The blogging life

This XKCD “cartoon”:http://xkcd.com/386/ which is sweeping the blogosphere describes the motivations of le moyen blogger sensuel with a distressing degree of accuracy. Read More

Think Tank Sociology

"Moira Whelan":http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2008/02/ohanlon-and-thi.html speculates on Mike O'Hanlon and 'think tank sociology.' Think tanks in DC are traditionally known as refugee camps for the out-of-office team of foreign policy wonks. There’s an expected turn over when new administrations come on as each team goes about grabbing “the best and the brightest” to fill their ranks. O’Hanlon has by now gotten the message that he’s burned his bridges with his Democratic friends. Those that like him personally even agree that he’s radioactive right now thanks to his avid support of Bush’s war strategy. So what’s a wonk to do? ... one option is pre-positioning yourself for the future. By getting out there and going after the leading Democrats—people that some of his closest colleagues are actively supporting—is he lining himself up to say that he was critiquing the next Administration before it was cool? That would be worth it, because as I’ve mentioned before, there are three forms of currency in the think tank world that make you a valuable player: bringing in money, getting press, and getting called to testify. This strategy could certainly pay off in those categories over the next few months. Read More

On the other hand

While no-one ever went broke underestimating the tastefulness of the American public, I suspect that this video will not be winning many new voters… Read More

10,000 years

I suspect that this viral video is going to get a lot of pick-up … (via “Chris Hayes”:http://www.chrishayes.org/blog/2008/feb/11/10000-years/)… Read More

Accounting for terrorism

"Dan Drezner today":http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/003703.html Kevin Whitelaw wrote a fascinating piece in U.S. News and World Report suggesting that Al Qaeda is confronting a more powerful foe than the United States government: organizational pathology: bq. More than 600 captured personnel files of foreigners who joined the terrorist group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq tell the individual stories of Muslim extremists who made the difficult journey to Iraq—and most likely died or were captured there.... bq. But the records, which were analyzed and released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, also point out a trait that has been unique to al Qaeda and many of its offshoots: They are surprisingly bureaucratic. This is something that has already received some attention in the literature. Jacob N. Shapiro, and David A. Siegel (who gave an interesting talk at GWU a couple of years ago) have a "piece":http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2007.00457.x?journalCode=isqu in _International Studies Quarterly_ that looks at principal-agent problems in terrorist organizations, and concludes that one of the big problems that terrorist masterminds face is in ensuring that their underlings behave honestly. This may have unfortunate results for their organization's effectiveness. Read More

Rational irrationality

"Matt Yglesias":http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/spoilage.php is bemused by a John O'Sullivan "post":http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YWJlNDY4NDgxNzFjNDU5NDNlODVkMTJlMTlhZWE3NGQ= saying that it would be rational for conservatives not to support McCain when he wins the nomination. O'Sullivan: bq. Many conservatives believe that the key question in this election is: Are there to be two multiculturalist open-borders parties or one? If McCain’s election were to make the GOP fundamentally similar to the Democrats on immigration, bilingualism, racial preferences, and all the National Question issues, that would be a resounding historical defeat for conservatives. ... The willingness of a President McCain to cooperate with the Democrats would give such issues as an immigration amnesty a better chance of passage than under a President Hillary or Obama even against strong GOP resistance in Congress. Opponents of such policies, despite enjoying majority support among the voters, would find themselves politically marginalized. Yglesias: bq. I think it's probably true that, in practice, a comprehensive immigration reform is more likely to come in a McCain administration than it would in an Obama or a Clinton administration. So in a narrow sense, O'Sullivan's making sense. ... But this analysis seems to entirely lack context. If electing a pro-amnesty Republican whose administration fails to ban affirmative action programs would be the end of the conservative movement, then Ronald Reagan's eight years in office were, just like George W. Bush's, a "resounding historical defeat for conservatives." Conservatives can be purists if they like, but the reality is that these are issues on which people who agree with O'Sullivan have never held the whip-hand, and it's unlikely that they ever really will as long as the GOP remains the party of business first and foremost. Read More

Conservative and liberal bloggers

"Eszter Hargittai and her colleagues":http://www.springerlink.com/content/p7m41t21344130t7/?p=8c07e7e8f74145ddbe869374d6e114cc&pi=4 have some interesting research,[1] which I've "blogged":http://crookedtimber.org/2008/01/29/blogs-and-partisanship-in-the-us/ about before, on linking patterns and partisanship in the blogosphere. Among the other data they report is some that suggests that conservatives are more likely to respond substantively to liberals than vice-versa. Straw-man arguments account for 43% of the 42 links from conservative blogs to liberals in our sample, and 54% of the 63 links from liberal blogs to conservatives in our group of entries that include cross-ideological linkages. ...Posts that concretely address the content of a blog entry from an ideological opponent represent about a quarter (26%) of all conservative and about one fifth (21%) of all liberal posts with cross-ideological links. Substantive disagreement accounted for 12% of links from conservative to liberal blogs and 16% of links from liberals to conservatives, while substantive agreement accounted for 14% of links from conservatives to liberals and 5% of pointers from liberals to conservatives. Read More