Friday, October 1, 2004

Your weekend debate on the election

Jeffrey Bell and Frank Cannon have a thought-provoking story in the Weekly Standard about the rise of the values voter. Some highlights:

In recent presidential cycles, post-election polling found that social issues like abortion, while invariably a mild plus for Republicans, were cited by a relatively small segment of the electorate as a prime motive for voting one way or the other. Moreover, social conservatism was seen as good in the South and heartland and bad on the coasts, making it dubious as a national theme or as a subject of campaign commercials. Conventional wisdom among GOP political consultants has been to mobilize socially conservative voters by a stealth strategy of quietly "passing the word" to "our people."

New polling by Time and MSNBC/Knight-Ridder suggests that all this has changed. The proportion of voters who say they are keying their vote on "moral values issues like gay marriage and abortion" has gone up sharply--to a level of 15 to 18 percent, according to five national polls commissioned by Time and conducted by Schulman, Ronca, and Bucuvalas since July. More important, the profile of such voters is no longer definable in the vocabulary of polarization and divisiveness. The most recent Time poll (taken September 21-23) has George W. Bush winning socially driven voters by a lopsided 70 to 18 percent. If not for these voters, according to the poll, Bush would be trailing John Kerry by 5 points instead of leading by 4....

Interestingly, voters who select social issues as their prime mover are disproportionately female, both nationally and in the swing states. This seems to account for Bush's increased strength (for a Republican) among female voters. Terrorism-centered voters, the other issue group favoring Bush, tilt toward the male side. So much for "security moms" as an explanation for Kerry's unexpected weakness among women....

Moreover, the latest Time poll finds as many undecided voters among social-issue voters as among the much larger number of voters keyed to foreign policy. New anti-gay-marriage ads put up by an independent-expenditure group headed by Gary Bauer could help Bush in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two vote-rich states where, according to the MSNBC polling, social issues are already a strong net plus for Bush.

Because of 9/11, 2004 was always destined to be a wartime election. The president was right in believing that at a time of unnerving headlines in Iraq, he had to make the case for his war strategy head on. But the big surprise in this year's issue mix is the growing number of voters who believe there is a values war here at home.

Read the whole thing. One of the speculative arguments in the article is that anytime the topic of gay marriage comes to the forefront of the public debate, Bush gains and Kerry loses on the numbers.

This is one of those results I'd rather not be true, but I'll leave it to y'all to dissect their findings.

posted by Dan at 11:13 PM | Comments (51) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Dan Froomkin has an assignment for the blogosphere

Planning on watching tonight's foreign policy debate? Then listen to Dan Froomkin -- the author of the invaluable Whie House Briefing at the Washington Post -- who has an assignment for the blogosphere and its readership:

[H]ere's another way to make sure that the substance of Bush and Kerry's comments are fully and quickly assessed.

Some key political bloggers, who have so effectively proven their ability to hold the press accountable, will tonight be posting their own debate fact-checks -- and will be asking their readers to find and document substantively incorrect statements by the candidates, as well.

I've already talked to several bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum and they're on board. I urge others in the blogging community to join in the experiment. Just make sure you e-mail me at so I know you're out there.

I will be able to do this (I hope) -- but even if I can't my readers are heartily encouraged to do so. Dan's e-mail to me said specifically, "If you accept reader comments, I am asking you to ask your readers to do so as well."

UPDATE: Just got back to the hotel -- I'll be liveblogging the debate.

9:05 PM: Kerry looks exhausted to me.

9:08 PM: Bush: "The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice" WHAT?????

9:14 PM: Was it just me, or did Kerry just assert that Osama bin Laden was definitely in Afghanistan?

9:18 PM: Bill Clinton's gift was to be able to marry a set of stylized facts to a political narrative. When Kerry tries to do this, he just gets bogged down -- the narrative disappears.

9:29 PM: Rick Brookhiser over at NRO says that on radio, "Kerry seems marginally better than Bush." That's interesting, because on television, I'd say Bush seems more forceful than Kerry to date.

9:29 PM: "I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?" That's a good line.

9:35 PM: Bush: "We won't achieve out objectives is we give mixed signals." That's Bush's theme for the night.

9:40 PM: Kathryn Jean Lopez is right about Kerry's optics problem.

9:56 PM: The second time Kerry uses the "outsourcing to Afghan warlords" line. Both of these guys are repeating themselves a hell of a lot. UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg makes a good point here.

10:00 PM: Kerry's rejoinder about the number of states further ahead in the WMD program is good, but a factual question -- are there really thirty states with active WMD programs? UPDATE: Here's the precise quote: "Thirty-five to forty countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein." That sounds way off to me, but I'll need to fact-check.

10:03 PM: Bush keeps pronouncing "mullahs" as "mooolahs" -- that can't be correct, can it? UPDATE: Apparently it is -- points for Bush.

10:07 PM: I think Bush was wrong in saying that North Korea breached the 1994 accord with regard to the highly enriched uranium and not plutonium. Technically, the 1994 framework never mentioned the highly enriched uranium -- though it is safe to say the DPRK violated the "spirit" of the text.

10:13 PM: I really like the exchange about certainty. It nicely sets up the contrasts between the two. UPDATE: Let's reprint this in full:

BUSH: [T]hat's my biggest concern about my opponent. I admire his service. But I just know how this world works, and that in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the U.S. president.

Of course, we change tactics when need to, but we never change our beliefs, the strategic beliefs that are necessary to protect this country in the world....

KERRY: But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong.

It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right.

What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues.

And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble....

BUSH: I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq. Our commanders have got all the flexibility to do what is necessary to succeed.

But what I won't do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure.

And it is one of the things I've learned in the White House, is that there's enormous pressure on the president, and he cannot wilt under that pressure. Otherwise, the world won't be better off.

10:14 PM: Kerry, "I've never wavered in my life." ?????!!!!!!!

10:16 PM: Maybe it's my imagination, but this debate improved dramatically once the questions moved away from Iraq.

10:21 PM: Dammit, the Yankees clinched the AL East.

10:23 PM: On the response to Russia, it strikes me that Bush talks like a neoconservative when it comes to the Middle East, but a pragmatic realist when he talks about the rest of the world. UPDATE: Hey, Kerry picked up on this!

10:30 PM: The debate wraps up. Optics-wise, it doesn't look good for Kerry to just have Theresa up there while Bush has his daughters up there as well.

After an awful start, I thought Kerry and Bush got stronger as the evening wore on. But Kerry got much stronger -- his criticisms of Bush got sharper over time. Bush stuck to the message, stuck to his message, and stuck to his message. I'll be curious to see how the ratings look -- whether people stuck with the debate for the entire evening. If they tuned in early but then tuned out, Kerry is in trouble. If people came in halfway through, Kerry gets a boost. The other key is which clips the media uses in their recaps.

Here's a link to the Washington Post's transcript of the debate.

I was glad to see that issues beyond Iraq came up for discussion. Indeed, the discussion about certainty boiled down to core philosophical disagreements on the process and preferences of foreign policy between the two candidates -- a rarity in this age.

This Jonah Goldberg post sounds on target:

The Bush campaign miscalculated on having the first night be foreign policy night. That doesn't mean everything's gone great for Kerry, but it wasn't the overwhelming advantage for Bush that the strategists -- and I -- thought it would be.

Plus, Jeff Greenfield admits he reads conservative blogs!!

I've decided to liveblog the post-debate spin -- for what it's worth. Everyone should remember that immediately after the first Gore-Bush debate, the pundits thought Gore had cleaned Bush's clock.

CNN: Poor Mike McCurry -- technical difficulties are ruining his spin efforts.
UPDATE: Dear God, not Larry King!!!!!!! ACK, IT'S ANN RICHARDS!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!

ABC: They have an instant poll showing Kerry winning 45% to 36%, with 17% calling it a draw.

Kevin Drum: Thinks it looked bad when Bush was smirking. Actually, I didn't see much smirking -- I thought Bush looked pissed off. I don't know if that's going to hurt him or not.

Andrew Sullivan: Starts off with snark -- but it's interesting that Abu Ghraib did not come up once during the debate.

Larry King just said CNN has a poll with Kerry winning the debate 53% to 37%. As David Gergen points out, given Gallup's prior polling showing stronger support for Bush than Kerry, it's an interesting signal (UPDATE: Bill Schneider confirms Gergen's assumption -- the pre-debate polling sample was 52 to 44 in favor of Kerry Bush).

FINAL UPDATE: I'm going to sleep. Comment away!!

posted by Dan at 04:03 PM | Comments (163) | Trackbacks (10)

Erratic blogging ahead

I'm typing this within spitting distance of Harvard University -- I'm here for a conference on offshore outsourcing sponsored by the Harvard Law School's Labor & Worklife Program. There are going to be a lot of WashTech and AFL-CIO representatives here -- I'm sure I'll be very popular. Anyway, blogging will be light -- though I promise to post my post-debate thoughts.

My primary goal these next two days -- avoiding that darn plagiarism bug that seems endemic to this place. The rash of plagiarism has even generated its own anonymous blog.

One quasi-serious thought about this: bloggers are probably extra-sensitive to this kind of ethical infraction, because one could argue that citations in the blogosphere usually go beyond what exists in academia. A common norm in blogging is to cite the blog that connects one to an original document -- e.g., "ooh, look at this interesting Washington Post story (link via Belgravia Dispatch)." However, very few footnotes in academia go so far as to say who tipped them off to the cited source. There are exceptions (thanking a colleague for pointing out the piece, or attribution when an embedded quote is lifted without checking the original source), but they're very rare.

posted by Dan at 11:51 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Open debate thread

What questions about foreign policy would you like to see put to the candidates tomorrow evening?

Debate away!

UPDATE: Hey, Jim Lehrer!! Over here!! Read these questions -- they're all very good!!

My question is to the Commission on Presidential Debates:

According to your web site, "The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners." Given that the rules for this debate pretty much forbid any interaction between the candiates, do you feel you've honored your charter?

[Don't the campaigns set these ground rules in their own bargaining?--ed. Yeah, but the Comission has given its official imprimatur to this, so they're at least somewhat complicit.]

posted by Dan at 10:51 PM | Comments (64) | Trackbacks (0)

Until the New York Times allows footnotes, this post will have to do.

Wondering whether my New York Times op-ed was based primarily on memos from the seventies that mysteriously reappeared this month? Relax, I have some footnotes for you.

The principal source for the op-ed was the GAO's report on the offshoring of services -- about which I've previously blogged. And a big thank you to the GAO staff for their professional and courteous responses to the myriad e-mails queries I sent them (not that they necessarily endorse anything I said in the op-ed)

This post also has some relevant material in terms of discussing the relative importance of different factors contributing to job losses.

Four other sources -- IBM's adventures with offshoring are summarized in this Industry Week story by Tonya Vinas. The Kodak anecdote came from a paper by Daniel T. Griswold and Dale Buss for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Kerry's quote was widely reported -- here's one link. Here's a link to the full .pdf version of their report, "Outsourcing Benefits Michigan Economy And Taxpayers." The polling data comes from this Foreign Policy Association report on public attitudes towards foreign policy. Alas, this also reveals the one error of fact in the op-ed -- Zogby's polling was conducted in August and not September.

Finally, readers who want to read more of what I've written on the topic should this June 2004 piece from The New Republic online, and my Foreign Affairs article from May/June of this year, "The Outsourcing Bogeyman."

For a dissenting view, read this report sponsored by WashTech and conducted by the the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois, Chicago (I commented on it here)

posted by Dan at 12:58 AM | Comments (45) | Trackbacks (4)

An existential crisis for the blog

Those poor souls with enough time on their hands to click on this blog's "about me" page may recall one reason I gave for blogging:

I love the academic side of my job, i.e., the researching and writing about international relations theory. But I’m also a policy wonk. And since the New York Times op-ed page mysteriously refuses to solicit my views, the blog lets me scratch that itch.

Well, today I have an op-ed in the New York Times on offshore outsourcing. Here's the opening paragraph:

John Kerry is making the outsourcing of jobs by American companies a centerpiece of his campaign, telling audiences that "because of George Bush's wrong choices, this country is continuing to ship good jobs overseas." President Bush's team has in turn accused the senator of hypocrisy, noting that many of Mr. Kerry's supporters in the business world run companies that are sending jobs offshore. Yet as each side angles for votes, neither is addressing the real issue: is the outsourcing of jobs a problem? The answer, surprisingly, is no.

I'm less than thrilled with the title, "Where Did All the Jobs Go? Nowhere" because I'm not claiming that the employment situation is hunky-dory -- it's not. I'm claiming that the contribution of offshore outsourcing to that employment picture is prett minimal -- contrary to popular belief.

Anyway, I have every confidence that this will be the topic of discussion among policy cognoscenti for today!

[Ahem, did you see who wrote the other op-ed for the Times today?--ed. Hey, who are Americans going to listen to -- an untenured professor located somewhere in flyover country, or the guy who won the popular vote for President in 2000? Besides, the last time a prominent big shot shared a prominent piece of publishing real estate with me was when Sandy Berger had a Foreign Affairs essay in the same issue as me. And look at what happened to him!]

Anyway, an awkward question arises -- if I can publish in places like the New York Times op-ed page.... do I still need the blog for itch-scratching?

An internal debate worthy of only the most pure of egomaniacs.....

posted by Dan at 12:22 AM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (1)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I'll take Matthew's bait

Matthew Yglesias is a bright young man, so I have to assume he doesn't really mean what he's saying in this post:

One thing I thought was sort of unfortunate about Klam's article -- though I understand why he did it -- is that it left out the most boring, but probably most valuable, sub-sector of blogging. Namely, the expert blogger. The folks who do this well are creating some extremely useful stuff, especially for those of us whose business it is to be semi-informed about a wide range of things. And, in my opinion, we don't have nearly enough of them. Juan Cole is great, but why don't we have two, three, four Juan Coles. Only in the field of law, or so it seems to me, are there a sufficient number of expert bloggers that one can count on a critical mass of posts emerging when something important (a big Supreme Court case, usually) comes up that let readers follow the back and forth of debate and really learn something. A related -- and expanding -- blogospheric niche is the DC wonk blog, as seen by the efforts of Rotherham, Kilgore, Clemons, and Schmitt (sporadically). This, I think, holds a great deal of promise.

Academics have real jobs and will only perform the great public service of blogging about what they know if they happen to be egomaniacs. Think tankers and other such people one encounters here in DC, on the other hand, really are just being paid to disseminate ideas throughout the world. (emphasis added)

[BEGIN SARCASM] Reading this, I'll resist the temptation to call for a coalition of the egomaniacs to smite the puny, insignificant Ph.D.-less Yglesias -- and just assure him that I put my pants on one leg at a time just like the little people inside the Beltway [END SARCASM]

However, it's worth pointing out that those last two sentences are comparing apples and oranges. If Matt thinks the think tank world has fewer egomaniacs.... well, he's been hanging out too much with the research assistants and not enough with those higher up the think tank food chain. For those with doctorates, one could argue that those who elect to go the think tank route are self-selecting into career tracks that reward egomania -- in the form of greater public adulation, proximity to power, and more media whoring opportunities -- to a far, far greater extent than academia.

So, while it's likely that both academic and think tank bloggers are egomaniacs, I would submit that the probability of egomania -- while high in both categories due to self-selection effects -- is greater for the think tank crowd.

For one example of a modest academic blogger, consider the Invisible Adjunct -- who had such an ego that she refused to reveal her identity despite the outpouring of adulation that came with her regretful departure from the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Brad DeLong fesses up to Yglesias. My favorite line comes from one of his commenters: "I was just happy for someone to say in seriousness that 'Academics have real jobs.'"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt points out he was joking -- and rereading his post, I think I might have taken it too seriously. And a final, obvious point -- anyone who thinks that it's a good idea to have an eponymous web site have a touch of that old egomania.

posted by Dan at 01:00 PM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (2)

Jimmy Carter, meet Jane Galt

Jimmy Carter wrote a snarky op-ed in the Washington Post about Florida's voting system, arguing that, "some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida."

Megan Mcardle, a.k.a. Jane Galt, posts a rejoinder over at Asymmetrical Information. Some snark is involved.

posted by Dan at 01:07 AM | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (1)

Monday, September 27, 2004

What is John Kerry's Plan B?

A key plank -- some would say the key plank -- of John Kerry's plan for Iraq is to "internationalize, because others must share the burden."

It's not like I'm thrilled with the Bush administration's handling of the war, but I'd like to see Kerry's response to this Financial Times story:

French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2.

Mr Kerry, who has attacked President George W. Bush for failing to broaden the US-led alliance in Iraq, has pledged to improve relations with European allies and increase international military assistance in Iraq.

"I cannot imagine that there will be any change in our decision not to send troops, whoever becomes president," Gert Weisskirchen, member of parliament and foreign policy expert for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said in an interview.

"That said, Mr Kerry seems genuinely committed to multilateralism and as president he would find it easier than Mr Bush to secure the German government's backing in other matters."

Even though Nato last week overcame members' long-running reservations about a training mission to Iraq and agreed to set up an academy there for 300 soldiers, neither Paris nor Berlin will participate.

Michel Barnier, the French foreign minister, said last week that France, which has tense relations with interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, had no plans to send troops "either now or later".

That view reflects the concerns of many EU and Nato officials, who say the dangers in Iraq and the difficulty of extricating troops already there could make European governments reluctant to send personnel, regardless of the outcome of the US election.

If you read the whole article, it's clear that the European reluctance is based on the sense that the current security situation in Iraq is deteriorating -- in other words, it's partially the current administration's fault that Kerry's plan won't work.

However, that doesn't change the fact that Kerry's insistence that he can turn Iraq into a more multilateral endeavor is the foreign policy equivalent of promising that the budget can be balanced through more stringent enforcement of the current tax code -- it sounds nice, but it ain't true.

posted by Dan at 01:43 PM | Comments (68) | Trackbacks (2)

Remind me please why Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

A few days ago, James Dobbins laid out the basic timetable for resource allocation when it comes to statebuilding in the New York Times (link via David Adesnik):

The object of nation-building is to return power to a competent, responsible and representative local government as soon as possible.

In a country like Iraq where the governmental structure has collapsed, the first priority is to establish public security. Second is to begin rebuilding the local structures for governance. Third is to create an environment in which basic commerce can occur - where people can buy and sell goods and services and get paid in a stable currency. Fourth is to promote political reforms, stimulate the growth of civil society, build political parties and a free press, prepare for elections and organize representative government. Fifth, and last, is improving roads, bridges, electricity, water, telephones and the rest....

The Defense Department brought a perspective to the tasks of nation-building that reflected its own experiences in building military bases and procuring weapons systems, which led it to largely ignore recent and historical experiences with nation-building. Instead, the Pentagon focused more on hardware than software, on improving infrastructure rather than social structures. It also relied more on large American military contractors than on Iraqi contractors and smaller nonprofit groups specializing in political transformation.

To be fair, Dobbins' lead paragraph pointed out that the Bush administration was reallocating resources towards security provision. And in Sunday's Washington Post, General David Petraeus lays out a forceful program of reconstituting Iraq's security forces (link via Glenn Reynolds):

Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq....

Iraq's borders are long, stretching more than 2,200 miles. Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency. As a result, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, specialized training for Iraq's border enforcement elements began earlier this month in Jordan. (emphasis added)

Read all of Petraeus' essay. I hope his prediction is correct. However, that bolded section stood out because of what Steve Negus wrote in today's Financial Times:

Only a two-foot embankment or a $2 bribe stand in the way of a Syrian Islamist wishing to wage jihad in Iraq.

The US military and the Iraqi interior ministry have pushed in recent months to seal Iraq's long western border against the infiltration of "foreign fighters" as part of an overall plan to beef up security before January elections.

But for now, US and Iraqi officials say, the border is virtually no obstacle at all.

Until earlier this month, travellers at this remote desert border crossing could enter Iraq without a visa. Now a visa is required - but Iraqi officials freely admit the requirement can easily be circumvented with a bribe.

Travellers mingle in an immigration hall before being called one by one to have their papers stamped. It is a chaotic environment in which money can easily change hands without anyone noticing.

Asked if his men are genuinely interested in stopping infiltration, one Iraqi customs official shrugs and says: "To be honest, no."

An infiltrator who wants to avoid even the minor inconvenience and expense of the official posts would have little trouble doing so, US officers say.

Rumsfeld's Defense Department was in charge of ensuring post-invasion security. It's been eighteen months since the invasion, and while Rumsfeld is clearly aware of the problem, there is little indication that he has made any strategic adjustment to the situation at hand.

Why does he still have a job?

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan links to this Rajiv Chandrasekaran report in the Washington Post:

Less than four months before planned national elections in Iraq, attacks against U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and private contractors number in the dozens each day and have spread to parts of the country that had been relatively peaceful, according to statistics compiled by a private security firm working for the U.S. government.

Attacks over the past two weeks have killed more than 250 Iraqis and 29 U.S. military personnel, according to figures released by Iraq's Health Ministry and the Pentagon. A sampling of daily reports produced during that period by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials.

Reports covering seven days in a recent 10-day period depict a nation racked by all manner of insurgent violence, from complex ambushes involving 30 guerrillas north of Baghdad on Monday to children tossing molotov cocktails at a U.S. Army patrol in the capital's Sadr City slum on Wednesday. On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks.

In number and scope, the attacks compiled in the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence that contrasts sharply with assessments by Bush administration officials and Iraq's interim prime minister that the instability is contained to small pockets of the country.

posted by Dan at 01:23 AM | Comments (73) | Trackbacks (1)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The New York Times Magazine discovers that bloggers are geeks

The teaser for Matthew Klam's cover story on political bloggers:

The bloggers covering the presidential race are maverick, funny, mostly partisan and always hypercaffeinated. Are they ruining political journalism or recharging it?

That's a great question, but Klam doesn't answer it in the article -- in fact, I'm not even sure he addresses it.

Instead, Klam has written a piece on how, regardless of ideology, topic of interest, or writing style, all bloggers share a common trait -- they're geeks. [Surely not Wonkette?--ed. Click here for her dirty little secret (link via Mark Blumenthal).] By geek, I mean that they have an unusually strong appetite for information that the rest of humanity might find.... a tad dry. Geeks are also acutely conscious of the pre-existing social hierarchy, and have a strong sense of unease about their place in that hierarchy.

Klm's essay is essentially a profile of Josh Marshall, Ana Marie Cox, and Markos Moulitsas -- all of whom are successful bloggers, and all of whom aspire to be more than successful bloggers.

So, while I learned little that would be useful for my research on blogs and politics, I did pick up the following tidbits of information:

1) The Pandagon bloggers get chicks -- a fact that they're Jesse Taylor is chivalrously mute about it in their his own blogging of the article (Ezra Klein, on the other hand, surrendered to his inner Fonzie). This is from Klam's opening:

The Tank was just one small room, with theater lights on the ceiling and picture windows that looked out on the parking garage across 42nd Street. Free raw carrots and radishes sat in a cardboard box on a table by the door, alongside a pile of glazed doughnuts and all the coffee you could drink. The place was crowded. Everyone was sitting, staring at their laptops, at bridge tables or completely sacked out on couches. Markos Moulitsas, who runs the blog Daily Kos, at, was slouched in the corner of one squashed-down couch in shorts and a T-shirt, his computer on his lap, one of the keys snapped off his keyboard. He's a small guy with short brown hair who could pass for 15. Duncan Black of the blog Eschaton, who goes by the name Atrios, sat at the other end of the couch, staring out the window. On the table set up behind them, Jerome Armstrong of MyDD worked sweatily. Jesse and Ezra, whose blog is called Pandagon, were lying with two cute women in tank tops -- Ezra's girlfriend Kate and Zoe of Gadflyer -- on futon beds that had been placed on the tiny stage of the performance space. Their computers and wireless mice and some carrots and radishes and paper plates with Chinese dumplings were scattered between them. A month ago, at the Democratic convention, Zoe had accidentally spilled a big cup of 7-Up on Jesse's computer, killing it. She and Jesse now looked as if they might be dating.

Congratulations to Jesse and Ezra for emerging from this story with a semblence of their dignity intact.

2) Ana Marie Cox looks good drinking a martini, is overly infatuated with MTV, and doesn't get paid a whole hell of a lot to be Wonkette.

3) Somewhere in the back parts of his closet, Joshua Micah Marshall has a set of Vulcan ears and a Klingon dictionary:

In Boston, the day before the convention started and after a long, glittering night following the Wonkette to fancy parties, I came back late and found Josh Marshall in my hotel room, lying sideways on a cot, blogging. He was drinking a Diet Coke, his face illuminated by the glow of his laptop, legs crossed, socked feet hanging off the edge. Earlier in the day, when he mentioned that his hotel reservation didn't start until Monday, I had offered to share my room with him for the night....

In my room in Boston, he had a little hotel ice bucket by his side with two more Diet Cokes in it, and he finished them off before bedtime. It was late, and I was tired and he was disoriented, trying to blog under such circumstances, but before we turned off the lights he wanted to show me his Talking Points Memo ID, which resembled a press badge. He wondered if I thought it looked real. The credentials we would all be receiving the next day didn't require any press badge, but staff reporters of actual news organizations always seem to have separate institutional ID's, thick plastic magnetized deals that can open locked doors. Working off the model of a friend's ID, Marshall had, using his girlfriend's computer and photo printer, made a sober little knockoff, including his picture (in coat and tie), an expiration date and an explanation of company policy: should the company's only employee be terminated, the badge would become the property of Talking Points Memo. He laminated it at Kinko's. He had also brought his own lanyard (each media empire has its own necklace strings) and his own little plastic badge holder. I told him it looked completely legit.

Your humble blogger is very glad that he's sufficiently below the radar that Klam found it unnecessary to profile him. I susect this is how Klam's first psragraph would have gone:

Daniel Drezner typed furiously on his Dell laptop -- a particularly impressive feat given that Drezner uses only two fingers to type. With his right foot, he slowly rocked a car seat containing his youngest child, Lauren, only a few weeks old and currently dozing off. With all the successes Drezner has reaped from his blogging, I sense he had hoped he'd be exempted from some child care duties during this election season. This unspoken argument has had no effect on his wife Erika, who was taking a much-needed nap. Success in blogging seems to have had little effect on Drezner's domestic responsibilities.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds collects blogosphere responses. I'm particularly amused that both the left and the right halves of the blogosphere are pissed off about Klam's essay.

I have to think that Klam must be ticked off at the Times headline writers -- they badly mischaracterized the tenor of Klam's essay, which is far more anthropological than political in nature.

posted by Dan at 12:29 PM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (3)