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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Russian court has given a two-year suspended sentence to a St Petersburg woman who left a note on the grave of President Vladimir Putin’s parents saying they had “raised a freak and a killer”.

    The court found Irina Tsybaneva, 60, guilty of desecrating burial places motivated by political hatred. Her lawyer said she didn’t plead guilty because she hadn’t desecrated the grave physically or sought publicity for her action.

    The note that Tsybaneva placed on the guarded grave on the eve of Putin’s birthday in October read: “Parents of a maniac, take him to your place. He causes so much pain and trouble. The whole world prays for his death. Death to Putin. You raised a freak and a killer.”

    In Russia it is against the law to communicate with the dead.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    For all those people pooh-poohing electric cars because they are so expensive: The Chevrolet Bolt, considered one of the best practical electric cars out there, is available in the US for $27,495 but also qualifies for the full $7500 rebate – yielding a final price of $19,995. The AVERAGE price of a new car in the US is north of $48K.

    Now, it is true that Chevy is killing the Bolt so they can build more $48K+ cars, meaning you only have one more year to get your bargain basement Bolt. After that we will be seeing a repeat of the 1970’s and ’80s when the Harvard MBAs convinced the big three to ignore the low profit small car market and a certain Asian powerhouse ate their lunch and created crazy brand loyalty with their low cost and super reliable cars. This time China will play the part of Japan.

  3. Kathy says:


    Orwell missed that one: Truthcrime.

  4. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Interesting take on Trump’s cowardice.

    Despite all his bluster, however, Trump knows full well that his success at lying and bullying depends entirely on having these people at his beck and call. Without them, he just comes across as the sweaty joke.

  5. Joe says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: I do think the audience was the “thing” at the CNN debacle. A more neutrally selected audience would have generated a more mixed reaction to Trump’s puerile behavior instead of supercharging it.

    And I’m gonna leave this right here: having a a young attractive woman as the interviewer (this statement has nothing to do with her skill or resume) is a set up for the Trump crowd. Putting Trump on stage with a man his own age would take away several of his tactics and the dynamics perceived by his fans.

  6. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: A few weeks ago was the Shanghai Auto Show

    I watched and read a little about the Chinese auto market. Unlike the beginning of the Japanese surge here in the 70s, the Chinese market is huge and sophisticated, especially in EVs (read somewhere that 45% of the Shanghai market is EVs). We are so insulated here in the US that we have no idea what the Chinese are capable of.

  7. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    That piece was excellent.

    This is no revelation, but MAGAs see and hear only what they want to see and hear. Those clips of the deposition that Marcotte says show Trump at his most cowardly and despicable? They do–but not if you’re a MAGA. If you’re a MAGA, you see a great man owning the libs.

  8. Thomm says:

    @MarkedMan: @Scott: As an example, the old British MG marque is now owned by SAIC, a Chinese conglomerate that also owns Volvo. They have introduced some low cost EVs and have shown a low cost sports car/convertible at that show. These can be brought here with the advantage of some brand equity with enthusiasts of a certain age (I am 46 and had an MGB before I had my driver’s license) and holding a traditionally known British brand without the baggage of an explicit Chinese brand.
    I have often used the Bolt as a counter to complaints about cost of new EVs here. Bad move by GM, the customers really love them.

  9. Thomm says:

    This can also be an opportunity for some of the lower tier euros as well (Renault, VW {which already has some in the US}, etc) that already have low cost ones in production. Just need to get federal safety approval and some dealers to buy in.

  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    The problem in the US with EV’s is simply the paucity of public charging. For most uses, range should no longer be an issue and as you point out, there are numerous models that are reasonably priced. But unless you are in a single family home/townhouse and can install a charger, having an EV is a hassle.

    Forget about the road trip issue, one can rent and ICE car for that, but if you park on the street or in the parking lot/garage of a multi family building and need to rely on public chargers then an EV becomes a problem. One inquiry that peaks my interest are polls of existing EV owners that are broken down by ability to charge at home or not. Consistently those who can charge at home say they’ll replace their EV with another, while those relying on public chargers can’t wait to get rid of it.

    In the near to middle term the charger problem isn’t going to be resolved, so achieving the goals for EV market share as there is not enough government money and the free market won’t recognize a profit opportunity till the market share of EV’s grows significantly.

    For myself, is will be 6-10 years before we are in the market for a new(er) car and it will likely be our last and it will coincide with going down to one car and giving up the single family home. Unless things change much faster that I anticipate, I won’t be buying an EV, a hybrid perhaps.

  11. Thomm says:

    @Sleeping Dog: there have been fast charging stations that operate like gas stations opening up in some metro areas for the past few years. Denver has one near the capitol hill neighborhood that I know of and probably a few more. As these become more prevalent, the kinda garbage charging stations at Target and the like will become less of an issue. Keep in mind, in the early days if the ICE autos, you had to buy gasoline in bottles from pharmacies or store it on your site in barrels and pump it out yourself. Pretty rapidly the gas stations that we know today became a thing.
    Also, some new construction and new renovation apartment buildings are putting in chargers into their parking garages (if they have them) as an amenity for the residents. In 6 to 10 years you may be surprised to see how the infrastructure changes on such things.

  12. Jay L Gischer says:

    Today’s SJ Mercury-News (behind a paywall) prints a story attributed to the NY Times, about what Trump said about the documents case. In several ways, Trump contradicted or undermined what his lawyers have been saying.

    This stands out:

    When Collins asked Trump if he had ever shown classified documents to anyone after leaving the White House, he said, “Not really”.

    When she pressed him on what he meant, Trump gave an equivocating answer: “Not – not that I can think of.”


  13. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Trump said he never knew the documents, that they’re not his type, and that they enjoyed it.

  14. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: The dealer in my town has his inventory priced north of $32k. But yes, the Bolt is a good example of a bargain priced EV. Still, GMs decision seems to reinforce the notion that EVs are relatively expensive toys for wealthier people more than the notion of a “car for the people.” And, the yet to be resolved question on EVs still involves the viability of a used car market in them. (And whether the nation’s energy grid will support the increased demand–not to mention how we will produce the additional energy.)

  15. just nutha says:

    @Thomm: And ICE autos were predominantly toys for the wealthier cohorts (and some hobbyists). The more things change, the more they stay the same. We really are entering a new Gilded Age.

  16. Matt says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Forget about the road trip issue, one can rent and ICE car for that

    Have you looked at rental prices lately? A week with low mileage allowed starts at +$330. Rental prices have skyrocketed in recent years.

    Going to need a massive investment in charging stations a la gas stations before EVs become viable for a lot of the USA.

  17. Thomm says:

    @just nutha: only for about the first 10 years of their existence. The Model T, which is what put the US on the roads started production in 1908, and GM was started by Alfred Sloan in the same year, giving us the, “Sloan ladder” of brands that customers can move through as their lives changed with Chevrolet at the base and Cadillac at the top. Mind you, all of those GM brands except for the short lived companion brands, excepting Pontiac (the only companion brand to outlive its parent brand, Oakland) existed before Sloan bought them up. By WW1, we were well on our way to being a motorized society. There were once 250+ manufacturers in the US alone. I know it is easy to be a cynic, I am one myself, but history is what it is.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Maybe a few of you will find this interesting. WAPO (jailbreaked) has an article about balloons detecting unidentified sounds (infrasound, technically, below hearing range) in the stratosphere. The part I found fascinating, especially after the great Chinese balloon caravan scare of 2023, is the guys balloons. He tapes them together with hardware store stuff with charcoal powder sprinkled inside and waits for the sun to not only lift them but reach the stratosphere before sundown.

  19. just nutha says:

    @Thomm: Still, it took Henry Ford doubling (IIRC) the wage that he paid his factory hands to help automobiles become ubiquitous. Yeah, my grandfather bought a Dodge (used, if the story is correct) for my dad and uncle to share (he didn’t drive but needed to be driven places) before they moved away when they turned 18 or 20, but he was a plumber for the NPRR mines and his income, as reported on the immigration form submitted for my mom to come to the US as a war bride, was 6 times what my father made working in a warehouse in Seattle.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    Anec-data: I live in an old Baltimore city neighborhood where few people have garages. At the beginning of the year, four parking spaces in front of my house were chosen to have charging stations (2 stations, each with 2 charging cables). For the first couple of months, nary a soul. Then I saw one car. Another week went by before I saw another car at the chargers, and sure enough it was the same one. Then every couple of days there was one of several cars there. For the last three nights when I come home there have been two cars plugged in simultaneously.

    I’m still skeptical, because the owners/installers of the chargers are our local energy company and an oil company (Exxon? I forget), and they have incentive to receive the check mark for installing them but then neglecting to repair them promptly if and when they have a problem.

    We needed to replace our second car last year and it would have been a hybrid, but we are buying a tow-behind trailer and needed something that could tow at least 3000-3500 pounds and we know we will be boondocking so pure electric was out. There is only one hybrid vehicle that does that right now that is even close to reasonably priced (the RAV4 Prime) but the waiting list was very long and people were paying way over list. So we got a Turbo Subaru and new have to settle for 30mpg on the highway for now. I’m hoping in 4 years there will be a number of hybrids to chose from that will meet our needs and I’ll trade this one in. When we replace our other car (Mini Cooper), it will be with an electric unless we are still living sans garage.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    We just had a very Big Brother, surveillance world experience. K and I are in Silver Spring MD because she’s on book tour, had a leg problem, so I’m dragging along literally to put on her shoe.*

    I wake up, see one of my Nest cameras had some history, and that’s the side of the house where we see skunks, raccoons and the occasional coyote. So I checked. None of those animals, it was K’s elderly cat.

    So we call the pet sitter – no answer. We call her boss – no answer. It’s 6 AM on the West Coast. So I get busy with my various smart home apps. I raise and lower blinds, turn lights on and off, even crank the heat up to 90, all in an effort to get our house-sitter to wake up. Meanwhile I’m tracking the cat on Nest cams.

    Of course none of it wakes up the house-sitter who finally rouses herself hours later to be directed by us as we track kitty from 3000 miles away. Had the cat really run for it we have an Apple tracker on her. All terribly 2023 – complicated, hi-tech, but also pretty useless.

    *Have at it, but I think I’ve already come up with all the snarky jokes involving bowing down to my wife, what it says about my life, my career, my manhood.. . .

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    We’re moving to Vegas, baby*, to a high-rise condo. So we asked the building super if they have a charger. Yes they do. Four, in fact. And the deal is that the valet will rotate your car as needed. Which sounds like a pretty hefty Xmas tip to add to the cost. But quite convenient.

    *Pretty sure you can’t say ‘Vegas’ without ‘baby’.

  23. Bob@Youngstown says:


  24. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No snark from me. It sounds like what any caring spouse would do for his or her partner. And I’m sure you enjoy her company as well.

  25. Thomm says:

    @just nutha: Good choice of vehicles…Dodges were not cheap vehicles by any means back then. Well engineered and made. DeSoto was started as a brand by Walter Chrysler to slot in between Chrysler (once a luxury brand) and Plymouth in case the acquisition of Dodge did not go through (the widow of one of the Dodge brothers was a bit hard to negotiate with). Once that brand was acquired, DeSoto’s days were limited. Also, Dodge had a special place in the Chrysler hierarchy where they were a bit more independent from the other brands in the umbrella and got some special treatment by corporate back in the day leading to the eventual death of Plymouth as Dodge was allowed to go down-market and compete with them a bit internally. Basically, whenever Plymouth got a model that was popular, like the Valiant, Dodge execs would cry about it until the got their own version that would be slightly better trimmed and maybe better styled for only a few dollars more. Also, Plymouths being sold in the same showrooms as Chryslers didn’t help much since back in the day, a salesman would use the brand perceptions to move someone from a loaded Plymouth to a more basic Chrysler for the better margins.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I wish you luck in Vegas and am glad you and the fam find it simpatico. Have to admit, I would be hard pressed to think of a big American city that I would like to live in less. Phoenix? But only because it is marginally hotter.

  27. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    I had DVR’d the town hall, so I had the luxury to rewind and replay parts. One of the things I noticed when carefully looking at the audience reaction (particularly when there was applause) was that while some were clapping enthusiastically, many (sometimes a majority) were sitting there stoically, and not applauding at all.
    That gave me some small hope that not all the republican primary voters in NH were buying Trump’s BS.
    An after-the-town-hall group of 8 attendees (most of which had voted for Trump previously) , only gave rise to one that said he would definitely vote for Trump again.

  28. CSK says:


    I read somewhere that the audience was instructed by the stage manager to laugh, applaud, and cheer Trump’s comments, but NOT to boo.

  29. Beth says:


    I reserved a “standard SUV” from Enterprise to drive to Detroit and back Memorial Day weekend. A friend and I are going to Movement (big Techno festival). It’s gonna be $500 after a weird corporate discount I’m getting. Without the discount it would have been $750.

    I could have gone with the cheapest small car they had; that would have been $250 ($500 without discount). I figured we’re both pretty tall and the comfort was worth the cost. Although, I might try and find another person that needs a ride to reduce the cost.

  30. Scott says:

    Getting back to the CNN town hall, one of the segments was about Ukraine where Trump repeatedly talked about how unfair and disproportionate the support for Ukraine was WRT the difference between the US and the EU. His number were $170B and $20B respectively.

    The number had no citation so had to do a little research. Here is one source, updated a/o Feb 2023.

    Ukraine Support Tracker

    What was interesting was that as a percentage of GDP, the top contributors were, logically, the Baltic nations, followed by Eastern Europeans and Scandinavians. As a percentage of GDP, the US was 21st.

    There is a lot of information and, as such, can be parsed a number of different ways.

    But, as usual, Trump spewed BS but no one was there to call him out on it.

  31. Scott says:

    @CSK: I read that also and thought, what a great way to rig the audience response. Probably a Trump requirement.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:


    There is a hardcore MAGAt crowd in NH, that I’d place less than half of the register R’s and a smaller percent of the the R leaning independents. But that group are active and loud, therefore in the midterms they nominated the more extreme candidates for both congressional districts and nearly gave Dems a small majority in the state legislature, the state senate is out of reach, due to gerrymandering.

    In the town elections, Dems and moderate R’s did well, particularly in school district elections. The voters at local level, weren’t particularly swayed by culture war issues. There were definitely exceptions and I believe @Jen’s area is one where the RWNJ’s had some success.

  33. CSK says:


    I’m absolutely sure Trump demanded that the audience be packed with MAGAs befored he’d Agree to the interview.

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Chris Sununu said that he knew the people in the ausience and that they embarrassed him and shone a bad light on New Hampshire.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    The plan is to never be there in the summer. We’re hoping to do a lot of traveling in the next few years, so Vegas for us is more about having a dozen restaurants basically an elevator ride away. But yeah, Vegas in summer? Horrific.

    The sudden, seemingly inexplicable relocation is very on-brand for us. It’s what we do. The only unusual element is that we’ll actually be saving money. That’s very much not our style.

  35. Kathy says:

    Who’s more foolish? The Fool Emperor God of Mars and Phobos, or the one who follows him?

  36. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: Thirty mpg towing a trailer is pretty impressive. As a choice it looks better than what most travel trailer people I’ve met make.

  37. MarkedMan says:

    @just nutha:

    Thirty mpg towing a trailer

    I wish! That’s what I’m getting in this vehicle on the highway with no trailer. Maybe 32 of the wind is with me. The Mini averages 40 and that’s with a lot of city driving. Course, it’s also fun as hell to drive

  38. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: Still, the “typical” RV rig in my part of the world is an F-350 pulling a 30-foot fifth-wheel trailer from the truck bed or a 25-foot trailer from a bumper hitch. My favorite thing from grad school days was to count the numbers of that kind of rig that were parked at the Holiday Inn and Super 8 motels during the summer. A typical summer weekend would find 8 or 10 at each place.

    But I’m my father’s boy–I avoided staying at places like those because Ellensburg’s Holiday Inn had no 24-hour coffee shop and the Super 8 had no restaurant at all. Waaaaaaayy too much like camping out for me!

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: My p/u gets 14 mpg, 13.5 when pulling a trailer. No, I don’t use it for grocery runs, why do you ask?

  40. Sleeping Dog says:


    There is a short interview w/ Sununu today in the WaPo, where he comments that trump is “a shell of himself.” Sununu has been taunting trump for months and not getting much of a response, my thought is, that like Pelosi, our governor has figured out that how to attack trump isn’t to attack his behavior but to diminish and dismiss him. Trump doesn’t know how to respond.

  41. Kathy says:

    It happens sometimes there’s little work to do, and I get bored.

    Usually I’d come here and post something interesting, as I know that will elicit intelligent and interesting conversation. Right now, I’ve nothing. Possibly because I’ve read little of interest over the last month. Aside from Pilot Error, all I’ve read is Brin’s Uplift trilogy. The idea of uplift, manipulating animals through genetics to make them sentient and our equals, should be interesting. But Brin’s stories don’t focus on that. Also they rely a lot on under-explained magical technology. Half the time I’ve no idea what he’s trying to say.

    Oh, well. I’m done with that. I’ve moved on to another quasi-history of the space race. apparently there’s little to say about space travel past Apollo.

    On other things, I’m thinking about cancelling the subscription to Audible. For one thing I’ve a large pile of purchased audiobooks waiting in the app (or the cloud). For two others, I’ve accumulated similarly large piles on Scribd and Wondrium. Pretty much I just need to check how long my remaining credits are good for after unsubscribing.

  42. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Well, that’s what Trump fears most, isn’t it? Being diminished and dismissed as inconsequential.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @just nutha: Here’s the rig we pick up in October. Less than 1900 lbs dry weight. Let’s just say a dually with a truck hitch is a bit overkill.

  44. JohnSF says:

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
    (to a third party)
    Part of Brin’s “Uplift Galaxies” scenario is a 10o’s of millions (billions?) of years old poly-civilisation that has stopped being creative. Research is pointless when you’ve the entire cumulative information in thousands of civs over multiple millions of years stored in the Libraries. The problem is accessing it, and all the other bits needed to implement it.
    The user themselves don’t understand the science behind the technology, or need to

    It’s like Chinese or Egyptian or Classical civilization on a vastly larger scale. Conservative in every sense of the word.
    People often forget, the norm in human history, let alone pre-history, is today same as yesterday, yesterday same as a century or even a millenium ago.
    One of my favorite historical factoids:
    Cleopatra of Egypt is closer to us in time than to the builders of the Pyramids.
    The Pyramids are closer to us than the First Dynasty of Egypt.
    We are conditioned to a progressive view of of history, and knowledge, and technique, by our peculiar perspective; it’s very far from the norm of human experience.

    Brin is trying to formulate a “stasis society” on a galactic, multi-species, megayear scale.
    It’s one of the possible answers to the Fermi Question, which has been one of Brin’s speculative interests for a long time.

  45. Kathy says:


    Cleopatra of Egypt is closer to us in time than to the builders of the Pyramids.
    The Pyramids are closer to us than the First Dynasty of Egypt.

    I like bringing up the first to illustrate how far back Egyptian history goes.

    But the second doesn’t seem to add up. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest, dates from around 2600-2700 BCE. The first dynasty goes as far back as 3100-3250 BCE. That’s mere centuries of separation between the Narmer pallete and Khufu’s vanity burial boondoggle.

    There are older pyramids, but those would be even nearer in time to the first dynasty.

    My one great big surprise when first studying Egypt, was that the Giza pyramids date back to the Old Kingdom era.

    Clarke made a medium-sized deal about how far our current pace of rapid progress could extend. His assumption was that eventually it would slow down. This is something he said in the 60s and I read in the 80s. I think since then, the pace has accelerated.

    Partly, I think, it depends on how many fundamental aspects of the universe we have yet to discover. Given it’s been a short time since we noticed we don’t know what most of the universe is made of, I think we may have a ways to go yet.

  46. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Late to respond to this:

    There were definitely exceptions and I believe @Jen’s area is one where the RWNJ’s had some success.

    But, yes. It’s very annoying. Our town has been targeted by Freestaters (they even have a local real estate agent who gives them a heads up on properties or some such thing) and it does lead to some depressing electoral wins. The Freestaters in this area run as Republicans and the Republican Party has welcomed them with open arms. Also a lot of MAGA types in one of the other nearby towns (which also passed a pro-book removal warrant article).

  47. JohnSF says:

    Oops. My bad.
    Should have been relative to neolithic settlements at c 5000 BCE
    Great Pyramid IIRC c.2500 BCE
    First Dynasty c. 3200 BCE

    The pace has accelerated.

    I still feel that so far, in many ways it’s more a working out of what was implicit in 1990’s tech.
    And in terms of applicable knowledge of fundamental physics, apart from the potential game changer (?) of quantum computing, we don’t seem to be that far ahead from the nuclear breakthrough of the early 20th century.
    In some respects IMO, a “modern” could adapt to life in say 1880, or vice versa, without to much pain, apart from smartphone addicts. Before then things get much more “alien”.

    “Dark” physics may be interesting, but by it’s nature non-manipulable until we become capable of engineering on stellar mass scales.

    I still suspect some of the most interesting technology of the next half-century may be from the intersection of better understanding of biology, computing, and materials science

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Looks like a nice rig. A touch claustrophobic for my tastes, but I’m not a “see ‘Murka” guy any more. Enjoy your travels!

  49. JohnSF says:

    Westminster Voting Intention:

    LAB: 51% (+3)
    CON: 24% (-3)
    LDM: 10% (+3)
    RFM: 6% (=)
    GRN: 4% (-2)
    SNP: 3% (-1)

    Inject Me!

    “Apologies for Brit interfere on this channel. Normal programming will now resume.”

  50. BugManDan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I spent most of April as my wife’s chauffeur because she had shoulder surgery. I dressed her for the first week or so, but she really hated that.

  51. Moosebreath says:


    How is the Monster Raving Loony Party polling?

  52. Kathy says:


    I think we’ll get to see something amazing in synthetic biology.