Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Tyranny of the Big Three In Political Science

In recent days, there has been much discussion about the so-called Big3 journals in Political Science: the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.  Each is the standard-bearer journal for their respective associations--the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association and the Southern Political Science Association.

Over the years, these three journals have become seen as the most prominent journals in the discipline.  For some American universities, for the purposes of hiring, tenure and promotion, getting published at least once in one of these may be viewed as a necessary condition or a sufficient condition (along with enough other pubs) and in some places, publications only really count if they are in the big 3.

This has long been seen as problematic.  There is only so many spaces in three journals per year, so the likelihood of landing in these journals is low and especially low if one is supposed to land in the regularly.  Because these journals have traditionally been dominated by those who study American politics, the kind of stuff that gets in and the kind of stuff that does not can be quite skewed.  It is very difficult for IR or Comparative or Political Theory scholars to get published at all since there are not that many of these in any issue.  There is rarely any qualitative work, which is a problem as half of IR is still not quant (see my new piece on the basics of contemporary IR work in the major journals).  I would argue that IR scholars don't pay as much attention to these journals despite their flagship-ness, but citation patterns suggest otherwise (a quick comparison of average citations in Big 3 versus not Big3 is not close--43 vs 25)*

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Most Puzzling Insult

There are plenty of ways to insult people, so why do folks sometimes refer to the preferred oxygen pathway?

Why would a mouthbreather be someone who is not as bright, who is an ape or caveman or whatever?  I just don't get the association.  And, of course, I take it personally since a lifetime of allergies (modest--I can breathe, just not well--to anything that grows: grass, trees, weeds, plants, etc) means I breathe through my mouth.  The only person who should object, and object she does from time to time, is my wife since I don't sleep quietly. 

The key is that the oxygen gets there, one way, or another, so me and my fellow mouthbreathers do not want associations with those who deserve heaps of insults.  Indeed, I discussed with Mrs. Spew the proper way to insult MRAssholes as calling them pussies, for example, is reinforcing their notion that women are lesser (Slack friends also pushed in that direction).  So, calling the guy who killed ten Torontians yesterday a quitter works since he and his ilk (if the info on him is correct) are chock full of failure and toxic masculinity and thus sensitive to being called LOSERS and QUITTERS in ways that don't insult others.

Calling them mouthbreathers?  They probably don't mind, and it confuses me.  So, pick the right insults for these guys who have the attitudes of seven year old boys who don't understand girls.  Most boys grow out of it--these guys don't. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Do I Think Before Going to Seoul

At the end of this week, I head off to South Korea to do the next case study in the Dave and Phil and Steve project.  The project is not about North Korea or nuclear weapons, but about how democracies oversee their militaries.  I am not an expert on nuclear proliferation or on North Korea, but as a scholar of international security, I am sure I will be talking about and thinking about the current crisis as I wander along. So, I thought I would write now about my views on the upcoming summit and the various declarations before I go since it might be fun to compare with my views after I come back--I might learn something or change my mind (or not).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Can Colonels Complain? Canadian Civil-Military Relations at Night

Last night, a kerfuffle broke out in Canadian civil-military relations.  I would not call it a crisis, but I saw a military officer post something and then two members of the opposition parties hit back at him for daring to tweet about how the military is covered.  I may be biased because the essence of the message is something that I have argued much here.  Let's go to the videotape series of tweets:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Canada is Underrated

Maybe that old saw about immigrants being more nationalistic than the native born is true.  I read Scott Gilmore's complains that "Canada is not a country" and strongly recoiled.  As someone who has lived here for 16 years and came with a belief that Canada was simply a colder version of the US, I have learned that Canada is a people, it is a nation, and it is a country.  Partly this is due to lived experience and observation and partly because I happen to have spent much time studying nationalism.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Confused About Syria

NPSIA just started a program where we have an CAF officer as a Defence Fellow.  This means we mentor him (in the current case) on his research, he learns how we think, and we get to learn how such folks think.  There is more to it than that, but his weekly presence is fostering a weekly brown bat that pushed me on how to think about the Syria bombing last week (the annual bombing?).

I have been reluctant to blog about it because I have been confused.  Why?  Because I see some merits on punishing those who cross a very important line, but I also have problems with who is doing the acting and how it is being done and the reality that Assad can just go along and keep killing people.  Let me explain as I think through this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Impeachment: Should Or Should Not

I have long been arguing that impeachment is not going to happen:

But the question of should or should not is something different.  I am not speaking here of whether Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors (whatever the jargon is), but whether it would be a good or bad thing to impeach Trump or just wait to vote him out.  The question is not Trump versus Pence (as Pence would be awful, too), but whether it would be better to have the American voters decide or be denied that opportunity by Congress.  To preview, impeachment > 2020.

I have been hearing the argument that the American people should decide.  That it would be best for the future of American politics that this choice is not taken out of the hands of voters.  By rendering a verdict against Trump, the US polity can move on.  This, of course, assumes that Trump loses, that the Russians don't break our electoral process, etc.  Putting those concerns aside, I see the merits of this argument.  Impeachment could create or foster a "stabbed in the back" narrative among those who voted for Trump in 2016--that the deep state got him.  That it might erode faith in American institutions because the "establishment" had it out for Trump.

I get that.  However, putting aside the benefits of not having Trump for President for the last two years of his term, the key is this: the singular message of the Trump Era might be, unless there are consequences, is that Trump and his crew are above the law.  They certainly have behaved that way--Pruitt's planes, Carson's table, nepotism, security clearances for those who can't fill out the forms, all of the emoulements stuff, and on and on.  Impeachment exists for a reason--to have consequences for a President when they do things that are illegal, immoral, and/or destructive to the interests of the U.S. (again, I am not a lawyer).  It is a political decision, of course, but, at the heart of it, it is the one way to make sure that the President is not above the law.  We expected norms to do that work, but they have failed.  Apparently, they mostly operate due to a sense of shame that the various players have, and, well, Trump and his team are utterly devoid of shame.

Which is worse for American institutions going forward?  That the people don't get a chance to throw the bums out OR that administrations are beyond the law?  I vote for the latter, once again dwelling in the tyranny of low expectations and standards.

UPDATE: this came out today: