Preliminary syllabi are now posted at the usual place, although there’s a good chance the assignments may change—requirements that seemed appropriate for a 30-student senior-level class no longer appear quite so reasonable with 45 students and counting.
Political scientist Lee Sigelman, probably best known as the past editor of one of the flagship journals of the discipline, passed away last evening. I never met Lee myself (the closest I got was hearing him speak at an SPSA luncheon keynote about a decade ago in Atlanta) but I was well aware of his contributions to our field and to helping to legitimize blogging among political scientists by helping launch The Monkey Cage with several of his GWU colleagues. His contributions to our discipline will surely be missed.
My paper with Frequent Commenter Scott™ entitled “Can We Really Have a Conversation about Race? Investigating Race-of-Interviewer Effects in the Contemporary South” is now online for your perusal at the usual place.
The Associated Press visits the community which soon is to be the largest city in America without a bookstore, quotes a colleague, and gets the name of my employer wrong.
But at least we’re getting a snow park!
Via one of my Facebook contacts, the Financial Times is reporting that Mexican president Felipe Calderón has proposed some significant changes in elections to Mexico’s presidency and Congress, including the adoption of a run-off system for presidential elections and permitting members of Congress (but not presidents, breaking the regional trend of late) to seek reelection; the proposal would also cut the sizes of both chambers of the legislature quite substantially.
There doesn’t seem to be much to object to on the surface of the package—although I’m not convinced that either chamber needs a cut in its membership—but Calderón will probably need the support of many deputies from one or both of the major opposition parties for the proposals to succeed. Since the reforms would probably enhance the powers of deputies and senators at the expense of their party leaders, many Mexican legislators may find themselves caught between their partisan and personal interests.
These items are presented for your edification without further comment.
Megan McArdle, on today’s outburst of mass media bloviation on climate change:
If fifty-four newspapers had wanted to make a serious statement about the environment that their readers were sure to pay attention to, they might have stopped printing and distributing their energy intensive product for a day.
Andrew Sullivan takes a break from spelunking in Sarah Palin’s reproductive tract to provide us with highly superficial social scientific analysis:
Ezra Klein asks:
Is there any evidence that financing wars brings them to a quicker close? Any papers examining this question?
From Bruce Bartlett’s column last week:
History shows that wars financed heavily by higher taxes, such as the Korean War and the first Gulf War, end quickly, while those financed largely by deficits, such as the Vietnam War and current Middle East conflicts, tend to drag on indefinitely.
How about a more plausible explanation: Korea and Gulf War I were conflicts against state actors that fought using traditional military tactics, while Vietnam and the Middle Eastern conflicts (particularly in Afghanistan) were/are conflicts mostly involving indigenous, non-state resistance movements or terrorist cells with some degree of local popular support (the Viet Cong, Iraqi Shiite and Sunni extremists and al-Qaeda, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda, respectively) that are engaged in unconventional warfare. The mode of funding would seem to have little to do with conflict length. Particularly since World Wars I and II were also funded by massive deficit spending, yet U.S. involvement in both conflicts was comparatively brief (although not on the order of Gulf War I).
Besides, the Johnson-Nixon era’s massive expansion of the deficit-financed American welfare state would be a serious conflating factor in attributing Vietnam’s success or failure to its funding approach, much as the effects of the Bush tax cuts likely dwarfed Iraq and Afghanistan spending as a source of the increased budget deficit over the past eight years and change; the liberal CBPP think-tank attributes the effects of one year (2004) of the Bush tax cuts as being $276 billion in reduced tax revenues (and thus increased debt), far more than the annualized cost to the Treasury of both conflicts combined even based on the most pessimistic estimates.