Krauthammer's Martian
March 30, 2007

Charles Krauthammer bashes Democrats who call Afghanistan the site of "the real war" on terror. I'm sure it's true that Democrats prefer talking about Afghanistan to Iraq because it's an easier moral case. But Krauthammer's argument is built around an awfully glib view of Afghanistan's strategic value. Thought experiment: Bring in a completely neutral observer -- a Martian -- and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents.

History Historians Don't Do
March 29, 2007

by Eric Rauchway Further to the question, posed by Darrin McMahon, of where the economic historians are, two replies to my post on the subject give two very different pictures. Tyler Cowen writes with his usual cheer that economic history is alive and well in economics departments, and lists the new hires that his university, George Mason, has made in the field. On the other hand, Mark Thoma writes, I wish I could reassure Eric that economic history is alive and well within economics departments generally. I cannot, and that's a loss for our profession.

Edwards And The Internet
March 28, 2007

I think many hardened cynics assumed that Elizabeth Edwards's cancer was going to make fundraising more difficult for the Edwards campaign. As one such cynic explained to me, big-time donors were going to be reluctant to give money to a campaign that--despite the Edwards's pledge to carry on--might very well have to fold tent before the first primary vote. But I think these cynics forgot about the Internet.

Left, Left, Left-right-left
March 28, 2007

My TRB column about converts to conservatism has prompted some grumbling on the Corner. Jonah Goldberg complains that, while my piece criticizes leftists to make a point against conservatives, I rarely criticize them on their own terms: Today's Chaitian liberals aren't radical leftists, to be sure, but they're far more offended by conservatives who make a big deal about radical leftists than they are by the radical leftists themselves. They don't seem to mind that the academy is overrun by leftwingers.

Europe, Economics, And Historians
March 27, 2007

by Darrin McMahon Earlier this month, Eurochambres, the pro-market lobbying group representing European chambers of commerce to the EU at Brussels, published a follow-up to its 2005 "Time Distances" study comparing the U.S. and European economies. Some of its findings are particularly startling: · The current EU productivity level was achieved by the U.S. in 1985 · Both the current levels for EU employment and R&D investment per capita were reached by the U.S. in 1978 · The current level of EU income was reached by the U.S. in 1985 Think about that first stat again.

The Consultant Racket
March 27, 2007

When I die, I'm hoping I can come back as a Democratic consultant. Tim Dickinson describes the nifty little racket they have going in a long Rolling Stone article: The party's campaign strategists operate under contracts that would make Halliburton blush. While their GOP counterparts work for a flat fee on presidential campaigns, Democratic media consultants profit on commission, pocketing as much as ten percent of every dollar spent on TV ads. It's a business model that creates "an inherent conflict of interest," concedes Anita Dunn, who served as a strategist for Bill Bradley in 2000.

Building Codes
March 26, 2007

In a spacious Hilton ballroom yesterday, surrounded by middle-aged construction workers with their arms folded and collars unbuttoned, Joe Biden is barking into his microphone. "With or without your endorsement," he declares, "I'm going to be the best friend labor has ever had in the White House!" It's an outlandish claim--FDR? Harry Truman?--but not out of place.

The Culturalization Of Vietnam And Iraq
March 25, 2007

by Robert Brustein Vietnam and Iraq have a lot in common besides the expenditure of so many innocent young lives. Both are proper names used to denote not just a country but also a seemingly endless armed conflict. Both wars were initiated by means of trumped-up evidence--Vietnam through a manufactured provocation in the Tonkin Gulf; Iraq through the pretense of weapons of mass destruction and an imaginary link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

The Fertile Breakfast Burrito
March 23, 2007

A new foreign affairs and counterterrorism newsletter has arrived in D.C. Nothing surprising there: a media outlet that features translations and summaries of the Middle East's most read newspapers seems like a perfectly reasonable, if belated, post-9/11 idea. So I was a little surprised at the newsletter's title: The Croissant. At first, I assumed it was The Crescent.

Wikipedia Indeed
March 22, 2007

by John McWhorterAs the French say, for me Eric Rauchway's post tombe juste; just the other day I was remarking to my wife how if I were still teaching, I would have to be grappling with what to tell students about using Wikipedia for research. When I last taught at Berkeley in spring, 2002, I had just learned the word "blog" and barely anybody knew from Wikipedia.