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. Mu Yixiao says:

    Snowpocalypse in Wisconsin yesterday. Took me one hour and ten minutes to drive 17.5 miles on state and county highways.

    Today? Blue skies heading into the weekend with highs in the 40s.

    Yay Wisconsin?

  2. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    You’re not alone. Up here in Mass. and NH, we’ve gone from record-breaking cold to record-breaking warmth in less than a week.

  3. Jen says:

    @CSK: Last weekend was bizarre. It was -12 last Saturday and above 40 on Sunday.

  4. Kathy says:

    I just finished a book on mass extinctions. I learned a fair deal, considering I don’t usually warm up to paleontology and geology. The one mind-blowing fact, though was that camelids originated in North America (which wasn’t quite where it is now when that happened).

    This seems odd, considering there are no native camels or their relatives anywhere close to North America. the reason is the extinctions of most mega fauna when humans first arrived in the continent*. But a relative did survive in the western hemisphere, namely the llama.

    What’s stranger is humans did not wipe out the plants camelids evolved to eat. So the US southwest’s wilderness, or what’s left of it, still has plants that camels will readily eat.

    *Humans pretty much wiped out mega fauna wherever they went, except in Africa (think rhinos, giraffes, elephants, hipos, etc.) Africa’s animals benefited by evolving alongside H. sapiens, which taught them humans are very dangerous predators.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Snowpocalypse in Wisconsin yesterday. Took me one hour and ten minutes to drive 17.5 miles on state and county highways.

    Hell, in LA we can do that on a bright, sunny day.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    As a weirdo who likes winter, I’ve been very sad this year. Except for a couple days it’s been in the high 40s or warmer the whole time, we’ve had no snow… =(

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    @Stormy snow
    Come on down and bring your shovel. You can have all of mine!

  8. Scott says:

    Senate Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL on Florida Republican Sen. RICK SCOTT’s“Rescue America” plan, which states, “All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years,” with no exceptions for Social Security and Medicare: “This is a bad idea. I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any other state in America.”

    I’m thinking just the opposite. I think the old folks are going to say: “Go ahead and change it as long as I’m grandfathered in”. That’s why they retire to over 55 communities where families are not welcome.

  9. Scott says:

    POLITICO’s Tanya Snyder caught an awkward moment yesterday in Nevada, where Energy Secretary JENNIFER GRANHOLM received a pretty-little-lady’s welcome after announcing a $2 billion loan to a battery recycling company— and speaking in technical terms about the minerals in anodes and cathodes and what it takes to recycle them.

    When Nevada Gov. JOE LOMBARDO followed her at the podium, he asked: “Do you actually understand that science, or did you just memorize that?” The crowd was silent.

    Are all Trumpers, like Trump, just classless pigs?

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There you go, bragging about your traffic again. 😉

  11. Sleeping Dog says:


    Moscow really doesn’t care about SS and Medicare, his concern around the sunset provision are programs that were passed by R’s that would never be passed again. Not to mention that the whole concept of sunsets would never pass either the house or senate. Think back to Jimmy Carter and zero-based budgeting, how’d that work out.

  12. MarkedMan says:


    Are all Trumpers, like Trump, just classless pigs?

    I personally differentiate between capital “T” Trumpers (people who admire and enthusiastically support Donald Trump) and lowercase “t” trumpers (people who seem unable to sort fact from friction and exist in a constant state of anger and hostility to anything, anywhere that they perceive as different). But it’s safe to say that regardless of which you meant, this question is a tautology.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Yes, birds of a feather and all that.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    I know at least one of the regulars here live in Missouri, and I would just like to ask, What the Actual F*ck?! (Missouri legislature defeats proposal to prohibit children from carrying guns in public, no subscription needed)

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Welcome to the great state of Misery, which is being run by some of the most miserable Republican fucks you’d never want to meet.

  16. CSK says:

    Well, yes, since people who enthusiastically support and admire Trump and people who acn’t distinguish between fact and fiction and are perpetually enraged are one and the same.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Scott: @MarkedMan: @CSK: I think y’all are overlooking the element of calculation in this type of behavior. Some of these politicians may be classless pigs to their core. But they’ve also learned the political utility of acting this way (which by no means started with Trump, but which he most certainly popularized).

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: There will come a time when large numbers of trumpers will only vaguely be aware of Donald Trump, but they will still be trumpers by nature.

  19. CSK says:

    Not at all, in my case. I was speaking of Trump’s fans, not politicians. Of course the politicians are doing performance art.

  20. CSK says:

    Indeed. He brought them out from under their rocks.

  21. Kylopod says:


    Not at all, in my case. I was speaking of Trump’s fans, not politicians. Of course the politicians are doing performance art.

    Well, this little discussion started with the piece about something Joe Lombardo did, which is what I was responding to. Of course, the way the pols behave can never be totally separated from their supporters, who create the incentives for it. Among Republican voters, some love this behavior, some are indifferent to it, and some are offended by it. Put aside the exact amount in each category, for the moment. Even if those who are offended by it are a significant bloc, they’re probably not offended enough to bolt the party, because if they were they’d have done so a while ago–which some did, but those people are already gone so the effect is baked in at this point. So from the pols’ perspective, he has more to gain than to lose.

  22. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’ve been rereading Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, from the the preface of section 3 of the 1968 edition, footnote 1;

    No doubt, the fact that totalitarian government its open criminality not withstanding, rests on mass support is very disquieting.

    She goes on to demonstrate that fact and show how contemporary journalists and historians have chosen to ignore the evidence, either through denial or blaming propaganda. So yes the politician that pursue these behaviors, are doing it because an advantage accrues to them. While the consumers of Faux News and other RW media, aren’t unfortunate dupes, but have actively sought out views that reflect their well established and internalized world view.

  23. Kathy says:

    I wonder how much more we’ll hear about junk fees in the coming weeks. The notion made its way into travel and aviation blogs already.

    I favor tighter regulations. Some fees make sense, some don’t. Regardless, they should all be disclosed upfront.

    The easy example is you see a hotel room advertised as $100 per night. Well into the booking process you get hit with a $30 resort fee per night. So the price was really $130, right? It should be advertised as $130, not $100

    Yes, but you’ll also get hit by taxes later, when you finalize booking. This can add a fair amount to your totals. Therefore, all taxes should also be included in the fare, as well as other mandatory state/local fees as well.

    Mexico has a 16% VAT on most products (food and medicine are exempt*). That’s rather substantial. People often did not take it into account when budgeting or shopping. Particularly when shopping, ti’s not easy to figure out what 16% adds to something priced at, say $76.52.

    So years ago, I think in the late 90s, federal law mandated all retail prices must include all applicable taxes. Shopping and budgeting became far simpler.

  24. Mikey says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Took me one hour and ten minutes to drive 17.5 miles on state and county highways.

    Here in Northern Virginia we call that “Tuesday.”

  25. CSK says:

    I think by that point, it had evolved into a discussion of “all Trumpers.” See @Scott: But no big deal.

    This is interesting:

    Personally, I think one of two things will happen: Trump will get the nomination and Biden will win, or Trump will lose the nomination, run third party out of rage and spite, and Biden will win.

  26. CSK says:
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Not disagreeing here, as my 2016 track record shows I’m no ace at predicting what Trump might do, but I just can’t see him running as an independent. Given his ego, he wouldn’t want to join up with a minor party such as the Libertarians or the Greens, which are the only ones that are pretty much guaranteed to be get a line in the vast majority of states. And organizing his own party would be so far beyond his capabilities it will go nowhere. The most I see him doing is to fund-raise off of being a third party candidate but then just phone in the effort.

  28. CSK says:

    Oh, he’d never join an existing third party. He’d start a new party: The Trump Party. Or, possibly, the MAGA Party, but I think he’d much prefer to name it after himself.

  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: This startled me:

    Romney, who had no editorial control, declined to comment.

    I…don’t even know how to react to this. That’s astonishing. To be approached by an author, hand over THAT MUCH ORIGINAL MATERIAL *and* relinquish ALL editorial control is…amazing? crazy? unheard of?

    Like I said, I don’t know where to go with it.

  30. CSK says:

    I know. If Romney were more diabolical, I’d say this was his way of dodging responsibility for what Coppins says. But since Romney’s on the record as freely handing over the emails and many of the texts, he can’t do that.

    Perhaps this is Romney’s way of saying: “Fuck them all. I’m retiring shortly, and I can finally say exactly what I want about these clowns, especially Trump.”

  31. Kylopod says:


    And organizing his own party would be so far beyond his capabilities it will go nowhere.

    I agree. A couple weeks ago I created a hypothetical electoral map of a three-way race with Trump running on a MAGA Party ticket. (The 1912 election was my model.) But I know it’s nothing more than a fun exercise. In addition to all the logistical and financial challenges Trump would face in launching such a bid, I’m not sure he would want it, given that he knows a great deal of the support he currently enjoys would utterly crater if he abandoned the GOP. Even many of his current supporters aren’t going to follow him out of the party if he ever took that step. They’d know they were merely throwing their vote away and enabling the Democrat to win. The support Trump would get would be the bare bones of the movement he created, after everything else is stripped away–it would consist of people who either are delusional enough to believe he could win as a third-party candidate, or hate the Republican establishment so much they literally don’t care if it gets a Democrat elected. The question is whether Trump’s lust for blood after losing the Republican nomination would be so great that his ego could withstand the blow of seeing his 46% support shrink to, say, 13%, with the Republican nominee he loathes getting vastly more votes.

  32. CSK says:

    I think Trump’s bloodlust would overcome all else. He’s spent a lifetime torpedoing himself to exact vengeance for imagined slights.

  33. Sleeping Dog says:


    Romney, since TFG’s election has definitely walked to a different drummer. He seems comfortable in his own skin and accepts who he is, warts and all and appears to be dedicating the remainder of his life to what he believes is right. This isn’t that unusual, Jimmy Carter comes to mind among pols, but Romney is on the young side for that type of personal honesty.

  34. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, Romney is 75, which is not exactly spring chickenhood. But I grant he does look about 20 years younger.

  35. Kathy says:

    The dream is for El Cheeto to run third party, split the vote, and give the GQP the devastating loss they so richly deserve for having elected the clown in the first place.

    But aside from all that’s been noted above, wouldn’t sore loser laws keep him from running third party in several states if he fails to clinch the Republiqan nomination?

  36. CSK says:

    Dear God, it just gets worse and worse with George Santos. Romney called him “a sick puppy,” and lo and behold, it’s revealed that Santos once…stole puppies.

  37. CSK says:

    I don’t think the sore loser laws would deter Trump. Not when there’s revenge to be had.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is in rather the same position as Putin – they’re both guys psychologically unprepared for defeat who, nevertheless, are courting massive, undeniable defeat. Fortunately Trump does not have nukes.

  39. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’ve known a couple of men, who’ve gone through that type of transition and both were in their 80’s and, knew and admitted that their careers were through and what they accomplished and the goals they reached were in the past. Romney, though 75, is still young for that. After all, in 2020 how many prez candidates were over or within a year or two of their 75th b-day.

    My thought on Romney, is that he believes he has no future in the R party, though he would likely be reelected, but will never be a leader. He’ll be true to himself and his beliefs, nor will he follow the rest of the R’s into authoritarianism.

  40. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I agree.

  41. MarkedMan says:


    He’d start a new party: The Trump Party.

    I could see him doing that, but it wouldn’t be a serious effort. Can you honestly see Trump spending the kind of money it would take to get on the ballot in 50 states? Or even the 30 most populous ones? His Trump Party would consist of fund raising appeals to his marks, and possibly a write in campaign.

  42. Jen says:

    @CSK: He also stole money raised to help a veteran’s service dog. Santos is a walking caricature of an @sshole.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Good point. But it wouldn’t prevent him from fundraising for a halfhearted attempt.

  44. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: He’d figure out a way to launder the money.

    1) Declare he’s running as a third party
    2) set up campaign to get on ballot in X number [bare minimum] of states to qualify
    3) create company to do the work of getting on the ballot
    4) staff company with his own offspring
    5) rake in money, pay to company doing work to get on the ballot
    6) sadly miss the deadlines/goals/etc., blame it on everyone and everything
    7) profit

  45. CSK says:

    Santos not only IS a sick puppy, he literally stole FROM a sick puppy.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    Romney gave Coppins printouts of hundreds of personal Gmails, and showed him selected text messages on his phone.


    Granted, Romney is in Congress and Congress wrote the public records law so it doesn’t apply to them. But don’t they still have to avoid discussing classified material on unsecured channels? And can anyone think of anything more insecure than a gmail account, where you literally give Google the right to look at your email in exchange for getting a free account? What are the odds that Romney never, ever, not once, discussed secret material on those emails? I can tell you something that has much better odds: that the intel services of dozens of countries had access to those emails.

    Pause, while I await with bated breath the usual suspects to show up and explain how this is nothing like what one particular female presidential candidate did.

  47. Kathy says:


    He was ready to try a stunt to steal the presidency, he won’t hesitate at lawbreaking now.

    The thing is getting on the ballot isn’t up to him, but to elected and appointed officials in each state. Can you see Raffensperger letting him on the ballot in Georgia if the law says no? Assuming GA has such a law, that is. But the question applies in all states.

    Now, he’d be smart, if he’s capable of that, to skip states he has less than zero chance of winning, like California. But he absolutely needs purple states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania, etc. Without a ballot presence there, he’s toast and even he should be able to figure it out enough to spin some conspiracy theory about why he has no need of such states.

  48. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: I would not mind if Romney put George Santos in a carrier on top of his car, drove it on the highway, and then hosed down the mess when he gets sick at a gas station.

  49. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Most sore loser laws don’t apply to presidential elections. There are a few exceptions, and Gary Johnson ran into it in 2012, where he wasn’t able to get on the ballot in Michigan. (This doesn’t prevent write-in votes, though.)

  50. CSK says:

    That would indeed be an entertaining sight.

    I was thinking Trump would encourage write-in votes.

  51. Mister Bluster says:

    US shoots down another ‘high-altitude object’ over Alaska
    John Kirby, a national security spokesperson for the White House, said the Defense Department was tracking a “high-altitude object” over Alaska at 40,000 feet that posed “a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.
    The object shot down Friday was much smaller than the Chinese balloon, Kirby said, comparing ito to a small car, while the Chinese balloon was the size of three buses.

  52. Sleeping Dog says:
  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I’ve only read the Axios blurb which is hardly informative, but they don’t say anything about classified materials.

  54. Kathy says:


    In that case, Benito might manage to place in enough ballots to royally f*ck things up for the no-longer-party-of-Lincoln.

  55. CSK says:

    Axios seems to have broken the story. I haven’t read any new info elsewhere.

  56. CSK says:

    That would be his revenge. If he can’t be prez, no Republican can.

  57. Tony W says:

    Every once in a while I remember that loser real estate guy from New York somehow was president.

    It still seems unreal. Who would be fooled by that?

  58. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Commercial jets typically fly between 30 and 40 thousand feet, so yes.

    On the other hand, that’s low for a Chinese Spy Balloon (patent pending). And there are very few things that fly that high. I doubt they shot down a dense cloud, even one rife with ice crystals. So it might ave been a meteorological balloon (yes, those are real). Or maybe Xi is sending up dummies to get a reaction.

  59. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Of course they don’t. Remember, the reason we know about the few classified discussions Clinton via private emails, or the documents that Pence and Biden had, is because they voluntarily turned them over and they were searched with a fine tooth comb. But do you honestly think Romney never mentioned anything classified in his emails? The guy was so clueless about security he literally used a frickin’ GMail account as his primary email. You know, one of the accounts that are administered by thousands of high-turnover Indian contract employees sitting in Bangalore, and for which he had to have literally checked a box granting Google permission to mine his emails for marketing information.

    Personally, I don’t think Romney is a heinous traitor or anything, although he is dangerously ignorant about security. (If anything, it is an object lesson on why Congress shouldn’t be allowed to exempt themselves from legislation.) My point is that there is a group of people here at OTB who were aquiver with indignation about what a horrible reckless harridan Clinton was for her private email server, but who have always managed to retcon the reasons for their indignation to exclude any that would have applied to the dozens of senior government officials later revealed to have used email as badly or even much worse than she did. It’s the opposite of the “No True Scotsman” defense, the “Hillary email” offense: Because of the way she acted she is a uniquely horrible hypocrite. What about those that did the equivalent or worse? Well, they are not Hillary and so cannot be an equally horrible hypocrite.

    I have absolute confidence the Hillary haters here will have no trouble rationalizing Romney’s use of an unprotected and easily hackable gmail account for government business. Because he’s not Hillary.

  60. CSK says:

    This has become THE major story in Boston, and even an international one, though I’m not sure why the latter.

    The police dispatcher heard Andrew Robinson yelling “Kill me now” and objects crashing in the background.

  61. CSK says:

    The Hillary haters hate Romney, that backstabbig RINO globalist traitor, even more than they hate her.

  62. Kathy says:


    If he can’t be prez, no Republican can.

    Astonishing to see Benito the Cheeto find a genuine win-win situation, isn’t it?

  63. CSK says:


    It would only be inadvertent on his part.

  64. Jen says:

    That this couple had to go through all of this just makes me so damn angry.

    Pro-life, my @ss.

    Ohio abortion law meant weeks of ‘anguish,’ ‘agony’ for couple whose unborn child had organs outside her body

  65. CSK says:

    That was very difficult to read.

  66. Joe says:

    (people who seem unable to sort fact from friction and exist in a constant state of anger and hostility to anything, anywhere that they perceive as different)

    I certainly hope, MarkedMan, that this was intentional and not a typo, because it’s a great pun.

    The one mind-blowing fact, though was that camelids originated in North America

    I came across this factoid, Kathy, when I was at llama/alpaca/vicuna exhibit in Peru. The map placed their origin roughly in Montana before half the family headed south and the other half headed west. It’s not only odd to think where they started, but also that, over millennia, their forebears must have inhabited all those spaces in between.

  67. al Ameda says:


    Are all Trumpers, like Trump, just classless pigs?

    Honestly I believe that, basically, Trump gave all these people permission to be rude and crude.

    Simple behavioral norms and courtesies just do not matter to so many Trumpers. Trumpers loved his combativeness and cruelty. It’s almost a requirement that they applaud or emulate such that behavior.

  68. gVOR08 says:

    Re Mitt Romney. I hope at his advanced age ( a year younger than me) he’s decided to put truth, justice, and the American way ahead of party and career. But I’ll wait and see. It’s hard to get past:
    – He lied an awful lot in 2012. He couldn’t hold a candle to Trump, but by pre-Trump standards, Romney lied a lot.
    – Speaking of which, he ran on his experience as governor while somehow successfully pretending his signature achievement, Romneycare, never happened. Also he visited London during the Olympics and pretended his wife’s dancing horse wasn’t just down the road in the Olympics.
    – He holds most of the country in contempt. He talked about 47% who wouldn’t take responsibility for themselves, 47% who paid no income tax, and 47% who would never vote for him. Those are overlapping, but not identical sets, so they add up to > 50%. Especially as it turned out it only 47% who would vote for him.
    – He voted with Trump 75.0% of the time. That’s lower than many GOPs in the Senate, but higher than some. And higher than 538 would predict based on Trump’s margin in UT and higher than his UT colleague, Mike Lee.

    OK, Romney is far from the worst GOP, but that’s a damned low bar.

  69. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:
    Yes, Trump did, which is what I meant when I said he brought them all out from under their rocks.
    He convinced them that, in being crude, vulgar, and stupid, they were being real Americans, and that he was their only champion and savior.

    Patrick Buchanan and Sarah Palin tried to do this, but with nowhere near the success of Trump.

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I also read the first 3 paragraphs in a guardian story before time and more pressing chores dragged me away from it and it didn’t say anything about classified materials either. I’m just curious as to where this angle is coming from. I would have thought the trump tiddles and Biden bungles and Pence puddles would have reporters leading with that item.

  71. MarkedMan says:

    @Joe: I wish it was intentional but, alas, just bad spelling

  72. CSK says:

    Well, the book isn’t out till October, I think, so the content can’t be reported and confirmed.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: But do you honestly think Romney never mentioned anything classified in his emails?

    Well, I have seen nothing implying he did but jumping to conclusions with a complete lack of evidence seems to be your MO in this discussion so… you be you.

    And for the record, from what I have read, Hillary had a total of 7 emails with classified intel in them. None of which were classified at the time they were sent and most (if not all) were matters of public record.

  74. Kathy says:


    I recall learning in school that llamas are related to camels, but did not follow through the implication. I mean, many animals are related, like dogs to wolves, or domestic cats to lions.

    The other thing I just thought of is Guns, Germs, and Steel. Diamond makes much of the lack of diversity in domesticates in the Americas, particularly the lack of animals like horses for transportation and work. I don’t think he mentioned in that book that most camelids were wiped out. Or that there were horses in the Americas, too, but were also likely wiped out by early human settlers.


  75. de stijl says:

    I walk near about an hour every day.

    I think about it not as a chore or a duty, but as the opportunity to see new things or to see things anew. It is a sensual delight and my brain loves it.

    I had gotten into a recent pattern lately where the music I was listening to was solely classical and leaned very heavily on J.S. Bach, Handel, and Marin Marais.

    There is nothing wrong with those dudes, but I was coasting along. I needed a jumpsrart, a new input into my routine. I was being too contemplative. I needed a jolt.

    I decided on Guided By Voices and The Replacements and, oh my golly, that put a pep in my step.

    The basic reason for the daily walk is the exercise, but the real reason is that it gets me out of the house and out of my head. It is kinetic meditation. Sight, smell, sound centers all get activated. I enjoy it immensely. It resets my head.

    Sometimes you fall into a rut, a pattern, and you need to shake things up radically. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear Motor Away and Little Mascara until I heard it. I had been in a rut. I needed that rock jolt in my walk routine. I want active musing and contemplation and also complete blankness. I want zen. Active acceptance.

    Not to toot my horn too loudly, but one thing I am incredibly good at is making a playlist. At that, I fucking kick so much ass! At one small task in life I am a fucking genius.

  76. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I would really like it if you shared a bunch of those playlists you are incredibly good at making. I suspect I am not the only one.

    Walks are great. I’ve been doing it with no music lately so I experience the world. But the world is big and scary so I often call a friend to blot it out. Not quite getting that zen these days.