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. Kathy says:

    More from the file of when bad things happen to awful people, an explosion took out a bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea.

    The Kremlin claims a truck bomb, Ukraine hasn’t claimed responsibility. As in previous occasions, this is good if Ukraine did it, and even better if they did not.

    Maybe Benito can hold infrastructure week in Moscow now? He would get his Cheeto tower there now if he fixed the bridge, he fixes the best bridges manypeoplesaythat, in a decade or seven.

  2. Scott says:

    @Kathy: I was wondering when this would happen. This is a Crimea weak link. Ukraine is not fooling around about reclaiming Crimea.

  3. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: This is probably not the birthday present that Uncle Vladimir was hoping for.

    There is non-Russian (more credible, likely) reporting that it was an explosion on the rail portion of the bridge. This seems more likely to me than Ukrainian suicide bombers with trucks.

    Russia’s Investigative Committee, a top law enforcement body, said a truck explosion had ignited fuel tankers as a freight train crossed the bridge. The cause of the truck blast was not immediately clear.

    So, an exploding truck, timed for the exact moment when the fuel tankers of an entirely separate train happened to be passing? I guess it is possible, but it seems unlikely. Don’t worry, Putin has appointed a commission to get to the bottom of it.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Ben Sasse was a topic yesterday, here’s Charlie Sykes take.

    This, of course, has lead to a a lot of what coulda been post-mortems on Sasse’s senate career. Sasse was one of the brightest and most interesting members of the house formerly known as the world’s Greatest Deliberative Body. Early on, Sasse was a vocal critic of Donald Trump and all his works, and for while, it looked like the former college president with a keen sense of history and constitutional principles might emerge as the conscience of the senate GOP. He was a rising star who could have been a leader of post-Trumpian conservativism.

    But he made his choices.

    The author of The Vanishing American Adult… vanished, but not before he bent the knee to Trump. The man who was once the Great Never-Trump Hope, became just another apologist for Trumpism. (You can read my lament for his squandered potential here.)


    More to the point: he’s headed to the state’s flagship university, which is, at the moment, ground-zero for an epic and protracted fight over academic freedom.

    So, Sasse faces an immediate test: Will he push back against Governor Ron DeSantis’ attempts to throttle speech on the campus, or will he roll over (again)?

    Sykes leans that he’ll roll over.

    Amanda Carpenter’s take:

    Amanda Carpenter
    Ben Sasse is pursuing an opportunity in higher education? He’s perfect for that. That’s where people think about doing things, but never do.

    Now that’s a show of confidence.

  5. Kathy says:


    This is what I mean it’s even better if Ukraine didn’t do it.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: I believe much of the supply to the Russian forces in Kherson crosses that bridge.

  7. Gustopher says:

    I appear to have the flu. It’s a flu-like illness that is getting more and more flu-like.

    (I test negative for covid on home tests, and while I got the flu vaccine… it was so recent it may not have been fully effective, if the flu vaccine is even a good match this year.)

    It has been so long since I have been sick that I am being an absolutely dramatic whining baby, but I don’t live with anyone to whine at dramatically and performatively suffer in front of. It’s hell.

    Pray for me.

    (Seriously, I smash a toe so badly it’s one giant bruise that causes terrible pain when walking for most of the summer (oh, blood thinners… bruises do not like to heal), and it’s a nuisance. But a medium fever? The world is so unfair.)

  8. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I’m sure the really improbable story is because they don’t want to admit someone has infiltrated the rail yards and put a bomb on the fuel cars, and paint the Ukrainians as crazy suicide bombers…

    …but, I wonder how many people in Crimea are recent Russian settlers who might prefer to flee if the war gets too close rather than fight to the death for their … property values? If it is repaired in three days, with lots of new restrictions on travel, I’ll be more suspicious.

  9. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: I hope you feel better soon!

  10. Gavin says:

    This post is your daily reminder that the word “woke” is simply a shortened form of “something I don’t like.”

    Trump will purge the National Archives if re-elected

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Speaking of which… got my Moderna Bivalent shot this week.

    According to the press, most folks in the US do not seem to be getting the shot, which will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths.

    Seems that feeling a bit like crap for a few days is a fair trade-off for not dying… but what do I know, eh?

    Holding off on the flu shot for another week or two.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’ve heard of snakes on a plane but this is ridiculous.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: FWIW, I’m getting mine next week at my company’s annual flu shot drive. I suspect that a fair number will do the same

  14. CSK says:


    Gives new meaning to the phrase “one-eyed trouser snake.”

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Heh.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    I suppose it’s paywalled, but there is a must read column at NYT. As students at Harvard Law, Obama and economist Robert Fisher wrote a draft for a book about politics, Transformative Politics. It went unpublished and barely known. But a historian got ahold of a copy. The column is his very brief take on the long draft. It doesn’t say if anyone is going to make the draft available. He shows only the first page in the column. It’s impressive, thoughtful and incisive. From the column,

    Rebuilding the March on Washington coalition (a concept lifted from Bayard Rustin) requires an all-out war against polarization. That larger project begins with a simple message: Democrats exist because the country belongs to all of us, not just the 1 percent. With this guiding principle in mind, everything else becomes easier — picking fights that focus the media spotlight on a game that’s rigged in favor of the rich; calling the bluff of right-wing populists who can’t stomach a capital-gains-tax hike; corralling activists in support of the needs of working people; and, ultimately, putting power back in the hands of ordinary Americans.

  17. JohnSF says:

    Some social media reports indicating something approaching a full-on popular uprisings in some Iranian cities.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I find myself disagreeing with Sykes on

    [Sasse] was a rising star who could have been a leader of post-Trumpian conservativism.

    The problem with Sasse being a rising star in post-Trumpian conservatism, in my view, is that conservatism, Trumpian or otherwise, is in an entropy spiral. Whatever conservatism follows the current variety will be worse than this is. We need only look to the UK and Trussian conservatism to see that the decay is not limited to the US.

    On the other side, selling out for the money may well make him a future conservative role model, so maybe Sykes merely misstated his proposition. But for the role of future leader of the post-Trumpian conservative decline into further chaos, Sasse looks to have made the right move.

  19. Gavin says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    In a result you’d never expect, Republicans die due to Covid at a significantly higher rate than Democrats. Not just news article — the peer-reviewed paper is linked within.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I suppose post-Trump conservatism is just the latest attempt at imagining a “decent conservatism” movement that champions small “c” conservative principles but also attempts to achieve social justice and improve the living conditions of all. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism, comes to mind. You would think that if anyone was cheering this on, it would be me. After all I think that conservative principles are important and should be weighed. Even when a more liberal path is chosen it should be scouted with a conservative lens. “Have we really considered all the side effects of the changes we are going to make? Who else will it affect and how? Who will maintain it?”

    But over the years I’ve concluded that a “decent conservatism” movement of any size or influence is an impossibility. Not because conservative principles are at odds with it (they most certainly aren’t) but because it inevitably becomes a tool of the powerful. “Be skeptical of changing too fast” is all too easily changed to “Worship the status quo and those who benefit most from it”. The Federalist Society, the various libertarian think tanks, the conservative speakers circuit, all are funded by powerful billionaires with an agenda of personal benefit.

    And no, there is no liberal equivalent. Liberals are primarily trying to benefit those with less power. One billionaire can exert a lot of focused force. A million people making minimum wage simply cannot compete in that arena.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I would describe it as a system that has always been intended as a tool of the powerful, with the difference in the US being that there was more opportunity for social mobility that would make some individual “one of the powerful.” As conservatism has moved to zero-sum economic models (including some moderate to liberal pronouncements that the American dream represented by life in the 50s is simply no longer available to most people), the system here has gravitated back to its roots. And back to notions of hoarding of power in the hands of the “deserving.”

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  23. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “Any comment from the OtB literati about the selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature?”

    I don’t know if I count among that elite group, but I had never heard of her. Which is really not that rare an occurrence for me with Nobel Lit Prize winners. I had heard of that Bob Dylan guy, though.

  24. CSK says:

    I’d never heard of her, either.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @wr: Obligatory

    He’s so unhip that when you say Dylan
    He thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas
    Whoever he was
    The man ain’t got no culture

  26. Liberal Capitalist says:


    In a result you’d never expect, Republicans die due to Covid at a significantly higher rate than Democrats. Not just news article — the peer-reviewed paper is linked within.

    Yes. I heard that earlier this week. I like the way that they quantified “excess deaths”.

    However, I take umbrage with the “In a result you’d never expect” part. Anyone with an education and an understanding of the germ theory of disease knew that this would be the outcome once Blue took shots and Red did not.

    On the other hand “In a result that they never would believe” would summarize how the majority of GOP will see that report right now, and how they will be shocked, shocked (!) that more of them will die this winter.

    Clearly not a report or statistics that will get onto Fox.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    The Cleveland Guardians scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the 15th inning at home against the Tampa Bay Rays winning the best of 3 Wild Card series. Guardians will face the New York Yankees in the 5 game American League Division series.
    The Saint Louis Cardinals squandered home field advantage by losing to the Phillies last night. They now have their red tail feathers against the wall tonight in Saint Louis. Even if they win tonight the Cardinals will have to fly to Philadelphia to win a game on the road or fly south for the winter.

  28. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I believe @Gavin was being sarcastic.

    Still, plenty in the GQP might think only like five people have died of COVID, and the rest are inflated stats to make one Cheeto look bad (as though eh needed help in that regard). Remember a bunch who said they were infected with anthrax?

    Given the pandemic fatigue and people abandoning masking and other sensible measures, the biggest differentiator now must be vaccines. Even without boosters, one is better protected with them. Those who choose not to take them are at much higher risk of a euphemistic “worse outcome.”

  29. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The Cleveland Guardians…”

    Still sounds like a Rollerball team name. I can see James Cann skating for them. 🙂

  30. JohnSF says:

    Personally, I always thought Dylan Thomas was miles better than the nasal whiner.
    He should have realised his true role was as lyricist for the Byrds and Jimi Hendrix.

    Actually I do like a lot of Bob Dylan’s stuff, but can never resist the temptation to troll Dylan fans. Because Thomas WAS a better poet, and that’s that.
    (Goes burrowing for D. Thomas Complete Works; it’s here somewhere, dammit.)

  31. Kathy says:

    Speaking of COVID, I just got back from a spreader event, a civil wedding ceremony. There was one person masked, namely me.

    I got to argue with a relative who claimed COVID isn’t spreading that much anymore, so precautions like masking are no longer necessary. I disagreed, and he asked how much longer I intended to mask. I replied until widespread contagion died down.

    “That won’t ever happen,” he said.

    “You just claimed it already had a second ago,” I replied.

    One can begin t see the problem.

    I would be delighted if there’s no huge surge this winter, but I’m not hopeful about that. In any case, I intend to keep masking until at least March, as flu will be active even if the trump virus isn’t.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: @wr: I’d never heard of her either, but I don’t do literature. I carry my Cultural Philistines membership card in my wallet all the time in case I need to clarify the issue.

    I stumbled across the article in yesterday’s TNR recap, so I thought I’d ask.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF: I may be feverish, but I like Dylan’s later work so much more than his earlier stuff.

    Love and Theft and Modern Times are two of my favorite albums. Even when not feverish!

    (And his more recent rock albums are fine. Tempest has a great long rambling song that summarizes the movie Titanic. That jazz album, on the other hand… no)