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. James Joyner says:

    Question for the regulars: You may have noticed that I’ve recently discovered that WordPress now gives me the ability to highlight texts in posts and that I’ve been using it to draw attention to key points in my article excerpts. While I’d like more color flexibility, it works fine for me on my very large monitor and seems fine on my iPhone and iPad.

    Is it rendering okay for you? Is it helpful? Distracting?

  2. Steve says:

    I think it’s helpful. Maybe a bit redundant since you quote those bits elsewhere but provides points of emphasis. Kind of like tell them what you are going to say, tell them, then tell them what you said. Old power point aphorism.


  3. just nutha says:

    @James Joyner: Neutral. Have noticed, but it neither adds nor subtracts.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:


    On 4 December, Niani Finlayson called police and “reported that her boyfriend would not leave her alone and then screaming and sounds of a struggle could be heard”, the LA sheriff’s department (LASD) said in a statement. When deputies arrived at the apartment in Lancaster, a city in the northern region of LA county, they could hear screaming, LASD said.

    Finlayson was inside with her nine-year-old daughter and had been injured by her ex-boyfriend and wanted him removed, her family’s attorneys said. The exact circumstances that led to the fatal shooting are unclear and LASD has so far declined to release body-camera footage.

    LASD alleged in a statement that Finlayson had a knife and was threatening her boyfriend, at which point deputy Ty Shelton opened fire. The family disputed the police account, saying Finlayson was clearly a victim of domestic violence who needed help and posed no threat to the officers. The coroner said she died from “multiple gunshot wounds”.

    Finlayson was a mother of two, and her daughter, Xaisha, witnessed the shooting.

    “The police lied that my mom was threatening them,” Xaisha said at a press conference on Thursday alongside her grandparents, calling for Shelton to be prosecuted. “She was my best friend. She was always there for me. It’s unbelievable that she’s gone and she’s not coming back. I miss my mom.” The girl said her two-year-old sister continues to ask where their mother is and she doesn’t know how to respond.

    Adding insult to injury,

    Previously, Shelton killed Michael Thomas, 61, on 11 June 2020 in a similar case. Shelton had been responding to a potential domestic violence call and when the deputies arrived, they demanded he open the door, officials said. Thomas’s girlfriend later said she had been having a verbal argument with Thomas, who had been unarmed, and that he had tried to stop the officers from entering, citing the fourth amendment. Thomas had also been afraid police would shoot him, his family said, and officials later confirmed Thomas had said: “I am now in fear for my life. You guys … just killed somebody.”

    Shelton fatally shot Thomas in the chest. The killing was not captured on camera. The case was one in a series of LASD killings that summer that caused widespread protests, and prosecutors declined to file charges against Shelton. LASD did not respond to questions about Shelton’s previous killing.

    Finlayson’s father summed it up:

    “It just breaks me to my bone. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t walk … they didn’t tase her, mace her, baton her or beanbag her. They just shot her like a dog in her own place … and taken so much away from us.”

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Joyner:

    Personally, I preferred your prior method of bolding the parts you wanted to, erm, highlight. My eyes are drawn to the colored part, sometimes automatically skipping the context leading up to it, whereas with the bolding method didn’t break my flow as much.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Anyone that has read Kevin D. Williamson, knows that he structures his opinion pieces as rants. While I seldom agree with the conclusion that Williamson is trying to reach, I do enjoy the ride to disagreement.

    In his column in this AM’s NYT, Frank Bruni highlighted this gem.

    Kevin D. Williamson let it rip in a recent essay in The Wall Street Journal about how far American democracy has fallen. Here’s one whooshing stretch: “With the old media gatekeepers gone, right-wing content creators rushed in and filled the world with QAnon kookery on Facebook, conspiracy theories powerful enough to vault the cretinous likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene into Congress, fake news sponsored by Moscow and Beijing and fake-ish news subsidized by Viktor Orban and his happy junta, and whatever kind of poison butterfly Tucker Carlson is going to be when he emerges from the chrysalis of filth he’s built around himself. The prim consensus of 200 Northeastern newspaper editors has been replaced by the sardonic certitude of 100 million underemployed rage-monkeys and ignoramuses on Twitter.”

  7. Monala says:

    In addition to the horrifying story of Kate Cox in Texas, there also Brittany Watts in Ohio:

    What followed was a harrowing three days entailing: multiple trips to the hospital; Watts miscarrying into, and then flushing and plunging, a toilet at her home; a police investigation of those actions; and Watts, who is Black, being charged with abuse of a corpse. That’s a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’m planning Christmas eve dinner, and trying to accommodate the more simple tastes of my in-laws who will be staying with us. Perhaps the mindtrust can give some input (looking at you Kathy).

    We usually do seafood for our big dinner, often lobsters or crabs, but with a much larger table to set this year that will break the budget. We also tend to eschew traditional Midwest fare, using big feast days like this to try out new recipes, but my in-laws tend to have simpler tastes in food. They like to expand their culinary experiences, but you kind of have to ease them into it, you know? Oh, also my wife had a bizarre accident and is kind of immobile for the next few days. She might be better by Christmas, but for now I need to plan on doing all the house cleaning, guest room prep, parenting of toddlers, and cooking by myself, so simplicity is key.

    I’m thinking I do a seafood-centric side dish to keep our family’s tradition alive, but do a beef main to accommodate the in-law tastes. Perhaps Ropa Vieja for the beef–it can be made in a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or slow roasted in the oven; set it and forget it is key right now. Also the peppers add a nice red-and-green element.

    For the seafood side, I’m thinking a crab and lobster cheesecake–Palace Cafe has had a creole one on their menu for ages, and I think a lot of copy cat recipes exist. That just leaves a couple of veggies–broccolini? The bitterness might turn off my country family.

    Thoughts and suggestions?

    ETA, dessert is likely going to be a Brazilian carrot cake.

  9. Kathy says:

    I’m pondering how changes to Mexico’s federal acquisitions law have resulted, in many cases, in the opposite of what was intended.

    Take the questions meetings. After a request for proposals is published, we’re given between 3 and ten days to submit questions about the rules and requirements. This is very important, as is the one chance to 1) clarify points that are ambiguous or confusing, 2) correct errors, 3) request changes, in my case especially to product sizes/capacities, and 4) set up a basis for a possible appeal.

    Before the 2009 changes, questions could be submitted up to the start of the meeting. Then either they’d be read and answered by the committee in front of all participants, or we’d be given a recess while the committee worked on the answers. During the meeting one could voice objections to the answers, or request clarification of the answers. One could also argue when an unfavorable answer was given.

    Under the reformed law, questions must be submitted up to 24 hours before the meeting. This is to give the committee a full day to work out the answers. Also, the meetings are now online. This does not mean Zoom or other kind of video call, but rather they publish their answers in the acquisitions portal, and we get between 6 an 48 hours to ask further questions but only about the answers given. The whole idea was to streamline the process.

    As per Kathy’s First Law, there are downsides to everything. However, question meetings under the reform, online system tend to take longer than they did under the old. Worse, I get to waste time looking up the portal to see whether the answers are up, about every ten or 15 minutes.

    Of our regular customers, only one publishes their answers at the time set for the meeting. Others vary in posting within a couple of hours, to within a couple of days.

  10. Michael Cain says:

    The most popular highlighter color is a pale, pale yellow for good reasons. Stick with that. Your orange is right on the border where it reduces contrast with the text enough to make reading difficult.

    In a browser that slavishly sticks to the web page’s choice about fonts, sizes, and spacing, the appearance is okay. When those are not used, bad things happen. Your choices of those result, in practice, in line-and-a-half spacing. My choices enforce single-line spacing with a different font and size, which causes problems. Recall that HTML was originally a mark-up language about document structure: headings, paragraphs, etc. Specific details like fonts were a purely local issue. When styling was introduced, it was a two-edged sword. Authors/publishers had a huge range of choices available to them. Many chose… poorly. Granted, I’m an extreme case. I’ve written a thousand-line JavaScript add-on that runs against every page I download and reformats for consistency. My attitude remains, that if a publisher produces documents that depend on the font family, font size, and added vertical spacing to appear reasonable, that’s what PDF is for.

  11. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I don’t have any good recipes for slow cooked beef, sorry. I’m just starting to try them out.

    As to seafood, you’d have to ask someone else. I’ve never have nor ever will cook any.

    Maybe soup? That’s relatively simple labor-wise. A lentil soup with bacon, chopped onions, garlic, one chopped tomato (seeded), perhaps with beef cut into bite-sized pieces. Of course, for lentil soup you need to add some ground cumin.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: It’s nothing at all to me, beyond different.

  13. CSK says:

    @James Joyner:

    Either is fine with me. Whatever suits you best.

  14. Mimai says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Perhaps a ceviche of sorts? The acidity would be a nice contrast to the ropa vieja. Or would that be too seafood forward?

    If you want to go the lobster route, a lobster bisque would work well with ropa vieja. And would nicely seasonal if it’s cold on the day.

    Paella might also work. You could hold the delicate seafood until just before serving and then add it in when ready. But perhaps that might be too thematic for what you want.

    And I love broccolini. Put a little char on it, serve with some roasted/grilled lemons, and finish with shaved parm. Bitterness? What bitterness?

    Good luck with the all the juggling!

  15. CSK says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You could do a very elaborate starter cioppino with the lobster and crab. It’s very good, and people with traditional tastes might be leery of a shellfish cheesecake. Then maybe a salad and roast beef with baked potato. The latter may be non-adventurous, but it’s reliable.

  16. Kathy says:

    I ran across and odd idea when Hell Week was getting started: perishable money.

    The core idea is to give money a fixed depreciation rate, unless one pumps more money into it to keep it “fresh,” or the money gets spent. Say a $100 note loses a dollar for every day it’s not spent, unless one pays a 10 cent fee to keep the depreciation away.


    Two reasons are put forward: to get money to circulate more, and to prevent money from being a store of value. that is, money would be a tool of commercial exchange only. Value would need to be stored elsewhere (property, art, collectibles, stocks, etc.)

    I don’t think I care for the notion. Money’s complex enough as is. besides, the ten cents you use up keeping one dollar from vanishing would itself depreciate at a fixed rate, right? Again, already complicated enough without worrying about expiration dates. Also, isn’t inflation almost the same thing, albeit at a lower rate than 1% daily?

    The Steven Dubner Principle states People don’t correct problems, they over correct problems. Kathy’s addenda: people don’t complicate things, they over complicate them.

  17. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: That all sounds delicious. For a simple and easy side, if they are willing to eat salad, that would provide a nice balance, both in terms of acidity and freshness (and, can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge, toss salad with dressing right before serving). There are many salad variations (apples and celery with endive/frisee, or just a standard lettuce salad).

  18. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Adventurous seafood dish that’s not super complex: a sushi bake

    It’s a Hawaiian dish that’s their take on a Filipino take on Japanese cuisine

  19. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Cain: Yes, I’d prefer a more standard highlighter yellow. Unfortunately, the default colors are these:

    Highlighter colors

  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    Traveling to visit family for Christmas.

    Two thoughts on the Pennsylvania Turnpike:
    1. For some reason there are a bunch of companies (Roy Roger’s, Quiznos, etc.) that have disappeared from the larger world that, like Brigadoon, still exist outside of time at Pennsylvania Turnpike rest stops.
    2. Bedford County’s new tourism slogan is “Small Town America”. It’s weird how strongly negative my reaction to that phrase is. Like my “fight or flight” response was triggered by the advertisement because it almost feels like a physical threat.

  21. Jen says:

    Hahaha, I knew it. This has to be driving him bonkers.

    Go Haley. 😀

    Trump rails after poll shows Haley within 4 points in New Hampshire

  22. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Now, now. According to Sarah Palin, small towns are where the “real America” resides.

  23. CSK says:


    He’s persisting in calling Haley “Birdbrain.” Where in hell did that come from?

  24. Mister Bluster says:


    Like everything Trump, it comes out of his ass.

  25. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Well, yes; that’s quite true about Trump’s anal eruptions. But why Birdbrain? Whatever else one may say about Haley, she doesn’t strike me as a dimwit.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    The Supreme Court will not fast-track the request to review Trump’s immunity
    The Supreme Court has denied special counsel Jack Smith’s bid to fast-track a dispute about whether former President Donald Trump should enjoy absolute immunity from prosecution for misconduct during his time in the White House.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..why Birdbrain

    You’re going to hurt yourself if you try to search for a rational basis for Trump’s remarks.
    I have heard the pain is like an ice cream headache.

  28. SC_Birdflyte says:

    This just in: the Supremes have declined Jack Smith’s request to fast-track the question of presidential immunity. Why am I not surprised?

  29. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Two scoops?

  30. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: you are just taunting us with inline images.

    I like the deep orangey-yellow. But I like color more than most people, and also don’t have a problem reading it.

    I’m mildly horrified by some of the other choices, as it shows that whoever came up with the default colors has no idea about accessibility, and makes me think that @Michael Cain may be right about even the yellow making text hard to read. (But then he explains that he is a lunatic who changes the formatting of everything, which makes me question whether he has done something bad)

  31. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Interpretation: The bought and paid for supremes are not so far gone that they’ll declare Adolph impervious from consequences, but they will aid in his delaying tactics.

  32. CSK says:


    I read this appalling story the other day. Tell me: When hospitals dispose of miscarried fetal remains, are THEY charged with abuse of a corpse? As far as I know, those remains are treated as biohazards and incinerated and subsequently discarded.

  33. JohnSF says:

    @James Joyner:
    I’m fine with however you want to format it, Dr Joyner.
    If I dislike it enough, I’ll just use a reader view. 🙂

  34. gVOR10 says:

    I have no strong opinions on formatting options. The site works and I’m grateful for your effort in maintaining it.

  35. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Since so many don’t mind and others have expressed no opinion, I would suggest highlighting in beige. As that doesn’t seem to be available, you should use gray,

    Of course, this puts OTB on the side of the Neutral Planet.

  36. Grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: That’s essentially what inflation does, which is why a lot of governments want a low, but positive inflation rate.

    This is also why a span of deflation can be so destructive to economic plans. If the longer you hold on to your cash the more purchasing power you have the more likely you will be enticed to not spend it. Which, if the government plans have been created assuming people wanting to spend….presents problems.

  37. Grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: ….then there’s Breezewood….

  38. Kathy says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    The thing is an inflation rat of 1% per week, or even per month, would be ruinous. The difference with perishable money, is that it can keep its full value by paying a fee that’s less than the periodic loss of value (the numbers in my post were just as examples).

    How would that square added to actual inflation and/or price increases?

    One idea mentioned in the stuff I read, was that banks would loan out money as fast as it came in, and at zero interest. I don’t see that, as there’d be no profit in making loans.

    Again, money is complicated enough as is.

  39. Beth says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I feel the same. Might as well be a “Keep Drivin’ Fruit” sign.

  40. Kathy says:

    So, week 4 of Hell Week comes to a close with the following:

    A hurry up market study for a new customer we don’t want to take up. It’s six listings of products, about 500 all told, with prices and brands and corrections to sizes.

    That’s not all. I’m told to take the 2024 prices for Big Customer. Sounds good, right? Well, for packaged goods, Big Customer has never ordered about half the products we need to price. But it gets better, I’m told to apply a markup to the cost. Fine. Except it’s 3 pm on the Friday before the long Xmas weekend, and purchasing is going to be furious if I set them to scramble for costs right now. the supervisor won’t take responsibility and ask them directly.

    Then at 6:30 pm a guy I’m going to call, respectfully, Stupid Motherf**ng A**hole Son of a Bitch, sends an email (his desk is like three meters away from mine), telling me we need to 1) find a request for proposals to be published tomorrow (yes, Saturday), 2) pay the entry fee of about US $400, 3) preferably at a bank, 4) the deadline for this payment is Monday Dec. 25th.

    I tell him 1) I don’t have enough money in petty cash, 2) it’s way too late to get an advance seeing as everyone else in corporate already left, 3) no way to reach out to another department that has a bigger petty cash fund, again seeing as they’ve ll left and aren’t answering messages, 4) no assurance I can pay at a bank, as few open on Saturday, they may not open on a holiday weekend, and they close by 2 pm anyway.

    So, Stupid Motherf**ng A**hole Son of a Bitch tells me, “That’s your problem. If you don’t like it, explain to the boss why you couldn’t hack it.”

    See, this is why it’s a good thing not to carry firearms around.

    I expect I’ll manage. But I bet that he knew this project was coming, and had an idea what it would cost, for at least two days. He could have let me know then (this is what makes him a Stupid Motherf**ng A**hole Son of a Bitch).

    I sent a reply asking for info on where it would be published, what agency is in charge, and warning a bank payment was far from certain. I added a request to be informed about substantial cash outlays as soon as possible, as 6:30 pm on a Friday of a holiday weekend is far from ideal. All this copied to the boss.

    This si not the first time something like this happens. Also not the first time I get no support. I always manage. That’s bad, as it gives the impression I can do it easily, as no one sees all that’s necessary, and they keep doing it.

    Thanks for letting me vent, and don’t worry. I’m already plotting revenge.