Friday, November 3, 2006
Comments are down and help is wanted
The comments feature is not working, due to comment spam overload.
This and other persistent problems lead me no choice but to put out a "help wanted" sign. The hardworking but HTML-illiterate staff here at danieldrezner.com needs to remote hire someone for a quick fix for the blog. In particular, we need someone who will:
1) Install vigorous anti-spam measuresContact me at the e-mail address on the right. Remuneration to be negotiated.
UPDATE: All should be well now. New posts to follow soon!
The A-Rod quagmire
Tom Peyer and Hart Seely, "Yankee Go Home." New York Times, November 3, 2006:
TRADE A-Rod’s continued failure to deliver in the clutch is diverting critical resources and dividing our team. He must go. We need to move on, now!Best. Op-ed. Ever.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
What's Liberal About The Liberal Arts? -- a review
My (lengthy by blog standards) take on the book is below the fold:
UPDATE: Comments are down here -- but this review has been cross-posted over at The Valve, so say what you think over there.
What’s Liberal About The Liberal Arts? By Michael Bérubé. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
How Kerry helped the Democrats in 2008
Over at The Guardian's website, James Crabtree makes a great point about how Kerry has helped his party for 2008:
Yesterday was, in fact, a tremendous day for the Democratic Party. John Forbes Kerry, uniquely among his fellow Americans, genuinely appeared to believe that the next President of the United States could be John Forbes Kerry. Much in the same way as Nixon ran against Kennedy, was defeated, and came back, Kerry thought his phoenix could rise again. That is now not going to happen. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. John Kerry 2008. RIP....
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
John Kerry reminds us why he lost in 2004
From David Stout, "Kerry and G.O.P. Spar Over Iraq Remarks," New York Times, October 31, 2006:
Debate over the Iraq war seemed to reach a new intensity today, with President Bush and other Republicans accusing Senator John Kerry of insulting rank-and-file American troops and Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, lashing back at some of his critics as “assorted right-wing nut jobs.”[OK, on a gut level this is pretty offensive to someone in the military. But is Kerry right about a lack of education being correlated with military enrollment?--ed.]
The evidence seems mixed. Consider this Terry Neal summary in the Washington Post from last year:
David R. Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organizations at the University of Maryland, said contrary to conventional wisdom both the poorest and the wealthiest people are underrepresented at the bottom of the military ranks, for completely different reasons. This trend held for both from the conscription years of Vietnam through at least the late 1990s.Also of note: Jerald G. Bachman, Peter Freedman-Doan, Patrick M. O'Malley, "Should U.S. Military Recruiters Write Off the College-Bound?" Armed Forces & Society 27 (July 2001): 461 - 476:
This article examines trends and relationships involving high school seniors' military service plans, their college plans, and their actual entry into military service. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data from the Monitoring the Future project show that, although individuals planning to complete college are less likely than average to plan on military service, the upward trend in college plans cannot account for many of the year-to-year changes in military propensity. Moreover, it now appears that the majority of young men expecting to enter military service also expect to complete a four-year college program. Most important, planning for college does not reduce enlistment rates among high propensity males, although for some of them it may delay entry by several years. These findings suggest that educational incentives for military service are now particularly important, given the high proportions of potential recruits with college aspirations.And, finally, Meredith A. Kleykamp, "College, Jobs, or the Military? Enlistment During a Time of War," Social Science Quarterly 87 (June 2006):
This article questions what factors are associated with joining the military after high school rather than attending college, joining the civilian labor force, or doing some other activity. Three areas of influence on military enlistment are highlighted: educational goals, the institutional presence of the military in communities, and race and socioeconomic status.Tim Kane, "Who Are the Recruits? The Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Enlistment, 2003–2005" Heritage Center for Data Analysis:
[I]t is commonly claimed that the military relies on recruits from poorer neighborhoods because the wealthy will not risk death in war. This claim has been advanced without any rigorous evidence. Our review of Pentagon enlistee data shows that the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005....Anyway, although I do like the description of Rush Limbaugh as "doughy," perhaps it would be best for the Dems if they took Kerry and locked him in a closet for the rest of the week.
UPDATE: Here's Kerry's explanation in fuller detail:
My statement yesterday -- and the White House knows this full well -- was a botched joke about the president and the president's people, not about the troops. The White House's attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe.OK, so the line as Kerry says he intended it is not as offensive as the New York Times story suggests. YouTube has video of Kerry making the quote in context.
The title to this post still stands, however -- this is a classic replay of Kerry's "global test" statement during the 2004 presidential debates. As Andrew Sullivan puts it: He
may not have meant it the way it came out. That doesn't matter. It's wrong to talk about the military that way - wrong morally, empirically and ethically. And the way he said it can be construed as a patronizing snub to the men and women whose lives are on the line. It's also dumb politically not to kill this off in one news cycle. Is Kerry not content to lose just one election? Does his enormous ego have to insist on losing two?
The Chinese tightrope walk on North Korea
Many commentators are also giving the credit to China for this breakthrough. Michael Moran at cfr.org points out:
China’s actions merit most attention. Susan Shirk, an Asian affairs specialist at the University of California, says “the North Korean nuclear test, by driving China to become part of the solution and averting conflict between China and Japan, shifted strategic ground in Northeast Asia” (YaleGlobal). More than ever, agrees CFR Vice President Gary Samore, China is in the driver’s seat.This leads to an interesting question -- why did North Korea agree to jaw-jaw? I suggested earlier this month that Chinese economic pressure was the source for DPRK moderation. This New York Times report by Joseph Kahn does little to change my mind on this point:
China cut off oil exports to North Korea in September during heightened tension over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Chinese trade statistics show.What's really interesting about this is that the Chinese are denying any efforts at economic pressure.
I'd deny if I were them too -- because successful Chinese coercion opens up a can of worms Beijing does not want to see open. The moment that Chinese economic pressure against North Korea is perceived as successful, the question becomes, "When will China use its economic lever to put the squeeze on the DPRK regime?" Indeed, this was the point Anne Applebaum made a few weeks ago in Slate. If Chinese pressure turns out to have worked, then it becomes that much tougher for China to take a backseat to the United States on this issue.
The thing is, China -- and South Korea -- want the impossible. They want a declawed but intact DPRK to act as a buffer between Beijing and Seoul. If this were possible, then China wouldn't need to worry about the long-term regional threat posed by a unified Korea, and Seoul wouldn't have to worry about the costs of bankrolling North Korea's transition.
It's not possible, however, because this regime wants absolute domestic control, and that's incompatible with the kind of reforms that would be necessary to survive.
I don't have a great answer to this problem, by the way -- but Beijing doesn't either.
Beware the reverse Michael Moore effect!!
Does everyone remember how the release of Fahrenheit 911 triggered a debate about whether its huge box-office success presaged Bush's downfall in the 2004 election?
I bring this up because of this Reuters report by Steve Gorman:
The provocative film "Death of a President," which imagines the assassination of George W. Bush, bombed at the North American box office with a meager $282,000 grossed from 143 theaters in its first weekend.
Congress gets body-slammed in Foreign Affairs
Neither Peter Beinart nor Matthew Yglesias will make libertarians feel all that sanguine about how a Democratic takeover would affect U.S. foreign economic policy. Beinart fears, correctly, that any Democrat taking their economicpolicymaking cues from Lou Dobbs is going to wind up having to embrace a full-throated economic nationalism that in the end won't do much but lower economic growth. Yglesias fears, correctly, that Democrats have not properly appreciated the way in which trade policy helps advance U.S. security interests.
So I'm not feeling good -- and then I stumble across Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann's "When Congress Checks Out" in Foreign Affairs:
One of Congress' key roles is oversight: making sure that the laws it writes are faithfully executed and vetting the military and diplomatic activities of the executive. Congressional oversight is meant to keep mistakes from happening or from spiraling out of control; it helps draw out lessons from catastrophes in order to prevent them, or others like them, from recurring. Good oversight cuts waste, punishes fraud or scandal, and keeps policymakers on their toes. The task is not easy. Examining a department or agency, its personnel, and its implementation policies is time-consuming. Investigating possible scandals can easily lapse into a partisan exercise that ignores broad policy issues for the sake of cheap publicity.That Ornstein and Mann wrote this in Foreign Affairs is telling for two reasons.
First, Ornstein and Mann are about as mainstream as you can get in the world of congressional analysis. We're not talking partisan hacks here. To quote Joe-Bob Briggs, "These guys are the feedlot." For Mann and Ornstein to co-author this kind of article at this point is telling.
Even more telling -- that it ran in Foreign Affairs. I say this because if there's one thread that runs through most foreign policymaker wannabes, it's a desire to have Congress butt out of foreign policy. No one who works in the executive branch on foreign policy ever wants to deal with Congress on anything -- because it's a colossal pain. The natural inclination of most foreign policymakers is to work for the executive branch. And yet, this argument gets the Foreign Affairs imprimatur.
I don't like seeing U.S. foreign economic policy shift in a more populist direction, and I look forward to bashing Pelosi and company if that happens. But if forced to choose, I'll trade that off for greater congressional oversight.
UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett offers his support for gridlock as well.
Monday, October 30, 2006
The good, the bad, and the ugly books I have read recently
Longtime readers of danieldrezner.com have made their displeasure known to me about my lack of monthly book recommendations. When we last left off, I had posted my summer book recommendations -- and let's face it, we're pretty much past indian summer as well as the real thing. For this, I offer my profuse apologies and no good explanation, beyond the fact that I've been traveling a lot.
However, sitting around in airports waiting for planes has allowed me to read a fair number of books in recent weeks. So, without further ado, here are the good, the bad, and the ugly books I have read over the past six weeks:
THE GOOD:That should tide you all over for the month.