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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The owners of a New Mexico home were doubly surprised over the weekend to find a burglar in their house with an AR-15, and then to have him apologize, give them money and leave embarrassed.

    The man had slept, bathed, dined and had some beer at the home on the outskirts of Santa Fe before the owners returned and discovered him, according to a Santa Fe county sheriff’s office police report cited by the Albuquerque Journal. He had an AR-15 scoped rifle but didn’t threaten them or take any of their jewelry or other belongings. Instead, he gave the homeowners $200 as “reimbursement for the window he broke”, the report said.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    One small glimmer of hope for the Ukraine: I saw a report last night that the Russians made comments to the effect that the west was trying to goad them into attacking the Ukraine. If this is trial ballon to see if they can shift the narrative on what it means to back down, I hope the NATO diplomatic corps have the chops to give them cover.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, you are broken:

    When eight-year-old Dillon Helbig finished writing his book, The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis, in mid-December, he wanted everyone to read it. The only problem was that he did not have an agent. So he decided to self-publish. During a visit with his grandmother to the Lake Hazel branch of the Ada Community Library in Boise, Idaho, Dillon quietly deposited his book, signed “by Dillon His Self”, on to a nearby shelf.

    “I always be sneaky, like how I get chocolate,” Dillon told the KTVB television station about the undercover operation. “There was a lot of librarians that I had to sneak past so do you know what I did? I covered up this part and covered the back with my body and just snuck it in and then started to walk, and then I came in this aisle – no, wait, this aisle – and then I put my book right here. Wait, right here.”

    The 81-page book details adventures that ensue after the star on a Christmas tree Dillon is decorating explodes. Dillon is transported into a portal and time-travels to the very first Thanksgiving and to the north pole. “Everything about it was a bit crazy,” the second-grader admitted.

    Days later, when Dillon came to check on the book, he noticed it was gone. His mom called the library.

    “His parents were worried we would find his book and we would get rid of it,” the Lake Hazel library branch manager, Alex Hartman, said. “Which was an unfounded fear because if there’s ever a place a book would be safe, it would be here.”

    It turned out that Hartman and his colleagues discovered Dillon’s book in the “stories” section and read it, including to Hartman’s six-year-old son.

    “Dillon’s book definitely fit all the criteria that we would look for to include a book in our collection,” Hartman said. And so, with Dillon’s permission, the library stickered and catalogued the book and placed it with its holdings of graphic novels for adults, teens and kids.

    As of Saturday, The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis was subject to a 55-person wait list. Hartman has been in discussion with Dillon’s mother about creating a digital copy.

    And he’s just getting started:

    The young author has announced that a sequel is in the works, this time about a visit from the Grinch and also featuring Dillon’s dog, Rusty. He is also writing a book about a jacket-eating closet, based, Dillon said, on a true story from his kindergarten days.

    Better watch out Michael Reynolds, there’s a new sheriff… I mean author… in town.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:


    Saw that and it appears to show that Putin is wavering and looking for an escape. The question becomes what will it take to allow him to save face? He has climbed too far up the tree to climb down gracefully.

  5. wr says:

    Saw The Music Man on Broadway last night. What really struck me — aside from the joyfulness of the production — is that it’s about a conman who realizes that in early 20th century America, the way to bilk people out of their money is to give them something that will bring people who don’t like each other together and make them into a community.

    It seems like such a happy, nostalgic concept when all our most successful cons today understand that the way to bilk Americans out of their money is to get them to hate each other.

  6. wr says:

    One other Music Man thought — Hugh Jackman is wonderful, and as the star could easily have dominated every scene he was in. But he is such a generous actor — whenever he was dancing with someone, no matter who, he managed to make that person the star. And even more so with the (incredibly talented) children.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    I Am Not Proof of the American Dream

    A curious thing happens when you offer up your life for public consumption: People start to interpret your biography, to explain to you what they think it means. At book signings, in interviews, I’m often told that my story is uplifting, that I am a model of resilience, an “inspiration.” Which is a nice thing to be told, so I say thank you. But every so often someone takes it a bit further, and says something to which I do not have a response. They say, “You are living proof of the American dream. That absolutely anything is possible for anybody.”

    But am I? Is that what the story means?


    My college ambitions nearly came to an abrupt end in my sophomore year. Blinding pain in my lower jaw turned out to be a rotting nerve. I needed a root canal, and $1600 to pay for it. I decided to drop out. My plan was to hitch a ride to Las Vegas, where my brother was working as a long-haul trucker, and to get a job working at the In-N-Out Burger across the street from his trailer.

    Then, a leader at my church pulled me aside and insisted that I apply for a Pell Grant, a federal program that helps poor kids pay for college. Days later a check arrived in the mail for $4,000. I had never seen that much money, could not wrap my brain around the amount. I didn’t cash it for a week, afraid of what possession of such a sum might do to me. Then the throbbing in my jaw motivated me to take a trip to the bank. I got the root canal. For the first time, I purchased the required textbooks for my classes. There was money left over, more than a thousand dollars, so I quit the cafeteria and swapped the night for the day shift. I stopped sleeping through my classes; the cough dried up, the infections cleared.


    It’s tempting to tell my story in the way people want me to. I would love to be the hero, and say that it’s all about hard work and determination, the white-knuckled triumph of the human will. But if I put my ego aside, I know that’s not the case. I entered college in 2004. I attended Brigham Young University, a private college heavily subsidized by the Mormon Church. Tuition was $1,640 a semester. This was before the housing crisis, when it was possible to find a shared room in a shabby apartment for just $190 a month. What these numbers meant, in real terms, was that it was possible for me to work my way through college.

    This is one of those essays that you want to bookmark on your phone to have ready when some blowhard begins dissembling about personal effort, hard work and the American Dream. Note she was going to drop out and sling french fries when her college dreams were salvaged by a government program. Though you need to wonder, why it took a fellow church member to point her in that direction and not someone at Brigham Young.

    She graduated and subsequently earned a Ph.D. from the Univ. of Cambridge.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Here’s the link. The template appears broken today.

  9. Kathy says:

    When John F. Kennedy made a commitment in May 1961 to land people on the Moon “before this decade is out,” America had a grand total of 15 minutes of experience with manned space travel, about 5 of them actually outside the atmosphere.

  10. Jon says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I read her book Educated several years ago and enjoyed it a great deal; thanks for the link!

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Richard North, one of the two bloggers over at Turbulent Times, has been doing an analysis of what’sbeengoingon and double-checking all the supposed evidence. (He’s a bit of a crank, but I love his in-depth analysis.)

    At present, it looks like there’s quite a few swamps between wherever the Russian military equipment is and any Ukrainian/Belarussian target. Plus the military hardware in question seems to be of the type more suitable for a museum than actually to be used. When your tank has a reputation of only going 10 miles before breaking down, on average, you may want to change your strategy.

  12. Slugger says:

    My morning newspaper reports that a town in Washington state has taken To Kill a Mockingbird </em off the reading list. Not an outright ban, but still off the list. Reportedly the school board is concerned that the book may produce adverse effects. The book has sold 40 million copies in the last fifty years. Are there any people who have been harmed by this book? What is the basis of the fear?

  13. Kathy says:

    Regarding yesterday’s discussion about the teen tracking Elon’s jet, he’s added some other celebrity jets to his activities.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:
  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This is fun. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has filed a lawsuit accusing Trump Jr., Giuliani, and others of conspiring to violate his civil rights. Specifically intimidation and retaliation for Vindman’s testimony in connection with the first impeachment investigation

  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Washington Commanders??? What a stupid f’ing name.

  17. Slugger says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sorry, I should have looked deeper before posting. In my defense, the account in my morning paper was much less informative than the previous posting here. My wife’s switch to decaf is not helping.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Umhh, if Vindman can get a judgement that Trump and Co. intimidated him in an effort to suppress his testimony in the Impeachment, wouldn’t that be prima facia witness tampering/obstruction? IANAL. Can witness tampering/obstruction be charged over Impeachment testimony? And why hasn’t Trump been indicted for soliciting a bribe from Ukraine?

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: No biggie, I just thought you’d appreciate Matt’s take on it.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: And why hasn’t Trump been indicted for soliciting a bribe from Ukraine?

    They say we don’t have royalty in America. They lie.

  21. Kathy says:


    Because like it or not, and all rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, the occupant of the Oval Office is above the law for all time.

    They can be sued, with much difficulty, but not indicted and much less convicted.

    One begins to understand why revolutions tend to get bloody and acquire guillotines.

  22. CSK says:

    Geoff Diehl, an avid Trumper who’s engaging in a futile effort to be the next Republican governor of Massachusetts, has hired the execrable Corey Lewandowski to be his campaign’s senior advisor, thus ensuring his loss.

  23. Kathy says:


    I find the analogy Jen Psaki used yesterday most apt: the fox is standing at the top of the chicken coop, crying that it’s afraid of the chickens.

  24. CSK says:

    Jeff Zucker has resigned from CNN, citing a “changed” relationship he’s had with Allison Gollust, a senior v.p. at CNN. He states he should have disclosed the relationship. Gollust will remain at CNN.

    They’s been friends and colleagues for 20 years. Zucker says the relationship “evolved” in recent years.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Early in this crisis, I wondered if Putin’s military was more Potemkin than lethal. Subsequent information shows that Russian special forces are quite good and the general army is leagues better than it was in the 90’s, though not top notch. Plus their equipment is updated and refurbished rather than modern. On the other hand the Ukraine army suffers from old equipment and tactics. On their side will be they are fighting for their homeland and can conduct an insurgent campaign. 100,000 troops are not enough for Russia to conquer and subdue a nation of 40M. Witness the Russian and US experience in Afghanistan and the US’s in Iraq.

    George H.W. Bush is not given enough credit for recognizing after the first gulf war that marching on Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam was a fools errand. It would be best if Putin recognizes that Ukraine will be a quagmire.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I was hoping for the Generals…

  27. Michael Cain says:

    Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) suffered a mild stroke last week. He is expected to make a full recovery, but will be absent for an unknown amount of time. Until he returns, the Dems lack the 50 votes needed to advance anything in the Senate unless one or more Republicans join them.

  28. Jen says:

    @Michael Cain: Yep. And, there are two Republican Senators out with covid right now.

  29. just nutha says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I was hoping they’d go for Washington Generals but that’s already being used.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog:..I was hoping for the Generals
    As I suspect you know the Washington Generals moniker is the most famous of several names of the professional basketball team that attemps to beat the Harlem Globetrotters.

    Playing as the New Jersey Reds, they won 100–99 on January 5, 1971 in Martin, Tennessee, ending their 2,495-game losing streak. Klotz credits the overtime win to a guard named Eddie Mahar, who was team captain. Harlem’s captain, Curly Neal, did not play in this game.
    While the Globetrotters were entertaining the crowd that day, they lost track of the game and the score. They found themselves down 12 points with two minutes left to go. Forced to play normal basketball, the Globetrotters rallied but could not recover.
    The Reds secured their victory when the 50-year-old Klotz hit the winning basket with seconds left. Then Meadowlark Lemon missed a shot that would have given the game back to the Globetrotters. The timekeeper tried to stop the clock but could not. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd was dumbfounded and disappointed. Klotz described the fans’ reaction: “They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus.”
    Some children in the stands cried after the loss. The Reds celebrated by dousing themselves with orange soda instead of champagne. Lemon was furious, saying, “You lost, I didn’t lose,” but still visited the opposing team’s locker room to congratulate the Reds.

    If you want this for the Washington NFL team you must be a fan of the Dallas Cowpunchers.

    I saw the Globetrotters beat the Generals on Saturday, November 23, 1963 at the Danville (IL) High School gymnasium where I was a sophomore. This was the day after President John Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas. My friends and I already had tickets but I thought for sure the game would be canceled. My dad insisted that the show would go on so we went to check it out. They did have a moment of silence. A good time was had by all.

  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Slugger: I read about that case. Apparently the concerns were that the book contains frank use of “n1@@er” in many places, and it too much conforms to a “white savior” narrative.

    By the way, it was removed as a required book for, I think, ninth-graders. It is still available as an optional book for ninth-graders as both of the above issues can be addressed by teachers in the classroom if they feel so inclined.

  32. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Oh lands sakes! Letting teachers actually teach? Lawdy, I may just swoon!

    *My apologies to Cracker and all the other actual teachers out there. I simply couldn’t resist the cheap shot at districts/boards/admins.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:..Dallas Cowpunchers.

    I wonder if PETA reads OTB?
    I guess we’ll find out.

  34. Mr. Prosser says:

    @just nutha: As Shakezulu said at LGM, they’ve gone Commando

  35. charon says:

    Commanders looks like the work product of a risk-averse committee, ok if you like bland I suppose.

  36. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    @Sleeping Dog:
    I think I’ve mentioned before here, the Russian Army is a bit of a curates egg: very good in parts.
    Some has been largely professionalised, especially the officer corps, well trained and equipped.
    And with plenty of combat experience.
    Albeit jijadi hunting may not be quite the thing vs a Ukraine that is reputed to a lot more on its game than it was in 2014.

    However other parts are still manned by poorly trained conscripts, and saddled with equipment from the 1980’s or even earlier.
    BUT: those formations are OK enough for rear area security, depot labour, lines of communication etc. with the “professional-modernised” elements as the tip of the spear.

    The whole thing may be an attempt by Putin to pressurise US/NATO into forcing a settlement on Ukraine over the heads of Kiev: the tactic of Munich.
    If Putin were dealing with Trump and just the Germans, he might have pulled it off.
    But President Biden shows no inclination to be trapped in that way, insisting that if Russia wants an agreement with Ukraine, he must negotiate it with Ukraine.
    (And the rest of NATO is generally supporting this, especially UK, France, Spain, Baltics, Poland)

    Russia now has to choose; back away from conflict and deal with Kiev, or opt for war.
    Again, the US is sensibly leaving open space for face saving in offering talks on intermediate range nukes etc.

    One thing though @grumpy realist: I’d check twice if the North’s told me it got dark at night.
    His co-blogger Pete North got booted from twitter for some very unpleasant racial/ethnic comments. And they both have a rep. in former “moderate Leaver” circles for stretching facts a long way.
    See his nonsense about “Russian boots don’t have toe caps, ha-ha-hah!”
    And the country east of the Chernobyl is not that marshy. Especially before the thaw.
    Not like they planning to drive through the Pripet.

    Despite North’s desire to mock Johnson, I think quite a lot of fairly reliable assessors estimate Russia is in the process of building up a mobilised force capable of at least a limited offensive in east Ukraine.
    The Belarus deployments might be a diversion/bluff; or might not.

    I’m not as confident about forecasting this one way or another as North is, absent access to information that I don’t have.
    But, I would suggest, that President Biden and General Stoltenberg do have.

  37. just nutha says:

    From today’s The Atlanticnewsletter from an item called “Book Bans are Back” [as the lead item, no less]:

    Lee’s 1960 novel about a white lawyer defending a Black man falsely accused of rape in a segregated Alabama town won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film. The novel, long used in classrooms as a parable about American racism, has faced various controversies over the decades. Last week, it was removed from a Washington State school district’s required-reading list for its racial slurs and for the perception of Atticus Finch as a white savior.

    It would seem that *one of these things isn’t not like the other* after all.

  38. Mister Bluster says:


    Maybe they will all drive these to work.
    1952 Studebaker Commander

  39. MarkedMan says:

    Last month there was a discussion of whether Apple should have held its AirTags from the market because they could be used by stalkers. This despite the fact that products long on the market by Tile and others can also be used in this fashion and in fact, have been used. After public outcry though, Apple added alerts for Apple users if you are being trailed by a tracker not registered to you, and developed a free Android app so that others could check if they wanted. This technology has prevented a number of car thefts already, but I think this is the first time it is led to the arrest of an actual stalker.

  40. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: The book was only removed from the mandatory curriculum list. When I was teaching, there were a lot more weeks of school than mandatory curriculum would fill in English/Language Arts. Teachers are not prohibited from teaching TKaM; they just aren’t required to anymore.

    Hopefully, that means that teachers who don’t like/get/agree with the agenda of the book will be released from going through the motions and will be free to choose better texts that they–and consequentially their students–will connect to better. Potentially, at least, it’s a win for teaching.

    @Flat Earth Luddite: No offense taken, zeeb. Your daughter was processed through the schools in Beepertown. I get it completely.

  41. gVOR08 says:


    Because like it or not, and all rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, the occupant of the Oval Office is above the law for all time.

    I agree. As Wilhoit said, “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but must not bind.” However, I usually note in this context that the presidents benefitting from this proposition seem to be exclusively Republicans.

  42. Kathy says:

    I think we’re close to seeing conservatives come out in support of cancer.

    Speaking of moonshots, I’m currently reading a book abut the Moon landing. At some point the author contrasts Apollo to programs that followed, in particular what latter presidents asked or directed NASA to do.

    Very little came off the space dreams of Reagan, Bush the elder, Clinton, Bush the younger, etc. Why? Because they didn’t commit to either spending the money required or building up the popular support necessary for them, the way Kennedy did with Apollo.

    Tackling cancer is a very good thing. But Biden better muster the budget and support to make a difference.

  43. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: Well, I think Kennedy had a big edge from a little something called “Sputnik”.

  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Yes the Generals reference was a reflection of the helpless, Trotters punching bags. And a any team Dan Snyder owns deserves to go 0 for eternity.

  45. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    My parents had that Studebaker when I was born.

    My uncle, Dad’s brother, said the Studie was damn fast, but not as fast as the 54 DeSoto Firedome (Hemi) that replaced it.

  46. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    And a slightly bigger something called Gagarin.

  47. Sleeping Dog says:

    10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2022

    Saw this and initially thought it was the usual RW claptrap, but clicked on it anyway. If the summaries are accurate, it is a deserving list.

  48. dazedandconfused says:


    I see his bot is looking right through PIA. The registration and type are scrubbed, but he claims it’s Elon’s plane with confidence. Interesting.

    I suspect this will not last long. There are people in private jets who have a legitimate fear assassination, up to and including catching a SAM, in some parts.

  49. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @just nutha:
    ‘preciate it, zeebs. Although I will admit to having way too much fun poking fools at mandatory conferences about daughter’s unwillingness to play the game.

    The voices in my head say that some of them are legitimately worth the price of a bullet… or a SAM. If I were a better person, that thought wouldn’t cross my mind. Of course, if they were better people, they wouldn’t be such wankers.

  50. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Saw this and initially thought it was the usual RW claptrap, but clicked on it anyway. If the summaries are accurate, it is a deserving list.

    The fact schools like Liberty University and BYU aren’t on the list makes me question their methodology.

    And yes, I know FIRE’s excuse “Liberty University never claims to support free speech”, but while that may protect them from any legal claim, it’s irrelevant to rating “the worst universities for free speech”

  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    I Tweeted that story, suggesting that this how you get published.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: And a much bigger something called the Cold War.

  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I was hoping you’d seen it, and knew you’d have something far more appropriate to say about it.

  54. Stormy Dragon says:


    Because they didn’t commit to either spending the money required or building up the popular support necessary for them, the way Kennedy did with Apollo.

    Is that really surprising when part of “building up the popular support necessary” involved getting shot so that Apollo became a way to honor a martyr?

  55. Kathy says:


    Well, yes. If you justified going to Mars, say, or colonizing the Moon, to show up the Russians these days, people would think you’re crazy.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    NASA’s budget increased right away, and the agency focused on developing the tools and techniques for a trip to the Moon, beginning with the Gemini program.

    The popular support wasn’t as high as myth makes it out to be. It was more a large minority in favor, and a not very vocal majority opposed. You know, “If we can put a man on the Moon, why cant’ we do X?”

    By now I prefer the Niven version post Apollo: We can put a man on the Moon but we can’t put a man on the Moon.

  56. Jax says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: I always jam out to this song thinking of you and Cracker. You’re probably my favorite “characters on the internet I’d like to meet in real life”. 😛

    I mean, the name of the band itself….Joe Buck Yourself.

  57. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    I really want to read the follow-up novel. A coat eating closet? I like this kid!

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: As country/bluegrass-type songs go, this one grows on ya. But I’m a sucker for banjo since the first Taj Mahal album I bought–Giant Step/De old folks at home.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: Also, the band’s name is clever. 😛

  60. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Just for shits I checked. WIKI says a DeSoto Firedome could do 0-60 in 15.5. My Mazdaspeed3 will do it in the high 3s. My Honda MINIVAN in 6.5. And the handling on the minivan, much less the 3, would be night and day better than the old DeSoto. I bring this up mostly in the context of James’ nostalgia thread. Most things do get better. Outside politics.

  61. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: My favorite band did a remake of an old classic. I busted up in tears the first time I heard it. I haven’t heard it since I was tiny girl going to funerals.

  62. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: Yes, when you talk about having a bad week, Gagarin’s orbit of the earth and the Bay of Pigs fiasco occurred within a week of one another.