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. Jen says:

    We’re a ways from this being over.

    In Oregon, Scientists Find a Virus Variant With a Worrying Mutation

    Scientists in Oregon have spotted a homegrown version of a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that first surfaced in Britain — but now combined with a mutation that may make the variant less susceptible to vaccines.

    The researchers have so far found just a single case of this formidable combination, but genetic analysis suggested that the variant had been acquired in the community and did not arise in the patient.

  2. sam says:

    A while back, I posted a picture of the encounter of the aircraft carrier Independence and the Italian ship Amerigo Vespucci . This morning, looking at the photo again, I thought of this poem by Walt Whitman.

    Of unnamed heroes in the ships—of waves spreading and spread-
    ing far as the eye can reach,
    Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing,
    And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations,
    Fitful, like a surge.

    Of sea-captains young or old, and the mates, and of all intrepid
    Of the few, very choice, taciturn, whom fate can never surprise
    nor death dismay,
    Pick’d sparingly without noise by thee old ocean, chosen by thee,
    Thou sea that pickest and cullest the race in time, and unitest
    Suckled by thee, old husky nurse, embodying thee,
    Indomitable, untamed as thee.

    (Ever the heroes on water or on land, by ones or twos appearing,
    Ever the stock preserv’d and never lost, though rare, enough for
    seed preserv’d.)

    Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations!
    Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals!
    But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man
    one flag above all the rest,
    A spiritual woven signal for all nations, emblem of man elate above
    Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates,
    And all that went down doing their duty,
    Reminiscent of them, twined from all intrepid captains young or old,
    A pennant universal, subtly waving all time, o’er all brave sailors,
    All seas, all ships.

    Walt Whitman, Song for All Seas, All Ships.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    Since we have gnawed the bone of the filibuster issue here so often, it is interesting that the Senate is now in it’s 20th hour straight of voting on amendments to the Relief Bill. That is a related veto point about the Senate stemming from the completely open debate tradition honored there; unlimited amendments.

  4. sam says:
  5. CSK says:

    A Kentucky bill would make it a crime to insult a police officer.

    What’s an insult? Whatever the cop says it is.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    As long as we are doing poetry about the sea, here’s my favorite section from “Ulysses” by Tennyson:

    Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
    Death closes all: but something ere the end,
    Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
    Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
    The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
    The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
    Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
    ‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.

    My favorite, but every line of that poem sparkles

  7. DrDaveT says:


    A Kentucky bill would make it a crime to insult a police officer.

    What are the odds that the sponsor of the bill has, at some point, complained about liberals curtailing Free Speech?

  8. CSK says:

    The sponsor of the bill is State Senator Danny Carroll (R), a retired police officer, so he clearly has, or had, some skin in the game.

  9. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: My money says smashing a cop across the head with a Flagpole wasn’t included on the list.

  10. Loviatar says:

    When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
    — Maya Angelou

    A friend quoted this to me a few years ago and since then I’ve kept it in mind whenever I’m tempted to be surprised by the actions of others.


    The sponsor of the bill is State Senator Danny Carroll (R), a retired police officer…

    We’re being shown daily who the Republicans are, yet we’re not believing.

  11. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Oh, all the violent insurrectionists at the Capitol were Antifa cleverly disguised as Trumpkins. Didn’t you know? 😀

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: We don’t need no stinking 1st Amendment.

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    Every time a squad car would drive by us when we were in Jr. High School my lowlife friends and I would shout out: “What’s a penny made out of?…Cheap Copper!”

  14. CSK says:

    Carroll says he “in no way, shape, or form” intends to limit the First Amendment. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that’s true. How does he account for a cop who’s having a bad day? Or one who is, frankly, a trigger-happy, power-tripping asshole?

  15. Michael Reynolds says:


    SCOOP: TRUMPS SENDS CEASE-AND-DESIST TO RNC, NRCC AND NRSC. Lawyers for former President DONALD TRUMP sent out cease-and-desist letters Friday to the three largest fundraising entities for the Republican Party — the RNC, NRCC and NRSC — for using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise, a Trump adviser tells Playbook.

    We reported yesterday that Trump was furious that his name has been bandied about by organizations that help Republicans who voted to impeach him — without his permission. Trump, who made his fortune in licensing, has always been sensitive to how his name has been used to fundraise and support members, even while in office.

  16. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Good Lord, Michael, don’t you get it? NO ONE is allowed to cash in on Trump’s name but Trump.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    I suspect it’ll end up being a self-own. If GOPers can’t raise money on Trump, Trump becomes less important to them. OTOH if the GOP sent out two fundraisers, one mentioning Trump, the other not, and discovered that the Trump label was profitable it’d increase his power. Now Trump risks GOP being able to raise money without him, and if it works, he’s done. Big if.

  18. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Trump has just endorsed Henry McMaster, Mike Crapo, and Tim Griffin, who’s running for AG of Arkansas. If their coffers start overflowing with money, we’ll know what direction things are moving. It’ll be an indicator, anyway.

  19. dazedandconfused says:

    Tennyson reflects what ocean voyages in the era of exploration were in the century preceding him, and for even for much of his own century. Maps of the earth then, if honestly drawn, still contained large blank areas marked “unexplored”. Only a handful returned from the voyages into them in the times almost within living memory of Tennyson’s era. Anyone want a horror story? Read about George Anson’s “successful” voyage around the world. On a par with Scott’s expedition to the south pole. The Iliad rang so real in thier ears, I reckon.

  20. Mimai says:

    @sam: @MarkedMan: @dazedandconfused: From one of my favorite poets:
    Winding Up, by Derek Walcott

    I live on the water,
    alone. Without wife and children,
    I have circled every possibility
    to come to this:

    a low house by grey water,
    with windows always open
    to the stale sea. We do not choose such things,

    but we are what we have made.
    We suffer, the years pass,
    we shed freight but not our need

    for encumbrances. Love is a stone
    that settled on the sea-bed
    under grey water. Now, I require nothing

    from poetry but true feeling,
    no pity, no fame, no healing. Silent wife,
    we can sit watching grey water,

    and in a life awash
    with mediocrity and trash
    live rock-like.

    I shall unlearn feeling,
    unlearn my gift. That is greater
    and harder than what passes there for life.

  21. CSK says:

    “Otherwise,” by Jane Kenyon:

  22. Mister Bluster says:
  23. Mimai says:

    @CSK: Oh yeah, that’s a beaut!

  24. Mister Bluster says:
  25. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I like that. I am often surprised that I like poetry, but then again in our age, unlike Tennyson’s, the greatest poets are not intellectuals. Look at these lyrics from Jidenna:

    Cockroaches and the rat shit
    Hand me downs with the patches
    Mama put a little money in the mattress
    Taught me how to make a silver spoon out of plastic
    You can either sink, swim or be the captain
    Get the last word I’mma get the last laugh in
    Now they say “Jidenna why you dressing so classic?”
    I don’t want my best dressed day in a casket
    You can either lead, follow or get out the way
    Make a fuckin’ move it would make my fuckin’ day
    Got a 100 year plan you jus’ think about the today…

  26. CSK says:

    Mimai and @MarkedMan:
    For Jane Kenyon, it really did turn out “Otherwise.” She died much too young of leukemia when she was 47. It grieves me–perhaps selfishly–to think of all the great poetry she could have written had she had more decades in which to do so.

    I spoke with her husband Donald Hall, another fine poet. He was shattered by Jane’s death.

  27. Jen says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Which I am pretty certain actually IS a first amendment violation, unlike all of the conservative bleating about getting banned.

  28. senyordave says:

    One of the mantras about Joe Manchin is that he’s just trying to survive in WV, which is why he votes the way he does. Maybe it is just a case of Occam’s razor. He voted for an amendment proposed by Tommy Tuberville that was attached to the Covid-19 relief package that that would prohibit educational institutions from receiving funding if they allow “biological males” to compete in women’s athletics.
    It is hard to believe that the people of WV would have cared if he had voted against this amendment. IMO he voted for the amendment because he agrees with it. I suspect Joe Manchin would have been voting against civil rights bills in the 60’s. The Democrats have to try to placate him, but nobody should kid themselves about who Manchin is.
    BTW, Tuberville seems like he is giving Louis Gohmert some serious competition for dumbest member of congress.

  29. @Jen:

    I agree

  30. By the way, after the events of 2015 theough 29121 the words “President Busen” are m ut sic to my ears. I don’t want to see his predecessor in predecessor ever again.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Sometime in the last week I read a pretty devastating profile of Manchin and his political “philosophy”. (Apologies, but I can’t find it at the moment) The author appeared to know him pretty well and claimed that Manchin just performed the political calculus on any bill, mentally parsing out the gradients of where particular voters would want him to vote, whether they would possibly vote for him any way, how much he would motivate opposition to work against him, or how much he would motivate allies to work for him. Having performed this intricate calculation, he would then cast his vote for whatever position benefitted him most politically at that precise moment. The author had a couple of cases of Manchin making a big deal of voting one way and then a few years later, voting another. He was willing to screw long time allies, even important businesses in WV if it would net him even a short political gain, confident that he could pick them up again later. The bills he introduced and championed were poorly written and largely symbolic, accomplishing little. He even once introduced a bill in direct opposition to a bill he had earlier championed.

    So I don’t think Schumer gives one second of thought to Manchin’s “conservative philosophy.” I’m sure that when the WH and ol’ Chuck are working on him they are singing the song of how a particular vote can help him, and telling a horror story of the unrelenting true believers he will piss off with the wrong vote. If that article is accurate, you no more need to consider the conservative bona fides of a bill than you would with Rand Paul.

    This explains why the Biden administration had VP Harris calling directly into West Virginia television interviews to work around him. They realized that whatever offense Manchin took it wouldn’t change his vote one iota, whereas moving the public view on an issue would certainly get his attention

  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I agree, the AUMF has been contorted far beyond its original intent. There needs to be a new set of authorities that spell out POTUS’s latitude for the current global stage.

    I might add that Congress could have always done this, but doesn’t because its convenient to not take a vote that will come back to haunt them.

    I will further add that despite what Congress lays out, Troops in contact always have the right of self defense. And they will defend themselves regardless of what Congress thinks. Our people in Iraq and Syria take fire often and suck it down–doing nothing.

    We occasionally send a message to slow down the regularity and intensity of the attacks and Congress Critter shit their pants. Here’s an idea: How about passing a law barring troops from being in the Middle East at all? Congress could absolutely do that.

    But that’s bad for international business and trade so it won’t happen. Thee performative legislation and pearl clutching will continue. Something new will replace the AUMF but allows the stabilization/balance of power mission to continue.

  33. Mimai says:

    @MarkedMan: How much do you attribute this to Manchin himself vs. to the unique(ish) situation he is in as a Senator? Asked differently, do you think [insert random Senator] would have a different calculus if they were in that situation?

  34. Loviatar says:

    They were worried that Trump wouldn’t promote women

    Pentagon officials wanted this to happen last fall, but they “held back their recommendations until after the November elections.

    Congratulations, General Richardson and General Van Ovost

    Thank you for your service and sorry for the delay of your latest promotion.

  35. flat earth luddite says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I will further add that despite what Congress lays out, Troops in contact always have the right of self defense. And they will defend themselves regardless of what Congress thinks.

    I’m recalling something a successful author, and participant in Vietnam, said to the effect that, If you don’t want 18-year-olds setting foreign policy, don’t give them guns and send them to places where they’re going to be shot at.

    I wonder how many of these “foreign entanglements” would occur, or continue, after the powers that be had to put their children in the front of the enlistment line?

  36. CSK says:

    A Missouri pastor of the Malden First General Baptist Church, one Stewart-Allen Clark, has taken leave of absence from his ministry and is seeking counseling after advising his women parishioners to lose weight and be more like Melania Trump.

    To quote from the Business Insider piece, “Clark also said men need to be accompanied by beautiful women and wives.”

  37. CSK says:

    Pastor Clark also called Melania “the epic trophy wife of all time.”

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @flat earth luddite:..I wonder how many of these “foreign entanglements” would occur, or continue, after the powers that be had to put their children in the front of the enlistment line?

    Fortunate Son

  39. Teve says:

    @CSK: that idiot also said that if women tried to look prettier like Melania their men wouldn’t cheat on them, somehow ignoring the obvious fact that Trump cheated on her.

  40. CSK says:

    Indeed. The first incident we know of took place while Melania was tending to Barron, who was only a few months old at the time. He strayed with Stormy Daniels, whom he said reminded him of his daughter.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt

    Ummmm, No. He doesn’t deserve the benefit of a doubt here. The basic definition of FoS is telling a cop giving one an undeserved ticket he’s an asshole. Right?

  42. CSK says:

    Well, it would be gratifying, certainly.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: I think Manchin falls into the category that describes most Republican Congress Critters: if they had integrity they wouldn’t have been elected.

    It’s like complaining that Republicans should realize that following Trump will inevitably lead to their downfall and they should go out with integrity rather than debase themselves. We have to accept that all those with even a smidgeon of integrity have already quit or been defeated. The Republican base and the mega-donors simply don’t want their type. By definition any Republican left is a craven. We should accept that as our starting point.

  44. Gustopher says:


    He voted for an amendment proposed by Tommy Tuberville that was attached to the Covid-19 relief package that that would prohibit educational institutions from receiving funding if they allow “biological males” to compete in women’s athletics.

    It is hard to believe that the people of WV would have cared if he had voted against this amendment.

    First, I think you overestimate the tolerance of the people of West Virginia.

    Second, it didn’t pass. It was close, but it didn’t.

    Manchin’s conservative Democrat credentials are very often exercised on votes where he would not be the deciding vote. I’m not sure he has much of a moral compass, but I’ll give him a pass because of West Virginia when he’s not the deciding vote.

    It always comes down to God, Guns and Gays in rural America, except for when it’s race. It’s disappointing, but it’s the world we have to live with.

    Spending political capital to virtue signal might not be the right choice. And a vote with no consequences is virtue signaling. And sometimes it’s important, even when there are no immediate consequences. But is this really one of those times?

    I don’t know what is in the man’s heart, assuming he is a man, or that he has a heart. He’s threw trans folks under the bus, but under a very light bus.

    Also, a lot of middle of the road people have questions about trans folks in sports, without generally being hostile to trans folks. He might be one of them.

    Finally, why do amendments not have to follow the Byrd Rule? This had almost nothing to do with budgets, and they should have refused it on those grounds.

  45. Mimai says:

    @MarkedMan: All of that notwithstanding, it seems to me that the job of a Senator (and Representative) has increasingly become dominated by a single focus – getting re-elected. Integrity is in short supply, as you note. This has me wondering if Manchin is uniquely “craven” in this respect or if many (most?) Senators would behave/vote similarly if they occupied his seat.

  46. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I know several people here who had draft cards at that time. Guys in my neighborhood came back in various degrees of bent. I worked at 7/11 with a guy who was sent home when he volunteered for a third tour in the tunnels. Second scariest dude I’ve ever known.