Connecticut elections

Update: You can register and vote on the same day tomorrow!

It is that time of year again. Another November, another election. And again, I have the same gripe about voting here that I have had since moving here: there is no voting guide (for instance, my posts on Nov 6, 2012 and Oct 5, 2010). Sure, growing up in California spoiled me in many ways. Life is easy there. Warm winter days, and the mailman delivered all of the information I needed to know about primaries and elections: where to go to vote, descriptions of the candidates and issues, statements and analysis of the pros and cons of ballot measures, and sample ballots to take to the polls.

But now I live in New England. And just as they prefer their winters to be harder, they apparently prefer to make voting harder. So as a public service to anyone coming across this blog, I now provide you with a list of resources on where to find information about our local elections here in Middletown, CT. I provide this as information only. I have my own opinions about the candidates and issues, but I’ll keep them out of this post.

The City of Middletown

OK, so the City has much of the basic information you need. But how do you learn about the candidates and issues? This year, in Middletwon, we are voting for individuals to fill the following important positions: Mayor, Common Council, Treasurer, Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, Planning and Zoning Commission, and “Planning Commission Alternate”.

To learn about the candidates, I suggest the following resources:

  • Middletown Press
    • This is the local paper. They should be good at providing comprehensive election coverage. But I have never seen them do this. That said, there is the occasional article.
  • Middletown Eye
    • The website is not organized for easy review of the candidates, but they do have bios on many of the candidates if you are willing to dig through the blog posts.

Besides the candidates we are asked to vote on two “questions”. If we were in California we would have statements for and against each of these provided to us, plus a statement by an analyst on the implications of these decisions, plus a list of groups in favor or opposed to these measures. In Connecticut, you don’t get anything. But I have found a few news stories.

Here are the questions for voters:

1. “Shall the $1,150,000 appropriation and bond authorization for the acquisition of City-wide streetlights, poles, and related equipment, pursuant to the ordinance adopted by the Common Council on September 3, 2013, be approved?”

2. “Shall the $15,200,000 appropriation and bond authorization for the City of Middletown 2013 Road, Sidewalk, and Public Works Facilities Improvement Program, pursuant to the ordinance adopted by the Common Council on September 3, 2013, be approved?”

Most likely there will be more coverage in the media as we get closer to next week’s election. But in the meantime, this should be a start!

Brittany Spears is a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Best news of the day: the British Navy is using Brittany Spears songs to scare off Somali pirates.

Kevin Heller reports on Opinio Juris:

This is an unconscionable tactic, one that does not befit a country that considers itself civilized. Need I remind the British Navy that torture is illegal under both international and UK law?
The British Navy should also be aware that international law does not completely forbid belligerent reprisals. If the Somali pirates begin to fight back by blaring One Direction at oncoming British ships, the Navy will have no one but themselves to blame.

Talk Today! Iyengar on Polarization

Today: Thursday, October 24, 2013

4:15 p.m.

Public Affairs Center 002

Sponsored by the Government Department

Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization

Professor Shanto Iyengar

Department of Political Science

Stanford University


Professor Iyengar presents the results of three related studies

showing that Americans today are divided even more strongly by party than by race


Dr. Shanto Iyengar holds the Chandler Chair in Communication at Stanford University where he is also Professor of Political Science and Director of the Political Communication Laboratory. He is author or co-author of News That Matters (University of Chicago Press, 1987), Is Anyone Responsible? (University of Chicago Press, 1991), Explorations in Political Psychology (Duke University Press, 1995), Going Negative(Free Press, 1995), and Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide (Norton, 2011).

ATS Update: Daimler v. Bauman

This should be of interest to my International Law students. The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) has been used as a way to bring foreign human rights claims into US courts.

Adam Steinman has a post on Opinio Juris about the oral arguments in this case, which resembles Kiobel. The Ninth Circuit in California found that Daimler (an otherwise foreign defendant) is subject to California jurisdiction given its American subsidiary, Mercedes Benz USA.

The key issue for SCOTUS:

the question for which the Court granted certiorari in Daimler involves personal jurisdiction and is not limited to ATS cases: “whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum State.”

The likely outcome? As Steinman notes:

While it appears unlikely that the Court will endorse the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that general personal jurisdiction existed over Daimler, it is possible that the Court’s opinion will be a narrow one.

That is, it is unlikely but still possible they will rule that the specific circumstances here allow for jurisdiction to be asserted.

By the way, the substance of the case is that a different subsidiary of Daimler in Argentina was alleged to have committed human rights violations in Argentina. SCOTUS isn’t concerned with that issue, only the issue of whether we can establish jurisdiction in the US under the ATS.

What Makes a Great Scholar? » Duck of Minerva

This is an article drawing on the lessons we can learn from the work and life of Kenneth Waltz, one of the most influential IR theorists of the last century.

What Makes a Great Scholar? » Duck of Minerva.

Some highlights:

First, ask big and important questions. Start with the question and the puzzle to something big and relevant.


Third, quality scholarship takes time….he was given the professional latitude to publish his books a decade apart. I’m curious if that would be good enough for tenure and promotion at Berkeley or Columbia today?


take a position and engage in rigorous debate on the ideas to hone logic and argument.

Event: ‘Leo Africanus’ Discovers Comedy: A Mediterranean Adventure

‘Leo Africanus’ Discovers Comedy: A Mediterranean Adventure
From Wesleyan’s Website:
Sep. 15, 2013 by Ann Tanasi
This talk stages a dialogue between two theatrical traditions at the end of the Middle Ages: the popular theater of the Arabic and Islamic world and the theater of Christian Europe. It does so through the adventures of Hasan al-Wazzan (“Leo Africanus”), a Moroccan traveler and diplomat, who was captured by Christian pirates in 1518 and spent several years in Italy as a seeming convert before returning to North Africa. The talk reflects on possible limits to cultural exchange and on the continuing vigor of alternate cultural traditions.
Natalie Zemon Davis has received honorary degrees from numerous universities in the United States and Europe. In 1987 she served as President of the American Historical Association.  In recognition of her path breaking historical work, in 2010 she was awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize, and in 2012 she received the National Humanities Medal.

wpid-Davis-239x300-2013-10-11-15-55.jpgNATALIE ZEMON DAVIS

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita

Thursday, October 17 – 4:15 pm – Beckham Hall