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:
  2. Kathy says:

    I’m having flashbacks to the Falklands War.

    Venezuela insists it owns a very big piece of Guyana. Maduros wants to conduct a referendum to graciously invest the people in the disputed territory with Venezuelan citizenship.

    So, another very old diplomatic settlement concerning colonial era boundaries is suddenly a matter of grave national interest.

    I’ve no idea what the relative balance of military forces is between Venezuela and Guyana. The latter is an independent state, not a British colony. Still, I don’t see any Western country allowing Venezuela anything.

    Invading Venezuela to effect regime change is still a bad idea. Driving a Venezuelan invasion force off Guyana should be possible, and probably a popular measure in many countries. Warning Maduro off, even to the extent of sending British troops and ships to Guyana, would probably work best.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m not sure the Brits can really project much force nowadays. One would think this would be a job for Brazil.

  4. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Brazil has an arms industry. Do they have an effective army? Often armies in Latin America are good at internal repression, and maybe counterinsurgency and harassing the cartels, but lack battlefield experience (see Argentina in the Falklands).

    If it comes to armed intervention, either as deterrent or to kick Maduro’s troops out, it will be a US-led force including British and Latin American troops.

    In the latter scenario, BTW, Biden (one fervently hopes) should follow the lessons of the two Bushes:

    Lesson one, Bush the elder: Kick the invaders out of the victim country, maybe leave a force to prevent further incursions, and get out. Continue the war through sanctions and diplomacy is needed.

    Lesson two, Bush the younger: Leave regime change to the Venezuelan people.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Tommy Tuberville backing down before he gets bitch slapped shines a bright light on what the Republican Party has become. I mean, the role of a congress-critter is to use the legislative process to advance the interests of their constituents. In other words, a good legislator can, along with their staff, draft a well thought out law and then convince enough of their colleagues they should support so it becomes law. Afterwards, they follow it through the rule making process to insure the rules fairly enact the intent of the legislation.

    Tuberville, of course, has no skills in this area. He has spent his entire career until now as the absolute monarch of boys under drinking age, the authority that must be pleased lest the merest comment to an assistant coach end all hopes and ambitions. And when dealing with adults he seems to have surrounded himself with the type of college sports fanatics who stand slack jawed in his presence yearning to touch the hem of his robes. (He seems to have scammed off them too, something that doesn’t require much effort.) In other words, he has no skill set as a negotiator, perhaps the most important requirement for a legislator.

    When you look at the modern Republican Party, there are no actual legislators left, there is no one who actually does the job they were elected for. Gaetz, Boebert, Cruz, Tuberville, MTG, Santos, these are all just the most well known of the bunch, but they don’t really differ significantly from the rest of the crew when it comes to legislative ability. (I truly would be interested if anyone thinks there is an exception to this.)

    This decay has been a long time coming, but my first awareness of it was also my first election, when Reagan was running. Even back then I was incredulous that someone had the gaul to essentially say, “Government is for losers. Don’t expect anything from it. Elect me!” and it was somehow successful.

  6. JKB says:

    Democratic party leaders in Florida call Florida Democratic primary for Biden. Will Democrats fall in line for no-choice democracy?

    This week, the Executive Committee of the Florida Democratic Democracy told voters that they would not be allowed to vote against Biden. Even though he has opponents in the primary, the party leadership has ordered that only Biden will appear on the primary ballot.

    And if you want to register your discontent with Biden with a write-in vote, forget about it. Under Florida law, if the party approves only one name, there will be no primary ballots at all. The party just called the election for Biden before a single vote has been cast.

  7. MarkedMan says:


    it will be a US-led force including British and Latin American troops

    I would be astounded if the US engaged in active hostilities. And I can’t even imagine we would actually put infantry on the ground.

  8. Mikey says:

    This is the most depressing thing I’ve read in a very, very long time. (Gift link):

    A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.

    It’s quite long, and therefore hard to excerpt, but here are a few highlights (lowlights?).

    Barring some miracle, Trump will soon be the presumptive Republican nominee for president. When that happens, there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic, in his favor. Until now, Republicans and conservatives have enjoyed relative freedom to express anti-Trump sentiments, to speak openly and positively about alternative candidates, to vent criticisms of Trump’s behavior past and present. Donors who find Trump distasteful have been free to spread their money around to help his competitors. Establishment Republicans have made no secret of their hope that Trump will be convicted and thus removed from the equation without their having to take a stand against him.

    All this will end once Trump wins Super Tuesday. Votes are the currency of power in our system, and money follows, and by those measures, Trump is about to become far more powerful than he already is. The hour of casting about for alternatives is closing. The next phase is about people falling into line…

    But Trump will not only dominate his party. He will again become the central focus of everyone’s attention. Even today, the news media can scarcely resist following Trump’s every word and action. Once he secures the nomination, he will loom over the country like a colossus, his every word and gesture chronicled endlessly. Even today, the mainstream news media, including The Post and NBC News, is joining forces with Trump’s lawyers to seek televised coverage of his federal criminal trial in D.C. Trump intends to use the trial to boost his candidacy and discredit the American justice system as corrupt — and the media outlets, serving their own interests, will help him do it.

    Trump enjoys some unusual advantages for a challenger, moreover. Even Ronald Reagan did not have Fox News and the speaker of the House in his pocket. To the degree there are structural advantages in the coming general election, in short, they are on Trump’s side. And that is before we even get to the problem that Biden can do nothing to solve: his age.

    Trump also enjoys another advantage. The national mood less than a year before the election is one of bipartisan disgust with the political system in general. Rarely in American history has democracy’s inherent messiness been more striking. In Weimar Germany, Hitler and other agitators benefited from the squabbling of the democratic parties, right and left, the endless fights over the budget, the logjams in the legislature, the fragile and fractious coalitions. German voters increasingly yearned for someone to cut through it all and get something — anything — done. It didn’t matter who was behind the political paralysis, either, whether the intransigence came from the right or the left.

    Trump will not be contained by the courts or the rule of law. On the contrary, he is going to use the trials to display his power. That’s why he wants them televised. Trump’s power comes from his following, not from the institutions of American government, and his devoted voters love him precisely because he crosses lines and ignores the old boundaries. They feel empowered by it, and that in turn empowers him. Even before the trials begin, he is toying with the judges, forcing them to try to muzzle him, defying their orders. He is a bit like King Kong testing the chains on his arms, sensing that he can break free whenever he chooses.

    And just wait until the votes start pouring in. Will the judges throw a presumptive Republican nominee in jail for contempt of court? Once it becomes clear that they will not, then the power balance within the courtroom, and in the country at large, will shift again to Trump.

    A court system that could not control Trump as a private individual is not going to control him better when he is president of the United States and appointing his own attorney general and all the other top officials at the Justice Department. Think of the power of a man who gets himself elected president despite indictments, courtroom appearances and perhaps even conviction? Would he even obey a directive of the Supreme Court? Or would he instead ask how many armored divisions the chief justice has?

    The author concludes:

    A paralyzing psychology of appeasement has also been at work. At each stage, the price of stopping Trump has risen higher and higher. In 2016, the price was forgoing a shot at the White House. Once Trump was elected, the price of opposition, or even the absence of obsequious loyalty, became the end of one’s political career, as Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Paul D. Ryan and many others discovered. By 2020, the price had risen again. As Mitt Romney recounts in McKay Coppins’s recent biography, Republican members of Congress contemplating voting for Trump’s impeachment and conviction feared for their physical safety and that of their families. There is no reason that fear should be any less today. But wait until Trump returns to power and the price of opposing him becomes persecution, the loss of property and possibly the loss of freedom. Will those who balked at resisting Trump when the risk was merely political oblivion suddenly discover their courage when the cost might be the ruin of oneself and one’s family?

    We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    It’s worth pointing out that when someone cherry picks evidence they are not engaging in a debate, they are just mindlessly arguing for their team. There is no reason to debate them, other than the joy of hitting balls placed on a tee out of the park. It ain’t my thing, but for those into it, I offer this stroll down memory lane when Trump was running as an incumbent:

    In February 2019, the Republican National Committee voted to provide undivided support to Trump.[5][6] Several states canceled their primaries and caucuses.[7] Other states were encouraged to use “winner-takes-all” or “winner-takes-most” systems to award delegates instead of using proportional allocation.[8][9]

  10. Michael Cain says:

    Colonial empire-drawn boundaries, the gift that keeps on giving. Venezuela is 30M people, Brazil is 215M. Between them along the coast are: (1) Guyana, official language English, Commonwealth member (no legal obligation for defense), population 0.6M; (2) Suriname, official language Dutch, population 0.6M; and (3) French Guiana, officially a French overseas department so part of France and the EU, population 0.3M. Except for the France-Brazil border, all of the borders are disputed. France and Brazil have settled their differences, and France has poured a lot of effort into building Brazil up: trade, technology transfer, supporting Brazil as the regional power, and to make that official trying to get Brazil a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. France (and the rest of the EU) have at least one good reason to support Brazil. A single air raid and Europe loses its only functional space launch facility (it’s in French Guiana).

  11. CSK says:


    You’re right. That WAS incredibly depressing.

    Interestingly, Christine Todd Whitman used the exact same phrase today: “A tsunami of support from all directions.” She must have read Kagan’s piece before her interview.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Colonial empire-drawn boundaries

    Not really arguing, because you are right, these boundaries are and were problematic. But – what boundaries exist that haven’t been largely defined by conquest? About the only ones I could argue for are mountain ranges with greater than 4K meter heights. Maybe you could make an argument for very large rivers? Face it, virtually every boundary has been defined by conquest of one sort or another. The Ashanti Empire. The Incan and Aztec Empires. Every border change in Europe and Asia, over and over and over again. Even South Pacific Islands separated by thousands of miles of open ocean saw wars of conquest conducted by out-rigger canoe.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: Based on your sources, it seems that Florida Democrats have no other immediate choice barring someone financing some sort of rogue primary. How ’bout it, J? You up for financing an experiment in grassroots/sagebrushEverglades rebellion democracy?

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Indeed! Still, that’s only because political parties have the right to conduct their business in the ways that they choose. Back when I was young, there were no Presidential primaries at all and the joke from the Democratic precinct caucus my dad attended was that anybody who wasn’t voting for WA Senator Jackson was now excused from the meeting.

  15. Jen says:

    @JKB: Literally what Republicans did for Trump in 2020:

    Did you object to that?

    (For the record, I find most attempts to keep others off any primary ballot stupid and unnecessary.)

  16. gVOR10 says:

    @Kathy: It should be noted that this is an issue mostly because there’s oil .

  17. dazedandconfused says:


    Says the oil is being extracted by Exxon too. Considering Venezuela has nationalized their oil industry, it would mean Exxon would be screwed. They own politicians all over the world.

    I got a bad feeling about this…

  18. Mimai says:
  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: Thanks! Very interesting reading. I am not surprised that only two of the top ten Republican Reps would have even made it on the Dems list, despite the fact that the Republicans hold the house! That is truly astounding. Even holding the house and thereby having absolute control over which bills can even get a vote isn’t much of an advantage for Republican Reps. Although the Senate side reflects the fact that it is a more serious body, in that 5 of the Republicans would have made the Dem list.

    Another interesting factoid – most of all the lists, and especially Democratic ones, are populated by people who are not much in the national public eye. They have a job to do and they do it.

    Also of note, four of the five Republicans Senators that would have made the Dem list are “moderate” by the standards of this group.

  20. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Depressing indeed. I wish for a better ending of the Republic, but … Le sigh.

  21. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    See the comments on oil. That pretty much guarantees intervention by western powers, even if spiting Maduro, or preventing Venezuela’s rotten conditions to spread do not.

  22. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    But that’s different. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!! That’s our designated anointed WINNER!!!!!!!!

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Oh, I’m sure we will be involved. But boots on the ground? Biden just got us out of Afghanistan and we are up to asses in alligators in Ukraine and Israel. If Trump gets in, who knows? But ii just don’t see it with Biden.

  24. dazedandconfused says:


    It may be a rattling sabers bluff to please Putin. The threat of another war might help divert attention for supplying Ukraine. I wouldn’t rule that out, anyway.

    Maduro does not have many friends, has to keep the ones he has. Lula is one of those, btw, and actually going to war risks war with Brazil and losing that friendship.

  25. Michael Cain says:

    Didn’t China just sign a bunch of deals with Venezuela? If I’m being really paranoid, I’d think about it as yet another place for the US to have to deploy resources that isn’t close to Taiwan. Or, Suriname also appears to have newly-discovered offshore oil. Michael Reynolds suggested Brazil might put Venezuela in its place. Seems equally likely that Brazil would say, “You take Guyana and its oil, we’ll take Suriname and its oil.”

  26. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The Prince or the Queen, and a couple of Type 45’s, would be sufficient to wreck the entire Venezuelan armed forces.
    Our problem is the amphibious warfare arm has been allowed to wither since 2010.
    Stupid bloody Conservatives.
    Stupid bloody Treasury.
    The Royal Navy is the base of British security, and the fools penny pinch it.
    But we could still fly in an Royal Marines Brigade to Georgetown, given the willpower.

    The problem is, once again, the Conservative govt. is so pre-occupied with trying to retrieve its (doomed) political position, it’s a fair bet the Cabinet have not even addressed the issue.

    We need an election, ASAP, if only because the Tories are now in stasis, almost incapable of looking beyond tomorrows headlines.
    Def.Sec Wallace was perhaps the one exception.
    But Sunak binned him in favour of the idiot Grant Shapps, purely because Shapps is a Sunak supporter.

  27. Jax says:

    The fact that the Weather Channel regularly advertises the Rolling Stones tour, proudly sponsored by the AARP is….chef’s kiss. 😛 😛

  28. Kathy says:


    Adolph would be all over the place. “The Gayanians didn’t help us at El Alamein. We’ve secured the oil. Let’s nuke Maduro. No! Let’s nuke that hurricane!! Covfefe! Fire and fury!”

    Biden may or may not send troops. He might try to do it on the cheap, with airstrikes, “advisers,” and Latin American troops.

    Me, I’d send Marines and army units. Get it done quickly. With local and regional troops for support. Much like Kuwait in 91.

    @Michael Cain:

    The funny thing there is both Venezuela and Brazil have lots of oil. Venezuela has a lot more, it’s failing spectacularly at being an oil state, though. Brazil would have more use for it, but I can’t see Lula leading a war of conquest.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!
    😀 😀 😀 😀 😛 😛 😛 😛

  30. Kathy says:

    While no one was looking, the boards of Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines went and negotiated the acquisition of the latter by the former.

    I worry about consolidation. Beyond that, I wonder what Alaska will do with Hawaiian’s diverse, non B737 fleet. Come , Hawaiian doesn’t have a single 737. It operates mostly the A321 and A330, plus a few left over B717s. It also does serious long haul, like to Japan, Australia, and NYC.

    Some years ago, Alaska bought Virgin America, which operated A320 family aircraft. Alaska did operate them for a while, but eventually sold them all off or returned them to lessors. I just don’t see them operating A330s at all.

    Last, some approvals await. For one, the shareholders of Hawaiian Holdings. Regulators and the DoJ have yet to weigh in. Given they’re trying to block JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit, I don’t think they’ll see this acquisition positively at all.

  31. Kathy says:

    Marques Brownlee has an overview of the Texla Xybertruck.

    Near the end he refers to the aesthetics as “a stainless steel refrigerator on wheels,” and he’s impressed by the vehicle.

    No word on whether it will be sold in red states with an optional internal combustion V-12 engine. It wouldn’t be used to power the truck or even to recharge the batteries, but merely to keep spewing CO2, which is every Real ‘Murican’s right to do.