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:

    “Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do.”

    – Audre Lorde

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mehdi Hasan

    Matt Gaetz says we should defund the FBI.
    Laura Ingraham says we should defund the military.

    Their comments will get 0.0000001% of the critical coverage that some on the the left’s calls to ‘defund the police’ have over the past year.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Must be a really slow news day at the Guardian if this hits the top of their page: Rawhide and seek: rash of cattle breakouts keep police busy across US

    I live in cattle country and finding cows in the road is not abnormal. A couple ranches down below have really shitty fencing and every time a few cows escape they just piece it back together again. New fencing is expensive and time consuming to put up and they all have real jobs they go to every day. Raising cattle is just a side gig for most of them as they try to hold onto their land.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Billionaire Peter Thiel amasses $5bn tax-free nest egg in retirement account

    Billionaire Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, has used a retirement account designed to help ordinary Americans save for their golden years to amass a $5bn tax-free nest egg, according to records obtained by ProPublica. Thiel, a vocal opponent of higher taxes, is one of a number of ultra-rich Americans to use a Roth individual retirement account (IRA) to amass a tax-free fortune.

    Roth IRAs were established in 1997 to encourage middle-class Americans to save, tax-free, for retirement. In 2018 the average Roth IRA held $39,108. The proceeds of a Roth IRA are tax-free as long as they are not withdrawn before the account holder reaches 59.5 years old.

    Records obtained by ProPublica show that Thiel, 53, placed 1.7m shares of then-private PayPal into a Roth IRA in 1999. At the time annual contributions to the plans were capped at $2,000. The shares were valued at just $0.001 per share. Within a year, the value of Thiel’s Roth increased from $1,664 to $3.8m. Thiel then used his Roth to make highly lucrative investments in Facebook and Palantir Technologies, according to tax records and other documents obtained by ProPublica. By 2019, Thiel’s Roth held $5bn “spread across 96 subaccounts”.

    Thiel, a libertarian who once funded plans for a self-governing private island, is not the only super-wealthy investor to have amassed a fortune in a Roth IRA.

    On that last bit, I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

  5. CSK says:

    Part of the reason the Gaetz and Ingraham comments won’t get any serious press is that everyone knows they’re both crackpots.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Well, everyone except their audiences who treat everything they say as scripture. (Gaetz is definitely playing to an audience, just not necessarily his constituents)

    eta I am in edit function hell. I reply to you, hit post, realize I made a mistake, edited it, hit save, and a previous comment appeared in it’s place. WTF????? Tried fixing it and only half fixed it. Deleted the whole damn thing and started over.

    I hope this does not presage what kind of a day I’m going to have.

  7. charon says:

    According to this report, Trump nearly died, was saved by a rare, experimental drug that pretty much nobody else got access to, and rather than being humbled, he doubled-down on a reckless approach that continued to cause hundreds of thousands to die.

    From the Post:

    ” Trump’s medical advisers hoped his bout with the coronavirus, which was far more serious than acknowledged at the time, would inspire him to take the virus seriously. Perhaps now, they thought, he would encourage Americans to wear masks and put his health and medical officials front and center in the response. Instead, Trump emerged from the experience triumphant and ever more defiant. He urged people not to be afraid of the virus or let it dominate their lives, disregarding that he had had access to health care and treatments unavailable to other Americans.

  8. charon says:

    The #COVID19 situation in Africa is worrisome. Both the number of cases & deaths are almost 40% higher than the week before.
    Vaccines donated next year will be too late for those who are dying, infected, or at risk today. #VaccinEquity – if not now, when?

  9. steve says:

    Was looking at homicide rates for US cities. Pretty interesting. As most people know conservatives perseverate over killings in Chicago. It ranks 28th on the list. Peoria, which you never hear about, is 14th. Maybe if Obama had come from Peoria it would get more coverage? Note that Missouri places 2 in the top ten. (2019 data.)


  10. Scott says:


    Raising cattle is just a side gig for most of them as they try to hold onto their land.

    Is it to keep their ag exemption on their property taxes? That’s what happens in suburban San Antonio. You’ll see a couple acres with cows on them every so often in the middle of subdivisions and strip centers just to avoid paying higher property taxes until they cash in.

  11. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Mitt Romney did something similar. I remember reading about that back in the 2012 election.

    What’s Really Going on With Mitt Romney’s $102 Million IRA

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: We’re number 1! (and #10) Yeah, we don’t need any of those pesky federal gun laws here in OUR state. Springfield MO ain’t so good either.

    @Scott: Nah, not in my experience. The taxes on timber crop land aren’t that much better. (iirc, I have to admit I don’t pay that much attention to anything other than how much I owe) Most of the folks I know actually need the money from their herds.

    @Scott: The old dodges are the best dodges.

  13. Bob@Youngstown says:

    For those interested in voting…. a fairly scathing report here on the Michigan 2020 general election by the Republican led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee.

    The repudiation of claims of voting irregularities is comprehensive.

    But another thing caught my eye that I didn’t think should be “a thing”. Quoting from the report:

    secretary of state and clerks were able to discover and remove approximately 3,500
    absentee ballots submitted by voters while they were alive but died before Election Day, which
    is a commendable accomplishment.

    Doing some further research it appears that some states have taken the position that a voter must be alive on election day to qualify to have their vote counted, while other states take the position that a voter must be alive when their vote is cast (regardless of state of being on election day). In thirteen states the laws will explicitly nullify votes from voters who die prior to 12:01 am election day, but an another 13 or 14 states explicitly rule that votes from live constituents must be counted regardless of their state of being on election day. The remaining states have not legally addressed the issue.

    Seems to me that a uniform code (aka a National voting rights act) is appropriate, as apparently the states are deciding this issue arbitrarily.

  14. Jen says:

    @charon: What stopped me cold about that article was the mention that the monoclonal antibody treatment was first requested for none other than Hope Hicks, age 32. Did anyone else know/realize she was THAT sick? I don’t remember even hearing that she’d been hospitalized.


    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s phone rang with an urgent request: Could he help someone at the White House obtain an experimental coronavirus treatment, known as a monoclonal antibody?

    If Azar could get the drug, what would the White House need to do to make that happen? Azar thought for a moment. It was Oct. 1, 2020, and the drug was still in clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration would have to make a “compassionate use” exception for its use since it was not yet available to the public. Only about 10 people so far had used it outside of those trials. Azar said of course he would help.

    Azar wasn’t told who the drug was for but would later connect the dots. The patient was one of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers: Hope Hicks.

    My SIL refuses to get vaccinated, because she’s in her early 30s and says that she’s “incredibly low risk” because she’s healthy. I also suspect that she’s being swayed by some of the nonsense about vaccines affecting fertility.

    If Ms. Hicks was truly so ill she required monoclonal antibody treatment, it should have been blared out to all.

  15. CSK says:

    I think a lot of Trump’s refusal to admit that he was critically ill was a function of his terror of showing any kind of weakness, or a condition that could be perceived as weakness. He always has to be the alpha dog in the pack.

    Remember his dramatic return to the White House from the hospital? He heaved himself up the staircase and then, standing in a spotlight, dramatically stripped off his mask. I laughed aloud. I don’t know how anyone could have done otherwise. It was so stagy, so ludicrously phony.

  16. KM says:

    It’s also characteristic of malignant narcissism. There’s no such thing as humbling them or a come-to-Jesus moment where they realize how bad things got for them if not for a lucky break or intervention of others. To them, *they* are the reason they are still alive and extraordinary measures should be the least you can do for them. They will also neither notice or care others cannot benefit from said measures because that means noticing and caring about someone else’s circumstances. Recovery is about how awesome they were to do the thing nobody else can do and how easy it was for them to achieve this impossible task. Anything even remotely connected to blame will be directed away from them so acknowledging how terrible a disease they said was fake and could never hurt them was gets locked down tight.

    Anyone who thought COVID would make Trump see the light was a fool. You simply cannot get them to do that as it’s part of the pathology. Once they’re in the clear, to hell with everyone else.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: The line between actively killing someone and merely declining to save them is very thin and hard to see. Almost invisible.

  18. Kathy says:


    Way back in the depths of the last year’s early lockdown and spreading trump pandemic, it seemed like monoclonal antibodies (and possibly polyclonal ones) might be the silver bullet to end the scourge of SARS-CoV-2. Early claims included they might even prevent COVID while a vaccine was developed.

    Clinical trials suggest otherwise. They appear most useful when administered early on, before the onset of symptoms. This is very hard to accomplish, as presymptomatic patients won’t even realize they are infected. I’m far less clear on what role they play in reducing deaths when used in treatment.

    So, it might not have been the Regeneron antibodies that saved Trump’s worthless life, or Hicks’.

    There’s more to immune response than antibodies, even with vaccines.

  19. Kylopod says:


    I think a lot of Trump’s refusal to admit that he was critically ill was a function of his terror of showing any kind of weakness, or a condition that could be perceived as weakness. He always has to be the alpha dog in the pack.

    Exactly. And it’s why I shake my head that I’m still hearing liberals float the theory that he faked the illness so he could prove it was “nothing.” It never made sense then, and it sure as hell doesn’t now.

    Okay, I’ll confess that my mind flitted to the idea at the time, but I almost immediately rejected it. He was practically denying the virus’s very existence, and trying desperately to make the election be about anything but the pandemic. (Hell, in the months before he caught it I was convinced he was going to get it and try to hide it.) Apart from the very real danger it posed to his health, it clearly threw him off course of the campaign he was trying to run. It’s no wonder his poll numbers tanked following the reports of his illness. It completely undermined the message he’d been trying to convey. It reminded me of that scene from Quackbusters where Daffy Duck goes on TV to deny all the reports of the tiny elephant everybody’s been seeing–and then the animal scurries across his desk at that moment.

  20. Kathy says:


    People in rich countries should rush to help vaccinate the people in poor countries out of nothing other than sheer self interest. allowing SARS-CoV-2 to keep circulating widely among large populations, greatly increases the chances of variants that can defeat the protection afforded by vaccines.

  21. CSK says:

    I said the other day that I believe Trump’s gone beyond malignant narcissism and into solipsism. Only he is real to him. No one else truly exists, or if they do, they exist only to serve his needs.

  22. Monala says:

    @Jen: I recall someone posting the link to Frank Luntz’s Covid focus group to convince Trump supporters to get vaccinated. Nothing that any doctors, researchers, or politicians said swayed any of them. But finally one thing did: Chris Christie’s testimony about how sick he and others in the White House got from Covid, and how he had spread it to two of his relatives who died. Christie shared that among the very sick in the White House was the otherwise young and healthy Hope Hicks.

  23. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Overshadowed by yesterday’s infrastructure news, the effort to advance a bipartisan criminal legal system reform bill is making progress.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Has anybody else seen this?

    A YouTube video shows David Keene, two-time president of the National Rifle Association, donning a cap and gown to speak to thousands of students from James Madison Academy on their graduation day. Keene asks the students to uphold the second amendment that their school’s namesake James Madison took part in drafting.

    But when the camera pans, there is a haunting scene of thousands of empty white chairs – 3,044 to be exact – with no students to fill them. These represent the seniors from this year’s graduating class who died from gun violence. The school is not a real one.

    The gun safety organization Change the Ref released a series of videos on Wednesday in which advocates tricked pro-gun figures into addressing empty chairs representing high school youths shot and killed before they could graduate.

    I feel like I just missed it yesterday. Either way, I love it.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Just ask any pro-life adherent.

  26. Mu Yixiao says:

    During a congressional hearing last week, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas asked a U.S. Forest Service official if her organization or the Bureau of Land Management could change the orbit of the moon or Earth to reverse the effects of human-caused climate change

    (emphasis added)

    (Math follows)

  27. Scott says:

    A little bit of military history:

    A racially motivated clash in England during WWII forced the US military to grapple with inequality

    A bloody, little-known battle between Black and white U.S. soldiers in northern England 78 years ago forced a reckoning over the military’s unequal treatment of minority troops.

    Known as the Battle of Bamber Bridge, the conflagration in Lancashire was sparked late on June 24, 1943, after a pair of U.S. military police patrolmen responded to a reported “disturbance” at the thatch-roofed Ye Olde Hob Inn pub, military records show.

    This little tidbit made me smile:

    Anthony Burgess, author of the book “A Clockwork Orange,” taught in Bamber Bridge after the war, writing in his autobiography that when U.S. military authorities demanded local pubs institute a “colour bar,” the owners barred white troops.

  28. Jen says:

    @Monala: Yes–I remember that, and I actually posted the Luntz interview here after I heard it on This American Life.

    I knew Hope Hicks had been quite sick, but not hospitalized-and-needing-monoclonal-antibodies-sick. She would have had to qualify for compassionate use, meaning, she was sick and *not responding to other treatments.* I’m surprised this didn’t receive more coverage.

  29. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Scaled up, such a mechanism could, in principle, provide enough oomph to shift a planet’s orbit. Still, it would take a billion times more nuclear explosions than we have ever set off to move Earth the required distance, or the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb every second for 500 years, according to Geza Gyuk, director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The strategy of constantly detonating nuclear bombs near Earth’s surface with the goal of vaporizing parts of it to act as rocket exhaust also has several drawbacks. For our purposes, the most notable deleterious effect is that the blasts themselves would heat up the planet, counteracting the stated goal of reversing global warming.


    (That radiative equilibrium equation gave me physics school flashbacks and I need a few shots to steady my constitution.)

  30. Teve says:

    House Republicans form Conservative Climate Caucus to advocate weak, ineffectual solutions.

    Because climate change denial is too retarded even for them at this point.

  31. Kathy says:


    Niven and Benford suggest it would be easier to move the Sun. Though with their setup, the Earth would not change position relative to the Sun.

    On the other hand, an episode of Futurama suggests two solutions (make sure to refill the comet).

  32. Teve says:


    Niven and Benford suggest it would be easier to move the Sun.


  33. Teve says:

    How Amazon Lies, Manipulates, and Bullies Reporters.

  34. Teve says:

    JFC. Remember how I said two coworkers who weren’t vaxxed because they were Washed in the Blood of Jesus were in quarantine with Covid? Well one of them just came back to work after about 4 days because “covid is just some Liberal Media bullshit, it’s just a cold.” And he’s one of the owners so nobody can say jack.

    When I say I don’t know if America will survive right-wing media, I’m not kidding.

  35. Kathy says:


    I should have linked to Bowl of Heaven.

    It’s classic Niven mega-engineering, like Ringworld. I forget the exact mechanism, but the “wok world” uses electromagnetic fields to siphon off stellar material to use as exhaust.

    In World Out of Time, The Girls apparently used either Uranus or Neptune, I forget which, to haul the Earth off to Jupiter, in order to counteract the effects of the red giant Sun.

  36. inhumans99 says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Mu, it would have been cool if your link took you to a link that shows Superman flying really fast around the earth to reverse time. Who needs math when Superman can do the job for you.

  37. MarkedMan says:

    According to the WaPo, 19 states have rising hospitalization rates (I’m excluding Vermont because it is doing so well a few cases makes a big impact on percentages). 13 of them went for Trump in 2020. 3 of the remaining 6 still have Republicans in de facto control: AZ, GA, NV.

    8 are at a 10% growth rate or above (again, excluding Vermont) and all of them are overwhelmingly helmed by Republican officials.

    I follow hospitalizations nowadays rather than cases because testing has dropped off everywhere, and we are no longer catching many asymptomatic cases except where testing is still mandated for employment. And if you are hospitalized you have a pretty good chance of either dying, becoming a long hauler, developing a heart problem or other serious issues.

  38. Teve says:


  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Holy Fck.

    Andy Slater

    JUST IN: Video I’ve obtained of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida.

    Hard for me to believe anyone came out of that alive.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I love it. the McNaughton Fine Art Company. For discriminating people who decorate with used toilet paper.

  41. Kathy says:

    I’m posting here not to get swallowed in the flame war on the other thread.

    One problem I have with “lowering standards,” is that changing long-standing standards does not necessarily mean the new ones are “lower,” or that in the end they might make much difference even if they are.

    In the 90s there was much editorializing and gnashing of teeth over “lower” physical standards for police and firefighters, allegedly in order to bring in more women into these professions. The argument was that this would end up endangering the public.

    Since then, I’d seen no follow-up on how these “lower” standards have hurt the performance of either police or firefighters.

    About testing, it’s hard sometimes to effectively measure knowledge with simple questions. If a test asks when WWI started, that measures exactly one data point, and not a particularly important one. My history tests of WWI in junior high school contained questions like “List and explain five causes of WWI.” That was good for a whole page of handwritten text, and a far more useful thing to know than a specific date in the summer of 1914.

    But then the person grading that test has to know about WWI, rather than simply look up the answer key.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: I may be wrong, but my read of the article is that Azar bent the rules so that she could get the treatment. Trump was looking for a favor and to lever someone into giving it to him. I didn’t see any indication that she qualified under “compassion” guidelines. She may well have, it’s just unclear.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I don’t understand why you’d want to route the pipes so that they’d burn the paint either. 🙁

  44. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: My understanding is that since it wasn’t approved treatment and was still in testing, anyone outside of the test subjects would only qualify to receive it under “compassionate use.”

    If Azar could get the drug, what would the White House need to do to make that happen? Azar thought for a moment. It was Oct. 1, 2020, and the drug was still in clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration would have to make a “compassionate use” exception for its use since it was not yet available to the public. Only about 10 people so far had used it outside of those trials. Azar said of course he would help.

    The FDA has to sign off on compassionate use exemptions, and they didn’t want to–it’s playing with chance. Things have to be pretty bad in order to do that.

    I don’t doubt that bending the rules is part of it, but even when that happens, they consider the patient’s condition. I’m just very surprised she was that sick.

  45. Kathy says:

    Convicted murderer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

  46. CSK says:

    That means about 7-8 with good behavior.

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And another 14.5 on probation, which is it’s own special brand of hell.

  48. wr says:

    @CSK: “Part of the reason the Gaetz and Ingraham comments won’t get any serious press is that everyone knows they’re both crackpots.”

    Right. When all of America looks to random Bennington sophomores for wisdom, which is why the Democrats must all be condemned for whatever they say.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: FYI, we are likely wrong:

    The Associated Press

    The punishment handed out Friday fell short of the 30 years that prosecutors had requested. With good behavior, Chauvin, 45, could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years.

    After which he will on probation for the balance of his sentence. I think.

  50. CSK says:

    I’m sorry, but what are you talking about? I don’t understand your comment.

  51. Kathy says:


    1) I figure this is far better than the no time or not even charge for most police killings.

    2) I favor the hypothesis that a high likelihood of being punished for a crime is a better deterrent than harsh sentences. True, this conviction depended on a lot of contributing factors, but you’ve got to start somewhere. We know now there is more willingness to convict police officers for excessive force, at least for the moment.

    The big caveat is: we need to keep the pressure on police on. We can’t just celebrate Chauvin’s conviction and sentence and declare our job done.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: The big caveat is: we need to keep the pressure on police on. We can’t just celebrate Chauvin’s conviction and sentence and declare our job done.

    Yep. If cops begin to realize they are not above the law, that there are in fact consequences for their actions, hopefully they will stop and think before they act. The Tamir Rices, John Crawfords, Breonna Taylors, and Philando Castilles of the USA deserve no less.

  53. wr says:

    @CSK: “I’m sorry, but what are you talking about? I don’t understand your comment.”

    It was a badly phrased drive-by, but the intended meaning was to point out that we ignore the treasonous statements of major figures in Republican media who are incredibly influential on elected officials “because everyone knows they’re cranks,” but when some totally random and anonymous leftie — often a college kid on Twitter — says something about canceling someone or defunding something, it’s a huge indictment against the entire Democratic party, proof that liberals suck (Hi, Michael!), and must be denounced immediately by every Democratic politician and follower or everyone will know that “Cancel all meat eaters” is actually the real policy of the Dems.