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2.25.01
I love taking this kind of tests, because I defy them. It thought I was a woman. we know that isn't true.

Gender Test [via Metafilter]


I'm taking Jonah Goldberg's advice and am taking the plunge into a Left-dominated institution. I've just joined Metafilter. Instead of griping about how too many posts and comments there bash President Bush, Republicans, and free markets, while praising Ralph Nader, I will give them a little dose of RIGHT thinking.

2.24.01
Jonah Goldberg sees current conservative appearances as anti-Clinton. For the past eight years, that was the public's perception. Goldberg wants the movement to come back to its foundation of "defending the old and tried against the new and untried, preserving reverence for eternal truths, reminding people of the limits of human reason and governmental hubris." Conservatives should fight to gain entrance to the media and universities now dominated by the Left instead of trying to build a parallel conservative culture.

"Conservatism After Clinton"

2.23.01
The answer to the Napster question lies somewhere within the thoughts of James DeLong:

But if consumers want more music produced in the future, then methods must exist for paying artists to create it and businesses to distribute it. Any workable system requires the existence of reasonable, enforceable intellectual property rights, sophisticated contracts, and well-functioning markets.

"Barbarians At The Gate: Napster Gets Pushed Back"


I've found a funny and conservative comic strip: Mallard Fillmore. This tv news duck can't stand moderates--squishes in my world; points out the visual disabilities of certain Floridians; and doesn't like the Army's new slogan. It also doesn't hurt that Mallard reminds me of some other feathered creature that use to grace the pages of the comics.

Mallard Fillmore

2.22.01
Jimmy Carter didn't call for Bill Clinton's resignation when he lied to a grand jury over his fling with Ms. Lewinsky. He didn't get upset when he let 80 people die in the burning inferno of Waco. He didn't stand up and say Clinton was disgraceful when he sent heavily-armed federal agents upon an unarmed family in Miami just to ship Elian Gonzalez off to Communist Cuba. Jimmy Carter never condemned Clinton for collecting oodle and oodles of campaign cash from Chinese Communists or gun runners, but he's upset that Clinton pardoned Marc Rich.

Is there some unwritten rule for Democrats that they can only criticise their leader's actions when he is out of office?

"Carter Calls Pardon Of Rich 'Disgraceful'" [via WOIFM]

2.21.01
Why do reporters continue to care what celebrities have to say about politics? Madonna thinks President Bush is more offensive than Eminem. "Since when is offensive language a reason for being unpopular? I find the language of George W much more offensive," wrote Madonna in a letter to a US newspaper. It's stupid comments like this (and whatever a Baldwin brother says) that drove me away from Politically Incorrect. Most celebrities are idiots when it comes to serious affairs. Yet, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and those other shows eat it up.

One point about Madonna's defense of Eminem: she has to defend his music out of self-defense. If she condemned Slim Shady's lousy raps, others could go after her own controversial escapades. Remember "Like a Virgin," the whole underware-as-outerware chic, "Erotica," and the book Sex? In the moral relativistic world Madonna lives in criticizing another musician for outrageous content would be throwing rocks in her own glass house (or is it castle?).

"Madonna Mauls Eminem's Critics" [via Drudge]

2.20.01
Amy Tan's latest book The Bonesetter's Daughter appears to be in the same vein as her excellent The Joy Luck Club. Stories of Chinese-American women are told while connecting them to stories of their mothers' pasts in China.

"Talking to Ghosts"

2.19.01
"NASCAR has lost its greatest driver." Those were the words from NASCAR chairman of the board Bill France when he announced that Dale Earnhardt died after crashing in the final lap of the Daytona 500.

You knew Earnhardt was really, really good when year after year NASCAR got a little boring because you knew Earnhardt was going to be the champion. Kind of like knowing Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were the ones to beat year after year. Godspeed, Dale.

"Earnhardt Dies Following Daytona 500 Accident"


There's more tragedy in the sports world. The only player to play for the Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta Braves died yesterday. Eddie Mathews was probably the third-best player to don a Milwaukee Braves uniform (behind Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn).

Here's a piece of trivia to tuck away for just the right moment: Eddie Mathews was featured on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated. Godspeed, Eddie.

"Mathews Didn't Back Down"


Bill Buckley chastises Warren Buffett for his defense of the estate tax:

He wishes not only to restrict his children to a pittance and to dispatch his earnings to the government and to private charity. He also wishes that others should do so. He wishes to make his preferences a matter of law, enforceable even on others who have different priorities.

"Capitalist Unction"


Rudolph Giuliani brought charges against Marc Rich in the 1980s. He doesn't accept Bill Clinton's op-ed explaination.

The op-ed piece raises more questions than it answers, including the process that he used in which he talked just to one side, got their view and totally ignored the view of even his own Justice Department.

"Giuliani Says Clinton Op-Ed Raises More Questions"

2.18.01
Bill Clinton offers up an explaination for pardoning billionaire Marc Rich:

However, I decided to grant the pardons in this unusual case for the following legal and foreign policy reasons: (1) I understood that the other oil companies that had structured transactions like those on which Mr. Rich and Mr. Green were indicted were instead sued civilly by the government; (2) I was informed that, in 1985, in a related case against a trading partner of Mr. Rich and Mr. Green, the Energy Department, which was responsible for enforcing the governing law, found that the manner in which the Rich/Green companies had accounted for these transactions was proper; (3) two highly regarded tax experts, Bernard Wolfman of Harvard Law School and Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center, reviewed the transactions in question and concluded that the companies "were correct in their U.S. income tax treatment of all the items in question, and [that] there was no unreported federal income or additional tax liability attributable to any of the [challenged] transactions"; (4) in order to settle the government's case against them, the two men's companies had paid approximately $200 million in fines, penalties and taxes, most of which might not even have been warranted under the Wolfman/Ginsburg analysis that the companies had followed the law and correctly reported their income; (5) the Justice Department in 1989 rejected the use of racketeering statutes in tax cases like this one, a position that The Wall Street Journal editorial page, among others, agreed with at the time; (6) it was my understanding that Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder's position on the pardon application was "neutral, leaning for"; (7) the case for the pardons was reviewed and advocated not only by my former White House counsel Jack Quinn but also by three distinguished Republican attorneys: Leonard Garment, a former Nixon White House official; William Bradford Reynolds, a former high-ranking official in the Reagan Justice Department; and Lewis Libby, now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff; (8) finally, and importantly, many present and former high-ranking Israeli officials of both major political parties and leaders of Jewish communities in America and Europe urged the pardon of Mr. Rich because of his contributions and services to Israeli charitable causes, to the Mossad's efforts to rescue and evacuate Jews from hostile countries, and to the peace process through sponsorship of education and health programs in Gaza and the West Bank.

He even admits that this pardon was unusual because "Ordinarily, I would have denied pardons in this case simply because these men did not return to the United States to face the charges against them." Clinton doesn't explain why he didn't bother to ask the opinion of the federal prosecutor in New York whose office indicted Mr. Rich. He does deny that contributions from Rich's ex-wife had any bearing on his decision. "There was absolutely no quid pro quo," writes Clinton.

"My Reasons for the Pardons" [via MetaFilter]


Every once in a while I appreciate multiculturalism.

Babes Of Iron Chef [via memepool]


Salon.com is usually pretty lame, but I love their take on vegetarian Survivor, Kimmi:

There's nothing wrong with vegetarianism, of course, but we can't help reflecting that one would have to be a complete moron to volunteer to be on a survival show and then expect to be served garden burgers.

"The Silence of the Wallabies"

2.17.01
The always fabulous Peggy Noonan has a theory on why Bill Clinton always has scandal and controversy surrounding him:

The key to Mr. Clinton's character, as I'm sure has been said, is that he derives satisfaction from getting away with it. He likes doing something wrong or illegal, getting caught and escaping. It's as if the escape is proof, to him, of his superiority, his cleverness. Of his chosenness--he was chosen by God or the fates to frustrate and stop the Bad People--the other party, the opposition, the Republicans, or, as he sometimes in the White House referred to them, the Nazis. He hates them, and feels his hatred is justified. It's not really bad, after all, to aggress against the wicked. In fact it's fun. This is why people used to call him a rascal and a scamp and not, say, a psychopath.

"Bush in the Moment, Bill in History"


Anarchy Lew Rockwell offers this fine response to those guilty rich people who want to retain the death tax:

The most important reason that people save is the hope of providing a better life for their children. A society that punishes that impulse with taxes is foolish. It is draining energy from the single most powerful engine of capital accumulation. If the super-rich don’t want their kids to get their money, fine. Donate every penny of it to someone else. But they are wrong to block others from exercising a free choice.

"The Super-Rich Tax Themselves"


Because of Seamus Heaney's surprise best seller Beowulf, interest has risen for the latest translation of Dante's Inferno.

"An Underworld Classic"


Timothy Lynch reviews the Oscar-nominated movie, Traffic.

"Traffic"


Democrats on Capitol Hill have begun buckling on tax cuts. Algore proposed $500 billion last year during the election. Now, Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschel have boosted it up 50% to $750 billion.

The rhetoric has even changed. Daschel came out and said, "The American people deserve a major tax cut this year." Of course, only $750 billion over ten years is minute compared to the over $20 trillion the federal government will spend over that time. It also makes the President's "gamble" (as noted on the cover of Newsweek) hardly risky.

"Tax Cut Votes Still Lacking, Bush Told"

2.17.01
Here's one alternative to watching the XFL:

Give birth to Jesse Jackson's child - Hey, everybody's doing it; why not you? You'll get hush money, child support, and trips to the White House.

"20 Alternatives to the XFL"


The band Manic Street Preachers may have "a lot of respect for the Cuban people and the Cuban culture" (what about that thug Castro?), but I have no respect for a band who thinks America is "the devil's playground."

"Manic Street Preachers in Cuba for Historic Gig"


More music news. My friend, former co-worker, and greatest bass player in Milwaukee has a nice write-up in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Bassist Bender Finds Love, Harmony in Local Music Scene"

2.15.01
Finally, the first practical application of superconducting wire. I remember almost 15 years ago, I destroyed the competition at my school's science fair by having a little magnet float above a superconduction wafer cooled with liquid nitrogen. Materials science seemed like a possible career path for me. Back then the only problem with industrial use of the material was a way to make useful wire. That problem seems to have been solved.

I've envisioned electricity tankers containing superconducting wire that fills up at the local power plant and takes the electricity to an electric car re-fueling station (MobilExxon or Enron?) or to a factory where it's transfered to the on-site electricity storage facility containing its own superconductor. It would seem to be much cheaper than running superconducting wire all over and keeping it cold with liquid nitrogen. Of course, room temperature superconductors would solve that problem.

Practical superconductors would allow power plants that no one wants in their neighborhoods to be built in the middle of no where. Nuclear plants scattered across the Nevada and Arizona deserts could power the entire country, and I'm not even considering the possibility of fusion power stemming directly from these new superconductors.

"Electric Industry Abuzz About Breakthrough Superconducting Technology"


Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, the editors of Reagan, In His Own Hand were interviewed by National Review Online.

"Pure Reagan"

2.14.01
President Bush is accepting Bill Clinton's defense budget levels while asking for a military pay increase. Maybe he will re-evaluate the procurement budget for new weapons systems. Ivan Eland has some ideas.

"Which Weapons Should President Bush Skip?"


The Cato Institute will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of James Madison's birth with a conference called "James Madison and the Future of Limited Government." I'll have to crack out my copy of Madison's classic Federalist #10.


I mustn't have been the only conservative to question the nomination of Larry Thompson as deputy attorney general. National Review's John Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru responded to the criticism by writing that Thompson is "well liked by many conservatives who knew him when he was a district attorney in Georgia." One slight problem is he may support affirmative action in hiring.

It still doesn't answer my question of whether Thompson was picked because he was black. In the recent past, Republicans have had the tendency of using race as an attempt to squelch possible liberal attacks. When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall, many conservatives thought liberal opponents would confirm him easily so as not to appear mean to a black man.

While a good justice, I wonder if Thomas would have been nominated if Thurgood Marshall would have been a white man. Similarly, would Larry Thompson have been nominated if John Ashcroft wouldn't have been accuse of being a racist and a confederate sympathizer?

"Thompson Wins"

2.13.01
Asset-forfeiture laws were thought of as a way to really hurt drug dealers and users. If police arrested you for drug possession, they could claim your car, home, boat, or whatever property was involved with the law breaking. Conviction isn't required, and the burden is on the suspect to go through the legal hurdles to get their property back. That's "guilty until proven innocent."

What the laws did was give the police a huge incentive to arrest people suspected of having drugs. The police could claim the assets, sell them off, and increase their budgets without going to the taxpayer/voters.

In recent years, there has been a public outcry. Utah and Oregon citizens voted to only confiscate assets if there was a conviction, and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) has authored federal legislation to reform the practice. Joining them are legislators in Washington who want to require convictions before assets can be seized.

"Bill Would End Seizure of Drug Suspects' Assets" [via ETWOF]

2.12.01
Ex-President Bill Clinton gave a speech in Florida at a conference for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Lots and lots of MSDW clients weren't too keen on the former perjurer/obstructor of justice/commander-in-chief getting big bucks to speak. MSDW chairman Philip J. Purcell responded to the outcry by apologizing to angry clients. Here's a portion of Mr. Purcell's e-mail (philip.j.purcell@msdw.com):

We clearly made a mistake. First, the decision did not receive the proper review within the firm. And second, we should have been far more sensitive to the strong feelings of our clients over Mr. Clinton's personal behavior as President.

My initial reaction was to applaud those MSDW clients with the "strong feelings." Clinton's a slimeball, and I would have been upset if a company that managed my money would waste 100K on Bill standing up in front of a few hundred people trying to invent a legacy that doesn't include impeachment or scandal.

But after thinking about it for a little while, I lean toward leaving Bill alone. This man craves attention--both good and bad. He's out of office, he won't be indicted, and he's a private citizen. If some company wants to waste money on his insight (or dating tips?) so be it.

And doesn't this attitude of revenge coarsen the culture? Republicans/conservatives will continue to attack Clinton until he fully atones for his sins--which will be never. Then President Bush leaves office (hopefully in eight years) and Democrats/liberals will attack his election "theft" and his slips of the tongue until he atones for his sins--which also would be never.

I just want Bill Clinton to fade away. Putting up with him for eight years is enough. I want his stench to dissapate. I want him out of sight and out of mind.

Bye, Bill. I want you to go find a dumb blond and a box of Krispy Kremes and go away.

And don't get me started with the asine idea by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) that Clinton could be impeached over the questionable pardons he issued just before leaving office.


Tunku Varadarajan takes a different stance. He loves the MSDW client outrage and wants to see pre-emptive threats from clients, shareholders, and university alumni.

"Shareholders of the World, Unite!"


Is the nomination of Larry Thompson as deputy attorney general affirmative action by Republicans? While Thompson seems to have solid conservative credentials (he was an advisor to Clarence Thomas during his vicious confirmation hearings), would he have been picked if he were white? Would Thompson have been on the short list for the position if John Ashcroft wouldn't have gotten a beating on race issues during his confirmation hearings?

This looks like a sop to Jesse "Who's your daddy? Why, it's me!" Jackson, the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus. It won't placate them. It's not Ashcroft's stance on racial issues that bothers these race-baiter, it's his conservatism. They can easily argue that Thompson is a token black who isn't really black because he's a conservative and "real" blacks can't be conservative (see Shelby Steele's brilliant analysis).

The Ashcroft hearings embolden the race-baiting left. The best thing Ashcroft can do is ignore their out of the mainstream invectives and focus on upholding Federal laws fairly for all Americans.

"Black Atlanta Lawyer to Be Ashcroft Deputy - Post"


I'm giddy with anticipation. Krispy Kreme is coming to Wisconsin! You get me into a Krispy Kreme, and I'm sure I'd start drooling like Homer Simpson. Ooooh, donuts!

Krispy Kreme Stores Coming to Wisconsin!


Bob Novak reports:

For all the new power provided George W. Bush as president, it has deprived him of a pleasure he enjoyed while governor of Texas: communicating privately with friends and close associates via e-mail.

Will these e-mails someday come to the surface and show the true intellectual capacity of President Bush in much the same way as the recently published radio commentaries of Ronald Reagan?

"Inside Report: Muzzling the President"

2.09.01
What was I missing last summer while everyone was watching Survivor? I gave in to pop culture peer pressure and am hooked on Survivor II. Maralyn getting booted was a surprise. After watching her set up Kel last week, I thought she had the cunning (or is it deviousness?) to last a lot longer.

Even though Kel got voted off in the second episode, he's my second favorite contestant (I could look at Elisabeth for the whole hour each week.). That's because he's a military man and an avid National Review reader.

2.08.01
Ms. Houston is following in the footsteps of her trouble-making husband. All she had to do was cough up a little cash and her marijuana charge would have vanished. Now, she faces 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine. If she goes to jail, she would be the sweetest sounding jail bird in world history.

"Whitney Houston's Marijuana Charges May Be Reinstated"


Why, oh why is Nirvana's Nevermind number 2 on VH1's 100 Greatest Albums of Rock 'N' Roll? I did think it was something fresh and new when it came out in 1991(?), but now Kurt Cobain's angst-ridden songs feel stale. Angry, hopeless music can only be entertaining for so long. Also, how can you put Nirvana at number 2 while leaving Led Zeppelin all the way back at 43 (their debut). Even worse, Guns 'n Roses' Appetite for Destruction ranks ahead of Zeppelin, and they certainly didn't out hard rock the masters.

100 Greatest Albums of Rock 'N' Roll

2.06.01
Today is Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday. His recent injury makes me and many others realize that his time left on this little blue orb is limited. So, many are making this a final tribute to arguably the greatest President of the 20th Century.

Reagan's enemies (were they ever called "Reagan Haters" like "Clinton Haters?") may just roll their eyes and look at this love fest as nothing more than blind hero worship. However, those of us who understand and appreciate the historic accomplishments of Reagan's eight years in office have new ammunition: Reagan's own words.

Reagan, In His Own Hand, a newly discovered collection of his personally written radio commentaries from the 1970s was just recently published. In those brief essays, we don't see an old man clinging to aids for policy details while he played to the crowd. Instead, we see a very well read man who had a clear vision for America and the ability to connect with everyday Americans.

Paging through the essays, Reagan's future tough approach to the Soviet Union is displayed. He also shows us his love for limited government: "[I]f government would someday quietly close the doors; if all the bureaucrats would tiptoe out of the marble halls; it would take the people of this country quite a while to miss them or even know they were gone."

Some of the essays fit in with current political controversies. Reagan opposed intrusive census questions; he supported the Electoral College. In 1979, he talked about the unfairness of the marriage tax penalty. It's been over twenty-two years, and that still hasn't been fixed yet!

And probably the most timely quote I found has to do with what to do with our federal budget surplus. Reagan wasn't obsessed with paying down the debt. He knew where the money really came from, the American taxpayer:

I have always believed that government has no right to a surplus; that it should take from the people only the money neccessary to fund government's legitimate functions. If it takes more than enough it should return the surplus to the people.

Honor Reagan's birthday. A revived economy, the end of the Cold War, the defeat of Communism, and the return of American confidence are part of his Presidential legacy. No cheap pardons, no fiddling with the English language, and no stealing of furniture for this man.

To really get into the mind of Ronald Reagan, avoid Edmund Morris' biographical failure Dutch and dig into thoughts from the man himself.

"Now They Recognise Reagan's Greatness"

2.04.01
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is on my must-see list. Not just because Ben Domenech had this to say:

Ang Lee has presented us with a gorgeous work of art, one that reverently follows the conventions of its genre without being hemmed in by them. This film is, in a word, terrific.

But will it be better than Traffic?

"Ang Lee’s Little Masterpiece"

2.03.01
The Clinton's are returning $85,000 in gifts "to eliminate even the slightest question" of impropriety. When did that ever stop these people? It didn't stop their Whitewater scam, the unjust firing of White House travel office employees (and then sending the FBI after them), Hillary's sweetheart cattle futures gambit, or her blockbuster book deal.

Maybe Hillary is just cleaning up her act to prepare for a 2004 Presidential run. To really clean things up she'll have to put a muzzle and a chastity belt on Bill.

"Clintons Will Pay for Gifts Received in Last Year"


I found Pyra's biggest business flaw via Matt Haughey:

Although this sounds like another shoulda, we should have had a business expert on board, to handle all our business dealings.

It sounds eerily like those first rock and roll bands in the 50's who signed the first record contract shoved in front of them without looking at the fine print realizing they signed over all rights to their music forever.

Matt doesn't see it as arrogance on Pyra's part but rather hubris:

It seems stupid now, but when you make web pages and web applications, you get this weird sense of god-like power. You can make the sun rise and the sun set, you can kill someone's application with a single blow, you can create whole new worlds in which thousands dwell. So certainly, when it comes to making money, your swelled, I-can-code-anything head figures it can do the business aspects too, right?

Some people can move from code to business and succeed (Bill Gates). Others have to accept that they just don't have the skills or temperment to lead a company to profitablity in order to survive. New leadership then has to be brought.

Pyra and Blogger both are still alive and will continue to exist for the unforeseeable future. It sounds cliche, but any start-up should examine what went wrong.

One side note: Is it just me, but do I smell a book appearing in about a year examinating the rise and fall of Blogger? There's a good story here. A couple of people hack together a simple program to automate their weblog addiction then offer it to the world. The tool explodes in popularity, a company forms around it, but it cracks under its own success.

I'm sure that simplification of the Blogger/Pyra adventure is full of errors, but there is a good story there.

Behind the Website

2.02.01
Timothy Noah at Slate wants to nix the Energy Department. He writes,

But doing away with DOE turned out to have very little support within the business community. This was because DOE is a significant source of corporate welfare and also because the energy industry sees the energy secretary as its representative at Cabinet meetings.

It would have been nice if Mr. Noah pushed his opinion a few years ago when Republicans like former Sen. Rod Grams (R-MN) introduced legislation that would have done just that.

"Abolish the Energy Department!"


Come on guys! Mike can't be the only person who has an opinion. Vote for your pick of which Backstreet Boy I most look like. So far, Howie D is winning with ONE WHOLE vote. I thought the Net was an interactive medium? Pointing, clicking, and devouring my screeds are great by themselves, but let me know if there's a pulse out there among my reading public.


James Cramer noticed that the costs of running web sites are coming down. This could be really good for those companies that survived the Great Internet Crash.

With all of these costs coming in so low, I suspect that in the second-half of 2001 the remaining Net companies will see some terrific margin expansion. It's still too early to know which ones will remain, but it isn't too early to speculate that the raw costs of running a dot-com are about to get back to reasonable, or even sub-reasonable levels.

But will it save TheStreet.com?

"State of the Web: Expense Control"

 

Sean Hackbarth
Writer/Bookseller
Allenton, WI
http://www.angelfire.com/wi/shackbar
shackbar@free-market.net