Saturday, July 16, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

FilibusteringFilibustering by Gregory Koger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The filibuster in the Senate has become, especially in the last decade or so, a major feature of the institutional structure of US politics. Indeed, I am of the opinion that it is far more significant than most people realize and is a topic in need of discussion and debate.

Koger’s book is an excellent overview of the development of this mechanism as well as an analysis of its significance within the the functioning of the Senate, as well as the Congress writ large. In fact, he deals with filibustering tactics in the House over time as well.

The book functions as both a history and an analysis of contemporary politics. While written for an academic audience, the style of the book is such that it could easily be consumed by a general audience as well.

The book should be of interest to both those focused on American politics but also to comparativists interested in institutional design.

View all my reviews

Filed under: Academia,Books,US Politics | Comments Off|
Tuesday, June 7, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Showing Teeth to the Dragons: State-building by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez 2024-2006Showing Teeth to the Dragons: State-building by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez 2024-2006 by Harvey Kline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of Kline’s ongoing analysis of state-building in Colombia (this being the third in a series of books). This volume focuses on the first Uribe administration (2002-2006). The text provides a very useful and succinct overview of Colombia’s predicament going into the Uribe years. Further, moreso than the previous works in the series, Kline offers a more complete framework for his approach to state-building in the Colombian context.

The book has a great deal of detail on Uribe’s “Democratic Security” policies and the “Law of Justice and Peace.”

There is a great deal of detail on the administration’s dealings with the AUC, FARC and ELN.

This book seems, at first reading at least, to be more substantive than the previous entry in the series (that which dealt with the Pastrana peace initiative with the FARC). However, that may be because there is more to work with in this case. Regardless of one’s position on Uribe’s policies, it is clear that there is a good deal of material there for discussion.

View all my reviews

Filed under: Academia,Books,Colombia | Comments Off|
Tuesday, May 10, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Miami HeraldTop US Latin America Diplomat to leave post

In an email to staff members late Thursday, Arturo Valenzuela, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said he would be returning to his duties as professor of government at Georgetown University.

“As you may know the University gave me a two year leave of absence to serve in the Administration —and those two years have come to an end this spring,” he wrote in an email to staff, which was forwarded to The Miami Herald. “Although the exact date of my departure has not been set, it will take place sometime later this summer.”

I suspect that the experience has been rewarded (and frustrating), but I also suspect that life is a bit more enjoyable at Georgetown than it is at State.

Filed under: Academia,Latin America,US Politics | Comments Off|
Friday, March 25, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Is asking to see a professor’s e-mails a legitimate open records request or is it an attempt at silencing a critic?

From me @OTB:  Political Warfare in WI.

Filed under: Academia,OTB,US Politics | Comments Off|
Monday, January 3, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

So, you think that all that stuff I teach you is worthless?

Well, from The Sports Economist’s post “NFL Even MORE Competitively Balanced than We Thought” the following sentence popped out at me:

The 2024 season was, according to the popular actual-to-idealized standard deviation ratio, the second-most balanced NFL season since 2024, and it is the same story if one instead uses other popular measures, such as Gini coefficients or Herfindahl indexes.

That’s right:  Gini coefficients!  So there:  a practical application for your knowledge ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I see via the Monkey Cage that political scientist Chalmers Johnson passed away earlier this month:  Chalmers Johnson has died.

My first and primary exposure to Johnson’s work was his book Revolutionary Change, although his career encompassed a number of topics.

Reason has a obituary here:  Chalmers Johnson, R.I.P. as does Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:  The Impact Today and Tomorrow of Chalmers Johnson.

Filed under: Academia,in memoriam | Comments Off|
Tuesday, November 23, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I was doing some research today on the topic of neoconservatism and came across the following article in the journal International Politics:  “Kristol Balls: Neoconservative Visions of Islam and the Middle East” by Timothy J. Lynch.

I found it rather amusing in a geeky political scientist kind of way.

Filed under: Academia,Iraq,Political Theory/Philosophy | Comments Off|
Thursday, September 9, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

It has just come to my attention that historian David Bushnell, who studied and wrote about Colombia.  Indeed, as an obituary in El Tiempo notes, he could be called the “Father of Colomianists” as he was one of first Americans to study Colombia.

His 1993 book, Colombia:  A Nation in Spite of Itself is arguably the definitive political history of Colombia.

Bushnell died due to complications from cancer, according to press reports.

Bushnell’s significance to Colombia (which he first visited in 1948) is underscored by the fact that El Tiempo (Colombia’s most important daily) and El Espectador (another major Bogotá daily) and El Heraldo (a major regional paper) have all run obituaries on Bushnell.  I cannot, however, find one in English.

Filed under: Academia,Books,Colombia,in memoriam | Comments Off|
Wednesday, August 11, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Last month I noted the serious financial problems facing Birmingham-Southern College, a liberal arts school in Birmingham, Alabama.

Now those problems have led to the resignation of their president.

Via WSFA:  President of Birmingham-Southern quits

Trustees said Wednesday they’d accepted the resignation of David Pollick after six years at the private, church-affiliated college. The school’s provost was named interim president.

Birmingham-Southern has cut staff and course offerings because of what trustees say is a deficit that grew to $13 million for the current school year.

Not surprising, ultimately, given the hole the school had dug for itself.

Filed under: Academia | Comments Off|
Wednesday, July 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I occasionally check the page for Voting Amid Violence:  Electoral Democracy in Colombia, just to see how it is selling (mostly to see if it is selling at all).

Normally the book is ranked between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 (not surprising for an academic text,).  It has shot up between 100K and 200K once or twice (like during the elections).  I happened to look today and it has cracked the 5-digit mark:


Granted, it won’t last, but cool enough nonetheless.  No doubt Hollywood will be calling for the movie rights at any moment.

I am unaware, btw, of how the book is classifiable for the “Activism” section, but I’ll take it.

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