Saturday, May 17, 2008
A nice word for Mike Huckabee
During my speech at the NRA a loud noise backstage, that sounded like a chair falling, distracted the crowd and interrupted my speech. I made an off hand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage Sen. Obama. I apologize that my comments were offensive, as that was never my intention.None of this, "I'm sorry if someone else thought my comments were offensive." He knew he'd screwed up, and he owned up to it.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Are market forces emerging for pundits?
I presented my paper on public intellectuals and the blogosphere earlier today, and received some very useful feedback.
One particularly interesting point in response to my paper is that while my paper focused on bloggers as public intellectuals, it might be the case that bloggers serve an even greater good by engaging in quality control of other public intellectuals. In Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, Richard Posner argued that one reason for the decline was that increased demand for pontificators was not matched by any market discipline for poor quality. Even if public intellectuals and pundit royally screw up, the public is sufficiently disinterested and disengaged for it not to matter.
To some extent, blogs and YouTube are changing this. Consider the following as a test case. Here's a YouTube clip currently making the rounds of conservative radio host Kevin James on Hardball:Now if James had been that stupid and only those watching MSNBC live had caught it, I'm not sure it would have mattered all that much. Given the proliferation of this clip on the blogs, however, it can have two effects.
First, that many more people see James acting like an ill-informed boob. Which means that the odds of him getting booked on prestige shows shrinks.
Second, as much as Hardball's producers like the proliferation of the clip, I'm not sure how many of these they want to see cropping up. As Josh Patashnik points out on The Plank:
[I]t's not like this reflects very well on Chris Matthews, either. Why is he inviting such an obnoxious moron onto his show? There are plenty of people who could represent the conservative position here with some intelligence and class. Why not try to schedule them?See Michael Brendan Dougherty for a kindred argument.
Of course, if James is asked back onto Hardball or other similar venues after this episode, then I'm wrong.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
My first take on sovereign wealth funds
I have an article in the latest issue of The American entitled, "The Sovereigns Are Coming!" The main point:
No question, the growth of SWFs puts advocates of open capital markets in a quandary. During debates over what to do with the Social Security trust fund a few years ago, there was deep resistance to the idea of having a U.S. government fund pick winners in the stock market. Why should foreign governments get to play?Go check it out.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It's not like the Year of the Boar was all that great either
In the wake of a deadly Chinese earthquake, The Associated Press reports that China has not had a great few months:
China hoped 2008 would be a yearlong celebration, a time to bask in the spotlight of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Instead, the Year of the Rat has also brought a wave of troubles -- both natural and man-made -- that are putting a heavy strain on the communist leadership....Two thoughts on this.
First, it's worth pointing out that China didn't have a great 2007 either. A rash of health and safety scares affected China's brand image. Beijing began to experience signficant blowback from its investment footprint in Africa. The Saffron Revolution in Burma made things very uncomfortable for Beijing as well. So this isn't just about 2008.
Second, none of these PR reversals is inconsistent with China's continued rise. It's worth remembering that, during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the United States became the economic hegemon at the same time it was recovering from Reconstruction and enduring a twenty-year recession/depression.
Your book review of the day
Robert Farley reads Strobe Talbott's The Great Experiment so you don't have to:
To sum up, if you have trouble sleeping but can't get another prescription, check out The Great Experiment. If not, avoid it like the plague.
But, but, but.... what will Mickey Kaus and Lou Dobbs have to complain about now?
The Washington Post's N.C. Aizenman reports on how the large wave of immigrants coming to the United States over the past three decades have adapted. Turns out, the answer is -- more quickly than one would expect:
In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on, said Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor at Duke University and author of the study. During periods of intense immigration, such as from 1870 to 1920, or during the immigration wave that began in the 1970s, new arrivals tend to drag down the average assimilation index of the foreign-born population as a whole.The full report can be accessed here. The key point:
Immigrants of the past quarter-century have assimilated more rapidly than their counterparts of a century ago, even though they are more distinct from the native population upon arrival. The increase in the rate of assimilation among recently arrived immigrants explains why the overall index has remained stable, even though the immigrant population has grown rapidly.Hat tip to Matthew Yglesias, who makes a shrewd point:
[A] lot of people seem to have exaggerated ideas about past assimilation and simply don't realize that 100 years ago, just like today, major American cities had foreign language newspapers and things like Yiddish theater that were the equivalent of Univision. There never was a time when people got off the boat, immediately enrolled themselves in English-immersion classes, and gave birth to perfect little Anglo-Saxon children. It was always the case that linguistic, social, and economic integration was a complicated multigenerational process.Matt is actually underestimating the extent to which 19th century immigrants retained their distinct identity -- a point I made a few years ago:
[Samuel Huntington] also contends that Hispanic immigrants are more likely to retain ties with their country of origin. But he conveniently overlooks that nineteenth-century immigrants often did the same thing. According to O'Rourke and Williamson, U.S. officials estimated that between 1870 and 1914, 30 percent of immigrants emigrated back to the country they came from. Among Italians, the rate approached 50 percent because young Italian men went back and forth between the new world and the old country in search of work.
Blogs, public intellectuals and the academy
[T]he growth of online publication venues has stimulated rather than retarded the quality and diversity of public intellectuals. The criticisms levied against these new forms of publishing seem to mirror the flaws that plague the more general critique of current public intellectuals: hindsight bias and conceptual fuzziness. Rather, the growth of blogs and other forms of online writing have partially reversed a trend that many have lamented – what Russell Jacoby labeled the “professionalization and academization” of public intellectuals. In particular, the growth of the blogosphere breaks down – or at least lowers – the barriers erected by a professionalized academy.Go check it out, and don't be afraid to e-mail me about what I got wrong!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Please tell me this is a very late April Fool's joke
I've een cautiously optimistic that John McCain would choouse a Ron Paul -type Republican (minus the conspiratorial bigotry) since the Huckabee wing of the party is much less likely to vote for Obama.
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and defeated contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is currently at the top of John McCain's short list for a running mate. At least that's the word from a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain's inner circle. The fundraiser is less than thrilled with the idea of Huckabee as the vice presidential nominee, and many economic conservatives—turned off by the populist tone of Huckabee's campaign and his tax record as governor—are likely to share that marked lack of enthusiasm.Based on what I know of Huckabee's policy views, my reaction to this piece of information: