Friday, September 5, 2003

Chris Bertram overreaches

Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram thinks InstaPundit is slanting his posts.

Glenn linked to a Guardian article on agricultural subsidies with the header, "WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world's poor so much?" Chris observes:

[A] more thorough reading of the same article would have led him to this paragraph:

Washington and Brussels have tabled a joint proposal on agriculture that would involve far smaller cuts in protectionism than developing countries want. The proposal has been countered by a blueprint from leading developing countries that would involve far more aggressive reductions.

A joint proposal then? So it isn’t just those cheese-eating surrender-monkeys after all.

Brad DeLong provides a similar interpretation.

Lord knows I've been hard on the Bush administration's protectionist leanings as of late, but Chris and Brad are making a bogus allegation with this post.

The Guardian story that Glenn linked to focused entirely on some belligerent quotes from European officials, including this one from Franz Fischler that manages to top anything Donald Rumsfeld has said:

Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner, said Brussels would strongly defend its farmers.

He said many recent attacks on the EU's much maligned common agricultural policy (CAP) were"intellectually dishonest" PR stunts....

"If I look at the recent extreme proposal co-sponsored by Brazil, China, India and others, I cannot help [getting] the impression that they are circling in a different orbit," Mr Fischler [told] reporters.

"If they want to do business, they should come back to mother earth. If they choose to continue their space odyssey they will not get the stars, they will not get the moon, they will end up with empty hands."

As for the agreement that Chris and the Guardian reference, the reason that it stinks is not the U.S., which has pressed for further liberalization in agriculture. The culprit is the E.U., which has been dragged kicking and screaming into making only minimal concessions. You can blame the U.S. for not bargaining better with the Europeans (or the Japanese) on the issue of agricultural subsidies, but that's it.

I've got no love for U.S. agricultural subsidies, but what's driving the potyential impasse at Cancun is not the Bush administration, but the European Union's intransigence -- a point the Guardian's blog emphasizes.

Glenn's framing of the story was correct -- Chris's (and Brad's) wasn't.

NOTE: I've updated this post since Chris Bertram's comment below in order to respond to his points.

posted by Dan at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)'s new motto

Robert Tagorda highlights Matt Welch's essay on blogs in the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review. I found this graf from Robert's post pretty funny:

I can only add that professional writers should consider regularly tapping academic blogs as useful resources. I remember, for instance, that the Las Vegas Review-Journal cited Eugene Volokh's posts on the Nevada Supreme Court. Perhaps other papers can turn to the likes of Brad DeLong, Juan Cole, Kieran Healy, Mark Kleiman, and Dan Drezner for their expert opinion (the last one, it seems, can even give paparazzi a pointer or two about Hollywood sex goddesses!). To be sure, academic blogs make up just part of the blogosphere. But for journalists, these blogs probably belong among the 10% that "aren't crap."

Yes, I should put this somewhere on my cv:

  • Belongs among the 10% of blogs that 'aren't crap.'
  • Better than the paparazzi as a guide to Hollywood sex goddesses!!

  • posted by Dan at 04:00 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (1)

    Rumblings of discontent from the right

    I've given the Bush administration a rough ride this week on its trade policy and its Iraq policy. Some may think I'm going wobbly and abandoning my idiosyncratic melange of conservative and libertarian principles.

    Actually, surfing the blogosphere, I'd say it's the Bush administration that has gone wobbly. In the past week, the White House has shown itself to be enthusiastic about protectionism, profligate in its domestic spending, and passive in it's foreign policy management. What's conservative about this?

    Think I'm exaggerationg? Go read Andrew Sullivan, Jacob Levy, Glenn Reynolds, Kim du Toit, the Spoons Experience, and yet more Andrew Sullivan. We're hardly monolithic in our politics, but there is a common denominator -- free markets, limited domestic government, robust foreign policy -- that this administration has left unsated.

    Let me be as plain as possible -- the ideologies of conservatism and libertarianism cannot be reduced to unwavering support for tax cuts. Very few people on the right share Britney Spears' position on supporting the President.

    The chairman of the Republican National Committee disagrees, believing that the Democratic alternatives are so bad that real conservatives have no other choice (that's du Toit's view as well).

    This position is certainly consistent with the median voter theorem on how to win elections -- and, as I observed recently, the Dems are currently experiencing technical difficulties in finding an exciting centrist alternative. However, since the median voter theorem assumes 100% voter turnout, the Bush team may be overestimating the enthusiasm of those on the right to go and vote for the least offensive alternative in November 2004.

    I'm not giving up on the administration -- Bush has an uncanny ability to demonstrate his leadership qualities when the chips are down. However, I'm not going to be rejecting the Democratic lever -- or pulling no lever at all -- anytime soon.

    posted by Dan at 11:08 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (3)

    Karl Rove's dream voter


    Britney Spears has waded into the deep areas of kissing Madonna and the war with Iraq in an interview with Crossfire's Tucker Carlson. Let me just reprint this Yahoo! Launch story in full:

    In a truly bizarre interview pairing, pop princess Britney Spears sat down for an interview Wednesday (September 3) with CNN's conservative political pundit Tucker Carlson. Wearing what appeared to be a blonde wig with red streaks, and chomping on a piece of gum, Spears answered questions ranging from her now-infamous kiss with Madonna, to her view of the war in Iraq.

    The youthful-looking Carlson, wearing his trademark bow-tie, asked Spears about the kiss with Madonna onstage last week during MTV's Music Video Awards show. Spears said, "I didn't know it was going to be that long and everything," explaining that during rehearsal Madonna had told her they'd just play it by ear during the performance. She also said that she'd never kissed a woman before, and wouldn't again--unless it's Madonna.

    Carlson then steered the interview to politics, asking Spears if she'd supported the war in Iraq. Spears answered, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that." She declared that she trusts President Bush, but when asked about the president's political future, Spears told Carlson that she doesn't know if he'll get re-elected. (emphasis added)

    Now, I've supported the president on multiple policy fronts, but doesn't this seem a bit too.... er.... bubblegum as a form of political participation? I mean, compared to her advanced work in semiconductor physics, this is a bit of a letdown in intellectual quality.

    Still, if I'm Karl Rove, I'm arranging a photo-op ASAP.

    posted by Dan at 09:09 AM | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (2)

    Drezner gets results from the Center for Global Development!!

    Four months ago I wrote a Tech Central Station article that criticized an effort by the Center for Global Development to create "an index that measures 21 developed countries on a plethora of policies that help or harm poor nations." I said that Ranking the Rich was biased against the United States.

    What's the Center for Global Development's response to this (constructive) criticism? A nice letter thanking me for my essay, and a request to join their Board of Advisors for their updating/revising of the index. Now that's a classy move!!

    [Maybe it's a co-opting move--ed. Well, duh, but it does require them to take my suggestions seriously. You've co-opted me!--ed.]

    posted by Dan at 09:05 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

    Thursday, September 4, 2003

    Now this is managing

    A perfect follow-up to today's post on Bush's management of the Iraq situation comes in the form of this New York Times story on the job Major General David H. Petraeus is doing commanding the 101st Airborne in Northern Iraq. [Petraeus, Petraeus... that name sounds familiar--ed. I've blogged about him before.] A few nuggest from the story suggest the kind of management skills necessary to get results:

    A five-day trip through the 101st Division's large area of operation showed that American military, not the civilian-led occupation authority based in Baghdad, are the driving force in the region's political and economic reconstruction.

    The ethnic makeup of the north — a diverse blend of Arabs, Kurds, Turkoman and tribes — is less hostile to the American presence than the troublesome Sunni triangle around Baghdad, although it has the potential for ethnic strife. But that only partly explains the military's relative success here.

    Other elements are the early deployment of a potent American force large enough to establish control, the quick establishment of new civil institutions, run by Iraqis, and a selective use of raids to capture hostile groups or individuals while minimizing the disruption to local civilians.

    Another factor has been an American commander who approached so-called nation-building as a central military mission and who was prepared to act while the civilian authority in Baghdad was still getting organized.

    An Army general who holds an advanced degree in international relations from Princeton, General Petraeus was steeped in nation-building before he arrived in Iraq. He served as the assistant chief of staff for operations for SFOR, the international peacekeeping force in Bosnia. His division is also well suited for its mission. Unlike an armored unit, it has lot of infantry soldiers — nearly 7,000 — to conduct foot patrols and stay in touch with the local population. It also has 250 helicopters to travel across northern Iraq.

    "We walk, and walking has a quality of its own," the general says. "We're like cops on the beat."....

    The 101st has also established an employment office for former Iraqi military officers, found grain silos for local farmers and trained the local police.

    In some cases, like the creation of an internal Iraqi security force, the 101st developed policies that Mr. Bremer's authority only recently embraced.

    "If there is a vacuum in the guidance from Baghdad or from Washington, Petraeus will study the situation and take action," said Gordon Rudd, the historian for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the civilian authority in Iraq before Mr. Bremer's appointment....

    The 101st Division's sense of mission is swiftly apparent at General Petraeus's command center inside a Mosul palace.

    "We are in a race to win over the people," reads a sign. "What have you and your element done today to contribute to victory?"

    Obviously, the art of management at Bush's level is slightly different than at Petraeus' level. Still, the general's clear definition of the mission and willingness to take action should resonate in the White House.

    posted by Dan at 04:49 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (1)

    Playing with the big boys over at the Hotline

    Politics junkies know that the source for good inside-the-Beltway info is the Hotline, put out by the National Journal group. Today's Hotline has a review of campaign blogs from Mickey Kaus, Joshua Michah Marshall, and yours truly. Here's the link -- I'll just post the choicest quotes about each of the individual campaign blogs:

  • Dennis Kucinich: "Anyone who liked this blog probably also believes that Gigli is the feel-good hit of the summer."

  • John Kerry: "Overall, a little dull." [That's the best you can do?--ed. That's the most exciting thing I could find -- kind of a metaphor, really].

  • Howard Dean: "The form of the blog is awesome, and the constant stream of posts impressed me.... [but] at times it was like reading the transcript to a PBS pledge drive."

  • Bob Graham: "There were posts on it... that looked like they were written by a real blogger, with links to news stories and the Graham campaign's take on them. Then there were posts that seem a bit random -- just like a real blog!!"
  • Go check out the whole thing. Not surprisingly, Kaus and Marshall make excellent points.

    UPDATE: For Hotline readers clicking over here to check out, click here and here to see my take on the foreign policy positions of the major Democratic contenders.

    posted by Dan at 02:33 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

    There's micromanaging and then there's not managing at all

    When I was providing some extremely minor campaign advice for Bush during the 2000 election, a lot of my fellow academics would tease me about Bush being dumber than Gore. My automatic counter was to ask them which person they felt more confident in as a manager of the exective branch. There was Bush, who seemed to have mastered the fine balance between delegation and hands-on controlwhile governor of Texas. Then there was Gore, a decent, flawed man cursed with a legislator's mentality, who never met an issue he couldn't micro-manage to death. Even my most ardent liberal friends usually shut up when I brought this up (and, post-election, I had many off-the-record discussions with disgruntled Gore staffers confirming that management was Gore's Achilles heel).

    I raise this point in the wake of this Washington Post behind-the-scenes piece on the Bush administration's decision to go back to the United Nations for another Iraq resolution in the hopes of coaxing more non-American troops into the country (link via Josh Marshall). High up in the article there's an astonishing couple of paragraphs:

    On Tuesday, President Bush's first day back in the West Wing after a month at his ranch, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell walked into the Oval Office to present something close to a fait accompli.

    In what was billed as a routine session, Powell told Bush that they had to go to the United Nations with a resolution seeking a U.N.-sanctioned military force in Iraq -- something the administration had resisted for nearly five months. Powell, whose department had long favored such an action, informed the commander in chief that the military brass supported the State Department's position despite resistance by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Bush and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, whose office had been slow to embrace the U.N. resolution, quickly agreed, according to administration officials who described the episode.

    Thus was a long and high-stakes bureaucratic struggle resolved, with the combined clout of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department persuading a reluctant White House that the administration's Iraq occupation policy, devised by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, simply was not working....

    For an administration that prides itself on centralized, top-down control, the decision to change course in Iraq was uncharacteristically loose and decentralized. As described by officials in the White House, State Department and Pentagon, the White House was the last to sign on to the new approach devised by the soldiers and the diplomats. "The [Pentagon] civilians had been saying we didn't need any more troops, and the military brass had backed them," a senior administration official said. "Powell's a smart guy, and he knew that as soon as he had the brass behind him, that is very tough to ignore." (emphasis added)

    I've expressed my doubts about the international option, but I've also made clear that I think it's a better choice than sticking with the status quo.

    That's besides the point. What bothers me about this story is that the White House -- on the most important foreign policy issue of the day, and potentially the biggest campaign issue for 2004 -- was essentially a passive actor in this story. The President seemed perfectly comfortable to let Powell and Rumsfeld play bureaucratic politics with each other ad infinitum. Only when Powell and the Joint Chiefs were able to break the logjam did the policy shift -- for more on this see this Marshall post as well. [Isn't the Post story just another example of Powell puffery?--ed. The sourcing of the article -- lots of DOD people -- suggests that this version of events isn't the result of Powell spinning the story].

    Micro-managing an issue is one way for a President to screw up policy, but too much of a hands-off approach can be just as debilitating. This summer, the White House has veered too much in that direction.

    President Bush: hope you had a nice vacation at the ranch. Now get off your butt, take charge, manage the problem, and see your vision of a transformed Middle East through to its logical conclusion. Or, as Andrew Sullivan puts it:

    C'mon, Dubya. Follow-through; follow-through. Some of us are worried not because we want you to fail, but because we want you to succeed.

    As they say in Texas -- yep.

    UPDATE: Powell and the Joint Chiefs are officially denying the Post's version of events. Methinks they doth protest too much.

    posted by Dan at 11:47 AM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (3)

    Wednesday, September 3, 2003

    A few good rants -- on

    One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can post about pretty much anything. I try to keep the ratio around 50% on world politics, 25% on domestic politics, 15% on academia, 9% on popular culture, and 1% on Salma Hayek (as opposed to Friedrich von Hayek).

    Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on is about 50% on football, 25% on humorous asides about current events, 20% on "megababes" (his word) and 5% on serious rants.

    Unless, like me, you like football there's a chance you would miss some of the good rants. So as a public service to the blogosphere, let me put Easterbrook's rant from his column two weeks ago about Toronto mayor Mel Lastman's comments following the Northeast blackout:

    In the hours after the blackout, Toronto's mayor Mel Lastman declared that the problem must have started in America but, "Have you ever seen the United States take blame for anything?" Mel, we've taken the blame for more awful errors than anyone can count -- the bomb that hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the destruction of the Iranian Airbus among many others. Just a few months ago, in a case that every Canadian except, apparently, the mayor of Toronto knows, America took the blame for the four noble Canadian soldiers whom United States forces killed with friendly fire in Afghanistan. America accepts lots of blame because we are out defending the free world: and equally important, defending the notion of freedom. Year after year, liberal democracy spreads and tyranny continues its retreat, because year after year the United States surrenders blood and treasure in this vital fight. Canada sleeps well, with very small defense expenditures and thus more money to spend on itself, because the United States stands guard.

    Canada's recent track record at taking the blame? In 1993, a Canadian commando unit in Somalia tortured a civilian to death. The Canadian military and the Ottawa federal government denied responsibility, then engaged in a three-year cover-up. Here is a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation summary of the cover-up and investigation, plus CBC's lament that "The government's decision to cut the inquiry short left many questions unanswered." So people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, eh? Regardless of whether the power is on in the glass house.

    Indeed. Here's another excellent rant on an issue I failed to blog about out of sheer laziness, the Ten Commandments flap in Alabama. This is what Easterbrook has to say about Alabama Chief Justice (and unofficial chief jackass) Roy Moore:

    Moore further said that the First Amendment precept, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion," does not apply to him because "I am not Congress." Drag this incompetent lunatic out of the court quickly, please. Anyone with entry-level knowledge of Constitutional law knows that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, was intended to extend the Bill of Rights to state governments; that a 1937 Supreme Court decision specifically declared that the First Amendment binds state officials like Judge Moore.

    As a church-going Christian... I find it deeply embarrassing when Christianity is associated, in the public eye, with hucksters like Moore. I find it embarrassing, too, when Christians supporting Moore's hunk of stone suggest that a big object in a public square is what matters, rather than the power of God's message itself. Anyone who needs to look at a big object in order to believe, doesn't really believe.

    Indeed again.

    UPDATE: This Jay Drezner post reminds me why I like football so much.

    posted by Dan at 03:00 PM | Comments (18) | Trackbacks (0)

    Protecting myself with some useful links

    This TNR essay was really an organic outgrowth from multiple blog posts over the last month. Click here to read about the recent breakthrough in trade talks over the pharmaceuticals issue. I have penned a number of posts on the outsourcing issue as of late, each chock full of useful links. Click here, here, here, and here for more.

    The sources for the official quotes are the National Security Strategy of the United States and this ABC News story on President Bush's Labor Day speech. The quote from Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales' Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists is from page 282 of their book. Oh, and for a look at how far the dollar has fallen against the euro in recent years, check out this graph.

    Still confused on the merits of free trade for national security? Check out Brink Lindsey's thoughtful analysis, "The Trade Front: Combating Terrorism with Open Markets."

    Still confused on the merits of free trade for the American economy? Beyond the Ragan and Zingales book, the best source is Douglas Irwin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth. He's written two excellent and accessible books on the merits of free trade and open economic exchange for the United States. The first one, Against the Tide, examines the myriad intellectual arguments advanced in favor of protectionism and, to be blunt, why they all suck eggs. The more recent one, Free Trade Under Fire, directly rebuts the argument that free trade hurts the United States. As for the "crisis" in manufacturing, Arnold Kling has a Tech Central Station article debunking much of the hysteria (link via Ben Muse).

    If, after reading these, you're looking for evidence rebutting the claim that free trade benefits the economy, the best source is probably Alan Tonelson's The Race to the Bottom. His theory is wrong, and his data slightly cooked, but it's a much better than, say, Pat Buchanan's tired rant.

    Oh, and political scientists may notice that what I label "hypocritical liberalization" bears more than a passing resemblance to John Gerard Ruggie's notion of "embedded liberalism" to describe the economic order from 1945-1973. Here's a link to Ruggie's thoughts on whether embedded liberalism can survive in an era of economic globalization.

    posted by Dan at 11:27 AM | Trackbacks (0)

    I live to bash protectionists

    My latest TNR essay is up -- it's an analysis of whether the Bush administration will become more protectionist in the run-up to the 2004 election. Alas, I fear the answer is yes.

    Go check it out.

    posted by Dan at 11:08 AM | Trackbacks (0)

    Correcting some public opinion misperceptions

    Lawrence Kaplan has an excellent New Republic essay on public tolerance for casualties during war (subscription required). Elites generally assume that the public is unwilling to tolerate combat deaths -- here's an example from the Economist a few weeks ago:

    America has changed since September 11th. The new mood allows for more nationalism, more assertiveness, less patience with allies, a greater readiness to go it alone. But there is no appetite to spend a lifetime in a sweaty country in the service of a noble cause. The memories of Vietnam, where every effort to withdraw or hand over to the locals seemed to lead to further entanglement, have not departed.

    Kaplan's essay is essentially a literature review demonstrating plainly that this assumption is a crock of bull@#$t. The key grafs:

    The public has long been less fearful of casualties than America's political and military elites assume--and, for that matter, less fearful than the elites themselves....

    Specifically, polls demonstrate that Americans will sustain battle deaths if they think the United States will emerge from a conflict triumphant, if they believe the stakes justify casualties, and if the president makes a case for suffering them. Each of these measures has important implications for the operation in Iraq. "The public is defeat-phobic, not casualty-phobic," Christopher Gelpi and Peter Feaver conclude in their forthcoming book, Choosing Your Battles: American Civil-Military Relations and the Use of Force
    , which culls a mountain of data to prove the point.

    Another excellent and recent source of data on this point is Steven Kull and I.M. Destler's Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism.

    A perusal of these books also reveals another interesting fact -- the American public is far more enthusiastic about multilateralism than some experts
    believe. Beyond the Kull and Destler book, go check out this paper by Benjamin Page and Dukhong Kim for more on American support for international cooperation.

    posted by Dan at 11:04 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

    High point

    Yesterday the blog received the greatest number of unique visits and page views to date -- over 7,500 unique visits and over 9,500 page views.

    Thanks to everyone for clicking!!

    posted by Dan at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

    Tuesday, September 2, 2003

    Half-day guest

    For the rest of today I'll be guest-blogging over at the Volokh Conspiracy. I'll be back tomorrow.

    posted by Dan at 02:21 PM | Trackbacks (0)

    Yes, Virginia, there is a $400 toilet brush

    I delayed going into the office by an hour so I could watch Virginia Postrel on CNN this morning, discussing her new book, The Substance of Style (Amazon rank #199 and climbing!!). The piece included Postrel displaying myriad styles of toilet brushes.

    Three thoughts:

    1) Her Aruba Blue nail polish matched her blouse perfectly. What better way to demonstrate the utility of aesthetics?

    2) No mention of her blog? Too bad.

    3) In the teasers for the piece, the anchor kept using the term "image" instead of "style", which carried a more negative connotation. It always annoys me when network producers tease with a slant that contradicts the substance of the piece. In other words, unlike Postrel, CNN's style fails to match its substance.

    Anyways, congratulations to Virginia!!

    UPDATE: For more on the search for cutting-edge aesthetics, go check out Virginia's home page for The Substance of Style, as well as this Time cover story.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: CNN now has a transcript of the piece on its web site -- and here's Virginia's own take on the experience.

    posted by Dan at 11:05 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)

    Monday, September 1, 2003

    Not a good sign for free markets

    Alas, Glenn Reynolds' prediction about the politicization of outsourcing seems to be coming true. Even though the election is more than a year away, President Bush seems fully prepared to pander to protectionist sentiments. From ABC News:

    President Bush announced Monday he is creating a high-level government post to nurture the manufacturing sector, which is bleeding jobs in states crucial to his re-election.

    On a rain-soaked Labor Day trip to a factory training center, Bush said he had directed Commerce Secretary Don Evans to establish an assistant position to focus "on the needs of manufacturers." Keeping factory jobs is critical to a broader economic recovery, the president said, his outdoor venue ringed by cranes, backhoes and bulldozers.

    Bush said the nation has lost "thousands of jobs in manufacturing." In fact, the losses have soared into the millions: Of the 2.7 million jobs the U.S. economy has lost since the recession began in early 2001, 2.4 million were in manufacturing. The downturn has eliminated more than one in 10 of the nation's factory jobs.

    The president attributed the erosion to productivity gains and to jobs flowing to cheaper labor markets overseas. He suggested that jobs moving to foreign shores was his primary reason for creating the new manufacturing czar.

    "One way to make sure that the manufacturing sector does well is to send a message overseas, (to) say, look, we expect there to be a fair playing field when it comes to trade," Bush said.

    "See, we in America believe we can compete with anybody, just so long as the rules are fair, and we intend to keep the rules fair," Bush said, his audience of workers and supporters cheering. (emphasis added)

    Let's be clear -- creating an assistant to the Commerce Secretary will have zero effect on manufacturing jobs. Stimulating domestic economic growth is the best way to affect this sector of the economy. The creation of such a position is pure politics. So maybe the protectionist sentiment is pure rhetoric.

    What worries me is that the politics of this phenomenon suggests that Bush will be unable to ignore demands for greater barriers to foreign trade and investment. To understand why, go read this Chicago Tribune story on the effect of globalization on rural labor. The key grafs:

    For decades, growth-minded rural towns have vied to attract manufacturers by offering tax breaks and other incentives. The expansion strategy is based on what economists call the "multiplier effect": When a new employer comes to town, the influx of new payroll money creates jobs throughout the local economy, as workers begin buying new homes, cars, and other goods and services.

    Now, with manufacturers closing U.S. plants and switching production to cheap-labor sites in Mexico and China, the multiplier is working in reverse. The attribute that has long made manufacturing so attractive to communities--its ability to spark an outsize number of new jobs--is magnifying the economic disruption caused by manufacturer pullouts.

    Rural communities' strategy of seeking growth through manufacturing "is colliding full force with a globalizing economy," said Mark Drabenstott, an economist with the Center for the Study of Rural America at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

    Bush, in order to win, desperately needs rural voters. He cannot and will not ignore this constituency. Which means more protectionist rhetoric and more protectionist policies to come.

    [But don't these articles also highlight real economic pain?--ed. Yes, but these article are also emblematic of the "lump of labor" fallacies that I discussed last fall. Blocking either investment or trade flows will do nothing but act as a massively inefficient subsidy for manufacturers. It's a disastrous policy. So what policies would you propose?--ed. You mean besides letting the market sort itself out? Based on this article, introduce subsidies for plastic surgery (link via Virginia Postrel)].

    posted by Dan at 10:32 PM | Comments (35) | Trackbacks (3)

    September's book of the month

    It's rare for the realm of international studies to be captured with any degree of subtlety in the realm of fiction. Which is why I'm currently enjoying Ann Patchett's Bel Canto so much. It's a fictionalized account of the 1997 New Year's takeover of the Japanese Embassy in Peru by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

    One amusing passage from the perspective of Gen, a translator being held hostage:

    As far as Gen could tell, there were only two hostages who were not fabulously wealthy and powerful: himself and the priest, and they were the only two made to work.

    [Isn't this an old book for a new selection?--ed. My blog, my picks. Plus, you would be amazed at how many people in international relations rarely read any fiction outside of John Le Carré. The only reason I found out about Bel Canto was my wife's book club.]

    posted by Dan at 02:15 PM | Trackbacks (0)

    A labor-saving suggestion on Labor Day

    On a day of leisure, Jay Drezner suggests a policy step that would save everyone a lot of time:

    I hate pennies (and hate is a strong word - my mother always told me that).

    Pennies are a completely useless coin, not able to be used in vending machines, toll roads and perhaps not least importantly, Las Vegas coin counters. Not only that, but think about this - according to CNN / Money magazine, a penny costs around 0.89 of a cent to make. While they argue that the US Mint then ends up making money on the penny, I don't quite buy it.

    Read the whole post. Lots of arcane links, too.

    posted by Dan at 02:00 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

    The state of the 2004 campaign

    No doubt, the campaign staff from the non-Dean candidates in the field have probably had a lousy summer, what with the governor from Vermont sucking up all of the media attention. Right now, the Kerry staffers in New Hampshire have the greatest cause to feel blue about Dean's surge. To some, it might seem like the campaign is already over.

    However, the CBS poll that was released yesterday might offer some comfort to them:

    Two-thirds of voters — including two-thirds of Democrats — were unable to name any of the Democratic candidates for president, said the CBS News poll out Sunday.

    Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean topped the field in the poll, with relatively low numbers that suggest the race remains wide open.

    Lieberman, Gephardt and Dean were the only three in double digits in support from registered Democrats. Lieberman, a Connecticut senator, had the backing of 14 percent; Gephardt, a Missouri congressman, was backed by 11 percent; and Dean, former governor of Vermont was at 10 percent. Other candidates were in single digits.

    John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, was at 5 percent after being in double digits in national polls most of the year. Kerry will try to spark his campaign this week with the formal announcement of his candidacy.

    Al Sharpton had 5 percent; Bob Graham, a senator from Florida was at 4 percent; John Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, had 2 percent; Carol Moseley Braun was at 2 percent; and Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, had 0 percent.

    Voters may not know much about the candidates because few are paying attention. Just 15 percent of registered voters say they are paying a lot of attention to the 2004 Presidential campaign. More Democratic voters (19 percent) than Republicans (13 percent) are paying a lot of attention. This lack of attention is not unusual; at about the same point in 1999, just 13 percent of voters were paying a lot of attention to Campaign 2000.

    So cheer up, Kucinich voters -- your candidate may have the charisma of a stale waffle and the economic proposals of a recycled Benito Mussolini, but in terms of poll numbers, there's nowhere else to go but up!!

    posted by Dan at 10:09 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (2)

    A trip inside my sleep-deprived head

    NOTE: the following is a re-creation of what was going on inside my brain my first night in Philadelphia at 2:00 AM and I couldn't sleep because I never sleep the first night in a hotel room because the pillows are just too damn big:

    Zzzzz..... stupid fat pillows.... nuts, I missed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Tuesday.... didn't Glenn blog about possible variations on that show.... oh, yeah, Sorority Eye for the Straight Guy.... what kind of a name is Mad Pony for a blog anyway? I need a better name for mine.... maybe Drezner -- The Blog... no, that sucks....

    Everyone's trying to spoof the Queer part of the show title.... Hey, wait, what about Jewish Eye for the Straight Goy!!! Five Jewish mothers take a goy and make him husband material for the surplus of single Jewish women out there..... now what would the skills of the Tribe's Fab Five be?.... ah, yes, here's the cast:

  • Sonja -- the fashion expert. "Why are you buying clothes retail at Lord & Taylor? Marshall's is having a sale right now, and I know the men's wear guy, he'll knock off another 10%."

  • Marsha -- the cooking expert. "You're too skinny for my Naomi, I can see that right away. Sit down and eat my brisket for the next two hours. Then we'll get rid of all the mayonnaise in the house."

  • Shirley -- the career expert. "OK, here are the medical school applications. Yes, you're a lawyer, that's nice, but not as nice as a doctor. Maybe a dentist."

  • Frieda -- the budget expert. "Why do you have the air conditioning on right now? Do you realize how much money that's costing you? A good fan is much cheaper, sonny."

  • Rose -- the culture/language expert. "Repeat after me -- 'chutzpah.' No, no, I want to see saliva spraying out of your mouth when you say it. You're driving me completely meshuggenah!!"
  • sigh... too bad Saturday Night Live doesn't accept unsolicited scripts.....

    Hmmm... Salma Hayek is hot, but ever since Kristin Davis' character on Sex and the City converted to Judaism, I've started to wonder how she'd look in that dream I have with the hot tub and the---- end of re-creation.

    [The hot tub and the what? You were just getting to the good part!!-ed. I'm editing. Oh, yes, good idea, that--ed.]

    posted by Dan at 01:24 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

    Sunday, August 31, 2003

    A really subversive suggestion for APSA

    The American Political Science Association is divided into organized sections. Most of these sections are based on research interests -- the various subfields of international relations, political theory, American politics, etc. According to this page on APSA's web site:

    Organized Sections have become a vital part of the Association by sponsoring panels at the Annual Meeting, producing informative newsletters, and recognizing scholarly achievements of their members.

    Now, one of the sections is called "New Political Science." According to the section's website:

    The New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association is organized by the Caucus for a New Political Science, an organization of political scientists united by the idea that Political Science as an academic discipline should be committed to advancing progressive political development.

    I went to one of this section's APSA panels. Beyond the standard lefty refrains, most of the discourse was about how they felt marginalized within the power structure of the political science discipline.

    This is a pretty amusing assertion. At least the progressives have their own organized section. Since one of APSA's chief function is to organize the annual conference, and since lefties can at least arrange their own panels, they can carve out a niche for themselves at the meeting. However, there is no organized section for conservative or libertarian scholars within APSA.*

    I certainly don't begrudge the progressives for having their own section. And I honestly don't know if there would be enough of a critical mass within the discipline to create the political science equivalent of a Federalist Society. Such a section would certainly require people like John Lemon to come out of the closet, for example.

    However, it seems to me that some professor -- I'm sorry, let me rephrase that -- some tenured professor might want to consider setting the wheels in motion for organizing such a section. [And what would you call it? Old Political Science?--ed. I'm perfectly happy to receive name suggestions below!!] If nothing else, such a move would help to nurture the persecution complex that pervades the New Political Scientists.

    *To be fair, right-of-center "related organizations" such as the Eric Voegelin Society or the Claremont Institute do sponsor panels that take place at the APSA meetings. However, these do not have the same status as regular APSA sections, which include New Political Science.

    posted by Dan at 06:58 PM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (1)

    (Over)heard and seen at American Political Science Association's annual meeting

    Below are some of the snippets of conversation that caught my ear over the past four days. Note that all of them are not necessarily verbatim what I heard, but rather the best approximation of what I remember when I wrote them down.

    Looking at the Brad DeLong post that inspired what follows, I've come to the sad conclusion that either economists are wittier than political scientists or that most of the interesting conversations took place out of earshot. Such is life:

  • From a panel discussant: "I was playing golf yesterday, and only psychologically left the golf course five minutes after this panel started. And let me just add how happy I am that APSA moved its starting time for the early morning panel from 8:45 AM to 8:00 AM."

  • "The profession has a lot of neomoralistic moralizing."

  • "My family is just thrilled that APSA is during Labor Day weekend."

  • From a paper presenter: "There's nothing worse you can be than a conspiracy theorist, even though there are so many conspiracies out there." The presenter then went on to imply that the myraid assassinations of prominent liberal figures during the 1960's was part of an organized campaign from the right.

  • "Oh, yeah, is a great procrastinator when you're a graduate student."

  • "The papers were all competent, and yet -- somehow -- evil."

  • "I need to finish quickly, since the governor signs all University of California diplomas, and I want to avoid a Schwarzenegger signature on my diploma."

  • "I'm back to writing something real. I was sick of working on ir-real stuff for the past few years."

  • "There's a rumor circulating that the perestroika crowd is distributing a 'most-wanted' deck of playing cards with the top rational choice scholars on them."

  • "99% of APSA's membership could write Paul Krugman's column: 'I loathe Bush.'; 'Bush is stupid.'; Yada, yada, yada."

  • "I fear that in this business we don't reward people who build data sets -- such as me."

  • I can't believe I missed Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettite for this panel."

  • "W. has been very good for business."

  • "I'm finishing this project on a combination of cognitive psychology, linguistics, cybernetics, and international relations theory.... it's weird, but good."
  • posted by Dan at 06:07 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (4)