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. MarkedMan says:

    So it’s not just the US that is plagued by billionaires financing so called think tanks, funding semi-academic shills to pen “research” lauding libertarianism as a solution to all problems. Britain has these gadflies as well (no subscription needed). It turns out that Liz Truss’ ludicrous budget plan was essentially written by the ‘scholars’ for hire at Tufton house, funded by more or less the same billionaires that push nonsensical ideas in the US. After merely revealing the plan caused the pound to tank, weakening Britain’s economy and endangering the jobs of countless citizens, do you think this disaster will make libertarians question anything? Well, none of the last ones have. Whenever libertarians gain power it ends in disaster, but it’s adherents mutter “not libertarian enough” and “no true Scotsman” for a few days and then wipe it from their collective memory. After all, a priori, libertarianism can never fail, it can only be failed.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

    Two Russians have crossed the Bering Strait by boat in order to avoid conscription to fight in Ukraine and landed on a remote Alaskan island where they have appealed for asylum, according to reports from the region. The pair beached their small boat on Tuesday near Gambell, a settlement of about 600 people on St Lawrence Island, 46 miles from Siberia’s Chukotka peninsula, earlier this week.

    Town clerk Curtis Silook told the Alaska’s News Source website that the men said they had sailed from the Russian town of Egvekinot, approximately 300 miles by sea. They were flown off the island later on Tuesday, he said……….

    A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said: “The individuals were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes a screening and vetting process, and then subsequently processed in accordance with applicable US immigration laws under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

    So of course,

    His fellow Republican senator from the state, Lisa Murkowski said that a CBP plane had to fly 750 miles to reach the scene and said it “underscores the need for a stronger security posture in America’s Arctic”.

  4. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Judy Tenuta has passed away.

    I am sad.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Joe Biden said a bad word???

    Gerry Doyle

    we have a code blue fainting couch emergency situation here, people

    Oct 5
    President Joe Biden was caught on microphone using profanity while speaking with Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy:

    GᖇEGOᖇY G. ᗩᒪᒪEᑎ

    So let me get this straight: the F**k Joe Biden cult has a problem with this? NOW they want to talk about integrity in the White House? F Them! #Biden #DarkBrandon

    The horror!

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ray Murphy, the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, told NBC: “It was not directed at anybody. It was just two guys talking. It didn’t faze me one bit. That’s just the way two guys talk to each other from our respective backgrounds.”

    Murphy told NBC he and the president quickly discovered they had a lot in common.

    “We’re both Irish Catholics,” he said. “We’re both devout Catholics. But every once [in] a while a little salty language comes out.”

    They should all stay far away from job sites everywhere.

  7. MarkedMan says:


    Lisa Murkowski said that a CBP plane had to fly 750 miles to reach the scene and said it “underscores the need for a stronger security posture in America’s Arctic”

    I think I read this a bit differently than you. I just saw it as a state Senator using anything and everything to try to bring more Federal dollars into their state. Which is what Blue states do as a matter of course, and used to be standard practice for all states.

  8. Scott says:

    A little military history for this fine Friday.

    That time 200,000 US troops spent an entire war on sick call

    Nearly 125 years after it ended, the Spanish-American War isn’t really commemorated in depth in the annals of U.S. military history. There’s the explosion that sunk the USS Maine and launched the United States into conflict, there’s Teddy Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders” volunteer cavalry, but that’s about it.

    Compared with past campaigns, this might be understandable: While it was a significant moment in history — ending the Spanish empire’s centuries-long presence in North America and transforming the United States into a global power — hostilities lasted barely four months, and U.S. casualty numbers were relatively low. It was, as soon-to-be Secretary of State John Hay wrote in a letter to Roosevelt in July 1898, “A splendid little war.”

    It may have been “a splendid little war” for the U.S. government, which walked away from the venture in control of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. But it was most definitely not for the more than 200,000 soldiers mobilized to fight in it. For them, a majority of whom never even left the United States, much of the war consisted of sitting around encampments getting diseases like typhoid fever, yellow fever, malaria and dysentery.

    Over the course of the conflict, the U.S. suffered only 385 combat deaths, along with 1,662 wounded. Deaths from disease, though, were more than seven times that, and nearly three-quarters of those deaths happened stateside. The U.S. Army suffered 2,565 deaths from disease in all theaters during the course of the war.

    It was the beginning of the emphasis on hygiene and disease prevention in the US military and that continues to this day.

    While the war had been quickly won, the number of deaths from disease and the reports from Reed were considered shocking enough to provoke some reform. Reed also chaired the United States Army Yellow Fever Commission, established in 1900, to study the spread of that disease.

    And in 1905, the Department of Military Hygiene was established at West Point, to more strictly codify disease prevention as part of military doctrine.

    In the end, for the hundreds of thousands who served in uniform during the war, the biggest threat they ever faced was disease.

    And there are idiots (like my congressman) who think vaccine should be optional in the military.

  9. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: @OzarkHillbilly: Murkowski is right, of course. We tend to not look north. Psychologically, Russia is East and far away. Yet, with Canada, we basically share a large border directly with Russia.

  10. CSK says:

    Volodomyr Zelensky, the apparent frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize, didn’t get it.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I had a long day among the Mennonites yesterday getting my meat birds processed. It started at 2 am and ended at 8:30 pm.

    I was a little surprised at the number of Trudy Busch Valentine for Senate signs I saw and the complete lack of Eric Schmitt signs. Not that the Mennonites are engaged in such shenanigans, I don’t even know if they vote. They are unfailingly polite and friendly. Their neighbors on the other hand…

    My faith in my fellow Miserians was restored when I stopped at a tool store to check out their inventory. There are a couple of router bits I am in need of and I thought they might have them. I had several hundred dollars in my pocket (had to pay for the bird processing) and a mask going on my face when I reached the door and espied a sign that said,

    “No Masks Allowed.
    No Exceptions”

    Yep, situation normal, all fucked up. So I, my mask and my several hundred dollars turned around and left. I’m going to send them a nice polite letter telling them their stupidity cost them $500 in sales. Not true, maybe only a hundred or so, but so what.

    As to the signs, I don’t ascribe any great meaning to them other than that the “fine” people of Morgan and Moniteau counties aren’t big fans of Eric Schmitt. Don’t worry, they are still going to vote for the asshole, just not gonna to give him any money.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I can see her pushing for a fully manned CPB base with a regiment of CPB infantry to patrol the beaches, a full CPB Naval task force with an aircraft carrier, several destroyers and a couple nuclear submarines for good measure, and a fully functional CPB airbase, all to counter the great threat of invasion by 40-60 yr old Russian men fleeing conscription into the Ukrainian fiasco.

    Both of them.

  13. Neil Hudelson says:


    Are the Mennonites in your neck of the woods more of the proto-Amish type, or the thoroughly modern Mennie type? In southern Indiana the Mennonites are of the latter variety–drive cars, sends kids to public schools, are school teachers, doctors and accountants–and all of them are heavily involved in local politics. Their Amish cousins, however, do not vote. I’ve always been curious if Mennonites who are kind of in that gray zone between modernity and Amish vote, or if they are more isolationist.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Murkowski is right, of course.

    Right about what? We, the hoi poloi may largely ignore Russia’s close proximity to Alaska, but the US govt does not.

    Military Bases in Alaska Not to mention the 3 CPB stations in the southern part of the state.

    I just don’t see the single flight of an airplane to pick up 2 Russian asylum seekers who crossed the Bering Sea as justifying any great increase of monies or personnel. How often is that even going to happen?

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: more of the proto-Amish type, or the thoroughly modern Mennie type?

    Well, a hybrid type but I don’t think as modern as yours. They have motorized tractors* for working in the fields but mostly get around on bicycles and horse and buggy. I have never seen one actually driving a vehicle, but if the men are without their hats, I wouldn’t be able to tell. Yesterday, I came across 2 women at the local Subway sandwich shop and did not see a buggy or bicycles out front. TBH tho, it did not occur to me to look for bikes. They have their own private school and their churches. They do business with the modern world (my bird processor is one such, even has a govt inspector on site every day) but beyond that, I just don’t know.

    *the tractors don’t have rubber tires on them, always a ribbed steel wheel. i have no idea what that is all about.

  16. Scott says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @Neil Hudelson: There are many denominations that are descended from the initial German Pietist and Anabaptist movements.

    From Wikipedia:

    Anabaptists trace their heritage to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. Other Christian groups with different roots also practice believer’s baptism, such as Baptists, but these groups are not Anabaptist. The Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites are direct descendants of the early Anabaptist movement. Schwarzenau Brethren, River Brethren, Bruderhof, and the Apostolic Christian Church are Anabaptist denominations that developed well after the Radical Reformation. Though all Anabaptists share the same core theological beliefs, there are differences in the way of life between them; Old Order Anabaptist groups include the Old Order Amish, the Old Order Mennonites, Old Order River Brethren, the Hutterites and the Old German Baptist Brethren. In between the mainline denominations and Old Order groups are Conservative Anabaptist groups such as the Dunkard Brethren, Conservative Mennonites and Beachy Amish, who have retained traditional religious practices and theology, while allowing for modern conveniences.

    This has been a recent interest of mine because one of my many religious lineages is from the Swartzenau Brethren or Dunkers. In my family they farmed near Wooster, Ohio. The old church is still there along with the cemetery. My Great Grandfather’s particular sect (Church of the Brethren) today doesn’t eschew modern conveniences but do try to live simply and faithfully. They are pacifists and renounced slavery formally in 1797.

    Great Grandfather chose to move to Cleveland in the 1880s to make his fortune as did other siblings.

    Bottomline: You really can’t tell which branch without a scorecard.

  17. Jen says:

    @CSK: I’d really like to see Jose Andres win (I have no idea if he was even nominated, but he should be every year until he wins). That man has perfected getting on the ground to feed desperate people to an art form.

  18. CSK says:


    I agree. Andres was nominated in 2019.

  19. Gustopher says:


    Whenever libertarians gain power it ends in disaster

    Depends on how you measure success. The bears in the oft-cited New Hampshire town were very pleased with libertarian rule, and likely very disappointed when a more regular government returned and encroached upon their freedoms with the power and threat of state violence.

  20. CSK says:

    I understand that Trump was being his usual racist boor self when he gave Elaine Chao the jeering surname of “Chow,” but what does “Coco” mean?

  21. Beth says:

    I have long been jealous of Cis women and their sprinkler equipped urethra:

    Amusingly, a Cis gay man friend of mine believes that women pee from around their cervix. He was quite concerned about how I would pee post surgery. He assumed that because Cis women pee from their cervix that the surgeons would attach my urethra to the “back” of the cavity. When my stunned silence turned to laughter he said “what! Vaginas scare me!”

    The urologist did tell me that for the first couple of weeks peeing would be an “adventure” at my initial consult.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I’m envisioning signs akin to the Chick-Fil-A ones, where cows are writing on the billboards encourage people to “EAT MOR CHIKN”. In this case it would be New England black bears writing, “VOT LIBRTARAN”

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:



    I honestly think that the whole racist thing was way overplayed by those who which to be outraged.

    First, I will not defend him for being an ass and trying to minimize people by giving them stupid nicknames. For this he is no more than a grade school bully and a total asshat.

    But “Coco Chow”… man… the only way that I can even try to get that is:

    A) He had no clue that Chao was spelled C-H-A-O . He heard chow, he wrote chow. He has no curiosity nor interest in others… why would he even consider trying to get a name right?

    B) Again, he spends little time reading, and likely has poor spelling skills. No secret there, well documented. So again, Coco could seriously be how he thought kookoo (coo-coo?) was spelled. Forget that he would even think of spelling it cuckoo… and there you have the likely origin of Coco.

    Now, would he EVER admit that due to his illiteracy he wrote something completely diffferent than his intent? Not a freaking chance.

    Especially when his mob defends his every word bigly.

    But the left’s reaction to this as racist instead of an acknowledgement of his pathetic attempt to disparage a political foes wife (especially one that is supposedly on the same side that Trump is on)… that one I just don’t get.

  24. @Liberal Capitalist: I think you are likely correct. He meant “cuckoo Chao.”

    Or, maybe he was trying to type covfefe. 🙂

  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: From your link:

    Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan …[said] … that allowing citizens to choose self-perceived gender identity presents a “danger to the family and inheritance systems,” as it will “open the door for 220 million people to choose to be anything.”

    Oh my stars and garters!!! People might choose to be anything! They might choose to be potted plants! Or Bronies! Especially Bronies. We can tolerate our citizens being radical terrorists responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of humans, but we won’t tolerate those Bronies!

    Whilst any trans person I’ve ever met understands that the only choice they’ve made is to ‘out’, rather than ‘in’. To live their lives with more integrity and authenticity and less trauma, sorrow and shame.

    Which reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from In and Out, where Debbie Reynolds is chatting with a few of her ladyfriends about her son’s coming out and comparing, and one of the ladies (a veteran comedienne, but I don’t recall her name), says “what if everybody just … spilled the beans?” to which another lady responds “My husband has three testicles!” There is both shock and giggles from the circle.

  26. Liberal Capitalist says:

    By the way… for those who have never seen Judy Tenuta, this video from 1987 is a good intro.

  27. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: @Steven L. Taylor:
    “Cuckoo” is probably it. He called Chao “crazy” this past August.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: I fail to see the point to trying to clarify the Idiot’s utterances for him, much less giving him any benefit of the doubt.

  29. CSK says:


    I never give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

  30. gVOR08 says:

    Jamelle Bouie has an excellent column at NYT hitting some of the same things Dr. T stresses, the structural impediments to democracy, and governance, flowing from the Constitution.

    Even if you keep MAGA Republicans out of office (including Trump himself), you’re still left with a system the basic structure of which fuels dysfunction and undermines American democracy, from how it enables minority rule to how it helps inculcate a certain kind of political chauvinism — best captured in the hard-right mantra that the United States is a “Republic, not a democracy” — among some of the voters who benefit from lopsided representation in the Senate and the Electoral College.

    I’ve observed before that conservatives have a point when they say the Court has drifted away from the Constitution. What they miss, or deliberately elide, is that this was necessary in order to govern a 21st century nation of 330 million people with an 18th century charter for a nation of 4 million. Whether an expansive reading of the Commerce Clause is proper or not, it is necessary.

    Karl Popper advocated an open society constantly improving itself through democratic processes. We ain’t that. Popper stressed that the solution is not to select better leaders. The trick is to make a system that functions despite bad leaders. Because historically, that’s the kind you’re likely to get.

  31. @gVOR08: TBH, I think noting that he is too dumb to know that “coco” isn’t the same as “cuckoo” and that he can’t remember how to spell a four-letter name of one his cabinet secretaries is hardly given him the benefit of the doubt 😉

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:..Judy Tenuta

    The clip is great! When I first saw her name I flashed that she was an author of children’s books…no. That is Judy Blume.
    I have a vague memory of Judy Tenuta from somewhere. Probably TV.
    ovarian cancer
    May she rest in peace.

  33. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    C-H-A-O. Man, that’s a tough one.

  34. @CSK: Indeed.

  35. Liberal Capitalist says:

    But my point really is this:

    Coco Chow… jerk move, but not racist.

    And let me be clear on that as well: I’m not saying taht Trump ISN’T a racist…. just that THIS one item likely specifically wasn’t racist.

    And the Left’s response (on Twitter at least) was that it was an outrage and complete racism… but no one answered me when I said: “How is Coco racist?”

  36. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    “Coco” isn’t racist. But the “Chow” part appeared to be.

  37. Reformed Republican says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: I see the same thing with the right and AOC (just one example) as I do with the left and Trump. There are plenty of legitimate things to complain about, but they go after low-hanging fruit that doesn’t really mean anything and get super-mad-online about stuff that doesn’t matter. Then people tend to tune them out when they get mad about the important stuff, because they are always mad. There’s no sense of proportion to the outrage.

  38. Liberal Capitalist says:


    OK… how?

    Really. Is Chow some ancient Chinese insult of which I am unaware?

    I know that Cocô in Brazilian Portuguese means “poop”… but since he is not Bolsonaro, I won’t give him credit for that.

    And it appears that in older Australian English, Chow was used negatively… but no way that he knew that. Not that guy from Queens.

    Now if he pulled up with coco ching chang chong… bam. that’s racist. nbo question, hands down.

    But Chow is not even a silent dog whistle.

    Unless military chow and chow-down is something completely different.


    (why yes, I did watch “The Professor and the Madman” yesterday… why do you ask?)

  39. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There seem to me to be many signs over the years that Trump struggles with basic reading. I remain convinced that he is an undiagnosed dyslexic, and is one of those people who resorted to bullying as a preventative measure against being called dumb.

  40. Beth says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    It could be within the realm of possibility that he was attempting to be racist, but was in fact too inelegant (dumb, lets be honest, dumb) to get an accurate racism. I realize this is ascribing motivation to someone who is basically a human shark.

  41. charon says:


    I remain convinced that he is an undiagnosed dyslexic,

    A long time ago, after the July 4 speech about the Revolutionary War airfields etc., yastreblyansky posted about that on his blog. Yas thinks Trump has a much less common reading disability than dyslexia – specifically, Trump sounds out what he reads phonetically without absorbing the meaning, he only understands what he has read after he hears himself say it so there is a time lag – it’s why he sounds so odd when he reads off a telerompter – no normal inflection/emphasis because he is just making the sounds.

  42. Jen says:

    @charon: That makes sense. He clearly struggles.

    When asked what the last good book he read was, or maybe the question was about his favorite book, I think he responded something like “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which was likely required reading at his military high school. My hunch has long been he grabbed the only name of a book that he could remember, because he’d been forced to read it.

  43. Kathy says:


    We could test that by hacking his teleprompter. Insert “trump is an ugly moron,” and see whether he says it.

  44. Kathy says:


    That’s a pretty good book. I read it in the first or third year of junior high school history class. Yes, it was required. Other books assigned that year included a biography of Napoleon (did not read it), Mila 18 (read it), and Is Paris Burning? (did not read it).

    Do you suppose Benito was forced to read it, or he was forced to stiff a classmate to write the book report for him?

  45. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: @Jen:

    “Chow” could be an intentional misspelling of her name, used to denigrate her ancestry.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Benefit of the doubt doesn’t really apply here, anyway. Trump is an idiot. And Trump is racist. It is akin to counting angels on the head of a pin to try to determine which had priority in any given instance, meaning, it’s a fun intellectual puzzle but if no real world significance.

  47. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I had to read it in the original German. Im Westen Nichts Neues. It was a pretty good book. I assume that a military high school would assign it as required reading. On whether or not Trump actually read it…I’d give it 60/40 that yes, he may well have, which is why it’s lodged in his noggin.

  48. Kathy says:

    From the file “When bad things happen to awful people”.

    Some thoughts:

    1) The DC jail probably is as bad as all that, but:
    2) I’d give odds that their clothes and food get special treatment from other inmates.
    3) They should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. It’s fitting to keep all terrorists together.

    Oh, and notice they complain about vaccine requirements.

  49. Beth says:


    Something tells me Guantanamo is not the jail paradise these idiots think it is. I understand that their rotted racist brains think that the inmates, excuse me “malicious terrorists*” are getting some sort of wonderful treatment instead of what is likely straight up torture. I’m a firm believer that sometimes people should be given exactly what they want so they can choke on it.

    *highly dubious

  50. CSK says:

    I think we have a consensus that Trump is an idiot. And a churl. And a bigot. And a sadist.

    The MAGAs seem to operate under the delusion that Islamic terrorists live in the lap of luxury at Guantanamo.

  51. Kathy says:


    Very early at work today, two special, urgent, incredibly important* requests came in, and I spent the rest of the day on spreadsheets doing price and product listings. That’s as mind-numbing as work gets. So I’m somewhat angry and bitter just now.


    There’s a widespread set of delusions among the wingnuts, to the effect that all kinds of minorities, criminals, people with disabilities, among others, are privileged and get special treatment from the government.

    You’d think a spell in jail would cure them of that, but some people are simply unable to learn from experience.

    *They’re actually very unimportant. Alas, no less urgent or mind-numbing.

  52. Beth says:


    I feel destroyed from work today. Two days of frantic struggling to get a real estate transaction closed. Including fighting with the city to get a $20,000 water bill reduced to maybe 5k.

    I got it done, but my brain is screaming at me now.