Friday, April 30, 2004
Support Political Babes!!
While I've occasionally thought about it, I have yet to put a tip jar on the blog -- mostly because I've already benefited in myriad ways from danieldrezner.com.
However, for those who have contemplated giving, let me redirect your energies to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
[What, you're asking your readers to walk?--ed.] No, I'm asking them to support Political Babes, a two person team that plans to walk 39 miles in two days to support the cause. As their home page puts it: "Bethany and Melissa both are political scientists, both are committed to ending breast cancer, and both are total babes!"
Let me independently confirm that all three of these statements are true.
[Why should I take your word for this?--ed. Well, on them being political scientists, click here to read this Chicago Tribune story on Assistant Professor of Political Science Melissa Harris-Lacewell's fascinating research. Better yet, just buy her book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought. Bethany Albertson -- the other political babe -- was a invaluable research assistant during the book's drafting.]
You can give by going to their home page and then clicking "Make a Gif!" by the thermometer on the right side of the page.
The disgruntled conservatives
I've received some interesting e-mail ragarding my "Up is Down" essay for TNR Online -- now available at the CBS News web site as well!! They suggest that a lot of Republicans are less than thrilled with George W. Bush, but feel that they have no place to go.
Here's one example -- it's from Virginia conservative Lee Dise:
A few e-mails is pretty paltry evidence of a trend. Still, one wonders whether this this feeling of alienation on the right is prevalent.
UPDATE: Another e-mail from a very well-connected and disgruntled conservative:
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Good luck with future apprenticeships!
I never watched an episode of The Apprentice -- in fact, Erika and I were steamed about the show because it meant that Scrubs had been moved. However, I'll admit to having some ex post curiosity about the show, particularly the debate about the sexual office politics that the initial weeks stirred up.
So I'm just going to reproduce this tidbit of Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth gossip from MSNBC's Jeanette Walls and leave it at that:
Feel free to apply to be an Apprentice on the next season by clicking here.
What the hell is going on in Thailand?
Reuters reports that despite some anger among the Thai Muslim minority, the religious establishment in the country has backed the government's show of force:
It's far from clear just what is driving the violence in the south. I'll leave it to the commenters to suggest whether the problem is local or transnational.
UPDATE: Hmmm... Indonesia is having problems with Muslim extremists as well.
Expect to read "Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia" stories for the next week.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
"The revolution will not be blogged"
That's the title of George Packer's story about blogs in the May/June issue of Mother Jones, which I've read but haven't fully digested yet. The parts I found particularly appetizing:
My half-digested thoughts:
1) Almost against his will, Packer reveals an essential truth for why blogs do matter -- the press reads them. Why does the press read them? Because, apparently, the political press will read anything about politics.
2) In the sections where Packer criticizes blogs, conduct a mental experiment -- replace the word "blogosphere" with "New York Times op-ed columnists" or "David Broder." See if the criticism about lack of predictive capabilities or incestuousness still hold up. Indeed, short of a "Letter from New Hampshire"-length essay in The New Yorker, Packer's expectations of blogs seem well-nigh impossible to meet.
3) One wonders what Packer thinks of commenters on blogs.
UPDATE: One additional thought -- I think Packer wants to keep the blogosphere and the mediasphere separate, when in fact a lot of bloggers can cross the great divide. For me, the utility of the blog is that it functions as a kind of ongoing link-filled notebook about interesting political and economic trends -- well, that and an excuse to link to Salma Hayek, of course. The stuff I write for the mediasphere starts off as half-formed thoughts in blog posts. Once they're fully thought out, they can have the coherence, texture and craft that Packer seems to crave after reading blogs (I would never have written "The Outsourcing Bogeyman" if I hadn't been tracking the issue closely in blog posts, for example).
Outsourcing destroys good IT jobs. Oh, wait...
Eduardo Porter's report in today's New York Times reinforces what I said in Foreign Affairs about outsourcing and the tech sector -- that while more low-skill jobs will undoubtedly be created overseas, the complex tasks are going to stay in the United States. The good parts:
Read the whole thing.
More tales from the CPA
The Chicago Tribune interviews Northeastern Illinois University accounting professor Yass Alkafaji, and Iraqi émigré who went to Baghdad in January to "serve in the Coalition Provisional Authority as the director of finance for the Ministry of Higher Education." Read the whole interview -- but here are some of his thoughts:
David Adesnik also has some good links on Iraq.
Where to find evidence that up is down
Curious about information and evidence showing that for Bush and Kerry's political fortunes, up is down on Iraq? You can find a very embryonic version of this argument in this blog post of ten days ago.
The article was based on the polling data that has flummoxed DC insiders for the last ten days. Here's a link to the April 19th Washington Post-ABC News Poll, and here's a link to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken during the same week (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who linked to both articles).
Kerry's answers about the U.N. to Tim Russert on the April 18th Meet the Press can be found in this transcript. Krauthammer's spot-on essay on Kerry's Iraq position appeared last Friday in the Washington Post. Andrew Sullivan makes the case for Kerry to scold the anti-war movement in this Daily Dish post (you need to scroll down a bit). I discussed the constraints Kerry faces in taking a more assertive position in the Middle East in my last TNR Online essay, "Cornered."
I mentioned Howard Dean's desire to send more troops to Iraq last summer in last summer's TNR Online essay about Dean. Richard Clarke discusses the Somalia debacle -- and the mistake of pulling out following the Black Hawk Down incident -- in chapter four of Against All Enemies.
A final caveat -- the observation that Bush does better and Kerry does worse if there is trouble in Iraq falls apart if the trouble gets really serious. For all of the bad news coming out of that country, the fact remains that U.S. casualties remain quite low for such an occupation -- especially one with such a low ratio of occupying troops to population. If casualty numbers per week move from the tens into the hundreds or thousands, then calls for withdrawal will become more tempting for Kerry to make -- and the political logic discussed in the article won't hold.
My latest TNR Online essay is now up and running. It makes an effort to explain the seeming oddity of why Bush's poll numbers versus Kerry have improved in the last six weeks despite the difficulties in Iraq.
Go check it out!
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Law without order in Iraq
For me, the biggest frustration about Iraq is not that everything is going wrong, but that the things that are going wrong are important enough to undercut everything that has gone right in the U.S. occupation.
Take, for example, Colin McMahon's account in today's Chicago Tribune about the rebuilding of Iraq's court system. The good part:
The rebuilding of Iraq's legal system would be a fantastic, shout-from-the-rooftops-kind of accomplishment -- but without a general improvement in the order half of the equation, the achievement will have little effect.
Monday, April 26, 2004
A sobering account of Iraq -- from a CPA advisor
Larry Diamond -- one of the biggest supporters of the notion that democracy can travel across cultures -- was an advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq starting in January. No longer. The San Francisco Chronicle has a long story about Diamond's experiences in the field. He's still optimistic about democracy promotion -- but not about Iraq:
Read the whole thing.
Will education be outsourced?
One of the more amusing responses I get from the outsourcing essay is the reader's fervent desire that my profession be the next one vulnerable to outsourcing.
Yesterday's New York Times Education section raises a valuable point -- college education via the Internet is already place, in the form of continuing ed. This cover story points out:
Even Ph.D. defenses are going digital. It's just a matter of time before the educators on the other end of the network are based in countries other than the United States.
I for one, welcome our new
I'm back -- I'm jet-lagged
Back from a lovely conference in Hamburg, Germany, and trying to stay awake so that I can get back on Chicago time. Jacob -- I'm home!!
I've been out of the loop watching German music videos when not conferencing -- but I did see that Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. You can read what I said about Tillman last year in this post.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
My network news debut -- mark two
[More on outsourcing, huh?--ed. Nope -- this appearance has nothing to do with outsourcing. You're gonna have to watch to find out.]
UPDATE: Well, they apparently used it (What, you didn't see it? Don't give us that false modesty BS!--ed. No, I haven't seen it because I'm in Hamburg, Germany for a conference).
And to answer a commenter question, yes, they found me via the blog. An NBC researcher told me as much.
I can actually make a valid claim to expertise here, since I've read all the collections and been reading the strip on and off since 1980.
A very important post about... who would sleep with me in the blogosphere
This according to Meryl Yourish.
Woo-hoo! Yes, I'm happily married -- but as a complete geek who could never get girls in high school, this kind of information always nice to know.
Oh, wait... Yourish was just satirizing this John Hawkins post of the top ten bloggers he would want to be stranded on a desert island with. Yourish was just kidding.
I feel so... cheap and used. Sniff.
Excuse me, I gotta go watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan again.
Shafting the Palestinians?
At the risk of posting on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict again, Walter Russell Mead made a trenchant point in yesterday's New York Times op-ed page:
Read the whole thing for Mead's policy prescriptions.
Greg Djerejian also has a lengthy post on the Bush-Sharon summit that elaborates on this point in much greater detail. Shorter Djerejian: It's one thing to favor the Israelis in the conflict -- it's another thing to do it while simultaneously kicking the Palestinians in the balls.
China cuts a trade deal
The Financial Times reports that China has made numerous trade concessions in a deal with the United States:
Chinese central bank officials have also indicated that they plan to shift the renminbi from a fixed rate to a floating rate:
Question to those advocating greater protectionism towards China -- are these concessions sufficient? If not, what else?
The effect of school vouchers in Milwaukee
Given how important education is in the global economy, it's worth finding out whether school choice/vouchers/greater market competition can improve the quality of primary and secondary education in the United States.
Over at Crooked Timber, Harry Brighouse links to a Caroline Minter Hoxby paper in the Swedish Economic Policy Review that examines the effect Milwaukee's voucher program had on school performance. Brighouse has some questions about the paper, but closes with the following:
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Danieldrezner.com -- the musical!
Fine entrants, all [C'mon, admit that you like the Wang Chung song!--ed. Well, yeah, if I'm appropriately liquored up.] However, I'm not sure the folks at Blender have children -- in which case there's a whole new list of galactically cloying songs that make "We Built this City" sound like Beethoven's Fifth. How 'bout the Barney theme? The Dragon Tales theme? Raffi's completed works?
Readers are invited to submit their worst songs. And, while being in a musical mood, go check out Brad DeLong's post about songs where the cover version is superior to the original. You can see my contribution in the comments section.
Why aren't mutual fund investors freaked out?
The Chicago Tribune reports a puzzling finding regarding investors attitudes towards mutual funds in the wake of scandals involving late trading and market timing:
For the record, I haven't been following the scandals/investigations involving mutual funds, even though all of my stock investments are in such funds. Mostly that's because these funds haven't tanked -- and even if there was a downturn, I try not to get too exercised about fluctuations in the short-term.
Those who have more information about this scandal should comment away -- I'm hoping that this is one of those episodes in which the system actually worked, and these abuses were caught before they could dramatically affect market integrity.
[You're just an assistant professor -- maybe people with real money do care about this?--ed. Not according to the Trib piece:
You can take a look at Spectrem's press release about the survey by clicking here.]
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Why I have no plan of attack on Plan of Attack
I just received the following e-mail from an avid reader:
The plain and simple answer is, I'm swamped. These books are coming fast and furious, and I only have so many hours in the day. I'll try to get to it sometime soon. [Oh, sure you're swamped -- on things that don't sit well with your political views--ed. No -- I haven't had time to blog about either the oil-for-food scandal or Iran's role in the Shiite uprising. Really, I'm swamped.]
Parenthetically, there is another reason -- they're expensive to get in hardcover, dammit. Thankfully, one or two publishers have started sending me the occasional review copy -- and have I mentioned recently Ivo Daalder and James Lindsey's America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (Brookings, 2003) is a hell of a good read? However, publishers are unlikely to send bestsellers like the Susskind, Clarke, or Woodward books to bloggers -- they don't need us. [Jayson Blair needs you!--ed. Yes, but we don't want him.]
Apparently, I'm in the minority on even getting the occasional review book. David Bernstein's not getting review copies -- and he thinks that since he blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy, book companies should be sending him gratis review copies. Tyler Cowen points out that there may be a reason why this won't happen:
Kevin Keith offers an amusing but illegal solution to the problem.
Back to main point: feel free to discuss the Woodward book here.
UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Richard Starr e-mails a useful suggestion on the question of review copies:
The FCC's unintentional f$%&-up
Stuart Benjamin has a great post over at the Volokh Conspiracy on how the ratcheting up of FCC fines could actually lead to a long-term reduction of government censorship:
Does this mean NBC will replace the Today Show with Jenna Jameson Live!? Hardly. Broadcast networks would still be beholden to advertiser preferences.
If Benjamin is correct, and the short-term kerfuffle over broadcast standards erodes the government's long-term censorship powers, I have only this to say -- thank you, Janet Jackson!!
Forget TV -- listen to the rado
My debut on international TV experienced some technical difficulties -- so it's back to the radio for me!
I'll be on the hot seat on KERA's Glenn Mitchell Show from 1:00PM to 2:00 PM Central time on the subject of
You can listen into the broadcast by clicking here. We'll see if I can simultaneously blog about the experience as well.
UPDATE: So far, so good -- no belching on air yet.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I love doing call-in shows with access to the Internet -- make me sound like I've memorized a lot more information than I actually have.
FINAL UPDATE: That was most enjoyable. Lots of great questions, and all of them civil and well-reasoned.
Encouraging news from Pakistan
The New York Times reports that Pakistan is having some success in its spring offensive against the remnants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Northwest frontier:
The Copenhagen Consensus and financial instability
Back in March, the Economist, along with Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute (which is run by environmentalist bete noire Bjorn Lomborg), announced the Copenhagen Consensus project. As their March story phrased it:
You can go to the Copenhagen Consensus' main site by clicking here.
This week, the magazine reports on the report prepared by Barry Eichengreen on the costs of financial instability in the developing world. The costs are significant:
Bring on the capital controls!! Oh, wait, it's a bit more complicated:
[So you're saying we should just shrug off the $107 billion as the cost of doing business in a global economy?--ed. Absolutely not. More importantly, Eichengreen doesn't shrug it off either, and he's a real economist with some intriguing proposals up his sleeve -- though I'm not completely convinced they would work.]
You can download Eichengreen's paper here.
The weird psychology of the untenured
Henry Farrell was also at the Midwestern Political Science Association meetings, and picked up some interesting cocktail chatter about the life of untenured faculty at prestigious universities:
Be sure to read the comments to the post as well.
I have no idea where Henry got this impression -- the fact that I may have met him in the cocktail bar is the smallest sliver of a coincidence.
For the record, the University of Chicago is not quite as sado-masochistic a mistress as the aforementioned Ivies when it comes to getting tenure -- but this place sure as hell ain't a walk on the beach either.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Offshore outsourcing creates American jobs, redux
The Chicago Tribune reports today on how offshore outsourcing is aiding in the creation of more small business start-ups -- which help to create American jobs. The story focuses on one Chicago entrepreneur:
Virginia Postrel posts another example of how (onshore) outsourcing facilitates small business growth.
Your critical reading assignment for today
First, read this New York Times story on NAFTA's tribunal system and their supposed encroachment on state judiciaries.
Then, read Brad DeLong's takedown of said article.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Dedicated to the international readers of danieldrezner.com
UPDATE: Well, that was fun -- all 104 seconds of it!! The satellite feed cut out during the middle of the interview and that was that -- that or Ted Turner reeeeaaallly doesn't like me telling the truth and it was a grand conspiracy. [You're sounding like some of your commenters -- snap out of it!--ed. OK -- but I think it's an awfully big coincidence that this happens less than 24 hours before Lou Dobbs inks a contract to write a book on outsourcing for Time/Warner's book division]
Reviewing the tape, however, I learned the following things about doing live, remote interviews:
I'm moving down the learning curve -- very, very, slowly.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
The New York Times solicits my opinion
Well, that still holds. But a different section of the paper -- the New York Times Book Review -- decided, in its infinite wisdom, to solicit my view on Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization. The result is in this Sunday's Times. Here's the first paragraph:
Take that, Gail Collins!
[Hey, wasn't In Defense of Globalization one of your March books of the month? Isn't there a conflict of interest here?--ed. I'd finished the review back in February -- the NYT Book Review had built up a slight backlog.]
It should be noted for the record that despite strong temptation, I elected not to mention the fact that Bhagwati misspelled my name in the book (though, weirdly, he gets it right in the footnote, even though it gets screwed up again in the index).
[Foreign Affairs and the New York Times in just the past month. You're becoming quite the public intellectual!--ed. Oh, yes, if it wasn't for that Jessica Simpson, I'd be racking up the magazine covers. Racking, I tell ya.]
The neocon mea culpas
James Joyner observes that multiple neo-conservatives have published op-eds today critical of the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq. The kicker is David Brooks' New York Times column. Brooks still thinks the invasion was the right thing to do, but allows:
Matthew Yglesias doesn't accept Brooks' argument that invading Iraq was still the right thing to do:
Now, since back in the day I wrote a memo to liberal hawks urging them to support the war, I suppose Matt could blame me, except that I doubt my arguments tipped the scales either way.
Like Yglesias, I care about process issues. I've been saying for some time that the Bush administration has f@#&ed with the foreign policy process in serious ways. That said, I still side with Brooks over Yglesias -- provided the United States sees Iraq out to the end. If Bush -- or Bush's successor -- were to turn tail and withdraw from Baghdad without leaving a stable popular government in its wake, then I'm afraid Yglesias would be correct. From a humanitarian perspective, invading Iraq was the right thing to do. From a national security perspective, invading Iraq and then withdrawing in the face of insurgent attacks would be far worse than not invading in the first place.
And this point, I suspect, is what drives so many of Bush's mainstream opponents around the bend. It's one thing to have opposed the Iraq invasion -- that's a reasonable position to hold, and I said so at the time. However, responsible politicos recognize that it's irresponsible to advocate withdrawal after the invasion. The damage to the United States of pulling out in the midst of insugent violence would be severe. This is why Howard Dean, even when he was riding high in the polls, advocated sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.
During this campaign season, Bush's mainstream opponents are forced to support staying in a country that most of them did not want to invade in the first place. They didn't want to break the country -- but they're nonetheless stuck with the proof of purchase.
UPDATE: Niall Ferguson compares the Iraq of 2004 with the Iraq of 1920.
NATO deepens its cooperation
Transatlantic tensions have not prevented NATO from taking defense cooperation to the next level -- procurement. According to the New York Times: With NATO member states just days away from awarding a military contract for 4 billion euros to a trans-Atlantic consortium of aerospace companies, a new era of joint procurement may be dawning for the alliance, defense experts said on Thursday.
A group of six companies, led by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, known as EADS, and Northrop Grumman of the United States, looks set to win the contract, worth $4.8 billion, to build a mixed fleet of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft for the alliance by 2010, said a NATO official close to the selection process....
Against a backdrop of violence in Iraq and heightened concerns that terrorists may be aiming at Europe after the Madrid train bombings, pragmatism may be gaining the upper hand over the political procurement decisions of the past, analysts said. While some major European governments continue to disagree with the United States on a wide range of issues, including the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the willingness to deepen their cooperation within NATO may herald a renewed commitment to the alliance.
James Appathurai, a spokesman for NATO, called the decision "historic,'' confirming a report on Thursday in The Financial Times.
"This is only the second time in NATO's history that members join forces in procurement on this scale,'' he said. The first time, he said, was the Awacs surveillance system developed in the 1960's.
"The decision was reached pragmatically on the basis of price, capability and scheduling considerations - not necessarily three factors that have determined procurement decisions in the past,'' Mr. Appathurai said.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Yes, I'm at a conference again
I'll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, critical readers can re-read what I wrote a year ago about what the anti-war advocates got right and wrong about Iraq. [How well does it hold up?--ed. Opponents of the war were largely wrong about the ramifications outside of Iraq, but have a much better track record of what would happen inside of Iraq.]
Thursday, April 15, 2004
When is it good to be explicit?
David Adesnik writes a lengthy, must-read post about why the George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon's joint press conference became the lead story yesterday:
Here's the question -- in matters of diplomacy and world politics, is it always the right thing to make explicit what had been implicit?
One can make the case that an end to hypocrisy is an intrinsically good thing in world politics. However, international relations is also an arena where -- in the short term -- perception matters just as much as reality. While consistency and clarity can bolster an actor's reputation in world politics, ambiguity and, dare I say, nuance also have their advantages in bargaining and power projection. There are clear tradeoffs at work here.
I don't have a good answer to this question -- well, I don't have an answer that could be condensed into a blog post. I will therefore leave it to my readers to try to hash out.
Trading with China
So much for being inundated with a tidal wave of services imports due to outsourcing.
[But what about China? Surely their undervaluation of the renminbi is leading them to run such whopping trade surpluses?--ed.] Actually, as Nicholas Lardy pointed out last month in Congressional testimony, this narrative doesn't hold up:
Read the whole thing. This page has some relevant charts and graphs.
Al Qaeda offers a carrot to Europe
I doubt this will have any immediate effect on European countries that are committed to keeping their troops in Iraq. The disturbing question is whether that resolve would waver if another Madrid-style attack were to take place.
UPDATE: Here's Al Jazeera's report on the tape, which contains this odd quote from bin Laden:
Well, now I'm confused -- is the United Nations a tool of Zionist lackeys or an anti-Israeli institution?
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports on the widespread European rejection of bin Laden's offer.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Amazon.com vs. the blogosphere
James Marcus, a former senior editor for Amazon.com, has an amusing essay in the Washington Post on the varying quality of Amazon's customer reviews:
Here's a provocative thought -- does Marcus' assessment of Amazon's customer reviews also apply to the comments posted on blogs? Because bloggers lack the administrative resources/capabilities of Amazon.com, will this lead to the end of comment features over time?
I'll be further amused to see the customer comments on Marcus' forthcoming book, Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut
The next stage of campaign ads
The Onion amusingly identifies the next fake trend in negative campaign ads -- blasting voters rather than the other candidate. Here are some samples:
I have to think that late at night, after a few beers, both the Kerry and Bush campaign teams fantasize about airing these kind of ads.
The EU's divide-and-conquer strategy on agricultural trade
The Financial Times reports that the European Union has a strategy for getting its egregious Common Agricultural Policy through the Doha round to WTO talks unscathed -- buying off Mercosur:
Politically, this is a clever move on the EU's part, though it puts Brazil in the awkward position of simultaneously trying to act as a leader of the Global South while cutting most of these countries out of any EU benefits.
Economically, the perpetuation of the CAP is, as always, unambiguously stupid.
Meanwhile, the FT also reports that Oxfam has "accused the European Union on Tuesday of employing 'economic sophistry' to conceal the true costs of its controversial sugar regime, saying the policy inflicted big losses on poor countries and reduced the value of EU development aid." Here's a link to the press release and full version of Oxfam's report, "Dumping on the World."
Are campus crimes exaggerated?
Anne Hendershott has a provocative Chicago Tribune op-ed arguing that a University of Wisconsin-Madison student's bogus claims being abducted at knifepoint and enduring a five-day "imprisonment" are more common on campuses than many would think:
Read the whole article -- Hendershott addresses rape cases as well.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
The trouble with indices...
Every index can be challenged on the quality of the data that goes into it, and the weights that are assigned to the various components that make up the overall figure. A lack of transparency about methodology is also a valid criticism. For example, in my previous post on the competitiveness of different regions in the global information economy, the company responsible for the rankings provides little (free) information on how the index was computed. That's a fair critique.
Real Clear Politics has dueling graphs, comparing Kerry's misery index with the actual misery index. Check them out for youself.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Page 2 devises a much more controversial misery index for baseball teams. Why controversial? Because some Boston Red Sox fans will be shocked to learn that their beloved Olde Towne Team is only the sixth most immiserating team (Montreal was first):
I agree with ESPN, but I'm probably in the minority among Sox fans. Already, some Sox fans are outraged.
So, indices seem to serve one useful purpose -- the fostering of debate. So debate away!
San Francisco 1, Bangalore 0
The Financial Times reports on a survey of global regions and their competitiveness in the knowledge economy. The results are interesting:
Check out Robert's post for more.
Thrilling for a grilling
I'm very curious to see how the 9/11 Commission treats former FBI director Louis Freeh at today's hearings. Even more than the Bushies, Freeh was Richard Clarke's nemesis in Against All Enemies. Freeh launched a pre-emptive strike laying out his position in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. The key paragraph:
This is an able defense, but Clarke makes repeated assertions in his book that Freeh failed to follow through on counterterrorism, failed to update the FBI's antiquated computer systems, and reallocated resources officially allocated to the task towards more traditional FBI crime-fighting. [Could Clarke be leaving anything out because of his desire to exact his measure of bureaucratic revenge?--ed. Certainly -- And Freeh is correct to cite the marked increase of FBI legal attaches in U.S. embassies abroad, which were/are useful in combating terrorism.] Bush's official campaign blog is touting the op-ed, but I'm not sure that's the best thinking. The Bushies have the understandable defense of only having been on the job for eight months. Freeh has less of an excuse.
The questioning of Freeh is also a test for the 9/11 Commission to see just how much partisanship will affect their judgment. It would be very fishy if the Dems are not as hard on Freeh as they were on Rice.
UPDATE: Reuters has the precis of the Commission's staff report on the FBI. A "culture resistant to change" figures prominently.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Pandagon links to an old Tim Noah piece in Slate that blasts Freeh's handling of counterintelligence. Noah links to this New Yorker profile of Freeh's role in the Khobar Towers bombing.
Should U.S. courts listen to international law?
Tim Wu pens an interesting but incomplete Slate essay on a growing trend -- the citation of international law and foreign law in U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The highlight:
Wu argues that Scalia and Thomas are overreacting, comparing the citation of foreign experiences as the legal equivalent of a 50 Cent shout-out to Bob Dre:
Wu has a valid point to make -- the Supremes aren't in the thrall of Eurocrats. Still, one suspects that Wu is sanguine in part because the Court is citing foreign law that is consistent with modern liberalism. One wonders what the reaction would be if the foreign legal shout-outs were for less desirable principles the conservatism of the Official Secrets Act or the more statist bent behind U.N. treaties on economic and social rights.
The citation of foreign legal norms is not merely decorative -- it's strategic as well.
As further evidence that Slate has cornered the popular market on interesting Supreme Court writing, go read Dahlia Lithwick's quickie on the Supreme Court's federal marshals.
UPDATE: Jacob Levy reminds me that he penned an excellent TNR Online essay five months ago on this very topic. Levy draws an appropriate distinction between appropriate and inappropriate citations of foreign law:
Monday, April 12, 2004
Robert Maranto appropriates my line
Political scientists sometimes do think alike. I've argued repeatedly that the way to understand Richard Clarke's position vis-à-vis the Bush administration has been that of a pure bureaucratic actor:
Robert Maranto, who teaches political science and public administration at Villanova University, makes some similar observations in today's Wall Street Journal:
Then there's this point:
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more on some revisionist elements of Clarke's book.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
How I spent the last four days
I was in Washington, DC for the last four days at a Liberty Fund conference organized by Tyler Cowen that included several bloggers -- Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok, Asymmetrical Information's Megan McArdle, FuturePundit's Randall Parker, and Cronaca's David Nishimura. A fine time was had by all the bloggers -- although those participants who had no friggin' idea what a blog was before they arrived probably heard more than they cared to hear about the blogosphere.
Among the more memorable moments:
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Will there be a Tet Offensive effect?
David Brooks says that everyone needs to take a deep breath on Iraq:
Let's assume this is true -- and let's further assume that these uprisings will be put down. My question is, will this have the same effect as the 1968 Tet Offensive? Tet was a military disaster that nevertheless exposed a vulnerable administration to (accurate) charges that it had micharacterized how the conflict was proceeding -- and therefore a long-term victory for the North Vietnamese [You're comparing this to Vietnam!! Bad Drezner!!--ed. No, I'm asking a more specific question].
My tentative answer is that the political effect in the United States will not echo Tet. However, a Tet effect might kick in outside the United States -- in allied countries that have troops in Iraq, and within Iraq itself. In alled countries, countries that dispatched troops had restive populations to begin with -- this only makes it easier to mobilize mass action. In Iraq, those who oppose but fear insurgents are less likely to take positive action.
The Financial Times has stories on both phenomenon. In one article, they observe that, "Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's prime minister, faced the severest test of his decision to send troops to Iraq as his government sought support for a rescue of three citizens kidnapped by an Iraqi militia group." In another article, the FT reports:
Friday, April 9, 2004
What to read about the Iraqi uprisings
Noam Scheiber converts some of these lemons into lemonade:
Virginia Postrel typically has smart things to say:
A substantive debate
One of the underlying criticisms of the Bush administration's prosecution of the War on Terror has been that it came into office with a realpolitik mindset and that -- even after 9/11 -- it has focused too much on states rather than non-state actors (i.e., Al Qaeda) in its anti-terrorism policy.
Spencer Ackerman identifies this key fissure in his latest TNR article. The political ramifications for the Bush administration could be problematic. The crux of the article:
Ackerman does miss one important detail in his argument, which is that in world politics, powerful states do much better at influencing the actions of other states than influencing the activities of non-state actors.
Which raises a question -- is it better to pursue an anti-terror strategy with productive strategies that only indirectly affect the terrorists themselves, or to pursue an anti-terror strategy with less productive strategies that directly affect the terrorists themselves?
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Open Rice thread
Comment on how well Condi does in her testimony in response to various queries here.
Open Iraq thread
No time for substantive blogging -- but comment on the mounting insurgency from radical Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq here. In particular, will international cooperation over Iraq be eroded as a result?
It was a stupid thing to say, but then again, given Dodd's position on outsourcing, it's far from the only stupid thing he's said recently.
The thing is, unlike Lott, I'm not sure Dodd has a leadership position to resign from.
Friday, April 2, 2004
A small blog sabbatical
For the next ten days, I will be away from a computer. I'll be at an undosclosed sandy beach with my family for the first week, and then after that I'll be at a conference for several days [What's the difference between a vacation and a conference?--ed. At conferences, there's like, homework and stuff.] There will be limited to no blogging for the next ten days.
Discussion topic -- Andrew C. McCarthy's essay "The Intelligence Mess: How It Happened, What to Do About It." in the April issue of Commentary. McCarthy led the 1995 prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in connection with the first World Trade Center bombing. He's skeptical that the mantra of "greater interagency coordination" will work:
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, April 1, 2004
April's Books of the Month
This month's international relations book is Amy Zegart's Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC [FULL DISCLOSURE: The very talented Ms. Zegart and I went to graduate school together]. This recommendation comes in the wake of important questions about how to reform America's intelligence-gathering apparatus for the war on terror. Zegart demonstrates the bureaucratic hurdles to either reforming or creating efficient foreign policy institutions are considerable.
The general interest book is Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Here's a precis of Pinker's argument:
Plus, as far as I'm concerned, this book has now acquired totemic status.
What are the popular foreign policy books?
They've just come out with March's bestseller list:
If you look at the whole list, there are only three books that could be thought of as sympathetic to Bush's foreign policy -- Frum and Perle's An End to Evil, Richard Miniter's Losing Bin Laden, and Gaddis' Surprise, Security, and the American Experience
Question to readers -- does this mean:
a) A lot of Americans are interested in books that are critical of Bush's foreign policy (which implies a lot of Americans are unimpressed with it)?
b) The kind of people who buy foreign policy books in the first place are predisposed to dislike Bush's brand of hawkishness?
You be the judge!!
What's a small-l libertarian to do?
Megan McArdle writes what I'm thinking at the moment:
Read the whole thing.
My La-La experience
On Tuesday and Wednesday, your trusty blogger was in LA to give a talk at USC's Center for International Studies. It was quite the experience.
Have any readers experienced a moment during which they realized they were in a place that was way too hip/cool/edgy for them? That's how I felt when I checked into the Standard Hotel in the downtown. The place looked really fab -- clearly they had checked out Virginia Postrel's The Substance of Style. As the Guardian put it last year:
Alas, I witnessed no nighttime skinnydipping -- I had evening plans (I found out later that there was a private runway show and they booted the hotel's regular patrons from the rooftop bar anyway). Plus, I had dinner plans anyway. I can confirm the Star Trek-style waterbeds that would have made William Shatner proud.
However, the highlight of the trip was eating a fabulous lunch on the rooftop, and then noticing that the guy sitting at the next table bore more than a passing resemblance to Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!!
Regular readers know that I'm a big Buffy fan, and I always identified with Xander -- the smart aleck who never had any superpowers. [That, plus his character got to make out with Charisma Carpenter, Alyson Hannigan, and Emma Caulfield's characters on camera!--ed. Er, yeah, that too.]
I've been told repeatedly that the residents of LA never ask for authographs -- it's considered gauche. Well, I'm not from LA, baby!! So I asked Mr. Brendon, and he gladly obliged with an autograph on the only blank piece of paper I had -- the back cover to Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. Not entirely coincidentally, star blogger Megan McArdle is reading the very same book.
So I now own the ultimate academic geek artifact -- a copy of The Blank Slate autographed by a Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member.
Oh, and the talk went well, too.
[Why are you posting about all this?--ed. I'm trying to provide this guy some genuine blogosphere gossip.]