Blog Archives

This Is the Best Time Ever to Study Political Science

Here are ten questions that might be interesting to Americans these days. 1. Is the Trump administration’s immigration executive order constitutional? 2. Is the United States a democracy? How do we know? 3. How does presidential leadership style affect U.S.

Posted in Current Affairs, Research, Teaching

Democracy is not Government by Democrats, and Authoritarianism is not Government by Authoritarians

In a post from October 2015, “Democratic Disappointments, Authoritarian Reformists, and Political Equilibria,” I mused about a seemingly ironic feature of contemporary Malaysian politics. The former dictator Mahathir Mohamad, a staunch defender of ruling party hegemony who happily jailed opponents

Posted in Current Affairs, Malaysia, Politics, Research

Weak and Incompetent Leaders act like Strong Leaders

An essay by Yonatan Zunger entitled “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” is making the rounds. Such essays are frightening to many. And yet they must be read critically. I am equally taken by the argument that everything that Zunger identifies

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

The Unpopular Populist

Vladimir Putin: 86.8%. Rodrigo Duterte: 83%. Viktor Orbán: 80%. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: 68.6%. Gay Marriage (US): 57%. Abortion legal (US): 56%. Democratic Party: 52%. Free Trade is a good thing (US): 51%. Donald Trump: 45%.

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

Dictators use the Media Differently than Narcissists and Bullies

On Saturday, Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he lied about the size of President Trump’s inauguration audience and then refused to take questions. To many, this was just more evidence of the new administration’s authoritarian ambitions (see

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Malaysia, Politics

Personal Rule and Political Institutions

Daron Acemoglu has a strong essay in Foreign Policy on democratic institutions and the incoming administration. It make the case that American political institutions may not suffice to contain a leader who wishes to challenge them. It is a powerful piece given that one

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics

Comparative Methods: New Syllabus

This spring I am teaching Cornell’s Comparative Methods course. The near-final syllabus is here (PDF). (To those Cornell PhD students reading this: hi! I’ll see you next Wednesday.) Compared to the previous time that I taught this course, I am

Posted in Teaching

U.S.-Indonesian Relations at a Crossroads

The U.S. and Indonesia have enjoyed good bilateral relations since the late 1960s, when the rise of Soeharto saw the elimination of the world’s largest communist party in a non-communist country. Relations have been grown warmer since the fall of

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Islam, Politics

Lorraine Chuen on Food, Race, and Power

This is relevant to my interests (HT Angry Asian Man). The amount of power that White people hold continues to both amaze and disturb me. White folks have the power to tease, torment, and mock (this food smells like poo,

Posted in Asia, Food and Drink

Finding and Eating the Old Malacca

Yesterday I took a day trip from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca. I first visited in 2005, and things have changed. What then seemed like a pleasant little historic town has been aggressively developed for the tourist market. The development is

Posted in Food and Drink, Malaysia, Travel
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