Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Rise of Second Cities

Here are salient facts from a not-great Newsweek International cover story on the world’s most dynamic cities:

Great cities like London, New York and Tokyo loom large in our imaginations. They are the places people still associate with fortune, fame and the future. . . The last half century has been their era, as the number of cities with more than 10 million people grew from two to 20, as now famous names like Rio, Mexico City and Mumbai joined the list. But . . . [t]he typical growth rate of the population within a megacity has slowed from more than 8 percent in the '80s to less than half that over the last five years, and their number is expected to stagnate in the next quarter century. Instead, the coming years will belong to a smaller, far humbler relation—the Second City.

Within a year or so, more people will live in cities than in the countryside for the first time in human history: the 21st century will be an urban one. But increasingly, the urban core itself is downsizing. Already, half the city dwellers in the world live in metropolises with less than half-a-million residents. Second Cities—from exurbs to regional hubs, resort towns to provincial capitals—are booming. Between 2000 and 2015, the world's smallest cities (with under 500,000 people) will grow by 23 percent, while the next smallest (1 million to 5 million people) will grow by 27 percent. . .

[O]f the top 150 fastest-growing cities in this size class, the most by far, 55, are in China, followed by an intense boomlet of 12 in Indonesia, and 10 in India. . .

the emergence of Second Cities has flowed naturally (if unexpectedly) from the earlier success of the megacities. In the 1990s, megalopolises boomed as global markets did. . . The result has been the creation of what demographer William Frey of the Washington-based Brookings Institution calls "gated regions"—places like New York, London, Tokyo—in which both the city and many of the surrounding suburbs have become unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.

One reaction to this phenomenon is further sprawl—high prices in the urban core and traditional suburbs drive people to distant exurbs with extreme commutes into big cities. . .

Why does one town become a booming Second City while another fails? The answer hinges on whether a community has the wherewithal to exploit the forces pushing people and businesses out of the megacities. One key is excellent transport links, especially to the biggest commercial hubs. . .

Another growth driver for Second Cities is the decentralization of work, driven in large part by new technologies. . .

Today it's easier for Second Cities to build self-sustaining economies, independent of megacities, as firms and workers look to avoid the problems of major urban centers. "Economically, after a city reaches a certain size, its productivity starts to fall," notes Mario Pezzini, head of the regional-competitiveness division of the OECD in Paris. He puts the tipping point at about 6 million people, after which real estate costs, travel times, and the occasional chaos (witness the recent Paris riots) "create a situation in which the center of the city may be a great place, but only for the rich, and the outlying areas become harder to live and work in."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why Liberals are Different

The same study that shows modernist mainline Protestants, secularists, atheists, agnostics, and unaffiliated believers make up 20% of the electorate—almost exactly the liberal elite’s 19%—has much to say about the rest of the electorate.

Nearly half, or 47%, of voters in 2004 said their faith was “more important to my voting decision than other factors” or “about as important as other factors.” This means that for the 80% of the electorate outside the liberal elite, religion is a dominant or big concern for nearly three-fifths.

It means nearly half the country is with Bush because he is a man of faith. It means the faith half of the country is mostly beyond the reach of the secular leadership that dominates liberal elite institutions. It explains why divisions in America now seem so deep, and so real. The divisions are deep and real. They are about faith.

People of faith tend to be optimistic, believing their personal relationship with God empowers them to find happiness on their own, through hard, honest work. Philosophically, they are Republicans.

But here’s the opening for Democrats: God tells us to care for those less fortunate than ourselves, and in America in 2006, that means using government power to do so. Bush’s talk about compassionate conservatism, if it is just that, talk, allows Democrats to substitute action for talk.

So far though, Democrats usually fumble their efforts to engage people of faith. And the MSM, well it doesn’t even try.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Learned Elite is Older Than Pyramids

The Pew Research Center’s look at Democrats finds sharp differences
between its elite, liberal leadership (19% of the electorate) and its disadvantaged and conservative Democrat followers (25% of the electorate).

I believe the liberal elite has earned its power, tending to rise through talent and hard work. In the spirit of noblesse oblige, elite members favor using the institutions with which they are associated to better the less fortunate. Of course, it is only right liberals should control how that help is offered.

Elite rule, earned through merit, is as old as the priests who developed and protected knowledge and writing in ancient Mesopotamia. Priests stood between God and the people, interceding for the people. How natural that liberals do that today for those most outside mainstream American life: the disadvantaged, the poor, the minorities—and in return, expect their votes.

In between are groups that believe they don’t need superior individuals or organizations to act for them; they are capable of fending for themselves. These groups tend to be Republican. The liberal link to the disadvantaged dominated when working class poor made up a majority of the population. Not now.

As with all elites, liberals will fight hard to retain their privileged status. Largely non-religious, their raison d’etre is linked to making the world a better place now. Peace, not war. Equality, not plutocracy. Strong environmental protection, meaning capitalism contained. Protection for women and minorities (including gays/lesbians/bisexuals/transgenders). Adding in modernist mainline Protestants, the grouping of secular, atheistic, agnostic, and unaffiliated believers makes up 20% of the electorate--almost exactly the liberal share.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Leader of the Pack

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

--Thomas Jefferson

The Pew Research Center study of the American electorate says this about the dominant elite group:

Liberals have swelled to become the largest voting bloc in the typology. Liberals are opponents of an assertive foreign policy, strong supporters of environmental protection, and solid backers of government assistance to the poor. This affluent, well-educated, highly secular group is consistently liberal on social issues, ranging from freedom of expression to abortion.

Liberals are 19% of the electorate. As I noted earlier, liberals are our national leadership, dominating five of nine national institutions: the media, government bureaucracies, entertainment and the arts, academe, and philanthropy/nonprofits.

The media dominates this power line-up to the degree that elected Democrats are mere foot soldiers in the media-led army. No wonder the conservative blogs are all about the MSM (mainstream media), and liberal blogs are all about divisions among Democrats. The MSM is more unified than the Democrats, at least until those Democrats still shaky about the need to leave Iraq are brought into line.

Conservatives have it right. Republicans’ principal enemy is the MSM, with its “out-of-Iraq, down-with-Bush” agenda, powered by the full force of its Jefferson-inspired “newspapers without government” worldview. That’s why The New York Times, not the administration, in wartime decides whether or not the world needs to know about how we monitor terrorist financial transactions.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How to Beat Republicans

The Republican core assembles three groups: small business anti-regulators who tend to be libertarian, country-based social conservatives, and religious people who seek government intervention on their behalf. The contradictions present in this coalition are obvious. Yet even if it were fully united, the core itself still isn’t large enough to win. Republicans benefit from the oddity that independent, upscale upbeats and downscale disaffected voters cynical about politics both lean the GOP’s way. (See the Pew Research Center’s findings here.)

It helps that all the above groups are overwhelmingly white. And that Christianity, the religion of the white tribe, is the Republican religion.

The decline in Republican power is most evident in the West, and relates directly to that region's growing Hispanic population. As a Republican state with Republican governors from 1966 to 1998 (except Jerry Brown, 1974-82), California helped elect Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988, while nearly saving Ford in 1976. Not since. Not since California Governor Pete Wilson went anti-immigrant in his 1994 campaign for re-election.

And the rest of the West was solidly Republican—until 2004 anyway. The switch of 70,000 votes in New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado would have given those three states’ 19 electoral votes to Kerry, and with them, the 2004 election. Florida is another state where rising Hispanic numbers have turned a Republican state toward Democrats.

It’s a fight though. Hispanics are Catholic, and Bush 43 and his Texas-reared brain trust know how to use religion to go after Hispanic votes. Obviously, the ugly debate about illegal immigration is hurting Bush’s Hispanic strategy, and could cost the Republicans dearly in upcoming elections.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

MSM v. USA: Quotes Without Comment

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, has catalogued these quotes from leading reporters and media executives:

Ted Turner: "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life....I think they [the 19 hijackers] were brave at the very least."

Andy Rooney
: "We should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them [American men and women in uniform] for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes."

Steven Jukes (global head of news for Reuters): "We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist....To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack."

Dan Rather: "What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find."

Toby Harnden (London Daily Telegraph): "The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool...I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials....She came to the point. Not only had she 'known' the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the 'evil' George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. 'Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.'"

Allen Pizzey (CBS News): "Like beauty, freedom is a perception that lies in the eye of the beholder, and we ignore other nations' versions at our peril. The most dangerous perception of all may be that one's own side has an exclusive claim to either the truth or patriotism."

Joel Stein (Los Angeles Times): "I don't support our troops."

Bill Moyers: "I decided to put on my flag pin tonight--first time.... I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Now, Where Exactly is Japan?

Obviously, I’m not alone in wondering why Democrats let Congressman Murtha do so much talking. This from RealClearPolitics’ Tom Bevan:

Congressman John Murtha continues to make a fool of himself by suggesting we can effectively fight the terrorist insurgency in Iraq by "redeploying" our troops to a military base in Japan. Here's what he told Tim Russert yesterday in the course of arguing that we don't need a presence in Iraq to conduct the sort of quick-strike missions like the one that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

REP. MURTHA: So--and we don't have to be right there. We can go to Okinawa. We, we don't have--we can redeploy there almost instantly. So that's not--that's, that's a fallacy. That, that's just a statement to rial [sic] up people to support a failed policy wrapped in illusion.

MR. RUSSERT: But it'd be tough to have a timely response from Okinawa.

REP. MURTHA: Well, it--you know, they--when I say Okinawa, I, I'm saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly.

They can? The two 500-lb bombs that killed Zarqawi were dropped by F-16 fighter aircraft. According to the U.S. military: “In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point.”

Okinawa is 4,899 miles from Baghdad. Do the math.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Vietnam/Watergate Redux?

This blog argued that today’s “mainstream media” (MSM) doesn’t match the journalist standards held to by its Vietnam/ Watergate era hero-predecessors. And it stated that the MSM’s role in getting us out of Vietnam and dumping Nixon explain its current fixation on getting us out of Iraq and dumping Bush. Now U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone has made a remarkably similar case:

It has been a tough 10 days for those who see current events through the prisms of Vietnam and Watergate. . . . U.S. forces with a precision air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on the same day that Iraqis finished forming a government. Zarqawi will not be available to gloat over American setbacks or our allies' defeat, as the leaders of the Viet Cong and North Vietnam did.

[And] special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced that he would not seek an indictment of Karl Rove. The left . . . had Mr. Rove pegged for the role of Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Theories were spun about plea bargains that would implicate Vice President Dick Cheney. Talk of impeachment was in the air. But it turns out that history doesn't repeat itself. George W. Bush, whether you like it or not, is not a second Richard Nixon. . .

In all this a key role was played by the press. . . America's newsrooms are populated largely by liberals who regard the Vietnam and Watergate stories as the great achievements of their profession. The peak of their ambition is to achieve the fame and wealth of great reporters like David Halberstam and Bob Woodward. . .

Historians may regard it as a curious thing that the left and the press have been so determined to fit current events into templates based on events that occurred 30 to 40 years ago. The people who effectively framed the issues raised by Vietnam and Watergate did something like the opposite; they insisted that Vietnam was not a reprise of World War II or Korea and that Watergate was something different from the operations J. Edgar Hoover conducted for Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy. Journalists in the 1940s, '50s and early '60s tended to believe they had a duty to buttress Americans' faith in their leaders and their government. Journalists since Vietnam and Watergate have tended to believe that they have a duty to undermine such faith, especially when the wrong party is in office.

. . . The visible slavering over the prospect of a Rove indictment is just another item in the list of reasons why the credibility of the "mainstream media" has been plunging. . .

Vietnam and Watergate were arguably triumphs for honest reporting. But they were also defeats for America. . .They ushered in an era when the political opposition and much of the press have sought not just to defeat administrations but to delegitimize them. The pursuit of Karl Rove by the left and the press has been just the latest episode in the attempted criminalization of political differences. Is there any hope that it might turn out to be the last?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"Real" is a Four-Letter Word

The National Journal’s Jonathan Rauch draws a sharp distinction between “realism” and the foreign policy of the current president:

The idealist[ic rhetoric in] the JFK of the 1961 Inaugural Address. . .-- "We shall pay any price, bear any burden... to assure the survival and the success of liberty" -- leads in a straight line to President Bush's second Inaugural Address: "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.... So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

. . . [but] Kennedy. . . promised to "bear any burden" to defend the free world against communism -- not to free the whole world. . . [O]ne too easily forgets that JFK the practitioner was a hard-boiled realist. So were Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and, for the most part, FDR and Truman. . .

Ironically, the one presidential nominee in recent times to campaign explicitly as a realist was George W. Bush, who in 2000 derided "nation building" as tangential to U.S. interests and rejected as "arrogance" the notion that America should reform the world. But the realist revival was brief. Bush soon converted to the Bush Doctrine, which seeks to make the world peaceful by making it free. . .

Specifically, realism understands that:

· U.S. influence is a limited resource that needs conservation, and that using it requires leaders to . . . deal with bad guys.

· . . .stability should be a top-tier priority, never a mere afterthought.

· . . . America has too many status quo interests ever to be a revolutionary power.

[Americans] will tolerate idealistic adventurism only briefly.

. . . even if it is true that "eventually the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul," as Bush declared in his second inaugural, "eventually" is a long time. . . From a realist point of view. . . Wilsonian reformers [are] too destabilizing. [Realism is] an indispensable ingredient of a grown-up foreign policy.

Understand. Michael Mandelbaum and this blog are about heeding the world’s cry for Wilsonian idealism, which is a cry for democracy, not status-quo “realism.”

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Don't Folks Love the Economy?

James K. Glassman, host of the blog TCS Daily, seems to have figured out why people are so unhappy about our growing economy. Here are excerpts from his column:

The global economy is roaring. "For the first time since 1969," reports . . . Bridgewater Daily Observations, "not a single country in the world has had negative year-over-year growth."

Overall, the world economy is rising at a 4.4 percent rate, after inflation. At that pace, Gross Domestic Product doubles in 17 years, quadruples in less than a generation. . .

Nearly half the world's population -- China, India, the former Soviet Union and its satellites has moved within 20 years from . . .autarky or communism toward a free-market system . . .

U.S. growth for 2005 was 3.5 percent -- slower than the world as a whole but . . . much brisker than Europe -- and the consensus of economists is predicting roughly the same for the year ahead. . .In the past year. . . America's output of goods and services has increased by nearly $1 trillion - or about $10,000 for every family. In the last five months alone, the U.S. has created 1 million net new jobs.

[So] why aren't Americans happier about it? . . . the Gallup Poll [reports] that more respondents fall into the negative camp now than during the 2001 recession. . .

[A] 2004 paper by Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger . . . finds that "ideology is the most important determinant...while measures of self-interest are least important." [And Gallup confirms] Americans who identify with the party in power "are more positive about the way things are going in the country." In other words, it's not reality but partisanship or ideology that determines one's view of the economic situation. . .

Let me offer another explanation. Globalization simply raises the level of anxiety for many workers, especially older people lacking technical skills. Even if . . . their lives are getting better, they worry much more about their own futures and those of their kids and grandkids.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Iraq’s Excellent Day

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “This is the beginning of the end.”

If one’s there for the take-off, one might as well enjoy the landing. This blog has been forthright about the difficulties Iraq has had pulling together its first democratically-chosen government. Now al-Maliki has done it. He has a complete cabinet—Defense Minister, Interior Minister, intelligence chief. These are the key appointments, and Iraq under al-Maliki is now ready to govern. Thank goodness.

The very same day, Iraq, the U.S., and the Willing Coalition are rid of Abu Musab al Zarqawi and other top leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq. To me, Zarqawi’s elimination is extremely important in the battle against Iraqi terrorism. In group politics, when the faction leader dies, the faction disappears. I don’t doubt the insurgency continues, including the Sunni-based insurgency. But the effective leader of the most effective base is gone. And Iraq has a big, new reason to start believing in its future.

For another discussion of the significance of Zarqawi’s departure, see Christopher Hitchens’ Slate article here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More on Pinch's Apology

Vincent Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News has figured out what’s so unsettling about Pinch Sulzberger’s commencement address at SUNY New Paltz, covered here earlier. From Carroll’s column:

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

- Mark Twain

But of course it is not easy to keep your mouth closed when you are publisher of The New York Times . . .

The breathtaking arrogance of [his] litany lies not in its politics, which are what you'd expect, but in its sheer childishness.

What serious adult could possibly anticipate a world in which environmentalists—or any other interest group—are given free rein to define national policy, and in which U.S. leaders are indifferent to safeguarding a commodity crucial to their economy?

What serious adult would expect consensus over efforts to redefine marriage or how to treat millions of people who entered this country without permission? It seems Sulzberger graduated from college anticipating a world in which no one ever disagreed with The New York Times. How revealing to make such a confession.

The crowning touch of these passages, however, is their false contrition - the apology for a state of affairs that he and his audience both know Sulzberger had nothing to do with creating. He is sorry that the world has not lived up to his standards for Utopia. It's a 12-year-old's lament delivered by the publisher of the most powerful newspaper in the land to an audience that in some cases sounds, based on the cheering, almost as immature as he is.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Slow "Progress" in Iraq

Here’s the latest monthly, highly abbreviated version of the Iraq Index, published and updated twice a week by Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution:

Americans Killed in Action, Iraq (monthly average)

2003: 32
2004: 59
2005: 56
2006: 49
May: 60

Americans Killed in Action, Vietnam (weekly average)

1965:* 30
1966: 97
1967: 177
1968: 263
• = First U.S. combat troops arrived in Vietnam, 5.3.65
Vietnam table compiled by Galen Fox using Defense Department sources.

Note please—the Vietnam KIAs are weekly, not monthly, averages.

Crude Oil Production (m. bbls./day)

Prewar: 2.50
Goal: 2.50
actual: 2.14 (5/06)

Electricity (megawatts)

Prewar: 3,958
Goal: 6,000
actual: 3,800 (5/06)

“Do you think Iraq today is generally headed in the right direction or wrong direction?” (Asked of Iraqis, March 2006)

Right: 30% (down from 49%, Dec. 2005)
Wrong: 52% (up from 36%, Dec. 2005)

The rising violence in Iraq is taking its toll both on U.S. killed in action, which in 2006 have nearly reached the 50-a-month average for the entire war, and on Iraqi perceptions of their future (see poll). Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki was able to announce his cabinet during May. But he has yet to fill the key ministries in charge of defense, the police, and national intelligence.

In just a few days, June 15, it will be six months since Iraq's election to choose a new, permanent government. Let’s hope by that date, al-Maliki will finally have his full cabinet selected and operating.

Privately, U.S. military officials are concerned about the slow pace of political progress.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sulzberger Unclothed

Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times, delivered a commencement address at SUNY New Paltz that claims credit for his student generation having properly re-ordered the world, but then having failed to keep that world properly re-ordered:
When I graduated from college in 1974, my fellow students and I had just ended the war in Vietnam and ousted President Nixon.

[But as for today,] sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life; the rights of gays to marry; or the rights of women to choose.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drives policy and environmentalists have to relentlessly fight for every gain.

You weren’t. But you are. And for that I’m sorry.

Could Sulzberger be any less subtle about the New York Times’ mission to remake America in his nakedly liberal image?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Waiting on Haditha

We know something went terribly wrong in Haditha. Yet we shouldn’t rush to judgment when a thorough investigation is underway. In her column “The Truth About Haditha,” Michelle Malkin correctly cautions:

There are countless numbers of anti-war zealots on the American Left rooting for failure. They believe the worst about the troops. . . They are looking for any excuse to pull out, abandon military operations and reconstruction, and impeach the president.

They insist on giving suspected foreign terrorists more benefit of the doubt than our own men and women in uniform. And that, I know, I am not willing to do.

I will wait. I will pray. And I will remind you that while the murder of civilians is and remains an anomaly in American military history, it is the jihadists' way of life.