Friday, February 13, 2004
The long knives of the Democrats
What I haven't discussed is what happens to those on the losing side of presidential campaigns. Franklin Foer's New Republic cover story on the rise and fall of the inside the Beltway Deaniacs covers this, and as someone acquainted with a lot of the principals, it makes for scary reading. Here's the relevant excerpt:
Read the entire piece to see how AFL-CIO and the Democratic Leadership Council are handling the Deaniacs in their midst.
[Wouldn't this happen with Republicans as well?--ed. You'd think so, except that many (though not all) of the neoconservatives believed to be currently running U.S. foreign policy supported John McCain over George W. Bush in 2000.]
In theory, trade is a Pareto-improving for an economy as a whole -- that is to say, through free trade, some people can be made better off without others being made worse off. Now, that doesn't necessarily work in practice, unless the losers from trade are compensated by the winners.
In other words, TAA is designed to facilitate workers let go due to trade pressures to find jobs in more competitive sectors.
Sounds great -- but it's not clear that, as currently written, outsourced workers would fit the criteria for inclusion. The criteria are:
Since a lot of offshore outsourcing takes place within a single firm, and it increases productivity, I doubt (2) would be met -- sales/output would increase and not decrease.
Here's my question to informed readers:
What's going on in Fallujah?
It would seem that hostility to the United States has not waned in Fallujah. The attack on General John Abizaid , the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, would seem to confirm this. This reporter's first-hand account of the attack contains this priceless passage:
However, the Chicago Tribune has another story on Fallujah today suggesting that the situation might not be as bleak as first thought:
Read the whole article.
UPDATE: The New York Times has more.
To post or not to post
First off -- Mark's facts are wrong. By the time I got around to posting on it, I'd seen blogposts from DailyKos, Atrios, Instapundit, and Andrew Sullivan, about the story. According to Jonah Goldberg, this allegation was first posted by a Wesley Clark blogger last week.
Mark is also incorrect is saying that the Drudge Report and the National Enquirer story about Kerry are talking about the same thing. See John Hawkins on this.
Second, I linked and quoted the DailyKos post at greater length, in large part because Kos' points on this were way more specific than Drudge's. He also confirmed that Wes Clark made statement about the Kerry situation to reporters. As I said before, what interests me is how the story got to Drudge. If it's from Clark, it would appear to fit in with this characterization of generals who fail at politics.
I'll close with Andrew Sullivan's point on this, because it's true:
UPDATE: Tim Noah has the full list of rationales -- mine are #3 and #8.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
To care or not to care
I mostly agree with Megan's first sentence, in that this sort of information would be unlikely to affect my vote. However, I will confess to being interested in a) how this story became a story, and; b) whether Kerry will be able to ride it out. My gut-level responses are a) Lehane and b) yes.
On Megan's socioligical question regarding fascination with interns, David Plotz penned a Slate essay during the Chandra Levy disappearance that's worth excerpting cause it's true:
UPDATE: Sorry about the technical errors in the first version of this post.
Hidden tech in rural Massachusetts
I've blogged before about how rural areas can sustain economic growth in the wake of factory shutdowns. Now, Virginia Postrel links to a fascinating Red Herring article about "hidden tech" -- self-employed techies migrating away from urban areas to places like the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts:
Postrel points out, "[T]his is yet another suggestion--admittedly anecdotal--that the economy may be shifting toward work that doesn't get counted in the jobs data."
Is this true? Elise Gould makes a powerful argument that the payroll survey is more reliable than the household survey on job creation (link via Brad DeLong). But on the self-employment question, she says:
Here's my question: what happens when economic times are improving, but payroll data about job creation remains sluggish? This could be an explanation.
A question to readers -- is hidden tech an important trend that captures job creation, or is it more of a "boutique" phenomenon?
Will the Kerry bubble pop?
As Josh Chafetz pointed out, an awful lot of centrist media pundity (Jonathan Chait, Will Saletan, Mickey Kaus, Noam Scheiber) predicted earlier this week that the Democratic primary this year resembles a speculative bubble -- a candidate retains their value only if everyone shares the same common conjecture that the candidate is "electable." According to this logic, Kerry is just as vulnerable to crashing and burning as Dean.
Which leads to Matt Drudge reporting today that a scandal is brewing over Kerry's relationship with a woman other than Theresa Heinz:
Now, to be blunt, the Drudge story is pretty incoherent except in saying that there's a brewing scandal involving a women and Wesley Clark said "intern." Editor & Publisher says:
The Scotsman has a straight news summary
Here's the DailyKos report:
I have absolutely no idea how this story will play itself out.
I do wonder if Mark Kleiman's admiration for Wes Clark's candidacy might have been misplaced. [Kos' suspicions focus on Chris Lehane, not Clark. And Drudge has an e-mail saying Lehane was shopping this around--ed. Regardless of how the story plays out, one thing is absolutely clear -- Clark was a willing mouthpiece.]
UPDATE: OK, now this gets really bizarre. From the Associated Press:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds acts as the focal point with lots of links, all of them suggesting Chris Lehane as the instigator.
Follow-up on the global Southern Strategy
A few months ago I wrote a TNR Online essay about large developing countries trying to form a coalition to counter the United States and the European Union. The Economist has more on Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's role in this. Key grafs:
I doubt the Economist intended to paint France as a developing country.
Follow-up on Carmen Electra
Last month I blogged about how Carmen Electra had won back her Internet domain name from Celebrity1000. Barring an appeal, this meant that the domain name had to be transferred to Miss Electra within ten days.
In an effort to sustain the high standards of investigative journalism of danieldrezner.com, I clicked on www.carmenelectra.com again yesterday, and the domain name has indeed been transferred. Carmen writes:
Apparently, there are a few pictures of her as well.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The marketplace of ideas in Iraq
The Chicago Tribune's Stephen Franklin reports on how life has changed for Baghdad's booksellers:
Lest you believe that theological texts are the only things selling, let's move on to this anecdote:
Mankiw speaks the truth on trade, and everyone goes postal
N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, testified before Congress yesterday to present the Economic Report of the President. Here's what he said about outsourcing:
Later on, he told reporters, "Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. More things are tradable than were tradable in the past and that's a good thing."
As I've argued ad nauseum, Mankiw's correct on the economics. Alas, on the politics, it looks like he's stepped on a land mine. Here's the Washington Post lead:
Kerry's statement is a shame -- until now, he had been the most adult Democratic candidate when it came to foreign economic policy save Lieberman [Given the rest of the field, he could say this and still be the most adult candidate on this issue!--ed. Plus, he needed to get out in front on the issue.]. What's more worrisome is that Republicans are making similar noises:
More from the New York Times:
Actually, the Senator owes an apology to every consumer in America, but I'm not going to hold my breath in wait.
FINAL UPDATE: Virginia Postrel chips in with this point:
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
And that's the ballgame
Exit polls from the Tenessee and Virginia primaries, courtesy of Jack Shafer:
I'll let the post title speak for itself.
Monday, February 9, 2004
The Australia free trade pact
The United States and Australia have signed a free trade deal that virtually eliminates all tariffs on manufactured products between the two countries. And the bitching has just started --some justified, some not.
One of the more absurd objections comes from the Australian entertainment sector:
A more substantive objection is made by the Cato Institute's Aaron Lukas who points out that big sugar strikes again:
A sour aftertaste on what would otherwise be a sweet deal.
UPDATE: My brother blogs from Australia:
To be fair, he provides a link to the Australian government's official web page on the agreement.
John Lewis Gaddis on Bush
Read the whole thing. Later on in the piece, Walter Russell Mead makes a point that's worth repeating:
Does Al Gore read this blog?
Here's the thing that scares me -- there are parts of this speech where Gore is not only correct, but he's channeling this blog!!
Don't believe me? Here's what I wrote ten days ago:
Chris Sullentrop posted large chunks of the speech in this Slate story. Here's the relevant portion:
[You aren't the only blogger to make this point. Maybe he's reading the Decembrist instead--ed. Mark Schmitt spoke favorably about Nixon's policies -- I didn't, and neither is Gore.]
Al, if you're reading this, seriously, good point on Nixon, but I think you're overreaching on this pre-meditation thing. Check out those Paul O'Neill posts. Because Sullentrop's concluding graf is spot-on:
[You seem freaked out about this--ed. Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine says, "I've become George!!"? I don't ever want to say, "I've become Gore!"]
UPDATE: Darn my language!! Guaranteed, any time I cuss in my post it prompts a rash of swearing in the comments. I gotta learn to speak in hyphens more quickly.
Al Qaeda is losing in Iraq
The New York Times reports on a 17 page memo seized in Badhdad in mid-January that was allegedly written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian Al Qaeda operative who the Bush administration argued was the main conduit between the terrorist network and Iraq.
This story makes me feel better about the security situation in Iraq than anything since Hussein's capture. Why? Because it's clear that the Al Qaeda-backed portion of the insurgency is running into serious difficulties:
Assuming that the memo is real (and the Times does a good job discussing its provenance; I particularly love the circumlocution used to indicate that this didn't come from the INC: it "did not pass through Iraqi groups that American intelligence officials have said in the past may have provided unreliable information." See the Washington Post story for more) then U.S. efforts at statebuilding have been more successful than media coverage would have suggested to date.
Iraq might not have proven to be as hospitable to American troops as was previously thought -- but it's not fertile soil for Al Qaeda either.
[But would the Shia strategy work?--ed. Unlikely -- even Juan Cole points out that "So far most Shiites have declined to take the bait." Now that the strategy has been made public, it will be that much more difficult to implement.]
FINAL UPDATE: Here's a link to the full text.
I'm omitting a ton of links in the post. Go check out the entire post at Electric Venom, which includes a hard look at the Democratic alternatives.
To believe or not to believe
That is the question after reading this Ha'aretz report:
My first thought is that I find it hard to believe. If Al Qaeda had these weapons for six years, there would have been at least an attempt to detonate one inside the United States.
Here's another thought -- maybe, "as the operational power of Al Qaeda appears diminished" according to the New York Times, this is a propaganda effort to rally support among regional terrorist groups?
Greg Djerejian has similar thoughts, but with more vivid phrasing.
Sunday, February 8, 2004
Now it's a depression
A few years ago, the Economist reworded an old aphorism:
Given the underlined passage, it probably won't generate many complaints, since the idea is to get greater coverage for less money.
Bush meets the press
I caught most of Bush's Meet the Press appearance, and was neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed. Let's face it -- this is not his best format, and there were definitely a few moments when I winced. That said, it was a pretty competent performance. Glenn Reynolds has a reaction roundup, but I find it telling that both Josh Marshall and Brad DeLong grudgingly concede that Bush did OK. [UPDATE/CORRECTION: Brad doesn't think Bush did well as much as Russert did poorly; Josh, after seeing the whole thing, thinks "he and his advisors made a mistake scheduling this interview."
Two things struck me overall. First, the word that kept ringing in my ears was "context." Bush used it six times during the hour. I don't think that's an accident -- he's trying to frame his decision-making to the voters. His response to the "no WMD" question is twofold -- 1) We're better off without Saddam anyway; 2) In context, the intelligence looked solid and sensible. Whether this works remains to be seen.
Second, I found his response to Russert's last question, "Biggest issues in the upcoming campaign?" to be revealing:
First response was foreign policy. Despite the WMD imbroglio, that's still Bush's comparative strength compared to a Democratic challenger.
Which leads to an intriguing paradox. The more successful Bush's foreign policy is, the more secure Americans will feel, and the more the economy will become issue #1 -- which could put Bush at a disadvantage. The less successful Bush's foreign policy is, the less secure Americans will feel, and the more national security becomes issue #1 -- which could put Bush at an advantage.
Obviously, if the security situation collapses, Bush will lose. But the overall relationship between Bush's foreign policy and Bush's political standing is decidedly nonlinear.
UPDATE: David Adesnik has the best summary analysis I've seen.