Tuesday, September 30, 2003
The limits of political science
Y'know, I've got a Ph.D. in political science, and I've vigorously defended the use of statistical methodologies to understand political phenomena. I truly believe that its possible to create general models of human behavior to explain political events. But one must frankly acknowledge their limitations, so let me admit the one thing political science cannot and never will be able to explain -- the mind of Arianna Huffington:
Gray Davis, on the other hand, perfectly fits the axiom that the first thing politicians care about is getting elected:
Must... resist.... urge... to.... snark!!! [Just link to Mickey Kaus--ed. Good idea!!]
Drezner gets results from George W. Bush!!
Yesterday I wrote:
Earlier today I wrote:
From Fox News:
ABC News runs the quote as follows:
See, was that so hard? I would have phrased it a bit differently -- it still sounds a bit too clever to me. However, that statement -- plus a thorough Justice/FBI investigation -- are good if belated first steps for the administration to address this problem. [UPDATE: Josh Marshall appears not to be sated.]
Also check out Jack Shafer's Slate essay on the Plame game. Some highlights:
With his statement today, Bush is starting make the proper noises.
Definitely still developing....
UPDATE: Shafer has another Slate piece up that seems to take a harder line than the previously linked one. The highlights:
Crescat Sententia has moved
Will Baude, Amanda Butler, and the rest of the gang have some fancy new digs -- there are gargoyles and props from Richard Posner!!
Go check it out.
Still a lot of smoke, and Justice thinks there's a fire
The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department has started a full investigation of the Novak leak:
Here's a copy of the memo that Gonzales sent to the White House staff:
The end of the New York Times story also describes where things go from here:
So far, the system appears to be working. As I've said previously, what I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what took place. [But his press spokesman, national security advisor, and other subordinates have already said that the President would not tolerate this sort of behavior!--ed. There's a big difference between assertions by intermediaries and a video feed of the President himself. The latter commands a lot more attention -- see the Trent Lott affair. But the Washington Post says the following today:
Surely that counts for something?--ed. Again, this is an anonymous leak -- not a formal statement]
UPDATE: Drezner gets results from ABC!! The Note has some powerful words in today's update:
Let me repeat -- this is a serious allegation, and I want to see the President address it directly and publicly. [But we don't really know if Plame was an operative, and we don't really know whether Bush administration officials leaked the story in the way that the Post alleges.--ed.] Oh yes we do. Kevin Drum provides a solid rundown of the evidence. From CNN (link via alert reader B.M.):
So, to quote James Woolsey from the CNN story:
But we don't know who did what yet. The only connection to Rove in this incident came from an assertion by Joseph Wilson that he later retracted. It's worth noting that Mark Kleiman acknowledges my point on this as well (though he's suspicious of Rove due to prior bad acts).
Monday, September 29, 2003
The oxymoron of conservative academics?
I've had a couple of e-mail request to comment on the David Brooks piece from Saturday on how few conservatives there are in academia.
I really don't want to write anything new on this, but click here, here, and here and you'll have my general take on this problem. Oh, and Bruce Bartlett provides an excellent summary of the data on academic bias.
Well.... let me also agree completely with two of Jacob Levy's main points in his follow-up post on this topic. Point #1:
Good God, yes.
Today's Plame roundup
Developments in the Plame story today:
1) Josh Marshall reprints the relevant section of the daily White House press briefing covering this. Scott McClellan flatly denies that Karl Rove leaked the story to Novak, and that the president knows that Rove didn't do it. This is how the Associated Press plays the story. If you read the transcript, however, there's some confusion as to how McClellan knows this. He intimates a conversation with Rove, but doesn't say he asked him directly:
2) Clifford May has a piece in NRO suggesting that Plame's status at the CIA was common knowledge in DC:
This does raise the prospect that perhaps the leak to Novak -- which at the time, was intended to impugn the CIA's morivation to send Wilson to Niger in the first place -- was unaware that s/he was "outing" Plame. This is, I believe, Tom Maguire's theory of events. As Jacob Levy points out, May conveniently skirts the fact that this is still a crime. However, the level of malice involved would be reduced somewhat.
[What about May's allegation that Wilson wasn't qualified to investigate the Niger claim and performed his task in a half-assed manner?--ed. Those are largely extraneous issues, but if you read Wilson's interview with Marshall, it seems clear that he did a pretty thorough job of looking into the matter -- he wasn't just "drinking sweet mint tea." Furthermore, even May acknowledged in July that, "Wilson's conclusion was probably correct."]
3) There is some evidence that Wilson might be overselling his side of the story. Howard Kurtz pointed something out today in his Media Notes column:
Meanwhile, Wilson appears to be backing away from his accusation that Rove was the source of the leak. From the Associated Press again:
It's also worth noting that the New York Times, playing catch-up, also uses the vague "Bush administration officials" to describe the leakers.
5) Robert Novak just said the following on Crossfire (reprinted by Matt Drudge):
All of these facts suggest to me that it's way too soon to assert with confidence that Karl Rove did anything untoward.
Don't get me wrong -- someone did something wrong, otherwise the CIA would not have requested an investigation from Justice. Furthermore, the MSNBC story contains the following grafs:
The question is, who did it? Maybe it was a high-ranking White House official, maybe not. At this point, however, there's no evidence that Rove had anything to do with this.
There's still a lot of smoke at this point -- but I don't see a fire just yet.
Not exactly like father, like son
Leadership and conviction:
Fair or unfair comparison? Too soon to tell.
In the story, when asked about the possibility of an internal White House investigation, White House press spokesman Scott McClellan said:
That's the best spin to put on the story, because it's true -- with the exception of Novak himself, all of the sources for this story have been anonymous.
We'll see how long this holds up.
A final point -- I really, really, want this story to be wrong. I find the prospect that there are people in the White House capable of such actions to be distasteful. If the entire story turns out to be bogus, great. If not, then this is going to be a long and bumpy ride.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh argues that it would be wrong to expect President Bush to take a more active role in the investigation:
Pejman has a point about the futility of catching leakers (though Mark Kleiman disagrees). There is a difference, however, between your garden-variety leak and what took place in the Plame affair, which was a violation of federal law.
I'm not saying George W. Bush should be whipping out the magnifying glass as part of an investigation. I am saying that the President could display a touch more of the outrage that his father hinted at four years ago. That, in itself, would send a powerful message to his staff.
Sunday, September 28, 2003
What could cause me to switch parties
I don't normally blog on Sunday morning out of a combination of wanting to spend time with my family and general laziness. This Washington Post story, however, which folows up on an NBC story, has rousted me out of my torpor:
For more, see Kevin Drum, Mark Kleiman, Brad DeLong, Josh Marshall, Atrios, and Tom Maguire (who also provides a comprehensive chronology of what happened back in July -- check out this Slate piece as well). Also be sure to read Marshall's two-part interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Kleiman reads the Post story the same way I do:
Tom Maguire thinks that
That won't fly, for the simple reason that high-ranking members of the Bush administration apparently know that it wasn't an "innocent mistake." By telling the Post, it's clear that some cabinet officials are not going to let this die quickly.
To which I say, good. What was done here was thuggish, malevolent, illegal, and immoral. Whoever peddled this story to Novak and others, in outing Plame, violated the law and put the lives of Plame's overseas contacts at risk. Compared to this, all of Clinton's peccadilloes look like an mildly diverting scene from an Oscar Wilde production. If Rove or other high-ranking White House officials did what's alleged, then they've earned the wrath of God. Or, since God is probably busy, the media firestorm that will undoubtedly erupt.
Let me make this as plain as possible -- I was an unpaid advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, and I know and respect some high-ranking people in the administration. And none of that changes the following: if George W. Bush knew about or condoned this kind of White House activity, I wouldn't just vote against him in 2004 -- I'd want to see him impeached. Straight away.
UPDATE: More reaction from James Joyner, Glenn Reynolds, Josh Chafetz, N.Z. Bear, and Roger Simon. They all counsel patience, which is of course wise. My rant is predicated on the assumption that someone at Rove's level in the White House was responsible for the leak.
Having had a few more hours to mull this over, however, I'm even more upset than I was when I wrote my original post. The best-case scenario is that the Post's source is Tenet playing hardball in response to the original leak to Novak. Josh Marshall makes the logical case that Tenet was the source. Even if that is true, however, as this TNR profile on Tenet demonstrates, the man is a savvy bureaucratic actor. He wouldn't have taken the risk of talking to the Post unless he knew the facts of the episode -- and knew they would be damaging to the White House.
There are two reasons why this makes me so upset. The first one is spelled out above -- if true, operatives at the White House violated the law and threatened WMD intelligence assets just to stick it to someone. And those operatives should be strung up.
The second reason is more insidious. As Roger Simon put it in a follow-up comment to his post:
Roger is correct -- it does seem weird. If it is nevertheless true, however -- an important "if" -- then a Pandora's box gets opened by asking this question: if the White House was willing to commit an overtly illegal act in dealing with such a piddling matter, what lines have they crossed on not-so-piddling matters? In other words, if this turns out to be true, then suddenly do all of the crazy conspiracy theories acquire a thin veneer of surface plausibility?
If that happens, both the administration and the country will be mired in scandal politics until November 2004. The administration would deserve it -- the country would not.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Krauthammer fisks Kennedy -- film at eleven!
To which Krauthammer responds:
It's worth comparing Iraq to the Clinton administration's deecision to intervene in Bosnia in the summer of 1995.
If you read Richard Holbrooke, Samantha Power or David Halberstam, it's pretty clear that Clinton acted in Bosnia because he wanted to avoid the political fallout from either further massacres or having to rescue French and British peacekeepers, particularly during a presidential election year.
Now, there were risks to intervention as well, and it's to Clinton's credit that he took the appropriate action. However, at the time, I don't recall (correct me if I'm wrong) accusations that Clinton was acting in a political manner in his use of force, even though there was an element of this to his actions. And, as I pointed out before, the Republican leadership at the time supported Clinton's actions.
They didn't accuse him of waging the war to win the election.
P.S. If you check my aforementioned post, you'll see that Thomas Friedman made Krauthammer's point back in March with even greater force:
Friday, September 26, 2003
DanielDrezner.com gets results from Eric Zorn!!
In a previous post on j-blogs, I wrote:
In response, Eric has written an excellent blog post. You should read the whole thing, but Zorn provides a new and interesting analogy on how editors should think of j-blogs:
Really, I'm serious, read the whole thing.
The Iraqi free trade zone
It appears that after a day of wavering, Iraq's Governing Council is now endorsing Iraqi Finance Minister Kamil Mubdir al-Gailani's plans for sweeping liberalization of the economy. This includes allowing 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses in all economic sectors except oil. Among the proposals:
This plan has drawn criticism from the usual quarters -- namely, Palestinians and the left -- as somehow generating a fire sale of Iraq for Western looters. Actually, the big winners here are the Iraqis themselves.
Since the fall of Saddam, Iraq has essentially functioned as a free trade zone. The benefits of this of this for Iraqis are readily apparent in the explosion of consumption over the past five months. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on this over the summer, and now USA Today follows up with a report indicating that the rise in cobsumption is also sourring entrepreneurial activity (link via Glenn Reynolds and Virginia Postrel). The key grafs:
Opening up investment to foreigners is crucial to preventing Iraq from reverting back to the statist nightmares that Egypt, Syria, Iran, et al are currently experiencing. Permitting foreign ownership of banks helps ensure that capital markets won't be repressed by the state as an act of political favortism. The policies being put forward to liberalize Iraq's economy are an excellent first step to installing the proper restraints on state intervention in the economy.
As a coda, I'm always amused by people who simultaneously supported the anti-globalization movement and condemned the sanctions against Iraq. In one case, the exchange of goods and services is evil -- in the other case, the exchange of goods and services is essential.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall links to a Guardian story suggesting that even with a small Iraqi state, there will still be favortism. And check out this Chicago Tribune story on the Iraqi entrepreneurial class.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
An ode to lunch
The Chicago Weekly, an independent student paper that appears to have no online home, asked me to write a small essay for the returning students. So, reprinted here, is my ode to the leisurely lunch:
[Yeah, but do you practice what you preach?--ed. In fact, this very day I had an exquisite lunch at a lovely restaurant in the Loop with two esteemed colleagues, one of whom blogs at some conspiracy site. Though in this case, it was a last blast before classes start.]
Bloggers are definitely moving up in the world.
No coherent narrative
A lot of bloggers have linked to it already, but in case you haven't seen it yet, USA Today ran a story earlier this week on media coverage of Iraq that confirms my "no single narrative" argument from last month.
Go check it out.
To quote David Brooks:
Ladies and gentlemen, your counterweight to the United States
It is the belief of prominent Europeans -- and some Americans -- that the European Union will emerge as the primary rival to the United States in world politics. Of course, this requres that a) most of the member states have a common set of preferences; b) EU institutions acquire greater material capabilities; and c) EU official competently administer those resources.
This is the continuation of an ongoing scandal from the late 1990's. It's not the only scandal involving EU officials, however. Two years ago, Europol -- Europe's top police agency -- was raided by Dutch police after it was discovered that some officers had engaged in money laundering. When the leading anti-money laundering unit in Europe is busted for laundering money, you do begin to wonder about the competency of European officialdom.
No government is corruption-free. But if Eurocrats can't handle a €98 billion budget, what happens when their state capacity starts to expand?
Why David Adesnik is really wrong
When I started reading David Adesnik's "jeremiad" against political science while he was guest-blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, I started to cringe. Then I got mad.
There's a very big difference between creating new data and using new statistical techniques to analyze old data. I strongly suspect Adesnik's source of irritation is the latter. The former is way too rare in the discipline, especially in international relations. Mostly that's because building new data sets takes a lot of time and the rewards in terms of professional advancement are not great, whereas relying on old data has no fixed costs.
This is one reason why Pape's article is worthy of note -- he actually collected new data, which leads to results that Adesnik himself admits are "surprising."
David mistakenly conflates creating new data with the use of fancy statistical techniques when they're not necessary. The latter can be a occupational hazard -- though I'd argue that the greater danger is the proliferation of sophisticated regression analysis software like STATA to people who don't have the faintest friggin' clue whether their econometric model corresponds to their theoretical model.
Sigh. Of all the social sciences -- including economics -- I'll bet that political scientists actually spend the most time discussing what constitutes proper scientific work. This is partly due to insecurity, but it's also due to a refreshing humility about the difficulty of the enterprise. For good examples of this sort of debate, click here for one example, and here's another. And, for good measure, click here, here, and here. Note that some of these works disagree with each other -- and I certainly disagree with some of them. [So, has any good come from these books?--ed. Sometimes I think this has generated a healthy debate within the discipline, and other times I think it's just navel-gazing.]
I have no doubt that historians can, through closely argued scholarship, identify which groups are extremist -- ex post. The key is to find descriptive characteristics that can be identified ex ante. Without ex ante markers to identify proper explanatory variables, theories degenerate into tautologies. Islamic affiliation is a descriptive category that can be identified ex ante, and Pape's discovery that it's not correlated with suicide attacks is a relevant and counterintuitive finding. To be fair, Pape has some good points. As his study shows, democracies are the almost exclusive targets of suicide attacks, because liberal political systems are vulnerable to terror. Moreover, he is probably right that there is an element of rational calculation behind such attacks, since even extremists have an interest in success. Still, it is absolutely impossible to explain the tactics of Al Qaeda or Hamas without reference to their perverse ideologies. This is a nice summary of Pape's value-added. On the "perverse ideologies" question, I don't think Pape would disagree. Without the ideology, it's impossible to delineate these groups' substantive preferences. The real problem is that Pape, like so many political scientists, abandons all nuance in deriving policy programs from his work. As I see it, the cause of this unsubtle approach is political scientists' obsession with statistics, a pursuit that dulls their sensitivity to the compexity of real-world political events. If numbers are your thing, you're going to have a hard time explaining why Israelis and Palestinians have spent five decades fighting over narrow tracts of land. I agree with Adesnik that one can draw different conclusions from Pape's findings than he does -- and this is a weakness in the paper. However, to attribute this to Pape's obsession with statistics is amusing on a number of levels, many of which Chris Lawrence explained. Let's just say that Bob Pape would not be considered welcome at a meeting of the large-N brotherhood at APSA. Indeed, Pape fully supports the Perestroika movement that I've discussed previously. So then, what is to be done? As you might of heard, many political science programs require training in statistics but not foreign languages. That trend has to be sharply reversed. Learning foreign languages promotes immersion in foreign cultures and ideas, which in turn make it hard to ignore the role of those cultures and ideas in the realm of politics. Given that politics is an art rather than a science, there is no substitute for getting inside the minds of those we study. I'm perfectly happy to see more cultural immersion, but the notion that such training will automatically induce greater understanding is horses@&t. Witness the self-criticisms -- or rather, the lack thereof -- within the Middle Eastern Studies community in the wake of 9/11. These people are deeply immersed in the culture and language of the Arab peoples. Is Adesnik really suggesting that people like Edward Said can enlighten us about the region? In conclusion, politics is an art and a science, a simple fact that many people within and without political science seem incapable of understanding. And for Pete's sake, read the whole paper before penning a jeremiad like that. The great flaw of modern political science is its desire to imitate microeconomists (and share in their prestige) by developing theorems that explain and predict the behavior of rational actors. Of course, that is exactly the wrong way to go about things. It is only when political scientists recognize that ideas and values are what drive politicians and voters that they will begin to produce something worthy of the name "science". Chris Lawrence explains what's wrong with this statement.
To be fair, Pape has some good points. As his study shows, democracies are the almost exclusive targets of suicide attacks, because liberal political systems are vulnerable to terror. Moreover, he is probably right that there is an element of rational calculation behind such attacks, since even extremists have an interest in success. Still, it is absolutely impossible to explain the tactics of Al Qaeda or Hamas without reference to their perverse ideologies.
This is a nice summary of Pape's value-added. On the "perverse ideologies" question, I don't think Pape would disagree. Without the ideology, it's impossible to delineate these groups' substantive preferences.
The real problem is that Pape, like so many political scientists, abandons all nuance in deriving policy programs from his work.
As I see it, the cause of this unsubtle approach is political scientists' obsession with statistics, a pursuit that dulls their sensitivity to the compexity of real-world political events. If numbers are your thing, you're going to have a hard time explaining why Israelis and Palestinians have spent five decades fighting over narrow tracts of land.
I agree with Adesnik that one can draw different conclusions from Pape's findings than he does -- and this is a weakness in the paper. However, to attribute this to Pape's obsession with statistics is amusing on a number of levels, many of which Chris Lawrence explained. Let's just say that Bob Pape would not be considered welcome at a meeting of the large-N brotherhood at APSA. Indeed, Pape fully supports the Perestroika movement that I've discussed previously.
So then, what is to be done? As you might of heard, many political science programs require training in statistics but not foreign languages. That trend has to be sharply reversed. Learning foreign languages promotes immersion in foreign cultures and ideas, which in turn make it hard to ignore the role of those cultures and ideas in the realm of politics. Given that politics is an art rather than a science, there is no substitute for getting inside the minds of those we study.
I'm perfectly happy to see more cultural immersion, but the notion that such training will automatically induce greater understanding is horses@&t. Witness the self-criticisms -- or rather, the lack thereof -- within the Middle Eastern Studies community in the wake of 9/11. These people are deeply immersed in the culture and language of the Arab peoples. Is Adesnik really suggesting that people like Edward Said can enlighten us about the region?
In conclusion, politics is an art and a science, a simple fact that many people within and without political science seem incapable of understanding.
And for Pete's sake, read the whole paper before penning a jeremiad like that.
The great flaw of modern political science is its desire to imitate microeconomists (and share in their prestige) by developing theorems that explain and predict the behavior of rational actors. Of course, that is exactly the wrong way to go about things. It is only when political scientists recognize that ideas and values are what drive politicians and voters that they will begin to produce something worthy of the name "science".
Chris Lawrence explains what's wrong with this statement.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
What Arnold hath wrought
I am willing to bet that in entire blogosphere -- hell, the entire mediasphere -- no one predicted this as an outcome of Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign:
Colorado, eh? Well, Navratilova vs. Owens could be an interesting race. It would be much more interesting, however, if the Republicans found a more formidable opponent.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
The Sacramento Bee responds
At least one reader responded to my suggestion [You mean my suggestion--ed. It's all good] on how to respond to the Sacramento Bee's ombudsman Tony Marcano's distaste for letting Daniel Weintraub's blog go unedited -- they e-mailed Marcano.
To which the ombudsman replied:
I'm not going to reprint the reader's entire e-mail to the ombudsman, but the only thing in it that was remotely close to insulting was the final question: "When did the the Bee turn so gutless?"
Now I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have phrased it that harshly, but given that the ombudsman's job is to hear complaints, doesn't this response suggest someone too thin-skinned for the job?
Undeterred, our trusty reader pressed forward in his search for a response. He finally succeeded in getting a real reply from David Holwerk, who is Weintraub's editor. Here's his reply:
This is a pretty decent response in my book. Good editors deal with good writers by improving the form of the writing so that the content is clear. I'm not a regular reader of Weintraub's blog, so only time will tell if this is what actually happens. As a statement of what an editor does, however, Holwerk's reply sounds like a promising start.
Of course, Mickey Kaus has his own thoughts on the matter:
Hmmmm.... given that the Bee's editorial staff also has created their own group blog, this may be a case of newsroom subcultures clashing.
Definitely click on the Kaus link, by the way. It's a long and information-rich post.
A very special survey
As part of the paper I'm co-authoring on the power and politics of blogs, I am making a humble request to those who are employed as journalists, columnists, commentators, producers, or editors for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Please take two minutes and send me an e-mail* (be sure to include the media outlet you work for as well as your job title) at email@example.com with answers to the following five questions [Oh, sure, then you'll broadcast their answers to your friends!--ed. All responses will be treated as confidential unless you give me permission to do otherwise in your e-mail]:
UPDATE: In the first 24 hours, I've already received 50 relevant responses. Many thanks to everyone who linked to the request, particularly Glenn Reynolds, Kevin Drum, Cory Doctorow, Howard Bashman, James Joyner, Josh Chafetz, Scripting News, and Jim Romenesko.
ANOTHER UPDATE: We're almost at the 100 mark!
If you fit the criteria and haven't responded yet, please do so!! Pretty please!!
*Do NOT post your answers in the comment box below. It's been disabled for this post -- because otherwise, your answers would be available for all the world to read!!
A new blog project
Over the past year, I've been asked whether blogging can contribute to scholarship. While I've been positive about the effect of blogging on my academic writing style, I'm otherwise leery of mixing the two. Hell, last week I told the Chicago Tribune:
I suspect my aversion to mixing the two is akin to the "worlds colliding" idea that was done to perfection on "The Pool Guy" episode from Seinfeld: I'm worried about whether Blogger Dan and Scholar Dan can co-exist in the same world.
To test out what happens when worlds collide, I've decided to co-author a scholarly paper on the power and politics of blogging with fellow political scientist and fellow blogger Henry Farrell from Crooked Timber. The idea will be to present this paper at the 2004 American Political Science Association annual meeting. Henry and I are hoping to chair a roundtable on blogging; some heavy-hitters in the blogosphere who shall remain nameless for the moment have already committed.
In the ensuing months, we'll make drafts of the paper available to the blogosphere and invite comments or criticisms. For this post, however, we're just looking for two things. The first is feedback on the definition of a blog. Our working definition -- partly inspired by the feedback from this post -- is as follows:
Whaddaya think -- too vague? Too specific? Too wordy? Comments or suggestions for improvement are welcomed.
The second request is for links to working papers or journal articles on the political effects of blogs. I'm NOT talking about the articles that appear every six months like clockwork in the major dailies with headlines like "Americans Are Agog About Blogs!!" I'm talking about papers with more substance.
Here's our limited bibliography:
Jeffrey A. Henning, "The Blogging Iceberg," October 2003.
Pejman Yousefzadeh, "The Rt. Honorable Blogger," Tech Central Station, November 12, 2003.
Any readers who know of any papers beyond those listed, please let me know about them.
I look forward to your comments.
UPDATE: Here's a web page replete with newpaper stories on blogs. Thanks to alert reader K.M. for the link!!
Listen to the radio
Interested in the connections between war and trade?
From 12-1 PM Central time, I'll be on Odyssey, nationally syndicated radio show hosted by Gretchen Helfrich and produced by WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio.
Tune in on your radio dial, or listen via the Internet by clicking here. FYI, there is a call-in segment towards the end of the hour.
UPDATE: Well, that was easily the most enjoyable experience I've had doing a radio program. Good conversation, deep without getting too jargony or off-topic, nicely managed by Gretchen, and quality production. It helped, of course, that the other "expert" was Eugene Gholz. Eugene and I did not agree so much that we were always on the same page, but we did agree on enough Big Things to be in the same book.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Your John Edwards moment
Whatever the merits of Wesley Clark's decision to seek the Democratic nomination for President, Clark did succed in one area -- hogging the spotlight from John Edwards' formal announcement that he was also seeking the nomination. I don't care what Edwards says about this -- though no fault of the Edwards campaign, the timing sucked.
We here at DanielDrezner.com don't think that's fair. [We don't? Does this mean we're endorsing Edwards?--ed. Absolutely not. However, I've admired some of the things he's done during the past year, and I do think the Dems are prematurely slighting his candidacy.] In response, we bring you this cornucopia of John Edwards information:
Why the Red Sox will win it all
In the wake of my last Red Sox post, Tom Maguire has been teasing me about my baseball loyalties. So with the final week of the regular season upon us, this post -- a few thoughts and a bold prediction -- is just for him:
1) Statistical indicators indicate that the Red Sox have a 97.4% chance of reaching the postseason. Woo-hoo!!
Indeed. This is the attitude of a true Red Sox fan. As opposed to this sort of behavior.
3) Just to jinx the team as they try to clinch a playoff spot this week, here's my explanation for why this team will win the World Series this year: they're better prepated prepared for overcoming temporary disasters than any other team in baseball.
According to Tom Tippett, in all of Major League Baseball, the Red Sox have endured the greatest number of defeats this year in situations where they should have won (by generating more total bases than the other team). He concludes: "Boston hasn't taken full advantage of its opportunities this year." I'd be even harsher -- factor Tippett's criteria in with Sox' second-worst bullpen in the American League, and one can only conclude that the Red Sox lead the league in "heartbreaking losses."
However, it's worth quoting Tippett more extensively:
The key to the Red Sox success this year is that they have refused to allow heartbreaking losses to affect their overall equilibrium. It would obviously be better if they had no such losses. The key, however, is that such reversals don't cause the team to go into a tailspin.
This is why the Red Sox will win the whole shebang -- playoff baseball is all about heartbreakingly close games. The team that wins the playoff series is the one that can live with temporary disappointment and then come back the next day and play better baseball.
The obvious example is the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite two dramatically blown saves by Byung-Hyung Kim in Yankee Stadium, a manager that had no touch in terms of pitching changes, and a powerful symbolism that suggested the Yankees should win in the wake of 9/11, Arizona gutted out the series and won in it in seven games.
Most teams that enter the postseason are used to success and unaccustomed to staggering reverses. The 2003 Red Sox, on the other hand, are veterans of this sort of emotional workout.
Of course, they also have Kim as their closer.
[If you're wrong, you're setting yourself up for a world of hurt--ed. Yeah, but if I'm right, this post will ring throughout the ages... or at least make up for my disastrous political predictions.]
The unstable equilibrium of j-blogs
The Sacramento Bee has decided to "edit" Daniel Weintraub's blog. According to their ombudsman:
This has prompted much gnashing of teeth across the blogosphere. The usual suspects -- Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, and Robert Tagorda -- are all over it. Kaus does the best job of identifying the problem with the Bee's "reform":
That's a lovely sentiment, but my strong suspicion is that newspaper editors will be congenitally incapable of following through on it. Editors, like many managers, tend towards risk-averse behavior. Editing a blog lowers the probability of stepping into an unwanted controversy, while allowing a journalist to roam unfettered in the blogosphere has little upside.
I agree that it's a shame that Weintraub's blog is being muffled -- but I also think that this incident is endemic to the unstable nature of the j-blog phenomenon. [How do you know -- you're not a journalist!!--ed. Call it my "right now" take. But I may be wrong. Eric Zorn, I'm looking in your direction to correct me if I am] And I'm not sure that anything can be done about it.
[What if bloggers and their readers e-mailed the Bee's ombudsman to point out that controversy swings both ways?--ed. What a subversive thought!! And you, an editor no less!!]
UPDATE: Well, it does appear as if bloggers have the power to get sportswriters fired at the Sacramento Bee (link via David Pinto).
Jacques Chirac flunks international relations theory
Today is the beginning of comprehensive exams for some graduate students in my department at the University of Chicago. To those students -- good luck, and stop wasting time reading this drivel!!
I thought about the exams after reading the New York Times' exclusive interview with Jacques Chirac (see also the accompanying news story). For Chriac, I could provide a set of customized questions after reading the interview. Three samples:
In what way will the transfer of de jure sovereignty without de facto responsibility accelerate statebuilding in Iraq? Is sovereignty without responsibility merely an example of organized hypocrisy, or is there normative content to this concept?
Please reconcile your theory of emerging blocs with the statement that the U.S. and Europe share the same values and interests.
Given the history of uprisings against Saddam Hussein prior to 2003, please identify a theory -- any theory -- of world politics that would be consistent with your prediction.
Alas, I fear Chirac would not pass the exam. His international relations worldview is about as clear as.... as.... Salma Hayek has been on what she wants in a man. [Where the hell did that come from?--ed. If you read Salma's comments, you'll see that it's an apt analogy!!]
The William Jennings Bryan of Israel
The New York Times reports on a gala 80th birthday party for Shimon Peres, the grand old man of Israel's Labor Party. Some highlights:
It is, perhaps, indecorous to point out a man's flaws on his 80th birthday. [If you were a high-falutin' op-ed columnist, maybe. You're just a blogger--ed. Well, that does make me feel better.] Peres' legacy in Israeli history will probably not be as sparkling as his birthday party suggests.
Although Peres has been Prime Minister twice, he may be the most incompetent politician in Israel's short history. How incompetent? Peres, when leading the Labor Party into a general election, never won an electoral victory over the Likud party. The closest he came was in the mid-1980's when, despite the previous Likud government contributing to hyperinflation, Peres was only able to get Labor to win enough seats to enter a power-sharing deal with Likud. In the mid-1990s, despite a Nobel Peace Prize and a martyred leader in Rabin, Peres lost to Benjamin Netanyahu.
Peres may be respected worldwide, but in Israel he's the William Jennings Bryan of politics. Bryan was a three-time Democratic nominee for President and a three-time loser in the general election. Bryan may have achieved the ultimate Pyrrhic victory when he successfully prosecuted the Scopes monkey trial but lost the larger public debate on evolution.
I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that the Oslo accords will be Peres' monkey trial. Perhaps the most telling sentence in the NYT article, and the one that regretfully consigns Peres to a minor place in the annals of history: "No prominent Palestinian or Arab figures were present, though Mr. Peres has many longstanding relationships in the Arab world."
Friday, September 19, 2003
The great white whale of income inequality
My last Krugman post managed to generate a vigorous debate in the comments section while simultaneously confusing Donald Luskin. So it's worth focusing more closely on one of the points where Krugman's current analysis goes off the track -- his Ahab-like obsession with income inequality.
One of Krugman's biggest complaints about the trajectory of the American economy is the rise in income inequality. This rise was particularly acute during the Clinton era, and a constant refrain of his writing is that Bush's tax cuts will merely accelerate this trend, leading to more social frictions.
1) Inequality is the wrong variable. I wrote a longish post over the summer about why the fears about income inequality are way overblown. To sum up -- a focus on inequality overlooks the high degree of income mobility in the United States, as well as the absolute improvements over time in the lives of the poorest Americans. For another refresher on this, go check out Todd Bass' more recent analysis on this point (link via Instapundit).
2) The sources of inequality matter. Take Krugman's concerns at face value. Are there moral reasons to oppose this rise in inequality? Anyone not completely blinded by ideology would at least acknowledge there are valid arguments against increasing inequality. However, a key question is the causes behind inequality. If the reason is increased social stratification due to the advantages accrued by inherited wealth, then I'm pretty sympathetic, since such stratification stifles growth. If the reason is increased opportunities for gain via entrepreneurial activity, then I'm pretty unsympathetic, because entrepreneurial activity promotes growth.
In Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists (p. 92), Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales make an important point about the changing origins of American wealth:
Americans will not begrudge the rich getting richer if it's by dint of effort. [Krugman would respond by pointing to the astronomical rise in CEO pay--ed. No doubt, there are examples of malfeasance in matters of corporate governance. Suggesting a systemic problem, however, is a bit of an exaggeration, given the increase in asset prices of U.S. firms over the past twenty years. It's telling that Rajan and Zingales, who are sensitive to the issue of income distribution, are far more afraid of overreegulation in response to Enron-like episodes than underregulation]
For more on this, go read Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez's NBER paper, "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998" (updated in 2000).
3) Rising inequality does not lead to a breakdown in social cohesion. This is Krugman's core concern -- that inequality will lead to political and social instability. To repeat what he told Kevin Drum:
Krugman's reference to 1970 is interesting, since income inequality was much lower in 1970, the peak of the Great Society programs.
Despite the reduced level of inequality, society was more polarized back then. Anyone who believes that the country currently has a more socially polarizing climate now than in 1970 is, well, either lying or lost their grip on reality. Does Krugman really think that the debates about Iraq or affirmative action today even approximate the division and discord that Vietnam, Kent State or school busing generated thirty years ago?
Economic inequality has a far less significant effect on social instability relative to other factors -- the rate of absolute poverty, the method of raising armed forces, and the rate of economic growth and labor productivity. Krugman needs to worry about it less.
Rural responses to lost manufacturing
Last month I talked about how the outsourcing phenomenon was affecting rural communities in particular, and how this would affect the 2004 election. What I did not talk about was how rural communities could respond to the secular decline in manufacturing jobs.
Last Sunday the Hartford Courant ran a story about how a rural area near and dear to my heart -- the northwest corner of massachusetts -- has dealt and is dealing with this phenomenon. The answer appears to be mass infusions of contemprary art:
Read the whole thing -- and thanks to Official Blogmom Esther Drezner for the link.
From this story, it's possible to carry Virginia Postrel's argument in The Substance of Style farther than she may intend for it to travel. It's already been argued that the cities that have the cultural endowments to attract a "creative class" do the best in terms of economic vitality. It's logical to believe that this could apply to rural communities as well. In the 21st century, aesthetics will play as crucial a role in determining national, regional or local competitiveness as proximity to raw materials played in the 19th century.
A contrarian article on the WTO
For further WTO news, it doesn't get more succinct than the latest Economist cover:
(link via Megan McArdle)
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Why read me when you can hear me on the radio?
From 9:00 - 11:00 PM this evening, I'm going to be on Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg on WGN radio 720. The topic? "Professorial bloggers". Fellow scholar-bloggers Erin O'Connor and Mark Shapiro will also be on.
If you're not in Chicago, or online, you can listen in by clicking here. The 10-11 hour will be call-in.
UPDATE: Media convergences are breaking out all over!! First Kieran Healy, after reading this post, listens in on the program and calls in from Canberra, Australia (see his comments below). Then, while the program is still on the air, I'm able to post my own reply comment (see below again).
As for the show itself, I'll post a link to the archived audio if it goes up. My wrap up thoughts:
Missing the Wesley Clark boat
I've had no time to write anything substantial about Wesley Clark's decision to run for president. Ryan Booth has done an excellent job collecting reactions here and here. He did miss one important take -- Josh Marshall's mixed assessment of Clark's post-announcement performance on CNN.
One random thought I do have -- there was a lot of noise during Operation Iraqi Freedom about whether Clark was doing a good job as a military analyst for CNN. Some of the criticism of his criticism was absurd, but there is one line of argument that would not be absurd. (Caveat: my recall of the substance of Clark's critique is not perfect, so I'll be happy to be corrected in the comments section.) I'm pretty sure Clark argued that the U.S. had not deployed enough troops to decisively win the war. In retrospect, this was flat-out wrong.
Before critics get bent all out of shape, let me be perfectly clear what Clark got wrong. It is true that the administration has delpoyed too few troops for the occupation of Iraq. That's different from what I'm saying Clark screwed up in his analysis. He thought the U.S. did not have enough troops to defeat the Iraqi military while still being able to maintain logistical supply chains and control over captured territory. On this point, I'm pretty sure Clark was wrong.
Given that security matters are his strong suit, isn't this a big vulnerability if he gets nominated? In part, this depends on what Iraq looks like a year from now. If it's still a mess, then it won't matter. But if things have improved significantly, then Bush can look at Clark and say, "We both screwed up. You were wrong on how to fight the war, and my administration was wrong in it's initial postwar planning."
Just a thought.
For more on Clark, go check out this Joshua Green profile in The Atlantic Monthly. There's a priceless anecdote:
Link via Milt Rosenberg.
The Ninth Circuit's petulance
There's lots to read out there about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to delay the California recall election. Bruce Ackerman's New York Times op-ed from yesterday, and Robert Hochman's Chicago Tribune op-ed today both offer legal explanations for why the 9th Circuit ruling is such a bad decision.
However, the most honest thing I've read on this is Dahlia Lithwick's analysis in Slate of the motivations behind the decision. The key grafs:
UPDATE: Drezner gets results from Robert Hochman, who e-mails this addendum to his Tribune op-ed:
The transatlantic trend of full disclosure
I was all geared up to post something about President Bush's statement that the U.S. had no evidence Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11. Bush's statement -- and others by Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice -- was made to rebut Vice President Cheney's Meet the Press comments hinting at such a link.
Then David Adesnik beats me to the point:
Advantage: Adesnik!! This reinforces a point I made earlier this month about the need for more active White House management of the policy process.
And, while we're on the subject of full disclosure, it seems Andrew Gilligan and his bosses at the BBC have finally apologized -- albeit under cross-examination -- for Gilligan's shabby journalism. Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for staying the course on this issue.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
More blogging advice
In the wake of the advice I gave to new bloggers last week, several others have posted some valuable advice that's worth clicking on:
1) Electric Venom offers her top ten lessons after six months of blogging. Numbers nine, six, and five seem particularly relevant, but her #1 lesson is the most important:
2) Wizbang offers some advice on how to get an Instalanche. He makes a very important point on Glenn Reynolds' role in the blogosphere:
One other comment if you read his post: Kevin is probably the first person alive to believe I have "a cool last name." [UPDATE: Amish Tech Support offers a different route to attract Glenn's attention. And Instapundit gives his own take]
3) John Scalzi offers some thoughts about the enterprise -- which is a professional gig for him -- after five years of blogging (link via Matthew Yglesias). Two comments of his stood out in particular:
Academic freedom and blogs
Earlier this month, Indiana University professor Eric Rasmusen got into some hot water with with his blog. He wrote a post asserting that homosexuals should not be put in positions of moral leadership over children because, "I think they are attracted to people under age 18 more than heterosexual males are..."
Needless to say, this prompted some hostile reactions, which trickled up to Rasmusen's dean in the business school. There was then a discussion between Rasmusen and his dean about whether the blog should be moved off IU's server. Rasmusen volunteered to move it himself, and did so until his dean informed him that the blog did not violate policy, at which point Rasmusen moved back. During this brouhaha, there was some debate in the blogosphere about the relative merits of online academic freedom. But with the dean's decision, things were dying down.
Today, however, IU Chancellor Sharon Brehm upped the ante by arguing that the university needs to revisit it's policy of supporting blogs. Press reports are here and here. Rasmusen reprints the entirety of Brehm's comments (and his response) on his blog. Here's an excerpt of the chancellor's comments:
My thoughts on this are pretty simple:
If Brehm really read what she said -- and what Mill said -- then there is no need for a review. The "role of these personal web pages in our communal and intellectual life" is to promote the free and full expression of ideas by professors and students alike. As Mill himself would point out, the cure for promulgated ideas that are believed to be offensive or wrong is more speech, not less.
Brehm exercised that right and encouraged others to do the same -- in, among other formats, on blogs. What need there is for a review beyond that is truly beyond me.
[Wait, wait, you forgot the ritual denunciation of Rasmusen's views on homosexuality.--ed. That's completely irrelevant to this question. As an aside, however, it's worth highlighting a fact that Louis Menand pointed out in The Metaphysical Club. One of the triggering events for the emergence of academic freedom was when a Stanford University professor was fired for making a speech that contradicted co-founder Jane Stanford's views on the matter. The professor made a eugenicist argument against Asian immigration.]
Food and the blogosphere
Josh Chafetz rhapsodizes about smoked salmon.
And Gregg Easterbrook has some excellent suggestions for new Ben & Jerry's flavors.
My only contribution -- add sliced cucumbers to Josh's recipe. Trust me, it's good.
UPDATE: Continuing on the theme of food and the blogosphere, I was fortunate enough to share a lovely but off-the-record lunch with Virginia Postrel and Jacob Levy today. Virginia is in Chicago on her book tour. From lunch, I can aver that she's even more delightful in person than on television, and she definitely knows a thing or two about style.
[Hey, you and Glenn Reynolds had Postrel moments on the same day.--ed. Yes, but mine was in person and included lunch. Advantage: Drezner!!]
Must-read for the day
What's brilliant about this piece is that Levy points out that the argument that the tax burden should be shared broadly is of a piece with arguments that the left is far more comfortable advancing -- reviving the draft, opposing school vouchers, and keeping Social Security as a universal benefit.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
They report, Roger Simon decides
Roger L. Simon compares what John Burns of the New York Times and Christiane Amanpour of CNN had to say about media coverage of Iraq before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The results aren't pretty for Amanpour.
It's worth pointing out specifically how Burns contradicts Amanpour. USA Today quotes the CNN reporter saying the following on Tina Brown's CNBC show:
Amanpour is correct -- CNN was muzzled during its war coverage. However, you have to take a look at what Burns says to discover who did the muzzling:
Well, at least they can agree that CNN was muzzled during the war.
The logic of suicide terrorism
The tired refrain against academic political science is that the discipline is so consumed with abstract theoretical debates that it fails to study "real world" problems. [I thought the standard refrain was that too many political scientists lean to the left--ed. That's a different refrain -- click here if that's what you care about.] Therefore, it's important to highlight those research programs that contradict this meme.
Which brings me to my colleague, Robert Pape. The American Political Science Review just published Pape's essay, "The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" as the lead article in its August 2003 issue.
I'd describe the topic as pretty important, and Pape has some interesting and provocative things to say about it. Here's the abstract:
To download a .pdf version of the paper, click here.
It's worth noting that Pape's findings do not lead to clear-cut policy solutions. For example, Adam Wolfson, while bestowing heaps of praise on Pape's essay in NRO, concludes:
This is one logical conclusion to draw. However, Pape comes to a very different conclusion, as the final two paragraphs of his paper suggest:
Whether Pape is correct in the conclusions he draws from his evidence is an open question. Pape's seminal contribution to this critical discussion, however, is not.
A welcome replenishment of New England optimism
I'm a Boston Red Sox fan -- been so since I started paying attention to baseball. I don't talk about it too much on the blog because, well, I'm a bit ashamed about it. Some of my fellow Red Sox fans have been driven so mad by the team's failures over the years that they've surrendered to the dark side of the force and will run down the team after every minor kerfuffle.
Now, as a Red Sox fan who lives in Chicago, I know about the pain of not winning a World Series for 263 seasons. I watched Bucky f@#%ing Dent hit his home run in 1978; I watched the Mets come back in 1986. I understand the source of the sourness. But I can't condone it.
So it's cheering to read this Boston Globe essay about a new generation of Sox fans:
At present, the Red Sox have a decent chance to make the playoffs. Some among the baseball cognoscenti are boldly predicting they'll win it all this year. If that happens (or if either Chicago team wins) I'd be delighted [By "delighted," do you mean naked, drunk and screaming your head off?--ed. Er, yeah, something like that.]
But the rise of New England sports optimists -- those don't bad-mouth the team after they lose two in a row -- that makes me want to wear my Red Sox hat with pride.
Paul Krugman opens up
Kevin Drum has posted a must-read interview with Paul Krugman on his blog. As someone who's tangled with Krugman in the past, I was entranced by the interview's mix of defensible economic critiques and wild-eyed political paranoia (and a hat tip to Drum for doing a great interview).
Here are some of the choice quotes:
Go read the whole thing. [Won't your conservative readers be too pissed off to bother?--ed. Then they would be falling into the same trap that Krugman's last quote suggests, which is reading only one half of the blogosphere. However, for those who are right of center, open up a new page and look at this Charles Krauthammer essay on Bush-hating and then read Krugman.
UPDATE: Krugman is giving a lot of interviews to promote his news book. Here's a link to his chat with Buzzflash. One excerpt:
David Brooks goes for the meritocracy's jugular
On Saturday, David Brooks' NYT op-ed discussed what's been lost with the decline of noblesse oblige and the WASPocracy:
As someone who's generation is roughly between Brooks and these bloggers, let me chip in my two cents:
That's a seriously debatable point. But it is an interesting debate.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Is this good or bad for democracy?
One of the themes that Democrats have used over the summer is the idea that Republicans are subverting democracy through non-electroal means. As the meme goes, first it was the 2000 election. Then it was the redistricting efforts in Colorado and Texas (an instance in which I tend to agree with the Dems). Now it's the Californa recall.
So, the news that a Federal Court of Appeals has postponed the recall election because of disparities in voting technology across counties will probably provide some comfort to the Dems. However, an interesting question arises: is the use of undemocratic means to block a recall election really a good thing? From a partisan's view, the answer is yes. From the perspective of democratic theory, I'm genuinely unsure.
I close with a dare to the many lawyer-bloggers out there: Devise a theory of judicial intervention that argues that either this Court of Appeals intervention or the U.S. Supreme Court intervention in the Florida recount was appropriate, but the other is not. I think it's possible, but I'm not a lawyer.
Good economic news
Many readers are probably in a glum mood this morning, what with the world trade talks at a seeming impasse. I'll get to those talks over the next week, but in the meanwhile here's some good economic news.
Loyal readers of this blog are probably aware that I hold great respect for intellectual output of the Institute for International Economics. So it's worth pointing out that they're optimistic about the global economy:
The New York Times editorial page never ceases to amuse
Yesterday the New York Times editorial on Iraq was about the failed Security Council negotiations over a new resolution. It being the Times, it was quite critical of the Bush administration:
OK, so far I'm almost in half-agreement with the editorial. Then we come to the next graf:
Now, I'm a touch confused here. The editorial admits that the French were being unreasonable and ridiculous in their position on Iraq -- according to this VOA report, France wanted to turn over power to an Iraqi government next month. So why, exactly, is the Times is upset that Powell "quickly rejected" that proposal?
My guess: "lingering strains" between the Bush administration and the New York Times editorial page.
Let's hope time will heal these wounds.
Friday, September 12, 2003
The merits of intellectual property rights
Eugene Volokh has a great post on why intellectual property is not so different from tangible property. One key point:
What Eugene failed to mention is what makes the conferral of intellectual property rights so difficult: the credible commitment problem.
Before a concept comes into existence, the incentive created by intellectual property rights is very strong. After a concept is invented, critics are correct in saying that society would be better off if those rights were revoked. Hence the need for a credible commitment, in the form of legal protections, to assure innovators that their intellectual efforts will yield tangible rewards.
Dynamically, society is better off protecting such rights, because that helps to ensure a constant stream of innovation. However, in times of crisis, when the future is heavily discounted, it's very tempting to revoke this commitment.
Advice to new bloggers
1) Unsure about starting a blog? What do you have to lose? It takes ten minutes and zero dollars to set up a blog on Blogger. [UPDATE: Blogger just announced that they are adding most of their Blogger Pro features into their regular Blogger program, so now you get even more for nothing.] The real question is, why not start a blog? At worst, you'll run out of things to say in two weeks and delete it. Trust me, if my brother can blog, anyone can.
2) If you decide you like blogging, then switch to Moveable Type: Boy, have I been converted. I didn't know what I was missing until I made the switch. Comparing MT to any version of Blogger is like comparing any BMW to a Saturn. Yes, the latter is a fine car (I own one), but the former is much more fun. [What about Typepad?--ed. Never used it, so I can't comment. However, Tom Maguire just switched over, so it must have some virtues.]
3) Think quality over quantity. Yes, some bloggers have the ability to post in triple figures per day at a consistently high level. You, like me, are probably not one of those people. In baseball terms, you don't have to swing at every pitch -- wait for an issue or idea that's right over the plate.
4) You can still edit your text once it's posted. Blog enthusiasts repeatedly emphasize that the blogosphere's comparative advantage is the lack of editors. That's true as far as it goes, but that doesn't mean that once you've posted something it's sacrosanct. In the hour after I initially post something, I will often revise it, to clean up typos, correct my grammar, add relevant links, and bulk up my arguments with more detailed arguments or supporting facts (within reason). Yes, there are no outside editors in the blogosphere, but the best bloggers have well-honed internal editing systems -- and they use them on a regular basis.
5) Write about religion. Or better yet, Harry Potter and religion. Forget Britney Spears -- it's religious controversy that sells. Well, that plus Harry Potter; I have a healthy new respect for the legions of online Harry Potter fans that came swarming to my site after the leading Harry Potter blog, The Leaky Cauldron, linked to my post on the subject.
A belated blogiversary to myself
A year ago this week, I started this blog. If I could discover a way to travel back in time and tell myself that this blog would:
Well, I'd be rich, because I'd have invented a friggin' time machine!!
But I also wouldn't have believed me. It's been a kick-ass year.
On to year two!!
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan always sends the nicest presents -- tons of hits and a great blurb!
Thursday, September 11, 2003
California polling and California spinning
Despite Mickey Kaus' latest Schwarzenegger scoop, it looks like the Teutonic Terminator has succeeded in phase one of his campaign -- with Peter Ueberroth's withdrawal, Schwarzenegger is now the only viable Republican challenger [What about Tom Mclintock?--ed. According to Daniel Weintraub, he's irrelevant].
Now comes the latest poll from Knowledge Networks:
Click here for the full results. There is one jaw-dropping statistic that is not mentioned in the press release: among Hispanic voters, Bustamante only beats Schwarzenegger 40% to 37%. Since this is well within the poll's margin of error, so Bustamante and Schwarzenegger are in a statistical dead heat for the Hispanic vote. This would be consistent with the Field poll data as well.
Many bloggers, myself included, believed that unless Schawrzenegger started getting specific on policy proposals, he'd wither on the vine. However, since Cruz Bustamante has decided to match Schwarzenegger's vagueness, that pressure has yet to kick in.
One last point about this poll. The only reason I know about it (and apparently beat Kaus, Robert Tagorda and Daniel Weintraub to posting about it) was because someone at the White House Writers Group e-mailed the press release to me. [Does that mean the White House is getting involved?--ed. No, WHWG is a private consulting firm unaffiliated with the government. Do they have a political slant?--ed. The group was founded by Reagan-Bush speechwriters, and perusing the staff bios it's safe to say they lean to the right. By posting about this, aren't you, like, their willing slave?--ed. This is worthy of blogging because of the caliber of the people who ran the survey, and the fact that their survey method mirrors the actual voting process. That's the spin in the two media stories I found on the poll, both of which are less than two hours old]
Two lessons to draw. The first is that the White House Writers Group is smart enough to know how to get favorable information out there -- distribute it to members of the blogosphere!! Second, the Schwarzenegger canpaign may be short on specifics, but they're long on quality consultants.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh got the same e-mail.
Two years later
I was in Heathrow airport waiting to board a plane home when I heard about the attacks. Unlike U.S. airports, Heathrow does not have TV monitors broadcasting news every 100 yards. The only reason I found out was that I called my wife to let her know I was going to be on a different plane than I'd said. She said, "Thank God you're OK!!" and then told me what happened. By that point both of the towers had fallen and the Pentagon had been hit.
Hearing those facts described over the phone was just bizarre. Seeing the endless replays on television in another country was equally bizarre, though the British were as kind as could be while I was marooned there.
Until 9/11, it was safe to say that my generation had no moment of shared experience equivalent to the Kennedy assassination. I wish I could say that was still the case.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Drezner gets results from A World Connected!!
Yesterday, Jacob Levy posted the following:
I am happy to claim partial credit for this bonanza of U of C finalists -- three of the six students were also in my spring class, Globalization and Its Discontents.
At the last minute -- at the suggestion of a student -- I changed the first assignment to mirror the essay contest question.
In seeing who among my students made the cut, I'm pleased to note the following:
Conan O'Brien's 10th anniversary
This weekend NBC will air the 10th anniversary celebration of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. In those ten years, I've gone from someone who would watch the show on occasion to someone who desperately needs to be asleep by the time he's on.
That said, he's still a funny guy. For those fellow readers who need their sleep, go read Conan's commencement speech to the Havard Class of 2000 -- it's pretty damn funny. Here's part of his closing:
Read the whole thing.
Harry Potter and the Threat of Lashkar-e-Taiba
The title to this post is not the name of J.K. Rowling's sixth book in the Harry Potter series -- though it's not bad.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is an Islamic fundamentalist group based in Pakistan responsible for multiple terrorist attacks against India over the past ten years. Technically, Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned by the Pakistani government following the 9/11 attacks, so the group is now called Jama'at ud-Da'wa Pakistan. Only the name has been changed, however.
What does this have to do with Harry Potter? DanielDrezner.com's trusted South Asia expert alertly informed him of the cover of the August 2003 issue of Zerb-e-Taiba (roughly translated, clash/clang/strike), Lashkar-e-Taiba's flagship publication.
Now, if you look at the upper-left hand corner of the cover, you'll see an image of a Harry Potter book. Why? Apparently, the magazine has an article arguing that the Harry Potter series is really part of a missionary plot to spread Christianity to the Islamic parts of the world (sorry, no translation).
The irony is extremely rich, since a slice of Christian fundamentalists -- particularly some (but not all) individuals affiliated with Focus on the Family -- have been arguing for the past five years that Harry Potter must be the work of the devil because it promotes worship of the occult. Think I'm exaggerating? Click here. For a rebuttal, click here.
Now, while some in the blogosphere are less than enamored with the Harry Potter series, even these curmudgeons would allow that the series has caused a lot of children to become more voracious readers, which is all to the good. Saying that Harry Potter influences religious preferences would be like saying Frasier -- or Woody Allen, for that matter -- encourages people to enter psychoanalysis.
Why do these books cause such heart palpitations among religious fundamentalists of all stripes? Wading into some hazardous waters -- let me add here that most devout people do not fall into the trap I'm about to describe -- here's my theory:
If there's anything that scares religious orthodoxy, it's decentralized enthusiasm for something new. What devotees of Lashkar-e-Taiba or James Dobson share is an unquenched desire for order. Now, anyone who thinks of themselves as religious recognize this impulse, and one should never underestimate the power of faith to provide comfort in times of uncertainty. However, fundamentalist groups have an exaggerated fear of uncertainty, and any phenomenon beyond their control represents a threat to their world. Harry Potter may be harmless, but the books are beyond their control. They inject new and unwanted ideas into the heads of young children. God forbid that Muslim girls should read about a strong female character like Hermione Granger, or that young Christian children read stories that suggest not all authority figues are omniscient or pure of heart.
Worse than any of these specifics, of course, is the central strength of the Harry Potter series -- the sheer inventiveness of Rowling's imagination. Reading the books teaches children that fantasies are fun, that it's a worthwhile endeavor to explore one's own imagination. This is the first step down the road towards independent thought -- the bane of all religious extremists.
Turning back to Pakistan, the good news is that most Pakistanis are either ignoring or decrying this attack on Harry Potter. In fact, if this press release is any guide, Pakistani readers are far more upset about the Hollywood bastardization of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So maybe my pessimism about the state of that country is exaggerated.
UPDATE: As Patrick Belton points out, it's not only religious fundamentalists that have a problem with magic.
David Brooks starts his NYT gig
David Brooks' inaugural New York Times op-ed column confirms for me that he'll be a good fit for that page.
Brooks' essay starts off with a spot-on critique of the administration:
At this point in the essay, loyal Times readers are nodding their heads, basking in the warm glow of Bushwacking.
However, by the end of the piece, Brooks is in a different place than the start would have suggested:
So, even while deftly skewering the administration's PR on its policy, Brooks manages to point out Bush's virtues.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Links for the day
Will Saletan and Andrew Sullivan are having a debate on Bush's Sunday speech and whether Operation Iraqi Freedom is integral to the war on terror. As loyal readers are aware, I'm mostly on Saletan's side here, but not completely.
The Chicago Tribune has a good front-pager on U.S. efforts to build a modern highway between Kabul and Kandahar. According to the story, the effort has already reduced the travelling time between the two cities from two days to ten hours. When it's finished, the time will be shaved to six hours.
Oh, and everyone at OxBlog seems to have stopped moving around and started posting again. Always worth a read.
The media and asymmetrical warfare
Glenn Reynolds has a post and links to the media's role in asymmetrical warfare -- namely, how a necesary condition for a victory by guerillas over syanding armies is that the media interprets tactical losses as strategic victories:
That makes Donald Rumsfeld's comments yesterday about media criticism a bit more understandable:
Even if Rumsfeld has a point, he's overreaching -- it's not the place of the Secretary of Defense to insinuate that the media is providing aid and comfort to the enemy.
The state of play in world trade
My latest Tech Central Station column is up -- it's on the increased prominence of developing countries in the latest round of world trade talks, and what this means for the United States. There are lots of links, too. Go check it out.
And after that, go check out the Cato Institute's online globalization debate. It's between Cato and the Institute for Humane studies on the "pro" side, and the Nation and The America Prospect on the "anti" side. There's also also an ongoing email debate for the course of the WTO talks between Johan Norberg and Bob Kuttner.
Monday, September 8, 2003
Gregg Easterbrook has been absorbed
Less than a week after I praised Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com, he goes and sets up a proper blog hosted by The New Republic.
Who will be the next big thinker to become one with the Blogosphere? Post your guesses below.
UPDATE: I realize I didn't provide my own guess. Well, after seeing this picture of Easterbrook posing with the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders from last night's football game...
There can be only one name -- Philly Cheesesteak.
Some minor housekeeping
A few minor changes:
2) It's come to my attention that after a while, accessing my TNR Online essays on TNR's web site requires a subscription. Now, while subscribing to The New Republic is an excellent decision and should be encouraged, this is a bit unfair. So, I've posted all of them on the website -- which means the links to the right will take you there.
3) I've updated the book recommendations page to include a section on intellectual history [Boy, you really now how hip up the site!!--ed. Oh, shut up].
Sunday, September 7, 2003
The substance of style in cable news
Given all the brouhaha over the past year about the relative merits of Fox News vs. CNN, I made sure to tape Virginia Postrel's appearance on Tony Snow's Fox News Live Weekend so I could compare it to her CNN appearance. Comparing and contrasting the two were highly revealing.
Why? Because the Fox segment was just flat-out better on the aesthetics. Postrel was in Fox's DC studio. Virginia looked much better in this appearance, probably because she wasn't trying to sound pithy while suffocating in a remote studio the size broom closet. Furthermore, in contrast to the CNN teasers, the Fox teasers seemed more on point with the thesis of The Substance of Style.
Does Fox's rightward tilt explain this? Not likely -- in fact, during the segment Tony Snow seemed to imply that libertarians were geeks with little social life.
Part of it may have been due to the fact that Tony Snow is higher on the news food chain than the nondescript morning anchor that interviewed Virginia on CNN. Part of it also is that I simply loathe the dearth of hard news content on morning shows, and the CNN interviewer made no effort to go beyond the discussion of toilet brushes.
In contrast, Snow made a concerted effort to link Virginia's take on aesthetics to larger trends like cultural globalization and political thought, which I find more interesting.
Still, having unconsciously abstained from watching cable news since the Iraq war, it was interesting to see the differences. Part of the reason Fox is doing better than CNN is that their sense of style is more focused. But part of it is also due to the symbiosis between their style and the substance.
UPDATE: Chris Lawrence also provides a first-hand account.
The art of criticism
One of the amusing aspects of being a professor is watching the evolution of graduate students.
During their first two years -- immersed in coursework -- they become excellent critics. As they sharpen their analytical skills, the students excel at exposing the flaws of every article or book put in front of them. By the end of their coursework, they are thoroughly unimpressed with the cutting edge of the literature.
Of course, that's usually the point at which they have to start drafting their own work. At which point they discover that the enterprise of developing original ideas is a wee bit trickier than it appears to the critical eye. And suddenly, the stuff that they had savaged six months earlier doesn't look so bad.
The good students, after getting the wind knocked out of them, develop the proper equipoise between respect for the good but imperfect work that's out there and disdain for the hackwork that, to be blunt, pervades most of the social sciences.
Clive James reminded me of all this in his amusing essay in the Sunday New York Times op-ed page on the merits of snarky literary reviews. His conclusion:
Indeed. What James is saying about fiction applies with equal force to nonfiction.
[Er, isn't it contradictory to praise an essay that praises the art of not praising bad writers?--ed. Not if the essay is well-written. I'd be happy to savage bad editors, though. Never mind!!--ed.]
Who benefits from outsourcing? Who could benefit from outsourcing?
The Washington Post had an article two days ago on why this employment decline is different from all others. The answer is that many of the jobs that have disappeared aren't coming back. The reason? Outsourcing:
Mickey Kaus -- who links to the story -- gives one spin on this phenomenon:
And that's Mickey's optimistic interpretation of events!!
Sounds bleak. Until you read these couple of grafs in the WaPo story:
If you go to McKinsey Global Institute's (MGI) summary of its own report, you run into this startling graf:
Click here to download the actual report (you'll have to register). It's not blind to the unemployment question. In fact, the report makes an intriguing proposal to cushion the blow:
This proposal would convert the static gains from outsourcing into a Pareto-improving move -- i.e., someone can be made better off without anyone being made worse off. Not eveyone understands this concept, but it's an important one in making policy decisions.
Dynamically, the gains from outsourcing will benefit all Americans. There will be a lag between the increase in the corporate rate of return, the concomitant increase in investment, and an uptick in the domestic economy.
But it will happen.
What do you do with a country like Pakistan?
In anticipation of President Bush's progress report on Iraq and the war on terror tonight, here's a conundrum to consider:
Weak states are the incubator of terrorists. Pakistan is a weak, dusfunctional state that lacks a coherent sense of national identity. Its leader may be perceived as both strong and pro-Western, but that's only in comparison to the rest of the Pakistani elite, for whom the sectarian comes before the national.
The outcome from a weak Pakistani government is a perfect haven for Taliban remnants to harrass U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid makes this point in an article for YaleGlobal. Some highlights:
Read the whole article. To be fair to the U.S. and Pakistani governments, they're not blind to the problem. They have taken actions to try and reverse the flow of arms and men across the border.
But as the article also makes clear, they haven't done enough.
[Thanks to alert DanielDrezner.com reader A.A. for the tip.]
Friday, September 5, 2003
Chris Bertram overreaches
Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram thinks InstaPundit is slanting his posts.
Glenn linked to a Guardian article on agricultural subsidies with the header, "WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world's poor so much?" Chris observes:
Brad DeLong provides a similar interpretation.
Lord knows I've been hard on the Bush administration's protectionist leanings as of late, but Chris and Brad are making a bogus allegation with this post.
The Guardian story that Glenn linked to focused entirely on some belligerent quotes from European officials, including this one from Franz Fischler that manages to top anything Donald Rumsfeld has said:
As for the agreement that Chris and the Guardian reference, the reason that it stinks is not the U.S., which has pressed for further liberalization in agriculture. The culprit is the E.U., which has been dragged kicking and screaming into making only minimal concessions. You can blame the U.S. for not bargaining better with the Europeans (or the Japanese) on the issue of agricultural subsidies, but that's it.
I've got no love for U.S. agricultural subsidies, but what's driving the potyential impasse at Cancun is not the Bush administration, but the European Union's intransigence -- a point the Guardian's blog emphasizes.
Glenn's framing of the story was correct -- Chris's (and Brad's) wasn't.
NOTE: I've updated this post since Chris Bertram's comment below in order to respond to his points.
DanielDrezner.com's new motto
Yes, I should put this somewhere on my cv:
Rumblings of discontent from the right
I've given the Bush administration a rough ride this week on its trade policy and its Iraq policy. Some may think I'm going wobbly and abandoning my idiosyncratic melange of conservative and libertarian principles.
Actually, surfing the blogosphere, I'd say it's the Bush administration that has gone wobbly. In the past week, the White House has shown itself to be enthusiastic about protectionism, profligate in its domestic spending, and passive in it's foreign policy management. What's conservative about this?
Think I'm exaggerationg? Go read Andrew Sullivan, Jacob Levy, Glenn Reynolds, Kim du Toit, the Spoons Experience, and yet more Andrew Sullivan. We're hardly monolithic in our politics, but there is a common denominator -- free markets, limited domestic government, robust foreign policy -- that this administration has left unsated.
Let me be as plain as possible -- the ideologies of conservatism and libertarianism cannot be reduced to unwavering support for tax cuts. Very few people on the right share Britney Spears' position on supporting the President.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee disagrees, believing that the Democratic alternatives are so bad that real conservatives have no other choice (that's du Toit's view as well).
This position is certainly consistent with the median voter theorem on how to win elections -- and, as I observed recently, the Dems are currently experiencing technical difficulties in finding an exciting centrist alternative. However, since the median voter theorem assumes 100% voter turnout, the Bush team may be overestimating the enthusiasm of those on the right to go and vote for the least offensive alternative in November 2004.
I'm not giving up on the administration -- Bush has an uncanny ability to demonstrate his leadership qualities when the chips are down. However, I'm not going to be rejecting the Democratic lever -- or pulling no lever at all -- anytime soon.
Karl Rove's dream voter
Now, I've supported the president on multiple policy fronts, but doesn't this seem a bit too.... er.... bubblegum as a form of political participation? I mean, compared to her advanced work in semiconductor physics, this is a bit of a letdown in intellectual quality.
Still, if I'm Karl Rove, I'm arranging a photo-op ASAP.
Drezner gets results from the Center for Global Development!!
Four months ago I wrote a Tech Central Station article that criticized an effort by the Center for Global Development to create "an index that measures 21 developed countries on a plethora of policies that help or harm poor nations." I said that Ranking the Rich was biased against the United States.
What's the Center for Global Development's response to this (constructive) criticism? A nice letter thanking me for my essay, and a request to join their Board of Advisors for their updating/revising of the index. Now that's a classy move!!
[Maybe it's a co-opting move--ed. Well, duh, but it does require them to take my suggestions seriously. You've co-opted me!--ed.]
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Now this is managing
A perfect follow-up to today's post on Bush's management of the Iraq situation comes in the form of this New York Times story on the job Major General David H. Petraeus is doing commanding the 101st Airborne in Northern Iraq. [Petraeus, Petraeus... that name sounds familiar--ed. I've blogged about him before.] A few nuggest from the story suggest the kind of management skills necessary to get results:
Obviously, the art of management at Bush's level is slightly different than at Petraeus' level. Still, the general's clear definition of the mission and willingness to take action should resonate in the White House.
Playing with the big boys over at the Hotline
Politics junkies know that the source for good inside-the-Beltway info is the Hotline, put out by the National Journal group. Today's Hotline has a review of campaign blogs from Mickey Kaus, Joshua Michah Marshall, and yours truly. Here's the link -- I'll just post the choicest quotes about each of the individual campaign blogs:
Go check out the whole thing. Not surprisingly, Kaus and Marshall make excellent points.
There's micromanaging and then there's not managing at all
When I was providing some extremely minor campaign advice for Bush during the 2000 election, a lot of my fellow academics would tease me about Bush being dumber than Gore. My automatic counter was to ask them which person they felt more confident in as a manager of the exective branch. There was Bush, who seemed to have mastered the fine balance between delegation and hands-on controlwhile governor of Texas. Then there was Gore, a decent, flawed man cursed with a legislator's mentality, who never met an issue he couldn't micro-manage to death. Even my most ardent liberal friends usually shut up when I brought this up (and, post-election, I had many off-the-record discussions with disgruntled Gore staffers confirming that management was Gore's Achilles heel).
I raise this point in the wake of this Washington Post behind-the-scenes piece on the Bush administration's decision to go back to the United Nations for another Iraq resolution in the hopes of coaxing more non-American troops into the country (link via Josh Marshall). High up in the article there's an astonishing couple of paragraphs:
I've expressed my doubts about the international option, but I've also made clear that I think it's a better choice than sticking with the status quo.
That's besides the point. What bothers me about this story is that the White House -- on the most important foreign policy issue of the day, and potentially the biggest campaign issue for 2004 -- was essentially a passive actor in this story. The President seemed perfectly comfortable to let Powell and Rumsfeld play bureaucratic politics with each other ad infinitum. Only when Powell and the Joint Chiefs were able to break the logjam did the policy shift -- for more on this see this Marshall post as well. [Isn't the Post story just another example of Powell puffery?--ed. The sourcing of the article -- lots of DOD people -- suggests that this version of events isn't the result of Powell spinning the story].
Micro-managing an issue is one way for a President to screw up policy, but too much of a hands-off approach can be just as debilitating. This summer, the White House has veered too much in that direction.
President Bush: hope you had a nice vacation at the ranch. Now get off your butt, take charge, manage the problem, and see your vision of a transformed Middle East through to its logical conclusion. Or, as Andrew Sullivan puts it:
As they say in Texas -- yep.
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
A few good rants -- on ESPN.com
One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can post about pretty much anything. I try to keep the ratio around 50% on world politics, 25% on domestic politics, 15% on academia, 9% on popular culture, and 1% on Salma Hayek (as opposed to Friedrich von Hayek).
Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com is about 50% on football, 25% on humorous asides about current events, 20% on "megababes" (his word) and 5% on serious rants.
Unless, like me, you like football there's a chance you would miss some of the good rants. So as a public service to the blogosphere, let me put Easterbrook's rant from his column two weeks ago about Toronto mayor Mel Lastman's comments following the Northeast blackout:
Indeed. Here's another excellent rant on an issue I failed to blog about out of sheer laziness, the Ten Commandments flap in Alabama. This is what Easterbrook has to say about Alabama Chief Justice (and unofficial chief jackass) Roy Moore:
UPDATE: This Jay Drezner post reminds me why I like football so much.
Protecting myself with some useful links
This TNR essay was really an organic outgrowth from multiple blog posts over the last month. Click here to read about the recent breakthrough in trade talks over the pharmaceuticals issue. I have penned a number of posts on the outsourcing issue as of late, each chock full of useful links. Click here, here, here, and here for more.
The sources for the official quotes are the National Security Strategy of the United States and this ABC News story on President Bush's Labor Day speech. The quote from Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales' Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists is from page 282 of their book. Oh, and for a look at how far the dollar has fallen against the euro in recent years, check out this graph.
Still confused on the merits of free trade for national security? Check out Brink Lindsey's thoughtful analysis, "The Trade Front: Combating Terrorism with Open Markets."
Still confused on the merits of free trade for the American economy? Beyond the Ragan and Zingales book, the best source is Douglas Irwin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth. He's written two excellent and accessible books on the merits of free trade and open economic exchange for the United States. The first one, Against the Tide, examines the myriad intellectual arguments advanced in favor of protectionism and, to be blunt, why they all suck eggs. The more recent one, Free Trade Under Fire, directly rebuts the argument that free trade hurts the United States. As for the "crisis" in manufacturing, Arnold Kling has a Tech Central Station article debunking much of the hysteria (link via Ben Muse).
If, after reading these, you're looking for evidence rebutting the claim that free trade benefits the economy, the best source is probably Alan Tonelson's The Race to the Bottom. His theory is wrong, and his data slightly cooked, but it's a much better than, say, Pat Buchanan's tired rant.
Oh, and political scientists may notice that what I label "hypocritical liberalization" bears more than a passing resemblance to John Gerard Ruggie's notion of "embedded liberalism" to describe the economic order from 1945-1973. Here's a link to Ruggie's thoughts on whether embedded liberalism can survive in an era of economic globalization.
I live to bash protectionists
My latest TNR essay is up -- it's an analysis of whether the Bush administration will become more protectionist in the run-up to the 2004 election. Alas, I fear the answer is yes.
Go check it out.
Correcting some public opinion misperceptions
Lawrence Kaplan has an excellent New Republic essay on public tolerance for casualties during war (subscription required). Elites generally assume that the public is unwilling to tolerate combat deaths -- here's an example from the Economist a few weeks ago:
Kaplan's essay is essentially a literature review demonstrating plainly that this assumption is a crock of bull@#$t. The key grafs:
Another excellent and recent source of data on this point is Steven Kull and I.M. Destler's Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism.
A perusal of these books also reveals another interesting fact -- the American public is far more enthusiastic about multilateralism than some experts
Yesterday the blog received the greatest number of unique visits and page views to date -- over 7,500 unique visits and over 9,500 page views.
Thanks to everyone for clicking!!
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
For the rest of today I'll be guest-blogging over at the Volokh Conspiracy. I'll be back tomorrow.
Yes, Virginia, there is a $400 toilet brush
I delayed going into the office by an hour so I could watch Virginia Postrel on CNN this morning, discussing her new book, The Substance of Style (Amazon rank #199 and climbing!!). The piece included Postrel displaying myriad styles of toilet brushes.
1) Her Aruba Blue nail polish matched her blouse perfectly. What better way to demonstrate the utility of aesthetics?
2) No mention of her blog? Too bad.
3) In the teasers for the piece, the anchor kept using the term "image" instead of "style", which carried a more negative connotation. It always annoys me when network producers tease with a slant that contradicts the substance of the piece. In other words, unlike Postrel, CNN's style fails to match its substance.
Anyways, congratulations to Virginia!!
Monday, September 1, 2003
Not a good sign for free markets
Alas, Glenn Reynolds' prediction about the politicization of outsourcing seems to be coming true. Even though the election is more than a year away, President Bush seems fully prepared to pander to protectionist sentiments. From ABC News:
Let's be clear -- creating an assistant to the Commerce Secretary will have zero effect on manufacturing jobs. Stimulating domestic economic growth is the best way to affect this sector of the economy. The creation of such a position is pure politics. So maybe the protectionist sentiment is pure rhetoric.
What worries me is that the politics of this phenomenon suggests that Bush will be unable to ignore demands for greater barriers to foreign trade and investment. To understand why, go read this Chicago Tribune story on the effect of globalization on rural labor. The key grafs:
Bush, in order to win, desperately needs rural voters. He cannot and will not ignore this constituency. Which means more protectionist rhetoric and more protectionist policies to come.
[But don't these articles also highlight real economic pain?--ed. Yes, but these article are also emblematic of the "lump of labor" fallacies that I discussed last fall. Blocking either investment or trade flows will do nothing but act as a massively inefficient subsidy for manufacturers. It's a disastrous policy. So what policies would you propose?--ed. You mean besides letting the market sort itself out? Based on this article, introduce subsidies for plastic surgery (link via Virginia Postrel)].
September's book of the month
It's rare for the realm of international studies to be captured with any degree of subtlety in the realm of fiction. Which is why I'm currently enjoying Ann Patchett's Bel Canto so much. It's a fictionalized account of the 1997 New Year's takeover of the Japanese Embassy in Peru by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
One amusing passage from the perspective of Gen, a translator being held hostage:
[Isn't this an old book for a new selection?--ed. My blog, my picks. Plus, you would be amazed at how many people in international relations rarely read any fiction outside of John Le Carré. The only reason I found out about Bel Canto was my wife's book club.]
A labor-saving suggestion on Labor Day
On a day of leisure, Jay Drezner suggests a policy step that would save everyone a lot of time:
Read the whole post. Lots of arcane links, too.
The state of the 2004 campaign
No doubt, the campaign staff from the non-Dean candidates in the field have probably had a lousy summer, what with the governor from Vermont sucking up all of the media attention. Right now, the Kerry staffers in New Hampshire have the greatest cause to feel blue about Dean's surge. To some, it might seem like the campaign is already over.
However, the CBS poll that was released yesterday might offer some comfort to them:
So cheer up, Kucinich voters -- your candidate may have the charisma of a stale waffle and the economic proposals of a recycled Benito Mussolini, but in terms of poll numbers, there's nowhere else to go but up!!
A trip inside my sleep-deprived head
NOTE: the following is a re-creation of what was going on inside my brain my first night in Philadelphia at 2:00 AM and I couldn't sleep because I never sleep the first night in a hotel room because the pillows are just too damn big:
Zzzzz..... stupid fat pillows.... nuts, I missed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Tuesday.... didn't Glenn blog about possible variations on that show.... oh, yeah, Sorority Eye for the Straight Guy.... what kind of a name is Mad Pony for a blog anyway? I need a better name for mine.... maybe Drezner -- The Blog... no, that sucks....
Everyone's trying to spoof the Queer part of the show title.... Hey, wait, what about Jewish Eye for the Straight Goy!!! Five Jewish mothers take a goy and make him husband material for the surplus of single Jewish women out there..... now what would the skills of the Tribe's Fab Five be?.... ah, yes, here's the cast:
sigh... too bad Saturday Night Live doesn't accept unsolicited scripts.....
Hmmm... Salma Hayek is hot, but ever since Kristin Davis' character on Sex and the City converted to Judaism, I've started to wonder how she'd look in that dream I have with the hot tub and the---- end of re-creation.
[The hot tub and the what? You were just getting to the good part!!-ed. I'm editing. Oh, yes, good idea, that--ed.]