Saturday, November 10, 2007

The FSOs are beginning to leave me cold

Glenn Kessler has a Washington Post front-pager on how Cobdoleezza Rice is not such a great manager at Foggy Bottom.

Given Rice's management performance at NSC, this is not completely surprising. That said, three points in her defense.

First, traditionally it's been the Deputy Secretary of State who managed the bureaucracy at State. And, as Kessler observes between Robert Zoellick and John Negroponte the office, "was unoccupied for the longest period in State Department history."

Second, Kessler compares Rice's management style to James Baker's stint at the building -- and then contrasts it with Colin Powell's embrace of the bureaucracy. Fair enough, but this suggests to me that how the Secretary of State manages the bureaucracy has no bearing whatsoever on whether they are successful at their jobs.

Third, the subtext of the article is that Foreign Service Officers are bitching and moaning about how Rice has made their lives difficult. Policy objections I can understand. Being sent to Iraq I against their will I can (sort of) understand. But some of the complaints voiced to Kessler make the FSOs sound absurdly out of touch:

At State, Rice has pushed ambitious efforts to reshape how foreign aid is distributed and to shift key diplomatic jobs from Europe to emerging powers such as China and India. The foreign-assistance overhaul, in which Rice personally approved country-by-country budget numbers, was criticized by lawmakers and some within the department because it appeared to minimize the advice of specialists in the field. The job shifts were put in place so quickly that a number of Foreign Service officers who had been promised plum posts in Paris and elsewhere had to be told that those positions no longer existed....

Some State veterans compare Rice's management unfavorably with that of Powell, who was secretary during Bush's first term. Powell held large staff meetings daily; Rice cut those to three per week. And twice a week, she holds smaller meetings with undersecretaries and key regional assistant secretaries....

[An] official who served under both secretaries recalled how, after an assistant secretary of state made a mistake resulting in several days of negative news coverage, Powell treated that person with civility. By contrast, the official said, Rice becomes angry over even minor news accounts, turning furiously to the relevant assistant secretary for an explanation. "Dressing someone down like that is not great for morale and does not encourage people to bring up bad news," he said. (emphases added)

No Paris jobs? Fewer staff meetings? Getting angry over negative press? Wow, this is dirty laundry!!!

Coming soon: a front-pager from Kessler about how Rice viciously ordered the State Department cafeteria to eliminate "Free Fro-Yo Fridays"

UPDATE: I received the following in an e-mail from an FSO who shall remain nameless that provides some interesting context to the Kessler story:

Very few FSOs live for "plum assignments." People who go to comfy posts very often have kids in high school (they need a place that has a good one), may be struggling with temporary medical issues, want easy access to aging parents, or may be just be plain tired out from tough years in rough places or having been separated from family at a post like Iraq or Afghansitan. Most of us happily choose challenge and hardship over life in a place like Paris, but most of us also hope for a break here and there and if we finally get such a gift and it then gets wiped away in a reorg, that's no fun.

** Around 2/3 of us are overseas. Debating whether or not the Secretary is inclusive enough in staff meetings is utterly unfamiliar to me. Main State is full of political appointees and civil servants as well. Our FSO careers, however, are mostly spent abroad.

** When I joined, we were all about staffing new embassies after the breakup of the USSR, the world was exciting. There were no embassies in combat zones. Kids could follow you almost everywhere. Today, many hundreds of our jobs involve being in true danger spots and leaving family behind -- or at minimum living under extreme security conditions. It's not just about Iraq and Afghanistan. It's also Liberia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Congo, Algeria... all of these and many others are unaccompanied....

Bottom line -- I wish media coverage and blog postings were more accurate about who we are, how willing we actually are to take on hardship, and how much we are not about who goes to the Secretary's staff meetings or who gets to live in Paris. Even the Iraq story has been told very poorly -- the real story is that 2,000 folks have volunteered already, and many more have recently gone to other tough spots, like those above, where you can't take family. Living life this way is new for us, and our institution is undergoing painful adjustment to a tough world. It is distressing to folks to look ahead and see that this is what it means to make this a career.

posted by Dan at 08:36 AM | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, November 9, 2007

An optimistic post on trade

It's no secret that I've been in a sour mood as of late on the future of U.S. trade policy. Today's New York Times story on the House's passage of the Peru FTA didn't cheer me up either, because the takeaway point is that its passage was the exception and not the rule.

Eoin Callan, however, lifts me from complete and total despair with this Financial Times story:

Diplomats from the US and European Union are laying the groundwork for an unprecedented round of bilateral bargaining in which all of the main transatlantic trade disputes would be put on the table and negotiated in one go.

The talks between the world’s two largest trading blocs would link the resolution of billions of dollars-worth of simmering trade disputes and aim to “clear the decks” with one all-encompassing deal, officials said.

The negotiations would tie the fate of a range of US and European industries, including computer manufacturers and producers of genetically modified foods, to a back-and-forth round of bartering that would produce “winners and losers on both sides”, a senior European official said.

The plans appear to have originated in Brussels and coalesced around the Transatlantic Economic Council, which met for the first time on Friday in Washington and brought together senior policymakers from the Bush administration and European Commission....

The chief EU trade negotiator said there was merit in an approach that linked separate trade disputes and “put them on a ledger, marking down each one, three wins for you, three wins for us”.

He said it was easier to achieve a negotiated solution when “you can get a win on both sides” rather than trying to broker a compromise when trade law clearly favoured one side.

A US trade official said: “We’re up to sitting down at the table to talk about these things and trying to negotiate rather than litigate.”

If this works -- and given the interest groups at play, I'd put the odds of success at about 35% -- then it's win-win-win-win-win.

Both the United States and European Union would score some policy victories, and remove some major irritants to the transatlatic relationship.

The business community on both sides of the Atlantic would benefit from greater policy certainty.

Consumers would gain from increased levels of exchange

The biggest winner, however, would likely be the WTO -- because it would save the dispute settlement body from having to decide cases that are way beyond its pay grade.

posted by Dan at 08:16 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Weston Field hits the big time

ESPN's College Gameday is going to your humble blogger's alma mater, Williams College, for tomorrow's broadcast. This reason is the 122nd playing of the Williams-Amherst football game.

To celebrate, has two stories on the rivalry. One tidbit from Chris Fowler:

Some of the early games reportedly were just glorified brawls between students. In the infamous 1928 edition, Amherst coaches dressed one of their own in a Williams uniform and sent him onto the field to confuse their rivals. Officials detected the ruse and forced the player to strip off his uni in full view of the amused fans.
Lauren Reynolds' story, however, has the better anecdotes about off-the-field stunts:
The rivalry is not confined to the players and coaches, however. In the long history of the rivalry, some of the most memorable moments have taken place off the field. Amherst students have accused their Williams counterparts of stealing back the books Moore took with him nearly two centuries ago; a few years ago, Williams' band presented Lord Jeffs supporters with a bill for $1.6 million in late fees for those same books.

Hixon, an Amherst alumnus, said the rivalry has inspired its fair share of pranks between the schools. "Back in the mid-'80s, we had a comic group on campus, an underground group, called Rubber Chicken. And Rubber Chicken was this comic group that pulled all sorts of bits," he explained. "And how they did it, I don't know, but they got into the Williams equipment room and stole all of the Williams home jerseys on the Monday before the [game on] Saturday. And as the Williams equipment manager went to lay them out, he found out that they didn't have them.

"So all hell broke loose, as you might imagine. They didn't really know who it was, and now it looked like Williams was going to have to play at Williams on their homecoming in their away jerseys. It just couldn't happen.

"Rubber Chicken took a picture of themselves -- about 12 guys -- with the jerseys on, but the shirts over their heads, covering their faces. And they sent it to Williams, and the fun began. And on that Thursday afternoon, [Williams'] security office and our security office met halfway up the Mohawk Trail to deliver the jerseys."

The Rubber Chicken incident is hardly the only prank to be pulled; in fact, Williams students are the reason Amherst's mascot, Lord Jeff, no longer carries a sword to games. (It seems the mascot might have been a little too eager to joust when an Ephs supporter stole his hat at a basketball game.)

"There's a lot of fun and folklore; the stories get a little bit better each year," said Hixon, whose basketball team is all too familiar with the rivalry. This season, Amherst captured its first Division III NCAA men's basketball championship, finishing the season with a sparkling 30-2 record. The two losses? One came at the hands of Williams, of course.

Although the students are entrenched in the rivalry from the moment they step on campus, it does not end at commencement.

"One of the things that really fuels the fire is the professional world. That's where it really becomes heated -- when you're sitting across from a guy, or your boss is a Williams guy or the guy underneath you is an Amherst guy, and there's little wagers or whatever," Mills said. "It's an amazing thing. It's a small school, but it seems to have veins everywhere in the country, and the post-grad stuff is really what keeps the flame burning."

Go Ephs!!

posted by Dan at 02:38 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I hereby yield to the superior metaphor

My "Hipster Statesmen" essay for Newsweek (and my "Foreign Policy Goes Glam" essay for The National Interest) was designed to show the limits of the Jeffrey Sachs approach to world politics.

The combined efforts of Phoebe Maltz and Julian Sanchez have convinced me that Sanchez has the better metaphor to describe this problem.

posted by Dan at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Can the U.S. leverage the House of Saud?

Forget Pakistan -- Shadi Hamid and Stephen McInerney argue in The New Republic that the United States should be pressing the Saudis on human rights reform:

America can leverage its support to shape Arab regimes' decisions on democratization. This is particularly true for the ruling al-Saud family, which is intimately tied to the U.S. and dependent on its military backing. The arms deal presents an opportunity for Washington to exert influence in Riyadh. This opening should be seized to push the Saudis along the path of reform, the only path that will lead to long-term security.

We have leverage, and we should use it. First, all arms sales should be contingent on the implementation of the promised educational and judicial reforms. Second, the United States should require progress on political reform, beginning with greater freedoms of press and assembly, and allowing public dissent on policy matters. Beyond this, deadlines should be set for long-awaited Shura (Consultative) Council elections, followed by benchmarks for the steady evolution of the council from an advisory role to a genuine legislative body. Third, transparency and fairness in the justice system, even when dealing with terror suspects, should be required. Such measures can be enforced much as Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism efforts is maintained today--through a certification process mandated by law.

I was certainly sympathetic to this argument a few years ago. The problem is that America's strategic situation in the region has deteriorated so badly since 2004 that I'm not sure the United States can afford to alienate another ally.

posted by Dan at 01:47 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

This will come as no surprise to my wife
You Are a Boston Creme Donut
You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.
posted by Dan at 11:36 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Training the MAs

Patrick Thaddeus Jackson has a rather odd post at Duck of Minerva in which he questions the utiliy of an MA in international relations. Which is OK, except I'm pretty sure that's the degree program in which he teaches:

I have to admit that at some level I simply do not understand the idea of a terminal MA degree in international relations, although I teach in a policy school that awards large numbers of them every year. I do not understand what is supposed to be gained through the course of study that most MA students engage in, since they don't do enough coursework to develop a real scholarly grasp of the field (or even of their specialized portion of it) and at least in my experience they generally don't do enough concrete skills-training to really develop themselves as competent professionals (and when they do, it comes in their internships rather than in the classroom, which is what virtually any MA in international relations will tell you if you ask them where they learned the most during their graduate school experiences). So as far as I can tell it is largely a certification and networking exercise, and an expensive one at that.

When I teach and work with MA students I am generally looking for those students who really wanted a Ph.D. but perhaps didn't know it yet. Either that or I am looking for those rare MA students who are actually interested in scholarship as a vocation.... as a professor I largely only have one thing to offer to anyone: I press people to clarify their arguments and to take the implications of their commitments more seriously. Period. In my experience a very small minority of MA students find this helpful, and I primarily work with those students.

Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Rob Farley dissents from this view:
The courses in a terminal MA program (at least the one I'm part of) are far more policy oriented, with a correspondingly greater focus on the empirical over the theoretical, than students would encounter in a political science program. Memos are a learned skill, as is the ability to skim the news for noteworthy events, manage time, and so forth.... it's possible that nothing genuinely productive is happening here, but I'd really like to think that students emerge with a firmer grasp of the debates, a stronger sense of the empirical, and a few skills that they'll need in the workplace. As such, it's really irrelevant whether they have a scholarly grasp of the field; indeed, such a grasp might even be counter-productive....

I came to the conclusion very, very quickly that looking for potential Ph.D. candidates would be a serious mistake, both in terms of projecting my own interests onto students who didn't care, and in shortchanging those very talented students who couldn't give a rat's ass about the arcane debates that define the academic study of international relations. In general, I've been very reluctant to encourage even the most capable students to pursue further study, in no small part because I think that they'll have more lucrative and productive careers outside of academia than within.

As I begin my second year at Fletcher, I'm definitely with Farley on this one. If you want to ensure a life of wretched misery, teach at a policy school and try to convert persuade your favorite students to get a Ph.D. Most likely you'll fail in your efforts, which will embitter you. If, God forbid, you succeed, you'll embiter the student 90% of the time.

You cannot and should not coax a student into getting a Ph.D. You can tell them they have the intellectual chops for it, but for them to commit to four five six more than six years of grad school, they need to have the internal compulsion to do it. (To be clear, I'm not actively dissuading my MAs either. If they come to me with the Ph.D. ambition, I'll try to suss out their underlying motivations. If I'm persuaded, then I'll offer my full-throated support.]

As for the training, the goal shouldn't be to ensure that the students have "a real scholarly grasp of the field." You should ensure, however, that they are trained well enough to become discriminating consumers of the policy and scholarly literature (I suspect that Jackson does this when he presses his students to, "clarify their arguments and to take the implications of their commitments more seriously"). Beyond that, as Farley suggests, the skill set of policymakers looks rather different from those of scholars.

UPDATE: A commenter to this post makes an excellent point:

I feel that the best IR/Policy MAs are those earned from institutions that requre their applicants to have actually DONE something before matriculating....

Mr. Jackson teaches at a MA program with a significantly younger study body, and which admits a very significant number of MA students directly out of undergrad. Maybe this makes a difference?

So true.

posted by Dan at 11:02 PM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)

A post in which I defend the most insipid magazine article of the year

The nice publicists at Vanity Fair e-mailed me an alert about this Maureen Orth essay about the decline and fall of the Washington social scene (apparently, partisans killed the socialite stars).

Here's how Orth's essay opens:

Red Fay, undersecretary of the navy under John F. Kennedy, was a charming bon vivant, a great pal of the president’s, and the uncle of my roommate at Berkeley in the 60s. So it was my great good luck, on my very first trip to the capital, in May 1964, just six months after Kennedy’s assassination, to have “Uncle Red” invite me to dinner on the presidential yacht, the Sequoia. A few minutes after we arrived on board, I was amazed to see not only Jackie Kennedy but also Bobby and Ethel Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband, Steve Smith, walking up the gangplank. They were followed by George Stevens Jr., the youthful head of the U.S. Information Agency’s motion-picture division; the Peruvian ambassador and his wife; and my roommate’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGettigan, of San Francisco. This was one of Jackie’s first nights out since the tragedy, but she greeted everyone graciously. She was in ethereal white and spoke little during dinner, except to the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was seated to her right.

What I remember most vividly about that evening was an exchange I had with Bobby Kennedy, the attorney general. “What are you going to be next, vice president or senator?,” I asked rather impudently, because I did not want him to think I was a brainless bimbo. The question of how the Kennedy dynasty would proceed was very much in the air, for Lyndon Johnson had not yet announced a running mate. “What do you think I should be?,” Kennedy shot back, his steel-blue eyes boring into me. “Well, I think you should be senator,” I said, “because everyone remembers you trying to twist arms at the last convention, and I don’t think Lyndon Johnson will let you be vice president.” He then opened up a barrage of questions: “Who are you? What does your father do?” In the middle of one of my answers, he turned away and waved to a group of tourists on a boat at least a hundred yards from us across the Potomac. I was highly insulted, for I had been planning to enlist in the Peace Corps, whose director was his brother-in-law Sargent Shriver, and suddenly Bobby Kennedy seemed to me like just another pol. (In those days he was still closer to J. Edgar Hoover than to César Chávez or Martin Luther King Jr.)

The dinner was great fun, however, with lots of jokes and toasts, and the next day Uncle Red took me out to Hickory Hill, Bobby and Ethel’s residence in McLean, Virginia. R.F.K., in cutoff jeans, was playing touch football on the front lawn. Ethel, wearing a two-piece bathing suit, was visibly pregnant. In the driveway, a limousine waiting to take the attorney general “up to New York” was sure proof, I felt, that he must be going for the Senate. (Like Hillary Clinton, R.F.K. became an instant resident of the state, and he went on to defeat incumbent Ken Keating.) “Bobby,” Red Fay said, “I brought Maureen out here so you could give her some advice about her life.” Bobby smiled. “Advise her?” he said. “Hell, last night she told me what to do!”

As you can imagine, a whole lotta of bloggers have gone to town on the piece -- and I really can't blame them. Beyond her personal reflections, the piece primarily consists of older DC doyennes bemoaning that people don't know what finger bowls are anymore, or socialities that lack old money, an illustrious family, or great wealth..

At one point Orth actually complains, "Washington is far more diverse today than it was when Wasps with pedigrees who went into journalism and government service constituted the Georgetown set." Mon dieu!!

In the perverse joy of contrarianism, however, I will try to find two things that are useful in Orth's essay.....

1) Orth's essay will be a great template for the Vanity Fair arrticle I will write in 2042 about how the blogospheric social scene ain't what it used to be. Here's how my essay will open:

Tyler Cowen was a bon vivant, a gourmand, and an acquaintance of mine from my days orbiting Virginia Postrel's intellectual salon. So it was my great good luck, on my very first trip to the capital, to have “the Big Kahuna” invite me to dinner at one of the best hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in DC. A few minutes after we arrived, I was amazed to see not only Megan McArdle but also Ana Marie Cox, Steve Clemons, Matthew Yglesias and Josh Marshall, walking up the order window to get some tacos. This was one of Megan's first nights out since leaving New York City for DC, but she greeted everyone graciously with her dewy green eyes. She was in ethereal white short shorts and spoke little during dinner, except to Jacob Levy, who was seated to her right (she asked him to pass her the hot sauce).

What I remember most vividly about that evening was an exchange I had with Andrew Sullivan. “Where are you going to blog next, Harper's or The Atlantic?,” I asked rather impudently, because I really wanted him to think I was a brainless himbo trying to grab up his old slot at Time. The question of how Sullivan's political arc would proceed was very much in the air, for his mud-wrestling match with Mickey Kaus had yet to be scheduled. “Where do you think I should blog?,” Sullivan shot back, his steel-blue eyes boring into me as he wiped guacamole from his beard. “Well, I think you should go to the Atlantic,” I said, “because everyone remembers Lewis Lapham's little faux pas from 2004, and I don’t think he'll let you go on” He then opened up a barrage of questions: “Who are you? What do you think of gay marriage?” In the middle of one of my answers, he turned away and waved to a group of really hot guys on the prowl across the road. I was highly insulted, for I thought I still had my looks -- plus, I had really been hoping to blog for The New Republic, whose boss was still tight with him, and suddenly Andrew Sullivan seemed to me like just another blogger. (In those days he was still closer to Glenn Reynolds than to Spencer Ackerman or Glenn Greenwald.)

And so on.

2) The piece suggests that there has been no real replacements for the old hostesses: "Susan Mary Alsop, Oatsie Charles, Evangeline Bruce, Kay Graham, and Pamela Harriman." What puzzles me is why. If we're drowning in a sea of the super-rich, surely there must be at least a few individuals who would choose to specialize at the task of non-partisan power-schmoozing. (One possibility is that these people, rather than creating non-partisan social environments, take the charitable cause route. Damn those AIDS victims!! Damn them to hell!!)

posted by Dan at 03:51 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Stay away -- I have a syndrome!!

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, John Gravois writes about a syndrome that's so pervasive I'm not sure it can be called a syndrome so much as an occupational hazard:

On a recent evening, Columbia University held a well-attended workshop for young academics who feel like frauds.

These were duly vetted, highly successful scholars who nonetheless live in creeping fear of being found out. Exposed. Sent packing.

If that sounds familiar, you may have the impostor syndrome. In psychological terms, that's a cognitive distortion that prevents a person from internalizing any sense of accomplishment.

"It's like we have this trick scale," says Valerie Young, a traveling expert on the syndrome who gave the workshop at Columbia. Here's how that scale works: Self-doubt and negative feedback weigh heavily on the mind, but praise barely registers. You attribute your failures to a stable, inner core of ineptness. Meanwhile, you discount your successes as accidental or, worse, as just so many confidence jobs. Every positive is a false positive.

By many accounts, academics — graduate students, junior professors, and even some full professors — relate to this only a little less than they relate to eye strain.

Of course, there's the question of whether it's such a bad thing:
According to [professor of psychology Gail] Matthews, a person with impostor syndrome typically experiences a cycle of distress when faced with a new task: self-doubt, followed by perfectionism, then — sometimes but not always — procrastination.

"The next step is often overwork," Ms. Matthews says. "It has a driven quality — a lot of anxiety, a lot of suffering.

"Then comes success," she says. "So you do well!"

(Pause for a brief sigh of relief.)

"Then you discount your success," she says. "Success reinforces the whole cycle."

So the academy's occupational hazard is society's welfare benefit.

The story links to this site about imposter syndrome -- which has some imposter-y like qualities to it. Take the quiz to see if you have the syndrome. If you have one of eight symptoms -- including perfectionism -- you have the syndrome!!

[And how many symptoms do you have?--ed. All of them. But on the other hand, I also have a blog, which is likely a symptom of the polar opposite of imposter syndrome -- the belief that you are an expert on anything and everything. Indeed, we'll know when the blogosphere has really become professionalized when paid bloggers start fessing up to imposter syndrome.]

UPDATE: Of course, as David Leonhardt points out in today's New York Times, sometimes there really are imposters or frauds amidst us.

posted by Dan at 08:45 AM | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Blackmail plays no role whatsoever in this post

All readers of this blog would make my life considerably easier if you were to click over to the Best Podcast category for the 2007 Weblog Awards and voted for EconTalk.

That is all.

posted by Dan at 07:20 PM | Trackbacks (0)

Credit where credit is due

Two weeks ago your humble blogger was very disturbed by the prospect of a large-scale incursion by Turkey into Iraqi Kurdistan.

It should be noted, therefore, that my concerns have not come to pass. In fact, if this Newsweek report by Owen Matthews and Sami Kohen is correct, the Bush administration deserves some credit for defusing a situation that could have been really, really ugly:

Fortunately for both sides, yesterday's White House encounter produced a solution that allowed both sides to step back from the brink. Bush not only declared the Kurdistan Workers' Party (or PKK), "an enemy of Turkey, a free Iraq and the United States," but also committed to providing actionable intelligence to Ankara on the whereabouts of PKK positions. Officially, Bush publicly stuck to the line that Iraq's territory should not be violated. In practice, though, the United States would cooperate "in order to chase down people who murder people," Bush pledged. Essentially, that appears to be a green light for the Turks to carry out limited raids into Iraqi territory with the blessing of the United States. And, crucially, it also allows Erdogan to call off a full-scale land invasion—though he stressed that that option remained on the table if raids proved unsuccessful.

"Finally, we have a plan of action," says one senior Turkish official not authorized to speak on the record. "We are tired of promises with no action."

Getting to this agreement was the result of weeks of intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy by the administration.
Read the whole thing. The final solution is not a great one, but given the current state of play, it was probably the best feasible bargain.

posted by Dan at 02:58 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, November 5, 2007

What if there was a peace agreement and no one came?

The Christian Science Monitor's Ilene Prusher reports that Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has put the status of East Jerusalem on the table at the US-sponsored "international meeting" on the Middle East in Annapolis.

This would appear to be good news, since there isn't going to be a peace unless the Palestinian Authority can claim its capital to be in East Jerusalem.

Whether the Palestinians who live in these neighborhoods actually want this to happen is another question entirely, according to Prusher:

Those feeling skittish about the city's potential partition aren't just Israelis – who traditionally take the position that Jerusalem should be Israel's united capital – but also Palestinian Jerusalemites, who fear that their standard of living will fall if they come under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"I don't want to have any part in the PA. I want the health insurance, the schools, all the things we get by living here," says Ranya Mohammed as she does her afternoon shopping in Shuafat.

"I'll go and live in Israel before I'll stay here and live under the PA, even if it means taking an Israeli passport," says Mrs. Mohammed, whose husband earns a good living from doing business here. "I have seen their suffering in the PA. We have a lot of privileges I'm not ready to give up."

Nabil Gheet, a neighborhood leader who runs a gift and kitchenware outfit in the adjacent town of Ras Khamis, also resists coming under the PA's control.

"We have no faith in the Palestinian Authority. It has no credibility," he says, as his afternoon customers trickle in and out. "I do not want to be ruled by Abbas's gang," he says, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas....

In a poll issued last year by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, 39 percent of Palestinians supported and 59 percent opposed a compromise in which East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state, with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty. Among Israelis, the survey noted, about 38 percent would agree and 60 percent would disagree with such an arrangement.

posted by Dan at 07:28 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Political winners and losers from the Hollywood strike

Forget the troubles in Pakistan -- let's focus on something really impirtant, like the Hollywood writers and how it affects the 2008 campaign.

USA Today's Gary Leven and Bill Keveney explain the immediate effects from the strike: "Jay Leno and David Letterman will go dark tonight as last-ditch talks failed and the first strike by movie and TV writers since 1988 began at midnight." Also The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, etc.

In other words, every show that takes delight in mocking/satirizing the presidential candidates is now down indefinitely. If the politics of campaigning is a zero-sum game, who wins and who loses?

I'd have to say the big losers are Barack Obama and John McCain. As his SNL cameo suggests, and as Kevin Drum elaborates, Obama has largely been immune from press criticism, and I'd wager that this extends to the satirical shows. McCain, as everyone knows, is the Ed McMahon to Stewart's Johnny Carson. As I pointed out in The National Interest, Obama and McCain are unusual in that they are politicians that can get (and want) access to "soft news" outlets. They don't have that option for the near future, denying them free media.

The big winners are all the candidates who are vulnerable to satire.... or the favorite targets of Hollywood writers. In other words, Hillary Clinton and the entire Republican field.

The biggest winner is likely the news media itself..... they won't have Jon Stewart to kick them around for the indefinite future.

posted by Dan at 10:09 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

For the record....

I fall into the second category in Brad DeLong's typology of Prius drivers: "I have spent a fortune on a fuel-efficient car, and now I am going to get some of that back by saving time!"

Of course, I'm not the one who's apparently blogging and driving at the same time.

posted by Dan at 09:40 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Open Pakistan thread

Hey, it's been about a decade... time for martial law in Pakistan again:

The government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, making no concessions a day after seizing emergency powers, rounded up leading opposition figures and said Sunday that parliamentary elections could be delayed for as long as a year.

Security forces were reported to have rounded up about 500 opposition party figures, lawyers and human rights advocates Sunday, and about a dozen privately television news stations remained off the air. International broadcasters, including the BBC and CNN, were also cut.

The crackdown, announced late Saturday night after General Musharraf suspended the Constitution, was clearly aimed at preventing public demonstrations that political parties and lawyers were organizing for Monday.

Comment away.

posted by Dan at 09:38 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)