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. sam says:
  2. sam says:

    Suck It, Wall Street
    In a blowout comedy for the ages, finance pirates take it up the clacker

    “I’m not sure everybody fully understands what’s happening here,” was the melancholy comment on CNBC of Wall Street’s famed fluffer-in-chief, Andrew Ross Sorkin. The author of Too Big to Fail added in pedagogic tones that while this “stick it to the man moment” might feel good, betting up the value of GameStop above Delta Airlines just isn’t right, because “there are no fundamentals here”.

    Fundamentals? How much does Sorkin think his exalted Delta Airlines would be worth now, if the Fed hadn’t stopped its death plunge last March? How much would any of the airlines be worth in the Covid age, with their fleets of mothballed jets? What a joke!

    Furthermore, everybody “understands” what happened with GameStop. Unlike some other Wall Street stories, this one isn’t complicated. The entire tale, in a nutshell, goes like this. One group of gamblers announced, “Fuck you!” Another group announced back: “No, fuck YOU!”

    That’s it. Or, as one market analyst put it to me this morning, “A bunch of guys made a bet, got killed, then doubled and tripled down and got killed even more.”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Read it for what it’s worth: ‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy

    Three years later Trump opened his first big property development, the Grand Hyatt New York hotel near Grand Central station. Trump bought 200 television sets for the hotel from Semyon Kislin, a Soviet émigré who co-owned Joy-Lud electronics on Fifth Avenue.

    According to Shvets, Joy-Lud was controlled by the KGB and Kislin worked as a so-called “spotter agent” who identified Trump, a young businessman on the rise, as a potential asset. Kislin denies that he had a relationship with the KGB.

    Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed by KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into the politics.

    The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

    “This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world. They fed him these so-called active measures soundbites and it happened. So it was a big achievement for the KGB active measures at the time.”

    Keeping in mind that this is coming from a former KGB major, who no doubt knows of what he speaks but was also heart and soul a part of the game. He is in all likelihood still playing it on some level or another for his own reasons, old habits die hard, right? Still, the book could be an interesting read.

  4. CSK says:

    No doubt Marjorie will attribute this entry to one of the multitudinous people who “manage” her Facebook page.

  5. CSK says:

    It may be just that I loathe Trump, but this has the ring of truth. I can see it happening.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A top MAGA gathering finds life complicated after Trump

    One of the premier MAGA gatherings in the nation is struggling to recreate the magic this year.

    For decades, the Conservative Political Action Conference has been a staple of Republican politics. In recent years, the conservative confab has been the go-to stop for rising GOP stars, grassroots organizers and luminaries in the Trump movement.

    But President Donald Trump’s election loss has created hurdles around programming and guest booking. Stringent coronavirus guidelines in Maryland have pushed the conference outside of the Washington area for the first time in nearly 50 years. Previous sponsors aren’t yet committed or have decided to forgo sponsorship entirely because of changes to the event’s format or disappointment in the return on their investment last year. And the president that attendees adored so much may not show up to the event at all.

    This will make you laugh:

    ACU Chair Matt Schlapp said he is convinced this year’s conference will be no different from past years. “CPAC is going great,” he told POLITICO on Tuesday, before then saying that his quote needed to be attributed without his name. Schlapp did not address questions about why some sponsors were not continuing their CPAC sponsorship. But after those questions were posed and additional questions were sent to CPAC sponsors — including whether the Jan. 6 Capitol riot impacted their thinking about sponsoring again this year — ACU general counsel David Safavian accused POLITICO of “tortious interference with business relationships” and attempting “to ‘cancel’ both CPAC and the American Conservative Union itself.” The group then tweeted a copy of a letter from Safavian that included a litigation threat.

    “We fully intend to explore our legal rights to hold Politico fully accountable for what we see as tortious conduct,” the letter stated.

    Your proposal is acceptable.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I am quite sure there is more than just a kernel of truth to it, probably a whole sack full of kernels of truth. I won’t blindly accept it as gospel tho and can’t help wondering about ulterior motives. We all have them and he would be trained in hiding his own and exploiting those of others.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Igor Bobic

    Dems poised to muscle through big COVID bill over objections of Republicans, who complained Biden isn’t heeding his own call for unity, which was more about being civil.

    Reconciliation “would be like declaring war around here,” one GOP senator said

    Democrats dismissed GOP handwringing about reconciliation, which they used several times on tax cuts and ACA.

    “Cry me a river,” Murphy said
    “I can guarantee you, no one back home cares. They just want their relief,” added Schatz

  9. CSK says:

    Quite so. I’m sure Shvets does have ulterior motives, just as I’m sure my inclination to believe anything bad about Trump colors my views.

  10. Owen says:

    @sam: Sounds like Ernst Blofeld (Diamonds are Forever) and Morty Carver (The Hebrew Hammer) had a love child!

  11. Scott says:

    More threats against Americans and American democracy from the radicalized right.

    Conservatives warn culture, political wars will worsen

    The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down.

    Why it matters: The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being.

    If anything, the calls for calm and rethinking among some GOP leaders grew fast into claims of grievance and revolution.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:


    Marco Rubio Deserves Ivanka Trump

    She’d potentially challenge him in the Florida Republican primary. Now there’s a reason to sweat. Rubio confronts what Republican lawmakers all over the country do, the prospect of being ousted, en route to their general elections, by rivals who are even Trumpier than they are. Only there’s no out-Trumping an actual Trump. And there’s no defaming this Trump progeny without inflaming the Trump patriarch.

    Ivanka would be Rubio’s worst nightmare. She’d also be his perfect comeuppance. He would have done all that shape-shifting, summoned all that sycophancy and sold out for naught.

    Maybe Ivanka would take pity on him and take a pass.

    Yes, that was a joke.

    As, at this point, is Marco Rubio.

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    As much as I will hate to see the Princess in the senate, squashing Lil’ Marco maybe a fair trade.

  13. CSK says:
  14. Kylopod says:
  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    Minnesota town is flummoxed by resident who claims he’s above the law

    Of course the irony here is that this is a community in a part of the state that is overwhelmingly trumpist, whose residents, those that are upset with this citizen, will make claims of their own impunity from various laws and societal expectations.

    Something about chickens and roosts, what was that saying. 🙂

  16. Michael Cain says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: There are limits on what can be included in a reconciliation bill. If the Dems go that route, the $15 minimum wage will almost certainly have to be taken out. Don’t know what else, it’s a big bill with lots of moving parts.

  17. Paine says:

    I was reading AOC’s twitter feud with Ted Cruz and have to say… her Twitter game is completely on point. The oldsters in the GOP are out of their league.

  18. Pete S says:

    I continue to read about GOP “leaders” worrying about her actions. I doubt that. They know full well that idiots who agree with Greene’s moronic views make up enough of the GOP voting coalition that without them no Republican could win anything. Having someone like Greene saying this stuff out loud lets most other Republicans avoid having to do so while still holding those votes.

    And now much of the media is fixated on unity and bipartisanship. I would personally be disgusted with anyone who could find common ground with her.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Cain: Yeah, the Byrd rule and all that. There is talk of killing it as a way to get around the filibuster that they seem inclined to leave in place as some sort of fig leaf to Synema and… Manchin? I don’t know what that will do and what rules will still apply etc etc etc. I am no expert on Senate rules and am quite befuddled by them.

  20. CSK says:

    @Pete S:
    Apparently Greene has deleted those FB posts from 2018 and 2019 that indicate her approval of the worst sort of paranoid fantasies. (Of course they’ve all been screenshot.) I don’t know whether she’s having second thoughts about saying out loud what she thinks or there was pressure on her to do so.

  21. CSK says:

    Cicely Tyson died yesterday. She was 96. Fine actress. Beautiful woman. RIP.

  22. Scott says:

    These appointments, albeit of some small consequence, made these advisory boards a joke, and highlight the contempt of Trump and his fellow travelers for all things government.

    Pentagon halts Trump appointments to advisory boards

    The Pentagon has suspended the processing of a number of former President Donald Trump’s last-minute appointees to defense advisory boards as the new administration looks to weed out loyalists to the former president.

    The move effectively prevents a number of Trump allies, including his 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie, from actually serving on panels tasked with providing advice to the defense secretary, at least for the time being.

  23. Michael Cain says:


    I am no expert on Senate rules and am quite befuddled by them.

    We are all quite befuddled by them. The written rules, some statutes, and then some thousands of precedents and procedural rulings. The Senate Parliamentarian is the only one that knows for sure. And IIRC, a simple majority can rule that the Parliamentarian is mistaken.

  24. Kylopod says:


    Yeah, the Byrd rule and all that. There is talk of killing it as a way to get around the filibuster that they seem inclined to leave in place as some sort of fig leaf to Synema and… Manchin?

    It might be worth mentioning at this point that the Byrd rule is named for Manchin’s predecessor in the Senate in WV, who was one of the foremost defenders of the filibuster while he was alive and who now has a “rule” named after him designed to protect the filibuster from the abuse of reconciliation as a loophole to get around it. (Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, who currently heads the budget committee, has a history of advocating doing away with the filibuster by using reconciliation for pretty much anything then having the vp overrule the Senate parliamentarian.) So in addition to Manchin’s brand as conservadem swing vote, he also has a brand as an institutionalist.

    I don’t know how much of this matters, especially after Schumer managed to get Manchin and Sinema to back down after threatening to go along with McConnell’s demand to commit to keeping the filibuster.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:


    The other day I read that piece at Spytalk and it reminded my of a book by the late author/ex CIA officer, Charles McCarry, “The Tears of Autumn,” which essentially was an alternative theory on the Kennedy assassination that held together much better than the leading conspiracy theories of the time. The Spytalk piece is loaded with the same type suppositions and accretions that McCarry used in a work that he admitted was fiction. Yes, “take it for what it is worth,” but to lean on it too hard can lead to a leftist version of Q.

    That said, it is a delicious read and it will be nice if large parts of it are true.

    Which now has me wondering about the recordings of Trump’s conversations with Putin and what do the translators have to say? Inquiring minds need to know.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I foresee a fire ala Skidmore in the near future,

  27. gVOR08 says:

    Reynolds talks about Republicans being more a cult of personality than a political party. I felt that was only partly true. But the last few days of news is sure full of Republican pols acting like they can’t live without him.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Ah yes, the good Exalted Cyclops Robert Carlyle Byrd, whose ghost haunts us still.


  29. Kylopod says:


    Ah yes, the good Exalted Cyclops Robert Carlyle Byrd

    A bit OT, but it wasn’t until several years after the first time I watched O Brother Where Art Thou that it occurred to me the John Goodman character, who was clearly based on the cyclops from Greek mythology and who is later seen in the Klan gathering at the end, was probably a reference to the “Grand Cyclops” rank within the Klan. If so, it’s a pretty obscure and subtle joke. I didn’t even know about that rank until reading about Robert Byrd. It could just be a coincidence that I’m reading too much into, but it does strike me as the type of gag the Coen Brothers would do.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: I never really thought about it but now that you mention it, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s right up the Coen Brother’s humor alley.

  31. Mu Yixiao says:

    China will no longer recognize the BNO (British) passport for Hong Kong residents.

    Add this to the National Security Law, and this week’s (unusually strong) comment that independence for Taiwan would “mean war”…. Bad things are going to happen in SE Asia.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:

    Crime In America: Study Reveals The 10 Most Unsafe Neighborhoods

    Neighborhoods in LA, SF and Kansas City(!) lead the list with multiple neighborhoods represented.

    Somehow, StL and Detroit were denied this honor.

  33. Joe says:
  34. Joe says:
  35. Kylopod says:


    I trust, Kylopod and @OzarkHillbilly, you both are aware that “Oh Brother Where Art Though is set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression. Its story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s epic Greek poem The Odyssey that incorporates social features of the American South.“

    You would be correct in that assumption. That’s why I said the Goodman character is “clearly” supposed to represent the cyclops. I took that as a given–it’s one of the film’s most obvious Homeric allusions, and I think it’s something that even people who are only vaguely familiar with The Odyssey usually pick up on. What I was commenting on was more subtle: the fact that one of the ranks within the KKK literally bears the name “cyclops,” and even though this never gets mentioned in the film, I suspect the revelation of the Goodman character being in the Klan was put in there intentionally to imply that additional parallel. I don’t know for certain, and if my suspicion is accurate, then it’s an amazingly obscure joke, as I doubt very many moviegoers are even aware of that fact about the Klan.

  36. Jay L Gischer says:


    as I doubt very many moviegoers are even aware of that fact about the Klan.

    You can count me in on that. However, I find it entirely plausible that the name of the office in the Klan inspired the entire film.

    And in thinking about it, the film captures the unusual nature of Ulysses – he never tries to be a hero – in the film, he has no concept of himself as fighting for racial justice. In Homer, he’s just trying to get home (and he does a few underhanded things on the way). And yet there he is at the forefront.

  37. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Wow, that piece does not impress me. There is a map that is labelled “San Francisco” in the caption, but the insert in the map itself reads “Los Angeles”. Also, I don’t really recognize it, unlike the later map of Market Street/Union Square.

    Second, these are very small areas, and so there is a small sample size problem.

    Third, these are predictions made by a learning algorithm. There’s no reason to think they did a good job training the algorithm or that they just embedded a bunch of biases in the training of that algorithm.

    So, it’s junk. Ignore it. It might have something to it, it might not.

  38. Kari Q says:

    Reposting this since I didn’t get to yesterday’s thread till late:

    Arizona state Rep Shawnna Bolick (R) introduced legislation which would give the legislators the power to toss out the Secretary of State’s certification of electors in a presidential election “at any time before inauguration,” the Arizona Capitol Times reports.

    I appreciate that they are now being direct about wanting to abolish democracy.

  39. Michael Cain says:

    @Kari Q: I’m too lazy to look, but what does the Arizona state constitution say about the matter? There are too many state legislators who somehow think — erroneously, IMO — that ACB and the other new SCOTUS justices are just going to let state legislators override their state constitutions on this.

  40. JohnSF says:

    Traditionally there are two primary categories of agent, the witting and the unwitting.

    To these, Trump has added a third: the nit-witting agent.

    He should be an agent, but he’s two damn stupid to realise it.
    Most of the time his “hanging with the hard men” is all part of his kayfabe, pretend wise-guy, wannabe mover and shaker, act.
    I think sometimes he is forced by circumstances to see his liabilities and has a brief, sickening, realisation of how compromised he is.
    But then he retreats to the comfy world of being Mr Big Time in his own empty head.

    His problem is that at least some of his interlocutors are rather more serious people.

  41. dazedandconfused says:


    I am no expert on Senate rules and am quite befuddled by them.

    They are a relic of a time when the Senate attempted, and in a lot of ways succeeded, to be a body of gentlemen placing the interests of the country above the party and personal.
    For quite some time it functioned so. 2/3s should be achievable with honorable, educated and informed people who are capable of acknowledging facts and truths. The House was for the animals. The Senate aspired to be something greater so they created procedural rules which are only suitable for honorable men, but such rules are vulnerable to abuse by the dishonorable. Abusing the filibuster, the ability to place secret holds on bills, et al. In the old days a Senator could would be socially ostracized for being a dick. Now everyone commutes back home by airplane every week. They barely have to meet.

  42. CSK says:

    I’m not sure the realization that he’s compromised bothers Trump, or even that it occurs to him.

    What I think bothers him is the occasional flash of realization that when it comes to being tough, he’s nowhere in Putin’s league. He is, to use one of his favorite accusations against others, a pussy.

  43. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Yeah, articles like that are one step above clickbait, but I can’t resist when it is offered as a link in an opinion piece for a respected legitimate periodical. Plus it is potential fodder for the forum.

  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kari Q:
    @Michael Cain:

    It likely won’t get as far as the supremes, the AZ supreme court will likely shut it down. Far too many state legislators haven’t a clue as to what is in their own state constitutions that are far more detailed as to what the state can and can’t do.

    I saw this yesterday on an AZ political website and the sense I came away with is that this legislation won’t get out of committee.

  45. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer:


    as I doubt very many moviegoers are even aware of that fact about the Klan.

    You can count me in on that.

    I didn’t know either. I had no idea, the first time I watched it. It wasn’t until many years later, when I had given the film a rewatch around the same time I had read about Robert Byrd’s past, that it suddenly hit me.

    I would estimate that the percentage of the moviegoing audience who picked up this reference the first time they watched the film (assuming it was intentional–I’m still not certain of that) to be under 1%. And I’m someone who probably knows more than the average person about the Klan, as I’m both an American history buff and someone who has spent years reading a lot about extremist hate groups in America. For example, most people are unaware of the fact that there is no single group called “the Ku Klux Klan” anymore, and hasn’t been since at least the 1940s. There are, rather, numerous unrelated groups who have adopted that name. So whenever you run across a news article that refers to David Duke as “the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,” that is actually a bit misleading. He was never the Grand Wizard of the Klan. He was the Grand Wizard of “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” an independent organization which he created.

    I’m going to wager that the majority of people reading this were unaware of what I just said, just as I was unaware of the Klan rank called “cyclops” until I read about Byrd. It’s that obscure. That’s why I find the possibility that the Coen Brothers did make this reference intentionally to be so astonishing.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joe: Oh yeah.

  47. Mu Yixiao says:


    For example, most people are unaware of the fact that there is no single group called “the Ku Klux Klan” anymore, and hasn’t been since at least the 1940s.

    That’s because Superman smashed them. 😀

  48. Michael Cain says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    It likely won’t get as far as the supremes, the AZ supreme court will likely shut it down.

    This past November, they appealed a ruling where the Pennsylvania supreme court had applied the Pennsylvania constitution to the SCOTUS. At some point not too much farther back, they appealed the Pennsylvania supreme court’s ruling that partisan gerrymandering violated the Pennsylvania constitution to the SCOTUS. The Supremes might not hear the case, but given sufficient money to fund things it will likely get appealed that far.

    My understanding — and IANAL — is that a certain amount of precedent would have to be overturned, and it seems unlikely the SCOTUS would do that, but it’s possible that they would rule the US Constitution gives the state legislature sole control over selecting electors unless the legislature has explicitly delegated that power. The “at any time before inauguration” would be a problem, as it conflicts with long-standing federal law.

  49. Michael Cain says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I saw this yesterday on an AZ political website and the sense I came away with is that this legislation won’t get out of committee.

    Not all Republicans in the AZ legislature are insane. Some of them have watched progressive ballot initiatives pass, their majorities at the statehouse shrink, the US House seats get to 5-4 Dem, and both US Senate seats go Dem, and they would still like to hold onto their suburban seats.

  50. dazedandconfused says:


    Yes, and that’s Putin’s whip. I recall Putin was displeased once and publicly called Trump ‘weak’. Putin’s ring in Trump’s nose is being the kind, approving father Trump never had. He’s been well trained, and one does not rise to be head of a place like Russia without big time psy-chops.
    Putin will probably refuse to speak to him now, I reckon. Don will wonder why…

    Anybody up for crowd-sourcing a sky writer to put a half-mile long “LOSER” over Mar A Lago on a golfing afternoon?

  51. CSK says:

    Too late. Someone in a plane already flew a banner over Mar-a-Lago reading: TRUMP YOU PATHETIC LOSER GO BACK TO MOSCOW.

    Of course, we could always do it again.

  52. flat earth luddite says:

    Like Capt. Renault, I’m shocked, shocked I say!

    Every year a new scandal breaks in NCAA Men’s College Basketball involving under-the-table payments to student-athletes. It turns out that the students directly responsible for making millions of dollars for their universities somehow think that it is okay for them to get a little compensation for their talent and hard work.

    But when top recruits with the University of North Carolina State, the University of Kansas, and the University of Louisville received illicit payments to attend their respective universities, the government swooped in to stop this horrifying practice of paying fair market value for services rendered. The conspirators involved in the scheme were charged with wire fraud and defrauding the universities they were trying to help. The FBI and the Department of Justice arrested 10 assistant coaches and a marketing director at Adidas. A federal jury convicted the conspirators of multiple federal offenses.

    h/t to Joseph Fawbush, Esq. and my dear friends at Findlaw. Once again, proving that truth is so entertaining because fiction has to make sense.