Health Insurance as a Tax Break

In the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) today, the court upheld the individual mandate provision today viewing it as a tax. The ruling stated that while Congress could not require people to buy insurance, Congress could tax people who did not buy insurance.  From another perspective, instead of looking at the individual mandate as a tax on those who do not buy insurance, it is a tax break for those who do buy insurance. This would be similar to tax breaks people receive for going to college, donating to charity, and buying a home. Obviously Congress cannot Continue reading Health Insurance as a Tax Break

Why Poor Predictions are a Justification for More (not less) Research

Stevens’ criticisms of political science in her NY Times OP-Ed were not criticisms of political science per se; rather, they were criticisms of the scientific process in general. It is a frustrating process. It would be nice if we could identify all the causes of a particular outcome after doing a limited amount of research. But it actually takes time to identify causes of any natural or social phenomenon. We often develop models that only partially reflect the real world- these models will inevitably give us inaccurate predictions. But those inaccurate predictions give us an opportunity to re-evaluate what we Continue reading Why Poor Predictions are a Justification for More (not less) Research

Military Capabilities

Phil Arena has a very cool post up wherein he explores a potential alternative to the ubiquitous CINC score for measuring military capabilities. This strikes me as something that is long overdue.  And there are a couple of things that I like about the measure just from taking a quick glance at it. First, given that China just launched its first aircraft carrier, which is actually a refurbished Soviet carrier if I recall correctly, I think the notion that China has already surpassed the US in terms of military capabilities is a big pill to swallow. Second, just glancing at Continue reading Military Capabilities

On the Utility of IR Research

At the Duck of Minerva, Josh Busby has a post on the gap between political science research/IR and the policymaking community. I don't have a whole lot to say about the specific content of Busby's post, aside from the fact that I think this is an interesting an important debate to have. (Also, please note that the links in the quotations were provided in Busby's original post).

Using private information to beat Death

    In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (not to be confused with their most Excellent Adventure), the duo are killed and sent to Hell.  On their way to an eternity of punishment, Death gives them the ability to escape their fate if they can best him in a game of their choosing.  The wager seems to be an obvious one to take: If you lose, you are stuck in hell for eternity; if you win, you can leave.  However, if you do not play the game, then you are still stuck in Hell without the ability to leave. In a previous Continue reading Using private information to beat Death

The Syrian Civil War II

So it's official…ish. It's official-ish.  Or maybe not. The BBC reports that the UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, seems to be the first official to publicly describe the Syrian civil war as a civil war, as opposed to something moving ever closer to that oh so elusive place. However, the article also notes that others have pushed back against this description (big surprise). Officials from the Syrian Foreign Ministry are opting to describe the conflict as follows:   Talk of civil war in Syria is not consistent with reality… What is happening in Syria is a Continue reading The Syrian Civil War II

The Syrian Civil War

Over at the new Political Violence at a Glance blog, Barbara Walter and Elizabeth Martin address a question that I raised last week regarding the reluctance of policymakers to label the Syrian conflict a civil war. Walter and Martin raise three/four points in particular (I may be lumping something together here) to help explain this behavior, but I have a couple of further questions/comments. 

Don’t Call It A Comeback (This Civil War Has Been Here For Years)

Well, maybe not years. And LL Cool J references aside, while perusing my usual news outlets this morning I've found that in the wake of what is reported to be a fresh massacre, Syria is again a common theme in the headlines (see CNN, BBC, FP). More after the jump.