Saturday, October 4, 2003

Adam Smith on outsourcing

One of the perks of teaching at the University of Chicago is that the school requires much of its faculty to teach beyond their area of expertise. I'm teaching in one of the "core sequences" at the University of Chicago this quarter, entitled Power, Identity, and Resistance. You can access a copy of the syllabus here or on my teaching page.

We're currently immersed in Adam Smith's An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. There are many great qualities about the work, but what strikes me today is its topicality -- like all great works in social science, Smith's observations are constantly relevant.

For example, consider this passage from Book I, Chapter X, Part II -- "Inequalities occasioned by the Policy of Europe":

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty both of the workman and of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from employing whom they think proper. To judge whether he is fit to be employed may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the law-giver lest they should employ an improper person is evidently as impertinent as it is oppressive.


posted by Dan at 04:56 PM | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (1)


William Kristol weighs in on the Plame Game in the Weekly Standard -- and he hits the nail right on the head in two ways.

First, they put the import of the scandal itself in the correct perspective:

Revealing the identity of covert CIA agents is a crime under certain circumstances. But given the strict stipulations of the relevant statute, it seems unlikely that the Justice Department investigation will ever lead to a successful prosecution of the leaker or leakers. That doesn't make the political reality or the moral responsibility any less urgent. Surely the president has, as the Washington Times suggested last week, taken "too passive a stance" toward this misdeed by one or more of his employees. Surely he should do his utmost to restore the White House's reputation for honor and integrity by calling together the dozens of more-or-less "senior" administration officials and asking whoever spoke with Novak to come forward and explain themselves. Presumably the relevant officials--absent some remarkable explanation that's hard to conceive--should be fired, and their names given to the Justice Department. The president might also want to call Mrs. Wilson, who is after all a government official serving her country, and apologize for the damage done to her by his subordinate's action. (emphasis added)

Their second good point echoes the one I made in The New Republic Online -- that this incident is endemic of a larger problem:

The leak controversy has revealed an administration at war with itself, a war intensified by the difficult aftermath of the war in Iraq. The situation there seems to be better than you would think if you read only the New York Times and the Washington Post, but worrying nonetheless. On Thursday, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, acknowledged that the enemy had succeeded in organizing itself in recent weeks to become "a little bit more lethal, a little bit more complex, a little bit more sophisticated, and, in some cases, a little bit more tenacious." With its submission of the $87 billion package to Congress, the administration has begun to come to grips with the problem, and seems committed to doing what needs to be done. But reports suggest that the civilian efforts on the ground in Iraq remain spotty and that the military is stretched very thin. And even more striking, as debate has raged on its $87 billion request, the administration has been virtually invisible in making its case to Congress or to the American people.

One reason for this is that the civil war in the Bush administration has become crippling. The CIA is in open revolt against the White House. The State Department and the Defense Department aren't working together at all. We are way beyond "fruitful tension" and all the other normal excuses for bureaucratic conflict. This is a situation that only the president can fix. Perhaps a serious talk with Messrs. Tenet, Powell, and Rumsfeld can do the trick, followed by strengthening the National Security Council's role in resolving intra-administration disputes. Perhaps a head or two has to roll. But the present condition is debilitating, and, given the challenges facing us in postwar Iraq, in Iran, and in North Korea, it is irresponsible to let it fester.

To govern is to choose. Only one man can make the choices necessary to get the administration back on course. President Bush has problems with his White House, his administration's execution of his policy, and its internal decision-making ability. He should fix them sooner rather than later. Time is not on his side.

Indeed (link via Kevin Drum).

posted by Dan at 01:40 PM | Comments (29) | Trackbacks (2)

Friday, October 3, 2003

Your weekend reading

Arvind Panagariya has an excellent essay in Foreign Policy that points out the true costs and benefits from free trade. You should read the whole thing, but here's what Panagariya says about who benefits from the removal of agricultural subsidies:

Ironically, the major beneficiaries of widespread agricultural liberalization would be rich countries themselves, which bear the bulk of the cost of the subsidies and protection, and their domestic consumers.

He also makes a cogent point about which group of countries are protectionist:

On average, poor countries have higher tariff barriers than high-income countries. For instance, rich nations’ tariffs on industrial products average about 3 percent, compared to 13 percent for poor countries. Even in the textiles and clothing sectors, tariffs in developing nations (21 percent) are more than double those in rich countries (8 percent, on average). And while textiles and clothing are subject to import quotas in rich economies, such restrictions are due to be dismantled entirely by January 1, 2005, under existing World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements....

Traditionally, rich economies such as the United States and the EU have been quick to engage in antidumping initiatives—erecting trade barriers against countries that allegedly export goods (or “dump” them) at a price below their own cost of production, however difficult it may be to quantify such a charge. But developing countries have been learning the same tricks and initiating antidumping measures of their own, and now the number of such actions has converged between advanced and poor economies. For example, according to the “WTO Annual Report 2003,” India now ranks first in the world in initiating new antidumping actions, and third (behind the United States and the EU) in the number of such actions currently in force.

Give it a look.

posted by Dan at 11:36 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)



"Bush the Bumbler" -- December 17, 2003

"Fables of the Reconstruction" -- November 3, 2003


"More Harm Than Good." (review of William Easterly's The White Man's Burden) -- Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2006

"Bestriding the World, Sort of" (review of Niall Ferguson's Colossus) -- Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2004

"Globalization Without Riots" (review of Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization) -- New York Times, April 18, 2004 (and see the follow-up exchange in the Letters section here)


"Trade Off" -- June 25, 2004

"Fail Proof" -- May 27, 2004

"Up is Down" -- April 28, 2004

"Cornered" -- March 31, 2004

"Hash of Civilizations" -- March 3, 2004

"History Channeling" -- February 4, 2004

"Transparent Move" -- January 7, 2004

"Seventies Chic" -- December 10, 2003

"Domestic Disturbance" -- October 29, 2003

"Barely Managing" -- October 3, 2003

"Protection Racket" -- September 3, 2003

"Illiberal Imagination" -- August 6, 2003

"A Credible Alternative" -- July 9, 2003

"An Ounce of Prevention" -- June 11, 2003

"Et Tu, Kristol?" -- May 14, 2003

"Friendly Fire" -- April 9, 2003

"Democracy by America" -- March 12, 2003

"One for All" -- February 12, 2003


"About That Commission Report..." -- June 28, 2004

"The State of Islam -- 2003" -- October 20, 2003

"Against Sedentary Lifestyles" -- October 8, 2003

"What Might Trip Up the WTO" -- September 19, 2003

"What's New About Global Trade" -- September 9, 2003

"Let Them Eat Subsidies" -- July 17, 2003

"Great Responsibility" -- May 6, 2003

posted by Dan at 10:06 PM | Trackbacks (0)

Drezner's Hollywood minute for geeks

The University of Chicago campus is abuzz over the location filming of Proof, U of C alum David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play!! Why, earlier this week, your intrepid blogger had to dodge multiple cast trailers parked right outside your correspondent's office!!

This production has attracted only the Hollywood A list!! It stars Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow!! Academy award nominee John Madden will direct!!

OK, enough channeling of the Access Hollywood prose style.

While the Entertainment Weekly reader in me is delighted that Gwyneth is in town, the geek in me is unsated.

Far be it for me to critique Paltrow's amazing acting chops. Clearly, she can excel at the New York socialite/period Briton roles in her own vavoom kind of way. However, the lead in Proof is supposed to be a tortured, brilliant daughter of another mathematical genius. Now I've seen Paltrow on the occasional talk show, and, well, let's just say it's debatable whether she ever absorbed some of the basic mathematical concepts, like, for example, prime numbers.

But who, you ask, could replace Paltrow at the last minute? Why, look no further than Danica McKellar, most widely known as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years. She's all grown up now, and has a recurring role on The West Wing. Judging by this picture, I don't think she'd drive away many moviegoers:


More importantly, she knows a thing or two about mathematics, as this Chicago Tribune story points out. The highlights:

She actually is a genuine math whiz and she actually did once author such a mathematical "proof," graduating summa cum laude from UCLA in 1998 with a degree in analytical math.

The "proof" she had to complete was all about "Percolation and Gibb's-states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models in two dimensions." (I know actresses who can't even say that.)

A professor picked her and another student and said, `I really want to train you guys to be research mathematicians. There's a theorem I think is true and I want you two to prove it."

She spent nearly a year just gathering the background material for the task.

"We worked tirelessly," she said. "This was in the area of statistical mechanics. A great thing about this kind of research is that all it takes is a pencil and a piece of paper. You experiment with things. You try different techniques. You try to get at the problem from different angles. The scary part about working on an original proof is that you don't know if the thing is provable."

"The theorem eventually did turn out to be true, thank goodness," she said. "The experience of proving it was amazing. It was so intense. There was no room for any other thought, any other subject during that time."

Playbill has more!!:

"As an undergrad," according to biographical notes, "she co-authored a research paper that helped solve a new problem in the area of Statistical Mechanics, now known as the "As an undergrad," according to biographical notes, "she co-authored a research paper that helped solve a new problem in the area of Statistical Mechanics, now known as the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem... and was invited to speak to a subcommittee of Congress on the importance of women in math and science."

Best of all, the reason McKellar is featured in theTribune and Playbill stories is that she is currently appearing in the West Coast production of Proof!!

Geeks of the world, unite!! Say it loud and say it proud!!

We want Danica!!

Danica!! Danica!! DANICA!!

posted by Dan at 02:41 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (1)

Assumptions and facts

Yesterday, Mark Kleiman wrote:

Surely Plame's actual status was known to the top people in the White House within days, if not hours, of the appearance of the Novak column, and the David Corn piece about it, in July. And yet they continued to let their friends spin that as an open question. Did the White House, perhaps, prefer to have people, including its own supporters, confused?

Paul Krugman writes today that:

Before we get bogged down in the details — which is what the administration hopes will happen — let's be clear: we already know what the president knew, and when he knew it. Mr. Bush knew, 11 weeks ago, that some of his senior aides had done something utterly inexcusable. But as long as the media were willing to let the story lie — which, with a few honorable exceptions, like David Corn at The Nation and Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps at Newsday, they were — he didn't think this outrage required any action.

This is the premise behind Brad DeLong's assertions that the Bush team has covered this up since July as well.

Here's my question: how are DeLong, Kleiman, and Krugman so sure that senior people at the White House -- besides the leakers -- knew about this? How do they know Bush knew about this? The stories by Novak, David Corn, and might not have been enough to register on the White House radar. A Lexis-Nexis search reveals that none of the major dailies (NYT, WaPo, WSJ, USA Today) mentioned Valerie Plame during the month of July in a news story. Krugman, to his credit, did raise the issue in his July 22nd op-ed, but I'm willing to bet that that Krugman is not considered required reading at this White House. [But Scott McClellan was asked about it at a White House briefing in late July--ed. Big deal -- do you think the senior staff becomes aware of every issue that Helen Thomas raises?]

Kleiman, Krugman and DeLong might be correct -- but I don't see any evidence confirming it. They're making an assumption.

UPDATE: Nick Confessore -- hardly an administration sympathizer -- blogs in Tapped the following possibility:

I have a hard time believing the Plame leak was cooked up at a meeting -- it seems more likely that a couple of top officials cooked it up in the men's room and acted rashly out of the belief that they would never be caught or held accountable. That the White House would nevertheless circle the wagons is not surprising -- any administration would do the same, at least at first, no matter how in the wrong it was. But the fact that President Bush's inner circle would risk further damage to him over actions he probably had nothing to do with -- instead of hanging the culprit out to dry and moving on, which would be the smart thing to do -- suggests that whichever official is being protected is either too important to lose or is powerful enough in his own right to demand that he not be hung out to dry. That certainly reinforces scuttlebutt around Washington that a certain special advisor to the president is allegedly involved. (underline added)

Link via Kevin Drum, who offers his own, more pessimistic, speculations.

posted by Dan at 10:38 AM | Comments (48) | Trackbacks (0)

The disgusting Los Angeles Times

In the past 48 hours, the Los Angeles Times has managed to commit two despicable acts on its pages. The first was the Arnold Schwarzenegger story, which Mickey Kaus predicted would happen if the Times thought Schwarzenegger had a chance of winning. [You saying the story is not relevant?--ed. I'm saying the story has been around since Premiere published parts of it two years ago. Schawzenegger has been a candidate for two months, and now they decide to run it?] The fact that Gray Davis has apparently done worse things goes without mention. Kaus points out the following irony:

Jill Stewart was just on MSNBC's Abrams Report referring to her published New Times L.A. articles that, she says, charge Gov. Gray Davis with "physically attacking his own staffers, female staffers." Stewart says she was told the L.A. Times didn't follow up on her pieces because it didn't want to rely on anonymous sources!

I agree with Andrew Sullivan, by the way, that Arnold handled it appropriately by addressing the issue head-on and openly apologizing -- a lesson that would serve the Bushies well right about now.

The Schwarzenegger story, however, is piddling compared to the fact that the Times permitted Philip Agee to write an op-ed on the Plame Game (link via William Sjostrom). Agee published the names of several CIA covert employees during the 70's and now has Cuban citizenship.

I saw Agee in action fifteen years ago when he spoke at Williams College. I can honestly say that it may have been the only talk I have attended that made me physically sick to my stomach. At that talk, Agee, in respomding to a question from the audience, outright accused the CIA of having developed the AIDS virus as a way to destroy both African countries and African-Americans. This guy makes Noam Chomsky look like a hard-nosed conservative.

If the Los Angeles Times thinks Agee is the person to write an op-ed about the Plame Game, perhaps they'll contact Marc Rich the next time a questionable pardon is made. Shame on the op-ed page. [But they let Susan Estritch blast the Schawzenegger story on the op-ed page!--ed. Goody for them. That doesn't excuse publishing Agee]

UPDATE: COINTELPRO has more on Agee.

posted by Dan at 09:15 AM | Comments (28) | Trackbacks (1)

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Taking a break

Over the past week, I've discovered something very important: scandal-blogging is exhausting. My brain needs a brief diversion.

For all of you who need a break as well, let me warmly recommend a surreal site called Positive Movie Reviews, run by a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. Let me also warn you that the humor in the reviews is of a decidedly bizarre nature, and may not be appropriate for those of you with an emotional maturity greater than thirty years of age.

For a sample, here is an excerpt from a review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:

As a film critic, I think it's my job to tell it like it is, not to "get involved" in the process. After all, my readers expect balanced, tough-minded reviews that aren't tainted by some kind of behind-the-screen shenanigans. So in the interest of full disclosure, I am admitting here that I wrote a letter to George Lucas two years ago, when it first came through the grapevine that he was making a new Star Wars film, to give him my two cents' worth. What I wrote was basically that although it would be impossible to improve on Return of the Jedi, I had a few minor suggestions. First, play up the Ewok aspect, but change the Ewoks to some comically slow-witted species that speaks heavily accented English. Second, drop the Force mumbo-jumbo and the action and spend more time discussing the political economy of a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago. Third, for God's sake, don't skimp on the fart jokes this time! I can't say for sure whether my letter had an effect, and it's possible that Lucas would have come to these fine conclusions entirely on his own, but I want to point out at least for me, this movie satisfied all my wants and hopes.

Go check it out -- if you dare.

UPDATE: If movie reviews don't float your boat, go check out David Adesnik's literary deconstruction of the Harry Potter series. It turns out they're all about sex [So that's why fundamentalists don't like the series--ed.]

posted by Dan at 11:28 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (2)

Drezner gets results from Howard Fineman!

Fineman's Newsweek piece is the new "must read" on the Plame Game [Hey, he stole your line!!--ed. Get me Fox's lawyers, stat!!]. Lots of good stuff, but what I'm pleased about are these grafs:

The moment that piece hit the op-ed page of the New York Times, it was all-out war between the pro- and anti-war factions, and between the CIA and its critics. I am told by what I regard as a very reliable source inside the White House that aides there did, in fact, try to peddle the identity of Joe Wilson’s wife to several reporters. But the motive wasn’t revenge or intimidation so much as a desire to explain why, in their view, Wilson wasn’t a neutral investigator, but, a member of the CIA’s leave-Saddam-in-place team.

And on Tenet’s part, it was time for payback—whatever his past relationship with the Bush’s had been. First, he and his agency had been humiliated, caught by the White House trying to distance themselves from the president’s speech. Then the CIA was forced to admit that it had signed off on the speech. Now one of its own investigations was coming under attack, as was one of its own undercover staffers.

This is basically what I said in my TNR piece from yesterday:

When different parts of the executive branch are locked in constant conflict, the result is a permissive environment. Officials become used to the notion that they will have to act as aggressively as possible to win an argument. Lines of communication between different parts of the executive branch become frayed or severed. Add weak oversight to the mix, and you have a situation in which bureaucratic entrepreneurs will be tempted to push their agendas to the point where ethical rules are violated--or laws are broken.

In the Reagan administration, this management style contributed to the Iran-Contra fiasco. In the Bush administration, the battles over Iraq's WMD program have led to open hostility between the Defense Department and the CIA. The leaks and counter-leaks over Nigerien yellowcake have escalated to the point where the Justice Department is investigating whether anyone in the White House violated federal law and jeopardized national security by outing the identity of an undercover CIA operative.

Advantage: Drezner!!

UPDATE: Chris Sullentrop makes a similar point in this Slate essay.

posted by Dan at 11:15 PM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (1)

An interesting point on outsourcing

Irwin Stelzer has an interesting essay in the Daily Standard on how economic interdependence can constrain U.S. foreign policy. Buried within it is this nugget of analysis:

the trade deficit issue is more complicated than the simple trade figures suggest. Take Wal-Mart. The giant retailer imports about $12 billion in goods from China every year, enabling it to sell trainers, T-shirts, and a host of other goods to American consumers at prices they just love.

So is the trade deficit costing Americans jobs? Perhaps not. Stephanie Pomboy of consultants MacroMavens reports that "Since China first pegged the Yuan to the dollar in 1994, Wal-Mart has nearly tripled its workforce from 528,000 to 1.4 million today. And that's before counting the jobs associated with its plans to add 210 supercenters and 40 Sam's clubs [Wal-Mart's bulk discounter] stores this year."

The hundreds of thousands hired by Wal-Mart probably don't realize that their jobs depend on their employer's continued access to Chinese goods. But the 300,000-500,000 U.S. workers who lost their jobs over the past three years as a result of the "relocation of U.S. production to overseas affiliates" are certain that low-cost Chinese labor and the undervalued currency are the source of their woes. And they don't care that job losses due to such relocations come to only 0.1 percent of employment per year.


UPDATE: In September the U.S. economy shed another 17,000 jobs in manufacturing, according to CNN at the horrible cost of creating 74,000 new jobs in services, most of them in the "professional and business services" category. Oh, wait...

posted by Dan at 04:47 PM | Comments (31) | Trackbacks (1)

Today's Plame Game meter

Level of outrage rising slightly. Why?

  • Eric Boehlert's Salon piece undercut Robert Novak's credibility just as badly as Joseph Wilson's exaggerations undercut his credibility. The key grafs:

    On CNN Monday, Novak recounted how the story came about: "In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction."

    In Wednesday's column Novak again stressed how the information about Plame practically fell into his lap, almost as an afterthought from a Bush insider. He wrote it came up "during a long conversation with a senior administration official." And, "It was an offhand revelation from this official."

    Yet back in July, he gave a much different account to Newsday: "I didn't dig [the Plame tip] out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

    Novak's statements this week directly contradict what he said three months ago. [UPDATE: Novak told Wolf Blitzer yesterday that the Newday reporters misunderstood what he said in July. However, in the same transcript, he acknowledges the accuracy of the above quote.]

  • Surprisingly Boehlert buries the lead with this graf from the story:

    [A] former senior CIA intelligence officer confirms to Salon that Plame is both an analyst and an officer who works undercover, and was undercover when Novak outed her. Now that her identity has been exposed she cannot again work overseas, and the network of agents she once oversaw may be at risk.

    I think this falls under the "unbelievably disturbing' category.

  • From today's New York Times:

    "It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks.

    I'd be more comfortable if the White House directed a little more outrage at the leak itself and less about the peripheral issues. [But isn't this just an example of spin control, which all administrations do?--ed. Let's go to this Chicago Tribune story and compare and contrast, shall we?:

    [T]he leaking of classified information is not a common occurrence and the Bush administration has reacted aggressively when it has occurred.

    Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Bush ordered that classified briefings to the Senate and House intelligence committees be cut off because, the White House charged, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had revealed classified information when he told reporters that the U.S. had intercepted a call from a suspected terrorist. The briefings were later reinstated.

    In June 2002, the White House threatened to have the FBI investigate lawmakers to determine who leaked information about two Sept. 10, 2001, messages intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials that some said provided a warning about the attacks the next day.

    In both of those instances, the White House felt it necessary to take an active role. Now it's "slime and defend?"]

    My suspicion is the White House strategy won't work. First, it doesn't jibe with the poll numbers. Second, it will alienate key Republicans. The Times sttory concludes with:

    [O]ne Republican with close ties to the administration said the White House was monitoring five Republicans in Congress, all of whom have an independent streak on foreign policy and intelligence matters: Senators John McCain of Arizona, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John W. Warner of Virginia, and Representative Porter J. Goss of Florida.

    Cue Hagel in today's Washington Post:

    As the White House hunkered down, it got the first taste of criticism from within Bush's own party. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said that Bush "needs to get this behind him" by taking a more active role. "He has that main responsibility to see this through and see it through quickly, and that would include, if I was president, sitting down with my vice president and asking what he knows about it," the outspoken Hagel said last night on CNBC's "Capital Report."

  • According to Josh Marshall and the Los Angeles Times, speculation is shifting now from Karl Rove to Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. I'm not going to comment, other than to quote Marshall: "A mountain of rumor doesn't amount to a single fact."
  • [Hey, you haven't addressed Brad Delong's questions yet!!--ed. If I get a chance I will try to do so this evening. But your readers want a response now!--ed. Then they should read Eugene Volokh's post about the distinction between work and fun in blogging.]

    posted by Dan at 11:11 AM | Comments (59) | Trackbacks (4)

    Well, that didn't take long

    Rush Limbaugh has resigned from ESPN's NFL Sunday Countdown. A furor erupted over the following remarks he made last Sunday about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb:

    I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.

    Limbaugh's statement today:

    My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.

    I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it.

    Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen.

    The statement of George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports:

    We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously.

    Five quick thoughts:

    1) Limbaugh has a legitimate point about the Eagles defense being underappreciated last year.

    2) His point about the media is absurd. There are now a lot of successful black quarterbacks in the NFL -- see Steve McNair, Michael Vick, Aaron Brooks, etc. The media focused on McNabb because he was good (I say this as a New York Giants fan) and looked great playing on TV. They want him to do well in the exact same way that they want Brett Favre to do well -- they like star QBs on winning teams.

    3) According to this story:

    After the reaction surrounding his remarks started to heat up, Limbaugh was asked to appear on ESPN's SportsCenter on Wednesday night but declined.

    Ducking that appearance strikes me as pretty lame.

    4) Limbaugh lost me when he confidently predicted New England would beat Buffalo in week 1. [Yeah, but sports guys make dumb-ass predictions every day!--ed. In their first week?]

    5) Limbaugh can console himself that he lasted longer than Clayton Cramer did on the Volokh Conspiracy. [Snark--ed. Yeah, but it was good snark.]

    UPDATE: This is an excellent opportunity to plus Football Outsiders, a football blog dedicated to taking sabremetrics and applying them to the NFL. If you go to this 2002 page on QB value, you'll see that by their metric of rating quarterbacks, McNabb had a solid if unspectacular season last year -- and a really bad season this year. Sticking to 2002, these stats suggest that McNabb might have been overrated compared to say, New York Giants QB Kerry Collins -- but then again, so were Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe, Tommy Maddox, and Kelly Holcomb.

    Oh, and buried in this otherwise hystrionic King Kaufman piece is an amusing nugget about Howard Dean:

    It took a few days, but by Wednesday there was a wave of outrage at Limbaugh's race-baiting. Democratic presidential candidates faxed out their tsk-tsks and demands for Limbaugh's head, including Howard Dean, who hilariously proclaimed, "Rush Limbaugh's comment this week about Philadelphia Jets quarterback Donovan McNabb is unacceptable." The governor really kicked a touchdown with that one.


    ANOTHER UPDATE: Allen Barra says that Rush Limbaugh was correct, at least in regard to Allen Barra.

    Is it my imagination, or does Slate specialize in publishing mea culpas from liberals who say that conservatives are correct about something -- but only after a liberal result has been achieved?

    posted by Dan at 12:30 AM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

    Wednesday, October 1, 2003

    Drezner gets results from Republicans!!

    There's been a small hue and cry on the left half of the blogosphere that Republicans aren't taking the Plame game seriously. However, this ABC News poll suggests that they do take it seriously. Among Republicans only:

  • 72% think the link is a serious matter, and;

  • 52% believe that a special counsel should lead the investigation.
  • The primary partisan difference is over whether the White House is fully cooperating -- Republicans think yes, Democrats no. Still, Republicans can't be accused of ignoring the issue.

    For the full results of the poll, click here.


    posted by Dan at 08:50 PM | Comments (23) | Trackbacks (1)

    October's book(s) of the month

    There are so many books worth reading, I've decided to highlight two books each month: one "general interest" book, and one dealing specifically with international relations.

    The general interest book for October is Virginia Postrel's The Substance of Style, which I was inhaling right up until the quarter started, and I'm aching to get back to it. [Good thing you're hawking the book -- looks like she's having real trouble selling copies!--ed.]

    Geek confession: I mark up every book I read, fiction and nonfiction. The Substance of Style is so stimulating that I find myself underline 50% of every page. Go go buy it and mark up your own copy.

    The international relations book is considerably older, and, I'm sad to say, depressingly relevant for our times: Stephen D. Krasner's Structural Conflict. This 1985 book chronicled how, in the wake of the developing world's efforts to create a New International Economic Order, the major economic powers protected their own interests by shifting resources and authority to decision-making fora they controlled.

    In the wake of the Cancun meetings, I strongly suspect this trend will repeat itself in the near future. In contrast to their agenda from 30 years ago, I have some sympathy with some of the developing world's current aims, particularly the elimination of all agricultural subsidies.

    Go check them out!!

    posted by Dan at 08:39 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

    It's standard operating procedure to have sources

    Want to know more about my latest TNR Online essay? You can see its crude origins in this blog post from August.

    The David Brooks quote comes from this August 2000 article for Salon.

    The postmortems on planning for Iraq are the du jour topic for the newsweeklies. John Barry and Evan Thomas have more dirt in the Newsweek story (this is where the Powell quote comes from), but Brian Bennett et al have some good stuff in their Time cover story, including the lack of communication on the state of Iraq's electricity grid.

    On the Valerie Plame business, I've written a bit about it in recent days. You can access my posts in chronological order, here, here, here, here, here, and here. [Been obsessing a bit, have we?--ed. Look, some people care about the California recall, others about national security.]

    For more general reading on Bush's decision-making style, check out this Richard Brookshier essay from the March 2003 Atlantic Monthly. Ryan Lizza's TNR piece from January 2001 is also worth reading, particularly the opening paragraph:

    Throughout last year's campaign, George W. Bush described the role of president as akin to that of a corporate CEO--part visionary, part manager, part talent scout. "My job is to set the agenda and tone and framework," Bush wrote in A Charge to Keep, "to lay out the principles by which we operate and make decisions, and then delegate much of the process to [staff members]." Sure enough, as Bush has picked his Cabinet nominees, what began as a campaign strategy to neutralize criticism of his inexperience has become his administration's governing theory. "I'm going to work with every Cabinet member to set a series of goals ... for each area of our government," Bush told reporters at a recent press conference. "I hope the American people realize that a good executive is one that understands how to recruit people and how to delegate." A Bush adviser told The New York Times that the administration would be returning to the model of the 1950s: "Bush is going back to the Eisenhower-type cabinet, where it's more like a board of directors."

    For more general reading on bureaucratic politics -- particularly in matters of foreign policy -- the classic source is Graham Allison's Essence of Decision. However, much more pertinent for today's world is Amy Zegart's Flawed By Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC. [Full disclosure: Zegart and I went to graduate school together]. To see bureaucratic politics as it played out in the Reagan administration, you could do far worse than perusing George Shultz's memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph.

    posted by Dan at 06:53 PM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

    The management of foreign policy

    [So, Dan, you've been a bit preoccupied with this Valerie Plame business. So what's your TNR Online essay going to be about?--ed.]

    Go check it out for yourself. It's mentions the Plame Game -- but it's about foreign policy management in general.

    posted by Dan at 06:46 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

    Martin Kramer weighs in

    Martin Kramer critiques Ropert Pape's article on suicide terrorism. It's pretty harsh:

    Pape has given us a paper of limited originality, based on data that need double-checking, and topped off with conclusions that don't flow from the findings. It's more evidence that this kind of work has to be done on an interdisciplinary basis, and in consultation with people who remember.

    I've already had my say on this, but do check out Kramer's full post.

    posted by Dan at 04:16 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

    The Chicago Manual of Style and Microsoft Word

    For those who were interested in my previous post on the new edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, the must-read for today is Louis Menand's review of it in The New Yorker. Menand's review is particularly useful because he discusses whether the style recommendations are compatible with the travails of using Microsoft Word, for which he has little love. Here's the most amusing part of his over-the-top rant:

    [I]t is time to speak some truth to power in this country: Microsoft Word is a terrible program. Its terribleness is of a piece with the terribleness of Windows generally, a system so overloaded with icons, menus, buttons, and incomprehensible Help windows that performing almost any function means entering a treacherous wilderness of pop-ups posing alternatives of terrifying starkness: Accept/Decline/Cancel; Logoff/Shut Down/Restart; and the mysterious Do Not Show This Warning Again. You often feel that you’re not ready to make a decision so unalterable; but when you try to make the window go away your machine emits an angry beep. You double-click. You triple-click. Beep beep beep beep beep. You are being held for a fool by a chip....

    Few features of Word can be responsible for more user meltdowns than Footnote and Endnote (which is saying a lot in the case of a program whose Thesaurus treats “information” as “in formation,” offering “in order” and “in sequence” as possible synonyms, and whose spellcheck suggests that when you typed the unrecognized “decorums” you might have meant “deco rums”). To begin with, the designers of Word apparently believe that the conventional method of endnote numbering is with lowercase Roman numerals—i, ii, iii, etc. When was the last time you read anything that adhered to this style?

    Read the whole thing. Then, if you still have free time, do take the opportunity to read Menand's The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America.

    posted by Dan at 03:49 PM | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)

    My Plame mood today

    There are two -- no, make that three -- inputs to my level of outrage at the Plame game. The first is the despicable nature intrinsic to the leak itself. On that score, I'm delighted to see some people on my side of the ideological fence catching on to what's happened. To quote Andrew Sullivan:

    Valerie Plame was undercover and her outing was apparently deliberate and coordinated. If this pans out, it really is an outrageous piece of political malice. I may have misjudged this one at first, because I couldn't quite see the motive behind it. I'm still not totally clear, and it seems an extremely dumb and self-defeating tactic to me. But whatever the motive, if this is the nub of the story, the leakers need to be found, fired and prosecuted. I've written that before. But, listening to the Newshour testimony, my outrage level just went up a notch.

    Better yet, to quote the source of Sullivan's outrage, former counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson speaking on Newshour (link via Atrios):

    I say this as a registered Republican. I am on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear, of an individual who had no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it because the entire intent was, correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted, to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision-making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy, and frankly what was a false policy of suggesting that there was nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend it was something else, to get into this parsing of words.

    I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this.

    [You do know -- as Matt Drudge points out -- that Johnson also said that Plame was a CIA operative for thirty years even though she's only forty?-- ed. Yeah, but my suspicion is that was a misstatement during a live television broadcast. It would be nice if it was cleared up, however.] Heck, even the RNC chairman acknowledges that this is serious.

    The second source of my outrage is a direct function of who leaked and that person's relationship to the President. On Sunday, I suspected that it was Karl Rove, which would put the leak very close to George W. Bush himself, which got me very mad. On Monday, Ambassador Wilson admitted that he had no evidence to back up that charge, and so my outrage level diminished somewhat. If this story pans out -- do consider the source -- then my dander will be rising again. UPDATE: Robert Novak goes out of his way in today's column to imply that Rove was not the source of the leak -- "no partisan gunslinger." Again, consider the source -- Novak continues to insist that Plame was not an undercover operative.

    The third factor is how the Bush administration handles this emerging scandal -- do they go into denial/cover-up mode or do they address it forthrightly and clean it up? While Bush did say something constructive yesterday, I also think Josh Marshall is correct in pointing out how Bush is trying to reframe the issue. I still think Brad DeLong is overreaching, but we'll see what happens as more facts emerge.


    UPDATE: Laura Bush weighs in. And Spencer Ackerman and Clifford May are having a civil debate over at The New Republic.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: ABC's The Note again manages to look past the morass of charges and counter-charges to get to the nub of the issue:

    Now: given Bob Novak's curious self-placement as absolving judge and jury; given Joe Wilson's Beersian ties to the Kerry campaign; given that Capitol Hill Republicans have great faith in John Ashcroft (there's that double entendre again); given the Gang of 500 CW that leak investigations never go anywhere; and given the president's commitment to get to the bottom of this, your view of where the Wilson story is going (and should go … ) is (or, at least, should be) based on your view of this passage from Sunday's Washington Post:

    " … (A) senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."

    Do you think the Post 's official was credible and knew what he/she was talking about?

    If so, this story has legs, and the Justice Department investigation is going to make the search for some measly billing records look like patty cake.

    If not — if you have a Brooklyn or National Review skepticism of anything that appears in the Washington Post — well, then it appears to be perhaps much ado about nothing.

    I respect the Post, by the way, which is why I take this story so seriously.

    posted by Dan at 10:30 AM | Comments (70) | Trackbacks (3)

    Tuesday, September 30, 2003

    The limits of political science

    Y'know, I've got a Ph.D. in political science, and I've vigorously defended the use of statistical methodologies to understand political phenomena. I truly believe that its possible to create general models of human behavior to explain political events. But one must frankly acknowledge their limitations, so let me admit the one thing political science cannot and never will be able to explain -- the mind of Arianna Huffington:

    With her campaign support mired in the low single digits, independent candidate Arianna Huffington announced Tuesday evening that she is pulling out of the California gubernatorial recall race and will work to defeat it.

    "I'm pulling out and I'm going to concentrate every ounce of time and energy for the next week fighting to defeat the recall because I realize that that's the only way now to defeat [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Arnold Schwarzenegger," the 53-year-old writer and media commentator said on CNN's "Larry King Live."

    "I was against the recall in principle. I've always believed this is not the way to run a democracy. But I also saw the opportunity provided to elect with a simple plurality an independent progressive governor."

    Gray Davis, on the other hand, perfectly fits the axiom that the first thing politicians care about is getting elected:

    Asked about her possible departure during a campaign appearance Tuesday, Davis said Huffington had brought "wisdom and clarity" to the recall race.

    "I believe she's made a contribution to the dialogue that has begun over these last 70 to 75 days," he said. "If she does drop out and oppose the recall, clearly I would welcome her comments between now and the end of the campaign."

    Must... resist.... urge... to.... snark!!! [Just link to Mickey Kaus--ed. Good idea!!]

    posted by Dan at 10:17 PM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (1)

    Drezner gets results from George W. Bush!!

    Yesterday I wrote:

    I am saying that the President could display a touch more of the outrage that his father hinted at four years ago. That, in itself, would send a powerful message to his staff.

    Earlier today I wrote:

    [W]hat I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what took place... there's a big difference between assertions by intermediaries and a video feed of the President himself. The latter commands a lot more attention

    From Fox News:

    President Bush said Tuesday that he wanted to know who leaked a CIA employee's name to reporters, if in fact someone in his administration wrongly passed out the information.

    “Leaks of classified information are bad things. We’ve got too much leaking in Washington,“ Bush said during a stop in Chicago. "I want to know who the leakers are.”

    If a Justice Department investigation of the matter reveals that the leak was a violation of the law, the "person will be taken care of."

    ABC News runs the quote as follows:

    He said in Chicago that he had instructed his staff to cooperate with the investigation, and he also called for anyone outside the administration who had information about the matter to bring it forward.

    "Leaks of classified information are bad things, and we've had too many lately in Washington," Bush said. "We've had leaks from the executive branch and leaks from the legislative branch. I want to know who the leakers are."

    See, was that so hard? I would have phrased it a bit differently -- it still sounds a bit too clever to me. However, that statement -- plus a thorough Justice/FBI investigation -- are good if belated first steps for the administration to address this problem. [UPDATE: Josh Marshall appears not to be sated.]

    Also check out Jack Shafer's Slate essay on the Plame game. Some highlights:

    Novak's White House sources aren't the only potentially prosecutable leakers. The identity of an undercover operative such as Plame would not automatically be something in circulation at the White House. Somebody at the CIA would have had to tell the White House that Plame was Wilson's wife and that she was undercover. Any aggressive Justice dragnet is as likely to collect CIA employees as it is White House officials.

    Besides, most Justice Department investigations of leakers go nowhere, even when Justice knows their identities. At his May 6, 1997, confirmation hearing, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet complained that the CIA files "crimes reports with the attorney general every week about leaks, and we're never successful in litigating one. And I think, you know, if we could just find one, I don't want to prosecute anybody; I want to fire somebody. That will send the right signal to people."....

    Given that the White House knows who the leakers are, I would surmise that the administration will staunch the damage—and still the scandal—by strongly encouraging the leakers to offer themselves up for sacrifice out of duty to President Bush. If I were Bush, I'd avoid anything that could be construed as a coverup and start rehearsing my address to the nation about how a tiny precancerous lesion has been removed from the face of the presidency.

    With his statement today, Bush is starting make the proper noises.

    Definitely still developing....

    UPDATE: Shafer has another Slate piece up that seems to take a harder line than the previously linked one. The highlights:

    The Novak-Wilson-Plame story is so huge because 1) the leak appears (to some) to be a dirty trick designed to punish Wilson for going public on the July 6 New York Times op-ed page with his version of the Niger yellowcake uranium story; 2) it's against federal law ($50,000 in fines and 10 years in prison) for a government official who has access to classified information to disclose a covert agent's identity; 3) it indicates the extent to which the Bush administration will dissemble to sear its version of the war on terror on the public consciousness; and 4) we haven't had a good scandal joy ride in Washington since Monicagate....

    [N]one of the reporters who talked to the White House sources filed the more newsworthy story: namely, that the normally leak-free administration was attempting to put Ambassador Wilson in an unflattering light by connecting his Niger mission in some nepotistic fashion to his wife's position as a CIA employee, and damage her cover in the process. Any of the reporters could have published a story about how an administration source was talking trash about Wilson without naming Valerie Plame or violating their confidentiality agreements. So, why didn't they? I can only assume that the reporters calculated that with confidential administration sources being so rare these days, they shouldn't do anything that would deter a future leak. So, they ignored the tip and declined to expose the leakers' skulduggery in hopes of getting a different—and perhaps less dicey—story leaked to them later.

    The Novak-Wilson-Plame story illustrates in creepy fashion what happens when reporters, especially Washington reporters, become too beholden to their sources. They forget that they're supposed to answer to their readers, not their sources. And when they're obsessed with keeping their confidential sources happy, they end up missing the story.

    posted by Dan at 05:34 PM | Comments (19) | Trackbacks (0)

    Crescat Sententia has moved

    Will Baude, Amanda Butler, and the rest of the gang have some fancy new digs -- there are gargoyles and props from Richard Posner!!

    Go check it out.

    posted by Dan at 11:02 AM | Trackbacks (0)

    Still a lot of smoke, and Justice thinks there's a fire

    The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department has started a full investigation of the Novak leak:

    The Justice Department launched a full-blown criminal investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA officer, and President Bush directed his White House staff on Tuesday to cooperate fully.

    The White House staff was notified of the investigation by e-mail after the Justice Department decided late Monday to move from a preliminary investigation into a full probe. It is rare that the department decides to conduct a full investigation of the alleged leak of classified information.

    White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales told the staff: "You must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department's investigation." Presumably that would include telephone logs, e-mails, notes and other documents....

    "The president has directed the White House to cooperate fully with this investigation," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters. "The president wants to get to the bottom of this."

    Senior staff members were told of the investigation at their morning staff meeting, and then Gonzales sent an e-mail to all the staff notifying them of the probe.

    Even before the Justice Department investigation was announced, Democrats were calling for the appointment of a special counsel to insure impartiality. McClellan said the decision rests with the Justice Department.

    The department notified the counsel's office about 8:30 p.m. Monday that it was launching an investigation but said the White House could wait until the next morning to notify staff and direct them to preserve relevant material, McClellan said. (emphasis added)

    Here's a copy of the memo that Gonzales sent to the White House staff:

    PLEASE READ: Important Message From Counsel's Office

    We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. The department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the counsel to the president's office. The president has directed full cooperation with this investigation. (emphasis added)

    The end of the New York Times story also describes where things go from here:

    As is standard, the Justice Department asked the C.I.A. to complete an 11-question report addressing issues like who had access to the classified information and what harm was caused to national security.

    The C.I.A. gave the Justice Department its response several weeks ago, a government official said. Mr. Ashcroft decided over the last several days to move ahead with a preliminary inquiry, and the Justice Department notified the F.B.I. late Monday that the bureau would lead the investigation.

    "We'll start with the C.I.A.," said an F.B.I. official. "They're the ones that held the information, so we'll go from there to find out who had access to it."

    So far, the system appears to be working. As I've said previously, what I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what took place. [But his press spokesman, national security advisor, and other subordinates have already said that the President would not tolerate this sort of behavior!--ed. There's a big difference between assertions by intermediaries and a video feed of the President himself. The latter commands a lot more attention -- see the Trent Lott affair. But the Washington Post says the following today:

    A senior official quoted Bush as saying, "I want to get to the bottom of this," during a daily meeting yesterday morning with a few top aides, including Rove.

    Surely that counts for something?--ed. Again, this is an anonymous leak -- not a formal statement]

    For more, go read Tom Maguire. Oh, and check out this Post story explaining the relevant statute otherwise known as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

    UPDATE: Drezner gets results from ABC!! The Note has some powerful words in today's update:

    In all our back-and-forth history(onics) about the Wilson matter yesterday, we inadvertently left out one really important notion, which we insert here now high up:

    The press and the opposition party should NOT go around assuming that because someone MIGHT be guilty of something that they ARE guilty of something.

    Karl Rove's name was out there yesterday, but there are bound to be others, and there is just no reason to rush to judgment (even in our current 24/7 media culture) just because someone hears a name, or even if someone hears that someone else has hired a criminal defense lawyer.

    If you care even a whit about America having a civil national public discourse (during this time and forever), read every word of David Brooks' brilliant New York Times column, and thank Arthur for hiring him.

    ABC is correct, which is why I said what I said yesterday about Rove, given my speculation on Sunday.

    Let me repeat -- this is a serious allegation, and I want to see the President address it directly and publicly. [But we don't really know if Plame was an operative, and we don't really know whether Bush administration officials leaked the story in the way that the Post alleges.--ed.] Oh yes we do. Kevin Drum provides a solid rundown of the evidence. From CNN (link via alert reader B.M.):

    In addition to Novak, as many as six other journalists may have been told the CIA operative's name, CNN's Ensor reported, citing sources. At least one of the journalists spoke to a Bush administration official who revealed the name, Ensor said, but it was unclear who had initiated the call....

    Ensor reported that sources at the CIA said Plame is an employee of the operations side of the agency.

    "This is a person who did run agents," Ensor said. "This is a person who was out there in the world collecting information." (emphasis added)

    So, to quote James Woolsey from the CNN story:

    This is a serious leak. You can endanger intelligence and people's lives by revealing the identities of CIA case officers, so it's a serious matter.

    But we don't know who did what yet. The only connection to Rove in this incident came from an assertion by Joseph Wilson that he later retracted. It's worth noting that Mark Kleiman acknowledges my point on this as well (though he's suspicious of Rove due to prior bad acts).

    posted by Dan at 10:45 AM | Comments (104) | Trackbacks (8)

    Monday, September 29, 2003

    The oxymoron of conservative academics?

    I've had a couple of e-mail request to comment on the David Brooks piece from Saturday on how few conservatives there are in academia.

    I really don't want to write anything new on this, but click here, here, and here and you'll have my general take on this problem. Oh, and Bruce Bartlett provides an excellent summary of the data on academic bias.

    Well.... let me also agree completely with two of Jacob Levy's main points in his follow-up post on this topic. Point #1:

    What we do is also: research. It's always been pretty clear to me that there are people who have the reputation of subordinating their research to an ideological mission, and doing bad research as a result. This is among the worst reputations one can have in academia; it's fatal. It is almost certainly easier for someone to the right of center to acquire that reputation than it is for someone to the left of center. In other words, one has to be more careful not to acquire it if one's ideology is out of the academic mainstream. But it's pretty easy not to acquire the reputation by not committing the act. If people want to write lobbying briefs, they should write lobbying briefs, not scholarly articles and books. Those who do write scholarly articles and books, I maintain, get them judged more-or-less fairly by their peers.

    Point #2:

    Academia is tough. Most applicants don't get into grad schools; many grad students don't finish; most PhDs don't get tenure-track jobs; most papers don't become articles; etc. It's easy to be on the disappointed end of one of those decisions and to chalk it up to a bias against some category to which one belongs, instead of to bad luck. But it's also self-destructive.

    Good God, yes.

    Also be sure to check out Virginia Postrel, David Adesnik, Henry Farrell -- and his commenters, particularly Timothy Burke.

    UPDATE: I'm afraid you'll also need to check out Chris Lawrence, Invisible Adjunct, and Erin O'Connor. Erin makes a point about the humanities that's particularly sad:

    The student who enters grad school intent on becoming a traditional humanist is the student who will be labelled as hopelessly unsophisticated by her peers and her professors. She will also be labelled a conservative by default: she may vote democratic; may be pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and anti-gun; may possess a palpably bleeding heart; but if she refuses to "politicize" her academic work, if she refuses to embrace the belief that ultimately everything she reads and writes is a political act before it is anything else, if she resists the pressure to throw an earnest belief in an aesthetic tradition and a desire to address the transhistorical "human questions" out the window in favor of partisan theorizing and thesis-driven advocacy work, then she is by default a political undesirable, and will be described by fellow students and faculty as a conservative.

    posted by Dan at 04:44 PM | Comments (23) | Trackbacks (2)

    Today's Plame roundup

    Developments in the Plame story today:

    1) Josh Marshall reprints the relevant section of the daily White House press briefing covering this. Scott McClellan flatly denies that Karl Rove leaked the story to Novak, and that the president knows that Rove didn't do it. This is how the Associated Press plays the story. If you read the transcript, however, there's some confusion as to how McClellan knows this. He intimates a conversation with Rove, but doesn't say he asked him directly:

    QUESTION: But is the President getting his information from you? Or did the President and Karl Rove talk, and were there assurances given that Rove was not involved?

    McCLELLAN: I've already provided those assurances to you publicly.

    QUESTION: Yes, but I'm just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you, and you're here at this --

    McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.

    QUESTION: How does he know that?

    McCLELLAN: The President knows.

    2) Clifford May has a piece in NRO suggesting that Plame's status at the CIA was common knowledge in DC:

    It's the top story in the Washington Post this morning as well as in many other media outlets. Who leaked the fact that the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV worked for the CIA?

    What also might be worth asking: "Who didn't know?"...

    On July 14, Robert Novak wrote a column in the Post and other newspapers naming Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.

    That wasn't news to me. I had been told that — but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhanded manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.

    This does raise the prospect that perhaps the leak to Novak -- which at the time, was intended to impugn the CIA's morivation to send Wilson to Niger in the first place -- was unaware that s/he was "outing" Plame. This is, I believe, Tom Maguire's theory of events. As Jacob Levy points out, May conveniently skirts the fact that this is still a crime. However, the level of malice involved would be reduced somewhat.

    [What about May's allegation that Wilson wasn't qualified to investigate the Niger claim and performed his task in a half-assed manner?--ed. Those are largely extraneous issues, but if you read Wilson's interview with Marshall, it seems clear that he did a pretty thorough job of looking into the matter -- he wasn't just "drinking sweet mint tea." Furthermore, even May acknowledged in July that, "Wilson's conclusion was probably correct."]

    3) There is some evidence that Wilson might be overselling his side of the story. Howard Kurtz pointed something out today in his Media Notes column:

    Wilson said yesterday that journalists for the three major broadcast networks told him they had been contacted by someone in the White House. He named only one, Andrea Mitchell, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, who interviewed Wilson and reported on July 22 that he said the administration was "leaking his wife's covert job at the CIA to reporters." Mitchell could not be reached for comment yesterday [UPDATE: according to Tom Maguire, Mitchell confirmed the story on Imus this morning -- D.D. ANOTHER UPDATE: MSNBC has the following important clarification: "NBC News said Monday evening that reports that Mitchell was one of the reporters who was called were not completely accurate. Mitchell was contacted in connection with the story, it said, but only after Novak revealed the woman’s name in his column in July." (emphasis added)]

    NBC's Washington bureau chief, Tim Russert, and ABC's bureau chief, Robin Sproul, said yesterday they could not discuss any matter involving confidential sources. But John Roberts, a CBS White House correspondent, said that to his knowledge, no administration official had contacted anyone at the network about Wilson.

    If anyone had called him, Roberts said, "I'd immediately have to wonder what the ulterior motive was. We'd probably end up doing a story about somebody breaching national security by leaking the name of a CIA operative."

    Meanwhile, Wilson appears to be backing away from his accusation that Rove was the source of the leak. From the Associated Press again:

    Wilson had said in a late August speech in Seattle that he suspected Rove, but on Monday he backtracked somewhat from that assertion.

    "I did not mean at that time to imply that I thought that Karl Rove was the source or the authorizer, just that I thought that it came from the White House, and Karl Rove was the personification of the White House political operation," Wilson said in a telephone interview.

    But then he added: "I have people, who I have confidence in, who have indicated to me that he (Rove), at a minimum, condoned it and certainly did nothing to put a stop to it for a week after it was out there.

    "Among the phone calls I received were those that said `White House sources are saying that it's not about the 16 words, it's about Wilson and his wife.' And two people called me up and specifically mentioned Rove's name," he said.

    4) Josh Marshall notes the subtle differences between the Monday Washington Post follow-up and the original Sunday WaPo story:

    The descriptions of sources is now vaguer. Top White House officials have become White House officials. Senior administration officials are now administration officials. There are several possible explanations for the change.

    It's also worth noting that the New York Times, playing catch-up, also uses the vague "Bush administration officials" to describe the leakers.

    5) Robert Novak just said the following on Crossfire (reprinted by Matt Drudge):

    Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told [me] the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives.

    All of these facts suggest to me that it's way too soon to assert with confidence that Karl Rove did anything untoward.

    Don't get me wrong -- someone did something wrong, otherwise the CIA would not have requested an investigation from Justice. Furthermore, the MSNBC story contains the following grafs:

    CIA lawyers followed up the notification this month by answering 11 questions from the Justice Department, affirming that the woman’s identity was classified, that whoever released it was not authorized to do so and that the news media would not have been able to guess her identity without the leak, the senior officials said.
    The CIA response to the questions, which is itself classified, said there were grounds for a criminal investigation, the sources said.

    The question is, who did it? Maybe it was a high-ranking White House official, maybe not. At this point, however, there's no evidence that Rove had anything to do with this.

    There's still a lot of smoke at this point -- but I don't see a fire just yet.

    Still developing....

    posted by Dan at 03:26 PM | Comments (60) | Trackbacks (6)

    Not exactly like father, like son

    Leadership and conviction:

    "Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors."

    George H.W. Bush, remarks at the Dedication Ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence, 26 April 1999.

    Lack thereof:

    "White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq."

    Mike Allen, "Bush Aides Say They'll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak," Washington Post, 29 September 2003 (emphasis added)

    Fair or unfair comparison? Too soon to tell.

    In the story, when asked about the possibility of an internal White House investigation, White House press spokesman Scott McClellan said:

    I'm not aware of any information that has come to our attention beyond the anonymous media sources to suggest there's anything to White House involvement.

    That's the best spin to put on the story, because it's true -- with the exception of Novak himself, all of the sources for this story have been anonymous.

    We'll see how long this holds up.

    A final point -- I really, really, want this story to be wrong. I find the prospect that there are people in the White House capable of such actions to be distasteful. If the entire story turns out to be bogus, great. If not, then this is going to be a long and bumpy ride.


    UPDATE: Josh Marshall links to an Esquire story highlighting how Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. differed in their approach to Karl Rove.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh argues that it would be wrong to expect President Bush to take a more active role in the investigation:

    [L]eaks aren't going to be stopped or be discovered merely by having the President call in suspected leakers, and interrogate them about whether or not they talked out of turn. If it was so easy to stop leaks, past Administrations would have tried that tactic a long time ago.

    But as Dan well knows, life is not a Perry Mason movie. The culpable do not break down and confess their sins merely as the result of close questioning. And the Administration likely knows this, which is why they aren't going to waste time calling in the many aides who work at the White House in order to find out who has been leaking the story. So I'm not sure that Dan's excerpted quote is evidence of a lack of leadership and conviction on the part of the Administration. Rather, it is likely evidence of the monumental task that is before the Administration in finding out who--if anyone--might have leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media.

    Pejman has a point about the futility of catching leakers (though Mark Kleiman disagrees). There is a difference, however, between your garden-variety leak and what took place in the Plame affair, which was a violation of federal law.

    I'm not saying George W. Bush should be whipping out the magnifying glass as part of an investigation. I am saying that the President could display a touch more of the outrage that his father hinted at four years ago. That, in itself, would send a powerful message to his staff.

    posted by Dan at 12:57 AM | Comments (51) | Trackbacks (10)

    Sunday, September 28, 2003

    What could cause me to switch parties

    I don't normally blog on Sunday morning out of a combination of wanting to spend time with my family and general laziness. This Washington Post story, however, which folows up on an NBC story, has rousted me out of my torpor:

    At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday.

    The operative's identity was published in July after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons. Bush later backed away from the claim.

    The intentional disclosure of a covert operative's identity is a violation of federal law.

    The officer's name was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

    Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

    "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak. (emphasis added)

    For more, see Kevin Drum, Mark Kleiman, Brad DeLong, Josh Marshall, Atrios, and Tom Maguire (who also provides a comprehensive chronology of what happened back in July -- check out this Slate piece as well). Also be sure to read Marshall's two-part interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

    Kleiman reads the Post story the same way I do:

    [T]he source for this story (a "senior Administration official" but not a "top White House official," which probably means either from the CIA or from the Justice Department, more likely the former) refused to identify the two leakers "for the record," which clearly implies that he did identify them off the record. Since the story mentions Joseph Wilson's use of Karl Rove's name, it would be natural for the reporter to have hinted that Rove was not in fact one of the guilty parties, had that been the case. But there is no such hint. Of all the people in the White House, Rove is probably the one Bush can least afford to lose, and the one who gives Bush the least deniability.

    Tom Maguire thinks that

    [T]hey [The White House] need to get a senior Admin official in front of a friendly Congressional Chairman, admit that it was an innocent mistake, take the pain, and exit.

    That won't fly, for the simple reason that high-ranking members of the Bush administration apparently know that it wasn't an "innocent mistake." By telling the Post, it's clear that some cabinet officials are not going to let this die quickly.

    To which I say, good. What was done here was thuggish, malevolent, illegal, and immoral. Whoever peddled this story to Novak and others, in outing Plame, violated the law and put the lives of Plame's overseas contacts at risk. Compared to this, all of Clinton's peccadilloes look like an mildly diverting scene from an Oscar Wilde production. If Rove or other high-ranking White House officials did what's alleged, then they've earned the wrath of God. Or, since God is probably busy, the media firestorm that will undoubtedly erupt.

    Let me make this as plain as possible -- I was an unpaid advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, and I know and respect some high-ranking people in the administration. And none of that changes the following: if George W. Bush knew about or condoned this kind of White House activity, I wouldn't just vote against him in 2004 -- I'd want to see him impeached. Straight away.

    UPDATE: More reaction from James Joyner, Glenn Reynolds, Josh Chafetz, N.Z. Bear, and Roger Simon. They all counsel patience, which is of course wise. My rant is predicated on the assumption that someone at Rove's level in the White House was responsible for the leak.

    Having had a few more hours to mull this over, however, I'm even more upset than I was when I wrote my original post. The best-case scenario is that the Post's source is Tenet playing hardball in response to the original leak to Novak. Josh Marshall makes the logical case that Tenet was the source. Even if that is true, however, as this TNR profile on Tenet demonstrates, the man is a savvy bureaucratic actor. He wouldn't have taken the risk of talking to the Post unless he knew the facts of the episode -- and knew they would be damaging to the White House.

    There are two reasons why this makes me so upset. The first one is spelled out above -- if true, operatives at the White House violated the law and threatened WMD intelligence assets just to stick it to someone. And those operatives should be strung up.

    The second reason is more insidious. As Roger Simon put it in a follow-up comment to his post:

    But doesn't it seem weird to you that someone would do something so patently illegal for so little gain? It's such a self-destructive act it doesn't make sense.

    Roger is correct -- it does seem weird. If it is nevertheless true, however -- an important "if" -- then a Pandora's box gets opened by asking this question: if the White House was willing to commit an overtly illegal act in dealing with such a piddling matter, what lines have they crossed on not-so-piddling matters? In other words, if this turns out to be true, then suddenly do all of the crazy conspiracy theories acquire a thin veneer of surface plausibility?

    If that happens, both the administration and the country will be mired in scandal politics until November 2004. The administration would deserve it -- the country would not.

    posted by Dan at 11:02 AM | Comments (95) | Trackbacks (20)