Saturday, March 31, 2007

Baptists, bootleggers, and porn

CNET's Dawn Kawamoto reports that the .xxx registry will not be happening anytime soon:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has rejected a controversial proposal to create a new .xxx domain suffix for adult Web sites.

ICANN on Friday voted 9-5 to deny an application from ICM Registry, which for the past several years has sought to be the registry for adult-content Web sites.

ICANN, which oversees domain names and Internet addresses, decided that ICM's proposal raised too many public-policy concerns and ultimately could change the role of the nonprofit organization.

"ICM's response does not address (the ICANN Government Advisory Committee's) concern for offensive content and similarly avoids the GAC's concern for the protection of vulnerable members of the community," ICANN stated in the meeting. "The board does not believe these public-policy concerns can be credibly resolved with the mechanisms proposed by the applicant."

In the New York Times, Thomas Crampton explains the interesting coalition of interest groups that opposed the .xxx registry:
ICM had argued that creation of the domain would enhance safety for young users by clearly defining .xxx sites as a no-go zone.

Described last week by Paul Twomey, Icann’s chief executive, as “clearly controversial, clearly polarizing,” the issue had been discussed among Internet enthusiasts and on blogs.

Some who objected to the proposal included companies in the sex-related entertainment industry as well as religious groups. The entertainment executives raised fears that use of the domain, although voluntary, could open the way for governments to isolate sex-oriented Web sites into a single part of the Internet.

Religious groups expressed concern that creation of the .xxx domain would serve only to encourage creation of more sex-related content.

Others warned that the move would create a bonanza for ICM Registry, since companies with existing Web sites would be compelled to buy .xxx domain names to prevent someone else from creating sites using their company names.

Political scientists talk about "baptist-bootlegger coalitions" to explain occasions when groups on opposite sides of an issue support the same policy for very different reasons (baptists: naive expression of preferences; Bootleggers: rent-seeking).

In this case, however, the baptists refused to side with the powerful bootlegger.

posted by Dan at 08:46 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Latest trade tidbits

1) Remember the hints of a trade deal that came out earlier this week? Over at US News and World Report's Capital Commerce blog, James Pethokoukis has more juicy details about the how this may or may not play out. As a general rule, if Dave Sirota is this exercised about it, then it must be a good thing for trade liberalization.

2) A point in the Democrats' favor -- a new Survey about trade and regulatory standards:

Strong majorities in developing nations around the world support requiring countries that sign trade agreements to meet minimum labor and environmental standards, a multinational poll finds. Nine in 10 Americans also support such protections.
Sounds good, but the survey question seems awfully vague ("Overall, do you think that countries that are part of international trade agreements should or should not be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions?")

3) Brad DeLong links to subscriber-only stories about heterodox economic takes on trade, so I don't have to. First, there's Dani Rodrik's Financial Times op-ed:

Which is the greatest threat to globalisation: the protesters on the streets every time the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organisation meets, or globalisation's cheerleaders, who push for continued market opening while denying that the troubles surrounding globalisation are rooted in the policies they advocate? A good case can be made that the latter camp presents the greater menace. Anti-globalisers are marginalised. But cheerleaders in Washington, London and the elite universities of north America and Europe shape the intellectual climate. If they get their way, they are more likely to put globalisation at risk than the protesters they condemn for ignorance of sound economics.

That is because the greatest obstacle to sustaining a healthy, globalised economy is no longer insufficient openness. Markets are freer from government interference than they have ever been.... [N]o country's growth prospects are significantly constrained by a lack of openness in the international economy. Even if the Doha trade round fails, poor countries will have enough access to rich country markets to achieve what countries such as China, Vietnam and India have been able to do....

Globalisation's soft underbelly is the imbalance between the national scope of governments and the global nature of markets. A healthy economic system necessitates a delicate compromise between these two. Go too much in one direction and you have protectionism and autarky. Go too much in the other and you have an unstable world economy with little social and political support from those it is supposed to help. If there is one lesson from the collapse of the 19th century version of globalisation, it is that we cannot leave national governments powerless to respond to their citizens. The genius of the Bretton Woods system, which lasted for about three decades after the second world war, was that it achieved such a compromise. Some of the most egregious restrictions on trade flows were removed, while allowing governments freedom to run independent macroeconomic policies and erect their own versions of the welfare state. Developing countries were free to pursue their own growth strategies with limited external restraint. The world economy prospered like never before.

I'm unpersuaded There are two huge difference between the 19th century version of globalization and the cuurrent era: there was much more labor mobility back then, but the size of government -- and welfare policies in particular -- were vastly smaller. As much as peopole like to fret about their disappearance, at best the growth of these measures are slowing. As Tyler Cowen implicitly points out here, the growth of markets has led to a corresponding growth in government. So even if I accepted Rodrik's premise, I think we're a long way from where he thinks we are.

4) DeLong also links to a Wall Street Journal front-pager from yesterday about Alan Blinder's fears about offshoring:

Mr. Blinder... remains an implacable opponent of tariffs and trade barriers. But now he is saying loudly that a new industrial revolution -- communication technology that allows services to be delivered electronically from afar -- will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two. That's more than double the total of workers employed in manufacturing today. The job insecurity those workers face today is "only the tip of a very big iceberg," Mr. Blinder says....

Mr. Blinder's job-loss estimates in particular are electrifying Democratic candidates searching for ways to address angst about trade. "Alan, because of his stature, provided a degree of legitimacy to what many of us had come to feel anecdotally -- that the anxiety over outsourcing and offshoring was a far larger phenomenon than traditional economic analysis was showing," says Gene Sperling, an adviser to President Clinton and, now, to Hillary Clinton. Her rival, Barack Obama, spent an hour with Mr. Blinder earlier in this year....

Mr. Blinder says he agreed with Mr. Mankiw's point that the economics of trade are the same however imports are delivered. But he'd begun to wonder if the technology that allowed English-speaking workers in India to do the jobs of American workers at lower wages was "a good thing" for many Americans. At a Princeton dinner, a Wall Street executive told Mr. Blinder how pleased her company was with the securities analysts it had hired in India. From New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman's 2005 book, "The World is Flat," he found anecdotes about competition to U.S. workers "in walks of life I didn't know about."....

At the urging of former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Mr. Blinder wrote an essay, "Offshoring: The Next Industrial Revolution?" published last year in Foreign Affairs. "The old assumption that if you cannot put it in a box, you cannot trade it is hopelessly obsolete," he wrote. "The cheap and easy flow of information around the globe...will require vast and unsettling adjustments in the way Americans and residents of other developed countries work, live and educate their children."... In that paper, he made a "guesstimate" that between 42 million and 56 million jobs were "potentially offshorable." Since then he has been refining those estimates, by painstakingly ranking 817 occupations, as described by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to identify how likely each is to go overseas. From that, he derives his latest estimate that between 30 million and 40 million jobs are vulnerable.

He says the most important divide is not, as commonly argued, between jobs that require a lot of education and those that don't. It's not simply that skilled jobs stay in the US and lesser-skilled jobs go to India or China. The important distinction is between services that must be done in the U.S. and those that can -- or will someday -- be delivered electronically with little degradation in quality. The more personal work of divorce lawyers isn't likely to go overseas, for instance, while some of the work of tax lawyers could be. Civil engineers, who have to be on site, could be in great demand in the U.S.; computer engineers might not be.

Mr. Blinder's warnings, and his numbers, are now firmly planted in the political debate over trade.

DeLong believes that Blinder "has very smart things to see about 'outsourcing.'" I think Blinder is unbelievably smart, but if he's basing his numbers on the same logic he applied in his Foreign Affairs essay, then with all due respect I don't think he has very smart things to say about outsourcing. In the FA essay, Blinder assumed that any job that could be done over the electronic transom:
a) Will be done electronically;

b) Will be done electronically by someone living outside the United States;

c) This job shift will happen incredibly quickly;

d) The U.S. economy will fail to create new jobs or job categories in response.

Yeah, I got problems with just about all of these assumptions. Greg Mankiw, on the other hand, simply believes that Alan Blinder has been turned by the dark side of the force... which converts Greg into Luke Skywalker.

UPDATE: Tyler Cowen's take on Blinder: "When our economists start preaching that we should look to economists and higher educators to predict the new, growing economic sectors, I again think that the Chinese are not the major problem."

posted by Dan at 04:12 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Defying the new bloggingheads business plan

My latest bloggingheads segment is up -- this time with Henry Farrell. Much to Robert Wright's disappointment, neither of us gets really angry.

Topics include:

The fallout from the last bloggingheads episode;

My book, All Politics Is Global. And hey, have I mentioned recently that you can buy it at (act now -- Amazon says they only have a few copies left in stock)??

Our favorite social science strawmen;

The future of the European Union;

The future of libertarianism

Go check it out!!

posted by Dan at 04:26 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

An odd, optimistic moment on trade policy

The Financial Times' Eoin Callan reports that with deadlines on the horizon, suddenly Congress and the President are getting serious about trade policy:

Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, on Tuesday intervened in negotiations with Congress over US trade policy in a bid to save President George W. Bush’s economic agenda for his last two years in office.

The direct involvement of the Treasury secretary is a sign that the White House is escalating its efforts to broker a consensus on trade with Democrats.

The Bush administration has until Saturday under the president’s fast-track trade promotion authority to notify Congress that it has finalised outstanding Latin American trade deals and completed negotiations with South Korea.

Democratic leaders on Tuesday unveiled a set of proposals on reforming US policy that they said brought them to the “brink” of an agreement to advance new trade agreements....

Charles Rangel, chairman of the ways and means committee in the House of Representatives, said the personal involvement of Mr Paulson was instrumental in creating a last-minute opening for a consensus on trade.

“We could not have got here without him,” Mr Rangel said.

The former head of Goldman Sachs joined the administration with a mandate from the president to lead economic policy.

His involvement will put pressure on Susan Schwab, the US trade representative, to concede Democrats’ demands.

Ms Schwab on Tuesday welcomed the Democratic proposals as “a good faith effort in a continuing dialogue” but did not endorse them.

The reforms are intended to act as a “basic boiler template” for pending and future trade deals and call for “a fair balance between promoting access to medicines and protecting pharmaceutical innovation in developing countries”.

You can access the Democrat talking points here (link courtesy of Salon's Andrew Leonard).

Most of it screams "boilerplate" -- the question is how much of it will come to fruition and whether it represents a shift in the Democrats' bargaining position. Leonard believes that,"most of it is a restatement of the American labor agenda." but Chris Nelson takes a dissenting view his latest Nelson Report:

Notice that this very clearly does not call for “passage into law all of the basic ILO conventions”...something which has been a standard part of Democratic and Labor rhetoric for years.
If Nelson's read of the language is correct, I suspect a deal will be done. This is now less about trade and a lot about politics. With the administration and Congress deadlocked on Iraq, the U.S. attorneys, and just about every other policy imaginable, the poll ratings for both branches of government are below 40%. Both the administration and the Congress need to look like they're actually governing. If they can sign a deal on something -- anything -- then they can counter this deadlock perception.

Ordinarily, this desire to cut a deal just to get something done is anathema to me, because what usually gets done is some God-awful piece is legislation that everyone regrets a few months later. It also feeds the bias that action is always better than inaction in politics. Ironically, however, this could actually lead to something constructive accomplished on trade policy.


posted by Dan at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Score one point for Cass Sunstein

One of the arguments that Cass Sunstein makes in is that the Internet allows people to filter their information flows so that they buttress to their prior ideological beliefs. Blogs call this "cocooning." The extent to which this effect is more concentrated in online activity than offline activity is open to debate, but it's an interresting argument.

I believe Ann Althouse's divalog exchange with Garance Franke-Ruta on qualifies as a data point for Sunstein's argument. Click here to see the video, in which I think it's safe to say that Ann gets angry.

That's not the main point of this post, however. Compare and contrast the comments on Ann's words and behavior at the bloggingheads site with the reactions at Althouse's blog post. Everyone watched the same video -- but the reactions are very, very different (on the backstory for what sparked this in the first place, click here).

[You're treading on veeeerrrry dangerous ground here!--ed. Oh, relax.]

UPDATE: In comments here, Althouse points out one source for this disparity in comments: "I moderate and delete really insulting comments on my blog. That's skewing that data." I hope it's not skewing it too much.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots and lots of blog reactions -- and Franke-Ruta posts her take here. One additional note -- if you watch the video, I think it's clear that Garance was genuinely startled by Ann's anger. This has the effect of making Ann's outburst seem... disproportionate. In fairness to Althouse, however, it should be pointed out that when taping a bloggingheads segment, the participants cannot see each other. I suspect if Ann had been able to see Garance, her reaction might have been different.

posted by Dan at 09:13 AM | Comments (29) | Trackbacks (0)

Strange things are afoot at the CRS

Last week I noted that the director of the Congressional Research Service was issuing some odd directives, limiting the flow of information coming from the CRS.

This week, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund points to another odd CRS decision:

Nothing highlighted Congress's spending problem in last year's election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.

Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)--a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency--has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS."

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. "CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals," stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan....

When I asked a CRS official if the new policy stemmed from complaints by appropriations committee members, she refused to answer the question, citing "confidentiality" concerns.

But other CRS staffers are happy to talk privately about the political pressure members often exert, despite Mr. Mulhollan's new directive that all employees inform management within 24 hours of any contacts with the media. "The director operates out of fear members will get upset," says Dennis Roth, a CRS labor economist who is president of a union representing 250 CRS workers. "The groundhog doesn't want to see his shadow, so he stays in the dark hole so he won't."....

CRS's independence appears to have declined since Gilbert Gude, a former member of Congress from Maryland, departed as director in 1985. Mr. Mulhollan was appointed by the librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, in early 1994, before the Republican takeover of Congress. So far Mr. Billington hasn't spoken out on Mr. Mulhollan's new earmark policy.

Today squeeze plays on CRS are not uncommon, and they have come from both parties. In the 1990s, GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey was so angry with a CRS report questioning the workability of a flat tax that he temporarily zeroed out the agency's budget. Rep. Henry Waxman, as a member of a Democratic minority, demanded and got revisions to CRS reports on how prescription drug pricing rules in his bills would work. "Everyone expects Waxman and others to be even more insistent on getting what they want now [that he's in the majority]," says another CRS staffer.

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

Monday, March 26, 2007

A few online tomes about Hillary Clinton

Ron Brownstein argues in the Los Angeles Times that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination because of her appeal to white, blue collar Democrats.

Michael Crowley argues in The New Republic that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy hawkishness is not a form of political calculation, but rather what she actually believes. This part does ring true:

[I]t's clear that the Clintonites left office deeply frustrated at the unsolved problem of Iraq and perhaps believing that some final reckoning was inevitable. "President Clinton recognized, as did I," Albright writes in her memoir, "that the mixture of sanctions, containment, Iraqi defiance, and our own uncertainty about Saddam's weapons couldn't go on indefinitely."

Bush's approach was clearly blunter than what Clintonite foreign policy would have dictated. But, even as the "smell of gunpowder" turned into a stench, the foreign policy experts to whom Hillary was closest remained supportive of war with Iraq. "Most of the top [Clinton] national security team had sympathy for what Bush decided, in the broadest terms," says a Democratic foreign policy analyst.

The most hawkish among them was former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, with whom Clinton conferred that fall. "If all else fails, collective action against Saddam is, in my view, justified by the situation and the record of the last decade," Holbrooke told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 2002. Holbrooke's standard for "collective" seemed to include only the British and perhaps a handful of other allies. And Holbrooke made clear that a war to topple Saddam was unlikely to be easy and that U.S. forces might have to spend years in a postwar Iraq. Nor was Holbrooke alone. Varying degrees of support for the Bush resolution came from the likes of Rubin, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Steinberg. And, though she raised red flags about the war's risks, Hillary's close friend Albright ultimately concluded that Bush "should have this authority."

posted by Dan at 11:22 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

Is the U.S. more cosmopolitan.... or just bigger and more powerful?

On his Financial Times blog, Gideon Rachman suggests that Americans are more cosmopolitan than Brits:

We are all familiar with the clichés about American insularity: the number of Congressmen who don’t have a passport, the number of Americans who have never left the US – and so on.

But, as I come to the end of a week in Washington, my overwhelming impression is how incredibly outward-looking intellectual life is in this city compared with London – despite the fact that London flatters itself that it is now the world’s most international city.

On Monday I went to a speaker-meeting at the New American Foundation – one of the plethora of DC-based think tanks, dealing with world affairs. The subject was the future of Pakistan and the speaker was a prominent Pakistani journalist. The room was packed. By contrast, I remember going to a speaker-meeting in London about a year ago with a much more obviously star-studded cast – Bill Kristol, a key neoconservative thinker; Tariq Ramadan, a central figure in the debate about Europe and Islam; and Phil Gordon, one of the leading experts on US foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. The meeting attracted maybe 30 people. You could get more people than that to turn up and listen to the deputy head of the OSCE, in Washington.

Nor is this American interest in the outside world an entirely Washington-based phenomenon. There is a Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and a Los Angeles World Affairs Council; I haven’t noticed their equivalents in Birmingham or Edinburgh.

Or take book sales: Edward Luce, the FT’s Washington bureau chief, recently published a much-acclaimed book on India. You might expect it to do best in Britain - given that Luce is a Brit and given the historical connections between India and the UK. Not at all – “In Spite of the Gods” has sold about 5,000 copies in Britain and almost 30,000 in the US.... Perhaps this is because Britain used to be an imperial power -- while America is still enjoying its imperial moment.

Much as I like the back-slapping of America, a few obvious points of caution are warranted. The most obvious is this one: the United States has roughly five times the population of Great Britain. It shouldn't be that surprising, therefore, if a book sells better five times here or a foreign policy event attracts a much larger crowd.

Second, cosmopolitan implies more than just a keen sense of foreign policy interest -- there are cultural dimensions as well. The U.S. might stack up well in that department as well, but it's not a part of Rachman's post.

Now, that said, assuming that Rachman's point is still correct, is this because "America is still enjoying its imperial moment." Well, right now I would use neither the word "imperial" nor "enjoying."

That said, what the U.S. does have in place is a foreign policy infrastructure that's second to none at this point. Beyond the official organs of the federal government, there are a host of quasi-governmental organizations, think tanks, NGOs, foundations, and yes, God forbid, universities with a vested interest in thinking about the world and America's place in it. Sixty years of superpower status will have that effect.

The interesting question to ponder is how long it will be before another country -- or supranational institution -- matches American investments in this area. There is a lag between the acquisition of power and the development of domestic and international institutions to convert that power into authority.

posted by Dan at 09:35 AM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)

My gloomy prediction of the day

The Associated Press has some good news to report in the Middle East:

An international diplomatic drive for Mideast peace gained momentum Monday, with Israel welcoming the idea of a regional peace summit and Saudi Arabia suggesting it would consider changes in a dormant peace initiative to make it more acceptable to Israel.

Senior U.S. and U.N. officials confirmed they were trying to bring Israelis and Arabs together in a wide push for peace, but acknowledged the idea is still at an early stage.

The new developments came at a time of high-profile diplomacy, with the U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both in the region for talks with Israeli and Arab leaders.

The international officials are trying to break an impasse following formation of a Palestinian unity government that includes the Hamas militant group.

Immediately after the government was formed, Israel ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians until Hamas explicitly recognizes the Jewish state.

But on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he "wouldn't hesitate" to take part in a regional summit. Palestinian officials cautiously endorsed the idea.

Any such meeting — especially if Saudi and Israeli officials were to publicly meet — would be a huge symbolic breakthrough. Saudis and Israelis are believed to have held private meetings in the last year.

If this gains any momentum at all, I predict there will be an attack in Israel or the occupied territories. The attack will be designed to inflame the Israeli political establishment or wreck the Palestinian coalition govenment. There are simply too many armed groups in the region with a vested interest in maintaining the festering status quo.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum is unimpressed with my bold prognostication: "It looks to me like Dan is trying to get some bonus oracle points for predicting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow." Hey, I also scored a perfect 4-for-4 in my NCAA bracket! [Yeah, that's not so impressive either--ed.]

posted by Dan at 09:29 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Dan Shaughnessy has blog envy

As predicted in this space, Curt Schilling has taken to the blog format as quickly as Britney Spears checks out of rehab clinics. Schilling reported on his blog that Jonathan Papelbon would be the Red Sox's closer before the Red Sox officially announced it. A few of the local papers' have quoted from the blog for their stories. Others have referred to Schilling's prodigious output of blog posts in the two weeks since Schilling started 38 Pitches (and we can all breathe easier knowing that fellow blogger Mark Cuban is cool with it).

Now, however, comes the first crucial test of whether Schilling can balance his blog and his day job. Today, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy takes on Schilling's blog. Here's how he opens the column:

Getting a little tired and bored here in the final week of the Grapefruit League circuit so I thought I'd take the day off and let Curt Schilling do the work. Schill started writing his own blog a few weeks ago, so today he fills the space with his latest Q & A session with fellow bloggers.

(Note: This is an abridged text. Because of space limitations, we are unable to reprint the entire posting, which was approximately the same length as Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals.")

You'll have to read the column to see where he goes from there. It's safe to say he's not a fan (though he really detests Schilling's blog commenters).

Why the blog envy? Last week Schilling told Alex Belth on that he started the blog in part so he could articulate his public statements in a way that would be hard to misinterpret. There was also this passage:

There is the potential to change the way people get their news. Fast-forward this to Opening Day. It's a 2 p.m. game, hopefully I'll pitch great and we'll win. Sometime around 7 or 8 o'clock that night I'll sit down -- I'm on the road, I'm by myself -- I'll blog out the game, pitch-by-pitch in some instances, inning-by-inning, I'll go into minutia ... By 9 o'clock that night I'll have a post up. I'll give you numbers. In the seven days my blog's been up, I've had 398,156 viewers. Those people will know about things they could never read about [in the newspapers], 12 hours before the newspapers ever come out.
If blogs can beat newspapers to the punch in reporting inside information, what is their comparative advantage? Three possibilities: 1) better analysis; 2) better writing; and 3) better controversy.

I've read enough of Shaughnessy's baseball analysis to know that's not his strength (Rob Bradford demonstrates more baseball knowledge in a single story than Shaughnessy does in an entire season). He's an OK writer, but there are plenty of Red Sox beat writers and bloggers who are better (note to Globe sports editor: give Amalie Benjamin her own full-time Sox blog). No, Shaughnessy's specialty is using his acid pen to ignite public feuds with Shaughnessy.

Which leads me back to Schilling, and some free advice from a Red Sox fan. Curt, as someone who's been involved in more than one blog feud in my day, a word to the wise -- don't swallow the bait. Pissing matches like these are little more than a massive time suck and an occupational hazard for daily bloggers. For those of us who do our day jobs out of the public glare, that can be aggravating but not debilitating. Your day job commands a little more attention, and you don't have the luxury of being distracted. The blogger in me might want to grab the popcorn and watch the carnage of a full-on online feud between the lead sports columnist and the ace of the pitching staff. The baseball fan in me fears this more than a Ted Lilly start against the Red Sox.

You want to respond? Flick off a few short rhetorical jabs and walk away. Don't escalate, and for God's sake don't forget Shaughnessy's motivation.

UPDATE: At least one Red Sox blogger liked the column. Another sports blogger does not.

My favorite take, however, is this from a blog devoted exclusively to critiquing Shaugnessy's column:

One sarcastic joke repeated six times. Dan will never be confused with Mark Twain....

Just know this: If you are interested in how Curt's changeup is going along, or any other aspect of Curt's pitching, you are a sycophantic, loser who lives in your Mom's basement. To be more successful, be like Dan. Give up any particular interest in the little things that make baseball great and just worry about which player to irrationally bash in order to coverup your increasing irrelevancy.

FINAL UPDATE: Schilling responds:
The only response I have to the Curly Haired Boyfriend is this.

“First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win”

Putting his inherent ’toolness’ on display for all the world to see did far more than I could ever hope to do by trying to explain what a dope he is.

posted by Dan at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Same planet, different European Unions

The European Union, in celebration of it's 50th anniversary, released its Berlin Declaration over the weekend. For an EU document, it's delightfully brief. It also contains this paragaph:

We have a unique way of living and working together in the European Union. This is expressed through the democratic interaction of the Member States and the European institutions. The European Union is founded on equal rights and mutually supportive cooperation. This enables us to strike a fair balance between Member States’ interests.
That's certainly one way of interpreting the nature of EU institutions.

Writing at Foreign Policy's web site, historian Alan Sked offers a slightly different interpretation:

Today’s EU resembles a sort of undemocratic Habsburg Empire. Its legislation is proposed by a Commission of unelected bureaucrats who have now apparently lost control of their own staffs and who themselves are usually political outcasts from their national political systems. Decisions on whether to adopt their often bizarre initiatives are then taken in total secrecy by the Council of Ministers or the European Council, before being rubber-stamped by the federalist parliament and imposed on the citizens of member states, whose national legislatures can do absolutely nothing to alter their directives or regulations. Indeed, 84 percent of all legislation before national parliaments, according to the German Ministry of Justice, now simply involves implementing Brussels diktats. All this makes European politics undemocratic at all levels, and opinion polls reflect the public’s growing disillusionment.

posted by Dan at 09:48 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)