Wednesday’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. charontwo says:
  2. charontwo says:

    Mentions on Fox News primetime tonight:

    Ohio referendum: 0

    Hunter Biden: 47

  3. charontwo says:

    Tweet with gift link to NYT piece:

    New- Secret memo to overthrow election obtained by NYT. Check out this article from
    . Gift link-

    The existence of the Dec. 6, 2020, memo came to light in last week’s indictment of Mr. Trump, though its details remained unclear. But a copy obtained by The New York Times shows for the first time that the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, acknowledged from the start that he was proposing “a bold, controversial strategy” that the Supreme Court “likely” would reject in the end.

    But even if the plan did not ultimately pass legal muster at the highest level, Mr. Chesebro argued that it would achieve two goals. It would focus attention on claims of voter fraud and “buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump’s column.”

    The memo had been a missing piece in the public record of how Mr. Trump’s allies developed their strategy to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. In mid-December, the false Trump electors could go through the motions of voting as if they had the authority to do so. Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally count those slates of votes, rather than the official and certified ones for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    While that basic plan itself was already known, the document, described by prosecutors as the “fraudulent elector memo,” provides new details about how it originated and was discussed behind the scenes. Among those details is Mr. Chesebro’s proposed “messaging” strategy to explain why pro-Trump electors were meeting in states where Mr. Biden was declared the winner. The campaign would present that step as “a routine measure that is necessary to ensure” that the correct electoral slate could be counted by Congress if courts or legislatures later concluded that Mr. Trump had actually won the states.


    Three days later, Mr. Chesebro drew up specific instructions to create fraudulent electors in multiple states — in another memo whose existence, along with the one in November, was first reported by The Times last year. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot also cited them in its December report, but it apparently did not learn of the Dec. 6 memo.

    “I believe that what can be achieved on Jan. 6 is not simply to keep Biden below 270 electoral votes,” Mr. Chesebro wrote in the newly disclosed memo. “It seems feasible that the vote count can be conducted so that at no point will Trump be behind in the electoral vote count unless and until Biden can obtain a favorable decision from the Supreme Court upholding the Electoral Count Act as constitutional, or otherwise recognizing the power of Congress (and not the president of the Senate) to count the votes.”

    While another lawyer — John Eastman, described as Co-Conspirator 2 in the indictment — became a key figure who championed the plan and worked more directly with Mr. Trump on it, Mr. Chesebro was an architect of it. He was first enlisted by the Trump campaign in Wisconsin to help with a legal challenge to the results there.

    Much more stuff at the link, it’s a long read.

  4. Scott says:


    I posted this on the other thread also since I’m not sure where the conversation will pick up.

    I suspect the issue is more than abortion rights even if abortion may be a galvanizer. I suspect people are tired of gerrymandering, of minority rule, of gaming the rules. They are tired of voting for something and immediately a legislature or other group immediately watering down what they voted for. They are tired of being the majority and treated as though they are the minority.

    If Democrats are smart (a sometimes questionable proposition), they would run on a Freedom rights agenda: Freedom of marriage; Freedom of family planning; Freedom to vote. Etc. And wave the flag as they do it.

  5. Scott says:

    @charontwo: Typical. Ohio urban areas for, rural against. That one anomaly in SE Ohio looks to be Ohio University in Athens.

  6. charontwo says:


    This is long read which I skimmed (at


    The final paragraphs:

    Chesebro’s conduct in the 2020 election is one of the reasons I joined several dozen prominent legal figures in signing onto an ethics complaint against him submitted to the Supreme Court of New York’s attorney grievance committee. That complaint alleged that his “conduct was infused throughout with ‘dishonesty, fraud, deceit, [and] reckless or intentional misrepresentation’ contrary to the core standard of” the rules of professional conduct.

    The latest indictment places his conduct in even more stark terms.

    My own conclusion is that all of this, the indictment included, reveals that from at least mid-November 2020, Chesebro had contrived a scheme (later adapted by Eastman), which included misusing the very parts of my treatise that Chesebro had helped me with as a research assistant going back to the second edition (1988), thereby casting me falsely as a supporter of a ludicrous reading of the Constitution that Chesebro and Eastman both apparently sought to normalize so that it would make it easier for Trump to get away with circumventing the Act.

    A dissection of the November 18 Memorandum shows not only a gross misrepresentation of legal authorities, but more importantly Chesebro’s pivotal role in laying the groundwork for “a coup in search of a legal theory.”

    The import of all this goes well beyond elections past and reaches to elections yet to come. Congress meticulously updated and reinforced the Electoral Count Act in legislation signed into law last December. In future elections, removing the guardrails of the Electoral Count Act as Chesebro sought to do could grievously endanger our entire system of self-government under law.

  7. @Scott:

    And wave the flag as they do it.

    I think this is good advice and fits something I have been thinking about, but have not written about: they need to connect to some core patriotic themes (e.g., “We the People”) and link them to core democracy themes.

  8. @charontwo: What, no stories about HRC’s e-mails?

  9. charontwo says:

    GOP rising star. moving up in the primary polling:

    Ukraine-ism is now a new religion. Kyiv is the Vatican, Zelensky is the pope, and career politicians in both parties are the new faithful. It’s sad that they’ll make a pilgrimage halfway around the world while ignoring the invasion across our own southern border right here at home.

  10. charontwo says:

    BREAKING: if you are wondering why Judge Cannon issued on 8/7, without the defense requesting it, an Order directing the government why it was using a non-FLA grand jury, here is an answer: on 8/6 former Trump lawyer was on Fox raising that entirely bogus issue.
    1/2 clip attached

  11. MarkedMan says:

    For years now I’ve been saying that the Republican Party is the Party of Lies. It’s not just hyperbole, I truly believe that reflects reality, and that means it has great consequence. The Ohio amendment is just another example, one of many. Remember, in unison the Ohio Repubs initially insisted that this amendment was only about the constitution and had no other issues. It was, of course, “100% about abortion” as one of the the party leaders got caught saying to a group of friendlies. When they realized that lie wasn’t working, they shifted to ‘it’s about the girly-men and manly-girls barging into your bathrooms and filling them with cooties’ and brought Mike Pence in to repeat that lie. I could point to a thousand other Republican lies about a hundred different subjects, but the bottom line is that a Republican being upfront about what they want to do is so rare I assume it is an accident. Whenever they engage on a political effort their default is lies and deceit.

    There are some here that feel it is a virtue to listen to what professional liars have to say so as to “get all sides”. But lying isn’t a side, it’s a con. And once someone has shown themselves to be a professional con artist you are not engaging in a debate, you are pitting yourself (an amateur, I assume) against a professional trying to fool you in any way they feel will work. The only sensible thing to do is ignore them and point out their lies to everyone else at every opportunity.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Prof. Jose-Luis Jimenez

    Sudden DECREASE IN AIR POLLUTION improves HEALTH immediately & over 3 yrs

    Pittsburgh: a highly polluting coke plant is suddenly closed

    – Emergency visits for cardiovascular disease decreased 42% immediately, continued over 3 yrs

    – No change in control

    That graph is rather stunning..

  13. Daryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Try to keep up…”Hunter Biden” is the new “but her E-mails”

  14. Kylopod says:

    @charontwo: Ramaswamy has one significant point of vulnerability in the primaries, and I’m not talking about his skin color. I’m talking about his religion. He is, apparently, still an open and professed Hindu.

    He was on an evangelical program recently (Flashpoint), and his appearance got significant blowback from viewers, to the point the host was forced to address it on air following the appearance. There are also some prominent evangelicals who have been taking this position:

    Drawing a comparison to former President Barack Obama, [Abby] Johnson cautioned viewers not to be fooled by charisma and eloquence, stating, “Do not be a victim of Satan’s confusion right now. This is an important time for us to have clarity of mind as we are going into an election cycle. So please discern. Please use discernment right now because God hates those who are willing to put up idols over him, and he will not be mocked.”

    Ramaswamy is trying real hard to appeal to these folks. He calls America a Christian nation and says the real enemy is secularism. He hasn’t just called the Ukraine cause a “religion,” but also what he calls “Covidism,” “wokeism,” and “climateism.”

    Is his Hindu faith going to be a deal-breaker in the primaries in the unlikely event that Trump isn’t the nominee, or in the somewhat likelier event that he comes under consideration to be Trump’s running mate? My hunch is yes.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Is his Hindu faith going to be a deal-breaker

    Yes, Idolatry is always a deal breaker for Evangelicals.

  16. JohnSF says:

    “Welcome to class Mr Ramaswamy. Please sit down, and we’ll get this lesson started…”

  17. Kylopod says:


    Idolatry is always a deal breaker for Evangelicals.

    He identifies as a monotheistic Hindu. But I doubt that’s going to do much to quell the reservations of a crowd who think Sikhs are Muslims and who almost certainly assume all Hindus are people who pray to statues of a lady with many arms.

    In the end, the real problem is that he’s not a Christian, period. Maybe they’d be willing to tolerate a right-wing Jew (though I have my doubts), but anything beyond that is unacceptable heresy, regardless of how closely their politics align.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: I’ll admit I did not know he claims to be “a monotheistic Hindu” (whatever that is, I am largely ignorant of Hinduism in any of it’s forms) but anything that isn’t Jesus is idolatry.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    philip lewis

    The 17-year-old accused of fatally stabbing O’Shae Sibley while he was vogueing at a gas station claimed to be Muslim – but that’s not the truth, according to his family

    Dmitriy Popov, is a “Christian boy,” born in the U.S. and his parents are Russian

  20. gVOR10 says:

    @MarkedMan: As it was in the 1880s, is now, and ever shall be (or maybe another few decades), the Republican Party is the party of wealth and corporate interests. As with the Ohio GOPs on abortion, they can’t openly say what they want. Their real platform is low taxes for me, subsidies for me, no regulation for me, full throttle fossil fuel extraction until it runs out, and nothing for thee. For the most part they can’t openly advocate for any of that. So they lie. They push trickle down econ, climate denial, and an astroturfed populism. They have nothing to offer the median voter so they run on Obama is a Muslim, Hillary’s emails, and now CRT in grade school, grooming, immigration, and something about Bud Light. Ron DeSantis is running on anti-elite populism, but that’s a front for his real campaign which is based on money from lobbyists and wealthy donors. GOP pols don’t have a governing philosophy, they have a business plan, deliver for their corporate masters and get enough money in return to buy reelection.

    The lying is built into the contradictions in the Party. But the contradictions have been building up and the populist Frankenstein monster they’ve built may turn on them.

  21. CSK says:


    So did he think that by yelling “we are Muslim; get that gay shit out of here” the prosecutor would go easy on him?

  22. Beth says:


    I suspect Judge Cannon is 1. Not a very good attorney, 2. Not particularly bright, and 3. A RAGING partisan.

    1 and 2 is pretty common with State Court judges, frustratingly so, but less common with Federal Judges. But with the push the FedSoc loonies to stock the bench with 3’s I’m sure they didn’t give a rats patootie about 1&2.

    Ok, having perused her Wikipedia page I’m convinced she’s a mediocrity who knows who’s ass to kiss and is a raging partisan. I can guarantee whatever she does it’s going to make the situation worse. Oh, and she has a history of being pro prosecutor except in the Trump cases or if she gets a bug up her ass about something.

  23. gVOR10 says:

    @charontwo: I’ve been trying to remember. One of the GOP SCOTUS justices bragged he didn’t follow main stream news, getting his news from FOX et al, but I can’t remember which. Anybody remember?

    Cannon sounds like she’s also a true believer. We like to think the detachment from reality is a low education MAGA thing, but it isn’t. The biggest Trump supporters are the petite noblesse car dealers and ready-mix operators who show up for boat parades. And a fair number of well educated elites are also delusional. Survey after survey shows it takes a certain level of intelligence to be able to delude oneself. Somebody a few days ago was pointing out the news pages at WSJ are also GOP propaganda and were long before Murdoch bought the rag. The hoary “republic not a democracy” thing is code for government of the best people, by the best people, and for the best people, people like me. Which, if you come down to it, was the vision of the Founders.

  24. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR10: I definitely think the GOP commitment to lying long predates the rise of Trump. One prominent example for me is their response to Obamacare.

    There are a ton of legitimate criticisms that can be leveled against the law. It doesn’t come close to the goal of universal coverage as it was marketed, the exchanges often provide substandard insurance, it keeps most of the perverse employment-based system, millions of people are still without insurance, millions are still in serious medical debt or one emergency away from entering it–and so on.

    However, the law was absolutely an improvement over the state of health care in this country prior to the passage of the ACA. It provided greater access to health care, increased the amount of people who are insured, and curbed the rising costs. None of this is a matter of opinion. It’s simply an objective fact, every bit as much of an objective fact as the fact that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. The claim that the ACA caused harm to people’s access to health care and drove up costs is not a legitimate opinion; it is simply a lie. Yet that lie essentially became the GOP’s official position following the law’s passage.

    The prime difference with the GOP’s current lies about election fraud and so on is that the lies about Obamacare were usually more indirect, less explicit. There were a few outright lies such as the death panels, but the GOP’s central critiques of the law were more subtle. They usually didn’t state outright that the passage of the law caused harm to the access and cost of health care, but they heavily implied it. What they would do instead was utter a string of criticisms, some of which may have even been individually valid, but with rare exceptions, most Republican politicians and pundits never acknowledged the objective fact that the law improved access to health care in this country, and they certainly never acknowledged the objective fact that the policies being pushed to replace the law would have greatly reduced people’s access. What has changed in the Trump era isn’t the fact that the GOP lies, it’s how overt they are willing to be.

    And I’m not suggesting it began in the Obama years, either. It goes back a long way. It’s reflected in their tax policies, the purpose of which is put more money in the hands of the rich while misleading the public in believing the middle class are the main beneficiaries. Just like with health care, when it comes to complicated economic policies it’s easy to mislead people without stating outright falsehoods.

    Jonathan Chait hit the nail on the head in his 2007 book The Big Con:

    Yet, as will become clear, the fact remains that dishonesty has become integral to the Republican economic agenda in a way that it is not to the Democratic agenda. The reason is not that Republicans are individually less honest than Democrats. Far from it. It is simply that the GOP, and the conservative movement, have embraced an economic agenda far out of step with the majority of the voting public. Republicans simply can’t win office or get their plans enacted into law, without fundamentally misleading the public. Lying has become a systematic necessity.

    When did this really start? I agree with you that the GOP has been the party of wealth and corporate interests since at least as far back as the end of Reconstruction. But I think the fundamental dishonesty–and the level of disparity with the Democrats’ record on this (because, let’s face it, lying has always been part of politics)–took a while to arrive. Chait traces it to the rise of Reaganomics. I tend to think it started with the rise of Buckley conservatism in the 1950s as well as the concurrent Bircher movement, which were really two sides of the same coin.

    And that has its own history to explain it: the way Republicans in the 1920s moved away from the Progressive movement they had flirted with a decade earlier, and embraced a more laissez-faire outlook; the Depression and the rise of the New Deal which made corporate conservatives extremely unpopular; the right-wing backlash against Eisenhower’s accommodationism to the modern welfare state; and, last but not least, the civil rights movement and the end of Jim Crow, leading ultimately to the Southern strategy and the defection of white racists to the GOP–really the first culture war.

  25. Gustopher says:

    Update on Florida and AP Psychology: apparently the state didn’t walk the ban back far enough, and no one is sure what to do, so districts are still dropping it.

    Clever plan to appear more moderate while still getting their way, or just plain incompetence? I have no idea.

    Large school districts across Florida are dropping plans to offer Advanced Placement Psychology, heeding a warning from state officials that the course’s discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity violates state law.

    Eight of the 11 districts with the largest enrollments in the class are switching to alternate courses, and just one said it will stick with AP Psychology. Two others are still deciding, officials said.

    The state of Florida has encouraged schools to teach the course without objectionable material about sexual orientation and gender identity. But the College Board, which runs AP, says these topics are central to the study of psychology and cannot simply be excised. Last week, the College Board said the course was “effectively banned” and advised districts not to offer it.

    Further complicating the matter, a day later, Florida’s education chief told districts that his agency believes the schools can offer the course “in its entirety” but also said it should be “in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate.” The state has previously said teaching school-age students about sexual orientation and gender is inappropriate

  26. charontwo says:


    I suspect Judge Cannon is 1. Not a very good attorney, 2. Not particularly bright, and 3. A RAGING partisan.

    4. Very inexperienced.

    Conducting grand jury investigations is solely within the province of the executive branch. As I told
    , “It may be awkward, but the special counsel may need to politely tell Judge Cannon to butt out.”

    From Salon:

    District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday asked special counsel Jack Smith about his use of an out-of-district grand jury in the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump.

    Cannon, the federal judge in South Florida assigned to the case, is demanding answers from Smith on the “legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district.”

    Special counsel may need to push back on Trump-appointed judge for “crossing into” his lane, says Barb McQuade

    “Based on her order, it appears that Cannon is crossing into the government’s lane,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor, told Salon. “Under the constitutional separation of powers structure, the executive branch has sole authority to investigate and charge criminal offenses. There is no reason the special counsel cannot investigate related charges in other districts.”

  27. Kathy says:


    You might want to check “The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market,” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It’s more about how business, and the various libertarian and affiliated or similar groups, have been spreading propaganda to favor business and sow distrust of government.

  28. CSK says:

    Per ABC: The FBI shot and killed a man in Provo, Utah while trying to arrest him. The man had been making credible threats against Biden and other administration official for months.

  29. gVOR10 says:

    @Kathy: Thanks. I saw something about that a week or two ago, had it on my . Just bought it for Kindle.

  30. gVOR10 says:

    @Kylopod: Obamacare clearly was an improvement. But it’s not an improvement from the point of view of the Koch fueled anti-tax glibertarian billionaires. But they can’t say that in public, hence all the lying. And it’s definitely gotten worse. I tend to date the acceleration to Gingrich and his win at any cost politics. Hacker and Pierson in Winner Take All Politics date it to the mid 70s when, in reaction to the Clean Air Act and OSHA corporations started to put more money into politics.

    We could list a hundred inflection points. Maybe it’s just that the money at stake got bigger.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    Robbie Robertson has died. 80

    Up on Cripple Creek

  32. Mister Bluster says:
  33. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Robbie Robertson & 80.
    Hardly makes sense, why it was only a few years ago…
    Going to have to dig out Robbie Robertson.
    Such a great record.


  34. charontwo says:

    Four quick reactions to the former President’s request to establish a SCIF at MAL to talk about classified info: (i) it would be unprecedented; (ii) it doesnt appear defense counsel spoke to the Classified Info Security Officer about the feasibility of such an approach 1/2

    (iii) defense counsel wouldnt be able to take notes (b/c they are not requesting authorization to possess/create classified docs); (iv) although counsel notes former President “regularly” declassified info, they still do not argue he declassified the info at issue in this case.

    Who would bet on Cannon not approving this request? Act first, discover consequences later seems to work for her.

    From the replies:

    Can I just ask what is the point if they can’t take notes? What can even be accomplished by just “discussing” classified documents that would help their defense? This whole thing is off-kilter to me

    And, obviously –

    Does a federal judge even have the authority to approve where a SCIF is?

  35. charontwo says:


    This is the document, BTW. As long and tedious as you would expect.


  36. a country lawyer says:

    @Beth: I see from her wiki page that in her twelve years as an assistant U.S. Attorney she “participated” in only four jury trials. Even for Federal Court where there are typically fewer trials than in State court, that is an absurdly low number of trials. Also “participating” indicates that she was not even lead counsel, but second chair. I would have expected that in her first year alone she should have tried eight or ten cases. By the end of my first dozen years I had more than a hundred trials to verdict, and my case is hardly unique. Her lack of trial experience shows in her rulings.

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..Robbie Robertson
    Variety has an extensive tribute. I knew about some of his work but there is so much more.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    Looking for edit key.

    ETA. Here it is on my Google Chrome. Seems to have vanished from Safari.

  39. Mister Bluster says:


  40. Itsamemario says:

    It doesn’t look like the Outside the Beltway endorsed tactic of just ignoring Joe Biden is working all that well when it comes to the public overall.

    War in Ukraine, problems on the southern border, inflation, Hunter, out of control deficit and debt, and a host of other major issues out there. And the guys running this place just can’t quite bring themselves to say much of anything about the guy who is actually supposed to be in charge of dealing with it all.

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    This post is made on my Safari. I have been getting prompts to update my Safari browser for a while now. Since I can use the Chrome as back up I haven’t bothered. Unfortunately I have been getting prompts to update Chrome too.

    My biggest fear is that I may not have everything backed up and/or that I may just smoke the entire machine. As long as I can get to my bank account and credit card accounts…
    I guess I gotta do something.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:..Plan B

    My “new” (10 months old) iPhone SE (iOS 16.1) says that it has 7 Applications. Damned if I know what they are. I have not attempted to download any apps. I guess I could install the Bank and Credit Card and other bill paying apps that I use so I don’t have to worry about the lap top. Basically none of this has been done as I am just too lazy and don’t want to bother. I think I’ll sleep on it.

  43. Kingdaddy says:

    DeSantis dismisses an elected county prosecutor for reasons you will probably guess before reading the article:

    Unclear how constitutionally this works.

  44. gVOR10 says:

    @Kathy: Kylopod and I were kicking around just when the descent of the GOPs began. I’ve seen statements that it was Goldwater’s campaign that first explicitly said we’re business men, we’ve been manipulating public opinion for years to sell our products, we’ll use the same mass marketing techniques to sell our candidate.

  45. Mister Bluster says:

    iPhone test

    Here’s the Edit Key on my iPhone. Looks like no Edit Key on my Safari browser on my MacBook Air means that the Safari browser is one step closer to digital hell.

  46. Paine says:

    For the love of god, someone please get Dianne Feinstein to retire.

  47. charontwo says:


    She can’t. Because of Senate rules and GOP behavior, no replacement on judiciary committee, so no more judge appointments confirmed if she does.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: I had a prompt to update my system on my Windows today. It came in the form of a little yellow dot on the start button in my open-Windows-to-see-all-the-things-I-can-connect-to box. I’d probably have never noticed except that Windows now has some sort of feature the prevents you from going online if you need to update. 45 minutes and a restart later, I was (more or less) back in bidnezz.

    ETA: My three year old Android phone has about 40 applications, most of which I have never used.

  49. James Joyner says:

    @Itsamemario: There are 1603 posts at OTB tagged “Joe Biden.”