Saturday, February 7, 2004
For Chicago readers only
The Chicago chapter of the Nathan Hale Foreign Policy Society -- devoted to discussing foreign policy topics in, "as bipartisan, idealistic, and nuanced fashion as possible," will be meeting a 7:00 PM Sunday evening at Cosi. The address is 116 S. Michigan Avenue. That's roughly across the street from the lovely Art Institute of Chicago. Make a day of it!!
This first meeting of the Chicago chapter will be led by Will Baude. The topic is Homeland Security:
Blogging for dollars
John Hawkins provides a run-down on possible ways that bloggers can make a buck off their blogs. There's an excellent discussion of all the possible revenue streams, but his first point is the most salient: "if your primary motivation is to make money, don't bother with blogging."
[Hey, you became Andrew Sullivan for a spell. You should be set!--ed. I've been less aggressive on this front than I could be -- mostly because the opportunity costs of caring outweigh the paltry amounts I suspect such efforts would generate. The Amazon click-throughs do generate enough money to pay for the site, however.]
Friday, February 6, 2004
Gorbachev, Bush, Kohl... Hasselhoff?
The BBC reports about a man who feels slighted by history:
Read the whole story to get Hasselhoff's side of the story.
Indeed, let us all hope that sometime soon, all of the former stars of Baywatch receive their proper due in museums.
[Thanks to alert reader S.P. for the tip.]
The EU turns further inward
There are inherent tensions in the phrase "liberal democracy." The liberal part implies the protection of individual rights. The democracy part implies that those areas of policy requiring collective decision making will reflect majoritarian preferences. The tension is over what spheres of social, political, and economuc life should be protected against democratic rule -- or, to turn it around, what constraints should be placed on individual freedoms for the good of the whole.
I bring this up because the European Union's trade commissioner is considering a wholesale rejection of the liberal part of this equation. According to the Financial Times:
The highlighted section reflects just how Eurocentric this report would be. If the EU chose to implement this policy, it probably would promote greater European integration (via trade diversion). It would also probably reduce European tensions over trade.
However, it would also succeed in reducing global economic integration -- as well as pissing off just every other country in the world. How the papers' authors believe that this step would actually boost integration and reduce tensions outside of Europe is beyond me.
Unless they think that Europe is the world.
UPDATE: Rich Kleinman offers a thoughtful rejoinder:
Rich makes a valid point, and in the abstract I agree that on trade matters, circumstances exist in which broad-based democratic values should trump individual liberties.
However, three things frost me about this story:
1) When one considers recent EU trade history -- it's hard not to believe that this policy would not do much more harm than good -- both to the European and global economy;
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Breaking Plame news
UPI's Richard Sale has breaking news on the Plame investigation:
A little further down in the story is this quote about the White House's reaction to the triggering event, Joseph Wilson's op-ed bebunking the Niger yellowcake claim:
Hat tip to Josh Marshall, who promises more soon.
UPDATE: Robert Tagorda has blogosphere reaction, as well as a link to a Newsweek story Hannah's prior involvement in Iraq intelligence.
If this pans out,* I tend to agree with Mark Kleiman:
Chris Lawrence has further thoughts on Cheney.
*One thing does trouble me: why haven't the other wire services -- AP, Reuters -- picked this story up? [UPDATE: Josh Marshall comments on this as well, suggesting the following:
ANOTHER UPDATE: This Asian Times piece has the rundown on Cheney's travails as of late. This graf stands out:
More on job growth
As I said in my last outsourcing post, anecdotes about large corporations laying off workers can crowd out information about smaller firms (traditionally defined as less than 500 employees) that are hiring more workers. Since two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small firms, the latter can more than compensate for the former.
As for employment:
Obviously, this optimism must be seriously tempered by the shedding of jobs among large firms. Still, one hopes that this is a harbinger of healthy job growth across the board.
UPDATE: Hey, Technorati is hiring!!
ANOTHER UPDATE: The employment numbers for January are out:
Not great, but a definite improvement over the 1,000 jobs created in December. Here's the AP report.
FINAL UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune has a story on the rise of self-employment. Most of it is quite informative, but see if you can spot the error that will drive Brad DeLong round the bend and post another "Why oh why can't we have a better press corps" post!!
The debate over the European Union, continued
Over the past six months Henry Farrell and I have had a friendly debate over how to define the European Union. It it a supranational organization transforming itself into a state -- as Henry argues? Or is it a garden-variety international organization that is managed by its most powerful member states -- as I have argued?
Henry's last post on this matter argued that what really mattered was the Euroopean Court of Justice:
Henry makes a valid point -- but if the ECJ acts strategically, it will be reluctant to issue rulings that powerful states would flout, weakening the ECJ's repitation.
Which brings me to this Financial Times story suggests that beyond the ECJ, compliance is tough to come by:
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
The war of anecdotes
One of the problems in the outsourcing debate is that those who defend the practice lose the war of anecdotes. [What about economic models and statistical evidence?--ed. Then the arguments in favor of outsourcing win hands down. You'd think those pieces of information would be more important for public policy debates, but that's not the way it works. Between econometric models showing that trade is good for the economy and tangible anecdotes of job losses due to import competition, most citizens go with the anecdotes.]
It is easy to point to large multinational corporations laying off American workers because of offshore outsourcing -- cue IBM. However, the jobs that are either saved or created from outsourcing seem less impressive. In the case of jobs created, it's because a healthy share of new hiring takes place among smaller firms, the anecdotes of job creation seem much less convincing -- even though there may be more examples of the latter than the former.
In the case of jobs saved, the difficulty is that such statements require counterfactual reasoning -- "If outsourcing had not occurred, then a greater number of jobs would have been lost." Counterfactuals are extremely difficult to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, in the debates over trade and unemplyment, protectionists have juicy media stories, while those who favor an open economy are often left sputtering.
Bruce Bartlett tries to address "anecdote gap" on offshoring with this anecdote:
FINAL UPDATE: I've posted more on job growth here.
I love the eighties... strikes back!
Looking for more information on whether Bush is Reagan redux on foreign policy?
On foreign economic policy, Virginia Postrel ably makes the case that the current outsourcing phenomenon is a replay of the fears of "Japan, Inc." from the eighties. The Morgan Stanley quote is courtesy of this joint effort by Stephen Roach and Richard Berner (link via Brad DeLong). Stephen Roach takes the opposite position on outsourcing.
Reagan's forced reversal on taxes is covered in this Bruce Bartlett essay from last October. For a blow-by-blow description of Reagan's fiscal policy, the obvious source is David Stockman's The Triumph of Politics.
The Mary Matalin quote is courtesy of Chris Sullentrop's Slate article on Bush's campaign reelection strategy.
On Reagan's policies towards the Soviet Union, an accessible primer is Strobe Talbott's The Master of the Game, which is simultaneously a biography of Paul Nitze and a discussion of Reagan's attitudes towards arms control. It's also worth a re-read to see how Richard Perle reacts to Reagan responding to Gorbachev. And to understand the strains that existed within NATO in the early eighties due to Reagan's perceived belligerency, I'll shamelessly recommend Chapter Three, pages 80-88 of The Sanctions Paradox, authored by yours truly. [Wouldn't George Shultz's Turmoil and Triumph work as well?--ed. Er, yes, but that book is much too long for your busy TNR Online reader.]
On whether it is possible to create a democracy in Iraq: I argued pre-invasion that there were reasons to be optimistic with regard to democratization. For a counterargument, see today's Los Angeles Times op-ed by George Downs and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita* (link via Kevin Drum). This post from a few weeks ago contains links to arguments by George Will, Ken Pollack, and Francis Fukuyama on the subject. Today's Chicago Tribune provides a story on the perils and promises of human rights in Iraq. To my knowledge, Michael Desch was first compared Iraq to Lebanon.
I say Bush is hoping to emulate Reagan; Jonathan Rauch says that Bush is actually emulating Reagan's childhood idol, FDR in a July 2003 essay from The National Journal.
I love the eighties!!
My latest TNR Online essay is up. It's a meditation on whether we're experiencing 1984 all over again. [You mean in that Orwellian doublespeak kind of way?--ed.] No, I mean in terms of the costs and benefits out our foreign policy.
Primary analysis continued
John Kerry is doing well, and the candidate deserves some credit. However, he's also benefiting from some unbelievable luck. Richard Gephardt, in his last moment on the national stage, drags Howard Dean down with him. Now it looks like Clark will do the same thing to Edwards.
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
You can listen in online by clicking here.
UPDATE: That was fun!! From now on I'm going to demand Internet access when I'm doing a radio show -- it makes me sound much more erudite! Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics managed to pull that off without any help from the Web whatsoever.
Take these for what they're worth...
As Kos points out about exit polls: "the NH ones were totally off." However, the key is the Oklahoma number. If Edwards actually wins it, he knocks Clark out of the campaign and forces Kerry to -- at a minimum -- share the front page.
UPDATE: Campaign Desk is just a wee bit annoyed by the leaking of the numbers. While there is some evidence that early poll reporting has a marginal effect on turnout in general elections, I'm not sure if that still holds for these primaries:
1) Exit polls do not have the best track record as of late, so informed voters discount the information. Uninformed voters are unlikely to actively search for the information.
2) Primaries allocate delegates on a proportional basis provided the candidate reaches a minimum threshhold. So, even if a poll shows a candidate losing, the vote can still matter if it gets your preferred choice to place or show.
3) What's startling about these exit polls in particular is that Oklahoma looks like a nail-biter. Might that not boost turnout in that state?
The graduate school crisis
The Chicago Tribune runs a story today on the high dropout rate of graduate students pursuing Ph.D.s:
There are other academic bloggers who have and will comment on this, but I'm afraid that I'm (mostly) old school on this one. Hand-holding sounds great -- except that part of the job of being an academic is being enough of a self-desciplined self-starter that one can focus on research instead of distractions like... er.... blogs.
Plus, if the retention rate improves, it's not like there's a booming academic job market out there eager to hire -- as Bart Simpson recently pointed out.
So, if there's to be reforms to ensure a higher yield of graduate school entrants earning their Ph.D.s, there would also have to be a radical change in the culture of most academic departments. Faculty would have to tell their Ph.D.s that it's OK to get a job in the private sector. That won't happen soon -- for tenured faculty, a key measure of prestige is how well they place their students. The more students that get jobs at top-tier institutions, the better it looks.
However, for those political scientists contemplating what to do if academia is not for you, go read Ian Bremmer's Slate diary of a political scientist who's outside of academia. [Full disclosure: Ian was two years ahead of me in the Stanford poli sci program).
Monday, February 2, 2004
My Super Bowl post
Why? Because what mattered far more was that this year's Super Bowl was a GREAT FRIGGIN' GAME, that's why!!! Punch!! Counterpunch!! Great defense!! Explosive offense!! Clutch plays!! Five changes in the score in the last quarter!! Jake Delhomme getting his butt kicked in the first half and throwing three touchdown passes in the final quarter!! Adam Vinatieri missing two kicks in the first half and then drilling the game-winner!! [Allen Barra says the game sucked!--ed. Then Allen Barra is a very hard man to please. I take his point about the high number of penalties (though most of them were on special teams) but I'm intrigued that Barra thinks that the well-executed defense of the first and third quarters were boring but that the high-octane offense of the second and fourth quarters was an example of incompetent defenses as opoosed to the offenses making adjustments.]
I'm sure some astute sports commentator could observe why three of the best Super Bowls ever played took place in the last five years. Me, I'm just grateful as a sports fan.
One additional fact courtesy of Peter King that's worth mentioning:
Oh, and Beyoncé Knowles has a lovely singing voice.... as well as many other fine qualities:
How high up will this go?
The New York Times reports that the godfather of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program has spilled the beans:
UPDATE: Several commenters are assuming that I'm accepting the Pakistani investigation at face value, when in fact the Musharraf government knew about this all along. Actually, what I think is worthy of mention is that the government has finally admitted that there's a problem. Until two months ago they weren't even willing to do this.
Open Kerry thread
Given Kerry's populist message, this Washington Post story seems particularly troublesome:
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is mystified by Kerry's ability to escape mainstream media criticism: "It's unprecedented for a clear frontrunner to be treated so gingerly by practically everyone. Does Kerry have secret files on all these guys, or what?" Calpundit has dueling Time covers to underscore his point.
Speaking of Time, Joe Klein disagrees, believing that that the intense primary competition to date has sharpened the Democratic message:
Differentiating between outsourcing and offshoring
He also criticizes those on the right who complain about "offshoring" which is outsourcing done overseas:
Simmins is conflating libertarians and conservatives on this issue. The former are free market advocates and the latter are economic nationalists. Economic nationalists value social stability and relative gains more than maximizing either static or dynamic economic efficiency. With this set of preferences, it's not surprising to see this group of pundits ract bash offshoring.
Sunday, February 1, 2004
A record month
January was a good month for danieldrezner.com. According to Sitemeter, the blog attracted more than 200,000 unique visits last month.
Thanks to one and all for clicking!