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. Neil Hudelson says:

    For maybe the third time in my life I got to participate in an actually competitive election last night. Our lil suburb had one town council election (in addition to some more minor offices) and went from a 5-0 Republican dominated town council to 4-1. The Democrat took out the incumbent by about 100 votes.

  2. Paine says:

    On my small town Washington State ballot of the 10 or so races to vote on only one involved a choice between two people.

    Makes me think I should run for city council… not a lot of competition.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:


    Yup. The one race here where the Dem won was the one race a Dem ran. Might be a lesson in there if one squints hard enough.

  4. Scott says:

    On this day in history:

    1923: Adolf Hitler launched his first attempt at seizing power in Germany with a failed coup in Munich that came to be known as the “Beer-Hall Putsch.”

    If at first you don’t succeed….

  5. Beth says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The lesson is Biden is old and the Dems are in disarray, Politico said so.

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Beth: Dems failed to unseat the Mississippi governor, which could spell trouble for them. If Elvis Brandon can’t win, what does that say about Dark Brandon?


  7. CSK says:

    Why does Trump refer to Letitia James as Peekaboo?

  8. Kathy says:

    Today Benito’s favorite son, his daughter, testifies at the fraud trial.

    I’ve no expectations, even if she did testify in front of the January 6 Committee. But she is in the best position to throw the Cheeto under the bus. For one thing, she’s not a party in the case. More important, there’s nothing she can say or do that would get Benito to want her any less. El Cheeto is to Ivanka like the Cheeto’s base is to him.

  9. Jon says:

    @CSK: Because he is a racist and because jigaboo would get called out even by fellow Republicans.

  10. Scott says:

    Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) had moved to censure Tlaib for what he called “promoting false narratives” about the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack on Israel

    If promoting false narratives is the criteria for censure, shouldn’t the newly elected Speaker of the House and most of the House Republicans be put up for censure for election denialism?

  11. Jen says:

    @Scott: To paraphrase Cher from Clueless, looking for ideological consistency from Republicans is like looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.

  12. Kathy says:


    From time to time, I get the feeling James Pearce is running all US media reports on the Democratic Party.

  13. SenyorDave says:

    @Scott: Well, here’s somebody who definitely should be censured:
    Rep. Brian Mast, a representative from Florida who’s been in Congress since 2017, made the comparison in the middle of a short speech he gave as Congress debated whether or not to impose sanctions on Hamas.
    Mast equated Palestinian civilians to civilians of World War II-era Nazi Germany weeks after Hamas terrorists launched a large-scale coordinated attack against Israel, leading to more than 1,400 Israeli civilian deaths. Since then, the Israeli military has responded by dropping bombs on buildings in Gaza — along with a refugee camp — killing more than 8,000 Palestinian civilians, more than 3,600 of whom were children, according to Gazan officials.

    “I think when we look at this as a whole, I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians,” Mast said. “As is frequently said, I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”
    Sure, an 8 year old Palestinian child is just like the Nazis
    I’ll give him this, he’s smart enough to know who he can make slurs about and not have to worry about consequences.

  14. CSK says:
  15. Kylopod says:


    Mast said. “As is frequently said, I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”

    People absolutely do talk about innocent German civilians during WWII. Does he not know about Dresden? Or does he think those were all pro-Nazi collaborators?

  16. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: In 2008, there was an article featuring an anecdote I’ve never been able to forget. They interviewed this guy who said he had been a Republican for decades, but switched his registration to Democrat so he could vote in the primaries against the candidate he referred to as “Embowa.”

    Now, I can’t know for certain what was going through this man’s head that led him to that bizarre mispronunciation, but my suspicion is that he was making Obama’s name sound more stereotypically “African.”

    Racism is weird.

  17. Scott says:

    @Kylopod: I do wonder if that is an alternate reason Daniel Cameron lost in Kentucky. Because no matter how right wing MAGA conservative he was, those white Kentuckians were not going to vote for a Black man.

  18. Franklin says:

    @Jon: I agree. This is yet another dog whistle because Peekaboo gives some small amount of plausible deniability. But every racist knows exactly what he’s saying.

  19. Kathy says:

    Remember a few months back when Orcas were bumping boats around the Mediterranean?

    Well, they’ve escalated to sinking yachts.

  20. Mikey says:


    Racism is weird.

    It’s not just weird. It’s also stupid.

    Like, I’m sure that guy thought he was being clever, but…”Embowa?” It’s just stupid.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    I imagine we’ll spend a lot of time discussing and bemoaning this. I mean, there must be some way to blame Israel.

    NAIROBI — Sudanese paramilitaries and allied militias have seized control of cities in the western region of Darfur from the government army, with mass killings reported in one regional capital and at a camp for displaced families, eyewitnesses said.

    The military has repeatedly bombed civilian neighborhoods, and the RSF, which is allied with several ethnically Arab militias, has been blamed for multiple attacks on hospitals and mass killings, as well as ethnically motivated attacks in the western region of Darfur. So far 6 million people in Sudan have fled their homes and half of the population needs urgent aid.

  22. just nutha says:

    @Jon: Oh, yeah. That explains it.

  23. just nutha says:

    @Scott: Yes. But censure works exactly like impeachment, so what would be the point?

  24. CSK says:

    @Jon: @just nutha:

    I don’t know; the j-word seems a little obvious even for Trump.

  25. Jon says:

    @CSK: That’s why he went with peekaboo instead. He gets plausible deniability *and* the profoundly racist Republican base still knows what he means. Win-win!

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: On the other hand, we are not actively and unreservedly supporting one side in that conflict, one in which those who control policy have no desire for peace except total victory. So bottom line, I don’t get your point. This is exactly the type of situation where we do not pick sides, and we are not, at least not in any tangible sense.

  27. Kylopod says:


    Because no matter how right wing MAGA conservative he was, those white Kentuckians were not going to vote for a Black man.

    It could be a factor, but there’s also the countervailing tendency of conservatives to tokenize minorities, using support for black and brown MAGA candidates as a shield against being accused of racism, and as a way of throwing the racism charge back at Democrats. (It’s always revealing how much projection they engage in. They have long claimed–falsely–that any time they criticize a black Democrat they are automatically accused of racism. But the moment they have “their” African American, they eagerly hurl the racism charge at Dems for any criticism at all directed at the person. It’s a revealing window into the way they see the world, and how racism to them means little more than an insult you lob at your opponents.)

    In any case, there’s no way to know what exactly went through Kentucky voters’ heads when they went to the polls, but the basic Occam’s Razor take on the election–Beshear is personally popular and the incumbent, and they don’t mind voting for Dems on occasion for non-federal offices–is more than sufficient to explain the results.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Is it too soon for the How Long Does Johnson Last as Speaker pool?

    At the closed-door meeting underneath the Capitol on Tuesday morning, Johnson presented a menu of spending strategies to his conference. It included passing a temporary measure that would extend government funding into early 2024 that contains a handful of conservative policies and negotiating a deal directly with the Senate.

    Some hard-right conservatives have backed a third option, which Johnson also discussed, that would fund some government agencies for only a few weeks, and others for a longer period.

    The discussion amounted to a concession that House Republicans’ preferred way of funding the government — through passing a dozen individual spending bills — was no longer feasible with a deadline less than two weeks away, and after they squandered three weeks fighting over who should be speaker after McCarthy’s ouster.

    They are still hoping to pass as many spending bills as possible to put themselves in a stronger bargaining position for negotiations with the Senate. But Johnson has faced the same headwinds McCarthy did in passing the funding measures, with some politically vulnerable Republicans unwilling to support bills saddled with deep cuts and conservative policy riders.

    More there but the most interesting new entry is

    At the same time, top Senate Republicans were digging in against advancing any aid to Israel and Ukraine that did not include significant immigration policy changes and money, even though Democrats led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York quickly dismissed their initial offer as unacceptable.

    “Making Ukraine funding conditional on the hard-right border policies that can’t ever pass Congress is a huge mistake by our Republican colleagues,” Schumer said. “By tying Ukraine to border, Republicans are sadly making it harder — much harder — for us to help Ukraine in their fight against Putin.” [emphasis added]

    Making support for Ukraine harder: Bug or feature?

  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wait, I thought the concern was for children in Gaza. No? We don’t weep for Sudanese children?

    ETA: Put it this way, do you think for one minute that criticism of Israel would be any less if we didn’t send them weapons? Because Europe’s not sending them weapons, nor is the rest of the world, yet criticism of Israel will outpace criticism of Sudanese forces by a thousand to one. This story won’t even get above the fold.

  30. gVOR10 says:

    @Kylopod: Speaking of Dark Brandon, here in SW FL I filled the Honda Monday for $2.999. Way to go Brandon.

  31. EddieInCA says:


    And every time I pass a gas station in So. Cal., where gas is still close to $6 per gallon, I”m thankful for my electric car and free charging stations all over. Haven’t paid to charge my car in three months, with all the free chargers near me.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I had no idea that Rick Santorum was even a thing anymore but here goes:

    Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) offered some strange takes in quick succession as it became clear that Tuesday’s election results would be bad for Republicans and conservative causes.

    “You put very sexy things like abortion and marijuana on the ballot, and a lot of young people come out and vote,” he griped on Newsmax.

    That’s almost as creepy as Johnson’s and son’s porn monitoring. Santorum continues with another a republic, not a democracy golden oldie–but with a new twist.

    “Thank goodness that most of the states in this country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country,” he said.

    More fun stuff to come, or so it seems.

  33. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m so happy you were able to find another global horror show that you could use as a cudgel against your ideological opponents. Nothing speaks more clearly about your depth of feeling about the suffering of innocents than your eagerness to use them as pawns in your little troll attacks.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I get where you’re coming from here. I can be outraged at the deaths of children in Darfur, without supporting retaliatory strikes against civilians in the Sudan as easily as in Gaza. Fwk! I wish I lived in a world where children dying as a result of the actions of militants in Darfur were as newsworthy as adults attending a rave dying as a result of actions by Hamas, but I don’t live in that kind of a world. Anyone dying in Darfur in military actions simply isn’t news anymore.

    But I suspect that when the whatever it is in Gaza has been going on for 25 or 30 years that won’t be news either. Maybe Reynolds and Eddie are right about keeping this thing going and in everybody’s line of sight.

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “Thank goodness that most of the states in this country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country,” he said.

    Putting aside that Santorum’s use of the word “sexy” makes me smirk, I saw similar rhetoric in a clip from Newsmax last night. It’s pretty ironic, because what they’re complaining about was the exact strategy Karl Rove used in 2004 to get evangelicals to the polls, by putting anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot. They’re just sore when it’s being used against them–and, I should add, when it’s being used to expand rights rather than restrict them.

  36. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Is it too soon for the How Long Does Johnson Last as Speaker pool?

    A bit, yes.

    I was going to say I wondered at the start how long he’d last, but he has really done nothing legislatively so far that merits mention in the news. So it’s a bit too soon on that account. The Krazies still expect him to deliver their enemies bound and gagged.

  37. CSK says:


    Well, Marjorie Taylor Greene wants Johnson booted. She said so a few days ago.

  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    What I’m hearing, though it still lacks solid confirmation is this: Kevin McCarthy was a weasel, and Mike Johnson is not. It is McCarthy’s weasel-nature that did him in. One can be a hardcore conservative and also not be a weasel.

    He also has a bargaining chip that McCarthy didn’t. He was the last possibility before making a deal with Democrats, who would have wanted something in return. Since he isn’t a weasel, he will tell the hardcore MAGAs “No”, after exploring all the options, and they will understand that if they try to yank him, the next step is a deal with Democrats. I think I’ve seen enough chatter to think this is how this is going.

    Now, Johnson seems to be the sort of guy who will let them express their aspirations and validate them for it before telling them “we can’t get that”. So that’s going to go over better.

  39. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jay L Gischer:..they will understand

    It’s just me but I think that you are giving the crazy caucus far too much credit for any kind of reason or logic in their behavior. Not to mention that to them “dealing with the Democrats” would mean that they have one more justification to burn the United States Constitution.

  40. The Q says:

    “……I do wonder if that is an alternate reason Daniel Cameron lost in Kentucky. Because no matter how right wing MAGA conservative he was, those white Kentuckians were not going to vote for a Black man…..”

    Especially if he’s married to a younger white woman.

    Would Obama have gotten so far had Michelle been white?

  41. DK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Making support for Ukraine harder: Bug or feature?

    The modern MAGA Republican Party dislikes democratic freedoms and loves Putin. So.

  42. Neil Hudelson says:

    @The Q:

    It’s amazing how anytime you pop up in a thread you make it slimier.

  43. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    The thing about the current crisis in Sudan is that it has not really been ongoing for 30 years.

    The earlier “civil war” there was due to the conflict between the “Arab” north and the “African” south, which was concluded by the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
    The current fighting is between rival factions in the (northern) Sudan government, with the RSF somewhat more based on historically “nomadic Arab” groups and the SAF (aka “Sudanese Army”) based more on sedentary Arabs. But its far more power faction than ethnic.

    Though, of course, the RSF are taking the opportunity to slaughter Africans in Darfur as well.
    And the Russian Wagner mercs/proxies are co-operating with the RSF.

    Incidentally, Ukrainian special forces have also been reported in Sudan conducting assaults on Wagner units.
    And some people suspect a “series of unfortunate accidents” plaguing Wagner, such as the Il-76 crash in Mali, may well not be accidental at all.
    Kyiv has a long reach, and a bloody-minded attitude towards enemies.

  44. Kathy says:

    We learned from the testimony in Benito’s fraud trial that the Cheeto and Spawn are terrible people to run a business.

    They all said they’re not accountants, and they leave such fripperies as financial statements to actual accountants.

    Ok. If you took any kind of business major in college, you learned a bit more than the basics of accounting (I learned the basics on a major not even remotely related to business). And if you’ve spent any time running any kind of business, in particular one that requires frequent bank financing, you’d be well acquainted with financial statements.

    Not that I expect this to hurt Benito with his base (nothing he’s likely to do can achieve such a feat). But there are a lot of small business owners, middle managers, and others, who clearly know they have a better grasp of accounting and financials than the Cheetos admit to.

    Yeah, it’s a slim reed.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Okay. It only seems like it has. I stand corrected. That’s even better though. It’ll take less time for the world to get bored with the Gaza war then.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: I was going to suggest that as a possibility. Now, I don’t have to. Thanks!

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DK: I was thinking of it as a rhetorical question.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Yes, he does have a sort of idiot savant ability in that vein. Maybe artistry, even.

  49. SenyorDave says:

    Imagine if a Republican congressperson crowed about a human tragedy to make his/her point. Most people here would tear them a new one, commenting what a terrible person they are. And they’d be right.

  50. JohnSF says:

    Speaking of things in the Sudan/Arabia neighbourhood, the Houthis in northern Yemen seem to be a dog that has ceased trying to bite, for the time being.
    No missile launches reported since November 4.
    Coincidentally, the Eisenhower strike group transited the Suez Canal into the Red Sea on November 5.
    Currently probably about midway down the Red Sea, likely to transit Straits of Bab el Mandeb into the Arabian Sea this weekend.
    The Bataan task group looks like remaining in the northern Red Sea.
    Were I a Houthi, I’d also be inclined to keep my head down for the time being, seeing as in addition to the Ike itself, there’s a Ticonderoga class cruiser and a couple of destroyers in attendance.
    Plus, it seems, a couple of very capable Italian frigates.
    Nice to have friends. 😉

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @The Q: I don’t know… Than again, Kamala’s husband is white.

    @Neil Hudelson: It’s a talent of his. Like a slug he leaves a trail of slime everywhere he goes.

  52. Monala says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Michelle Obama gave Barack more authenticity, since he was raised by his white mom and grandparents in white and Asian/Pacific Island communities. It’s not that African Americans wouldn’t have warmed up to Barack Obama, but it might have taken longer without Michelle at his side.

    Kamala Harris, in contrast, grew up in predominantly black communities and attended an HBCU.

  53. Kathy says:

    GM is recalling its Cruise self-driving cars from California, after the state banned them, for software upgrades.

    That sounds normal. What surprised me was this line in the report: “Cruise said that after examining its system, it has decided to add a chief safety officer..”

    One big salient sales talking point on self-driving cars, is that they will be safer than having human drivers. One can even see the logic. They obey all traffic rules, so they don’t run red lights or stop signs, they don’t speed, don’t drive the wrong way, don’t make illegal turns, etc. Also they pay better attention to the road and surroundings, and don’t get distracted by taking calls, texting, etc.

    But that will be, if ever, once the systems used undergo extensive field tests, which is what Cruise was doing in CA, and most bugs are found, solved, the solutions are tested so bugs can be found, etc. And all of this assuming the systems can work at all.

    When they do and most problems are ironed out and people get used to such things, they may well be safer than human drivers most of the time. Until then, why in hell did they not have a safety officer to make sure their self-driving cars are at least as safe as human drivers?

    Maybe hard innovation on the cheap is not the way to go.

  54. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Thing is, there is no chance of Iran stepping in re. Sudan.

    Even the Russian/Wagner engagement is just part of its general “poke the West in the eye and loot the treasury” fuckery-aboutery in Africa.

    Iran is the reason why you could damn near walk dryshod from one side of the eastern Med to the other right now.
    In addition to Ford CSG there’s the French Tonnere ARG, Royal Navy Littoral Response Group South, NATO Maritime Group 2, NATO/UNIFIL Maritime Task Group, and a whole scud of subs.
    Plus No 83. Expeditionary Air Group RAF operating out of Cyprus.
    The level of deployments in the eastern Med is on the “we are really serious” level

    And that’s aside from whatever US forces may be deployed in the Gulf/Indian ocean area.
    The USN recently, and very unusually, stated an Ohio class SSBN had entered the CENTCOM area.
    Given that the US Navy hardly ever talks about SSBN deployments, this is a pretty obvious “fucketh thee not about” signal to Tehran.

  55. JohnSF says:

    Speaking of “conflicts that have fallen off the front pages, but continue nonetheless”
    Myanmar rebels seize vital border town as China calls for ceasefire
    Seems like the military government now only has effective control over about half the country.
    And this, mind you, is without a major neighbour providing logistic support for the rebels.

    The current situation is India and Thailand are both inclined to “stability” = dealing with the regime and standing back. Malaysia is more critical, but not inclined to act in isolation.
    The calculus might change if China decides to step in to support the junta and try to clear the Burma/China border zone.

  56. Kathy says:

    Minnesota’s supreme court declined to prevent Benito from appearing in the state’s primary ballot.

    The report says that:

    However, it said in its ruling the decision applied only to the state’s primary and left open the possibility that plaintiffs could try again to knock Trump off the general election ballot in November.

    Why would they rule any different for the general election, given the same set of facts and the same legal framework? It seems to me the plaintiffs would only waste their time and money.

    Still, maybe the Minnesota supremes want someone else to go first, and then they can pile on.

    Another thin reed either way. It’s unlikely El Cheeto will win Minnesota. The other such lawsuit I’ve heard about is in Colorado, where the same thing applies.

    The dream is to keep him off the ballot somewhere that matters, like PA, WI, or MI. None are likely.

  57. Kylopod says:


    The dream is to keep him off the ballot somewhere that matters, like PA, WI, or MI. None are likely.

    In fact, I’m not comfortable with the idea of taking him off the ballot in a state he wouldn’t be likely to win anyway. For one thing, it would make it essentially impossible to know who won the popular vote.

  58. DrDaveT says:
  59. Kathy says:


    You caught me just about to head home. coincidentally, I watched a video on contrails over the weekend. There was much talk of what SAF might or might not do. Part of the gist is SAF has fewer aromatic compounds, so it should produce less soot.

    BTW, the DC-8 in the photo looks to have been re-engined with turbofans, which would explain such an old design still flying.