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:

    Happy Friday everyone! Sitting on the back patio watching the rain with a Buffalo Trace and a 38 ring cigar for company. The latest broken tooth left a perfect gap for the cigar.

    Can’t wait for the Friday photo!

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: And a Happy Shutdown Weekend to you.

  3. Bill Jempty says:
  4. JohnMc says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Helluva breakfast.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Of course we are all talking about the Orioles clinching the AL East today 😉 , but that’s only an indirect motivation for this post. What I really want to do is use it to talk about conventional wisdom and inability to see when a model is flawed. For two years now all the commentators (except the homers) have said that the Orioles record is a fluke and they have to regress to the mean. This was still prevalent before last night, when the Orioles had a 2 1/2 game lead with four games to go to win the toughest division in baseball, and had the second best win record in baseball. They haven’t been swept in a series in a year and half, and… well I could go on, but suffice it to say their record indicated a top notch team, but most of the big sports sites have them rated as a third tier playoff team. And this underrating has been true for the past two years. Why? Because the computer models show that our individual players statistics indicate we should have won 10-12 fewer games than we did, and similar calculations applied for the past two years. So, the models have been wrong for the last two years, yet no one questions the models, only the team*. This inability to throw off conventional wisdom when it fails is all pervasive in media. Biden has a low approval rating. But does his low approval rating (actually, absolutely normal for Presidents at this point in their term in the modern era) mean the same thing in this era of hyper-partisanship? Congress is in disarray… but is it? Or is the Republican House in disarray and the Rep Senate is doing fine and the entire Congressional Democratic contingent doing amazingly well? Biden’s age is an issue because he might be cognitively impaired, yet he has been on a several month marathon of foreign and domestic coups without a significant misstep, while the supposedly vigorous Trump literally cannot complete a thought anymore, with every interview answer going off on a tangent to a tangent to a tangent as his addled and desicated brain rattles around in that pumpkin head.

    (My theory as to why the baseball models get it wrong? As I understand it there is not input in the model for the quality of the manager, and the Orioles have a truly exceptional manager.)

  6. Scott says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Rain! What’s that? Sounds wonderful.
    That’s just a dream around here.

  7. Pete S says:

    Speaking as a Jays fan, anyone who doesn’t think the Orioles have developed a fine team has rocks in their heads. They are fun to watch and have some really good players and gave the Jays fits this year. I think the problem the models have is that they all forecast the future based on the past, but the rule changes for this year couldn’t properly be baked in as different traits have gained/lost value. The models will adjust and then the rules will change again.

    And I think the same is for political analysis. Can traditional models hold up when one political party is actively promoting hatred and stupidity? In times the models will adjust but hopefully the conditions on the ground will change as well.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: GO BIRDS!

    I usually reserve that for the hometown team but they sucked this year. So for this playoff season I will root for the Orioles.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:


    The O’s weren’t going to be swept this weekend, though they may sweep, since their opponent is the dreadful Bloom Sox. Fortunately for Red Sox fans the Bloom-tumor has been extricated. Wait till next year!

    Go O’s

  10. Scott says:

    Today is the anniversary of the Munich Agreement which was signed on 30 Sep 1938.

    To refresh your memories (probably not needed amongst this crowd):

    The Munich Agreement[a] was an agreement concluded at Munich on 30 September 1938, by Nazi Germany, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, and Fascist Italy. The agreement provided for the German annexation of part of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, where more than three million people, mainly ethnic Germans, lived.[1] The pact is also known in some areas as the Munich Betrayal (Czech: Mnichovská zrada; Slovak: Mníchovská zrada), because of a previous 1924 alliance agreement[2] and a 1925 military pact between France and the Czechoslovak Republic.

    Just keep this in mind while the far right authoritarians in the “Freedom” Caucus try to cut aid to Ukraine and demand “peace” talks.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Pete S:

    I think the problem the models have is that they all forecast the future based on the past…

    True, but an additional flaw is that the model doesn’t accurately measure the potential results of a rapidly improving team. Two years ago the O’s, well s*cked, but they were/are developing a corp of outstanding prospects within their system and those young players began coming up last year and more this year, including the presumptive rookie of the year. Last years crop of rookies continued to improve as they figure it out and this years rooks are performing. The team has had a few quality players all along, but now those are surrounded by quality players resulting in an accelerating level of performance.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Shasta County, where the stupid goes to thrive and self perpetuate:

    The Shasta county board of supervisors appointed Jon Knight, a hydroponics store owner and prominent figure in the local far-right movement, to serve on the board of the public health agency responsible for managing the insects, instead of the county’s former public health director, an epidemiologist.
    At this week’s meeting, tensions were evident over the appointment to the Shasta mosquito and vector control district board. Donnell Ewert, the county’s former public health director, had sought the seat, but the board chair rejected his application.

    Some residents, who espoused conspiracy theories about mosquitoes and were critical of Ewert, voiced support for the appointment. The board chair, Patrick Jones, echoed some of their sentiments.

    “I would put my health in Jon Knight’s hands over Donnell Ewert’s any day of the week,” he said.

    May he get what he deserves, a car mechanic to do his open heart surgery..

  13. Mikey says:

    Senator Dianne Feinstein has died.

  14. Jax says:
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: “I ain’t gonna buy no cow with a giant penis on her back!”

  16. Scott says:

    @Jax: Just had to laugh. Reminded me of a mockumentary released in 2017 called American Vandal about an investigation on “Who drew the dicks” on 27 faculty member cars.

    I laughed a lot at that one.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I think you are right, but I also have to admit that when you look at our individual players stats, they are solid but, with one or two exceptions, we don’t have stars, but rather players on the higher end of that “solid” mark. Even without looking at past history, if you just look at this year’s stats there are teams we have a good winning record against whose statistics look better than ours. And when we win, there is no single way we do it. It’s true that we could just be a statistical fluke, but I think that given how long the models have been undervaluing us there must be something wrong with the models. As I understand it, they are developed from the individual statistics of each player, and there is nothing in there for “Manager” nor “Plays Well As A Team”, so that’s my guess.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    Henderson and Rutchman are stars. Strong contending teams need a couple of perennial all stars and several good players. The challenge for the O’s is that they have idiots for ownership who won’t spend the money needed to keep the ball rolling for several years. Every now and then, good teams need to spend in the free agent market or take on a big buck contract from an under performing team in a salary dump.

    The teams front office and field management is very good, Angelos is coo-coo.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Madeline-Michelle Carthen was declared dead in the summer of 2007. The only problem? She was still very much alive.

    Carthen, 52, learned she died while studying at university. A business technology student at Webster University, Carthen was accepted into an international internship program. But when she applied for financial aid to assist with expenses, the financial aid office told her that her social security number was associated with a deceased person and that she would have to withdraw immediately.

    Carthen contacted the social security administration (SSA), who told her she was added to a death master file, “in error”, according to a report by NBC News. What followed was several attempts to have herself removed from the file, including a 2019 federal lawsuit against the administration, but to this day, she cannot revive herself.

    She calls the situation a “nightmare”.

    A nightmare indeed.

  20. Kathy says:

    I finished Kaku’s book on Parallel Worlds. It has me thinking about the far future*.

    Imagine a civilization develops around a young red dwarf star in our Galaxy around 150 billion years from now. By then red dwarves would dominate even more. Stars do form constantly, but red dwarf ones are easier, therefore form at higher rates. They’re small, too (see the name), and therefore burn hydrogen more slowly and reach lower temperatures. They don’t fuse helium into heavier elements, either. This means they can last maybe trillions of years.

    In contrast, red giant stars get so hot they burn through their hydrogen in mere millions of years, and then blow up as supernovae. They leave behind either a pulsar or a black hole, depending on their starter mass.

    Yellow stars, like the Sun, fall in between. They get hotter as time passes and they do fuse heavier elements. Eventually they expand, shed off their upper layers, and then collapse into white dwarves.

    So red giants, yellow and other stars come and go, but red dwarves just keep coming.

    The other very peculiar thing about this era, is that only 3 dozen or so galaxies would be visible. That’s the local group of galaxies mutually bounded by their gravity and proximity. All other galaxies will have been pushed away by the expansion of the universe, and lie well beyond the visual horizon.

    The beings of 150,000,000,000 CE would then be justified in believing the universe consists of 30-40 galaxies in a volume a couple of million light years, and an infinity of utterly empty space surrounding it. They may speculate on what may exist farther away, but they’d have no way of knowing (barring faster than light travel, or some exotic form of new physics we can’t even imagine).

    They may able to tell how old the universe is, even if they can’t even see it. How? Well, when they figure out stellar evolution, they can tell how old some stars are by their composition, temperature, etc. With so many red dwarves around, they’d figure out some are well over 120 billion years old, so the universe must be at least that old.

    Would they be able to tell how the universe came to be? I don’t know. It depends on the state of the cosmic background radiation by then, and whether they find out about it.

    They may come up with theories, some of then with proof, about how the galaxies they can see formed, but not where the material that formed them came from. This would be right, but incomplete.

    We may be at that stage, too. I mean, we know about the Big Bang and all, but not how the primordial atom came to be, or whether it needed to come to be or always existed, nor whether anything existed or happened before the Big Bang, etc.

    *Or maybe the near future, depending on how long the Universe will exist. If it will always be there, albeit eternally as dissipated heat and empty space full of quantum foam and disorganized particles hovering constantly just above absolute zero, then 150 billion years from now may as well be tomorrow.

  21. steve says:

    Predictions are made based upon past performance. Kind of hard to apply that to young players still improving. That’s part of why the Orioles were underrated. Plus, the sports media concentrates on the Yankees and Red Sox. Doesnt really matter since the Phillies are clicking now so they will win. (Crosses fingers about pitching.)

    Appreciated the article about Shasta and the MAGA concerns about vaccination. Sounds like they are really afraid the mosquitos will secretly give them the covid vaccine. Typical mosquito meal at high end is 0.01 ml. Covid vaccine is 0.25-0.5 ml. Not sure how the mosquito will carry a load 25-50 times larger than normal. Gates must also be breeding giant mosquitos. (To say nothing of the cold storage issue.)


  22. Kathy says:


    Maybe the point is to find a use for the stockpiles of hydroxychloroquine the crazies have spent three years acquiring.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy has the far future, I’ll take the near future and make a bold prediction: India will not become an economic superpower. An autocratic government pushing ethnic hostility, ruling a country with more internal religious/ethnic/linguistic divisions than can be counted, is not in any way Japan, or South Korea or China. Not happening.

    BRICS is clearly a bad joke. Brazil? Really? South Africa? In what universe? And Russia? Uh huh. Three never-gonna-happen countries aligned with those close friends India and China?

    The economic superpower of the future will be, ta-da, the United States. The US, Canada, Mexico and our allies in Europe and Asia, that’s the future. Among superpower aspirants only one country can increase its work force and taxpayer base simply by opening the door. Despite all the India boosterism and American breast-beating, we still have a unipolar world.

  24. gVOR10 says:


    Predictions are made based upon past performance.

    As are economic models and forecasts. History based seasonal corrections, for instance, may not work well if you’re recovering from COVID disruptions, or the 2008 George W. Bush Memorial financial near collapse. Models are approximations. It’s a given that they are not 100% accurate.

    I saw someone yesterday claiming the BLS is part of the deep state conspiracy to support Biden because their jobs numbers of late tend to be revised downward. I’m still looking for a Latin name for what I call the “fallacy of imperfection”.

  25. gVOR10 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: We are the world’s hegemon. And despite numerous failings, on balance I think it fair to claim we’ve been a largely benevolent hegemon. The EU, UK, Japan, S. Korea, even Mexico and South America don’t seem to chafe too badly under our thumb.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Setting the political aspects aside, the original creation of BRIC was a business thing, and it focused on those four countries because they were at the time high growth and were actively moving towards capitalism. In the event only China has fulfilled that long term high growth promise. Sure, they are having problems now but they continued on that path for 20 years!

    From a business point of view, existing and mature markets like the US are extremely important, but for the vast majority of companies, growth in those mature markets’ will be slow and steady. If a company or investor is looking for a shot in the arm for their existing portfolio, emerging markets have real appeal. High risk, high reward.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    We have been helped in the last couple of decades by China’s amazingly incompetent diplomacy, which has sent Philippines and Australia rushing right back to our welcoming arms, and has Vietnam ready to sign up. Thanks to China’s absurd claims in the South China Sea (and their pet clown in North Korea) we’ve begun to engineer a rapprochement between SK and Japan. Turkey and Ukraine are roadblocks to Chinese ambitions in Asia Minor, and this halfway-there Saudi/UAE/Israeli thing (peace in our time) means Iran continues to be fucked, and the US Navy will continue to rule the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.

    China’s economy is in serious trouble and its demographics are a nightmare. Xi is not getting Taiwan, he’s not getting his nine dashes, he cannot cross the Himalayas, and for all his military expenditures he still cannot export a single Apple watch, or import a cup of Saudi oil without the acquiescence of the US Navy and Air Force. And all those hordes of Chinese engineers who were going to dominate technology, was it the Chinese who came up with the newest AI? Nope. They still can’t make a decent high-end chip.

    As for India. . . nah. They don’t have the internal discipline and control of the CCP, or the societal unity of Taiwan, SK or Japan. China and India join the long list of countries or coaltions that were gonna overtake the US and did no such thing.

  28. CSK says:

    I’m keeping up with reading here, but not commenting. Too tired. Major surgery yesterday.

  29. Sleeping Dog says:
  30. Sleeping Dog says:


    One thing to keep in mind about baseball advance stats is that very few have been subject to extensive statistical proofs. Many include judgements, assigned values and frankly wishful thinking.

  31. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Mexico’s armed forces can be taken out quickly (and I no longer live near an army base). If the US wants to conquer Mexico, they can do it at their leisure. I don’t think we even have tanks.

    But if the intent is to take out the cartels, good luck. Mexico’s army has been trying for over a decade. Tanks and armored troop carriers aren’t that helpful in fights like this. It would take many years, and possibly result in some other country taking up the trade anyway. Mexico has the big drug cartels now because Colombia no longer does.

    If America is serious in ending drug addiction, they do have the means to do so: a huge arsenal of nukes. It would take wiping out humanity to wipe out addiction. The US arsenal might not be big enough to directly kill every last person on Earth, but indirect effects like massive firestorms, fallout, and nuclear winter should take care of the rest.

    If they were serious about ending the violence related to drug addiction, as well as many of the problems caused by drug addiction, they’d instead decriminalize all drugs, set up monitored spaces for certain addicts, and handle the rest through public health measures, seeing as it is a public health problem. Save the punitive stuff for those dealing or otherwise providing drugs to minors.

    But, of course, that would be socialism for some reason.

  32. becca says:

    @CSK: Major surgery? Hope it went well and you are on the mend.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Recovering well, I hope?

  34. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: To add to your analysis:

    Kazakhstan Won’t Help Russia Bust Sanctions: President

    Kazakhstan’s leader said Thursday his country would not help Russia circumvent Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, amid suspicions that Moscow is still receiving vital goods via Central Asian nations.

    “Kazakhstan has unambiguously stated that it will follow the sanctions regime,” said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev following talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

    “We have contacts with the relevant organisations to comply with the sanctions regime, and I think there should not be any concerns on the German side about possible actions aimed at circumventing the sanctions regime.”

    Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has rattled nerves in Central Asian nations, including Kazakhstan, which has sought to distance itself from Moscow’s assault.

    Kazakhstan shares a 1000 miles of border with Russia.

  35. dazedandconfused says:


    The Munich Agreement is perhaps one of the most misunderstood agreements of the present. The Germans were welcomed as liberators in most of what they had taken at that time by very large numbers of the people in those places, and continued to be so by most of the areas under threat from or had suffered from Bolsheviks a couple years later. The Finns where on their side, and a lot of people viewed Hitler as a bulwark against Russia. Thousands of Ukrainians flocked to their call, as did thousands of Belgians, Danes, and even some French who were formed their own SS divisions to go fight the Russians.

    The notion the UK was in any condition to challenge Adolf’s modernized army and fully motivated population is absurd but taken as indisputable fact today. The UK’s military was almost a joke, small with old and badly outdated armor. The Spitfire? About a dozen planes still undergoing testing and training pilots. They needed a couple years to mobilize, at least, and their own public was not eager to do anything of the sort.

  36. Bill Jempty says:

    Several personal things

    My procedure for next week is going to be Wednesday after all. I just got a phone call from JFK Hospital where it will be done.

    This is after 4 days of the doctor’s office not returning calls or calling the wrong number if they called. This after the office scheduled me for a Tuesday when I asked for a Wednesday and was told that was fine but then this week told I had asked for Tuesday.

    Long story short- This doctor office is a bunch of incompetents. Now my saying is- I haven’t had so much fun since I became a patient of Dr. Vladimir Rankovic.

    My 16 year old cat Misay* had to be taken to the vet today. She has blood coming out of her mouth. Could be bacterial infection or more likely she needs a teeth or tooth pulled. Been given antibiotics to give Misay and see how that goes.

    Lastly my first best seller just hit 15,000 kindle sales since its 2014 publication. This at least average effort of mine outsells all but one other of my books combined. I may have figured out finally why it sells so well. Is it the two sex scenes early in the story that are 1- Important to the plot and 2- Can be seen with Amazon’s previewer? The almost 400 page ebook has only one other scene like those and it is near the very end of the story. It isn’t erotica. My ebook is just a tale of a married couple’s sexual experimentation leading to big changes for them and their children. Why I didn’t figure this out earlier, blame it on my mental shortcomings or my cancer battles.

    Everybody have a good weekend.

    *- Misay is the waray word for cat. Waray being the first language for my wife and her family.

  37. CSK says:

    @becca: @MarkedMan:

    Everyone says so; thanks very much for asking.

  38. DrDaveT says:


    Predictions are made based upon past performance. Kind of hard to apply that to young players still improving. That’s part of why the Orioles were underrated. Plus, the sports media concentrates on the Yankees and Red Sox. Doesnt really matter since the Phillies are clicking now so they will win. (Crosses fingers about pitching.)

    Yes, but we’re talking about models here, not subjective opinions or sports media blather.

    The Fangraphs prediction based on their own model is that the O’s have a 6+% chance of winning the World Series. If you tell the model to base the prediction on this year’s stats alone, ignoring the prior assessment of O’s players, the probability jumps up to 11%

    (This is a separate issue from the fact that a team with the O’s run differential will normally win 90-couple games, not 103. And no, a good manager cannot make that much difference. Trust me on this.)

    So, the models are more bearish than you might think on the O’s because (a) they collectively outperformed their predicted batting and pitching, and (b) they won way more games than expected for a team that hit and pitched as well as they did. The former can be blamed on the choice of model and exceptional young player development; the latter is just a fact.

  39. DrDaveT says:


    Mexico’s armed forces can be taken out quickly (and I no longer live near an army base). If the US wants to conquer Mexico, they can do it at their leisure. I don’t think we even have tanks.

    You would think that at least some of the geezers in Congress would remember the difference between “taking out a country’s armed forces” and “conquering the country”, much less “imposing our will on the country”. Iraq, Iraq again, Afghanistan… how is that going these days? Oh, yeah, right.

    I’m sure the cartels won’t do any better than al-Qaeda or ISIS or the Taliban.

  40. Kathy says:


    It might be different in a country that has no sectarian or ethnic divisions, no large army, and no large supply of ambitious power-seeking chieftains with thousands of followers.

    The people best positioned to fight off a US invasion in the manner the Iraqis and Afghans did, are precisely the cartels.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I hope it went well and your recovery is fast.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yeah, and Mexico was going to pay for the wall.

  43. Jen says:

    @CSK: I hope your recovery is swift and as pleasant as possible!

  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    Get better.

  45. JohnSF says:

    Mend well, and in the meantime, be lazy.

  46. Kathy says:


    Hopefully it all went well, you’ll recover soon, and have no catheter inside your bladder.

  47. Kathy says:

    Breaking news: Fani Willis has scored her first conviction in her RICO case.

    It’s too soon to tel what this means, but one hopes Mr. Hall will provide some evidence for the state.

  48. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    They really are f*kin’ nuts, aren’t they?
    Quickest way to destroy the US Army as an effective force: counter-drug/counter-insugency/occupation duties in Mexico.
    There must be umpteen strategists in Beijing and Moscow currently hitting the knees and praying please, do this stupid, stupid thing.

  49. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..Of course we are all talking about the Orioles clinching the AL East today

    The Goat: Mike Royko

    The Alligator: NPR

    The Bird: is the Word!

  50. JohnSF says:

    Interesting little bit of data from the neo-Right’s favoutite fantasy country, Hungary.
    2022 census data has just been released; and it appears Hungary is no longer a majority professing-Christian country.
    Now 43%, down from 54% in 2011, 75% in 2001.

    According to Hungarian commentators on Twitter (and who am I to argue?) the association of the Catholic establishment with running after patronage from Orban has badly damaged their standing among the urban/educated population, which continues to grow.
    And led them to ignore pastoral work in favour of political deal-making.

    The (Catholic) Church gained enormous prestige as a voice of national democratic resistance.
    Turns out, alignment with a reactionary, authoritarian inclined, anti-liberal, and luxuriantly corrupt domestic faction does not work quite so well, except among the rural elites who share the skim from the EU subsidies.

    Who’da thunk?

  51. JohnMc says:

    Things I would never have known: today is the anniversary of the massacre at Babyn Yar. Pres Zhelinsy commemorated today at the site. Wikipedia says Naziis killed 33K.

    Thought it deserved a mention somewhere.

  52. Sleeping Dog says:


    From a David Frum column of a few months ago on the same subject. The problem is demand, not supply.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who advised President Nixon on domestic affairs, told the following story in The American Scholar about his attempts to curb drug abuse by squeezing supply. In the late ’60s, the drug of concern was heroin; an important source of supply was via the port of Marseilles in France—the fabled “French Connection.” Over many months, Moynihan negotiated agreements to stop the flow through Marseilles, mercifully without the threat of rockets or Special Forces operations.

    I found myself in a helicopter flying up to Camp David to report on this seeming success. The only other passenger was George P. Shultz [then the secretary of labor ], who was busy with official-looking papers. Even so, I related our triumph. He looked up. “Good,” said he, and returned to his tables and charts. “No, really,” said I, “this is a big event.” My cabinet colleague looked up, restated his perfunctory, “Good,” and once more returned to his paperwork. Crestfallen, I pondered, then said, “I suppose you think that so long as there is a demand for drugs, there will continue to be a supply.” George Shultz, sometime professor of economics at the University of Chicago, looked up with an air of genuine interest. “You know,” he said, “there’s hope for you yet!”

    Drug interdiction has not worked in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, in Andean South America. American demand and American wealth will summon supply from somewhere, and if one channel of commerce is stopped, another will open. The drug problem is located here, and the answer must be found here. Belligerent snarls and growls may excite American emotions, and they may win some American votes. But if those snarls and growls are acted upon, they will plunge the United States into troubles compared with which the fentanyl problem of today will seem the least of evils. Unfortunately, it’s too late to silence the threats. They have become the price of entry to Republican politics. But it’s not too late to challenge and rebut them—and to elect leaders who understand that Mexico will be either America’s partner or America’s disaster.

  53. Bill Jempty says:


    Major surgery yesterday.

    Get well.

  54. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    From a rather smart guy on Twitter: some people think Sicario is real life, as opposed to a well made movie. And military reservists and national Guard are not going to very happy fighting a guerrilla war against cartel aligned teenager in the barrios of the border cities, and/or the jungles and mountains of the Tehuantepec isthmus.
    It’s utter lunacy.

  55. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My impression is that the BRICS are thought significant because they are the only remaining states that can reach developed nation/first world status rather than because they are destined to.

  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Among superpower aspirants only one country can increase its work force and taxpayer base simply by opening the door.

    Which makes it painfully ironic that the party who wants to be known as the party of economic growth would now rather blow up the country than open that door.

  57. CSK says:
  58. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Hope it went well. Speedy recovery wishes to you.

  59. gVOR10 says:

    @CSK: Let me add my best wishes to the chorus.

  60. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @just nutha:
    The funny thing is that “BRIC” started out as an investment punt suggestion by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill. The “S” only got appended later, because reasons, and South Africa then said “hey, that’s us!” LOL.

    The really funny thing is that it became popular as an in-joke among London traders, from a rather vulgar Brit saying: “Shit a brick.”
    To this day, use the term with Brit financial type, and wait to see exactly how long it is before they start sniggering.

    They are, in fact, far from being the only candidate nations for Power status: also in the running, (at least) Argentina, Nigeria, Indonesia (really one to watch), Iran, Mexico, Turkey.

    Personally, I still think Brazil is in with a shout.
    South Africa might be if it can get past the ANC dominance of politics.
    India is if Modi can get over his desire for dominance, and the BJP stop being driven by the ethno-nationalist nuts.
    If not, autocracy/aristocracy disease will likely ruin them.
    People thought China was immune to that; it may well not be.

    OTOH, there’s a fair chunk of the US neo-Right in the Republican Party that have similar, and similarly stupid, dreams.

  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @just nutha:
    I have an early memory (thus suspect) of reading the Weekly Reader in elementary school and the topic being Brazil’s inevitable rise to great power status. Flying cars and Brazilians. Who knew we’d only get one of those, and it wouldn’t mean anything like what it meant then.

  62. Michael Reynolds says:


    Argentina, Nigeria, Indonesia (really one to watch), Iran, Mexico.

    Of those I’ll take Mexico and Indonesia. Mexico for a cheap but productive work force sitting right next to the world’s largest consumer market. Of course the wages will inevitably rise and it’ll be time for Mexico to offshore to Guatemala and Honduras.

    Indonesia has a terrible geography problem that’s also a huge opportunity. Great location, too many islands. If they built a serious navy China might as well scrap theirs.

    Argentina’s peso is currently trading at 1 to a piece of pocket lint. Nigeria has the numbers but so, so many problems. As for Iran, terrible borders (Iraq’s’s not enough, gotta have Pakistan and Afghanistan, too?) but if they could ever free themselves from the ayatollahs they’d be the one petro state most likely to make the transition to a modern economy.

    But I’ll toss Turkey into the mix. Gotta love their location if not all the neighbors. Another country that could be greatly helped by a change of government. Greece needs to make a deal there or we’ll end up losing Turkey altogether now that the Russians aren’t so scary.

  63. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    I don’t know how this fits in, but Brazil is the third largest manufacturer of commercial jets.

    It’s all regional jets, true, but that’s a market both Boeing and Airbus* abandoned long ago. More important, it’s a fraction of what the two majors produce. But Brazil thus far beats Russia and China anyway.

    I wonder if they plan to tackle the majors in an end run like the C-Series, aka A220, was supposed to do if a slightly larger variant were made.

    *Airbus makes the A220, the erstwhile Bombardier C-Series, which is supposed to be a regional jet. Except some airlines are using it instead of the A320, though it doesn’t fit as many people. It may also have killed orders for the A319neo.

  64. Bill Jempty says:
  65. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    IIRC Poul Anderson did a SF sequence about a an interstellar Earth dominion based on a Brazilian dominated planet, after a nuclear war devastated the northern hemisphere.

  66. JohnSF says:

    @Bill Jempty:
    “Is that a lobster tail in your pants, or are you just pleased to see me?”

  67. Kathy says:


    Coincidentally, I’m reading Tau Zero*. Kaku brought it up, and I think it was the Nth time I heard about it in connection with space travel, astronomy, and cosmology.

    In the Gateway series by Fred Pohl, Brazil is one of the five great powers that control the Gateway Corporation.

    *I wonder why I bother. I’m sure I’ve had all the spoilers clear to the ending.

  68. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Argentina & currency: same ol’ same ol’.
    But actual assets in Argentina based on actual productive farms, mines, factories, etc. are still viable.
    So, on that basis, it will keep getting investment.
    If the Argentinian whatever currency is useless, dollars will substitute well enough.
    Same applies, really, to huge areas of the planet.
    Dollars, euros, renminbi, yen: doesn’t matter.
    What matters is the capacity of local sub-economies to plug into the global market system.
    Longer term, the need to regulate and integrate the global economy on similar lines to the US and EU continental markets, in order to prevent idiot CEO’s screwing everyone for a annual stock option.
    Not easy, but not beyond the wit of man.

  69. Beth says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Personally, I’d rather get my, uh, research chemicals from Pfizer or their ilk than street chemists. I’d much prefer to know what and how much I’m actually getting.

    This whole war on drugs bullshit is awful. Rest in hell Nixon and Regans.

  70. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    IIRC, the title of my first proposed thesis was “cost benefit analysis of legalization and taxation of illegal drugs.” Mid 70s. College advisor rejected the topic.

    After all, prohibition worked SOOOOO well, didn’t it?

  71. DrDaveT says:


    Coincidentally, I’m reading Tau Zero*.

    I’ve tried twice. I will try a third time, then give up if it doesn’t click.

    The weird thing is that I adored If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler…, so it’s not just Calvino’s weirdness that is blocking me.