Festivus Forum

Let the airing of the grievances begin! (you know, like every day).

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kurtz says:

    Good timing, Steven. I just got the pole from the crawlspace yesterday.

  2. Mikey says:

    I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about ’em.

  3. Mikey says:

    Yesterday Trump issued some commutations and pardons. He pardoned Duncan Hunter, who was going to serve 11 months in prison for multiple campaign finance crimes, and George Papadopoulos, his former campaign staffer who was convicted of lying to the FBI regarding the Trump campaign’s coordination with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

    But the most evil and reprehensible pardons were those of the four Blackwater contractors who committed a heinous war crime in Baghdad in 2007, when they murdered 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including two children aged 9 and 11. Their cause was a big deal for the MAGA crowd because they, and Trump, never met a war criminal they didn’t love.

  4. CSK says:

    Trump has apparently informed Sidney Powell that he won’t appoint her special counsel. I’d like to have been a fly on the wall.

    And…Trump livestreamed some sort of speech from the White House last night addressed to “my fellow Americans” detailing the fraud that allowed Biden to win the election.

  5. Liberal Capitalist says:


    When there was a possibility of Trump II: The Autocracy, I gave some serious consideration to LT Citizenship. I would qualify, by blood.

    My sister, who has time on here hands( as she is on of the millions of covid unemployed) has gathered nearly all the required paperwork / proof to make that happen for us.

    Citizenship, passport, Schengen. Nice.

  6. Teve says:

    Will Mike Pence’s Constitutional Duties Sink His Political Future?

    by Martin Longman December 22, 2020

    Mike Pence has a problem. As vice-president of the United States, he a constitutional responsibility to validate the election results, a grim duty that other defeated vice presidents including Al Gore and Dan Quayle have endured with stoicism. President Trump does not want Pence to gracefully announce in front of Congress and the world that Joe Biden won the election. After four years of obsequious subservience in which he has assiduously avoided any hint of separation from the president, he now has reached a moment of truth. If, as Axios reports, Trump would view Pence’s fulfillment of his duties as “the ultimate betrayal,” how can the vice-president avoid losing his presidential viability among Trump’s supporters? Could it be that after working so tirelessly to position himself as Trump’s successor, he finds it was all for naught?

    The first thing to understand is the vice-president’s role in the process.

    On December 14, the Electoral College met in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and certified that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the winners of the 2020 presidential election, 306 electoral votes to 232. Trump watched the process unfold on television in the dining room off the Oval Office. He complained that the television networks were, according to the Associated Press, “treating it like a mini-Election Night while not giving his challenges any airtime.” That evening, he sacked Attorney General William Barr, presumably because he hadn’t used the Justice Department to overturn the election results.

    The certification of the vote was only a midway point in the obscure process of determining the winner of the presidential election. It actually began months before Election Day when the Archivist of the United States sent a letter to the governor of each State and the mayor of the District of Columbia detailing their constitutional responsibilities and asking for a point of contact for receipt of the election results, which were then sent to the director of the Federal Register.

    This was a two-part procedure, wherein the states first sent Certificates of Ascertainment to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These certificates listed the Electors and the preliminary results of the states’ elections. The official results came on December 14, and the Certificates of Vote were due at NARA on that date.

    Pence’s role begins on December 23, the deadline by which he and NARA must be in possession of the Certificates of Vote. If the Senate has not received copies of these certificates from every state by this date, Pence, serving in his capacity as president of the Senate, is required to request a copy from NARA. In other words, it’s his responsibility to make sure this request is not required or to make it if it is. Whether Trump knows it or not, this is Pence’s first opportunity to shirk or fulfill his constitutional duty. If Pence does ask NARA for any certificates, they must be delivered to the Senate no later than January 3rd.

    Pence’s most visible role takes place on January 6, when Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes and he, as the President of the Senate, serves as the presiding officer. Here’s how that is supposed to look:

    The President of the Senate announces the results of the State vote and then calls for any objections. To be recognized, an objection must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If an objection is recognized, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider the merits of any objections, following the process set out in 3 U.S.C. §15. After all the votes are recorded and counted, the President of the Senate declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

    Axios reports that “Pence’s role on Jan. 6 has begun to loom large in Trump’s mind” and that Trump spent Monday evening meeting with a handful of House Republicans in the Oval Office to plot their strategy for objecting to the Electoral College votes. That plot to overturn the election will fail, and Pence will then be forced to declare Biden and Harris the winners.

    It’s the same task Joe Biden performed in January 2017 to declare Trump and Pence the winners over Clinton and Kaine. There’s no way for Pence to avoid it, although he could, from the presiding officer’s chair, make a Trumpian statement about how unfair it is. It’s unclear what Trump would have him do instead. Not show up? In that case McConnell could appoint a senator to fill the chair and execute the announcement.

    What is clear is that all eyes will be on Pence on January 6, and he’ll be in a no-win situation. The most loyal of all Trump allies will be scrambling to assuage the boss’s temper.

  7. gVOR08 says:


    What is clear is that all eyes will be on Pence on January 6, and he’ll be in a no-win situation.

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. ETTD.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:


    Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    At the risk of being today’s Danny Downer…


    I’ve been mulling over how this will go here in Cow Hampshire and have visions of hundreds lined up outside CVS, Walgreens etc and the pharmacist coming out and announcing via a bull horn, that they’ve used up that days allot meant and to come back in the morning.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    Portugal is my go-to. Great weather, nice people, decent food and wine, prices low by Los Angeles standards. Basically, buy a house and you’re in.

  10. Kathy says:


    Every year, many manufacturers of canned and packaged foods change the capacity of their offerings. The small tuna can has gone, over the past 15 years, from 174 grams to 140 for most brands, and even 130. No one in Mexico packs it in cans larger than 140 grams.

    Every year plenty of our customers list the 174 gram can in their requirements. Every year we ask them to change it to 140. Every year one or two absolutely refuse, then penalize us for failing to deliver a non-existent product.

    That’s where Pence is at: asked to deliver what does not, and cannot, exist.

    Couldn’t happen to a nastier brown nose.

  11. CSK says:

    It would be amusing if Trump tried to fire Pence on January 5.

  12. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I have my annual checkup/physical in April or May every year. I was kind of hoping that I’d be able to get one then, but realistically I’m thinking it will likely be later.

    Meanwhile, my husband is pushing to buy plane tickets and such…we both love to travel but I’m wary of making any (non-refundable) plans until I actually have a shot in my arm.

  13. sam says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Here in New Mexico, I just registered with NMDOH COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System. There are public service announcements re this all over the TV now. After I registered, I was informed by email and text that when my turn comes, I will be informed where to go to get my shots. New Mexico is a small state, population-wise, so I expect (hope) things go smoothly.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: What is clear is that all eyes will be on Pence on January 6, and he’ll be in a no-win situation.

    Disagree. It’s a win/lose situation. He can fulfill his constitutional duties and win back his soul, or lose it forever. Oh sure, his political career will be over, and he might have to go out and get a real job, but life doesn’t end because of work.

  15. Kathy says:


    I don’t think Trump can fire any elected officials.

    But he can take comfort in knowing he got Pence elected.

  16. sam says:

    Trump has launched a $2000 missile aimed up McConnell’s fundament.

  17. Teve says:
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Misery will never set up such a common sense process. I expect the bidding to start at $1,000.

  19. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: based on my extensive experience in this area—watching every episode of Buffy and Angel—I’m not sure following the rules once is enough to get one’s soul back.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    In all honesty, I’m not following the roll out here very closely, my wife has assumed that role. I’m estimating that we may be eligible for the in the priority list come March, perhaps February at the earliest.

    Since we now have an R state legislature, I’d have some concern that the Freedumb caucus will do something stupid, but with an R governor who has designs on being a US Senator, they will likely stifle those efforts and give him whatever he wants. Objectively, Sununu has acted responsibly to the Covid crisis and there’s no reason to expect that to change. But I have nightmares about those bears in Grafton.

  21. CSK says:

    Oh, no, he can’t fire Pence. But he probably thinks he can–or if someone tells him he can’t, he’ll fly into a rage and do it anyway. Or try to do it.

    Keep in mind, Kathy, that he regards everyone who works for the federal government as his own personal employee.

  22. Kathy says:


    Has anyone ever told him he can’t fly like Superman after jumping off the top floor of Trump Tower?

  23. CSK says:

    That knowledge is being kept secret from him.

  24. sam says:


    Funny Muhammad Ali story that he used to tell on himself. He was on a plane awaiting take off, and he hadn’t fastened his seat belt. The attendant came by and she leaned down to him and said, “Sir, would you fasten your seat belt. We’re about to take off.” He said, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.” She said, “Superman don’t need no airplane, either.” He buckled up.

  25. LexinLA says:

    I got a lot of problems with you people. And now you’re gonna hear about it!

    Long time lurker, first time commenter, but I had to finally comment after seeing the theme of this open forum. A Seinfeld reference is always appropriate!

    But wanted to send good wishes to all of you and thank you for your voices of reason amidst the “coocoo for coco-puffs”* basically everywhere else in my world. This blog is a must-read for me pretty much every day, and I am glad to have y’all’s analysis to share. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more intelligent and thoughtful commentariat! People accuse me of going off the liberal deep end and I’m like, “NO! These two guys are generally conservative political scientists…and one is a veteran!” So thank y’all for that cred, too.

    I’ve learned so much from “hanging out” with y’all and appreciate your analysis and expertise and just wanted to take this opportunity to air my…. gratitude.

    Happy Holidays to each and every one of you!

    *Dr. Taylor, that allusion to crazy a few days ago almost made me fall out of my seat. Haaa!

  26. @LexinLA: Glad to see your comment. It is nice when long-term readers pop into the comments!

    A Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  27. Mu Yixiao says:
  28. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    So what? Trump uses his #realdonaldtrump account, not the POTUS account (which I assume is administered by some hapless minion), and he’ll keep #realdonaldtrump, where he can rage-tweet to his heart’s content.

  29. Kylopod says:


    and he’ll keep #realdonaldtrump, where he can rage-tweet to his heart’s content.

    That depends on whether Twitter keeps him.

  30. DrDaveT says:


    he’ll keep #realdonaldtrump, where he can rage-tweet to his heart’s content.

    Not if Twitter follows their usage policies once he’s just an Ordinary Citizen…

  31. steve says:

    Has anyone ever told him he can’t fly like Superman after jumping off the top floor of Trump Tower?”

    Ummm, no. Many who know him well have told him that he can do it and have encouraged him to try it. No luck so far. 🙂


  32. Teve says:


    Already, Republican state and federal legislators are working to rig future elections, proposing harsher ID requirements and strict limits on voting by mail. In furtherance of these aims, Senator Ron Johnson held a hearing last week to publicize false claims of voter fraud. The next election may be closer, GOP election officials less willing to risk political opprobrium and personal danger. Warns Dan Pfeiffer, “In elections going forward, not trying to steal the election will be seen as RINO behavior.”

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Every journey begins with a single step.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @LexinLA: I am the obvious exception to that comment.

  35. Jen says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I saw that and the subsequent upset that followed and really end up with more questions than any real opinion on whether it’s right or wrong.

    Twitter as the platform is able to make decisions like that.

    It feels kind of like those should be considered official accounts, and no one should tinker with the numbers (Trump’s followers follow him on his account, not the POTUS account).

    I get the strong sense Twitter is using this as an opportunity to clear out the bots and non-users.

    Long story short, I can’t get that worked up over it, but it does seem a bit strange given how it was handled during the last transition. {shrugs}

    @LexinLA: Everyone loves a Babka! Welcome.

  36. LexinLA says:

    @Jen: Oh absolutely!
    And thank you!

  37. LexinLA says:


    Nooo! I love reading all of y’all’s insight.

    Even yours, Ozark Hillbilly. And grumpy ol’ Michael Reynolds’. 😉

  38. Michael Reynolds says:


    And grumpy ol’ Michael Reynolds’

    Both grumpy and old, I can’t deny either. Although IRL I’m actually. . . well, okay, grumpy and old. Oddly happy, though. One of the advantages of a weird, fucked-up life is that I can almost always look back and think, Yeah, this is bad but hey, it’s not: a) jail b) living on the streets, c) working boat show in Annapolis. I am a self-inflating hot air balloon, floating along on the fumes of my own bullshit.

    Welcome to the melée.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @LexinLA: Where have I gone wrong???

  40. LexinLA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Love it! I like the way you think. 🙂

    And thank you for the warm welcome.

  41. LexinLA says:


    It’s all good! Just keep doing what you’re doing. 😀

  42. Mu Yixiao says:


    So What?

    I simply found it to be an interesting data point.

  43. Mu Yixiao says:
  44. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    That sounded snottier than I intended it to be.

  45. CSK says:

    @Kylopod: @DrDaveT:
    We can hope, I suppose.

  46. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I have some doubts as to whether they’ll actually go through with it given how timid they’ve been in the past, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. And the moment they do, it’ll immediately give a burst of publicity to whichever alternative platform he decides to migrate to (Parler and Gab are the two most oft-cited ones for right-wingers wishing to spread their sewage in peace).

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    That knowledge is being kept secret from him.

    Sure. But the real question is why are they keeping it from him.
    (And you’re right. I’m not a nice person and do have low moral fiber.)

  48. Mike in Arlington says:

    Ladies, gentlemen, I doubt I’ll have a chance to check in over the next 4 days, so to one and all happy holidays (and if you don’t celebrate, enjoy any days off you get because of the holiday).

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mike in Arlington: Bah! Humbug! I guess I can still say have a good ‘un.

  50. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Ah, come on. When did I ever accuse you of those things?

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: And you haven’t been thinking it? Still in all, thanks for not saying it out loud. I appreciate that. 😉

  52. Kathy says:

    The radio at the office has been playing a lot of Christmas music. A popular one is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” with several versions in Spanish and one or two bilingual.

    I keep being reminded of the Futurama version, which goes “Santa Claus is gunning you down!”

  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: At least you have moral fiber, which is more than I can say.

  54. flat earth luddite says:


    Trump has launched a $2000 missile aimed up McConnell’s fundament.

    An actual leader would have made it clear that this was his position from the beginning of this conversation. Being the Orange Dumpster, of course, he waiting until everyone had left town to announce his temper-tantrum, in hopes that someone, anyone, actually thinks he cares about someone not named Donald Trump.

  55. flat earth luddite says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    One of the advantages of a weird, fucked-up life is that I can almost always look back and think, Yeah, this is bad but hey, it’s not: a) jail b) living on the streets, c) working boat show in Annapolis.

    Ditto, sir, ditto. One of the things that SWMBO laments is my “Pollyanna” life view. “Hey, it’s bigger than 6×9 and the door locks on the inside, not outside. ‘s’all good, sweetie.”

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    No, trust me, Cracker has LOTS of moral fiber. Filtered with experience, but present. OTOH, I frequently find myself looking at people and, after thinking about it, saying, “nah, ain’t worth the price of a bullet.” Wasn’t always that way, but with age comes tiredness.

    @LexinLA: Welcome!

  56. Teve says:

    Manafort, Stone, Jared’s daddy pardoned.

  57. Mikey says:

    @Teve: Of course. It’s basically the Mafia at this point.

  58. Teve says:


    If presidents are allowed to do this there is no law that restricts total government corruption and absolute authoritarianism. The president’s family and allies can commit every crime, refuse subpoenas, obstruct justice and then receive pardons.

  59. Teve says:


    A silver lining: it’s clear Trump totally knows he’s gone in 28 days

  60. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: 28 Days Later?

  61. Kurtz says:


    Welcome. Don’t be shy. Happy Holidays.

  62. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I am a self-inflating hot air balloon, floating along on the fumes of my own bullshit.

    Seriously! I can smell the exhaust from Florida.

    You have money. Stop eating dead oppossum you found on the side of the road, dude.

  63. Kathy says:

    Shoulder update, should anyone be interested. On Monday it was so bad, I had to type a rather great deal of text at work entirely with my left hand (I’m right-handed). This even with aspirin, Tylenol, or ketorolac.

    Tuesday it felt better, and I could even type two-handed, but at the cost of ingesting an analgesic every six hours. And I still had to be careful not to rotate the shoulder at all, or it felt like the bone in my forearm had been replaced by a red-hot poker.

    Today it’s been pretty good. I’ve taken no analgesics at all since last night. So long as I don’t rotate the shoulder, try to reach too far, or try to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup, I feel just fine.

    I still should see a doctor. But unless it pains me again, I think I’ll wait til after the COVID vaccines have been circulating for a while. I think I can live with a little pain better than I can live with COVID-19.

  64. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @LexinLA: Glad to see your comment. It is nice when long-term readers pop into the comments!

    A Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    Hey, Steven, Lex ain’t the only lurker! I’ve been lurking for over 10 years and have also always appreciated the insightful posts and serious, good-faith back-and-forth in the comments. Hoping to comment more in the future, but usually that ol’ windbag Reynolds, or Kathy, beat me to the punch and sum up what I want to say anyway.

    Merry Christmas to you, James, Doug, Kingdaddy and all the commenters. Here’s to another 10 years of OTB!

  65. Kathy says:

    @Eric the OTB Lurker:

    You know,a little redundancy hasn’t killed anyone.

    At least not very many people.

    The worst I’ll ever do is post “Copycat! ;)”

  66. Teve says:


    Ivanka’s children are probably the only Americans to ever have one grandpa pardoned by the other grandpa.

  67. @Eric the OTB Lurker: A hearty Happy Holidays to all lurkers, everywhere! 🙂