Friday’s Forum

Chat up the last day of the work week.

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:

    South Dakota lawmakers voted in favor of a law that would see doctors jailed for giving puberty-blocking drugs to transgender children, the latest in a slew of such bills sweeping the United States.

    The bill, which cleared the South Dakota house of representatives on Wednesday but still has to clear the state’s senate, would bar doctors in the state from providing anyone under 16 with the drugs, which can temporarily stop the body from producing the hormones that lead to puberty, a reversible process.

    Critics of the proposed ban say the drugs play a crucial role in allowing trans children struggling with the onset of puberty to hit pause.
    Proponents of the bill, which would also ban treatments rarely performed on children such as sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as well as puberty blockers, say these can harm young people, who may not fully grasp the risks.

    Fred Deutsch, a South Dakota Republican representative, described the procedures ahead of the vote as “criminal acts against vulnerable children who are too young to understand the impact”.

    And just in case I was feeling superior to S Dakotans:

    Lawmakers in Missouri are considering a law that would see parents who allowed such treatments reported to child welfare, while Republican legislators in Texas, Georgia and Kentucky have proposed banning gender reassignment treatment for minors. The Trump administration has also launched attacks on trans rights with a number of discriminatory policies.

    I wonder what the Bible has to say about transgender people? Why do I think it is nothing at all.

    South Dakota resident Rob has a 14-year-old daughter who has been on puberty blockers for about a year.

    Rob, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said puberty blockers had “made all the difference in the world for my child”, who had been self-harming before she began taking the drugs.

    “She changed as a person, back into this friendly, fun-loving child,” said Rob, who describes himself as “100% Republican” but said he was frustrated that politicians would try to prevent his daughter from accessing the treatment.

    “I don’t think the government has any right to step in and dictate what a person does with their own body,” he said. “They’re not protecting anybody.”

    “100% Republican”.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I caught Sam Rockwell in “Conviction” yesterday. Man, that guy can act.

    Sure, I liked him in “Moon” and thought he was meta great in “Mr. Right”… and of course as crewman Guy in “Galaxy Quest” (and sure, JoJo Rabbit, awesome, yes, OK, OK…) … but holy cow I was impressed with Conviction.

    Best underrated actor of his generation.

    (… and no, I don’t want to talk about the Senate.)

  3. drj says:


    The cruelty is the point.

    South Dakota and Missouri are not alone, by the way:

    Eight state legislatures — including Missouri, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Colorado, South Carolina, Kentucky, and South Dakota — have already introduced bills this year that would criminally punish doctors who follow best practices for treating adolescents with gender dysphoria.

  4. CSK says:

    Alan Dershowitz has quit Trump’s defense team. He says they begged him to stay.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:


    Dershowitz finally wake up and realize that he has turned his legal reputation to sh*t?

  6. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    He said he had a family commitment in Florida. I don’t know if this is permanent or temporary.

  7. Teve says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Box of Moonlight.

  8. Kurtz says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Rockwell as Chuck Barris is cinematic bliss.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    Last week I came across something that reminded me of Francis Fukuyama’s book, Trust. The premise of the book, was that in an increasingly interconnected world the nations that would be successful would require high levels of social and economic trust. He went on to describe what he meant and give examples of countries that show both high and low levels of trust. Among the high trust were the US, France, Japan and others. Among the low Italy, Greece and Russia.

    Assuming for a moment that Fukuyama was right and viewing the US of the 21st century, we as a country may have hit peak trust post WWII to the end of the century and it has been all downhill from there. Consistently polling is showing lower and lower levels of support and respect for social and political institutions with the cynicism dipping into the public’s attitude to even those institutions wholly of their own communities. It’s not that some cynicism isn’t healthy, but when it becomes the dominant attitude it is dangerous.

    Cris du coeur for revival of can be found nearly daily among the communitariat, today’s being David Brook’s column in this mornings Times and laments and explanations

    I guess a benefit of being among the young-old is that you won’t live long enough to see the depth of the pit we are in.

  10. Jax says:
  11. grumpy realist says:

    Don’t forget that today is Brexit Day! The day on which the freedom-loving U.K. throws off its chains from the ageing and undemocratic E.U. to stride the world as a global colossus acting as a beacon of light….(throw in Magna Carta, some bombastic comments about Britain ruling the waves, etc.)

    Ha. Right now the average Brit is more in a tizzy about the flu from China showing up on England’s sacred shores. I also suspect that as the stupidities of Brexit begin to bite (more red tape, anyone?) you’ll get more and more complaints. They’ll still be about the E.U. of course–along the lines of “why don’t they let us in without any documentation? They obviously don’t believe in Free Trade!” (TM)

    It will be amusing to watch the opinion-shovelers over at the Daily Telegraph start weaselling away from their punditry as reality starts crashing in on them.

  12. Teve says:

    This whole impeachment thing just reminds me that in the next decade or so we’re going to have a full-blown constitutional crisis. A minority of Cletuses with diminishing life expectancies drenched in propaganda electing Mitch McConnells to block the ability to deal with any serious problems like health care, global warming, infrastructure, etc, is only going to last so long.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    Sexual assault reports went up 33% last year at the military academies.

    I’m sure this can’t possibly have anything to do with the Commander in Chief normalizing sexual assault.

  14. Kurtz says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Dershowitz finally wake up and realize that he has turned his legal reputation to sh*t?

    It seems to me that legal reputations are highly dependent on political views.

  15. Mr. Prosser says:

    @grumpy realist: Kevin Drum has a good post on Brexit and possible acquittal on the the same day with reference to Rupert Murdoch and his media.

  16. Kurtz says:

    It seems there is confusion over deontology and consequentialism.

    Deontology: a priori rules that govern moral analysis of an action with no weight given to outcomes. Kant’s example: use of atomic weapons is immoral in every circumstance.

    Consequentialism: moral disposition of an action is occured by an analysis of the outcome.
    Example: dropping atomic weapons on Japan to save the Allies from the costs of an invasion.

    A deontologist would argue the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima could never be justified.

    A consequentialist would argue that the bombings could be justified if it resulted in less human cost than an invasion would.

  17. Kurtz says:


    I changed examples to give a clearer picture, but left Kant’s name. Obviously he knew nothing of the power of the atom.

  18. Kurtz says:


    Considering Dr. Dave is center-right, I would think you may be more willing to give him and his views a little respect.

    That would assume that you are a reasonable person. So the ass is I in this case.

  19. Kathy says:

    Looking back on 2016:

    UK: Let’s shoot ourselves in the head!

    USA: Hold my beer.

  20. Kathy says:

    I’ve been thinking about communism recently. I’ve come up against two questions:

    1) Why did communist countries require a totalitarian dictatorship? Sure, some aspects, like agricultural collectivization and the nationalization of industry, required the kind of force a democracy won’t usually exert. But still…

    2) Would communism work better today using big data to measure actual needs, consumption, and production?

  21. Kurtz says:


    Well, before anybody answers this question, we should probably remind ourselves something.

    People typically frame socialism as the opposite of libertarianism. Communism is a variant of the latter, but it embraced nationalization of industry by the State as a necessary step toward the eventual goal of a stateless society.

    Americans tend to think of Capitalism and Socialism as Right and Left, respectively. It wasn’t always that way. And it really shouldn’t be now. Socialists and American Libertarians could arguably be again linked properly–both are, in their essential natures–approaches to liberation.

  22. DrDaveT says:


    Considering Dr. Dave is center-right […]

    Even if that were true*, it wouldn’t improve the fiddle-maker’s opinion of me. He’s not conservative; he’s spiteful. That’s not a left or right thing.

    Of course, the hilarious part is that he thinks there is something either thoughtless or ignorant about hypothesizing a link between the Commander in Chief bragging about certain behaviors and having those behaviors become more common within a portion of the military.

    If he had evidence of any kind that there is no such link, I’d be happy to consider it. Data beats speculation any day. But G doesn’t do data; data always work against his preferred beliefs.

    *By world standards, center-right is probably accurate. By US standards, I’m a flaming liberal. I’m way progressive on social issues, but (for example) my willingness to redistribute wealth is based on empirical findings about how wealth inequity hurts everyone in the long run. I believe the purpose of government is to establish a just rule of law**, internalize externalities, leverage economies of scale, and maintain freedom of markets otherwise — which leads me to think that a fairly large and powerful government is both necessary and desirable. I would rather help people than punish them — needle exchanges for addicts, abortions available, safety nets, etc. — because I think in the long run that’s a more effective way to fight addiction and unwanted pregnancy and poverty. That gets me kicked out of the conservative club, at least domestically.

    **Generally defined as “protect people from each other”.

  23. Teve says:

    JUST IN: President Trump has rescinded restrictions on the US military’s ability to use landmines, weapons that have been banned by more than 160 countries due to their history of killing and wounding civilians, the White House says

  24. Archway says:

    @grumpy realist: as with many western democracies at the moment, the UK is a diverse place encompassing very different views. I wouldn’t roll up in a bar in Greenwich Village, or Boston, Chicago, or the Castro, yelling “hey Trump-fans! You all love Trump and Pence and Mitch McConnell don’t you!” It would be unfair, and fail to recognise that political events in the US have failed a very sizeable chunk of Americans.

    Probably somewhere a bit over half of Brits would either actively want to or would accept staying in the EU. The UK isn’t even the most Eurosceptic European country anymore – it’s just the one who got stuck with a prime minister willing to risk a vote. This situation is just the way the crappy political cookie happens to have crumbled.

    I’d always counsel a bit of sympathy for a country crapping it’s pants politically, it doesn’t often tell you as much about that nation’s psyche as you’d think…

  25. Andy says:
  26. Bill says:


    1) Why did communist countries require a totalitarian dictatorship?

    The USSR came about because of a revolution. History has shown that revolutionaries once they gain power are reluctant to give it up. Revolutionaries also tend to be paranoid (With good reason as they fight their way to the top. Trouble is most find it difficult to impossible to change their mindset after victory) and insecure. They don’t trust the people to support them.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Andy:..Watch at least the first couple of minutes.

    I got as far as him saying:”…maybe we’re better off with Trump, maybe we’re better off with someone else. I don’t know.”

    That’s the first and last time I will pay any attention to this guy.

  28. Teve says:

    @Andy: Who’s Sander?

  29. Teve says:

    “There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.” -John Adams

  30. Andy says:


    This is an follow-up to a discussion here last week about Rogan ‘endorsing’ Sanders.

  31. Teve says:

    “China steals IP from other nations to enrich future generations. America steals from future generations to (further) enrich today’s wealthy. Who are the bad guys?” – Scott Galloway

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: If so, it just reinforces the adage “too soon old, too late wise.”

    ETA: “What do metal detectors at state fairs say about us?” No, I’m not going to a state fair where I have to be searched for weapons. Nuh-huh.

  33. DrDaveT says:

    He said he had a family commitment in Florida.

    Well, “family”, she does call him “Uncle Alan”…

    [rim shot]

  34. Kit says:


    Why did communist countries require a totalitarian dictatorship?

    I suspect it’s because Marx never thought about the nature of power. Communist countries don’t require dictatorships, but that’s what you get when fail to separate powers.

    Would communism work better today using big data to measure actual needs, consumption, and production?

    It could hardly be worse, I guess.

  35. CSK says:

    Mary Higgins Clark has died. I can’t say I found her writing particularly compelling.

  36. Kurtz says:


    Ask an American Libertarian about how to enact their vision. You will likely get a response along the lines of “transitions are tricky.” The various varieties of anarchism on the Left are forced to admit the same.

  37. Kathy says:

    I serve notice I’ll have a spoiler discussion of the series finale of The Good Place at the next open forum (I’m reserving the Ep. IX spoiler discussion for a time when I can re-watch the movie, I need to clear some points up).

    Spoiler-free preview: I was a little disappointed.