Saturday, December 9, 2006

Lincoln with Chinese characteristics

Three years ago, I wrote the following:

As a regional actor in Asia, Beijing can not and should not be ignored. As a global actor, its profile remains relatively small, even compared with the Unitred States a century ago.
Today, the
New York Times has a front-pager by Joseph Kahn
demonstrating that a lot has happened since then:
In the past several weeks China Central Television has broadcast a 12-part series describing the reasons nine nations rose to become great powers. The series was based on research by a team of elite Chinese historians, who also briefed the ruling Politburo about their findings.

Until recently China’s rising power remained a delicate topic, and largely unspoken, inside China. Beijing has long followed a dictum laid down by Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader who died in 1997: “tao guang yang hui,” literally to hide its ambitions and disguise its claws....

With its $1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, surging military spending and diplomatic initiatives in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Beijing has begun asserting its interests far beyond its borders. Chinese party leaders are acting as if they intend to start exercising more power abroad rather than just protecting their political power at home.

“Like it or not, China’s rise is becoming a reality,” says Jia Qingguo, associate dean of the Beijing University School of International Studies. “Wherever Chinese leaders go these days, people pay attention. And they can’t just say, ‘I don’t want to get involved.’ ”

Itself a major recipient of foreign aid until recently, China this year promised to provide well over $10 billion in low-interest loans and debt relief to Asian, African and Latin American countries over the next two years. It invited 48 African countries to Beijing last month to a conference aimed at promoting closer cooperation and trade.

Beijing agreed to send 1,000 peacekeepers to Lebanon, its first such action in the Middle East. It has sought to become a more substantial player in a region where the United States traditionally holds far more sway.

At the United Nations Security Council, China cast aside its longstanding policy of opposing sanctions against other nations. It voted to impose penalties on North Korea, its neighbor and onetime ally, for testing nuclear weapons.

Officials and leading scholars are becoming a bit less hesitant to discuss what this all might mean. The documentary, on China’s main national network, uses the word rise constantly, including its title, “Rise of the Great Powers.” It endorses the idea that China should study the experiences of nations and empires it once condemned as aggressors bent on exploitation.

“Our China, the Chinese people, the Chinese race has become revitalized and is again stepping onto the world stage,” Qian Chengdan, a professor at Beijing University and the intellectual father of the television series, said in an online dialogue about the documentary on, a leading Web site.

“It is extremely important for today’s China to be able to draw some lessons from the experiences of others,” he said.

Kahn reviews the documentary series [Hey, PBS, how about purchasing its rights and broadcasting a version with subtitles here in the states?!--ed.]. This part stands out: "In the 90 minutes devoted to examining the rise of the United States, Lincoln is accorded a prominent part for his efforts to “preserve national unity” during the Civil War. China has made reunification with Taiwan a top national priority."

It will be interesting to see how and when China translates its growing economic power into ideational power. This, intriguingly, is (kind of) the topic of Jeffrey Garten's op-ed in the NYT about higher education in Asia:

At a summit meeting of leaders next week in the Philippines, senior officials from India, Singapore, Japan and perhaps other countries are scheduled to discuss the revival of an ancient university in India called Nalanda. It is a topic unlikely to receive much mention in the Western press. But no one should underestimate the potential benefits of this project to Asia, or the influence it could have on Asia’s role in the world, or the revolutionary impact it could make on global higher education....

At the Asian summit meeting next week, a consortium led by Singapore and including India, Japan and others will discuss raising the $500 million needed to build a new university in the vicinity of the old site and perhaps another $500 million to develop the roads and other infrastructure to make the institution work. The problem is that the key Asian officials are not thinking big enough. There is more talk about making Nalanda a cultural site or a center for philosophy than a first-rate modern university. The financial figures being thrown around are a fraction of the endowments of Harvard, Yale or Columbia today. A bolder vision is in order.

The rebuilt university should strive to be a great intellectual center, as the original Nalanda once was. This will be exceedingly difficult to achieve; even today, Asia’s best universities have a long way to go to be in the top tier. In a recent ranking of universities worldwide, Newsweek included only one Asian institution, the University of Tokyo, in the world’s top 25. In a similar tally by The Times of London, there are only three non-Western universities in the top 25....

Today, Nalanda’s opportunity is to exploit what is lacking in so many institutions of higher education. That includes great medical schools that focus on delivering health care to the poor, law schools that emphasize international law, business schools that focus on the billions of people who live on two dollars a day but who have the potential to become tomorrow’s middle class, and schools that focus intensely on global environmental issues. Can Asia pull this off? Financially, it should be easy. China’s foreign exchange reserves just broke all global records and reached $1 trillion. And Japan’s mountain of cash isn’t that far behind.

But the bigger issue is imagination and willpower. It is not clear that the Asian nations are prepared to unite behind anything concrete except trade agreements, either for their benefit or the world’s. It appears doubtful that with all their economic prowess, and their large armies, they understand that real power also comes from great ideas and from people who generate them, and that truly great universities are some of their strongest potential assets. I would like to be proved wrong in these judgments. How Asia approaches the resurrection of Nalanda will be a good test.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Garten is focused too much on regional initiaties and not enough on national ones -- but this seems like enough to chew on for the weekend.

posted by Dan at 09:08 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Syllabi for next semester

The following is likely to only interest students at the Fletcher School:

Here are the syllabi for my spring courses:

DHP D210 -- The Art and Science of Statecraft

DHP H204 -- Classics in International Relations Theory

Both syllabi are subject to minor changes over the next month.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who are caching typos!

posted by Dan at 11:37 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

The perils of precocious children

A breakfast play, in one act (draft only):

MOTHER: Sam, what would you like for breakfast?

SAM (6 years old): Waffles!!

MOTHER: Sam, I'm afraid we're out of waffles. What else would you like to eat?

SAM: I don't want anythiing else. I want waffles!!

MOTHER: Sam, you're just going to have to adapt.

SAM: No, I do not have to adapt!!

MOTHER: Sam, if you don't adapt, you're going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

SAM: That's not true!! The dinosaurs are extinct because an asteroid hit the Earth!! Adapting didn't have anything to do with it.

MOTHER (in stage whisper to father): S**t!!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Use cereal bars as deus ex machina to end play if necessary.

posted by Dan at 07:55 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Draw your own conclusions about American pop culture

What is the significance of the fact that the following is currently ranked as the most viewed YouTube video for today?

A) The imminent arrival of the apocalypse?

B) Ironic detachment is now the predominant stance of Internet users?

C) YouTube has jumped the shark?

D) Ain't nothin' over til it's over?

E) There are a lot of Airplane II: The Sequel fans?

F) Montage sequence + Bill Conti theme = Crazy delicious?

posted by Dan at 03:53 PM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

Save the rust belt -- and screw western Washington

The New York Times' Leslie Wayne looks at the renewed demand for Boein's 747 jet. Turns out that the expansion of trade has something to do with it:

[A] funny thing happened to the 747 on the way to the graveyard: it found a new tailwind, and a strong one at that.

Demand is growing for the new 747-8 Intercontinental, which was introduced a year ago. Boeing now has 73 orders for the plane after its latest lift yesterday from Lufthansa, the big German carrier, which announced it was placing a $5.5 billion order for 20 747-8s, and took options to buy 20 more....

In large part, the 747’s new lease on life is owed to global trade. Until the Lufthansa deal was announced, all 747-8 orders had been for the freighter version of the plane. Even the initial orders for the latest model were for air freighters, an unusual move in an industry that likes to kick off new models with orders from high-profile passenger carriers.

But, technological advances, particularly next-generation fuel-efficient engines, improved the economics of operating a four-engine passenger plane like the 747.

“The new 747 is an inexpensive way for Boeing to capture some passenger orders, a lot of cargo orders and make a fair amount of money because of the Airbus 380 hiccup,” said Jon B. Kutler, chief executive of Admiralty Partners, a private investment firm in Santa Monica, Calif., that specializes in aerospace....

When Airbus announced the A380, Boeing looked flat-footed. For years, it appeared to dither about the future of the 747. It ordered up a number of 747-X studies of an advanced version of the plane, but came to no conclusion.

But the dithering paid off. As time marched on, so did technology. And when Boeing shifted its emphasis into developing its new 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body midsize passenger plane, many of the technologies it pioneered for that plane could be adapted to the 747, including the fuel-efficient engines developed for the 787 and a new wing design that could stretch its flying range....

As manufacturing increasingly moves to Asia and worldwide commerce increases, the cargo market is growing at a faster rate than the passenger market — about 6 percent a year, compared with passenger growth of about 4 percent, according to Air Cargo Management. (That said, the passenger market is about three times the size of the freighter market, with revenue of $185 billion last year.)

At the moment, there are 481 747 freighters in use. This compares with 353 in 2000. While there are many smaller cargo planes — and the combined total of all them exceeds the number of 747 freighters in the air — the 747 is the only big cargo plane available and is the only plane that can be used for some large loads.

posted by Dan at 08:51 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Open Baker-Hamilton thread

Comment away on:

1) The Iraq Study Group's report;

2) The likelihood of any of its recommendations being implemented;

3) The likelihood of any of its recommendations actually working

posted by Dan at 01:24 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

The gift that keeps on giving for protectionism

Ah, the Democratically-controlled Congress -- is there any step towards economic liberalization that they won't block?

Don Phillips, "U.S. Withdraws Plan on Foreign Investment in Airlines, Disrupting Open-Skies Treaty," New York Times, December 6, 2006:

The Bush administration withdrew a plan on Tuesday to give European airlines more freedom to invest in American airlines and to participate in management decisions, bowing to opposition expected to deepen in a Democratic-controlled Congress.

The decision deals a blow to greater cooperation between United States and European airlines. Europe had made the investor rule a condition for putting in place the so-called open skies treaty with the United States, which is needed to allow airlines based in Europe or the United States to fly with little or no restrictions to each other’s territories. Such flights are now often subject to government-to-government negotiations.

The open skies treaty, which has been agreed to by the United States and the European Union, is far more important on both sides of the Atlantic than the separate foreign ownership rule. Europe could easily allow the open skies treaty to take effect at any time, but it has made such an issue of tying the two together that it now faces embarrassment if it appears to give in.

Yet Tuesday’s development is probably not the end of the negotiations that govern international air accords, said Mary Peters, the transportation secretary, whose agency issued the ruling....

The European transport commissioner, Jacques Barrot, told the Associated Press that the European Union was disappointed with the decision, saying that scrapping the foreign ownership rule had been an essential element in concluding a deal on the separate open skies issue.

Nonetheless, Mr. Barrot said negotiators planned to meet again shortly.

The foreign ownership rules would have changed a series of administrative decisions that have been interpreted to strictly limit the ability of any European airline investor to participate in the management of an American airline. European airlines said the rules were so strict that a United States citizen with a single share of stock would have a greater say in airline management than the European airline investor.

The rules have led European airlines to sell their interests in American carriers. Even if the Bush administration had approved the proposed rules, foreigners would still have been limited to 25 percent of voting equity in United States airlines.

Aviation specialists say Europe will probably approve the open skies accord in 2007, even if there is no action on the foreign ownership rules, because Europe stands to gain even more than the United States.

The foreign ownership proposal had been strongly opposed by influential members of Congress, unions and several major airlines led by Continental. British Airways was also cool to the idea because it would have allowed the open skies rules to go into effect, giving other airlines greater access to Heathrow Airport, which it dominates.

Representative James Oberstar, a Democrat from Minnesota who is expected to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, commended Ms. Peters for her decision. Mr. Oberstar said Ms. Peters chose to do the right thing in the face of strong pressure from the administration and from the European Union.

I was curious about he substantive reasons why unions were opposing this particular agreement, seeing as the sweatshop argument did not seem credible.

You see some of the union arguments by clicking here and here. As near as I can determine, the primary reason for opposition is based on simple protectionism akin to the Dubai Ports World episode-- they simply do not want to see foreign ownership and control of U.S. carriers.

As for the benefits of an Open Skies arrangement? One union head argued that since the benefits are likely to be realized in the medium to long-term, there's no real cost to scuttling the arrangement.

Gonna be a long two years.....

UPDATE: This FT story by Doug Cameron and Andrew Bounds provides some more context for the Open Skies agreement:

The grounded open-skies deal was only half the prize sought by both sides. Ending most market-access restrictions would have triggered a second round of talks aimed at creating an Open Aviation Area (OAA), with more alignment of safety, security and competition policy and, perhaps, investment and ownership rules....

Governments and airlines have sought for two decades to find a way to replace the 1944 Chicago Convention which governs the industry. This requires new routes to be negotiated on a bilateral government-to-government basis for airlines that are “nationally” owned and controlled.

That was the opportunity presented by the OAA between the US and EU, and one closely-watched by regulators in other trade regions. Mary Peters, the US transportation secretary, admitted this week that the thorniest issue of all – foreign ownership and control of US airlines – remains politically unpalatable.

Congress rejected a move to raise the 25 per cent ceiling on voting rights by foreign investors in 2003, and the incoming Democratic majority appears in no mood to move on the issue.

Ms Peters is also unwilling to sacrifice progress in other areas – such as solving the broader congestion in the US transportation system – by alienating Congress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times' Paul Thornton has more on the killing of this deal (hat tip: Virginia Postrel). He also addresses the national security concern -- as I suspected, it's about as well-placed as the Dubai Ports World fiasco:
A "homeland security risk"? All the DOT's proposal would have allowed is non-citizens to hold executive positions in airlines that oversee purely economic decisions (think fares, routes and aircraft purchases). The proposal explicitly -- I repeat, explicitly -- walled off non-citizen managers from having any say in an airline's security. In fact, the DOT proposal would have left the 25% foreign ownership cap completely intact; it even had the blessing of the Department of Defense....

But the anti-foreign ownership and Open Skies troupe in Congress isn't appealing to our economic sensibilities. If they did, doubtless they'd lose (imagine running for re-election on "I voted to increase ticket prices on transatlantic flights!"). Instead, their arguments have a xenophobic tinge, relying on our assuming that non-citizens are somehow less trustworthy than Uncle Sam's own kids to run an airline. Economics aside, that's the biggest problem with Oberstar and the protectionist crowd.

posted by Dan at 08:43 AM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (2)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Campaign for America's Future... and its enemies

In what I am convinced is a plot to make me reject Brink Lindsey's efforts to get libertarians and liberals to kiss on the first date, I was sent the following press release:

More than 100 leaders, speaking for dozens of progressive organizations, assembled today to organize a campaign to back major portions of the House Democrats' early legislative agenda. The attending groups represent an expansion of a regular meeting of progressive leaders known as the "Tuesday Group." Organizers said support for key elements of the agenda represents a down payment on a more ambitious agenda for change promised by the new majority in Congress.

More than 40 groups, led by Americans United, U.S.Action and the Campaign for America's Future, met to outline plans to press House and Senate members to vote for a minimum wage increase, negotiating for lower drug prices, student loan interest rate reductions, and a repeal of tax benefits for the oil and gas industry to pay for public investment in alternative energy sources. These agenda items are part of House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's agenda for the first 100 legislative hours of the House next month.

The groups devoted almost their entire meeting to building participation and momentum for the coalition effort, known as CAN - Change America Now. The campaign is growing as groups turn their post-election attention to moving an immediate agenda, which they see as a down payment on a larger agenda for creating an economy that works for working people.

"Democrats ran the most populist elections in memory," said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and a co-chair of today's Tuesday Group meeting. "We need to make sure the Democrats deliver on their promises, and that the 100 Hours Agenda is just the first step in creating an economy that works for working people. The 100 Hours Agenda gives Democrats a chance to show that we support positive policies for change, and we're not just against the Republican agenda." (emphasis added)

I should add that I do think the Campaign for America's future is likely correct in its assertion that "Democrats ran the most populist elections in memory." For support, click on this Stan Greenberg analysis of the midterm exit polls, as well as Public Citizen's report, "Election 2006: No to Staying the Course on Trade."

posted by Dan at 07:12 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

What happened to bowling alone?

The Corporation for National and Community Service -- a government entity that runs AmeriCorps and Senior Corps -- issues a report that would, at first glance, surprise those who have read Bowling Alone. From the press release:

Volunteering has reached a 30-year high in the United States, as more people pitch in to help their communities, according to a study released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service....

The report, Volunteer Growth in America: A Review of Trends Since 1974, finds that adult volunteering rose sharply between 1989 and 2005, increasing more than 32 percent over the last 16 years....

The brief analyzes volunteering rates in 1974, 1989 and 2002-2005, using information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It finds that the growth in volunteering is driven primarily by three age groups: teenagers 16 to 19, Baby Boomers and others age 45 to 65, and older adults 65 and over....

Among the findings:

  • Older teenagers (ages 16-19) have more than doubled their time spent volunteering since 1989.

  • Far from being a “Me Generation,” Baby Boomers are volunteering at sharply higher rates than did the previous generation at mid-life.

  • The volunteer rate for Americans ages 65 years and over has increased 64 percent since 1974.

  • The proportion of Americans volunteering with an educational or youth service organization has seen a 63 percent increase just since just 1989....
  • Educational and youth service organizations (such as schools, 4-H, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) are benefiting from the growth because they have received the largest increase in volunteers between 1989 and 2006. Nearly 24.6 percent of all adult volunteers serve through such organizations, a 63 percent increase since 1989. The biggest percentage of volunteers serves through religious organizations, although the proportion of Americans contributing time to those groups has decreased slightly, from 37.4 percent to 35.5 percent, since 1989.

    Noting that volunteering actually declined between 1974 and 1989 before rebounding, Grimm cited several reasons for heightened civic engagement today:

  • Teenagers are volunteering in greater numbers, in part, because of an increase in service-learning programs in schools and colleges that combine classroom study with community activity. Another reason may be a response to traumatic national events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recent natural disasters.

  • Mid-life adults are more likely to have children in the home because Americans are delaying marriage and childbearing. The result is increased exposure to volunteering opportunities connected to their children’s school and extracurricular activities.

  • Older Americans are living longer, are better educated, and more financially secure – creating an increased desire for them to remain active and seek ways to give back to communities.
  • After another glance, this result can be partially and uneasily reconciled with Putnam's thesis of declining social capital. First, Putnam focused on a wide range of behaviors beyond volunteerism, which this report doesn't cover. Second, this report still shows a volunteering gap among Gen X-ers like myself, which prompted Putnam's book in the first place. Third, describing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).

    One question I'm curious about: these service programs have been in place for quite some time now. Does anyone know if hard data exists showing that participation in them triggers a life-long pattern of volunteerism?

    posted by Dan at 09:01 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

    Monday, December 4, 2006

    Name that mutual interest!!!

    The AP reports that State Department press officer Eric Watnik has a wry sense of humor when it comes to Venezuela:

    The State Department, long at odds with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, greeted the populist leader's landslide re-election victory by holding out the possibility of a more cooperative relationship with his government.

    "We look forward to having the opportunity to work with the Venezuelan government on issues of mutual interest," State Department press officer Eric Watnik said Monday.

    Chavez, meanwhile, saw his victory as a setback for the United States. "It's another defeat for the devil, who tries to dominate the world," Chavez told the crowd of supporters in Caracas. "Down with imperialism. We need a new world."

    Watnik's brief comments did not offer congratulations to Chavez nor did it make direct reference to him or what it regards as the increasingly authoritarian course he is pursuing....

    On Friday, two days before the election, National Director of Intelligence John Negroponte outlined U.S. concerns about Chavez in a wide-ranging speech at Harvard University.

    He said Chavez's "meddling in the domestic affairs of other states in the region — granting Colombia's FARC insurgents safe haven and other material support, for example — already has made him a divisive force."

    He criticized Venezuela's attitude toward drug trafficking as "permissive," an allegation Venezuelan officials have denied.

    Venezuela's growing ties to Iran and other states, such as North Korea, Syria, and Belarus, "clearly demonstrate a desire to build an anti-U.S. coalition that extends well beyond Latin America," Negroponte said. (emphasis added)

    Readers are strongly encouraged to name issues in which Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush would share a mutual interest.

    posted by Dan at 02:08 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

    Who's going to fuse with libertarians?

    Over at The New Republic, Brink Lindsey argues that Democrats should start catering liberarians more aggrssively:

    Libertarian disaffection [with the GOP] should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP's rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.

    This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions....

    Libertarian-leaning voters started drifting away from the GOP even before Katrina, civil war in Iraq, and Mark Foley launched the general stampede. In their recent Cato-published study "The Libertarian Vote," David Boaz and David Kirby analyzed polling data from Gallup, the American National Election Studies, and the Pew Research Center and concluded that 13 percent of the population, or 28 million voting-age Americans, can be fairly classified as libertarian-leaning. Back in 2000, this group voted overwhelmingly for Bush, supporting him over Al Gore by a 72-20 margin. By 2004, however, John Kerry--whose only discernible libertarian credential was that he wasn't George W. Bush--got 38 percent of the libertarian vote, while Bush's support fell to 59 percent. Congressional races showed a similar trend. In 2002, libertarians favored Republican House candidates by a 70-23 spread and Republican Senate candidates by a 74-15 margin. Things tightened up considerably in 2004, though, as the GOP edge fell to 53-44 in House races and 54-43 in Senate contests.

    To date, Democrats have made inroads with libertarian voters primarily by default....

    In short, if Democrats hope to continue appealing to libertarian-leaning voters, they are going to have to up their game. They need to ask themselves: Are we content with being a brief rebound fling for jilted libertarians, or do we want to form a lasting relationship? Let me make a case for the second option.

    I'm not going to excerpt Lindsey's case because it should be read in full (click here to read it if you're not a TNR subscriber).

    One critique of it is that while Lindsey focuses on the possible areas of common ground (corporate welfare, immigration, tax reform) he elides the issues where Democrats want to promote economic populism (the minimum wage, trade expansion) because it gets more votes than libertarians can proffer themselves. Even here, however, Lindsey could argue that programs do exist (trade adjustment assistance) that could potentially split the difference.

    My only other critique comes with what's missing in this paragraph:

    Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. That idea still retains at least an intermittent plausibility--for example, in the case for school choice as providing a refuge for socially conservative families. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. Most obviously, many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era--the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration--were championed by the political left.
    None of what's in this paragraph is incorrect. Again, however, Lindsey does omit the successes in microeconomic policy -- deregulation, welfare reform, declines in marginal tax rates, shifts in antitrust policy, the 1986 tax reform -- that conservative fusionism produced in the past few decades.

    UPDATE: Sebastian Mallaby mulls over Lindsey's essay in the Washington Post today. Hat tip to Inactivist, who also has some thoughts on the matter. Also check out the series of posts at the Volokh Conspiracy.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at The American Spectator, John Tabin suggests that a liberal-libertarian fusionism won't take:

    The problem with this idea is that classical liberalism (or libertarianism) and modern liberalism (or progressivism, or egalitarian liberalism) are fundamentally at odds philosophically. The crux of the split is the difference between negative and positive liberty, a difference that illuminates how libertarians and liberals are separated even when they seem to be allied.
    It's convenient for conservatives to make this argument, but Tabin shrewdly links to this Matt Yglesias post from a few months ago that makes the same point:
    For one thing, a lot of the views liberals tend to think of us libertarian-ish liberal positions aren't actually especially libertarian at the end of the day. For example, liberals, like libertarians, don't think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Unlike libertarians, however, liberals generally think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. We think that landlords shouldn't be allowed to refuse to rent houses to gay men, that bartenders shouldn't be allowed to refuse to serve them, that employers shouldn't be allowed to fire them, etc. Liberals believe in a certain notion of human liberation from entrenched dogma, prejudice, and tradition, but this isn't the same as hostility to state action, even in the sex-and-gender sphere.
    To argue in favor of Lindsey now, these are good but not devastating points. Both Tabin and Yglesias assume that all libertarians are so dogmatic that they cannot compromise in the interest of pursuing larger gains. Most libertarians -- including, I suspect, the overwhelming majority of the 28 million voting-age Americans that Boaz and Kirby identify as libertarian -- will not automatically blanch at, say, anti-discrimination laws as a deal-breaker. Well, they'd blanch, but they wouldn't faint.

    In other words, libertarians run the gamut from Murray Rothbard to, say, Milton Friedman. And more of them are sympatico with someone like Friedman than someone like Rothbard. [Rothbard had reasons to link with the left as well!--ed. True, which suggest a very different lib-lib fusionism than the one that interests Lindsey.]

    Tabin responds to my points here.

    posted by Dan at 08:10 AM | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (7)

    Sunday, December 3, 2006

    We've got blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, spam, and blog

    So I see that the second-most interesting article about blogs in the New York Times today got a lot of attention. That would be K. Daniel Glober's op-ed on the increased linkages between bloggers and political candidates:

    The Netroots.” “People Power.” “Crashing the Gate.” The lingo of liberal Web bloggers bespeaks contempt for the political establishment. The same disdain is apparent among many bloggers on the right, who argued passionately for a change in the slate of House Republican leaders — and who wallowed in woe-is-the-party pity when the establishment ignored them.

    You might think that with the kind of rhetoric bloggers regularly muster against politicians, they would never work for them. But you would be wrong.

    Over the past few years, bloggers have won millions of fans by speaking truth to power — even the powers in their own parties — and presenting a fresh, outsider perspective. They are the pamphleteers of the 21st century, revolutionary “citizen journalists” motivated by personal idealism and an unwavering confidence that they can reform American politics.

    But this year, candidates across the country found plenty of outsiders ready and willing to move inside their campaigns. Candidates hired some bloggers to blog and paid others consulting fees for Internet strategy advice or more traditional campaign tasks like opposition research....

    The trend seems certain to continue in 2008. Potential presidential hopefuls like Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain already are paying big-name bloggers as consultants, and Julie Fanselow of Red State Rebels said on her blog she would entertain job offers from Howard Dean, Barack Obama, John Edwards or Al Gore.

    “This intersection isn’t going away,” Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, an elite blogger hired by campaigns, wrote earlier this year, “and I hope more and more bloggers are able to work to influence how campaigns are run.”

    Here is a listing of some of the most influential bloggers who went to work for campaigns this year, what they were paid according to campaign disclosure documents, and praiseworthy posts about their employers or critical ones of their employers’ opponents.

    As William Beutler points out, this op-ed has not had the best of reactions in the blogosphere -- in large part because the piece could give the impression that some campaign bloggers did not act up to the Times' ethical standards.

    Me,I just yawned, and recalled what I wrote about this six months ago:

    What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers... have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.

    Over time, however, that claim looks less and less viable. The question is whether bloggers... find that their legions of readers are turned off by these kind of revelations, or whether they comfortably adjust into being middleweight power brokers....

    In other words, the gates have been crashed.

    Now, the most interesting story about blogs in the NYT today was Clive Thompson's cover story in the magazine about how blogs and wikis could prove useful structures for intelligence analysis:
    [T]hroughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?....

    Intelligence heads wanted to try to find some new answers to this problem. So the C.I.A. set up a competition, later taken over by the D.N.I., called the Galileo Awards: any employee at any intelligence agency could submit an essay describing a new idea to improve information sharing, and the best ones would win a prize. The first essay selected was by Calvin Andrus, chief technology officer of the Center for Mission Innovation at the C.I.A. In his essay, “The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community,” Andrus posed a deceptively simple question: How did the Internet become so useful in helping people find information?

    Andrus argued that the real power of the Internet comes from the boom in self-publishing: everyday people surging online to impart their thoughts and views. He was particularly intrigued by Wikipedia, the “reader-authored” encyclopedia, where anyone can edit an entry or create a new one without seeking permission from Wikipedia’s owners. This open-door policy, as Andrus noted, allows Wikipedia to cover new subjects quickly. The day of the London terrorist bombings, Andrus visited Wikipedia and noticed that barely minutes after the attacks, someone had posted a page describing them. Over the next hour, other contributors — some physically in London, with access to on-the-spot details — began adding more information and correcting inaccurate news reports. “You could just sit there and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, and get a sort of ticker-tape experience,” Andrus told me. What most impressed Andrus was Wikipedia’s self-governing nature. No central editor decreed what subjects would be covered. Individuals simply wrote pages on subjects that interested them — and then like-minded readers would add new facts or fix errors. Blogs, Andrus noted, had the same effect: they leveraged the wisdom of the crowd. When a blogger finds an interesting tidbit of news, he posts a link to it, along with a bit of commentary. Then other bloggers find that link and, if they agree it’s an interesting news item, post their own links pointing to it. This produces a cascade effect. Whatever the first blogger pointed toward can quickly amass so many links pointing in its direction that it rockets to worldwide notoriety in a matter of hours.

    Spies, Andrus theorized, could take advantage of these rapid, self-organizing effects. If analysts and agents were encouraged to post personal blogs and wikis on Intelink — linking to their favorite analyst reports or the news bulletins they considered important — then mob intelligence would take over. In the traditional cold-war spy bureaucracy, an analyst’s report lived or died by the whims of the hierarchy. If he was in the right place on the totem pole, his report on Soviet missiles could be pushed up higher; if a supervisor chose to ignore it, the report essentially vanished. Blogs and wikis, in contrast, work democratically. Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process, Andrus argued, suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought.

    Clearly there are downsides as well, and Thompson discusses most of them in the story.

    posted by Dan at 08:17 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)