Friday, June 29, 2007
The most intriguing sentence I read today
[P]artisans of both stripes tend to take their baseball more seriously than do political independents.From Christopher Zorn and Jeff Gill, "The Etiology of Public Support for the Designated Hitter Rule.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2:189-203.
Hat tip: the Political Science Weblog.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Hey, what happened at those EU negotiations?
The depressing part comes with Nikolas Sarkozy's success at "moving market competition from the list of the EU’s main goals." Henry is undoubtedly less concerned about this than I am, but even he concludes:
I suspect that the main beneficiaries of these changes will be powerful semi-monopolies and national champions with good political connections, which can by no means necessarily be expected to act in the public interest.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Open family jewels thread
Comment away on anything interesting contained in the CIA's family jewels, released yesterday.
Known inside the agency as the “family jewels,” the 702 pages of documents catalog domestic wiretapping operations, failed assassination plots, mind-control experiments and spying on journalists from the early years of the C.I.A.The Times has also set up a blog by intellligence experts -- including danieldrezner.com's Official Go-To Person for All Things Intelligent, Ms. Amy Zegart.
Another contributor, Philip Taubman, concludes:
Reading through the litany of C.I.A. domestic spying abuses and other questionable activities during the cold war years, including plots to assassinate foreign leaders, it’s hard not to wonder what the men and women of the C.I.A. (mostly men, in those days) were thinking as they wandered far afield from the C.I.A.’s own charter.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Henry Farrell creates a poli sci public good
In response, Henry Farrell decides to create a public good to partially address this issue.
The result won't be more poli sci blogs, but it will provide some connective tissue between political science and the blogosphere.
Welcome to the political science papers blog, which seeks to serve as a rough-and-ready guide to political science papers which are likely to have some appeal to a general audience (as measured by the editor’s idiosyncratic notions of ‘appeal’). As currently constituted, the blog will post entries consisting of the abstracts of the papers, bibliographic details, and, where available, links to the papers in question. Where the editor has something additional to say about the paper, and time to say it, he’ll include this too. To submit papers for consideration, send the details (including URL, cut-and-pastable abstract and bibliographic details please) to henry at the domain name henryfarrell with the suffix .net. If the paper is available outside a journal’s paywall, this is obviously likely to make non-academics more likely to read and download it.
China Inc. is developing a bad brand image
The growth of health and safety concerns about Chinese imports is not fading away into the night.
A fatal auto accident in Pennsylvania has stirred concerns about another potentially hazardous Chinese product in wide use in the U.S.: tires.As a country develops and moves up the consumer supply chain, they generally acquire a reputation for making high-quality goods (think Japan and South Korea). What's interesting is that China seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
I have no doubt that U.S. industry associations will hype consumer health and safety fears to serve their own interests. This doesn't mean they're wrong, however.
Following up on Finkelstein
In Reason, Cathy Young follows up on Norman Finkelstein's tenure denial. Young's conclusion: "one may legitimately ask if the real political bias lay not in the denial of tenure to Finkelstein, but in the political science department's support for his tenure bid." I'm not quite as sanguine about the case as Young, but she may well have a point here.
According to a news story in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, a report filed against his tenure by three members of the Political Science faculty “claims that Finkelstein allegedly called a female staff member a ‘bitch.’” The report also claimed that Finkelstein “shunned” colleagues who disagreed with him and that his boorish conduct extended to “dramatically closing his office door when his colleague arrives.” In addition to describing his abusive sexist behavior toward a subordinate, the report characterized Finkelstein as “mean spirit” and as “unprofessional.”I tried to find this story at the Sun-Times web site and couldn't find it. Props to anyone who can find this story.
UPDATE: Ask and you will receive. Props to Martin.
Monday, June 25, 2007
This week I'll be thinking about China
I'll be an occasional contributor to this week's book club at TPM Cafe. The book du semaine is Josh Kurlantzick's Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power Is Transforming the World.
The flavor of Josh's book can be captured in his tablesetting post -- particularly his first two paragraphs:
While the US has been focused on Iraq, it has ignored a subtle – but enormous – change in the world. Since only the early 2000s, and under the US radar, China has changed from a country that barely interacted with the world into a growing foreign power. In fact, China savvily has amassed significant “soft power” around the world through aid, formal diplomacy, public diplomacy, investment, and other tools. Here in Washington, where China’s image is not great, it’s hard for us to understand how popular China has become in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Even China’s model of development, of state-ordered economic liberalization and minimal political liberalization, has significant appeal. In particular, it has appeal to elites in nations in the region – and in other places like Africa – alienated by the Washington Consensus and American intervention around the world.I'll be commenting on this a bit later, but for now I'll be curious to hear from readers. Is Chinese soft power a real source of concern?
Before you answer, be sure to check out Danna Harman's story in the Christian Science Monitor about how the Sudanese perceive China after a few years of foreign direct investment. Let's just say I think one needs to parse out Chinese economic power from Chinese soft power.
Laugh, cry, take your pick
In Der Spiegel, Marco Evers writes about the President of Gambia, ruled one 41-year-old Yahya Jammeh. He's quite the Renaissance man:
Jammeh -- a military officer who staged a successful putsch in 1994 -- is not just the president. He's also a healer on a divine mission. In January of this year, he summoned a number of his acolytes together with foreign diplomats and revealed to them that he had made an extraordinary discovery. He announced that, in addition to asthma, he was now capable of healing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) -- the epidemic that ravages sub-Saharan Africa like no other region of the world. More than 15 million Africans have already died of AIDS, and a further 25 million are infected with the HIV virus which causes the disease.Lest one think that Gambia has the monopoly on this sort of behavior among African leaders, Evers points out some more examples:
[South Africa's] former vice president, Jacob Zuma, has had unprotected sex with a woman who was HIV positive at the time. There was hardly any risk of infection, Zuma said publicly, since he showered immediately after having sex. It's astonishing that Zuma isn't more knowledgeable about the spread of HIV; he was, after all, previously the director of a national AIDS organization.Writing in Passport, Preeti Aroon laments:
Speaking seriously, though, this "cure" for AIDS highlights the misinformation that surrounds the disease in many countries. In Africa, many aren't aware that condoms protect against HIV infection. Even if they are told, they also face anti-condom messages: Condoms are a conspiracy by whites to lower African birthrates; condoms are tainted with HIV to decrease the African population. On top of it all, traditional healers, tribal leaders, and the Catholic Church warn against using condoms. What is one to believe?