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. Michael Reynolds says:

    Top Ten Reasons to Believe Vladimir Putin is a CIA mole:

    1 – Destroyed the reputation of the Russian military.
    2 – Convinced Finland to join NATO, creating a new 1300 km border that opens pathways to Murmansk and St. Petersburg.
    3 – Sweden TK.
    4 – United Europe. No, really: united Europe. Europe we’re talking about. Yes, even the French.
    5 – Forged Ukraine into a strong, unified country and made Zelensky an international hero.
    6 – Handicapped the Russian economy, doing long-term, perhaps irreversible damage.
    7 – Embarrassed the senior member of the Russo-Chinese alliance.
    8 – Convinced Germany to weapon-up.
    9 – Ditto Taiwan.
    10 – Shown the world that if you want tanks, missiles and jets that actually, you know, work, you need to talk to the US, UK and our allies.

    If he were a CIA mole, would this not be their fantasy wishlist for a compromised Russian leader? Prove me wrong.

  2. charon says:

    Prove me wrong

    Not possible, but takes a very complex project to make it happen.

    Occam’s razor says Putin is a True Believer in Russian Exceptionalism goals and thought it would be easy. Russia has been trying for 300+ years to destroy Ukraine language and culture and Russify the place into integral Russia.

    You might consider Russian philosophers, Aleksandr Dugin. Vladislav Surkov, Ivan Ilyin. They all say Russian domination from Lisbon to Vladivostok is doable.

    Russia has been a colonial empire, analogous to the Roman Empire built around the Rome city-state since the Duchy of Muscovy became independent in 1470.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    There’s what they want, and what they think they’re doing, then there’s what is actually happening. Net effect: Putin is doing great work for the West.

  4. charon says:


    The entire Russian population is devoted to an idea of Russian greatness. exemplified by their victory in “The Great Patriotic War,” gained all by themselves. U.S. lend-lease, U.S./U.K. strategic bonbing of Germany etc. etc.? – Russian propaganda never mentions that, they never think about that.

  5. charon says:

    From Zelensky’s latest address:

    The House of Representatives of the United States Congress voted for a new and significant package of support for our state and global democracy. Almost $ 40 billion. A second vote will be held soon in the US Senate. This decision will then be signed by President Biden and will take effect.

    I am grateful to the people of America and to all our friends in Congress and Administration for their support.

    What exactly is positive? These funds will be used as quickly as possible and without bureaucracy to strengthen Ukraine’s defense. First of all, it is weapons and ammunition for us, equipment. But not only that. It is also a support for the investigation of war crimes of the Russian Federation, the occupiers, support for diplomatic work and more.

    The second decision is important and even historic. This is an update of America’s famous Lend-Lease program. People who remember history well know that Lend-Lease was one of the key preconditions for the Allied victory in World War II. Lend-Lease assistance from the United States to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union has dramatically changed the balance of power in Europe. Europeans then received a wide range of products under Lend-Lease – from aircraft to trucks, from aviation fuel to communication means. By the way, American radio stations and other things provided under Lend-Lease worked for the Soviet people long after the war. For decades. Hitler’s Germany, even with all the resources in the occupied territories, could do nothing to counter this potential of the Allies on the basis of American productive capacities.

    And it is no coincidence that the new Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act was signed on May 9. I am personally grateful to President Biden for this support, for this decision and for such symbolism.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The firing of a Mississippi assistant principal for reading pupils a humorous children’s book, I Need A New Butt!, has been upheld by his school district.

    The book describes a boy who tries to find a new bottom after he sees a “crack” in his current bottom which makes him afraid it is broken.

    In March, Toby Price, an assistant principal at Gary Road elementary school in Hinds county, Mississippi, was fired after reading the book to 240 children in a Zoom session. Price was called to the district superintendent’s office and told that he was being placed on leave. In a letter, the superintendent called the book “inappropriate” as it “described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof)”. “The book contains statements and cartoon pictures regarding bodily anatomy, bodily functions and removing clothing to expose private areas of the body in various positions,” the district said.

    Price was fired two days later, after being accused of violating the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics. He appealed. But on Monday his lawyers informed him the firing was upheld. In a report reviewed by the Washington Post, the district said: “Mr Price’s contract should be terminated due to his incompetence, neglect of duty, and for good cause.”

    Because we can’t have children becoming acquainted with butts, farts, or poop, much less laughing about them.

  7. Scott says:

    This is still going on. What is wrong with these prosecutors?

    Fort Worth’s Crystal Mason gets another chance to overturn 2016 illegal voting conviction

    Crystal Mason, a Fort Worth woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally casting a ballot that wasn’t even counted in 2016, will get another chance to overturn her conviction.

    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday that a lower appeals court mistakenly upheld Mason’s conviction two years ago when it said that it was irrelevant whether Mason was unaware that she was not eligible to vote.

  8. Kathy says:


    The guiding principle of the Russian empire has been Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality, since around the time of Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s.

    When wielded by a competent, able person, autocracy might achieve great things (whether the price is worth it remains a question). When wielded by an incompetent doofus who thinks they’re smarter than they are, it is a recipe for disaster. See Nicholas II, Louis XVI, Benito the Cheeto, and now Mad Vlad.

    Orthodoxy and nationality merely add cruelty to the despotism.

  9. Joe says:

    @Michael Reynolds, charon and Kathy:
    We might as well have the CIA running Russian elections and the KGB running US elections since the Duma and the Congress can’t seem to run anything.

  10. charon says:


    incompetent doofus

    It’s not just the doofus, as objectivly stupid as Putin is, the ethnic Russians have long been largely culturally conditioned to like being told what they may think, what they may say, they like that, there is lots of real nostalgia for Uncle Joe Stalin who showed “greatness”, the idea of national greatness is very strong.

    Russia really is a big imperialist colonial empire. All of Asian Russia, Siberia, Central Asia is mostly ethnic minorities, largely not even Russian speaking. The Caucasus region is also mostly not ethnic Russian. This is an unstable situation, the threat of minorities seeking independence is always there.

  11. Kathy says:


    Do you want to tell them the “Great” Stalin was a Georgian, or should I? 🙂

  12. charon says:


    I mentioned Putin’s philosophers upthread, including “Putin’s brain” Aleksandr Dugin.

    Here are links to a very long read at NYRB re Dugin:

    Putin’s ideas:

    Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics ..
    .. ..
    irst published in Demokratizatsiya 12.1 (Jan 31, 2004):
    .. ..

    One perceptive observer of the Russian political scene, Francoise Thom, noted as far back as 1994 that fascism, and especially its “Eurasianist” variant, was displacing Russian nationalism among statist Russian elites as a post-communist “Russian Idea,” especially in the foreign policy sphere. “The weakness of Russian nationalists,” she emphasized, “stems from their inability to clearly situate Russian frontiers. Euras[ianism] brings an ideological foundation for post-Soviet imperialism.” 1

    There probably has not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period that has exerted an influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites comparable to that of Aleksandr Dugin’s 1997 neo-fascist treatise, Foundations of Geopolitics. 2 The impact of this intended “Eurasianist” textbook on key elements among Russian elites testifies to the worrisome rise of fascist ideas and sentiments during the late Yeltsin and Putin periods.

  13. JohnSF says:

    Speaking of Finland and Sweden, UK yesterday signed mutual security deals with both.
    Effective immediately, they provide an interim additional guarantee to the EU mutual defence provisions before NATO membership is in effect.

    One possible reason for the UK moving first on this: treaties are a royal prerogative power, meaning the executive can implement one without reference to Parliament, unlike countries where legislative assent is required.

  14. charon says:


    Did not matter, they liked Uncle Joe’s style.

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    The Tarrant County DA is a Republican. Granted they are about to leave office, so exercising discretion is theoretically possible. That said, that office has partnered with Ken Paxton’s office on a number of these sorts of voting prosecutions so it’s highly unlikely.

  16. Matt Bernius says:


    Do you want to tell them the “Great” Stalin was a Georgian, or should I?

    There’s a linguistics “joke” about that–after Stalin’s ascent, everyone suddenly realized that proper Russian is pronounced with a Georgian accent. After his demise, this fact was quickly forgotten.

  17. Joe says:

    @Matt Bernius: The same basic joke exists about the Battenbergs (Mountbattens) ascending the throne in England when proper English was then spoken with a German accent – the dispute over “either” (eether/ayther) springs to mind.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @charon: At the start of the Cold War a major question was whether Russia was expansionist in support of international Communism or whether it was really just Russian imperialism. I think we have our answer. It’s just the way Russia is. Dugin features prominently in Masha Gessen’s The Future is History. Best I can figure out he’s sort of a super Glenn Beck, smarter, harder working, read everything, but still basically a fruitcake. Except unlike Beck he has government support. He has the long beard because he’s become an Old Believer. Eastern Orthodox who reject the church reform of the 17th century. (Some people can hold a grudge.) I keep waiting to see if Rod Dreher starts letting his beard grow out.

    I keep wondering how Xi feels about Eurasianism. I suspect he sees opportunity here to get Putin under his thumb.

  19. charon says:
  20. JohnSF says:

    Ah, exccpt there haven’t been any Battenburgs on the throne.
    Hanovers yes, and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but not Battenburgs.
    (I suspect the joke goes back to the Hanovers)

    Royal genealogy, and associated renaming-of-Germans is amusingly complicated to follow.
    (And the interesting point that the Hanover’s arguably did not have a surname at all)

  21. JohnSF says:

    Another “intersting” Russian philosopher in relation to Putin’s circles is Ivan Ilyin.
    Who in turn was influenced by the reactionary/fascist crossover of Julius Evola.

    Dugin may be influential in some circles; but OTOH as an “Old Believer” I’d guess he and Patriach Kirill might not get on.
    And Putin apparently regards himself as a mainstream Russian Orthodox.

    Interesting, given the paranoid/conspiracist mindset of a lot of fascists (and Evola in particular) is this little gem:

    Russian government goes full QAnon – today’s MoD briefing on WMD development in Ukraine maps out a global conspiracy including:
    – Obama
    – Clinton
    – Soros
    – Biden
    – Rockefellers
    – Pfizer
    – Moderna
    – German government
    – Polish government
    – Robert Koch Institute

    Makes you wonder: are they just peddling this horseshit to the hard-of-thinking alt-right and tankie left, or are at least some of them high on their own supply?

    Conspiracist nutcases with nukes.
    How absolutely lovely.

  22. MarkedMan says:


    I keep waiting to see if Rod Dreher starts letting his beard grow out.

    I wandered over to TAC to see what ol’ Rod was up to and actually read an entire column for the first time in a couple of years at least. Unfortunately it was because it was such an epic fail. He was excoriating the NYT for daring to write an article about growing numbers of white nationalists becoming attracted to the Russian Orthodox Church. The tone of Rod’s rebuttal, well, it was easy to picture him enraged, hopping from one foot to the other, spittle flying as he inveighed against the veritable whore of Babylon, the decadent NYT, daring to cast aspersions on the Holy Church. In fact, the tone was very reminiscent of his similar diatribes against the Boston Globe 20 years ago for daring to publish articles about his then Holy Church, the Roman Catholics, and the priests molesting children. HOW DARE THESE DECADENT SCANDAL MONGERS JUDGE A HOLY ENTITY! Turning a couple of outlying cases, dealt with immediately and thoroughly by the good bishops, into a church wide scandle!

    The funniest part was where he refuted the articles premise, that converts to the religion, especially in the South, had a growing number of white nationalists in their number. How did he refute this? By pointing out that his priest in Louisiana, an ex-military convert, could spot these guys right away and sent them packing! Of course, Dreher also mentioned in passing that this tough priest bemoaned the fact that the hierarchy was clueless when it came to the same guys. So, bottom line, his refutation consisted of an acknowledgement that it was happening, but he knew one priest who wouldn’t let it happen in his parish, but that the other priests were clueless.

    There was a lot of other poor argumentation, but this captures the drift. I suspect Dreher is just a hairs breadth away from a psychotic break.

  23. JohnSF says:

    Teach me to read the thread, missed that you had already mentioned Ilyin.
    And that Religion Dispatches article on Putin is well worth reading as well, thanks for that.

    One quibble though: Russia is a multi-ethnic construct. But Russian nationalism is not necessarily always Russo-supremacist.
    A multi-ethnic supra-national state can get along for a long time, as long as the dominant groups are open, restrained and inclusive.
    Arguably most European states have been or even are multi-ethnic.
    See Britain, Spain Switzerland, Belgium, etc.
    Problems arise when the dominant/majority group becomes unable to resist throwing it’s weight about.
    See e.g. Yugoslavia.; and periodic squabbles in the groups I mentioned.

  24. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: When I lived in Louisiana, one of my friends said, “There are lots of school districts where standards are lower than Louisiana, and most of them are in Mississippi.”

  25. Jon says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: And Arkansas!

    ETA: Sorry, I just feel compelled to list the states the suck more than we do at stuff 🙂

  26. charon says:


    Smaller states like Belgium, Switzerland can often stick together, though not always – e.g. Czechoslovakia.

    Big empires like Austria-Hungary tend to come unglued.

  27. charon says:


    In any case, Russia does not tolerate Ukrainian ethnicity, Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine culture, language etc. is completely genocidal.

  28. dazedandconfused says:


    …the ethnic Russians have long been largely culturally conditioned to like being told what they may think, what they may say, they like that, there is lots of real nostalgia for Uncle Joe Stalin who showed “greatness”

    Hedrick Smith reported extensively on the odd-seeming pining for Uncle Joe during the late 70’s in Soviet Russia. It wasn’t based on a desire to be told what to do, it was based on what happened to the lot of the average Russian under what came after.

    Uncle Joe’s system took a Stalin to run it. Under him there was very little corruption at the middle management levels, as being caught, and assuredly someone would rat you out, was an instant bullet to the head. When Joe passed the first thing the Russians did was end that horror, but kept the same economic system in which talented people with heavy responsibilities could expect little more than the average worker, a system which all but begs for grift. For the average Russian it became necessary to bribe people to get what they wanted. This was the beginning of the long slow meltdown which culminated in attempts at massive reform under Gorbachev, which utterly collapsed even the marginally functional system they had.

    They aren’t that much different from us, really. They are not some alien species. Nobody likes being ordered around with a gun to their head. It’s not always “the economy stupid”, but it frequently is, and the poorer people get the more so.

  29. Barry says:

    @MarkedMan: He’s been in the loonie bin for a while. It does not show because that is all of right-wing media.

  30. JohnSF says:

    There’s an argument that Austria-Hungary came unglued in a chain reaction: the French reinforced nationalism in (northern) Italy.
    The Magyars embraced it, but then sought a mini-empire of their own.
    The Germans were already in parts inclined to nationalism, and moved further in reaction to the Hungarians.
    Then the Slavs etc in turn became more self-conscious due to the increasingly ethno-centric behavior of German Austrians, and of Hungarians.

    Even so, it was defeat in war and external partition policies that sealed the fate of the Dual Empire, not revolution.

    National identity can be a funny thing.
    For instance, I am both English and British: they are not the same thing.
    But feeling one is both is not uncommon.

    Similarly, people can be both Scots and British, or Welsh and British.
    It is far, far rarer for someone to identify as both e.g. Scots and English.
    And it also less common (though certainly not unknown) for Northern Irish unionists to identify as British as well as Irish.

    Actually, I think there are considerable parallels (though also massive differences) between the British/English relation to Irish nationality and that of Russia to Ukrainians.

    Perhaps it is respect or contempt, that is the key to generating inter-ethnic-fission?
    My Ukrainian relatives informed me that the general Russian attitude Ukrainians was “humorous” condescension.
    Which Ukrainians often find extremely unfunny.

    Also, a very different attitude to authority, especially that of the rulers in Moscow; and a entirely different view of history.
    In the words of one Ukrainian:
    “We were free. We were enslaved. Never again”.

  31. Kathy says:

    There seems to be a yearning in many people for one strong, absolutist ruler to take over and fix everything. We see variants of absolute monarchy, defined as rule by one person, pop up over and over, even places that have banished it.

    Take Rome. It was a city state ruled by kings of Etruscan descent, until the people rebelled and established a republic (a form of democracy, defined as rule by the people). The republic lasted for several centuries, until a series of crises, economic downturns, permanent dispossession of the middle class, and more* resulted in first Caesar and then Augustus attempting to take over as absolute rulers. Augustus succeeded.

    Neither man was a tyrant, nor particularly cruel by the standards of their time. Caesar was known to forgive his vanquished enemies and even grant them positions of authority. Augustus didn’t go as far, but he did show mercy to their children, though not all of them.

    But the imperial system Augustus set up, left the door open for tyrannical and cruel men to rule. It didn’t take long, either. Augustus’ successor, Tiberius, is not remembered as cruel only because he was succeeded by Caligula, who needs no introduction. Nero closes the Julio-Claudian dynasty, but not the bad emperors.

    And yet, for a brief period in the second century CE, a succession of good emperors did rather well by the Roman citizens and subjects. Notably none of these five men were related to their predecessor, but were chosen on ability and merit. The list is Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. The streak ended when the last of them chose his son Commodus to succeed him.

    Much the same, with and without streaks of good or bad rulers, can be seen in the history of any polity with absolute rulers, be they kings, emperors, dictators, etc. That’s the real problem with such a system. A bad ruler cannot be removed easily or quickly.

  32. Kathy says:

    Orphaned asterisk above:

    * For a good treatment of the conditions that led to the rise of Julius Caesar, though he barely appears near the end, I recommend Mike Duncan’s “The Storm Before the Storm: the Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic.”

    I think I even saw it on the 2-for-1-credit sale at Audible yesterday.

  33. Joe says:

    @JohnSF: I stand corrected will accept your correction as a friendly amendment.

  34. JohnSF says:

    OTOH in later Rome, the problem was often that any ruler, good or bad, was too open to challenge by any general, good or bad.

    And quite often in the Islamic world after the collapse of the Arab caliphates, a nominally absolute monarch could be as useless as Ibrahim the Mad or Selim the Sot, but a separate line of viziers would run the place, and get unceremoniously (and often terminally) replaced if they weren’t up the job.
    But the entire system remained over-extractive.

    In post-medieval Europe the most adept countries at replacing or bypassing incompetent leaders were probably Britain and Netherlands.
    But even so, semi-absolutist France was arguably still the most powerful country in Europe until the 19th century.

    The Roman problem of the emperors was that in order to short-circuit the strife and corruption of the late republic, they were not just absolute but “total” rulers: there were few legitimate authorities remaining that operated outside the imperial sphere.
    And similar with the various sultans.

    Whereas western monarchies tended to have many more devolved, and legally defined, authority centres, operating continually to sustain a system that was locally responsive and structured, not “at whim”.

  35. JohnSF says:


    .. .a friendly amendment.

    ‘Tis that. 🙂
    Even us Brits can lose track of royal genealogies and rules of succession at times.
    (All hail our rightful monarch, Franz, Duke of Bavaria, of the House of Wittelsbach! Or is it Arthur Stuart, 8th Earl Castle Stewart? And I had to google that. 🙂 )

  36. CSK says:

    The rightful king would be the last Stuart descendant, correct?

  37. Jen says:

    Gov. Abbott continues his quest to be the most execrable human, only to be topped by Congressman Troy Nehls.

    Your “pro-life” Republicans.

    What horrible, awful people. Or, as Teve would remind us: terrible people with sh!tty values.

  38. JohnSF says:

    On the military problems of Russia in Ukraine:
    Russians attempt to cross Donets river at Bilohorivka, part of operations to encircle Lysychansk.
    Gets utterly stomped. (Apologies for the ad-mad Daily Mail link, but best single summary I could find)

    So today, they try again, nearby.
    And get hammered flat, again.

    You’d have thought that, by now, the lesson not to try crossings or landings where the UA have ongoing observation activity, and ranged in artillery, might have begun to penetrate even the densest Russian officer’s skull.

  39. JohnSF says:


    The rightful king would be the last Stuart descendant…

    Well, according to the Jacobite legitimists he would be (Franz or Arthur, depending on how you be counting).

    Of course, to your average pragmatic monarchist Brit:
    “The rightful monarch is whoever Crown-in-Parliament bloody well says it is. And whoever has the Army and Navy. Now bugger off, Stuarts.”
    (Followed by Orange League types being rude to Catholics, Non-Juror Anglo-Catholics sneering at the Prods, and everybody else effin’ off down the pub for a beer.)

  40. Kathy says:


    OTOH in later Rome, the problem was often that any ruler, good or bad, was too open to challenge by any general, good or bad.

    That’s a very succinct description of the Crisis of the Third Century.

    IMO, that’s always the danger of absolute rule, especially for bad rulers who fail to sufficiently dominate the population. Therefore the extreme cruelty and repression, like Stalin’s.

    But there’s more. One is a liking of cruelty, like Caligula, and I dare say much of the current GQP. The other is the O’Brien principle: you don’t want people to obey because they want to, but because they’re terrified of what you’ll do to them if they don’t especially when you order things that make people miserable.

    So we see the endless worry about projecting strength and concealing weakness, persecuting those who point the latter out even when it’s effing obvious, the constant need for self-abasing deference from high-level subordinates, etc. (most of which we saw Benito engage in).

  41. Kathy says:

    In lighter notes, I leave the office tomorrow, without a picogram of sorrow, for a much needed two-week break. One thing I want to do with my time is cream of tomato soup, which I make from scratch*.

    I usually have it with plain white rice and lime. This time I thought to add white corn as well. See, I’ve this tin of corn, but it’s 420 grams (drained). That’s almost a pound for those who need a translation. I can think of other things to do with them, but not with that much. So I thought I could freeze most of it for a latter recipe, and use the rest over a few days on soup.

    For another recipe I’m thinking fusion fried rice, with tomato paste, snow peas, celery, carrots, and corn.

    *well, not really from scratch. I do buy grown tomatoes.

  42. CSK says:

    When I lived in Edinburgh, someone would put a small ad in The Scotsman on the anniversary of the Earl of Bothwell’s death reading: “He kept traist.”

  43. CSK says:

    Show the Scots and the Irish a lost cause and they’ll fall all over themselves to sign up for it. One of my paternal ancestor was hanged, drawn, and quartered for participating in the uprising of 1745. His survivors decided they’d be better off hopping the next boat to what would become the U.S.A.

  44. JohnSF says:

    Perhaps the limit factor on absolutism is related to how far subordinates are inclined to put up with being humiliated?
    Maybe all nominees to high positions of state should be required to ritually, yet convincingly, mock and disparage the leader, before being confirmed in office?

  45. Kathy says:


    Humiliated and terrified.

    If it were just humiliated, Benito would have been removed via 25th amendment before the 2018 midterms.

  46. CSK says:

    Please. That would be “shitty people with shitty values.”

  47. JohnSF says:

    True in part.
    OTOH, the bitterest enemies of the Jacobite Highlander Sots were the Covenanter Lowlander Scots.
    (A bit of history Scots tend to sidle awa’ from 🙂 )
    And the Irish generally had little regard for the Jacobite campaigns of 1715 and 1745.
    Partly because of the savage repression of the Williamite War and after, partly because the Irish had come to see the whole business as a British and Scots affair, rather than their own cause, and partly because the Stuart Pretenders were generally seen as clients of the King of France, who was generally at odds with the Pope in this period.

    A point that dim-witted English and Orangist anti-Catholics were usually unable to grasp, then or later.

  48. CSK says:

    Oh, I know about the Lowland (Lallans) Scots Covenanters. A dreary collection of killjoys.

  49. JohnSF says:



    “Aye, and on the day of judgement, the LORD shall open the Great Book, and in it will be all the record of yer sins, and there shall be a weepin’ and a wailin’ and a gnashing of teeth!”
    Old lady:
    “But, reverend, I dinnae have any teeth.”
    “Teeth will be provided!”

  50. Kathy says:


    I vaguely recall an anecdote where a devout Christian says something like:

    I am sure there is a Hell, because God says there is. God is also all-merciful, so I’m certain Hell is empty.

  51. JohnSF says:


    …a devout Christian says something like… God is also all-merciful…

    Well, as some Anglicans might say, there’s Christians, then there’s Baptists. 🙂

  52. JohnSF says:

    (Or Presbyterians, for that matter. LOL)

  53. CSK says:



  54. gVOR08 says:


    There was a lot of other poor argumentation, but this captures the drift. I suspect Dreher is just a hairs breadth away from a psychotic break.

    I trust you’re aware he’s in the middle of a divorce. I don’t know if Dreher is going to flip out, but if you read the bios on his authors, TAC looks to be dancing close to bankruptcy. Nobodies. A pale shadow of the days of Larison and Bruce Bartelett.

  55. gVOR08 says:

    @charon: @JohnSF: I recently read Christopher Clark’s history of the outbreak of WWI, The Sleepwalkers. He claims Austro-Hungary was doing pretty well, keeping the Hungarians and other minorities on board and doing well economically. He feels they’d have done OK if the war hadn’t broken out. I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion.

  56. Drew says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    So, good. As a leader in the Trump is controlled by Putin contingent you should now thank Trump for getting into Putin’s head, and causing him to become an idiot.

  57. Mikey says:

    Last Friday my wife’s work did a very stupid thing putting 50 people in one conference room and now a bunch of them have COVID, including her. She tested positive on Monday. It really sucks not being able to get close.

    Well, I can get close now because yesterday’s sniffles I had put down to my area’s raging pollen count turned out to be a positive COVID test this morning.

    This thing is just…icky. It’s not a bad cold, it’s not a bad flu…it’s the mild versions of both simultaneously. Ugh.

    Thank goodness for vaccines. I’m sure it would be a very bad cold and a nasty flu without them. We had planned to get our second booster before traveling to see family this summer, now we wish we’d have gotten them as soon as they were made available.

    Anyway, time for Tylenol and hopefully a long night of decent sleep.

  58. Mister Bluster says:

    thank Trump for getting into Putin’s head, and causing him to become an idiot.

    So Trump is responsible for Russia invading Ukraine. Drew says so.

  59. Jax says:

    @Mikey: I was wondering how Mrs. Mikey was doing, sorry to hear it’s caught you, too!

  60. Jax says:

    @Drew: Sooooo…..exposure to Trump causes people to get stupid?

    I….ok, I’m down with that. I fully agree with you that exposure to Trump has caused a lot of normal people to get stupid.

  61. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Excuse me. The Irish gained their independence from the bloody British 100 f*cking years ago, you pissant godd*mn shite. Don’t give me that propagandist bullsh*t. Lost cause my f*cking left testicle, ya f*cking Nancy boy.

  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    That makes literally no sense. I don’t mean that I disagree, I mean that you have failed to use words to express a coherent thought. You never were very bright, but you’re now exhibiting signs of a loss of mental function. Pretty soon it won’t even be fun to ridicule you. Try to repeat the following five words: person woman man camera tv.

  63. JohnSF says:


    “The Irish gained their independence…”

    But the cause that was lost was that of the House of Stuart.
    As since 1745 they’ve had faint hope of being restored to the throne.

    At the time, the Jacobite cause was only marginally about independence, either Irish or Scottish, though it was often fuelled by dislike of an English dominated union, and only partially even about religion, though again Protestant ascendancy was a factor for some.
    (There were English Protestant Jacobites, albeit not that many).
    But none of the Stuarts aimed at being rulers only of a separate Ireland or Scotland: the entirety of the Three Kingdoms was the prize they sought.

  64. JohnSF says:


    …claims Austro-Hungary was doing pretty well, keeping the Hungarians and other minorities on board…

    IMO a basic problem with Austria-Hungary was that it was Austria-Hungary.
    The settlement of 1867 transformed the old dynastic Habsburg Lands into the Dual Monarchy; in effect giving the Hungarians control of their part of the territories.

    Problem: the Hungarian territory also contained Slovaks, Croats, Romanians, Ruthenians (aka Ukrainians) etc who Hungarian nationalists refused to regard a deserving of equal respect.
    The old problem of European nationalism: we are a true nation, you are merely inferior peasants speaking an obscure dialect, and/or obstacles to our national interest who must be supressed.
    At the same time, the Austrian half became prey to tensions between German nationalists and Slavs.
    And lets not even start on the Italian aspect; or the former German Confederation.

    Related, the famous reply of Emperor Francis II:

    One day, when a distinguished servant of the Empire was recommended to him for special notice, his sponsor remarked that he was a staunch and loyal patriot.
    The old Emperor looked up sharply: “Ah! But is he a patriot for me?”

    Had the Great War not happened, the Empire could have stumbled on in messy compromise.
    But it was in part the inability of the imperial elite to handle the stress of managing the process that led to the outbreak of war in the first place.

  65. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @gVOR08: Part of the problem is that Austria-Hungary fncked the Russians in 1907 over the question of passage through the Dardanelles and Bosporus. This made the Russians much more inclined to try to fnck the Austro-Hungarians by encouraging Serbia to stir up trouble. Up to that time, the Serbs had been considered a bunch of murderous thugs (re: the murder of their king and queen in 1903).