Around the Polisci Blogosphere

by John Sides on August 24, 2013 · 5 comments

in Around the Polisci Blogosphere

We thank Bennett Butler for all his help with this feature over the summer, and wish him well as his semester begins at Princeton.

{ 5 comments }

Mike Rappeport August 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Given that (at least in my opinion) the Monkey Cage is the leading non-specialized political science blog, I find it amazing that all you have said about the use of chemical weapons in Syria is the copy of the Nexon post, which does not seem to understand the prices to be paid for doing nothing (see the commentary online yesterday by the Economist on how doing nothing would simply end Obama’s credibility anywhere in the world) I would suggest the following
a) There is no doubt that such weapons were used. If there was a doubt (and I think a claim of this kind is so easily checkable that no one would make it up), the Drs. Without Borders statement has made it clear that something monstrous happened.
b) If the administrations intelligence sources (from local agents to satellite photos) don’t have information more than sufficient to make it clear who did it, I would be astonished, and also appalled.
c) So either the administration doesn’t know who did it (in which case mass firings are in order), or they know who did it and are faced with what (given the seriousness of any action they take versus end of their credibility on virtually any issue if they do nothing) is surely the worst foreign policy crisis of the Obama years.

Isn’t informed commentary and serious discussion on such an issue what The Monkey Cage is for?

John Sides August 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Mike: This issue is well outside any expertise that I have, so I cannot comment on your points a, b, or c or whether Dan Nexon is right or wrong. But with regard to this blog, all I can say is that sometimes we don’t post about everything important — because none of us has expertise, because none of us have anything to add, or what have you. Apologies. We’ll do our best to have more on Syria in the future.

albatross August 25, 2013 at 12:16 am

Regarding the pretty little districts link, isn’t one of the common complaints about gerrymandered districts precisely that they often concentrate Republicans or Democrats into a few guaranteed-win districts, leading to incumbents who need never fear defeat in the general election, but must fear a primary challenge, and so dare not stray too far from their party’ hardliners?

Jonathan Bernstein August 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Yes, that is one of the common complaints about gerrymandered districts!

But…

1. It’s overstated — as a quick House/Senate comparison shows; lopsided districts are not the (main?) cause of polarization and of the effects of renomination terror.

2. It’s overstated — because one would have to work very hard to avoid lopsided partisan districts in many cases, so the lopsided district problem isn’t really a drawing-lines problem.

3. To the extent that it is true, it’s pretty much the opposite complaint from the one about partisan gerrymandering and unfair outcomes. To the extent that line-drawing matters, lopsided partisan districts are a consequence of bipartisan gerrymanders, not partisan gerrymanders.

Jason August 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I like the link about charity and it’s something I think of whenever I hear about charity efforts. A handful of people spend thousands and thousands of dollars flying to some country to do a week’s worth of labor where labor is extraordinarily cheap by western standards. For that amount of money they could probably just pay unemployed locals to do the same work for several months.

But then again if you just write a check in the mail you don’t get a feel-good vacation to an exotic country.

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