Friday, August 8, 2003
Hugh Hewitt's intriguing idea
Would it actually work? Maybe, maybe not. The largest blogs currently average less than 100,000 hits a day, so I'm not sure how large a built-in audience exists for this sort of thing. Still, by news channel standards, it's a decent starting point.
Plus, I wholeheartedly support any opportunity to see blue nail polish.
And if it didn't work out? There would be waves of media coverage about how the Blogosphere has jumped the shark, which would be followed by snarky blog posts mocking the media meme.
C'mon, MSNBC -- how could it be worse than Michael Savage?
If the news channels don't work out, the backup plan should be to encourage VH1 to start a monthly Behind the Blog feature.
Not a good sign for Ashcroft
The best defense of Ashcroft that I've heard is that he's no Janet Reno. I don't think that's a particularly ringing endorsement.
Thoughts on the Iraqi resistance
My all-time favorite Simpsons line comes at the end of an episode when Marge repeatedly tries to offer what the moral of the story was. At which point the following exchange takes place:
I bring this up in the wake of recent attacks, bombings, and assorted mayhem in Baghdad. Military spokesman, pundits, journalists, and yes, bloggers, are trying to fashion a coherent narrative to events on the ground (e.g., "Islamic terrorism is on the rise")when there may not be one, for two reasons:
1) There are disparate narratives across the country. One can acknowledge the chaos in Baghdad while still pointing out that market forces and first-hand accounts suggest that resistance is fading in other parts of the country.
2) There are disparate actors involved in the violent resistance. It seems increasing clear that Mickey Kaus and Hassam Fattah are correct in pointing out that there exist multiple forms of organized and disorganized resistance. There are a couple of sources for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq -- Baathists, foreign terrorists, radical Shiites, tribal chiefs, Al Qaeda infiltrators, etc. Juan Cole provides a list of possible suspects, including Ahmed Chalabi, which seems like a hell of a stretch to me.
Another wrinkle in this mix is that areas like the Sunni Triangle -- in which U.S. forces exercise precarious control -- are more likely to experience violence. Stathis Kayvas' work on this subject is particularly illuminating. One summary of his research contains this point:
My point? A lot of stuff is happening, and I doubt any single narrative will be able to explain it.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall has some similar thoughts on this issue.
Thursday, August 7, 2003
From the paper's executive summary:
The methodology used in the paper is pretty solid. It compares editorial responses for two liberal papers (the Washington Post and New York Times) and two conservative papers (the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times) on matched sets of issues -- the Zoe Baird and Linda Chavez nominations, for example. Noah rightly quibbles with labeling the Post as a liberal paper but concludes:
Tomasky is going to be the new executive editor for The American Prospect, so the right half of the blogosphere might be tempted to dismiss the study's findings. Some of them are probably not as generalizable as Tomasky thinks they are -- for example, Noah points out that editorial civility is likely to be a function of editorial page editor's personality rather than ideology. However, the final graf of Noah's piece has the ring of truth to it:
a) Tomasky's own rhetoric is biased and nasty;
(a) is correct but irrelevant -- what matters are the comparison of cases, not Tomasky's presentation style. (b) makes little sense -- obviously, one would prefer as large an N as possible, but controlled comparison -- which is what Tomasky does here -- is perfectly appropriate. (c) is a judgment call. I looked at the cases, and they seem pretty comparable to me -- but I'm sympathetic to arguments that some of the cases are not parallel. I have no doubt (d) is correct, and it's probably the best critique, but it doesn't necessarily vitiate his results.
Good economic news
Of course, this news came out the same day as this Bob Herbert op-ed predicting economic catastrophe.
What gets my neighborhood excited
I have no doubt this will elicit groans from those under the age of 18. who over the next few years will be receiving this weighty tome as a bar/bat mitzvah, confirmation, or graduation gift. However, according to the Chicago Tribune, my neighborhood's reaction has been somewhat different:
I will admit to some eagerness as well, if for no other reason than to see how they handle citations of electronic texts.
For more on this, there's a nice Q&A tool from the press, and Gary Lutz has already written a critique of the new grammar section for Slate.
Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Jerry just picked the wrong race
Contrast this with Mickey Kaus' recent observation about the California gubenatorial recall ellection:
Poor Jerry -- if only he was from a state that understood him.
You know, October is a sweeps month... perhaps taking his show on a trip to Cali would be in the offing?
Just trying to make mischief....
UPDATE: Imagine the following guests for a Springer visit to California:
A dyspeptic Canadian
David Martin really doesn't like Canadian conservatives. He says the following in today's Chicago Tribune:
This rant is pretty amusing, given the lack of influence conservatives have in Canada. The Conservative Party has never recovered from it's decimation following the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement. The Liberal Party has been ascendant in Canadian politics for the last decade.
Apparently, that's not enough for Martin. Only when every Canadian writing anything about Canada is suitably liberal will this man rest.
Go read the whole op-ed -- it manages to combine some unusual traits -- bitterness and silliness.
It would be prudent to know more
Want to know the background to my latest TNR online essay?
Dennis Hastert provides a lovely example of pro-war supporters quoting Burke to advance their cause. UPDATE: Oliver Kamm informs me that this Burke quotation is an urban legend, i.e., Burke never uttered these words. This January 2002 essay by Martin Porter supports this assertion. [I wish you had found this out when writing the article -- it would have been a perfect opening--ed. No argument here.]
Although I largely disagree with Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom, it's still worth reading. I critiqued parts of Zakaria's argument here and here. Robert Kagan critiqued it with far more relish in his New Republic review (TNR subscribers only).
Larry Diamond's arguments about the viability of democracy in the developing world can be read at your leisure in this Policy Review article. For those who want to see more of the raw data upon which Diamond bases his argument, click to this longer version of the paper.
Here's the main RAND page for America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq -- the quote in the TNR article comes from this press release. While Paul Bremer keeps this book at his bedside table, Fred Kaplan argues in Slate that senior Bush administration officials were foolhardy to ignore the advice from its primary author, James Dobbins.
On commentary calling for the U.S. to admit it overreached and therefore pull out of Iraq, see this Hubert Locke essay from the Seattle Times from last month, and this Edward Luttwak op-ed from yesterday's Los Angeles Times.
Finally, for further reading on what Edmund Burke -- and other political theorists -- can teach us about the postwar administration of Iraq, go check out Stanley Kurtz's nuanced discussion of the topic in this Policy Review article, as well as a more embryonic version of the argument in City Journal. The greatest compliment I can pay to Kurtz's use of Burke is that it there was no way I could summarize it accurately in my TNR essay without going past my word limit.
Final caveat: although I have no doubt that my critics will heartily agree with this assessment, let me still get it on the record -- I have not nor will I ever claim to be an expert on Edmund Burke.
TAKING ON BURKE
My latest TNR online article is up -- it addresses critics of democracy promotion in general and specifically with regard to Iraq. Go check it out.
Testing -- one, two... sibilance...
Glenn Reynolds gets a new RX-8 -- I finally get my own web site. Such is the food chain of the blogosphere.
So take a look around. Note that I've added a comments feature -- we'll see how that works out. Also note that the posts that have been moved from Blogger have duplicate titles and such -- I'll try to iron that problem out over the next week or so.
In the meantime, enjoy!!
Tuesday, August 5, 2003
A critique of administration excesses
Last month I linked to a defense of the administration's homeland security policies in response to criticism from civil libertarians. Now, lots of links to examples of administration overreaching in the name of homeland or national security.
Check out this Postrel post as well.
To be fair, the administration line on this is that Newcomb -- head of the Office of Foreign Assets Control -- was wrong about what was classified and what was not.
Monday, August 4, 2003
How left is the Academy?
Two small points and one larger point in response.
The trouble with animus
Josh Marshall bats .500 in this post on Democratic animus towards the Bush administration. The key section:
Marshall is absolutely correct on the animus parallels. However, he whiffs in failing to mention the logical conclusion of this parallel -- that if the Democrats keep this up, they'll be out of power for the next five years.
Reforming Iraqi higher education
For those who believe in media conspiracies, it's interesting to note that over the weekend both the Washington Post (link via InstaPundit) and the New York Times had long articles on efforts to reform Iraq's universities.
Meanwhile, the Times story has more detail on curricular reform, suggesting that U.S. authorities are making the right decision by delegating a healthy share of responsibility to the Iraqis:
Frankly, the progress described in both articles is extraordinary. As someone who spent a year in Civic Education Project working to rebuild Ukraine's university system after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it sounds like the Iraqis have a much firmer commitment to reform.
I answer them over at Crescat Sententia. Topics range from blogging to North Korea to Buffy to my mother. Go check it out.