kossites watching Bush's announcement noticed this:

When Roberts thanked his family, he mentioned his son, Jack...Roberts' wife's face fell. It was like a poker tell. I think we should research Jack.

Another commenter wondered if Jack Roberts is gay. That's pretty low immediately wanting to go after a nominee's kid.

UPDATE II: This from Power Line:

Pop the champagne corks, conservatives. Roberts is a fantastic choice, a brilliant and bulletproof conservative. And it was fun to see Pat Leahy and Chuck Schumer on television tonight; they looked just awful. After President Bush's terrific, upbeat presentation of Roberts, and Roberts' graceful, brief talk, Leahy and Schumer sounded like they had just dropped in from another planet. They were dour, hateful, and came across as sad and pathetic minions who have been sent on a hopeless mission by their bosses at "People for the American Way."

Ann Althouse quotes Sen. Leahy: "No one's entitled to a free pass to the Supreme Court." Sounds like the Vermont Democrat wants Roberts to run through a gauntlet.

Leon H at Redstate.org has a bunch of quotes from Lefties blasting Roberts. Sounds good to me. He also points out that Roberts' wife runs Feminists for Life. This is good stuff. With David Souter conservatives had the word of John Sununu. With Roberts we have solid conservative credentials. But this is the first nomination of the weblog era. Anything could happen.

UPDATE III: Jib makes me wonder about Roberts and Roe v. Wade. One interpretation could be that as an appellate judge he couldn't overturn Roe. That's what I hope he meant in his 2001 statement.

UPDATE IV: Progress for America already has JudgeRoberts.com up and running. These guys have at least $18 million ready to defend him. Yikes! [via Patrick Ruffini]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 07:56 PM | Comments (1)

Supreme Court Announcement in Prime Time

[To all Instapundit readers I have plenty of more links on Roberts in the post above.]

President Bush will announce his first Supreme Court nominee during prime time tonight. That's the first time I've ever heard a President do that. This from a guy who rarely does prime time press conferences. It sounds like it will be a woman. An Edith somebody, but no one really knows. Drudge reports it will be John C. Roberts, Jr. We'll soon find out. Bryon York has been doing his geeky best and found out what domain names some anti-Bush groups have bought in preparation for the judicial battle.

Let's assume it's Roberts. Who is this man? He's spent about two years on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, he's argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court, and he has good conservative credentials:

clerking for Rehnquist, membership in the Federalist Society, laboring in the Ronald Reagan White House counsel's office and at the Justice Department into the Bush years, working with Kenneth Starr among others

Conservative legal eagle Mark Levin thinks Roberts is "excellent."

The problem is Roberts has only two years of legal opinions from which to gleen his judicial philosophy. That's Souter-like in that the Democrats will have little to attack him with on that front. There is one case that will probably be used to tar Roberts as "extreme."

In the unanimous ruling last October in Hedgepeth v. WMATA, Roberts upheld the arrest, handcuffing and detention of a 12-year-old girl for eating a single french fry inside a D.C. Metrorail station. "No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation," Roberts acknowledged in the decision, but he ruled that nothing the police did violated the girl's Fourth Amendment or Fifth Amendment rights.

The conservative Rutherford Institute was working on that case. And the Heritage Foundation used the "french fry case" as an example of overzealous police zero-tolerance policies. Not since "freedom fries" were served in the House cafeteria will the fried food play such a large role on Capitol Hill.

"Bush Goes Prime Time to Announce Nominee"

"D.C. Circuit Judge Gets on Supreme Court Short List"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 07:10 PM | Comments (2)

The Speed of Justice

January 9, 2006. That's when Democratic operatives accused of vandalizing Republican vans on Election Day 2004 will stand trial. That's fourteen months. My what a break-neck pace E. Michael McCann's office takes on cases embarassing to the Democratic Party.

"5 to be Tried Early Next Year in Election Day Tire-Slashing" [via Boots & Sabers]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 06:11 PM | Comments (1)

No More Needs to Be Said

President Bush lowered his standard for firing someone involved with Valarie Plame's outing? Kevin Whited knows otherwise. Those darn facts get in the way.

"What Pledge Did The President Qualify?"

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

Getting Torched

Practical Penumbra hosts this week's Bonfire of the Vanities.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

Nature's Absudity

Here's an interesting passage from an Eric Cohen essay on embryonic research:

In the age of modern science, therefore, we must confront the fact that nature is both orderly and absurd: Nature is orderly, in the sense that we can understand how many biological systems work and how they fail, and we can often use this rational knowledge to fix them. But nature is absurd, in the sense that sickness strikes some individuals and not others for no apparent reason—a fact made dramatically clear by the young faces in the cancer ward.

I think this dovetails with my evolution/creationism post from last week. I hold dearly to the idea of God's mystery in the universe. I wrote,
I take the story of Genesis on faith. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Being able scientifically to "prove" God's existence or His ability to mold the world robs faith of its importance.

With reason Man can grasp a portion of nature's order. It's the absurdity that throws us off. All of us seek to understand the world around us. But reason has its limits. As F.A. Hayek writes,
[T]he liberal is very much aware that we do not know all the answers and that he is not sure that the answers he has are certainly the rights ones or even that we can find all the answers.

Many of us just need to accept the fact that we won't find what we're looking for.

"The Tragedy of Equality"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 01:09 AM | Comments (2)

Where Does Rowling Stand?

Is J.K. Rowling an anti-American? Stephen Bainbridge puts together some circumstantial evidence.

"Is JK Anti-American?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

Connecting the Dots

Four administrators at UW-Milwaukee resigned and are or will be paid over $600,000. And UW System president Kevin Reilly has the gall to claim the system can't take any more budget cuts. Reilly better get his costs under control before he asks taxpayers for more money.

"UWM Grants Leaves after Resignations" [via Charlie Sykes]

"UW System Can't Take More Cuts, Chief Says"

UPDATE: State Representative Rob Kreibich is working on legislation that would end paid leave and backup jobs for university administrators. He told the Journal Sentinel, "Because of backup jobs, you end up paying six-figure salaries for administrators who don't work out."

"Lawmaker Seeks Ban on UW Resignation Payoffs"

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

Westmoreland Dies

I'm not sure what's more surprising: that General William Westmoreland was still alive or that someone finally died from my dead pool.

"Vietnam-Era Commander Westmoreland Dies"

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

July 18, 2005

Harry Potter Links

  • Brian J. turns Harry Potter into a 70s sitcom.

  • On Saturday, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was selling at a rate of 250,000 books/hour. Based on my own calculations from extrapolating from my Barnes & Nobles' sales CEO Steve Riggio guessed correctly that B&N would sell 50,000/hour. So roughly 1/5 of all Harry Potter sales were from B&N. That's a monster performance.

  • J.K. Rowling is already thinking of her post-Harry world. She's considering using a pseudonym:
    A fake name is very attractive. I'll have less pressure and I can write any old thing I want and people won't be clamoring for it and that might be nice.

    Maybe Rowling will start a series of sleazy black romance novels and challenge Zane as the queen of that genre. Some innocent Rowling fans' eyes would pop.

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

Rib Advice

Marcus Aurelius offered up his rib-making method. It's deserving of its own post:

Here is what I have found in trying to make ribs.

1.) Marinade! Go to Third Old World Street to the Asian store across from Usingers. Ask the kindly Filipino gentlmen for "Momma Sita's Barbecue Marinade Mix". We cut our ribs up into pieces about 3 bones per. Soak the ribs in the marinade mix for a night or two. Apply a rub if you want (before the soak).

2.) Before you cook prepare a "mop sauce" to baste the ribs. Usually this is something along the lines of lemon juice (or lime juice), some spices (garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne etc) and an oil. Search for mop sauce on the I'net and choose an appealing recipe.

3.) Fire up your grill, put the ribs on when ready. Now, this is the trick, you want to barbecue the ribs slowly over indirect fire. I have heard it said if you can keep the cooking temperature under the boiling point and yet bring the ribs up to tempeature you will have very tender ribs. However you may not have that kind of time. Baste the ribs with the mop sauce. If you have smoking material toss that on as directions dictate.

4.) Be sure you have beer on hand. This time of year weiss beer is best! This is for the pit crew!

5.) When the ribs are done, then get out your finish sauce. This is the tomato based sauce. Apply to one side and turn, apply to other side. Make sure to paint both sides and do not leave the painted ribs on the heat for too long. Tomato based and sugary sauces will burn quickly on the grill.

Who says America has no culture!

I didn't get that lavish. I simply put some baby-back ribs in a baking dish, covered them with 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, wrapped foil over the dish, and baked them in a 350-degree oven for one hour. I then let them cool to room temperature. Next, I fired up my gas grill and grilled the ribs for about 10 minutes while basting them with more bbq sauce. They came out pretty well. They weren't fall-off-the-bone tender and had no smoky flavor (other than from the BBQ sauce), but they were meaty and delicious. My method is based on the technique from Dave Leiberman's recipe. It's no where near authentic BBQ but I have no desire to get a smoker and do it right. I'll leave that to the professionals.

My potato salad turned out well too. I boiled some red potatoes until they were fork tender. In the meantime, I chopped up some green onion, yellow onion, and carrots (no celery was in the fridge) and tossed them with some Miracle Whip, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, dill, salt, and pepper. When the potatoes cooled, I cut them into bite-size pieces and tossed everything together. It turned out well. It just needed some mustard.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

Relaxing at TAM HQ

I'm savoring my post-Harry Potter psuedo-vacation. Thus the lack of posts today. Instead, I'm trying my first attempt at bbq ribs and homemade potato salad. It's hot in my neck of the woods, and summer meal like this should hit the spot.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 06:37 PM | Comments (1)

Carnival of the Capitalists

The Club for Growth Blog hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. Andrew Roth has lots of good links and some good commentary too.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Economics at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2005

Super Fast Plame Game Update

First it was Scooter Libby, then Karl Rove, then the media, now back to Scooter Libby.

"Reporter: Top Cheney Aide Among Sources"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Soaring into the Heavens

Stephen Bainbridge in is Australia and has some pictures of some wonderful cathedrals. Not European greatness but neat nevertheless.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 01:37 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Aftermath

The Harry Potter midnight sale went far better than I planned. My store had more cash registers and people working than in 2003, an organized system using numbered wristbands kept people from sitting in lines for hours, and customers were in good spirits. In 1003 for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we handled the initial sales in 1 1/2 hours. This year, it took only one hour and I think we had more people in the store.

Our box count went from this:


To this:


This is misleading because hundreds of unsold books were still up on the bookfloor. There will be plenty of books for those who didn't pre-order.

For some more pics Acciobrain has some from some Barnes & Noble somewhere. Buzznet has a few too.

" Fans Happy, for Now"

UPDATE: Betsy Newmark is waiting for the post office to get her copy. This could be a while.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 02:01 PM | Comments (6)

July 15, 2005

Have Pity on Me

Soon I leave for my bookstore on this hot Black Friday. It's bleak because I'll be toiling until the wee hours of the night satisfying Harry Potter fans' immediate cravings. To those of you who are worried they didn't pre-order the book: don't fret. there will be plenty of copies. Publisher Scholastic got retailers loaded up and are ready to start up the printers again.

If I have my way J.K. Rowling will never finish her series. I hate her, I hate Harry, and I hate the hoopla. And the "fun" hasn't even started yet.

Here's my post from 2003 with the release of the previous Harry Potter book. I hope to have some pictures from this year's madness.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)

Coach Has Player Wacked

There's a cold ring of hell for this man:

A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.

Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn't want the boy to play in the game because of his disability.

Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and did not play, police said.

Organized sports has gone wacko. I remember coaching basketball for grade school kids when I was a freshman in high school. Sure I wanted to win, but everyone was learning--including me. Never did I think of hurting a player--especially one of my own--in order to win. Someone call Tony Soprano to show Downs how a person really gets wacked.

"Coach Allegedly Paid Player to Hit Boy"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 04:42 PM | Comments (2)

Pick an Album

In London this fall, bands like Dinosaur, Jr. and the Lemonheads will perform a complete album live. Cool idea. Here are some bands and albums I'd love to see/hear:

What album would you want to hear live?

"Don’t Look Back"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 11:50 AM | Comments (5)

July 14, 2005

Rehnquist is Staying

You'd almost think a war wasn't going on with all the speculation about William Rehnquist's "impending" retirement. Well, he just squashed all that talk:

I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits.

It looks like Rehnquist his life term seriously.

" Won’t Resign"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 10:31 PM | Comments (1)

al Qaeda: A Product of the West

What do Kurt Cobain and the London suicide bombers have in common? They were all angst-driven. That's the core of Brendan O'Neill's a thought-provoking piece on the source of al Qaeda's anti-West hatred. He writes,

The drift of young Muslims, whether Western-born or middle-class foreigners, to radical mosques and fundamentalism also surely says something about a malaise at the heart of Western society. Many of these terrorists are not made in Kabul, Cairo or Tehran, but in London, Hamburg and Montreal. Such terrorism, it seems, is less a consequence of far-away fanaticism infiltrating the West, but rather suggests a failure on the part of mainstream institutions in the West to cohere society or to provide individuals with any meaningful sense of identity.

There is a growing sense of atomisation and alienation in the West, not only among immigrants but across society. Homesick Arabs and British-born Muslims in West Yorkshire might feel it more acutely, but it affects everyone in British, American and European societies, in the growth of disillusionment with public institutions and disenfranchisement from the political process. Could it be that the new terrorism, which we consider so awful and alien, is in fact a product of the same corrosive forces that impact on the rest of us? Could it be that those four alienated Asian kids from Leeds were expressing the same angst and disillusionment, in a much more violent way, as anti-globalist campaigners express when they smash up a McDonald's and others of us express in our pissed-off-ness with political and public life?

These are the questions we need to ask, rather than coming up with easy, pat solutions about shutting down mosques and banging up certain imams. When four young men from Leeds who were born, raised and educated here, and who days before the attacks were playing cricket and hanging out with their mates, can head down to London and kill themselves and 60 others, something has clearly gone horribly amiss. Al-Qaeda's 'war' does not represent a clash of civilisations, but rather points to a crisis within Western civilisation itself.

O'Neill doesn't pinpoint the source of the angst. It seems to correspond to the general communitarian view. What strikes me is this has a "the old days were better vibe" to it. What has changed about Western culture and institutions? Is it multiculturalism and/or moral relativism? Is it Marxist economic alientation?

"British-Born Bombers: not so Shocking"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

A Smart Way to Sell Mixes

Here's a question to my readers who are electronic dance music fans: What's up with Nick Warren's latest Global Underground mix on iTunes? Is it what I think it is: the individual tracks plus Warren's mixes all for one price? The downside of loading all my dance mixes into iTunes is I can't jump from track to track. iTunes can rip them as a single file so I'd have to fast forward to the song I want to hear. Getting the individual songs along with the seemless mix is a great innovation if that's what Apple is doing.

Now if a record company is really smart they'd sell an album along with the individual tracks used to make the songs. That way they'd let budding producers mash things up to their heart's content.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 01:11 AM | Comments (5)

Coke Zero: Better than a Zero

Coca-Cola has a new product, Coke Zero. You may have seen the cut-rate pricing they're doing to get people to try the stuff. The premise is a zero-calorie cola that doesn't taste like Diet Coke. I was shocked when I found out years ago some people actually like the taste of Diet Coke. For me, the only diet soda I can tolerate is Diet 7-Up (and I like it better flat--yes, I'm weird). Since I'm a sucker for trying new stuff and Coke Zero is selling for 59 cents I gave it a shot.

Originally I thought Coke Zero had Splenda in it. Nope, that's the new version of Diet Coke. Coke Zero has a combination of aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Aspartame is what was in original Diet Coke. Aspartame is what gives Diet Coke a harsh, chemical aftertaste. There was some of that with Coke Zero, but the acesulfame potassium softens the edges (yikes, this is turning into a wine review). It does succeed in tasting more like original Coca-Cola. I liked it enough I bought a second bottle. Repeat drinkings is a definite possiblity. "Flat Coke-scented cardboard" Coke Zero isn't.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in New Stuff at 12:33 AM | Comments (2)

It's Going to Get Ugly

Ann Althouse is really off her game. She writes,

Bush will have to nominate a Supreme Court Justice -- or two or three. And the key action really is occuring now. (Once the nominee is picked, there will be little that can be done to prevent confirmation.)

There's no assurance confirmation will happen. With all the money going into advocacy (pro and con) there are sure to be surprises. Dirt will be dug up on any nominee(s), parsing of phrases in legal briefs will turn pundits of all types into amateur legal scholars (most of them bad), and claims of hiring illegal immigrants or not paying employer's Social Security tax will fly around like mosquitos in the northwoods.

We also don't know if the Senate filibuster compromise will hold. Will Democrats find an "extordinary circumstance" to filibuster a nominee? Will Republicans put up with that or move to end judicial filibusters?

The nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer were pretty smooth. Compare that to the bruising battles over Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork. After listening to a portion of former Solicitor General Ted Olson's speech to the Federalist Society I'm as pessimistic as he is.

Her summer law class must really be distracting her, or she's just a typical Wisconsinite who soaks up what little summer we get.

"Thoughts at the End of a Long, Hard Day."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 12:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2005

Thanks...I Think

James Wolcott gave TAM a nice traffic boost tonight. Nice...I think. In the same post Wolcott links to rabid Bush basher Greg Palast, the "journalistic sanitation engineer." Hypertext makes strange bedfellows.

"Greg Palast Is Making Sense"

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

It's Only Bad THIS Year

Milwaukee County Exec and GOP candidate for governor has been taking heat for giving event tickets to reporters. Some news organizations have decided that such gifts violate journalistic ethics. In an e-mail to Charlie Sykes Walker points out an interesting fact:

Reality check: the Harley tour that we completed in June was done last year in June and we also gave away promotional packets about Milwaukee County attractions that included (donated promotional) tickets to area attractions. During each interview, I had a stuffed cheetah from the zoo on the set with me and I wore a Milwaukee County Parks shirt. We showed a video tape showing images of Summerfest, Miller Park, the Milwaukee Art Museum and other attractions. Sounds like a political promo, huh?

No reporters complained about accepting promo packets last year. I wonder why? Hmm... Could it be that last year Walker wasn't a threat to Democratic governor Jim Doyle?

Being a weblogger I have no journalistic ethics*. Like a few other webloggers I recieve books and music in the mail. Right now, I'm reading David Rothkopf's Running the World. The senders hope for a positive review (or even a brief mention). Sometimes they even get it. Oh my god! I must be on the take. Is my objectivity at stake? Have I toss aside intellecutal honesty to satisfy my free book craving? That's for you to decide. If you think I've sold my soul then find another weblog, there are plenty out there. But just wonder how the NY Times gets the books it reviews. Do you think they run out to the nearest Barnes & Noble?

One other point: isn't it good for Walker to promote Milwaukee County? Getting more tourists to come to Milwaukee is good for the local economy. I'm not naive to think Walker didn't love the boost in statewide name recognition he got from the ride. But if we held all politicians to the same standard as Walker then Sen. Herb Kohl should be forced to sell the Milwaukee Bucks he gets good press from it.

*Tongue firmly in cheek.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 12:14 PM | Comments (3)

Eminent Domain Moratorium

Connecticut state legislators and the governor told local municipalities to stop their use of eminent domain until new laws have been passed. That includes the New London, CT plan that was the subject of the Kelo decision.

The Democratic leaders said they sent out a letter to every mayor and first selectman in the state advising them to "put any current or planned eminent domain proceeding on hold."

Notice these are Democrats taking action. The response to Kelo has been far-reaching and bi-partisan as it should be.

" Put On Hold In Connecticut" [via California Yankee]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

Doha Round Frustration

Daniel Drezner on why free-marketers shouldn't be optimistic about then end of agricultural protection:

The scary thing is that what's proposed represents liberalization of a sort -- agriculture is so heavily protected and subsidized that it will take decades for complete liberalization.... if it ever happens.

The number of people that have to agree on a deal is staggering: top-level negotiators from a host of nations, national leaders, legislators, intellectuals, special interests, and the public. I'm amazed international trade restrictions ever get reduced. Too bad too many people the world over still hold on to the notion that trade is a win-lose game. Then nations would realized that unilateral reductions in their own trade barriers would be in their economic benefit.

"Progress for the ?"

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

Wacked-Out Accusations

If a wild-eyed Palestianian leader can claim Israel poisoned Arafat then Laurence Simon can claim Arafat blew up the space shuttle Columbia. Fair is fair.

"Palestinians Blew up the

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

Number of Abortions Down

Abortions have hit a 30-year low in Minnesota. That fits nicely with Wisconsin's numbers which are also at 30-year lows.

A wider variety and greater access to contraceptives is obviously one reason for the decline. There are also cultural reasons that partly stem from the debate on partial-birth abortion:

Another factor, said Marquette University political science professor and Constitutional law expert Christopher Wolfe, is public debate in recent years over issues such as the so-called partial-birth abortion. Because of the debate, people in their 20s are "less in favor of broad abortion rights than middle-age people," he said.

Changing people's hearts is ultimately what will end this brutal practice. Law can only do so much. But as these numbers show the Culture of Life isn't on it's death bed.

"Minnesota Hit 30-Year Low in in '04"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture of Death at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2005

Just Ignore Local TV News

Here's an observation from Jessica McBride, wife of Paul Bucher State Attorney General candidate:

Forget TV. When my husband did his political spin around the state to announce his campaign, I was amazed how many TV reporters just regurgitated his press release. Most didn't even mention anything controversial about his cases. And my husband can be a lightning rod. They just repeated what he put out - literally the lead of his press release. Good for him, not so good for the media.

"Lethal Weapon?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 01:29 PM | Comments (1)

NAACP Honors Radical Bush Hater

The NAACP National Convention in Milwaukee gives Brew City some nice national exposure. Things have gotten interesting now that the organization honored Harry Belafonte with the NAACP Chairman's Living Legend Award.

NAACP chairman Julian Bond praised Mr. "Banana Boat Song" saying, "You have been an outspoken advocate for human rights here and abroad."

Belafonte certainly has been "outspoken." In 2002, Belafonte told a San Diego radio audience:

There's an old saying in the days of slavery. There are those slaves on the plantation and there were those slaves who lived in the big house. You got the privilege of living in the house to serve the master. Colin Powell was permitted to come into the house of the master.

Mr. "Banana Boat Song" had even more contempt for Condi Rice. As Clarence Page (no conservative) wrote:

He repeated his remarks in later interviews including CNN's "Larry King Live," where Belafonte said he thought Rice was worse than Powell because he had not heard from Rice "even the suggestion" of the more agreeable thoughts he had heard from Powell.

Belafonte hasn't stopped with his attacks on the Bush administration:

For 30 pieces of silver (Bush) has corrupted so many of our black church leaders.

It's blasphemy when they evoke the word of God and say the war in Iraq is a just war. They have failed their flock. Let us not be confused, their God is not the God we serve. The American people have been repeatedly lied to.

Belafonte urged the NAACP to crank up the "radicalness." Then he'll be happy knowing the organization will shakedown "private companies as part of its economic agenda, seeking reparations from corporations with historical ties to slavery and boycotting companies that refuse to participate in its annual business diversity report card." It doesn't matter that all the slaves and all the slave masters are dead. There's money and power at stake. Hey, Jesse Jackson has made a living from this. Why should he be the only person having all the "fun?"

"The Call Goes Out: Do More"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:44 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2005

Evolution Questions

Ben Adler of The New Republic asked some prominent conservatives about their views of evolution and intelligent design. Rarely have I stepped into the evolution/creationsim debate found in many corners of the internet. I'm not a prominent conservative--at least not yet--but I'll answer the questions asked.

Whether he personally believes in evolution: I draw a distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. I believe evolutionary processes are taking place right now that allow species to better adapt to their environments. That would explain the host of variations of birds Darwin found on the Galapagos Islands.

That doesn't mean I accept the idea that man evolved from apes or the earth is billions of years old. That is macro-evolution. It's possible that's exactly what happened. But it is also possible God created the world in six days and did it in such a way to make it appear macro-evolution was the process. That would explain evolution's explanatory power.

Such a view can't be proven or disproven. Thus it really isn't a scientific question for me. I take the story of Genesis on faith. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Being able scientifically to "prove" God's existence or His ability to mold the world robs faith of its importance.

What he thinks of intelligent design: I only know its general premise: that many biological parts had to evolve simultaneously in order for the whole to work. ID might explain some things. I don't know enough about it to say it's pure Bible-thumping ignorance. But I don't need ID to bolster my faith in a universe of God's creation.

Whether intelligent design or a similar critique should be taught in public schools: I spent eight years in a small Lutheran grade school. I was taught creationism. I was also exposed to evolutionary theory and the Big Bang theory. The exposure didn't damage my faith, and it made me aware that other people have a different worldview. When I went to a public high school my faith was secure so even though I was being taught evolution I still clung to my faith. Children in public schools won't be unfairly indoctrinated by being exposed to creationism or intelligent design.

Whether schools should leave open the possibility that man was created by God in his present form: This question should ultimately be decided by each individual school district. I'd hope a school I sent my children too would leave open that possibility. But I'm not sure I'd be really worried if they didn't. In the end, I would try my best to teach my children about God's power and His creation.

How evolution should be taught in public schools: Evolutionary theory has to be taught since it is the dominant approach in the biological sciences. But there shouldn't be an anti-religious bias taught. Opponents to evolution shouldn't be considered knee-jerk anti-science types (unless they actually are). But from much that I remember of grade school and high school science evolution was so dominant. More was made of learning about the structures of plants, animals, stars, etc. How photosynthesis worked. DNA's structure. Teleological questions weren't very prominent.

The question is quite moot to me since I hope to educate my children in a parochial school where creationsim will be taught and far away from such loud debates.

"Evolutionary War" [via Betsy's Page]

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

Gmail Invites

Anyone want a Gmail account? I'm in the giving mood. Just leave a comment and I'll hook you up.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 10:13 PM | Comments (13)

Home Run Derby: A Travesty!

No longer is the Home Run Derby a special event to watch baseball's best sluggers see how many balls they can hit over the fence. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig turned it into a marketing vehicle for next year's World Baseball Classic. Thanks, Bud. So instead of letting triple crown threat Derek Lee participate in the derby we got stuck with Hee-Seop Choi and his piddly 13 home runs.

Keep this up, Bud, and the Home Run Derby will join the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest in oblivion.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 09:33 PM | Comments (1)

Whining Clinton Basher

Ed Klein is griping about the lack of television time he's gotten for his book The Truth about Hillary. Well, if it wasn't the rumor-filled, Clinton-bashing tripe I got tired of way back in 1998 I'd feel sorry for the guy. I have even less sympathy knowing it's a bestseller on the NY Times' arbitrary list* as in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Captain Ed notices a double standard. Yes, shocking! [Tongue removed from cheek.]:

However, the red carpet that the media rolled out for Kitty Kelley does show a bias in their approach to truth in publishing. I think that based on the exemplars I've read of Klein's book, the media has made the right choice in refusing to promote it. Too bad they couldn't have had those same scruples when Kelley wrote her similar tome on George Bush. She rounded up rumors and innuendo, offered no substantive proof, and published them in a book almost indentical in ethics to Klein's -- and yet the media couldn't get enough of Kelley. In her case, the blame goes deeper, as she has a track record of writing poorly-sourced and ethically challenged biographies of famous people, usually dead, and almost always in no position to defend themselves.

"Klein's Chickens Come Home To Roost"

*Only the Times knows how they put together their bestseller lists, and they're not telling anyone.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Books at 09:12 PM | Comments (4)

Selig's Stupid Idea

Because of Bud Selig's stupid idea of having participants from countries compete in tonight's Home Run Derby I wasn't going to watch. But as I flipped through the cable channels I stopped to see Bobby Abreu crush 24 balls. Then I watched Jason Bay embarass himself and his fellow Canadians by getting shut out. Then I had to stick around to watch Carlos Lee belt 11 homers. I'm now back to my boycott.

What's next, Bud? Will next year's All-Stars be selected to meet racial quotas?

Going in David Pinto thought it would be a "very low scoring home run derby tonight." I'm sure David is pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 08:21 PM | Comments (2)

Juicy Supreme Court Rumors

Milwaukee radio yapper Mark Belling just told his listeners two interesting rumors about Supreme Court vacancies:

  1. Chief Justice William Renquist, a Wisconsin native, was intending to resign last week, but got ticked when the White House leaked the news to Robert Novak.

  2. Judge Diane Sykes, former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice and current judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is on President Bush's "long list" of potential nominees. As Belling stated there could be as many as 100 names on that list. Belling wondered how the Democrats would handle a Sykes nomination. She was easily confirmed to the appeals court with no controversy.

As with any Supreme Court rumors, take these with a grain of salt. Belling said his sources were from groups planning the national campaign to get Bush's nominees confirmed.

UPDATE: Erick at Redstate.org gets into what rumors he's heard.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)

Haute Cuisine

Italian Nachos: Summerfest's idea of fusion cuisine.
Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Summerfest at 01:37 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2005

Anderson Cooper is an Idiot

I just watched a clip of Anderson Cooper standing near a big hotel sign waiting to fall. A man next to him mentioned that it could be really dangerous. No kidding! A smart person would find some shelter. But Cooper wanted to do his best "Scud Stud" impersonation. Too bad none of that fallen aluminum didn't clock him on the head.

UPDATE: Greyhawk gives us hurricane reality versus media hype. I'm waiting for the "massive flooding" a Fox News weather girl claimed would happen once Dennis moved north into the Ohio River Valley. You almost think the cable news channels want a 21st Century version of the Johnstown Flood.

"Dennis 'Hammers' Florida"

UPDATE II: This from the Dalek Weblog:

So far, it seems to be a big rainstorm. Which is pretty much what I said about Ivan, as I recall. Yup.

But the media here is in full End-Of-The-World-Mode™, and all networks are covering this thing like it was Godzilla rising out of Oak Mountain lake. And all they say is ‘rain, wind, wind, rain, back to you in the studio, Buffy McFacelift’. Yawn.

As a bonus, one tv station didn't want to interrupt race day.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 06:08 PM | Comments (1)

Poor Bronson Pinchot

You know your career as a celebrity has faltered when you are a "character" (they're not even real people anymore) on VH1's The Surreal Life.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

Four Years Old

Patrick Ruffini is celebrating his four-year weblogging anniversary. Congrats! But he's still a young whipper-snapper in the blogosphere.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Weblogging at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

Dennis Pics

had reached land. Flickr has some pics. Nothing too interesting yet. I don't know why people want to share radar screen shots. Isn't that what the Weather Channel's for?

[via The Command Post]

UPDATE: According to a Mobile, AL official Dennis moved east enough so it won't batter their city. "We've dodged a bullet and we're happy about that."

On the Florida panhandle two people have died. Dennis' winds have come down to (only!) 130 mph making it a Catagory 3 hurricane.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

Iraqis Not Giving Up Despite More Bombings

You want to talk about bloody terrorism how about Iraq:

A man strapped with explosives blew himself up at an Iraqi military recruiting center in Baghdad as suicide bombers attacked three times in Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 33 people and breaking a relative lull in violence in recent days.

The attacks pushed the death count to over 1,500 people killed in violence since April 28, when Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite- and Kurd-dominated government in a country under attack from an insurgency led by Iraq's Sunni Arab minority.

Yet Iraqis aren't giving up:
In the deadliest blast Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at an Iraqi military recruiting center at Muthana airfield near central Baghdad, killing 25 people and wounding 47, according to the U.S. military and hospital officials.

The explosion occurred just before 9 a.m. as about 400 would-be recruits were crowded outside the gate of the center, which had been hit several times before by suicide attackers.

In February, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd outside the recruiting center, killing 21 people and wounding 27.

The fight for freedom is real. The U.S. can't give up on those willing to put their lives on the line by setting a date, packing things up, and going home.

"Iraq Suicide Bombings Kill at Least 33"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Rove was Plame Source

Time reporter Matt Cooper's source was indeed Karl Rove. Lawrence O'Donnell was actually right! John Hinderaker at Power Line gets into why Rove probably didn't break the law. It hinges on whether Rove knew Plame was an agent. On September 29 2003, Clifford May wrote,

On July 14, Robert Novak wrote a column in the Post and other newspapers naming Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.

That wasn't news to me. I had been told that — but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.

We don't know how "secret" Plame was. We do know she's Vanity Fair's favorite version of James Bond.

More striking is Rove gave Cooper permission to tell the grand jury investigating the Valarie Plame leak that he was Cooper's source. Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, wouldn't have let that happen if he really thought Rove was in legal trouble. And we know without the consent Cooper would have refused to cooperate and gone to jail just like Judith Miller.

President Bush will take some heat. Newspaper editorial pages, pundits, crazed, Bush-hating webloggers (even some more moderate ones), will all demand Karl Rove be fired. This news will actually take the spotlight off of the London bombing investigation. Hinderaker concludes his post:

Rove presumably told the President that he was one of the sources of the Plame information long ago. It is interesting that Bush didn't take the path of least resistance and ease Rove out of the administration at the end of his first term. The President's reputation for loyalty to has aides is certainly well-deserved.

Rove will stay on at least to drive Bush haters crazy.

"Closing in on Karl"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 01:50 PM | Comments (2)

Defending "Stairway"

Michele has always been too harsh when dissing "Stairway to Heaven." Still, I just have to smile at her criticism:

The problem here is also that Zep inadvertently invented a formula for overrated songs: The plaintive singing of cryptic lyrics about five stanzas too long, followed by a guitar solo that makes one envision the guitarist standing on top of a mountain, wind blowing through his hair while his screeching riffs conjure up all kinds of inclement weather because it's that good. And don't get me wrong. I love Zep. But Stairway makes me cringe. Maybe I'm just embarassed that I used to believe this was the greatest song ever written. I also used to believe that you could see the Statue of Liberty in the reflection of a lake on Bear Mountain, but both those beliefs were born of the same drug.

Yeah, the lyrics make no sense, and classic rock stations played it to death. But Jimmy Page is awesome, the song has an epic, bigger-than-life quality and great dynamics, and despite the lyrics the listener can pour anything they want into it. It's an unintentional open-source allegory.

I don't know if "Stairway" is Zep's best song. Some days I'm gung-ho for "Kashmir." Other days is "Stairway." Even once in a while "Rock and Roll" makes its case. (Led Zeppelin IV is the best rock and roll album of all time.) "Stairway" always competes, and nine times out of ten if it pops up on the random shuffle of my iPod, I'll listen to it all the way through.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)

Hurricane Dennis

In a few hours Hurricane Dennis will hit Florida and Alabama. A 'Bama newspaper has a weblog filled with mostly evacuation news, but that should change when the storm hits land. Steve at Hog on Ice talks about pre-storm unpreparedness.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2005

Eat This

Morgan Spurlock: proud member of the "public healty hysteria industry." Too bad he doesn't know what he's talking about (or maybe he does and doesn't care he's misinforming the public).

Sometime I'm going to go to McDonald's, buy two Big Macs and sit down to watch Super Size Me. In betweeen bites I'll be flipping Morgan the middle finger.

"The Big C"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 12:42 PM | Comments (2)

Ending Farm Subsidies

I'd love to see the end of U.S. farm subsidies. President Bush would definitely bolster his free market credentials with me. But the President can say stuff like this all he wants:

Let's join hands as wealthy industrialised nations and say to the world, we are going to get rid of all our agricultural subsidies together.

Bush can't just wave his hand and make the subsides disappear. Congress is in the way. Way back in 1996 the Freedom to Farm bill was passed. That looked like a path to a true agricultural free market. But almost immediately Freedom to Farm was weakened:
Although opponents of the reform legislation were disgruntled because it reduced the level of government control over the nation's agriculture industry, once the bill was passed, most farmers supported the flexibility it provided. Within two years, however, the bill's benefits were dimmed by worldwide economic problems and weather-related disasters in the United States.

This provided the opening that opponents of reform had been seeking--an economic downturn in the farm economy that they could pin on freedom to farm. A return to subsidy-laden government micromanagement of agriculture quickly followed. Since 1998, congressional efforts to gut the farm reforms have resulted in massive annual multibillion-dollar "emergency relief" packages for U.S. farmers, the lion's share of which have gone to large, high-income farms.

Farmers have become a tiny part of the workforce yet they have tremendous clout in Congress. Part of it is the romantic notion of saving the family farm--too bad economic reality has shown most family farms aren't sustainable. Part of the fear is the general fear of international trade. They feel the U.S. shouldn't need foreigners to feed us. That goes against the centuries-old economic concept of comparative advantage. Many lessons have to be relearned constantly.

"Bush: We'll Drop Farm Subsidies If You Will"

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

Another Fitting Summerfest Pic

If you don't drink at least you can mock those who think consuming a week's worth of beer is fun.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Summerfest at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2005

Trying to Change My Pack Rat Habit

I actually did something rare today: I threw some stuff away. Piles of old magazines pile up waiting to be read. Most never do, but I'm never sure so I keep them. That changed today where I saw a little part of my floor and desk for the first time in ages.

Before running off to work (T-minus 7 days until Harry Potter maddness) I give you a couple quick links:

  • Peter Glover, a TAM sponsor and Brit, has some posts on yesterday's bombings and political hypocrisy. Just scroll down.

  • Caption This! is a whole weblog devoted to writing captions. V the K liked the Summerfest pic I found.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

We are All Britons

To remember the victims of the Bloody Seventh the State Department raised the Union Jack. Nice.

"In Solidarity with Britain" [via Instapundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 02:54 AM | Comments (7)

Cameras Didn't Stop the Bombings

Here's something unsettling about London's Bloody Seventh: the city is covered with surveillance cameras. They also have police with experience combating terrorism--the IRA. Yet London gets hit with four bombings on the same day. The U.S. as a whole isn't a serious about homeland security as the UK. Even if we were terrorists only have to exploit one weak point to succeed. Homeland security has no margin of error. What unsettles me is the U.S. will be attacked again. It's not a question of "if" but "when." And I'm surprised we haven't been hit yet.

As a method terrorism can't be completely stopped. What can be done is to increase the costs of an attack by infiltrating terrorist circles to prevent attacks and strong retaliation so they don't attack again.

"Watch on the Thames"

UPDATE: London native Paul Maidment writes,

No modern international city can ever make itself secure against terrorist attack. As the Spanish capital Madrid learned in March 2004, when its commuter railways were bombed, the transport system is the soft underbelly of a city's economy.


But the threat of terrorism has long been a permanent subtext of daily life for Londoners. There is no single transforming event like 9/11 for them, just decades of incidents. The mood may be grim there today, many of the streets of central London may be eerily empty, and all streets are surreally free of London's distinctive double-decker red buses, but no Londoner today is talking about a loss of innocence.

"For Londoners, Shock But Not Surprise"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 12:42 AM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2005

Islamists Bomb London


When I heard of the four London terrorist bombings--Josh Trevino declared it "The Bloody Seventh"--I was riveted to my radio. Then I had to go to work so this is my first chance to post on the attacks. In instances like that I find the radio to be the best medium for getting instant updates. Cable news has the visuals but also obnoxious talking heads. Weblogs' value starts kicking in when knowledgeable people start adding context.

My first impression is the Islamists have really bad timing. U.S. public opinion on the Iraq War has been wavering. With this act of evil I see them being reminded of the threat the free nations face from Islamist ideology.

Second, Live 8 will be totally forgotten. Bob Geldof must want to strangle the al Qaeda-linked group for ending talk about fixing African poverty. Global discussion will return to talk of war, peace, life, death, and security. It could be months or years to get poverty back to a focus of a G-8 summitt.

As of this writing The Guardian reports only 33 dead. That's the same number I heard this morning. I expected the death toll to rise, especially after seeing a picture like this. My prayers are with the hurt, the sorrowful, and the scared. Like the Brits did for us on Sept. 11, 2001, America stands by your side.

For constant updates visit In the Bullpen.

"Details of the London Blasts"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 03:39 PM | Comments (13)

July 06, 2005

Summer Book Suggestions

With the quick response to the book post below I'm opening a thread on summer book suggestions. Some people like to spend their free time pouring through a large tome they never make time for when not on vacation. Crime and Punishment or David McCullough's John Adams (a fast read for such a large book) are two examples. When I go on a trip I like to bring a couple books: something serious yet not too big and something fun. On my yearly Spring Training baseball trips to Phoenix I've made it a tradition of reading the latest Daniel Silva novel in paperback. The plots always move at a brisk pace, but there some heft to the action taking place. Donald Westlake's Dortmunder novels are also fun, smart reads perfect for a vacation.

For a not-too-heavy, serious book I just finished Stephen Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You. In it he argues the intellectual benefits of supposed junk culture like video games and reality television. Steven Levitt's and Stepehn Dubner's Freakonomics is an interesting read on the applicability of economics to subjects other than financial but it does have it's problems. Ross Gregory Douthat's Privilege is his generation's God and Man at Yale. It's personal, insightful, and humane. Virginia Postrel's The Future and its Enemies still serves as a useful way to view politics in our high tech age. Read Dava Sobel's Longitude and you'll want to do what I did and go to Greenwich to see John Harrison's magnificent clocks. Finally, while not being F. A. Hayek's best work The Road to Serfdom contains plenty to inspire liberty lovers to continue fighting the good fight.

What are your summer book picks? How do you decide what to read in the summer and/or on vacation?

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

A Good Deal

Amazon.com is selling John Stossel's Give Me a Break in hardcover for only $6.99. That would make for some cheap beach reading.

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

Don't Shoot! I'm Canadian!

Charmaine Yoest is in Scotland covering the G8 meetings and protests. When she arrived there a cabbie gave her some advice:

Oooh. And one moor thing. Doan tell them you're American.

Instead, "we should say we are Canadian."

"Advice from the Cab Driver . . ."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

Miller Goes to Jail

You have to feel for New York Times reporter Judith Miller. These past few years have been a bitch. Going into the Iraq War she was a wrong about Saddam's WMDs as every Western intelligence agency. Now, she's going to jail for not answering questions in the investigation of who outed Valerie Plame, Vanity Fair's favorite secret agent. What's ironic is Miller never wrote story. If I were her I'd pump out something for the newspaper. She's going to jail anyway.

"Judge Orders Jail for N.Y. Times Reporter"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Media at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

London Gets the Olympics

Tony Blair tops Jacques Chriac again. The Frenchman will have to put up with English food if he wants to go to the Olympics in 2012. Congratulations, London.

"London Upsets Paris to Win 2012 Olympics"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Sports at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)

No Olympics for New York

NYC won't be getting the 2012 Olympics. Too bad for the Big Apple, but the security nightmare and lucious potential terrorist target won't be missed. Now, the Jets might have to pay for their new Manhattan football stadium by themselves.

"Paris and London in Final of 2012 Vote"

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

Diplomats Targeted in Iraq

Chad Evans has some thoughts on the new trend of terrorists targeting diplomats in Iraq.

"Bahrain and Pakistan Diplomats Targeted"

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

July 05, 2005

They Don't Call it "Brew City" For Nothing

Many think Summerfest is just an excuse to drink lots of beer. Well...they're right.


There are plenty more pictures courtesy of the Journal Sentinel.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Summerfest at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

My Sympathies

Dan Wismar's mother passed away last week. Let him know you're thinking about him.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Did Someone Secede from the Union?

The one member of the DailyKos Community has issued a Declaration of Independence. This is a hilarious document ripping off Thomas Jefferson while injecting over-the-top rhetoric that makes DailyKos an occasionally interesting read. Much of this is tongue-in-cheek. Kos isn't advocating secession. Heck, I don't think this post even made the DailyKos front page. Still, it's always enlightening to enter the mind of a flaky Bush basher. Let's get started with a rare TAM fisking:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people continue to be created equally, that we are still endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, our Government was instituted among all people, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Every politically correct, liberal interest group had to be mentioned. Saying "people" isn't enough. That's not "inclusive."

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such an Administration, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Yes, and this Kossite had his chance. It was the 2004 Presidential election, and his guy lost!
Such has been the patient sufferance of these United States; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the current President is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over this Nation.
Did you know we're living under a tyranny? Well, according to Freedom House, as of 2003 (PDF), the United States was considered a "free" nation along with France, Germany, and Canada. The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal index of economic freedom also considers the U.S. to be "free." But why let evidence get in the way of a good polemic?

Let's get to some of the grievances:

He has caused legislative bodies to meet at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of denying them their right to assemble in order to cow them into compliance with his measures.

I'm not sure what this is about. Did Bush convene Congress in Albuquerque without me knowing about it?

He has endeavoured to prevent the Citizens of these States from finding Gainful Employment; for that purpose Outsourcing Work to Foreign Nations
This is liberal economics in action. The faux-Jefferson thinks President Bush can create and destroy jobs at will. The corallary is with a stroke of the pen (or a call to Halliburton) American jobs would not move overseas.
For quartering large bodies of armed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Well, there is that war that's being fought. Oh wait, the Kossites think the Islamist War is a farce. It's merely a way to impose an American empire on the rest of the world.
For cutting off Fair Trade with all parts of the world:
Hey, something I can kind of agree with. But from the hyperbole you'd think Smoot-Harley rose up from the grave.
For cutting Taxes from the wealthy of us without our Consent:
I consented. A majority in both houses of Congress consented according to the constitutional process. And by the way, everybody who pays taxes got a tax cut.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring a Mandate and waging an Illegal War against the world.
An illegal war in the eyes of France, Germany, Russia, the U.N. and Saddam but all of them were corrupted by the Oil-for-Food scandal.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the Ozone.
This is my second-favorite grievance. Remember all those stories about towns burned by President Bush's rampaging, Halliburton hordes? And what about Bush's ozone-eating machine--probably invented by Halliburton? Yeah, neither do I.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of Mercenaries to contradict the works of our own Troops, while committing circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
With the MSM pretty negative on Iraq you'd think we'd hear all about the cruelties of the hired Halliburton Visigoths plundering Baghdad.

Then there's the declaration of independence:

We, therefore, Members of the DailyKos Community within the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Bush Administration, and that all political connection between them and the United States of America, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to Impeach, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

What are covered by "these United Colonies?" Is it the blue states? Or the urban archipelgo? How much land do federal troops have to occupy to bring the secessionists back into line?

And these people are part of a so-called "reality-based community?"

"A Revised Declaration of Independence"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 09:00 PM | Comments (5)

Sharansky Supports IFC

Last month, I commented that Leftists were turning Ground Zero into a "perch to promote all their failed ideas instead of a place honoring the dead."

Democracy promoter (and President Bush's favorite international political thinker) Natan Sharansky sees the International Freedom Center as important in the "war on terror" (the Islamist War):

Because I see the war on terror in these terms, a cultural center at ground zero dedicated to the advance of freedom seems particularly appropriate. By demonstrating liberty's march and triumph both in America and around the world, such a cultural center could show how the weapon of freedom, honed over time by courageous individuals and nations, can be used to transform our world.

Sharansky trusts "Tom Bernstein and the rest of his team." I'm not so sure. We don't need another academic establishment ranting on and on about America's failures. Hell, isn't that what the universities do? The purpose of a freedom center should be how human freedom expanded despite all the obstacles in its way. I need to be convinced the IFC won't become a "blame America" center.

[I'm posting the entire piece below the fold because you have to subscribe to the NY Sun's website to read it. I was e-mailed the piece but will pull it if the newspaper objects.]

Lasting Tribute



Imagine that on the morning of September 11, 2001, the city of New York was blanketed by a thick fog. Imagine that two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Twin Towers caught fire, and eventually collapsed.

Surely, it would have been fitting under such circumstances to construct a memorial to the victims of that tragedy. There would have been a need to recognize the kindness of those who calmly helped their fellow workers, the courage of the firefighters who braved the inferno to save others, and the countless acts of heroism of those who died and those who survived.

But September 11 was no random tragedy. It was a deliberate attack on the United States that turned ground zero into a battlefield in a terrorist war that is being waged against the entire free world. Therefore, one would think that a cultural center on the site of that battlefield would seek not only to memorialize the specific victims of that horrific day, but also to place the attack in the context of the wider war that is being waged.

To me, the battle lines in this war are clear. On one side stand those who have no regard for human life, who view individuals merely as tools to advance a wicked ideology, and who are prepared to use any means to achieve their goals. On the other side are those who hold human life sacred, who see human rights as essential, and who are not prepared to sacrifice life and liberty on any altar.

Equally clear to me are the weapons that are being employed in this war. For those who attacked America, terrorism and the blackmail that accompanies it are the most potent weapons. For America, the very democratic values that have been targeted are both a shield and a sword, since it is the advance of those values that will ultimately secure America.

While the war on terror features new protagonists, it is a war that has been fought before. It is a war between liberty and tyranny, between freedom and fear, between good and evil.

Because I see the war on terror in these terms, a cultural center at ground zero dedicated to the advance of freedom seems particularly appropriate. By demonstrating liberty's march and triumph both in America and around the world, such a cultural center could show how the weapon of freedom, honed over time by courageous individuals and nations, can be used to transform our world.

While the benefits of a cultural center dedicated to freedom are obvious to me, the concerns of many that such a center could turn into a "blame America" exhibit are understandable. I have seen how the once sacred concept of human rights has been twisted beyond recognition and used to bludgeon the free world, even by those who are genuine advocates for human rights.

That said, the source of this moral confusion is the failure to recognize the fundamental moral difference between free societies, where human rights can be abused but where there are means to correct those abuses, and "fear societies," which by their very nature never respect human rights. By reconnecting the concept of human rights to the idea of a free society, a freedom center might go a long way toward injecting some moral clarity back into the public discourse.

Will those charged with building the International Freedom Center successfully accomplish this goal? After meeting several times and discussing these issues with Tom Bernstein and the rest of his team, I am confident that they will.

Ultimately, America will win the war on terror with the courage of its people and with the power of its ideals.I am confident that the center planned for ground zero will pay a lasting tribute to both, doing justice not only to the victims of 9/11, but also inspiring all those who cherish liberty to recognize the power of freedom to change our world.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Culture at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

A Nice Cafe

If you're in the West Bend, WI area check out St. Somewhere Cafe. There's plenty of light, the coffee drinks are good (just don't put too much sugar in your latte), and the Wi-Fi is free. I just wish I had more juice in my notebook's battery.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Wisconsin at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

I Was Only Joking

NASA is getting sued.

Astrologer, Russian court. Nothing to worry about. Now, if it was Judge Ito and the O.J. Simpson jury...

"Russian Astrologer Sues NASA Over Comet" [via Boots & Sabers]

"Astrologer Sues NASA over Probe" [via Instapundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

The Right on Each Side of Kelo

John Hinderaker sees little problem with the decision while Richard Espstein calls it "truly horrible."

"Second Thoughts on Kelo" [via Michelle Malkin]

"Blind Justices"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

One Reason I'm Not a Faith Weblogger

I don't have a good explanation for Michele:

So how do people of faith continue to proclaim the virtues of god? How do you exist every day saying god is just and god is good? How can you believe in god when things like this happen? Why do people constantly say things like "God saved my little one from dying in that accident" or "God told me to feed the homeless" or "God led me to not get on that plane today, he saved me from being in that crash" when it can't possibly be? Because if God is going to save one little girl from dying, why can't he save the rest? And I know people have to die, that's the way of the world, but what kind of god would let a mother sit on the side of the road at 2am after her sister's wedding, cradling the remains of her little girl in her arms while the child's killer lives to tell the tale? Don't even tell me that god gives you what you can handle. Because that makes it sound like a gift and losing a child is certainly not a gift, nor should it be seen as a test of faith or a testament to god's mysterious ways. It's just proof on top of more proof for me that the world is so god damn random and there is no great being looking out for us, hearing our prayers, seeing to miracles, or helping us help ourselves. There is just randomness. No fate, no destiny, no pre-written paths or intervention from above. Just randomness.

I take God's existence and His goodness on faith alone. In fact, I think God's greatness is diminished if our puny, rational, human minds could find a way to grasp His power and methods.

That's no comfort to the mother who just lost her daughter, and it's no answer to a person who might be crying out for a reason to believe.

"Life is Random"

[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Religion at 10:09 AM | Comments (5)

Pentagon Rethinking Two-War Strategy

The Pentagon is seriously reconsidering its two-war strategy:

The Pentagon's most senior planners are challenging the longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at a time. Instead, they are weighing whether to shape the military to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts.

The consideration of these profound changes are at the center of the current top-to-bottom review of Pentagon strategy, as ordered by Congress every four years, and will determine the future size of the military as well as the fate of hundreds of billions of dollars in new weapons.

The intense debate reflects a growing recognition that the current burden of maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the other demands of the global campaign against terrorism, may force a change in the assumptions that have been the foundation of all military planning.

The concern that the concentration of troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan was limiting the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts was underscored by Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a classified risk assessment to Congress this spring. But the current review is the first by the Pentagon in decades to seriously question the wisdom of the two-war strategy.

The two-war model provides enough people and weapons to mount a major campaign, like the Persian Gulf war of 1991 or the invasion of Iraq in 2003, while maintaining enough reserves to respond in a similar manner elsewhere.

This is just high-level strategy conforming to the real world. Or as an unnamed Defense Department official put it, "It's coming to grips with reality." I don't think anyone seriously thinks the U.S. could put up a serious fight if she had to fight another major war say China invading Taiwan or North Korea invading South Korea. Iraq and Afghanistan operations are doing a tremendous job taxing our reserve forces. We have some conservatives seeing the need for a draft. The all-volunteer force is bearing its greatest challenge.

One possible alternative strategy would have to rely on nuclear weapons. The U.S. would build a military capable of fighting one major war while using massive airpower to deter another major conflict. That firepower would include strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. This approach might hold off a more rational opponent like China or Russia, but it wouldn't deter stateless creatures like al Qaeda who would like nothing more then the U.S. to create an ocean of glass somewhere in the Middle East to truely turn the Islamist War into a clash of civilizations.

"Pentagon Weighs Strategy Change to Deter Terror"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in War at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)

Another Thing to Blame Karl Rove For

Deep Impact's success spawns an "unintended consequence."

"Seeking Justice" [via Instapundit]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Tech at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2005

Happy Birthday America

We love you! God bless us all!

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)

It Can Get Ugly

Mandy Jenkins, a Milwaukee new-comer, gets the Summerfest vibe in all its frivolity and ugliness:

I continued to wander the festival, seeing many more bikini tops instead of shirts. Personally, I don’t really think anyone should substitute swimwear for actual clothing outside of a beach no matter how attractive they are (or think they are)….but that desire goes triply for women who are exceptionally pale, overweight or just too old. In those cases, it becomes more of a public health crisis than a fashion statement. (One woman near the martini bar could hardly keep her top up because it seems she, er, shrank since the last time it fit her 15 years ago. Yipes.)

After traipsing to a parade and family picnic I'll be heading down to Milwaukee's lakefront to catch instant-guitar legend Robert Randolph.

"Best of the Fest: Day 1"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Summerfest at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

Earth Day Founder Dies

Sen. Gaylord Nelson, creator of the pagan holiday Earth Day, died at his Maryland home.

"Gaylord Nelson: Earth Day Founder was a Voice Crying out for the Wilderness"

"Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dead at 89"

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

July 03, 2005

Freedom vs. Democracy

Dean's heart is in the right place, but he's a little off about the importance of democracy to fighting African poverty. He writes,

After decade upon decade, and hundreds of billions in aide money, you'd think someone would have noticed by now that throwing more money at unelected tyrants in Africa is not very helpful. Unless the governments there are accountable--not just to us, but to their own people--giving those governments money isn't just a waste, it's downright criminal.

Take me as a literalist, but I don't care so much about democracy as I do about limited government. Ancient Athens had a democracy, but it didn't survive. The greatest democracy of our age, the United States, has a track record of not being the most democratic, yet it is an economic powerhouse. Hong Kong wasn't a democracy under British rule, yet she still was considered one of the most free economies on earth. If I had a choice between democracy and freedom I'd choose the latter. I see the former only as a means (one of many) of achieving freedom. A democracy doesn't assure freedom. Such a form of government must be restricted or it will turn into populist authoritarianism.

So if Zimbabwe replaced the authoritarian Mugabe with a benevolent dictatorship that protected property and economic rights and would be transparent enough to see that aid was effective I would send them aid. As Milton Friedman put it so well in Capitalism and Freedom you can't have political freedom without economic freedom.

"No Democracy? No Money."

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 08:26 PM | Comments (1)

Live 8

Bob Geldof has done a service with Live 8. It doesn't matter if you agree with all he proposes as a way to eliminate African poverty. He has brought attention to the issue and has gotten many people--important people--talking. But they're not only talking but listening. Bill Gates for one. That doesn't ensure change but it gives us hope.

"Is that Loud Enough for You?"

"Live 8 Rocks the World, but Will It Help the Poor?"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 01:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2005

Don't Read This

Today is a beautiful day. Many of you have a long weekend that includes July 4th. Take a break from politics and serious thinking. If you're in SE Wisconsin go down to Summerfest. Drink, eat, and laugh at all the people down there wearing theirs they shouldn't be. I'll be a work all night. Then it's three days off for me.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Miscellaneous at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2005

Williams Suffers Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Betsy Newmark gives Brian Williams a quick lesson in American History and moral relativism.

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

A Long, Hot Summer

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor today created the first opening on the high court in almost a decade by sending her retirement letter to President Bush. O'Connor was a swing vote so prepare to see both the Right and Left fight trench warfare to fight for and against Bush's upcoming nominee. One Kossak is already getting his side fired up. Orin Kerr thinks her O'Connor's retirment "may shift the Court a lot less than people think" while Ann Althouse thinks a strong conservative would push Justice Kennedy to the Left.

We will see what dirt Bush's opponents will dig up on the person, whether Senate Democrats "Bork" the nominee, and Sen. John "Maverick" McCain can forge another Senate compromise like he did a few weeks back. Who will first find "extraordinary circumstances" and try to block the nomination? This will be one of the toughest, most exciting nominations in Supreme Court history. Todd Zywicki uses some quick public choice econ to guess it will be a tough fight whoever Bush picks.

So, it seems to me, the Bush Administration would be smart to simply nominate the best person that they want, and not be tricked into thinking that they can somehow avoid a nasty confirmation battle by nominating someone with a more "moderate" perception.

On the wild rumor front, Erick at Redstate.org says Sen. John Cornyn's name is floating around. We will be hearing a lot of this.

"Bush Asks Senate for Fairness on High Court Opening"

"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Retiring"

UPDATE: Scared Monkeys has a quick and dirty linkfest.

The NY Times has a list of some possible nominees.

Names will be floating around all weekend. I'm guessing Bush won't make a decision until he comes back from G8 meetings.

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Politics at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

As Long as She Doesn't Open Her Mouth

That's Jessica Simpson I'm talking about.

"Is it "Cool" to "Love America" Again?" [via Wizbang]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Music at 02:30 AM | Comments (0)