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:

    I have absolutely nothing to say…. other than I’m wide awake at 1:30am PST.

    Oh, and we wrapped principal photography on Season 1 tonight. Woot. Woot.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mummified body found inside wall of Oakland convention center

    The victim’s body was found behind drywall and between two concrete pillars in the top-tier of the auditorium in a cavity with only a 15-inch opening, according to the Oakland police department. “Markings and biological evidence at the top of the opening indicate the victim may have been deceased near the top and over-time his body slowly decayed and slipped toward the bottom of the cavity space,” said Lt. Frederick Shavies of the Oakland police department in an official update on Thursday.
    Officials who said initially that this was a homicide investigation reported on Thursday that it might instead have been an unfortunate mishap. “Based on the positionality the victim’s body was found in,” said Shavies, “this tragic death is most likely an accidental death caused by positional asphyxiation due to compression from the small space.”

    I’ve found a lot of shit in walls over the years, some of it was even kind of cool. Mostly it was just WTF? Never found a body tho, unless you want to count the innumerable mummified mice, birds, and bats I found. And a cat, almost forgot the cat.

  3. Jax says:
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Likelihood of criminal charges against Trump rising, experts say

    Former federal prosecutors say evidence is mounting of criminal conduct by Trump that may yield charges against the ex- president for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress on 6 January or defrauding the US government, stemming from his weeks-long drive with top allies to thwart Biden’s election by pushing false claims of fraud.

    A 2 March court filing by the House January 6 panel implicated Trump in a “criminal conspiracy” to block Congress from certifying Biden’s win, and Trump faces legal threats from justice department investigations under way into a “false electors” ploy, and seditious conspiracy charges filed against Oath Keepers who attacked the Capitol, say department veterans.

    The filing by the House panel investigating the 6 January assault on the Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters stated that it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that the president and members of his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States”.

    The panel’s hard-hitting findings about Trump’s criminal schemes were contained in a federal court filing involving top Trump lawyer John Eastman, who has fought on attorney client privilege grounds turning over a large cache of documents including emails sought by the committee.

    Back in January, the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, also revealed a criminal investigation was being launched into a far reaching scheme in seven states that Biden won which was reportedly overseen by Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani to replace legitimate electors with false ones pledged to Trump.

    Don’t hold your breath, but maybe cross your fingers.

  5. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Having grown up in New York, the rumors surrounding the construction in the 60s of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn are legendary. The anchorages and caissons contain millions of tons of concrete and, if legends are true, quite a few bodies.

  6. Scott says:

    Yesterday we saw the Israeli Knesset bow to the far right orthodox and banning naturalization of Palestinian spouses in order to preserve a “Jewish State”.

    In India:

    India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won key state elections Thursday that strengthen its position in national politics and offer a ringing endorsement of Modi’s vision of guiding India away from its secular founding principles.

    In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church strongly supports Putin and the Ukraine invasion because both the Church and Putin are revolted by the West’s secular values.

    In the US, the Christian Nationalists have taken over the Republican Party and are attacking at all levels of government to create laws enforcing their far right vision of American.

    This trend is happening all over the globe. I expect soon, there will be commentary saying that Osama Bin Laden and his Wahhabists were right.

    I grew up Christian and still practice but my family history always stiff armed the more fundamentalist trends even to the extent of believing that, in words of my Dad, that religion was the cause of more wars and strife than any other factor. I think we are seeing that now.

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    Enough doom and gloom for a Friday.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: I’m currently reading Mississippi Solo. Just the other day I was reading a bit where the author Eddy Harris took a left turn in his soliloquy and mused on the building of the Eads Bridge, and wondered atthe cost in human lives it took to build it:

    On March 19, 1870, worker James Riley emerged from the caisson gasping for air. Within 15 minutes, he fell to the ground, dead. By week’s end, four more workers died. The cause? Decompression sickness, more commonly referred to as “the bends.”

    To hold back a river’s worth of water, the air pressure had to be increased as the caisson sank deeper. Once on the river bottom, the pressure inside the caisson was more than 40 pounds per square inch—significantly more pressure than what’s in the average car tire today.

    Workers on the project began noticing how candles burned strangely and voices had a crushed, squeaking pitch. A local publicist even reported feeling like he was “wandering in a dream” in the high-pressure air.

    But for those who spent hours at a time in the caisson, it was no dream. They emerged spitting up blood and suffering excruciating pain in their joints and stomachs. Others’ legs went numb, and they had trouble climbing the stairs to the surface. The caisson was becoming a deathtrap.

    Each breath of high-pressure air the workers took contained a far greater quantity of nitrogen than air on the surface. When they reemerged, that nitrogen was trapped as bubbles in their bloodstream. Had they slowly depressurized over a few hours, they would have safely exhaled all that extra nitrogen. But most Eads Bridge workers spent no more than five minutes in the caisson’s airlock before bursting out into the low-pressure air. Minutes later they were screaming in pain, paralyzed, or worse.

    The project’s engineer and designer, James B. Eads, initially took caisson’s disease quite lightly, claiming that it only seemed to affect workers who were spotted getting drunk in riverfront saloons. But as the death toll mounted, Eads directed his family doctor, Alphonse Jaminet, to build a floating hospital beside the pier site and study why this was happening.

    Ultimately 119 Eads Bridge workers—one sixth of the entire workforce—were affected by decompression sickness, and 14 of them were killed. Although Dr. Jaminet was unable to completely solve the medical puzzle of caisson’s disease, he did realize that gradual decompression was vital. His studies laid some of the foundations for modern diving practices.

  8. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve always been fascinated by urban infrastructure whether it is roads and bridges, water and sewage, or electricity. We take those things for granted until some disaster happens (like the Big Freeze last February here in Texas). Then we learn about massive water pumps freezing up, how the power grid and circuits work and so forth.

    You see the fighting and bombing in Ukraine and someone, somewhere is fighting to keep the power on and water running. Hidden heroism there.

  9. Kylopod says:


    I expect soon, there will be commentary saying that Osama Bin Laden and his Wahhabists were right.

    Nick Fuentes has praised the Taliban.

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    Tell me you’ve never driven on the DC beltway before without telling me you’ve never driven on the DC beltway before:

    The People's Convoy is growing increasingly upset with Beltway drivers, so much so that organizer Brian Brase told truckers tonight they could escalate their complaints about commuters being "bad actor[s]" by "flood[ing] 911." "DC traffic does not like us," he said.— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) March 11, 2022

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: What a bunch of snowflakes.

  12. Mu Yixiao says:

    We can label this as “woke”… right?

    German feminists release gender-equality rocket design. A German feminist art group has revealed a vulva-shaped spaceship concept, Dezeen architectural magazine reports. The WBF Aeronautics group is encouraging the European Space Agency to help realize this design in order to better represent humanity in space and “restore gender equality to the cosmos.” The group created the Vulva Spaceship concept to challenge the convention of, ahem, phallic spacecraft design.

    This is not The Onion … “The project adds another dimension to the representation of humanity in space and is communicating to the world that anyone has a place in the universe, regardless of their genitalia,” the organization said.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:


    The best part is they think this is because the other beltway drivers are conspiring against them, when it’s probably just the normal traffic on one of the nation’s most notoriously shitty highways.

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I remember one particularly bad trip 10-15 years ago, when it took me 3.5 hours to get through the 33 miles around DC.

  15. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Absolutely. DC traffic doesn’t like anyone. These chuds are certainly not special.

  16. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I remember one particularly bad trip 10-15 years ago

    Far out!

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The best part is they think this is because the other beltway drivers are conspiring against them,

    Of course the truckers think there is a conspiracy to destroy their conspiracy to disrupt DC traffic.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Yeah, I had a bad trip once when somebody passed me a dipper. Never again!

  19. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “We can label this as “woke”… right?”

    You can call anything whatever you want… but why would you want to? What’s the point? Oh, I guess then you can connect this set of individuals with anyone else your feel superior to and claim they’re all exactly the same. That was the specific purpose of the Right using the phrase “critical race theory” to describe any attempt to treat minorities as human beings and it seems to have succeeded in making a lot of truly horrible people even more openly racist than they were. So if that’s what you’re looking to do, go for it.

    But I still ask why you’d want to.

  20. wr says:

    @Mikey: “DC traffic doesn’t like anyone. These chuds are certainly not special.”

    But they are, though. Everyone else in traffic is there to get somewhere. These losers are deliberately screwing up traffic to make some inane political point. That’s why everyone hates them.

  21. Kathy says:


    Count no one happy until Benito wears the orange jumpsuit.

  22. a country lawyer says:

    The Ukrainians report the third Russian General has been killed on Friday. If this is true, this is an amazing statistic for an operation of this size and length of time. By Field Marshall Slim’s thinking the morale of the troops must be sky high.

  23. Mu Yixiao says:


    Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning?

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    @wr is all-in on the Hollywood woke agenda. I don’t think he’s noticed that train is running out of steam.

  25. sam says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Some of the truckers are upset because everyone’s giving them the finger. One guy was really put out when three young girls gave him the finger. Had to bail for the rest of the day.

  26. sam says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    “The group created the Vulva Spaceship concept to challenge the convention of, ahem, phallic spacecraft design.”

    Maybe they can have a duel with Flesh Gordon’s ship.

  27. Stormy Dragon says:


    Pointing out a silly rocket design means Mu can pretend the GOP isn’t trying to recriminalize LGBT people

  28. Mu Yixiao says:


    Now that’s what you call “rocket porn” 😀

  29. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Not sure what you’re smoking, but you might want to put it away for a while.

  30. KM says:

    Hmmm… can we label this “MAGA cult nonsense” then?

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Mocks ‘Woke’ Disney Amid Uproar Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

    Man, Chapek just can’t please anybody can he? He gives the most lukewarm lipservice to the concerns of his employees, shareholders and paying customers about a ludicrous and problematic bill (while still fully funding all the GOP schmucks who passed it) and DeSantis *still* gives him public sh^t about it. Because Disney tried to CYA with the barest fig leaf they could find, the sitting FL Gov doubles down on it. Wonder if he’ll accuse Chapek of “grooming” like they have everyone else who’s questioned the bill…..

    (psstt @Mu – the reason they jumped on you was the snide “woke” opening. I’d get the same with my opener on any conservative friendly site. It’s a good news story and definitely ridiculous to make something so aerodynamic fail just because rocket look phallic. However it felt like you were using “woke” as a slur rather then pointing out rocket design has little to do with feminism.)

  31. Stormy Dragon says:


    If the story was presented by itself as a funny news story, it would have been amusing.

    But it wasn’t. It was presented using explicitly alt-right terminology as part of a larger effort to discredit liberalism in general.

  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Mu, sorry, I gotta ask – you do get that this was just an exercise to get screen space?

  33. MarkedMan says:


    Maybe they can have a duel with Flesh Gordon’s ship.

    I would pay to see that movie…

  34. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Just getting tired of the constant attacks on anyone who tries to see the world from a slightly different perspective. The smug status-quo worship embedded in the sneering use of “woke” is the worst of middle-class entitlement.

  35. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “@wr is all-in on the Hollywood woke agenda.”

    Oh, Michael. You’re so blinded by hatred of anyone even slightly to your left. You have no idea what I’m “all in” on, except for exhaustion with the smugness of those who have no answers and despise anyone who tries to find one.

  36. @Michael Reynolds:

    the Hollywood woke agenda

    A sincere question: do you realize how much you sound like FNC/run of the mill Republicans?

    (Not snark, honestly–but is that how you want/intend to sound?).

  37. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I like it. There’s something very appealing about it.

    (I assume your “woke” comment is a joke, because it would otherwise be overly tedious… not sure why everyone is taking it seriously)

  38. Stormy Dragon says:


    There’s too many alt-righters who will use alt-right terminology to identify others in spaces and then fall back on the “it’s just a joke” excuse when called out on. So when you see someone using alt-right terminology, the BEST case is they’re just a useful idiot who is helpfully providing the tall grass for actual alt-righters to hide in.

  39. KM says:

    In the interests of fairness, we can’t complain when the right uses “j/k” as rationale and not point it out among ourselves. If we call out @JKB for using “woke” in a insulting sense, everyone else should be held accountable as well.

    Again, I don’t @Mu was trying to be derogatory but that is what the connotation of “look at what these dumbasses’ ideology lead them to create” came across as. Supposed stupid idea is supposedly stupid on it’s own but deliberately using the word in connection with it means that you’re linking the two together. That’s the sort of intentional etymological tainting that causes people to automatically have negative thoughts about something regardless of whether it deserves it.

  40. senyordave says:

    I wonder whether some of the folks who frequent OTB would have considered MLK some sort of woke SJW, and posted about him in derisive terms.

  41. Jay L Gischer says:

    When I see that artists have “created” a vulva-shaped spaceship, I ask myself several questions:

    1. Do they want more women to be involved in space exploration? Is that the goal? I mean, I do. Space Ex and in general STEM does not have good representation balance. AND, from the early days, even the 60’s, there have been women involved, even doing things that were quite important. Things like software development and trajectory calculation. I don’t think stuff like this helps, though.

    2. Do they actually think rockets look like this because they look like phalluses? That’s definitely some ignorance showing. I mean, skyscrapers look like phalluses, that must be the only reason we build them, right? It can’t possibly have anything to do with real estate values and density.

    3. Do they think space exploration is a waste of time? This is plausible. This is a position some people hold. Framing your protest in this way is, well, not a good look, and likley to discourage women from entering STEM, frankly.

    4. Are they not aware of the multitude of fanciful spaceships designed by artists and effects people over the decades that already look like vulvas? Take most any flying saucer and look at it edge on, rotate 90 degrees and there you are. And they “take men abaord” too. They go into the <emmothership. The men get lost, “abducted” and lose track of themselves often returning years later.


    5. I wonder why I’m hearing about it. Yes, it seems misguided and kind of dumb to me. It makes me wonder just who is obsessed by phalluses, too. It seems a fine entry in the “somewhere someone is doing something dumb” category of news. I’m not a fan of that. Unless the person being dumb invites me to look at how dumb they were.

    By the way, this isn’t “woke” at all. The fact that rockets are phallic is not a new idea. Nor is the sort of complaint that this art project makes. In fact, I bet you could find, if you knew where to look, someone doing basically the same thing 50 years ago. I’m not a fan of the word “woke”, I mostly ignore it. But the concept isn’t new to me. It’s basically what “conscious” has morphed into. We had lots of “consciousness raising” activities in the 70’s. That seemed to work, but I guess some folks like to separate themselves from the past, and think “woke” is better. And of course, folks love to mock even the use of the phrase. Even people who themselves deeply resent being framed as hicks or hillbillies (which I am decidedly not doing at this moment, by the way).

  42. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t think Mu Yixiao is a useful idiot…

    Seriously, it just marks him as someone who watches Fox or travels in the circles of those who do.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @wr: anti-anti-racism is a slippery slope, and a lot of the people complaining about “wokeness” are really just complaining that they cannot use the n-word in casual conversation — not even when referring to Arabs as sand n-clang-s.

    (Isn’t that literally part of Michael Reynold’s backstory here? He had to use a toned-down, historically inaccurate word in one of his books? “Nigra”[*] if I am not mistaken? Different motivations from my brothers who are also disappointed that they can’t use the word as often as they would like, but a variation on the same complaint)

    When people start acting like people complaining about a problem are a bigger problem than the problem itself, I start to wonder where those people will be in five years time, and what horrible things they will be embracing.

    (Just for the record, I do not think Mr. Reynolds will be embracing the full Republican performative cruelty agenda… I just think he needs a big ol’ buttplug because he’s letting his asshole show)

    Hippie punching is a time honored tradition in America, but some people want to use brass knuckles when a love tap is more appropriate, or a light slap. I’m sure the “LatinX” enthusiasts mean well, I suppose — they should be mocked, but not rejected outright.

    [*] I think the purity parade can go a little overboard at times, and there are entirely appropriate times to use the n-word, for instance when there is a historical context or you are quoting someone, but it’s not a big thing not to.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer: It should be a vulva shaped launching mechanism that catapults baby-shaped satellites into low-Earth orbit.

  45. just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’ve observed this before, but significant numbers of people who post regularly at this site are probably not as liberal as they imagine they are.

  46. just nutha says:

    @KM: “Again, I don’t @Mu was trying to be derogatory…”

    Hmmm… I thought he WAS trying to be derogatory and that you are just more disposed to think the best of people than I am.

  47. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I mean, skyscrapers look like phalluses,

    I’m unaware of any person, or animals, who has a phallus with a square cross section. I imagine sex would be a tad difficult.

  48. gVOR08 says:


    (I assume your “woke” comment is a joke, because it would otherwise be overly tedious… not sure why everyone is taking it seriously)

    Indeed. Remind me to be a little more serious about any humor I try to inject here. I’d hate to get cancelled over a joke.

  49. senyordave says:

    This seems a little unusual:
    Grimes has reportedly moved on from Elon Musk to military whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
    “They’re getting serious. They U-Hauled it,” a source told Page Six regarding their fast-paced relationship. “They’ve been living together in Austin.”
    Going from Elon Musk to Chelsea Manning

  50. Jax says:

    My youngest wants to try making bagels this weekend. Specifically, poppy seed bagel dough that we can wrap around cheese hot dogs, because Schwan’s has these “Bagel Dogs” that she’s always loved, but she’s suddenly turned “thrifty” and thinks that $17 for 6 bagel dogs is a load of bullshit and we should just learn to make them ourselves. 😛

    Any of the foodies around here have any recipes, tips or tricks for bagel dough?

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Duck phalluses are the things of nightmares, especially for female ducks.

    Echidna phalluses have multiple glans. I offer you this link that you don’t really have to click.

    Square cross section just seems pedestrian. On a unrelated note, wombats have square poo.

  52. Jax says:


    Fenelon noted similarities between echidnas and platypuses which have a two-headed penis covered with spines.

    “Internally, we think it’s pretty similar to an echidna, but nobody’s ever seen an erect platypus penis, so we’re not sure if they only use one of their two heads at one time,” she said

  53. Kathy says:


    there’s a long, drawn out, series of alternate history books by Harry Turtledove featuring a winning CSA in the Civil War, later involving itself in WWI, an interwar period, and WWII against mostly the USA. The n-word is sprinkled all over all the time. Everyone uses it, on both sides.

    The best book in the series is the prequel/setup, “How Few Remain,” set later in the XIX Century. It features Frederick Douglas and Abe Lincoln (who wasn’t murdered after losing the war), as well as one Mr. Clemens in San Francisco.

  54. Stormy Dragon says:


    Is Emperor Joshua Norton I in it?

  55. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Alas, no.

    But thanks for bringing him up. I spent ten minutes reading his Wikipedia entry. Fascinating character, and mostly nice.

  56. Gustopher says:


    nobody’s ever seen an erect platypus penis,

    Nobody who lived long enough to tell anyone about it, anyway.

  57. Mu Yixiao says:


    (I assume your “woke” comment is a joke, because it would otherwise be overly tedious… not sure why everyone is taking it seriously)

    Yep. 90% joke, 10% “dear gods, someone is going to take this seriously”. I didn’t think that 10% would include the OTB Commentariat.

  58. Mu Yixiao says:


    Seriously, it just marks him as someone who watches Fox or travels in the circles of those who do.


    I’ve had a lot of issues with your bias in the past, but you’ve just crossed over into the “anyone I think is different than me must be the enemy” territory.

    You’re entirely wrong in your assumptions, and I’m finally putting you in the “ignore what he says, he’s an intractable partisan” category.

    Happy Saturday!