Friday Quick Hits

A few quick observations at the end of the week.

  1. Via Vice: A Copy of Alex Jones’ Cellphone Will Be Turned Over to the January 6 Committee ‘Immediately’. What a shame. I suspect that the “intimate messages” with Roger Stone will be revelatory.
  2. Via the Dispatch: The New Right Finds a Home at the Intersection of Populism and Elitism. This is mostly an anecdote-driven tale about what seems to be an obsession with people who write anecdote-laden stories about American politics, the vaunted DC cocktail party. I just wanted to point out that it is not unusual for populist politicians and their supporters to talk about the common man and his plight and nonetheless still behave and live like elites. Sort of definitionally if one is in a leadership position, or works at a high-level think tank in DC one is an elite to one degree or the other. More importantly, “populism” is not a coherent ideology; it is a style of politics wherein politicians appeal to the “common man” and their plight. Populist politicians (like Trump) will a) make an appeal to the “normal people” and b) say they only they can fix the problem (which, I would note, is a pretty elitist thing to say). There can be right-wing populists and left-wing populists. (I don’t think most people who use the term really understand it–shocking, I know).
  3. Via DemocracyNow!: Breaking: Ex-Black Panther Albert Woodfox Dies at 75; Survived 43 Years in Solitary Confinement. I have no specific insights here, but grieve the fact that in the United States of America we could have held a human being in solitary confinement for 43 years, especially given the political and racial components in question. A full obituary is here via WaPo: Albert Woodfox, Black Panther who spent decades in solitary confinement, dies.
  4. Via Center Street: POLL: Tim Ryan Leads J.D. Vance 49% to 38% Among Likely Voters in Ohio’s U.S. Senate Race. It is waaay too early, but I was still a bit surprised to see that result. I think this was just of adults and not of likely voters.
FILED UNDER: Tab Clearing, US Politics, , , , , ,
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. gVOR08 says:

    There are days I regret moving from Ohio to DeSantisstan. But Ohio politics seems to have gone badly downhill since I left. So it’s a surprise J. D. Vance (who grew up in Middletown which is suburban Cincinnati, not Appalachia) seems to be doing so badly. Apparently Vance isn’t even phoning it in. I’d love to know what’s going on between Vance and Peter Thiel, who put up the money for Vance’s run.

  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    In reverse order:


    I think this was just of adults and not of likely voters.

    Oh snap! From beyond the blue line, Dr. Taylor shoots, he scores!

    3. The story of the Angola Three is sickening.

    2. Water remains wet. Sun continues to rise in east.

    1. He’s got to be hoping for a pardon in 2024.

  3. Michael Cain says:

    The Ohio poll is the kind I hate. In effect, they took a sample that was unrepresentative of the actual population, jiggered it by weighting according to the Census Bureau’s age/gender, then rejiggered it by weighting according to the 2020 presidential election results. It smacks of the old joke about hiring an accountant, and going with the one who answers the question “How much is two plus two?” with “How much do you want it to be?”

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Files Sent by Alex Jones Included Child Porn, Sandy Hook Lawyers Claim

    This is the only news article the google came up with. Don’t know enough about the LAMag to stand behind it, so caveats apply.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I commented about Albert Woodfox in this AM’s open thread. I’ll kust pass along the 2 half of what I put up there. It’s a good article, well worth a read even if it is 6 years old.

    “Oh yeah! Yeah!” he says passionately when asked whether he sometimes misses his life in lockdown. “You know, human beings are territorial, they feel more comfortable in areas they are secure. In a cell you have a routine, you pretty much know what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, but in society it’s difficult, it’s looser. So there are moments when, yeah, I wish I was back in the security of a cell.” He pauses, then adds: “I mean, it does that to you.”
    The weirdest sensation is feeling profoundly uncomfortable in a crowd. “I’m not accustomed to people moving around me and it makes me nervous. Being in a cell on my own, I only had to protect myself from attack in front of the cell as I knew there was no one behind me. Now I’m in society, and I have to remind myself that the chances of being attacked are very small and would usually depend on my own actions.”
    “For 43 years the only person who was affected by what I did was me. The most difficult thing for me now is to remember that other people are affected by my actions, whether intentional or unintentional. I’m having to learn a new value system.”
    A few days ago he found himself on a beach in Galveston, Texas, in the company of a friend. He stood marveling at all the beach goers under a cloudless sky, and stared out over the Gulf of Mexico as it stretched far out to the horizon.

    “You could hear the tide and the water coming in,” he says. “It was so strange, walking on the beach and all these people and kids running around.”

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    What a shame. I suspect that the “intimate messages” with Roger Stone will be revelatory.

    Or not. Such messages may only show a couple of pervy [bleeps].

  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m not sure that its even the characteristic of an appeal to the “common man” that characterizes what we call “populism”.

    I saw a piece about Liz Truss, describing her delight in a turn of phrase Rick Perlstein attributes to Nikita Kruschev. “If they are afraid of an imaginary river, do not tell them there is no river. Instead, build them an imaginary bridge.”

    I’m pretty sure that this has something to do with populism. Politicians all pander to some extent, I guess pandering to working class people counts as “populism”?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I finally got a chance to read the article and I’m not sure what to make of this. Either the headline is wildly misleading or the reporting is way off.

    The images were found in electronic documents requested during a hearing back in April, according to the filing. A lawyer representing the families has alerted the FBI, which is looking into who sent the emails.

    “The FBI advised counsel that its review located numerous additional illegal images, which had apparently been sent to Infowars email address,” the filing says.

    Jones’ side says he had nothing to do with the images.

    During a segment on Infowars last week, Jones’ lawyer Norm Pattis said the FBI cleared Jones after an inquiry found “there was no suggestion that anyone here wanted that material, ever looked at it or even knew about it.” Pattis said the pornography was found in emails sent to Jones that were never opened, according to the Associated Press.

    Any “suggestion that anyone at Infowars knew child [pornography] was embedded in emails is risible,” Pattis added in a statement to NBC News.

    Or maybe Pattis is just a liar. Time will tell I suppose.

  9. @Jay L Gischer: Populism is characterized by a political leader who attempts to mobilize some segment of the population vaguely defined as being the real people who are being dominated by elites.

    A classic example is Juan Peron in Argentina who mobilized urban workers against elite land owners.

    Alberto Fujimori made a direct appeal to indigenous people.

    George Wallace was going to save normal people from the pointy-headed intellectuals, etc

    Other simple examples:

    Palin’s “real America” versus the coastal elites fits, as well.

    I remember Bill O’Reilly used to talk about his audience as “the folks.”

    Trump’s A in MAGA is a specific notion of white, rural America being replaced by the other (and, weirdly, only an NYC alleged billionaire can save them).

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Ok, but here’s the thing. I personally think that rich folk are often out to stick it to the working class (from whence I came, by the way). I just don’t think it’s the pointy-headed intellectuals who are the problem, but rather people like Trump.

    Does that make me a populist? I dunno, I might be. Or do I have to be a public figure to be a populist?

  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    Hmm, let me try to refine my question a bit more. Would FDR be called a “populist”? I’m not a super expert on this, but it seems like he would be, he was really big on “we’re for the little guy”.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: When I was in Korea, I used to get unsolicited (adult) pornographic content sent as text messages. Eventually it stopped, never figured out why, but I’m open to seeing the need to prove that someone at Info Wars was soliciting pornography in order to make this an issue. It’s all part of why trafficking in porn is so difficult to convict on and extensions of why FG will probably never be convicted of anything even if he ever faces trial.*

    *Though it must also be admitted that facing trial makes the possibility of conviction much higher than doing nothing does. If only there were a system (that works) to charge highly placed people with committing crimes.

  13. @Jay L Gischer:

    Does that make me a populist? I dunno, I might be. Or do I have to be a public figure to be a populist?

    The term is typically applied to a political leader seeking to appeal to a specific subset of “common people” (however defined) being exploited by an “elite” (however defined) and that leader setting themselves up as a specific solution.

    (Spoiler: they don’t have the solutions).

    Noting that people are exploited by other people, in its various manifestations is just a true observation.

  14. @Jay L Gischer: FDR employed populist rhetoric, but I don’t think of him as a populist. He was a fairly standard, albeit liberal, a politician who governed by working within the system, not by his force of personality. LBJ likewise.

    Most people I would call “populists” tend to not be able to sustain their successes (if they are successful at all) because there is little substance to their leadership/governance capacity.

  15. This is why I all populism more a style than anything else.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I have a very aggressive spam filter. Maybe that’s why I never get such trash.

  17. dazedandconfused says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Redirecting a stampede.

    Perhaps the most dangerous peril on the trail in the late 1800s was the stampede. Cowboys often lost their lives when their horses stumbled in front of a thousand running steers. However, the skills they developed to cope with the runaways are still in practice today. Excerpted from men who went up the trail, here’s how to stop a stampede.

    Keep ’em happy
    “If cattle have had plenty of grass and water just before they are put on the bed ground, they will be more contented and lie down and rest,” explained Fay Ward in The Cowboy At Work. “But when cattle are hungry and thirsty, they become restless and will keep getting up and disturbing those that are down—all of which gets them well primed for a run at the slightest provocation.”

    Ride alongside
    “The only thing to do during a stampede was to ride in the lead of the cattle—not in front, but alongside—and try to head them into a mill,” wrote Teddy Blue Abbott in We Pointed Them North. “Once they got to milling they would stop running after a while.”

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a sense – based on feeling more than hard data – that the US is centering itself, pulling in from both the far right and the far left. Kansas, obviously, but also the Blue-ward movement in 538’s averages, an absence of new left-wing hashtaggery, expressions of weariness from the right re: Trump, a retreat from clumsy Hollywood performative virtue, Biden’s success legislatively and his stabilization in polling, bits of unifying American jingoism on Ukraine and China, the January 6 committee, record low polls on this radical SCOTUS, just a bunch of straws in the wind.

  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    @dazedandconfused: Nice. I see the point.

  20. dazedandconfused says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Glad it wasn’t too obscure.

    There is an old adage that people love being told what to do, and about the the only thing they love more is fighting people who told them to do it. Direct contradiction is unwise. Guide and redirect.

  21. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Ah, but you see, Tfrump is “the blue collar billionaire.” (That’s what the MAGAs call him.) He worked his father’s construction sites, just like a regular guy, drivin’ them bulldozers and doin’ all the heavy liftin’.

    The MAGAs adore Trump’s churlishness. It makes him a real American.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    I just picked up, and haven’t started reading, a history of the U. S. Peoples Party from the turn of the last century. Full disclosure, my parents were Farmers Union which was associated with prairie populism and basically socialist. My understanding, perhaps incorrect, is that the Peoples Party was economically oriented and fairly bottom up. This would be in contrast to current Republican populism which is mostly cultural and top down. (E.g. the Koch’s astroturfing the Tea Party, not to mention the “cult” of Trump.) And designed to keep the economic elite in power. Seems to me that calling both “populist” washes out a significant distinction. In contravention of Poli Sci, I believe I’ll continue to call the GOP variety fauxpopulism.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: I have always had a problem with people in positions of authority. I think that’s why I never joined the military. I hate taking orders. It’s also probably why I became a carpenter. We are all notoriously independent. The best foremen know well enough to ask a carpenter to do something. He’s really telling us to do it, but he’s showing the proper respect by allowing us the option of declining. Every now and again I did, and if I had good enough for him reasons he’d go along with it.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: He worked his father’s construction sites, just like a regular guy, drivin’ them bulldozers and doin’ all the heavy liftin’.

    I find it hard to believe they actually believe that, even if they say they do. The closest that mf’er ever got to a construction site was the job site trailer. If he ever went up on the steel it was with a bevy of body guards. I can’t imagine an iron worker resisting the urge to throw him off the 23rd floor and saying, “He slipped.”

  25. CSK says:

    I think the whole “drivin’ a dozer” business was invented to explain the fact that Trump is a crude slob. Of course, that presupposes that all blue collar men are crude slobs, which is definitely not the case. Trump, rich from birth, was also a crude slob from birth.

  26. JohnSF says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Yer typical socialist/social democrat/liberal/distributivist/christian democrat(etc) response, all in their various ways, would be that a populist tries to deal with the symptoms and side-effects of a condition, rather than the causes of the underlying problem.
    “Bleats about elites” rather than actually improving and empowering the lot of the general populace.
    A political tactic that goes back to ancient Greece: most Greek tyrannos tended to start out as champions of the people against oligarchs.

    Sometimes it’s based on a genuine, albeit misdirected impulse (eg Thomas Carlyle); sometimes on deliberate misdirection out of self-interest; sometimes on genuinely held but deeply pernicious worldview (eg fascists).

  27. JohnSF says:

    Besides, everyone knows the real fun and skill is forklifts; any clumsy thug can drive a dozer!

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Jay L Gischer: I recall reading somewhere a long time ago when I was writing a paper on Huey Long that FDR’s more populist policy turn was at least partially to coopt/blunt Long from running for President. Again, this is not saying that he was being disingenuous, just that there were tactical decisions at work in the mix.In fact, here’s a link to a source about the move. Intro Quote:

    Huey Long was poised to run for president in the 1936 election against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He had risen to national prominence with his “Share Our Wealth” program, which swept the nation as the Great Depression worsened. Meanwhile, FDR adopted some of Huey’s ideas in order to “steal Long’s thunder,” while simultaneously moving to discredit him.

    A “Second Amendment solution” (long before it became a conservative meme) ended Long’s run when he was assassinated in the fall of 1935.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Besides, everyone knows the real fun and skill is forklifts…”:

    Well, that’s what I’ve always thought. That and pallet trucks when you’re building an order for shipping.

  30. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Also, I recall from some time back, but not sure of where/who, historian arguing that FDR deliberately used populist tactics and rhetoric to beat down conservative opposition, and because he felt it was necessary for social cohesion in a Depression to convince the disadvantaged that they had a champion in government, and that the “elite” were not united against them.

    FDR was always aiming to reform the capitalist, market economic. and governmental system of the United States, even if he did have to force the medicine down the throats of some idiot businessmen and Republicans.
    Roosevelt was certainly well aware of the potential political challenge of Bolshevism and fascism if the discourse-space was left open for them to seize, as well as the actual policy issues.

    (Wish I could remember the author I’m channeling here.)

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Not to mention the joys of shrinkwrap, and the rotating wrapping turntable!
    I’m occasionally tempted to attempt writing something on the lines of “The Forgotten Role of Shrinkwrap and Clingfilm in Modern Logistics”
    With appendix A on “How to shrinkwrap the warehouse newbie”. 🙂

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Sadly, we didn’t have a shrinking turntable; we just used rolls held by a person running around the pallet. But we also did wire bundling (with a machine) and coiled steel strapping with binding cleats. Every so often, we’d strap a board too tightly and the strap would break while the person was trying to clamp the cleats to the strap. Fun stuff. No serious injuries (fortunately), though one guy did wire a hand to a bundle of strawberry flats. Fortunately, the wire broke, and he only got a bad cut.

  33. Kari Q says:

    I checked at 538, and it looks like every poll taken since June shows Ryan ahead. Granted, most show leads of 3-4 points rather than 11, but you would still prefer Ryan’s polling to Vance’s.