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:

    Boeing pilot indicted for allegedly deceiving US regulators over 737 Max

    A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes.

    The indictment accuses Mark A Forkner of giving the Federal Aviation Administration false and incomplete information about an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes, which killed 346 people.

    Prosecutors said that because of Forkner’s “alleged deception”, the system was not mentioned in key FAA documents, pilot manuals or pilot-training material supplied to airlines.


    Chicago-based Boeing agreed to a $2.5bn settlement to end a justice department criminal investigation into the company’s actions. Boeing said in the settlement last year that employees had misled regulators about the safety of the Max. The settlement included a fine, money for airlines that bought the plane and compensation for families of the passengers who died in the crashes.

    So the shareholders lost some money, a chief test pilot is the designated scapegoat and my inner cynic says, the system is working as designed. I hope I’m wrong. I hope he rolls and can back it up with receipts. But I’ve seen this play before and the 3rd act is nearly always a disappointment.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fragile White Syndrome strikes again:

    SOUTHLAKE, Texas — A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “opposing” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.

    Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session on which books teachers can have in classroom libraries. The training came four days after the Carroll school board, responding to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom.

    A Carroll staff member secretly recorded the Friday training and shared the audio with NBC News.

    “Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a new Texas law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

    “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said in response.

    “Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”

    Unintended consequences and all that.

    Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, a union representing educators, said there’s nothing in the new Texas law explicitly dealing with classroom libraries. Robison said the book guidelines at Carroll, a suburban school district near Fort Worth, are an “overreaction” and a “misinterpretation” of the law. Three other Texas education policy experts agreed.

    “We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”

    Uhhh…. Clay? Racism is a fact of history that this law requires denying.

    “We are in the middle of a political mess,” Peddy said in the recording, acknowledging that teachers are afraid. “And you are in the middle of a political mess. And so we just have to do the best that we can.”

    If you read the whole damn thing, the only thing that is obvious is that nobody knows exactly what the law requires, and the teachers are the ones in the crosshairs. At this point I think the best anyone can do is get the F out of Texas.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:
  4. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The Holocaust: Pros and Cons. Discuss.

    The answer is that educators and parents have to do something they are not comfortable with. Push back on the bullies and bloody their noses.

  5. Kylopod says:

    It’s official: MTG is trolling us.

    No one could be this dense.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene
    The fascist NBA won’t let Kyrie Irving play for refusing a vaccine.

    But yet they still let Magic Johnson play with HIV.
    2:48 PM · Oct 14, 2021

  6. Scott says:

    The active-duty Army is facing a record suicide rate. Leaders have no idea how to fix it

    Army leaders continue to struggle to find a way to address suicide in the ranks as the problem worsens, with 2020 marking the highest rate of suicides among active-duty soldiers in years.

    In 2020, the Army saw its highest rate of suicides among soldiers, from active duty to Army Reserves and the National Guard, in years — 32 suicides per every 100,000 soldiers, according to data released in September. Among soldiers on active duty, the rate of suicide was 36.5 suicides for every 100,000 soldiers — the highest rate of suicide among active-duty soldiers in the last decade. The rate of 36.5 suicides among active-duty soldiers is nearly an 18% increase from 2019’s rate of 31 suicides

    It wasn’t just the Army; the rate of suicide increased “across all services” between 2015 and 2020, according to the data released last month. As Defense One reported, 2020’s suicide rate among all active-duty troops was the highest recorded since the military began digitally tracking the issue in 2008.

    Army knows the “who” of the suicide problem: typically male soldiers in their twenties, ranked private first class to staff sergeant, who has a privately-owned weapon. But what the Army can’t figure out is the “why.”

    I’ve been involved with DoD (Air Force) for 40 years now and I don’t have any special insights. I suspect it has to do with society as a whole. Isolation. Social Media. The usual suspects.

  7. Kylopod says:


    The Holocaust: Pros and Cons. Discuss.

    In 1992, talk-show host Montel Williams brought Holocaust deniers on his program, then just before the commercial break told viewers to stay tuned to find out whether the Holocaust “is a myth or is it truth.” I am not making this up.

  8. sam says:

    “Hacker X”—the American who built a pro-Trump fake news empire—unmasks himself

    This is the story of the mastermind behind one of the largest “fake news” operations in the US.

    For two years, he ran websites and Facebook groups that spread bogus stories, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Under him was a dedicated team of writers and editors paid to produce deceptive content—from outright hoaxes to political propaganda—with the supreme goal of tipping the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

    Through extensive efforts, he built a secret network of self-reinforcing sites from the ground up. He devised a strategy that got prominent personalities—including Trump—to retweet misleading claims to their followers. And he fooled unwary American citizens, including the hacker’s own father, into regarding fake news sources more highly than the mainstream media.

  9. CSK says:

    My father’s older brother participated in the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945. He took photos of the skeletal remains of thousands of victims. On the back of each photo, he printed “This was real.”

    Did he anticipate denial?

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @Scott: Totally offhand remark, but some synapse connected your statistic with the experience at… UNC?… State University cancelled on-campus classes for a day of reflection after two suicides among students.

    As you said, known risk factors piling up.

  11. Kylopod says:


    On the back of each photo, he printed “This was real.”

    Did he anticipate denial?

    During WWI there were some bogus stories being circulated about German atrocities, and it created a crying-wolf effect during WWII, leading the American public to be skeptical when what was happening started being reported.

  12. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: My father-in-law was among the liberators of Dachau. He refused to talk about it.

  13. CSK says:

    Nor would my uncle. We found the photos after his death.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:


    Scott, you’re right, but that is becoming increasingly tough.

    It is getting ugly:

    The tin hats intimidated the Governors Council into refusing $27M in federal funds to fight Covid. Since those cost aren’t going away, the R governor is beside himself with frustration. I expect that this will be reversed, but it is not a good sign.

    R chickens are coming home to roost.

  15. Mu Yixiao says:


    “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said in response.

    “Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”

    If I were the teacher, I’d say “Okay Ms. Parent. I’ll go get a copy of Mein Kampf for your little Billy to read. I’m sure you’ll be able to help him understand it, won’t you?”

  16. senyordave says:

    @Kylopod: In 1992, talk-show host Montel Williams brought Holocaust deniers on his program, then just before the commercial break told viewers to stay tuned to find out whether the Holocaust “is a myth or is it truth.” I am not making this up.

    So what was the verdict? Did they have the studio audience vote on it?

  17. Jon says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that some of these parents already have copies of Mein Kampf.

  18. CSK says:

    “…and it’s Springtime for Hitler and Germany…look out, here comes the master race.”

  19. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: My husband and I were discussing this the day after the Exec. Council vote. It’s INSANE. Fed Gov: “here’s a pile of money to help you combat this pandemic and its costs.” NH Republicans: “No thanks, we don’t want to be told what’s real.”

    I love this state, but wow, this is just the dumbest of dumb moves.

  20. CSK says:

    Read the whole thing (it’s short). The last line is hilarious.

  21. Scott says:

    @CSK: Something for the grave marker: “I was not into golden showers”

  22. Kathy says:


    We know when Benito denies something, it serves as confirmation.

  23. Kathy says:


    There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence and documentation about the holocaust, coming from victims, liberators, and the perpetrators themselves.

    So of course it’s a hoax to the diseased mind.

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Sometimes it seems that the more evidence there is for something (the Holocaust, biological evolution, the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 election), the more committed some people are to denying it, maybe because they see it as a bigger challenge.

  25. CSK says:

    It’s “owning the libs” carried to an extreme. We say “up,” they say “down” reflexively.

  26. Kathy says:


    I renew my call for a campaign against seasoning food with ground up glass sprinkled with cyanide.

    Sure, it’s delicious and turns even burnt meat into a feast, but it’s bad for the environment and a legacy of the patriarchal slavery system.

  27. Sleeping Dog says:


    Oh yes, NH does stupid things. Since some of that money is to cover costs already incurred, they’ll need to revisit it. The R’s in the state legislature don’t have 27M that can simply be re-appropriated to cover expenses.

    What is particularly galling, is that NH is a net contributing state to federal gov, so turning this down only adds to that deficit.

  28. Joe says:

    @CSK: Thanks for that little ear worm for my morning.

  29. CSK says:

    I’d like to see a kickline of Carroll school board members performing it.

  30. Joe says:


    Come on, Germans, go into your dance!

  31. CSK says:

    I just had to go watch it on Youtube.

  32. Kathy says:


    The idea behind limited liability corporations, was to protect investors against financial losses bigger than the amount of their investment in a corporation.

    Whatever the merits of that idea, these days limited liability seems more like total immunity, not only against financial matters, but against criminal charges. Regardless of what this test pilot did or did not do, the decision to withhold information on the MCAS was made by several executives at Boeing. Why aren’t they all facing charges?

    This is just one case. What about the Sacklers, who demonstrably harmed many more people and unleashed a major social problem we’re still dealing with? They’re getting off free with very little blood money per person killed or harmed.

    this needs to stop. People who make decisions to risk the lives of others over money, should face the consequences when their gamble doesn’t quite pay off.

  33. Kathy says:

    Random notes.

    I’m watching The Flight Attendant on HBO Max (because of course I am). It’s not exactly bad, but the plot moves along two lines I call 1) the inability to follow through on what’s literally right in front of you, and 2) the script placed all the clues in plain sight after the protagonist remembers them.

    As to the first, the protagonist divulges tons of information in a disjointed, frantic manner, and she’s ignored by her lawyer (and best friend) and the FBI agents investigating her. Thirty minutes of focused questions and follow up would end the first season by the third episode. We can’t have that.

    The second involves the event driving the plot having occurred with the protagonist literally being black-out drunk. But as soon as a clue is needed, she remembers it.

    It’s only 8 episodes, and Kaley Cuoco does rather well interpreting a rather awful person. Otherwise I’d have stopped watching a while ago.

    On other things, I finished a Great Courses lecture series on “understanding the US government.” There was little I didn’t already know, though it brings up some additional historical context and systematic explanation.

    I then moved to another lectures series, this on on biology. It had been sitting on the pile for a few months now, though it’s rather relevant in the trump pandemic we’re living through.

  34. Jax says:

    Hahahahahaha…..My daughter’s puppy had a dingleberry on her last outside run. She’s running and screaming and yipping and trying to shake it off, constantly turning to see if it’s still there, I’m watching from the window. The big dogs come tearing around the corner to see what’s wrong with the puppy, Roo stopped in his tracks and I swear he was laughing, Boomer goes over to her, sniffs her butt a little, then showed her how to do a butt scoot!!! I about died laughing!!! Puppy dingleberry crisis averted. 😛 😛

    And here I thought they hated her!

    A little poop humor for your Friday. 😉

  35. dazedandconfused says:


    Read the whole thing (it’s short). The last line is hilarious.

    I demand an opposing perspective.

  36. Kurtz says:


    I haven’t made it through that whole piece. I got sidetracked and looked at some of Hacker X’s writing on his website.

    I think I’m going to write a longer piece on it and post it somewhere, because that guy embodies so many things that chap my ass about other people that I think the only way I can resolve all of them is to write about it.

  37. Jen says:

    Okay, hive mind–a question. I might need to take a flight relatively soon, so am looking at buying some KN95 masks and am wondering about brands and sizes (I seldom go anywhere of note so have been relying on the surgical masks + a fabric over on the rare occasions that I have to be inside, e.g., when I went to get my flu shot at Walgreens the other day).

    On the brands–are there any of note as far as quality? On size–one size does NOT fit all. I’m little. I have a small face and need something that fits and will be comfortable enough for a cross-country flight.

    Suggestions? I know @Kathy has posted a bunch about masks–any words of wisdom?

  38. dazedandconfused says:

    We’re getting sucked into Squid Game the same way. The actors are so good they sell flimsy characters and plot, over humor so black it would shake heads on a Sopranos set. Special hat-tips to the main character, the young North Korean refugee, and Old Man 001.

  39. CSK says:

    Would a child-sized one work for you?

  40. Jen says:

    @CSK: That’s part of what brought me here…the reviews on Amazon are so confusing. I looked at the measurements on one of the kids’ mask brands, and think it would work, but apparently there’s an issue with the ear loops being smaller on the kids sizes so maybe not?

    There’s also one brand that offers a medium size for adult (rather than full-size, I guess?) but one reviewer posted a picture and there are gaps around the nose and cheek area.

    I haven’t seen any N95/KN95 masks at CVS or Walgreens, so I can’t figure out by actually looking at a box. Blargh.

    I am thinking of messaging the LPN at my doc’s practice, she’s tiny and might have some insight.

  41. CSK says:
  42. Kathy says:


    If it’s just for the flight, I suggest an original 3M N95 mask. Not only are these of known good quality, but they have straps that go over the back of the head rather than behind the ears, making for a much better seal (which I find too uncomfortable for daily use).

    As to fit, one simple hack is to wear the N95 over a surgical mask.

    For KN95 and KF94 masks, there is way too much variety for a simple suggestion.

  43. Kathy says:


    I think this new fashion of telling the one story per season, and using short seasons, has gotten me to watch things just to see how they would end, even when the show isn’t good or to my liking (like with Titans).

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Problem for the teachers: The bullies have all the money.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: To use your words:

    There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence and documentation about racism coming from victims, liberators, and the perpetrators themselves.

    So of course it’s a hoax to the diseased mind.

    And yet CRT is… Not real? Not to be taught?

    The point folks, is that racism is real, the holocaust is real, but people are equally afraid to teach either. Personally, I would love to stand within arms reach of Greg Abbot, Ken Paxton, and What’sisfuck.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And folks, unlike the holocaust, racism is here today. I grew up with it, benefited from it, accepted it as just the way the world is, and found myself expected to abide by it, was eventually disgusted by it, and avowed I would never again accept it as society’s default.

    For some reason or other, I’m feeling kind of lonely.

  47. mister bluster says:


    As I’ve said on occasion: “I know this town is full of honkies, I’m just not one of them.”