Friday’s Forum

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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. MarkedMan says:

    Yesterday drj referenced this article, From an August 1941 issue of Harper’s Magazine, “Who Goes Nazi” by Dorothy Thompson, written months before the US entered the war, before we knew anything about the Final Solution or the death camps. It is chilling and frighteningly relevant to the moment at hand. I highly recommend it.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: I meant to include the first few paragraphs:

    It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.

    It is preposterous to think that they are divided by any racial characteristics. Germans may be more susceptible to Nazism than most people, but I doubt it. Jews are barred out, but it is an arbitrary ruling. I know lots of Jews who are born Nazis and many others who would heil Hitler tomorrow morning if given a chance. There are Jews who have repudiated their own ancestors in order to become “Honorary Aryans and Nazis”; there are full-blooded Jews who have enthusiastically entered Hitler’s secret service. Nazism has nothing to do with race and nationality. It appeals to a certain type of mind.

    It is also, to an immense extent, the disease of a generation—the generation which was either young or unborn at the end of the last war. This is as true of Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Americans as of Germans. It is the disease of the so-called “lost generation.”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A round table on abortion rights, hosted by Florida’s Democratic Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, has only just begun, and already she finds herself comforting a woman in tears with a very personal story to tell.

    The woman is from Colombia, and speaks softly in Spanish as she tells the intimate gathering of the Miami-Dade Hispanic Democratic Caucus about the distressing decision her daughter had to make to terminate a pregnancy after learning the fetus was not developing.

    “In Colombia, which tends to be a very conservative country, she was glad supportive medical professionals were there for her daughter in the decision, and grateful she had access to good-quality healthcare for it,” said Mucarsel-Powell.

    “It was traumatic and painful, but at least they could rely on that healthcare. I’m just seeing outrage, from men and women, that here, families are faced with having to live in a state where you will not be able to get that care, because most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks.”

    She was referring to the ruling by Florida’s supreme court earlier this month that will allow a six-week abortion ban, with few exceptions for rape or incest, to take effect on 1 May. It will end the state’s position as a bulwark of access to the procedure in the south-eastern US.

    Yet it has also acted as rocket fuel to the campaign of Mucarsel-Powell, an Ecuador-born former congresswoman and mother of two daughters. She seized on the issue to launch a statewide Freedom Tour championing the protection of abortion rights and exposing the “unapologetic and proud” support for the ban on the part of her opponent in November, the incumbent Republican senator Rick Scott.

    Hit him again. and again. and again.

  4. Mikey says:

    A brief, but telling, item from Trump’s trial yesterday:

    A pool reporter notes that, curiously, “when the defense is introduced to the potential jurors seated in the audience, Trump does not stand up like his legal team does to turn and face them.”

    Trump believes he is above the law and therefore has no respect for the jurors who will determine his guilt or innocence.

  5. CSK says:


    Has the judge told him to elevate his capacious ass?

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey: Trump has a great deal of sway over weak people looking for a strongman, i.e. suckers, but he is absolutely terrible at dealing with anyone else. Why did he get those astronomical findings in those civil cases? Because he showed up and hung his ass out at the judge and jury and flung his poo at them. He didn’t even need to be there, but he can’t help himself. He has no self control.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    They say “birds of s a feather flock together” but I guess there is an exception to every rule:

    After struggling to bond with members of their own flock, a matte black cockatoo and bright green lorikeet have become unexpected friends.

    Greg Iron, director of Bonorong wildlife sanctuary in Tasmania, described their relationship as being “love at first sight” for Raphael, a musk lorikeet who was previously kept without a permit.

    “He’s just obsessed,” he said, adding that George – the much bigger red-tailed black cockatoo – was “probably a bit bewildered” at first.

    “The second Raphael was in the enclosure … it was like ‘you’re the one’,” he said.

    It didn’t take long for the relationship to be reciprocated, with the pair spending, at most, five minutes apart.

    “Ninety per cent of the time they’re very close to each other … quite often Raphael will be tucked under George’s wing, particularly when it’s cold … like a mother chicken with its young. I always have to stop and look at them when they’re snuggled up together because they’re just so happy.”

    Iron said staff were initially wary of potential aggression due to the difference in the birds’ sizes, but there’s been nothing but affection between the two.

  8. gVOR10 says:

    Arthur C. Clarke once predicted that the development of more powerful computers would be limited because they’d require massive power and a Niagara Falls for cooling. That became quaint as transistors, then integrated circuits, replaced vacuum tubes. WAPO has a story today (gift link, but not really interesting except for it’s existence) about running new power lines to Joyner country to support massive data centers, powered by coal plants that had been scheduled to be shut down. I’ve seen photos of what looked to be four foot diameter water cooling pipes for similar centers.

    Data centers are one thing, but I see bit mining operations are also massive power draws, for no economically useful purpose.

  9. ptfe says:


    There is one other person in the room who would fight alongside H and he is not even an American citizen. He is a young German emigre, whom I brought along to the party. … The people in the room think he is not an American, but he is more American than almost any of them. He has discovered America and his spirit is the spirit of the pioneers. He is furious with America because it does not realize its strength and beauty and power. He talks about the workmen in the factory where he is employed. . . . He took the job “in order to understand the real America.” He thinks the men are wonderful. “Why don’t you American intellectuals ever get to them; talk to them?”

  10. Scott says:


    Data centers are one thing, but I see bit mining operations are also massive power draws, for no economically useful purpose.

    This is an issue in Texas. From a local columnist’s newsletter:

    When the electricity supply is tight, should the power go to the Samsung plant in Taylor or Riot’s bitcoin mine in Rockdale?

    Riot says its maximum power consumption in Rockdale is 700 megawatts, enough power for 140,000 homes. ERCOT has a contract with Riot, where the grid operator pays the company to shut down when conditions are tight. In the summer months, Riot can make more money from those demand response payments than cryptocurrencies.

    The crypto currency scams roll on.

  11. Bill Jempty says:
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @ptfe: When I was in my overcrowded Catholic grade school back in the 60’s, one day the whole school, room by room went in single file down to the basement meeting hall and the lights went down and we were shown documentary footage from the liberation of the Nazi death camps. It was horrifying, of course, but at one point I turned away from the screen and looked around at all the children and teachers in the flickering dark and wondered what each of the them would do in similar circumstances. Even at that young age I recognized that Germans were just people, and we were just people, which means there were circumstances in which we, collectively, would do the same things. Which meant that some would enthusiastically lead the death march, and almost everyone else would rationalize and just go along, and very few would risk much of anything to put a stop to it. And once it got started those few would not be enough. It made me realize that without the rule of law, the adherence to norms, the commitment to justice for all – especially justice for those we don’t like, we would eventually find ourselves on the same path. (Yes, even as a 5th grader I had those thoughts.)

    Preventing those circumstances from arising is what preserves civilization. Full stop.

  13. Kathy says:

    What if the solution to the Fermi Paradox is as simple as timing?

    Earth is but 4.5 billion years old. In about a billion years, the Sun will grow too hot for life on this planet, certainly for human life. While the Sun will continue to exist for several billion more years after that, there’s a clear window of around 5.5 billion years for a technological civilization to develop around a Sun type star.

    Now, life arose rather soon after the Earth cooled down enough. But most of that time, it consisted of simpler, single cell organisms, maybe a few larger, but still microscopic, multicellular ones.

    Complex, multicellular lifeforms like grass, apple trees, sharks, and humans, are only about 400 million years old.

    What we don’t know is how typical this timeline is. For all we know, we developed life, multicellular lifeforms, and complex brains in record time. Or maybe we were so effing slow we missed everyone else. Most likely, we’re close to average. But there’s no way to tell.

    Suppose we developed fast, though. Suppose the average is closer to 5.5 billion years from planet formation to rudimentary space travel. If so, then we got massively lucky and can develop a high technology civilization over the next few hundred million years. Meantime everyone else dies off as soon as they figure out what the bright disk in the sky is.

    Of course, there are other types of stars. A red dwarf wont ever gros so hot. A blue giant will blow up in a few million years. A slightly smaller yellow star will last longer than the Sun.

    For a definitive answer we need to find aliens, dead or alive.

  14. Kathy says:


    One bit of conventional wisdom needs updating: never antagonize people who handle your food, your money, or your verdict.

    On related matters, reports from bored journalists indicate Baby Lardass is snoozing again, and he may be chewing on something.

    I think he may be biting his cheek to keep awake.

  15. CSK says:


    Let me add to that my late father’s words of wisdom: “Never argue politics with someone wielding a scalpel.”

  16. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: The fact that for over 90% of the time in which life has existed on Earth, it was nothing but bacteria and other prokaryotes just endlessly duplicating, suggests that simple life has no tendency to evolve into more complex forms.

  17. Kathy says:


    Bill Bryson makes the observation that “life wants to be, but ti doesn’t want to be very much.”

    Not only did life stay unicellular for most of the history of life on Earth, but most existing life today is unicellular as well. By far, bacteria are the dominant lifeform all over the planet.

    So, yeah, maybe we’ll find lots of bacterial mats and colonies in other worlds, and not much complex multicellular organisms.

  18. Scott says:

    The House passed the resolution to bring the Security bills up for a vote. Vote was 316-94, an overwhelming majority. Even republicans voted 151-55, passing their Hastert rule.

    From both parties, the votes against were from the far right and far left. Far right voted against Ukraine aid and the far left voted against Israeli aid. Imagine Ilhan Omar and Paul Gosar being in bed together. Metaphorically, of course.

    Now we’ll see how the individual packages fare in the voting.

  19. gVOR10 says:

    @CSK: I recall, some decades ago, a dentist asking me what I thought the biggest issue in the upcoming election would be. Fortuitously, he had tools in my mouth, so my response was along the lines of, “Gom boohah humbo.”

  20. gVOR10 says:

    One’s sense of historical time can be funny. When I was a kid WWII was current events. It was over, but many of my friends’ fathers, my uncles, male teachers and scoutmasters, and so on had served. Movies and comic books were full of it. But the Civil War was ancient history. WWII is becoming as long ago as the Civil War was in my childhood. I recently stumbled across a surprising bit of trivia. Harvard University was founded in 1636. Galileo was still alive.

  21. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR10: Cleopatra was much closer in time to iPhones than to construction of the Egyptian pyramids.

    (I got that one from

  22. JKB says:

    Hot new election year trend

    Groceries are the hottest new splurge category for Gen Z and millennials.
    Younger generations spend more on groceries than other categories, a McKinsey report says.
    But all generations are feeling the pinch of inflation at the grocery store.

    Fortunately, groceries are not included in the CPI or inflation calculations. So the media hype shouldn’t change.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Or scare the pants off the very nervous Med Student with his hand in your chest cavity.

    @gVOR10: Harvard University was founded in 1636

    Huh. I did not know that. More than a little surprised they were far enough along to manage it.

    The things I learn here.

  24. CSK says:


    Wise of you.

  25. CSK says:

    A man set himself on fire in the “designated protest area” outside the courthouse where Trump is being tried. The fire was extinguished and the person was taken to a hospital.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Vietnamese monks for Trump?

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Republican state Rep. Austin Smith has dropped his reelection bid after being accused of personally forging more than 100 petition signatures to get on the 2024 ballot. And he’s facing a possible criminal investigation into his signatures after state elections officials forwarded his petition signatures to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

    Smith is first-term representative from Surprise, a member of Arizona’s far-right Arizona Freedom Caucus and a top official at Turning Point Action, the campaign arm of the far-right Turning Point USA, which is aimed at young Republicans and run by Charlie Kirk. Ironically, Smith is also a member of the House’s Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee, where he decried unproven election fraud in Maricopa County, and has even made jokes accusing county officials of mail-in ballot signature fraud on social media.

    “Signature verification in Maricopa County is a joke,” Smith wrote on Twitter in May 2023.

    But Smith’s own petition to get on the July 30 Republican primary ballot was filled with more than 100 signatures, along with corresponding addresses, that obviously look like they were all written by the same person. And two of his supposed petition signers told the court, in statements submitted along with a lawsuit challenging his nominating petitions, that they never signed the petition.

    No wonder they have all convinced themselves that election fraud is rampant. They are engaging in it.

    Smith announced that he was dropping out of the race on Thursday, just days after the signature challenge was filed by Democratic precinct committeeman Jim Ashurst. In the announcement, Smith called the allegations against him “ludicrous” and accused Democrats of creating a “coordinated attack” against him with press releases and social media posts about the legal challenge to his candidacy.

    “If they could convince a judge that any one signature was forged, all of my signatures would be invalidated and I would get kicked off the ballot,” Smith wrote. “And as per Arizona law, I would also be banned from seeking office for five years.”

    Translation: “Waah.”

  28. CSK says:


    Beats me. One of the flyers the guy was flinging around before he torched himself read “NYU is a mob front.”

  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK: @Kylopod:
    Apparently it was this guy.

    Crypto, Peter Thiel, something something, light myself on fire!

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    But Smith’s own petition to get on the July 30 Republican primary ballot was filled with more than 100 signatures, along with corresponding addresses, that obviously look like they were all written by the same person.

    Which would seem to indicate that he was right when he claimed

    “Signature verification in Maricopa County is a joke,” Smith wrote on Twitter in May 2023.

    The only thing I’m curious about is why mock them about it if you’re going to forge signatures to run for office? It seems counter productive.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Uh… yeah, I’m finding it hard to see the connection between Thiel, cryptocurrency, and setting yourself on fire, too. (I can see a connection between cryptocurrency and setting Thiel on fire, but that’s just one of those why-cracker-will-make-a-poor-public-official things.)

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I don’t know yet whether these stories will become a turning point in the election, but we look to be approaching some sort of critical mass or event horizon.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — One woman miscarried in the lobby restroom of a Texas emergency room as front desk staff refused to admit her. Another woman learned that her fetus had no heartbeat at a Florida hospital, the day after a security guard turned her away from the facility. And in North Carolina, a woman gave birth in a car after an emergency room couldn’t offer an ultrasound. The baby later died.

    Complaints that pregnant women were turned away from U.S. emergency rooms spiked in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, federal documents obtained by The Associated Press reveal.

    The cases raise alarms about the state of emergency pregnancy care in the U.S., especially in states that enacted strict abortion laws and sparked confusion around the treatment doctors can provide.

    “It is shocking, it’s absolutely shocking,” said Amelia Huntsberger, an OB/GYN in Oregon. “It is appalling that someone would show up to an emergency room and not receive care — this is inconceivable.”

    Well sure, but you only think it’s shocking because you live in a state that for 3 consecutive terms has elected evil lesbian women to be governors who will veto measures calling for people to live by God’s ordinances. If you were less fortunate, it would still be shocking, but in a “how did I wake up in this dystopia?” sense.

    ETA: The other shoe drops. From the same article:

    It’s happened despite federal mandates that the women be treated.

    Federal law requires emergency rooms to treat or stabilize patients who are in active labor and provide a medical transfer to another hospital if they don’t have the staff or resources to treat them. Medical facilities must comply with the law if they accept Medicare funding.

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday that could weaken those protections. The Biden administration has sued Idaho over its abortion ban, even in medical emergencies, arguing it conflicts with the federal law.

    Color me not optimistic.

  33. dazedandconfused says:


    I’ve experienced something along those lines myself. My great grand-dad lived to 99, and he was mentally sharp and active to about 97, and spent a lot of time with his great grand kids….so I have talked to a guy who was in WW1. He once told me he had met several Civil War vets in his youth.

    Just a couple long life-spans away it was, yet it seems ancient history.

  34. dazedandconfused says:


    I suspect that without the name “Fermi” in front of that paradox would’ve been dismissed long ago. It’s downright silly. The SETI project openly admits that aside from some of the most powerful emissions of some military radars, they could not detect ourselves from just one light year away, and after a very brief period of having strong radio transmitters we are already transitioning to much lower power forms of communication. Space is a noisy place in the radio spectrums. It’s like Helen Keller positing “If there are colors, where are they?”

  35. Kathy says:


    I think we could detect ourselves from some light years away. For some reason my memory says about 40. Don’t take that seriously.

    Now, regular radio transmissions for communications, radar, and media are one thing. Deliberate transmissions would be another matter, if anyone were sending them. The Arecibo Message was 450 kw. I don’t know enough about radio to say if this is high or low (I think the radio station at a summer camp I attended in Canada was like 12 watts, and had a range of a few kilometers).

    But then, radio telescopes are designed to receive signals, not to send them. Granted they can do both, you still need a transmitter and a power source.

    TL;DR I don’t know.

    Then, too, suppose aliens are using lasers. Or gravitational waves, or modulated dark matter somethings, or some other means we can’t conceive any more than Archimedes could have conceived of radio.

  36. Kathy says:


    The premiere of Star Wars is closer to WWII than to today.

    More shocking yet, Apollo XI is closer to the end of WWI than to our day.

  37. dazedandconfused says:


    I think these days we are wrong to think the Nazis were all about exterminating Jews. The Jewish issue was tangential, they were after communists when they went into Russia.

    When you read the accounts of the surviving German vets, many of which are in the form of diaries taken from their dead bodies, it becomes clear most were far more indoctrinated and ginned up for a fight against those evil commies then they were worked up about the Jews. Adolph and co did a very professional job of conflating “Jewish” and “commie” in their minds, so I am not saying it wasn’t a thing, but they used separate units to do their dirty work behind the lines of contact with the Soviets, not Wehrmacht, and not even most of the SS.

    Many were shocked, protested vigorously and had to be told in no uncertain terms to STFU, particularly in Ukraine where they had been welcomed as liberators, at what they saw happening when they were rotated off the line and sent back west a bit for R&R. The result of that was they started rotating their troops all the way back to Germany or not at all.

  38. CSK says:

    As of 4:45 p.m. today, Trump is still vowing to testify at his trial. If he really wants to do so, his lawyers have no choice but to let him.

  39. Kathy says:


    I’d say I expect he’ll testify as soon as he releases his tax returns, but he did testify at the penalty/damages phase of his fraud trial, after having pleaded the 5th for a time or seven million in depositions. So we have conclusive proof he can be that stupid.

    Or maybe he wants to sue his lawyers for malpractice for letting him testify.

  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    Sit, Trump Dog, sit!

    Also, apparently some Biden staffers in the WH refer to Trump as HitlerPig.

  41. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    This is going to be such a clusterfuck. I’m still somewhat shocked that he hasn’t gotten someone killed yet. Although it does confirm my belief that conservatives are fundamentally cowards.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Which would seem to indicate that he was right when he claimed

    “Signature verification in Maricopa County is a joke,” Smith wrote on Twitter in May 2023.

    Except for the fact that his fraudulent signatures didn’t make it thru the system.

  43. just nutha says:

    But if he’s right, they may well have just checked his petition more closely in hopes of catching him.

  44. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And here I thought you liked dogs…