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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mexico performs just three tests per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University’s dashboard; 66.9% of the results were positive on 15 July, the last day data was available, according to Our World In Data.

    Such a high positivity rate means “a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and not casting a wide enough net”, according to Johns Hopkins.

    By comparison, the United States performs 168 tests per 100,000 people

    Exactly why Mexico refuses to test widely mystifies public health experts.

    Some suspect the country’s thrifty president sees testing as a superfluous expense: Amlo has repeatedly predicted that the pandemic will end sooner rather than later, and has used the crisis to push through a package of deep cuts to government spending.

    “It’s a strategy based on the idea of maximum savings – and it’s not producing results,” said Malaquías López-Cervantes, a public health professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam).

    Others believe Mexico’s government is attempting to copy the Swedish approach of minimizing lockdowns to limit the pandemic’s economic impact – something López Obrador has cited as important in a country where more than half the population work in the informal economy.

  2. sam says:

    Things you wish you could read again for the first time: Matt Taibbi describing Stephen Miller looking like an “escaped med school cadaver”.

  3. sam says:
  4. Scott says:

    There is nothing unique or profound in this Foreign Policy article but it does bring a lot together in one place.

    How to Ruin a Superpower

    It begins after the fall of the Soviet union, where, for a time, the world was unipolar, and we were the hyperpower. Then describes three mistakes:

    Before Trump, the mistakes of the unipolar era fell under three main headings. The first error was adopting a grand strategy of liberal hegemony, which sought to spread democracy, markets, and other liberal values far and wide and to bring the whole world into a liberal order that was designed and led by the United States. This vastly ambitious strategy provoked a strong backlash from a variety of quarters, led to unnecessary and costly wars that squandered trillions of dollars, and undermined key sectors of the U.S. economy.

    The second mistake was to allow public institutions to deteriorate, by starving them of resources and then blaming them for all our problems. Republican leaders pushed tax cuts with scant regard for the fiscal consequences, while the IRS was defunded to the point that it could no longer deter or detect widespread evasion and fraud. Like the Prussian Junkers or the pre-revolutionary French aristocrats, wealthy Americans—including Trump—found countless new ways to avoid contributing enough to public coffers and with less and less fear that they might get caught. Instead of creating and funding robust, competent, and respected public institutions—the sort of administrative and managerial capacity that would be invaluable in a pandemic and that some other countries have—Americans decided they didn’t need them.

    The third misstep was the weaponization of partisan politics that began with the Newt Gingrich revolution in the U.S. Congress.

    The article goes but basically it describe a world where we had opportunity but squandered it and then the pandemic hit and we are hosed.

  5. Scott says:

    Trump says he could send as many as 75,000 federal agents to US cities

    Somehow, I think this is BS.

    Deploying 75,000 officers would mark a significant portion of all federal officers in the country. According to a 2019 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were approximately 100,000 federal law enforcement officers in the entire United States in 2016, the last year for which data was available.

    My question would be: Are these officers just lying around on the Federal payroll? Presumably they have regular jobs. What is not going to get accomplished while they are deployed?

    That’s why this is BS.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In the New Yorker: Blitt’s Kvetchbook
    Trump Aces the Cognitive Test

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Somebody told him he could have 750 but that just didn’t sound very impressive, so he added a couple of zeros.

  8. Teve says:

    From last open thread

    Gustopher says:
    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 02:41
    @Teve: I can see not liking that shit. So, nothing ornate, and very little lathe-work. Figure out what materials you want to live with — metal, glass, wood, painted wood? — and that will begin to steer you towards a style.

    Crate and Barrel has some pretty decent things. Room and Board has more straight lines than that. Restoration Hardware, etc. Browse but don’t worry about cost per say — the goal is to figure out what you want. Also look at shaker, mission and mid-century modern stuff.

    Then hit the vintage stores and the like and you will have a better idea if that nice credenza or funky lamp in the shape of a sad clown leaning against a street light is going to fit when you finally get all the pieces together.

    I do like mid century modern, but it’s been very trendy lately and I’m not sure how it’s going to look in a few years. I spent about two hours yesterday just browsing Wayfair.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    CDC, Community Spread and Schools

    Re-opening schools is a good thing if that can be done safely. Any school that does in-person instruction will look different than it looked last February. Precautions will alter social interactions and expectations. Precautions will alter physical spaces. Precautions will alter the flow of the day. But in a context of low spread, those precautions have a reasonable chance of working. But the key question is not if we are to re-open schools, but on what conditions and how? The most important condition is suppressing community spread. From there, we can get to a new normal-ish at a reasonable level of specific and community level risk that we can mitigate and minimize with community wide efforts.

    So the effort to re-open schools for in-person instruction really should start with efforts to minimize community spread. That means we need to value math class more than bars. It means we need to value reading instruction more than adult gym classes. It means we need to value 6th grade orchestra more than listening to the newest indy band at a hot, packed club. It means we need to prioritize what we value and make explicit trade-offs.

  10. Kathy says:

    Southwest and American will not allow passengers to travel without masks, even if they have a legitimate medical condition which prevents them from wearing one.

    This means they can deny travel to someone with a medical disability.

    Which at once makes one ask: what of the Americans With Disabilities Act? I don’t have the link handy, but Federal rules allow airlines to bar even disabled people from flying, if they present a safety issue to the plane, crew, or passengers.

    Also, the act in question requires people sue. I’d love to see those insensitive idiots try to prove their non-existent medical condition to a court.

    On the downside, at least where Southwest is concerned, they’ll also exclude people who can wear a mask but cannot remove it on their own. Why? Because is case of cabin decompression, you need to take your mask off in order to fit the overhead emergency oxygen mask over nose and mouth.

  11. Kathy says:


    With a rate that low, I wonder if 0 per 100,000 of population would be much different.

    I also wonder whether that figure includes tests done by private labs. I’ve heard of long lines in some labs that offer the tests. And my mother had to take a test before she was admitted to the hospital for surgery.

  12. sam says:

    D’ja ever notice that when some right-wing asshole gets called out, one of the first things, if not the first thing, they do is tell you how much they love their god?

  13. Jen says:

    @Teve: For furniture hard goods, if you’re going to invest in solid wood pieces, really simple designs with clean lines will work with a range of styles. (The McKendrie and Christopher dining tables from Ethan Allen, for example. Or if you’re looking for a round table, the Linden Round or Owen Round pedestal tables from Pottery Barn.) These tables are simple enough that changing styles can be accommodated by simply switching out the chairs.

    Avoid anything that looks like it could be used in a period set of a TV show (barn, bar, “Tuscan Villa”), those will look dated quickly.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: You might want to try “campaign” as a term for searching. You may find that style has appeal. I’ve always preferred that and Mission. Also some Oriental is really good looking but really niche as styles go.

    My current stuff is IKEA and below, but I only have about 200 sq.ft. to furnish and the bed takes up a lot of that, so furniture is not a priority.

    @sam: And family–don’t forget family. You can do a lot of stuff if it was for the sake of your kids.

  15. Teve says:

    @Jen: but…but…Tuscan Villa…(reaches)

  16. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: campaign…oh that’s kinda nice. Where’s Melania with the pith helmet. 😀

    Everything you guys are telling me about furniture I’m compiling into a text file to make notes on. Thanks for the help.

  17. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I’m going to give the opposite advice of @Jen — if you really like Tuscan Villa, just go for it.

    Most people’s homes are ugly and trendy from whatever year they formed opinions on furniture, but they’re happy with it. You could be one of those people.

    My father married a very nice woman who completely renovated the house I grew up in with a style that can charitably be called “Old Lady meets Georgia O’Keefe in Santa Fe and balences it with ‘tribal’ statues of penises”. They’re happy with it (my father doesn’t care). It’s hideous.

    One thing I do like that she did was painting the inside of cabinets a different color, so there’s a surprise when you open it. Alas, the surprise is that when you open the cabinets painted a rosy-sand color you see the insides painted a sandy-rose color, and it looks sort of like a sickly mouth…

  18. EddieInCA says:


    Last night, I had to visit the home of a very wealthy man (net worth north of $600M), as part of the current gig I’m working. He has the most ridiculous Bourbon collection I’ve ever seen. We got to talking about Burbon and he gave me a shot of Weller 19 year, which I had never had, but always wanted to.



    Alas, when I got back to my hotel, I googled it and realized it was the first, and probably last time I’ll ever get a taste of that. It goes for $3700-$5800 per bottle, assuming you can find it.

    But… Damn!!!! It was good.

  19. Jen says:


    I’m going to give the opposite advice of @Jen — if you really like Tuscan Villa, just go for it.

    Of course! Sure, if that’s @Teve’s thing, he should go for it–I was going off of this statement:

    I do like mid century modern, but it’s been very trendy lately and I’m not sure how it’s going to look in a few years.

    That made me think that you were looking for functional foundation pieces that wouldn’t be easily pegged to a trend. The nice thing about a straightforward table with very simple lines is that you can adorn the rest of the room in Tuscan Villa now, and then if/when tastes change, you swap out a few less expensive elements and have a whole new look.

    But absolutely your home should be a reflection of what YOU like.

    I tend to lean toward classic pieces in very muted tones so I can swap out curtains, rugs, and paint and have a completely different look every few years, a tendency I attribute to frequently moving around as a kid.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My home is decorated in late century yard sale.

    @EddieInCA: I’m bad about whiskies, so bad I can’t have it around because every sip tastes like just one more. BUT… when I go to somebody else’s house? And they offer? I always pick the most expensive stuff they have. Why? Because if I didn’t I’d never get a taste of it.

    Recently visited a bit with my son’s in laws. They offered. I looked. I saw. “That 18 yr old rye sure looks good.” It was.

  21. EddieInCA says:


    The more I go down the rabbit hole of Bourbon, the more I’m finding that I just love – for many different reasons – alot of different burbons. I have a co-worker who is as big a bourbon snob that you can be while earning $100K per year. He’s introduced me to some AMAZING bourbons that run less than $100 per bottle. That’s about the limit of what I’ll pay, and I don’t do it often. But this kid’s collection is amazing. And he knows his stuff.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: I’m that way with scotch. My first experience with scotch (the real stuff, not that swill Americans throw together) was about 3 decades ago. My parents had gone for a tour of the UK. When in Scotland they made a point to visit every distillery they came across. To say that most of them were obscure would be putting it lightly (according to them almost every village had it’s own). At any rate, they got sample bottles from each and every one, and when they returned they threw a family Scotch tasting party.

    They ruined me, ruined me. I have never been the same.

  23. sam says:
  24. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I hear ya.

    Scotland didn’t ruin me, but it did ruin my budget. Every time we go, we try and pick up at least 2 bottles of single malts that are not available in the US. I think it’s good that there was no inkling that we wouldn’t be able to go back this year, because I might have considered risking more than the allowed limit…

  25. Teve says:
  26. An Interested Party says:

    This is what structural racism looks like…and just because Larry Hogan isn’t a troglodyte like, say, Louie Gohmert, he’s still a Republican…

  27. CSK says:

    I hope he’s seen this.