Friday’s Forum

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. BugManDan says:

    The US Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, shortly after they were requested by oversight officials investigating the agency’s response to the US Capitol riot, according to a letter given to the House select committee investigating the insurrection and obtained by CNN.
    The letter, which was originally sent to the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, says the messages were erased from the system as part of a device-replacement program after the watchdog asked the agency for records related to its electronic communications.
    “First, the Department notified us that many US Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device-replacement program. The USSS erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USSS, as part of our evaluation of events at the Capitol on January 6,” the letter from DHS IG Joseph Cuffari stated.

    “Second, DHS personnel have repeatedly told OIG inspectors that they were not permitted to provide records directly to OIG and that such records had to first undergo review by DHS attorneys,” Cuffari added. “This review led to weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced.”

    edit: for some reason the link is not showing up. Here it is:

  2. BugManDan says:

    @BugManDan: Couple of questions:
    1. The claim by SS is that they deleted some messages when they got new phones, but not the ones that the investigation was looking for. Is there a rule about saving messages for government employees or specifically for SS? If there is a congressional/criminal investigation going on?

    2. Assuming that the messages were deleted for nefarious reasons, aren’t the deletion of the 05 Jan messages far worse that the 06 ones? That implies planning rather than covering up the bitching about the psycho clown trying to drive from the backseat.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @BugManDan: You beat me to it. I don’t know what has gone wrong with the Secret Service in the past couple of decades but this takes the cake. It needs a shakeup top to bottom

  4. BugManDan says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, the head of the agency did just retire. But he has been planning that for months, so I’m sure that had nothing to do with this.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:


    It would be easy to blame the corrupting influence of TFG, though he made it worse, but SS dysfunction has been evident from early in the Obama years, so the rot probably began in the Bush43 or late Clinton years.

  6. CSK says:

    The grifting never stops. Trump sent out a statement about Ivana’s death with a fundraising email.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Alex Murdaugh Charged With Killing His Wife And Son

    On the night of June 7, 2021, Richard Alexander Murdaugh Sr. — then an influential Hampton County attorney — told the world he arrived home to discover the bodies of his wife and son by the family’s dog kennels, where they had been gunned down.

    In the days that followed, two narratives emerged from the powerful Murdaugh family. One was that an ornery groundskeeper, at whom Paul Murdaugh had allegedly screamed over the seeding of a dove field, might have done it. The other was that these were revenge killings for the 2019 fatal boat crash in which Paul was involved — or perhaps the mysterious 2015 death of a young gay man to which the family was rumored to be connected.

    The Murdaughs, who were working with an image consultant, said they were running their own independent investigation; and weeks after the murders — with the public questioning why the family wasn’t more loud about demanding justice — they offered a $100,000 reward for information. The reward, strangely, came with an expiration date.

    Then, when Murdaugh was arrested in a bizarre roadside shooting in September, the narrative changed: Murdaugh was a drug addict, they said. He had stolen $10 million from his law firm to support his habit. The killings were potentially related to that and, come to think about it, a gang in Walterboro might be involved.

    That arrest was followed by another; and the secrets that had been long-kept by the man “who has no bottom” began to spill out in the most epic of ways.

    If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he is at the center of quite a saga of murder, fraud, and corruption in SC’s low country.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No edit function today. Wanted to add that the author of that piece, Liz Farrell, is quite the story of dogged determination in investigating this one man crime wave. I wish like hell I could remember the piece on her and the obstacles that were laid in her path by the powerful in persuing it.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:


    Yeah, that story could be a plot for a Faulkner novel.



    Didn’t she work for the local newspaper and the editor forced her off the story? Then she quit or was fired and went to a larger news organization where she could pursue it while taking other assignments.

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    I see the SS story as part of a larger problem about white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement. A lot of this is being run out of the police unions, many of which are little more than gangs and exist primarily to create a second command structure entirely independent of public control

  11. Mikey says:

    @BugManDan: Trump named a senior Secret Service official, Tony Ornato, as his deputy chief of staff while Ornato maintained his Secret Service position. When Trump lost, Ornato went back to the Secret Service full-time. It doesn’t take a knowledge of higher mathematics to put two and two together on this.

  12. EddieInCA says:

    Rudy Texeira is leaving CAP for AEI.

    This is a big deal in the world of public intellectuals.

    Key graf:

    Teixeira, whose role in the Beltway scrum often involved arguing against calls to move right on economic issues, insists his own policy views haven’t changed — but says the current cultural milieu of progressive organizations “sends me running screaming from the left.”

    “My perspective is, the single most important thing to focus on in the social system is the economic system,” he tells me. “It’s class.” We’re sitting in AEI’s elegantly furnished library. Down the hall, there’s a boisterous event celebrating the conservative intellectual Harvey Mansfield. William Kristol, clad in a suit, has just left the room. Teixeira’s untucked shirt and sneakers aren’t the only thing that seems out of place. “I’m just a social democrat, man. Trying to make the world a better place.”

    It’s a great read that mirrors the arguments on this very site.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yep, correct on all counts.

  14. CSK says:

    I think Ornato took a post with the Miami office of the Secret Service. Possibly the nearest he could get to Mar-a-Lago.

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I quickly scanned the article and I think this is going to be a perfect rorschach test in that it’s easy to use it to confirm a lot of currently held biases.

    I didn’t know who Texeira was going into the article (I have worked with some folks from CAP in the past, but in the Criminal Legal System space). Reading the following description “Teixeira’s untucked shirt and sneakers aren’t the only thing that seems out of place” I assumed he was some wunderkind or Gen-Xer (like myself).

    Nope. He’s a 70 year old dude. Complaining about the Wokes. Which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me given this take: “My perspective is, the single most important thing to focus on in the social system is the economic system… It’s class.”

    It’s funny, I keep seeing commenters complaining here about how part of the problem of the Democrats is that their leadership is far too old. And then at the same time some of the same folks will most likely back up the idea that we should be deeply concerned that a, checks notes, 70-year-old pundit’s fear of being not woke enough is an important sign that the Democratic party has moved too far to the left.

    Personal take: I think suggesting that “class” is ultimately the most important issue–as Marxists have demonstrated over and over again–is deeply flawed (especially in the US). Is it important? Yes. But I think, at least in the US, “race” is at least as important. Otherwise, LBJ’s quote that gets circulated a lot in discussions here wouldn’t work:

    “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

    It’s ironic that despite all the talk about “it’s all about class” the article still talks about “blue-collar whites” as a specific category.

    Reading all of this also reminders me of how much think tanks resemble University Academic Departments where Tenured Senior Faculty (who should have retired years ago to create space for younger scholars who can’t get jobs*) constantly complain about how the junior faculty and grad students are ruining the field and complain that they can’t find young folks who think like they do.

    * – extra irony about those departments–its those same should have retired professors who complain about declining graduate enrollment rates.

  16. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “It’s a great read that mirrors the arguments on this very site.”

    Right. He’s a class warrior fighting for the poor and working class who’s going to work for an institution that preaches the gospel of the pseudo-libertarian billionaires — all regulation is theft and the rich and poor are in their own classes solely because of their own efforts.

    But hey, he’s 70, and you can’t get rich by being a lefty “public intellectual,” while the appeal of the wingnut welfare circuit is well-known. For instance, if a lefty college professor was fired for serially screwing his students, he’d be lucky to get unemployment. On the right, you get a cushy position at AEI where you get to scream that you were “cancelled.”

  17. CSK says:

    At the request of Trump and his two eldest spawn, the NY A.G.’s office has delayed their depositions.

    The Trumps cited the death of Ivana Trump as their reason for requesting the postponement.

  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    I tend to agree with the analysis that race is important. However, I kinda doubt this conflict is about policy or even ideology so much as it is about manners and rhetorical strategy.

    I personally think that there are elements who think scolding and shaming and finger pointing is the way forward. I usually don’t disagree on the substance, I disagree on how to get the message across in a way that is meaningful and likely to change minds.

    “When the white man learns to love himself, there will be no race problem” – James Baldwin

  19. CSK says:

    Well, well, well. According to CNN, a Washington MDC police officer who was in Trump’s motorcade on Jan. 6 confirms the story about Trump lunging for the steering wheel of the car and striking a Secret Service agent.

  20. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: A friend who comes from Hampton County (at the heart of the Murdaugh legal empire) tells me that Wal-Mart and other national firms won’t come to Hampton County because the Murdaughs have been milking the market for large liability judgments; and this has been going on for decades.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    Re the occasional references here to the “We’re not a democracy, we’re a republic” chestnut, LGM links to an opinion piece at on the subject ,

    Saying America is a democracy, not a republic, is no more meaningful nor accurate than saying, “That’s not a vehicle! It’s an automobile!”

  22. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What a wild story! I’m not usually into true crime stuff, but this case has Dominic Dunne written all over it.

    Bets on whether book and movie rights already sold?

  23. Jen says:

    @CSK: I think that’s reasonable. Their mother died, and 73 isn’t that old.

    I don’t care for the Trumps, at all, but I’m willing to extend the smallest modicum of grace when kids lose their mom, even adult kids–after all, they’ve just lost their truly functional parent.

  24. Kathy says:


    They may not want to miss out on sympathy fundraising/grfting, too.

  25. Roger says:

    @CSK: That can’t be true. I was reliably informed just two days ago on this very site by a commenter who seemed very certain that Ms. Hutchison’s credibility has been “compromised.”

  26. CSK says:

    Oh, I do, too, particularly for the kids. I was just noting the fact.

    But I think it’s unconscionable for Trump to fundraise off his first wife’s death.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Matt Bernius: I’m not trying to pick an argument here, but a lot depends on where you draw the lines around “class” and then what counts as a class signifier.

    “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

    In my definition, LBJ was talking about the power of class, with race as a signifier. But I certainly see how you can split the two.

    My definition of class is more like the Indian concept of caste in that while money may come into it indirectly because people from one caste are given more economic opportunities than others, in the end a poor person of a high class looks down upon a rich person of a lower one, and probably resents them for getting above themselves.

  28. Barry says:

    @EddieInCA: “Rudy Texeira is leaving CAP for AEI.”

    He’s going to AEI as an economically liberal person?
    Going to a right-wing intellectual brothel?

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @becca: I hope Liz makes bank on it. She earned it 3 times over covering that story when everybody else was hiding in the bushes.

    @SC_Birdflyte: Yep, Murdaugh made a lot of money suing corporations. I read the story I linked to above and another from 5 months ago just as a refresher and one of them mentioned it had a lot to do with the railroad running thru Hampton Co. Sadly, that’s all I remember of that topic now.

  30. Jen says:

    @CSK: Oh, absolutely. Fundraising off of this is disgusting (and largely predictable).

  31. Joe says:


    Fundraising off of this is disgusting (and largely predictable).

    Shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

  32. CSK says:

    Indeed. Just when you think Trump can’t go any lower…I’m surprised he’s not fundraising to cover the funeral expenses.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: I would have to also assume that as “a convert”–someone who has left the cesspools of socialism–he’s even more valuable if only as a poster boy. This used to be a thing in the Evangelical Movement, too–“former x/y/z comes to the Lord.” It was even a thing in 2016 with some famous guy being claimed as a convert so he could run for political office, but I forget the details now. It was so long ago, and nobody talks about his conversion anymore.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: On the other hand, saying that any action FG might take is “unconscionable” seems like granting him qualities he’s quite obviously lacking. Doesn’t one need to have a conscience for something to be unconscionable?

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Barry: Just because one is economically liberal does not mean that one will not go to where the opportunities for continued money and influence won’t be better. There’s a lot of scratch available in railing on the foibles of the woke; he needs to cash in while he still has the chance.

  36. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I beg your indulgence in view of the fact that there is no language sufficient to convey the depths of Trump’s swinishness.

  37. Matt Bernius says:


    Well, well, well. According to CNN, a Washington MDC police officer who was in Trump’s motorcade on Jan. 6 confirms the story about Trump lunging for the steering wheel of the car and striking a Secret Service agent.

    Until that specific testimony is aired (most likely in primetime next week), I would be careful about making that specific of an assumption. A close reading of the CNN article really doesn’t confirm that.

    More importantly, any focus on whether the steering wheel and neck thing is true really distracts us from the broader fact that even Onato cannot dispute–that Trump wanted to go to the Capital and was upset that he could not. And that he was overruled on that decision. That is the MOST important part of that story.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I don’t follow FG’s fundraising appeals, so I have no reason to suspect that helping defray the cost of her funeral isn’t one of the tracks for this scam. She’s not anywhere near as well off since she left him, dontcha kno.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Indeed. He is kind of a metaphysical nadir. He may well be the metaphysical nadir.

  40. Matt Bernius says:


    My definition of class is more like the Indian concept of caste in that while money may come into it indirectly because people from one caste are given more economic opportunities than others, in the end a poor person of a high class looks down upon a rich person of a lower one, and probably resents them for getting above themselves.

    From my time spent with Anthropologists who studied India (including Indian ones) caste is a really complex concept and one that really doesn’t work outside of the Indian context. Arjun Apartari in particular really doesn’t think it works in the US (except when discussing the Indian Diaspora).

    There’s one quote in particular that really demonstrates why trying to apply caste and class to the LBJ quote misses the point:

    [W]hile the top of the Indian caste system, usually composed of Brahmins, is permanent, closed and unquestionable, the bottom, which is certainly defined by Dalits (Untouchables) is strangely porous, since every Indian caste, including the lowest, has someone or some group, usually in a neighbouring village, who performs polluting services (like cremation, scavenging and hair-cutting) for them, and is therefore lower than they are. In short, no group in India, however low, lacks a group beneath them that lets them feel purer. This is very different from the exclusionary logic of race, which is binary (black versus white) and lacks any cosmological basis for one black person to feel racially superior to another black.

    For these reasons, mobility at every level has been part of the history of caste in India, (contra the myth of its rigidity) and here the semiotics of pigment in American race relations is a massive obstacle to such mobility, actual or aspirational. Even in the past 50 years in India, the entry of Dalits into Indian political parties, elections and in the bureaucracy has been both numerically impressive and irreversible, even if the upper caste backlash against this mobility, in terms of rape, arson and public humiliation of Dalits has also intensified.

    The only part I’d contest in this is that there is a system for stratification within Black culture. However, that is itself built on the race construct of skin color (i.e. a poorer light-skinned Black person have in the past seen themselves as better than a darker-skinned person).

  41. @Matt Bernius: My initial thoughts on this is that a 70 year-old sociologist (he is thought of as a political scientist, but his degrees are all in sociology) trained int he 70s and 80s would see the main cleavage in American politics as socio-economic (and hence
    “class”–and training in sociology would have almost certainly re-inforced the notion of class as a key construct).

    Indeed, speaking as a mid-50s political scientist trained in the late 80s/the 90s, the notion that the main cleavage point in American party politics is socio-economic would have been what I learned as well.

    In simple terms: fiscal policy (taxing and spending) especially as it relates to welfare spending and “the rich” v. “the middle class” v. “the working class”, etc. (not necessarily “class” in a Marxist sense).

    All of that is to say it is hardly surprising that Teixeira is fixated on that that framing of the problem.

    I don’t think it is wrong as much as it is highly incomplete. Again, the fact that “working class” in these conversations almost always means “non-college education whites” I think that a simple socio-economic frame is way off. If this really was about the working class alone, then Blacks would be in alliance with whites (and they aren’t).

  42. @Steven L. Taylor: Being older almost certainly accentuates his frustration with the “woke” (and kids these days).

  43. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    Well, the officer has apparently already testified to the committee under oath, so there’s that.

  44. Matt Bernius says:


    Well, the officer has apparently already testified to the committee under oath, so there’s that.

    Correct, but until we know the contents of the testimony, I suggest care. It could be the officer will say “I witnessed a heated argument in the car, heard Trump yelling at his driver, and saw him lean forward.”

    Then very smart people will saw “bUt hE dIdN’t cOnFiRm tRuMp tOuChEd tHe wHeEl! iTs aLl lIeS.”

    There is nothing gained from emphasizing the most salacious aspects of the story (as we should have learned earlier).

    Don’t get me wrong. I won’t be upset if a physical altercation is confirmed. But again, that is the LEAST important aspect of this and we shouldn’t spend time focusing on it.

  45. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    It was also a cleavage in cultural anthropology too. It was still being discussed when I was in school.

  46. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    Sure. I disagree, though, about the physical aspect being the least important aspect. If it’s true, it demonstrates that Trump’s temper is totally out-of-control. That’s probably not a good thing in a president.

    That there was little Trump could accomplish by trying to grab the wheel or assaulting Engel doesn’t mitigate the fact that his temper is dangerously volcanic.

  47. Scott says:

    This made me laugh.

    From The Bulwark:

    Of Course He’s Running

    Speaking of Nuzzi’s article, take a moment to read this bravura 152-word opening sentence:

    Donald Trump was impeached twice, lost the 2020 election by 7,052,770 votes, is entangled in investigations by federal prosecutors (over the Capitol insurrection and over the mishandling of classified White House documents and over election interference) and the District of Columbia attorney general (over financial fraud at the Presidential Inaugural Committee) and the Manhattan district attorney (over financial fraud at the Trump Organization) and the New York State attorney general (over financial fraud at the Trump Organization) and the Westchester County district attorney (over financial fraud at the Trump Organization) and the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney (over criminal election interference in Georgia) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (over rules violations in plans to take his social-media company public through a SPAC) and the House Select Committee on January 6 (whose hearings are the runaway TV-ratings hit of the summer), yet on Monday, July 11, he was in a fantastic mood.

  48. Matt Bernius says:


    If it’s true, it demonstrates that Trump’s temper is totally out-of-control. That’s probably not a good thing in a president.

    I totally agree with this from a political qualifications position. But ultimately that really isn’t the goal of these hearings.

    I’m purely thinking about possible prosecutions at this point.

  49. Matt Bernius says:

    Unfortunately, I agree that he’s running. And I suspect he’s being encouraged to do it by peers, if for no other reasons, I think there is 0 chance that Garland would prosecute under those circumstances.

  50. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    As am I.

    But there’s no harm in demonstrating how out-of-control Trump actually is. Ah, well, let’s not argue the point.

  51. BugManDan says:

    @Mikey: I was actually talking about James Murray who is retiring at the end of this month. He was SS director for the last 3 years.

  52. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “This used to be a thing in the Evangelical Movement, too”

    Way back when in the Iraq war days, I believe it used to be referred to as “eventheliberalNewRepublic.”

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: And it has a comma splice in it to boot! The clause starting “yet on Monday…” is independent and needs a semicolon before, not a final comma.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: I remember it well. Those were the days that Martin Peretz started his “rethink liberalism and get paid for it” campaign that brought the world Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, and Andrew Sullivan–famous progressives all.

  55. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: If someone would pay me to sell out, I would do it, if the money was good enough and the work easy enough.

    Do it enough times back and forth and you can be a contrarian!

  56. Sleeping Dog says:

    Time lapse showing local flooding during a spring ‘King Tide’

    The area shown was once marsh that was filled in during 40’s & 50’s and now the sea is reclaiming it.

  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    DOJ has formally requested a terrorism enhancement for the sentencing of convicted J6 conspirator Guy Reffitt:

    DOJ wants to make Guy Reffit, the first Jan6er to go to trial, the first legally adjudged terrorist in the event.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) July 15, 2022

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: What a bunch of balderdash. Next thing your going to tell me is it’s all because of climate change. I’ll bet those people spend hours enjoying themselves in their custom basements, I mean indoor swimming pools.

  59. Sleeping Dog says:


    Yup, climate change. The west has its fires and drought and coastal areas have their tidal flooding.