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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Good morning everyone. 3-1/2 hours until sunrise. But the coffee’s got and it’s a quiet night on the veranda. Unseasonably hot for May in Puddletown.

  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Quiet night at OTB. My only news feed item this morning is the volcano Popocatepetl.

    Ash settles on Central Mexico as Popocatepetl vol…:

  3. Rick DeMent says:

    So I guess we are going to find out exactly how crooked do you have to be in order to get impeached from a statewide position in Texas.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, I never thought I’d see the day. Ken Paxton is under threat of impeachment. I guess speaking of House Squealer Dade Phelan’s drunken display on the House floor was a bridge too far.

    It sure as shit isn’t any of the 20 articles of impeachment with which they are charging him, everyone of which all of Texas has known of for quite some time. Have I mentioned lately that he has been under federal indictment for fraud for almost 8 years?

    Maybe his chickens are finally coming home to roost. FAFO. Consider my Fruede to be thoroughly schadened.

  5. Scott says:

    Want to recommend a totally lightweight entertaining piece of fluff for your viewing pleasure.

    We watched Jury Duty on FreeVee last night. FreeVee is Amazon’s free ad-supported streamer which used to be called IMDB TV. We laughed out loud a lot. Premise is that the jury is participating in a documentary about juries. Only one jury member is legit and unaware the whole thing is a setup. The rest are actors. It plays out like a combination of the Truman Show and The Office. Not sure how much is scripted and how much is improv but we couldn’t stop laughing at the sight gags, the banter, etc. Also has James Marsden playing himself as a reluctant Hollywood star who doesn’t want to be there but was not excused as a juror.

  6. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Rick DeMent: They have to vote this weekend because the legislative session ends Monday. Then a special session would have to be called. BTW, Paxton’s wife Angela (who he cheated on) is in the Texas Senate. It is like a bad episode of Dallas.

  7. CSK says:

    Trump says the LIV tournament is “great publicity for Saudi Arabia.”

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: So in other words, all Paxton has to do is make a sizeable contribution to Abbott’s super pac and he will skate again. No wonder Abbott isn’t making any public statements, it’s all part of the shakedown.

    ETA: by the by, ever since JJ made the change to the edit function, this unregistered commentor gets it with every comment I make.

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    I think that the Open Forum may be the appropriate place to post this today.

    NYT Opinion
    Anthony Lewis

    Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State, has taken exception to a recent column of mine. It noted that 20,492 Americans died in Vietnam while he and Richard Nixon made policy on the war, in the years 1969-72. It quoted H. R. Haldeman’s diaries as saying that on Dec. 15, 1970, Mr. Kissinger objected to an early peace initiative because there might be bad results before the 1972 election.
    In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, Mr. Kissinger said the column had pounced “on a single entry in 600 pages” of the diaries to show that “President Nixon’s Vietnam policy was driven by electoral politics.”
    A single entry? A few pages later in the diaries there is another.
    On Dec. 21, 1970, Mr. Haldeman recorded Mr. Kissinger opposing an early commitment to withdraw all U.S. combat troops “because he feels that if we pull them out by the end of ’71, trouble can start mounting in ’72 that we won’t be able to deal with and which we’ll have to answer for at the elections. He prefers, instead, a commitment to have them all out by the end of ’72 so that we won’t have to deliver finally until after the elections and therefore can keep our flanks protected.”
    And another. On Jan. 26, 1971, Mr. Kissinger discussed plans for “a major assault on Laos,” which he thought would devastate North Vietnam’s military capability. (The Laos operation turned out to be a costly failure.) “This new action in Laos now,” Mr. Haldeman wrote, “would set us up so we wouldn’t have to worry about problems in ’72, and that of course is the most important.”
    Of course. The overpowering reality in the Nixon White House, as so meticulously recorded by Mr. Haldeman, was that what mattered about any proposed policy was its likely political effect. (Mr. Kissinger was opposed to publication of “The Haldeman Diaries,” and it is easy to see why.)
    On Vietnam, the public wanted withdrawal of American soldiers from a war it increasingly hated. But Mr. Nixon had repeatedly said he would not be “the first American President to lose a war.”
    The political solution was to withdraw gradually, leaving South Vietnamese forces to carry on the war. No one could seriously expect them to withstand for long an army that had fought 500,000 Americans to a standstill. But the inevitable might be delayed, and a formula agreed with North Vietnam to let the United States claim “peace with honor.”
    Mr. Kissinger complained, in his letter, about the statement in my column that the United States could have got out of the war in 1969, before those 20,492 American deaths, in the same way it finally did in 1973: on terms that led before long to a North Vietnamese victory.
    Until the end, Mr. Kissinger wrote, the North Vietnamese insisted that a peace agreement remove the Nguyen Van Thieu regime in South Vietnam. It was only at the negotiating session of Oct. 8, 1972, that they dropped that point — and agreement followed.
    True. But it is a half-truth, leaving out the crucial fact. North Vietnam dropped the idea of a change of government in Saigon only when Mr. Kissinger acquiesced in its key demand: that its forces be allowed to remain permanently in the south.
    President Thieu saw that concession as a death sentence for his Government, and he strongly opposed the peace agreement. He was bitter at Mr. Kissinger for concealing the terms from him until after they were agreed, indeed deceiving him about the possibility of serious new U.S. negotiating positions.
    Who knows what might have happened if the Nixon Administration had made that crucial change in U.S. policy in 1969, conceding the right of Hanoi’s forces to stay in the south? Hanoi might well have abandoned, as unnecessary, the demand for political change in Saigon. In any event, the end result would have been the same after 1969 as after 1972: a North Vietnamese victory.
    President Nixon said in his memoirs that Mr. Kissinger had told him the 1972 peace agreement “amounted to a complete capitulation by the enemy; they were accepting a settlement on our terms.” Two years later North Vietnamese forces marched into Saigon.
    A fair test of Mr. Kissinger’s claim would be to put it to the families and friends of the 20,492 Americans who died in Vietnam during his years as policy-maker. Would they think it was worth four more years of war?

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The closing of Man who debunked Mike Lindell’s ‘blatantly bogus’ data wants his $5m

    “When I first met Lindell, I thought he was eccentric but had his heart in the right place and trying to do the right thing,” he added. “As I went on, I found no rational person would believe what he’s saying. I think he’s not rational.”

    Sheeeit, I could’ve told you that. Of course, I would have also told you that no rational person would ever vote for trump.

  11. CSK says:

    Dennis Aftergut is always worth reading. Trump and MTG should beware.

    Although I can see the point of former CIA Director John Brennan’s comment that Trump doesn’t really get that he’s in serious trouble.

    Why should he? He’s almost 77 and has gotten away with every other sleazy/criminal thing he’s ever done in his life.

  12. Kathy says:
  13. JohnMc says:

    @Mister Bluster: Sad to relate but that fear of being bested by the soviets (it was always the soviets behind the mischief) was THE overriding concern of American presidents after (my memory) the Berlin airlift. The was no seriously considered foreign policy alternative.

    The McGovern candidacy (alas) did succeed in breaking the logjam.

  14. CSK says:


    Oh, dear. When someone brings this monster gaffe to Daddy’s attention he’s going to be distinctly unhappy.

  15. Kathy says:


    Like, what does a narcissist does when he realizes his son takes after him and looks awful?

  16. CSK says:


    I don’t know. All I can think of is Trump’s response after Ivana told him she wanted to name the baby boy after his father: “What if he turns out to be a loser?”

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnMc:..The McGovern candidacy (alas) did succeed in breaking the logjam.

    The 1972 election was the first President USA ballot that I could cast. I was two months shy of my 21st birthday in November 1968, the legal voting age at the time. Never mind that the government could shanghai your 18 year old ass to get your head blown off in the jungle and you could not vote the bastards out of office who were doing this to you.
    I had a McGovern for President bumper sticker on my car and I still take pride that Jackson County was the only county in Illinois that went for McGovern.

  18. Kathy says:

    I avoid reading news and commentary of upcoming shows and movies in order to keep from getting spoiled (it’s happened). Still, here’s a look at Mariner and Boimler in live action on the set of Strange New Worlds.

    They’re played by the actors who voice them in Lower Decks, Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid.

  19. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Mister Bluster: My first vote was in ’68. I was in country flying on choppers in support of Naval River Forces in the delta. I voted for Dick Gregory. In ’72 I voted for McGovern which, unfortunately, was no different than voting for Gregory.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:


    There’s been research into the subject that demonstrates that while most people say they hate spoilers, if you actually measure it, knowing what’s going to happen makes people enjoy a story more.

    One example was a study where two randomly selected groups were given short stories to read and then rate how much they enjoyed them, but one group was told the ending of the stories before hand. That group consistently rated the stories higher than the group going in unaware.

    What people actually want is novelty, but many people confuse novelty for surprise.

  21. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If you know the ending, then you can look forward to it.

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mr. Prosser:..I was in country flying on choppers in support of Naval River Forces in the delta.

    I’m glad you didn’t come home in a body bag.

  23. Scott says:


    For some reason, these lyrics popped into my head:

    Driving that train, high on cocaine
    Casey Jones you better, watch your speed
    Trouble ahead, trouble behind
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind

  24. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I really don’t like spoilers. I prefer to either try to guess on my own where the story is leading, or to be surprised by developments.

    Back in the 70s, the word of mouth synopsis for Soylent Green was “food is made of dead people.” This totally negates the impact of the reveal at the end of the film, and much of the narrative as well.

    The problem is I do want to know something about a movie or TV show before I watch. When it comes to a franchise, that’s more or less known, or unnecessary. Otherwise, one needs to read a little to get a notion. Often, though, you get hit with spoilers.

  25. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Mister Bluster: Thanks, otherwise somebody would be jamming a flag in the ground in front of my headstone. Even in these times being alive is good.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: I hope in one piece as well. Too many came back looking like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing.

  27. Scott says:

    More Texas legislative stupidity.

    Texas Legislature averts $100 million consequences of 2021 law requiring nonexistent election technology

    Texas lawmakers have voted to reverse an expensive state law requiring election officials to replace all their current vote-counting equipment with technology that doesn’t exist.

    An unprecedented mandate the Legislature passed in 2021, without fully realizing its consequences, would have decertified equipment that counties currently use to count votes, to be replaced by machines on which data “once written, cannot be modified,” at an estimated cost of more than $100 million.

    The secretary of state’s office estimated that it would cost taxpayers more than $116 million to replace the eliminated equipment, plus an ongoing cost of more than $37 million every two years, since new equipment would have to be purchased for each election. And that’s only if counties could have found such equipment. Voting equipment that would match the requirements does not appear to have been invented by any election equipment company operating in the United States.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Heh. I guess the Texas lege decided a little voter fraud was a thing they could live with.

  29. Beth says:

    Man, what a day to rent a car. I’m glad a made a reservation two weeks ago. This location is mobbed and the car I’m renting isn’t even here.

    Once I get it, we’re driving to Detroit for a big Techno festival. I do wish it was a little warmer. The plan is to dance, enjoy myself, and wave at the bridge where my dad entered the U.S. illegally.

    @Mr. Prosser:


  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator who has accused Justice Department officials of slow-walking a long-running probe into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s tax affairs has cut off communication with a key congressional committee amid questions about the veracity of his claims and his motivations for coming forward.

    The special agent, Gary Shapley, is a veteran of the IRS criminal investigations department who on Thursday revealed his identity in an interview with CBS News.

    Mr Shapley is set to give evidence in a closed session before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday. That panel, which has jurisdiction over the IRS, is led by Representative Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican.

    But even as he is poised to testify before the House panel, the 14-year IRS veteran has now cut off communication with the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service, after his attorney met with committee representatives.
    One person with knowledge of Mr Shapley’s efforts told The Independent that members of Congress and staff have also been troubled by the way legally protected taxpayer information — information which House and Senate committees take great pains to keep secret — has made it into the right-wing press at the same time it has been provided to the House and Senate panels with jurisdiction over the IRS.

    They noted that he was previously represented by a prominent Washington, DC attorney with extensive experience in representing law enforcement and intelligence whistleblowers and said Mr Shapley appeared to change attorneys because his first attorney appeared more concerned with following the law than getting his allegations into the press.

    While this person commended Mr Shapley for his years of government service, they suggested that he is being taken advantage of by Mr Leavitt, who they described as a partisan actor whose goal is to further negative narratives about the Biden administration — not protecting his client.

  31. just nutha says:

    @CSK: In the fair number of books and stories that I read (and rate) on Kindle, I’m more inclined, for “unspoilered” stories, to rate the story lower if I could predict how the story would end, whereas in “spoilered” stories, I find it interesting to watch how the author/narrator got the audience to the climax and denouement.

    Unless it’s really lame, of course. (And, sadly for authors out there, I live in a universe where there are almost no 5-star rated books. 🙁 )

    (And I don’t think I’ve read any of them either. 🙁 🙁 )

  32. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Sometimes I mind a spoiler and sometimes I don’t. Oddly, I think I mind spoilers far less with movies. I don’t know why. Perhaps movies are more predictable, so I can anticipate what’s coming anyway.

  33. just nutha says:

    @Beth: Wait, wait…

    I didn’t know there was a Detroit, TX on the Rio Grande. Still, hope you have a good time!

  34. Kathy says:

    I was all set to make meatballs with rice and potatoes again, when I got the notion of instead mixing rice with bean sauce. Two dishes with rice seems redundant.

    I thought maybe barley with the meatballs instead, which sounds good. Then I thought kasha would be even better. I’ve never cooked it, but ti seems simple enough.

    The problem is there’s none to be had in any store I can think of or look up online. Not so I can get it by tomorrow. I can order it form online sellers, but it won’t get here until Monday, more likely Wednesday.

    So, barley it is.

  35. Beth says:

    @just nutha:

    Lol, I’m an anchor baby

  36. JohnSF says:

    “Tied down with battleship chains,
    Fifty foot long and a two ton anchor…(baby)”

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    All The Right Movies

    None of the cast knew about the chestburster. Lambert’s look of horror was actress Veronica Cartwright’s real reaction. Sigourney Weaver said she thought Hurt might actually be dying. And Yaphet Kotto went home that night and locked himself in the bathroom for 4 hours.

    I’ve heard this story before and it still astounds me. One of the greatest scenes in all of moviedom, and there is no way one could ever fake it. Pure genius.

    eta: John Hurt knew, probably the science officer had a hint or 3, but everybody else… gawd damn… you can’t pretend that.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Tennessee Holler

    KENTUCKY: Man shoots roommate in the butt for eating the last Hot Pocket.

    We defy anyone to find us a more American story than this.

  39. Kathy says:

    Getting in, or for that matter out, through the window is not as easy or neat as it sounds.