Friday, October 28, 2005
Open Plamegate indictments thread
So it looks like Libby gets indicted today, and Rove is not out of the woods.
Special Prosecutor will hold a press conference at 2 PM today on the matter -- according to Fitzgerald's official web site.
Be sure to check out Tom Maguire's blog, as he has pretty much owned this story since day one. But then come back and comment away here.
UPDATE: The AP reports that Libby has been inicted on obstruction of justice, perjury, and making a false statement to investigators. Kathryn Jean Lopez says there are two counts of both perjury and making a false statement.
I suspect this quote from William Kristol's Weekly Standard essay hinting that no indictments would be the way to go is going to be resurfacing in the blogosphere for the rest of the day:
LAST UPDATE: For my money -- and assuming that Fitzgerald has completed his indictments -- Jason Zengerle has the last, best word at TNR's Plank:
Miers postmortem thread
So the punching bag that was Harriet Miers' nomination is no more.
I was all geared up to post something debunking Kevin Drum and Harry Reid's assertion that this was Bush caving in to the radical right, but my laziness pays off, as all I have to do is link to Virginia Postrel, Matt Bodie, Dan Markel, and the Hotline (link via Daily Kos).
Readers are ordered to draw their own conclusions and post them here.
Putting a good foot forward in Pakistan
David Rohde had a story in the New York Times earlier this week that nicely demonstrates how U.S. disaster relief can affect local attitudes about Americans -- even in Al Qaeda country:
Read the whole thing -- Al Qaeda is also mobilizing humanitarian relief, but it's tougher to gauge those efforts.
Link via America Abroad's Jim Lindsay, who observes:
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Anoint no economic superpower before its time
A common lament among those who like to prognosticate about America's future is that China and India are churning out more and better engineering students than the U.S., which presages their rise to superpowerdom.
Sounds ominous -- those figures were cited in a National Academy of Sciences study warning that, "In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode." (link via Glenn Reynolds)
The thing is, those numbers don't hold up. Back in August, Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal's "Numbers Guy" column deconstructed Colvin's claim in Fortune and found some problems:
Kudos to Hira and Freeman for their intellectual honesty -- both of them are generally concerned about the effects in the U.S. of widening the global supply of educated labor.
[OK, so the number isn't as big as previously thought. It's still pretty big, right?--ed. This gets to the question of quality. Diana Farrell and Andrew J. Grant write in the latest McKinsey Quarterly that the quality problem could lead to a talent shortage in China:
UPDATE: Howard French has a nicely balanced account in the New York Times of China's effort to upgrade its top universities in order to attract top-drawer talent. The highlights:
French also provides his own engineering numbers: "In engineering alone, China is producing 442,000 new undergraduates a year, along with 48,000 graduates with masters' degrees and 8,000 Ph.D's."
How crazy is Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad?
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad had some lovely words for Israel yesterday, according to the FT's Gareth Smyth:
The most depressing sentence in the story? "US analysts noted that the president’s remarks were not a departure from hardline Iranian rhetoric and did not represent new policy." Well that's a relief.
Whenever political leaders start talking crazy talk, some political scientist like me usually comes out of the woodwork to explain the underlying rationality of such a move. After reading this Financial Times piece by Smyth and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, however, I'm beginning to wonder about Ahmadi-Nejad's competence:
I can't see the rationale either. Maybe these kind of sanctions weaken Ahmadi-Nejad's domestic political opponents, but in a country like Iran there are better ways of weakening one's political opponents. Even in a world of $60 oil and the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, this kind of political behavior is not heakthy.
So is Mr. Ahmadi-Nejad crazy like a fox -- or just crazy? Discuss.
Congrats to the pale hose
Back in August, Mike DeBonis wrote the following in Slate:
Now we'll get to test his hypothesis.
Congratulations to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. Like the Red Sox last year, the South Siders swept the NL representative. Unlike last year, however, all four of these games were exciting nailbiters until the end. As David Pinto points out in Baseball Musings:
The Red Sox in 2004, the White Sox in 2005 -- man, if the Cubs win it next year, the world really will end.
Of course, I've lived in Chicago long enough to know that until that happens, White Sox fans will be very, very happy to stick it to the Cubs fans.
UPDATE: You just knew Leo Strauss was involved.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A very important post about.... Barbara Boxer's blue mind
Via Matt Welch, I found Anne-Marie O'Connor's story in the Los Angeles Times about Senator Barbara Boxer's new novel, A Time to Run (co-authored with Mary-Rose Hayes).
There's some fascinating information in O'Connor's piece about the motivations behind the troika of protagonists:
Insert your own joke about the Kennedys here.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go consult a therapist to determine which parent emotionally abused me so much as to drive to the right of the political spectrum.
[Wow, emotional abuse and early gender confusion. You're a psychological mess. No wonder you didn't get tenure!--ed. Hmmm... maybe I should take a closer look at the Americans With Disabilities Act!!]
Harriet Miers evokes the wrong emotions
I'm actually beginning to feel pity for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers --- and this is not a good thing. I'm feeling the same way about Miers that I feel when I go to a job talk and recognize within five minutes that there is no chance in hell that this person is going to be hired.
It now seems well nigh impossible to find anyone of substance willing to say anything really positive about her nomination. Finding negative things, on the other hand, is pretty damn easy.
Orin Kerr looks at some Miers speeches, about the role of the courts in addressing abortion or religion. Reading the highlighted passages, I concur with Kerr: "The writing is awkward enough that I'm not entirely sure what she is saying."
This pales in comparison to Virginia Postrel's take:
However, the end to this New York Times story by David Kirkpatrick is what really got me to feeling sorry for Miers:
As Ann Althouse points out, "Once people have decided you're dumb, pretty much everything you say sounds dumb." That is now the problem for Miers -- and, by extension, the Bush administration.
How long can the fundamentalists be wrong?
When it comes to predicting exchange rates, there are chartists and fundamentalists. The former focus on short-term price trends and try to win the "predict everyone else's expectations" game. The latter look at underlying economic fundamentals to figure out where the exchange rate will inevitably head.
When it comes to the dollar's performance in 2005, chartists are beating fundamentalists. The Economist's Buttonwood column tries to explain why:
The question is how long the chartists will stay bullish on the dollar. Speaking for the fundamentalists, New York Fed President Timothy Geithner is not optimistic (link via Brad Setser):
Geithner also touches on one of the big questions that I can't answer -- why the United States has such a comparative advantage in consuming goods and services:
it's not even clear that policy reforms of the sort Geithner is talking about will be sufficient in the Pacific Rim -- past crises have made that region loath to consume. Click here for more on the puzzle of Asia's lack of domestic consumption.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Do brain drains retard economic development?
Celia Dugger has an annoying New York Times story entitled, "Study Finds Flight of Educated Workers Affects Poor Nations." Here's how it opens:
A few thoughts:
Here's a link to the actual World Bank report. Go check it out.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Open Bernanke thread
Tyler Cowen is all over the nomination. See this post grading Bernanke's capabilities to do the job -- and this one on Bernanke's contributions to the economics discipline.
For me, the key will be whether -- like Greenspan -- Bernanke will be willing to question his assumptions about the way the economy works in the face of data that contradicts his a priori assumptions. If Tyler's assessment is correct, I'm pretty optimistic.
It's nice to see Bush reverting to the John Roberts mold of picking universally well-regarded nominees -- as opposed to other, less savory molds. Andrew Samwick thinks "Bernanke is an excellent choice." Brad DeLong thinks it's "a very good choice." Max Sawicky thinks it's "the preferable outcome."
On the other hand, Stephen Roach says that Bernanke was his "second favorite choice." One could interpret that as damning with faint praise, but given Roach's general economic outlook, I'd interpret it as grudging acceptance.
One interesting question at confirmation hearings will be where Bernanke thinks inflation is right now. Given current conditions, deflation is not the source of concern it was a few years ago. At the same time -- as Daniel Gross pointed out yesterday in the New York Times -- it's not completely clear whether inflation should be a source of concern either.
Open Syria thread
I've been remiss in not posting about the UN report blasting Syrian officials for their role in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In the New York Times, John Kifner provided a nice one-paragraph summary:
So, the question is, what now?
Some surprising people are talking tough. In the Financial Times, Former Kerry advisor Martin Indyk urges the Bush administration to resist a Libya-style deal with Syrian leader Bashir Assad:
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The EU needs to turn the key
Alan Beattie and Victor Mallet report in the Financial Times that the EU's previous trade commissioner -- and current Director-General of the World Trade Organization -- is trying to pressure the current trade commissoner to get the EU's act together on the Doha round:
The situation is clearly causing Peter Mandelson to get hot under the collar.
Why exactly is the EU acting so obdurate on this issue? Well, it's mostly the French, and according to Thomas Fuller of the International Herald Tribune, it's the power of terroir (link via Virginia Postrel)