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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Werp, first comment? Alrighty then! Happy Friday everyone.

    Daughter and her sweetie’s condo goes on the market today. They’re moved in, most of their stuff’s in storage, and their cats remain a bright spot this pre-sunrise morning.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Conor Friedersdorf has a piece in the Atlantic describing a debate in Oakland California that is as old as time, between factions that feel that hostility towards police is the cause of a rise in crime, and those that feel the police are a huge part of the problem. And there are more nuanced positions. This debate is happening in the pulpits, in the newspapers, at council meetings and yes, at the ballot box, and political parties don’t really enter into it. The Republican Party in CA has beclowned itself into irrelevance, so it might be tempting to say that this is a debate within the Democratic Party but that would be a misreading. This is really a debate between the people of Oakland and, at least for a blessed moment, parties don’t have much to do with it.

    I grow more frustrated every day with our obsession with parties. Which party team is in power? Which is gaining? Are there enough? Should we alter our political system to encourage more parties teams?

    The founders were right. Parties are anathema to good and capable governance. If you want to champion an issue or a change the best course is to strive your mightiest NOT to have it associated it with one party or another. “Which system gives us more parties?” is the wrong question. How about “What systems leads to better governance?”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Is there a democracy anywhere that doesn’t have political parties?

  4. CSK says:

    Trump crashed a wedding reception at Bedminster yesterday after returning from his arraignment.

  5. Kathy says:

    This piece from neurologica is interesting: making super capacitors out of cement.

    Brief description of how: “What the MIT scientists did is dope cement with carbon black. When cured with water the cement naturally forms pockets, which then fill with the carbon black. Once solidified you end up with a meshwork of conducting carbon in the insulating cement – a giant capacitor.”

    I’m down to most of Dr. Novella’s optimistic uses of this technology. But have one question. Concrete, after all, is a structural material. It’s fine to make foundations, columns, even bridge spans, into energy storage. The question is: hoes does the carbon black addition affect the structural properties of the concrete?

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    Republican Ron DeSantis says he will slit throats when he is elected President of the United States of America.

    (You will have to look it up since I can’t make links work when I post from my phone.)

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Probably not, at least once you get to any size. But what I’m proposing is that parties are like dog poop: an inevitable outcome but a nuisance to be dealt with. They are part of our problems rather than any part of a solution. So many arguments here revolve around Dems versus Repubs rather than actual governance issues. And Steven and others propose that more parties will somehow make things better (without defining better other than “more parties”)

  8. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Somehow I can’t escape the feeling that he means that literally.

  9. CSK says:

    Chris Hayes says it’s astonishing how quickly Trump’s family has abandoned him: “Just an old man, alone.”

  10. CSK says:

    The streets around the courthouse in Fulton County, Georgia, are going to be blocked starting this coming Monday.

    Tick tock…

  11. Kathy says:

    So, the heat is getting so high, that desert plants, like cacti, are suffering deleterious effects from it.

    Maybe I need to hear again how “it’s just summer.”

  12. Mister Bluster says:


    I am sure that someone in the press corps will ask him what type of knife he will use.

  13. gVOR10 says:

    @CSK: We do seem to be back to, “Take him seriously, not literally.” But I fail to see why I’m called on to translate RW pols’ statements into something reasonable. DeFlates said what he said.

  14. CSK says:


    That was the first thing I thought of, too.

  15. Kathy says:

    It’s apparent to me by now that Benito did not issue himself a broad pardon at any time during his time in office. If he had, he’d have used it to weasel out of all these indictments*.

    Why he didn’t preemptively pardon himself is an open question. I can see several options, from how it would look to it being unprecedented and in apparent contradiction to law an custom. Much the same goes as to why he didn’t resign, and then have Pence issue him a pardon.

    I see two major possibilities here:

    1) It would make him look guilty and weak, and dependent on the goodwill of someone he’d vilified very recently. It would make him safe from incarceration, but also kill all his influence and any future political ambitions. This is perhaps something so clear, even Benito could see it.

    2) He tried, but Pence refused.

    I don’t think the second is very likely. But if it happened, it should come out at trial.

    *The big argument against a reveal of a possible double-secret self pardon, is that 1) it won’t affect state charges like those in NY, 2) the first federal indictment was mostly about things he did after leaving the oval office. I’ve no trouble believing Benito would parson himself, as children would say in the playground, for all eternity, past and future. But that could be legally untenable.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: But what I’m proposing is that parties are like dog poop: an inevitable outcome but a nuisance to be dealt with.

    Agreed, they are inevitable.

    They are part of our problems rather than any part of a solution.

    Disagree. The only way things get done is by like minded individuals coming together to advance a common goal. Political parties are messy but a necessary part of that equation.

  17. CSK says:


    Asking for or being granted a pardon amounts to an admission of guilt on the part of the pardonee, as you say.

    Trump always claims to have been exonerated, as in the E.
    Jean Carroll trial. The jury “exonerated” him of raping her.

    BIG difference between pardons and exonerations.

  18. dazedandconfused says:


    The color is most fitting…

  19. CSK says:
  20. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Or he believes that no one could ever convict him, so no need to whip out the secret self-pardon yet, when he can fundraise off the “persecution.”

    I’m pretty sure he has a secret self-pardon in his pocket, because why wouldn’t he? But revealing it would be a desperation move.

  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    I just wanted to share this tale that Esther Crawford has written about working for Twitter both before and after Musk:

    Like seemingly everyone on this app I have plenty of opinions about Twitter > X and figure now is a good time to open up a bit about my experience at the company.

    I tweeted for years into the void for the love of it like many of you, but after selling my startup to Twitter in 2020 I finally got to see it from the inside. Up close it was both amazing and terrible, like so many other companies and things in life.

    Really good stuff. Authentic. Real. The Silicon Valley I know and love. I don’t know Esther Crawford, but it feels like I do.

  22. dazedandconfused says:


    Carbon black has been added to cement for tinting for quite some time in small percentages and the tests show it slightly enhances flexibility and compression strength, not an issue there…unless they are talking big percentages.

    What stood out most to me is they made blocks of cement for testing, not concrete. Concrete is what will be used, which is about 70% aggregate, so the guesstimates made by the author of the article about total capacity per cubic yard are probably off by roughly that amount.

    Still, when talking the kind of yardage in major commercial projects there may be something to this.

  23. Kathy says:


    I wondered whether the distinction between cement and concrete got lost in transmission. I know cement by itself isn’t used much in construction (if it’s used at all).

    Since the effect depends on conductivity and insulation, the nature of the aggregate may matter. As I understand the commonly used one is gravel. I’ve no idea of its constituents.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It seems to me there are two basic types of parties. 1) Large ones which function as teams to their base voters. Rah rah, my guy, my team! What they actually strive for has little to do with any expressed beliefs and instead is dictated either by their patrons or by the desire of the politicians to say things voters will like irrespective of whether or not those things match what the party professes to stand for. Their base doesn’t really care what they strive for as long as they beat the other team. 2) Very small parties that are essentially single issue interests groups and only supported by a small number of the electorate. In the US system they have little impact but in parliamentary systems they can operate as coalition makers and so impose their sometimes repulsive goals on an otherwise unwilling majority.

    I agree that people need to come together to accomplish things. I just think that would be more effectively done outside of parties rather than tying goals to one party or another.

  25. Kathy says:


    It still beats going to prison.


    Benito does not strike me as the kind who builds up elaborate scenarios of how things will go. He’s more like someone deep into pop culture stereotypes, even when he doesn’t get them.

    So, yes, I guess he might be convinced he can’t be convicted, never mind imprisoned. All those movies end in acquittal, after all.

  26. Kathy says:

    Yesterday I finished a short book called The Secret Life of Groceries, by Benjamin Lorr. I don’t know exactly what I expected when I got it, but definitely it wasn’t what the book actually contains.

    More or less it gives a brief history of retail and grocery stores. Next it tells the story of Trader Joe’s and its founder. Then it gets interesting with stories of a trucker and the trucking industry in general, a woman trying to commercialize a condiment with the unlikely name Slawsa*, working conditions at Whole Foods (pre Amazon acquisition), and a story of modern slavery in the shrimp industry in Asia.

    That’s a lot to pack in under 9 hours of audiobook. Some revelations were eye-opening, like truck drivers today no longer earn enough to make a living. I want to check on that, though I’ve no reason to doubt it. But as recently as 2018-19, during the latest round of hype about self driving cars, much was made about how they might take over trucking, meaning a lot of people would lose one of the last few good “blue collar” jobs left.

    Another thing was how much money stores extract from their suppliers. I did know about this from my former job, but never knew it ran so deep. As a simple example, all those BOGO offers, be they get one free or get one 50% off, are paid for by the supplier. That is, you get one free because the retailer gets it free, too.

    I may have more to say about it after I do some more digging on related subjects.

    *It’s a kind of relish made mostly with cabbage (it’s not sauerkraut). The idea is that it’s kind of a mixture of coleslaw and salsa, ergo Slawsa.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: To channel the teen daughter in the Jublia commercial about the photo: “That’s gur-roce.”

  28. de stijl says:

    I saw a sraight-up Jeff Lewbowski at the grocery store today. She was wearing a bathrobe! There is no way to not categorize her outer attire as anything but as a cheap, common bathrobe. This was not a high fashion analog, it was a fucking bathrobe!

    I think all of us are inured to public displays of super casual pant bottoms akin to pajama bottoms. Much more casual than I choose to comport myself, but not entirely inappropriate. Social mores change over time. I got no problem with it. Not my style, but also not my business.

    But I have never seen, before today, someone grocery shopping in a bathrobe. I was fascinated. I pretended not to notice, but I wanted to get a good glimpse again so re-visited an aisle I knew she was in to get a better look-see.

    This was mid afternoon. She was wearing a graphic t-shirt, yoga pants, sandals, and a bathrobe. A blatant, obvious bathrobe. With piping and a waist cinch fabric belt. Undone, flapping.

    This was the most intriguing thing I had seen in public human behavior I had seen in months.

    I must admit I was a bit of a looky-Lou. I buzzed the aisle she was in for another quick glance to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. Yep. That’s a bathrobe.

    No problem with it. I witnessed a new thing and appreciated the novelty of it.

    It made my whole week.

  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    For certain hops I take JSX, which is a small airline that operates away from the airport terminals and is sort of a hybrid of airline and private plane. Had to go with my wife for a medical follow-up in LA. On the way there it was that woman from HGTV Alison something from Windy City Rehab, and on the way back we sat behind Star Trek’s Seven of Nine, Jeri Ryan. She’s 55 and still gorgeous.

    Had the plane gone down it would have been a sad day in nerd world.

    I did not talk to her or ask for a selfie.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Windy City Rehab flies private? Why am I not surprised….

  31. JKB says:

    Interesting factoid about the party of special interests. Even before seeing this I did realize the Democrats were running a “Curley Effect” operation with single college-credentialed women as the constituency they were trapping. Haven’t figured out where they hope to force their disfavored to emigrate to however. Perhaps some Electoral College strategy.

    Adding marital status to the mix, the GOP advantage among married men shoots up to 20 points (59% Republican to 39% Democrat) and shrinks among unmarried men to just 7 points (52% Republican to 45% Democrat).

    But what most people don’t know, including everyone who works at Politico apparently, is that among married women, Republicans still maintain a sizable 14-point advantage (56% Republican to 42% Democrat).

    But if Republicans are winning married men by 20 points, married women by 14 points, and unmarried men by 7 points, then who is keeping Democrats competitive?

    Single women are single-handedly saving the Democratic Party. By a 37-point margin (68% to 31%), single women overwhelmingly pulled the lever for Democrats.

  32. DrDaveT says:


    Interesting factoid about the party of special interests.

    Interesting factoid about the party of bald-faced lies:

    Among voters who value truth over fantasy, Democrats have a 72-point margin.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: clicking through, and then clicking through again until you get to the Washington Examiner, you end up with this nugget.

    The message the Democratic Party has for men is clear: You are, at best, worthless. Democratic Party programs have empowered women to procreate without you entirely. In fact, most likely, you are a #MeToo pervert who needs to be punished, without due process, by a college inquisition board.

    You’re not leading with the strongest stuff. There’s comedy gold in them there links.

    Anyway, you have to read exit polling carefully, since as you split the data into smaller groups the margin of error jumps. And you want to compare against historical trends (party with the presidency usually loses seats in the House, etc.) to pick actual changes in long term voting behavior from the noise.

    For instance, in 2018, dividing by gender and marital status, Republicans only won married men. This did not cast the electorate into stone from that point forward.

  34. SenyorDave says:

    How ‘race realist’ conservative who used pen name for years rose to ‘alt-right’ stardom: report
    In an exclusive report published by HuffPost Friday, the news outlet details the rise of right-wing writer, Richard Hanania, who wrote under the pen name “Richard Hoste” for years before gaining support from prominent Republicans and billionaires to become the widely sought after conservative “national mainstream media” personalty he is today.
    This is pretty interesting. How a darling of the anti-woke crowd was a rather open racist, anti-semite, ultra misogynistic piece of shit in a past online life.
    U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) has considered him a “friend” and “really interesting thinker, Elon Musk re-tweets some of his current garbage.
    All he did was re-package himself so he can be palatable to white nationalists like Vance, Musk, and Thiel.