Friday 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. MarkedMan says:

    I find reading the news so much more satisfying these past two days. I’m looking for (and finding) things actually being done, for people actually leveling with us about the situation. Biden may not be Superman, but don’t underestimate the effect that basic competency can have as people get used to it and start expecting it from organizations and people outside the federal government.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    McConnell is unable to deliver impeachment. This highlights something I’ve felt for a long time – he is a very inept Speaker. This has been masked because Republicans define success in purely negative terms, in terms of stopping or crushing or repealing. But that simply masks the fact that McConnell has zero legislative accomplishments under his belt, and has not used the Senate in its other major role of steering foreign policy, the military, domestic capabilities. He is able to whip up his rabble into a frenzy when they are attacking the Dems, but he has no ability to get them to do anything else.

    So Schumer’s negotiations should focus exclusively on minimizing McConnell’s ability to monkey-wrench the works. Concede things to him that would require him to show real organizational initiative and ability, secure in the knowledge it’s beyond his capabilities.

  3. Teve says:


    BIDEN: And so my friends we must unite…
    RAND PAUL: ha, sure
    BIDEN: …against white supremacists…
    PAUL: hey
    BIDEN: …and, Nazis, and liars…
    BIDEN: …and creepy racist assholes…

  4. Kylopod says:


    But that simply masks the fact that McConnell has zero legislative accomplishments under his belt

    Well he had the tax bill.

    The failure of ACA repeal, though, is on him. (No, it wasn’t due to McCain’s thumbs-down. That’s a myth that, curiously, both parties persist in believing. McCain is the fall guy or scapegoat, or brave maverick, depending on your viewpoint.)

  5. CSK says:

    Two Florida financial institutions, Banks United and Professional Bank, have severed their relationship to Trump.

    Florida. Ouch.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Joe Biden’s Peloton bike may pose cybersecurity risk, experts warn
    President reportedly starts each day with workout on exercise bike, which streams virtual group classes

    Of course they would report on this, he’s a DEM.

    On the other hand, isn’t it nice to not read how the POTUS’s latest folly gave away the store to Putin?

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    NH opened registration for those over 65 this morning. While the reg process was simple enough, if you’ve ever filled out an online form and knew if you were allergic to anything, but… Using the rock concert ticket purchase method, all could begin registering at 8AM the website went unresponsive, eventually I did get in and registered, but, it didn’t schedule you, only that an invitation to schedule will be sent. Also, when the site offered the opportunity to register my wife, it didn’t collect any of the medical information, though she managed to get in on her own.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Today in the “Good Things Happening to Good People” file: Amanda Gorman books top bestselling lists after soul-stirring inaugural poem

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: A tax bill is a giveaway so there isn’t much skill involved in that. As far as repealing the ACA, that’s a negative accomplishment. He was nowhere even close to being able to shepherd an alternative through the Senate.

  10. Kingdaddy says:

    The “Bernie in a chair” meme from yesterday was funny, but these public access cable clips of Bernie interacting with children from back when he was mayor of Burlington, VT are hysterical.

  11. Kathy says:

    So, I went to see a doctor for the first time in six or seven years. Nothing serious.

    First hurdle, as usual, is not to have the doctor look at you and exclaim “Jesus F****G Christ!What the HELL is that?” So that went well.

    Turns out I have a hernia.

    Not serious, as I said, but I’m really upset about it. I rarely get sick, I’ve never been hospitalized or had surgery in all my adult life. I think I had surgery to get my tonsils out when I was 5 or so. all I remember about it, is that I was given ice cream for several days afterwards.

    Now I have to get a scan and possibly labs and have surgery. it ruins a good record.

    I thought I’d wait six to eight weeks. Why? because personnel at private hospitals just started to get the COVID vaccine. In 8 weeks almost everyone will have been covered and be less of a risk to me. But the family’s really been pressuring me to get it fixed now. the doctor gave another reason. he said hospitals might overflow with COVID patients if this gets worse (it shouldn’t, but you never know), and that’s a point to consider.

    I’ve never even used my health insurance before. The last two times I saw a doctor was a dermatologist. I’m not used to this.

  12. Scott says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Sigh. That sounds almost organized. The procedure here in San Antonio is this:
    1) Keep a list of possible vaccine providers near by
    2) Hope you are online or otherwise engages when the city or county or hospital or pharmacy or other provider announces that they received an allocation from the state
    3) Make a mad dash to go online or call or use whatever procedure that particular provider is using to make a reservation.
    4) You have approximately 2 minutes before all slots are taken

    BTW, the local military medical facilities and VA have their own sources and procedures. But those are opaque also.

    No one wants to talk about it but the principal limiting factor is production rates not distribution. The distribution part can work itself out but if the vaccine is flat out not existent because it hasn’t been produced yet, there is not much to be done.

    I’m expecting it will be March or April before I receive any vaccines so I’m still taking all current precautions.

  13. Kylopod says:


    A tax bill is a giveaway so there isn’t much skill involved in that. As far as repealing the ACA, that’s a negative accomplishment. He was nowhere even close to being able to shepherd an alternative through the Senate.

    The thing is, you’ve just described the entire Republican legislative agenda. Whenever they get into power, their two main goals as far as legislation is concerned are (1) cut taxes on the rich (2) strip away the social safety net.

    Historically, they’ve had more success with the former than the latter. But regarding the latter, while they usually run into a brick wall when attempting to undermine middle-class programs such as SS and Medicare, they’ve had modest success in the past making life more difficult for the poor–particularly regarding food stamps and Medicaid.

    There was never going to be a “replacement for Obamacare” because the Republicans simply aren’t interested in contributing to the safety net in a positive way–but they know they can’t say this aloud because it’s an extremely unpopular position. Repeal-and-replace was always nothing more than a slogan designed to sell their agenda of an upward redistribution of the country’s wealth relative to the new status quo generated by the ACA’s implementation. To that end, all the so-called “Obamacare replacement” bills from the House and Senate were just smokescreens, most of them boiling down to a combo of cutting taxes and slashing Medicaid protection. This may even be among the reasons why McConnell chose not to mess with the legislative filibuster even after unhesitatingly doing away with the judicial filibuster to get Gorsuch through. Keeping the legislative filibuster in place enabled them to focus on budget-related changes allowed through reconciliation, rather than committing themselves to potentially far more disruptive regulatory changes that would have made some of the big companies mad.

    We all laugh about “infrastructure week,” but my impression from following it is that the primary reason it never happened was McConnell. The Trump Admin was pretty serious about it. By that I most definitely don’t mean they had a serious proposal for actual infrastracture reform–like everything else with them it was a scam, an attempt to line the pockets of investors. But the reason there never was a bill to come out of this is that when the Trump people went to McConnell he told them to go jump in a lake.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:


    Refreshing to have a president who actually exercises.

  15. Michael Cain says:


    Florida. Ouch.

    My suspicion is that Jan 6 is serving as a convenient excuse, but that the banks closing his accounts are really doing so because they’re afraid of how far and wide the New York and IRS investigations will spread now that Trump’s no longer President. Much easier to quietly turn over transaction records — if necessary — for a former client than to have a current client with a fondness for suing everyone in sight.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:


    My wife has friends in Texas and they have managed to get vaccinated, I believe they are in the DFW area.

    The Times article on Biden’s covid plans, mentioned that the earliest vaccine production can be ramped up is April, due to lack of mfg capacity. I believe that bottle neck is for only the currently approved vaccines, at least one, J&J, should be nearing completion of trials and submitted for approval. Not sure what is happening to the Astra Zenica vaccine.

  17. sam says:
  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    A few months ago I saw a link to a National Review post outlining a possible R healthcare plan. Curious and always interested to find out if a conservative actually has a positive contribution to make (I know, that only existed long ago in a galaxy far away.), I checked it out, the first recommendation was Health Savings Accounts, I didn’t need to read further.

  19. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:
    That would be my guess. Where does he go from here? The Cayman Islands? Switzerland?

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I’m not used to this.

    You will be.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Hey now, trump was a mad man at the 12 oz curls.

  22. Scott says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Objectively, there are so many who should be in line ahead of me. I’m 66, good health, working from home, and have the financial and social means to protect myself. But the state, by making too many eligible (healthcare workers, 65+, 16+ with health conditions, etc), has created a frenzied, free for all with all the attendant claims of discrimination, unfairness, equity, etc. It’s a mess that the local officials are doing their best to cope with but they are the front face to the public.

  23. MarkedMan says:


    The thing is, you’ve just described the entire Republican legislative agenda.

    We are in agreement. The point I was trying to make was about the current negotiations Schumer is having with McConnell about the rules of this session of the Senate. Schumer should hold fast on any rules that would help McConnell gum up the works, but he shouldn’t worry about rules that would make it easier to advance positive Republican legislation. My guess is that McConnell and the Republican Senate have very little ability to advance a pro-active legislation. But if I’m wrong, the Dems can evaluate it on its merits and either support it, incorporate it, or defeat it.

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Over the years I occasionally run across substantive policy proposals from conservative pundits–but for the most part these never end up being enacted, or even seriously attempted, by Republicans when they get into power.

    Of course, the ACA itself is based heavily on ideas that once were thought of as the conservative version of health-care reform. Once they became the domain of the Kenyan Muslim, Republicans had nowhere left to go as far as a serious market-based approach to the issue was concerned.

    I also don’t think Republicans were ever truly serious about these proposals; they were just intended as a foil to the Clinton health care plan of the ’90s, just so they could pretend they were committed to expanding coverage. Every time they actually got into power, they didn’t bother. (I’m talking nationally–blue-state Republican governors like Romney and Schwarzenegger did make serious efforts in that direction.) Dubya in 2004 ran on a plan based on tax credits which he promptly went on to ignore following reelection. The last Republican president to make a serious effort toward universal health care was Nixon.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hey, now. Trump doesn’t drink. And pills only weigh a few grams.

  26. CSK says:

    And a Quarter-Pounder weighs…a quarter of a pound!

  27. CSK says:

    There are three McDonald’s within a short distance of Mar-a-Lago, so presumably Trump will be able to get his regular fixes. The food and service at Mar-a-Lago itself are reputed to be ghastly.

  28. Mu Yixiao says:


    Tidbit on the news this morning. A reporter noticed that Biden removed “the red button” from the Oval Office. The button was to summon a butler who would deliver a diet soda on a silver platter–up to 12 times a day.

  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Hank Aaron has passed.
    Perhaps the GOAT among GOATs.
    RIP sir.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Diet Cokes come in 12 oz cans too. What is more he had a red button to speed the delivery of them.

  31. Kathy says:


    Given a choice, I would rather not.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:


    Agreed. My thought is that the best way to have proceeded was to focus on congregate care facilities, there staff and front line healthcare workers, which most states did. After that they should have registered broad groups, say those over 65, those with comorbidities, 1st responders and public facing workers. From that point the focus should have been on infection hot spots in order to tamp down the disease. Once a cohort was registered and the hot spots ID’d, begin randomly scheduling vaccinations in the hot spots and then move to the larger registered population. Anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated, goes to the back of the line and waits until the entire population has been offered the chance to receive the vaccine.

  33. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So, funny things you run across… The wonderful Word of Disney, in season 46 (!!) had an episode, actually a full length movie, called “Tower of Terror”.

    It was made to riff off the Disney ride – Hollywood Tower of Terror.

    And, since I seek out a lot of odd videos, and this one was an early Kirstin Dunst flick, AND the wife would prolly like it, so why not find and download.

    So, I did.

    And the interesting thing… the caretaker of the hotel, a character called Chris Todd, called himself “Q”. he stated that It stood for quarternmaster, and there was a think backstory mentioned that he was in the army but washed out.

    His character was cowardly and generally inept.


  34. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Trump once observed that he’d never seen a thin person drinking a Diet Coke. Guess he was looking at himself.

  35. Franklin says:

    Some Republican had a stupid idea to limit stimulus checks: Give checks only to people who …

    Wait a second … that’s a *good* idea!

  36. MarkedMan says:

    Now that we know Impeachment will fail, I think it would be wise for Schumer to delay the trial, and work with the administration to gather evidence. And he should expand it far, far beyond the initial indictment and investigate things like whether PPE and vaccine supplies were diverted in ways that put money in the pockets of administration officials, including Trump. Drag the trial out for a couple of months and bring forth as much of Trump’s corruption and veniality as possible. Make the Republicans own it when they vote to acquit.

  37. Sleeping Dog says:


    Not a bad idea, but impracticable. To keep people out of poverty and keep the economy afloat, we need to get the money into peoples hands quickly, unfortunately it will be months before a sufficient amount of the vaccine is available so we can inoculate large portions of the population.

  38. Kathy says:

    Remember how many times we hard most Republicans did not like Trump, got sick of him quickly, and held him on very low esteem, but were unable to do or even say (and one might assume, think too loudly) anything about it because he was at the White House?

    trump slot the election 2 and a half months ago, and he has left the whit House.

    Where are all these mythical Republicans? Nursing their Stockholm Syndrome?

  39. CSK says:

    They’re afraid of his base. Frankly, I can’t really blame them.

  40. Mu Yixiao says:

    Does anyone here work with SAP?

    If so, how do you keep from throwing your computer across the room in a rage on a daily basis? Is there maybe a prescription I can get to help?

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I use SAP at work.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Setting the agenda for national reconciliation already. “We don’t want Biden. We want revenge! This is the problem I keep having with the progressives on the left. Making things better for the poor isn’t as important as putting Plutocrats in jail–or worse. They’re just like the right on this. No grace, only judgement. And all the time feeding Glenn Beck’s “half the nation wants to destroy our American way of life” argument. “Great job, Brownie!”

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: You have 2 choices: Getting old…

    or not.

    Most people opt for the first.

  44. Kylopod says:


    You have 2 choices

    English-language tangent.

    Why does the sentence “You have two choices” have exactly the same meaning as “You have a choice”?

  45. Kathy says:


    they say growing old is like the worst decision a a person can make about themselves, except for the alternative.

    I prefer the short version: Life’s a bitch and then you die.

  46. Kathy says:


    Maybe a better reason than why “oversight” means both watching over something and failing to see something.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    So Schumer’s negotiations should focus exclusively on minimizing McConnell’s ability to monkey-wrench the works. Concede things to him that would require him to show real organizational initiative and ability, secure in the knowledge it’s beyond his capabilities.

    I think you’re underestimating the power of indolence and entropy. All Mitch has to do now to fuk thing up is… nothing.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: I don’t know.

    @Kathy: I am now dealing with the accumulative effects of more than 6 decades worth of abuse. It’s definitely a bitch. But then I see my granddaughters and I forget all about it.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just came back from the lumberyard. Sans lumber. WTF??? The price of lumber has gone insane! Double, triple what it was a year ago. So I googled it.

    ‘It’s been crazy:’ Pandemic has sent lumber prices soaring, causing home construction costs to rise amid strong demand

    Why Strong Demand and Tight Supply Have Caused Lumber Prices to Soar

    Long story short, a lot of mills cut back on their production when the pandemic began assuming demand would slacken. Instead it increased. A lot. Housing construction is up. So is remodeling. Plus a lot of bored homeowners have decided if they can’t go out, they’ll just build something instead. Along with a number of other factors. It’s really kind of insane:

    In some cases, lumber prices have doubled and tripled over the past year. OSB board prices, for example, were three times higher in September 2020 compared to September 2019. Other prices have gone way up, too. Western SPF 2x4s, for example, have gone up 158% over the past year, studs have risen 164%, and southern pine has gone up 147%.

    I’ve got a good stack of lumber culls I’ve been buying on the cheap so I can move ahead on a few projects, but if OSB remains in the stratosphere…

    shakes head

  50. KM says:

    @Franklin :
    That only works as an idea if everyone can get the vaccine easily and we’re incentivize people to go do it. In reality, it will only punish the poor (rich people are paying jump lines), the working class (Burger King workers aren’t in line anytime soon) and younger people or those with small children (65+ are Boomers and up after all). A struggling parent trying to care for their kids and senior parents is screwed out of needed money because they’re in Group 5z and can’t expect a shot till around July at best.

    In reality, it will help *limit* money handed out and thus is a great way to suppress the stimulus while concern trolling at the same time. Typical GOP, in other words.

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: I don’t think it does. Consider it this way:
    1) You have a choice. (Take the option offered or decline it.)

    2) You have two choices, do you want an SUV or a Crossover? (Decline both is still an option.)

    In my thought process, declining the one available option does not make a binary choice available. You have to have two different options available to have 2 choices–in which case you actually have three because nullification still is available. YMMV.

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    …but he shouldn’t worry about rules that would make it easier to advance positive Republican legislation.

    I have to assume that “positive Republican legislation” is a hypothetical, correct?

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I was going to say that a Quarter Pounder must weigh more than a quarter pound because of the bun, condiments, and pickle–all of which have mass and therefore, add weight. But I remembered that the patty weight is 4 oz. before cooking, so now I’m ambivalent again because we don’t know how much water and renderable fat is added.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Franklin: And the best part about it is that it postpones needing to issue checks to people in most states for upwards of 6 or 7 months. Yeah, that certainly is a Republican version of a good idea, all right.

  55. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t think it does. Consider it this way:
    1) You have a choice. (Take the option offered or decline it.)

    2) You have two choices, do you want an SUV or a Crossover? (Decline both is still an option.)

    The problem is that the word “choice” by definition refers to the entire array of options, not to any individual option. “You have a choice” means there are two or more options. At some point people began using “choice” as a synonym for “option” while simultaneously retaining its original meaning of “an array of available options.” This led to expressions like “You have only one choice,” which actually doesn’t make much sense since it’s meant to suggest there’s only one possible outcome, and if that’s the case, then by definition there can be no “choice” available.

    This is similar to “I could care less,” where something develops idiomatically in speech that conflicts with the original meaning of a word or expression, leading to two expressions that seem syntactically opposite but which have the same meaning.

  56. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yeah; I was thinking along the same lines. But I’m not sufficiently curious so as to actually buy one of the damned things and weigh it.

    I read somewhere that Trump’s favored repast consisted of two Filet o’ Fishes and a Big Mac. His doctor must measure his cholesterol in light years.

  57. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’ll commiserate with you. Last winter I paid ~$380 for allegedly premium Western Red Cedar for a pair of Adirondack chairs. I really wasn’t happy with it. A few weeks ago it was ~$6.50 bd/ft for 4/4 rough white oak and yesterday I was contemplating whether to spend $9.50 bd/fr for Spanish Cedar or $13.50 bd/ft for Sapele. Wood prices are out of sight.

  58. Kathy says:


    According to Wikipedia, a whole quarter-pounder with bread, cheese, and so on, weighs 220 grams.

    I’m not up on the Imperial System apparently the Founding Fathers held to be sacred, but I think that’s closer to half a pound.

  59. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: The quarter pound refers to the uncooked patty. In a less obese world, this was considered a very large hamburger.

  60. MarkedMan says:

    Those Republicans. Always classy.

    “The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived,” one unnamed source, described as “a well-placed official not associated with the incoming Biden team,” told the latter publication.

  61. Kathy says:


    I thought there was a question about the full mass of the burnger.


    I’m sure Mr. and Dr. Biden are quite capable of 1) lifting a finger, 2) doing a bit more than lifting a finger, and 3) too classy and focused to make a big deal about petty f**k-you gesture from a bitter and overgrown toddler.

  62. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I have to assume that “positive Republican legislation” is a hypothetical, correct?

    Yes, sir, and thank you for shopping at your local Mega-Mart, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Conglomo (motto, “WE OWN YOU”). You’ll find positive Republican legislation on aisle 1447(b), top shelf, left hand side, next to the canned unicorn and Smurf™ jerkey.

  63. Kathy says:

    On news related to an era best forgotten, the trial of the Orange Ass will proceed in the US Senate the week after the Super Bowl.

  64. CSK says:

    One year ago today, the CDC announced the first U.S. case of Covid-19.

  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: And for me there’s the problem that I once worked in a restaurant where after cooking, a 4 oz. patty weighed just over 2.5 oz. 🙁

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Indeed. IIRC, a Big Mac has 2 10:1 (pound) patties and when I was working in produce/food service, we sold some customers 12:1s.