The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Wednesday Linkage

February 20, 2013

Sitting Ducks• Belusconi offers tax rebates. Opponents accuse him of seeking to “buy votes.” 

The letter came in an official-looking envelope, headed: “Important notice: reimbursement of IMU 2012.”

“The refund will be available either through a transfer into your bank account, or to you personally at the counter of the post office,” the letter said, according to Reuters.

It was sent to millions of households in Sicily, Veneto, Campania and Lombardy – key regions which could decide the result of the election, which is held on Sunday and Monday.

The IMU tax amounts to 0.4% of the value of a property owner’s primary residence, and is comparable to similar taxes levied elsewhere in Europe.

• Analysis on the implications of the Italian election from Brent Whelan.
• Anti-austerity protests bring down the Bulgarian government.
• Kelsey Davenport brings us the “view from Seoul” on North Korean nuclear activity.
• Should the US and Europe “make Iran a serious offer?” What if Iranian “nuclear breakout” is worse for oil markets than a US preventive strike on the country?
• “Roman Roots for an Imperial Presidency: Revisiting Clinton Rossiter’s 1948 Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government and Modern Democracy” (PDF) by David Rudenstein in the Cardoza Law Review (via).

Indeed, Rossiter went further. “From this day forward,” Rossiter declared, “we must cease wasting our energies in discussing whether the  government of the United States is to be powerful or not.” The United  States “is going to be powerful,” Rossiter announced, or it will be “obliterated.” “Our problem,” Rossiter stated, “is to make that power  effective and responsible, to make any future dictatorship a constitutional one.” Furthermore, according to Rossiter, “it is not too much to say that the destiny of this nation in the Atomic Age will rest in the capacity of the Presidency as an institution of constitutional  dictatorship.” In other words, for Rossiter, in the wake of World War II, the confrontation with the Soviet Union along with the development of nuclear weapons, meant that “the age-old phenomenon of constitutional dictatorship has reached the peak of its significance,” and the consequence of these dynamics is the grant of exceptional power to the chief executive. Or as Rossiter asserted, “[c]risis government is primarily and often exclusively the business of presidents and prime ministers,” and to secure the nation’s security in the future, Rossiter maintained that “[n]o sacrifice is too great for our democracy, least of all the temporary sacrifice of democracy itself.” This was Rossiter’s frame of mind as he prepared his comparative study of different nation states during times of crisis.

• Think tanks as ideological sinecures? No way! (via PTJ)

The hand-wringing, on the other hand, involved some even more quaint notions about the think tanks at the heart of Washington’s ideas industry. DeMint was not a “serious scholar,” wrote the Post’s conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin. By making him its leader, she said, Heritage “becomes a political instrument in service of extremism, not a well-respected think tank and source of scholarship.”

Both reactions, though, leave out a crucial component: money. DeMint, who reported virtually no assets on congressional disclosure forms, stood to get a significant raise by moving to Heritage. Outgoing Heritage president Ed Fuelner received nearly $1.2 million in 2011, according to the group’s tax filing. If DeMint gets the same compensation—and one expects he’ll get more—it would amount to a raise of about 700 percent from his $174,000 annual take as a senator.

Contingent academic labour in the UK.
• Fabius Maximus says — albeit with much more snark — what many of us have been saying for a while: the US center-right coalition is called the “Democratic Party.” Meanwhile, partisanship dynamics have pushed the GOP to the far right.
• Dave Schuler sums up the “blame game” on the sequester.
• In case you missed it, here’s Tim Burke on the “long durée and the galatic empire.”
• “Zombies and the End of Society” at e-IR.
• New Playstation console unveiled tonight.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.