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:

    Scale of Judgment

    Obligatory response for this hashtag.

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I didn’t comment in James’ Rittenhouse Rifle thread but it begs the question of why does he want it back? With the money that has been raised on his behalf and the bucks I suspect he is now raking in as the newest hero of the far right, he can buy a dozen others. The answer is pretty simple.

    It’s a collectors item now. The AR-15 that “Kyle Rittenhouse used to defend the American Way ™ and kill two enemies of our country” must be worth hundreds of thousands $ now. Maybe a million.

    I suspect somebody else also thought of this angle but I’m too lazy to go look.

  3. CSK says:

    Rittenhouse claims he wants it back in order to destroy it.

  4. Kathy says:

    Good News Everyone!

    Catching COVID on purpose so you can get it over with is now something you can do again and again.

  5. Moosebreath says:


    “Catching COVID on purpose so you can get it over with is now something you can do again and again.”

    And it’s fun for all the family!!!

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Is this the year for a bottle bill in New Hampshire?

    I was in college when the first attempts at a ‘bottle bill’ were filed and carried around a petition in support. That was the early 70’s, when advocates of publicly sponsored recycling were considered dangerous radicals. But a lot has changed in 50 years.

    Most of the communities near me operate single stream recycling programs, that have been, until recently, a profit center* for the town, that subsidies trash collection and disposal. It’s the paper, cardboard, glass and especially aluminum cans that recreate the value. If there were a redemption value on the bottles and cans, those would be pulled from the recycling programs making the program a cost center rather than break even/profit center.

    I’d need to be convinced in order to support this.

    * In the past couple of years market changes have raised the cost of single stream programs, while the revenue has also shrunk.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I’ll bet.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: No edit function this time, I should have used ’em when I had ’em.

    Wanted to add that if his goal is to have it destroyed, he can just leave it with the police as that is what they do with confiscated firearms that are no longer needed as evidence. Even tho he probably has a right to it’s return, I’m pretty sure the *Kenosha PD* won’t mind destroying it for him along with all the other weapons.

    **I suspect it is either the county or the state that actually performs that task. The KPD would just turn it over to them for disposal.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Jewish couple from Tennessee has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Children’s Services after a state-funded Christian program denied them foster care services for religious reasons.

    According to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram signed up for the foster-parent training class and home-study certification process last January at the Holston United Methodist Home for Children.

    On 21 January 2021, the same day the Rutan-Rams were scheduled to begin the foster-parent-training class at Holston, an employee “emailed Ms Rutan-Ram to inform her that Holston would not serve the Rutan-Rams because of the couple’s Jewish faith”.

    The employee wrote, “As a Christian organization, our executive team made the decision several years ago to only provide adoption services to prospective adoptive families that share our belief system in order to avoid conflicts or delays with future service delivery.”

    Reason #n to the infinity why govt functions should stay within govt.

  10. CSK says:

    It may vary from state to state, but a confiscated firearm that’s no longer needed as evidence can be destroyed or returned to its lawful owner.

    ETA: I have an edit function, at least on this thread. For now.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: That’s what I said.

  12. CSK says:

    I hadn’t had my coffee at that point.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fifteen years on, the property has done wonders for its owner. That is, if you measure success according to the idiosyncratic accounting style of Donald Trump.

    He bought the 2,000 acres (809 hectares) site at Menie in 2006 for $12.6m. Within five short years it was valued by the Trump Organization in its financial statements at $161m, an increase of almost 13 times.

    By 2014, the windswept Scottish holding was put at $436m.

    The hike caught the attention of Letitia James, New York state’s progressive attorney general known for her relentless pursuit of the rich and powerful. How the Scottish property came to rise meteorically in value is one of the matters she is exploring in her continuing investigation into Trump Organization finances.
    James’s legal document is packed with similarly juicy tidbits. The 2014 value of the Scottish golf club was based in part on the projected sale price of 2,500 houses on the land, even though none of the houses actually existed and the company had planning permission for only half that number.

    In 1995 the Trump Organization bought a parcel of land in Westchester, New York, known as the Seven Springs Estate, for $7.5m. By 2004 it was valued at $80m and by 2014 at $291m. That 2014 figure, James notes in another exquisitely tart reference, included a valuation of $161m for “seven non-existent mansions”.

    The juiciest tidbit of all concerns Trump’s former home, the gilded Fifth Avenue temple to his own ego dubbed “Versailles in the sky”, in which he lived before moving into the White House. James’s investigators were puzzled to find the Trump Tower triplex in Manhattan was listed at $327m in 2015, based on the apartment’s size, allegedly 30,000 sq feet.

    In fact the property is 11,000 sq feet, which produces a value of $117m. That’s an overstatement in Trump’s official financial statements of more than $200m.
    Just how serious the prosecutors are about nailing their man is revealed in a single sentence of James’s new filing. She writes that the investigative team is determined to find out “Mr Trump’s actual knowledge of – and intention to make – the numerous misstatements and omissions made by him or on his behalf.”

    “Intention to make” indicates that James is not only thinking along civil lines. She is also anticipating possible criminal charges in which proof of the intent of the accused is required.

    Trump continues to resist giving testimony, as do his two children, on grounds that the investigations are politically motivated witch hunts (both James and Bragg are Democrats). A third child, Eric, who runs the day-to-day work of the Trump Organization, was deposed but pleaded the fifth more than 500 times.

    The family’s best hope is that the prosecutors will struggle to meet the high bar that is set for criminal cases. That is especially so when it comes to the critical issue of intent, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor.

    “The criminal case is more dangerous since it involves potential incarceration. But it requires criminal intent and that is difficult to prove, particularly in complex financial frauds involving organizations,” Mintz, now a partner at McCarter & English, LLP told the Guardian.

    Time will tell.

  14. CSK says:

    Doesn’t the existence of fraud imply criminal intent?

  15. Sleeping Dog says:


    Unless there has been a recent change at the Fed level, some PD’s auction of firearms that have been used in a crime.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yes, but there a number of questions that have to be answered. For starters, people make mistakes, some people make the same mistake over and over. The larger the organization, the more likely mistakes will be made, sometimes even multiplied. Sometimes negated.

    I find it hard to believe that all the mistakes would consistently help the trump org and their business model without there being intent behind it but proving intent is not so easy (so say the lawyers). Minus a signed memo saying “Do this so we can steal $X,000,000 amount of dollars from the bank.” one needs direct testimony, preferably from multiple sources.

    The 2nd question is, fraud by whom? Business people sign all kinds of stuff they don’t fully understand, that’s what lawyers and accountants are for. So again, minus a signed memo saying “Do this so we can steal $X,000,000 amount of dollars from the bank.” one needs direct testimony, preferably from multiple sources.

    Pretty sure a competent lawyer can come up with at least a half dozen other questions that need to be answered.

  17. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    They could probably make a bundle on Rittenhouse’s weapon of choice. Some idiot would pay a fortune for it.

  18. CSK says:

    Indeed. I’m assuming that anyone who would work for the Trump enterprises would be a crook, and in some cases, not a very competent crook.

  19. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I was reading a little bit about the Seven Springs stuff yesterday, here’s the link that explains the level of fraud and probable “criminal intent” amongst the parties involved.

  20. gVOR08 says:


    Doesn’t the existence of fraud imply criminal intent?

    Right. “Oopsie, my hand slipped and I added a zero.”?

    Trying to be a pragmatist, and definitely not Calvinist, this whole business of criminal intent seems to me insane. My attitude is if you did the crime, you get convicted of the crime. If you’re intent was somehow not malign, or you weren’t compos mentis, take that into account in sentencing.

  21. CSK says:

    “Oopsie, my hand slipped and I added a zero.”

    You’d have to be a really, really crapola accountant to do that accidentally and repeatedly. Now if you were a crooked accountant…and what other kind would work for Trump?

  22. Jen says:


    The larger the organization, the more likely mistakes will be made, sometimes even multiplied.

    This is an interesting point, because the Trump Org is big in so far as it has a lot of holdings and is a tangled snake’s pit of overlapping LLCs, but it’s small in the number of employees it has, IIRC, it’s fewer than 500.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: WIKI says 22,000. But that number presumably came from the Trump Org. and is perhaps subject to some skepticism. I have to wonder if, as has been alleged about his wealth, whether that includes everything with the Trump name somewhere, whether actually owned and managed by Trump or not.

  24. Kathy says:


    Let me tell you of three mistakes I was a part of.

    1) I typed 6.33 instead of 63.30 as the price of grapes one year. Somehow the manager checking the prices missed this.

    2) A customer asked for sugar in 50 kilo sacks, but set the unit price per kilo. we priced it at 50 kilos, and went well over the other bidders. Again, the manager checking prices missed it.

    3) In one proposal the total seemed too high to me. Checking every item, I noticed they’d ordered 260,000 cans of jalapeños, which is an insane amount. We can’t correct the ordered amounts, but at least this was the same for all participants. the customer eventually made the correction after the proposals came in.

    None of these mistakes benefited us.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Yeah, and how many of those have contact with this stuff. To me, it seems like it should be open and shut. But I keep reading how hard it is to prosecute white collar crimes.

    For some reason or other I feel like that’s because of the way those laws are written. Convenient that, eh?

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: That’s because your Freudian slips of the fingers hate you.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And really guys, you’re preaching to the choir. The problem is, “what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law” is not the same as “what people on a blog feel is absolute bullshit.”

    We can say prejudicial shit all the time. In a CoL, a lawyer can’t. We can look at all the “evidence” whether it is pertinent or not. In a CoL, after listening to arguments from both sides, a judge decides what evidence is pertinent or not. etc etc etc.

  28. CSK says:

    Those are mistakes. Inflating the value of something from 7.5 million to 80 million isn’t.

  29. Jax says:

    The teenager and I are putting a cabinet together today. We’re about halfway through and the instruction booklet has a little picture of a frosty beer mug and it says “Now might be a good time to refresh your drink!”

    So I guess I’m day-drinking today. I mean, it’s part of the instructions! 😛

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Thanx, interesting and I always appreciate Marcy’s pov. She makes one assumption I have to take exception to tho:

    Again, Trump had to have known when he bought the 213-acre parcel that it did not include an easement into/through the nature preserve.

    No, he didn’t have to know. He certainly should have, he’s this big time real estate developer, right? But you’d be surprised how many people buy property w/o deeded easements, assuming that road/dirt track they saw was theirs, especially people who aren’t used to rural ways. I know of several horror stories of legal battles that never should have been.

    Either way when he “went to court to get his way,” it was just typical, bullying trump.

    When it comes to this:

    This situation should never have gotten this far out of hand; the first time a taxpayer, human or corporate, takes multi-million tax deductions on conservation easements, that’s the time an agent from either the IRS or the state tax authority physically inspects the property and investigates its backstory to ensure it’s a legitimate conservation easement.

    Marcy is being a bit obtuse here. The IRS (and maybe to a lesser extent the NY state revenue dept too) is being starved for funds. Sure, they’d probably love to send somebody out to inspect properties and investigate conservation easements, but the GOP has gutted the IRS to such an extent that they barely have enough people to process tax returns. As far as audits, such as they are, they’ve been dropping for years.

    How Many 2016 Returns Were Audited Through 2020

    The IRS has three years to audit most returns after they are filed. Here are the IRS statistics showing how many returns filed in 2016 were audited through 2020 when most audits for 2016 returns were completed.

    Adjusted Gross Income Audit Rate

    0 – 8.9%
    $1- $25,000 – 0.7%
    $25,000-$50,000 – 0.4%
    $50,000-$75,000 – 0.4%
    $75,000-$100,000 – 0.4%
    $100,000-$200,000 – 0.4%
    $200,000-$500,000 – 0.6%
    $500,000-$1,000,000 – 1.1%
    1,000,000-$5,000,000 – 2.5%
    $5,000,000-$10,000,000 – 5.1%

    over $10,000,000 – 8.6%

    (Source: IRS Data Book, 2020.)

    Notice that people earning less than $25,ooo have a higher audit rate than everybody except for those earning more than $500,000. That’s because it’s easier to catch people not eligible/misusing the Earned Income Tax Credit. (I suspect those making 0$ have such a high audit rate because they have adjusted their gross income to $0 thru creative accounting and tax law interpretation)

    Doing a full audit, as *Marcy is saying they should have*? is probably as rare as hen’s teeth.

    **as would I and probably a whole lot of folks at the IRS

  31. CSK says:

    In December 2020, someone in the Trump administration drafted an executive order for Trump to instruct the Pentagon to seize the voting machines in a number of states. Trump never signed it.

    Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell pushed this idea at a meeting that month, and also the idea of declaring martial law. Flynn wanted as well to declare a state of emergency so federal agents could seize the voting machines.

    I wonder why Trump didn’t sign the order. Hannity told him it would be a bad move?

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: As I noted yesterday, it wouldn’t particularly surprise me to hear that the gun “disappeared” from the KPD property room. There’s undoubtedly a “Good Guys with Guns” shrine or some collector somewhere who wants it. Maybe the NRA national headquarters.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Maybe not, given that one of the conclusions in the Mueller report was that it was possible that FG was so ignorant and unaware that it was possible that he didn’t realize people were asking him to enter into conspiracies, IIRC.

  34. wr says:

    @CSK: “Those are mistakes. Inflating the value of something from 7.5 million to 80 million isn’t.”

    And even if it is, then dropping it back to three million on your taxes and then raising it again to 435 million on your next loan application definitely isn’t!

  35. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yes, but you’d think he’d be very open to doing something like this. I’m sure they explained it to him in terms he could understand.

    I know. All of this was deliberate. But any Trumpkin will tell you that all smart, honest businessmen do this.

  36. dazedandconfused says:

    Why didn’t he sign it? Probably because he consults his real lawyers before he does things that place his ass on the line, and in a lifetime of walking along the edge of the law he acquired a nose for real trouble. He has his FOX News legal team for PR, but those aren’t the ones he deploys in real courts.

    He doesn’t have the stones for the real thing, real coups and real revolutions. He’s a just a con man looking to fill his pockets.

  37. CSK says:

    I don’t know if he’s smart enough to avoid real trouble, certainly the kind he may be in now. Most of his extra-legal shenanigans prior to becoming president involved stealing from people who didn’t have the resources to fight back successfully. And given his obsession with remaining president, I’d think he’d agree to almost anything that might keep him in office. Even an insurrection.

    And…does he have any real lawyers left on his team? Setting aside the whole matter of him routinely stiffing people, what halfway competent people would work for him now? Sidney Powell? Lin Wood?

  38. dazedandconfused says:

    He was smart enough, or well advised enough, to know that it’s a lot safer to run scams on the marginally rich and poor than it is to run them on wealthy people. That was Bernie Madoff’s bone-headed mistake.

    His real legal team consists of lawyers who avoid making public statements so the press largely avoids them. To the press of today such people are viewed as a waste of time so they are seldom mentioned. In the most recent one, it was Jesse Binnall and Justin Clark. It’s a safe bet these are lawyers whom Trump does not stiff on their fees.

  39. CSK says:

    I think he picked up the technique of fleecing the poor from his father.

    I know what you’re saying, but with Trump, I think his desperate need to be worshiped overcomes whatever native intelligence he might have.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I assume it is because even the lowest lawyer in the trump admin was aware of the Posse Comitatus Act.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:
  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: And even if it is, then dropping it back to three million on your taxes and then raising it again to 435 million on your next loan application definitely isn’t!

    That depends. Are the same accountants who put the loan application papers together the ones who did the tax filings?

    I’m just a dumb ass carpenter and it took me about 5 seconds to come up with that dodge.

  43. CSK says:

    You’d think Flynn would know about it. I wouldn’t expect Trump to.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: No, but the lawyers who might bring it to him for his signature would. And yes, somebody not a lawyer might want to bring it to him but I imagine the lawyers standing in line saying, “You really don’t want to do that.”

  45. CSK says:

    Probably. The lawyers must have been on duty 24/7.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I doubt it. How often does trump get up before 11 am?

  47. CSK says:

    Sure he does. He wakes up, anyway. He just doesn’t get out of bed.

  48. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “I’m just a dumb ass carpenter and it took me about 5 seconds to come up with that dodge.”

    Yes, but it only works if it lands before a thoroughly corrupt, Trump-appointed judge. Anyone else would laugh it out of court.

    No disrespect to the five seconds you spent on the plan!

  49. dazedandconfused says:

    I see it as natural for a high-rise, big project developer. It’s an odd game.

    It’s the banks who really pull the trigger on such things. However, for some reason, traditionally the only bankers for whom getting their name in the press is a good thing are the CEOs. For everyone under them it’s bad. They use middlemen for the fronting of such things. Trump is, or was, in certain ways ideal, he not only kept all the attention in himself, he demanded it. He kept his part of the bargain too, at none of the money losing projects did he ever blame his bankers, or even mention them.

    So he has set himself up with one set of “lawyers” who deal with the public. He uses FOX News personalities, who, like he did, are not only willing to be in the news but demand it. The real lawyers are silent and thereby not bothered.

    This is unfortunately an effective tactic. A google search of “Trumps lawyers” turns up largely nothing but the fake ones. I doubt he has even has them on retainers, but to most of press they are his lawyers.