Hey Look! It’s the 1st of February 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. Teve says:

    How Does Science Really Work?

    Science is objective. Scientists are not. Can an “iron rule” explain how they’ve changed the world anyway?

    As a former scientist I thought this is a really good explanation of how Karl Popper wasn’t exactly right and Thomas Kuhn wasn’t exactly right, but there is a related idea that may be closer to the truth.

  2. Teve says:

    Trump’s useful thugs: how the Republican party offered a home to the Proud Boys

    Early in Trump’s presidency, emboldened neo-Nazi and fascist groups came out into the open but were met with widespread revulsion. So the tactics of the far right changed, becoming more insidious – and much more successful

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for vaccine rollout last fall

    WASHINGTON — Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny state governments any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall — despite frantic warnings from state officials that they didn’t have the money they needed to ramp up a massive vaccination operation.

    The push, described to STAT by congressional aides in both parties and openly acknowledged by one of the Trump officials, came from multiple high-ranking Trump health officials in repeated meetings with legislators.

    Without the extra money, states spent last October and November rationing the small pot of federal dollars they had been given. And when vaccines began shipping in December, states seemed woefully underprepared.

    The previously unreported lobbying efforts underscore that even after the Trump administration spent billions helping drug makers develop Covid-19 vaccines, it not only dismissed states’ concerns about the help they would need to roll them out, but actively undermined their efforts to press Congress to get the funding they needed.

    Much of the lobbying push came from Paul Mango, the former deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services. He argued, repeatedly, that states hadn’t demonstrated they needed additional funding because, at least as of last October, they hadn’t spent the $200 million that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent to states in September.

    Far from denying his efforts, Mango doubled down in an interview with STAT — and even accused states of pressing for the money to bolster their empty tax coffers.

    “A lot of them had shut down their economies and they weren’t getting tax revenue,” he said.

    “I’m sure they could use money — that’s not in dispute — what’s in dispute is whether they needed money given all they hadn’t used to actually administer vaccines,” Mango added, suggesting that his lobbying efforts were an attempt to protect taxpayers from wasteful government spending.
    It’s true that the states hadn’t spent most of the money by October. State health departments, for their part, say there are several good reasons why. For one, they hadn’t begun vaccinating anyone yet. States were also drawing down other sources of funding that were set to expire. And they were reluctant to immediately spend the new funding because they were unsure when new funding would be appropriated by Congress.

    The states were asking for $8.4 Billion, and eventually got $4.5 billion.

  4. Teve says:


    It’s true that the states hadn’t spent most of the money by October.

    of course the states weren’t going to spend the money by October The first American didn’t get vaccinated until December 14!

    Incompetents from top to bottom.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    The meeting between Biden and the 10 Republicans is just political theater. By proposing something so far away from what the Biden team wants to do (and believes they have the votes for), the Republicans are making it abundantly clear they are not there to negotiate but merely checking a “we tried to negotiate witht the Dems” box. And Biden meets with them so he can do the same. But bottom line, the Republican plan is 30% of the Democratic plan and does not acknowledge the strength of the Dems starting position. It is clearly not a negotiating position but rather just their idea of virtue signaling. The “virtue” here is that deficits suddenly matter again.

  6. Kurtz says:


    It is clearly not a negotiating position but rather just their idea of virtue signaling.


  7. Jax says:

    @Teve: Not just incompetent. Truly evil. Here we are, one year later, and the virus that would just “magically disappear” has killed 450,000 Americans. Another 150,000 (which won’t take long to reach), and it’ll be like the entire human population of the state of Wyoming just went poof and disappeared.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: I consider myself fairly jaded when it comes to politics, but sometimes I just have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that national Republican Leaders; Administration, House, Senate and, to a lesser but still significant degree, the Supreme Court, did not feel they had any role whatsoever in slowing or diminishing this incredible loss of human life. No active role, no oversight role, no role in expediting the machinery of governance. Instead, they focused 100% of their energy in protecting Trump and his administration from oversight, and deliberately slowing down the machinery.

  9. Teve says:

    @Jax: @MarkedMan: practically speaking they don’t have to care. According to their voters on social media, every last one of those 450,000 deaths was 92 years old with 8 preexisting conditions and was really hit by a bus but hospitals falsified the records.

  10. Mikey says:


    Here we are, one year later, and the virus that would just “magically disappear” has killed 450,000 Americans. Another 150,000 (which won’t take long to reach), and it’ll be like the entire human population of the state of Wyoming just went poof and disappeared.

    We have already surpassed the total of US combat deaths in World War 2, which took a military mobilization of over 12 million, deployed worldwide, four years to reach. And COVID-19 did that in less than one year.

    Here’s a list of major American cities of which we’ve lost the equivalent of the entire population:

    Virginia Beach
    Oakland, CA
    Arlington, TX
    New Orleans

    Cities we will soon have killed off:

    Long Beach
    Colorado Springs
    Kansas City, MO

    Not far behind:


  11. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: It blows me away that the story about Kushner deliberately gumming up the works because COVID originally hit “Blue” states the worst didn’t get more traction. They let Americans die because they were supposedly Democrats. Encouraged it, even. Fuck them and their calls for “unity”.

  12. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: I don’t. Know these types of people well. They are factional people–so if’s not problem for their faction its someone else’s problem. They only catch religion when personally affected (see Christie, Chris) Of course, there is the flip side of the coin with people who think everyone else’s problem is their problem. These people spread themselves too thin to affect any change on one specific problem. The result is the same–nothing actually changes.

  13. Teve says:

    @Jax: i’m a Vanity Fair subscriber and I like Vanity Fair but I wish we had more sourcing on that Kushner claim than that VF story.

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    February is Black History Month

    Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
    Malcolm X

  15. Teve says:


    ME: Thanks to the COVID relief check I can pay my rent. Here you go.
    LANDLORD: Wait a second…
    *holds check up to the light*
    LANDLORD: Was this check passed via budget reconciliation or through a bipartisan effort?
    ME: *sweats*

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dustin Pedroia retired. The knee injuries did him in.

  17. DrDaveT says:


    Popper maintained that scientists proceed by “falsifying” scientific claims—by trying to prove theories wrong. Kuhn, on the other hand, believed that scientists work to prove theories right, exploring and extending them until further progress becomes impossible.

    Based on my own reading of Popper and Kuhn, I’d have to say that both of those statements are wrong — or at least badly misleading. I suspect the misunderstanding is Rothman’s, thought, not Strevens’.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: No expertise on either guy, but reading the article, I saw the disagreement as to process as two sides of one coin. But I’m still in the same basic arena on this type of stuff as Descartes, too, so my view may be just as faulty. The scientific method works where it works, which, in my view, is to say not everywhere.

  19. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: Popper was pretty big on falsifiability, and Kuhn was big on what he called Normal Science, affirming the current paradigm, so I’d be interested in seeing an essay. With the caveat that I haven’t been in a philosophy of science class in probably 18 years. That there’s not really a single Scientific Method is not too controversial at this point.

  20. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Amen. Similar to the Jim Brown 32 corollary: “If im at risk–you’re at risk.”

  21. DrDaveT says:

    Popper was pretty big on falsifiability, and Kuhn was big on what he called Normal Science, affirming the current paradigm, so I’d be interested in seeing an essay.

    He got the right buzzwords, but he flipped which of them was prescriptive and which was descriptive. Popper wasn’t describing how scientists do science; he was telling scientists how they ought to do science. (They didn’t listen.) Yes, Popper’s big point was that you can’t ever prove a theory to be correct. What you can do is try as cleverly as possible to prove that it’s incorrect. If lots of people trying hard to falsify a theory can’t do it, it’s probably a pretty good theory.

    Kuhn, on the other hand, wasn’t telling anyone how to do science; he was describing as a historian how science has actually been conducted, and how it has made progress, over history. (It isn’t what we get taught in school.) He noted that most scientists in most times do “normal science” that takes as unquestioned the current theory, and tries to fill in the gaps and expand the edges. But actual breakthroughs in understanding never happen that way — they happen when revolutionaries toss an intellectual Molotov cocktail into normal science, rejecting parts of what “everybody knows” because there are too many contradictions cropping up. If the new theories work better than the old ones, eventually the adherents to the old ones die out. Very few people get converted.

    The scientific establishment sweeps this under the rug, by trying to always portray the new theory as an extension or modification of the old one, in some kind of continuous accretion of truth. To this day our pedagogical approach to physics implies that Einsteinian relativity is a tweak to Newtonian physics that only matters at very high velocities or masses. What actually happened was that Newton’s ideas of mass, force, and acceleration were thrown in the trash and replaced by new ideas with the same names but fundamentally different definitions. And then quantum mechanics came along and did the same thing with all of the fundamental particles, keeping the name but discarding the definition. (Keeping the name ‘atom’ for something that is now divisible into many components was particularly egregious…)

    Kuhn spends a lot more of his book talking about the revolutionaries than the normal scientists, because he’s interested in how scientific revolutions happen, not in what science is like as a profession. But he’s right that the normal scientists are the vast majority. And Strevens’ rule, at least as characterized in this essay, won’t ever get you a theory of elements, or the electron, or combustion, or plate tectonics, or relativity, or quantum mechanics. It will just fill in the gaps and corners and push out the boundaries once some genius or three has overturned the previous status quo.

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT: Wow. I guess that was a real conversation killer. Sorry.

  23. Teve says:


    Katie Porter recounts how she and AOC hid in her office during the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot.

    “I’m a mom. I’m calm. I have everything we need. We can live for like a month in this office. And she said, ‘I hope I get to be a mom, I hope I don’t die today.'”