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. EddieInCA says:

    Rod Dreher has Covid. Vaxxed and boosted.

    Glen Beck has Covid. Unvaxxed and he’s taking Ivermectin. He’s in bad shape. It’s in his lungs.

    I’m old enough to remember the AIDS crisis, and it wasn’t until Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, that the right wing of America took it seriously.

    I’ve been waiting to see who the Rock Hudson of Covid will be.
    It wasn’t Herman Cain.
    It wasn’t Jay Weaver.
    It wasn’t Cloris Leachman.
    It wasn’t Charlie Pride.

    Who will it be?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The constitution is a suicide pact? Who knew.

  3. Tony W says:

    @EddieInCA: Do you think they are taking suggestions? I have a couple of names in mind.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A judge in western Illinois who found an 18-year-old man guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl has come under fire after he later threw out the conviction, saying the 148 days the man spent in jail was punishment enough.

    Judge Robert Adrian of Adam county, Illinois, said Drew Clinton, who was convicted last October for raping a 16-year-old girl at a graduation party last May, had received “plenty of punishment”.

    “Mr Clinton has served almost five months in the county jail,” Adrian said on 3 January, according to court transcripts. “For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence.”

    In Illinois, a person convicted of rape is handed the mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
    In court, Judge Adrian said: “There is no way … for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the department of corrections. I will not do that.”

    But the judge said if he were to rule that the sentencing statute he was bound to follow was unconstitutional, his decision would be overturned and Clinton would be ordered to prison. In order to avoid an appeal he believed would be successful, Adrian said what he could do was determine that prosecutors had failed to “prove their case” and dismiss the sexual assault charge.

    There was no jury here, this was a bench trial. The judge found the kid guilty, then reversed himself because, if “he were to rule that the sentencing statute he was bound to follow was unconstitutional, his decision would be overturned” and I guess he….

    I don’t know. Maybe somebody stuffed his stocking for a late Xmas present. His boss is not happy with him:

    An administrative order filed Thursday by Chief Judge Frank McCartney of the Eighth Judicial Circuit assigned Adams County Judge Robert Adrian to small claims, legal matters and probate dockets and other civil cases, effective immediately, the (Quincy) Herald-Whig reported.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: it wasn’t until Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, that the right wing of America took it seriously.

    At the time Rock died, supposedly only Jamaicans and gay men got HIV. When Rock died I had to wonder how his legions of fans were going to convince themselves he was Jamaican.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rust shooting: armourer sues guns and ammunition supplier

    The woman who managed weapons on the film set where a gun carried by Alec Baldwin was accidentally discharged, killing Halyna Hutchins, has said boxes of dummy rounds contained live bullets

    Here I thought it was her job to know the difference.

    Seriously, I’m trying to imagine the arguments that will be presented and I can’t think of any that don’t already have sperm whale sized holes in them.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: There was a joke around that time to the effect,

    ”What’s the second worst thing about getting AIDS?

    You’re gonna die.

    What’s the worst thing about getting AIDS?

    Convincing your dad you’re Haitian.”

  8. Kylopod says:


    I’m old enough to remember the AIDS crisis, and it wasn’t until Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, that the right wing of America took it seriously.

    You’re kidding, right? In what world did the right ever start taking AIDS seriously? To this day they’re still calling it God’s punishment for gays. And I doubt Rock Hudson changed very many of their minds on that.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: So I probably stole the idea.
    Oh well. What is it they say? “Originality is just undiscovered plagiarism.”

  10. sam says:
  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Our friend Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney from the Freddie Grey fiasco, just managed to get herself indicted. Perjury and falsification of mortgage applications.

    Sadly, just par for the course for elected officials in Baltimore.

  12. Mu Yixiao says:

    I’ve been binge-watching my way through Babylon 5, and for a show that ran 25 years ago, there’s a lot of stuff that still rings true right now. Every time I rewatch the series, I see a little bit more. I’m not sure how much of it is seeing things I missed the first time and how much is understanding things I saw but didn’t have experience or context to recognize the first time through.

    Apropos of the convo above, the last episode I watched was an allegory for AIDS.

    One thing popped up that got me thinking: They refer to the poor parts of the station as “Down Below”–they’re the areas near the hull. But… wouldn’t the lower sections–with more “gravity” and a less noticeable spin (not to mention a view)–be the more desirable ones?

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    Virginia proposes a law requiring students in the state be taught about the debates betweeen “Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass”:

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    @Stormy Dragon:..debates betweeen “Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass”:..

    Those were the debates when they were candidates running for the United States Senate seat from West Virgina. I think…

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Those were the debates when they were candidates running for the United States Senate seat from West Virgina. I think…

    Illinois. West Virginia didn’t exist until the Civil War when it was carved out of Virginia as the portion of the state that stayed with the Union.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Man, that paywall at Wikipedia must be solid gold!

  17. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The one big aesthetic failure in B5 was the station design. It’s perfectly sensible, but in the scenes taking place in it (like 95% of the show, give or take), it rarely conveys the feel of those many tons of spinning metal. The interior looks more like you’d expect the wheel-like station in 2001 to be.

    One ep in which it is shown, is when Kosh comes out of its shell to save Sheridan. but it also kind of gives the feeling it’s taking place elsewhere rather than on the station.

  18. Mister Bluster says:


    Silly me. I thought the debates in Illinois were Abe and Stephen Douglas. Since senators were elected by their respective state legislatures, Lincoln and Douglas were trying to win control of the Illinois General Assembly for their respective parties.

  19. Kathy says:


    Who will it be?

    Alito, Thomas, Barret, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch.

    Not because they are loved or even respected, but because it would lose them their pet Court.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Those were the debates when they were candidates running for the United States Senate seat from West Virgina. I think…

    Common mistake, but you’re thinking of the Lincoln-Cadillac debates

  21. Kathy says:

    I got my car back from the shop yesterday.

    It had been making a kind of grinding noise (not quite, but I don’t know how else to describe it), and it also sounded like a tired percolator. According to the dealership when they did regular service and tune up in December, the water pump, alternator, brake pads, and one engine support needed to be replaced.

    I don’t trust the dealership for repairs. Oh, they’ll do them well, but they’re not always necessary. Ergo the independent shop.

    Well, it turned out the alternator was in terrible shape. The mechanic said he couldn’t quite figure out how the car still ran, and worse yet how she ran without any trouble. He advised me never to sell this car.

    But it didn’t need to be replaced. They managed to fix it.

    The water pump, and engine support were just fine, and the brake pads ought to last several months more.

    Between the work and the price (very reasonable, and much less than the dealership, I’ve decided to switch the regular tune up to them, too.

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..never to sell this car.

    The final assembly plant for my 2013 Ford Fusion that I bought new was Hermosillo which I’m pretty sure is not in Michigan.
    Turned over 200,000 miles recently and still runs fine.

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @Stormy Dragon:..Lincoln-Cadillac debates.

    I wonder if they involved this guy?

  24. MarkedMan says:


    Sadly, just par for the course for elected officials in Baltimore.

    All too true. I knew she was headed for indictment when almost the first words out of her mouth were to the effect that the only reason “they” had opened a criminal investigation against her was because she was a black woman. Did not try any other tactic, did not pass go, most certainly collected more than $200.

  25. Kurtz says:


    falsification of mortgage applications.

    Is this what they call the head shot?

  26. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: I think that dictionaries should feature one definition of they as “word invoked to imply an unspecified shadowy cabal pulling the strings.”

  27. Kurtz says:

    Catching up on some episodes of Throughline. I was drawn to their set of pods on Capitalism.

    As much as I love that series, hearing Bryan Caplan is like listening to a newly converted alcoholic extol the virtues of surrender to a higher power. Except Caplan has probably never been fun at parties.

    It’s one thing for John Oliver to look like this as a teen, but as an adult?

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Kurtz: I never knew he was the kid from Troll 2.

  29. Kathy says:

    I’ve engaged in a little intellectual exercise this past week, consisting in reading a few posts right here at OTB from the recent past, specifically from 2018-2019, with special emphasis on the Mueller report (remember it?) and the first impeachment (remember that?)

    We were mostly way off in our predictions, especially me, on how things would play out.

    I did best when I was depressed or cynical. Several times I said Benito could live stream himself raping his daughter and killing his son while he strangles a dozen puppies, and his base would find a way to explain why that was a good thing.

    He didn’t do this literally, but he took a wrecking ball to American democracy and his base has found ways to embrace it.

  30. CSK says:

    I don’t think they’d say it was a good thing. They’d say it was Fake News.

  31. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: @CSK: I said a few weeks ago after the Candace Owens interview that Trump has now proved if he got a shot on 5th Avenue, he would lose support.

    In seriousness, what I’ve been hearing from righties lately is that Trump is wrong about vaccines because on that one issue he’s been fooled by the Deep State, but he’s still a great man who did great things, yadda yadda. They’ve found a way to make peace with the idea of worshiping him while carving out a small exception to reject anything in particular he says that happens to conflict with something they believe. (For some reason I’m thinking of that scene from Return of the Jedi where the ewoks treat the golden droid as a god, but they don’t listen to him when he tells them to not cook Han and Luke for supper.) Alex Jones aside, I doubt very many people are going to be saying “I’m done with him” and stick to it.

  32. Kurtz says:


    Now they’re eating meeeeeeeeee

  33. CSK says:

    I would certainly agree that the Trumpkins have far too much invested in him emotionally to give up on him.

    Another excuse they’ve made for him when he’s blundered (in their eyes) is that he’s surrounded by enemies only pretending to be his friends, who deliberately give him bad advice. Washington is too thoroughly infested by minions of the Deep State to recover.

    Trump’s insoluble problem with the vaccine is that, while he knows his fans regard it as deadly poison, he desperately wants credit for what he calls the greatest scientific discovery in human history.

  34. Jay L Gischer says:

    Here’s a fascinating research result about misinformation online. (via Kevin Drum).

    In newly published research, we found that it’s not conservatives in general who tend to promote false information, but rather a smaller subset of them who also share two psychological traits: low levels of conscientiousness and an appetite for chaos. Importantly, we found that several other factors we tested for — including support for former President Donald Trump — did not reliably predict an inclination to share misinformation.

    The problem is much more specific than just “conservatives”. It’s a sort of nihilistic conservative, which shows you that conservatism is an identity, not a behavior, since I associate conscientiousness – prudence, slow to act, etc – with a sort of personal conservatism (as opposed to Movement Conservatism).

  35. Kylopod says:


    he desperately wants credit for what he calls the greatest scientific discovery in human history.

    The book I read recently (Nightmare Scenario) really gets into how the way he approached the crisis as president was a twofold attempt to deny it was happening and search for something he could tout as a miracle cure. These two goals may have seemed to be in conflict, but they both sprouted from his caveman understanding of how the pandemic affected his image, since one way to escape blame for a problem is for it to no longer be seen as a problem, and the other is to be credited with the solution. That’s why he was constantly seizing on every “cure” that came his way, from the very questionable (hydroxychloroquine) to the somewhat more legitimate (remdesivir). And that’s where OWS came in, due to his efforts to get a vaccine out prior to Election Day, one of the few areas of his handling of the pandemic that has received praise from the mainstream (with the important and often overlooked caveat of how he botched the acquisition of Pfizer doses due its not being part of OWS). And as much as likes to bash the mainstream, the truth is he does care what they have to say about him. In this case, it’s gotten to his head.

    The problem for his fans is that that first goal of his came to overshadow everything else. They aren’t interested in the narrative of Trump as the man who fixed Covid, since they’ve become too invested in the narrative that it was never that big of a problem to begin with, and that the real villains of the story are those who promoted the myth of the pandemic to tamp down on their freedumb, something that anti-vaxism fits right into.

  36. Kathy says:


    I’ve pretty much given up trying to figure out the trumpy base. It’s one of those questions I can see I’ll never be able to wrap my head around, like how the Theranos fraud proceeded for so long, or why the Detroit Lions are still an NFL franchise*, or why billions of people genuinely like soccer.

    * I know, I know: inertia. But are they really making enough money in Detroit that they don’t even threaten to move to Oakland or St. Louis after changing the team’s name?

  37. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The authors wrote this also:

    Participants indicated their appetite for chaos by using a scale to express how much they agreed with statements like, “I think society should be burned to the ground.” For LCCs, we concluded, sharing false information is a vehicle for propagating chaos.

    At the risk of being pedantic, my problem with that article is definitional. What the authors called conservative is just the opposite. People who want to “burn society to the ground” are not conservative at all. Just as right wing radicals (or radicals of any kind) are not “conservative”. It is confusing political views with psychological frames of mind.

  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Scott: I understand what you are saying. It’s more or less what I said in my commentary, just more absolute.

    However, I am certain that people were marked as “conservative” because they identified themselves as conservatives. Did they lie? Maybe a few did, there are always mischief makers. No, most of them really, truly do think of themselves as conservatives.

    And if you want to repudiate their behavior as reprehensible, I can endorse that. That’s ok with me.

    AND, …

    Conservatism, as we find it today, is an identity and a group, rather than a set of behaviors. This is super important to understand, I think. The one thing that ties that group together is dislike of liberals. They often have nothing else in common. But this is often how group identities form.

  39. CSK says:

    I think conservatism, for a certain group anyway, has become “whatever Donald Trump thinks and does, no matter if he contradicts himself from one day to the next.”

  40. Kathy says:


    Good to know the freedom loving, Islamophobic fanatics have achieved total submission, no?

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I would go so far to say that the significant majority of any grouping of choice, be it religious or political, identifies with the group for social rather than ideological reasons.

  42. HarvardLaw92 says:


    The penalties are severe if she’s convicted. Perjury carries a maximum of five years, but mortgage fraud is the gorilla – maximum of 30 years, for each offense. The bank(s) holding the mortgages may also move to foreclose them and reclaim possession. In colloquial terms, she’s fk’ed.

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Indeed. I knew the jig was up when she and her husband split their potential defense and retained different attorneys. It’s a shame though; the people of Baltimore deserve better.

  44. Jax says:

    You can apparently go to prison for lying on financial applications for longer than trying to overthrow the government.