Friday, January 30, 2004
Up for grabs
A week ago, Roger L. Simon wrote the following:
Well, one way to find out who I'm going to support is this Presidential Match site. According to their survey, my top three candidates were Bush, Lieberman... and Al Sharpton!! So I'm not placing a whole lot of faith in that site.
Here's my position -- I'm genuinely unsure of who I'm going to vote for. More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He's not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he'll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you'd see an Executive Order within 24 hours. Andrew Sullivan and others have delivered this harangue, so I won't repeat it.
If -- a big if -- the Democrats put forward a credible alternative, then I could very well pull the donkey lever.
The Trippi post-mortems
That's Howard Dean quoted in the New York Times story on Joe Trippi's resignation. The piece also observes that Dean only has enough cash on hand for another week of campaigning.
For more on the Trippi angle, go see Noam Scheiber's exercise in self-criticism.
Three thoughts on that quote:
1) If you're John Kerry you're feeling very, very happy right now. Kerry has co-opted a lot of Dean's message without Dean's baggage, leaving the Good Doctor little to do but sound like he's declaring war on the Democratic Party. The best thing for Kerry is to have Dean continue to make statements like this.
2) If you're John Kerry you're feeling slightly ambivalent about the long haul. On the one hand, as Scheiber puts it:
On the other hand, Kerry will need those voters in battleground states come November, especially if the South doesn't matter. Will Deaniacs retreat from the system as if their candidate flames out? Or will they go and vote for Kerry?
3) The Feiler Faster Thesis strikes again!! In the span of a month, Howard Dean has gone from looking like William Jennings Bryan to..... Harold Stassen. [So he's gone from looking like a three-time loser to an eight-time loser!--ed.]
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Who wants caffeine?
Think you consume caffiene? See Brad DeLong.
Unimpressed? Then go read Jacob Levy's post on his caffeine consumption.
Neither of them, however, comes close to approaching the caffeine consumption of Paul Erdos. As he once said, "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
Relative to these people, I have a very mild habit. I didn't really drink coffee until I was in graduate school (Itried as an undergraduate, felt like my stomach lining was being ripped to shreds, and stopped soon afterwards). Even then, my gateway drug was the Starbucks mocha.
However, what got me to one cup a day was neither graduate school nor my job -- it was parenting.
The political economy of outsourcing
The first post appears to reflect the limited power of danieldrezner.com:
Two thoughts: first, to be fair, Bruce Bartlett also picked up on the Mann study. Second, Virginia, you're one of the people that helps translates blog awareness to wider media coverage. Counterintuitive ideas don't travel without your help!!
Postrel's column expands upon the Mann study I discussed here. Some good parts:
Read all of it.
Meanwhile, Virginia's other post follows up on Paul Craig Roberts. Outsourcing opponents have embraced him as one of their own since he co-authored an op-ed with New York Senator Chuck Schumer in the New York Times last month.
Eugene Volokh gets to the root causes of Roberts' protectionist rhetoric. It's not a pretty picture.
That said, it would be equally unfair to assume that everyone who agrees with Roberts about outsourcing shares the same root causes. Thirty years ago, Roberts was a supply-side nutball. He's just morphed into a protectionist nutball. [UPDATE: Tyler Cowen defends some of Roberts' earlier work.]
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Damn that Jack Balkin!!
Jack Balkin celebrated his blogiversary by writing not one, but two great posts about whether the blogosphere is an example of what Cass Sunstein called "cyberbalkanization" in republic.com-- the tendency for those engaged in political debate to ignore other points of view. I've heard some bloggers refer to this as "cocooning."
In his second post on the topic, Balkin then goes on to effectively critique the Sunday New York Times article on cyberbalkanization that I linked to here.
Dramatic developments in Pakistan?
The Chicago Tribune breaks a big story about U.S. plans for a military offensive inside Pakistan:
Here's the follow-up from the Associated Press.
Just last week at Davos, Musharraf appeared to reject this strategy:
Other reports confirm this statement, with Musharraf saying Al Qaeda was "ineffective" and "on the run."
I'd offer some cogent analysis at this point, but I'm torn between two diametrically opposed viewpoints:
If this weren't enough for Musharraf, he's also going to face a backlash regarding the nuclear investigation. The Washington Post reports:
Meanwhile, this report suggests that the Pakistani government is split on what to do about this. Here's the closing graf:
If I was CNN, I'd be locking in South Asia experts pronto.
There is another possibility -- that the leak was a conscious choice designed to flush bin Laden out of hiding. Some suggested last month that the heightened terror alert was an example of Al Qaeda trying to pulse out U.S. intelligence. This could be an attempt by the U.S. government to mirror that strategy.
The one thing that mitigates against this line of thinking is that it would have made more sense to leak such a story to the Washington Post or New York Times. The Tribune is an odd place to plant this [Which makes it more credible as an unintentional intentional leak?--ed. This is the kind of hypothesis that makes me reach for the aspirin]
ANOTHER UPDATE: Darren Kaplan has more context and background.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
New Hampshire thread
Talk amongst yourselves, however. I'll open with the following: did Dean and Clark do well enough to have a viable chance of winning the nomination?
Not letting up on outsourcing
Two new stories on the web today about the outsourcing phenomenon, about which I've blogged here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and ... er, here. [Why don't you just create a new category for these posts?--ed. Hey, good idea!]
Meanwhile, Wired has an in-depth cover story (and a few sidebars) on the outsourcing phenomenon (thanks to axiom for the link). One the one hand, the main piece by Daniel Pink gets at the core of current frustrations:
On the other hand, Chris Anderson makes the most trenchant point:
Quote of the day
From Ryan Lizza's campaign journal at TNR:
If you click over to the Abercrombie & Fitch site, you start to understand the whole "growing male crush" phenomenon with regard to Edwards.
Monday, January 26, 2004
Dissecting the outsourcing hypothesis
Clay Risen takes a hard look at outsourcing fears in The New Republic and finds them overblown:
Risen doesn't even mention the Catherine Mann study, which provides some hard data to back up Risen's conterarguments.
My final thoughts on New Hampshire
John Ellis reports that the media covering the NH primary is at sea:
I'm feeling energized by the fact that I was right about Iowa, so I'm taking advantage of the Mediasphere's confusion to make bold, half-assed predictions for tomorrow!! [As bold as Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, who has actual percentages?--ed. Not that bold!!]
Clearly, the tracking polls are going to be of little help. Compare the ARG with the Zogby and you start to appreciate the concept of "standard error" in a whole new way (a point Mark Kleiman made in the past week).
So, I'm basing my prediction on one ironclad historical fact -- Granite State voters like to mindf#&k the pollsters and the pundits. Sometimes they'll do this for the sheer fun of it -- remember, Pat Buchanan won the state in 1996.
So, pooling that fact in with the assorted polls and reportage, here are my predictions:
I'm not so bold as to be able to predict a Dean victory. But let's face it, the scream effect has worn off, for the same reason that the cops tried for the Rodney King beating received a not guilty verdict -- watch the video repeatedly, and the visceral effect starts to wear off. As ABC's The Note notes: "Many of his supporters here are angry at the media and the process and are fighting back (unlike in Iowa, where they seemed more angry at Dean)."
Finally, as John Ellis (again) points out, the national media want to bury Dean in New Hampshire. The best way for the Granite State to stop that is for Dean to play the Clinton angle post-primary. So I'm saying Dean will finish within five points of Kerry -- I'm just not sure of which side of him he'll finish. [Your readers want something more specific--ed. Fine -- Kerry by 3%]
The other steady drumbeat coming out of N.H. is that Wes Clark's campaign couldn't organize a proper bake sale. Democrats are suspicious of him. Republican- leaning independents are more likely to vote for Lieberman than Clark; Democrat-leaning independents are more likely to vote for Edwards than Clark. The debate performance didn't help. So, I'm saying he finishes fifth. [But wait, doesn't going with the media flow this time violate your rule about New Hampshire voters?--ed. Above all else, New Hampshire voters expect to be wined and dined. Clark's organization looks like its not capable of performing even that function.]
I was only partly right about the media spin after Iowa, but here goes anyway -- they help Edwards again. A revitalized Dean is going to go after Kerry with a vengeance, and Kerry's anti-Shermanesque motto -- "I will lose the South" -- will cause Kerry's upticks in the polls to melt away in the South. If Edwards makes a credible showing in New Hampshire, he'll be able to attract sufficient strength in the South to stay in the race for a while.
Of course, this is all predicated on Dean pulling close enough to Kerry to make things interesting, and Edwards beating Clark. I could very easily be wrong, in which case the current Senator from Massachusetts will start to resemble a former Senator of Massachusetts. If I'm right, however, then the Kerry balloon could pop, and the current Senator from Massachusetts will start to resemble... a former Senator from Massachusetts.
John Kerry, political idiot
Jake Tapper reports for ABC that John Kerry said he doesn't need the South:
Simple question: what the hell was John Kerry thinking?
Let's acknowledge at the outset that Kerry is correct on the facts. If Gore had won just one more state, he would have become president.
Politically, however, this is just stupid. As I've argued previously, the best way for Kerry to knock Edwards and Clark out of the race is to win South Carolina. How is this statement going to help that? Even if Kerry gets the nomination, this regional "f#$k you" is going to haunt him regardless of how many mea culpas the Kerry campaign churns out.
There's a more substantive point, however -- does anyone want a president elected without support across regional boundaries? This applies to Bush as well as the Dems. You want a president to be able to say they command support in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan asks:
Gotta disagree on both counts. On the former, read Daniel Urman's first-person account of going door-to-door in New Hampshire. As for the Republicans and New England, the Republicans hold five out of the twelve possible Senate seats and five out of the six governors seats. Bush won New Hampshire in 2000. It's Democrat-friendly territory, no doubt, but the Republicans still need to do well there.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire reinforces Tapper's point that Kerry has said this before.
When populism can work
One of the things that struck me the night of the Iowa caucuses was that all of the Democratic candidates were using the same kind of populist themes of "special interests vs. your interests" that worked so
I've defended the administration from the more outlandish set of charges. However, stories like the one in today's Chicago Tribune on Boeing's fueling tanker follies are going to hit home this fall. The deal would have let the Pentagon lease airplanes from Boeing to bolster its own refeuling fleet. By leasing rather than buying, the Defense Department was reducing costs in the short run but vastly increasing them in the long run. Boeing got its way, however:
If you read the whole thing, you'll see that Democratic as well as Republican congressmen lobbied vigorously for the deal, so this ain't just the executive branch and it ain't just Republicans. And, to be fair, the system worked eventually, with the contract being withdrawn.
Still, this is the kind of story that makes the populism angle work. And it's going to hurt the majority party way more than the minority party.
Populism always scares me because it's joined at the hip to trade protectionism. If the economy continues to struggle with job creation, however, I fear it will be a more potent tactic than in 2000.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Laura Kipnis on marriage
Honesty would be good. Kipnis knows a lot more about this subject than I do, but some of her facts seem shaded.
For example, Fukuyama did posit in The Great Disruption that the post-industrial society had a deleterious effect on marital status. However, he also argued that the effect was temporary and reversible: "Social order, once disrupted, tends to get remade again." Fukuyama argued that the institution of marriage was rebounding -- not that there was an inexorable erosion of the institution.
This jibes with data suggesting a modest turnaround in marriage rates starting in the mid-1990's. John Leo noted back in 2001 that:
Mickey Kaus also commented on this phenomenon at the time.
Finally, as to whether marriage is worth defending, go read this excellent summary of University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite's research on the benefits of marriage. It explodes more than a few myths on the subject:
UPDATE: More venting by Laura at at Apt. 11D.
Give me the Drysdale!
I see I've been nominated for "Best Non-Liberal Blog" for the 2003 Koufax Awards.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't tell you good readers to vote for me [Yes, you would!--ed.] but in the interest of marital balance I'm going to ask this time. Erika writes one pithy post and gets a Bloggie nomination!! My lovely wife has been lording it over me ever since, unimpressed with the meager success I've had with prior awards.
So, even the score and vote for me!! [Is this a reason or a rant?--ed. There's a reason you don't get nominated for anything]
The blogging of the President
Christopher Lydon will be hosting a radio show on NPR tonight from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM (Eastern Time) entitled "The Blogging of the President." Of course, there's an associated blog. Here are links to multiple posts about tonight's show -- which has an impressive line-up of commentators from both the blogosphere (Andrew Sullivan, Jeff Jarvis, Atrios, Joshua Micah Marshall) and the mediasphere (Gary Hart, Kevin Phillips, Richard Reeves).
To listen in online, go to Minnesota Public Radio's home page.
For background reading, check out this AP story on blogs and campaigns from earlier this week, and today's essay about political "cyberbalkanization" from the New York Times.
UPDATE: A few thoughts having just listened to the broadcast:
1) Christopher Lyudon is just a font of adjectives. My favorite for describing the blogosphere was "yeasty."
2) Great (paraphrased) exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Frank Rich:
3) Jeff Jarvis also had the best line of the evening: "Bloggers don't replace reporters; bloggers replace editors."
4) Where the hell were Gary Hart and Kevin Phillips? [UPDATE: According to this post, "We can't get through to Gary Hart's number." I have that problem too.]
5) Atrios and Sullivan had a yeasty exchange towards the end. Andrew made the point that he was willing to criticize his own side of the political spectrum, whereas Atrios would not do the same on the left. Atrios replied that simply wasn't true, and it was clear Andrew had not read his blog. Sullivan asked Atrios to cite an episode when he had criticized someone on the left. Atrios paused and said, "Well, I can't think of think of one right now."
6) Scrappleface posted the following headline to a Blogging of the President real-time entry: "Public Radio Show Talks about People Who Write About What's Written About People Who Do Little Else But Talk."
7) A final substantive critique of the show -- Neither Lydon nor any of his guests made the crucial distinction between campaign blogs and independent political blogs. The former might be more prone than the latter to the cocooning phenomenon discussed on the show.
FINAL UPDATE: On a related subject, Billmon privides an exhaustive report on a Davos Economic Forum panel on the relationship between the blogosphere and the mediasphere.
The dynamics of the Democratic race
Josh Marshall -- who's giving his readers their money's worth in New Hampshire -- introduces a complicating factor to the race after Tuesday:
Here's the thing -- I'm not sure how much organization matters. The Internet has made it very easy for candidates to translate monentum into contributions and volunteers (though not top-shelf organizers). Organization matters for get-out-the-vote efforts -- but this time around, the horse-race dynamic is boosting turnout anyway.
Once the race reaches the multi-state primaries phase, what matters more than organization are free media and paid media. The former goes to the candidates with momentum (though the Dean obsession this week could prove me wrong on that one). The latter goes to the candidates with money, which helps Dean and Clark. However, if both Kerry and Edwards do well in the Granite State (and Jonathan Cohn argues that Edwards will do much better than expected in New Hampshire) then the margin of that advantage will shrink dramatically as new money rushes to both of those candidates.
UPDATE: Via DailyKos, The ARG polls in three February 3rd primary states (Arizona, South Carolina, and Oklahoma) highlight the fluidity of the race, but they also support my argument. Dean, for all his vaunted organization, is running no higher than fourth in all three states, and is only polling in double-digits in Arizona. Clark's numbers are relatively strong -- but if he doesn't do well in New Hampshire I can see that support fading. Meanwhile, Kerry is leading in the Arizona poll and second in South Carolina. Edwards is leading in South Carolina and second in Oklahoma.
I've written previously that my preference for dealing with annoyances like e-mail spam has been through technological rather than regulatory recourses. It's not that I necessarily think legal options are wrong; they're just not my first choice.
We've been through this regarding phone solicitations, in which the regulatory outcome seemed to win. Intriguingly, the battle for Internet spam might be a case of technological solutions mattering more than regulatory ones.
The New York Times reports that increasingly sophisticated filtering software is eroding the "quality" of spam:
Meanwhile Bill Gates is now weighing in on the issue: