Saturday, August 4, 2007
Your discussion question for the weekend
Your humble blogger will be away for the rest of the weekend.
Before I go, I could leave you with a link to some fluff like Entertainment Weekly's list of celebrity bloggers (where else but her blog would you find Pamela Anderson's statement, "I love theatre."). But that would be wrong.
Instead, I want to pose a discussion question to the group.
[Peter] Beinart in particular has moved substantially left over the past few years, and now says things like, "What separates conservatives and progressives is the recognition that America's pathologies can threaten the rest of the world just as their pathologies can harm us. Interdependence is reciprocal. If other countries owe us more, than we owe them more. If you don't recognize the second part of that equation, than you are, indeed, in some ways, an empire." From there, he moved towards a full-throated defense of international institutions in their oft-loathed role as shackles on American autonomy. "The great triumph of the institutions built during after the Iraq War was that they constrained our power. By giving weaker nations some influence over our power, we make our power legitimate."This prompts Duncan "Atrios" Black to ask: "Why is there a 'foreign policy community?'"
This prompts Matthew Yglesias to observe:
It's a good question. The consequences of its existence don't seem to be particularly beneficial. Steve Clemons is talking at a panel on foreign policy, blogging, and activism and gives voice to something that I think a lot of us tend to suspect, saying he was one of the few members of said community to go on television and speak against the Iraq War not because he was the only one to think it was a bad idea, but "because everyone else was a coward."So, in addition to seeing commenter answers to Atrios' question, I have one of my own: If there are no virtues to a monolithic, cartelistic 'foreign policy community,' what are the virtues of an ideologically uniform, progressive foreign policy community?
[But they were right about Iraq!!--ed. Kudos to them, but I'm afraid that this merely deepens my skepticism. Beware of foreign policy hedgehogs -- particularly those seeking ideological conformity within their ranks.]
Oh, and one last thought -- my scant experience with Beltway insider information is that 50% of the time it's dead on, but 50% of the time it's absolute horses#$t.
Friday, August 3, 2007
This is, I believe, the third concentric circle of hell
[T]his conference does not feel as grassroots or exciting as last year's. It feels like a cross between the annual Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet conference in Washington (which draws a who's who in political technology circles), a Bloggingheads.tv marathon viewing session, and a bunch of National Press Club press conferences by liberal interest groups.Run, Garance, run!!!
Seriously, this is simply another data point confirming that the co-optation phenomenon Henry and I predicted oh so many years ago (it's coming out in a real political science journal very soon! We swear!!) is coming to pass.
UPDATE: More confirming evidence from Matthew Yglesias:
[I]t really was striking to get the visual of yesterday's gate crashers quite literally mingling with the dread establishment at a cocktail party. The question that nobody seems to know the answer to, though, is whether the revolution ended because the revolutionaries won, or because they sold out? The boring, but probably boring-because-accurate, answer is that it's a little of both.
Your disturbing sentences of the day
[O]fficials said the bridge’s design had been considered outmoded for decades because a single failure of a structural part could bring down the whole bridge. About 11 percent of the nation’s steel bridges, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, lack the redundant protection to reduce these failures, federal officials said.What on God's green earth would be lower than a "poor" rating? A "Jeebus, we're lucky we got off the bridge in time to file this report" rating?
Thursday, August 2, 2007
DC in the summertime
The quote of the day goes to the official Blog Brother, sightseeing in Washington, DC. His description of the city during the summer:
Lots of young people walking around believing that they are very important.He's referring, of course, to the interns. Which is as good an excuse as any to link to this six-year old Slate essay by David Plotz defending interns. Plotz's key point:
In fact, interns deserve neither derision nor fear. They are a wonderfully useful segment of Washington. They are a "backbone" of the city, argues Mary Ryan of the intern-placing Institute for Experiential Learning. For better or worse, they often serve as cheap clerical labor, replacing secretaries at a fraction the cost. They can also make more substantive contributions. They often do hard, nasty work, such as the unpleasant background research for nonprofits or the dirt-digging on a campaign opponent. Interns, in short, are not pointless.The libertarian in me is a little afraid of what happens when you combine idealism with government power. That said, the ex-research intern in me nods in sympathy.
How price controls favor the few
Bread, sugar and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean’s diet, have vanished, seized by mobs who denuded stores like locusts in wheat fields. Meat is virtually nonexistent, even for members of the middle class who have money to buy it on the black market. Gasoline is nearly unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic.There's nothing really new here, except the depressing way in which government efforts to impose price controls favors those connected to the government:
Ordinary citizens initially greeted the price cuts with a euphoric — and short-lived — shopping spree, since they had been unable to buy even basic necessities because of hyperinflation. Yet merchants and the government’s many critics say that much of the cut-rate merchandise has not been snapped up by ordinary citizens, but by the police, soldiers and members of Mr. Mugabe’s governing party who have been tipped off to the price inspectors’ rounds.
A man of the relative left
My latest bloggingheads.tv diavlog is up, with Byron York of the National Review. Among the topics discussed:
1) The latest Gallup poll about the 2008 race and what it means (a segment during which I become a human graphic);Go check it out. I still like the idea I proposed in the first minute of the exchange, which is to shoot a film noir version of bloggingheads. But only if Megan McArdle plays the gun moll.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
At least the Club for Growth is realistic
The Washington Post reports that Congress is preparing to pass a really stupid, counterprouctive bill to punish China.
In the meanwhile, over a thousand economists have signed the following:
We, the undersigned, have serious concerns about the recent protectionist sentiments coming from Congress, especially with regards to China.This also appears in an ad today in the Wall Street Journal.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Dan Balz confuses me
Over at the Washington Post's blog The Trail, Dan Balz makes an observation about the Democrats shifting to the left:
The story line almost writes itself: Democratic president candidates snub centrists but plan to court liberal bloggers. Another sign of the party's leftward drift?So what's the whole story? I'm not entirely sure. Balz implies that the DLC is simply less relevant now because of, "the collective desire to put aside what differences remain and focus on winning the White House in 2008." Um, OK, but didn't that collective desire also exist in 2004? Isn't the primary difference between then and now is that the netroots are better organized?
Then Balz closes with:
The Democratic Party has moved to the left since Bill Clinton left office and many independents have moved toward the Democrats because of the Iraq war. But DLC officials predict the party's nominee almost certainly will be at next summer's gathering.Again, that's actually a sign of waning DLC influence. What matters now is whether the DLC-types can influence who the nominee will be. They have little choice but to provide a platform for whoever the Dems pick.
The fact that YearlyKos matters more than the DLC seems like pretty
UPDATE: Changed the word "damning" -- it was a bit more pejorative than I had intended.
The real difference is that the average Kossack is obsessed with Democrats having the stones to stand up to the modern Republican machine. Presidential candidates get trashed in the Kos diaries not so much when they take disfavored policy positions (though of course that happens too), but when they're viewed as backing down from a fight. The median Kossack may indeed be to the left of the median Democrat — it would be shocking if an activist group weren't — but mainly they just want their candidates to show some backbone.
I, for one, suspect Michael Bay
First Ingmar Bergmann dies.
Now it's Michelangelo Antonioni.
Clearly, someone or something is killing Europe's great film directors.
Monday, July 30, 2007
It's not so bad out there
Gideon Rose argues in the international edition of Newsweek that despite the dour headlines, the world is actually not going to hell in a handbasket... yet:
For all the whining and worrying in the United States and abroad, therefore—and for all the real and pressing problems that remain—the world has never had it so good. The most advanced countries are allies and are generally devoted to the betterment of their own and other peoples. More than a third of humanity lives in countries growing at about 10 percent annually. Living standards have never been higher, life spans longer or politics freer, and there is every reason to expect such trends to continue. This generally benign context, in which great-power war and depressions are extremely unlikely, is the backdrop against which less serious or more speculative problems—terrorism, diplomatic rivalries, slow or unevenly distributed growth, future climate changes—loom large.
The power of a bad airport
In the Financial Times, Christopher Adams reports on British concerns about a badly functioning airport:
London’s status as one of the world’s leading financial centres risks being undermined by excessive delays at Heathrow and the airport’s sprawling layout, the new City minister warns on Monday.I understand Ussher's concerns, but if a bad airport really drove away that much business, the city of Miami would desolate wasteland.
Still, this prompts a question to readers -- in terms of lines and general disorganization, what's the worst airport you've ever experienced? Has an airport been so bad that you actually altered your future tavel to bypass it?