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:

    An Italian judge has provoked outrage after clearing a school caretaker of sexually assaulting a teenage girl because the grope lasted only “a handful of seconds”.

    A 17-year-old student at a school in Rome complained of being groped by the caretaker as she walked up a staircase with a friend in April 2022. She said her trousers had fallen down from her waist and as she was pulling them up she felt a pair of hands touching her buttocks before the man grabbed her underwear and lifted her up by about an inch.

    She said that when she turned around, the caretaker brushed off the grope, saying: “Love, you know I was joking.”

    Antonio Avola, 66, went on trial on charges of sexual assault, with prosecutors seeking a three-year jail term if he was convicted. Avola confessed to groping the student but said it was a joke.

    The judge ruled that the grope lasted “between five and 10 seconds” and was therefore too fleeting to be considered a crime.

    So if somebody takes a baseball bat to this judge but only hits him once or twice, is it too fleeting to be considered a crime?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The 2023 Comedy Pet Photography awards – in pictures

    It was hard picking, so many too too funny pics, but I settled on this as my favorite: When digging gets serious

  3. MarkedMan says:

    Tangential from another thread, so I’ll put this here.

    People are just plain bad at understanding what they are paying for something. I remember years ago a colleague repeating a marketing line about “only taking on the credit card debt I am comfortably with” as if it was wisdom from god. He had just put a $600 television on credit, and based on the rest of the conversation, I estimated he was paying more than $2000 a year in credit card interest. It wasn’t my place to get into it with him, but he obviously still believed he was only paying $600 for that television.

    And I’ve owned 5 houses and given the purchase price and the sale price, most people would have said all but one made money. But if you add up all the purchase fees and taxes, all the sales fees and taxes, all the real estate taxes, and all the repairs and improvements we did, we came out way behind on every one in comparison with renting. Of course, when we had kids, there were other reasons for owning a home. But we are renting now, and will do so until we settle on where we will retire.

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Still, the “advantage” to home ownership is the capital sink of the equity being preserved–and usually adjusted as inflation in weighed in. And not being able to support home ownership (or not being allowed to in some cases*) is a principle factor in the generational wealth question from the other post. If rents in cities weren’t as volatile as they are (mine’s going up somewhere between 14 and 21% in two months–and I live in the outer ring exurban zone), I might advise that just keeping the money wherever it is would be the even money bet.

    Come out behind, though? Probably not. How many renters actually consolidate and save the difference in out of pocket/overall cost. I know that I wasn’t doing it, for example.

    *For example, having your home burned down by an angry mob.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    How many renters actually consolidate and save the difference in out of pocket/overall cost

    [Raises hand]

    But in general I agree with your point. Owning a home is the mechanism the vast majority use to accumulate wealth, and absent that monthly requirement, the money would not be saved or invested elsewhere. I guess there is a reason it is called “real” estate.

  6. MarkedMan says:


    “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six , result happiness.
    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery”
    ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

  7. Kathy says:

    Did anyone notice the Mexican peso has gained an insane amount of value over the US dollar?

    In the summer of 2020, with the trump pandemic well underway, you needed 22 pesos to buy one dollar. Today it’s around 17 for 1. By my count, that’s an appreciation close to to 33%.

    I wonder if I ought to buy some dollars as an investment. It’s bound to go up eventually. Of course, it could take years to go up back to as much as 20, or his majesty Manuel Andres I could do something massively stupid and drive it to 30 or more right after the July 2024 elections.

    I’m not talking a huge amount, as I don’t have that kind of money. but I thought maybe I could exchange 100 USD every week or so for a few weeks, or until the exchange rate begins to climb again.

    It was common through the late 90s for many to buy US currency as a hedge against inflation. There are lots of money exchange agencies, and any bank will buy or sell dollars in cash at any time. Usually banks offer a less favorable rate.

    There’s no formal commission, either. Exchange agencies and banks make money through differentiated rates. they pay, say 17 for a dollar (buy rate), but will sell it for 17.10 (sell rate).

  8. CSK says:

    Trump’s lawyers, in desperation, have made a last-ditch efffort to disqualify Fani Willis. Somehow I don’t think this endeavor will fly.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    Sitting by the shores of Lake Ontario watching sky divers leap from a airplane. It give me the heebee geebees just watching, forget about doing it myself.

  10. CSK says:

    Given all the tornadoes in Chicago, I hope that Beth and family rode them out safely.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    So this goes out to those commenters that know more about Ukraine than I do. This piece from TPM has me wondering if there are any ‘stans or other countries that feel like they are under the Russian boot heel who might take advantage of Russia’s growing munitions deficit. Any thoughts?

  12. MarkedMan says:

    Oh, and I missed Michael’s comment from yesterdays OF:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The directors look like weasels.

    I suspect the directors think of themselves as management. How powerful is that designation? Think about all the Radio Shack/Walmart/7-11/etc “managers” who work 60 to 70 hours a week and get paid for 40 at shit wages, all for the privilege of introducing themselves as “Manager”

  13. CSK says:
  14. Scott says:

    I found this kind of amusing so if you need a Friday cheer, here you go:

    Door-knocker complaints show risks of DeSantis super PAC strategy

    With his foot on a front porch of a stately home in Charleston, S.C., a canvasser for a $100 million field effort supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vented on July 7 about a homeowner who he said had told him to get off his lawn.

    Speaking on his phone while wearing a T-shirt with “DESANTIS” in big font and a lanyard representing the Never Back Down super PAC, he used lewd remarks to describe what he would tell the homeowner to do to him. “And I’m a little stoned, so I don’t even care,” he added, holding materials and appearing to wait for another homeowner to come to the door.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes. I know Kazakhstan has lately shown a streak of independence. I know either Armenia or Azerbaijan (tbh I forget which is the client state) (I think Azerbaijan) has told Russia to mind their own business. And iirc Uzbekistan, and/or Turkmenistan has been making similar noises.

    Or some combination of the above +/- 1 or 2 more maybe.

    I remember reading of it at about the 6 month mark of the Ukraine invasion but nothing since, so take this with the proverbial ton of salt.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Sheeeeit, in 2008 I canvassed for Obama in Steelville, Misery. Twice I had homeowners come to the door with guns. I wonder what this idiot would say then?

  17. JohnSF says:

    First night of the Proms!
    Live on BBC2: Dalia Stasevska conducting the BBC SO
    Sibelius: Finlandia
    Bohdana Frolyak: Let There Be Light
    Grieg: Piano Concerto with Paul Lewis
    Sibelius: Snofrid
    Britten: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
    Wonderful! Lewis was great in Grieg concerto.
    And I’ve never heard Snofrid before. Marvelous piece.
    The BBC and the Proms are a keystone of British public cultural life, IMHO.

  18. JohnSF says:

    On munitions output more generally:
    This from the Kyiv Independent is also interesting on the failure of EU/NATO to ramp shell output as needed.
    I have to admit.
    I’m a bit pissed off on this subject: I wrote to my MP back last spring on 155mm barrel and ammo production, and was assured by one of his staff that capacity increases were in hand.
    Only to discover recently that the Barrow 155mm barrel machine tools were sold off to India.
    Am tempted to write back saying you are going to regret trying to deceive me, lad.
    Also, looks like I was wrong on this, and Andy, of these parts, closer to the actuality. Mea culpa (ish)

    On the Kazakhstan (and other ‘stans), ever since Feb 2022 Kazakhstan has been making it’s discontent with Russian policy pretty clear.
    They are not shouting it from the rooftops, but their non-alignment with Russia in eg UN votes, Russian fugitives, sanctions, etc etc is a pretty obvious message to Moscow
    And given China is inclined to cultivate Astana, there’s damn all Moscow can do about it.

  19. JohnSF says:

    I’ve canvassed for Labour in the past.
    Insults and sweariness, fine.
    But if people were turning up at the door with firearms, I think I’d have opted for working the mailing instead. 🙁

  20. dazedandconfused says:


    Russia backs Armenia, and on the issue in question, the UN is on the Armenian side as well.

  21. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    In my usual Friday afternoon subject swerve, I will extend bappy hirthday wishes to all here at OTB and elsewhere who are not celebrating Bastille Day by storming the gates to free the prisoners.

    ETA, sorry, Cracker, but you knew I wouldn’t be able to resist!

  22. dazedandconfused says:
  23. Beth says:


    Thanks for the kind thoughts. The Paid Grandparents made us take the kids and cower in the basement. We only did so because the kids would narc on us and then we’d have to listen to how we almost lost the kids to the super-tornado.

    I was actually hoping that we would get hit with debris or hail or something bad. Or at least some more wind. Our somewhat new (less than 10 years) roof has decided to fail and I need as much damage up there so State Farm eats the claim. The joys of home ownership.

    Other than this roof nightmare, we are doing ok on this place. We bought at the bottom of the market, but had to sink a ton of money into it. Now it’s pretty nice. I was able to use connections to get discounts on labor and when it came to refinance I was able to refinance last year at an absurd interest rate. We’re also in an in demand neighborhood that, while it never gets as high as the Northside, it doesn’t get as low as a lot of places in the city. And our neighbor just died and their house sold in hours for an absurd price. I’m guessing that this place (after the damn roof gets replaced) would appraise much higher.

  24. Beth says:

    One thought occurs to me on the idea of generational wealth. One of the reasons I’m a lawyer today is that my grandparents had the connections and ability to buy a house in this neighborhood. My family has been in this neighborhood basically since the beginning, but didn’t own any real estate until my grandparents. Because they owned and paid off their home, they were able to get a loan on it which allowed my parents to start a business which in turn propagated my dad’s version of an English Middle Class lifestyle. This allowed me to fart around in college for years either getting directly supported or working for him.

    Once in law school, I lived with my grandparents in that house rent free. Fast forward, I was able to use my real estate connections as an attorney to get all sorts of discounts on closing costs for our purchase and a couple of refinances.

    These things snowball. Now my kids go to/went to a private school and will start off with way more support than I had. It’s a giant snowball started because my grandpa was an obstinate lunatic that worked his ass off and my grandma kept the finances inline.

  25. DrDaveT says:


    It’s a giant snowball started because my grandpa was an obstinate lunatic that worked his ass off and my grandma kept the finances inline.

    And nobody shot either of them, or burned them out, or threw one in jail on minor drug charges (or “loitering” or “resisting arrest”), or…

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: True. Then again who would have done anything like that? We’ve seen pictures of Beth. Her grandparents were clearly not black or Hispanic or anything. And she doesn’t look Slavic or Mediterranean, so who would have wanted to burn her grandparents out?