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. MarkedMan says:

    Interesting article in the Times about the sudden zero-COVID reversal in China. (No subscription needed.) This illustrates almost perfectly yet perhaps tragically so many facets of Chinese society. First, just how much leaders fear unrest, how ruthlessly they quash individual protest but also how quickly they give in once it has reached the mob level. Second, how at the local and provincial level, leaders view Party loyalty as supreme above all else which leads, bizarrely, to unwise policies being enforced more strictly than wise ones. In this case, planning for the end of zero COVID appears to have been considered a career killing, and perhaps life threatening, sign of disloyalty to Xi and the Party, so no path out was even contemplated. And finally, the contrast between the information available in an open society and that available in one like China’s. In the US and the Western world an unprecedented effort led to daily counts of infections, hospitalizations and deaths down to the sub-county level, which could be used to track trends and send resources and adapt policies to the most critical areas to slow down the spread and keep it from overwhelming the system. In contrast, the new Chinese policy is to loudly declare “Omicron is different and all cases will be mild”. Trying to accurately track or report is viewed as disloyal to the official Party messaging.

    Hopefully the variants hitting China are enough reduced in virulence that the system can hold and the death rate is minimized. But we have a bizarre experiment where draconian policies that kept the vast majority of the population unexposed to the virus has suddenly transformed into the reddest of red state policies, and overnight officials have all become Ron DeSantis on steroids, denying anything bad is happening, covering up infections and attacking any that say otherwise.

  2. Jen says:

    Plant chemistry is so interesting.

    How Can Tainted Spinach Cause Hallucinations?

    A food recall from Australia sheds light on an unusual aspect of brain chemistry.

    Delirium. Fever. Hallucinations. Not what you expect when adding baby spinach to a salad, but these are among the alarming symptoms dozens of Australians have experienced after consuming what are thought to be contaminated batches of the leafy greens.

    More than 100 people reported symptoms, including at least 54 who have sought medical help, after eating baby spinach that the authorities believe to be tainted. Four major supermarket chains have recalled products containing the suspect spinach.

    The authorities said that the spinach had caused “possible food-related toxic reactions” with those affected experiencing symptoms including delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat and fever.

    Some Australians took to social media to jokingly ask how they could obtain hallucinogenic spinach. “Never have I been so interested in salad,” one Twitter user said.


    The health department of the state of Victoria has said that the symptoms suggested “anticholinergic syndrome,” a type of poisoning mainly caused by plants in the Solanaceae family, which includes nightshade, jimson weed and mandrake root.

    Anticholinergic plants and drugs inhibit the production of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is linked to memory, thinking and the visual system, according to Dominic ffytche, a professor of visual psychiatry at King’s College London, who specializes in visual hallucinations (and who really does lowercase his last name). Acetylcholine can also be lost naturally and is linked to Alzheimer’s, some type of dementias and other neurodegenerative diseases, he said.

  3. Kathy says:

    So, Elon can polish his wingnut credentials by claiming fraud on a poll he conducted on his social network.

  4. CSK says:

    From the WaPo and the Daily Beast, via Rawstory;

    Trump really is pathetic.

  5. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    I really think he is the early stages of Howard Hughes syndrome.

  6. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile, in other things Twittery and Musky.
    Musk introduced a policy of “no links to other social media”.
    Comes this response from Eric Freyssinet:

    Any attempt to remove my tweets that link to my other social media accounts, not violating any law, would actually make #twitter an editorial media, and no longer a social media platform, with civil and criminal liability for *any* illegal content therein.

    Eric Freyssinet, you say; who be he?
    He be General E. Freyssinet, head of the cybercrime unit, French gendarmerie.
    And was retweeted by Jean-Noel Barrot, French Minister for Digital Transition and Telecommunications, who added:

    While the whole world was watching the final, Twitter changed its terms of use to prohibit the mention of other social networks on its platform.
    A practice contrary to freedom of expression which will be illegal in Europe from 2023 thanks to the DSA.

    And the office of the Ambassadeur Numerique

    I do think that this changes everything with regard to section 230 of the Communication and Decency Act. I would like to know what the FCC and the FTC thinks about this…

    The EU keeps firing shots across the bows of the good ship Elon.
    If he keeps on his present heading, sooner or later they’ll put a broadside into the hull.

    In the words of Heather Burns

    People outside policy bubbles won’t be aware of how hard governments outside the US, including the UK, have been targeting US 230 for years. It’s good non-US policy & legal teams, including Twitter’s, who have kept that under control. They’re now gone. Open season is on.

  7. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    But Hughes became a recluse, and Trump can’t stand being alone.

  8. Kathy says:


    I tried to put a link to the Mastodon server I’m on in my Twitter profile, and got a message that it’s not allowed because it’s malware(!)

    IANAL, but this looks suspiciously like libel to me.

    I would remind Elon that a few regulators won’t take bribes, but will report they were offered. So tread carefully.

  9. Kathy says:


    A victorious Roman general was often awarded a triumphal procession through the city, to the cheers and adulation of the masses (plus there were floats showing off loot and prisoners, parties, gladiatorial fights, and lots of free food for the populace for three days).

    Along the whole route, a functionary walked beside him and kept repeating the one phrase “Remember thou art mortal.”

    Benito needs something like this. The Romans were the most practical administrators of their time, manypeoplesaythat. Only with an update: “Remember you are a failure. Remember you are a loser,” repeated a few tens of thousands times per day would do him a world of good.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Supposedly Twitter’s “no-you-can’t-link-to-these-other-social-media” policy has vanished. Gone invisible. Is a dead parrot.

    Now Musk is sending out one of his “polls” asking if he should stay on as CEO of Twitter. (The “no”s have been winning).

    I. Just. Can’t. Even.

    Is there anyway we can get these crackpot lunatics away from mucking around with real-life things and causing real-life damage and stick them into a simulation? I remember stating way, way back when that we should have provided Trump with a room outfitted with Napoleonic coronation robe, a continuous loop of a cheering crowd and a bunch of mirrors with gold leaf, gently led him into the room, locked the door, then tiptoed away.

  11. juat nutha says:

    Late in the day on yesterday’s forum, DK suggested that

    Meanwhile, here’s to hoping red Mississippi can one day again dream of being able to guarantee its residents always have drinkable water.

    While I certainly hope so, too, I find myself wondering when, if ever red Mississippi (or a Mississippi of any other color for that matter) ever dreamed of guaranteeing all of its cjtizens drinkable water. Especially after about 1863 or 64-ish.

  12. Jen says:

    This is weird. How did this not get uncovered during his first congressional race? How is anybody THAT BAD at opposition research??

    Who Is Rep.-Elect George Santos? His Résumé May Be Largely Fiction.

    […] But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

    Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.

    There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.

    His financial disclosure forms suggest a life of some wealth. He lent his campaign more than $700,000 during the midterm election, has donated thousands of dollars to other candidates in the last two years and reported a $750,000 salary and over $1 million. […]

    It goes on. Again, why is this just now coming out???

  13. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Even though I could hardly stop laughing while I was reading the story, I DO have to admit that it’s really a sad situation. [and I would add the emoji with the sad face crying one single teardrop if it was available 🙁 ]

  14. Sleeping Dog says:


    The ‘why’ that I have is, how come the Times or some other media outlet hadn’t discovered this.

    Too busy covering the horse race I guess.

  15. just nutha says:

    @JohnSF: “I would like to know what the FCC and the FTC thinks about this…”

    Looks more like a shot across the bow of the good ship lollypop’s Murka’s Domestic Policy to me. On the other hand, maybe a little less laissez-faire online (among other settings) would be a good thing. On the third hand, one of our mottoes that I remember from somewhere is “nothing is worth doing if it’s not worth overdoing.”

    Makes a knotty problem.

  16. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    I can’t imagine being 1/100 that needy of praise/groveling. It really is psychotic.

  17. CSK says:

    This is absolutely withering. I hope Trump sees it, but his handlers will doubtless keep it from him. There’s a link to the entire St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial in the Rawstory article.

    I do like “idiotic shyster” as a descriptor for Trump.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: Even weirder than it seems. This was a Dem seat and it flipped. The Dem obviously did no opposition research.

  19. CSK says:


    Santos and Zimmerman, the Democrat, are both openly gay men.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    Admittedly, this is directed more at Steven than anyone else. I was tooling around on the historic election results Wiki page and had a semi-revelation: on a state by state basis the thing that best predicts which party a state will go for is the results of the last election… until it isn’t. There’s a bit of a sea change in the 1992 election and using that as a proxy for the modern era it looks like there are a fair number of states that had four or more “R’s” in a row and then they went solidly D, with very few anomalies. I don’t discern the same trend for the opposite transformation though. Since 1992, about the only state I see with 4 D’s and then solid R’s is Iowa, and that “solid” is doing a lot of tap dancing since it is only 3 out of 5 subsequent elections.

  21. Kathy says:

    I feel perfectly confident in this reaction to Benito after today’s Jan 6 committee meeting:

    “Ah, a tantrum and a psychotic meltdown all in one package. How efficient of you!”

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    Today’s History lesson:

    First Indochina War

    December 19, 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.
    On June 30, 1950, the first U.S. supplies for Indochina were delivered. In September, Truman sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to Indochina to assist the French.

    We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
–Lyndon Johnson, Oct. 1964

    Lyndon Johnson assumed the United States Presidency on Nov. 22, 1963 the day President John Kennedy was assassinated.

    That same year 122 American Soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War.
1964, 216 American Soldiers were killed.
1965, 1928 American Soldiers were killed.
1966, 6350 American Solders were killed.

    1967, 11,363 American Solders were killed.
1968, the last full year of Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency,
16,899 American Soldiers were killed. 1400 a month.
    RIP…You too Lyndon…

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    Four criminal referrals for Trump.
    WTOP Radio
    Washington DC

  24. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Despite checking off several boxes on the behavior traits list for the quality, I don’t feel qualified to comment beyond my noting that the situation was sad and would have brought a tear (even if only one) to my eye had I not been otherwise occupied at ROTFLMAO. 🙁 [I’ll even add a frowney face emoji as a show of my sincerity. 😛 ]

  25. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @just nutha: Also Mr. Bluster

    Also criminal referrals against John Eastman and Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs.

  26. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    I can’t spare even a single tear.

  27. Mikey says:

    @CSK: The reps were referred to the House Ethics Committee, not criminal referrals.

    These referrals will expire on January 3 and the new GOP Congress certainly won’t revive them so they’re basically symbolic, but history will show they were made. For whatever that’s worth.

  28. CSK says:

    You’re right. Thanks for the correction. I read an early report that was misleading.

  29. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Well who could have blamed you for some wishful thinking? 😉

  30. Kathy says:


    I wish either Garland or Jack Smith would tell the committee “Way ahead of you.”

    Alas, we still live in the real world.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    January 3
    My birthday.
    When I was in grade school, unless it fell on a Saturday or Sunday, it was always the first day back to school after Christmas Vacation. Even if it was a Friday.
    This year my gift is a Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives.
    I don’t know which is worse.

  32. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: The “blue wall” theory has always been flawed, but I think it is correct in discerning that 1992 began an era in presidential politics that we’re still in today. It was the first election in which a bunch of states–mostly in the Northeast, but also including Illinois and California–shifted from being traditionally Republican to Democratic strongholds. (It wasn’t until 2000, though–maybe even 2004–that the broader South shifted to being strongly Republican outside a few key states.)

    I agree with you that the past is never a good predictor of the future. States are solidly D or solidly R until the moment they aren’t anymore. But the “blue wall” theory has additional problems. For one thing, it completely ignores margins of victory. It’s true, for instance, that Wisconsin voted Democrat in every election from 1988 to 2012. So the pundits placed it into the “blue wall” column, making Trump’s victory in the state in 2016 seem like some massive political earthquake. But this ignored the fact that the margins of victory in previous elections were pretty narrow. In 2000 and 2004, Bush lost the state by less than half a percentage point. Obama won a double-digit victory in the state in 2008, but by 2012 it was down to about 6 points. The idea that it was part of a “blue wall” simply because it happened to inch across the finish line several previous consecutive times was deluded, and it was ridiculous to lump it together with states like California or Vermont, which technically hadn’t voted Democrat as long as Wisconsin (they both went to Bush Sr. in 1988), but which by now regularly voted Democrat by overwhelming margins–around 20 or 30 points.

  33. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The first one is way worse.

    Your adult self remembers school starting on your birthday. Your childhood self would probably not have noticed a GQP majority taking over the House.

  34. dazedandconfused says:

    To ladies were arrested in Alabama for “feeding stray cats” and it seems plain they were only baiting them in order to trap them for neutering and adoption. It’s more the tale of small town politics though. There is a lesson in this worth mentioning nevertheless. “The police” is a highly misleading term. There are over 10,000 depts in the US and each to some degree is a product if its conditions, culture, and the politicians they answer to. The net result can be incredibly silly.

    The angertainment vid.

    The analysis vid.

  35. just nutha says:

    @Mister Bluster: Good news indeed, but a sad reminder also:

    There is a nonzero chance that Trump’s bid to reclaim the throne will come to naught. But let’s be real: Republicans aren’t clamoring for a moderate to take this party in a new direction. “Never Trumpers” are still verboten in the GOP, and no one within that clan seems to actually have any plan to recapture the party’s institutions, aside from heaving op-eds at it. The Republicans coming to Washington plan to stage mock trials of Hunter Biden and use the debt ceiling as a weapon to try to enact radical cuts to Social Security. [emphasis added]

    ETA: @Mister Bluster: Guess you shoulda picked a better day to be born, eh?

  36. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Fortunately enough, no one expects you to shed any.

  37. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    On the topic of “these days in history”, twas 30 years ago this week we were in the first weeks of Restore Hope.

    Today it is known as a failure, largely due to the combination of how it ended and a political desire to hang that around Clinton’s neck, but nearly everybody forgets that 10s to 100s of thousands more would’ve starved.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @just nutha:..Guess you shoulda picked a better day to be born, eh?

    My parents told me (every year) that I was due on Christmas.
    My dad said he went to the hospital after work for days and finally had to go to his bosses house to clean up. His story is that he was in the tub when the phone rang and it was the hospital calling to tell him I had arrived.
    Anyway, that’s what they told me.

  39. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Csk, those tears of crackers were because he hurt himself rolling on the floor laughing

  40. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Thank you, Luddite. I frankly suspected as much.

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..Your childhood self would probably not have noticed a GQP majority taking over the House.

    Hard to say. I was 8 years old when Eisenhower was elected to his second term in November of 1956. I remember that summer before the election a truck came around the neighborhood with pictures of Ike and elephants on the side and people standing up in the back throwing candy at us kids as it went buy.
    We sang a campaign song to the tune of “Whistle While you Work”

    Whistle while you work
    Stevenson’s a jerk
    Eisenhower’s got the power
    Stevenson’s won’t work

    My dad who supported Ike and gave me an “I LIKE IKE” button told me it wasn’t very nice. So that was the end of my “Dirty Tricks” for that campaign.

    When Nixon ran against Kennedy in 1960 my dad took me out to the Rochester-Monroe County (NY) airport to see him at a campaign stop. All I remember is watching from behind a fence as Nixon stood just outside of the airplane hatch at the top of the rolling steps waving and smiling.
    (got to see that pose again when he resigned 14 years later).
    I was in the 7th grade then and a BIG NIXON SUPPORTER!
    I guess my dad sensed that I might be too zealous as he told me not to get my hopes too high because Kennedy could win.
    I was crushed. I was in tears the day after the election when I asked my History teacher if the election would have turned out differently if it was done over again.
    “I don’t see how that would make any difference.” was his reply.

  42. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    For the last couple of months, there’s been a bit of a s***show at Casa luddite. My prospective (11 year engagement) SIL was arrested and charged with a felony. (As Cracker will attest, while a lovely lad in many ways, he’s certainly not bright enough to have done what they accused him of). Anyway, last month was the arraignment, which necessitated a 30 mi round trip to and from the courthouse. 2 weeks ago was the (scheduled) scheduling conference, which was then delayed 2 weeks because his lawyer has covid. This morning, after sitting for an hour and a half in the wrong courtroom ( where he was directed to sit and wait for his arraignment ) I got to spend an hour getting an arrest warrant quashed because he wasn’t where they wanted him, instead he was where they told him to be. Finally, we get to go back out there again Friday morning at 8:00 a.m., to see if the charges are going to be dropped or not.

    The bad part of this is each one of these little fubars involves 30 mi round trip, and about half a day of my time. The only upside that I can find is that at least I’m retired so I’m not taking time off from (just taking time off from what SWMBO’s task list).

    The good news is that when I go in, I no longer have to wear a tie. The bad news is, everyone knows my name, but unlike Cheers, there’s no beer.

    Like my comment yesterday, it must be true, because fiction has to make sense. Time for a drink!

  43. Kathy says:

    So, we had criminal referrals earlier in the day, and now Weinstein’s been found guilty again.

    I wonder how the sentencing will work. Specifically where he’ll serve his time, and whether the California sentence has to be concurrent with New York’s or it can begin afterwards.

  44. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    IANAL, but IIRC, this was up to agreements between the respective states. It wasn’t unusual for sentences to run concurrently. OTOH, truly deserving individuals were rewarded with sentences “running wild,” or back-to-back-to back. Where I was incarcerated, this was referred to as “getting bitched.” But what can I say, lotsa misogynists at the state home for wayward boys.

    BTW, is anyone here running the pool for how long before ol’ Harvey has a fatal accident in the privacy of his cell?

  45. Gustopher says:

    @dazedandconfused: The Somali intervention was one of our better military adventures, despite us scurrying out with our tails between our legs a few months later. We saved a lot of lives at the cost of very few.

    Not sure how much of a difference it made in the long run (I’m really not up on my Somali history, so as far as I know the humanitarian mission might have just meant more people were alive to die two years later) but it was America at its best — hopeful, idealistic and engaged, trying to shape the world to reduce obvious suffering.

    It was one of my favorite things George HW Bush did in office. (The runner up was throwing up on someone)

  46. Gustopher says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    The bad news is, everyone knows my name, but unlike Cheers, there’s no beer.

    It’s one of those BYOB court houses? Sigh.

  47. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Short of Cheney going quail hunting in Maga Lago, I don’t expect anything to come of the investigations into Trump, January 6th or anything.

    Even if there is an indictment, it will be slow walked through the courts for a decade or so until Trump dies from high cholesterol flatulence or whatever.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    I figure Harvey will die in prison, or be released with one foot in the grave.

  49. Kathy says:


    That’s one of the things I fear.

    On a completely unrelated matter, absolute free speech is now for sale at Elon’s Failing Social Network.

  50. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Only if you smuggle it in a plastic flask, which ruins the taste of Old Panthersweat Scotch. OTOH, given that all the metal in me sets off the detectors every time, when I retired, I hardly ever got a pat-down at the courthouse. Now the airport was/is a completely different story.