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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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
FINAL UPDATE: I'm going to sleep. Comment away!!
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.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Open debate thread
What questions about foreign policy would you like to see put to the candidates tomorrow evening?
UPDATE: Hey, Jim Lehrer!! Over here!! Read these questions -- they're all very good!!
My question is to the Commission on Presidential Debates:
[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.]
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."
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:
Well, today I have an op-ed in the New York Times on offshore outsourcing. Here's the opening paragraph:
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.....
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:
[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.
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.
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."
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.
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):
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):
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.