Sunday, August 7, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB, a political science-y response to the question of whether the system is broken.:  Veto Players and Governance.

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Monday, August 1, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Does the debt ceiling debate reveal a broken system?

From me @OTB:  Is the System Broken?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB (last night and this morning):

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Monday, July 18, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB:

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Monday, July 11, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB:

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Sunday, July 10, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Honduras Truth Commission rules Zelaya removal was coup

The Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that the removal from office of former President Manuel Zelaya was a coup.


The Commission said Mr Zelaya broke the law when he disregarded the Supreme Court ruling ordering him to cancel the referendum.


The report said the Honduran Congress lacked a clear procedure to resolve power conflicts such as the one which arose in June 2009 between the president and Congress, but that it had acted beyond its limits by deposing the president.

The report further said that Congress overstepped its powers when it nominated Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti as interim president.

This pretty much sums up my conclusions on the situation at the time that 1) it was a coup (as I noted from the beginning), that 2) Zelaya acted illegally in refusing to stop the plebiscite (see discussion here and here), and that 3) the whole situation was made all the more problematic because of a lack of adequate institutional mechanisms to deal with Zelaya’s actions.

Now, it is worth noting that of the transgressions under discussion, the illegal removal of the president (and his exile) was by far the most egregious.

A major issue for the Honduran government ought to be constitutional reform to create a procedure for dealing with a president who ignores a court order as well as a functional impeachment process (as it stands, things are vague and dysfunctional).

Institutions, or the lack thereof, matter.

The Commission was appointed by the OAS and has no binding legal authority on the Honduran government.

Originally written for OTB.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Really, only the last one is fundamentally about Bachmann. The first two (especially the second) are more about the Founders and the constitution.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Sunday afternoon musing on an electoral college sweeps from me @OTB:  Is an Electoral College Sweep even Possible?

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By Steven L. Taylor

(Originally written for OTB)

About a week ago I noticed the following headline, which I meant to blog but never go around to, via the AFP:  Colombia halves cocaine production capacity: US

Colombia’s capacity to produce cocaine fell by more than half in the past decade, according to the office of the US drug czar Thursday.

"There has been a sharp decrease in the amount of pure cocaine produced in Colombia… from an estimated 700 metric tons potential cocaine production in 2001 to 300 metric tons in 2010… a 57 percent drop," said a statement from the office of Gil Kerlikowske.

Colombian coca cultivation barely changed between 2009 and 2010 after major decreases in 2007 and 2008, it said. Colombia last year fumigated 101,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of coca and manually eradicated another 44,775.

Ninety-five percent of cocaine consumed in the United States comes from Colombia.

My immediate reaction was that we would soon find out at least one of the following:

1)  That cultivation would have grown in Peru and/or,

2)  That there was unaccounted migration of cultivation within Colombia (i.e., that the estimates were wrong because cultivators had found new places to grow within Colombia).

Well, what do I see a few minutes ago?

Via Bloomberg:    Peru Cocaine Output Rivals Colombia as World’s Largest, UN Says in Study

Peru’s production of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has risen for a fifth straight year, putting pressure on incoming President Ollanta Humala to step up eradication efforts he has criticized.

A study by the United Nations published today shows that Peru now rivals Colombia as the world’s largest producer of cocaine after land dedicated to illegal coca production rose 2.2 percent to 61,200 hectares in 2010. Cultivation in Colombia, which receives $500 million a year in U.S. anti-narcotics aid, fell 15 percent to 62,000 hectares, according to the study based on satellite tracking by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

And so the cycle continues.  Back in the late 1990s the big triumph was the reduction of cultivation levels in Peru (which then led to a substantial increase in Colombia).  Now, just as the US and Colombian governments excitedly let us know that cultivation has diminished in Colombia we find that cultivation has shot up in Peru.

Speaking of patterns, the response from Washington will likely be a push for additional funds to be spent in Peru (lots of funds, in fact).  And then, in about a decade or so, I can write a post about how coca cultivation in down in Peru….and back up in Colombia.

The War on Drugs is the gift that keeps on giving, to be sure.

You can see the trend in the following graph, which tracks cultivation from 1987 to 2006.  Yes, it is a bit out of date, but it is one I had handy, plus the point I want to make requires looking at the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.  What we see is that Peru used to be the major source for coca leaf, but after increased pressure on that cultivation, it was eventually pushed in Colombia (note, too, that the general overall level of cultivation remained relatively steady in a given range).

As noted above, at the time the Drug Warriors proclaimed the effort in Peru a grand success.  Never mind that it had no significant effect on the overall cocaine market.


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By Steven L. Taylor

The normally loquacious Chávez has been almost silent since emergency surgery in Cuba on June 10th.

From me @OTB:  What’s up with Chávez?

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