Friday, January 30, 2004
Up for grabs
A week ago, Roger L. Simon wrote the following:
Well, one way to find out who I'm going to support is this Presidential Match site. According to their survey, my top three candidates were Bush, Lieberman... and Al Sharpton!! So I'm not placing a whole lot of faith in that site.
Here's my position -- I'm genuinely unsure of who I'm going to vote for. More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He's not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he'll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you'd see an Executive Order within 24 hours. Andrew Sullivan and others have delivered this harangue, so I won't repeat it.
If -- a big if -- the Democrats put forward a credible alternative, then I could very well pull the donkey lever.
The Trippi post-mortems
That's Howard Dean quoted in the New York Times story on Joe Trippi's resignation. The piece also observes that Dean only has enough cash on hand for another week of campaigning.
For more on the Trippi angle, go see Noam Scheiber's exercise in self-criticism.
Three thoughts on that quote:
1) If you're John Kerry you're feeling very, very happy right now. Kerry has co-opted a lot of Dean's message without Dean's baggage, leaving the Good Doctor little to do but sound like he's declaring war on the Democratic Party. The best thing for Kerry is to have Dean continue to make statements like this.
2) If you're John Kerry you're feeling slightly ambivalent about the long haul. On the one hand, as Scheiber puts it:
On the other hand, Kerry will need those voters in battleground states come November, especially if the South doesn't matter. Will Deaniacs retreat from the system as if their candidate flames out? Or will they go and vote for Kerry?
3) The Feiler Faster Thesis strikes again!! In the span of a month, Howard Dean has gone from looking like William Jennings Bryan to..... Harold Stassen. [So he's gone from looking like a three-time loser to an eight-time loser!--ed.]
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Who wants caffeine?
Think you consume caffiene? See Brad DeLong.
Unimpressed? Then go read Jacob Levy's post on his caffeine consumption.
Neither of them, however, comes close to approaching the caffeine consumption of Paul Erdos. As he once said, "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
Relative to these people, I have a very mild habit. I didn't really drink coffee until I was in graduate school (Itried as an undergraduate, felt like my stomach lining was being ripped to shreds, and stopped soon afterwards). Even then, my gateway drug was the Starbucks mocha.
However, what got me to one cup a day was neither graduate school nor my job -- it was parenting.
The political economy of outsourcing
The first post appears to reflect the limited power of danieldrezner.com:
Two thoughts: first, to be fair, Bruce Bartlett also picked up on the Mann study. Second, Virginia, you're one of the people that helps translates blog awareness to wider media coverage. Counterintuitive ideas don't travel without your help!!
Postrel's column expands upon the Mann study I discussed here. Some good parts:
Read all of it.
Meanwhile, Virginia's other post follows up on Paul Craig Roberts. Outsourcing opponents have embraced him as one of their own since he co-authored an op-ed with New York Senator Chuck Schumer in the New York Times last month.
Eugene Volokh gets to the root causes of Roberts' protectionist rhetoric. It's not a pretty picture.
That said, it would be equally unfair to assume that everyone who agrees with Roberts about outsourcing shares the same root causes. Thirty years ago, Roberts was a supply-side nutball. He's just morphed into a protectionist nutball. [UPDATE: Tyler Cowen defends some of Roberts' earlier work.]
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Damn that Jack Balkin!!
Jack Balkin celebrated his blogiversary by writing not one, but two great posts about whether the blogosphere is an example of what Cass Sunstein called "cyberbalkanization" in republic.com-- the tendency for those engaged in political debate to ignore other points of view. I've heard some bloggers refer to this as "cocooning."
In his second post on the topic, Balkin then goes on to effectively critique the Sunday New York Times article on cyberbalkanization that I linked to here.
Dramatic developments in Pakistan?
The Chicago Tribune breaks a big story about U.S. plans for a military offensive inside Pakistan:
Here's the follow-up from the Associated Press.
Just last week at Davos, Musharraf appeared to reject this strategy:
Other reports confirm this statement, with Musharraf saying Al Qaeda was "ineffective" and "on the run."
I'd offer some cogent analysis at this point, but I'm torn between two diametrically opposed viewpoints:
If this weren't enough for Musharraf, he's also going to face a backlash regarding the nuclear investigation. The Washington Post reports:
Meanwhile, this report suggests that the Pakistani government is split on what to do about this. Here's the closing graf:
If I was CNN, I'd be locking in South Asia experts pronto.
There is another possibility -- that the leak was a conscious choice designed to flush bin Laden out of hiding. Some suggested last month that the heightened terror alert was an example of Al Qaeda trying to pulse out U.S. intelligence. This could be an attempt by the U.S. government to mirror that strategy.
The one thing that mitigates against this line of thinking is that it would have made more sense to leak such a story to the Washington Post or New York Times. The Tribune is an odd place to plant this [Which makes it more credible as an unintentional intentional leak?--ed. This is the kind of hypothesis that makes me reach for the aspirin]
ANOTHER UPDATE: Darren Kaplan has more context and background.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
New Hampshire thread
Talk amongst yourselves, however. I'll open with the following: did Dean and Clark do well enough to have a viable chance of winning the nomination?
Not letting up on outsourcing
Two new stories on the web today about the outsourcing phenomenon, about which I've blogged here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and ... er, here. [Why don't you just create a new category for these posts?--ed. Hey, good idea!]
Meanwhile, Wired has an in-depth cover story (and a few sidebars) on the outsourcing phenomenon (thanks to axiom for the link). One the one hand, the main piece by Daniel Pink gets at the core of current frustrations:
On the other hand, Chris Anderson makes the most trenchant point:
Quote of the day
From Ryan Lizza's campaign journal at TNR:
If you click over to the Abercrombie & Fitch site, you start to understand the whole "growing male crush" phenomenon with regard to Edwards.
Monday, January 26, 2004
Dissecting the outsourcing hypothesis
Clay Risen takes a hard look at outsourcing fears in The New Republic and finds them overblown:
Risen doesn't even mention the Catherine Mann study, which provides some hard data to back up Risen's conterarguments.
My final thoughts on New Hampshire
John Ellis reports that the media covering the NH primary is at sea:
I'm feeling energized by the fact that I was right about Iowa, so I'm taking advantage of the Mediasphere's confusion to make bold, half-assed predictions for tomorrow!! [As bold as Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, who has actual percentages?--ed. Not that bold!!]
Clearly, the tracking polls are going to be of little help. Compare the ARG with the Zogby and you start to appreciate the concept of "standard error" in a whole new way (a point Mark Kleiman made in the past week).
So, I'm basing my prediction on one ironclad historical fact -- Granite State voters like to mindf#&k the pollsters and the pundits. Sometimes they'll do this for the sheer fun of it -- remember, Pat Buchanan won the state in 1996.
So, pooling that fact in with the assorted polls and reportage, here are my predictions:
I'm not so bold as to be able to predict a Dean victory. But let's face it, the scream effect has worn off, for the same reason that the cops tried for the Rodney King beating received a not guilty verdict -- watch the video repeatedly, and the visceral effect starts to wear off. As ABC's The Note notes: "Many of his supporters here are angry at the media and the process and are fighting back (unlike in Iowa, where they seemed more angry at Dean)."
Finally, as John Ellis (again) points out, the national media want to bury Dean in New Hampshire. The best way for the Granite State to stop that is for Dean to play the Clinton angle post-primary. So I'm saying Dean will finish within five points of Kerry -- I'm just not sure of which side of him he'll finish. [Your readers want something more specific--ed. Fine -- Kerry by 3%]
The other steady drumbeat coming out of N.H. is that Wes Clark's campaign couldn't organize a proper bake sale. Democrats are suspicious of him. Republican- leaning independents are more likely to vote for Lieberman than Clark; Democrat-leaning independents are more likely to vote for Edwards than Clark. The debate performance didn't help. So, I'm saying he finishes fifth. [But wait, doesn't going with the media flow this time violate your rule about New Hampshire voters?--ed. Above all else, New Hampshire voters expect to be wined and dined. Clark's organization looks like its not capable of performing even that function.]
I was only partly right about the media spin after Iowa, but here goes anyway -- they help Edwards again. A revitalized Dean is going to go after Kerry with a vengeance, and Kerry's anti-Shermanesque motto -- "I will lose the South" -- will cause Kerry's upticks in the polls to melt away in the South. If Edwards makes a credible showing in New Hampshire, he'll be able to attract sufficient strength in the South to stay in the race for a while.
Of course, this is all predicated on Dean pulling close enough to Kerry to make things interesting, and Edwards beating Clark. I could very easily be wrong, in which case the current Senator from Massachusetts will start to resemble a former Senator of Massachusetts. If I'm right, however, then the Kerry balloon could pop, and the current Senator from Massachusetts will start to resemble... a former Senator from Massachusetts.
John Kerry, political idiot
Jake Tapper reports for ABC that John Kerry said he doesn't need the South:
Simple question: what the hell was John Kerry thinking?
Let's acknowledge at the outset that Kerry is correct on the facts. If Gore had won just one more state, he would have become president.
Politically, however, this is just stupid. As I've argued previously, the best way for Kerry to knock Edwards and Clark out of the race is to win South Carolina. How is this statement going to help that? Even if Kerry gets the nomination, this regional "f#$k you" is going to haunt him regardless of how many mea culpas the Kerry campaign churns out.
There's a more substantive point, however -- does anyone want a president elected without support across regional boundaries? This applies to Bush as well as the Dems. You want a president to be able to say they command support in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan asks:
Gotta disagree on both counts. On the former, read Daniel Urman's first-person account of going door-to-door in New Hampshire. As for the Republicans and New England, the Republicans hold five out of the twelve possible Senate seats and five out of the six governors seats. Bush won New Hampshire in 2000. It's Democrat-friendly territory, no doubt, but the Republicans still need to do well there.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire reinforces Tapper's point that Kerry has said this before.
When populism can work
One of the things that struck me the night of the Iowa caucuses was that all of the Democratic candidates were using the same kind of populist themes of "special interests vs. your interests" that worked so
I've defended the administration from the more outlandish set of charges. However, stories like the one in today's Chicago Tribune on Boeing's fueling tanker follies are going to hit home this fall. The deal would have let the Pentagon lease airplanes from Boeing to bolster its own refeuling fleet. By leasing rather than buying, the Defense Department was reducing costs in the short run but vastly increasing them in the long run. Boeing got its way, however:
If you read the whole thing, you'll see that Democratic as well as Republican congressmen lobbied vigorously for the deal, so this ain't just the executive branch and it ain't just Republicans. And, to be fair, the system worked eventually, with the contract being withdrawn.
Still, this is the kind of story that makes the populism angle work. And it's going to hurt the majority party way more than the minority party.
Populism always scares me because it's joined at the hip to trade protectionism. If the economy continues to struggle with job creation, however, I fear it will be a more potent tactic than in 2000.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Laura Kipnis on marriage
Honesty would be good. Kipnis knows a lot more about this subject than I do, but some of her facts seem shaded.
For example, Fukuyama did posit in The Great Disruption that the post-industrial society had a deleterious effect on marital status. However, he also argued that the effect was temporary and reversible: "Social order, once disrupted, tends to get remade again." Fukuyama argued that the institution of marriage was rebounding -- not that there was an inexorable erosion of the institution.
This jibes with data suggesting a modest turnaround in marriage rates starting in the mid-1990's. John Leo noted back in 2001 that:
Mickey Kaus also commented on this phenomenon at the time.
Finally, as to whether marriage is worth defending, go read this excellent summary of University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite's research on the benefits of marriage. It explodes more than a few myths on the subject:
UPDATE: More venting by Laura at at Apt. 11D.
Give me the Drysdale!
I see I've been nominated for "Best Non-Liberal Blog" for the 2003 Koufax Awards.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't tell you good readers to vote for me [Yes, you would!--ed.] but in the interest of marital balance I'm going to ask this time. Erika writes one pithy post and gets a Bloggie nomination!! My lovely wife has been lording it over me ever since, unimpressed with the meager success I've had with prior awards.
So, even the score and vote for me!! [Is this a reason or a rant?--ed. There's a reason you don't get nominated for anything]
The blogging of the President
Christopher Lydon will be hosting a radio show on NPR tonight from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM (Eastern Time) entitled "The Blogging of the President." Of course, there's an associated blog. Here are links to multiple posts about tonight's show -- which has an impressive line-up of commentators from both the blogosphere (Andrew Sullivan, Jeff Jarvis, Atrios, Joshua Micah Marshall) and the mediasphere (Gary Hart, Kevin Phillips, Richard Reeves).
To listen in online, go to Minnesota Public Radio's home page.
For background reading, check out this AP story on blogs and campaigns from earlier this week, and today's essay about political "cyberbalkanization" from the New York Times.
UPDATE: A few thoughts having just listened to the broadcast:
1) Christopher Lyudon is just a font of adjectives. My favorite for describing the blogosphere was "yeasty."
2) Great (paraphrased) exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Frank Rich:
3) Jeff Jarvis also had the best line of the evening: "Bloggers don't replace reporters; bloggers replace editors."
4) Where the hell were Gary Hart and Kevin Phillips? [UPDATE: According to this post, "We can't get through to Gary Hart's number." I have that problem too.]
5) Atrios and Sullivan had a yeasty exchange towards the end. Andrew made the point that he was willing to criticize his own side of the political spectrum, whereas Atrios would not do the same on the left. Atrios replied that simply wasn't true, and it was clear Andrew had not read his blog. Sullivan asked Atrios to cite an episode when he had criticized someone on the left. Atrios paused and said, "Well, I can't think of think of one right now."
6) Scrappleface posted the following headline to a Blogging of the President real-time entry: "Public Radio Show Talks about People Who Write About What's Written About People Who Do Little Else But Talk."
7) A final substantive critique of the show -- Neither Lydon nor any of his guests made the crucial distinction between campaign blogs and independent political blogs. The former might be more prone than the latter to the cocooning phenomenon discussed on the show.
FINAL UPDATE: On a related subject, Billmon privides an exhaustive report on a Davos Economic Forum panel on the relationship between the blogosphere and the mediasphere.
The dynamics of the Democratic race
Josh Marshall -- who's giving his readers their money's worth in New Hampshire -- introduces a complicating factor to the race after Tuesday:
Here's the thing -- I'm not sure how much organization matters. The Internet has made it very easy for candidates to translate monentum into contributions and volunteers (though not top-shelf organizers). Organization matters for get-out-the-vote efforts -- but this time around, the horse-race dynamic is boosting turnout anyway.
Once the race reaches the multi-state primaries phase, what matters more than organization are free media and paid media. The former goes to the candidates with momentum (though the Dean obsession this week could prove me wrong on that one). The latter goes to the candidates with money, which helps Dean and Clark. However, if both Kerry and Edwards do well in the Granite State (and Jonathan Cohn argues that Edwards will do much better than expected in New Hampshire) then the margin of that advantage will shrink dramatically as new money rushes to both of those candidates.
UPDATE: Via DailyKos, The ARG polls in three February 3rd primary states (Arizona, South Carolina, and Oklahoma) highlight the fluidity of the race, but they also support my argument. Dean, for all his vaunted organization, is running no higher than fourth in all three states, and is only polling in double-digits in Arizona. Clark's numbers are relatively strong -- but if he doesn't do well in New Hampshire I can see that support fading. Meanwhile, Kerry is leading in the Arizona poll and second in South Carolina. Edwards is leading in South Carolina and second in Oklahoma.
I've written previously that my preference for dealing with annoyances like e-mail spam has been through technological rather than regulatory recourses. It's not that I necessarily think legal options are wrong; they're just not my first choice.
We've been through this regarding phone solicitations, in which the regulatory outcome seemed to win. Intriguingly, the battle for Internet spam might be a case of technological solutions mattering more than regulatory ones.
The New York Times reports that increasingly sophisticated filtering software is eroding the "quality" of spam:
Meanwhile Bill Gates is now weighing in on the issue:
Friday, January 23, 2004
The need for intelligence reform
David Kay, the chief U.S. arms hunter in Iraq, has resigned, saying in a Reuters interview (link via Calpundit) that, "I think we have found probably 85 percent of what we're going to find." As to the question of large-scale WMD stockpiles, Kay said:
In the battles over intelligence about Iraq's WMD capabilities, it seems clear that the professionals were closer to the truth on Iraq's actual capabilities than the Bush team. However, it's also worth noting that even the professionals overestimated Iraq's WMD capabilities -- which is one reason why the Clinton foreign policy team has been relatively muted in its criticisms of the Bush team on this issue.
The blogging over this Washington Post article from early this week on not finding WMD has been about whether the story stacked the deck against the Bush team. However, since the intelligence community was also off the mark, the key point is that the U.S. was going to be wrong about Iraq no matter what. The important point in the Post story is the bipartisan consensus that intelligence errors -- regardless of the cause -- can damage America's reputation:
Some might conclude that this is merely a case of the Bush team distorting reliable intel. However, other revelations this week suggest that the intelligence community can be wrong about important matters without any help whatsoever from the Bush team.
Consider Jack Pritchard's New York Times op-ed on how what's happening in North Korea is at variance with intelligence estimates:
Let me be clear -- I haven't the faintest idea how these problems can be fixed. I trust my loyal readers can come up with a few thoughts of their own.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum voices a similar concern from the opposite side of the political fence:
The Plame Game goes to the grand jury
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, the convening of a grand jury suggests that demands for a Congressional investigation are probably premature and overblown. On the other hand -- and I might be reading too much into one anonymous quote -- the White House is worried about something.
Further thoughts on soft power
My last post on "soft power" generated quite a debate, in part over terminology, so it's worth following up a bit. Three points:
1) Here's a link to one definition. Unfortunately, it's a bit vague, and as a result people tend to define soft power the same way that Potter Stewart defined pornography -- "I know it when I see it." Here's my quick and dirty distinction between hard and soft power:
2) For states,* hard power is a crucial component of soft power over the long term. The Soviet Union had soft power when their economy seemed to be growing at a fantastic rate and their military technology seemed on par with the United States. The debate over "Asian values" occurred at the peak of East Asia's economic growth, and has since subsided. It's tough to make an argument about the strangth of values without pointing to the material rewards produced by adhering to such values.
3) As long as the American economy and culture remain vibrant, U.S. soft power will exert a powerful pull regardless of the foreign policies of the moment. Consider this Chicago Tribune story on Vietnam's attitudes towards the United States:
* Intriguingly, for non-violent, non-state actors, the reverse can be true -- the soft power of persuasion can be converted into the hard power of bigger budgets.
Open debate thread
Feel free to debate the debate here -- click here for the full transcript. Useful blogging on the subject from Kevin Drum and Robert Tagorda. I was watching intermittently while giving Sam a bath, so I can't claim my focus was 100%. With that caveat, my impressions:
1) I agree with James Joyner -- the best line of the night came from Al Sharpton:
2) Wesley Clark's response on Michael Moore seemed particularly lame:
Clark is correct about Moore being able to say what he wants. However, for Clark not to have a comment on Moore's comment seems like a complete cop-out. [Mark Kleiman disagrees, but I'm not sure if his two posts on this can be reconciled. Last week he admitted that Clark's non-response to Moore's accusation concerned him:
Post-debate, he backtracks on Clark's response:
3) More generally, I found Clark pretty weak and defensive -- I suspect his support is going to start dropping. The big question about New Hampshire should be, where are Dean and Clark supporters going to go? Are they all going to go to Kerry, or do they propel Edwards as well?
4) John Edwards' articulation of his "no" vote on the $89 billion appropriation for Iraq was coherent and compelling. His response to the Islam question was a bit wobbly. His response to the Defense of Marriage Act question was sound on substance but really wobbly on process -- by which I mean that he got his facts wrong.
4) John Kerry looked like he had lost ten pounds since his Iowa victory.
Go and discuss!!
UPDATE: Matthew Stinson has a great description of Dennis Kucinich's performance:
Thursday, January 22, 2004
New Hampshire update
My prediction that John Edwards would get the biggest media bump because reporters like him better than the other candidates hasn't been completely borne out. A quick Google search reveals that Kerry got more play out of Iowa than Edwards. John Ellis thinks that the Rule of Two means New Hampshire is getting played in the media as Dean vs. Kerry, leaving Edwards out of the media spotlight.
As for the content of the spin, Franklin Foer admits to a "growing male crush" on Edwards, but Josh Marshall compares him to Chinese food -- great when you consume it, but then you're hungry an hour later. The Boston Globe might not love Kerry, but at this point he's the bigger story than Edwards.
But what about the polls? The ARG tracking poll shows Kerry getting a much bigger boost than Edwards in New Hampshire. Same with Zogby. However, two other polls suggest Edwards is gaining more steam. The Boston Herald poll does show Edwards reaching double-digits -- and only five points behind Wesley Clark. Rasmussen has Edwards with 15%, and in the past two days passing both Clark AND Dean for second place.
For Kerry, a resounding victory in New Hampshire unquestionably builds momentum for February 3rd. At this point, he's the only candidate who could have the race locked up by that date. Winning New Hampshire and South Carolina (the latter is a huge if and dependent only on a wave of momentum coming from a New Hampshire victory) would deal a mortal blow to both Dean and Edwards.
However, if Edwards manages to beat Clark in New Hampshire, he kills Wesley Clark's campaign. How could Clark possible argue that he's electable if he finished behind Edwards despite the fact that he ignored Iowa? A stronger-than-expected showing for Edwards in New Hampshire -- over 20% and better than Clark or Dean -- means Kerry can't win South Carolina -- and the race moves onto more Edwards-friendly terrain.
One other fact suggests that Edwards is still a potent threat -- Matt Drudge is going after him.
ANOTHER UPDATE: As for Dean, David Tell has this killer anecdote from an Edwards speech:
Jack Shafer scares me
All right, which one of you gave Shafer my URL? [Not me! I know you don't smoke--ed.]
Seriously, Shafer's real adversary is the New America Foundation:
Shafer's on the mark about New America [You're just annoyed because they, like so many other foundations, are not giving you a grant--ed.]
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
The persistence of U.S. soft power
One concern voiced about the style of the Bush administration's foreign policy was that it would erode America's "soft power" -- the attraction of American goods, services, and culture to the rest of the world.
The Financial Times reports on a study to test this hypothesis. The results are mixed. The good news:
The bad news is that these results might speak more to the adaptability of U.S. corporations than indications of U.S. soft power:
However it's worth noting that one source of American soft power is the adaptability/openness of our cutlure and our actors. So, in the long run, this is still good news.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Here's the text of the speech.
I can't match James Joyner, Glenn Reynolds, Patrick Belton, or Stephen Green on real-time State of the Union blogging. Plus, I've been historically bad at reading these speeches. I used to be bored silly by Clinton's SOTUs, but he always got a public opinion bump from them.
My quick assessment was similar to Joyner: "a fairly boring speech." Compared to Bush's last two SOTU speeches, however -- the 2001 Axis of Evil speech and the 2002 "sixteen little words" speech -- a little boring might be good. And after seeing the Democratic response, it's easy to see why neither Nancy Pelosi nor Tom Daschle threw their hat into the ring to run for president. Hell, Howard "YEEEEEEEEEAAAAH" Dean looked better.
I thought the one effective line was about the Patriot Act:
Beyond that, there was a brazenness to when Bush said:
As Andrew Sullivan pointed out in an interview:
Oh, and one last thing -- what the hell are steroids in professional sports doing in the friggin' State of the Union?
Vote early, vote often
[Why can't she speak for herself?--ed. She's afraid of the expectations game. One post, one Bloggie nomination -- that's a tough ratio to maintain.]
Go vote for her -- you have until 10:00 PM EST on Saturday, January 31!
For those who would disparage the U.N., part II...
Beyond helping Carmen Electra, the United Nations does have one commodity that is valuable to the United States right now -- legitimacy. Like it or not, the rest of the world confers a status to the United Nations such that their imprimatur on a course of action resonates with publics and governments.
Fareed Zakaria argues today that exercising power without legitimacy is costly and difficult:
Zakaria's thesis finds support from the Financial Times:
Monday, January 19, 2004
The Des Moines Register has actual numbers on the caucus (link via Atrios) -- and as I'm writing this, Kerry and Edwards are having big nights; Dean and Gephardt, not so much. The fact that Kerry and Edwards are doing so well in Des Moines -- the most liberal part of the state -- suggests that these results are going to hold.
A few quick thoughts:
1) Hey, I was right!! [About as often as a stopped watch!--ed. That's pretty much my read, too.] At least about the finish. We'll see if I'm right about the press reaction.
2) The nets seem puzzled by the fact that -- according to the entrance polls -- roughly 75% opposed the war in Iraq but are not supporting Dean, the clearest anti-war candidate.
This doesn't puzzle me as much. I suspect most Democrats don't want to refight the fight over the war -- it's happened. The question for them -- for all of us -- is where to go from here, given that we're in Iraq.
3) Howard Dean is not going away anytime soon -- he's still got the money and the national organization. I'm sure the press is thrilled by this fact.
4) I never thought I would say this -- but I feel sorry for Richard Gephardt.
UPDATE: A few more thoughts given that the initial results held:
5) To paraphrase an old Jewish aphorism, is this good for the blogs? Regardless of one's political stripe, the blogosphere embraced Dean's Internet campaign as a kindred spirit, emblematic of the same phenomenon that propelled blogs into prominence. I'm asking in a half-serious way what Scrappleface is asking in a completely humorous way.
[You could spin this the other way -- what killed Dean/Gephardt was the chase for establishment endorsements and union endorsements--ed. Well, I certainly like that interpretation better -- whether it's true or not I'll leave to the commenters.]
6) Having just seen Kerry, Edwards, and Dean's speeches, my respect for Edwards' political skills is growing. In many ways all three of them touched on the same themes -- the economy, health care, people vs. the powerful, etc. However, Edwards' emphasis was on lifting people up without tearing anyone down -- in this way, Edwards is the anti-Krugman candidate. Meanwhile, Dean and Kerry still sounded negative (Dean -- who seemed to have taken too many uppers -- was bashing other Democrats; Kerry -- far more sober -- was bashing Bush).
LAST UPDATE: Will Saletan has more worth thinking about.
Laugh with or at Janeane Garofalo?
Janeane Garofalo is hilarious. I'm just not sure she's being hilarious on purpose.
Link via Hugh Hewitt.
UPDATE: OK, some of the commenters -- perchance they are Deaniacs and it's not a great night for them? -- are taking this in the wrong spirit. What I thought was so funny was how many pins/hats/symbols she was wearing. [Flair. The word you're looking for is flair!!--ed.]
Nothing against Janeane -- I still like her from The Larry Sanders Show.
While I've been focused on the campaign...
This is pure genius
Despite my prediction of Kerry and Edwards going one/two in Iowa, I confess to being in absolute awe of this Dean campaign tactic, as reported in the Chicago Tribune:
Genius. Pure genius.
It almost makes me wish that I lived in Iowa... and that I was a Democrat.
[Maybe parents like you will simply take the free babysitting and then vote for Kerry or Edwards!--ed. Most parents I know are pretty loath to annoy their babysitter. But these are out-of-town babysitters. There's no shadow of the future!--ed. Hmmm... there would still be parental guilt -- a force far more powerful than the blogosphere.]
Sunday, January 18, 2004
A milestone contest
Today this blog received its one millionth unique visit. Thanks to all for coming!! And thanks to Moveable Type -- if you look at this traffic graph, it's clear that the switch to danieldrezner.com has paid off in more hits.
In celebration, I am having a naming contest. I've noticed that whenever I do a media interview on blogging, they find it awkward to say that the name of this site is "Daniel W. Drezner." They'll say something like, "Daniel Drezner blogs at.... er.... the web site of his own name." I think it's time for the blog to get its own name
So what should I call it? The Daily Drezner? Drezner's Daily Dose? Drezfiles? Chez Drez? [How about something that doesn't involve your name?--ed. That's good too! How about "The Loony Hack"?] Suggest away!!
UPDATE: I might just have to name it, "Sissy Willis makes me laugh"
My final thoughts on Iowa
The latest Des Moines Register poll has the following results: Kerry, 26%; Edwards, 23%; Dean, 20%; Gephardt, 18%.
The latest Zogby tracking poll: Kerry, 24%; Dean, 23%; Gephardt, 19%; Edwards, 18%.
The short prediction: Kerry wins in Iowa, but Edwards gets the biggest boost.
The long prediction: The media story is that polls don't matter because of the way the caucus structure is organized. What really matters is turnout and organization. This hurts Edwards, who is presumed to have the weakest infrastructure, and helps Dean, who's decentralized organization awed everyone a few months ago.
What's striking to me is that Kerry and Edwards are surging, and that they also have the lowest unfavorable ratings. In part this is because Dean and Gephardt are still bashing each other (As I'm typing this, I'm watching Gephardt on Meet the Press, and he's still bashing Dean).
The polls both show Kerry ahead and trending in the right direction -- though Tom Schaller makes some excellent arguments at DailyKos for why the poll numbers might be underestimating Dean's strength. As for ground strength, Michael Crowley makes the case that Kerry's operation on the ground is pretty strong.
The media seem to feel that Edwards will suffer because his organization on the ground is weaker than the other three candidates, so he'll get fewer delegates and lose the perceptions contest.
However, because the race is so close, interest and turnout should be extremely high. This brings in people who are outside of any campaign's organizational apparatus, who are likely to be more moderate, and who will react to the candidate that seems to be the most likeable -- which I'm thinking will help Edwards.
The Boston Globe thinks this will matter a great deal in second rounds of the caucus:
Now, what's actually pretty interesting about that article is that beyond the expert quote, there's no evidence to support the article's thesis. Indeed, this is really the key section:
Why run a story on such weak foundations? It's one example of why I think Edwards will be the big winner coming out of Iowa -- he fits in best with the media's professional and personal proclivities.
Professionally, the media wants close races and new faces. An Edwards surge provides both.
Personally, reporters don't appear to really like Dean or Kerry all that much. In contrast, they do seem to like Edwards (see this Time dispatch for an example). I heard Brit Hume say on Fox News Sunday that "John Edwards is engaging, likeable, appealing." Brit Hume doesn't like anything, for God's sake. If any of the Democrats has the Clintonian charisma, it's Edwards.
If Kerry wins, he's going to get a bump, no doubt -- and New Hampshire becomes an interesting question. But if Edwards performs better than either Gephardt or Dean at the caucus, reporters are going to lock in on him as the story of the week. Whether he can sustain it is an entirely different question.
My apologies to Kerry and Edwards for sealing their doom.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmmm... the New York Times has actual evidence that Edwards might pick up second-round caucus votes:
This ain't a misquote -- Kucinich posted this quote on his blog. Tactically, I understand this. Strategically, I'm not sure how much any viable Democrat would want to be associated with Kucinich.
Saturday, January 17, 2004
For those who would disparage the United Nations...
Over the past
[What, the UN helped with her eyeliner?--ed.] Not exactly -- the Associated Press explains:
You can read the complete text of the arbitration ruling here.
I, for one, applaud this multilateral initiative.
[Er, I just checked out www.carmenelectra.com, and it's still going to Celebrity1000!--ed. OK, so enforcement hasn't been the U.N.'s strong suit. More seriously, I'd expect Electra's legal team to ensure that the decision will be implemented. A year ago, Pamela Anderson won a similar decision and her domain name now goes to her site. I trust that Carmen Electra's official site will be moving very soon. You did a lot of research for this post--ed. Just trying to be as thorough as the grant-hogging Columbia School of Journalism!!]]
UPDATE: According to this story, "If there is no court appeal, domain names must be transferred 10 days after a ruling."
Andrew Sullivan server update
I've received numerous e-mails asking me if, as a former guest-blogger, I can access Andrew Sullivan's site. I just tried, got something that said, "andrewsullican.com (sic) click". I clicked with some apprehension, but was able to access the site with no difficulties -- his last post was a response to Josh Marshall's defense of Clark.
According to Andrew -- via Glenn Reynolds -- this is a server problem. I experienced similar difficulties when I was doing the guest stint earlier this month, so I can certainly empathize. Andrew, you're welcome to guest-post here while the problem is being fixed!! [Big man!--ed. Hey, it's the least I could do.]
UPDATE: The Daily Dish is back online -- with an apology from Sullivan.
[On a separate matter, that's the second post in a row in which you've mention this Clark business without addressing it head-on. What gives?--ed. I haven't read enough to comment with confidence. From what I have read, it seems clear that Drudge ginned up a Clark quote through an improper use of ellipses. Does that mean Clark can't be criticized on foreign policy?--ed. Hell, no -- I argued two weeks ago that compared to Howard Dean he was getting a free ride on this issue. Steve Sachs has more on this.]
Friday, January 16, 2004
Who wants a grant? Me!! ME!!
Wait a minute -- there are grants to be had for doing this??!! Why the hell didn't anyone tell me? The Columbia School of Journalism can just waltz in, rake in the cash, and set up some fantsy-pants blog? [Well, they do have reputation and experience, and they seem to be all over this Drudge/Clark business--ed. Yeah, so were Robert Tagorda and Mark Kleiman, and they were grant-free! Give me them plus James Joyner, Jeff Jarvis, Josh Marshall, and Noam Scheiber (who's read on Gephardt's chances seems dead-on to me), and I'll kick their a--- I think it's time for your nap--ed.]
Can Iraq become a democracy?
In the "No" corner is George F. Will, who's meandering essay in City Journal can be boiled down to the following highlights:
In the Atlantic Monthly, Francis Fukuyama recognizes the same problems as Will but argues that there is no other option:
Now, for a first-hand account, check out Ken Pollack's assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. The executive summary:
David Adesnik provides extended commentary as well.
That's your weekend reading. Enjoy!!
The Democratic candidates' foreign policy gurus
As a politics junkie, I love what's going on in Iowa. Four candidates with roughly the same level of support the wekend before the caucus? That's awesome, baby!! How long has it been since this many candidates had a legitimate shot at winning Iowa this late in the day?
Another leading indicator indicates that it's a close race. I argued a year ago that the Democratic candidate that attracted the heavyweight foreign policy advisors would be the putative nominee. Last month, Dean unveiled his list of advisors, and they seemed like a formidable group.
However, thanks to Foreign Policy, we now know the major candidates' roster of foreign policy advisors. Go check it out for yourselves. A few surprises:
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Kudos and embarrassment for Josh Marshall
I get asked on a regular basis what my senior colleagues think about the blog. The truth is, I try not to mention it -- because I don't know if all of them either know about or understand the concept of a blog. Oh sure it's the trendy thing, but academics, particularly those ensconced in the University of Chicago, delight in ignoring trends and fads -- or at least pretending to ignore them.
If people are familiar with blogs, then it's easy to discuss mine -- in the blogosphere I can hold my own. However, if someone is not familiar with the blog concept, then it's like trying to explain the virtues of first class air travel to someone who's never heard of or seen an airplane.
Which is why the following anecdote is so damn funny. To put it into context -- The Week magazine held its first annual Opinion Awards, which included a Blogger of the Year. For descriptions of the awards -- held at Harold Evans and Tina Brown's apartment, no less -- go see Jeff Jarvis or Editor & Publisher.
Now comes the funny anecdote, from Marshall himself:
Read the rest of Josh's post for the denouement -- it doesn't end too badly for him.
Good news and bad news on Brazilian fingerprinting
The bad news: Some Americans aren't reacting too well to the Brazilian plan of photographing and fingerprinting then. According to the Associated Press:
Thanks to Mike Derham for the photo link.
The good news -- The Brazilians are ingenious at soothing these potentially ugly Americans:
The AP photo caption reads:
More seriously, the Volokh Conspiracy has been blogging this story more seriously.
Less seriously -- readers, given the myriad kinds of amusements available in the world, which other countries should follow the Brazilian template?
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
White House intimidation.... or Paul O'Neill's nature?
Paul O'Neill being intimidated by Karl Rove? That dog won't hunt.
Unlike John DiIulio, Paul O'Neill is too senior to desire another cabinet-level position, and has what is referred to in DC lexicon as "f**k-you money" -- i.e., O'Neill doesn't have to play nice in oreder to guarantee a future revenue stream. Plus, as the original Time story points out, O'Neill refused to go along with Cheney's direct suggestion that he say he resigned:
Paul O'Neill is old, rich, secure in himself, and previously refused a direct request from Dick Cheney. A year later, what could Karl Rove possibly do that would intimidate him? [Compromising pictures of O'Neill with Jillian Barberie?--ed. Hell, that would have helped him!]
Instead of intimidation, let's consider another possibility, one based on O'Neill's track record as Treasury Secretary. When I was working there, the following would happen like clockwork every two weeks:
The same thing is going on here. O'Neill said on the Today Show:
In this case, O'Neill's predeliction for foot-in-mouth disease is compounded by the fact that much of what O'Neill said comes indirectly through Ron Suskind's book.
Finally, it's worth noting that the many of the usual suspects aren't biting on this non-story. Spencer Ackerman, who's co-authored a lot of TNR's more damaging assessments of the Bush team's invade-at-all-costs mentality, is quite clear that the O'Neill charge is bogus:
A touch, a touch, I do confe-- oh, wait a minute, let's put that quote in context, shall we?:
Let's also go to this January 2003 statement from Bush:
I said two things in my previous O'Neill post -- that Bush had given Colin Powell the lead on Iraq prior to 9/11, and that he changed his mind after that date. Nothing Bush said contradicts that. [But Brad also links to this ABC report saying Bush wanted a review of military policy options!--ed.] A review of options -- particularly in the first months of an administration -- is nothing new. But there's a big difference between evaluating policy options and acting on them. The key question, as Ackerman notes, is whether the administration moved forward on these options. The evidence says no. Until 9/11, Powell had the lead on Iraq and Rumsfeld seemed close to leaving the administration (though not because of Iraq).
Sure, Bush wanted to get rid of Hussein, but so did Clinton and all of Congress. The question was, what was Bush prepared to do to change the regime? And there is no evidence to support the charge that prior to 9/11, Bush was planning to invade Iraq.
Which candidate said what on foreign policy?
The good people at the Council on Foreign Relations has set up a 2004 campaign website on Foreign Policy in the Presidential Election. There are collections of each candidates' major foreign policy addresses, plus issue briefs. Also a useful campaign calendar.
It's pretty thorough. Go check it out.
UPDATE: Hmmm.... my original title for this post had the word "shopping" in the titles -- which seemed to attract spam like Salma Hayek attracts hits. I guess I'm going to have to stop doing that [Linking to Salma Hayek? Gasp!!--ed. No, use the word "shopping" in post titles.]
Another John Edwards moment
It's John Edwards day at the Chicago Tribune. There's a lengthy bio of him in one section (including his high school graduation photo). On the front page, the paper reports Edwards may have the "Big Mo" in Iowa:
Yeah, it's an anecdote -- but there may be something to it. See the Baltimore Sun and the Raleigh News-Observer (the latter admittedly has a local-boy-makes-good flavor). A triggering factor behind these reports was the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Edwards this Sunday, which undoubtedly raised his profile (he's picked up other endorsements as well).
But what about substance? Check out Edwards' proposal to promote democracy in the Middle East. As someone who's sympathetic to this policy, I was impressed with the level of detail -- particularly in contrast to some other Democratic candidates.
This is not only true about foreign policy. As Michelle Cottle pointed out in her case for Edwards in The New Republic:
I wrote back in September that Democrats might be slighting Edwards' campaign. We'll see if that's still true after Iowa.
UPDATE: This comment on Edwards' integrity -- by a Bush supporter, no less -- is worth reading.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The European front in the War on Terror
The Guardian's Sunday Observer had an extremely disturbing story two days ago on the renaissance of Muslim terrorist cells across the continent. The highlights:
This matches what the London Times (subscription required) reported earlier this month:
Developing... in a very disturbing way.
Just how liberal are the Democrats?
Mickey Kaus has an interesting rejoinder to Sullivan on racial issues:
On Sullivan's general point, I'd also dissent somewhat. Undoubtedly, on some issues, the party has lurched leftwards. This is certainly true on trade matters, and it's true about race to some extent.
On the other hand, compared to 2000, the Democrats have shifted to the right on national security issues -- just not as quickly or as far as Bush. The Dems certainly haven't abandoned the Clintonian emphasis on balanced budgets. They've also moved to the right on gun control, as the Chicago Tribune observes:
I care about foreign economic policy a lot, which is why I harp on it. But I'm not sure if the general claim can be made that the Democratic party has shifted to the left.
I have no doubt Democrats will weigh in on this matter themselves.
Could Bush win New York?
I doubt even diehard Republicans would answer this question with a "Yes." Today, however, I saw this Associated Press story:
Part of this might be due to a greater (thought hardly overwhelming) willingness for Jews to vote for Bush. Over at Volokh, David Bernstein has an interesting post on the subject.
It's still a long way to November, though.
Meanwhile a Chicago Tribune poll shows a similar trend for Bush in Illinois -- particularly if Dean is the opponent. The usual caveat (it's still damn early) applies.
Monday, January 12, 2004
Thoughts on Paul O'Neill
Paul O'Neill has decided to open up about the inner workings of the Bush administration. He's the primary source for a new Ron Suskind book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. O'Neill is also granting interviews galore -- see both 60 Minutes and Time. Some not-so-random thoughts:
1) Ron Suskind strikes again!! Despite the Bush administration's best efforts to keep White House leaks to a minimum (well, except if they involve CIA operatives) he has the ability to get Bush officials to open up on the record.
2) Paul O'Neill is a smart guy, but do bear in mind that he was a pretty lousy Treasury secretary when he was in charge. The day he left, I wrote the following:
Brad DeLong concurred that "O'Neill seems never to have tried to learn what his job was." The Time story observed, "Rarely had a person who spoke so freely been embedded so high in an Administration that valued frank public remarks so little." Later on in the story, even O'Neill thinks that O'Neill goes too far:
My point is not to claim that all of O'Neill's criticisms can be dismissed in a single stroke. He's clearly a smart person, and no doubt some of his criticisms have the ring of truth. My point is to remind people that O'Neill brings some baggage that he brings to the table -- and that even smart people can let that baggage overwhelm them.
3) Both O'Neill and Suskind engage in some slightly revisionist history on Iraq. Here's the 60 Minutes transcript on this point:
Suskind's revelations sound sexy, but they're pretty overblown. As Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, a lot of what O'Neill talks about and what Suskind cites had been under discussion in the Clinton administration. In early 2001, "peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq's oil wealth" were not merely under discussion by neocons that might have wanted to invade Iraq, but by policy wonks across the board. At the time, the Washington consensus about the Iraq policy at the time was that the status quo was an untenable situation. A lot of meetings were being held about ways to rejigger U.S. policy. FULL DISCLOSURE -- as a sanctions expert, I participated in one such bipartisan meeting chaired by Richard Haass in the early days of the transition.
Most important, this narrative overlooks the fact that prior to September 11th, the State Department had the lead on Iraq policy -- and they wanted to lift a lot of the sanctions. Don't believe me? Check out Lawrence Kaplan's attack on Colin Powell and Richard Haass (then-director of Policy Planning) in March 2001 in The New Republic (subscription is required). Kaplan preferred a more hawkish approach, so he took Powell to task. Here's the good part:
It's worth reading the whole thing, if for no other reason to see Kaplan accuse Haass -- who was a dove on Iraq -- of being in the pocket of the oil companies!!
The larger point is that Haass and Powell had the upper hand on Iraq policy -- until September 11th. [UPDATE: Ted Barlow over at Crooked Timber has a Bush quote that captures this point perfectly]. Clearly, after 9/11, Bush changed his mind. But to claim that George W. Bush planned to invade Iraq from day one of his administration is utter horses&$t.
4) This paragraph from Time made me reflect on my own qualms with the Bush policy process:
O'Neill's statements dovetail with the TNR cover story by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman from six weeks ago (sorry, subscription required again) -- this section in particular:
I'm beginning to wonder how much Cheney's activism -- which Bush enabled -- has thrown the NSC process completely off-kilter.
UPDATE: I'm not sure I explained that last point completely. This has nothing to do with the policy positions Cheney has taken on Iraq or anything else. Rather, the difficulty is that even cabinet-level officials can be reluctant in disagreeing with him because he's the vice-president. This leads to a stunted policy debate, which ill-serves both the President and the country. Brad DeLong's excerpt from the Wall Street Journal on the cabinet-level meeting on steel tariffs provide another case where Cheney seemed to choke off opposition to his position.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett has more.
FINAL UPDATE: A lot of the commentors have asked me about O'Neill's comments regarding both fiscal policy and the White House obsession with the political.
Andrew Sullivan, after a funny line ("This White House is all about politics. Yes, and banks are full of money.") makes much of the same points I would on this front.
NO, REALLY, THIS IS THE FINAL UPDATE -- I SWEAR: O'Neill walks back the Iraq allegations completely in this Reuters story:
Depressing news story of the day
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Democratic candidates are falling all over themselves in Iowa to blame NAFTA for all of the state's economic woes. The highlights:
Unfortunately, that last sentence is dead-on.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
The joys of movie criticism
Louis Menand has a thoroughly odd essay in The New Yorker about movie criticism and the year-end ritual of top-ten lists. He does make a resonant point about the thinking that frequently goes behind such lists:
However, Menand also seems way too willing to relinquish his own formidable critical faculties in order to accept those of the movie critic:
As someone who loves movies, this judgment strikes me as downright bizarre. Part of the joy of seeing films is the discussions that the good ones and even the flawed ones generate among one's circle of friends and associates (last week, I had to defend Mystic River against a charge by two left-wing colleagues that the movie was really a veiled endorsement of American imperialism). True, most of them don't generate the kind of obsessive interaction that cult television shows can generate. However, an important part of the moviegoing experience comes in the talking after the watching.
Menand also fails to acknowledge that critics themselves are fallible creatures, vulnerable to their own forms of peer pressure and changes of mind. Which is why I heartily recommend Slate's online debate (which started last Monday) among David Edelstein, J. Hoberman, Manohla Dargis, Sarah Kerr, and A.O. Scott about the year in movies. Ostensibly it's about the best movies of the year, but for the layman it's also a welcome peek into what it's like to be a movie critic -- a job that many Americans, no doubt, would take in a heartbeat (except for Roger Simon).
Exercise your own critical faculties and go check it out [Couldn't they exercise their critical faculties by deciding that you're full of it, and not check it out?--ed. Well, yes, but that would just be... wrong somehow]
UPDATE: Some readers object to the vaguely leftish politics of the Movie Club participants. If that sort of thing truly puts you off, go read Julia Magnet's essay in the latest City Journal about the films of Whit Stillman.
January and February's book recommendations
I've been a bit tardy in updating the book recommendations -- still recovering from being Andrew Sullivan. So these recommendations will cover the next two months.
The international relations book for the next six weeks is Kenneth Dam's The Rules of the Global Game: A New Look at U.S. International Economic Policymaking. It's one of the primary textbooks for my U.S. Foreign Economic Policy class.
From an academic perspective, the book is a somewhat unusual recommendation -- there's not a lot of original theory or new models explaining either the global economy or U.S. economic policy. However, Dam's comparative advantage is formidable. First, his policy experience (OMB staffer under Nixon; Deputy Secretary of State under George Schultz; Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under Paul O'Neill) dwarfs that of any academic currently writing on the subject. Second, Dam's academic experience at the University of Chicago makes him singularly suited to translate the arcana of policy into an accessible format. Go check it out.
The general interest book is Robert Fogel's The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism. This choice is partially inspired by a series of blog entries that Brad DeLong, Mark Kleiman, and Tom Spencer posted at the end of last month about living "through both the Fourth Great Awakening and the Second Gilded Age," as Mark put it. As I read this, I was ruminating about something Kevin Drum posted last month after hosting a blog dinner party:
I think Kevin's assessment is correct. What's missing from that political spectrum is anyone who would actually participate in any kind of religious activity that could be linked to a Great Awakening -- the evangelical community in particular. I wouldn't say that the leading lights of the blogosphere are exactly hostile to the devoutly religious. There might, however, be a gulf of understanding that needs to be bridged. The Fourth Great Awakening -- written by a Nobel prize-winning economic historian -- seems like a good start, in discussing the role that religious awakenings have played in American history.
Fogel's book is an interesting mix of economic and social history, with a partial explanation for the occurrence of religious revivals. It's also something that's been on my "need to read" list for some time. Click here for a precis of Fogel's argument, and here for his whiggish predictions for the future.
Friday, January 9, 2004
A small request
Now, my small request is not to ask you to nominate this blog for any awards. But, I see that one of the categories is "Best article or essay about weblogs."
For that category, I humbly request you submit Erika Drezner's "My Life as a Blog Widow." Judging from some of the reaction it has received, I think it's touched a deeper chord than many of the press articles on the phenomenon.
Here endeth the request.
A hard sell
Reading the Washington Post's description of the decision-making process, I'm even less sanguine:
The fact that Rove -- and not Andy Card -- presented the policy options makes my blood run cold. [You saying that good policies are irreconcilable with good politics?--ed. No -- I'm saying that this is not a fiscally sane policy and appears to be ginned up entirely for political purposes]
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gregg Easterbrook makes an amusing point about cost:
Thursday, January 8, 2004
If Jerry Seinfeld was a dedicated blogger....
Is this a sign of prestige? Am I, as a reader, supposed to be wowed by the fact I get to click a couple more times to look at the whole story? Is this going to make me think, "Wow, it took five clicks to read the whole story. That's quality journalism."
Now this is bad economics
The opportunity cost of debating Brad DeLong over the operationalization of data sets is that truly stupid popular economic writing can slide by unscathed. Like the Senior Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, who on Tuesday co-authored a New York Times op-ed that said the following:
What's wrong with this statement? Let's go to Noam Scheiber at TNR's &c.:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Kinsley dissects the op-ed in Slate. Among the highlights:
This last point is one I have made before. The first point is spot-on. Going back to the op-ed, here are the sinister forces that, according to Schumer and Roberts, undercut the free-trade position:
More political stability. Better education. Lower communication costs.
Yeah, I can see how this devastates the free trade position.
[What about Joe Stigltz's gloomy op-ed on NAFTA on the same day? Aren't you going to pick on him?--ed. Well, according to Mark Kleiman, I'm supposed to tread carefully on the domain of other experts. But, I will point out that even Stiglitz acknowledges that Mexico's growth in GDP per capita since NAFTA's ratification is "better than in much of the rest of Latin America". Stiglitz also overlooks the political benefits of NAFTA in democratizing Mexican politics and improving the rule of law south of the border.]
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Howard Dean -- Democratic insider
The narrative about the Democratic primary over the past month has been that Dean represents an insurgency that threatens established Democratic party elites. In this post I said, "It's already clear that DC Democrats loathe and fear Dean."
This AP story suggests some revisionism may be in order:
Superdelegates are spread out across the country, so this does not necessarily reflect an absence of DC animus. At a minimum, however, it suggests that the Democratic establishment in the rest of the country feels sympatico with Dr. Dean.
UPDATE: It's a good day for Wesley Clark as well.
Let the people read the links
Looking for more on today's TNR Online article?
I'll break these links down into theory vs. empirics:
Theory: The Thomas Schelling quote comes from his pathbreaking book, The Strategy of Conflict, chapter two (p. 22). Robert Putnam extended Schelling's analysis in an article for the Summer 1988 issue of International Organization entitled "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: the Logic of Two-level Games." It's reprinted in a 1993 book devoted to the article, Double-Edged Diplomacy, edited by Peter Evans, Harold Jacobson, and Putnam.
A good book on what happens when revolutionary/radical groups seize power is Stephen M. Walt's Revolution and War.
Empirics: I've blogged recently about both Pakistan (click here as well) and Saudi Arabia. On Pakistan in particular, here's the latest story on their role in nuclear proliferation, and today's good news about warming relations in South Asia. Pakistan's role in nuclear proliferation. On Saudi Arabia, Michael Doran's analysis of Saudi internal politics can be found online at Foreign Affairs.
Max Boot ripped the Bush administration for coddling both states in this Los Angeles Times op-ed.
The Samantha Power quote came from her review of Noam Chomsky's book in the New York Times Book Review:
As for Iran, NRO has a nice story on popular attidues towards the regime -- and towards the United States -- in the aftermath of the Bam earthquake. One section:
Finally, in response to James Joyner's request to flesh out "a policy of aggressively supporting democratization," I'm talking about a menu of choices that include linking security assistannce, intelligence-sharing, foreign aid, and market access to improvements in human rights and democracy-building.
Let the people vote
My latest TNR Online essay is up. It's an argument for encouraging democratization in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, despite the strong anti-American elements in both countries. Go check it out.
Footnotes and documentation to follow this afternoon.
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Hiss. Hiss, I say.
What could prompt Brad to say this?
I then linked to Don Luskin and Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggesting that the numbers of discouraged workers and those who work part-time for economic reasons are not unusually high.
Brad's beef is with my operationalization of what Krugman said:
Brad then presents data showing that by his operationalization of Krugman's words, the employment situation looks recession-like.
How to respond?
One way is to point out that Brad doesn't directly address the point of the post -- that Krugman's claim that this job market is unusually bad is an exaggeration. Brad's data suggests that the percentage of people not working has dropped by a fair amount since 2000 -- but it's still higher than Bush I recession levels, and way higher than Reagan recession levels. Part of this may be due to greater female participation in the work force -- and part of it may be due to the economy being in better shape than it was in 1990 or 1984. Similarly, the discrepancy between the household survey and the payroll survey -- which Brad displays in this post -- is still less now than it was in 1990. As to what explains fluctuations in this number, even DeLong confesses puzzlement.
My primary concern in the Krugman post was the word "unusual" and "the worst job market in 20 years." I wasn't saying that the employment situation was rosy -- merely that it was not as bad as Krugman asserted. The measures I used confirmed this.
Another response is to use DeLong's logic right back at him. Does Krugman say that those who have "given up looking for work" are "people who have dropped out of the labor force over the past three years"? No. Does Krugman say the words "over the past three years" at all? No. Does Krugman say that those "marginally attached" are in the category of "those who tell the BLS household survey interviewers that they are working but for whom there is no corresponding employer telling the BLS payroll survey that they have somebody working for them"? No. Does Krugman say the words "payroll survey" at all? No.
So which operationalization is correct? This depends on whether you're talking about Krugman's intent versus what Krugman has written on the page. If you go by intent, it's far more likely that DeLong knows what Krugman meant than myself. DeLong has a Ph.D. in economics -- I possess a measly M.A. DeLong is pretty tight with Krugman -- I'm not. Maybe they had an exchage where Krugman said, "Yes Brad, when I say 'marginally attached,' I'm talking about those who tell the BLS household survey interviewers that they are working but for whom there is no corresponding employer telling the BLS payroll survey that they have somebody working for them."
However, I couldn't read Krugman's mind when I wrote what I wrote. All I could do was read what he wrote. This is a danger with popular writing on economics -- plain language can be interpreted in a number of different ways. I think the operationalizations I used are valid and straightforward -- but Brad's are certainly plausible. So are Arnold Kling's, for that matter.
A final point about Brad's language -- the "screams and leaps, fangs bared" deal. This implies that I engaged in massive rhetorical overkill in my post on Krugman.
In the original post, there were no exclamation points. No ALL CAPITAL LETTER statements. No adjectives to describe Krugman. I didn't impugn his motives. Unlike Luskin, I didn't say Krugman lied -- I said I thought he was wrong, without ascribing intent. When Brad e-mailed me to say that there was another way to interpret Krugman's paragraph, I linked to his points (as soon as Blogger would permit) in an update to the original post (by the way, the term "quasi-response" was not meant to say that Brad's posts were weak, but rather that he never linked to my original post, so it wasn't a direct response. In retrospect, "indirect" might have been the better word choice).
If this is what Brad means by "screams and leaps, fangs bared," he's way more thin-skinned than I had previously thought.
You know what, I'll meet them halfway -- instead of "distortion," which does hint at intent, perhaps I should have used "error."
Good retail news
Before the end of the year there was a lot of murmuring about the holiday shopping season being subpar. Just to pick a name out of a hat, Paul Krugman wrote a week ago:
Well, the data are coming in, and things look pretty good across the board. From today's Chicago Tribune:
Read the whole thing -- there's promising news about employment in the retail sector as well.
And here's the National Retail Foundation's (NRF) press release on the topic, which has the following quote:
Slightly off-topic, the NRF also reports robust online sales:
UPDATE: The New York Times has more mixed news:
At the same time, this was the most interesting phenomenon in the story:
Monday, January 5, 2004
A very important post about... Britney Spears
I'm sorry, I just haven't been able to focus today because of Britney Spears' marriage/annulment. What could explain this sort of tabloid celebrity behavior by such a... celebrity?
That and a liplock from Madonna? You can witness the bad morals spreading from mouth to mouth!
More seriously, Entertainment Weekly (subscription required) had a great November cover story -- that's the cover above -- that chronicled the beginning of Mariah Carey-like behavior. One section:
Even more seriously, Andrew Sullivan notes:
I wonder if Britney is still Karl Rove's dream voter.
Drudge gets results from MoveOn.org
Matt Drudge writes about another ad at MoveOn.org -- as part of their contect for the best 30-second attack ad against Bush -- that compares Bush to Hitler. The key part:
This was (NOT: SEE CORRECTION) one of MoveOn.org's fifteen finalists for the ad competition.
Or was it? If you now go to MoveOn's page of commercial finalists, you will note that the ad in question appears to have been yanked. It should have the url:
But the sequence of ads skips from id=01 to id=03.
Damn!! I thought I had my first Godwin award nominee!!
Well, at this rate, I seriously doubt that the Nazi analogy well will run dry in 2004.
CORRECTION: MoveOn.org has released a statement saying that the Hitler ad was never a finalist:
My apologies for the error.
UPDATE: Ralph Peters is definitely a nominee:
What's the difference?
Howard Dean caught a lot of flak last month for saying he didn't particularly care where Osama bin Laden was tried.
I raise this again because of something Wesley Clark said in James Traub's New York Times Magazine cover story on the Democrats and foreign policy (which, by the way, seemed to me to be a decent piece that was completely scrambled by Saddam's capture):
Dean said he didn't care where bin Laden was tried. In his comment, Clark seems to care a great deal -- he wants/wanted bin Laden tried in an international tribunal.
I have no polling data to back this up, but my gut instinct is that a majority of Americans would want to see Osama tried in the U.S. So here's my question -- why isn't Clark catching the same hell as Dean?
Sunday, January 4, 2004
How to make professors rebel
A while back, in commenting on the prevalence of fictional academics bedding their students, I wrote:
Sleeping with students is not just for fictional treatments anymore -- it's also a trope for amusing nonfiction discussions.
Laura Kipnis has a droll Slate essay on how colleges are dealing with professor-student relationships. My favorite part is when the profs rebel at a sensitivity training:
Note to self -- do not jangle change when lecturing.
For more on professor-student relationships, see Glenn Reynolds and Amanda Butler. My opinion on the general mattter most closely mirrors Beth Plocharczyk's. [So what about your opinion specific to you?--ed. My opinion is that I'm happily married to an exceptionally witty and attractive woman -- and she can operate pruning shears. Good answer!--ed.]
Being Andrew Sullivan's wife
Bet you never thought you'd see that post title!
This special guest post is by my lovely wife Erika, who has been tremendously supportive of my blogging efforts this week -- which means that it's payback time:
NOTE: the comments on this post do not reflect the opinions of the blog's proprietor.
Saturday, January 3, 2004
Being Andrew Sullivan on the weekend
I'm feeling about as articulate as this guest-blogger, so no Behind the Blog entry for today.
This weekend, however, there will be an extra-special guest post.
Friday, January 2, 2004
Being Andrew Sullivan -- day four
Sometime in the morning: Sisu e-mails me this:
Midday: Is double-blogging exhausting? I've received several e-mail queries on this, and my last post might have hinted that the stress of it was getting to me.
Today disproves that hypothesis. What was stressing me out were the myriad technical problems. Blogger worked without a hitch, and I feel fine. I'm not in hyper-blog mode, so I focus mostly on foreign policy-related matters.
The ag subsidies and multilateralism posts are easy to compose because they touch on familiar themes in my writings. On the multilateral post, I hesitate on whether to link to my old TNR essay. It was written nearly a year ago, and it holds up pretty well, but then there's this sentence:
In light of stories like this one, prose like that makes me wince a little.
This is one of the downsides of writing a lot -- the overwhelming amount of stuff I'm going to get wrong.
1:00 PM: I've been spending a lot of time on-line in the past few months, and with the New Year I wonder if I should resolve to cut back. Then I see a link to the "Are You A Blogaholic?" quiz. Taking it, I get 60 out of 100, which is more than fifteen points above the mean. Nevertheless, I get this message:
I start to wonder if this quiz is the functional equivalent an online "Are you an Alcoholic?" quiz -- hosted by Jose Cuervo.
11:00 PM: Despite several hours of concentrated effort, I can think of no valid reason to mention Salma Hayek on the Daily Dish.