Rush Makes It to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Music

There is justice! After a long wait, Canada’s greatest rock band, Rush, will go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his typical deadpan, bassist Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone that it “made my mom very happy, so that’s worth it.” More importantly for Geddy was that Rush’s fans are thrilled:

But I appreciated how much it meant to our fan base. It really did mean a lot to them. It was kind of a cause they championed and I appreciated their feelings but beyond that, I really did not concern myself with it.

That’s one of the great things about this band. After watching the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage, you see how grounded Geddy, Alex Lifeson, and Neal Peart are. They appreciate their fans. It has to be mindblowing to them to have thousands of people show up for shows all over the world and listen to them play for nearly three hours while simultaneously singing every line and playing air guitar and drums.

Years of fan frustration can now be turned into vindication. For a band with a passionate following among fans and fellow musicians, they rarely were appreciated by critics. It’s interesting that one music writer, J.D. Considine, who panned Signals in 1982 ended up voting for Rush this year:

What changed my mind? It’s not as if I’ve since seen the light and want to recant that old review (I don’t), or that allegiance to Rush was part of some agreement I signed upon moving to Canada.

Rather, it’s that Rush has gotten better over the years. Unlike most rockers, who peak in their first decade and spend the rest of their career either treading water or slowly sinking, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have continued to grow over the decades. They play better now than they did then, they take more chances musically, and they write more interesting material. Frankly, I can’t think of many other bands I could say that about.

To all of you who laughed at “The Trees,” Rush (the band) will be laughing all the way to Cleveland.

Go to Rush is a Band Blog for more coverage.

Heart, another deserving band will also be inducted. Unfortunately for some strange reason Deep Purple won’t. The ceremony is April 18, and I’m going to try to be there.

Now, enjoy some great Rush songs.

“Working Man”

“Roll the Bones”

“Time Stand Still”

“Nobody’s Hero”

“Headlong Flight”

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Booting Boehner?

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Politics

American Majority wants to remove Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House:

“We only need 16 votes to get conservatives on the path to actually reducing our $16 trillion debt,” AMA Virginia Director Matt Robbins said. “If conservatives want to tackle our biggest challenges, we need competent leaders — and frankly — new leaders.”

Uh, ok.

It sounds like their plan is:

  1. Oust Boehner.
  2. ?
  3. Victory.

Which isn’t much of a strategy.

And if they somehow succeeded in replacing Boehner and we continue down the path of deficit spending, will American Majority take any responsibility? Or would they launch another campaign to boot that Speaker?

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What Does the Right Do Now?

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Politics
Photobucket

Election Night 2012 feels like a replay of 2008 in that after President Obama’s victory the Right does a replay of the same gnashing of teeth it did then.

Erick Erickson, now that the campaign is over, goes into Wednesday Morning Quarterback mode by returning to his hate-Mitt vibe writing that “he ran a crappy campaign.” In the same vein is this complaint I soon saw on Twitter after President Obama was declared the winner: “Mitt Romney was shoved down our throats by the Establishment.”

Uh, no. He won through a series of primaries against (theoretically) high-caliber opponents: a former Speaker of the House; a former number three GOP Senate leader; a governor of the top Red state; a charismatic former businessman. Out of that competition–a concept endearing to the Right–Romney ended up the winner. There was no fraud, and no one forced anyone to vote for Romney. He simply won.

For the record, none of the candidates in the GOP primary wowed me, not even Romney, and I didn’t endorse any.

As to Romney’s general campaign, he was never a superb campaigner, but he improved from the primaries. What I always found odd was with all his life’s successes and inspiring stories, Romney couldn’t (or wouldn’t) sell himself. But after the first debate, he showed voters–and probably himself–that he really could lead the country. From then on, he was more confident, and you could envision him as President. Over time, Romney got better to the point where I agree with Timothy Stanley that “it’s difficult to image an alternative candidate who could have done better.” Honestly ask yourself if Cain, Santorum, or Perry (who was hobbled with a bad back) could’ve done better? Equally as well, but no better.

Another bit of Wednesday Morning QB-ing I saw came from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List who accused the Romney campaign of not energizing social conservatives.

Uh, despite the Obama campaign’s “War on Women” obsession, abortion wasn’t a pressing issue to voters. The economy was. And did anyone concerned about protecting the unborn not know the stark differences between Romney and Obama? Do pro-life groups like SBA List bare any responsibility?

Enough of critics who seem like they could wait to pounce after Romney’s loss. We must do like President Obama says and go forward.

To succeed in the future, it’s not simply about glomming onto the latest fad. It’s not about tech, or mobile, or social media, and it’s not about Big Data, although all are important. It’s about changing the campaign mindset toward constant innovation, relentless experimentation, and persistent measurement. Remember in the 1990’s when Newt Gingrich yapped about management gurus like Edward Deming? He was on to something.

The Right touts the power of the private sector as a source for improvement. It’s time to look deeply at what they’re doing to connect and satisfy customers. Any conservative strategist (or wannabe strategist) better be reading Mashable and Techmeme daily and think deeply about the capabilities of digital communications. Then take those ideas and approaches and apply them to campaigns–both for political races and for issues advocacy.

I advise you to get a copy of Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab, where you’ll learn how the Left has been willing to take risks and experiment for years. The culmination being President Obama’s ground game. Steal their ideas and more importantly build upon them. Think big and leap frog over them, because we know the Left isn’t standing still.

Specifically to conservative groups here’s some additional advice:

  • Hire consultants who want to transform current campaign approaches. Don’t accept tried-and-true. Or better yet, bring them in-house and let them play to their heart’s content.
  • Create an environment where talented people want to join you in taking big risks and be willing to pay them.
  • Scour America for savant tech-heads willing to work for the cause. Visit MIT, Stanford, and other top schools. Go to tech conferences and read tech weblogs to find top-notch talent.
  • Quit expecting great content to be delivered for free from supporters. Pay people to write, tweet, make videos, make infographics, develop apps, etc. With the millions spent by super PACs we know the money is out there.
  • Be willing to give credit to other groups. Don’t let your egos stop you from cooperating. We’re all on the same team.
  • Share ideas that work.
  • Find ways to amplify what allied groups are doing.

To media critics, attacking and shaming media outlets that perpetuate bias and make voters less intelligent (like BuzzFeed) is important work. However, be smart about it. In the hands of a virtuoso Team Breitbart’s “Vetting the President” campaign may have been effective. Unfortunately, few of us have that intrinsic ability that Andrew Breitbart had to play the media like puppets. The end result was that the “Vetting” campaign’s message was muddled. It was perceived to be (old) attacks on President Obama when they were intended to target his sympathetic media allies. Their bias will only be more blatant, and the battlespace must be prepared now for future political fights.

My suggestions don’t even get into adapting conservative ideas to a changing electorate in a way that tangible to people’s lives. That will be a deep discussion about what conservatives want to conserve and adapting First Principles to modern life.

Also, notice I’m not getting into the “Establishment vs. Grassroots” debate. It’s pointless because 1) both sides morph fast enough to become meaningless; 2) neither side has a monopoly on good ideas or arrogance. It’s best for all to do less shouting and a lot more listening.

Life is a constant struggle to make the world better. Like last night, there are losses. But I’m not going anywhere. One of my favorite quotes is from T.S. Elliot: “There is no such thing as a Lost Cause because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.” Our work is perpetual; the challenges never vanish.

I will continue defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I have no choice; it’s who I am. I know many of you are the same.

Today, take a break, dust yourself off, reflect on how you can improve. Tomorrow, we will re-start the fight. We hold on.

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Go Vote!

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Politics

I Voted sticker

Today is an important day. We’re at a critical moment in our country’s history. The decisions voters make today will be with us for generations.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to vote for Mitt Romney for President. The United States made history four years ago by election Barack Obama. But today, we must move “forward” (to borrow the President’s slogan), and we’ll do that by electing Mitt Romney as our next President.

I have two Senate races I care about the most. If you live in Virginia, please return George Allen to the Senate. And in Wisconsin, please send Tommy Thompson to the Senate.

If you don’t agree with my choices, that’s fine. Please take part in your government. Men and women have served and died to protect your right.

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Lazy Obama Campaign Rips Off Planned Parenthood

by Sean Hackbarth

There’s been chatter in the conservative blogosphere and on Twitter about an Obama campaign eCard from a fictional woman to her mom asking to borrow $18,000 for birth control:

Obama Campaign Birth Control eCard

$18,000 is a big number. Where did it come from? After a Google search I determined Planned Parenthood is the source. A Spring 2012 newsletter from the Nassau County (NY) Planned Parenthood office has an infographic explaining that the health care law could save women as much as $18,000 in birth control costs over their lifetime.

Compare that infographic to the one used by the Obama campaign. Do they look familiar? With only a few stylistic changes they’re exactly the same thing. Here’s a side-by-side (click on it to see a larger size):

Obama Campaign and Planned Parenthood Infographics

Two conclusions:

  • There’s a lazy graphics designer on Team Obama.
  • The campaign treats Planned Parenthood talking points as gospel.
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TSIS Megamix Vol. 1 – The Knocks

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Music

This is a good, short mix from a good DJ/producer team.

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Slurpee Day

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Food

I didn’t let these 7-Eleven Day party poopers get me down. After work, I stopped to get me a cold, sweet, preservative-filled Slurpee. Pina colada to be exact.

Pina colada Slurpee

Delicious!

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Coachella Threatened to Move Because of Tax

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Economics, Music

Art piece at Coachella

To hipster (and non-hipster) Leftists who think that raising taxes don’t matter much check out what happened in California with the Coachella music festival:

Next year’s Coachella could be the last in Indio, California, where the music and art festival has taken place since 1999. Indio’s Desert Sun reports the festival’s promoters are warning they will take the shows out of Indio if the city goes through with a proposed admissions tax.

The proposal would put a tax of 5 to 10 percent on admissions to entertainment events with more than 2,500 in attendance. Promotions company Goldenvoice, which runs Coachella and the country-oriented Stagecoach festival, says that’s a deal-breaker. “If the tax initiative of putting $4 million to $6 million onto Coachella gets on the ballot, we’re going to take off 2014,” Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett told the Desert Sun. “2015 we’ll be at a new facility outside of Indio.”

The Indio city council member pushing for the tax backed off when he realized the threat was real, jobs would be lost, and the city would suffer.

Think about this when blindly assuming nothing negative will happen if taxes on high-income earners are raised like President Obama and the Democrats propose.

Coachella Threatens to Skip 2014, Relocate Over Proposed Event Tax”

Photo via rieh.

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Sorkin Recycles

by Sean Hackbarth

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Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Brings More Legal Problems

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Politics

Should the Supreme Court keep a large portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on the books, companies could get thwacked with an unauthorized tax according to Professor Jonathan Adler and Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute. In a USA Today op-ed, they tie together the employer mandate, health insurance tax credits, and health insurance exchanges to be created under Obamacare.

Adler and Cannon write,

The [PPPACAs] “employer mandate” taxes employers up to $3,000 per employee if they fail to offer required health benefits. But that tax kicks in only if their employees receive tax credits or subsidies to purchase a health plan through a state-run insurance “exchange.”

The wrinkle is “state-run” exchanges. Because of political opposition, many states haven’t created them. In response, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has said they’ll run federal exchanges for those states that don’t have them. On May 18, the IRS declared that tax credits will be available for employees to buy insurance through these federally-run exchanges.

However, Adler and Cannon argue that the IRS can’t do this:

The language limiting tax credits to state-established exchanges is clear and consistent with the rest of the statute. The law’s chief sponsor, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is on record explaining creation of an exchange is among the conditions states must satisfy before credits become available. Indeed, all previous drafts of the law also withheld credits from states to push them to cooperate.

At The Volokh Conspiracy, Adler points out that the “IRS rule may be illegal, but that doesn’t mean there will be a lawsuit.” However, the IRS making available tax credits from federal exchanges would trigger a penalty on the employer because of the employer mandate. “So by expanding tax credit eligibility to federal exchanges, the IRS is exposing employers in states without their own exchanges to financial penalties, and this should be sufficient for an affected employer to file suit,” Adler writes.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare could make this moot or open up another line of lawsuits.

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Clockwork Angels

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Music

Rush (the band)’s Clockwork Angels is out now. After a few listens I’m amazed how the Canadian power trio balances amazing musical performances with tight compositions. And when some of the songs run over six minutes, that’s saying a lot.

For a taste, here’s “Headlong Flight,” a song that starts with a great bass line and drives further ahead.

Then watch an interview with bassist Geddy Lee about the story behind the concept album and what keeps him interested in playing after 38 years.

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Tim McCarver Thinks Global Warming Causes More Home Runs

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Politics, Sports

Tim McCarver

On Fox Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Milwaukee Brewers-St. Louis Cardinals baseball game analyst Tim McCarver theorized about why home runs seems to be flying out of ball parks. He thinks it’s global warming/climate change:

Tim McCarver: “[T]he air is thinning…. There have been climatic changes over the last 50 years…. I think that’s one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now.”

Joe Buck [Fox Sports play-by-play announcer]: “So that’s your ‘inconvenient truth’ about it?”

McCarver: “You’re going to find it out one of these days, yes.”

Photo via Wikicommons.
Video via Deadspin.

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VIDEO: Rush — Headlong Flight

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Music

Rush (the band) leaked the song, “Headlong Flight,” off the upcoming Clockwork Angels album. It has a 70s prog rock vibe to it, but tighter. It reminds me of something that would fit well on Moving Pictures. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

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VIDEO: Bear in Heaven – “The Reflection Of You”

by Sean Hackbarth
Filed under Music

From the I Love You, It’s Cool album.

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Top Posts for 2011

by Sean Hackbarth

I’ve been writing for the U.S. Chamber for a little over six months and have had a blast. In the over 250 posts I’ve written in that time I’ve covered the EPA, taxes, had a little fun at Canada’s expense, and even covered Metallica hedging foreign exchange rate risk with derivatives.

Here are the most-trafficked posts I’ve written at ChamberPost:

  1. The New York Times’ Keystone XL Illogic
  2. Get Serious About Jobs
  3. High-Skilled Workers Needed to Fire Up the Economy
  4. Salazar Endorses Hydraulic Fracturing
  5. They Gave This Guy a Nobel Prize?

My favorite post of the year has to be this diatribe against my nemesis, Paul Krugman.

In 2012, expect exciting things from me when the U.S. Chamber launches its new web property.

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