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. MarkedMan says:

    Here’s an article (no subscription needed) on China’s zero COVID policy. They have never approved mRNA vaccines and so their official vaccine has never been particularly effective and, of course, it is much less effective against the strains circulating now. This makes them a good (if tragic) example of what is possible with masking and lock downs alone. It’s hard to imagine a more stringently enforced program but at least one expert is saying that despite all this a major outbreak is all but inevitable. I wonder if it hasn’t already happened in some lesser known city.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but Wednesday I got my flu shot and the bi-valent COVID booster. Very minor side effects that cleared within 24 hours.

  3. Scott says:

    Just listened to this on NPR. Curious to hear from Kathy if this is big news in Mexico.

    Data leak exposes Mexico military corruption, including collusion with drug cartels

    Mexico is trying to come to terms with a massive data leak that uncovered some of the country’s closest kept secrets — from the health of the president to the corruption among Mexico’s military.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:


    Same experience, both at the same time, and the mildest of side effects, culminating in a full five minutes (I clocked it) of thinking “Should I knock off early from work?”

    The side effects cleared by 1 pm. I still went home early.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I got mine (both) a week ago Wednesday, no side effects. Then on Tuesday my nose started running. “Allergies.” I said. Then yesterday something hit me like a ton of bricks, Uncontrollable coughing all day, lots of phlegm in many colors, nose running constantly. I felt like hammered shit. Self tested for covid twice with “Invalid” results both times. It finally alleviated last night and with the help of NyQuil I managed to get some sleep.

    It’s not too bad now, limited coughing (some phlegm), my nose has stopped running but my diaphragm is sore as all fck.

    WTF, who knows.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The prime minister’s own position is seemingly in such peril, with Tory MPs actively plotting her downfall, that she concluded sacking the chancellor was essential for her political survival.

    But the move is unlikely to appease angry Tory MPs, with one telling Sky News: “The idea that the prime minister can just scapegoat her chancellor and move on is deluded. This is her vision. She signed off on every detail and she defended it.”

    Buh Bye, Liz.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Just thought I would get on my hobby horse again and point out that the budget plan that caused this disaster and crashed the pound was courtesy of the Billionaires Boys Club and their trained circus performers, the Libertarians. This would be the US equivalent of letting the writers at “Reason” magazine set economic policy.

  8. Kathy says:


    Not really. Business as usual is rarely news.

    Besides, given the new cognitive paradigm in the authoritarian mindset, his majesty will deny it and that will be the end as far as his base is concerned.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Yep.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What you described–except the phlegm in many colors–is just everyday life for me. Maybe I had a Covid injection reaction and simply never realized it.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I know you are but what am I???”

    Elon Musk under federal investigation over $44bn Twitter deal – filing

    Elon Musk is under a federal investigation related to his $44bn takeover of Twitter, the social media company has said in a court filing made public on Thursday. While the filing said he was under investigation, it did not say what the focus was, or which federal authorities were investigating.

    Twitter, which sued Musk in July to force him to close the deal, said attorneys for the Tesla CEO had claimed “investigative privilege” when refusing to hand over documents it had sought. In late September, Musk’s attorneys provided a “privilege log” identifying documents to be withheld. The log referenced drafts of a 13 May email to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a slide presentation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Twitter said.

    “This game of ‘hide the ball’ must end,” the company said in the court filing.
    Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, told Reuters that Twitter’s court filing was a “misdirection … It is Twitter’s executives that are under federal investigation.”

    He is a manchild.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:


    He’s trump junior. Expect to hear before long from the usual sources that the Constitution should be amended to remove the requirement that the prez must be a natural born citizen.

  13. Kathy says:

    I had what must be the oddest dream yesterday. Kind of a melange of different science fiction stories and my lates science reading.

    I was in an office or classroom with someone who was writing down lots of complex formulas on a blackboard (I recall lots of integral signs). Then they said,

    “What we need is a little fantasy,” which is verbatim taken from The Gods Themselves. “What if dark matter is just normal matter out of phase,” which is almost verbatim Trek technobabble.

    To me this made a lot of sense. I kind of rationalized it, in the dream, by imagining dark matter is occupying the same space as we are, but in different spatial dimensions (naturally co-located with ours). It’s not that it doesn’t interact with other matter, but that we don’t see the interactions, kind of like the people of Flatland would not be aware of anything as close as one millimeter above their universe.

    Except some of the speculations regarding quantum theories gravity mixed with the many worlds view of quantum mechanics, state gravity works across dimensions (which somehow accounts for how weak it appears to be: it’s spread out through the multiverse)

    There. The dark matter mystery is solved! 🙂

    Ok, not really.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Seeing as how he is imitating the Cheeto, the right phrase is “Monkey see, monkey do.”

  15. Scott says:

    Periodic update on the Ukrainian-Russian war. From ISW – Institute for the Study of War

    Public reports of the first deaths of ill-prepared mobilized Russian troops in Ukraine have sparked renewed criticism of the Russian military command.

    Russian forces continued to launch strikes on critical Ukrainian infrastructure on October 13.
    Increasingly degraded morale, discipline, and combat capabilities among Russian troops in combat zones in Ukraine may be leading to temporary suspensions in offensive operations in limited areas.

    Ukrainian forces made gains northwest of Svatove.

    Russian forces are continuing defensive operations in anticipation of potential Ukrainian attacks towards Kreminna.

    Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Russian troops are attempting to recapture positions in northern and northwestern Kherson Oblast.

    Damage to the Kerch Strait Bridge continues to impede the movement of Russian supplies and personnel to southern Ukraine.

    Russian forces continued ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast and claimed to make marginal advances south of Bakhmut.

    Russian incompetence continues to take its toll on mobilized personnel before they ever reach the front lines, likely exacerbating already-low morale.

    Russian officials are likely increasingly limiting freedom of movement in Russia to preserve additional mobilizable populations and prevent them from fleeing the country.

    Russian occupation officials called for the evacuation of civilians from occupied Kherson Oblast.

  16. JohnSF says:

    The ERG and the “Tufton St Mob”, a plague be upon their miserable hides.
    See also Cato Institute’s (which, like Heritage, has Tufton links) Ryan Bourne

    If UK tax debate was in US, there would be a centre left economist of stature arguing that in conditions of high inflation, the correct fiscal consolidation should seek to reduce demand, not supply. So basic income tax cut abandoned, pay & benefits curbed. Not corp tax.

    And cover for it with culture war, I suppose.
    Just bugger off, Mr Bourne.
    (No, I’m not in a good mood.)

    OTOH this has the potential to cheer me up:
    People Polling latest, survey date 12 October:
    LAB: 53% (+1 from 6 Oct)
    CON: 19% (-1)
    LDM: 8% (=)
    GRN: 6% (-1)
    SNP: 6% (+1)

    And Truss personal approval rating?
    16% Approve.

    She just blew her chance for outright contrition, mea culpa over OBR exclusion, full “I get it” and full reversal of ALL the tax cuts.
    Instead trying to sacrifice Kwarteng and roll back corporation tax cut and hope that resolves.
    Kitty Donaldson

    UK gilt yields are shooting higher now. The 30-year rate is up 11 basis points to 4.66%, and the 10-year up six at 4.26%. That doesn’t bode well — remember they were earlier falling in anticipation of a sizable u-turn

    Misread the room Liz.
    The backbenchers are going to go ballistic over that shambles of a performance.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Expect to hear before long from the usual sources that the Constitution should be amended to remove the requirement that the prez must be a natural born citizen.

    Just as it was when they thought Schwarzenegger was their ticket to the WH

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: He’s trump junior.

    I thought that job was already taken. 😉

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’ve just returned from Marion County Superior Court, for the initial hearing for ACLU-IN’s second challenge to Indiana’s abortion ban. In this challenge we represented multiple anonymous plaintiffs of various faiths–mostly but not entirely Judaism and Islam–who contend that the abortion ban conflicts with Indiana’s RFRA–the infamous law that torpedoes Mike Pence’s career until Trump revived it. Interestingly, Indiana’s RFRA was written to demand strict scrutiny in judging whether a law or action violates a sincerely held belief. IE, it would trump an abortion ban. For the record, the ACLU-IN at the time warned that the RFRA was poorly written and could really mess with current and future laws…

    I live tweeted the hearing, for those interested.

    Plaintiffs representation walked through RFRA, the short history of state RFRA exemptions, and then compared the plaintiff’s claims with RFRA’s texts. The state countered RFRA demands immediate and specific claims, ie the plaintiff would need to be in a position to need an abortion imminently, and could find no other relief to satisfy his or her religious beliefs. Since abortions are currently legal (thanks to a previous lawsuit) the plaintiffs don’t actually have standing–they can get an abortion after all–to try to stop the ban that would prevent them from getting an abortion. And even if they couldn’t get an abortion there are ways to satisfy their religious beliefs–namely, just not getting pregnant in the first place, done and done.

    To counter, plaintiffs raised Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In it, SCOTUS found that the act of supplying insurance to employees, should those employees later use that insurance to obtain an abortion or contraception, would eventually violate the employer’s sincerely held beliefs–not an imminent issue, and with many pathways around a RFRA claim, yet the courts found the RFRA claim valid. While the SCOIN has no duty to follow SCOTUS’s decision–this is a state constitution and law case–Hobby Lobby is certainly going to weigh heavily on justices’ minds in deciding whether and how to apply RFRA.

    TL;DR: abortions might stay legal in Indiana thanks to conservatives’ attempts to fuck with the LGBT community through RFRA, strengthened by conservatives’ attempts to fuck with Sluts, Whores, and Fornicators (TM) ability to obtain birth control.

    I’m not sure what other states have a RFRA law like Indiana’s, though I think there are a few. Just as Kansas SC’s finding of implied state constitutional right to privacy impacted other state Supreme Court’s interpretation to their similar constitutional texts, this case–especially the Hobby Lobby argument–could have a major impact in other states a well.

  20. CSK says:

    Trump is threatening to sue the Pulitzer Prize Board for awarding prizes to articles about him that have been “totally debunked.”

  21. Sleeping Dog says:



    Same sh!t, different day

  22. grumpy realist says:

    Considering who we have out there right now making clowns of themselves, I dearly wish we modified the U.S. Constitution to insist that people with untreated mental problems be banned from running for public office.

  23. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Could do with similar in UK tbf.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    I was just listening to Preet Bahara’s podcast and they were talking about Trump’s lawyer, Christina Bobb, who signed off that Trump had returned all documents, which we now know was completely false. They didn’t think much of her defense that she had inserted a line that she was basing this on what she was told. They didn’t think it had much “get out of jail free”
    potential for anyone but especially not in this case because she identified herself as “Custodian of Records” which they said had legal meaning.

  25. CSK says:

    After Trump failed to grant Roger Stone a second pardon, Stone erupted: “Fuck you and your abortionist bitch daughter.”

    He also added that Jared Kushner has an I.Q. of 70.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Preet and his cohost stopped just sort of accusing Trumps lawyers of devising this scheme because they knew Trump had documents and were trying to help him conceal them. They pointed out that “Custodian of Records” was usually only a thing in corporate cases. In a case like this the client themselves, Trump in this case, would sign the attestation. So that calls to mind, why didn’t they simply have Trump sign it if they believed it to be true? And if they didn’t? Well, then they were conspiring to commit fraud.

  27. CSK says:

    Marc Short, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, has been ordered by a judge to testify before the Jan. 6 Committee. Trump appealed this and lost.

    The hits just keep on coming.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: So, six days between the shot and the effects? Um, side effects of the shot would be starting that day or the day after. You have something else going on.

    Sorry dude. Feel better.

    One of my friends swears by what is essentially an inverse mint julep — peppermint tea (hot), a dab of honey and a splash of bourbon.

  29. Kathy says:

    the headline is: Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard may get visas after being declared victims of crime

    It seems too simple. But the implications are intriguing.

    One, Florida Man would have helped keep immigrants in the country.

    Two, now he really needs to run in 2024 and win the general election, so he can bully and bluster and carry on to avoid prosecution for “unlawful criminal restraint”.

  30. Mu Yixiao says:

    I just came from the post office where I had a very strange encounter.

    There are two employees. One helping me and another trying to help a native Spanish-speaker. She was trying to get across to him (using someone he called to help translate) that she needed his naturalization papers for whatever she was doing. He handed her various documents, but she kept repeating that she needed his naturalization papers.

    Finally in an attempt to explain better, she asked “You were born outside the US?” The man replied “Puerto Rico”. She started again asking for his naturalization papers.

    I looked over at her and said “Puerto Rico is in the US. It’s a US territory.”

    She looked at me blankly for several seconds and then… “You. are. right. It is in the US. I’m glad you were here.”

    The United States Post Office employees didn’t know Puerto Rico is a US territory??


  31. Jen says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I find that completely believable. I am wondering how many Americans would know that. It’s probably quite a low percentage.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mu Yixiao:..Puerto Rico, my hearts devotion

    I have encountered many U. S. citizens who think that New Mexico is a part of Estados Unidos Mexicanos and not one of the Fifty Nifty…

  33. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The United States Post Office employees didn’t know Puerto Rico is a US territory??

    Or, frustrated with their own weak Spanish, they fail to notice that they are struggling to solve the wrong problem.

    Your story suggests they weren’t shocked that Puerto Rico was part of the US, just that they hadn’t pulled that fact out of the attic of their brain.

    So, not ignorant, just … stupid? (And even there, likely a momentary stupid)

    (And now I have “fond” memories of the dude with the to-me-impenetrable Indian accent that everyone else at work could understand perfectly. Anytime he asked me anything it took so much of my brain to figure out what he was saying that I would screw up the answer because I had maybe two brain cells left over.

    After many apologies and a possibly-true-I-guess claim of a hearing problem, we got into a rhythm of someone translating English to English for me.)

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: I support Puerto Rican statehood if only to get rid of the “Fifty Nifty United States” song.

    Or merging the Dakotas. Or expelling Texas.

    Anything, really.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: So, six days between the shot and the effects? Um, side effects of the shot would be starting that day or the day after. You have something else going on.

    Yeah, I wasn’t implying that one lead to the other, rather that not enough time had elapsed to give me full benefit. Either way, I went to the Doc because we get our gds on Mondays, and I wanted to be sure. I tested negative, and from my symptoms she decided it was probably bacterial. So, oh boy oh boy, antibiotics.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: It’s a brain fart for a lot of people.

    eta: that still doesn’t beat my recent encounter with a reliable voter who asked me if Sen. Josh Hawley represented western or eastern MO.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: I have similar problems with Indian accents, some more than others. In my case, I am hard of hearing.

  38. Kathy says:


    This is one reason I’ve turned away from lockdown as a first resort measure.

    I wonder why a state like China, which openly surveils its citizens, can’t implement effective testing and tracing. Isolating those who are infected would likely be a better strategy.

  39. Kathy says:


    As to the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines, there’s little reliable data out there. I recall reports early in 2021 that Chile was giving one of these vaccines out in mass vaccination drives, but cases kept growing. This differs from case counts in other countries which were using Pfizer, Moderna, and AZ, where case counts began to drop.

  40. CSK says:

    Quick question: With the exception of Chris Kise, who demanded and apparently got 3 million bucks up front, why would any lawyer, even a crap one, work for Donald Trump? You get stiffed, you become a laughingstock, and you may, like Michael Cohen, go to prison. What is the upside here?

  41. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: It still redounds to Trump not merely “scraping the bottom of the barrel” on counsel but rather scraping a barrel so empty that he’s getting mostly splinters, not dregs.

  42. just nutha says:

    @CSK: In the case of Christina Bobb, the upside appears to have been that she’s a true believer who felt honored at the offer and that the “career change” represented a (perceived) step up from reading the headlines at OANN.

  43. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Well, if Bobb is depending on OANN for her “news” (I realize she worked for them), then she’s sadly misinformed.

    I don’t know how anyone with a gram of intelligence could believe anything Trump says, given his history of lying about everything.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: As long as you have a highly transmissible disease that can spread in an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person, I can’t imagine that any amount of tracing would stop it.

    Also, anyone in China has an huge motivation to hide the illness and try to recover in secret.

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: And the Chinese vaccine is still the same one from the start. However effective it was then it is much less so now.

  46. just nutha says:

    @CSK: What does anyone with a gram of intelligence believing FG have to do with Christina Bobb?

  47. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Well, that was my question.

  48. Kathy says:


    Stop it, no. Reduce the spread, definitely.

    Several countries did just that early in 2020 to very good effect. Look at the numbers over time in South Korea. they had it contained mostly through testing, tracing, and isolation, and the numbers shot up once they stopped trying.

  49. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: as a kid, I was dragged in for hearing tests since I was having problems understanding various people.

    The conclusion at the time was my hearing was fine, I’m just bad at processing the sounds. Now in my 50s, so the hearing might not be great either.

    One suspects that if it were now, I would have been diagnosed with Something Something Auditory Processing Disorder, rather than “he hears good, but he don’t always know what he heard”

    (Hmm, that could also describe my sense of smell, but I think that’s just terrible allergies as a kid, constant stuffed nose, and just not knowing what a lot of things smell like)

    (Also, I think modern vets give better medical care than 1970s-80s doctors)

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Just for the record, thanx for live tweeting that. Meant to say so this afternoon but got distracted by a lack of sleep.

  51. gVOR08 says:

    Got the new COVID booster and a flu shot about a month ago. No effect at all, except the flu shot felt felt like she was injecting marbles into my shoulder.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: What was the upside for the lawyer who represented Jeffrey Dahmer or John Hinckley or OJ Simpson?

    Front page exposure all across America.

  53. Kathy says:


    They probably got paid.

    But if we’re going with riddles, let’s try an easy one:

    What is dumber than trump? The poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it you die.

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: I would have been diagnosed with Something Something Auditory Processing Disorder,

    Oh my Gaaawwwdd, I thought I was the only one. I long ago learned that I can not follow audial directions. Give me a location, Lat/Long, PLS, street address, anything I can pinpoint on a map, and I WILL get there. Tell me left here, right there, anigogle to the left here, go straight at this intersec… and I will never find you.

    I can’t count the number of times I had to stop people from giving me directions and just give me a location. If I have a map and a location, I can find anything, anyone, anyplace.

    I am a very visual person, audial… not so much.

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Not always, there is an upside to taking the infamous case. Fame sometimes really does = fortune.

  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Also, I’m no good at riddles especially at 6:18 pm after a long day w/o sleep after an even longer night w/o sleep all while being sick as a dawg.

  57. dazedandconfused says:

    Bering crab season cancelled.

    Both king and snow crab seasons officially cancelled. Crab is going to be real expensive, if you can find it. I wonder what the Deadliest Catch is going to do.

  58. Stormy Dragon says:


    King crab may still be readily available, as Norway has an invasive King Crab problem they’re trying to fix:

  59. Kathy says:

    The first ep of season 2 of Avenue 5 is up on HBO Max, at least in Mexico.

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Oh! My mistake! I thought that you were saying that Christina Bobb should have known better because she has a gram of intelligence.