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. Mu Yixiao says:

    RIP David Crosby.
    August 14, 1941 – January 18, 2023

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Chiewelthap Mariar, a 26-year-old refugee from Sudan, was killed by police officers while working at the Seaboard Foods meatpacking plant in Guymon on 9 January.

    A worker who filmed parts of the incident on his cellphone, and was later fired for doing so, requested to remain anonymous for fear of further retaliation. The worker claimed Mariar was fired from his job by a supervisor but was told by human resources to finish his shift.

    The worker said the supervisor who fired him confronted Mariar on the shop floor after he was fired, and police arrived soon after to escort Mariar from the site. Seaboard Foods did not comment on but did not refute this characterization of the situation.

    “I witnessed the entire thing, from when they started arguing with him until he was shot,” said the worker. “He had a company-issued band-cutter in his hand. When the police got to the plant, the guy was already working, minding his own business.”

    The worker provided cellphone footage leading up to and following the incident, where Mariar can be seen with the band-cutter in his hand working around other employees and being confronted by officers on the shop floor.

    “They made him out to be a danger when they said he had a knife in his hand, when it wasn’t. And that’s wrong on so many levels,” the worker said.
    The worker also claimed they were asked to sign an incident report, despite not agreeing with what was pre-filled out on the report.

    The company says,

    A spokesperson for Seaboard Corporation, the parent company of Seaboard Foods, said: “Following the incident, operations were ceased for the remainder of the evening and the following day, and we provided in-person counseling services for employees throughout the week, in addition to ongoing phone counseling services available 24 hours, seven days a week.”

    The spokesperson added: “We express our heartfelt sorrow to Chiewelthap Mariar’s family, co-workers, friends and those affected by his death following an incident at our Guymon processing plant involving the Guymon police department on 9 January.

    “Providing our employees with a safe work environment and their wellbeing is extremely important to us. Following repeated attempts to bring calm to the situation, we requested assistance from the Guymon police as we felt it was in the best interest for everyone’s safety.”

    Yes… “heartfelt sorrow” and they are sooo concerned about their employees. FTR, these employees are represented by UFCW local 2. I can only imagine the restrictions they are subject to in Oklahoma.

  3. Jen says:


    Former president Donald Trump and his lawyer, Alina Habba, have been fined almost $1 million by a federal judge in Florida for what was ruled a frivolous lawsuit brought against his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton and others.

    Trump is a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” wrote U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in his searing 46-page judgment published late Thursday.

    “He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions,” said Middlebrooks. “As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.”

    He’ll probably wiggle out of this like everything else, but good on this judge for calling Trump out on this.

  4. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: Dershowitz has been trying to dodge sanctions on himself for his work on the Kari Lake case. I don’t know if he’s succeeded or not yet.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: According to the Guardian,

    Trump had wanted to drop the lawsuit after the case was assigned to Middlebrooks, an appointee of Bill Clinton, but Habba told Fox News in a segment referenced in the ruling that she had advised him to press ahead.


    though the former president indicated to associates that he essentially believed it should be paid by his attorney instead of him,

    Just a peach of a guy. A rotten worm riddled peach.

  6. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    The funniest part of this story is a footnote noting the IRONY.
    In a lawsuit claiming that Clinton was trying to rig the election by falsely accusing Trump’s campaign of links to Russia…Trump relied on evidence from Russian Intelligence.

    The allegation in the Amended Complaint fails to mention that the information came from a Russian intelligence analysis and that Mr. Ratcliffe commented: “The IC (intelligence community) does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”…Mr. Trump’s lawyers saw no professional impediment or irony in relying upon Russian intelligence as the good faith basis for their allegation.

    See footnote #6, Page 8.

  7. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    BTW…for the mathematically challenged.
    Republicans are pushing a National Sales Tax they claim is 23%.
    Fatc: Under this bill you will pay $30 in tax on a $100 purchase. It is a 30% tax.
    $30 dollars is 23% of the $130 total you will pay. That’s where they are getting 23%.
    The fuqer’s lie about EVERYTHING.

  8. Jen says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: The Republican War on the Poor continues.

  9. Kathy says:


    Well, no. not on the poor. It’s for the poor. Surely you’ve seen the GQP successfully keeps increasing the ranks of the poor.

    If anything it’s a war on the middle class, which does seem to be waning fast.

    On other things, any thoughts on Jacinda Ardern resigning as Prime Minister?

  10. MarkedMan says:

    Something has been rolling around in my head for a week or so now, and I’ve realized that there is no better way to answer the question of “Was Trump the cause of the Republican’s nose dive into an ethical shit pit or was he merely the inevitable result of the underlying rot?”, than to point to Kevin McCarthy, who preceded Trump into office by a decade and was part of the Tea Party movement. What did Ol’ Kevin say when asked about George Santos? Without hesitation or shame he responded, “Everyone embellishes their resume”. A fair number of other Republicans had variations on the same theme.

    First, no, everyone does NOT embellish their resume. But more to the point, remember when the American Ideal was fair play, honesty, and ‘my word is my bond’? Even the most corrupt politicians knew that their public facing side had to project that. But Kevin McCarthy understands that to the Republican base (the 10-20% who pay attention and set the agenda) admitting dishonesty, cheating and lying will cause him no trouble whatsoever. And he’s right! The fact that he made this comment has caused almost no ripple in the stream. Think about that.

  11. CSK says:


    The key phrase here is “public-facing side.” Donald Trump made it acceptable to be open about things previous politicians tried to keep under wraps: misogyny, racism, churlishness, vulgarity, etc.

    Worse, he made it acceptable for his fan club to behave badly–indeed, to glory in it.

  12. Kathy says:

    So, the royal government of Mexico decided to change its government acquisitions portal, without much in the way of warning. And apparently without thinking things through.

    First thing I did was look for the manual and help areas for the new portal. There they were, very easy to find. I downloaded the manual, the FAQ file, and some other documents.

    They are all for the old portal.

    We’ve been muddling through. Past registration, which was easy enough, there’s a need to upload lots of documents and info, just to be able to enter into a proposal. Partly this is a function of how the companies in the group are constituted, partly it’s an atavistic practice of extracting all possible information in bureaucratic forms, even that which is irrelevant.

    the task isn’t complicated. It is tedious, time-consuming, and requires concentration (lots of figures, dates, and names to keep straight).

    I seriously need this weekend.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: any thoughts on Jacinda Ardern resigning as Prime Minister?

    My first thought was some big ongoing corruption was about to revealed by a media organization. It has now been a week (?) and still nothing. That does not necessarily mean my initial cynicism was wrong, but I am now thinking maybe it really is a case of burn out. If so I applaud her, life is too short to waste on a thing that has become detrimental.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A small act of kindness:

    A small town in Alabama is honoring a man who paid off his neighbors’ pharmacy bills for years and kept his generosity a secret until shortly before his recent death by picking up exactly where he left off.

    Hody Childress, a farmer and US air force veteran, began his anonymous charitable campaign when he walked into a drug store in his home town of Geraldine in 2012 and learned from the owner that sometimes families can’t afford to pay for their medicines.

    Childress, moved, responded by handing the owner $100 and telling her to save it for “anyone who can’t afford their prescription”, the local news outlet WVTM reported this month.

    “Do not tell a soul that money came from me,” the owner of Geraldine Drugs, Brooke Walker, recalled Childress saying, according to a Washington Post report on Thursday. “If they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord.”

    Childress went back to the pharmacy, which doubles as a meeting place for many of Geraldine’s 900 residents, monthly over the next decade or so, handing Walker a $100 bill each time for the same purpose and again imploring that she tell anyone who asked that it was simply “a blessing from God”.
    Late last year, as he struggled to move around while fighting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health problems, Childress sensed that he was approaching the end of his life. The 80-year-old, who once worked for the aerospace company Lockheed Martin, needed someone to take his customary $100 bill to Geraldine Drugs, and he entrusted the task to his daughter, Tania Nix.
    Childress died on 1 January, leaving behind his second wife, Martha Jo, two children, three stepchildren and 15 grandchildren, among other survivors.

    Nix told those who gathered at his funeral last weekend about what her father would do at Geraldine Drugs. Word of Nix’s revelation spread around town, inspiring Childress’s family, friends and other admirers to start contributing to his fund to allow it to continue.


  15. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Whenever I hear the question “Is Trump the cause of the GOP’s problems, or merely the symptom?” I always feel this is overly simplistic. I understand where the mantra “Trump is the symptom, not the cause” comes from. Dems are frustrated by the frequent attempts to treat him as an aberration and ignore the conditions that led up to him. But a lot of Dems go too far in the other direction–acting like he’s merely a vessel for problems that were already there. Someone here the other day (I can’t remember who) stated that if Trump hadn’t come along, someone a lot like him would have. I disagree with that somewhat. Trump is in some ways a unique personality. Not necessarily in every attribute, but in the total package. That’s not to say a lot of the features of the Trump era–shameless lying, refusal ever to apologize, open advocacy of the most insane conspiracy theories, contempt for democracy, hardcore racism, misogyny, and so on–just sprung up overnight the moment Trump stepped down that escalator. But I don’t think it would have played out the same way if he’d never decided to run in 2016. Most of these qualities sit on a spectrum, anyway, with Trump at the extreme (at least relative to what came before). We might have ended up with another demagogue, but it wouldn’t have been the same in the particulars.

  16. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Aaron Laigaie co-founder of the Proud Boys, well-known figure in the American far-right, staunch Trump supporter, and well-known anti-vaxxer who insisted he had a “natural resistance” to the Covid virus, has died.
    Yup – of Covid.
    Aaron is now a poster child for Darwinism AND the Dunning Kruger Effect.

  17. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    She kept deaths from Covid to ~2,500…which I believe is the best record, worldwide…so I think she deserves some time off.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    As if the House GQP isn’t effed up enough now, trump is adding to their misery telling them not to touch SS and Medicare in debt limit fight.

  19. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    The second funniest things about this is that, after the $1,00,000 sanction, Trump and his Attorney have rapidly dropped their suit against Letitia James, the NYAG.
    So much winning. I’m tired of all the winning.

  20. Slugger says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I certainly applaud this man’s generosity, but a hundred dollars a month won’t cover many pharmacy bills. An asthma inhaler like Proventil is close to $70 for one inhaler. Pharma prices are a systemic problem.

  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    This is from one of our industry “competitors”.

    School lights haven’t been shut off for almost a year and a half–because the system is broken.

    For nearly a year and a half, a Massachusetts high school has been lit up around the clock because the district can’t turn off the roughly 7,000 lights in the sprawling building.

    The lighting system was installed at Minnechaug Regional High School when it was built over a decade ago and was intended to save money and energy. But ever since the software that runs it failed on Aug. 24, 2021, the lights in the Springfield suburbs school have been on continuously, costing taxpayers a small fortune.

    “The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”

    Osborne said they immediately reached out to the original installer of the system only to discover that the company had changed hands several times since the high school was built. When they finally tracked down the current owner of the company, Reflex Lighting, several more weeks went by before the company was able to find somebody familiar with the high school’s lighting system, he said.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: Yes, a “small act of kindness” that has grown to more. Not enough, that would take govt action and as long as the GOP can block that, their pharmaceutical donors will be happy with them.

  23. Jay L Gischer says:

    I would characterize Trump as the expression of the fears, anger, and frustration of his base that has been generated by the sense they have that they are losing their hold on the moral consensus of America. We now allow gay marriage, welcome trans people, and it looked to them as abortion would never become illegal. This is magnified by the trend of their being fewer and fewer people (percentage wise) in the country that identified as white and Christian. This was terrifying to them, Trump was the result.

    I don’t think Kevin McCarthy shares most of those fears, which is why the MAGAs don’t trust him.

  24. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: In fairness, if I’d suggested we drop a complaint when I found out who the judge was and was convinced to continue by my attorney, I’d want the attorney to pay for the mistake, too. Then again, I’m known to be unreasonable, too.

  25. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: The article I saw on Ardern’s resignation looked to be a move to strengthen the Liberal position for an election that’s coming anyway by replacing her with a incumbent who will seek to continue in office. Beyond that, it really looks to me like she wants to leave politics for a while. And more power to her on that side. More people’s parents should get to be proud of their children’s service in elected office. We’re becoming a nation where all our office holders don’t have proud mothers, they have mother’s who’ve been dead for decades. 🙁

  26. Beth says:

    @just nutha:

    Or the attorney’s malpractice carrier.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I guess I think about it like one of Kevin Drum’s charts. He often looks at something that is a hot media topic (wages, mortgage rates, etc) and plots it out over a longer period of time, only to reveal that the trend has been very steady over time. I think if it were possible to plot Republican ethics and behavior over the past 50 years Trump would fall exactly on that line. Whatever was going on in Reagan’s mind, he presented a sunny, moral position to the world. Gingrich was a different story. The Tea Party was worse. The Trump base is worse again but not an anomaly, just a continuation of a trend.

    Obviously, I have no proof for this, it’s just my impression.

  28. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Did Trump “make it acceptable,” or did he merely realize that his voting base DGAF about appearances and “public-facing side.” I think that it matters because there’s a profound if the voting base DGAF, the system will not improve with Trump gone, and I think we’re looking at massive public (VOTER!) failure rather than a slick con artist deceiving well-meaning public-spirited people. The conservative line (and dream, maybe*) is that once bad ol’ Trump is gone, thing will be back to normal; whereas I think what we saw with Republican support of Trump actually is normal.
    *To the extent that “good conservatives” isn’t wishful thinking. I left conservatism behind more than 2 decades before Trump. ETA: And was never a Reagan supporter at all, though I still hoped for better deficit control and other economic and social agenda elements of conservatism.

  29. MarkedMan says:


    Someone here the other day (I can’t remember who) stated that if Trump hadn’t come along, someone a lot like him would have.

    That would be me!

    shameless lying, refusal ever to apologize, open advocacy of the most insane conspiracy theories, contempt for democracy, hardcore racism, misogyny, and so on

    I’m not saying you are wrong here, just that, as I mention above, my impression is that this has been a pretty steady march to decadence and despair.

    But there is an aspect of Trump that is an anomaly: his clownishness. If I had made a prediction of where the Republican Party was headed I would have said Bolsonaro or Duterte.

    Hmmm. I’ve never thought of it like this before but perhaps we were actually lucky that our Duterte was an incompetent buffoon.

  30. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I don’t think the Q Caucus cares about what Trump says. He’s a vaccine loving squish who doesn’t want to burn literally everything down.

    So, after Frankenstein loses control of his monster, and then the monster creates his own monster and loses control, does Frankenstein feel a bit of pleasure watching his monster panic as the monster’s monster destroys them both?

  31. just nutha says:

    @Slugger: If your pharmacy is charging $70 for a Proventil inhaler, you’re already getting a discount unless pharmacies where I live are price gouging. A generic albuterol inhaler is over $150 where I live, Proventil is even higher.
    ETA: But yeah, pharma prices are a problem.

  32. just nutha says:

    @Beth: If the attorney wants her (in this case, I think) malpractice carrier to pick this one up, that’s fine by me. As long as I’m not paying the fine, I don’t care who does.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: I think you are naively assuming that Trump is as bad as it gets. Desantis is going to try to out-Trump Trump, and might succeed.

    (Santos would be way more amusing, but alas, born in Brazil or Lithuania or something, so ineligible for the Presidency)

  34. Sleeping Dog says:


    Probably not the Q caucus, but the 18 R’s that represent districts that Biden won and those R’s who won their races by <5% will take note. Trump's warning gives them cover to oppose going after SS/Medicare.

  35. Stormy Dragon says:


    Donald Trump made it acceptable to be open about things previous politicians tried to keep under wraps: misogyny, racism, churlishness, vulgarity, etc.

    I’d like to rise in defense of vulgarity. I know lots of extremely vulgar people who are also perfectly delightful because they’re also kind. The problem with Trump isn’t his vulgarity, it’s his cruelty.

  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    People are often shocked that, as bleeding edge I am about tech, I don’t have smart appliances in my home, and one of the big reasons why is not wanting to be in a situation where a company somewhere gets bought out or goes bankrupt and suddenly my thermostat doesn’t work anymore.

  37. gVOR08 says:


    So, after Frankenstein loses control of his monster, and then the monster creates his own monster and loses control, does Frankenstein feel a bit of pleasure watching his monster panic as the monster’s monster destroys them both?

    It’s on a completely unrelated topic, but over at LGM Scott Lemieux has the perfect graphic for your comment.

    (As I get older, I find I miss a lot of pop culture memes. I had to look up “Let them fight.” It’s from the 2014 Godzilla, the Japanese scientist advising the authorities to let Godzilla and Muto go after each other.

  38. Kathy says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    @just nutha:

    I was surprised to read of Ardern’s resignation, and found no immediate, obvious reason for it. So burnout is a distinct possibility.

    I think of it as a Cincinnatus moment, even if she had no fixed term limits (so more of a Diocletian moment, but he has no city in Ohio named after him).

  39. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    There’s no doubt the Trumpkins reveled in his gleeful sadism.

    “The cruelty is the point.” — Adam Serwer

  40. MarkedMan says:


    I think you are naively assuming that Trump is as bad as it gets.

    No, not at all. As I said, I think Trump was on the straight line extrapolation from Reagan to Gingrich to Tea Party to Trump. I though it went without saying that the next data point will be even worse.

  41. CSK says:


    I read somewhere that in the 2016 election, people in their 40s and 50s living in the Deep South voted for the first time ever–for Trump. Something about him dragged them out of their apathy.

  42. BygManDan says:


    would be way more amusing, but alas, born in Brazil or Lithuania or something, so ineligible for the Presidency)

    Are you sure that he was not born here? Or are you just going on his word….

  43. Beth says:


    Whatever was going on in Reagan’s mind…


  44. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: Eventually some RWNJ is going to wonder why can’t Santos just lie about where he was born? After all, it worked for Obama.

  45. Beth says:

    @just nutha:

    yeah. Lol, I’m just, ahem, peeved, today because I had to think of my malpractice carrier after another attorney threated to subpoena me over a former client that stiffed me. He wanted me to do more work for him and the client after the client stiffed me (and refused to listen to me).

    Also, did everyone decide that today was the day to start work after the new year? or is everyone just pissed its friday?

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @just nutha: If I based my expectations of success on what judges I drew…

    Well, let’s just say I must not have a whole lot of confidence in the facts of my case, and maybe I should lose.

  47. Mister Bluster says:

    @Beth:..or is everyone just pissed its friday?

    Not since I picked up today’s mail!
    My sincere thanks to the JND Legal Administration of Seattle, Washington.
    I totally forgot that I made a claim in the Equifax Data Breech Settlement between July 22, 2019 and January 22, 2020. After all it was only three years ago so it dropped from my sights after maybe two years (more like 10 minutes after I made the claim, nothing will ever come of this.).
    To my surprise I got a check today for $5.21! That and 18¢ more plus tax will get me a Big Mac!
    My faith in the legal system has been renewed!

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Something about him dragged them out of their apathy.

    All of a sudden somebody told them whiteness was under attack! Who’could’a’knowed that would resonate with a bunch of insecure white people????

  49. Mister Bluster says:

    This must be my lucky day!
    Not 25 minutes ago I noticed that gas at Circle K had dropped from $3.499/gal. which it has been for several weeks along with most other pumps in town to $3.o99/gal. Stopped in for some fuel.
    Just looked out the window of MickeyD’s and gas is back up to $3.499/gal. at Circle K again.

  50. Kathy says:


    or is everyone just pissed its friday?

    To the best of my knowledge, no one in Western history has ever been pissed that it’s Friday.

    Though when we know we’ll be working Saturday and/or Sunday, we may get bitter as luckier coworkers leave at 5-6 pm and they wish us a good weekend.

    That’s not the situation today (though I’ll have to come in on Sunday* and go to the bank on Saturday). But I am pissed because the week started off looking as it would be light, and then we got hit with massive amounts of work. The new portal I ranted about earlier, also some new projects I see little chance of winning.

    *Just petty cash. that gets done in an hour or so.