Sunday’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:

    Like a Hollywood zombie, the scandal surrounding the late sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein is resurfacing to infect the reputations of the living, as names once again emerge from legal documents amid fresh details of his daily itinerary of meetings with prominent government, financial and cultural figures.

    The latest boldface names to emerge from a series of Wall Street Journal reports include the director of CIA, Williams Burns, and Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel under Barack Obama, alongside lesser figures including the leftwing professor and activist Noam Chomsky, billionaire venture capitalist Reid Hoffman and Lawrence Summers, former Harvard president and director of the National Economic Council under Obama. And then there were the figures from arts and letters. Woody Allen was scheduled to visit the studio of Jeff Koons with Epstein. Another was Dr Helen Fisher, an anthropologist of human behavior. She was invited to speak to his staff.

    The names shed light on what Epstein – who killed himself in a New York jail cell in 2019 – was trying to achieve when he returned to New York after home detention in Florida in the wake of his sex crime conviction. Far from laying low, Epstein resumed his movements in global high society with a dizzying schedule of meetings, dinners, more meetings and gatherings, often at his now-infamous townhouse in Manhattan.

    But Epstein was careful to keep the concentric circles that made up his professional and personal lives separated. “He wanted to be accepted in society and he wanted his reputation cleansed,” says one person familiar with the post-Florida conviction period. “He wanted to continue to do business and continue to have this underground network of girls.

    “He was not a changed man, he paid off everybody for the sentence he got. He thought he’d outsmarted everybody. But what he did do was increase his security, with cameras installed and bodyguards, so you couldn’t get in or out without security. But you need to understand that in his mind: he thought he’d done nothing wrong and he was entitled to behave anyway he wanted to if he had the money to pull it off.”

    One begins to wonder if there were any powerful, connected persons he didn’t associate with.

  2. CSK says:


    And what he was offering them in return.

  3. Kathy says:

    Here’s something different for this weekend’s music: Star Trek

    Plus Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds

  4. CSK says:


    It makes you wonder if there are any rich, famous, powerful people who don’t enjoy sexually assaulting 13-year-old girls.

    I mean, really. The CIA director needed career advice???? From Epstein?????

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: TBH, I have to think a fair percentage of these people are guilty of nothing more than not seeing what they didn’t want to see so thy could hobnob with similarly wealthy &/connected people and forge new pathways to additional wealth and power.

  6. CSK says:


    Certainly. But how did Epstein, basically a nobody initially, attract so many of these people? You or I could invite Noam Chomsky or William Burns or even Donald Trump for cocktails, and would any of them show up? Of course not. There would have to be some real, compelling attraction.

    Woody Allen’s name on the list of Epstein’s buddies all but screams what the attraction was.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: He did have a lot of money and iirc was an “investment advisor” to the rich and famous.

    Some of these folks were certainly interested in, as the article goes on to state, “The girls, the source says, were just to provide added value. “If you invested money with him, he’d get you laid. They were young pretty girls with no contacts, who they had no ability to meet. It was like a dating service and the girls were like the candy on a stick.”

    But with the numbers of new names that keep trickling out, I have to think they weren’t all in on it, just choosing to be blissfully ignorant as long as things didn’t get too uncomfortable for them. Which knowing the ability of the human animal for self delusion, it probably wasn’t too hard for most of them to pretend that everything was OK.

  8. wr says:

    @CSK: “It makes you wonder if there are any rich, famous, powerful people who don’t enjoy sexually assaulting 13-year-old girls.”

    My guess is that Epstein wasn’t the one-trick pony this would make him out to be. He was fabulously rich and apparently pretty good at figuring out what people wanted. In which case there would be an inner circle of those who participated in his sex ring, and then a larger one that was kept ignorant of the sex trafficking while being granted favors and access.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Over my years I have had to deal with some unsavory people and always kept them at a fair distance and kept my association as short as possible because as the saying goes, you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

    All that being said none of these people had to associate with Epstein, they chose to despite the stench that preceded him everywhere he went. So if they find themselves with an itch they can’t scratch, I’m not likely to be any too sympathetic towards them.

  10. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @wr:

    I suppose the vast majority of halfway decent people back away from fully acknowledging just how awful Epstein was. I understand that. I don’t like thinking about it either.

  11. CSK says:


    Yes. That’s what’s at the crux of this. As you say, Epstein’s stink preceded him, the way you can smell a dead skunk before you see the carcass.

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    Epstein offered a lifestyle old rich men craved. It wasn’t only the girls. You had decadent art, secrecy, a sense of darker connections, drugs. I’m sure his politics were aligned to saying ‘dangerous’ things–i.e., one day the genetic supermen will be acknowledged, and these timid bourgeois constraints will be waived for us and we all get concubines. Someone like Larry Summers can’t say this aloud in Cambridge or DC where others are listening. But with Epstein formalities could be waived.

  13. CSK says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The thrill of the forbidden.

  14. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK: He attracted them by putting on a front he was enormously wealthy. Politicians like Clinton and Trump appear to have been attracted but ended their association when it became apparent he wasn’t contributing anything like large $$ to anybody’s campaigns. Our system encourages politicians to relentlessly seek donors, after all.

    I suspect among his goals in attracting powerful men was the possibility he could compromise some of them. This would extend to some in the legal system for protection. How anyone got off as light as he did for what he pled to in 2005 is still an unsolved mystery.

  15. CSK says:


    Epstein must have presented a very convincing facade. I agree that his goal was to compromise and then blackmail a series of powerful, rich men.

    How he got away with such a light sentence in 2005 is a mystery to me, too, unless it involved him compromising people in the courts.

    As Ozark and I have noted, Epstein’s stench preceded him afterward. It would be difficult for a rich powerful man in NY not to smell it.

  16. Gustopher says:


    In which case there would be an inner circle of those who participated in his sex ring, and then a larger one that was kept ignorant of the sex trafficking while being granted favors and access.

    I’ll grant that benefit of the doubt to people who stopped being anywhere near him after the 2005 case.

    After that conviction, and his tiny jail sentence, it goes from (possibly willful) ignorance to ignoring and excusing it. And a willingness to be associated with a child sex predator — “nice guy, he fucks children, but he throws a great party. Have you tried the canapés?”

  17. Gustopher says:

    Washington Post is reporting that yesterday’s Texas mass murderer was a man named Mauricio Garcia and that he had ties to white nationalists and Neo-Nazis.

    Latino White Nationalists don’t quite seem to get this country’s definition of Whiteness. There are a bunch of Latinos in the Proud Boys leadership, and some other similar groups. Should we be bringing back the term Francoist?

    And today’s Texas mass murder was someone driving their Range Rover into a line in front of a homeless shelter that does a lot of work with migrants.

  18. dazedandconfused says:


    It’s difficult to imagine another plausible explanation. He was running a young girl sex ring but instead of keeping it on the down-low there were all kinds of celebs invited. This would be madness unless compromising some of them wasn’t the goal. Heaven knows how far that got but I am sure if he targeted some of the people in government he’d of bagged some of them. The involvement of Dershowitz indicates he was casting nets in some legal-world ponds.

  19. senyordave says:

    Richard Dreyfus is fed up:
    He yearns for the good old day when Olivier could play Othello wearing blackface.

  20. Gustopher says:


    The four new diversity and inclusion standards were first announced in 2020; they will be instituted for the upcoming 2024 Academy Awards, with two of the four needing to be fulfilled for a valid submission for best picture. The four standards are described as expanding on-screen representation, themes or narrative; expanding representation among creative leadership and department heads; providing industry access and opportunities to underrepresented demographics; and expanding representation in audience development.

    I would be interested to see a list of the previous winners that would be excluded under this rule. The rule seems dumb, and have nothing to do with the quality of the picture, but also eminently gameable — “expanding representation in audience development” is just advertising to brown people or women, isn’t it?

    Also, I prefer Orson Welles Othello. Probably my favorite blackface performance, not that it’s a category I seek out.

  21. CSK says:

    Well, Trump won’t be testifying tomorrow in the E. Jean Carroll case, surprise, surprise. He missed the deadline (5 p.m. today) imposed by Judge Kaplan.

    Question: How, exactly, does he plan to “confront” E. Jean Carroll*?

    *Given that we all know he fled Ireland not to confront her, but to escape the Irish government, which would like to speak to him about violating environmental regulations.

  22. Kathy says:

    Starlux is setting a terrible example.

    If they keep this up, they might shame some other airline into treating the self-loading cargo as people.