Off Center

by Henry Farrell on October 4, 2005

Review of _Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy_
Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Yale University Press 2005

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have written a distinctly unusual book. Political scientists don’t often write books that take sides in political arguments, and when they do, they usually don’t do any better at it than common or garden pundits. It’s hard to combine the attention to detail and to careful argument that academics are supposed to have with a passionate concern for the results of the fight. _Off Center_ (available from Amazon “here”: ; Powells don’t seem to be stocking it yet) pulls off both. On the one hand, it is very clearly the work of people who have thought carefully and hard about how politics works. There’s a depth of analysis here that’s completely absent from the common or garden partisan bestseller-wannabe. But on the other, it doesn’t pull its punches. Hacker and Pierson have no compunctions in arguing that the current Republican hegemony is dangerous, and needs to be rolled back. (rest of review below fold)

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Laverne & Shirley Republican Bingo

by Ted on October 4, 2005

Give ‘em any rule, they’ll break it…

Auditors find that the Bush administration violated the law by paying Armstrong Williams to push No Child Left Behind. Elliot Abrams pled guilty to withholding info about his knowledge of Iran-Contra. Pardoned by Bush I, appointed by Bush II to senior position on National Security Council. The Bush administration’s top federal procurement official, David H. Safavian, arrested after accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Bush appointee Thomas A. Scully fined $85,000 for threatening to fire a subordinate if he complied with requests to provide cost estimates Medicare bill. Scully was later tapped as chief surrogate on Medicare policy for Bush re-election campaign. Karl Rove told Time Magazine’s Matt Cooper that Joseph Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA while she was still working as a covert operative.
Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland convicted of accepting perks and lying about it.

Current Ohio Gov. Bob Taft indicted on four criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report more than 50 gifts and outings. Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher under investigation for illegal hiring, even after preemptively pardoning all staff members under indictment. Former Illinois governor George Ryan begins trial on bribes-for-licenses charges. Mike Foster, former Louisiana Governor and George W. Bush’s LA campaign chair, fined for failing to report $155,000 in payments to David Duke to use his mailing list in two campaigns.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay faces (as of this writing) three indictments for money-laundering, conspiracy to commit money-laundering, and conspiracy to violate election laws. House Ethics Panel rebukes DeLay twice in one day, for asking federal aviation officials to track down Texas Democratic representatives, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action. Image Hosted by Feds investigate DeLay’s office for illegally soliciting travel and other favors from Jack Abramoff. House Ethics panel rebukes Tom DeLay for offering a political favor to then-Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) in exchange for his vote on Medicare bill.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces questions for apparent insider trading of stock in family business. Ohio Rep. Robert Ney accepts trip from Abramoff in violation of House rules; official explanation doesn’t hold up. Business partner of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff questioned about mysterious quarter-million dollar payment to the murderers of Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis after Boulis refused to sell them the SunCruz cruise ship business. Randy “Duke” Cunningham will not seek re-election; under investigation for apparent sweetheart real estate deal with a defense contractor. Jack Abramoff and former DeLay press secretary Michael Scanlon investigated for bilking their Indian-tribe clients out of $66 million.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and emcee of “Justice Sunday”, fined $3000 for attempting to hide payment of $82,000 to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke for his mailing list. The former head of a New Hampshire Republican consulting group pleads guilty to jamming Democratic telephone lines during the 2002 general election.

The vice chairman and former treasurer of the Massachusetts Republican Party arrested on federal money-laundering charges after he allegedly deposited thousands of dollars in drug profits in a Brockton bank for a jailed client. Manuel Miranda, who resigned in disgrace for obtaining unauthorized access to confidential Senate Democratic documents, was later hired as the head of ethics committee for the conservative Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. Paul Gourley elected Chairman of College Republicans after signing letters in a fund-raising campaign that misled seniors into thinking they were giving to the campaigns of President Bush and other top Republicans.

Thanks to the Carpetbagger Report.

Journals and Political Philosophy

by Harry on October 4, 2005

The message I got as a graduate student was basically this: “Don’t publish anything unless it is outstandingly good, or in a high reputation journal, and even then don’t publish much”. I suspect this was slightly anachronistic even then (not complaining: it worked for me). So I have recently revised my advice to students; I mildly encourage publication (though stick to the advice that it should be pretty good). And, of course, the reputation of journals, which matters a little after tenure, and more before, matters enormously in pre-job search. But how do you know which have the good reputations?

While, thanks to the Gourmet report, potential graduate student have a pretty good sense of the reputation graduate schools have in the profession, it is much harder for existing graduate students to have a good sense of the reputation that journals (which they might choose to publish in) have. My guess is that they rely on their advisors’ judgements. But these judgements are likely to be less than fully informed. For myself I have distinct preferences within my own field, but have no idea whether they have shared. At the top it is pretty clear — Ethics and Philosophy & Public Affairs enjoy great reputations. I like the Journal of Political Philosophy for its more eclectic coverage than you get in PPA (or in Political Theory) and I also like Social Theory and Practice (not least because STP has provided great referee’s comments on my submissions, and copy-edited my publications beautifully). But are graduate students better advised to publish in those journals than in, say, Legal Theory, or Law and Philosophy or Economics and Philosophy? I’ve no idea, and nor have I any idea, really, how to find out. Except by asking the readers of CT, and by respectfully suggesting to Brian Leiter that there’s a missing market here…

Self-Validating Assertion

by Kieran Healy on October 4, 2005

“President Bush”: today:

bq. Mr. Bush also sent a clear signal that he would resist, on grounds of executive privilege, providing senators documents related to Ms. Miers’s work in the White House. … “I just can’t tell you how important it is for us to guard executive privilege in order for there to be crisp decision-making in the White House,” Mr. Bush said.

Just can’t. Because of what I said about crisp decision-making, you see.

Ronnie Barker is dead

by Harry on October 4, 2005

Obit here.