Happy New Year! Forum

Welcome to 2021--may it be better than 2020.

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. Kylopod says:

    Just 20 days away from a very special day: the day I turn 44.

    No, seriously. I was born on Inauguration Day 1977, the day Carter took office–in DC no less.

  2. Kurtz says:

    Happy 2021, everybody!

    Thanks for making 2020 more tolerable than it otherwise would have been.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:


  4. Kathy says:

    Good riddance 2020.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The most notable US athletes of 2020: No 1 – LeBron James, a man for all seasons

    Last month an old interview of LeBron James resurfaced that quickly went viral on NBA Twitter. The grainy footage was from a program called HBO’s On the Record with Bob Costas that was recorded shortly before James made the jump from St Vincent-St Mary High to the professional ranks. By then he was already a national sensation – Sports Illustrated had featured him on its cover more than a year earlier under the headline THE CHOSEN ONE – having spent his final season of high school basketball on a barnstorming tour that filled gyms and arenas around the country and sating the intense curiosity of a pre-YouTube world.

    The clip is only 33 seconds in length, but it’s more than enough time to offer a sense of the extreme pressure this 18-year-old amateur faced on the doorstep of his destiny.

    “How does it feel to know that if you’re not eventually a Hall of Fame-caliber player … a lot of people will say you’re a bust or overhyped?” Costas asks.
    Few elite athletes have more misguided critics than James, whose life story embodies the American Dream. He grew up with his single mother in a modest apartment in Akron, worked thousands of hours to cultivate his craft, found gainful employment after turning 18 and has been fairly compensated for his skills. He’s come of age during a time when social media exploded in popularity – when if a celebrity so much as picks his nose it’s disseminated globally within minutes – yet he’s been a model of good behavior on and off the court. And now in the autumn of his career, he’s learning to leverage his platform like few athletes before him.

    So how did 18-year-old LeBron feel about those expectations? Looking back at his response from half a lifetime ago, it’s no wonder he turned out OK.

    “I don’t look at it as looking into the future,” James said . “I take every moment at the time because you’re not promised tomorrow. That’s what my mom brought me up on. I always say I just try to get better every day at what I do.”

  7. CSK says:

    In a year of enforced isolation, and other tribulations I won’t bother to mention, I’ve been very grateful for the intelligent, amusing, knowledgeable, and literate companionship here. My best to you all for a happier 2021.

  8. Paine says:

    I already received my latest stimulus check via direct deposit. Year is off to a good start. Happy new year everyone!

  9. Barry says:

    Happy New Year, everybody!

  10. ImProPer says:

    2020 is hindsight, just as it should be. First time in a quite a while, I was happy to see a year slip by. Hello 2021!

  11. Michael Cain says:

    @Paine: Ours shows as a pending transaction. E-mail from our bank says the Treasury has told them the funds won’t actually be available until Jan 4, maybe later.

  12. Teve says:


    Y2K was 21 years ago. Looking back, I think the only thing we learned is that if a bunch people work really hard to stop a problem from happening, lots of other people will assume it was never really a problem.


    This is nuclear safety, all the time. Lots of precautions, and when things stay safe, some people want to point out that everything is safe, so why all the precautions?


    So true. I ran Gov. Jeb Bush’s statewide Y2K effort. My job was to make sure the whole state was ready. A few days after the Millennium, a reporter called. He said, “You spent all this money, yet nothing went wrong.” I said, “I have never had to so staunchly defend my success!”


    One of the Concorde design-engineers was on a Concorde as it broke through the sound-barrier. A non-engineering passenger next to him said, “What a lot of hype, I didn’t notice a thing!” The engineer replied, “Yes, that was the hard part.”

  13. Teve says:


    (Me as a YA character)

    Fairy: You get one wish, mortal, make it count. You can have love or wealth or happiness or—

    Me: I want a bird to shit on Mitch McConnell every time he feels good about himself.

    Fairy: you know what, you get a bonus wish.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    After Robin Williams died in August 2014, aged 63, a lot of people had a lot of things to say about him. There was the predictable speculation about why a hugely beloved and seemingly healthy Hollywood star would end his own life, with some confidently stating that he was depressed or had succumbed to old addictions.

    Others talked, with more evidence, about Williams as a comic genius (Mork & Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Aladdin); a brilliant dramatic actor (Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo); and both (Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King). One thing everyone agreed on was that he had an extraordinary mind. Comedians spoke about how no one thought faster on stage than Williams; those who made movies with him said he never did the same take twice, always ad-libbing and getting funnier each time.

    Williams knew this about himself. In Marina Zenovich’s 2018 HBO documentary about Williams, Come Inside My Mind, we hear an old interview in which he is asked if he has any fears. Williams replies: “I guess I fear my consciousness becoming, not just dull, but a rock. I couldn’t spark.” It wasn’t until after he died that doctors were able to see that Williams’s worst fears had come true: the autopsy suggested that he had suffered from severe Lewy body dementia (LBD), more commonly referred to in the UK as dementia with Lewy bodies.

    Talking to me from her home in Marin County, California, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, tells me: “The doctors said to me after the autopsy: ‘Are you surprised that your husband had Lewy bodies throughout his entire brain and brain stem?’ I didn’t even know what Lewy bodies were, but I said: ‘No, I’m not surprised.’ The fact that something had infiltrated every part of my husband’s brain? That made perfect sense.”

    Keep an eye out for Robin’s Wish.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: LeBron is simply remarkable. His athletic talent is a gift but he’s put in an unfathomable effort to hone his craft and take care of his body. Much more so than Jordan did, and his effort was extraordinary. That he’s handled even more pressure than Jordan had (both in terms of expectations and the scrutiny of social media) with neither three years at an elite university or a middle-class upbringing, which Jordan had, is really unfathomable.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Heh.

  17. Teve says:

    @James Joyner: I’ve seen LeBron’s core workouts on YouTube, they’re bananas.

  18. Kathy says:


    Me: A really big bird, like an eagle.

  19. Teve says:

    @Kathy: an ostrich.

  20. CSK says:

    The pharmacist who deliberately left the vials of Covid-19 vaccine out to spoil is Steven Brandenburg, aged 46. His motive is unknown, or hasn’t been made public.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: He’s one hell of a dude, someone worthy of admiration.

  22. Jen says:

    @CSK: I’m glad they figured this out, my concern now are situations where other lunatics/assholes do this and don’t get caught. Unless there are multiple safeguards in place, it’d be easy enough to leave them out overnight, render them useless, and then put them back in the fridge before anyone notices, leaving hundreds of people thinking they were vaccinated with effective product.

    The whole thing is just so crazy and psychotic.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: This vaccine sabotage sounds like a unique event. We don’t yet know what this guys motive was, but we can be pretty sure it’s nuts. How many looney toon pharmacists and technicians are there? Well, how many with a flavor of looney toon that would lead to this?

    I don’t know that we need to spend a ton of money and effort on preventing recurrence of what is a very low probability event. But I’m pretty sure we will. I haven’t traveled for awhile, but I believe we’re still taking off shoes in airports. I also expect someone is working furiously on a telltale, a label that will change color permanently above -X degrees.

    I don’t often dive into the RW morass. Is there a theory out there maybe along the lines that it’s really Bill Gates’ trackers that require the low temp storage?

  24. CSK says:

    The latest crackpot “theory” I saw is that “they” are protecting this person’s identity because his name is Muhammed.

    I am not making this up.

  25. Teve says:

    @CSK: his name has been released and it’s not Mohammed.

  26. Teve says:

    @Teve: Steven Brandenburg.

  27. CSK says:

    I know. I mentioned that fact further up the thread. See @CSK:

    I get the impression the Trumpkins aren’t too interested in this.

  28. Teve says:

    Whoops CSK got it while I was at brunch 😀

  29. CSK says:

    According to Law & Crime and The Daily Beast, Lin Wood has told his former law partners that he “might” be the Second Coming of Christ.

  30. CSK says:


  31. Teve says:


  32. CSK says:

    Now listen up, whippersnappper: There will be no commenting for you, young man, till you’ve done your homework and finished your chores.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: How many looney toon pharmacists and technicians are there?

    A lot more than you’d be comfortable knowing about, and I speak from personal experience.

  34. dazedandconfused says:

    @James Joyner:

    They are very different. Jordan and James had significantly different basketball histories. Jordon grew up with no idea of any special talent. He was even cut from his high school team. LBJ, on the other hand, had been by a massive amount the best player on the court since he was just a tyke.

    They exhibited very different behaviors on the court in their early years. Jordan was the kid with an enormous chip, but LBJ very early discovered the isolation of superiority. Posting up low and demolishing his opponent on every possession was entirely in the cards, but that ruins the game for everybody. He played defense and passed the ball, he went Superman in short bursts most of the time.

    Some miss this, as during his first stint at Cleveland he was strongly encouraged to be the next Jordan. As a very young adult he did what they asked. However he fled that bad coaching, and his first year at Miami was frustrating to watch. What was the world’s best one-on-one player doing trying to be the next Magic??, thought many. However he was just returning to what he had always really been.

    IMO his innate character saved him from a horror. I can not imagine what it would be like to grow up ALWAYS a ton better than everyone around myself. I wonder if that could have led to egomania, if that’s the right word. Being an insufferable a-hole is perhaps a more accurate way to put it. LBJ, as far as anyone can tell, dodged that bullet and it doesn’t appear to have been a near-miss.

  35. Jen says:
  36. Teve says:

    Making sense of the Facebook menace

    Regardless, democracy is not about one side winning. Democracy is about one side losing and supporters of that side trusting the result, being satisfied with the process, and remaining willing to play the game again under similar rules. Democracy is also about a citizenry that is willing and able to converse frankly and honestly about the problems it faces, sharing a set of facts and some forums through which informed citizens may deliberate. Clearly, none of that is happening in the United States, and less and less of it is happening around the world. Facebook’s dominance over the global media ecosystem is one reason why.

  37. CSK says:

    Odd. Assuming all the guests were uber-sycophants of Trump’s, you’d think he’d revel in swanning around among them, being constantly assured of his wonderfulness.

  38. Gustopher says:


    I also expect someone is working furiously on a telltale, a label that will change color permanently above -X degrees.

    Given all the logistical issues with the vaccine, and the potential for accidental spoilage, that would be a really good idea.

  39. Jen says:

    @CSK: The early departure thing is weird. I’ve seen varying suggestions–he apparently didn’t like the renovations that Melania had done to their personal quarters at Mar-a-Lago, so there’s that. (This feeds somewhat into the dementia stuff, people with dementia get very unsettled in unfamiliar surroundings…but, this might be just a fit of pique because he realizes that it signals the end of his run as Pres.)

    The Iran thing is concerning, I can fully see him getting the US into a quagmire in an attempt to hobble Biden. He (Trump) is apparently not informing the Biden team about anything, which is incredibly poor form. (I recall an episode of the West Wing where President Bartlet went so far as to inform both *candidates* during the campaign that it looked like a use of force would be necessary–he wanted them both to be prepared. No such grace with this lot.)

    Being trapped in a maskless party with Rudy Giuliani and Vanilla Ice sounds just bloody awful.

  40. SC_Birdflyte says:

    “May all your futures be pleasant ones, not like our present ones.” (Okay, I’ve been waiting a long time to quote from Fiddler on the Roof).

  41. Teve says:


    The Senate just overrode Trump’s veto of the defense bill.

  42. Teve says:
  43. Sleeping Dog says:


    A I recall, when the Russo-Georgian war broke out in 2008, Bush/43 had both Obama and McCain briefed, so that they had the same information he did.

    This incident showed, if you hadn’t already come to the conclusion, that McCain didn’t have the temperament to be president.

  44. flat earth luddite says:

    Ok, now I’ve got the image in my head of Rudy G. lip-synching “Ice Ice Baby.” Ugh. Need brain floss. And a scotch…
    Thanks, Jen, for the laugh. Happy 2021!

  45. CSK says:

    Yes, it does sound like one of the circles of Dante’s hell, doesn’t it?

    I suppose Trump might not have wanted to be in close contact with a bunch of people who, however much they might fawn over him publicly, are fully aware that he’s a…loser.

  46. Teve says:

    I saw a clip of vanilla ice at Mar-a-Lago. Sad to say, it’s not even 1992 vanilla ice, it’s bad compared to that.

  47. CSK says:

    As some wag on Twitter put it, the difference between Vanilla Ice and Trump is that Vanilla Ice knows he’s a joke.

  48. Teve says:


    If Pence is arrested, @SecPompeo will save the election. Pence will be in jail awaiting trial for treason. He will face execution by firing squad. He is a coward & will sing like a bird & confess ALL.

  49. CSK says:

    Okay, a straitjacket is now required for this guy.

  50. Mister Bluster says:

    @Paine:..I already received my latest stimulus check via direct deposit.

    Me too!
    I’m going to donate it all to the Liars Club in the name of Donald Trump and the Republican Party!

  51. Mister Bluster says:

    (I’m lying…)

  52. Teve says:


    As I just reported on @cnn with @JohnAvlon, a Republican official tells me that part of why establishment types are so angry with Josh Hawley is because they think he knows better. As the official put it: “He’s not some moron like Louie Gohmert.”

  53. CSK says:

    That made me laugh out loud.

  54. Joe says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: L’chaim!

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Welcome to 2021–may it be better than 2020.

    Fortunately, we’re not asking the year to do anything hard. Happy New Year, y’all!

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Very sad! 🙁 The most pathetic New Year’s Eve party–and venue–that I’ve ever seen. WA!

  57. Teve says:


    My mother just asked me, in complete earnestness and with sincere worry, if the United States is going to become a socialist country because of Joe Biden.

    I hate Fox News. I hate how it poisons the minds of otherwise intelligent people.

  58. Teve says:

    Gohmert’s case just got tossed.

  59. Teve says:

    Amanda Marcotte:

    Ding ding ding! Encouraging pharmacists to inject their political views into their work opened the door to vaccine denial. But was viewed as “harmless” when the only victims were women.

  60. Jen says:

    @Teve: Those dipshit pharmacists who refused to fill birth control prescriptions were *exactly* the cohort I thought of when I posted the item above about the potential for others to do what that one did. While I HOPE it was a one-off, I have read waaaaaaay too many stories about pharmacists refusing to fill pill and plan B prescriptions to have much faith overall anymore.

  61. Jax says:

    Our local (35 miles to the next one) pharmacist is an anti-masker. The one before that refused to fill Plan B, and finally was encouraged towards retirement when she messed up deadly medications for epileptics and heart patients. She’s still currently on Facebook declaring COVID a hoax.

    Maybe I’ve watched too many Criminal Minds and Law & Order episodes, but I hope someone is doing a deep dive into any previous “mistakes” made by this guy.

  62. Teve says:

    @Jen: that whole ‘I refuse to do my job because of my religion’ bullshit has pissed me off for 20 years.

    20 years ago in Durham I had lost my car and was taking the bus everywhere. One day I had been grocery shopping and was about 2 mi from home with a few bags of groceries, and I was catching the last bus back to my apartment. The bus stops, I get on and sit down. Before the bus starts again the driver turns to me and says

    I don’t have to let you on.

    I said what?

    I don’t have to let you on. You got alcohol.

    Yeah it’s a bottle of wine I was grocery shopping at Harris Teeter.

    Well I don’t have to let you on this bus.

    It’s not open. I haven’t been drinking. I bought it at the grocery store.

    Yeah well I’ll allow it this time but I don’t have to do it.

    He was obviously some fundy minister making ends meet driving a bus. I was so mad at that asshole I can still see his face 20 years later. If he’d been some Fundy pharmacist trying to deny me birth control I probably would have gone to jail.