Saturday, January 17, 2004
For those who would disparage the United Nations...
Over the past
[What, the UN helped with her eyeliner?--ed.] Not exactly -- the Associated Press explains:
You can read the complete text of the arbitration ruling here.
I, for one, applaud this multilateral initiative.
[Er, I just checked out www.carmenelectra.com, and it's still going to Celebrity1000!--ed. OK, so enforcement hasn't been the U.N.'s strong suit. More seriously, I'd expect Electra's legal team to ensure that the decision will be implemented. A year ago, Pamela Anderson won a similar decision and her domain name now goes to her site. I trust that Carmen Electra's official site will be moving very soon. You did a lot of research for this post--ed. Just trying to be as thorough as the grant-hogging Columbia School of Journalism!!]]
UPDATE: According to this story, "If there is no court appeal, domain names must be transferred 10 days after a ruling."
Andrew Sullivan server update
I've received numerous e-mails asking me if, as a former guest-blogger, I can access Andrew Sullivan's site. I just tried, got something that said, "andrewsullican.com (sic) click". I clicked with some apprehension, but was able to access the site with no difficulties -- his last post was a response to Josh Marshall's defense of Clark.
According to Andrew -- via Glenn Reynolds -- this is a server problem. I experienced similar difficulties when I was doing the guest stint earlier this month, so I can certainly empathize. Andrew, you're welcome to guest-post here while the problem is being fixed!! [Big man!--ed. Hey, it's the least I could do.]
UPDATE: The Daily Dish is back online -- with an apology from Sullivan.
[On a separate matter, that's the second post in a row in which you've mention this Clark business without addressing it head-on. What gives?--ed. I haven't read enough to comment with confidence. From what I have read, it seems clear that Drudge ginned up a Clark quote through an improper use of ellipses. Does that mean Clark can't be criticized on foreign policy?--ed. Hell, no -- I argued two weeks ago that compared to Howard Dean he was getting a free ride on this issue. Steve Sachs has more on this.]
Friday, January 16, 2004
Who wants a grant? Me!! ME!!
Wait a minute -- there are grants to be had for doing this??!! Why the hell didn't anyone tell me? The Columbia School of Journalism can just waltz in, rake in the cash, and set up some fantsy-pants blog? [Well, they do have reputation and experience, and they seem to be all over this Drudge/Clark business--ed. Yeah, so were Robert Tagorda and Mark Kleiman, and they were grant-free! Give me them plus James Joyner, Jeff Jarvis, Josh Marshall, and Noam Scheiber (who's read on Gephardt's chances seems dead-on to me), and I'll kick their a--- I think it's time for your nap--ed.]
Can Iraq become a democracy?
In the "No" corner is George F. Will, who's meandering essay in City Journal can be boiled down to the following highlights:
In the Atlantic Monthly, Francis Fukuyama recognizes the same problems as Will but argues that there is no other option:
Now, for a first-hand account, check out Ken Pollack's assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. The executive summary:
David Adesnik provides extended commentary as well.
That's your weekend reading. Enjoy!!
The Democratic candidates' foreign policy gurus
As a politics junkie, I love what's going on in Iowa. Four candidates with roughly the same level of support the wekend before the caucus? That's awesome, baby!! How long has it been since this many candidates had a legitimate shot at winning Iowa this late in the day?
Another leading indicator indicates that it's a close race. I argued a year ago that the Democratic candidate that attracted the heavyweight foreign policy advisors would be the putative nominee. Last month, Dean unveiled his list of advisors, and they seemed like a formidable group.
However, thanks to Foreign Policy, we now know the major candidates' roster of foreign policy advisors. Go check it out for yourselves. A few surprises:
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Kudos and embarrassment for Josh Marshall
I get asked on a regular basis what my senior colleagues think about the blog. The truth is, I try not to mention it -- because I don't know if all of them either know about or understand the concept of a blog. Oh sure it's the trendy thing, but academics, particularly those ensconced in the University of Chicago, delight in ignoring trends and fads -- or at least pretending to ignore them.
If people are familiar with blogs, then it's easy to discuss mine -- in the blogosphere I can hold my own. However, if someone is not familiar with the blog concept, then it's like trying to explain the virtues of first class air travel to someone who's never heard of or seen an airplane.
Which is why the following anecdote is so damn funny. To put it into context -- The Week magazine held its first annual Opinion Awards, which included a Blogger of the Year. For descriptions of the awards -- held at Harold Evans and Tina Brown's apartment, no less -- go see Jeff Jarvis or Editor & Publisher.
Now comes the funny anecdote, from Marshall himself:
Read the rest of Josh's post for the denouement -- it doesn't end too badly for him.
Good news and bad news on Brazilian fingerprinting
The bad news: Some Americans aren't reacting too well to the Brazilian plan of photographing and fingerprinting then. According to the Associated Press:
Thanks to Mike Derham for the photo link.
The good news -- The Brazilians are ingenious at soothing these potentially ugly Americans:
The AP photo caption reads:
More seriously, the Volokh Conspiracy has been blogging this story more seriously.
Less seriously -- readers, given the myriad kinds of amusements available in the world, which other countries should follow the Brazilian template?
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
White House intimidation.... or Paul O'Neill's nature?
Paul O'Neill being intimidated by Karl Rove? That dog won't hunt.
Unlike John DiIulio, Paul O'Neill is too senior to desire another cabinet-level position, and has what is referred to in DC lexicon as "f**k-you money" -- i.e., O'Neill doesn't have to play nice in oreder to guarantee a future revenue stream. Plus, as the original Time story points out, O'Neill refused to go along with Cheney's direct suggestion that he say he resigned:
Paul O'Neill is old, rich, secure in himself, and previously refused a direct request from Dick Cheney. A year later, what could Karl Rove possibly do that would intimidate him? [Compromising pictures of O'Neill with Jillian Barberie?--ed. Hell, that would have helped him!]
Instead of intimidation, let's consider another possibility, one based on O'Neill's track record as Treasury Secretary. When I was working there, the following would happen like clockwork every two weeks:
The same thing is going on here. O'Neill said on the Today Show:
In this case, O'Neill's predeliction for foot-in-mouth disease is compounded by the fact that much of what O'Neill said comes indirectly through Ron Suskind's book.
Finally, it's worth noting that the many of the usual suspects aren't biting on this non-story. Spencer Ackerman, who's co-authored a lot of TNR's more damaging assessments of the Bush team's invade-at-all-costs mentality, is quite clear that the O'Neill charge is bogus:
A touch, a touch, I do confe-- oh, wait a minute, let's put that quote in context, shall we?:
Let's also go to this January 2003 statement from Bush:
I said two things in my previous O'Neill post -- that Bush had given Colin Powell the lead on Iraq prior to 9/11, and that he changed his mind after that date. Nothing Bush said contradicts that. [But Brad also links to this ABC report saying Bush wanted a review of military policy options!--ed.] A review of options -- particularly in the first months of an administration -- is nothing new. But there's a big difference between evaluating policy options and acting on them. The key question, as Ackerman notes, is whether the administration moved forward on these options. The evidence says no. Until 9/11, Powell had the lead on Iraq and Rumsfeld seemed close to leaving the administration (though not because of Iraq).
Sure, Bush wanted to get rid of Hussein, but so did Clinton and all of Congress. The question was, what was Bush prepared to do to change the regime? And there is no evidence to support the charge that prior to 9/11, Bush was planning to invade Iraq.
Which candidate said what on foreign policy?
The good people at the Council on Foreign Relations has set up a 2004 campaign website on Foreign Policy in the Presidential Election. There are collections of each candidates' major foreign policy addresses, plus issue briefs. Also a useful campaign calendar.
It's pretty thorough. Go check it out.
UPDATE: Hmmm.... my original title for this post had the word "shopping" in the titles -- which seemed to attract spam like Salma Hayek attracts hits. I guess I'm going to have to stop doing that [Linking to Salma Hayek? Gasp!!--ed. No, use the word "shopping" in post titles.]
Another John Edwards moment
It's John Edwards day at the Chicago Tribune. There's a lengthy bio of him in one section (including his high school graduation photo). On the front page, the paper reports Edwards may have the "Big Mo" in Iowa:
Yeah, it's an anecdote -- but there may be something to it. See the Baltimore Sun and the Raleigh News-Observer (the latter admittedly has a local-boy-makes-good flavor). A triggering factor behind these reports was the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Edwards this Sunday, which undoubtedly raised his profile (he's picked up other endorsements as well).
But what about substance? Check out Edwards' proposal to promote democracy in the Middle East. As someone who's sympathetic to this policy, I was impressed with the level of detail -- particularly in contrast to some other Democratic candidates.
This is not only true about foreign policy. As Michelle Cottle pointed out in her case for Edwards in The New Republic:
I wrote back in September that Democrats might be slighting Edwards' campaign. We'll see if that's still true after Iowa.
UPDATE: This comment on Edwards' integrity -- by a Bush supporter, no less -- is worth reading.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The European front in the War on Terror
The Guardian's Sunday Observer had an extremely disturbing story two days ago on the renaissance of Muslim terrorist cells across the continent. The highlights:
This matches what the London Times (subscription required) reported earlier this month:
Developing... in a very disturbing way.
Just how liberal are the Democrats?
Mickey Kaus has an interesting rejoinder to Sullivan on racial issues:
On Sullivan's general point, I'd also dissent somewhat. Undoubtedly, on some issues, the party has lurched leftwards. This is certainly true on trade matters, and it's true about race to some extent.
On the other hand, compared to 2000, the Democrats have shifted to the right on national security issues -- just not as quickly or as far as Bush. The Dems certainly haven't abandoned the Clintonian emphasis on balanced budgets. They've also moved to the right on gun control, as the Chicago Tribune observes:
I care about foreign economic policy a lot, which is why I harp on it. But I'm not sure if the general claim can be made that the Democratic party has shifted to the left.
I have no doubt Democrats will weigh in on this matter themselves.
Could Bush win New York?
I doubt even diehard Republicans would answer this question with a "Yes." Today, however, I saw this Associated Press story:
Part of this might be due to a greater (thought hardly overwhelming) willingness for Jews to vote for Bush. Over at Volokh, David Bernstein has an interesting post on the subject.
It's still a long way to November, though.
Meanwhile a Chicago Tribune poll shows a similar trend for Bush in Illinois -- particularly if Dean is the opponent. The usual caveat (it's still damn early) applies.
Monday, January 12, 2004
Thoughts on Paul O'Neill
Paul O'Neill has decided to open up about the inner workings of the Bush administration. He's the primary source for a new Ron Suskind book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. O'Neill is also granting interviews galore -- see both 60 Minutes and Time. Some not-so-random thoughts:
1) Ron Suskind strikes again!! Despite the Bush administration's best efforts to keep White House leaks to a minimum (well, except if they involve CIA operatives) he has the ability to get Bush officials to open up on the record.
2) Paul O'Neill is a smart guy, but do bear in mind that he was a pretty lousy Treasury secretary when he was in charge. The day he left, I wrote the following:
Brad DeLong concurred that "O'Neill seems never to have tried to learn what his job was." The Time story observed, "Rarely had a person who spoke so freely been embedded so high in an Administration that valued frank public remarks so little." Later on in the story, even O'Neill thinks that O'Neill goes too far:
My point is not to claim that all of O'Neill's criticisms can be dismissed in a single stroke. He's clearly a smart person, and no doubt some of his criticisms have the ring of truth. My point is to remind people that O'Neill brings some baggage that he brings to the table -- and that even smart people can let that baggage overwhelm them.
3) Both O'Neill and Suskind engage in some slightly revisionist history on Iraq. Here's the 60 Minutes transcript on this point:
Suskind's revelations sound sexy, but they're pretty overblown. As Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, a lot of what O'Neill talks about and what Suskind cites had been under discussion in the Clinton administration. In early 2001, "peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq's oil wealth" were not merely under discussion by neocons that might have wanted to invade Iraq, but by policy wonks across the board. At the time, the Washington consensus about the Iraq policy at the time was that the status quo was an untenable situation. A lot of meetings were being held about ways to rejigger U.S. policy. FULL DISCLOSURE -- as a sanctions expert, I participated in one such bipartisan meeting chaired by Richard Haass in the early days of the transition.
Most important, this narrative overlooks the fact that prior to September 11th, the State Department had the lead on Iraq policy -- and they wanted to lift a lot of the sanctions. Don't believe me? Check out Lawrence Kaplan's attack on Colin Powell and Richard Haass (then-director of Policy Planning) in March 2001 in The New Republic (subscription is required). Kaplan preferred a more hawkish approach, so he took Powell to task. Here's the good part:
It's worth reading the whole thing, if for no other reason to see Kaplan accuse Haass -- who was a dove on Iraq -- of being in the pocket of the oil companies!!
The larger point is that Haass and Powell had the upper hand on Iraq policy -- until September 11th. [UPDATE: Ted Barlow over at Crooked Timber has a Bush quote that captures this point perfectly]. Clearly, after 9/11, Bush changed his mind. But to claim that George W. Bush planned to invade Iraq from day one of his administration is utter horses&$t.
4) This paragraph from Time made me reflect on my own qualms with the Bush policy process:
O'Neill's statements dovetail with the TNR cover story by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman from six weeks ago (sorry, subscription required again) -- this section in particular:
I'm beginning to wonder how much Cheney's activism -- which Bush enabled -- has thrown the NSC process completely off-kilter.
UPDATE: I'm not sure I explained that last point completely. This has nothing to do with the policy positions Cheney has taken on Iraq or anything else. Rather, the difficulty is that even cabinet-level officials can be reluctant in disagreeing with him because he's the vice-president. This leads to a stunted policy debate, which ill-serves both the President and the country. Brad DeLong's excerpt from the Wall Street Journal on the cabinet-level meeting on steel tariffs provide another case where Cheney seemed to choke off opposition to his position.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett has more.
FINAL UPDATE: A lot of the commentors have asked me about O'Neill's comments regarding both fiscal policy and the White House obsession with the political.
Andrew Sullivan, after a funny line ("This White House is all about politics. Yes, and banks are full of money.") makes much of the same points I would on this front.
NO, REALLY, THIS IS THE FINAL UPDATE -- I SWEAR: O'Neill walks back the Iraq allegations completely in this Reuters story:
Depressing news story of the day
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Democratic candidates are falling all over themselves in Iowa to blame NAFTA for all of the state's economic woes. The highlights:
Unfortunately, that last sentence is dead-on.