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. charontwo says:

    Trump says Putin “would have never gone into Ukraine” if he was still president, citing “my relationship with him” and because “I was the apple of his eye.”

  2. Tony W says:

    Down here in San Diego, we are battening down the hatches for an unwelcome visitor from the southwest.

    In America’s Finest City – home of America’s Best Weather we’re just not used to this.

    I might not be able to use the backyard pizza oven for a day or two. Pray for us.

  3. charontwo says:

    The point of this entire thread is that it’s not JUST that Ken Chesebro was present at the attack.

    It’s that HIS OWN ROLE had a tie to Alex Jones’ role, which was to bring bodies to former Alex Jones’ employee Joe Biggs and then move them where they were useful.

    The thread:

    Now that everyone’s talking about how Kenneth Chesebro, architect of Trump’s fake electors plot, was at the Capitol with Alex Jones on Jan 6, let’s think about how bad that is. Because Jones was used for a strategic purpose in the Capitol attack. And Chesebro was watching. 1/

  4. charontwo says:


    Former President Donald Trump’s tenure in office was marked by a distinct pivot in narratives. The 2016 election interference, an act attributed to Russia by global intelligence agencies, was redirected towards Ukraine. Conspiracy theories, including the baseless claim about a DNC server in Ukraine, gained traction. This shift in blame from Russia to Ukraine could arguably be seen as diluting the culpability of Russia, potentially giving Putin more room to maneuver.

    Russia’s Aggression Prior to Trump’s Era: Benefitting Trump
    In 2014, the world witnessed a defining moment in the post-Cold War era: Russia’s annexation of Crimea. This aggressive act, marking the first time since World War II that European borders were changed by force, sent shockwaves through the international community. According to The New York Review of Books, the annexation was not just a territorial ambition but underscored Russia’s intention to challenge the Western-dominated order.

    But Crimea was just one of several assertive moves by Russia. The nation, under Putin’s leadership, had long showcased a willingness to intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations, a trend that became even more evident as the 2016 U.S. Presidential election approached.

    Leading up to Trump’s inauguration, several reports emerged that suggested Russia’s potential interference in favor of Trump. As detailed by The Washington Post, narratives began to form about Russian-backed hacks, disinformation campaigns, and other covert operations aiming to influence the American electorate. The baseless theory about a DNC server being in Ukraine, as mentioned by the same publication, further muddied the waters. Such actions, whether directly or indirectly, seemed to benefit Trump, at least in the realm of public discourse and perception.

    Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin became a focal point of discussion. Reports, as highlighted by Business Insider, pointed towards potential financial transactions and undisclosed interactions between Trump’s campaign members and Russian operatives. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was known for his ties to pro-Russian factions in Ukraine, adding another layer to the intricate web of associations.

    Additionally, The New York Times underscored the broader implications of Russia’s actions, including their attempt to shift the narrative of the 2016 election interference from Russia to Ukraine. Such endeavors not only deflected attention but also served to create divisions within the U.S., potentially benefiting Trump and his electoral prospects.

    Even after Trump’s election victory, the conversation around Russia’s interference didn’t dissipate. Politico detailed the widespread promotion of unfounded narratives, even within Trump’s inner circle. These actions, combined with Trump’s often inconsistent stance on Russia and his open skepticism towards NATO, as mentioned in The New York Times, only added fuel to the fire. The narrative of Trump being a beneficiary, directly or indirectly, of Russia’s global maneuvers only strengthened.

    The period leading up to Trump’s inauguration was marked by Russia’s aggressive posture on the global stage. Whether it was annexing Crimea, interfering in the U.S. elections, or attempting to rewrite the narrative, Russia’s actions often seemed to align with, if not benefit, Donald Trump’s political trajectory. How much of this was strategic and how much was opportunistic remains a topic of debate, but the overlap is undeniable.


    1/12: Experts believe that the Trump Administration emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

    According to national security expert Fiona Hill, Putin perceived a “green light” to invade due to Trump’s weakness and obsequiousness towards Russia.

  5. Bill Jempty says:
  6. Bill Jempty says:
  7. charontwo says:


    Vladimir Putin, a seasoned leader with a keen sense of geopolitics and power dynamics, undoubtedly formed perceptions based on the actions and narratives of President Trump, his administration, and associated private actors. These perceptions may have played a role in shaping Russia’s aggressive moves in Ukraine.

    Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official, offered an illuminating perspective on this issue. In her discussions featured in The New York Times, she suggested that Trump’s treatment of Ukraine was transactional, often viewing it through the lens of personal and political interests. Such a perspective, where a strategic ally is perceived as a “playground,” may have signaled to Putin that the U.S. commitment to Ukraine was fickle and could be challenged.

    This viewpoint is further underscored by Business Insider, where Hill’s insights again shed light on Putin’s psychology. By treating Ukraine as a transactional entity, the U.S. might have inadvertently shown a diminished interest in European security. In the high-stakes game of international relations, such perceptions can be seen as open invitations, or at the very least, indications of indifference to adversaries’ ambitions.

    One can’t overlook the influence of private actors in shaping these perceptions. Rudy Giuliani’s endeavors in Ukraine, as documented by The New York Review of Books, while seemingly disconnected from official U.S. policy, muddied the waters of diplomatic engagement. When private citizens, closely associated with a sitting president, embark on unofficial diplomatic missions, it sends mixed signals to international observers. For Putin, this could be interpreted as a lack of unity and purpose in the U.S. approach to Ukraine, possibly emboldening him further.

    Furthermore, Rolling Stone analyzed Trump’s inconsistent foreign policy, which frequently left allies guessing and adversaries postulating. Such inconsistency could be interpreted by Putin as a wavering U.S. commitment to supporting democracies and upholding global norms.

    Additionally, the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to Ukraine, as highlighted by Politico, wasn’t just a simple administrative change. For keen observers like Putin, it would have represented a systematic weakening of Ukraine’s defense and political stance against Russian aggression.

    The New Yorker shed light on how Trump’s undermining of traditional U.S. diplomatic procedures in favor of personal relationships might have been perceived by Putin. By sidelining official channels and procedures, Putin could interpret these moves as the U.S. becoming a less formidable and cohesive adversary.

    The actions and narratives propagated by Trump, his administration, and associated private figures like Giuliani during this period painted a picture. To Putin, this might have looked like a U.S. that was less interested, less committed, and more divided on its stance towards Ukraine and European security. Such perceptions, even if not entirely accurate, could have been all that was needed to embolden an aggressive move into Ukraine.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Headline writer missed a golden opportunity to reference the infamous “Headless Man Found in Topless Bar” headline

  9. Kathy says:

    It turns out deep-frying coffee beans is not a good idea, especially not for making espresso.

    I do give kudos to the guy in the video. Nothing beats first hand experience. Not to mention curiosity should be exercised.

  10. CSK says:


    “The apple of [Putin’s] eye.” Good God. Putin must be laughing his keister off.

  11. charontwo says:

    Such blatant, vile garbage always means either the presence of Russian money or the absence of any morality. But they also often travel together.

    During my interview with Ramaswamy, he reiterated his position that he would allow Putin to keep parts of Ukraine, block Ukraine from joining NATO and even visit Putin in Moscow. The GOP contender added: “Our goal should not be for Putin to lose.”

  12. Kathy says:

    My guess for exTwitter’s latest change, is that too many people blocked the Mars God of Phobos.

  13. CSK says:

    Matt Gaetz has introduced a resolution to “censure and condemn” Judge Tanya Chutkan for exhibiting “blatant political bias from the bench.”

  14. DK says:

    @CSK: Teen sex trafficker Matt Gaetz does what?

  15. CSK says:


    I laughed out loud at that.

  16. DK says:

    @charontwo: Ah. So Russia Today Ramaswamy does not actually want the American people’s votes: he is actually running for the Fox News timeslot Tucker Carlson vacated.

    Good to know. One Putin-puppet commander-in-chief was one too many.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: This guy has almost 2 million followers? WA! Amazing!

  18. charontwo says:

    Trump supporters are fuming today as the clip of Ron Desantis’s latest interview has gone viral on right-wing social media. Because this time is different. This time Desantis didn’t just take a shot at Trump.

    He went after MAGA.

    And MAGA is NOT happy.

    Desantis said, “A movement can’t just be about the personality of one individual … If all we are is listless vessels who are supposed to follow whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable thing.”

    Basically, Ron Desantis called MAGA a cult.

  19. CSK says:


    Maybe he’s decided to speak his mind because he knows he’s never going to win the nomination.

  20. charontwo says:


    Still seems pretty foolish, these are the natural supporters of his policies and actions, but he is showing bitterness they prefer the Alpha to the Beta Cuck. Taking the long view – not.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    If all we are is listless vessels who are supposed to follow whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable thing.”

    Well, he does have a point.

    Now, if he could only get past wishing to be the thing coming down the pike that the listless vessels are supposed to follow…

  22. dazedandconfused says:

    I don’t think that will pan out to anything useful. Bottom line: Obama was POTUS in 2014, Biden in 2022. There might be some merit to these speculations, but they are speculations, nothing more, and this is an attack with a serious flaw.
    Maybe it’s just me, I have begun to reflexively cringe at unfalsifiable assertions. There seem to be too many of them these days.

  23. Kathy says:


    He’s young. DeSatanis can wait until the next cycle, or the one after that. Maybe he figures once Benito crashes and burns, gods willing*, he can claim he warned everyone about it, and won’t they vote for him next time to avoid a similar catastrophe.

    *I never did make the sacrifices to Hera.

    Maybe one to Nemesis to ensure swift retribution on Benito would be in order.