Dynamist Blog


What he said. I'm in L.A., researching glamour, and enjoying the weather, which is great even by L.A. standards (i.e., no smog). I'm getting tons of work done, but it doesn't involve much blogging. And, no, I haven't gone to the beach. But I did go to Hollywood, which isn't gross and scary any more.


Pundits on Meet the Press analyze the dimensions of Democrats:

MR. BRODER: I saw the same kind of contrast when I was out there earlier this week. Gephardt gave a pep talk to about 175 union business agents and staff people who';d come in from around the country. I'd say it was about 98 percent male and the median size of these guys, about 6'3", 250 pounds. Then I went over to...

MR. RUSSERT: My kind of guy.

MR. BRODER: Then I went over to the Dean headquarters, they're young, they're female, they're gay, and they're small. And I thought to myself, I hope those Gephardt guys don't run into the Dean people. You know it would be a bad scene.

MR. TODD: You know, it'll be interesting at the caucuses, on caucus night, if there is some physical intimidation, or not, I mean...

MR. RUSSERT: Punch everybody out.

Mr. TODD: Yeah.

MR. BROWNSTEIN: I wanted to add a shirt size cross tab to our poll after experiencing the same thing. I think we'd find a pretty clear division.



This Steve Lopez LAT column perfectly exemplifies the attitude that is pushing people and businesses and people who create businesses out of California. If you can afford to buy a home in a real estate market made impossibly expensive by growth controls, you can afford to hand over more of your income to the state government. If you can't afford to buy a home and aren't eligible for state transfers, you're already packing for Nevada.


This LAT article follows the well-established script of finding fault with the Bush administration's plan for reforming immigration. But it's refreshing in its attention to nitty-gritty details rather than the "what does this mean for the 2004 election" political spin that greeted the policy announcement.

This DMN article on employers' response was also a refreshing change from the horse-race treatment. Unlike most cities, Dallas takes restaurants and construction seriously as major local industries. Combine that business angle with the long-standing connnection between Texas and Mexico and you get a more nuanced picture of immigration policy than cable's 24/7 "news" shows offer. (Unlike Californian conservatives, Texans don't appear to long for the good old days of life without Mexican immigrants, perhaps because they realize those days didn't exist in Texas.)


This fairly routine issues-vs.-image analysis from the CSM's Linda Feldmann concludes with a smart observation from the smart Karlyn Bowman:

Karlyn Bowman, an expert on polling at the American Enterprise Institute, sees a two-step process in voter decisionmaking. First, she says, people want a "threshold level of confidence in the individual, a feeling you could sit down in a living room and relate that person, feel comfortable with that person in their stewardship of policy." Then, she says, "the issues follow from that."

That's why seemingly qualified candidates run into trouble if they seem weird--watch out, Wesley Clark. It's also why the star candidates--Reagan, Clinton, Arnold--combine familiarity with charisma. We don't really know them, and if we did they'd lose some of their magic, but we like to think we know them. (That combination was, I think, much of Colin Powell's appeal as a fantasy candidate for Republicans.)


Prompted by the publication of Bruce Caldwell's excellent intellectual biography, Hayek's Challenge, the Boston Globe asked me to do an article on Friedrich Hayek for their Ideas section. The article leads today's section. There's also a sidebar on the "What Would Friedrich Do?" debate on gay marriage.


When I agreed to review Gregg Easterbrook's new book, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, I expected to mostly like the book. I was wrong. It's a mess. Here's the review. Since I had only 750 words to work with, the review couldn't cover everything I would have liked to address, including the questionable use of data discussed below.

Many, though by no means all, of the book's problems stem from its lack of concern with "how life gets better," as opposed to the mere fact that life gets better. There are lots of statistics, but very little connection to specific human enterprise, experiments, or experience. The few anecdotes are memorable, because they're so rare. The Progress Paradox represents an old strain of progressive optimism, which imagines social and economic systems as far simpler than they are. It's reminiscent of the technocratic works that dominated "progressive" thinking through the 1960s. Easterbrook's approach to, say, universal health insurance amounts to the "if we can put a man on the moon" argument, with no acknowledgement whatsoever of all the feedback effects that people who think seriously about health policy--regardless of their prescriptions--routinely address. He essentially takes a Nike attitude: Just do it! The result is a glib work, but not a very good one.


Lyndon LaRouche will get $839,000 in federal campaign funds, about $100,000 more than Dennis Kucinich. Here's the report.


What did the past really look like? My latest NYT column mines the new Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History for details both trivial and profound.

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