Saturday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Star Inn at Vogue, named for the hamlet in which it is situated, has received a message from the magazine’s owner asking for the change because, it says, a link between the two businesses “is likely to be inferred”.

    In a cease-and-desist letter, Condé Nast’s chief operating officer, Sabine Vandenbroucke, argued that the company was the proprietor of the Vogue mark, not only for the magazine first published in 1916 but for “other goods and services offered to the public by our company”.

    At first the pub’s landlords, Rachel and Mark Graham, were surprised. But it did not take long for their shock to dissolve to humour. “If someone had obviously taken the time to look us up, it wouldn’t have taken five minutes to say: ‘Oh, there’s a place called Vogue,’” said Rachel, 49, who is not a reader of the magazine.
    The Star Inn has been in the small village of Vogue, near St Day, for hundreds of years, Mark wrote in response – in which his answer to the request was a “categorical no”.

    The magazine’s letter was “hilariously funny”, he wrote. He believes it was sent in confusion after the couple changed their trading status to a limited company. He added: “I presume that at the time when you chose the name Vogue in the capitalised version you didn’t seek permission from the villagers of the real Vogue. I also presume that Madonna did not seek your permission to use the word Vogue (again the capitalised version) for her 1990s song of the same name.”

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The announcement left analysts and observers scratching their heads, prompting some to ask if the eccentric billionaire was trying to exit the deal or renegotiate it. Musk and Twitter have signed an agreement that includes a $1bn break fee payable by the Tesla CEO if he walks away, although it also includes a “specific performance clause” that a judge can cite to force Musk to complete the deal at the agreed price of $54.20 per share.

    “I suspect he wants to use the threat (legally weak) that the disclosure about bots on the platform results in a failure of a Twitter representation (it doesn’t) and then push for a renegotiation,” said Brian Quinn, an associate professor at Boston College Law School. “That’s hardly an original thought and this is not an uncommon strategy. If the Twitter board has a spine it will just say no and sit on its rights under the agreement.”

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    Meanwhile, the Tesla CEO has been looking for additional investors to support the deal, the Washington Post reported, as Tesla’s stock price has weakened. Musk’s Tesla stake is a key component in his financing of the deal, with fears that he will sell or pledge more of them contributing to pressure on the share price. Tesla shares have lost a quarter of their value in the last month, and have fallen from about $1,150 in early April when Musk confirmed he had taken a huge stake in Twitter, to $769.59 on Friday.

    That’s actually a drop in the share price of all but a third. Somebody at the Guardian doesn’t know how to use a calculator.

    Musk has already secured more than $7bn (£5.7bn) in outside funding from a group of investors that includes the tech tycoon Larry Ellison, a Saudi prince, the Qatar state investment fund and the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange. Musk’s net worth, estimated by Forbes earlier this week at $240 billion, was $232 billion as of Friday.

    And what has happened to cryptocurrencies of late? Oh yeah

    “We’d always said he may cut or run or change his tune at the 11th hour and 59 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock. It is farcical,” said Neil Campling, head of technology research at Mirabaud Equity Research. “He has never had the full funding. We know that from his constant attempts to get financial support, but he also held all the cards.”

    And what funding he had has been disappearing fast and furiously.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    American white nationalist Richard Spencer once declared Bitcoin as “the currency of the alt right.”

    But now, Bitcoin and just about every cryptocurrency are in full-on crisis mode, because the crypto market has lost roughly $1 trillion in value since November. And some folks on far-right online message boards aren’t taking it particularly well.

    Cryptocurrency has been a magnet for domestic extremists ever since payment processors like Stripe and PayPal scrambled to deplatform the far-right in the wake of the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. A recent investigation by Southern Poverty Law Center identified more than 600 crypto addresses with known white supremacists and far-right extremists, with an estimated value in the millions of dollars as Bitcoin’s price skyrocketed over the years.

    Now, the global meltdown in cryptocurrencies is creating anxiety, desperation, and frantic posts casting blame in online forums that cater especially to the extreme right.

    Awwww, Pobrecitos….

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When the soldiers of an elite Russian army brigade were told in early April to prepare for a second deployment to Ukraine, fear broke out among the ranks. The unit, stationed in Russia’s far east during peacetime, first entered Ukraine from Belarus when the war started at the end of February and saw bitter combat with Ukrainian forces.

    “It soon became clear that not everyone was onboard with it. Many of us simply did not want to go back,” said Dmitri, a member of the unit who asked not to be identified with his real name. “I want to return to my family – and not in a casket.”

    Along with eight others, Dmitri told his commanders that he refused to rejoin the invasion. “They were furious. But they eventually calmed down because there wasn’t much they could do,” he said.
    Dmitri’s refusal to fight highlights some of the military difficulties the Russian army has faced as a result of the Kremlin’s political decision not to formally declare war on Ukraine – preferring instead to describe the invasion, which will soon reach its fourth month, as a “special military operation”.

    Under Russian military rules, troops who refuse to fight in Ukraine can face dismissal but cannot be prosecuted, said Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer who has been advising soldiers who choose that option. Benyash said “hundreds and hundreds” of soldiers had been in touch with his team for advice on how they could avoid being sent to fight. Among them were 12 national guardsmen from Russia’s southern city of Krasnodar who were fired after refusing to go to Ukraine.


    Moscow initially put about 80% of its main ground combat forces – 150,000 men – into the war in February, according to western officials. But significant damage has been done to that army, which has confronted logistical problems, poor morale and an underestimated Ukrainian resistance.

    “Putin needs to make a decision regarding mobilisation in the coming weeks,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst. “Russia lacks sufficient ground units with contract soldiers for a sustainable rotation. The troops are getting exhausted – they won’t be able to keep this up for a long period.”

    Vlad really screwed the pooch this time.

  5. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Back in 2014 I found the cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which started out as a joke but gained a substantial following. Back then it was very easy to “mine,” as in it didn’t require a lot of processor resources like Bitcoin does. At the time, Microsoft was offering a free month on its then-new Azure cloud computing platform, so I signed up, spun up a bunch of Linux virtual machines, installed the Dogecoin miner, and let them run for a month. I ended up with about 20K Dogecoins. Until recently they were worth minor fractions of a penny, but last year they hit 70 cents each. Unfortunately I missed that window but I did sell a sizable chunk of mine shortly after. Made about $3K which is pretty good for something I got essentially for free.

    But I’d never have been so stupid as to put my life savings into cryptocurrency, or even consider it an “investment.” It’s basically gambling. I just got lucky.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: They always sounded to tech bro for me. By that I mean, “the latest technological gimmick that will be the hottest thing since…” I am one who, when he sees the bandwagon coming gets the hell out of the way lest it run me over. Sure, I’ve passed up several easy fortunes, but I also was never caught holding the bag whenever the scheme inevitably collapsed.

    It’s all in the timing and my timing has always sucked.

  7. Slugger says:

    For a long time my understanding of economics was stuck at the econ 101 stage where prices are set in open markets. Open markets mean a large number of sellers interacting with a large number of buyers, and the transaction of buyer A and seller B are immediately transparent to all. But that is not the way the world acts. A Warhol image of Marilyn Monroe recently sold for $195 million. The number of potential buyers and sellers of such commodities are very small. Similarly, Bitcoin ownership is actually very concentrated with 0.5% of bitcoin wallets holding 87% of Bitcoins. Musk holds 17% of Tesla stock. Rather than the open market of beginning econ class these concentrations lead to high prices and high volatility. Now the price of Warhols has little impact on you and me, but the price of other commodities does. We have been told that prices are the impersonal workings of scientific laws of the market. I’m starting to think that that’s not a truth. Maybe great wealth leads to great concentration of ownership that leads to further great wealth in a positive feedback loop.

  8. VOR08 says:


    Maybe great wealth leads to great concentration of ownership that leads to further great wealth in a positive feedback loop.

    And manipulation of the political system. Picketty points out that the last cycle of capital accumulation furthering greater capital accumulation, the Gilded Age, was broken by two World Wars and the Great Depression. I hate to contemplate what might break this cycle.

  9. gVOR08 says:


    Maybe great wealth leads to great concentration of ownership that leads to further great wealth in a positive feedback loop.

    And manipulation of the political system to further greater concentration.

    The Gilded Age was the result of such a wave of capital accumulation breeding even greater accumulation. Piketty shows it ended with two World Wars and the Great Depression. I shudder to think how this wave will end.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    Jimmy Kimmel did a “man in the streets” thing where they stopped people and quizzed them to see if they knew more about Star Wars than about US history. One guy, seemingly perfectly normal, couldn’t name the current President.

    Any theory of why one party or the other is up or down and involves words like “policy” or requires outrage over something a Speaker or Minority Leader said is just based on faulty assumptions about the electorate. Most people would have no clue about the things we regularly discuss here.

  11. CSK says:

    I get as many laughs as does anyone else from those man-in-the-street interviews, but you know they only choose the most moronic responses to broadcast.

    I do agree that most people aren’t as knowledgeable as the typical OTB commenter.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: (SHHHHH!!! Keep your voice down! Vlad’s undergoing cancer treatment right now. He’s very sick and if you don’t keep your voice low, he only going to get worse and recover more slowly.)

  13. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    According to the NYPost, body doubles will replace Putin while he’s undergoing surgery.

  14. JohnSF says:

    Summer time is definitely here!
    First evening I’ve sat outside and seen the swallows and martins swooping aroun.
    (Do you have swallows/swifts/martins in the States? I’d never thought about that before; are they just a European thing?)

    Also, my bearded iris are looking really good this year.
    Yay me!

  15. JohnSF says:

    Just googled; yep you get swallows. 🙂
    Love watching them fly.
    Such amazing aerobatics.

  16. CSK says:

    Martins and swifts as well.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:


    But the scary thing is not that they are less informed than the typical OTB reader, but they are less informed than Drew, JKB and the other trumpists that will hit an run here.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    Iris are a few weeks away at my place. the daffodils have faded and the tulips are just budding, one open. The Azalea is in bloom, and the rhododendron will next week. Though the deer stripped the leaves off one and it won’t comeback.

    Lovely day here today and Thursday was nice as well. Burgers on the grill this evening.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: If I were Putin’s body double, I would simply seize power while he is in surgery.

  20. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Do you remember Sarah Palin’s Flying Monkeys, who’d swoop in here to avenge their goddess every time they felt we were maligning her?
    That depends on who’s running the body double, I suppose.

  21. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Tulips are over here; rhododenderonderonrons 🙂 about at best now.
    Grilled lamb koftes, pita bread, salad and a bottle of Rasteau for me!

  22. JohnSF says:


    …seize power…

    And get stuck with the shitty end of the stick?
    Nope, loot the treasury of diamonds, gold coins and bearer bonds, and have it away on your toes to Paraguay.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:


    The Flying Monkees were before my time here at OTB. Palin had moved on to being an embarrassment to even her most devoted supporters.

  24. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I think once Trump appeared on the scene, they gave their hearts to him. Although a few of them seem to have revived their interest in her now that she’s allegedly running to replace Don Young in the House.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: One thing about running for the House is that the term is short enough that she won’t be likely to get beaten down by her political opponents so soon that she has to quit mid-term. They might beat her down enough so that she’ll be unable to take the strain of running for reelection, though.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    People kill people with guns in this country because they can.

  27. Gustopher says:

    Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted about Democrats being “pedo grifters.”

    I think we need to have hearings on the globalist pedophile ring, subpoena her, and then when she refuses to show up start running ads in her district that she is protecting pedophiles.

    (Alternately, can we take up a collection and get her a house two doors down from Rand Paul?)

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: ….shall I talk to you about the dive-bombing by swallows of anyone who stepped into the front yard…?

  29. Mikey says:

    For those who haven’t seen the news, today in Buffalo a white supremacist whose online-published manifesto reads like the script of a Tucker Carlson episode wrote the N-word on his rifle and took it to a grocery store to kill black Americans, of whom he killed eight.

  30. Mikey says:

    Live Updates: Gunman Kills 10 at Buffalo Supermarket in Racially Motivated Attack

    A heavily armed 18-year-old white man opened fire at a supermarket in a largely Black section of Buffalo, killing 10 people and injuring three more, the authorities said, in a racist attack that turned a sunny Saturday into one of the darkest days in the city’s history.

    The suspect was identified in court as Payton S. Gendron. He pleaded not guilty Saturday evening to first-degree murder, a charge that could lead to life imprisonment without parole.

    Mr. Gendron was armed with an assault weapon and wore body armor, the police said, and he had a video camera affixed to his helmet that streamed the shooting live online.

    The attack appeared to have been inspired by earlier massacres that were motivated by racial hatred, including a mosque shooting in New Zealand and another at a Walmart in Texas, both in 2019.

    A law enforcement official said investigators were reviewing a manifesto believed to have been posted online by Mr. Gendron. It was riddled with racist, anti-immigrant views that claimed white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color, an ideology known as the “great replacement” theory. In video and images of the massacre that appeared to have been captured by the camera affixed to his helmet, an anti-Black racial slur can be seen on the barrel of his weapon.

    Eleven of the people shot were Black and two were white, the authorities said.

  31. Pete S says:

    And he gets arrested with a gun in his hand. By the same cops who assaulted BLM protestors.

  32. Gustopher says:

    @Mikey: He’s from Conklin, so he likely drove for four hours just to kill Black people.

    (Early reports are that he picked a location with the most Blacks in the state, and I’m left wondering why Harlem was spared. We’re probably going to discover some stupid reason, like visiting Niagara Falls, or not wanting to deal with NYC traffic…)

    I hope he lives a long and empty life behind bars.

  33. inhumans99 says:

    McConnell and some other GOP Senators visited Ukraine. Maybe this will open their eyes a bit to the carnage they helped Russia undertake by letting Trump straight up kiss Putin’s rear end for years with no pushback from the GOP.

  34. Jax says:

    @inhumans99: That would require empathy and some level of self-awareness, both of which are in short supply for way too many people in this country, and particularly on the part of our GOP Congress-Critters.