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Friday, November 10, 2006
Even More on Talk Radio
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:08 pm

This time from Sully. The money quote (which is harsh, but I fear accurate):

The one thing you learn from this: Hewitt and Limbaugh are party animals. They put loyalty to party above intellectual honesty. They have admitted that they knowingly misled their readers and listeners. They can and will do it again.

Sullivan also has another Limbaugh quote that further makes the case here.

If you are following the trackbacks from Sullivan’s site, my extended thoughts on the subject are here and here.

And for the sake of clarity, let me note: the part of this that I find distasteful is that it appears that commentators like Hewitt and Limbaugh actually don’t see themselves as commentators as much as they see themselves as part of their party. There is a difference. One cannot be an intellectually honest analyst, even with an ideological point of view and be a creature of a given party. Party and philosophy do converge, but they also often diverge. It is when the divergence takes place that we find out what is most important to a given commentator or person.

And I am not saying that the only thing that the intellectually honest commentator can do is jump ship on his/her party. However, when one gets to the point where one is unwilling to criticize one’s own party for good cause because it might hurt their chances of winning, that is when one has crossed the line into hackery.

Further, I am weary of talk (on both side) that make it sound like doom comes to the country because the “other” side wins. It is as if some of us forget that ultimately we are all Americans with much in common and that losing is a healthy part of democracy.

If one wants to see what a conservative commentator looks like who doesn’t see his job as carrying water for his party, try someone like George Will (amongst plenty of others).

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (9) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
More on Talk Radio
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:09 am

Joe Gandelman has another interesting post on the talk radio issue that I was discussing yesterday.

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Thursday, November 9, 2006
More on Limbaugh
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:05 pm

I would agree with the following assessment of Limbaugh from The Moderate Voice’s Joe Gandelman:

The tragedy is that there was a time when Limbaugh was an entertaining, satirical independent conservative thinker — back in the days of the first President Bush. That seemingly changed after the then-President — who was being lambasted by Limbaugh — invited the mega talk show host to stay over at the White House and sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. After that (coincidentally or not) the tone of his program changed and he became above all the defender of the GOP establishment and promoter of whatever it’s current line was.


I listen to lots of talk radio when I drive (Wednesday it was 8 hours from Denver to South Dakota)and Limbaugh’s program has become virtually unlistenable for a non-Republican because it is usually three hours of party line and constant bashing of one political party and ideology. Limbaugh is a highly talented broadcaster (his talent may not be “on loan from God” but as a broadcaster he has talent) — but his penchant for doing party p.r. shuts him off from some listeners (not that he needs them with his ratings). His closest clone is Sean Hannity who is equally as predictable.

I have a similar view of the subject. I, too, used to listen to a lot of talk radio. First, I have long loved non-music radio (news, commentary, talk and radio drama). In fact, I have been a fan of such since I was in elementary school. Second, when I was in college (1986-1990) I did a lot of driving on the SoCal freeways, meaning at least 1.5-2 hours in the car daily, not to mention for part of that time I was running errands for a law firm for which I worked, meaning more hours trudging up to Los Angeles or heaven knows where. I listened to a ton of talk radio, both liberal and conservative and first heard Limbaugh in 1988 when Reagan was still in the White House (man, time flies). So, I have some experience with the medium.

I concur with Joe about Limbaugh: he is more talented that his critics often give him credit, but he has become impossible to listen to, unless one wants a drumbeat of GOP cheerleading. And Hannity is a clone, without a doubt.

Joe also has an excellent run down of Blogospheric reaction to Limbaugh’s statements that I mentioned in the previous post.

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Moderate Voice linked with 2006 Elections Hit Lockstep Conservative Talk Hosts' Credibility
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Mexico Decriminalizes Personal Drug Possession (and a Passing Mention of the Limbaugh Story)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:58 am

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.

Filed under: Latin America, War on Drugs, Talk Radio | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, April 6, 2006
Faux Talk Radio Outrage
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:27 pm

I just heard a commercial for the Mike Gallagher radio program (which I have never listened to) in which he was ranting about how horrible it was that automated phone systems often state “Press 1 for English” because it apparently is some sort of affront to his linguistic sensibilities that the English-speakers have to press any buttons whatsoever for their language preference.

Of all the things things to be upset about in this world, that shouldn’t be one of them.


Filed under: Talk Radio, Immigration | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, February 10, 2006
Legal Justification IV: FISA
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:12 pm

(Part of a series of sorts: Previously: Part I, Part II, and Part III).

This afternoon I was suffering surfing (although I think that was a Freudian typo) the radio and caught a few minutes of Tom Sullivan sitting in for Rush Limbaugh (I was bored with the Gretsky conversation being engaged in by the guy sitting in for Colin Cowherd-there’s only so much that can be said with the current fact set, and he kept saying it over and over and over).

At any rate, he mentioned some column (I can’t remember by whom) that allegedly demonstrated how what the President has done to date was within the scope of FISA and cited section 1802. Indeed, he challenged all who were listening to Google “FISA Section 1802.”

The portions that he read over the air were such that it was clear Sullivan really didn’t know what he was talking about, as he seemed to think that the administration had been complying with the briefing requirements listed in 1802, when this has clearly not been the case (noted below).

However, upon reading the section, it becomes clear that Sullivan missed more than just the reporting requirement issue.

This portion of the code is numbered and named as follows: US CODE: Title 50,1802.

Electronic surveillance authorization without court order; certification by Attorney General; reports to Congressional committees; transmittal under seal; duties and compensation of communication common carrier; applications; jurisdiction of court.

I am no attorney, but this looks like a rather relevant portion of FISA vis-a-vis the NSA program currently under scrutiny. Note, in particular, the bolded portion below:

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party;

Unless one construes the AUMF to fulfill the requirements in sub-section (a)(1), it seems plain that the NSA program is in violation of this portion of the statute. If the AUMF does not fit that sub-section, then the problem goes beyond the warrants problem to the problem that the law explicitly forbids the capturing of the communications of a “United States person.”

Even if we assume that that is the case, the administration has failed to conform to the following sub-section:

if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.
(2) An electronic surveillance authorized by this subsection may be conducted only in accordance with the Attorney General’s certification and the minimization procedures adopted by him. The Attorney General shall assess compliance with such procedures and shall report such assessments to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under the provisions of section 1808 (a) of this title.
(3) The Attorney General shall immediately transmit under seal to the court established under section 1803 (a) of this title a copy of his certification. Such certification shall be maintained under security measures established by the Chief Justice with the concurrence of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence, …

Note the inclusion of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress and the Chief Judge of the FISA Court-i.e., checks and balances.

There haven’t been any such reports to the committees in question. Yes, there were briefings of a set of members but not of the whole committees. Indeed, this week was the first time that the full committees have received formal briefings.

The remarkable thing about Sullivan’s argument is that he read the reporting requirements over the air, and simply assumed that they were being complied with.

Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror, Talk Radio | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Thursday, December 8, 2005
O’Reilly: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (or Else!!)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:11 am

Apropos of my post yesterday, we have, via Media Matters the following transcript excerpt from Bill O’Reilly’s 12/2/05 radio show:

I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I’m gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that. And we have succeeded. You know we’ve succeeded. They are on the run in corporations, in the media, everywhere. They are on the run, because I will put their face and their name on television, and I will talk about them on the radio if they do it. There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together. There is no reason on the earth that we can’t do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me.

First off, this snippet underscores one of the many reasons I can’t take O’Reilly: the sheer egomania here is palpable. Yes, he has a top-rated cable news show, and there is some power to be associated with that many eyeballs and ears. However, the people he thinks he has “on the run” probably pay him very little attention. Meanwhile, he pumps up his viewers and listeners with all this bravado. Plus, his “me versus the powerful” shtick wears on me in a general sense.

Second, and more importantly, is this really the way to promote the values of “generosity, peace, and love”-by threatening to “bring horror” to those who don’t see your point of view? All this kind of talk does is harden positions and creates even more animosity towards Christianity by those predisposed to oppose it in the first place. Trying to bully people isn’t a very good method for changing their minds.

Clearly, this is about attention and ratings-not about promoting “generosity, peace, and love.”

Filed under: US Politics, Pop Culture, Talk Radio, Religion | Comments (5) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, November 12, 2005
An Example of Why I Don’t Like Bill O’Reilly
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

California Conservative has a post up entitled “Why We Love Bill O’Reilly” which quotes something O’Reilly said on his radio show this week about San Fransisco and a vote in the city to keep military recruiters out of public schools. O’Reilly’s response:

“You know, if I’m the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, ‘Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you’re not going to get another nickel in federal funds,’”

Now, that may be an emotionally satisfying response for some; however, it is the kind of nonsense that O’Reilly constantly spouts that has no foundation in reality. That world (and more specifically, our system of government) doesn’t work that way. Not only does O’Reilly’s presidential fantasy not comport with the way fiscal policy works, it further runs into a tricky little problem, which is that you can’t dismiss
the fact that a democratic process did produce the result in question-as such, “my way or the highway” pronouncements aren’t the solution.

O’Reilly’s statement, and the subsequent one about defending SF from terrorism, are the stuff of people ranting to their neighbors, not something that could even approximate public policy-nor should we want it to be such:

You want to be your own country? Go right ahead,” O’Reilly went on. “And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”


That O’Reilly correctly voices opinions that many hold is undoubtedly true-they would like the answers to be easy and to be able to tell those who make the “wrong” choices how wrong they are. Further, they would like to assume that they are really in the vast majority, and the “wrong” people are really a very small minority who have, for some unknown reason, disproportionate power. However, the truth of the matter is,: those who think O’Reilly is some prophet of the vast, silent majority are simply wrong. He appeals to a lot of people, but it is far fewer than those in the O’Reilly amen corner may think. He plays the populist game well, I will add, what with his references to “the folks” (i.e., all those “normal” viewers out there), his attempt to paint himself as an outsider to power (which because laughbale, given that he has the highest rated program on cable news), and his doggedly certain rhetoric.

Yes, SF is in the clear minority ideologically in the United States-but the point of this post is not to defend SF’s policy choices but instead to point out that O’Reilly’s rantings are far more about emotional outlet than they are about “telling it like is” 0r about actual reasoned discourse about how to solve actual problems.

Indeed, it is this kind of pronouncements that supposedly qualify as political analysis that further pollutes politics and makes actual discussion increasingly problematic.

The San Francisco Chronicle has the details of the story: Talk host’s towering rant: S.F. not worth saving.

The Political Teen has the audio.

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio | Comments (6) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Harshly Mellow linked with [...] and his sense of humor and mine tend not to connect. Very, very scary. --Steven Taylor doesn't like Bill O'Reilly. Which makes me like Steven Taylor even more than I already did. [...]
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
“Liberal Law Professor, Ann Althouse”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:39 pm

Ann must be having some identity problems today. First, she is attacked by Armando of dKos for being representative of the “Right Wing” and then I just heard Michael Medved refer to her as a “liberal law professor.” It is noteworthy that the first caller (Ruth Anne), who identified herself as a former student of Ann’s, corrected Medved on the “liberal” part.

Update: Ruth Anne (btw, I corrected the spelling of her name above) is a regular commenter at Althouse, and has her own blog: The Maternal Optimist.

Filed under: Blogging, Talk Radio | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Laura Ingraham Update
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

There is an update on her web site and the news is good:

Initial sentinel node testing done during surgery showed no signs of cancer involvement in the lymph nodes, and we all hope that this good news is confirmed by more in-depth tissue testing done over the next 48 hours.

Hopefully the news will continue to be good.

Filed under: Talk Radio | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, January 28, 2005
A Mystery
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:10 pm

Here’s a question: who listens to AM radio stations for music anymore? The last time I remember listening to an AM station for music was when I was in middle school in Temple, Texas and the popular pop station, KTEM, was an AM station (last time I drove through Temple, KTEM was a talk radio station). I also remember that my “first” radio station (i.e., one that I purposefully tuned in to listen to on my very own radio) was WBAP in Dallas, which at the time was a major country music station in the metroplex. WBAP is now a major talk radio station in the Metroplex. I used to listen to WBAP as a country station was I was 5 or 6 years old.

However (and this is the mystery that raised the issue) is that one of the local talk radio stations in Montgomery has gone to an all-music format in the afternoon and evening (leaving some mediocre local talk on in the morning). On balance, this is no big deal to me, as I can listen to Michael Medved via the internet, but still: who in the world are they getting to listen to music on the AM when you can get the same programming on the FM dial (yes, I remember when it was a dial) and in stereo, no less.

Speaking of Medved, Sully is on right now talking about the “was Lincoln gay?” meme.

And speaking of radio via the internet, having listened to two different Los Angeles-based stations today via the ‘net, I would note that the radio news coverage of the Iraqi elections has been pretty positive-especially the local coverage on KRLA and KFI. Even the CNN radio broadcast I heard was pretty positive.

Filed under: Talk Radio | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
The Perils of Technology
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:12 pm

Given that tech is all around me, I find that it has caused a number of problems. For one thing, I find myself often wanting a search function on dead tree publications, whether they be books or single sheets of paper. Now, given my TiVo addiction, I find myself wanting to be able to pause radio talk shows when I get up from my desk.

Filed under: Computer Junk, Talk Radio, TiVo | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, September 6, 2004
The New Odd Couple?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:27 am

I heard about this on the Dan Patrick Show on Friday and was reminded of it by Mark Hasty this morning:

Conservative radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh, 53, who announced his separation from his third wife, Marta, in early June, is dating CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, 41, a spokesman for Limbaugh has confirmed to us. The two were spotted at a party Limbaugh co-hosted at a New York restaurant, where guests included Vice President Cheney, New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Bill Frist. The coupling came as a surprise to some friends who consider the Atlanta-based Kagan part of the liberal media axis and a feminist — but, then again, opposites attract. Kagan, who has been with CNN for 10 years, hosts “CNN Live Today,” which airs from 10 a.m. to noon, ending just in time to catch her sweetie’s three-hour radio show.

To steal from Mark (and the same thought I had on Friday): Carville-Matalin Part Deux?

Peter King of SI alludes to the situation here:

Say it ain’t so, Daryn Kagan. Please, please, please. Say it ain’t so.

Ok, while Mr. King perhps should let cupid do his thing, I say that I am mighty fond of his predictions for the NFC-East.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Talk Radio | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
OTB v. Atrios
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:28 am

James Joyner is scheduled to appear on Air America tonight to debate Duncan Black (a.k.a., Atrios) and he is looking for debate topics.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Air America Death Watch?
By Steven Taylor @ 7:54 am

Eric Lindholm has a round-up of the latest on Air America. It ain’t pretty.

Filed under: Talk Radio | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Arguing with signposts... linked with Air America woes continue
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