New Year Predictions: A Look Back and a Look Forward

At the end of last year, I made six predictions for 2013. How did they turn out? 1. Bashar al-Assad will no longer be in power in Syria at the end of 2013. However, the civil war will continue. Half right. The civil war has continued, but shortly after I wrote this, the tide of … Continue reading New Year Predictions: A Look Back and a Look Forward

Snowden v. Leviathan

One of the more consequential events of the 2013 involved the ongoing revelations about the NSA.  Barton Gellman (Washington Post) has an excellent piece on Edward Snowden based on some recent interviews.  One excerpt: “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he [Snowden] said. “I already won. As soon as the … Continue reading Snowden v. Leviathan

Chart of the Day (and Nine Terrifying Words)

On December 18, Gallup released its latest results from a poll conducted December 5-8. “Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question.” I am sure it is tempting … Continue reading Chart of the Day (and Nine Terrifying Words)

Madison Aghast

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled yesterday that the NSA collection of metadata is likely unconstitutional under the 4th amendment (Klayman et al., v Obama et. al.). The most notable paragraph: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every … Continue reading Madison Aghast

Monday Links – DSM-5, Term Papers, and George P.

Some must-reads to start your week: 1.  Theodore Dalrymple (aka Anthony Daniels) has an absolutely superb takedown of the new DSM-5 in City Journal.  "Responsibilitarians" (HT: Sorens) will find themselves using his arguments frequently in the current age in which practically everything wrong with us is a "disorder" that undermines our agency - though doing so won't make you … Continue reading Monday Links – DSM-5, Term Papers, and George P.

Left Turn (Reducing Inequality, continued)

It appears that President Obama’s address on inequality was the beginning of a larger move to the left and an embrace of economic populism. As Edward-Issac Dovere  (Politico) explains: [Obama is] connecting to progressive populism with an aggressive, spending-oriented, activist government approach to the economy personified by Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio. Obama’s already … Continue reading Left Turn (Reducing Inequality, continued)

Reducing Inequality: America’s Number One Priority?

Last week, President Obama gave a speech on economic mobility and argued that addressing economic inequality was “the defining challenge of our time.” He stated: But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles.  Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles -- to make ends meet, to pay … Continue reading Reducing Inequality: America’s Number One Priority?

Emotion, Moral Intuition, & the Social Function of Literature

I was recently with a longtime friend who revealed that he does not believe in morality. He thinks the only ultimate good is his own happiness. Now, he tries to act in a way that others see as moral because he believes that that is conducive to his own happiness, and he acknowledges having emotions … Continue reading Emotion, Moral Intuition, & the Social Function of Literature

Updates from Planet Academia

Two recent stories from academia will shock and appall: 1.  James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal discusses "justice" for the accused on campus.  In particular, he tells the story of one Auburn student who hardly received a fair hearing from the university on the road to being expelled.  He received little due process for "committing" crimes … Continue reading Updates from Planet Academia

WTO Reaches First-Ever Agreement

Twenty years after its establishment, the World Trade Organization finally reached its first global trade deal last night at the meeting of the world's trade ministers in Bali. The successful agreement foiled expectations that this meeting, like all others of the Doha Round, would end in failure and acrimony. Media outlets have been reporting the … Continue reading WTO Reaches First-Ever Agreement

Nelson Mandela, Now and Then

Nelson Mandela has died. There will be an endless stream of articles and blog entries on Mandela in the next several days.  Most will praise Mandela and much of the praise is well deserved. But as the National Journal notes, while many will be “eulogizing him for possessing a saintly character and serving as an … Continue reading Nelson Mandela, Now and Then

For a Right of Unilateral Secession, Part Three: Design

In the third and final part of my series summarizing my working paper, "Designing a Constitutional Right of Secession" (here are parts one and two), I examine the legitimate objections we can raise to a right to secede. Some of these other scholars have previously mooted, while others are apparently original. Regardless, I will argue … Continue reading For a Right of Unilateral Secession, Part Three: Design

Solve one government intervention with another, or…..

From the New York Times on one of the workers who will participate in the fast food workers' one day strike: Simon Rojas, who earns $8.07 an hour working at a McDonald’s in South Central Los Angeles, said he would join Thursday’s one-day strike. “It’s very difficult to live off $8.07 an hour,” said Mr. Rojas, … Continue reading Solve one government intervention with another, or…..

Human Rights Are Not a Global Public Good

Does a civil war in Mozambique significantly affect my interests? I say no. Most of my students seem to think yes. On my intro IR final essay exam, I asked a question about what the theory of hegemonic stability would predict about future environmental and human rights politics. I wanted to see whether students could … Continue reading Human Rights Are Not a Global Public Good

The Problem of Education

The OECD has released the latest results from PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).  The key findings regarding US educational performance are not encouraging. Of the 34 OECD countries, the US ranks 26th in mathematics, 17th in reading, and 21st in science. The results in mathematics are of particular concern. As the OECD notes: Just … Continue reading The Problem of Education