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. EddieInCA says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Apparently there is some confusion/misreporting/walkback about what is happening with that Rotterdam bridge:

    The Dutch port city of Rotterdam has not received a request for a permit to temporarily dismantle a historic bridge to allow a superyacht built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pass, local media reported Thursday.

    The city’s mayor denied any decision had been made, a day after a municipality spokesperson told AFP that officials had green-lit the shipbuilder’s request to remove the central section of the famous Koningshaven Bridge, sparking widespread criticism on social media.
    “I find the turmoil quite peculiar. No decision has yet been taken, not even an application for a permit,” Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad quoted mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb saying on Thursday.

    My best guess is some disgruntled low level municipal employee shafted a higher up individual who might even have been getting his wheels greased. Who knows what’s really going on.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    US authorities have recommended releasing an inmate with significant mental health issues from Guantánamo Bay and repatriating him to Saudi Arabia, according to a government document published Friday.

    Suspected of being al-Qaida’s intended 20th hijacker for the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured by interrogators at the US military base in Cuba where he has been detained for nearly two decades.

    The government dropped its case against him in 2008 due to the abuse he experienced at the prison.
    In its final determination dated 4 February, the board said al-Qahtani was “eligible for transfer” and recommended that he be repatriated to Saudi Arabia where he could receive comprehensive mental health care and be enrolled in a rehabilitation centre for extremists.

    Because Saudi Arabia has an unparalleled human rights record.

  4. CSK says:

    As we all expected, Trump had a tantrum after learning of Pence’s shocking disloyalty yesterday:

    Trump also called Mitch McConnell “The Old Crow.” Whiskey?

  5. Jax says:

    @CSK: I feel like we’re all in an abusive relationship with Trump. Every time he runs his mouth, I am reminded of my ex, the similarities in syntax and thinking patterns are particularly striking.

  6. CSK says:

    God, I was hoping there was only one Donald Trump Senior in the world.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    Is Putin stupid?

    Winter is about a third over, and with each passing day the threat of a natural gas cut-off to Europe becomes less potent. Tick tock, Vlad. If he dicks around for another month he loses his big counter-sanctions move. His plan to pull off a phony incident has been exposed and now, if he goes ahead with it he’ll just get laughs. Ukraine gets stronger every day, and Putin’s indecision has allowed time for NATO to unify and for serious contemplation of such previously improbable events as Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

    Now, in a display of weakness, he’s gone to grovel before Xi, which is stupid. NATO is not a threat to Russia, China is absolutely a threat to Russia, and China does alliances even less than Russia.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A couple weeks ago, buried in the Ukraine coverage there was a note that Russia pulled its special forces out of Kazakhstan at the request of the Kazakhstan government, who were acting on a suggestion from the Chinese. Tokayev sought Russia’s assistance in keeping power, but knows who is buttering his bread. And he ain’t named Vlad.

    Putin isn’t stupid, but simply the dog that has caught the car. He’s taken Ukraine hostage, only to learn that no one is willing to pay his ransom demands. Proving the contention that Vlad is a tactician but not a strategist.

  9. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: could I ask some advice from you about generators? We need a portable one and the choices are endless. We’d like to run a heater or air conditioner and a fridge, plus tv and internet. A lamp or two would be nice. Dual fuel sounds good, but is it?
    If you got a minute, any direction is very welcome.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    For any of you sports fans out there, I would like to shamelessly promote this documentary about Dwayne Wade’s son. My daughter’s company produced it and she has been heavily involved in a number of different ways, since she was just out of college when work started and she’s worked her way up the ladder a bit.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The next Joe Rogan “scandal?”

    …four days after pulling her music from Spotify, Arie returned to the subject on her Instagram Story. “Hey, y’all. I’m going to leave a short message here about why I decided to … ask my music be pulled off of Spotify,” she said, according to Deadline. The singer then played clips of Rogan using a racial slur multiple times. The outlet also reported that the footage had previously been posted on YouTube and “predates his $100 million deal with Spotify in 2020.”

    And the fact that Rogan has used the “N” word (I assume) publicly is suprising to whom? Beyond that, Spotify not seeking/ignoring evidence of that fact as they signed up what they thought was going to be their cash cow podcast host surprises anyone? Finally, will anyone care enough for this issue to become important or will the importance of freedom of speech hold? Are his listeners offended knowing this about him?

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    He’s taken Ukraine hostage, only to learn that no one is willing to pay his ransom demands.

    “The Ransom of Red Kyiv”

  13. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Rogan’s listeners are exactly the type of white people who ask “if Black people can use the n-word, why can’t I?” and earnestly mean it, and think it’s a deep philosophical question but aren’t willing to put in the work to understand why.

    This will not hurt him.

  14. Stormy Dragon says:


    It may not hurt him with viewers, but it may hurt him with advertisers. Since Spotify is a mix of subscribers and free users, it’s an open question as to which group Spotify considers its real customers.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @becca: Generac I used them for years on dozens of job sites, found them to be the most reliable. This page on portables will help you figure out what you need. I recently bought a GP3600 as a BDay gift for my NOLA son in the wake of Hurricane Ida. It will do all that you ask and more, but use the calculator on that page. Something else may be better suited to you.

    Don’t know anything about dual fuel machines, have no experience with them. Generac is also known for it’s whole house generators.

    One thing: Get an electric start model if there is one in a size to suit you. I have an old Honeywell that is one of the hardest starting sumbitches I’ve ever come across. It’s almost enough to make me go out and buy a new Generac. My shoulder having recently gone thru it’s 2nd rebuild, maybe I should just go ahead and do it.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Finally, will anyone care enough for this issue to become important or will the importance of freedom of speech hold?

    His continuing on Spotify or not has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

    He can say whatever he wants, and people are free to spend their money at Spotify or not based on whether what he says bothers them or not. He has freedom of speech and so do they. And if Spotify decides the blowback isn’t worth it, they can exercise their freedom of association and kick him off (with no doubt a nice little severance for negating the contract).

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sure, but the (disingenuous) discussion that usually comes with this sort of dispute centers on freedom of speech. It’s why Rogan fanboiz will shout that Spotify cancellation/sponsor defections are silencing Rogan by denying him freedom of speech. (This conversation happens here occasionally, in fact.)

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Putin is anything but stupid. In many cases issues such as this are resolved “under the rose”, and the Russians love to play complex gambits. Nobody publicized the removal of US missiles from Turkey after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    The thing to watch is what happens in Donbas after the dust settles. I suspect this could all have been about getting that expensive little civil war resolved. It’s expensive for both and both have a lot of refugees to care for because of it. It’s gone on long enough for the players to be seeking an end. The West talked tough but it became obvious they would take no military action to save Ukraine and Zelinsky told everyone to chill.

  19. Mimai says:


    Westinghouse is another good option. It’s what I have. I have a dual fuel but only use the propane (for convenience). Agree with OH about the electric start.

  20. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thank you so much for the info. We can’t hook our gas line up to a Generac as most of our neighbors do because line diameter something something distance to main line yadda yadda. We weren’t aware Generac did portables, so we will definitely follow that lead.


  21. Dude Kembro says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Xi is mad Putin’s warmongering threatened to step on China’s big Winter Olympics rebrand. So the washed-up tyrant and murderer had to go to Beijing to beg forgiveness.

    We see now why the Chinless Wonder of Russia pulled out all the stops to help prevent a Hillary presidency. Stand up to a bully, they inevitably go wobbly. Ukraine’s coldest month is January. The ground is only going to get softer as Spring approaches, and as you say, the demand for gas heat weaker. What’s he waiting on?

    We’re told Putin is shrewd. Maybe he was just a dumb brute all along?

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m not convinced.

    The sum total of Putin’s accomplishments so far are rebuilding the Russian military, destroying the Russian economy, signaling that he is clearly Xi’s poodle, and acquiring expensive-to-support territory that gained him nothing. He’s strengthened NATO, pushed Finland and Sweden closer to us, and by making it unmistakably clear that he’s nothing but a thug who can’t make friends so he has to invade them, he’s left himself with less maneuvering room going forward. Russia is further behind economically, more isolated, with less secure borders, and subservient to a China that is absolutely going to swallow Siberia in the end.

    If he goes into Ukraine he’s marching into a swamp. Russians will bleed from Kiev to St. Petersburg and he’ll find he’s a bet he doesn’t have the spare funds to cover. I don’t see a win for him. He starts a war that cripples him economically, or he backs down and looks like a punk.

  23. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Sleeping Dog:
    The Biden administration have played this well, IMO:

    – They have refused to walk into the “Munich Trap” Putin was attempting, and insisted Russia must negotiate directly with Ukraine.

    – They have blanked the Russian demands for unilateral Western concessions on NATO forces in the “post-97” states, and forward-deployed “intermediate” nuclear weapons.

    – But have also left open the possibility of ongoing talks, in order to structure a route for a more-or-less camouflaged Russian climb-down.

    – They have rejected any foolish commitment to direct defence of Ukraine, while delivering massive quantities of anti-tank weapons, along with other NATO states (UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been very impressive, re Operation ORBITAL, in a Cabinet of dimwits) and reinforcing NATO in the east.
    And Ukraine is continuing to roll out deployment of the ZOOPARK counter-battery systems and to reactivate SAM systems that were mothballed before 2014; which may be rather old, but no more so than most NATO SAMs.

    – They have made their disappointment with German policy plain, but not made a drama out of it. And similarly quietly reminded the UK that action re. “Londongrad” would be welcome.

    -They have established a a more or less common front with allies in the threat of applying massive economic sanctions in event of war.

    For someone who is “anything but stupid”, Putin has an incredibly poor record of strategic decisions.

    He has antagonised most of his neighbours, except those with autocrat rulers seeking the favour of a Boss in the Kremlin.
    He could well be nominated a “godfather of Ukrainian nationalism” in a massively tragic irony.

    The UK will not soon forget or forgive his murderous actions against targets on British soil, which took the life of at least one innocent bystander.
    The Czechs, Poles, French etc all have similar cause for distaste.

    Above all, he pissed away twenty plus years of buoyant oil revenues, rejecting the reform of the Russian economy and establishment of “rule of law” regulated markets, in favour of the continued ascendancy of the the oligarch/siloviki/mafiya privilege power structures, massive wealth disparity, and the “extractive economy” (in several senses).
    And pouring wealth into the armed forces, with no return but the ability to bully neighbours and prop up the Alawite ascendancy in Syria.
    And maybe the prospect of serving as China’s “button man” for enforcing debt extraction in Africa.

    Amusing footnote: Xi and Putin have a BFF summit in Beijing.
    China agrees to buy more Russian gas.
    Russia specifies payment in Euros. LOL
    Once again the “RMB reserve currency any day now” bandwagon, takes to the road, and a wheel falls off. 🙂

  24. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Oh, I’m not convinced either, just finding scenarios which fit the observations while assuming Putin to be a very smart cookie and not a demented fool. It’s a logical assumption to make for anyone that can rise to the top and stay there in a place like Russia. That assumption assumes he is smart enough to not invade Ukraine, and smart enough to have expected the reaction his movements generated.

  25. Jim Brown 32 says:

    My professional Russia-watcher colleagues that spent time in Eucom and Nato won’t release their sphincters until a few weeks after the Olympics.

    Until then Russia is still doing all the expected Phase 0-2 activities until, I presume, a post Olympics D-day. My own view is I’ve only seen them trying to manufacture escalation on ramps which Biden smartly took away from them with his talk of the “small incursion” and releasing news of the false flag plot. When I see them inventing deescalation off-ramps–I’ll feel more comfortable that the fight is off–for now.

  26. Mu Yixiao says:

    I’m making a third attempt to get to the end of Villeneuve’s Dune.

    It’s really difficult–even with all the yelling at the screen.

    Villeneuve is really good at making things look pretty. When it comes to telling a coherent story or getting actors to portray characters that I can give half a shit about, he sucks wet donkey balls through a bendy straw.

    And… Why the major changes in the story?? The whole bit between “taken out to die” and “run to the stone outcropping” doesn’t happen in the book. It serves zero purpose in telling the story, and it doesn’t advance either the plot or any of the characters.

    And if I see Jessica–a highly trained Bene Gesserit witch–break down in tears at the slightest provocation, I’m going to give up. I swear: At leat 50% of her screen time has her crying like some emo teenager.

    Pure crap.

    Lynch’s Dune may have some issues, but at least I could believe the characters.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Sure, but the (disingenuous) discussion that usually comes with this sort of dispute centers on freedom of speech.

    As always, and as I suspected you were in sympathy with, every time I hear that BS I have to say, “BULLSHIT.” Some people think they should be able to say anything they like and never suffer any consequences.

    Just like if I am sitting in a north side STL tavern and somebody comes in screaming, “I HATE NI**ERS!!!!” Free speech comes with consequences and I am not going to get in the way of them. Same thing if I am sitting in a South Side biker bar and some asshole comes in screaming, “HARLEYS SUCK DONKEY DICK!!!”

    Yeah fvck head, you asked for it, now you gonna get it.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @becca: Happy to help. Check into @Mimai: suggestion of Westinghouse. I have no experience with them but contractors tend to get on a track laid by others. I’m no different. Generac is what I’ve grown accustomed too, what I’ve learned to depend on. That doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there just as good.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I have no sympathies either way. I’m simply an observer and report what I see. “Dragon/don’t dragon. Noodle/don’t noodle Joe Rogan/don’t Joe Rogan.” It all is what it is. (And the beat does go on and on and on and on and…)

  30. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: The desert tent scene did feature Paul getting undressed in front of his mother, so there was that…

    I’m baffled people think this is a good movie. Beautiful movie, yes, but good? There were no character motivations.

    I would have liked Paul to be an angry teenager. He has so much reason to be. His mom brought her work friend over to torture him, and he didn’t storm off afterwards shouting “I hate you! I hate you!” and slam the door to his room shut? Just wrong.

    Very pretty though.

    And it inspired me to watch John Carter again, for some reason (desert sci-fi?) and lament that it didn’t become a series. It was perfectly adequate. Solidly not bad.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I think I saw that while I was in Korea. Solidly not bad is a good description. I would have been way more likely to watch more John Carter than I am to watch the Bizarro Superman story on Superman and Lois evolve. It looks like a bad year coming for CW’s DC knockoff series (and yes, I am using “knockoff” in the most demeaning sense).