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. Teve says:

    Wow Miley Cyrus’s voice is different. She got diagnosed with Reinke’s edema and had vocal cord surgery and now she sounds like Kathleen Turner.

  2. Teve says:

    Trump just had a rally in Freeland Michigan.

    Check out this photo of the rally.


  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A new study by US health authorities published Thursday provided more data showing that, when it comes to catching Covid-19, visiting bars and restaurants is far more dangerous than going shopping, working from an office or using public transport.

    It was already suspected that this was the case, but few studies have sought to rigorously establish a hierarchy of risk in public activities. The new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn’t perfect: it can’t confirm definitively where people in the cases it studied were infected.

    CDC officials approached people who had gone for a test at 11 American hospitals in July and asked them to fill out a detailed questionnaire. Overall, about 300 participated, half of whom tested positive and the other half negative. Participants were asked questions about possible community exposure over the previous 14 days, in settings including public transport, at private gatherings, offices, churches, salons, bars and restaurants. They realized that the participants who tested positive and those who tested negative reported similar mask-wearing behavior and similar levels of exposure in all the settings except bars and restaurants.

    “Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results,” it found.

    The risk was even higher for bars when the analysis was restricted to participants who hadn’t reported exposure to a person with a known case of Covid-19.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The stupid, it hurts: Musical Chairs: Iowa School Districts’ New Way To Skirt COVID Rules

    In Iowa, some school districts are playing a game of musical chairs in order to skirt mandatory quarantining for students exposed to COVID-19, a method health experts warn may only put students at greater risk for infection.

    Since early September, Waukee and Woodbury Central Community School Districts have told teachers to get students up and walking around every 12-14 minutes in order to minimize consecutive time spent next to classmates. The 14-minute limit would allow most students to remain learning in-person even if someone in the classroom tests positive for COVID-19. The Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines state that only those exposed to the virus for 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet need to quarantine after exposure.

    Educators in various Northwest Iowa schools have also been encouraged to move students around every 14 minutes, said Uniserv Director at Iowa State Education Association Amy DeGroot-Hammer.

    Uh huh. And the reason is?

    Jesse Persons is the mother of a sophomore at Woodbury Central High School in Moville—the other school that is attempting the use of movement every 14 minutes. Persons said she met with the district Superintendent Doug Glackin to voice concerns she had with the practice. Glackin told her that the school was “trying out” the 14-minute break as an effort to minimize the number of students in quarantine.

    “I have shared with him that I fear it is manipulation of the CDC guideline and that in my opinion it is reckless, especially considering that masks are not required,” Persons said.

    “It is my understanding that the majority of high school students are not wearing masks. The superintendent shared with me concerns of having healthy students in quarantine that should be in school, and athletes missing sporting events if they are in quarantine but not sick.”

    Well, we can’t have any football players missing practice, can we now?

    “There are just too many variables. Maybe 5 minutes of someone shouting would infect someone. We just don’t know,” he said. “But basically all [the 14 minute movements] does is counter public health interventions we need to do to stop the spread of the virus. The virus doesn’t care. The virus is going to keep spreading. We can make the situation worse by blocking the interventions we know do work, like quarantining if you’re exposed, or contact tracing.”

    Experts are also concerned that this practice may disrupt any actual educational purposes, negating the benefits of in-person learning.

    “It would ruin the continuity of instruction and it really won’t solve the problem of COVID spread,” said Bruce Lear, a retired teacher and a regional director for Iowa State Education Association.

    But Little Janey and Johnny will be well warehoused even if not actually taught so that at least their parents can go back to work and start earning money for our MOTUs again.

  5. Bill says:

    The Florida headline of the day-

    Florida’s bars can reopen starting Monday

  6. Bill says:


    Wow Miley Cyrus’s voice is different. She got diagnosed with Reinke’s edema and had vocal cord surgery and now she sounds like Kathleen Turner.

    As long as she don’t look like Kathleen Turner too…..

  7. Kylopod says:

    I’ve been thinking for a while about an analogy to express how poorly many people understand the pandemic response.

    Let’s say there’s a town in which a colony of tigers roams the streets, eluding attempts at capture. After a wave of deaths by tiger, the mayor orders everyone inside until they can get the problem under control. With most people avoiding the outdoors, the death rate falls substantially in the next few weeks. Some of the townsfolk then point to the successful curbing of the death rate as proof that “the tiger problem is over” and that they can go out again, adding “More people die every year by rats anyway.”

  8. Bill says:
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Steve Nagel

    The Trump Trilemma:
    1. If Trump is totally evil, then he is not totally ignorant.
    2. If Trump is totally ignorant, then he is not totally evil.
    3. If Trump is neither totally ignorant or totally evil, then why are we so totally screwed?

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dave Weigel

    “Fortunate Son” plays as Trump de-planes, an entry for the “nobody listened to the lyrics” hall of fame.

    For those who don’t know it: the lyrics

  11. sam says:
  12. Joe says:

    I have been thinking about Trump’s recent Woodward quotes and not causing a panic. My current conclusion: When faced with a hurricane warning – it will be devastating but we re not 100% sure where it will hit – he treated it like a potential run on the bank. He treated it like he would a bad financial quarter in front of his lenders and investors – if you whistle past it, they may never notice it. And, in fact, some hurricanes turn out to sea, frustrating all the people who boarded up their houses or evacuated inland. But it is a public health crime not to tell people to prepare for a hurricane.

  13. Mikey says:

    Today’s edition of “wear your mask:”

    My wife is a school bus driver and bus driver trainer, which means she has been re-certifying drivers who have had an extended layoff due to schools closing mid-March.

    Late last week, she re-certified a driver who was COVID-19 positive but hadn’t yet developed symptoms. Basically she was within arm’s length of the infected individual for nearly 30 minutes in an enclosed space. BUT both she and the other driver wore masks the entire time.

    When she was notified of potential infection, she and I both went for COVID testing.

    Negative and negative.

    I was already convinced of the importance of masks in reducing the spread of COVID-19, but now it’s become very personal indeed.

  14. Scott says:

    @sam: Saw the trailer yesterday. My wife asked if I liked it. I did. It hit all the right notes. However, previous attempts at Dune have been so disappointing that I refuse to get my hopes up. Kids thought the trailer as cool but they haven’t read the book once, never mind the half dozen times I have.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Comedy Wildlife Photography awards 2020 finalists – in pictures

    My favorite: “It’s not safe anymore with all these biker gangs.”

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The book is all encompassing. No mere movie could ever match up. Still I might give it a peak, then go read the book again so I can be properly disappointed.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Great cinematic scene from Bladerunner 2049.

    ETA: Ooooopps, my bad, that’s San Fransisco 2020

  18. CSK says:

    That was great. Thanks.

  19. MarkedMan says:


    we can’t have any football players missing practice, can we now?

    I try mightily not to express my opinion about youth and college sports in the US as I know I am in a small minority and am not going to change anyones opinion, but fer chrissake, is there any better expression of the downward moral spiral than what that superintendent said?

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: I remember liking the books as a teenager but getting tired of the endless sequels. I was never sure whether that was because the books became repetitive or I was getting older. But that 1984 movie! My god, I swear there was a scene where two of the major characters rode a revolving sci-fi teeter totter while giant phallic symbols attacked. I couldn’t find a picture online though, so perhaps I hallucinated?

  21. Kathy says:

    For the record, I’ve never read Dune, nor much else of Herbert’s work.

    I had the same problem reading it than I did with A Clockwork Orange: having to refer to the glossary over and over interrupted the flow of the narrative. So I put both aside.

  22. CSK says:

    Same here.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: The arc of moral bankruptcy is short, and it bends towards death.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I need this swan in the aisles of our local wal mart.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: @CSK: Dune was required reading for a literature class I took. Because I was attending one of the “premiere” evangelical colleges off the time (still is from what I hear), our focus was on the messianic meta-text features of the story. (Only before “meta-text” was a thing.)

    We also read A Canticle for Leibowitz with a focus on how the mundane can be completely misunderstood by people hunting for hidden spiritual messages. The irony escaped me at the time, but I was young and didn’t really connect to either book. (As I’ve noted before, not much of a “literature” guy.)

    Finished reading “Canticle” years later (stopped at the time when I chose another text for my final essay). Cute story.

    ETA: The class was team taught by a physics professor and a missions professor. (Yes, we had a major in becoming missionaries. Doesn’t every school?)

  26. Kathy says:

    Briefly, and mostly out of sheer relief: I aced another COVID-19 test (negative).

    I take the best COVID-beautiful tests. Man, Woman, Camera, VOTE BIDEN!

    More details later as work permits.

  27. Mikey says:

    Trump quite obviously doesn’t know the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    When people behave in ways I can’t understand I find it useful to take a step back and try to come up with a perspective that allows me to predict what they will do. When I’m successful I don’t kid myself that I’ve captured the whole picture, but it can be useful. When I look at the Republican leadership (setting Trump aside), I find it hard to understand, say, why they don’t seem to have any interest whatsoever in how the government responds to the coronavirus when they are literally the government. Think about it – there has been no oversight led by Republicans, no legislation to alleviate bottlenecks (for example, by repealing the regulations requiring the results of federally financed medical tests be faxed), no Republican led committees seriously exploring alternatives.

    My go to framework for the modern Republican Party is to picture them as contemptuous of the very idea of government and believe they are not sent to Washington or the State House to promote the interests of their constituency, but to do everything they can to tear down government at every level. I also imagine they have a subservient reverence for a certain set of billionaires, who in turn stopped their moral and social development shortly after reading Ayn Rand for the first time.

    This may well be an overly simplistic view of reality, but it sure as heck is useful as a predictor of Republican behavior. In this specific case, the billionaires have decided that the only real way to handle the virus is to let it burn through the population, killing off the weak in the process. It may be tragic, but we will emerge stronger on the other side, and the downturn in the economy will be shorter and easily weathered, at least by all the important people.

  29. Kathy says:

    Ok, so on Sept. 2nd the department head was told an employee in our department tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. apparently he informed others of this, but I found out until Sept. 8th. meantime, we didn’t isolate or even work from home.

    Well, we got lucky. Two, out of around 30, tested positive. The samples were taken Sept. 9th and we got the results today.

    I won’t try to determine a pattern here, as with so few people it’s not possible. but none of those infected were in continued close contact with the original positive person as far as I know. One was on vacation since Aug. 31st, and the other did wear a mask most of the time.

    it bears pointing out, though, the original employee who tested positive does not wear a mask properly; he never covers his nose despite repeated warnings to do so. Now he may learn better, if he survives.

    On the plus side, another covidiot at work who kept his nose pristine, for now is covering it. On the downside, all those managers who never even pretend to be wearing masks, still don’t do so.

    Me, I thank that other positive coworker who always wears his mask. I hope he recovers and has an asymptomatic course of COVID-19. By wearing his mask, he has spared the rest of us.

    And I’m thinking there may have been transmission through contaminated surfaces, in particular papers and such. I am making sure, just in case, to use hand sanitizer after handling any papers given to me.

  30. dazedandconfused says:

    Dune was ovbiously inspired by the media of the times efforts to all but deify TE Lawrence. Herbert even used “jihad” as his label for the uprising. Should have cut if off after two books though. At best marginal, everything after insufferable. That world he created makes me feel Frank Herbert is someone I would not care to meet.

    That first movie was unintentionally hilarious, I wonder why the industry can’t put it down. “Never reinforce failure” said someone.

  31. Kathy says:

    notes on the Oxford vaccine trial by Dr. Novella at Neurologica.

    It’s good to hear from actual, practicing physicians now and then.

  32. Teve says:

    Somebody posted a lie that Donald Trump paid for Ground Zero workers out of his own pocket. A second person on Twitter replied with a Snopes link explaining that never happened. Then the following reply occurred:

    When Snopes debunks it, you can pretty much assume the story is true.

  33. CSK says:

    There was apparently little to no masking and social distancing at the Trump rally. Attendee Rod Beebee told Jim Acosta that “There’s no Covid. It’s a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.”

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: My brothers believe Snopes is just lies. So, now I just reply to their Trumpy memes with QAnon memes.

    They live in a blue part of a blue state, and neither owns guns. What’s the worst that could happen if they get into QAnon?

  35. Kathy says:


    Has trump not wished everyone a “happy 9/11” yet?

  36. CSK says:

    Oh, that’s because everybody at Snopes is a communist dedicated to the downfall of Donald Trump and the overthrow of the United States.

  37. CSK says:

    For the low, low price of only $20, you can buy from the Trump campaign an Official Trump Coloring book, with illustrations of a buff, muscular Trump vanquishing his foes.

    What a thing to inflict on a helpless child.

  38. Gustopher says:

    My cat turned on my electric piano and walked across the keys, and then stopped and started poking at keys for the sound. I think she realized that different keys have a different sound, but I might be assuming more intelligence than her little brain has.

    All very adorable, and I think I will just leave the piano on. Try to teach her music theory.

    I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?

  39. CSK says:

    First I’d ask if she turned it on accidentally or deliberately.

  40. DrDaveT says:


    I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?

    “Kitten on the keys” is a venerable tradition in Western music. Even Domenico Scarlatti wrote a superb fugue based on what allegedly happened when his cat, Pulcinella, walked across the harpsichord one day.

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: I have a recording from the 1990s of one of the family cats (owned by my parents) playing the electric piano. She figured out that sounds came out of it when she placed her paws over the keys, and she seemed interested in that fact–though she didn’t quite get to the point of producing an actual melody.

  42. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mikey: Time exposure matters. Based on my own personal research I think the CDC strengthened their time guidelines of 15 by about 4X over what you would need to be infected in most social scenarios. 15 to 30 minutes is about right to breathe in a viable load in a hospital where virus is truly micro-aerosolized due to intubated patients. In a standard social setting–assuming you’re not in contact with a superspreader–you need closer to an hour of breathing in the infected persons particle.

    There is no question your wife took in some Covid–just not enough to win the battle against her T-cells.

  43. steve says:

    Cats teach people, we don’t teach cats. Good luck!


  44. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: @CSK:

    In a cult you’re discouraged from any information by the outside world. Only listen to the cult. Information from the outside is a lie. It’s amazing that they’ve trained their followers to do this.

  45. Teve says:

    Trump just claimed that he “hears” Biden is doing drugs. So if you ever need a confirmation that Trump does in fact crush up Adderall here it is.

  46. Teve says:

    Ben collins

    Nobody is appropriately gauging how quickly QAnon (and Q by other names) has taken over among suburban and rural white women. It is everywhere.

    Satanic Panic at global light speed.

  47. CSK says:

    They believe what they want to believe.

    For someone who bitches constantly about anonymous sources, Trump sure relies on them a lot. “Many people are saying” is one of his favorite refrains. But he never specifies who those people are.

  48. Teve says:

    @CSK: Yeah but it’s not just stuff that’s finding a receptive audience, it actually manipulates and changes people. There are plenty of stories of somebody, they see an odd video about pedophiles on the YouTube sidebar, then YouTube suggests another, and six months later they are ranting about Tom Hanks and Oprah and their daughter won’t speak to them anymore.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: That they could get guns and shoot up a pizza parlor looking for a child trafficking operation? (And no, I’m not just suggesting this because it’s what I might do.)

  50. Mikey says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    There is no question your wife took in some Covid–just not enough to win the battle against her T-cells.

    Which is the point of the masks, isn’t it? To reduce viral load to that point. Because both she and the other driver were masked, his infection didn’t transmit to her.

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Or from what I can see on Amazon, you can by one of several versions starting @ $1.09 used. (Who buys a used coloring book anyway?)

  52. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    (Who buys a used coloring book anyway?)

    Someone stupid enough to think it’s an illustrated book? Someone very lazy?

    Both types would be fans of Trump.

    Edited to add:
    If it were “creatively” colored, it might make for a nice satirical piece.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: I don’t buy it. It was very clear that there were no passages where adjacent keys were played simultaneously. 😉 (Although in some registers it sounded like that to me anyway because I hear music in those registers as polytonal half step intervals. 🙁 )

  54. Teve says:

    Vanity Fair:

    “It is the combination of the anti-intellectualism, the anti-education elements of the Republican Party, and the anti-elite elements of the Republican Party, so-called, that have culminated in this toxic brew that is killing tens of thousands of Americans,” says Stevens, who recently joined the independent Never Trump organization the Lincoln Project. “I mean, more Americans are going to die because of this combination of political beliefs than major wars. This virus [is] attacking Americans. And Donald Trump is making it a lot worse, and we all know this. But Republicans won’t even stand up to defend America.”

  55. Teve says:

    this is awesome

    Biden visited some firefighters in 2012. When he did so, he told them the next time he saw them he’d bring them some beer. He just saw them again. They asked him where the beer was, and his people pulled out a six pack of Iron City.

    After the last four years, the competency that it took to accomplish that boggles the mind.

  56. Kathy says:

    Question: How about a law requiring Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Uber, Netflix, and all the rest for any and all user data they obtain? Strictly money payments. No merchandise or service credits, no special features, nothing else but money.

    Note: it would reduce these companies’ market valuation is not a valid objection, neither is it would bankrupt any of them.

    Note 2: This would also apply to data taken from sellers and advertisers operating in these companies’ platforms.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: My sister’s cat was capable of making long distance phone calls, including one to Australia. If *Sydney* could do that, maybe yours could write Beethoven’s 9th.

    **Sydney’s original name was the very imaginative “Cat.” After that phone call to Sydney, Australia…

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I love it.

  59. Bill says:


    Sydney’s original name was the very imaginative “Cat.”

    We have had a Bombay breed cat for 13 years. Her name is Misay. Misay is the waray word* for cat.

    *- Waray is the filipino dialect my wife and her family speaks.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: Our current feline has the very original name of Miss Kitty. After she killed a copperhead in our bedroom, I decided she deserved a more dignified honorific. She is now “Miss Kitty, Queen of the Hollers, the Unburnt, Breaker of Tethers, Wreaker of Havoc and Killer of Copperheads.

  61. An Interested Party says:

    Both types would be fans of Trump.

    Both types are Trump…

  62. flat earth luddite says:

    Dangit, Bill, now I have the visual of Ms. Turner naked on a wrecking ball. Happy Friday!

  63. Teve says:


    Question: How about a law requiring Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Uber, Netflix, and all the rest for any and all user data they obtain? Strictly money payments. No merchandise or service credits, no special features, nothing else but money.

    requiring them to what?

  64. Kathy says:


    Hasty editing. Requiring them to pay for the data.

    I’m usually not that careless with the main point of a comment.

  65. flat earth luddite says:

    I’ve always gone with the assumption that “many people” are the various voices in his head. So far, it seems to give his statements a rational, if disturbed, framework.

  66. Kathy says:

    None of my pets were musically inclined, nor showed any ability, or interest, to handle household communication devices.

    But Fuzz, the aggressive toy poodle, one time got fed up with my abuse of the ultrasonic remote for the TV (remember them?). She was sitting next to me on the couch, her ears perking up every time I switched channels. I was trying to watch two NFL games at once, so switching happened often.

    She’d gnawed and growled at the remote on prior occasions. This time, when I took a break to get something to drink, she grabbed the remote in her mouth, and ran downstairs with it. I ran after her, albeit more slowly (four legs give dogs an unfair advantage).

    I finally caught up with her in the backyard. Still holding on to the remote, she was furiously digging at the loose dirt of a flower bed.

    I think by the time her daughter Daisy, the incredibly timid toy poodle, was born, we had a newer TV with an infrared remote.

  67. Teve says:

    @Kathy: A while back I tried to come up with some good answers for the tracking data question, but all my ideas had flaws. I like the idea of letting a user pay to opt out of whatever Facebook would’ve sold her data for, but then somebody points out that you’re creating a system where poor people are tracked and richer people are not. All my other ideas had problems too. Then I read that one mobile network operator was selling location data behind people’s backs after telling them it didn’t. Finally I hit on what i think is the solution, what is just that if you’re a company you’re prohibited from selling any customer’s data. But there’s trillions of dollars being made and so the companies will buy enough politicians to keep using your data. So what I started doing a few months ago was this switching whenever possible to companies that didn’t track, like proton mail, and DuckDuckGo. And it’s complicated, but supposedly you can turn off all Google android tracking with about a dozen or so steps in the settings.

  68. Kylopod says:


    My sister’s cat was capable of making long distance phone calls

    The following is one of my parent’s cats when he was still a kitten:

  69. Sleeping Dog says:


    Is that what it has come to, OTB reduced to cat videos?

  70. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I have Porkchop and Peppercorn at the moment. Porkchop is the troublemaker.

    In addition to her piano playing, she also sits on top of the air filter and bats at the controls until it runs faster, so she can feel nice purified air going through her fur (or across her nether regions), spreading cat dander far and wide.

    She’s such a pork chop.

  71. Mikey says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Reduced? Nay, elevated!

  72. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Reduced?

  73. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: Beat me by that much.

  74. Teve says:

    Given the situation of the last weeks in America I’ve watched a shocking number of animal videos on YouTube this week. They give me a few minutes’ relief.

  75. Monala says:

    @Mikey: And Melania didn’t even try.

  76. Jen says:

    @Kathy: IIRC, that’s where Andrew Yang’s UBI was to be funded from.

  77. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19
    The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.
    In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.