A Saturday 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:

    Covid-19 Vaccine Developers Prepare Joint Pledge on Safety, Standards

    Several drug makers developing Covid-19 vaccines plan to issue a public pledge not to seek government approval until the shots have proven to be safe and effective, an unusual joint move among rivals that comes as they work to address concerns over a rush to mass vaccination.

    A draft of the joint statement, still being finalized by companies including Pfizer Inc., PFE -0.11% Johnson & Johnson JNJ -0.64% and Moderna Inc. MRNA -3.45% and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, commits to making the safety and well-being of vaccinated people the companies’ priority. The vaccine makers would also pledge to adhere to high scientific and ethical standards in the conduct of clinical studies and in the manufacturing processes.

    The companies might issue the pledge as soon as early next week, according to two people familiar with the matter. The statement would join a growing number of public assurances by industry executives that they aren’t cutting corners in their rapid testing and manufacturing of the vaccines.

    “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines that may ultimately be approved and adherence to the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which they are evaluated,” the draft statement says.

    Translation: “The trump admin has FUBARed so many regulatory processes so often that we are well and fully cognizant of the fact that nobody in this country trusts them to not screw this up too. So please, trust us, we won’t let them fuck you up. We want you alive for as long as possible so that you are subject to our predatory pricing schemes.”

    How fucked up is it that we are now in the position of having to trust the same people who gave us Oxycontin?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it ‘anti-American’

    Donald Trump has directed the Office of Management and Budget to crack down on federal agencies’ antiracism training sessions, calling them “divisive, anti-American propaganda”.

    There you have it folks, white supremacy is the official policy of the US government.

    The OMB director, Russell Vought, in a letter Friday to executive branch agencies, directed them to identify spending related to any training on “critical race theory”, “white privilege” or any other material that teaches or suggests that the United States or any race or ethnicity is “inherently racist or evil”.

    The memo comes as the nation has faced a reckoning this summer over racial injustice in policing and other spheres of American life. Trump has spent much of the summer defending the display of the Confederate battle flag and monuments of civil war rebels from protesters seeking their removal, in what he has called a “culture war” ahead of the 3 November election.

    Meanwhile, he has rejected comments from Democratic nominee Joe Biden and others that there is “systemic racism” in policing and American culture that must be addressed.

    Vought’s memo cites “press reports” as contributing to Trump’s decision, apparently referring to segments on Fox News and other outlets that have stoked conservative outrage about the federal training.

    Because nothing is more important than the feelings of white “conservatives,” in quotes because they aren’t. All you people of color complaining about the blood sacrifices you have to make on the altar of white supremacy? You need to quit complaining so much. You’re upsetting people who watch FOX news.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    South Dakota dismisses ‘elite class of so-called experts,’ carries on with state fair after Sturgis rally fueled COVID-19 surge

    ‘Nuff said.

    Or not: South Dakota’s COVID-19 cases are surging, and now we’re the worst in the nation

    South Dakota is the worst state in the nation for COVID-19 after a surge in cases during the last week.

    The state has reported 2,152 cases in the past seven days, which is 243 cases per 100,000 people. That’s the highest amount of cases per 100,000 in the nation, according to tracking done by the New York Times.

    Iowa is second, with 241 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days and North Dakota is third with 236 cases per 100,000.

  4. Bill says:
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Something a little lighter from Texas Monthly: Passing the Time With the Ghosts in the Dirt

    Rural social distancing has heightened my curiosity about other people living in isolation. With everyone at home and communicating through Zoom, we have all become hungry voyeurs: we scrutinize other people’s garage offices and kitchens, and we study the bookshelves that serve as teleconference backdrops. But in less populated communities like mine, we can also acquaint ourselves with the intimate lives of the neighbors who lived out here before us, by excavating the relics they left behind.

    On a recent Sunday my husband and I headed to my brother’s property, also in Hidalgo County. Aided by our family and the beep boooop bip bip of a metal detector, our searching yielded a particularly good bounty. By the afternoon, my husband had already dug up some ancient Lone Star Beer pull tabs and spark plugs, what we suspect were a Confederate soldier’s heel taps, coffee grinder parts, and a chunky clothing iron that was missing its handle. My ten-year-old niece was sifting sand with her dad when she found a flintlock rifle hammer that we later learned was manufactured between 1816 and 1830. I found three white glass ointment jars and stumbled across a knobby pre-HD television set that appeared to have been shot and set on fire.

    What a lucky girl!

    But amid the jetsam, we invariably find one artifact more often than any other: pieces of ceramic dinnerware manufactured in England in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rancher friends from the Coastal Bend to Jim Hogg County report the same findings on their land. We come across these pieces of porcelain far more often than the Mexican pottery that I’d expect to unearth this close to the border. Agriculture, weather, and animal traffic have moved the pieces over wide areas, so surface-level ceramic shards can only show us approximately where people resided. We usually use metal detectors to sleuth out rusted artifacts buried in the dirt, uncovering ceramic fragments as we dig. Sometimes, when agricultural machinery has exposed them, the pieces lie right on the surface, scattered across the red sand and glinting in the sun. Occasionally, if we catch the setting sun at the right angle after a good rain, a scintillating mosaic of British traditional industry stretches from under our snake boots all the way to the horizon.

    She goes on to tell the story of how it got there and why it was so popular.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:


    Pharma CEOs: listening to the Former Reality Show Host’s rantings and promises, witnessing the dysfunction at the FDA and CDC. Collectively a light bulb goes on in their heads, damn, this could end real badly and we’ll be blamed.

  7. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    You got that right.

  8. senyordave says:

    My nomination for the most ridiculous statement of the decade (I know we are less than one year in):
    VP Pence: “To know President Trump is to know someone who’s word is his bond.”
    He had to have thrown up a little bit in his mouth when he said this.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: He’s an evangelical, born-again Christian, so he’s had a lot of practice with that. Also, according to wikipedia he’s been a “great disappointment of his mother.”

  10. DrDaveT says:


    Australian customs officials destroy $19,000 handbag

    I was expecting a story about an accidental destruction…

  11. wr says:

    @senyordave: “He had to have thrown up a little bit in his mouth when he said this.”

    That suggests he has any kind of conscience.

  12. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Hey. Suckers….

    Take some notes on how winners win


    Maybe one day you’ll stop losing….

  13. Slugger says:

    This no longer surprises anyone:

  14. CSK says:

    I’m fervently hoping that one of these days, every single thing that Putin has on Trump will be made public.

  15. Gustopher says:

    Other people get fascism and QAnon in their YouTube suggestions, but the algorithm has blessed me with this: https://youtu.be/IwCvYhFWjPY

    It’s an angry monster singing a love/hate song about “god fvcking damn it Dave”

    I’m not sure the algorithm is wrong. I’ve watched it about 8 times, and I have no idea of the context of it, but I kind of love it.

  16. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Because I tend to assume the worst motivations for Trump, I suspect that Putin has nothing on him. No pee tape, no easily-explained financial misdealings… nothing.

    And Donald J. Trump, worst of his name, cannot bring himself to criticize Putin because it would require admitting he was wrong. He cannot even admit that to himself because then he would be a loser.

    Think about it, which is more pathetic; being blackmailed into doing horrible things or just doing horrible things anyway?

  17. CSK says:

    I see your point. I’m not sure I agree entirely, but what you say makes a good deal of sense, particularly in the light of what we know about Trump and his total inability to admit error.

    One other factor here is that back in 2015, Putin referred to Trump as “intelligent.” (I’m sure he was being sardonic.) Trump responded immediately by lauding the “highly respected” Putin. As has often been observed, Trump is incapable of criticizing anyone who praises him.

    But just to satisfy my own curiosity, I’d like to be sure Putin has nothing on Trump. If he does, I want to know what it is.

  18. Bill says:

    A quote* for today and one I doubt Donald Trump ever considered-

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was interviewed around the time he turned 90 years old and he was still serving on the court. The person asked what was the key to his success.

    “Young man, the secret of my success is that at a very early age I discovered that I’m not God.”

    *- I came upon the quote while reading Merle Miller’s oral biography of Harry Truman titled ‘Plain Speaking’

  19. Bill says:


    I see your point. I’m not sure I agree entirely, but what you say makes a good deal of sense, particularly in the light of what we know about Trump and his total inability to admit error.

    It’s too bad that life don’t imitate Star Trek.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: IIRC one of the techniques of Russian Kompromat is to be vague about what you have and let the blackmailee assume the worst.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: After having searched the interwebs for information on Broadway Karkat, I still don’t get what they are and what their schtick is, but you’re right about the piece being bewitching. And I never get anything like this from the algorithm, but then again, I don’t surf YouTube, either. Too much like trying to decide what to watch on 250 cable channels. Not good at FOMO.

    ETA: I must be confused, I thought the *monster* was Dave.

  22. Sleeping Dog says:
  23. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Apparently this is fan art from something called Homestuck. I don’t know how closely this hews with the official materials — a webcomic that went on for years. It might have furries? Some giant fandom with cosplayers at least.

    But the song is pretty universal. Who hasn’t been in love with someone that you hate for not thinking you’re anything special? Someone so randomly enchanting that your entire mood is affected by whether they look at you and for how long and they are entirely oblivious to their power over you and you hate it.

    I just wonder what random things I have watched that sent the algorithms down that path rather than some darker path. The song and video are adorable. I can’t stop watching it.

    And he’s horns over heels for GFDI Dave, so Dave isn’t the literal monster. He’s probably not a monster in other ways, just kind of cute (at least to the monster… troll I think)

  24. An Interested Party says:

    It’s too bad that life don’t imitate Star Trek.

    Oh, I don’t know about that…when Biden beats Trump, Biden can serve in the role of Kirk while Trump babbles incoherently just like Nomad…

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Sorry, Putin has stuff on him. His obsequious behavior in Vlad’s presence, his refusal to condemn anything the Russkies do… I’m sorry, I don’t buy the “he is just an egotistical idiot” argument. Yes he is, but his absolute subservience goes way beyond that.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:I was thinking demon because the short horns are kind of a meme in anime, but they were really short, so they might mean something else.

    On to other matters: fashionistas are wondering what message Harris is making by wearing Converse sneakers on the campaign trail. To me the message couldn’t be clearer–just like a t-shirt a student at Woosong was wearing put it, “I don’t give a Chuck.”