Friday, September 5, 2003
Chris Bertram overreaches
Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram thinks InstaPundit is slanting his posts.
Glenn linked to a Guardian article on agricultural subsidies with the header, "WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world's poor so much?" Chris observes:
Brad DeLong provides a similar interpretation.
Lord knows I've been hard on the Bush administration's protectionist leanings as of late, but Chris and Brad are making a bogus allegation with this post.
The Guardian story that Glenn linked to focused entirely on some belligerent quotes from European officials, including this one from Franz Fischler that manages to top anything Donald Rumsfeld has said:
As for the agreement that Chris and the Guardian reference, the reason that it stinks is not the U.S., which has pressed for further liberalization in agriculture. The culprit is the E.U., which has been dragged kicking and screaming into making only minimal concessions. You can blame the U.S. for not bargaining better with the Europeans (or the Japanese) on the issue of agricultural subsidies, but that's it.
I've got no love for U.S. agricultural subsidies, but what's driving the potyential impasse at Cancun is not the Bush administration, but the European Union's intransigence -- a point the Guardian's blog emphasizes.
Glenn's framing of the story was correct -- Chris's (and Brad's) wasn't.
NOTE: I've updated this post since Chris Bertram's comment below in order to respond to his points.
DanielDrezner.com's new motto
Yes, I should put this somewhere on my cv:
Rumblings of discontent from the right
I've given the Bush administration a rough ride this week on its trade policy and its Iraq policy. Some may think I'm going wobbly and abandoning my idiosyncratic melange of conservative and libertarian principles.
Actually, surfing the blogosphere, I'd say it's the Bush administration that has gone wobbly. In the past week, the White House has shown itself to be enthusiastic about protectionism, profligate in its domestic spending, and passive in it's foreign policy management. What's conservative about this?
Think I'm exaggerationg? Go read Andrew Sullivan, Jacob Levy, Glenn Reynolds, Kim du Toit, the Spoons Experience, and yet more Andrew Sullivan. We're hardly monolithic in our politics, but there is a common denominator -- free markets, limited domestic government, robust foreign policy -- that this administration has left unsated.
Let me be as plain as possible -- the ideologies of conservatism and libertarianism cannot be reduced to unwavering support for tax cuts. Very few people on the right share Britney Spears' position on supporting the President.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee disagrees, believing that the Democratic alternatives are so bad that real conservatives have no other choice (that's du Toit's view as well).
This position is certainly consistent with the median voter theorem on how to win elections -- and, as I observed recently, the Dems are currently experiencing technical difficulties in finding an exciting centrist alternative. However, since the median voter theorem assumes 100% voter turnout, the Bush team may be overestimating the enthusiasm of those on the right to go and vote for the least offensive alternative in November 2004.
I'm not giving up on the administration -- Bush has an uncanny ability to demonstrate his leadership qualities when the chips are down. However, I'm not going to be rejecting the Democratic lever -- or pulling no lever at all -- anytime soon.
Karl Rove's dream voter
Now, I've supported the president on multiple policy fronts, but doesn't this seem a bit too.... er.... bubblegum as a form of political participation? I mean, compared to her advanced work in semiconductor physics, this is a bit of a letdown in intellectual quality.
Still, if I'm Karl Rove, I'm arranging a photo-op ASAP.
Drezner gets results from the Center for Global Development!!
Four months ago I wrote a Tech Central Station article that criticized an effort by the Center for Global Development to create "an index that measures 21 developed countries on a plethora of policies that help or harm poor nations." I said that Ranking the Rich was biased against the United States.
What's the Center for Global Development's response to this (constructive) criticism? A nice letter thanking me for my essay, and a request to join their Board of Advisors for their updating/revising of the index. Now that's a classy move!!
[Maybe it's a co-opting move--ed. Well, duh, but it does require them to take my suggestions seriously. You've co-opted me!--ed.]
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Now this is managing
A perfect follow-up to today's post on Bush's management of the Iraq situation comes in the form of this New York Times story on the job Major General David H. Petraeus is doing commanding the 101st Airborne in Northern Iraq. [Petraeus, Petraeus... that name sounds familiar--ed. I've blogged about him before.] A few nuggest from the story suggest the kind of management skills necessary to get results:
Obviously, the art of management at Bush's level is slightly different than at Petraeus' level. Still, the general's clear definition of the mission and willingness to take action should resonate in the White House.
Playing with the big boys over at the Hotline
Politics junkies know that the source for good inside-the-Beltway info is the Hotline, put out by the National Journal group. Today's Hotline has a review of campaign blogs from Mickey Kaus, Joshua Michah Marshall, and yours truly. Here's the link -- I'll just post the choicest quotes about each of the individual campaign blogs:
Go check out the whole thing. Not surprisingly, Kaus and Marshall make excellent points.
There's micromanaging and then there's not managing at all
When I was providing some extremely minor campaign advice for Bush during the 2000 election, a lot of my fellow academics would tease me about Bush being dumber than Gore. My automatic counter was to ask them which person they felt more confident in as a manager of the exective branch. There was Bush, who seemed to have mastered the fine balance between delegation and hands-on controlwhile governor of Texas. Then there was Gore, a decent, flawed man cursed with a legislator's mentality, who never met an issue he couldn't micro-manage to death. Even my most ardent liberal friends usually shut up when I brought this up (and, post-election, I had many off-the-record discussions with disgruntled Gore staffers confirming that management was Gore's Achilles heel).
I raise this point in the wake of this Washington Post behind-the-scenes piece on the Bush administration's decision to go back to the United Nations for another Iraq resolution in the hopes of coaxing more non-American troops into the country (link via Josh Marshall). High up in the article there's an astonishing couple of paragraphs:
I've expressed my doubts about the international option, but I've also made clear that I think it's a better choice than sticking with the status quo.
That's besides the point. What bothers me about this story is that the White House -- on the most important foreign policy issue of the day, and potentially the biggest campaign issue for 2004 -- was essentially a passive actor in this story. The President seemed perfectly comfortable to let Powell and Rumsfeld play bureaucratic politics with each other ad infinitum. Only when Powell and the Joint Chiefs were able to break the logjam did the policy shift -- for more on this see this Marshall post as well. [Isn't the Post story just another example of Powell puffery?--ed. The sourcing of the article -- lots of DOD people -- suggests that this version of events isn't the result of Powell spinning the story].
Micro-managing an issue is one way for a President to screw up policy, but too much of a hands-off approach can be just as debilitating. This summer, the White House has veered too much in that direction.
President Bush: hope you had a nice vacation at the ranch. Now get off your butt, take charge, manage the problem, and see your vision of a transformed Middle East through to its logical conclusion. Or, as Andrew Sullivan puts it:
As they say in Texas -- yep.
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
A few good rants -- on ESPN.com
One of the perks of having my own blog is that I can post about pretty much anything. I try to keep the ratio around 50% on world politics, 25% on domestic politics, 15% on academia, 9% on popular culture, and 1% on Salma Hayek (as opposed to Friedrich von Hayek).
Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com is about 50% on football, 25% on humorous asides about current events, 20% on "megababes" (his word) and 5% on serious rants.
Unless, like me, you like football there's a chance you would miss some of the good rants. So as a public service to the blogosphere, let me put Easterbrook's rant from his column two weeks ago about Toronto mayor Mel Lastman's comments following the Northeast blackout:
Indeed. Here's another excellent rant on an issue I failed to blog about out of sheer laziness, the Ten Commandments flap in Alabama. This is what Easterbrook has to say about Alabama Chief Justice (and unofficial chief jackass) Roy Moore:
UPDATE: This Jay Drezner post reminds me why I like football so much.
Protecting myself with some useful links
This TNR essay was really an organic outgrowth from multiple blog posts over the last month. Click here to read about the recent breakthrough in trade talks over the pharmaceuticals issue. I have penned a number of posts on the outsourcing issue as of late, each chock full of useful links. Click here, here, here, and here for more.
The sources for the official quotes are the National Security Strategy of the United States and this ABC News story on President Bush's Labor Day speech. The quote from Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales' Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists is from page 282 of their book. Oh, and for a look at how far the dollar has fallen against the euro in recent years, check out this graph.
Still confused on the merits of free trade for national security? Check out Brink Lindsey's thoughtful analysis, "The Trade Front: Combating Terrorism with Open Markets."
Still confused on the merits of free trade for the American economy? Beyond the Ragan and Zingales book, the best source is Douglas Irwin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth. He's written two excellent and accessible books on the merits of free trade and open economic exchange for the United States. The first one, Against the Tide, examines the myriad intellectual arguments advanced in favor of protectionism and, to be blunt, why they all suck eggs. The more recent one, Free Trade Under Fire, directly rebuts the argument that free trade hurts the United States. As for the "crisis" in manufacturing, Arnold Kling has a Tech Central Station article debunking much of the hysteria (link via Ben Muse).
If, after reading these, you're looking for evidence rebutting the claim that free trade benefits the economy, the best source is probably Alan Tonelson's The Race to the Bottom. His theory is wrong, and his data slightly cooked, but it's a much better than, say, Pat Buchanan's tired rant.
Oh, and political scientists may notice that what I label "hypocritical liberalization" bears more than a passing resemblance to John Gerard Ruggie's notion of "embedded liberalism" to describe the economic order from 1945-1973. Here's a link to Ruggie's thoughts on whether embedded liberalism can survive in an era of economic globalization.
I live to bash protectionists
My latest TNR essay is up -- it's an analysis of whether the Bush administration will become more protectionist in the run-up to the 2004 election. Alas, I fear the answer is yes.
Go check it out.
Correcting some public opinion misperceptions
Lawrence Kaplan has an excellent New Republic essay on public tolerance for casualties during war (subscription required). Elites generally assume that the public is unwilling to tolerate combat deaths -- here's an example from the Economist a few weeks ago:
Kaplan's essay is essentially a literature review demonstrating plainly that this assumption is a crock of bull@#$t. The key grafs:
Another excellent and recent source of data on this point is Steven Kull and I.M. Destler's Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism.
A perusal of these books also reveals another interesting fact -- the American public is far more enthusiastic about multilateralism than some experts
Yesterday the blog received the greatest number of unique visits and page views to date -- over 7,500 unique visits and over 9,500 page views.
Thanks to everyone for clicking!!
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
For the rest of today I'll be guest-blogging over at the Volokh Conspiracy. I'll be back tomorrow.
Yes, Virginia, there is a $400 toilet brush
I delayed going into the office by an hour so I could watch Virginia Postrel on CNN this morning, discussing her new book, The Substance of Style (Amazon rank #199 and climbing!!). The piece included Postrel displaying myriad styles of toilet brushes.
1) Her Aruba Blue nail polish matched her blouse perfectly. What better way to demonstrate the utility of aesthetics?
2) No mention of her blog? Too bad.
3) In the teasers for the piece, the anchor kept using the term "image" instead of "style", which carried a more negative connotation. It always annoys me when network producers tease with a slant that contradicts the substance of the piece. In other words, unlike Postrel, CNN's style fails to match its substance.
Anyways, congratulations to Virginia!!
Monday, September 1, 2003
Not a good sign for free markets
Alas, Glenn Reynolds' prediction about the politicization of outsourcing seems to be coming true. Even though the election is more than a year away, President Bush seems fully prepared to pander to protectionist sentiments. From ABC News:
Let's be clear -- creating an assistant to the Commerce Secretary will have zero effect on manufacturing jobs. Stimulating domestic economic growth is the best way to affect this sector of the economy. The creation of such a position is pure politics. So maybe the protectionist sentiment is pure rhetoric.
What worries me is that the politics of this phenomenon suggests that Bush will be unable to ignore demands for greater barriers to foreign trade and investment. To understand why, go read this Chicago Tribune story on the effect of globalization on rural labor. The key grafs:
Bush, in order to win, desperately needs rural voters. He cannot and will not ignore this constituency. Which means more protectionist rhetoric and more protectionist policies to come.
[But don't these articles also highlight real economic pain?--ed. Yes, but these article are also emblematic of the "lump of labor" fallacies that I discussed last fall. Blocking either investment or trade flows will do nothing but act as a massively inefficient subsidy for manufacturers. It's a disastrous policy. So what policies would you propose?--ed. You mean besides letting the market sort itself out? Based on this article, introduce subsidies for plastic surgery (link via Virginia Postrel)].
September's book of the month
It's rare for the realm of international studies to be captured with any degree of subtlety in the realm of fiction. Which is why I'm currently enjoying Ann Patchett's Bel Canto so much. It's a fictionalized account of the 1997 New Year's takeover of the Japanese Embassy in Peru by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
One amusing passage from the perspective of Gen, a translator being held hostage:
[Isn't this an old book for a new selection?--ed. My blog, my picks. Plus, you would be amazed at how many people in international relations rarely read any fiction outside of John Le Carré. The only reason I found out about Bel Canto was my wife's book club.]
A labor-saving suggestion on Labor Day
On a day of leisure, Jay Drezner suggests a policy step that would save everyone a lot of time:
Read the whole post. Lots of arcane links, too.
The state of the 2004 campaign
No doubt, the campaign staff from the non-Dean candidates in the field have probably had a lousy summer, what with the governor from Vermont sucking up all of the media attention. Right now, the Kerry staffers in New Hampshire have the greatest cause to feel blue about Dean's surge. To some, it might seem like the campaign is already over.
However, the CBS poll that was released yesterday might offer some comfort to them:
So cheer up, Kucinich voters -- your candidate may have the charisma of a stale waffle and the economic proposals of a recycled Benito Mussolini, but in terms of poll numbers, there's nowhere else to go but up!!
A trip inside my sleep-deprived head
NOTE: the following is a re-creation of what was going on inside my brain my first night in Philadelphia at 2:00 AM and I couldn't sleep because I never sleep the first night in a hotel room because the pillows are just too damn big:
Zzzzz..... stupid fat pillows.... nuts, I missed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Tuesday.... didn't Glenn blog about possible variations on that show.... oh, yeah, Sorority Eye for the Straight Guy.... what kind of a name is Mad Pony for a blog anyway? I need a better name for mine.... maybe Drezner -- The Blog... no, that sucks....
Everyone's trying to spoof the Queer part of the show title.... Hey, wait, what about Jewish Eye for the Straight Goy!!! Five Jewish mothers take a goy and make him husband material for the surplus of single Jewish women out there..... now what would the skills of the Tribe's Fab Five be?.... ah, yes, here's the cast:
sigh... too bad Saturday Night Live doesn't accept unsolicited scripts.....
Hmmm... Salma Hayek is hot, but ever since Kristin Davis' character on Sex and the City converted to Judaism, I've started to wonder how she'd look in that dream I have with the hot tub and the---- end of re-creation.
[The hot tub and the what? You were just getting to the good part!!-ed. I'm editing. Oh, yes, good idea, that--ed.]
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:
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.
(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: