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 water in the Mississippi River has dropped so low that barges are getting stuck, leading to expensive dredging and at least one recent traffic jam of more than 2,000 vessels backed up.

    The Mississippi River Basin produces nearly all – 92% – of US agricultural exports, and 78% of the global exports of feed grains and soybeans. The recent drought has dropped water levels to alarmingly low levels that are causing shipping delays, and seeing the costs of alternative transport, such as rail, rise.
    Last Friday, the US Coast Guard said that there was a backup of more than 2,000 barges at various points, Bloomberg reported. The halted barges were carrying recently harvested corn and soybeans.
    “When the water gets low enough, commerce starts to slow – commerce is restricted, and it turns into an extremely difficult environment to operate,” Austin Golding, president of Golding Barge Line, told WAPT-TV. “This will actually affect us in a very negative way. We have to have less cargo on our barges and less tonnage moving. It affects our revenues.”

    He said shippers had been forced to limit the amount of cargo – including grain, oil and rocks – that their barges can carry in order to safely move across the low water levels. “We need the barges fully loaded and our tows pushing as many barges as possible to be as economically viable as possible,” said Golding.

    Barges have long been considered a sustainable and cost-effective alternative for shippers. A single hopper barge can haul as much dry cargo as 16 rail cars or 70 trucks, according to the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association: a 15-barge tow keeps 1,050 trucks off the highway.

    Moreover, a barge can move one ton of freight 29% further than a rail car, and four times further than a truck. Rail generates 39% more carbon dioxide than barge travel for the same amount of cargo; for trucks the figure is 371%.

    This is a really bad time of year for a drought. All that grain is piling up in silos and when they run out of room…

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Floriduh: Florida Dads Accused Of Shooting Each Other’s Daughters In Road Rage Incident

    Nothing funny about this. Pure luck that both girls will survive. With any luck neither will ever have to deal with their violence prone fathers again. Maybe someday, Republicans will recognize that it isn’t a good idea to let any yahoo who feels like it, carry a gun.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    MacArthur Foundation

    Meet the 2022 MacArthur Fellows: 25 exceptionally creative people who push the boundaries of their fields and challenge us to imagine new possibilities. #MacFellow.

    Who inspires you?

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I read this headline, If Liz Truss is ousted, who could replace her as prime minister? and my first thought was, “Damned near anybody.” because her Wins Above Replacement value is well into negative territory. But then I realized they were talking about those folks already in line and realized their WARs are also in negative territory and thought, “You guys are so f’d…”

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From How ‘knives of the long night’ led to brutally swift Kwarteng sacking, this is pretty brutal:

    At a dinner of veteran Tory MPs on Tuesday, several discussed whether they might be better off standing down early – even if it meant the party facing several difficult byelections – rather than staying put and ending up out of a job. “After the 1997 election nobody wanted to employ a former Tory MP,” one present said. “It will be the same this time round, so people are thinking about getting out early while they still have some currency.”

    Rats… Ships… Pretty well sums it up.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Steven Taylor bait:

    Brian Klaas

    Oct 14
    I know this sounds strange but this is a really positive sign for British democracy. Polarization is so toxic in the US that Trump could never dip below around 35%, no matter what he did. The fact Truss can plummet to 16% for far less egregious incompetence is a healthy sign.

    Tom Lubbock
    Oct 14

    Liz Truss has the lowest level of satisfaction with the public *ever recorded* for a British Prime Minister with @IpsosUK

    16% satisfied
    67% dissatisfied

    (John Major briefly dipped to 17% in August 1994)

  7. Liberal Capitalist says:


    All that grain is piling up in silos and when they run out of room…

    Same thing that made beef prices go up. Droughts caused less feed in the fields and drove up feed prices. Ranchers tried to sell their cattle to be processed but slaughterhouses were processing less due to covid.

    Double-edged sword – Since they couldn’t feed them or sell them, they had to cull them. And of course, that meant less money for ranchers… while at the same time less beef being processed meant that butchered beef for sale in stores went up due to scarcity. (And then up again with companies raising their prices to make record profits).

    The visual of trying to suck an elephant through a straw probably works best: too much on one end and nothin’ gettin’ through the other.

    But of course, it’s all Biden’s fault.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: But of course, it’s all Biden’s fault.


  9. JohnMc says:

    Catching up… DW reports no particular progress on sabotage case that interrupted railroad traffic in Germany a week ago. The Federal police have taken over the investigation. We’re assured there’s no proof of foreign govt involved.

    And Norwegian police arrested a Rus national who was flying a drone over their refinery infrastructure.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Maybe someday, Republicans will recognize that it isn’t a good idea to let any yahoo who feels like it, carry a gun.

    I don’t think Republicans will ever get past the “that would mean that I might not be able to carry a gun wherever I want” part of the equation to see the benefit to society. (Which, of course, is composed of people who are NOT THEM and, therefore, unimportant to begin with.)

    ETA: Not to mention what portion of the Republican cohort overlaps the “any yahoo who feels like it” cohort on the Venn diagram for the question. 🙁

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: No. It’s also the fault of lefty progs who prefer perfect failure to imperfect success. If people would simply admit that packing plants coming out healthier economically is all that really matters, the world would be paradise.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “The fact Truss can plummet to 16% for far less egregious incompetence is a healthy sign.”
    Well, when you look at it from that perspective…

    …nah, it’s still terrible (or I’m a lefty prog preferring perfect failure to imperfect success).

  13. JohnSF says:

    On Conservative leadership candidates:
    Wallace might be trustworthy, but he doesn’t want the job.
    He’s said himself, I think, that public speaking and multi-tasking aren’t his thing.
    He could be suited to being an “caretaker” PM pending an early election.

    Mordaunt wants the job, and isn’t a fool; but another untested leader?

    Gove could do it, certainly got the brains and determination, and other skills.
    But nobody trusts or likes that little weasel.

    Sunak might be best to placate the markets; but the remnant Johnsonites and most of Truss supporters hate him with a passion.

    Jeremy Hunt, just appointed Chancellor, is another possibility.
    Does he have the MP support?
    Tom Tugendhat is another possible.

    Problem is, a lot of the best potential leaders were purged by Johnson: Rory Stewart, Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, David Gauke.

    The second issue is, it MUST be a fait accompli; they absolutely have to bypass the idiots and the senile among the Party membership, who have a horrible habit of going for the worst candidate available.
    If Johnson ran he’d stand a fair chance of being elected by the membership; or some other crazy like ERG leader Steve Baker.
    So the 1922 committee will need to scrap the rules, and have MP’s elect.
    But then, might the ERG in turn revolt, and try to seize control of Central Office and/or run an “unofficial” membership election?

    Oh lord, it’s just such a bloody mess.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You quote Ozark,

    Maybe someday, Republicans will recognize that it isn’t a good idea to let any yahoo who feels like it, carry a gun.

    What Republicans want is for any white yahoo to be able to carry a gun and Black people to be prohibited. And they really hate that they can’t say that out loud. But they’re getting closer.

  15. JohnMc says:

    There was some chat about winter weather in Ukraine yesterday. Was reminded of that when I saw 2 items this morning: Russians estimate repair of Kerch bridge as July ’23. And the ferry has been stopped by storms until possibly Tueday.

    Must really suck to be a Rus grunt.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: Oh lord, it’s just such a bloody mess.

    To repeat myself, “You guys are so f’d…” Seriously, you have my sympathies.

  17. CSK says:

    Everything seems to be going to hell. It’s so depressing.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: There is always hope, tho sometimes it is admittedly hard to see.

  19. charon says:

    Yesterday’s relevant thread being dead, I post this here:

    Analysis of war to date:

    Found via this recommendation:

    My friend, Australian MG (ret) Mick Ryan (
    ), has written a magnificent article on those leading Ukraine’s Army.

    Highly recommend it!

    Hoping Mick won’t mind, but I’d like to add some thoughts (& 1 critique). 1/14

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: I don’t see your reflection as a great departure from my original statement, but you really needed a CRT Trigger Warning for it. I was trying to avoid needing one.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: Thanx.

  22. Mimai says:
  23. Gustopher says:


    Polarization is so toxic in the US that Trump could never dip below around 35%, no matter what he did. The fact Truss can plummet to 16% for far less egregious incompetence is a healthy sign.

    Alternately, Truss is a woman.

    (And John Major was John Major, a man who inspired nothing in nobody, and whose own parents were probably in the nursery saying “there’s nothing objectively wrong with this one, but are you sure you haven’t swapped babies by accident somewhere?”)

  24. JohnSF says:

    The best way out I can see is for a majority of the Conservative MP’s (the ones who backed Mordaunt and Sunak) to come together and put up an agreed candidate, and strong-arm the 1922 committee into a rules change to forestall the membership putting a monkey-wrench in the works.

    If the ERG cut up rough, they need to be prepared to say: refuse this, we VONC and be damned to you. That is, join with Labour to vote down the government and force an election.

    There are at least some saying that if the ERG are determined to play Russian roulette, may as well pull the trigger on them first.
    A lot are liable to lose seats, but some are likely calculating it would be better to go now than try to fight through to late 2024.

  25. JohnSF says:

    In other news, after threatening to pull Starlink support from Ukraine, Elon Musk reverses.
    I wonder if the good old Deep State had a quiet word in his earhole?

  26. dazedandconfused says:

    @JohnSF: @JohnSF: \

    Unlikely. What would they say? Elon probably got scared by the hysteria of the public flak. He is ultimately a car salesman.

    He should’ve stuck to his guns IMO. If the good people at Raytheon and BAE are getting paid, why not him?

  27. JohnSF says:

    Tesla is the beneficiary of a lot of subsidies in Europe.
    Those subsidies could suddenly find themselves subject to the unpleasant attentions of investigating committees and the legal actions of investigating magistrates…

    Whereas a co-operative attitude enables the deployment of the words force majeure to ones debt holders.

    Swings and roundabouts.

  28. JohnSF says:

    Speaking of governmental strong-arming and recalling the recent article on Escalating the China Trade War this twitter thread by Jordan Schneider may be of interest.

    The US government’s new export controls are wreaking havoc on China’s chip industry.
    New rules around “US persons” are driving an “industry-wide decapitation.”

    Also reminds me why I get driven into fuming rage at the mention of ARM and other UK processor firms, and the blithering imbecility of UK govt. policy over the past decade.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jackson’s analysis is not new. Voting rights advocates have been making similar arguments for years. But rarely — if ever — has a member of the court so authoritatively and definitively used the relevant legislative and constitutional history to demolish the “colorblind” charade. And doing so with a purely originalist interpretation made it much more powerful.

    No wonder Republicans were so desperate to keep her off the court. To the dismay of the senators who sneered at her qualifications (insisting that President Biden’s decision to limit potential nominees to Black women meant he would select someone of lesser quality), she demonstrated that she not only deserves to be there but that there is no better judge out there who can stand up to Republicans as they try to systematically dismantle civil rights.

    HarvardLaw is proud. (hat tip to you HL)

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Good points

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Having listened to her arguments a 3rd of 4th time, I can only say I have a new hero.

  32. JohnSF says:


    Truss is a woman

    So was Margaret Thatcher; and Theresa May.
    And, for other female politicians, Anna Soubry, Angela Rayner.
    Misogyny IMHO is not a major factor in UK politics these days.
    Don’t misunderstand me: it’s still there; but Conservative focus group indications are that being female actually advantaged Truss and Mordaunt vs male competitors.
    (Not seen indicators re. Lab. voter opinions re. Cons or intra-party)

    Also: I liked John Major; he was a genuinely decent man IMO.
    Bit of a political klutz, but there you go.
    Tormented endlessly by the euro-sceptics and ultra-Thatcherites.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    There is no joy in Jet City. The Mighty Mariners have struck out.
    Houston Astros Jeremy Peña’s solo home run in the top of the 18th inning held up as the only score of the game. The 6 hour 22 minute contest sends Dusty Baker’s Astros to the American League Championship Series versus either the Cleveland Roller Derby Devils or the New York Damn Yankees and the Mariners get to take long showers to hide their bitter tears.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF: I think misogyny can make a difference between levels of unpopularity, even when it is tamped down enough to not be that obvious when things are going ok.

    A US example, as I really only know US examples — Matt Gaetz and Louis Gohmert vs Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert… all four are pretty equally vile, but the progressive, woke left just zeroes in on the lady folk.

    Maybe the Brits are better. I wouldn’t count on it.

    (And Gaetz goes on tour and holds events with MTG — there is no policy or delusion difference between the two)

  35. dazedandconfused says:


    Isn’t that essentially “Because he can be blackmailed.”? If so the same would apply to BAE.

    I rather doubt his figure of $20 mil, seems like a figure he yanked from his tail-pipe on the spur of the moment, but all but certainly his nerds have been engaged with their Russian counterparts in a war to jamb and disrupt the service. It has cost him something. Staffing, overtime, et al.

  36. JohnSF says:

    “Blackmail is such an ugly word.”
    But yes, that’s exactly what it is.
    Get crosswise of raison d’etat and you can find yourself in world of hurt.
    If he shuts up and plays nice, he’ll get the money, and a likely a consideration on top.
    If not, not.
    (This is separate from what may also be happening in the US: there are some reports Pentagon is prepared to cough up)

    And yes, the same applies to BAE or any corporation.
    You don’t go freelance jamming your snoot into matters of state unless you want it punched.

  37. dazedandconfused says:


    He did it for free, and now you insist he must continue to do it for free…or else. A classic case of no good deed goes unpunished. He merely made a comment on twitter. Even the Ukrainian defense minister stated that people should lay off the guy, what he provided had been key.

    The thought police can get out of hand in wartime. I recall reading about the folks that ran around killing Dachshunds in WW1 because they were “German” dogs.

    Who exactly is going to pay him if he keeps his mouth shut and continues donate the service?

  38. JohnSF says:


    …now you insist he must continue to do it for free…

    I don’t insist on anything.
    It’s a question of “is” not “ought”.
    As to getting paid, some quiet negotiations with the Pentagon, White House and Congress in the US, and with the EU Commission, might have been the best course. And probably will still produce results, in time.

    And he didn’t merely make a remark on twitter; there are strong indications he’d been in contact with Russian govt. representatives, and after being told his contributions were unwelcome then threated to pull the plug on Starlink.
    Which unfortunately seems to have accidentally coincided with a service outage.

    The closest parallel here to the story of the unfortunate dachshunds is Musk’s tendency to yap like one.
    He’s done so in the past and gotten away with it; but this time his yapping annoyed people capable of biting back hard.

  39. dazedandconfused says:


    So Musk can provide a critical service out of his own pocket, but must not say things which offend anyone?

    When hunting monsters it’s important to remember not to become one yourself.

  40. JohnSF says:

    Offending anyone is one thing; for my part, Musk is free to speak as he will.
    And also, it is not unfair that Starlink should be paid for the use of it’s resources; indeed it has already received some payments.
    But it is very, very unwise to not just comment, but attempt to meddle in the vital interests of states, be you a billionaire or no.
    And I say again, the wording and circumstances of his interventions, and the reporting of several others, clearly indicate at direct contact with Kremlin representatives.

    If Musk had remained a “back channel” and conveyed such things to governments in private, all well and good.
    To embark on an overt PR campaign in favour of a diplomatic position is another.
    It is unwarranted, unacceptable, and as I suspect Mr Musk has found out, to his surprise, something with a possible unpleasant consequences.
    Musk went beyond “saying things that offend”.

    And a state is always a monster, when provoked.
    Even the US government, which is unusually bound by laws and courts, can have a nasty side.
    Countries where raison d’etat is still an element of the state tradition even more so.

    This may be unfortunate; but it is fact of life.

  41. dazedandconfused says:


    Agree that Musk was naive to make that comment publicly.

    It would be plain to most people not afflicted with Musk’s brand of Aspergers that it would cause rage in the minds of those who are afraid Ukraine might accept it. As I would welcome any agreement the Russians and Ukrainians might reach that stops the killing, it didn’t bother me in the least.

  42. JohnSF says:

    It caused particular annoyance among Ukrainians.
    One thing that scares them is the prospect of getting stabbed in the back by west Europeans and/or MAGA and pressed to “make peace” on Russian terms by a funding and arms cut-off.

    Their key supporters in the West are also aware that some Russian social media channels are also putting out a steady drumbeat of “Ukraine must be urged to make peace; we must end arms supplies” propaganda.

    As with some previous wars (American Civil and “Copperheads”; Spanish Civil; etc) not all of the “advocates of peace” are quite as benign as might be hoped.
    That is where Musk was very naive.
    And some naivete is so otiose and wilful as to almost merit punishment in itself