Sunday, April 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I did not see Stephen Colbert’s performance last night at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner (although it sits on TiVo, meaning I may or may not get around to it) so I have no idea how the performances went last night.

Still, if one goes to memeorandum (I’ve linked the archived page for 4/30 at 8:50 pm edt) one can tell that one’s partisan perspective informs to a large extent how one viewed the evening.

For example, two pro-Bush bloggers think that Colbert tanked. The headline of Captain Ed’s post at Captain’s Quarters reads: Bush Plays It For Laughs While Colbert Bombs. AllahPundit, blogging at Hot Air, had a similar title: W.H. Correspondents Dinner: Bush Kills, Colbert Bombs.

However, Pam’s House Blend, on the other side of the aisle, entitles her post: Stephen Colbert scorches the admin at dinner. Kossite Mash was impressed and Peter Daou blogging at HuffPo was quite complimentary of Colbert’s performance.

There are other examples, but I think those are representative of a number of bloggers on both sides.

It makes for an interesting sociological experiment, to be sure. I am more and more interesting in the way in which the political world is perceived by citizens based on partisan filters that precondition responses. I am also hopeful that all of us interested in politics would learn to recognize the way we ourselves do this, because if we are all going to just reaction based on partisanship, the capacity for reasoned debate, and proper policy solutions, becomes strained at best.

In regards to the dinner, James Joyner gives a balanced review of the evening, and of Colbert and has more links on the subject. Also, Joe Gandelman provides a interesting and thoughtful analysis as well: Colbert’s White House Correspondent Dinner Performance Underscores Irony’s Power And Delicacy (and lots o’ links).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Iraq president meets with insurgents

President Jalal Talabani has met with insurgent representatives and is optimistic they may agree to disarm, his office said Sunday — the first time a senior Iraqi official has acknowledged talks with the armed groups.


In a statement, Talabani’s office quoted him as saying: “I think we may reach an agreement with seven armed groups that visited me and I met with them.”

It did not say when the meeting happened. Talabani spokesman Kamran Qaradaghi refused to identify the groups, although they were presumed to be Sunni Arab insurgents.

U.S. officials have said privately they have conferred directly with Iraqis who claimed to have contacts with insurgents; this was the first time a top Iraqi official acknowledged any such contacts.

Intriguing, and necessary.

And in the cabinet-formation process:

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki continued to meet with politicians to choose his Cabinet for Iraq’s new national unity government — one aimed at calming sectarian tensions and luring disaffected Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency.

Al-Maliki has promised to finish the job in the next two weeks

That would be remarkable.

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Saturday, April 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Like the pending May 1 march/boycott/day off work, I think that the Spanglish (it really isn’t a true Spanish-language edition, as Fausta correctly notes–lyrics and such here) version of the National Anthem to be bad politics. Given the visceral reaction to the Mexican flags at the various marches, if the goal here is greater immigrant rights, I am unconvinced that in-your-face-politics is the smart way to go, despite my opposition to the proposed House immigration bill.

I do think that it is much ado about not much, as it is basically a silly a protest song by a handful of singers. Not much “there” there if you ask me. I find the alteration of the lyrics to make it into a protest song to be more annoying than the idea that it was translated into Spanish language.

Of course, perhaps because I speak Spanish, I am simply not flummoxed by the ideas of others speaking it. I will say that immigrants need to learn English if they wish to economically integrate. That strikes me an indisputable and school programs that hinder that (i.e., bilingual education–especially that which focuses on the child’s native tongue instead of focusing on immersion in English) are highly problematic.

One fear that is fueled by things like the National Anthem flap is that many immigration critics clearly fear that immigrants will not assimilate into US culture, and that the specifically will not learn the language.

The evidence, as I understand, support the notion that the children of immigrants from Mexico/Latin America do, indeed, assimilate and learn the language–in ways not unlike previous waves of immigrants.

I plan to do more research on this topic, but would note the following by Daniel Drezner from a New Republic Online piece from a few years back (Hash of Civilizations):

Start with language. Huntington worries that large homogenous enclaves of Hispanics will weaken the incentive to learn English. The key test for this assertion is not whether first-generation Mexican immigrants speak English, but whether second-generation Mexican-Americans speak it. On this question, Huntington concedes that “English language use and fluency for first- and second-generation Mexicans thus seem to follow the pattern common to past immigrants.” He then voices concern that this trend may not continue to third-generation children. But according to Richard Alba and Victor Nee’s Remaking the American Mainstream, 60 percent of third-generation Mexican-American children speak only English at home. A 1990 Census study showed that only 5 percent of first-generation Mexican immigrants spoke English at home; another study showed that 30 percent of second-generation Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles spoke English at home. Taken along with Alba and Nee’s evidence, this suggests that Mexican-Americans, like other immigrant groups, are becoming more likely with each generation to adopt English as their primary language.

Something to thing about, to be sure. I need to find fluency stats, rather than simply what’s spoken at home, assuming such studies exist.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Given the current politics in the US of all things Mexican at the moment, the following (via Reuters) is likely to cause further angst (not to mention given the ONDCP fits): Mexico to decriminalize pot, cocaine and heroin

Possessing marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if the drugs are carried in small amounts for personal use, under legislation passed by Congress.


Under the legislation, police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine.

People caught with larger quantities of drugs will be treated as narcotics dealers and face increased jail terms under the plan.

The legal changes will also decriminalize the possession of limited quantities of other drugs, including LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, amphetamines and peyote — a psychotropic cactus found in Mexico’s northern deserts.

On one level, I don’t like this at all, as I am wholly aware of the effects that these substances can have on people (although cleraly some are far more damaging than others). I personally don’t want the stuff near me or my family.

However, as public policy, despite the visceral reaction this decision will no doubt cause, it makes a great deal of sense. I will make two arguments in that regard.

First, from a resources point of view there are simply not enough law enforcement personnel to tackle the drug problem in Mexico (or any country) so choices have to be made. Even if one wholly accepts the notion that the best policy paradigm is one based in interdiction (an issue I am not convinced of–some discussion below), one has to allow for the fact that it is impossible to indict all the drugs, or to arrest every single person who even touches them. As such, it makes far more sense to go after persons with large amount of the substances to go after the petty user. Such a focus frees up police and other officials to focus on bigger time criminals and also frees up jail space (and therefore money). As an aside, the amount of money spent jailing people for drug possession in the US is quite remarkable–and jails are funded by you and me.

Second, I would prefer a drug policy approach to usage that focuses on the actions of the individual rather than on simple possession or usage. By this I mean, if a person wishes to get high in such a way that causes no ill effects to others, I do not see the state’s vested interest in stopping said individual any more than I see the state’s vested interest in stopping a person from drinking Jack Daniels in the privacy of their own home until they pass out. As such, I am an a proponent of Mill’s Harm Principle when it comes to regulating these behaviors.

This notion intersects the Rush Limbaugh case (for example: see WaPo‘s Rush Limbaugh Turns Himself In On Fraud Charge In Rx Drug Probe) insofar as it is legitimate question to ask as to whether whatever Limbaugh was doing to himself with the Oxycontin in question justified the expense and time utilized by authorities in Florida to investigate and prosecute. Given the preponderance of other crimes taking place in Palm Beach County, Florida, can anyone actually say that pursuing Limbaugh was the best usage of those resources? (For more on Limbaugh see OTB).

Governing is about the allocation of resources, and there is one thing that I have definitively learned after quite a bit of study on the topic of our current course of policies on drugs: we are not doing a very good job of allocating resources. Consider the billions upon billions spent attempting to eradicate coca crops in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia in the last couple of decades. We have not substantially reduced supply of cocaine, nor of coca cultivation (indeed, as I noted recently, even where we allegedly had been having success in terms of hectares under cultivation in Colombia, it ends up that we were missing lots of cultivation).

It is madness to continue wasting taxpayer dollars, not to mention the devastating effects these policies have on real people, for a policy that is not working. Yet, continue we do.

I don’t pretend to have an easy answer to all of the questions on this topic, but am certain that we need a sustained national debate that we are unwilling to have.

I know that I don’t look forward to the knee-jerk reaction that it likely to roil though the ‘Sphere on this news.

More on this later, I suspect. I have to run.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Hyundai boss arrested in S Korea

The chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung Mong-Koo, has been arrested in South Korea on embezzlement charges.

Mr Chung and Hyundai are accused of creating slush funds to pay politicians and officials for business favours.

Wild. And, oddly, a semi-Alabama story given Hyundai’s presence here in Montgomery.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Writes Len Pasquarelli at Snubbing Bush a Texans-size blunder.

That certainly seems to sum it up.

It seems obvious that Bush automatically would have automatically improved the Texans’ offense and special teams, yet there is no commensurate guarantee that Williams will so improve the defense.

An odd move–especially if Pasquarelli’s reporting is accurate and this had nothing to do with the house situation nor with dollars/signability.

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Friday, April 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via E! Online: Baldwin Bro’s Coke Bust

It’s a toss up as to which bodes worse for Daniel Baldwin’s career: The fact that he was arrested on charges of cocaine possession or the fact that it took a week for anyone to notice.


And, to be honest, I didn’t know he existed. I can only name two Baldwins off the top of my head: Alec and Stephen, and I am not even sure if I spelled the second one’s name correctly (and I care so little I refuse to use Google to find out if I am wrong).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Texans announce surprise signing of Williams

The Houston Texans announced the surprise signing of North Carolina defensive end Mario Williams on Friday, taking him instead of Reggie Bush as the first overall pick in Saturday’s NFL draft.

I must say, I am surprised. I really thought that the Williams flirtation was a diversion.

One guesses that Bush is now a Saint?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Yahoo Sports: Homeowner alleges Bush family paid no rent:

Michael Michaels, who owns the Spring Valley, Calif., home in which Reggie Bush’s family lived for nearly a year, said Thursday he will file a $3.2 million lawsuit for fraud against the Bush family Friday to recoup unpaid rent and other finances given to the USC star’s family.

Michaels’ attorney, Brian Watkins, alleged Thursday night that Bush’s mother and stepfather, Denise and LaMar Griffin, failed to pay $54,000 in rent for the home that has become the center of a joint Pacific 10 Conference and NCAA investigation. Watkins also said that Michaels supplied money to the Bush family, including financing that allowed them to travel to several USC road games last season.

Not good.

However, I can’t imagine that this will effect Bush’s draft status one iota. It could come back to bite the USC program, however, if Bush is declared ineligible retroactively.

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By Steven L. Taylor


I especially like the first one.

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