Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘parliamentary democracy

Just a Few Monday Links

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We live in a time of noblesse oblige without the oblige — wealth disguised as merit and merit as a pretext for malice. Nobility dodges, nobility punishes. Nobility pretends it is not nobility, and tells us to take out short-term loans.

* On writing, and then revising, a dissertation: As much as you may hate what you’re writing at this exact moment, you will only feel a more precise and exhausted loathing toward it later on.

* Ezra Klein: Five thoughts on the Obamacare disaster.

* Histories of the Tea Party from Jacobin and the New Yorker.

* Kevin Drum steals my bitCan America Survive Parliamentary Norms in a Presidential System?

* To my tenured colleagues.

And MetaFilter considers “League of Denial.”

Doomed

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…start with Linz’s analysis of Latin America in his two-volume seriesThe Failure of Presidential Democracy. The problem, according to Linz, is right there in the title: too much reliance on presidents. In Linz’s telling, successful democracies are governed by prime ministers who have the support of a majority coalition in parliament. Sometimes, as in the British Commonwealth or Sweden or post-Franco Spain, these prime ministers are formally subordinate to a monarch. Other times, as in Germany or Israel or Ireland, there is a largely ceremonial, nonhereditary president who serves as head of state. But in either case, governing authority vests in a prime minister and a cabinet whose authority derives directly from majority support in parliament. The shutdown is the Constitution’s fault. But don’t despair! A loophole can still save us! Democrats can use this one weird trick to end the government shutdown.

Tom the Dancing Bug

Quote of the Day

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“Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?” said one senior House Republican aide who requested anonymity to discuss the matter freely. “I just don’t want to co-own the economy by having to tout that we passed a jobs bill that won’t work or at least won’t do enough.”

Putting aside the spectacle of top Republicans once again admitting (in private) that they’re deliberately sabotaging the economy just to hurt Obama, there’s an even bigger issue at stake here. One of the things Matt Yglesias has had right for a long time is the growing institutional crisis in Congress, which increasingly has the lockstep partisan logic of a parliamentary system coupled with the procedures and myriad veto points of a presidential system. The worst-of-both-worlds result is a situation in which the minority party not only benefits from the failure of the majority party’s agenda but has the power to ensure that failure by preventing any legislation from being passed at all.

You just can’t run a government this way—at least, not for very long.

Lots of Tuesday Links

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* A key feature of the case for Elena Kagan is her supposed ability to convince Anthony Kennedy of things. (Bill makes one version of this argument in the comments, though he himself doesn’t quite endorse it.) Like pretty much everybody I’m skeptical of this; I don’t know what the evidence is supposed to be that Kagan is better positioned to persuade Anthony Kennedy than anyone else on the shortlist, and her record as Solicitor General hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in this regard.

* Nate Silver makes the actuarial case for Elena Kagan.

Wood’s VORJ, we’ll assume, begins at 50, since we’re supposing that she’ll side with the liberals 100 percent of the time rather than 50 percent for her replacement. Kagan’s starts at 40: the 90 percent of the time we’ve supposed she’d vote with the liberals, less the 50 percent baseline.

As we go out into the future, however, the Justices become less valuable as they are less likely to survive. For instance, Wood has about an 18 percent chance of no longer being with us 15 years hence, so we’d have to subtract that fraction from her VORJ.

After about 20 years, Kagan overtakes Wood even though she’s less liberal, because she’s more likely have survived. She continues to provide excess value over [Wood] from that point forward, until we reach a period 40+ years out where both women are almost certain to be dead. On balance, Kagan’s lifetime expected VORJ is actually higher than that of [Wood]’s (1,280 rather than 1,206, if you care), assuming that she’ll defect from the liberals 10 percent of the time whereas Wood never will.

Favoring near-term outcomes at a discount rate of 1.7% or more, though, favors Wood.

* What to do next to stop the spill in the Gulf? The New York Times speculates. Or, you know, we could just nuke it.

* Related: BP makes enough profit in four days to cover the costs of the spill cleanup thus far.

* Something good in the climate bill: Climate Bill Will Allow States to Veto Neighboring States’ Drilling Plans.

* Something good in a very bad-looking November: Richard Burr will almost certainly lose in NC.

* Žižek vs the volcano.

The confusion of natural and cultural or economic concerns in the arguments over the prohibition of flights raised the following suspicion: how come the scientific evidence began to suggest it was safe to fly over most of Europe just when the pressure from the airlines became most intense? Is this not further proof that capital is the only real thing in our lives, with even scientific judgements having to bend to its will?

The problem is that scientists are supposed to know, but they do not. Science is helpless and covers up this helplessness with a deceptive screen of expert assurance. We rely more and more on experts, even in the most intimate domains of our experience (sexuality and religion). As a result, the field of scientific knowledge is transformed into a terrain of conflicting “expert opinions”.

Most of the threats we face today are not external (or “natural”), but generated by human activity shaped by science (the ecological consequences of our industry, say, or the psychic consequences of uncontrolled genetic engineering), so that the sciences are simultaneously the source of such threats, our best hope of understanding those threats, and the means through which we may find a way of coping with them.

* ‘Confessions of a Tenured Professor’: a tenured professor takes note of his adjunct colleagues.

* Middle-class white people are the only people: Atrios discovers a very strange lede at the Washington Post.

The idealized vision of suburbia as a homogenous landscape of prosperity built around the nuclear family took another hit over the past decade, as suburbs became home to more poor people, immigrants, minorities, senior citizens and households with no children, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released Sunday.

* Inside MK-ULTRA.

* Inside Alabama.

Just so we’re clear, in the 21st century, Republican gubernatorial candidates are attacked for accepting modern biology and being only a partial Biblical literalist.

* That about wraps it up for Britain.

* And confidential to Playboy: putting the centerfolds in 3D will not save you.

Coup in Canada: Redux!

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Stephen Harper has managed to stave off his day of reckoning by successfully requesting a suspension of Canada’s Parliament.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 5, 2008 at 3:53 am