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. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hello, hello. Anyone out there?

  2. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Yep. Good morning.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hot and muggy today. I’m headed for the beach for a few hours.

  4. Michael Cain says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Hot and muggy today.

    I spent the last four days in eastern Nebraska for my mom’s funeral. Highs in the 90s, humidity that seemed almost that high, and twice as much air as anyone really needs. On the drive back to Denver, I could tell when we reached 4,000 feet or so of elevation because all of a sudden I could breath again.

  5. Kingdaddy says:

    Another example of how Trump bends, twists, folds, and mutilates the legal authority of the Presidency and the executive branch. Benjamin Wittes has made the same point: the current regime despoils the powers that exist, which is in a way worse than inventing new powers.

  6. Kingdaddy says:

    Finally saw Hamilton on the Disney Channel. Wow.

  7. Kingdaddy says:

    Finally saw Hamilton on the Disney Channel. Wow.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    I found it to be over-hyped. The impressive thing is simply that anyone made a Broadway show about Alexander Hamilton. Kudos for that. Beyond that I found the music un-memorable, and I’m sorry but Lin Manuel Miranda’s performance is weak measured against the professional actors who make up the rest of the cast.

    It’s a case of something I’d have enjoyed more had the hype machine not dialed everything up to 11.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Site issue: Comment Manager is down

    From time to time OTB turns on email notifications without a request. Usually when I see my inbox start to fill up I just click on the comment manager link and unsubscribe. As of right now this is taking me to an error message.

  10. CSK says:

    Olivia de Havilland, 104, and John Saxon, 84, have died.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I have spent some summer days in eastern Nebraska and it can be miserable.

  12. Kathy says:

    I finished cooking chilaquiles with shredded chicken, and refried beans with turkey “chorizo,” and I feel like I cheated.

    Why? The corn chips are bought in bulk, the salsa comes from a bottle, the chicken is vacuum-packed already cooked and shredded, the beans likewise already cooked. All I did was saute onions and garlic, add ingredients, heat ingredients, add some spices, and stirred.

    On the plus side, it all took less than 75 minutes.

  13. CSK says:

    Well, you could look at it as an hommage to Sandra Lee and Semi-Homemade.

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: it’s massively, massively hyped, but I think it lives up to 80% of the hype.

    And you’re right that Lin Manuel Miranda’s performance is the weak link.

    But, unmemorable music? “You’ll be back,” “The Schuyler Sisters” and “Burn” are great. Even if “Burn” is only my third favorite song with that name. The music is a little unsophisticated at points, but it’s damned catchy and memorable.

  15. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I tend to react the same way to things that are ludicrously over-hyped. After reading southern writers (and others such as Bill Bryson) rhapsodize about the utter exquisiteness of Charleston, S.C. and the islands, I finally got around to visiting them. I won’t say I was suicidally disappointed, but the islands were like every other overcrowded beach town you’ve ever seen, and Charleston was…okay. Just okay. Edinburgh, Prague, and Paris are a hell of a lot more gorgeous.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    I agree about Charleston. Americans are not good at making cities, so when you find one that isn’t just an utter void of beauty or style people go all rhapsodic. San Francisco and Manhattan are the only two American cities I’ve found to offer more upside than down. (Las Vegas in a very different way, because I enjoy watching desperation and brazen falseness.) I love LA, but it’s a Marmite of a place – you either love it in spite of, or you hate it because of.

    I love Edinburgh. I’ve been I guess four or five times – they have a lit festival at the end of Fringe. In fact Covid forced me to cancel a week-long reservation for the Fringe this year. I could sit at an outdoor café on the High Street sipping a beer and just watch the world for hours on end, and when the sun went down I could switch to the local distilled spirit – Scotch, I believe it’s called – and camp out til last call. I’d happily live there but for the weather.

    I love Paris, but even though I was raised part of my life in France and was once fluent, and I basically like the French, kind of, it always makes me tense. The French are not easy-going people, Parisians still less so. They remind me of the Japanese, there are a lot of rules, a lot of things one just doesn’t do. I’ll take London over any single city – it’s sufficiently amazing that I could tolerate the weather. If I had a place in Spain or the Algarve to run off to.

  17. SC_Birdflyte says:

    It depends on what time of year you visit Charleston. If you visit in the summer months, it’s downright miserable, which is why I don’t go in the summertime. It’s best in spring and fall. And while you may be right in your points of comparison, those other cities have had much longer to develop their charm. Take it from a former academic historian, none of them was particularly charming three hundred years ago (particularly Paris).

  18. Kingdaddy says:

    I had a great time in Charleston. However, I’m a huge history nerd, so what I enjoy may not be everyone’s thing. The food was great, too. The weather during the summer — yeah, pretty miserable.

    I didn’t see Hamilton on the stage. Close-ups of the actors and shifting camera angles must make for a different experience. Some of the moments I really enjoyed might be enhanced by not sitting in a theater seat. For example, I’m not sure that George III’s unblinking, psychopathic demeanor would be as striking from a greater distance. His quasi-British invasion song, “You’ll Be Back,” is a great three minutes because the camera stays close.

    Even if you’re not a fan of the musical, it’s worth watching this video of the original cast performing at the White House. The first half of the clip is Obama showing us what the Presidency used to be, and what it must be again.

  19. CSK says:

    I’m a former academic medievalist, so I’m aware that cities were pestholes 600 years ago. 🙂 But with nice architecture.
    I visited Charleston in October, so the weather was fine. I made a special trip down Tradd Street, since so many writers, among them Pat (Why Say in Ten Words What You Can Say in a Thousand?) Conroy, had praised it to the skies. Again, I didn’t find it extraordinary in the least. Certainly Louisburg Square in Boston is just as lovely, if not more so. (I also wasn’t taken with the trash in the gutters.) It was okay, but, as I say, the alleged exquisite, soul-expanding beauty of it was lost on me.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years. And I always enjoyed trips to London.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My wife and I discovered Montréal when our son went to school there. Great town. We considered retiring there. San Francisco is great, and I would also vote for New Orleans and Toronto. But I’ve never been a huge fan of Manhattan. Can’t really put my finger on it, but somehow it gives me a vibe of “the biggest small town in the world”. My wife, who lived there in the eighties, loves it, as does my Brooklynite daughter.

  21. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Las Vegas I avoid, given that it makes me feel as if I’ve just swallowed a bowl of grease.
    Montreal is great.

  22. Mikey says:

    I loved Hamilton. I’ve watched it more than once. A very American story told in a very American way. I guess it’s an escape from the shitshow we’ve become.

  23. CSK says:

    This was to be expected: Walmart isn’t going to enforce its own rules on masking because it fears–with good reason–that its customers will physically attack its salespeople.

    Yet another reason not to shop there.

  24. Mikey says:


    His quasi-British invasion song, “You’ll Be Back,” is a great three minutes because the camera stays close.

    ‘Cause when push comes to shove
    I will kill your friends and family
    To remind you of my love.

  25. Mikey says:

    My favorite city is Nürnberg (Nuremberg). I grew up there, and I can say that despite having already been 19 when I arrived. That city is inextricably intertwined with the man I am today.

    Thankfully, I was smart enough to marry eine Nürnbergerin so I get to go back and visit. Maybe we’ll retire there.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I used to go to Charleston on business and it was far more enjoyable than say Atlanta or Charlotte. I planned to take my wife there and then to Savanna in March, but the virus derailed that plan. Charleston is best in small doses, a two night stay max.

    As far as the islands, never travel to a beach community during the season. September is nice and in the south October and even November.

  27. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Yes; I was at the beach communities of the islands off the South Carolina coast in October. They were still overcrowded resort towns with crappy houses cheek-by-jowl. As I say, the magical, mystical splendor of the place was lost on me.

  28. Sleeping Dog says:


    I know, you went expecting the Vineyard or Nantucket and got Hampton or Revere Beach.

  29. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    That’s pretty much exactly right, although I didn’t expect it to LOOK like MV or Nantucket. Interestingly, the person I was with agreed with me, and was equally disappointed in the fabled islands and Charleston. They were sort of like what I remember of the Jersey shore. And, yes, Revere Beach. Ugh.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    Even today there are people who make apologies for the racism of the Republican Party, with vague hand waving about how Trump is an anomaly.

    Tom Cotton is a sitting US Senator and in no way a fringe Republican, frequently talked about as a leading contender for the 2024 nomination. While defending confederate monuments and speaking specifically about slavery he just said this:

    “As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

    I expect, having signaled to the core of his party what he stands for, he will partially walk it back in typical Republican fashion, blaming fake media and gaslighting. And there still plenty of Sunday morning pundits that will insist we didn’t hear what we heard and Tom Cotton should be more careful with his words as his “carelessness” gives ammunition to extremists on the left.

  31. CSK says:

    President Lardass (my apologies; I love calling him that) will not be throwing out the ball at the Red Sox-Yankees game this August, citing his “strong focus on The China virus and Vaccines.” Yep, I just know he’s working 25 hours a day on both issues.

  32. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Opening day is August 15, a Saturday. He’ll be laser focused on the virus…from a golf cart.

  33. Gustopher says:


    For example, I’m not sure that George III’s unblinking, psychopathic demeanor would be as striking from a greater distance. His quasi-British invasion song, “You’ll Be Back,” is a great three minutes because the camera stays close.

    That moment convinced me that Jonathon Groff is possessed by the spirit of Phil Hartman.

  34. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t think Hartman drooled quite as much, though.

    (I’ve heard there was consideration of digitally “removing” that, but Miranda was against doing so, so it stayed.)

  35. Gustopher says:

    I’m really enjoying the new Taylor Swift album. I’m a little surprised — she’s very talented but never quite hit at the right time for me. Not sure if it’s just the change in style, or whether I’m just more in the mood for her. Whatever, it’s very nice.

    It’s not as good as Fiona Apple’s recent album, which is amazing, but it’s good. But it’s more surprising that Taylor Swift would dazzle me than Fiona Apple would.

    Is this a good year for music, or am I getting back into different music now that all my favorite artists are either dead or doing weird things going off in new directions that I’m just not going to follow them in?

    I miss John Prine, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Elvis Costello (he’s more musically dead, than actually dead, last I checked).

  36. senyordave says:

    Nomination for biggest jackass of the day: Mike Ditka
    He is commissioner of the X league, another attempt to have a secondary football league. He also won’t allow kneeling in his league if he has anything to say about it. But apparently he is a student of history, because in 2017 he said this about kneeling:
    Ditka has voiced opposition to the move since 2017, when he said on Westwood One’s Monday Night Football pregame show “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”
    Finally, we have Mike Ditka to correct that slanderous Jim Crow lie that has been plaguing history books for decades.
    BTW, it is possible that Ditka is responsible for Barack Obama being president (at least in 2008). When Jack Ryan had to drop out of the US senate race in 2004 (Jerry Ryan, his ex, spilled the beans about him pressuring her to perform sex acts at a sex club), the Illinois GOP asked Ditka to run. He was pretty popular at the time and certainly would have made for a tougher opponent than Alan Keyes, who ultimately ran as the Republican nominee and got 27% of the vote.
    I guess if Jerry Ryan hadn’t gone public we almost definitely wouldn’t have had Obama as president in 2008, because Jack Ryan was very popular in Illinois.

  37. CSK says:

    Trump is afraid that photos taken of him while he’s throwing out the ball will make him look fat because of all the body armor he has to wear. Funny how he never worries about looking fat in any other circumstance.

  38. Kathy says:


    Does he need body armor in an empty field which can be secured by the Secret Service?

    Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

    The answer’s right here.

  39. CSK says:

    God, he’s repulsive.

  40. An Interested Party says:

    Speaking of repulsive

  41. Jax says:

    @An Interested Party: I’ve often thought the “cure” to our currently corrupt system could be solved pretty quickly if Congresscritters were paid minimum wage, same “benefits” as most restaurant workers. We could even throw them a bone and pay them as much as the lowest paid soldier in all of the armed services, and make them get their healthcare only thru the VA. No side hustle, no lobbyist’s, they are there to serve and nothing more. I doubt we’d need term limits, the Federal minimum wage would rise to an actual living wage, and maybe the VA healthcare system would be fixed. We could build dorms for the Congresscritters, no need to entertain in their fancy 2nd or 3rd homes.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: Funny you should mention this. Headline from The Daily News, Longview, WA, July 26, 2020.

    Local employers struggle to rehire and reopen–Owners: $600 unemployment means staff making more than full-time wages


    (sorry I can’t make a hot link, but I have read my three article limit for the month at the website.)

  43. Dutchgirl says:

    Hurricane Douglas passed just north of the islands. Could still get a fair amount on rain from the back end, but no direct hit. I am very thankful all my preparations were for nothing.

  44. Jen says:

    @Dutchgirl: Glad to hear it; stay safe.

    Re: first pitch Donald–wasn’t he (allegedly) a fairly decent player in high school? I would have thought he would jump at the opportunity to show up Fauci.

    Speaking of Fauci’s pitch at the Washington Nationals game, I saw a meme that cracked me up that said something like “of course this is how Dr. Fauci would throw a pitch, he doesn’t want anyone to catch anything!” Pretty funny. 😀

  45. MarkedMan says:


    wasn’t he (allegedly) a fairly decent player in high school?

    I don’t remember where I saw it, and it’s not worth the google-time but someone investigated his “star playing” during high school. There were a number of post game articles published in the local newspaper. Of course it’s not a surprise, but none of them mentioned Trump in any but the most cursory way. Other boys were singled out for praise, but Donnie boy didn’t seem to make an impression.