Friday’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:

    Thousands of cattle dead due to heatwave in Kansas

    According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heatwaves in the US have steadily gone up by frequency, duration and intensity in four decades since the 1960s.

    It says the annual number of heatwaves rose from two in the 1960s to six in 2010s. Heatwave seasons now accumulate more days than in past decades: whereas in the 1960s the heatwave season would last about 20 days, by the 2010s it reached 70 days on average.

    “What is clear is that the livestock (and human, for that matter) heat stress issue will become increasingly challenging for livestock farmers to deal with, as the world warms,” said Philip Thornton, a climate researcher and professor who authored a 2021 report on the impact of increasing heat on livestock.

    It’s only 2,000 dead in Kansas, but considering it’s just June 17th and all of July and August await…

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The House January 6 committee will seek an interview with Ginni Thomas, the wife of the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, over her involvement in Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election which led to the Capitol attack.

    On Thursday, Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the panel, said: “We think it’s time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee.”

    Thomas told the Daily Caller, a rightwing website: “I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.”

    Thompson spoke after the Washington Post reported that the committee, preparing for a third public hearing, had obtained emails between Ginni Thomas and John Eastman.

    The New York Times then reported that emails showed Eastman told a pro-Trump lawyer and campaign officials of a “heated fight” between justices over whether to hear arguments about Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat, which was driven by his lie about electoral fraud.

    “The odds [of success] are not based on the legal merits but an assessment of the justices’ spines, and I understand that there is a heated fight underway,” Eastman reportedly wrote.

    I’ll bet her lawyers feel differently.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I will bet dollars to nickels she never shows.

  4. CSK says:

    It’s not exactly a revelation that Trump knew what he wanted Pence to do was illegal.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Glad to see that whatever obstacle the WaPo writer was talking about on Saturday has been removed. I hope she will remember the adage that when the truth don’t make you free, it’s because you don’t have no freedom coming, shudder, and tell the truth anyway (provided that she can still recognize it at all).

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: True, but that he found out that it was and didn’t care…

    Meh, that’s not a revelation either. 🙁

  7. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    No. I mean, what did we expect? The article doesn’t tell us anything we hadn’t already assumed, but I thought it was interesting to read all the evidence laid out as it was.

  8. sam says:
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I rather doubt that she has even a passing acquaintance with the truth.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I give you, the great defender of free of speech, the Muskmouse!

    SpaceX employees fired after writing letter criticizing Elon Musk

    At least five employees were fired by private rocket company SpaceX after drafting and circulating an open letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and calling on executives at the start-up to make the company’s work culture more inclusive, according to two people familiar with the matter.
    SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the New York Times said.

    The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.

    Yes, because Musk is so easily made to feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, bullied, and angry” by anyone who does not fall to their knees and kiss the ground he walks on every time he meanders by.

    The earlier open letter to SpaceX executives seen by Reuters had called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company he founded.

    In a list of three demands, the letter said: “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.” It added: “Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior”.

    It’s that last bit that got them fired. I mean, if the richest man in the world can’t engage in unacceptable behavior without repercussions, what’s the point?

  11. Sleeping Dog says:


    Hope she does, so we can find out for ourselves, if she is as dumb as many conservative pundits claim.

  12. CSK says:

    There’s apparently a drag queen named…wait for it…Rhonda Santis.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Idle musing: the reason the Jan 6th committee is going so well is that there are no Republicans there to gum up the works (the two Republicans are taking this seriously) and of course none willing to defend Trump or his band of idiots. I assumed then and still do that it was the Repubs ploy to make the committee seem less legitimate. I also assumed that they were having difficulty finding anyone other than a looney toon to defend the traitors. But now I’m wondering, what if the Republican leadership want to actually have a real investigation so as to purge some of these losers (including the orange idiot himself) from the party, without getting their fingerprints on it?

  14. Kathy says:

    On the latest Kenobi, just how hard is it to kill someone with a light sabre?

    It’s a really odd weapon. Apparently it can easily kill extras and secondary characters, but not protagonists or supporting characters. In other words, the light sabre suffers from Redshirts Syndrome.

    Or maybe not, unless Qui-Gon Jinn is still alive somewhere.

  15. Beth says:


    I think it’s just Force users who have a better chance at survival. There all sorts of stories of various Force users getting bits lopped off and surviving.

  16. CSK says:

    I can see that happening. There are probably many Republicans who’d love to see Trump banished, if not imprisoned, but they’re terrified of antagonizing the howling mob.

  17. Scott says:

    Yes, he’s my idiot Congressman.

    Chip Roy, who, of course, never served, is against women being registered for Selective Service. He regularly bellows, through his tweets, “I will allow my daughter to be drafted”.

    He regularly postures himself as a tough guy but, of course, he’s a phony.

    No doubt he creepily makes his daughter wear a purity ring.

    Texas congressman blames women for ‘reduced’ standards in the military

    Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) wants to stop women from being drafted into the military because the hundreds of thousands of women currently serving are driving the standards down, he said in a Tweet on Wednesday. Roy, who is running for re-election to represent Texas’ 21st district, tweeted that women volunteering in the military “cause the standards to be reduced.” He did not specify which standards he believed women who volunteer to serve in the military were lowering.

  18. CSK says:

    Do you mean that Roy bellows that he won’t allow his daughter to be drafted?

  19. Scott says:

    @CSK: Yep, I guess I messed that one up.

  20. CSK says:

    Purity rings always strike me as a sort of shackle.

  21. Kathy says:

    Late reply to @Jax:

    Cornbread recipe:

    2 cups cornmeal
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    2 eggs beaten
    2 cups milk (or buttermilk)
    2 2 tbsp.canola oil (or butter, I suppose)

    Mix the dry ingredients. Add the milk, eggs, and oil and mix everything. Pour into a baking dish and bake. I bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes.

    Ideally you should, per tradition, pour the batter into a hot cast iron skillet, then bake. I don’t have one.

  22. CSK says:
  23. CSK says:

    No all-purpose flour?

  24. Kathy says:



    I should add it’s the first recipe I came across. I tried it, it worked well, I’ve kept doing it.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:


    Actually Murphy has made a huge tactical mistake in not participating, two, if you want to count appointing Jordan and the other loon, forcing Pelosi to reject them. If there were R’s on the panel, they could quietly raise doubt about some of the testimony.

  26. Mikey says:


    On the latest Kenobi, just how hard is it to kill someone with a light sabre?

    It just went straight through and the wound is instantly cauterized so no bleeding. Miss the most important innards and it’s pretty survivable, especially if you have the Force helping hold things together. I’d imagine a slashing movement (or just cutting someone in half a la Darth Maul) would more reliably result in death.

  27. KM says:

    As a fencer, you’d be surprised just how hard it is to land a damaging blow on someone, let alone kill someone. Utterly nerfed as it is, it’s still based on the principles of trying to stab or slash someone and the human body is surprising resilient to that sort of thing. As long as you don’t hit anything vital, you have time to stop the bleeding, shock and prevent infection – the three main ways it would take you out. A slashing movement makes for wider but more surface damage then a piercing blow; if it’s from something cauterizing as it goes, slashing would have to do *massive* and truly deep damage to be fatally effective. Losing a limb would count but even then get them to a hospital and they should be fine.

    I would imagine most lightsaber deaths come from irreparable damage like being beheaded or piercing a vital organ like the brain or heart. Something that would cause immediate death even if it wasn’t a lightsaber. Notice the actual on-screen deaths tend to involve a lightsaber through the chest, losing one’s head or limbs or just being cut in half. Otherwise it’s more a brute force melee tool then Kenobi would have had Luke believe…..

  28. Beth says:


    Except Darth Maul survived and went on a long and prosperous career until Kenobi killed him again. Star Wars is wierd.

  29. KM says:

    Damn you edit button. Never there when needed

    For context, foil and epees have blunt tips that are set to a specific pressure to trigger a hit – 750 grams, what it would take to break human skin aka draw blood. They must be tested before bouts with weights to make sure. It often frustrates new fencers that they hit someone but without enough pressure for the point to register. Hitting someone hard enough to hurt them is hard to maintain in a moving fight so bladed weapons rely on being sharp to cut.

    A lightsaber’s real ability is that it can cut through anything by being plasma, not it’s piercing or stabbing potential. It’s almost designed to be a slash-n-cauterize weapon, either to drive the enemy back or get through thick armor. Given the way they all flip around now, multiple glancing or disabling blows seem to be the point in that you hope they drop and surrender or lose their fighting hand (*way* too many Jedis lose limbs for that not to be an intentional fighting style choice).

  30. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: It’s a civilized weapon, it doesn’t kill.

    Han Solo was probably killed by the fall, not the blade. I don’t remember whether Qui-Gon plummeted down a chasm or not, but if not, I’m sure he survived.

    Count Dooku probably just got a robotic body and slinked offstage.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    If there were R’s on the panel, they could quietly raise doubt about some of the testimony.

    That was my point. I wonder if it wasn’t a mistake but rather their desired outcome? A real investigation but with no Republican fingerprints on it.

  32. Beth says:


    Given the way they all flip around now, multiple glancing or disabling blows seem to be the point in that you hope they drop and surrender or lose their fighting hand (*way* too many Jedis lose limbs for that not to be an intentional fighting style choice).

    I think that’s a lot of what Kenobi was saying in the training fight with Anakin. Anakin argued that to win a fight you had to destroy your opponent. Kenobi argued that you just had to beat them, survive and move on to the next thing. Destroying the enemy didn’t matter so long as they lost a hand and couldn’t fight you anymore.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    That dang Cancel Culture strikes again.

  34. Kathy says:


    There was much talk about light sabre cauterization back when Empire Strikes Back first screened, when Luke lost a limb and didn’t bleed to death.

    So, let’s take it as given, and ponder third degree burns on internal organs, muscles, and assorted other tissues.

    So, the odds of being killed with a light sabre are proportional to a character’s rank in the plot. Classic Redshirts syndrome.

    To be fair, the same odds are faced by action heroes facing a hail of bullets, explosions, fireballs, and assorted other perils that do kill lesser characters.

  35. gVOR08 says:

    I remember a SF story I read decades ago, a sort of Connecticut Yankee thing into an alternate reality with Renaissance level technology, except that nobody’d developed gunpowder, so he could. He had some minimal fencing experience and was a great success at sword fighting. The bit that stuck in my mind was that his success was due to the locals not seeming to know swords had points. He lunged and thrust his way to victory. I’m not a big SW fan, at least not past the original three. But watching many SW light saber fights, I’m often reminded of that line. I suppose it could be because of the cauterizing effect on stab wounds, but I suspect it’s more Lucas thinking a Samurai style was more visually dramatic.

  36. Beth says:


    So, the odds of being killed with a light sabre are proportional to a character’s rank in the plot. Classic Redshirts syndrome.

    And then you get the Darth Maul paradox where you accidentally create disposable character that this so cool and interesting you have no choice but to bring him back after his exceptionally intense death and said character goes on to become an important side character to the rest of the story.

    So, let’s take it as given, and ponder third degree burns on internal organs, muscles, and assorted other tissues.

    Midichlorians, what can’t they make better.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: In the original movie Kenobi observes that only Storm Troopers fired with such precision. Must have applied to heavy weapons ’cause with small arms they subsequently seemed unable to hit the broad side of a Deathstar. At least not when one of the heroes is involved.

  38. Beth says:


    On a practical level, I think the wild slashing is more appealing to watch, but on an in universe level, I figured the lack of thrusting (hehehe) had more to do with not wanting to get out to far and get your hand/arm cut off.

  39. Mikey says:


    with small arms they subsequently seemed unable to hit the broad side of a Deathstar. At least not when one of the heroes is involved.

    In Rogue One we see why this is. He was with the Force, and the Force was with him–until he fulfilled his purpose, and then it wasn’t.

  40. Mu Yixiao says:


    You might enjoy this short fan-film: “Real light sabre fight

    A group of VFX artists brought in a master swordsman to develop a realistic fighting style for light sabres. Then they made a short film using that style. It’s rather fun.

  41. Beth says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Well that was awesome.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Ayup. That’s why I added the qualifier. It was an uncommon last-minute catch for me.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Too subtle and difficult. Much easier to allow FNC and FG to raise loud objections. Each cohort is pitching to its own audience.

  44. Mike in Arlington says:

    @sam: I have a very good friend in rome named Biggus D***us….

    He has a wife you know…

  45. CSK says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    And the family coat of arms reads “semper erectus.”

  46. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: The real purpose of light sabers and blasters was so that George Lucas could make fun action-adventure movies for the whole family without ever having to show blood.

    (If I’m not mistaken, the only blood to appear in the entirety of the first trilogy is from an alien—the one harassing Luke in the bar, whose arm Obi-Wan lops off, creating a slight inconsistency with the later idea that the light saber cauterizes all wounds.)

  47. JohnSF says:

    After 37 years, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill finally gets to No.1 in UK singles charts.

    Yay Kate!
    Always did love that record.

  48. Sleeping Dog says:

    Saw this the other day

    Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World History

    Behind Boonstra’s and the staff’s responses to the killing was a fundamentally different understanding of the moment. For Boonstra and others of her generation, the focus should have been on the work of the nonprofit: What could Guttmacher, with an annual budget of nearly $30 million, do now to make the world a better place? For her staff, that question had to be answered at home first: What could they do to make Guttmacher a better place? Too often, they believed, managers exploited the moral commitment staff felt toward their mission, allowing workplace abuses to go unchecked.

    The belief was widespread. In the eyes of group leaders dealing with similar moments, staff were ignoring the mission and focusing only on themselves, using a moment of public awakening to smuggle through standard grievances cloaked in the language of social justice. Often, as was the case at Guttmacher, they played into the very dynamics they were fighting against, directing their complaints at leaders of color. Guttmacher was run at the time, and still is today, by an Afro Latina woman, Dr. Herminia Palacio. “The most zealous ones at my organization when it comes to race are white,” said one Black executive director at a different organization, asking for anonymity so as not to provoke a response from that staff.

    This complements the discussion on @james’ post regarding Juneteenth.

    Michelle Goldberg mentions this article in her column this AM

    The Future Isn’t Female Anymore


  49. dazedandconfused says:

    In a real fight there would be no stopping, a wound that disables is followed by getting much worse, and that right soon.

    The old Japanese movies for the most part stuck with the true nature of two-hand katana Samurai techniques. There’s still an old school somewhere in Japan that practices it, and it’s not at all entertaining. For those guys it’s a game of rock/paper/scissors. You picked your move, your opponent picked his, and it was obvious who got hacked. Watching them is hard to understand because there is usually just one act and both men know how it would’ve gone so they re-set. Over in three strokes max. Just as Samurai were trained to fight in battle. It’s a whole nother ball game with armor and shields, a great example is available today in the movie “The Last Duel”. That fight was witnessed and recorded by so many people they staged it exactly as described.


    Doesn’t provide a good show..

  50. SC_Birdflyte says:

    This is too funny not to mention, although farsighted Republicans (are there any?) should have seen it coming. Trump-backed challengers to Republican governor Henry McMaster and Republican attorney general Alan Wilson have filed identical complaints seeking to stop certification of their losses in this week’s GOP primary. Among other things, voter rolls still list deceased persons (although none of them actually showed up to vote).

  51. Kathy says:


    From what I’ve seen of fencing now and then, a sword fight ought to last about 30 seconds, if that much.

  52. sam says:

    Every time I hear Running up That Hill, I think of this by Andrew Wyeth.

    And if I only could
    I’d make a deal with God
    And I’d get him to swap our places
    I’d be running up that road
    Be running up that hill
    With no problems
    Say, if I only could
    I’d make a deal with God
    And I’d get him to swap our places
    I’d be running up that road
    Be running up that hill
    With no problems
    Say, if I only could
    I’d make a deal with God
    And I’d get him to swap our places
    I’d be running up that road
    Be running up that hill
    With no problems

  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mike in Arlington: Her name wouldn’t by chance be Incontinentia Buttocks, would it?

  54. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I posted that a couple days ago. It’s a long read, but well worth it. The insight into how it happens is illuminating–and at the same time utterly unsurprising.

    To me, it runs parallel to the thing where a dozen employees in a massive company do the whole “We’re going to publish a manifesto about how our employer must change to meet our specific political views”. Which, of course, inevitably ends up with said employees no longer having an employer to publish manifestos about.

    The biggest issue I have with all of this “rise up against your employer” stuff is… It seems like not a single one of them understands that the world isn’t going to rearrange itself to meet their demands just because they wrote an e-mail or posted a Tweet. Their counter is always to bring up unions and the industrial revolution–as if their “holy cause”[1]. Unions (and workers in general) had very specific demands: worker safety, limited work hours, extra pay for extra work, paid time off for valid reasons (vacation, sick days, maternity leave, etc.)

    All of that has been codified into law[2].

    However: “This company/org isn’t doing exactly everything that I want, so it must do everything I tell it to”…? Yeah… “We no longer need your services. All of your authorizations have been revoked (including your RFID key to the doors). Jesse will see you to your cubicle so you can put all your things in this box and be escorted off the premises. He will require you to turn over the company-provided equipment listed below. No, you will not be allowed to access your computer. Buh-bye![3]”

    [1] And that’s how they see it. It’s usually not about effecting practical changes to address concrete issues. It’s about nebulous complaints that keep changing when employers try to address them.

    [2] The US needs to improve the laws regarding maternity/paternity leave–no question–but we do, at least, have something.

    [3] Yeah…. no. Don’t bother listing anyone here as a reference on your job applications. You really don’t want us to give your prospective employers an honest answer.

  55. dazedandconfused says:


    The Samurai came to feel that between two two-handed sword masters it will last only about 3 seconds. At first parry (if there is one) someone is open for the next stroke and someone isn’t and that’s that. Exploitation of the situation is assured. No time for important dialog or plot development! Fatalists are never any fun.

  56. Mu Yixiao says:


    Have you read about Muyimato Musashi? He authored “Go Rin No Sho” (The Book of Five Rings) which became the “business bible” for Japan in the 80s–and explains why they dominated business until we understood their philosophy.

    Musashi was a ronin–and the absolute best swordsman in Japan (so the story goes). His technique was based on the (Asian) five elements: earth, air, water, fire, void. The story (myth?) is that, after becoming a ronin, he set aside his swords because he knew he could defeat anyone. In one story, he rowed across a river and was challenged by a samurai. He had no swords, so he asked to be allowed to carve the oars of his boat into wooden swords. He was allowed, he did, and he defeated the samurai–who had a katana and wakazashi.

    While sword fights (of any style) are nothing like what’s shown in movies, the bits I’ve seen from modern masters suggest that they weren’t as quick as 3 seconds.

  57. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    IIRC there are records of Dutch and Portuguese “fencing” masters encountering samurai and that generally the Europeans had the edge.
    (“fencing” because early modern European combat sword fighting and modern sports fencing are very different things)
    I’ve met modern British army sabre fencers who have investigated the combat, rather than sport, traditions, and are pretty confident they could meet a Japanese swordsman on equal terms.
    Either sabre, or rapier, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, is a scary thing.

  58. Mister Bluster says:

    Akira Kurosawa
    Stray Dog 1949
    During the opening credits, there is footage of a panting dog. However, when American censors saw the footage, they assumed that the dog had been harmed. This run-in with American censors caused Kurosawa to remark that this was the only time he wished Japan had not lost WWII.

  59. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Yes, I’ve read Five Rings, well most of it anyway. He reflects well the fatalism of his art. There are only a few detailed accounts of his his duels, are all but exclusively the ones that lasted for a bit, I suspect because most of them were over in a few seconds. It was a recent documentary about Musashi that acquainted me with the old school in Japan which still practices the way it was in his day. It was not a sport, it was preparation for the real thing. I suggest re-reading that story of the duel on the island.

    All the martial “arts” schools are sport, really. Rules were created to make for extended matches because the real thing seldom winds up suitable for entertainment. It’s over too quickly most of the time. Unless extensive use of armor is made, of course, as in Last Duel.