Voting Blocks and the Academic Career

Understanding voting dynamics can play a key role in an academic career. After all, the decision to hire you and grant that all-powerful tenure status is made by a group of faculty consisting of various blocs and interest groups.  David D. Perlmutter, dean of the college of media and communications at Texas Tech breaks down the key groups: by-the-bookers, collegians, in-my-dayers, politicals/hobby horsers:

In this series about the players who can affect your career, I focused first on the chair and then on the head of the department’s promotion-and-tenure committee. Now I’d like to turn to the role played by tenured faculty members. How they vote is rarely idiosyncratic or random. There tend to be constituencies of like feeling and opinion. Understanding those constituencies early in your career and identifying which faculty members fall into which category will give you some sense of who will decide your fate, why, and what you might do to win them over

via Know the Vital Players in Your Career: The Tenured Factions – Advice – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Manmohan Singh’s Sri Lanka Dilemma –

Domestic politics shaping foreign policy? That would never happen in the US, right? At a meetinf of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organization with 53 member states, things get political:

However, Indian diplomats argue that the Bangladesh debacle in September 2011 should serve as a reminder to the Ministry of External Affairs to never let foreign policy be subservient to domestic politics. At that time, India caved into pressure by Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader, not to sign the Teesta waters agreement with Dhaka.

Diplomats argue that Mr. Singh severely lost face in front of Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. Ms. Hasina had expended considerable political capital in persuading her own government that in return for sharing the Teesta waters as well as the Indian ratification of an updated Land Boundary Agreement with India, Bangladesh would provide transit rights to Indian goods and people for access to India’s northeastern states as well as access to the geostrategically located Chittagong port in the Bay of Bengal.

via Manmohan Singh’s Sri Lanka Dilemma –

The Path to Radical Conservatism, Procedure in the Senate

Politics and bloc dynamics are at play in the fight for the future of the Republican party. But deeper issues include a struggle among different “types” of conservatism:

Mainstream conservatives trying to figure out how to extract their party from the hole their more extreme colleagues are digging for them face a major hurdle: the dependence of the national Republican Party on the votes of besieged whites, especially white Southerners. Another signal of the intransigence of this core Republican constituency was a little noticed development last week: the announcement that two Republican members of the House bipartisan immigration reform group, Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson, both from Texas, had quit the reform effort. They joined Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, who left in June. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is the lone, and presumably lonely, Republican on this ad hoc committee, which was once split evenly between the parties.

via How Did Conservatives Get This Radical? –

Meanwhile, Senators Cruz and Lee illustrate the application of this political reality in a context that is shaped by parliamentary procedure:

The congressional dynamics at play here are complicated and hard to communicate to a general public that’s not versed in parliamentary procedure, leaving Cruz and Lee calling on voters to call their senators to ask them to block “cloture,” or limiting debate on the budget bill in the Senate. Except it’s not even a proper budget bill but a continuing resolution to maintain current levels of spending for the next two and a half months. Calling for GOP senators to “in effect, filibuster the House-passed continuing resolution in the Senate,” as Roll Call described it, could shut down the government when the fiscal year ends on September 30 at midnight, if the Senate cannot pass a budgetary extension before then.

“If you caught Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Mike Lee (R-Utah) on the Sunday talk shows, you would quickly realize that these two have absolutely no idea what they are doing,” concluded conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin. “Lee’s and Cruz’s insistence that they are the ones ‘fighting’ is belied by the facts. They are actually intent on running into a concrete wall again and again to prove their political machismo. For many Republicans this isn’t bravery but stupidity.”

via How Unpopular is Ted Cruz Right Now?

What Paradigm is Syria?

Why do we fight?

In the early 19th century, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz concluded that war is an act of politics pursued by other means. Two centuries on, a student of modern conflict might be forced to recast the doctrine for the globalized, 24-hour-news-cycle era: War is a political act pursued to the extent that politics itself permits.

In recent days, indeed, as Western leaders wrestled with claims of chemical weapons use on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, the balance between politics at home and the ability to project military power abroad seems to have shifted into a new and more circumspect era, as voters tire of fruitless wars overseas and of their leaders’ rationales for fighting them

via Syria Crisis Reveals New Paradigm –

Why the US shouldn’t fight:

Sir William also warned that “intervention never has been, never will be, never can be short, simple, or peaceable.”

“I do not say,” he added, “that England, Russia and France might not impose their will on the American belligerents; I do not argue the question whether it is right that they should do so. But this I venture to affirm, that they never will and never can accomplish it, except by recourse to arms; it may be by making war on the North; it may be by making war on the South, or, what is still more probable, it may be by making war upon both in turns.”

And so Sir William advised Britain to stay out of the American conflict.

via What Sir William Would Do in Syria –

Be careful using the Kosovo analogy:

But to win the vote, the Obama administration would be wise not to emphasize the Kosovo analogy. Instead, administration officials should admit that what they define as American interests in Syria are not based on a moral duty to prevent the slaughter of civilians. Nor is the goal to damage the Assad regime because of its strategic military alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.

Mr. Obama should stick to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, despite the inevitable echo of Iraq. By using chemical weapons against innocent men, women and children, Mr. Assad has breached one of the oldest international laws — the 1925 protocol banning the use of poison gas — to which Syria is a party. Although there are no enforcement mechanisms authorizing force in that treaty, much of the world would likely accept that a limited use of military force aimed at Syria’s chemical weapons capability is a legitimate and proportionate response to such a blatant violation.

via Syria Is Not Kosovo –

And don’t forget how Iran could help?

While some have said attacking Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons would warn Iran not to build nuclear weapons, others still want to pursue talks with Tehran.

But by engaging more directly with Iran, could the United States defuse the situation in Syria and help bring about peace? Could an attack on Syria damage prospects for negotiations with Iran?

via Can Iran Help the U.S. in Syria? – Room for Debate –

And finally, WWND: What Would Nietzsche Do?

Americans from President Obama to the average citizen are about to have a “Nietzsche moment”: the kind of experience that the German philosopher predicted when he said, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” In the case of our collective contemplation of what to do about the Syrian crisis, Nietzsche’s meaning may be that, in the face of such complexity, as much may be revealed about ourselves as about the dictator we seek to rein in.

via The Syrian Abyss – By John Arquilla | Foreign Policy.

Inside the Curia: Voting Procedure on Papal Selection

Reports reveal the politicking and voting procedure that resulted in the selection of the first non-European pontiff.  Of the 114 cardinals only 47–an odd number–voted, with informal guidelines suggesting that a “runner up” would not be selected. Two MCs (non-cardinals) pass out the ballots, and a very detailed system entails

The most authoritative accounts of that election suggest Cardinal Bergoglio garnered the second most votes to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the penultimate round. Then, at lunch, he was said to have thrown his votes to Cardinal Ratzinger, who was quickly elected Benedict XVI. Some accounts suggest he did not want to be pope; others, that he knew he did not have a chance of winning.Renunciation is not unheard-of. “People say, ‘Don’t consider me,’ ” said Chicago’s archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, in an interview, and that was the case this time as well. “Some people were very disturbed by the idea” that they might be considered for pope, he said.

via New Pope’s Piety and Humility Aided His Surprise Selection –

More details via globalpost on the exact process, which includes ceremony as much as voting dynamics–much of the latter occurring before and after, in ‘caucusing’:

  • Lots are drawn to select nine of the cardinals, three of whom will serve as “scrutineers”, three “infirmarii” to collect the votes of cardinals who fall ill, and three “revisers” who check the ballot counting down by the scrutineers.
  • Cardinals are given rectangular ballots inscribed at the top with the words Eligo in Summum Pontificem (“I elect as supreme pontiff”) with a blank space underneath.
  • After all non-cardinals have left the chapel, they write down the name of their choice for future pope, preferably in handwriting which cannot be identified as their own, and fold the ballot paper twice.
  • Each cardinal takes it in turns to walk to the altar, carrying his vote in the air so that it can be clearly seen, and says aloud the following oath:
  • “I call as my witness Christ the Lord, who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.”

A longer discussion on the implications with professor John M. Hunt are worth watching–available from the @BYUKennedyCtr.



Back to Work – By Colum Lynch | Foreign Policy

Finally can the UN now address Rwanda, Syria, the arms trade treaty and other pressing issues?  Expert UN watcher Column Lynch observes that the US administration will be pushed on Monday when the Human Rights Council vote arrives for a coveted Western bloc space.

Back to Work – By Colum Lynch | Foreign Policy.

The Psychology of Being Non-aligned

A psychological study on partisanship that shows how loyalty to the group trumps the value of ideas has interesting implications for those aiming to persuade an electorate or a bloc.

Appeals to the group membership work because undecideds, moderates, or nonaligned independents may be masking their partisanship:

Brian Nosek is a psychologist at the University of Virginia. Along with graduate student Carlee Beth Hawkins, Nosek studies why people don’t always do what they say they want to do — why there is a gap in many aspects of human behavior between what people intend to do and what they actually do.

Nosek and Hawkins believed this disconnect explains why many independents arent independent when it comes to voting.

The psychologists used a test that purports to measure peoples inner attitudes, including ones they dont know they have.”

The test is called the Implicit Association Test,” Nosek said. “And its been used for a variety of different topics — trying to measure peoples racial attitudes, their anxieties about spiders, their self-esteem. In our case, we tried to measure how strongly people associate themselves with Democrats or Republicans.”

The idea behind the test is simple. If you are a Republican deep down, youll quickly categorize things that are Republican with things about yourself, because you identify with the Republican Party. Youll be slower to group things connected to the Democratic Party with things about yourself. You can try the test for yourself here.

via Are Independents Just Partisans In Disguise? : Its All Politics : NPR.