Tuesday, February 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Barry Bonds Impersonates Paula Abdul

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By Steven L. Taylor

It would probably be wise to read the readings before answering the take-home exam questions.

Again, just a little tip.

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By Steven L. Taylor

If you are ever writing an essay or answering a take-home test and the object of your reponse has “Saint” as his honorific, then it might be wise to mention God at least once in your response. It might just be relevant.

Just a little tip.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Several folks have made issue of CBS’ poll numbers on the President’s approval rating.

However, it seems quite clear that the general trend is downward, even if one wish to argue the actually approval number isn’t 34%.

I’ll put it this way: it seems patently silly to talk about slanted polls when the numbers are bad to matter how one slices them.

Further, the Mystery Pollster notes the following:

In fact, even when MP recalculates the CBS job approval results for the most recent survey using the average party composition reported on their last three surveys (33% Democrat, 28% Republican, 39% independent or other), the Bush approval percentage still rounds to 34%. The reason is that my recalculation just increases the number of independents at the expense of Democrats. However, Bush’s rating is now so low among both subgroups as measured by CBS that the adjustment makes little difference.

Also: Brendan Nyhan discusses the issue of weighting the responses.

The bottom line is clear: the President isn’t doing very well at the moment in terms of public opinion and, quite frankly, there are reasons why this is the case and accusing the pollsters of slanting the polls doesn’t change that fact.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Court hears Anna Nicole Smith’s case

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By Steven L. Taylor

From the SIGIR report entitled Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Human Capital Management[PDF]:

This report on the use of human resources within the U.S. reconstruction program in Iraq reveals a central if unsurprising point: there was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilization and reconstruction operations. The practical limitations ensuing from this shortfall adversely affected reconstruction in post-war Iraq. Moreover, the somewhat fitful creation of the initial coalition reconstruction organizations, and the unanticipated post-war collapse of virtually all Iraqi governing structures, substantially hindered coalition efforts to develop and rapidly execute an effective reconstruction program.

A variety of causes led to the problems that burdened human capital management in Iraq. When planning for managing postwar Iraq began in mid-2002, no comprehensive policy or regulatory guidelines existed to staff a temporary “surge” organization for stabilization and reconstruction. One senior Department of Defense (DoD) official told the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) that the U.S. government was not systemically structured to execute overseas reconstruction and stabilization programs. Further, overall operational planning naturally focused on military requirements.

Sans ability to execute “overseas reconstruction and stabilization” the invasion should never have taken place.

What is especially frustrating is that I am not sure we have yet developed the capacity needed.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Wrote William F. Buckley in his column of yesterday:

One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.

And via the CSM we find excerpts from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)‘s report that discusses the almost nonexistent planning for post-invasion Iraq.

The CSM overview points to an AP story in WaPo that notes that what should have been basic issues were not addressed:

Thanks to inadequate planning, the report said, early occupation officials lacked enough reconstruction staffers who knew what they were doing.


“Pre-war reconstruction planning assumed that Iraq’s bureaucracy would go back to work when the fighting stopped,” it said. “When it became clear that the Iraqi bureaucracy was in widespread disarray,” occupation authorities “had to find coalition personnel to perform these tasks.”

“The U.S. government workforce planning for Iraq’s reconstruction suffered from a poorly structured, ad-hoc personnel management processes,” the report said, calling hiring practices “haphazard.”

If this policy was going to work, there needed to be serious planning about what to do once the invasion was successful. At the time, I assumed that such planning had been done–it seemed an obvious and vital part of the process, and as such I thought that trained professionals at the highest levels of government would think about such things–it appears my assumptions were incorrect and my confidence in some of the key actors misplaced.

I have thought for some time now that the looting that was allowed in Baghdad severely hampered governing the country, now it is clear that the problem was even worse: the war planners seemed not to understand that getting rid of Saddam and the Baath party elites was going to cause substantial disruption to an already poorly run state.

Instead, we let that poorly run state apparatus be take apart in chaotic looting, and then did not have a plan to deal with either the bureaucracy or the infrastructural problems.

I used to think that the administration’s unwillingness to talk about a long-term commitment to Iraq was born out of political exigency, but now it would seem that they really did think that we could go in, topple Saddam, hang around for a little while, and then leave–as if the whole thing was only a military operation. Back to the CSM piece, quoting a WaTi article:

The report also quotes a senior Pentagon official as saying that “the US government was not systemically structured to execute overseas reconstruction and stabilization programs.” And pre-invasion planning was “naturally focused on military requirements.”

All well and good, but wasn’t it blatantly obvious from the beginning that conquering Iraq wasn’t the hard part, that building a viable democratic (even quasi-democratic) state was the hard part? It is one think to assume that people want to be free and self-governing, it is another to just come off the dictator and then hope that everything else comes together. Granted: we didn’t just get Saddam and leave, but how much better could the last three years have been had we actually planned for the post-war situation?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Bloggers frequently like to view themselves as the eventual replacement for the MSM, a notion which is, of course, absurd for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that most of what the blogosphere comments upon is information gleaned from MSM sources.

However, while that might be the apt line of thinking, James Joyner ask a salient question: Do Opinion Magazines Still Matter in the Age of Blogs? He has some noteworthy numbers as well.

Indeed, this reminds me of a comment made at the panel on blogging I was part of in January at the Southern Political Science Association meeting, where one of the panelists likened one of the motivations of academic bloggers to blog was to function in as a public intellectual along the lines of elite opinion magazines, like NR and TNR.

That struck me at the time as being an appropriate comparison, at least after a fashion, and James’ post reinforces the notion.

In fact, in some ways blogging is clearly replacing the elite opinion magazine: which gets read more, the various NR based blogs and blog-like online columns or the articles in the Dead Tree version? I don’t know, but I have a guess. Certainly I read Kevin Drum’s blog far far more than I read Washington Monthly–indeed, it is quite telling that WM’s main web page is Kevin’s blog. Heck, were it not for CalPundit, I would rarely, if ever, go to the WM’s web page.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Eszter Harigatti’s post at Crooked Timber on gender and academic honorifics (which I will come back to in a different post) led to a post by Kevin Drum wherein he observes that tennis commentators seem to call males by last names and women by first names (something I have no basis to comment upon, having last watched competive tennis when Bjorn Borg played).

This led to comments about the usages of “Hillary” and “Condi” in referring to two of our most prominent female politicos. (I suppose “Hillary” can, at least in part, be attributed to the need to differentiate between the two Clintons. However, there is something to the “Condi” thing and gender. We didn’t go around calling Secretary Powell “Colin” all the time, let alone by a nickname, now did we?)

However, it does seem that being known by one’s first name is as much an issue of fame/notoriety as anything else. In the realm of pop culture we have Madonna and Cher (both female).

In politics, however, we also have: Arnold, Rudy and Jeb. “Arnold”, of course, has the pop-culture element and “Jeb” is as much a function of the fact that there are multiple prominent Bushes.

So, can anyone think of other prominent examples to provide some data in terms of gender-comparisons?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Source: Ports Argument and Iraq Hurt Bush in a New Survey

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