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. CSK says:

    Thinking of Jax and her personal tragedy.

  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. Bill Jempty says:
  4. Sleeping Dog says:


    So sorry to hear this, my condolences to you and your family.

  5. Franklin says:

    To Jax: I’m sorry for the shock and pain of your sudden loss. This will be hard, and I hope you and your family receive all the support and compassion you need.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And I was just gonna ask, “Did I miss anything yesterday?” I guess I won’t put my foot in my mouth (thanx for that) and just say,

    I am so very sorry Jax, words are inadequate.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I did not have this on my 2023 Headline Bingo card: New York man pleads not guilty to stalking woman by plane for four years

    Michael Arnold, 65, was arraigned in southern Vermont – where he kept his plane – on charges of aggravated stalking, violating an abuse prevention order, resisting arrest, impeding a public officer and providing false information to police.

    He was released on several conditions, including that he have no contact with the woman, not stalk her, and stay 300 feet (91 meters) from her home and business, as well as from all airplanes.

    When the FBI are investigating you, ya done fcked up.

    Arnold was arrested Tuesday as he was arriving at the William H. Morse state airport in Bennington, Vermont, where he kept his 1976 Cessna 180 single-engine plane. He said he had not stalked anyone and denied that he was flying his plane the day before, saying instead that he was riding with someone, police said. According to the affadavit, Arnold told the officer that he had had no contact with the woman and that if he had wanted to harm her he could have done so very easily, but never did.

    Says every stalker ever.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    Sorry for your loss, Jax.

    That sound incredibly traumatic, so I hope you have the support you need to recover from this.

  9. Mikey says:

    The employment numbers for September are in: up an incredible 336,000, which is roughly double what was expected.

    And yet the majority of Americans still believe Trump–who, we shouldn’t forget, is the first President in modern history who ended up with a net negative in jobs even after adjusting for COVID–is better than Biden on the economy.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From Dead lawns, dry wells: Texas drought persists after summer heat dome, comes this little tidbit:

    The events in the hill country are “just a microcosm of the global situation”, said Dr Zong-Liang Yang, a professor in the earth and planetary sciences department at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Without human-induced climate change, the heatwaves that swept across the US, Mexico and southern Europe this summer would have been virtually impossible, Yang said: “The probability is less than 1%.”

    While climate scientists have a high degree of confidence in connecting extreme temperatures to climate change, droughts are trickier. “Temperature is directly related to the greenhouse effect. If you have more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they will lead to more greenhouse warming,” Yang said.

    Drought, however, is influenced by a host of factors, including wind patterns, cloud formations, and pollutants. Although he cautioned that further study is needed, he said: “For current ongoing droughts, I would think that human-induced climate change would play a very high role.”

    Welcome to our new normal

  11. Kathy says:

    The good news is season 2 of Loki is finally out.

    In bad news, El Cheeto has endorsed January 6th. unindicted co-conspirator Gym Jordan for speaker of the House.

  12. CSK says:


    Now all the MAGAs have to love Gym.

  13. Beth says:

    Ok, serious question, why do they think that Jordan will be successful at this, at all? Are they just that deluded?

    I suspect that with Trump’s endorsement, Jordan likely wins. However, I can’t imagine he has any ability to actually govern beyond simply lighting everything on fire. He’s an absolutely abhorrent person. I mean, Scalise is bad, but it’s my understanding that he’s at least friendly (?, slick? smart?) enough to have some contacts across the aisle. Does Jordan? I’m under the impression that he’s about as hated as Gaetz on the Dem side.

  14. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Beth:

    Steve Bannon doesn’t like Jordan. Whoopsie.

  15. Mikey says:

    @Beth: I found this Tweet from Rick Wilson interesting.

    The lobbyist of my long acquaintance, who works for a very large association in DC sends:

    “If they pick Jim Jordan, it’s Speaker Jeffries and I’m fucked.”

    Me: “Yes.”

  16. Stormy Dragon says:


    The biggest challenge for the new speaker is going to be dealing with Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan has past experience with catering to sexually abusive coworkers

  17. Jen says:

    This speaker’s race is yet another hot mess. I’d be surprised if Jordan isn’t running a whisper campaign focused on Scalise’s health (Scalise was dx with multiple myeloma in August).

    Jordan, of course, would be a disaster of epic proportions for the country. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer and comes with a ton of baggage from his ignoring sexual abuse allegations from his time at Ohio State.

    Good lord.

  18. Kathy says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    And conspiracy theories are now so mainstream, that Mad Vlad can give misleading and fragmentary misinformation sounding like one.

    Battlefield hand grenades kill by shrapnel, not by blast. Meaning if one goes off a few meters from you, the fragments will kill you but the blast won’t. A grenade going off on a plane won’t bring it down, unless it goes off in the cockpit and takes out the pilots.

    What Mad Vlad said, in effect, was “I did not shoot down plane. I blew him up.”

  19. Beth says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    eww, gross, you win. Lol.


    That is interesting and I suspect is how it will play out. After the government shutdown ends in February.

  20. CSK says:

    I’m in surgical rehab now. Nice place, The cuisine is, however, appalling.

  21. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: l have read a bit about Anderson’s Heat Hypothesis. Hot climates make for hot tempers, in a nutshell. Add in lots of guns and hellzapoppin’!

  22. Daryl says:

    Nothing on Trump sharing nat’l security secrets with a foreigner?
    Seems like kind of a big deal…

  23. Moosebreath says:


    “Ok, serious question, why do they think that Jordan will be successful at this, at all?”

    Your definition of success and theirs is very different. For them “simply lighting everything on fire” is a success.


    Sorry to hear of your loss.

  24. steve says:

    Daryl- It just blends in with everything else he does.


  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dick Butkus died.

    eta I now see that James beat me with the news.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Look on the bright side. Now it will be easier to lose that excess weight.

  27. Kathy says:


    I’m certain we won’t see a Speaker Jeffries until 2024 at the earliest.

    Best we can hope for is for a sizable group of Republiqans to offer a semi-sane candidate who does want to govern, and offer the Democrats a small bone in exchange for minimal support (ie enough votes to win the post, but not all Democratic votes).

  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    More seriously, the fact Trump has endorsed Jordan likely means Jordan has promised to defund Jack Smith

  29. CSK says:


    But they want me to gain!!!!!

  30. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:


  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Towards my mother’s end, nothing tasted good anymore. Except for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard that is. So every time I went to see her in the hospital, I made a stop at Ted Drewes*. I forget what her favorite was, but she ate every bite of whatever Concrete I got her. Maybe you’ve got something similar where you live?

    *a south side STL institution

  32. CSK says:


    Not familiar with Ted. I’ll have someone bring me something edible. Thanks, though.

  33. Jen says:

    @CSK: Ted Drewes is a St. Louis institution. Frozen custard–think of something along the lines of soft-serve gelato. Very rich.

    The original Ted Drewes location, IIRC, is along the path of the old Route 66.

    I hope someone smuggles in some tasty treats for you!

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    While @CSK: deals with real medical issues, and @jax copes with the world collapsing in on her, at a much more trivial level I can report that thanks to cataract surgery I now have super telescopic vision in one eye. I mean, I can always see the mountains from my condo here in Vegas, but goddam, I can really see the mountains now. If there was a single flower* up there, I’d see it. I could go to Ukraine and target tanks five miles away. When I get the other eye done I’m putting in for x-ray vision.

    *Fun fact: the state flower of Nevada is gravel. State animal: fossilized trilobites. State bird: Southwest Airlines 737. State mascot: buffet shrimp. I’ll stop now.

  35. CSK says:


    Thank you!

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m glad for you. That’s great.

  36. Kathy says:

    On the one hand, Kathy’s First law states: Nothing lasts forever.

    On the other hand, I can’t see how a sentient, technologically advanced species can go extinct.

    Yes, we have only one example of a species such as I described above, and we don’t exactly get high marks in popular depictions of self-preservation. After all, we’re messing with the climate, polluting every nook and cranny in our living space, turning life into shareholder value, etc.

    I can see many, many ways in which we can deal a major blow to civilization, but not one that ends in all of us dying off. There’s no payoff in doing that.

    In any case, there hopefully exist other sentient, technologically advanced species in the universe.

    All that aside, I see three scenarios for advanced civilizations:

    Local: dependent on resources and energy sources on the planet and low orbit.

    Interplanetary: capable of using resources and energy sources all over the local solar system.

    Interstellar: capable of using resources and energy sources from an indefinite number of solar systems (plural).

    The first two end in natural extinction once the star at the center of the system ages long enough and destroys all or most of the system it used to illuminate and keep warm(ish). For the Sun, it may grow too hot in about 1 billion years to evaporate all water on Earth.

    A local human civilization, then, cannot last more than 1 billion years (possibly less). An interplanetary human civilization can ameliorate or stretch this time period, by, for instance, building a large enough object to block or filter out much of the sunlight reaching Earth, enough to keep water from boiling off and the temperature from getting too high. Maybe even moving the Earth farther from the Sun*.

    An interstellar human civilization would simply move elsewhere. younger yellow stars should be good for several billion years. red dwarf stars for trillions. Even if there are no suitable planets we could inhabit, there will be resources that can be mined to support life under domes, or underground, or in large space habitats in convenient orbits.

    Unless some or all the above is not possible.

    In the long term, though, the universe will become too disorganized, and the energy sources too diffuse for life to continue. but that should be several trillion years from now.

    *I’ve this notion of taking over Mars’ orbit and making it our second, more remote moon.

  37. CSK says:

    In addition to dropping his lawsuit against Michael Cohen, TFG has also dropped his suit against Arthur Engoron.

  38. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I can report that thanks to cataract surgery I now have super telescopic vision in one eye

    Does it make that Steve Austin noise when you focus on something in the distance? Now that would be cool.

  39. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I haven’t been in St. Louis in years, but last I was there I made a point to drive down to the Ted Drewes on old Route 66 and have a Concrete.

    I was glad I did, that thing was delicious.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: The problem is that evolution chose an organism that is principally a parasite as its apex sentient being.

  41. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: For a combination of reasons, I had cataracts very early—late 40s in my left eye and early 50s in my right. Indeed, I’m not quite 58 now and have already had laser cleanup in both since.

    Because I had Lasik way back in January 2000 and the surgeon had long since disposed of the records by the time I got the cataract surgery, it was a bit of a crapshoot. My eye doc is world class (he performed Tiger Woods’ Lasik a few months before I got mine) but still had to make an educated guess. I wound up with middle distance in both eyes rather than one long and the other short. Basically, my vision from 20 feet out is mildly fuzzy without glasses (but better than 20-20 with), things from 3-20 feet are super sharp, and I can fake the up close just fine.

  42. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m beginning to wonder what sort of odds I can get on “Jeffries is Speaker by Jan 1”. Can’t be the favorite, but Trumps endorsement of Jordan just made it more likely.

    I haven’t heard as much as about others, but I’m betting a lot of the Republican conference doesn’t like him either and think he would be crap as Speaker. Let’s not forget that it’s more than a title. It’s a job. It’s a big, hard job.

  43. charontwo says:
  44. Kathy says:


    And he didn’t win a single Nobel Prize this week, either.

  45. CSK says:


    Excuse me. That would be Noble Prize.

  46. Jen says:

    @charontwo: Thanks for sharing that.

    For every pie flung in someone’s face, there’s someone else whose job is to mop up the pie that hit the floor. For every clown car disaster, someone else has to break out the shovels and scrapers and hoses and get that gore gone.

    Two sentences that manage to describe the current state of the roles of our two main political parties.

  47. CSK says:

    Any speculation about why Trump suddenly dropped his lawsuits against Cohen and Engoron?

  48. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Discovery? The likelihood that he would end up paying their court costs? Inability to find a lawyer to take the cases on spec?

  49. Sleeping Dog says:


    My guess is that he’s too thin on legal representation and running out of funds. Both those lawsuits were more harassment than serious anyway and he was bound to lose. They are the old trump game of suing a poorer defendant in the hope they settle.

  50. Sleeping Dog says:


    BTW, hope you’re feeling better.

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Fun fact: the state flower of Nevada is gravel. State animal: fossilized trilobites. State bird: Southwest Airlines 737. State mascot: buffet shrimp. I’ll stop now.

    The North Dakota version of that is…
    Tree: telephone pole
    Bird: mosquito
    Motto: Keep your motto to yourself

  52. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: @Sleeping Dog:

    You both offer good explanations.

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I am, thank you.

  53. Kathy says:

    From the billionaire space race front, Amazon launched two (2) prototype internet satellites meant to be a competitor for SpaceTwitters’s Starlink.

    This puts Lex Bezos well behind the Head Xitter on several counts. For one thing, Lex had to hire another man’s rocket to get his launch off. He’s supposed to have his own launch company. Maybe if they manage to launch something, someday into orbit…

    For another, these old fashioned disposable boosters cost more.

    I suppose it’s good to have competition in expensive, space based internet service. I still worry about all the debris that keeps accumulating in low orbit.

  54. anjin-san says:
  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: There are 2 locations, the one on Chippewa (rte 66) and one on South Grand. I had always thought the S Grand location came first but what do I know? For a couple years I lived within walking distance of the S Grand location, which I dearly loved. But I always had a sad in winter because the SG store closed down and I had to drive to the Chippewa store to satisfy my cravings.

    When I moved out here I had to give up my TD addiction cold turkey. The withdrawals were horrible.

  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Always worth a stop.

  57. CSK says:

    Gee, they gave me a cognitive assessment test here in surgical rehab. Turns out I’m a very stable genius.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Sorry to hear you got such a horrible result.

  59. Jay L Gischer says:

    As regards Trump dropping his defamation suit. There’s been a pattern I’ve observed a long time where somebody says something disparaging about a celebrity/businessperson and said target “sues” for libel. Even though what was said is true. The lawsuit is big news, and gets reported widely. Then they drop it later, maybe they try to get a settlement, but maybe they just drop it quietly, figuring it won’t be reported and their reputation is defended.

    It’s all about appearances. And Trump is very savvy about appearances, and how the media works. Very savvy.

  60. CSK says:


    Yeah, but maybe I can be president!

  61. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: Of course. I’m certain the shock hasn’t worn off yet.

  62. Jax says:

    Thank you all for all your kind words. I am….ok. I think. I am trying to stay focused and busy. My mom is currently undergoing cancer treatment in Arizona and is too weak to come home right now, so I’ve been doing funeral home stuff and banking stuff so I can legally keep the lights on and the cowboys paid here at the ranch.

    I saw my Dad at the funeral home. I am glad I did. He’s cleaned up now, and it’s a much better image than the one I had in my head from accident, before the cops and EMT’s pulled me away so the firefighters could pry the baler open. I am certain that it was quick, and even if I had been able to get that baler open by myself, it would’ve been too late. I wish I knew if he heard me screaming that I loved him and please don’t leave me, but….I will never know in this lifetime.

  63. CSK says:


    You take care of yourself.

  64. Roger says:

    @Jax: You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I’ve learned enough about you from your comments here to be confident that your dad knew you loved him whether or not he heard you at the end. I’m no longer a praying kind of guy but if good thoughts do any good, you have them from me. Take care.

  65. Michael Reynolds says:

    Hmm, I’m not entirely surprised. The backward-looking nature of AI means it feeds on cliché and trope. Overfeed, it seems.

  66. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:


  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m pretty confident that he didn’t win any of either one.

  68. Michael Reynolds says:

    Getting from regurgitating to creating may be a big leap for AI, if it ever achieves it. While not buying all of the split brain ideas of Julian Jaynes, I do think it’s an interesting way forward, perhaps. AI is aware of other, but it does not have a self. Homo sapiens, most self-aware of animals, does have a bicameral brain with divided functions, different inputs, areas of specialization. As you know when you sever the corpus callosum you can end up with two subjectivities inside one skull. Maybe AI needs a different AI talking to it through a glitchy phone line. Maybe I isn’t possible without a thou. Paging Martin Buber.

  69. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Ever come across Peter Watts’ stories (Blindsight, Echopraxia ) about possible super-intelligent, but non-self conscious, beings?
    Interesting speculation on the possibility that human style consciousness may not be a evolution-preferred state, but just a contingent outcome of Homo sapiens history.

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: In that case, you really really really do have my sympathies.

  71. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Don’t be too stubborn to seek help. My brother’s suicide hit me a lot harder than I was ready to admit at first. And I wasn’t there to watch it. Just being able to talk about shit helps. There is a whole world of crap I can’t say to family because there are some things they are better off ignorant of.

  72. Kathy says:


    “There’s insufficient data for a meaningful answer.” Multivac and successors, c. 2061-end of the universe.

  73. JohnSF says:

    “I’m sorry Dave…”

  74. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The backward-looking nature of AI means it feeds on cliché and trope.

    For a whole bunch of “reasons” I wan to do that AI 90’s yearbook thing that’s floating around on every Trans Instagram right now. I freaking love those tropes. I don’t know if it’s worth it to give up my data for that.

    That and I would be absolutely crushed by it.

  75. JohnSF says:


    “Multivac, is there a god?”
    “Yes, now there is!”


  76. Kathy says:


    That’s a different story by another author.

  77. JohnSF says:


    That’s a different story by another author.

    True enough.
    But the entire materia tends to blend together inside my head.

  78. DrDaveT says:


    “There’s insufficient data for a meaningful answer.”

    “The Last Question”, Isaac Asimov. I think it was actually “Insufficient data for a meaningful response at this time.”