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. CSK says:

    According to CNN, Bill Barr has dismissed Trump’s Tweets as “the deposed king ranting. Irrelevant to the course of justice and to Trump’s election loss.”

    It’s hard to think of a president who’s been the object of so much open contempt on the part of so many of his employees.

  2. de stijl says:


    Attorney General is not / should not be an employee of the President. He or she represents the legal interest of the US in toto.

    The whole DOJ is *supposed* to be non-partisan. Civil servants doing hard work.

    Like every other norm, Trump trashed that concept too. Treated them like a bought legal shop on retainer.

    Spirit of Justice blindfolded holding a scale. (Ashcroft’s ham-fisted boob covering was really funny.)

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Charlie Pride – RIP

  4. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Oh, I know. But Trump has made it clear on several occasions that he believes cabinet secretaries and other office-holders work for him. Remember the constant references to “my generals”? And recall how, at the beginning of his first (and last) term, he walked around the room forcing all the cabinet members to say how grateful they were to be working for him?

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The EU’s red lines were clear in 2016

    On 24 June 2016, the day after the Brexit referendum, the EU’s then top trio of Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Martin Schulz issued the bloc’s first formal response to a decision they said they regretted, but respected.

    The EU was united, the presidents of the European commission, council and parliament said, and would defend its stability and its interests. Any agreement with the UK must therefore be “balanced in terms of rights and obligations”.

    In the days that followed, German’s chancellor Angela Merkel and François Hollande, France’s president at the time, clarified further. “There can,” Merkel said – adopting a term destined to become famous – “be no cherry-picking” of Europe’s single market.

    There must be “a palpable difference between members of the European family, and non-members,” Merkel said. Hollande agreed: being part of the single market “has advantages”, he said. “The UK must face the consequences of its decision”.

    More than four years later, after a “frank” discussion over dinner about a future trade deal found “very large gaps” between the two sides and with just three weeks of the transition period left, the EU band’s line-up may have changed.

    Its music has not.

    “The principle of fair competition is a precondition to privileged access to the single market,” Ursula von de Leyen, Juncker’s successor, said on Friday at the conclusion of an EU leaders’ summit that spent the sum total of 10 minutes discussing Brexit.

  6. Kathy says:


    King Cheeto the Last came three centuries too late to his style of pretending to govern.

  7. CSK says:

    Well, as I’ve said before, he ran his “business” as if it were some shabby little tinpot fiefdom, didn’t he?

  8. Kylopod says:

    I’ve been developing an Excel so I could analyze elements of the 2020 election, and I waited till the certifications are complete to discuss it.

    Biden’s popular-vote lead is 4.5 points (51.3-46.8). That’s more than a half-point higher than Obama’s 3.9 points (51.1-47.2) in 2012. Yet Trump was a lot closer to winning the EC than Romney. Romney would have needed to flip at least one state that Obama won by over 5 points, as well as two more that Obama won by about 3 points. Trump would only have needed to flip states that Biden won by much narrower margins. Biden’s three narrowest states were GA (0.24), AZ (0.30), and WI (0.63). If Trump had won those alone and the rest of the map had stayed the same, the EC would have been a 269-269 tie, in which case the GOP-controlled House delegations would almost certainly have handed the election to Trump.

    Trump’s 2016 victory rested on 77,000 votes in three states. Biden’s rested on fewer than 44,000 in three states. Yet he improved on Trump’s national margin by 6.5 points. That’s a stunning testament to how skewed the EC currently is against the Dems.

    Part of the reason may be that Biden overperformed in several non-swing states, and so those extra votes were “wasted” in states that made no difference electorally. He had the best showing for a Dem in WA, CO, and MA since 1964; in VA since 1944; in CA since 1936; and in MD since 1868. He also did unusually well for a Dem in some ruby-red states like UT and AK.

    According to the data I collected, he improved on Clinton’s margins by an average of 3.07 points. In only seven states plus DC did Clinton have a slightly better margin. Biden had a higher overall percentage of the vote than Clinton everywhere. Trump scored a higher overall percentage than he did four years ago in 32 states plus DC.

    I also looked at the errors in the polls. I used 538’s polling averages, since RCP didn’t conduct averages in every state. Biden’s winning national margin was 4 points smaller than the polling average, a much bigger error than 2016 when it was only 1-2 points off. The average error in the states was 5.15 in Trump’s favor. In the states Trump won, however, the polls underestimated Trump by 7.28 points. In the Biden states it was merely 3.1 points. There were only five states where Biden was underestimated: IL, CO, DC, LA, and MD. The most was MD at 2.0 points. The state where Trump was underestimated the most was ND at 16.05 points.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fit for a king: true glory of 1,000-year-old cross buried in Scottish field is revealed at last

    A spectacular Anglo-Saxon silver cross has emerged from beneath 1,000 years of encrusted dirt following painstaking conservation. Such is its quality that whoever commissioned this treasure may have been a high-standing cleric or even a king.

    It was a sorry-looking object when first unearthed in 2014 from a ploughed field in western Scotland as part of the Galloway Hoard, the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, acquired by the National Museums Scotland (NMS) in 2017.

    The tiniest glimpses of its gold-leaf decoration could be spotted through its grubby exterior, but its stunning, intricate design had been concealed until now. A supreme example of Anglo-Saxon metalwork has been revealed. The equal-armed cross was created by a goldsmith of outstanding skill and artistry. Its four arms bear the symbols of the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels of the New Testament: Saint Matthew (man), Mark (lion), Luke (cow) and John (eagle).

    Dr Martin Goldberg, NMS principal curator of early medieval and Viking collections, recalled his “wonderment” after seeing the cross in a gleaming state.

    He told the Observer: “It’s just spectacular. There really isn’t a parallel. That is partly because of the time period it comes from. We imagine that a lot of ecclesiastical treasures were robbed from monasteries – that’s what the historical record of the Viking age describes to us. This is one of the survivals. The quality of the workmanship is just incredible. It’s a real privilege to see this after 1,000 years.”

    It’s a beautiful piece of work but this part that made me go, “Huh. Who’da thunk it?”

    Conservators carved a porcupine quill to create a tool that was sharp enough to remove the dirt, yet soft enough not to damage the metalwork.

  10. drj says:


    The EU’s red lines were clear in 2016

    It’s not even that the EU has done something exceptional. It’s just that the UK has been staggeringly unwilling to engage with reality.

    From an economic pespective, the big prize is the EU’s common market. The UK wants a level of access that is not commensurate with the obligations it is willing to take on in exchange for that access.

    If the EU gives the UK what it asking for (access wihout obligations), then that will be something that all current member states will want. (After all, who doesn’t want a free lunch?) In which case (since nobody will be fulfilling any obligations any more) there won’t be a common market any longer.

    So the UK ask is impossible to meet. Because what it is asking for will inevitably disappear if it gets its way.

    It is utterly incomprehensible that successive UK governments didn’t see this – despite being repeatedly warned by their own civil service, I should add.

  11. Kathy says:


    I don’t dispute your figures, they are correct, but the focus on GA and AZ is misplaced. Back in 2016 Clinton lost the EC largely because she lost MI, WI, and PA, which Biden won this time. The latter two, by higher margins than GA, AZ, and WI.

    I’d agree the turning point state is WI, which Biden barely won. But AZ and GA are gravy.

    As to the polls, I completely agree they were really bad this year. I’m not even looking at polls for the Georgia Senate runoffs. I hear they place both Warnock and Ossof ahead, which probably means they’ll lose in a blowout 🙁

  12. Teve says:
  13. charon says:


    Looking ahead, assuming the remainder of states are not seriously in play, the winner in 2024 will be the candidate who wins any three (or more) of the five: PA, MI, WI, AZ, GA.

  14. charon says:


    (That might not be exactly true on today’s map, but AZ and GA should gain congressmen in the 2020 census).

  15. Kylopod says:


    I don’t dispute your figures, they are correct, but the focus on GA and AZ is misplaced.

    My focus on GA, AZ, and WI was to illustrate how shaky Biden’s electoral win was compared with his national margin. He won the popular vote by almost 5 points yet his electoral victory rested entirely on states won by less than 1 point.

    This is in contrast to Obama in 2012, whose popular-vote lead was slightly smaller than Biden’s, but whose electoral win was much more robust, resting on states he won by 3-5 points.

    AZ and GA weren’t just gravy; Trump could have won the election by winning those two states plus WI alone, while still losing MI and PA.

    I’m not even looking at polls for the Georgia Senate runoffs. I hear they place both Warnock and Ossof ahead, which probably means they’ll lose in a blowout

    The caveat there is that the polls in GA for the Nov election weren’t so bad. 538 had Biden leading Trump by 1.2 points, while RCP had Trump ahead by 1.0 points. As we know, Biden won by 0.3 points–well within a standard margin of error of either estimate. Similarly, while I wasn’t able to find a polling average for the Senate races in November, the polls I did find showed Ossoff and Perdue neck and neck, which is pretty much what happened (Perdue won a 2-point plurality, pretty much in line with the final poll before Election Day). Of course there are additional polling problems in trying to estimate a runoff happening outside the normal frame of Election Day–there’ll be a big dropoff in turnout for one thing–so I wouldn’t pay attention to the polls in any case.

  16. CSK says:

    If you look at the photo of Trump above James Joyner’s latest post, “Republican Recovery,” you’ll note that Trump has the eyes of a feral pig.

  17. Kylopod says:


    Trump has the eyes of a feral pig.

    A while back I created a side-by-side pic to illustrate this point. Believe it or not, that image on the left is an actual photo of a pig’s eye (though I slightly manipulated the coloring in both images).

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    Magical realism doesn’t exist only in García Márquez novels and the Trump WH.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Good piece by Paul Campos at LGM on the possibility of ratfracking with congressional certification of the EC vote. With a D majority they can’t actually accomplish anything, but it’s another chance to posture for the base and maybe buy some insurance against a primary challenge. And it’s practice for a future R majority House to block the election of a D president.

  20. CSK says:

    Yes; I believe I recall that. The resemblance is something that’s always struck me about Trump. His anal mouth and quadruple chins are equally disconcerting. Even in his younger days he was an unpleasant-looking man. Yet the Trumpkins purport to find him devastatingly attractive.

  21. charon says:
  22. Teve says:

    It occurred to me yesterday that if the Republicans are going to go anti-democracy and fascist maybe the safest thing to do is to let them secede.

  23. Michael Cain says:

    @charon: In the most recent projection I’ve seen, AZ gains a seat, GA stays the same, while WI, MI, and PA all lose one.

    Also MN, IL, and OH. Been another bad decade for the Midwest. That trend goes back a long ways, more than 30 years. I assert that the same factors responsible for that are responsible for the steady shift of the Midwest to the Republicans.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Are you sure you have them labeled correctly? I can’t tell the difference.

  25. charon says:

    Another map:

    Recap of these reports:

    White House: “Vaccine implementation will not substantially reduce viral spread, hospitalizations, or fatalities until the 100 million Americans with comorbidities can be fully immunized, which will take until the late spring.”

  26. Teve says:


    Women’s qualifications are less likely to be mentioned by men.

    Study of 300+ intros of MD/PhD presenters:

    Men introduced 72% of men as Dr. but only 49% of women as Dr.
    Women introduced speakers as Dr. regardless of gender.

    Respecting women shouldn’t be this hard. #DrJillBiden

  27. charon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I assert that the same factors responsible for that are responsible for the steady shift of the Midwest to the Republicans.

    Look at the darkest shaded areas on the COVID maps I just posted.

  28. charon says:

    White House: “Vaccine implementation will not substantially reduce viral spread, hospitalizations, or fatalities until the 100 million Americans with comorbidities can be fully immunized, which will take until the late spring.

    I do not actually believe this BTW. I think the number of people who have been infected is at least 2, maybe 3 times the confirmed cases, and these are the “low hanging fruit” – the people whose circumstances, occupation or behavior make them the easiest people for the virus to access.

    My prediction: New cases start a steady decline from early January onwards, new fatalities start a decline in late January. The virus is already running out of the easiest people for it to infect.

  29. Teve says:

    Dang. The Pfizer vaccine now being shipped out of a plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is being escorted by US Marshals.

  30. Teve says:


    So Trump’s neo-Fascist street gang stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a predominantly Black church, lit it on fire and cheered.

    I feel like that sums up Trumpism pretty well.

    image here

  31. CSK says:

    Words to live by:

    “We are all equal in the eyes of the stove.” — Jacques Pepin

  32. Slugger says:

    I have trouble understanding the claims of voting irregularities. Democrats won the popular vote in 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2016. The victory in 2020 is as surprising as an Alabama win on any Saturday afternoon.
    The Electoral College system was designed to take the power of the vote from the people. This artifact of the eighteenth century is overdue for rethinking.

  33. Kylopod says:

    Trump keeps saying he won the most votes ever for a sitting president. This statement is accurate, though totally irrelevant. You know one other president who won the most votes for a sitting president up to that point? Herbert Hoover.

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Taxi Driver
    Early one morning I picked up a fare on Mill Street who needed to catch the Illinois Central (before Amtrak) to Chicago at the old Carbondale Depot. He had called last minute and I did everything I could to get him to the station.
    When we got to there we jumped out of the cab grabbing his bags as the train just started to pull out of the station.
    The conductor laughed when he saw we weren’t getting aboard his train.
    “What’s the next stop?” my fare asked. “DuQuoin.” I said. (20 miles)
    “What’s the fare?” “$5”
    “It’s $20 if you get me there to catch that train.”
    Got back in the cab and headed north on Illinois Avenue (US Route 51). Radioed my dispatcher “One to Duquoin”.
    There were no traffic signals at Jackson or Oak Streets then. Just Stop signs. I’m sure I ran them.
    It was dark still and I passed the train in the North Yard before I got to Dillinger Road.
    I floored the gas pedal. I could see the headlight of the locomotive in my rear view mirror. Don’t know how fast I was going but I figured If I could stay in front of the train I had a chance to beat it.
    I slowed down just a little in DeSoto but blew right through the 4 way Stop in the center of town. There is a highway bridge over the tracks just north of JB’s place where the train goes from the east side of US 51 to the west side. The tracks aren’t as close to the highway but I could still see the lights on the engine through the trees. I was no longer ahead of the train but I was keeping up.
    Ran through Elkville and Dowell where the tracks are right next to the highway and so was the train. I had to slow down some to make my way to the Illinois Central stop in DuQuoin.
    I guess the train had to slow down some too because I was parking right by the platform as the train was just pulling in.
    The conductor was standing in door of the baggage car just behind the engine when he saw us. I swear his jaw dropped to his knees. He couldn’t believe that we were there.
    My fare hadn’t said a word till he got out of the cab handed me a $20 dollar bill and said “Thank’s for the ride”.
    I think I drove 30 mph all the way back to Carbondale. My dispatcher was pissed but he didn’t say much the rest of the shift.
    One of our regular calls was to take the train crews to the Plaza Motel on East Main Street.
    A few days later one of the engineers asked me if I was the one who beat him to Duquoin.
    “I was going 70mph when you passed me in the north yard. I didn’t know those cabs could go thst fast.”
    “I didn’t either.” I said.

  35. CSK says:

    The fact that the vaccine-carrying trucks are being protected by marshals isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will help ensure that the cargo will gets where it’s going as quickly as possible. I live in one of the three places in the U.S. where this is being manufactured. I anticipate that when it’s shipped, similar precautions will be taken here.

  36. Teve says:

    @CSK: who said it was a bad thing? I thought it was impressive. They ain’t playing.

  37. CSK says:

    Ah, okay. I misunderstood.
    And yes–they do mean business.

  38. Teve says:
  39. Kathy says:


    We agree on Wisconsin. When results for it and Michigan showed Biden leading, was when I began to feel hopeful Trump would lose. And I wasn’t ready to call it until PA was decided (and the news networks weren’t, either).

    The thing is trump in 2016 took three usually Democratic states by slim margins. This year Biden took two usually republican states by thin margins, but got back WI, MI, and PA. Except PA and MI went for Biden with larger margins,. albeit still small, than they’d gone for Trump.

    It was a narrow victory, but not that narrow.

  40. Monala says:

    Rod Dreher watched the Jericho March yesterday and is extremely disturbed by the fascism and idolatry he witnessed:

    He also told the people to ignore their minds and listen to their hearts, because in your heart is where you determine truth. It’s. All. About. Feeling. Don’t think, feel. This is 100 percent what Metaxas was saying this week on Charlie Kirk’s show: logic & evidence don’t matter if your heart tells you that Trump won. You watch: this movement is going to end up demanding that Gen. Flynn become the military dictator of America.

    Get this: at the height of Flynn speech, Trump appeared overhead in Marine One. Like an apparition! After Trump choppered off to the Army-Navy game, Flynn resumed his address. Every time they attack Trump, he said, they’re attacking you! Total identification of the collective with the individual man, Trump. I despise facile comparisons, but this is a core fascist trope. At the 1934 Nuremberg Party rally, Nazi functionary Rudolf Hess told the faithful, “The Party is Hitler! But Hitler is Germany, as Germany is Hitler!”

    No, I don’t think Donald Trump = Adolf Hitler. My point is simply that political rhetoric that turns a political movement into a personality cult, and unites the masses in this psychological way with the leader, are never headed to a good place. You see what Flynn also did here: trained people in the crowd to reject any criticism of Trump as a personal attack on them.

    Don’t doubt that God is speaking to you about his favored leader, Donald Trump. Reject all criticism of the leader Trump as the same as attack upon yourself. Let no distance come between you and the divinely appointed leader. By his tweets we are healed.

  41. Kylopod says:


    It was a narrow victory, but not that narrow.

    I was only considering narrowness in relative contrast to the popular vote. If Biden had won the PV by 10 points but his electoral win rested on three states where he’d won by 5 points, that would also suggest the EC was skewed in the GOP’s favor, even though it wouldn’t be a particularly narrow victory in itself. Here, however, Biden won the PV by nearly 5 points yet his EC victory rested on three states he won by less than a point, and he would not have won the EC if those states had gone the other way. Doesn’t that suggest a strong pro-GOP skew in the EC?

  42. dazedandconfused says:


    According to CNN, Bill Barr has dismissed Trump’s Tweets as “the deposed king ranting. Irrelevant to the course of justice and to Trump’s election loss.”

    It’s hard to think of a president who’s been the object of so much open contempt on the part of so many of his employees.

    Barr obviously wants to be fired. He believes that will restore his honor. In seeking to restore honor, his toady-soul seeks something which is beyond it’s comprehension.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Even the most Trumpy county of Washington state had 24.4% Biden voters. King County has 22% Trump voters.

    For all the Red State/County vs blue State/County talk, there’s a lot more mixing. I’m not sure how succession would even work. It’s like a chunk of your intestines deciding to go another way — you could live without it, but getting rid of it is going to hurt.

    This does not mean I don’t want to cede Eastern Washington to Idaho though — dumping people into a different state is very different than a different country.

  44. Sleeping Dog says:


    Earlier, I saw a link to that, but didn’t follow it because, well it was Dreher, but it does support a thesis that I’ve been spouting that Trump and trumpism is fascist, though his government isn’t, by definition, fascist. We can count ourselves fortunate that Trump is old, in ill health and a moron. Otherwise his government would have been fascist as well and we would have lost our Democracy.

  45. CSK says:

    Barr may also believe that he can make Trump look like a fool (an even bigger one, if that’s possible) by backing Trump into a corner.

    Is there anyone who works for Trump who doesn’t know he’s a horse’s ass?

  46. Kathy says:

    Yesterday I ordered groceries online and went to the store to pick them up. Between waking up rather late, and the time the store takes to put the order together, I wound up getting there by 1 pm. I haven’t been really been out on Saturdays since late March, except between 7 and 8 am.

    Well, the store was packed.

    Less packed than in a pre-pandemic Saturday at 1 pm, but still a lot of people shopping. They were all wearing masks, some even face shields, and more than a few kept their distance from others. But I was glad to have been in there less than five minutes, and to have worn a KN-95 mask.

    Next time, if I can’t place the order for an early pickup on Saturday, I’ll just leave it for Sunday.

  47. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone been following the results from the old-man-yells-at-cloud Epstein opinion article in the WSJ telling Dr. Biden to Stop Using Your Title Because It Sounds Silly To Me?

    As someone with a doctorate in physics myself, I’m “meh” either way. I just insist that if you’re going to use a non-medical doctorate title for people like “Dr. Kissinger” and “Dr. Gorka” then you bloody well better use one for Dr. Biden as well.

  48. Monala says:

    @grumpy realist: The best takedown I saw of that article is this one.

    Here’s part of it:

    First of all, that’s a whole lot of words to say “I am intimidated by women smarter than me.” Second of all, before he has even begun to attempt to make a point, he has degraded and insulted the future FLOTUS. “Kiddo?” Seriously? I’m gonna stop you right there Joe. She is Dr. Jill Biden, soon-to-be First Lady. Give her the respect she deserves. (Also, I’m pretty convinced he originally wrote “sweetie” and then changed it to “kiddo.”) A privileged white man with no post-grad education telling a woman with a doctorate not to use her credentials. How very original of you, kiddo.To that end, let’s list Dr. Biden’s accomplishments:

    -She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware in 1975.
    She earned a Master of Education, with a specialty in reading, from West Chester State College in 1981.
    -She earned a Master of Arts in Education from Villanova University in 1987.
    -She earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in educational leadership from the University of Delaware in 2007

    She accomplished all of this over the span of 32 years, all while becoming a wife, raising children, teaching at many different levels, running a non-profit, and accompanying her husband through multiple political campaigns. (And, who wants to tell him that not only has she earned all of these degrees, but she has also, in fact, delivered a child?)

  49. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: I have several scientist friends who are women, so my Facebook feed is almost nothing but that Joseph Epstein article. The WSJ opinion editor who green-lit that column should be fired, but the WSJ opinion page is often reprehensible. Lotta global warming denial, for instance. Fun Fact: Epstein called Obama an “affirmative action President” and said he wasn’t qualified like his 43 predecessors were.

  50. al Ameda says:


    Trump’s 2016 victory rested on 77,000 votes in three states. Biden’s rested on fewer than 44,000 in three states. Yet he improved on Trump’s national margin by 6.5 points. That’s a stunning testament to how skewed the EC currently is against the Dems.

    First, thanks for sharing some of your analysis.
    Second, your finding of just how narrow the gap really was is very troubling. And we know that the EC is here to stay for the forseeable future. Republicans are benefitting so greatly that there is zero chance it can be abolished. The best we probably can hope for is elimination of the possibility that rogue electors vote counter to the popular vote winner in their state.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: Considering that the individual is in his 80s I’m chalking it up to an acute case of “back when I was young….” nostalgia and total cluelessness about the experience women with higher degrees have in getting their credentials to be taken seriously. (And not just women. There was an article written by a black American who noted that in academic gatherings he would be addressed by his first name (and no “Dr.”) while the more pale-skinned individuals around him were addressed using “Dr.”)

    There’s also what used to be the standard, which was women would use their titles in professional arenas and then default back to being the “Missus” when at social gatherings with their husbands. As time has passed, more and more women use their titles all the time, especially when necessary to hit clueless jerks over the head who are trying to patronise them.

    As someone with multiple higher degrees myself, my experience has been that the benefit of the higher accreditation is not so much the title as the self-confidence it gives you to bite the heads off of idiots.

  52. Kathy says:

    Having made fun of SpaceX’s successful crash recently, I’ll note that today they launched a Falcon 9 successfully.

    I bring this up because it’s not news worthy. It’s almost routine. That said, it was the 25th launch in the year. That’s close to an average of one launch every 2 weeks, which was the intended launch frequency of the space Shuttle.

    Now, granted Falcon 9 is a simpler system, and that SpaceX has more than 4 orbit-capable vehicles available to choose from, let’s not lose sight that the 1st stage booster is reusbale, and many have been reused, some several times. Reusability was another feature of the Shuttle program. To its credit, the orbiter and boosters were reused, but at high monetary cost.

    Now to make fun of Blue origin: Musk had an orbit capable rocket, Falcon 1, when he sued NASA for access to bid on launch contracts.

    On a completely unrelated subject, I’m reading “Spaceman” by Mike Massimino, former NASA astronaut (you may recall him from The Big Bang Theory, where he played himself).

  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Good story. Thanx.

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Considering that the individual is a complete and utter misogynist ass, I’m not sure why somebody doesn’t just slap the piss out of the editor who approved it.

  55. CSK says:

    John le Carre has died. He was 89.

  56. JohnSF says:


    It is utterly incomprehensible that successive UK governments didn’t see this

    Well, Cameron realised it; that’s why he buggered off as soon as the results came in.

    And May realised it after a while; after the 2017 election failure I suspect, when she finally ejected her old Home Office advisers and started listening to the Treasury (and going around Johnson to get Foreign Office advice).

    I suspect that, in his more sensible moments, Johnson realises it now.
    It’s just that he prefers to live in the comfortable coloured candyfloss world inside his head, where something will turn up to spare him the pain of actually making a choice, beyond grasping for the pleasures of the moment.
    Besides which, he has promised the moon on a silver platter to the ERG and the party base.
    Confronting that collection of chancers, liars, fools and “enthusiasts” would take stone hard will.
    And Johnson hates having to fight for the success that he feels is his by right of being Johnson.

    Johnson likes to think of himself as being in the image of Churchill.
    What a joke.

  57. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy: The launch/mission I’m going to be watching closely is the Starliner uncrewed flight at the end of March (assuming no more delays). If the software’s performance isn’t flawless, Boeing has a problem on a put-the-company-out-of-business scale.

    I have an acquaintance who did real-time flight software at Boeing years back. He says that he started looking for a position at another company when some very senior executive said, at a company function, “Boeing is not, and never will be, a software company.”

    Just over 40 years ago I was the poor systems engineering schmuck responsible for doing presentations for project managers all over Bell Labs (yes, of song and legend) telling them that in the future their projects were much more likely to fail because of software than hardware. I struggle to believe that there are companies that still haven’t learned that lesson.

  58. JohnSF says:

    German humour:

    Told that the British press is blaming her for the lack of progress in EU-UK negotiations, Merkel replies: “Ah, that’s good to know. I’m not negotiating at all.”

  59. Teve says:


    Why is Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger working so hard to add drop boxes and take other steps to make it harder for Republicans to win. Is he really that intimidated by Stacey Abrams?

  60. Michael Cain says:

    @Teve: Not too many years back in my state, the county recorder in one of the few large-population counties that still voted Republican was running for the Republican AG nomination. He was campaigning on how the state’s vote by mail system was riddled with fraud. The other county recorders, very heavily Republican, took out a full page ad in the paper-of-record for the state, that basically said, “You’re lying. There’s no wide-spread fraud, we know what we’re doing. Shut the f*ck up.”

  61. Teve says:
  62. misterbluster says:

    glad U liked it

  63. Teve says:

    (Teve goes to Twitter)

    “Why are women complaining about right-wingers and something to do with Sasha Obama?”

    (Teve browses Trending posts for 5 minutes)

    “Oh. Sasha wore a sexy tankini-based costume with some fabric tied around her waist but you can see her bellybutton so the righties are calling her a whore and a prostitute. That’s just great.”

  64. gVOR08 says:

    @Monala: I’ve commented at TAC a couple times, and I really wanted to comment on that article. There were already 600 comments, so what’s the point. But I also couldn’t figure out a constructive way to get Dreher or his audience to consider the possibility that the way those religious loons looked like to him is kind of how he looks to a lot of us.