Monday’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:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The granddaughters awaken. My Monday morn is done.

  3. Kathy says:


    Now she has to find a whole different way to funnel more money to the rich and wreck the economy.

  4. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think your Monday is just beginning. Enjoy.

  5. Kathy says:

    So, I just went through another Philip K. Dick novel, titled VALIS.

    Big mistake.

    It’s mostly a description of theology or cosmogony or theosophy (I really don’t much care which), interspersed with armchair psychology, real tragedy, thoughts on madness, and one dead cat. About the best part was a line near the middle.

    One character says something about God’s will, to which another replies “I hope I’m in His will!”

    There are two other books related to this, which I’ve no intention to even look at.

    On other matters, I started streaming The Expanse. Yes, I know it’s been around a while. No, I hadn’t seen it until now.

    Overall, not bad. They even try at realistic depictions of space travel, but I wonder whether they should. Regardless of intent, they wind up with plot driven g factor, That is, things are at zero g or at 1 g (low g hasn’t been depicted really) depending on the needs of the plot and/or the scene.

    So you see characters engage magnetic boots so they can walk on the deck (why?), indicating zero g environment, but there’s stuff on shelves that doesn’t float off, or they throw something and it goes down instead of straight, things like that. Sometimes there’s 1 g when the ship neither rotates nor is under thrust.

    I try to ignore all that. plot driven g, as I noted.

  6. Scott says:

    How coffee helped the Union army win the Civil War

    When traitorous slaveholders led a rebellion in 1861 and attempted to throttle America’s young democracy, the Grand Army of the Republic had a secret weapon to crush the insurrectionists: Coffee.

    Civil War veteran John D. Billings, who served in the 10th Massachusetts Battery, wrote in his memoir Hardtack and Coffee about how important the coffee ration was to the average Union soldier.

    “When tired and foot-sore, he would drop out of the marching column, build his little campfire, cook his mess of coffee, take a nap behind the nearest shelter, and, when he woke, hurry on to overtake his company,” Billings wrote. “Such men were sometimes called stragglers; but it could, obviously, have no offensive meaning when applied to them. Tea was served so rarely that it does not merit any particular description. In the latter part of the war, it was rarely seen outside of hospitals.”

    Union soldiers were issued 36 pounds of coffee each year and would crush coffee beans with their rifle butts or the handles for their bayonets, according to Jon Grinspan, curator of political history at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Some carbines came with coffee grinders built in their stocks, but they were not widely used.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I can tell you that whether a ship is accelerating and by how much is a big factor in the books. In fact, the chases remind me very much of those depicted in Patrick O’Brien’s “Master and Commander” series, where the choices are made based on the characteristics and capabilities of the ships involved and the amount of damage to the personnel and ships each captain is willing to take. Then the ships are set in motion… and we wait. It is often days or weeks before there can be a decisive battle.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    Shout out to the OTB crew for helping me get some music cred with the younger generation of the family. A few weeks ago there was a discussion of Rochester’s Danielle Ponder and I listened to a couple of songs and then immediately bought her album. This past weekend I played it for the various twenty somethings at a family gathering and I just learned they are meeting up in NYC to see her live when her tour reaches there.

  9. Kathy says:


    The thing is it costs an author the same to describe movement at zero g that at 1 g or even 0.3 g. It costs the producers of TV much more to depict 0 g or even 0.3 g

    I get that.

    Niven and Pournelle go so realistic in space maneuvers in their sequel to The Mote in God’s Eye, even the characters complain about the time taken and the boredom induced.

  10. Mister Bluster says:
  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Just curious: have you ever read the Aubrey-Maturin “Master and Commander” series I mentioned above? You might like them. I was absolutely fascinated by the practicalities of conducting war in sailing ships on a vast ocean, and even more so by the accommodations necessary for tiny wooden vessels sailing through all kinds of climates for years at a time. He ended up writing 20 books in the series and freely admits that if you add up all the times involved you end up with multiples of the actual length of the Napoleonic wars.

    The authors of The Expanse series do a good job of highlighting the similarities that might occur between water navy and space navy. The boredom and tension of a crew involved in a weeks long race it knows it will eventually lose is just one of those.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    On the bump stop case, the supremes maybe realizing that they could be at the wrong end of a rifle equipped with one.

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog:..On the bump stop case, the supremes maybe realizing that they could be at the wrong end of a rifle equipped with one.

    Who do you think might be at the other end of the gun?

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Always remember that the GOP Supremes do not represent Donald Trump or MAGA, they represent the interests of Chuckles Koch. His interests sometimes parallel TFG’s but often not. And his interests, besides being a little quirky (criminal justice reform) are represented by the “Kochtopus”, which also represents other Boy Billionaires, and are filtered through the Federalist Society, so it’s still hard to forecast individual cases. But don’t be surprised when the Court rejects MAGA.

    The supposedly liberal MSM tend to see a bipolar MAGA/liberal world, so when SCOTUS finds against MAGA they get undeserved reasonable moderate points at no cost to the desires of Chuckles Koch.

  15. Kathy says:


    I’ve heard about them, very likely right here and from you. I think there was an attempt at a movie some years ago, too.

    Not my cup of tea. I don’t care much for historical novels, except for alternate history.

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..Always remember
    Thank you for the sermon. I will take your admonishment under consideration.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think I’ve read all of Patrick O’Brian’s work at least three times end to end. I love the research, he’s excellent with character, excellent with action, plot, basically just excellent in every dimension. As a guy who writes ongoing series myself, I love the way he’ll sort of just. . . end. . . a book. He’s unique in his editing decisions. Have you read George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books? Think O’Brian but with a wicked sense of humor.

  18. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Fraser was a master.

    @Mister Bluster:
    Both decisions will enrage the MAGAs.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Alt history you say? You may like the FRONT LINES trilogy written by, um, someone very close to me. It’s the entire American WW2 experience in Europe with one big change: a SCOTUS decision makes women subject to the draft.

    It was read by people numbering in the dozens, but I think it’s my best work, and I had a lot of fun researching it and writing off trips to Sicily, Italy proper, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and the UK. Pissed I couldn’t go to Kasserine – there were terrorist threats at the time. I love the research but not enough to get my head cut off on video. But going through Oradour-sur-Glane and the Hürtgen forest, among many other spots, was amazing.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    It is so frustrating to see some people dismiss Fraser on charges of racism. You have to be thick as a fucking cinderblock not to see what Fraser was about, what he believed, or to not to hear his outrage at follies and injustices, including racism. His treatment of John Brown, for example, was honest, cynical but also clearly admiring.

  21. charon says:


    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” is part of that trilogy but very readable and very different, it’s my favorite Dick novel.

  22. charon says:


    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” is part of that trilogy but very readable and very different, it’s my favorite Dick novel.

    (must have messed up my email or something).

  23. de stijl says:


    I really like Dick. The prose is very spiky and a bit harsh. Off-putting at times. An acquired taste to most.

    I’ve indulged in amphetamines twice in my life. Unpleasant and jangly. Both were need driven – I needed to be awake and semi-functional. I disliked it both times, my self felt jangly, ragged, and brittle. It did it’s job. I stayed awake. I did what I needed to do on zero sleep and compromised decision making capabilities. Not recommended. Twice was enough.

    Some folks really get off on speed. I don’t get that, myself. To each their own. Dick’s prose has that vibe, that spikiness. Very abrupt edges.

    I really enjoyed The Expanse. Hope you find it fulfilling! If not, at least now you know. Works out okay either way.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve glad you reminded me of the Flashman books, which you’ve pointed out in the past. I tried to find audio copies of them to no avail and had intended to go the traditional route but got distracted. (So much content, so little time).

    I’m currently reading (listening) to “Haven” by Emma Donoghue. About as far from Aubrey-Maturin or The Expanse as you can get, involving three monks in medieval Ireland, but similar in the attention to the details and practicalities of every day life, and each of the the three rendered fully and believably.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: Dick had a life long problem with drugs, including amphetamines.

  26. Beth says:
  27. Jen says:

    Well, well, well. Interesting.

    The identity of ‘Perla’ is revealed, creating new woes for DeSantis

    […] The New York Times has now identified that person as Perla Huerta, describing her as a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent.” This opens the door to a host of new inquiries that could implicate DeSantis more deeply in the scheme’s sordid aspects.

    Interesting that she used her actual name.

  28. Sleeping Dog says:


    That Times article also mentioned that DeSantis used money that FL’s legislature earmarked for sending immigrants out of FL.

  29. Kathy says:


    Thanks, but I think I’m done with Mr. Dick’s theology, if that’s what it was.

    @de stijl:

    All I ever ask of prose is that it be clear. Dick qualifies. I rarely notice anything else.


    I recall hearing something about that.

    You know, I’ve never done drugs, other than alcohol.

  30. charon says:

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.[1] Like many of Dick’s novels, it utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and explores the ambiguous slippage between reality and unreality. It is one of Dick’s first works to explore religious themes.

    The novel takes place in a future 2016 where humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the Solar System. To cope with the difficult life away from Earth, colonists rely on the illegal hallucinogen Can-D, secretly distributed by corporate head Leo Bulero. New tensions arise with the rumor that merchant explorer Palmer Eldritch has returned from an expedition in possession of a new alien hallucinogen to compete with Can-D.

  31. Mu Yixiao says:

    For those of you who might need a mental pallet cleanser, I give you: Thanko (at the Japanese Trend Shop).

    Because… everybody needs a set of eyeball warmers. Right?

    (Feel free to explore the whole site. It’s… very Japanese.)

  32. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    My pallette is now cleansed…and my eyeballs are warmed. Thanks!

  33. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No one prepared me for Flashman being an anti-hero. When, maybe 1/4th in the first book, he started describing why sometimes he needs to rape a woman to teach them a lesson, I realized I needed to rethink my assumption of what the author’s trying to do.

  34. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think the moderation monster ate my reply.

    I’ll look them up.

  35. Neil Hudelson says:

    I think the moderation filters got me again. Not going to bother retyping and relinking it all, but suffice to say the Indiana US Senate Seat is currently in play, Todd Young’s lead has collapsed to just +2, the Dems are leading the Secretary of State race here by +4 points, the Republican SoS nominee was just credibly accused of attempted rape/sexual assault by two former Indiana GOP staffers, and the IndyStar published an article stating the Indiana GOP knew all about the rape allegations months and months ago, tertiarily tying to scandal to Todd Young, who used his power to fill the Indiana GOP executive staff with his allies, and who likely knew about the allegations early on.

  36. Scott says:

    The political ads write themselves although this may bring enthusiasm to Trump voters:

    Dr. Oz’s Scientific Experiments Killed Over 300 Dogs, Entire Litter of Puppies

    In a scandal that will surely make Mitt Romney—who famously strapped his family dog atop the roof of his car for a road trip—look like a PETA activist, a review of 75 studies published by Mehmet Oz between 1989 and 2010 reveals the Republican Senate candidate’s research killed over 300 dogs and inflicted significant suffering on them and the other animals used in experiments.

  37. JohnSF says:

    Two more polls today:
    Savanta ComRes: Labour 25 points ahead
    Redfield & Wilton: Labour 28 points ahead

    Conservatives continue to stare down the barrels of electoral annihilation.

  38. Sleeping Dog says:


    Truss, backing down on the tax cut may have calmed the financial markets, but it doesn’t undo the political damage. That’s a cudgel that Labor, the Liberals and others will beat the Conservatives with through the election. Can’t see how the Cons can go into the election with her as PM.

  39. Jen says:

    @Scott: I saw those allegations earlier on Twitter, a journalist had details that are going to haunt me. JFC. Leaving dead puppies with their live and still-suffering litter mates….there is no level of hell I wouldn’t be willing to send Dr. Oz to.

  40. Kathy says:

    Guess which Cheeto Benito is suing CNN.

    A short few months ago, I’d have cheered form the sidelines and bought popcorn futures. Now, with the new ownership, who knows. it maye be Benito’s means of extracting an exorbitant donation by other means.

  41. CSK says:


    Well, maybe CNN can use the Sidney Powell-Tucker Carlson defense: “Hey, nobody takes anything we say seriously!”

  42. de stijl says:


    Ah! Gotcha. The first sentence about Dick.

    I typed it up and caught that sentence when I was proof-reading and thought about changing it and decided nah, screw it. It gets the point across and if people read it the other way, they have a dirty, dirty mind.

    Coincidentally, Dirty Mind is one of my fave Prince songs.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Wa! Conspicuous consumption tchotchke. Leave it to the Japanese…

  44. Mister Bluster says:

    @Scott:..Dr. Oz’s Scientific Experiments Killed Over 300 Dogs, Entire Litter of Puppies

    Perhaps Oz was trying to replicate the infamous “21 Grams” experiments conducted in 1901 by Duncan MacDougall.

    In 1901, Duncan MacDougall, a physician from Haverhill, Massachusetts, who wished to scientifically determine if a soul had weight, identified six patients in nursing homes whose deaths were imminent. Four were suffering from tuberculosis, one from diabetes, and one from unspecified causes. MacDougall specifically chose people who were suffering from conditions that caused physical exhaustion, as he needed the patients to remain still when they died to measure them accurately. When the patients looked like they were close to death, their entire bed was placed on an industrial sized scale that was sensitive within two tenths of an ounce (5.6 grams). On the belief that humans have souls and that animals do not, MacDougall later measured the changes in weight from fifteen dogs after death. MacDougall said he wished to use dogs that were sick or dying for his experiment, though was unable to find any. It is therefore presumed he poisoned healthy dogs.

    Personally I think that there is no evidence that humans have a soul. Whatever that may be. The church has used this idea for eons to control believers. “Obey me! Or your soul will burn in Hell!” (and there won’t be any donuts)

  45. Jax says:

    @Mister Bluster: There are those of us who believe we keep coming back in different bodies, meeting the same people, until we get it right. I don’t know if it’s a “soul”, like religion says….but it ain’t heaven or hell, either.

  46. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jax:..until we get it right

    So no one “gets it right” the first time out of the womb?
    Oh yeah. There’s more than a few people that I can do without meeting again.

  47. de stijl says:


    There is an aspect of Buddhism I have come respect a lot. Try. Try again. Try harder. Try again.

    I really like the concept of reincarnation. Try again , do better.

    Western Christianity has a fault in that getting into Heaven is way too easy. Say a phrase. That’s so bullshit. It should be a struggle, a journey, a mission.

    Besides, who wants to live forever in the same ego? That would catastrophically boring. After a billion years I would be so bored. Please let something new happen! Eternal bliss will chafe in about 4 hours, let alone several billion.

    Imagine being awake and aware that long. That would suck super hard.

    I want a life with an end date. Endlessness seems horrible on multiple levels. I would prefer to wink out of existence. Done.