A Tuesday Forum

For today's chit chat.

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. 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:

    ‘Where’s Fauci?’ America panics as doctor absent again from White House briefing

    The alarm reflected just how much the nation has come to rely on the wisdom of the straight-talking doctor from New York as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, with the worst yet to come. For many anxious Americans tuning in from the confinement of their homes, Fauci is a a voice of reason in a time of deep uncertainty.

    And his absence at yet another briefing was cause for concern. Had he been sidelined for contradicting the president? Was he in good health?


    “I mean, I’m not, to my knowledge, coronavirus-infected,” he said, adding with a laugh: “To my knowledge, I haven’t been fired.”

    Yep, WASF.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The wife of an Arizona man who died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate to protect himself from the novel coronavirus spoke out Monday to urge the public not to “take anything” or “believe anything” without talking to a healthcare professional.

    “We saw Trump on TV — every channel — and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” the woman told NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard of President Donald Trump. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.”

    NBC News reported that the man, 68, and his wife, 61, took chloroquine to guard against the novel coronavirus, which causes a potentially fatal disease known as COVID-19. It’s not clear how much chloroquine the man ingested, and Banner Health said he and his wife ingested a version of the chemical that’s used to clean aquariums.

    Both of them needed to seek medical care within half an hour; the woman is in critical condition, and the man died.

    STFU Donny.

  4. Scott says:

    Dan Patrick says he is willing to risk his own life to allow economy to resume

    “No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance for your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in,” Patrick said on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show.

    I live in Texas. And underlying this nonsense is a strong Christian End-Times death cult. It is what is driving our foreign policy, especially Middle East policy under Pompeo and Pence. It is what drives gun policy. Right around the corner from me is Cornerstone Church run by John Hagee, who is a powerful right wing zealot and End-Times preacher. They would like nothing better than to bring on the Armageddon and fulfill Biblical prophecy. They are a danger to the nation.

  5. Teve says:

    Seen on the internet: Are these the same Republicans who howled about Mamaw succumbing to the Death Panels?

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:
  7. DrDaveT says:

    There’s a fascinating article at War on the Rocks by a scholar of international law who claims that China is financially culpable for economic harm done by the COVID-19 pandemic. He bases this on a 2005 treaty that China is a signatory to, which they violated with their lies and disinformation to WHO in the early days of the outbreak.

    If this analysis is correct, the US would be legally* entitled to (for example) withhold payments owed to China on existing debt, up to the amount of the damages. I think about all of those Treasury bonds that China holds…

    *In the international law sense, which is fuzzier than the usual sense.

  8. DrDaveT says:

    I was wrong about something. My wife pointed out yesterday that the Social Security Administration knows a name (and an alleged address) for everyone who has a social security number, and has copies of all the 2019 W-2 forms, cross-linked to those numbers. They are, in fact, positioned to estimate pretty accurately who the wage-earners are, how much they were paid last year, and how to get a check to them. This would make a means-tested direct payment more feasible than I had believed.

    @gVOR08, you were right and I was wrong.

  9. Mu Yixiao says:


    But, as others mentioned, that only reflects last year’s income. A lot of people who might have been okay last year probably aren’t going to be this year.

    And the numbers the SSA has only reflect gross income, not net income or liquidity (FICA is paid on gross earnings).

  10. Mu Yixiao says:

    Two Reasons the Worst-Case Scenarios for COVID-19 Seem Unrealistic

    Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, called attention to the “denominator problem”—i.e., the exclusion of many people with mild or nonexistent symptoms from official counts of confirmed COVID-19 infections. Giroir noted that “the typical mortality rate for seasonal flu is about 0.1 percent or 0.15 percent.” By contrast, “the best estimates now for the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1 percent and 1 percent.”

    Three federal public health officials—Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; H. Clifford Lane, the institute’s deputy director for clinical research and special projects; and Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—struck a similar note in a New England Journal of Medicine commentary last month. “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1 percent,” they wrote. “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1 percent) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

    Again, the issue of testing and knowing the actual numbers.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    But, as others mentioned, that only reflects last year’s income

    Sure; I was one of them. But knowing who was being paid wages by what kind of business 3 months ago, and how much they made last year, is a far better proxy than 2018 tax returns and guesswork. You’d need a separate channel to get to independent contractors and small business owners, too.

    And the numbers the SSA has only reflect gross income, not net income or liquidity

    No, they have the actual W-2s, which include withholding.

    Edited to emphasize that knowing what kind of business would also be useful.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Tom Inglesby

    In last 24 hrs there’ve been prominent US voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing rationale that they’re worse than impact of COVID itself. It’s worth looking very closely at that claim, where we are in US COVID epidemic and what happens if we stop. 1/x
    COVID has been spreading w/ exponential growth in US for some time, and we’re just beginning to get an understanding of how extensively. There are nearly 40,000 cases recognized in the US as of today, w/ ~100 deaths today. A few weeks ago, we had recognized 70 cases total. 2/x
    Some hospitals have said publicly that within a week they will not have ventilators to treat everyone with COVID anymore. 3/x
    There continue to be big diagnostic limitations. Shortages in reagents, swabs. Don’t have rapid diagnostics in many hospitals yet, so it can be days before doctors and nurses can find out if a pt in front of them has COVID. 4/x
    We don’t have capacity to diagnose many of the COVID cases that are not sick enough to be in the hospital, so those numbers aren’t counted in our national totals. 5/x
    There continues to be terrible shortages in the masks that health care workers need to keep from getting sick with this disease. 6/x
    How do we gain time to let hosps get more supplies & prepare for high number of pts? How do we lower the speed of spread of COVID in US? How do we lower odds that ICUs will run out of vents, hospitals run out of space? The answer for now is large scale social distancing.7/x
    In Asia, we’ve seen these interventions work to lower pace of the epidemic, lower numbers of critically ill, lower the number of people who get COVID. In Asia where big social distancing measures have been in place for two months, they have had very strong impact. 8/x
    In Asia they’ve slowed the disease by slowing social interaction. Left to its own, this disease spreads from 1 person to about 2.5 people, and then they do the same, and so on. For this disease to stop, we need to make it so that the avg person spreads it to <1 other person. 9/x
    These big social distancing measures take time to work. The impact of big interventions in Wuhan China took about 3 wks to start to reverse things. And then everyday after the situation got better. In the US, we're about 7 to 10 days into this, depending on the state.10/x
    To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID pts will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear. 11/x
    Many models report that health care systems will be completely overwhelmed/collapse by the peak of cases if major social distancing is not put in place. 12/x
    If a health care system in a given community stops working, can no longer provide care to the ill, the case fatality rate for COVID will be far higher than 1% – we would not be able to care for some or all of the expected 5% of recognized cases that get critically ill. 13/x
    Beyond that, if hospitals were completely overwhelmed, they may struggle to provide even oxygen for some or many of the 15% of recognized cases expected to be “severely ill”. let alone provide care for other life threatening conditions. 14/x
    Anyone advising the end of social distancing now, needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that. COVID would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, could kill potentially millions in the yr ahead with huge social and economic impact across the country. 15/x

    9 more posts in that tweet thread.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: I’m sure that would do wonders for the T-bill market.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    As one who hales from a family of loving, but unexceptional grand parents, I’ve quietly envied friends who can reminisce about an exotic one. As Stephen’s does here.

  15. DrDaveT says:


    I’m sure that would do wonders for the T-bill market.

    That depends on a couple of things, such as (1) whether the rest of the world interpreted the action as repudiation of debt or as collection of debt, (2) how quickly it was done, (3) what other possibilities were explored first, etc. The effect on the T-bill market would be driven by the world’s estimation of the risk that their bonds would become worthless.

    It would require skill and clear communication with the world. Fortunately, none of this would come to pass during the current administration.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: China is a big market for T- bills and I’m pretty sure such a move would kill it. That’s all I’m talking about. Well, that and the laws of supply and demand.

  17. Mu Yixiao says:


    No, they have the actual W-2s, which include withholding.

    Okay… let me rephrase. They only know your gross profits (gross income-withholding). They don’t know your mortgage, car payments, alimony, utilities, loans, medical bills, etc., which means they don’t know your net profit (spending money), or how much you have in the bank.

    I know people who have almost zero income–but have a million in the bank. I know people who have high income, but are paying off lots of debt.

  18. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: In a nutshell, Republicans want to give money to Jeff Bezos, and Democrats want to give it to his warehouse employees.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Harry Moroz

    For the average American the best way to tell if you have covid-19 is to cough in a rich person’s face and wait for their test results

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Heh. I like it. I got a down vote for noting that a vast percentage of Americans have a lot more faith in Dr. Fauci than they do in trump. To the down voter, let me most sincerely apologize for being the bearer of bad news.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: All due respect, but “Reason” is a libertarian magazine. As such they have a deserved reputation for cherry picking data, elevating political theory over reality and failing to address it when those theories inevitably prove wrong. Reading such a magazine is worse than useless, and I wouldn’t credit anything that was published there.

  22. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: This is merely an educated guess but it seems that viruses have 2 tradeoffs, they can trend less lethal and propagate further or they can trend more lethal and propagate to fewer hosts.

    It would seem that the sheer velocity of spread means this illness is trending towards the less lethal side. Meaning there are a lot of asymptomatic and mild spreaders propagating the virus. Probably the best data out there is the South Korea data because they are the only country so far that immediately committed to test everyone without restrictions. The Chinese data outside of Wuhan is probably also informative because of commitment to testing wide as possible. Their mortality rate..sans Wuhan….resolved to 0.7. South Korea is at ~9000/120 for ~ 1.4
    Which is positive news for people that contract it post vaccine and proven antiviral treatment.

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    They don’t know your mortgage, car payments, alimony, utilities, loans, medical bills, etc., which means they don’t know your net profit (spending money), or how much you have in the bank.

    Yes, I get that. I was not proposing to attempt to distribute on the basis of wealth. I was attempting to distribute on the basis of lost income, necessarily approximately, within the subset of people who can plausibly be assumed to not have a lot of savings.

    I am not worried that a few millionaire burger-flippers would get a check they don’t need. I am not sympathetic to the subset of the population with high incomes who nevertheless live paycheck to paycheck; they have credit options. I am trying to do something immediately that will, to the extent possible with the data we have, get a useful amount of money to the people who are most directly affected by the shutdown and vulnerable.

    Neither would I make this the only program — there are pull (as opposed to push) options like expanded food stamps that should be pursued in parallel.

  24. gVOR08 says:

    A KY man diagnosed with coronavirus refused to quarantine until the sheriff parked a deputy outside his house. Assuming he voted, let me guess for who.

  25. Mu Yixiao says:


    I’m quite aware of the political leanings of Reason (I tend to lean libertarian myself). I also read Al Jazeera and BBC, as well as occasional expeditions into The Daily Beast and The Blaze–because getting multiple perspectives and interpretations helps you better understand what the actual truth might be.

    Hearing 4 of the top members of the Federal Government’s health departments say essentially the same thing isn’t “useless” or political. And there are links within the article to the original statements–so you can dig deeper if you’d like.

    The points to take from the article are:

    1) Experts (who help to guide policy) aren’t freaking out
    2) More (and more comprehensive) testing is needed to better learn what we’re dealing with
    3) Nobody is saying “it’s just the flu”, but they are saying Italy is not likely to be the standard–it’s looking more like China and S. Korea.
    4) The actions being taken are having an effect–though the “denominator problem” doesn’t let us know just how much.

  26. Kathy says:

    The daily temperature check the company began yesterday is not going well at all. Half the time the readings just don’t register (they’re using an infrared thermometer). The rest are incredibly ridiculous, like 32 C (about 4 C below normal). I think that’s hypothermia.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    This is a few days old so if you’ve seen it just ignore it and give me a Harrumph*. (rhymes with Trumph)

    *Trigger Warning!

  28. Kathy says:

    On the non-COVID front, I want to try a pasilla and ancho sauce with fresh tomatoes rather than tomato puree, maybe add some cilantro as well. I’d mix this with shredded beef.

    When I do sauce heavy dishes, which is often, I tend to pair them with some grain that can soak up the sauce. Tortillas work well and they make enchiladas, but I’ve done that a lot lately. So maybe I just can add rice on the side and mix it a little.

    But I’ve been thinking about rice and beans with a squirt of tomato paste. So I’m thinking cooking the rice in chicken broth about 3/4 of the way, then adding canned whole beans (properly cooked beans take HOURS), add a bit of tomato paste, and stir in some lentil flour as a thickener.

    By all rights this should get some bacon, but there’s already meat in the entree. So maybe not.

    I’m thinking of dessert, too. There’s this local, sugar-free, “yogurt” gelatin which works rather well, but I want to mix in some sliced strawberries. Problem is fresh ones right now are not very good, so I’d need to get frozen ones, preferable already sliced…

  29. Stormy Dragon says:


    Meh. Trump needs to stop talking about chloroquine for other reasons (like making sure lupus and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can get their medicine), but if you’re dumb enough to drink aquarium cleaner because there was a vaguely familiar word on the box, that’s all on you.

  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    I just ran across a piece about how to gather information that was so good, I wanted to share it:

    In circumstances that lead to a high risk of groupthink and overreach, it’s a reason to explicitly employ evidential markers when reporting claims; it’s a reason to cite and link to specific sources for specific claims rather than simply repeating them or presenting them as What Experts Are Saying, and it’s a reason for readers to spend some time following links and footnotes where they have been made available, or to significantly discount stories that don’t bother to provide them. It’s also a reason to actively seek out and cultivate second guesses, minority reports and dissenting opinions, rather than ignoring, scolding or punishing them.


    The problem here is not that people will draw conclusions that are wrong, or to make decisions that turn out to be mistakes. Of course they will. If that wasn’t a real danger, then it wouldn’t be a crisis in the first place. The problem here is that if you want to draw conclusions that are less wrong, more often, — if you want to do less damage and realize more quickly when you make the wrong decision, — if you want to lower the chance of being misled — then that may mean being more selective rather than more completist in the sources of information that you pursue. And the sources to be most selective about will often be the ones that seem the most appealing from the standpoint of your own social and ideological starting-points. Consume thoughtful discussion and information, not too much, mostly data.

  31. Bill says:

    The doctor said my lungs are improving and I will be discharged soon. Asked when soon would be, my doctor was vague.

    Yesterday would have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I didn’t remember it till dinner time. 🙁 Mom died in 1985 and Dad in 1997.

    The Olympics are postponed till next year. If we’re all alive. I definitely won’t be watching if I’m dead.

    My sense of humor is still intact but all the drugs I’m on is making me nuttier than normal unable to focus too long on anything.

    I can’t think of anything else dumb or funny to say.

  32. Jax says:

    @Bill: Thanks for the update, I was looking for your name and hadn’t seen it yet today! Hang in there, nutty friend. 😉

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: I’ve been picturing a panicked meeting between Trump and the GOP senators on the Senate coronavirus rescue bill:

    Holy underwear! Deadly pandemic? Economy collapsing? We’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately, immediately! Harrumph, harrumph!

  34. Monala says:

    @Kathy: The average human body temperature has cooled off, so lower than the established norm is to be expected.

  35. Monala says:

    A writer at the conservative Catholic journal First Things argues that they were just kidding about life being the most sacred thing. In fact, “There is a demonic side to the sentimentalism of saving lives at any cost.”

    At the press conference on Friday announcing the New York shutdown, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “I want to be able to say to the people of New York—I did everything we could do. And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

    This statement reflects a disastrous sentimentalism. Everything for the sake of physical life? What about justice, beauty, and honor? There are many things more precious than life.

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: Unnecessary, but gracious. Thank you.

  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    All those years of saying, “Hey, be cool.” Who knew it would actually work?

  38. Monala says:

    @Monala: Linky not working. Here it is again:


  39. Bill says:

    Before I take a nap I want to comment on something Kathy wrote yesterday about hotel thefts.

    I swear I won’t be taking home my hospital room’s toilet paper when I get discharged.

    A really odd discovery I made last year. I moved in both 2015 and 2019. Sometime last summer I found a pen from a California hotel that I last stayed in 2001.

    On that note I’m out of here.

  40. Kathy says:


    Is this like an emulation of the time Jesus performed the miracle of making pretzels without dough?

  41. Sleeping Dog says:


    We’ll look for you tomorrow, if not later today.

  42. flat earth luddite says:

    Dagnabbit! Now I’ve got to go cue up my copy of Blazing Saddles! Thanks!

  43. EddieInCA says:

    I already know someone who died of Caronavirus.

    Terrance McNally, the playwriter, died today. He was 81. I met him in 1996 in London, and we kept in touch sporadically. He survived lung cancer, but this virus took him out.

    Just the first, of many, I’m sad to admit.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Michael, that is what the [Dad Joke] warning flag is for….

  45. CSK says:

    I just read that. Very sad indeed. And I’m sorry for the personal loss you’ve suffered in this case, as well.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Has there ever been a day when the phrase “STFU Donny” was not appropriate? For a thousand different reasons every damn day? We don’t need him giving people ideas that we all end up paying for.

  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Mmmmmmm…. drinking my warm Ginger Tea… mmmmmmm.

    Question: What if Trump calls an end to COVID-19 distancing… and no one listens?

    Will I go back to a workplace? nope.
    Will I fly? Stay at hotels, visit customers? nope.

    Bad advice leads to bad leadership leads to no one following.

    The ones that do will pay a heavy price.

    I suggest that Trump schedules his usual rally and let’s use AI and cellular data to track the resulting pandemic spread. Fun for all ages!

  48. Jax says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: I was thinking that today, as well. I don’t give a rat’s ass what he says, my kids still aren’t going back to school until next fall, and we are going to continue avoiding people. Especially since I live in a deep red state where people will cheer his all-seeing wisdom and sacrifice Grandma.

  49. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Has it occurred to you the reason Trump wants to ease social distancing rules is so he can have rallies again? He’s like an addict cut off from his heroin.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: @Jax: He can declare an end to the emergency but he can’t command covid to go away, or people who can’t breathe to ignore it or me to go shopping.

  51. Tyrell says:

    Tonight will be another episode of “Project Blue Book” on the History Channel at 10:00 pm.
    A young Senator John Kennedy will be in on this one. This has been a very good and fascinating series about an amazing time in our history.
    I remember Blue Book was talked about a lot in the 1960’s. There was a lot of talk about the UFO invasion of Washington, DC in 1952: talk about panic. The official Air Force “explanation” was comical. Unfortunately, a lot of these secret UFO official files will never be released by the military or the Federal government.

  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Question: What if Trump calls an end to COVID-19 distancing… and no one listens?

    My wife’s pet scenario is this one:

    TRUMP: America is now open for business again!
    50 GOVERNORS: My state isn’t. Shut up, Donny.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: I had to use Cortana to find out about Project Blue Book, and now I have a question. Are you one of those people who believes that The X Files is based on actual incidents?

  54. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I recall a 70s TV show of that name, about UFOs. All I remember is there were lots of military people, and in the opening the narrator spoke of an object some Biblical personage saw.

    For a while I was interested in UFOs. I read a few books by a Spanish journalist called J. J. Benitez, detailing alleged encounters with aliens, alien ships, etc. In my defense, I was young and stupid. in my further defense, around age 14 I dropped all that when I saw Sagan’s Cosmos, and began to learn real astronomy.

  55. Teve says:
  56. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: Faulty Messiah!? These people would have better luck praying to this

  57. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: the article puts trump firmly in the context of the last 50 years of Religious Right racism and eschatology.

  58. Teve says:

    Waffle House just announced they’re shutting down 365 locations. In case you still thought there was any hope.

  59. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: Waffle House has not done very well around here in years – ever since they stopped allowing smoking. I love their hash browns.

  60. Tyrell says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Some may well be based on accounts from people, maybe even military and government agents.
    My favorite “X File” episodes are “Triangle”: Fox Mulder goes up against the Nazis, and “First Person Shooter”:about a wild virtual reality video game that gets too real – that one was really ahead of it’s time.


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