Saturday, March 12, 2005
What to read on the blogosphere
In honor of my trip to New Orleans to talk about blogs at the Public Choice Society meetings, here's what I'm going to be thinking about for the next 24 hours:
Susan Estrich can't be this stupid
Via Virginia Postrel, I see that the Susan Estrich/Michael Kinsley feud has not abated (click here for my take on the triggering op-ed). James Rainey provides the latest account for the Los Angeles Times. Two interesting facts:
This kind of thinking is on par with Sandy Berger thinking, "Yeah, I bet I can get away with taking some classified documents home without anyone the wiser."
Friday, March 11, 2005
Should Jeffrey Sachs get $150 billion per year?
Time's cover story this week (
For those of you who aren't Time subscribers, check out The End of Poverty web site, which includes a copious collection of Sachs' prior work. Or, you could read this New York Times magazine story on Sachs from a few months ago by Daphne Eviatar. The key graf from that story:
I'm curious what readers think about Sachs' proposal, as it's something I'll be mulling over this weekend. My initial response is threefold:
Two final metanotes: First, I'm somewhat surprised that Time ran the excerpt, a heartbreaking photo essay, and a glowing sidebar on Sachs himself without any critical take on the meat of Sachs' proposals. I'm not saying Time should have done a hatchet job on him or anything -- but there are critiques out there for why Sachs' proposal might not work, and Time does a disservice to their readers if these aren't mentioned somewhere.
If this is an examplar of Time's "Journalism with a Conscience," count me out.
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link. And given some of the comments, let's try to head off a few objections at the pass. The following are not valid reasons for rejecting Sachs' plan
To repeat, there are ways to criticize Sachs' plan -- but these arguments don't hold water.
The secret formula for superheroines
Christina Larson has a droll essay in Washington Monthly about how Hollywood has screwed up the female superheroine genre, despite the initial promise from Charlie's Angels or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show and not the film). The key part:
I would point out that one of Buffy's best seasons was when she had to try to kill her boyfriend -- but that's nitipicking. Read the whole thing.
The dollar hiccups again
Throughout the mid and late nineties, U.S. Treasury secretaries learned to repeat the mantra that "a strong dollar is good for America" ad nauseum to reporters -- because if they didn't, the markets would speculate that the dollar wouldn't be defended and start to go nuts.
Through the mid and late noughties [Is that what this decade is called?--ed. Damned if I know] it's not really going to matter a whole hell of a lot what the U.S. Treasury Secretary says. What matters now is what officials are saying in the countries where official institutions are buying dollars and dollar-denominated assets -- Japan, China, Korea, etc.
And as this Financial Times story suggests, the quicker these officials learn not to publicly discuss "diversification," the less jittery currency markets will be:
Thursday, March 10, 2005
There are going to be more protests in Lebanon
That's not a particularly powerful prediction given this Voice of America story:
Jenny Booth reports in the London Times that the opposition has already rejected joining a unity government.
The Beirut Daily Star's Nada Bakri has the reaction from protestors. They're pretty mixed. Here's one example:
Slavery is alive and well
The Economist has a truly depressing story about the persistence of slavery in parts of Africa and South Asia. Here's how the story begins:
Here's how the story closes:
Click here for more information about the problem.
From a humanitarian perspective, this is just awful. From an international relations perspective, slavery's persistence would seem to pose a significant challenge to theoretical approaches that emphasize the power of transnational norms to eradicate or regulate certain forms of behavior.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005
The tricky thing about eliminating terrorism....
In the wake of Hezbollah's demonstration of political strength yesterday in Lebanon, and President Bush's confident speech declaring that, "[the] best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies," let's take a look at another part of the world where concerted efforts have been made to extinguish terrorism -- Northern Ireland.
Tom Hundley reports in the Chicago Tribune on how the IRA now faces an opponent more powerful than the Protestant paramilitaries -- three Catholic sisters:
Read the whole thing -- the story suggests just how difficult it might be to eliminate terrorists even when their grass roots support starts to dwindle. As Hundley points out:
Indeed, this is the tricky thing about eliminating terrorists -- they can turn to other activities that lack political content but still destabilize society.
The good news in this case is that the IRA's hamhanded offer of punishment shootings has successfully united the other key domestic and international players in Northern Ireland. Needless to say the punishment shooting offer has drawn the ire and condemnation of both Great Britain and the United States. The McCartney sisters have also rejected the IRA's offer and restated their conviction that “For this family it would only be in court where transparency and accountability prevail that justice will be done."
The uneven progress being made in Northern Ireland merely underscores this paragraph from President Bush's speech yesterday:
This statement would also seem to hold for more affluent, more literate, and yes, more democratic societies as well.
Help out this fifth grader!
I just received the following e-mail, which I've edited a bit:
Alas, as a professor I'm
Yeah, I'm Jewish too
Your surreal post of the day
I honestly don't know how to categorize this post. I'll just relay what the Associated Press has to say about Russell Crowe and Al Qaeda:
I'll leave it to my readers to figure out if this is a prime example of:
UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe Al Qaeda wasn't behind this fiendish plot.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Readers are heartily encouraged to suggest which celebrity kidnappings would be the most likely to trigger "cultural destabilization" in the United States. Loyal reader B.A. suggests Oprah Winfrey. [What about Salma Hayek?--ed. Ms. Hayek has the distinction of being the celebrity most likely to culturally destabilize the hard-working staff at danieldrezner.com.]
Monday, March 7, 2005
Bad news or really bad news for newspapers?
Is print dying? A Pew Internet survey of how Americans got their information during the 2004 campaign suggests that maybe the answer is yes. Anick Jesdanun explains for the Associated Press:
Click here for Editor & Publisher's take on the report. I'm not sure how much newspapers should be panicking in terms of content -- what appears to be happening is that many people have substituted an online version of their newspaper for the print version. Nevertheless, the secular decline is evident, which should scare the business side of the press. The fact that many people are reading even online newspapers through the editorial filter of either an online news page or a blog is what should rattle editors.
The actual Pew study can be found here -- and here's a link to Michael Cornfield's analysis of the Internet's effect on the 2004 election. Key paragraph:
Hezbollah generates a natural experiment
As change continues to roil parts of the Middle East, media focus is increasing on Lebanon. The Syrian government is getting more specific in its plans for a partial pullout of its troops. However, the really interesting development is within Lebanon's domestic political scene. Scott Wilson explains in the Washington Post about Hezbollah's decision to maintain its support for Syria:
This will be interesting. There is no denying Hebollah's political strength in Lebanon -- however, there is also no denying that the group has been very slow to react to recent political developments.
Many commentators question whether democratization in Lebanon necessarily advance U.S. interests in the region if all it does is empower groups in Hezbollah. I've maintained in the past that even if that short-run effect takes place, democratization remains the proper long-term strategy. However, Tuesday will provide fresh evidence of whether even the short-run costs are as great as many people fear. If Hezbollah musters fewer people than expected in counter-demonstrations, then it suggests the fear of radicalism in a democratizing Middle East might be misplaced. [And if there are huge counter-demonstrations?--ed. Hey, then I'm wrong. But the social scientist in me is more excited about the prospect that there will soon be data to examine the hypothesis than worried about being wrong.]
UPDATE: The Council on Foreign Relations has an informative interview with Stephen A. Cook on the Syria-Lebanon dynamic from late February. Two useful tidbits:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lee Smith will be posting daily dispatches for Slate this week from Beirut. His first posting contains this amusing paragraph:
The U.S. exports comic book heroes
Kim Barker has a story in today's Chicago Tribune on the adaptation of one comic book hero to the Indian subcontinent:
One wonders if the Spider-Man icon is particularly well-suited for export. One of Spider-Man's distinguishing features among the superhero pantheon is his relative poverty.
Readers are encouraged to propose which countries would embrace which superheroes export -- and why. UPDATE: Readers are also strongly encouraged to peruse David Adesnik's thoughts on this very question from his January Weekly Standard essay
Sunday, March 6, 2005
Back from Waikiki, but juuuuuuust a bit jet-lagged. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.
In the meantime, Tom Maguire has an idea for how to topple the North Korean regime. Take a look at his proposal and let him know what you think.