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:

    Q: How Many Borg does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. All of them, duh!

  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Was the accused sticking out his own tongue or the drug dealer’s? =3

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I want to report the sighting of 2 pay phones in a govt facility* this past wkend. Just shocked I was, I had thought they were extinct. The poor creatures were looking very forlorn. Listless, unwanted, underfed, abandoned. I felt really sorry for them. Wanted to give them a hug but they were bolted to the wall so all I could do was pat them on their heads. Thought about giving them treats but I didn’t have enough quarters for the both of them. All in all, just very sad.

    *a Misery rest area just this side of Springfield

  5. gVOR10 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: NYT today has a story today about landline phones. Augusta National bans cell phones for the golf National, but they provide a row of non-pay landline courtesy phones. There is, of course, a problem in that nobody remembers anybody’s phone number anymore.

    Full disclosure – that’s a gift link, but it’s a long, not very interesting, story. As with many stories, the story isn’t the story, the mere existence of the story is pretty much the whole story.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR10: We have a landline at our house because we live in a cell hole. Not that the landline works all that often, It’s down at least 25% of the time, currently down now. AT&T really wants to get out of that business.

  7. gVOR10 says:

    A question. I see lots of stories that Biden is closing on Trump or slightly ahead in the polls. Last time around it was common to see it noted that Biden, or before that Hillary, needed like a 3 or 4 percent lead in the national popular vote to win the Electoral College. Anybody seen a current estimate? Or remember the old estimates?

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    As our resident expert on all things Mexico (as well as air travel, cooking and science fiction) were you aware of this? It sounds interesting and useful, and apparently it’s actually happening.

    The Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Spanish: Corredor Interoceánico del Istmo de Tehuantepec), abbreviated as CIIT, is a trade and transit route in Southern Mexico, under the control of the Mexican Secretariat of the Navy, which connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans through a railway system, the Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, for both cargo and passengers, crossing through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This project also consists on the modernization and growth of local seaports, particularly the ports of Salina Cruz (Oaxaca) and Coatzacoalcos (Veracruz), and of the Minatitlán oil refinery [es] and the Salina Cruz oil refinery [es]. In addition, it plans to attract private investors through the creation of 10 industrial parks in the Isthmus area, as well as two other parks in Chiapas. The project has the goal of developing the economy and industry of the Mexican South through encouraging economic investment, both national and international, and facilitate commerce and transportation of goods internationally.[1]

    Mexico is getting ready to break out as a major industrial center, challenging China and the rest of Asia. Very convenient for the United States.

  9. Bill Jempty says:

    Q: How many hackers are required to crash a computer?
    A: None. Just give Captain Kirk five minutes with the machine.

  10. Bill Jempty says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Was the accused sticking out his own tongue or the drug dealer’s? =3

    What about both?

  11. Bill Jempty says:

    The Sports headline of the day- Sources: Bad Bunny-led agency faces MLBPA sanctions

  12. steve says:

    Continued cooking lessons with our adopted grandkids last night, the 4 year old, half Chinese twins. Mother doesnt cook so I taught them how to make dumplings and a chocolate pie (oreo press in crust, chocolate moose filling, homemade whipped cream topping.) Turned out great except that I had a lot of “employee” theft issues with the oreos, chocolate and whipped cream.


  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: Heh.

    I have to admit I have a hard time envisioning a parent who doesn’t cook. I may be a hack but I always managed to whip up something tasty (if not always so healthy) for my sons and I’m pretty proud of the fact that both are far better cooks than I ever dreamed of being.

  14. CSK says:

    @steve: @OzarkHillbilly:

    I had zero interest in cooking (my mother never made me learn) till I was 21 and more or less had to feed myself. I discovered I really enjoyed it. Not baking, though. Why bother when there were so many good bakeries nearby?

  15. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I don’t bake anymore (I don’t do anything other than utility cooking for that matter), but I did like the sense of accomplishment baking produced.

  16. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    I’ve heard that good cooks aren’t necessarily good bakers, and vice versa. I have no idea if that’s true, but I have noticed that many people have definite preferences. Some favor cooking and some favor baking. My inspiration seems to run out after the main and salad course.

  17. Mikey says:

    @CSK: My wife, an absolutely spectacular cook, says cooking is fun because you can freewheel and change things around and make an art of it, but baking is science and you can’t screw with the proportions of things because if you do it all comes out bad.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    Cooking has an element of improvisation, baking much less so. It’s hard to really screw up a sauté or a broil, but it takes nothing to screw up bread or pie crust or god help you, phyllo. Cooking is art; baking is science. I’m a competent cook but a very frustrated baker.

  19. CSK says:

    @Mikey: @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re both absolutely right.

    ETA: The other night I made a fabulous soup out of sweet Italian sausage, chicken broth, chopped rabe, cannellini beans, a bit of garlic and salt and pepper.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Cooking is art; baking is science.

    It’s all chemistry.

  21. dazedandconfused says:
  22. Mr. Prosser says:

    The first thing I learned to prep and cook was scrambled eggs when I was six. It’s been a great adventure ever since.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I love baking. My wife is particularly fond of all the different breads I make.

  24. JohnSF says:

    I am pretty reasonable cook, but utterly incompetent at baking.
    Funny thing, my father was also a good cook, but always left baking to my mother.
    Who in turn preferred to leave novel recipes to Dad.
    Mum had a stock of recipes she would do, using precise measurements of quantities and timing.
    Dad would just wing it, lol.
    Very different approaches.

  25. Bill Jempty says:

    Iran has launched missiles and drones at Israel. Is the end of mankind far away?

  26. JohnSF says:

    International news that’s going under the radar?
    The Myanmar/Burma opposition alliance has now taken the main Thai border crossing, having previously taken the Chinese border towns.
    And India is closing its border.
    The junta is starting to look rather fragile.

  27. JohnSF says:

    Heads up:
    Incoming Iranian strike on Israel.
    Looks to be drone strikes launched from Syria.
    Now reports of ballistic missiles.
    That’s considerably more serious.
    Expected ttt 10 to 20 minutes.

  28. ptfe says:

    @Kathy: I think it’s “they wouldn’t bother changing one light bulb. ALL WILL BE ASSIMILATED.”

  29. dazedandconfused says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s been awhile since I gave the fridge a clean-out.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yep. So much for avoiding escalation. A strategic mistake, I suspect.

  31. Bill Jempty says:

    George Carlin on HBO many years ago- ‘Terrorists threaten to blow up the world at 10 pm. Highlights at 11.’

  32. Bill Jempty says:


    Thanks for reminding me that it’s been awhile since I gave the fridge a clean-out.

    Did you remember to put on clean underwear?

  33. Bill Jempty says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yep. So much for avoiding escalation. A strategic mistake, I suspect.

    More proof that a lasting Middle East ceasefire has as much a chance of happening as I do of getting elected to Congress.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    At first it looked like they were keeping it to the Golan, but there’s incoming to Jerusalem now. That’s war.

  35. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    We may get to see how effective Israeli ABM is.
    Iran might best hope it IS effective.
    Unless they are deliberately avoiding striking key targets.
    Bloody stupid either way.

  36. JohnSF says:

    RAF Akrotiri has gone to condition 1.
    Typhoons engaging Iranian drones.
    Shit is getting hot.

  37. DK says:


    The junta is starting to look rather fragile.

    Thoughts and prayers to those guys. Those guys suck.

  38. CSK says:

    According to ABC and NBC, the U.S. has shot down some of the Iranian drones.

  39. JohnSF says:

    Incidentally, was meaning to post this earlier.
    It may be getting missed in the noise: Iran earlier today seized, by boarding, a Portuguese flagged, British company owned, ship in the Gulf.
    Tehran is really pushing it.

  40. CSK says:


    I saw that. Not good.

  41. JohnSF says:

    IRBM strike aimed at Dimona.
    Jordanian air defence engaging incoming drones aimed at Israel.

  42. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile: massive drone strikes and BM incoming in Ukraine.
    Mainly hitting Kharkhiv.

  43. dazedandconfused says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Should I find any clean underwear in the fridge I’m not putting it on.

  44. JohnSF says:

    Clean underwear may be at a premium right now.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve been busy with family stuff.

    The whole thing flies largely under the radar. New development projects and investments get announced so often, one no longer pays them much mind. at that, Chiapas and Oaxaca are two of the poorest states, so they could use any kind of development aid they can get.

    I also vaguely recall some insane idea in the 70s to carve a canal across the isthmus, to connect the Gulf with the Pacific. I think someone even mentioned using nukes to blast mountains…

    Anyway, what gets more press is his majesty’s Maya Train boondoggle in the southeast, and largely because of some ridiculous promises made when construction started. As is well known fact, everything costs more and takes longer. But also king Manuel Andres promised not a single tree would be felled along the proposed routes. Yeah, right.

    Also, there’s a presidential election in June. Even if his hand picked successor wins, there’s no guarantee she’ll continue along the same path.

  46. charontwo says:


    Provoked by Netanyahu, who needs to keep Israel at war to keep his ass out of jail.

  47. Moosebreath says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “At first it looked like they were keeping it to the Golan, but there’s incoming to Jerusalem now. That’s war.”

    As opposed to the entirely peaceful attack and killing of an Iranian leader while at the Iranian Embassy in Syria?

    I have been saying for months in real-life conversations that Netanyahu was looking for ways to expand the war, solely because he knew that once the war was over, he was be out as Prime Minister and be heading for jail. Looks like he got his wish.

  48. anjin-san says:


    Yeah, I have a hard time coming up with a scenario where the Israeli attack in Damascus was not designed to:

    A. Help Netanyahu cling to power and avoid prison.
    B. Draw the US in now that Netanyahu has overextended Israel’s military in an unwinnable war in Gaza.

  49. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Indeed. However blowing up a consulate to assassinate generals in Syria is also an act of war. This strike seems carefully crafted to “necessary” response messaging. They did not hit Tel Aviv or anything much past Jerusalem, and the Hezzies aren’t apparently participating in this either. They can, by all reports, chuck stuff into Tel Aviv if they want to.

    We are about to find out if Bibi really wants a war with Iran.

  50. Kathy says:


    Well, yes. But afterward when a bulb burns out in the queen’s chamber, you’d need all the Borg to change it.

  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @dazedandconfused: @Moosebreath:

    Israel hit a terrorist organization in a third country. Iran has hit Israel directly, state-on-state, though I don’t know what if anything has gotten through.

    This isn’t about a right or a wrong, this is power, not morality. A corrupt Israeli leader, a religious extremist state and its terrorist wing, and its somewhat more distant terrorist pals, and us, locked into an alliance. Also, fun detail, Jordan in at least one report is helping to shoot down Iranian drones and/or missiles. And so are we, but much more ineteresting if the ‘king’ of Jordan, a Saudi client state, is helping to defend Israel. There seems to be a de facto alliance between Israel and the Arabs. Because: middle east!

  52. JohnSF says:


    Provoked by Netanyahu, who needs to keep Israel at war to keep his ass out of jail.

    Perhaps, perhaps not.
    IMO its time to coerce Israel to shut down the Gaza offensives, because that is related to the Netanyahu political problematic: strategy there needs a viable end state, and Netanyahu can’t go for one without collapsing his support.
    However, almost any sensible Israelis govt. would have taken the option to kill that IRG group. Bibi or not Bibi.
    Current status appears to be the Iranian strike was blocked.
    Iran does not seem to be going all out; this was foolish by Tehran, but seems to have been determined by IRG insistence on willy-waving.
    It does not require massive retaliation in response.
    No reason to go ape at this point.

  53. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If you think the Jordanians are Saudi clients, you are mistaken.
    There is little love lost between the Hashemites and the al Saud.

  54. JohnSF says:

    Unlikely IMO.
    The Pasdaran grouping in Damascus was probably just a target of opportunity.
    Relating perhaps to a lot of recent activity in Syria and Lebanon, which has gone under-reported, as per usual.
    Involving the US re. Iran does little to help Israel in its tar-baby pit in Gaza.

  55. JohnSF says:


    They can, by all reports, chuck stuff into Tel Aviv if they want to.

    Some stuff can be countered.
    Other stuff might provoke the obliteration of a large part of Lebanon.
    Which other Lebanese may not be happy about.
    See recent, under-reported, very violent, attempts by Iran to quash Lebanese objections to Hezbollah’s usurpation of sovereign rights.

    Current status seems to be: the Iranian strike was limited; it was mostly blocked.
    There’s no need to go crazy in response.
    BUT: Iran is really, and deliberately, pushing the bounds, in various ways.
    It’s foolish of them, and this folly indicates a mindset and risk-acceptance that is worrying, and potentially an escalation loop.
    If Iran comes closer to nuclear capability, this sort of action could go very, very bad very fast.

  56. anjin-san says:


    The Pasdaran grouping in Damascus was probably just a target of opportunity.

    A target of opportunity? It’s an act of war.

  57. anjin-san says:


    Involving the US re. Iran does little to help Israel in its tar-baby pit in Gaza.

    In Gaza? No. But right now, Israel is not in a great position in terms of national security. Bogged down in Gaza, where they are breeding a new generation of terrorists. Their intelligence services seem to have completely lost their mojo. And the list goes on. Right now, we are firing our guns to protect Israel. Considering the mess Netanyahu has made, that has to be a comfort.

  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    Interesting. Who pays the bills in Jordan?

    Have you not been surprised at the silence of the Arabs? They don’t even seem to be putting on a show.

  59. JohnSF says:


    It’s an act of war.

    And what do you think the IRG have been up to in Lebanon and Syria lately?
    The Israelis are fools.
    We are even more fools: the Iranian imperial endeavour in Syria (and Yemen) should have been squelched back in 2011.

  60. Michael Reynolds says:


    There’s no need to go crazy in response.

    Either Iran was indifferent to a possible hit, or they have a lot of confidence in Iron Dome. Even if they were aiming past Jerusalem, they had to know that could go wrong. It still gives Bibi just enough of a pretext if he wants to raise.

    ETA: It’s an act of war if Israel says it’s an act of war.

  61. anjin-san says:



    Really. Attacking another country's diplomatic mission is an act of war. How many Iranian citizens ended up in SAVAK torture chambers after we put, and kept the Pahlavi regime in power? Iranians must have felt justified in attacking our embassy, but it's still an act of war. If Carter had bombed the shit out of Iran, he would have had a great deal of support in this country and internationally. He might have even had a second term.

  62. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Who pays the bills in Jordan?

    The emiratis, mostly.
    And the US and EU.
    The Saudis chip in a bit, tbf.
    But the Hashemites and the al Saud are not best buddies, to put it mildly.

  63. anjin-san says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Michael Reynolds:

    It seems like the attack was calculated to come just a bit short of breaking down Israel’s (and friends) air defenses. That’s a hell of a high-wire act.

    My sense is they wanted to send the message that they can inflict a great deal of harm directly on Israel if they choose to, while leaving an offramp available for Israel, if they want to take it.

  64. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have you not been surprised at the silence of the Arabs?

    I am never surprised at the silence of the Arabs.
    However, it’s always important to distinguish between Arabs (as people, in a particular state) and governments (of said states).

    It would be a very silly Israeli that would mistake the favour of the al Saud, or the emirati sheikhs various, for the attitudes of the populations of said states in general.
    Or to bet that the al Saud, or the emirs, shall continue, indefinitely, to rule their current domains.
    Especially if the oil revenues fall away, as looks rather likely.
    Nor does Israel present as the only regional nuclear counter to Iran: Saudi Arabia funded the Pakistan nuclear weapons program about 50%, and has a set of Chinese ballistic missiles that are designed to suit Pakistan’s nuke warheads, or I’m a spotted cow.

  65. JohnSF says:


    Attacking another country’s diplomatic mission is an act of war.

    Technically, a consulate is not diplomatically privileged to the same degree as an embassy, IIRC.
    But, meh.
    The Israeli response would probably be something like: “if a group is using a diplomatic site to plan acts of … yadda, yadda, yadda”

    Legalism and war often don’t mix very well.

  66. anjin-san says:


    The Israeli response would probably be something like: “if a group is using a diplomatic site to plan acts of … yadda, yadda, yadda”

    Of course. But it was a deliberate, calculated escalation. And now, Iran has escalated in turn, which was predictable, though I think the nature and scale of the Iranian attack took everyone by surprise. So the question now is, does Netanyahu want a full-scale war to go along with the Gaza train wreck?

  67. JohnSF says:


    That’s a hell of a high-wire act.

    To put it mildly.
    RAF was prosecuting targets in the Cyprus air defence region.
    I would expect we’ll find US forces were also engaging.
    This is not a trivial thing.
    The question now is, are Iran and Israel willing to avoid further escalation?
    When it’s fairly obvious that further acts are likely to draw in other parties.

  68. JohnSF says:


    But it was a deliberate, calculated escalation.

    Or maybe just a response to a sequence of Iranian actions?
    Or a hit on a target of opportunity?
    Of course, you can never rule out Netanyahu doing something bloody stupid for his political preservation.
    At present, the sensible course seems to be: the Iranian action was a fail, either of intent or or incompetence.
    Back to the main issues in this:
    1) Israel must be pressed to a workable end-state for Gaza.
    2) There needs to be a serious strategy for countering the Iranian/Russian ploys in Syria, Yemen, and the Sahel.

  69. Moosebreath says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “Israel hit a terrorist organization in a third country.”

    Israel assassinated a senior member of the Iranian armed forces, inside the Iranian Embassy in Syria. By international law, the embassy building is part of the country it represents. Attacking the Iranian Embassy is an attack on Iranian soil.

    “Iran has hit Israel directly, state-on-state”.

    In response to Israel doing it first.