Character-Based Voting, a QED

OK, so he has objectionable views on incest. But can we really treat those as a proxy for his views on policy? Non-incest-based policy, I mean.  What if, as a condition of being elected, he promises never to touch the incest laws (and we can hold him to that), but as an accountant, he promises to reform the tax code in a desirable way?

You have to be grateful for a political environment that dishes up real-life examples of a kind you couldn’t have invented in a thought-experiment.

 

Dr. No at the Voting Booth: An Election Day Parable

Today is Election Day in New Jersey–our primary election. For months I’ve been blathering on and on like a fan-boy about the virtues and wonders of the Democratic front runner for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district, Mikie Sherrill. I was a fan way before the Times was. I went to her meetings. I contributed dutifully to her campaign via Blue Wave. At the last meeting, I grabbed a “Mikie Sherrill for Congress” lawn sign–not that I have a lawn. Today was going to be the proud day when, at last, I voted for her. Indeed, I Facebooked my intentions the night before:

My votes for the primary election: a “yes” to Mikie Sherrill for 11th district congressional representative, a “no” to Robert Menendez for US Senate.

I’d cross out the entire Republican slate if I could. But I’ll save that for November.

And I would, if I could. But I’ll get to that. Continue reading

Letters to Our Ruling Class (2): Protesting the Gaza Killings

Jewish Voice for Peace Northern New Jersey Chapter

Call to Action on May 30, from 12-2 pm.:

Place: One Gateway Center, 7-45 Raymond Blvd, Newark, steps from Newark Penn Station.
Date and Time: Wed., May 30, from 12-2 p.m.

As many of you, we have been horrified, anguished, and grieved to witness Israeli snipers shooting down Palestinian protestors who posed no threat to their lives or the lives of those Israelis they claimed to be protecting. More than 100 Palestinians have already been killed and more than 10,000 wounded, many with bullets that shatter bone such that amputation may be the only outcome, given the limitations of treatment available in Gaza under siege for a decade. Children, women, people walking away from the fence, people just standing around, people clearly marked as Press, have all been targeted. We have held two protest vigils in Montclair to raise public awareness.

jvp.montclair

JVP Gaza Protest: Montclair, New Jersey (May 12, 2018)

As the largest recipient of US military aid, Israel should be subject to the US laws prohibiting the commission of such human right s abuses by those countries receiving military aid. Only 14 US Senators, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, signed on to a letter calling for such sanctions. Sadly, neither of our NJ Senators were signatories.

We will be bringing a letter to the Senators, and meeting in front of their Newark offices, to call on them to condemn actions of the IDF, and call for sanctions, at the same time, informing people of these issues. Please join us and bring others with you.

Letters to Our Ruling Class (1): Senator Menendez on Syria

Here’s the text of a letter I wrote my Senator, Bob Menendez, on Donald Trump’s missile strikes on Syria a few weeks ago. His “response” follows. Obviously, it isn’t really a response, and isn’t really meant as one. I’m just curious what it takes to get a straight answer from our politicians on matters of war and peace. Famous last words, I realize.  Continue reading

Drawing the Line

At the end of the article, they make a hasty generalization says that the officer was a young officer that and his first instinct was to act in a situation where he thought a crime was happening. So therefore if someone is a young officer they will always jump into actions based on assumption that a crime is happening? That is not correct because we can see throughout the news that this is not the first case that this has happened and the officers are not young, they all different ages and come from backgrounds.

Having trouble following that? I don’t blame you. It’s a verbatim excerpt from a student response to a take-home exam I gave in my Phil 100 class, Critical Thinking. The whole essay reads like this. Neither the article mentioned nor the response given has anything (at all) to do with the exam assignment, which the student has blithely ignored. No information is given about the article, either: no author, title, date, or source. Continue reading

“Zero Time” Adjuncts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

8669816726_51b6a07ecf_b 2Southern Illinois University at Carbondale does not make national news very often.  Occasionally the Salukis will pop onto the radar for sports fans, but given just how much “news” (using that term loosely) gets generated in the field of sport, those developments tend to age and be forgotten rather quickly.  When the university does draw national attention for academic, rather than athletic matters, more often than not, the story is a negative one.  And that is certainly the case when it comes to the latest development.

Two weeks ago, an internal memo got leaked.  It was from an associate dean for Research, Budget, and Personnel, Michael Molino, and addressed to department chairs in several of the colleges.  The SIUC Alumni Association – and as it turns out, the provost (though not mentioned in the memo) – were starting a pilot program looking to bring in qualified alumni with Ph.D.s for three year appointments with “zero time adjunct status” in graduate programs.

Within hours of the leak – first as a Facebook post by “The Professor Is In” – a variety of conversations, questions, knee jerk reactions, and rants flooded the internet, particularly on Twitter.  Nearly all of it was clearly negative in nature, but hard information about the precise motivation and meaning of the memo was lacking, and as an alumnus of SIUC, the first thing that struck me was how a very unlikely school had suddenly become –  in the minds of many people – a stand-in for their (often legitimate) gripes about contemporary academia in general. Continue reading

Moral Grandstanding and Character-Based Voting

I’ve recently been teaching Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke’s paper, “Moral Grandstanding“–and simultaneously been working on a paper on Jason Brennan’s critique of character-based voting–and happened to see an interesting connection between the two. So this post harks back to, and ties together, two topics we’ve recently been discussing here at PoT–Michael’s recent post on grandstanding, and mine on character-based voting.

Suppose, as per Brennan’s argument in The Ethics of Voting, that character-based voting is justified insofar as character functions either as a proxy for the policies that a candidate might enact once elected, or more generally, for the quality of governance he might be expected to engage in. Now suppose that character-based voting sometimes is justified on those grounds, so that character sometimes does function as a proxy variable for predictions about a candidate’s capacities for good governance in the future. Continue reading

“An Enmity to One’s Being”: A Murder in Palestine

Put in mere prose, the event sounds so humdrum and everyday that the reader is apt to let it in through one ear, and let it out the other:

AFTER A TRIAL that lasted nearly four years, Ben Deri, a former member of Israel’s paramilitary border police force, was sentenced to nine months in jail on Wednesday for firing live ammunition through the chest of an unarmed Palestinian protester without having been ordered to do so.

But sometimes, seeing is believing, and sticks with you awhile:

People sometimes complain, justifiably, that video footage of a crime or atrocity distorts the event by truncation: you miss what preceded the footage, and what came after, to fixate unfairly on the slice in between. Harder to make that claim here. Continue reading

#SaveBasit: From Deportation to Death Sentence

A moral disaster in the making. Please share and consider signing the petition and/or making some other sort of contribution.

Students have launched an urgent campaign to save their teacher who faces the death penalty in Egypt following what human rights groups say was a sham trial to punish him for political activism. His asylum application was just denied and he was put in immigration detention two weeks ago. 

Backgrounder from northjersey.com. Backgrounder from HuffPost. From Carbonated.TV. Editorial from the Newark Star-Ledger. From Jersey City Patch.

Change.org petition, signed by PoT’s own David Riesbeck and yours truly.

I’d like to think that the prospect of an actual death sentence will get as much coverage as the hypothetical hanging that got Kevin Williamson fired from The Atlantic. But I somehow doubt it. These deportation cases have all become a dime a dozenContinue reading