A Monday 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:

    With issues like defunding the police becoming mainstream talking points and the Black Lives Matter movement going global, Punching the Air feels particularly timely. However, as Zoboi notes, it has always been painfully relevant. They could have written the book in 2012 when Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was killed. They could have written the book in 1999 when Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo was fatally shot by four New York City police officers, who were all found not guilty. It may feel like we’re on the brink of change at the moment, but history warns us not to expect too much. “We have lived long enough to see change not happen in a big way,” Zoboi says. “Because Salaam and I are parents, we have to be hopeful for our children. At the same time, change is going to be incremental not monumental. Small steps. And this book serves as one small step.”

  2. Bill says:
  3. Bill says:
  4. CSK says:

    A probably fake Twitter account allegedly belonging to Maryanne Trump Barry claims she’s going to sue her niece for faking the tape of MBT criticizing Donald.

  5. Scott says:

    As Trump’s popularity slips in latest Military Times poll, more troops say they’ll vote for Biden

    Not the most scientific or accurate poll but it has been accomplished with the same methodology for the last four years.

    In the latest results — based on 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August — nearly half of respondents (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of the president, compared to about 38 percent who had a favorable view. Questions in the poll had a margin of error of up to 2 percent.

    Among active-duty service members surveyed in the poll, 41 percent said they would vote for Biden, the Democratic nominee, if the election was held today. Only 37 percent said they plan to vote to re-elect Trump.

    Another 13 percent said they plan to vote for a third-party candidate, and nearly 9 percent said they plan on skipping the election altogether. About 40 percent of troops surveyed identified as Republican or Libertarian, 16 percent Democrats, and 44 percent independent or another party.

  6. sam says:

    Seen on Twitter:

    Dear big media outlets who may be covering Trump’s touring of our Battleship here in Wilmington, NC, this Wednesday.
    Please, please get good video.

  7. CSK says:

    Perhaps they can hoist Trump aboard with a crane.

  8. sam says:

    If you couldn’t Zoom with your homies yesterday AM, here’s why.

  9. CSK says:

    The governor and lieut. governor of Wisconsin and the mayor of Kenosha don’t want Trump to visit. He’s going anyway.

  10. Tyrell says:

    NASCAR Coke Zero 400 at Daytona ran with 25, 000 – 30,000 fans present. This is the second or third race this year with people in the stands. There have been no big problems. Maybe it is time for the other major sports to look to NASCAR on how to do things. Time is well past for the major sports to do what they are there for.

  11. Bob@Youngstown says:


    There have been no big problems.

    Check back in two weeks, then assess the “problems”

    Prematurely opening before the virus is under control only prolongs the crisis.

  12. Tyrell says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Thanks for reading my article and response. At Daytona and most other tracks, there is plenty of room for distancing – like 30 feet or so. A few years ago Daytona reworked their stands and spacing was increased, while the overall number of seats decreased. In the infield, people usually bring in RV’s.

  13. Kathy says:

    Referring to Friday’s post on the mundanity of authoritarianism, I thought I’d share my own experiences on the subject.

    Until the late 90s, Mexico was an authoritarian country, if of a soft kind of authoritarianism. The same party, the PRI (through several names) had been in power since the end of the civil war/Mexican revolution in 1921.

    By “soft,” I mean control and pressures were subtle, even if high handed, and usually not in view of the public. Also, political parties were allowed, but they never won any elections at any level. All elections were rigged. But terms of office were respected. Presidents served a single six year term and then they were out, never to be seen again. There was no reelection. “No Reelection” was the starting point of the revolution).

    There was a free press of sorts, but controlled by two means. One, all newsprint and magazine stock paper was produced by a government-owned company called Productora e Importadora the Papel (PIPSA); any newspaper or magazine that displeased the government saw their supply cut off. Two, the government controlled all broadcast licenses (it still does), and could shut down any TV channel or radio station it didn’t like.

    From time to time, a notable government critic, usually a journalist, would be killed under “suspicious circumstances,” though the perpetrators were usually found. We all knew that it meant, and rumors swirled all over. No one believed the news much.

    There were always all sorts of unsubstantiated rumors, of political prisoners, of censorship of the international press, of disappearances, etc. But they were only rumors, with little substance.

    And, yes, overall ordinary people going about their lives were not affected much. there was no effort to control the overall population, but there was propaganda.

    And there was education. The Mexican Constitution makes elementary education up to high school mandatory and free. This means all children are entitled to attend public schools. it also meant the Education Department issued national curricula for each school term.

    There were private schools (I attended one), but they followed the same curricula. Also, from grades 1 through 6, the government issued free, official textbooks in all four major subjects (Spanish, Math, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences). We didn’t rely solely on the government textbook, but we did read through them all.

    The limitations on things like free speech were partly economic policy, partly moralistic, partly authoritarian. For example, imports were restricted and tariffs were high. Movies were heavily edited and censored, often removing scenes deemed too risque, or containing profanity; some movies were simply banned (not many). Also, for some reason, rock concerts were forbidden.

    How did it end? With “neoliberal” economic policies. The country opened up to foreign trade and investment, joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (today the WTO), and the world started taking a more active interest in Mexico. Ergo first other parties were allowed to win elections for Congress and state offices in the 1991 midterms, then things opened up by the 1994 election (though the PRI won the presidency). By 2000, an opposition party, the PAN (National Action party) won the presidency with Vicente Fox.

    We had until the 90s what people called a “party dictatorship.” One party rule, but not one person rule. The ideology of the PRI was to keep power, rather than any specific agenda. That changed with different presidents.

  14. Kathy says:

    BTW, SpaceX launched a satellite Sunday on a polar orbit. That’s one where the orbital tilt is closer to 90 degrees with respect to the Equator, often passing above the poles. Such orbits are common for some satellites, such as those for earth resources and spy satellites. Nothing unusual at all (the launch was an earth resources satellite).

    Except the launch was from Kennedy Space Center, where none such launch has taken place since 1969. All polar launches by the US have taken place from California, commonly at Vandenberg Air Force Base. From there, a rocket on a polar trajectory, north or south, can fly above the ocean only.

    SpaceX was allowed this exception because it incorporates an automatic self-destruct system in its Falcon 9 rockets. All rockets have a self destruct mechanism (often called a range safety package), but in all others it must be triggered manually by controllers on the ground. This is to prevent a malfunctioning, off-course rocket with its large load of very explosive fuel from crashing into a populated area (and why launches are over the ocean, which has smaller population density than land for some reason*).

    There’s always a chance the signal to “blow yourself up” won’t reach an off-course rocket for various reasons, not least being the angle between transmitter and receiver, and a huge plume of hot gas being between them. But since SpaceX has an automatic feature, they are deemed safe.

    Anyway, the rocket took off from Florida’s east coast, then flew over Miami, Cuba, and some part of Central America (mostly the second stage only), and deployed its main cargo on time (it had two smaller satellites as well), all without going off course or blowing itself up. The first stage even returned for a picture-perfect landing at Kennedy.

    *”Ocean” includes islands, BTW.

  15. Michael Cain says:

    A backdoor cold front for the Denver metro area this morning. Yesterday’s high at the airport was 91 °F; overnight low was 46. August was brutal this year: hot and dry, without any monsoon moisture to speak of. Some nasty fires, but nothing like California’s been having.

  16. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Tyrell: You are deliberately missing the point: It is too early for Daytona to declare “victory” over Covid-19. OTOH, the National Basketball teams have demonstrated effective containment of the virus. Because the NBA has actually demonstrated control, they are the model you should be advocating.

    If, two weeks from now, the Daytona crowd has a similar results….. that’s when you could advocate for their methods.

  17. CSK says:

    A new book by Michael Schmidt, Donald Trump v. the United States, claims that Trump offered John Kelly the office of FBI director if Kelly would swear a personal oath of loyalty to Trump. Kelly replied that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the law.

    Isn’t a personal oath of loyalty what Trump demanded from all his minions?

  18. Teve says:

    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 10:54
    @Tyrell: You are deliberately missing the point: There’s a guy who hangs out on the creationist websites who we eventually figured out was just saying dumb nonsense to create controversy because he wanted attention. Maybe Tyrell is the same type.

  19. Tyrell says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Thanks for your response and attention. Bristol had the All-Star race July 15, with 30, 000 people inside a small track. I have not heard of any problems. This was the race that North Carolina gave away.
    I went to Bristol a few times long ago. We paid $5 and sat on a grass bank. Then it grew to one of the hottest tickets in sports. But no more. Last year the stands looked half full.

  20. Joe says:

    Isn’t a personal oath of loyalty what Trump demanded from all his minions?

    Kind of makes you wonder, CSK, who all took the oath.

  21. Mister Bluster says:

    @Joe:..who all took the oath.

    A real pukefest…

  22. gVOR08 says:

    NASCAR is confident bringing in fans will work for the same reason Trump (or his more thoughtful minions) are confident they’ll get away with having a crowd for his acceptance speech and other rallies. Unless the victim is prominent, like Herman Caine, or a small group like a funeral in a small town is involved, we don’t contact trace well enough to generally track cases back to a source. We can say there is, or isn’t a rise in cases in Minneapolis or Portland after the protests, but the acceptance speech, Daytona, Sturgis, FL beaches, etc. disperse their attendees all over the country. If Daytona turns out to be a super-spreader event, it’s unlikely anyone will connect the dots.

  23. CSK says:

    Yes, it does. I also wonder if Trump demanded an oath of fealty from family members. Did Ivanka swear loyalty to Daddy?

  24. Kathy says:


    He demands NDAs.

  25. CSK says:

    Well, he has so much to hide, hasn’t he?

  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    I stop by the open forum every day specifically to read your comments.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    Judge deals setback to Flynn’s attempt to end DOJ case against him
    A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to former Trump White House adviser Michael Flynn, ruling that a district court judge can proceed with a planned hearing on the Justice Department’s attempt to abandon the criminal false-statement case against Flynn.
    The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, voted 8-2 to reject Flynn’s effort to dismiss the case immediately. The court’s ruling Monday also rejected efforts by Flynn to remove District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan from the case for alleged bias.

  28. Kathy says:

    El Al flew a 737 today from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. This is being hailed as the first commercial flight from that route. not quite. earlier in the year, Etihad flew two planes with medical aid for the Palestinian Authority from Abu Dhabi to tel Aviv, and then the planes flew back.

    If a charter by government officials and their guest dilettante qualifies, then so does an aid flight (regardless of what became of the aid sent).

    What is remarkable, is the flight got clearance to overfly Saudi Arabia. That might be a first for El Al. Until recently, the Saudis allowed no flights over their territory if they were en-route to Israel, much less by Israel’s flagship airline. Air India has been allowed to overfly Saudi space on flights from India to Tel Aviv and back only since 2018.

    We’ll see if this was an extraordinary exception because the Trump spawn-in law was aboard, or whether the current owner of the Saudi Kingdom allows it on a regular, scheduled basis.

  29. Monala says:

    Twitter thread: a young man says masks don’t work, so a young woman challenges him to blow out a candle while wearing one. He can’t. Note that he looks to be wearing a cloth mask, not a medical grade one.

  30. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Have there been any problems from the Bristol race? I did not hear of any. Bristol is nestled up in the Appalachians, a beautiful area. The town itself is actually two towns next to each other: “Bristol, Tenneginia” I liked the racing there. You are really sitting close to the cars and can see all the way around the track.

  31. Bob@Youngstown says:


    Any problems at Bristol race?
    Tyrell didn’t hear of any.
    That’s all anyone needs to know.
    (Y’all can now continue y’all’s lives without concern)

  32. CSK says:

    Recently we were speculating on the possibility that Trump, unable to endure the thought of losing the election, were to bail sometime in the next month, leaving Pence holding the bag. This doesn’t seem likely, but if it did happen, how would Cult45 react? Would they finally see through him? Or would they blame the evil globalist Republicans such as Mitch McConnell for being insufficiently supportive?

  33. Kathy says:


    This doesn’t seem likely

    Of course not. It would be such a violation of norms that… Oh, wait.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: RV’s? Okay, that explains it. Some people say that arraying RVs in a place will set up a sympathetic convergence of microwave/RF radiation that blankets the surrounding area with a shield preventing Covid-19 virus from forming and spreading. Thanks for that update. I’m greatly relieved now.

  35. Bill says:

    I’ve been meaning to post this.

    Florida Republicans nominate congressional candidate from loony fringe

    Take solace. Laura Loomer may not have been the craziest choice among the congressional candidates in Florida’s 21st District.

    The district’s Republican voters, clustered along Palm Beach County’s southeast coast, could have descended even further down the proverbial rabbit hole Tuesday. Two of Loomer’s opponents were of the QAnon kind, conspiracy zealots who believe a mysterious internet entity named Q has insider info about nefarious workings of the deep state. Like how Hillary Clinton runs a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.

    Candidate Elizabeth Felton located Clinton’s coterie of child molesters in the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor. (In a building without an actual basement, but why quibble?)

    The website of Reba Sherrill, another conspiracy monger who sought the Republican nomination, added cannibalism to the menu. “They sell [children] for sex and treat them as slaves. These precious babies have no birth certificate, no record of their life. This gives them the freedom to sacrifice them in their rituals, to beat and torture them, to rape them, to murder them, and yes even eat their flesh.”

    Sherrill throws in an allegation that public schools are “educating children in kindergarten about bestiality, anal sex and all these different things that children should not be exposed to.”

    One wonders if distant learning has affected the curriculum.

    Loomer’s most attractive, perhaps her only political attribute may be that she has no allegiance to Mr. Q. She pushes her own unhinged conspiracy theories, but as far as I can tell, Loomer has not alleged that Democrats are swapping infant recipes. Credit her for that.

    She’s just an ordinary, garden variety Islamophobic racist, whose hateful rants got her banned from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Uber and Lyft barred Loomer in 2018 after a hours-long tweetstorm decrying Muslim car-share drivers. Nor can she use the services of GoFundMe, Venmo and PayPal.

    I am still not voting for Lois Frankel. When I don’t like the candidates, like in 2014 when it was Charlie Crist vs Rick Scott for Governor, I either vote 3rd party or not at all.

  36. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I stop by the open forum every day specifically to read your comments.

    Really? Is it for my headlines of the day or mentions of my writing.

    At the moment I have 4 ebooks in the pipeline for future publication. I’m finished writing, three are being edited, and the last I am thoroughly checking and formatting before I publish it.

    There is the screenplay for the movie based on one of my ebooks. I’m not writing it but I’m being consulted sometimes by the two guys who are . Because of that, I have sent my first ever text messages.

    Last weekend I felt thoroughly fatigued for almost all of Saturday and Sunday. Don’t know what’s going on, but I hardly felt like getting out of bed at times. I started feeling better last night and I’m ok now.

  37. Kathy says:

    Back to the Moon landings conspiracy theories, there’s an often overlooked element. In the 60s and 70s, the Soviets ran the Luna (or Lunnik) program. This consisted of a series of probes which carried out various missions. Some failed. Those that didn’t, succeeded in effecting soft landings on the Moon and in orbiting it, transmitting back such data as their instruments gathered. Some included rovers, which ran for some time.

    And there were three successful sample return missions. These returned under 300 grams, under one pound, mostly of dirt. It’s not much, but it totally breaks the US monopoly on Lunar samples.

    So, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviets had samples of Lunar material, and not once did they say “Analysis of our samples prove the Americans never made it to the Moon!”

    Seriously, it the Apollo missions were fake, then the samples the astronauts brought back were also fake. If the Soviets had real Lunar samples, what are the odds the US samples would be similar enough to pass for actual Moon samples?

    Not a peep from the Soviets.

  38. EddieInCA says:


    Tyrell says:
    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 12:15

    @Bob@Youngstown: Thanks for your response and attention. Bristol had the All-Star race July 15, with 30, 000 people inside a small track. I have not heard of any problems. This was the race that North Carolina gave away.

    Tyrell says:
    Monday, August 31, 2020 at 14:50

    @gVOR08: Have there been any problems from the Bristol race? I did not hear of any. Bristol is nestled up in the Appalachians, a beautiful area. The town itself is actually two towns next to each other: “Bristol, Tenneginia” I liked the racing there. You are really sitting close to the cars and can see all the way around the track.

    On July 14th, Tennessee had 1514 cases. On the 15th, they had 2200. On July 26, they more than doubled the count to 3140 and on July 31 the went down to 3088. Sorry, Tyrell, doubling your case count in 14 days is EXACTLY what a problem looks like.


  39. Bill says:


    El Al flew a 737 today from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. This is being hailed as the first commercial flight from that route.


    What is remarkable, is the flight got clearance to overfly Saudi Arabia. That might be a first for El Al. Until recently, the Saudis allowed no flights over their territory if they were en-route to Israel, much less by Israel’s flagship airline.

    In the concluding scenes of my espionage novel (1998) the undercover people get back to Israel from Iran via Abu Dhabi. They are met in Abu Dhabi and change private planes. Without researching it, I figured a flight direct to Israel would be a no-no. The plane from AD is headed for Cyprus instead but encounters a ‘mechanical problem’ and diverts to Tel Aviv.

    And the fake Moon landing stuff. Maybe those people watched Capricorn One too much. The plot was outrageous but it was odd for a paranoia movie (Mostly 1970’s movies involving conspiracies. Like The Parallax View, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, Executive Action to name a few) in that it had a happy ending with the two Mr. Barbra Streisands (Elliot Gould and James Brolin) running through a cemetery on live television.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bill: Sometimes abstaining is a preferable choice to bad or worse. I’d not be a fan of voting for the least bad candidate either. What’s the point in that?

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Yeah, but you can’t prove that all of those people (and it has to be 100% to validate, donchano?) who got sick encountered someone from the race in Bristol, so that means that Tyrell can continue to watch the races from the safety of his home and be grateful to the people who put themselves and others at risk to keep him entertained.

    “What a country you have here.”

    ETA: Now if only those ingrate snowflakes at the colleges would quit their whining and go out to start winning instead, life would be perfect.

  42. Kathy says:


    Yeah, it’s not immediately obvious, more so since international treaties guarantee transit rights over a nation’s airspace (though fees for air traffic control may apply). But not all countries are signatories, and some, like Canada, have withdrawn form them.

    About Capricorn One, I can’t forgive them for using stock footage of the Saturn V rather than making up their own rocket. It’s like using stock footage of a Piper Cub in a movie about supersonic travel.