Thursday’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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. Bill Jempty says:
  4. Kathy says:

    This ice cream maker looks really good, if a bit expensive.

    Here’s video of it being used, not sponsored by the product in question.

  5. charontwo says:


    DeSantis messaging problem, other candidates must see same problem.

  6. charontwo says:

    A thread of 12 hours of Fox News reduced to 9 Tweets. Monday night – Trump is indicted in Georgia. The evening starts with Jesse Watters primetime hosted by Pete Hegseth. The freakout begins. The term “lawfare” is born. 1/9

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @charontwo: So if you say, “Do you agree X was bad” to a MAGA you might get 70% agreement. But if you ask the exact same thing but append Trump’s name before X (“Do you think Trump’s X was bad”) you get 70% disagreement. A shift of 40%. I bet it’s even more, as some of the originally 30% probably shifted too.

    This, in a nutshell, is why there’s no point in arguing with a MAGA. They are purely team based animals and Trump is their quarterback. Logic, principal, reality, etc doesn’t even enter into it.

  8. DK says:

    @charontwo: Can Meatball Ron message away his main problem tho: coming across as a frigid, humorless, unlikeable incel? DeSantis is giving vampire. Shudder.

    Pence is pathetic too, but at least he comes across as warm due to his comedic value, per Politico aka Tiger Beat on the Potomac::

    During their tenure together, Pence during one 2018 meeting went so far as to sync putting down his water bottle almost simultaneously with Trump, and in one Cabinet meeting praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes.

    Such a beta boy bottom lol. Can you imagine being terrified of Putin’s Puppet, that traitorous, anti-American, bloated sack of orange dung? Weak! This wuss Pence wants to be commander-in-chief…uhhhh, of what country? The USA? Come on bro lol

    Conservative men are supposed to be masculine, no? Hahahahaha. I can’t wait till white-haired Ryan Gosling plays Pence in the movie.

  9. Scott says:

    Grifter alert!

    Kyle Rittenhouse launches nonprofit with far-right Texans as he ramps up political engagement in the state

    Kyle Rittenhouse, the right-wing activist who was famously acquitted of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020, is stepping up his involvement in Texas politics.

    Already this year, he’s rallied with a Texas secessionist movement leader, endorsed ultraconservative midterm candidates, and railed against Texas gun control legislation and the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    Now, Rittenhouse is creating a nonprofit in the state — with help from well-connected, far-right political actors.

    In a July 23 filing with the Texas secretary of state’s office, he described “The Rittenhouse Foundation” as a nonprofit that “protects human and civil rights secured by law, including an individual’s inalienable right to bear arms” and “ensures the Second Amendment is preserved through education and legal assistance.”

    The foundation’s directors are Rittenhouse, Texas Gun Rights President Chris McNutt and Shelby Griesinger, treasurer for Defend Texas Liberty PAC, a key financier of far-right candidates in the state. The foundation’s registered agent is the law firm of Tony McDonald, who has for years represented Empower Texans and other deep-red organizations.

    Defend Texas Liberty and Empower Texans have received tens of millions of dollars from a trio of West Texas oil tycoons — Tim Dunn and brothers Farris and Dan Wilks — who have for decades funded campaigns, nonprofits and movements to promote their ultraconservative religious and social views.

    Tim Dunn and the Wilks brothers have been a bane on Texas politics for decades. So sick of billionaires running and ruining this country.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    San Diego ramps up arrests of unhoused people: ‘Harder to survive’

    Yeah. Sure. That’ll solve the problem.

    eta: I forgot I had this teed up too.

    The median price for a home in Los Angeles, California’s largest city, will soon hit $1m, as skyrocketing housing costs fuel a humanitarian crisis that has left at least 50,000 people living in the streets.

    In the past five years, the median listed home price in the Los Angeles area has increased more than 30%, according to estimates from the real estate company Zillow. As of late July, the median price for homes in the Los Angeles metropolitan area was estimated at $992,300.

    Other cities in California are even more expensive, with median listing prices in the northern California cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Napa already surpassing the million-dollar mark, according to Zillow data. Listed prices in San Diego, the second largest city in California, are also nearing $1m.

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    All – I wanted to repost this, as I ran across it late yesterday, and wanted to give people a chance to read this great in-depth reporting.

    It really gives an entire timeline of the how and why the MAGA folk are farked in Georgia.

  12. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Still, it probably depends on what “problem” one wants to solve.

  13. Kylopod says:

    @charontwo: To repeat what I wrote the other day:

    What DeSantis is doing here is trying to attack Trump from the perspective of a fantasy world that was created by and for Trump. Much of the reason for Covid denial was that Trump wanted to downplay the existence of something that was causing him a great deal of problems politically while he was president. The villainization of Fauci happened in large part because Trump made him enemy #1. The same applies to Trump’s attacks on mail ballots and, ultimately, his refusal to accept his defeat. DeSantis wants to inhabit this world of Trump lies, but then use them to undermine Trump–an impossible task because the entire basis for believing in them in the first place is that they are all derived from the unshakable tenet that Trump can do no wrong and that anything bad which happens to him is the fault of the Deep State trying to destroy him. DeSantis is accepting parts of this story, while picking and choosing based on what’s convenient for him, and trying to use it to discredit the person who’s the entire reason the story exists.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    From a TPM reader:

    Can I remind people that no president in history has ever acted MORE STEREOTYPICALLY LIKE A GANGSTER than Trump? He owned casinos. He has deep connections in the New York City construction industry. His son-in-law’s father did time for extortion. He calls people who inform on him “rats.” He bullies. He threatens to expose people’s private shame to obtain endorsements. He filled his administration with pro wrestling magnates and failed movie producers. His campaign manager’s family made their money building jai alai frontons in Connecticut. One of his top advisors was Felix Sater, an alleged organized crime figure who has done time for stabbing a guy in the face. His former personal attorney got his start hanging out at a Russian gangster social club.
    Do I need to go on? If Trump wants to suggest the law wasn’t intended for men like him, then perhaps he should try acting like a normal politician or businessman rather than a crime lord from a movie

  15. Kylopod says:

    One additional point I’d make about DeSantis: his problem isn’t just that he’s alienated the MAGA voters by going after Trump. He’s also disappointed the big money people who were looking for a Trump alternative, since he’s falling into the same trap that made them turn toward him in the first place, which is relitigating the past. Except in his case it seems even less justified since he was never president. And however toxic and deranged Trump’s election lies are, at least they have some ability to animate his core voters through the central story of persecution against their orange god. It’s hard to see what benefit DeSantis can gain by trying to relitigate lockdowns and Fauci; even most Republican voters see those things as yesterday’s news.

  16. charontwo says:


    DeSantis messaging problem, other candidates must see same problem.

    Even before its official launch, the campaign and its allies were conducting polls and focus groups to test various anti-Trump messages. Across several months, the source familiar with the campaign said that it consistently struggled to find a message critical of Trump that resonated with rank-and-file Republican voters. Even attaching Trump’s name to an otherwise effective message had a tendency to invert the results, this source said. If a moderator said that the covid lockdowns destroyed small businesses and facilitated the largest upward wealth transfer in modern American history, seventy per cent of the Republicans surveyed would agree. But, if the moderator said that Trump’s covid lockdowns destroyed small businesses and facilitated the largest upward wealth transfer in modern American history, the source said, seventy per cent would disagree.

    I suppose attaching “Joe Biden” to a policy or proposal would have a different result.

  17. becca says:

    @Kathy: I have had a Cuisinart ice cream maker for twenty years now. I use it a lot and it still works great. It’s the smaller model. Back then it cost 50 bucks. Now it costs 70. Compact and easy to store.
    As an aside, I only use cream, sugar and whatever flavorings or fruit. I quit making custard and then cooling overnight. No milk, either. Very rich and obviously very creamy.

  18. charontwo says:


    To briefly recap for those just joining us, the governor last year signed a proposal critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” policy, and Disney, a powerhouse in the Sunshine State, eventually criticized the anti-LGBTQ+ measure in an inconsequential press statement.

    In a normal political environment, the governor might’ve defended his position and expressed his disagreement with the company, at which point the relevant players would’ve moved on. But in DeSantis Land, there’s nothing especially normal about politics: The far-right governor responded to the modest and inconsequential criticism by picking an ugly and prolonged fight with Disney — which included real consequences in terms of local governance — in part to punish the corporate giant for daring to disagree with him in public, and in part to send a signal to others that he’d retaliate against anyone who challenges his positions.

    Disney filed a lawsuit challenging DeSantis’ willingness to use state government as a tool of political retaliation, and while the Republican expressed great confidence this week that the corporate giant is “going to lose” the case, there’s reason to believe otherwise — thanks in part to DeSantis’ own carelessness and inability to think a few moves ahead.

    And now he wants to put the unpleasantness behind him, leaving in place the retaliatory measures he’s already implemented.

    When DeSantis told CNBC that he and his team have “basically moved on” from their fight against Florida’s largest employer, the governor wasn’t backing down, so much as he was trying to argue that Disney should simply give up a lawsuit that might very well succeed. This wasn’t a concession; it was evidence of the governor’s fear that his administration could lose an important case, handing him another important defeat at an inopportune time.

    In effect, the struggling GOP candidate has publicly delivered a curious message to the company: “Now that I’ve finished hitting you, the important thing is that you stop trying to hit me back.”

    Disney is known for aggressively litigatiog, so …

  19. Stormy Dragon says:


    I have a Ninja Creami and love it. It’s actually pretty cheap considering it is a consumer version of a commercial device called a Pacojet that runs $5000-$8000

    I’m currently in the process of figuring out if the Creami is capable of some of the alternative uses that have been figured out for the Pacojet.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    What exactly is FIDE implying with this decision?

    World chess federation bars transgender women from competing in women’s events

    It will also be interesting to see what the US Chess Federation does, since this directly contradicts their existing policy on trans players.

  21. Beth says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    They’re not implying anything. They are directly saying:

    1. Trans Women are men.
    2. Men are inherently smarter and superior to women in all things no matter what.

  22. gVOR10 says:

    @charontwo: DeSantis is very much a traditional pol dependent on lobbyists and donors. He had enough money he thought he could buy the GOP nomination. He’ll do favors for his donors, but he’ll also threaten non-donors. I’d love to know the donation history of Disney in FL. I can’t help but suspect that behind the scenes this is either or both revenge for lack of support or threats if they don’t support. On the other hand he does have a deep psychology of “I’m the boss and everybody has to do what I say, or else.”

    As an aside, many of you are familiar with the travails of the New College of FL after DeUseless appointed a new board, including Chris Rufo, the activist who invented CRT in grade school. The school was a very well regarded liberal arts school with high entry requirements and a flexible curriculum. Mr. Rufo apparently wants to turn it into mostly a college baseball power. Although it’s unclear the school actually has a baseball diamond.

  23. Jen says:

    DeSantis has crews out doing door-to-door in NH. I live in a pretty small hamlet (~5K residents, bedroom community with farms) and have had two door knockers from his campaign show up. They must have pulled lists of people who have voted in the primaries, because they were not going to every house.

    I was home when one of them showed up with his spiel, ending with “…can he count on your support?” My response was “absolutely not.”

    I find it shocking that he’s got a big enough team to cover middle of nowhere spots like this.

  24. Kurtz says:


    I use dry ice on a custard made from scratch.

  25. charontwo says:


    There were two key questions that would inevitably shape any legal determination as to whether the fake elector scheme was a criminal act, as opposed to a relatively innocent belt-and-suspenders attempt to preserve rights to challenge the election results, and, if so, who should be held accountable.

    First, was the fake elector scheme really just a contingency plan to have the required documentation in place in the unlikely event that a court or state legislature might later determine that Trump, not Biden, had actually won the states?

    And second, if the fake elector scheme was in fact a fraudulent action plan designed to overturn the results of the election, not an innocent contingency plan, who was responsible? Was it just the fake electors, or did the scheme go higher up—and if so, how far?

    Prior to the Georgia indictment, there was more than enough public information to establish that the fake elector scheme wasn’t merely a contingency plan. It was an action plan. The fraudsters didn’t tuck the phony certificates into a drawer, hoping to have an opportunity to haul them out in the event of a miracle Trump victory in court. To the contrary, they used the fake certificates immediately, actively and affirmatively to create the illusion that there were rival slates of official electors from the five states when, in fact, only Biden had been certified as the winner in all five states. They sent the certificates to the National Archives and Congress and attempted to use them as a pretext for Vice President Mike Pence to kick the election results back to Republican state legislatures.

    Also prior to the Georgia indictment, it was clear from statements made by the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, that Donald Trump had some degree of knowledge of the scheme and had participated in at least one phone call with one of his legal advisers, John Eastman, “to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the [Trump] campaign gather these contingent electors.”

  26. CSK says:

    According to The Guardian, Trump’s lawyers are urging him to cancel his Monday news conference because it will complicate his legal problems. Apparently Trump’s so-called “large, detailed, and irrefutable report” is making some, ah, dubious claims about voter fraud.

    So…will Trump heed his attorneys’ advice?

  27. charontwo says:

    Arizona reporters just reported that “the attorney general’s office has confirmed that an investigation into Trump, his allies and Arizona’s fake electors is officially underway.”

    Even better, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs is throwing her weight behind the investigation into Trump, declaring that “all involved in trying to overturn the will of the voters” must “be held accountable” — ESPECIALLY those “at the top level” — a direct shot at Trump.

    Arizona is mentioned several times in Georgia’s indictment because Trump and his allies contacted multiple lawmakers in both states in a failed attempt to get them to overturn the election results in his favor.

    I can see going after the local AZ shmucks. The “top-level” will likely be pretty moot by the time this has time to mature. (AZ investigation got a late start, only after midterms new (D) AG, SOS, Gov.).

  28. Stormy Dragon says:


    That was a rhetorical question! ;P

  29. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My problem is finding sugar free ice cream. There isn’t a lot. Dependably there’s one local brand, and all they have is chocolate and Neapolitan (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry).

    So, I figure I can make my own. In particular I’d like to try some mixes I’ve already tried with yogurt, like mixing it with instant coffee and sugar free chocolate powder. They do dissolve nicely in Greek yogurt.

    For the challenge, I want to make mint chocolate chip.

    The good thing is the heat waves seem to have passed, for now, and we’re at a more normal summer weather: cloudy, rainy, and not too warm at all. So, I’ve time to look up several brands and methods. Also to see which ones use less electricity as well.

  30. Joe says:


    So…will Trump heed his attorneys’ advice?

    Please, please nooooo!

  31. CSK says:


    It would be hilarious if they quit en masse after this debacle.

    Trump is obviously never going to let this go. He’s obsessed, like some cut-rate Captain Ahab.

  32. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: There are lots of women in this world who are better at chess than almost everybody. (And this definitely includes me, I am a patzer, though I do follow the chess world a fair bit.) With that perspective, the current state of affairs has the best 100 to 200 players male.

    While I do not support their decision, I expect FIDE is worried that a trans woman will win the Women’s World Championship, and that it would play badly on the world stage. Another factor is that FIDE is strongly influenced by Russians. (Though interestingly enough, they don’t support Russia’s adventure in Ukraine, and have banned at least one Russian player for inflammatory remarks on behalf of Putin.) And well, Russians are not ahead of the curve on trans issues, to say the least.

    Yes, I do agree that they probably hold the belief that, at the very least, a different policy would allow a man to “fake it” to win women’s tournaments. Whether they believe that trans women are men is something I can’t tell. I certainly can’t say your take is wrong, but I lack confirmation.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Because a body that matures under heavy doses of testerone makes you able… to move chess pieces faster? Slam them down harder?

  34. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth: Honestly, my immediate reaction was, “Why are there separate tournaments for men and women in the first place?”

  35. CSK says:


    I agree. That makes no sense. You might as well have boy and girl spelling bees. Or math competitions.

  36. CSK says:

    Trump is miffed. The picture’s hilarious:

  37. charontwo says:

    My total guess is that Cannon wants to have a detailed discussion about the location of & conditions surrounding the SCIF, which could mean she’s seriously weighing pros/cons of Trump’s request for one at MAL. Or maybe she just wants to ensure the offsite location is convenient.

    My thought, likely much slippage will happen to the proposed trial date.

  38. wr says:

    @gVOR10: “Although it’s unclear the school actually has a baseball diamond.”

    It’s actually not unclear at all. They don’t.

  39. Stormy Dragon says:


    My understanding is that it’s because chess playing men are known for being sexist assholes and putting chess playing women in separate tournaments was “easier” than expecting chess playing men to behave.

    It’s kind of like the problem in video gaming where there’s a sizable contigent of gamer men who consider the hobby a men only space and take it upon themselves to drive off any women who try to participate. Even if they’re a minority, there are enough of them that it’s a problem.

  40. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: May he suffer a similar fate.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That reminds me of the “Behind The Bastards” podcast episodes about “Bobby Fischer, Chess Nazi”

    (Available many places, but here’s YouTube)

    Chess Bros are the worst kind of Bro, and deserve every bad thing that can happen to them.

    (There are perfectly fine, non-Bro, chess players, but few chess players who are only “just a bit of an ass” — they’re either delightful people, or into eugenics and some flavor of phrenology, with nothing in between)

  42. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This sounds a lot like the situation Maria Konnikova describes in The Biggest Bluff, a book where she details her adventures learning to play poker professionally. There are women’s tables and small tournaments, but they’re more a way to draw women into the game. The major tournaments, and the vast majority of all others, mix men and women in play. The only requirement seems to be the ability to pay the buy-in.

    To be sure, she describes several instances of men being sexist a**holes with her.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Yes, I do agree that they probably hold the belief that, at the very least, a different policy would allow a man to “fake it” to win women’s tournaments.

    Perhaps I am about to be guilty of eugenics, but… if those Chess Bros are willing to have bottom surgery and remove themselves from the gene pool… I don’t know, I just think we might want to hear them out on this, give them a chance, etc.

    Let them put their genitals where their mouth is. Ok, that’s not the right phrasing.

  44. Daryl says:

    I agree, this is a mechanism to go after the local schmucks…as Michigan has already done to their 16 Fake Electors.

  45. Daryl says:

    Lost in all the hubbub over Trump’s 91st Felony Indictment is the story about Charles McGonigal.
    FBI Special Agent in Charge of the NY Counterintelligence Division, Charles McGonigal, pleaded guilty to Conspiring to violate US Sanctions on Russia. Seems he was taking money from Oleg Deripaska, the infamous Oligarch who was under US Sanctions, in exchange for digging up dirt on another Oligarch.
    Here’s where it gets interesting…
    It is very possible that McGonigal is the same NY FBI Agent who forced Comey into announcing the investigation into Clinton’s Emails 11 days before the 2016 Presidential Election, as well as being the source of the NY Times article, published a week before the election, that falsely claimed; “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.”.
    But the whole Russia thing was a hoax. Indeed.

  46. dazedandconfused says:


    Just as an aside, one of my nieces is involved in sound engineering in the movie biz and is acutely aware of the sublime power of scoring. She recently recommended, as an aesthetic exercise, that Trump’s Truth Social rants and other whines could be read slowly…and scored with Barber’s Adagio.

  47. CSK says:


    Oh, that’s brilliant.

  48. Joe says:

    @CSK: I expect Trump will issue some message about his beautiful irrefutable report that he would love to share with the American people, but his attorneys have forbidden him from doing so . . . yet. But he will release it when some unknowable deadline passes.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: There’s an episode of Mythic Quest where they come to realize that more and more skinhead 3percent types are joining and wrecking it for everyone, but since they also bring in a decent chunk of change the money guy won’t let them just kick them out. So they stage a hideously attractive battle that is sure to suck them in and then they isolate them on their own server where they happily attack each other.

    Fiction, i know, but I’m imagine chess tournaments with a sign that says, “Burley Burley He-man Chess This Way!!” And they lead all the jerks off to play each other and leave decent people in peace.

  50. Kathy says:


    He’ll take a page from the pillow guy, or was it Rudy, and say he’ll present it at the Supreme Court.

  51. CSK says:

    @Joe: @Kathy:

    Or he’ll say some bullshit about how his attorneys want him to save it for the trial.

  52. Michael Reynolds says:


    Conservative men are supposed to be masculine, no? Hahahahaha.

    They are really quite embarrassing to men. Sort of our Caitlyn Jenners. I so want to call them pussies, but the shriveling, overly-tender, unattractive character of these guys says ball sac to me.

  53. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    For people who were supposed to be all about rugged self-reliance and integrity, a lot of them turn out to be rather weaselly little shits who are desperate to cling on to a living in DC, and to heck with standing up to enemies of the Republic.

    See also Brit Conservative upholders of “time-honoured tradition” who spent about one micro-second considering which side their toast was buttered before going all in for May/Johnson/Truss/Sunak/whoever.

  54. DrDaveT says:


    She recently recommended, as an aesthetic exercise, that Trump’s Truth Social rants and other whines could be read slowly…and scored with Barber’s Adagio.


    What other options might there be?
    Arvo Pärt, “Miserere”
    Ligetti, “Lux Aeterna” (for you 2001: A Space Odyssey fans)
    Janis Joplin, “Oh Lord Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz”, muzak version

  55. JohnSF says:

    The ever popular Yakkety Sax?

  56. dazedandconfused says:


    Those would work. It would be fitting if something from Russia be included in this list.

    Makes one want to find a bowl of borscht to drown oneself in, doesn’t it?