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. CSK says:

    Per ABC: No radioactive material was released from the Ukrainian nuclear power plant shelled by the Russians yesterday, said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The safety systems at the six reactors were not affected.”

    Two security guards were injured.

  2. charon says:

    Fascinating thread:

    How Russia uses its “elite” paratroops.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    678,000 jobs added in February.
    That’s more than 3 times the average month with the Former Guy.
    December and January job numbers revised up a bit.
    Wages little changed, but over the last 12 months up over 5%.
    I wonder how the press will make this into a bad thing for Biden?

  4. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I wonder how the press will make this into a bad thing for Biden?

    Seek, and you shall find.

  5. charon says:

    Assorted excerpts:

    Trump’s Attempt to Extort Ukraine Started Long Before the Infamous Phone Call

    When Trump tried to blackmail Ukrainian President Zelensky in July 2019, it wasn’t the first time he abused his position as President of the United States by meddling in that country’s affairs.

    Just to be clear, the recent succession of Ukrainian presidents looks like this:

    2010-2014 Viktor Yanukovych

    2014-2019 Petro Poroshenko

    2019-present Volodymyr Zelensky

    Yanukovych was Putin’s puppet in Ukraine and was ousted from office by the Euromaiden protests in 2014. We haven’t heard much about the presidency of Poroshenko, who was elected after Yanukovych fled the country for asylum in Russia.

    Kramer went on to report that, just prior to halting investigations into Manafort, Ukrainian law enforcement allowed Konstantin V. Kilimnik, who was also under investigation in Ukraine for espionage, to flee to Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning. We now know that Kilimnik was a Russian agent who had probably been involved with the GRU hacking of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign. He met with Manafort on at least two occasions during the 2016 campaign.

    In other words, the dots seem to be connected: Poroshenko halted investigations into Manafort and Kilimnik in exchange for Javelins…the same weapons Trump later used in an attempt to extort Zelensky.

    But it gets worse. According to reporting by Josh Kovensky at TPM, Trump and Giuliani thought they had a deal with Poroshenko for political dirt just prior to the Ukrainian election in April 2019.

    By late February, the Wall Street Journal reported last week, Poroshenko was open to a deal pushed by [Giuliani co-conspirators] Parnas and Fruman in which the Ukrainian leader would get electoral help via a state visit to the U.S., while he would give Trump a lift by announcing investigations into the Bidens and potential Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections.

    About a month later, Poroshenko’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, started feeding stories to now-disgraced reporter John Solomon, including accusations that Ukrainians had interfered in the 2016 election, a smear campaign against Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and attacks on the Bidens.

    To get some idea of how enraged Trump was at Zelensky’s election, which foiled his deal with Poroshenko, just listen to Ambassador Volker’s testimony about a meeting with the president in May 2019 (a month after the Ukrainian election).

    Trump was successful at aiming Ukrainian corruption when Poroshenko was president. He got them to back off investigations into Manafort and Kilimnick in exchange for weapons and had a deal ready to go to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Zelensky walked a tightrope over his first few months in office, but ultimately foiled their efforts.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Kevin Drum has a surprising title today,

    The IRS has not been “neglected” for decades. Quite the contrary.

    He concludes GOPs haven’t been neglecting the IRS, it’s been “muder with malice aforethought”. He footnotes a comment about the wealthy GOP base,

    ¹What, you thought that nutcase MAGAnauts were the base of the party? Ha ha ha. No. Take a look at what Republicans do, not what they say. Rich people are still the real base of the party.

    When talking of Republicans it’s always necessary to distinguish between the pros, the pols and funders and their minions, and the voters. They are not a MAGAt populist party, they are a plutocratic party masquerading as a blood and soil populist part. And even their voters are not so much MAGAt as hereditary.

    (And as I commented yesterday, I can’t believe we’re losing to these guys.)

  7. CSK says:

    Last November Harvey Weinstein was nabbed smuggling a box of Milk Duds into the L.A. County jail. I don’t know why this is coming to light just now.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @charon: Zelenskyy seems to have been doing pretty well throughout his presidency. Al Franken seemed to be a pretty good senator, until he got caught in #metoo. More, I think, by bad timing and spun evidence than any real bad behavior. Maybe we should quit electing B list actors and “reality” show stars and look to comedians to run the country.

  9. CSK says:

    I could have gone for George Carlin.

  10. Kylopod says:


    Maybe we should quit electing B list actors and “reality” show stars and look to comedians to run the country.

    The 2006 movie Man of the Year stars Robin Williams as a comedy talk-show host who decides to run for president. The movie was a critical and commercial failure (and rightly so, as about midway through it promptly forgets the politics and devolves into an uninteresting conspiracy thriller), so it’s been mostly forgotten. But a few elements caught my attention. Virtually all the commentary on the film suggests the Williams character is an expy for Jon Stewart. Reading these reviews, I felt like I was going insane, as the character reminded me a heckuva lot more of Bill Maher, yet I did not see one person make that connection. The movie itself seems to point in either direction, as both Maher’s and Stewart’s names are mentioned at various points, and Daily Show correspondent Lewis Black has a supporting role in the film.

    Maher has always been a much more controversial figure than Stewart, and a lot of people have never been sure what to make of him, as he seems left-leaning overall but has always had reactionary tendencies. (I haven’t watched his show in years, but a lot of his fans have told me he’s grown particularly awful in the past year or so and they’ve finally at long last given up on him.) The Williams character in the film runs as an independent, blasts both parties, and seems more vaguely antiestablishment than clearly left-wing or right-wing (at one point he rants about illegal aliens at the border).

    It’s easier to picture someone like Jon Stewart or Al Franken as presidential candidates in part because they project likability, something very much not the case with Maher. After Trump, it’s hard to totally write off the idea of a guy who comes off as an asshole (plenty of politicians are assholes, just most do a fair job of hiding it at least some of the time), but I’d be surprised to see the Democratic Party in its present form embracing such a figure.

  11. Mu Yixiao says:

    In a win for the left, the (conservative) WI Supreme Court decided on electoral maps. They chose the ones drawn by Democratic Governor Tony Evers over the highly gerrymandered ones drawn up by the Republican-dominated state assembly.

    The new maps still favor Republicans, but that’s not entirely unexpected given the state demographics*. But… they’re “fair maps”, and they’re locked in for the next 10 years.

    *There’s a wonderful little exchange in the movie Irresistible (paraphrasing)

    Wisconsinite: Ever been to Wisconsin before?
    DC Guy: I spent a couple months in Madison.
    Wisconsinite: So… you’ve never been to Wisconsin.

  12. charon says:


    In the same spirit as monitoring, I came across these, look like these are mainlining the hard stuff from Russian or QAnon or whatever trolling:

  13. charon says:
  14. charon says:


    If Putin is getting high on his own supply, perhaps these links are indicative of his thinking.

  15. CSK says:

    “…craven cuck-collaborators of Jewish Exceptionalism…”

    These aren’t dog whistles; they’re dog shrieks.

  16. JohnSF says:

    My word.
    I took a brief look at those kinks and now I feel like I need a stiff drink and a hot shower.

    What a bunch of a*holes.
    And agressively stupid with it.

    Is that Escobar some sort of alt-right guru?

  17. dazedandconfused says:


    It’s worth noting the Russians have deployed their elite troopers in the south and young conscripts in the north.

  18. Joe says:

    @gVOR08: I think it would have been fascinating to see Franken debate Trump. I recall Justice candidate Gorsuch (?) assert to Franken that the court is not political, to which Franken perfectly deadpanned, “Really? Then what was that whole Garland thing about?”

  19. DK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I wonder how the press will make this into a bad thing for Biden?

    They won’t. The media will just ignore the jobs numbers and keep reporting their preferred narrative of endless malaise, Biden is failure, the economy sucks, only Trump voters matter etc.

    Anything to avoid being called “liberal” by Republicans.

  20. CSK says:

    Russia has banned Facebook and Twitter.

  21. JohnSF says:

    For “kinks” read “links”.

    Then again…

  22. CSK says:

    I thought “kinks” was intentional on your part.

  23. DK says:


    Russia has banned Facebook and Twitter.

    So how are they going to help Republicans elections?

  24. Kylopod says:


    Russia has banned Facebook and Twitter.

    That’s only because those platforms practice cancel culture.

  25. CSK says:

    They may have lost their taste for that, post-Trump.
    Of course. Nice to see you back. You were gone for a while.

  26. Kathy says:


    The cyberwarfare divisions will keep bugging tech support to restore their unrestricted access to social media.

  27. sam says:


    “Last November Harvey Weinstein was nabbed smuggling a box of Milk Duds”

    I heard a story a week or so ago about Milk Duds. The candy maker, Mars, I think, was trying to come up with a new candy, a milk chocolate caramel thingy. So the guys in the kitchen came up with this milk chocolate caramel thingy and presented it to upper management. It didn’t go over too well at first. “This thing won’t work,” somebody said. “It’s a dud.” Upper, upper management said, “We like it. We’ll sell it and call it ‘Milk Duds'”.

  28. CSK says:

    Great story. It may even be true.

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08: I’ve been watching the GOP dismantle the IRS for decades. It’s the classic Grover tactic — if you want to prove that government is incompetent, cut their funding until the sad remnant can’t actually do its job, then point and say “See, government is inherently inept!”.

    Over the past 2 decades, the mission of the IRS had expanded severalfold (in part because the GOP disguises all of its welfare programs as tax programs and makes the IRS administer them) while the workforce has been shrunk. Even that noted bastion of left-wing rhetoric, the Government Accountability Office, has opined that investing in IRS tax enforcement would repay the public at something between 8:1 and 20:1. But of course that’s the last thing the GOP wants; they are if nothing else the party of transferring wealth from the general public to the already-rich.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: @CSK: Yeah. I understood it just fine, too.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @sam: “This candy was made by Hoffman and Company, located in the Chicago area. While they originated here, they actually didn’t remain with that company for long. M.J. Holloway & Company took over Hoffman and Company in 1928 and at that time, they also took over the production of Milk Duds.”