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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Hoping everyone here has as good a day as possible. Laying here waiting for my brain to shut down enough to get a couple of hours of sleep before work.

    The good news is that I’ve got an appointment for my covid booster later this week. Dr assures me the 6g reception is was better than the microchip in the flu shot.

  2. Bobinyoungstown says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    I’ve been assured that the latest shot will, as it matures in my body, automatically connect my brain/mouth to AI resources, immediately increasing IQ.
    Proof? Jeopardy contestants are not permitted to get Covid shot.

  3. Tony W says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: This was the least impactful booster shot yet – seriously just a sore arm for about a day and no other symptoms.

    The doctor told me that people who have received no COVID vaccines to date would get only this shot – so it’s really not even a “booster” at this point, but rather a standalone vaccine.

    Good on you for protecting yourself and the world around you.

  4. Crusty Dem says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    I got the Novavax this round – no real side effects but hoping for a little better protection – the mRNA vaccines and boosters have kept me from getting seriously ill but they haven’t stopped me from getting 3 rounds of COVID.

  5. CSK says:

    Trump told an Iowa rally crowd yesterday that Melania calls him “sir” when she instructs him on presidential behavior. He quickly changed the “sir” to “darling,” but people noticed anyway.

    I don’t think she calls him anything. To whatever extent they communicate, it’s through an aide.

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W: I still get a fever. This time it was 100.7 at its highest, which is a drop compared to the over 102 I got following the initial shots in 2021.

    Like last year, I simultaneously got a flu shot, though those have never caused symptoms for me.

  7. Tony W says:

    @Crusty Dem: We are House Moderna here – all of our COVID shots have been Moderna since Jan 2021.

    Neither my wife nor me has had COVID at all yet.

    Everyone I know who *has* had COVID, albeit mild, got the Pfizer shot. I don’t personally know anybody who got Moderna who has been infected – or at least knew they were infected.

  8. CSK says:

    @Tony W:

    I got the Pfizer booster and have had two bouts of Covid since.

  9. Scott says:

    @Tony W: I’ve gotten all Moderna also. Just received over the last few weeks this year’s COVID, high dosage flu, and the RSV. The latter mostly because of the grand babies. Don’t want to be a potential vector there.

    I typically don’t have reaction to vaccines, no matter which kind.

    Though members of the family have had mild COVID infections, I have not. At least that I’ve noticed. I guess there always is the possibility of infection with no symptoms.

  10. Kathy says:

    @Tony W:

    I had Pfizer in 21 and two AZ boosters in 2022. No more have been offered nor are available. I haven’t had COVID, unless it was completely asymptomatic. Moreover, I haven’t even had sniffles, much less a cold, since I started wearing a mask in April 2020. I wear one still just for that reason.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Over on another thread, Matt commented that this may be the first Presidential election in any of our lifetimes that doesn’t have a debate. I’m curious as to whether anyone thinks this is a negative? I haven’t watched debates in decades, because I think they are a complete waste of time. The questions are mostly inane “gotchas” and the candidates don’t answer them anyway but instead talk about whatever the hell they feel like. For a contrast, watch the Kennedy Nixon debate. The questions are for the most part relevant to significant policy decisions facing a President and the candidates addressed them directly at length and they frequently agreed. When they differed it represented significant policy difference. In contrast, today’s debates are mind numbing clown shows.

  12. CSK says:


    They aren’t even debates, as debates are commonly understood.

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tony W:
    Actually, love me some Moderna, but my daughter, wife, and myself have all had very mild cases.

  14. KM says:

    @Tony W:
    You do now 🙂

    I was first wave of Moderna as healthcare worker with all the boosters along with my entire family (barring one anti-vaxxer soon-to-be ex-nurse we studiously avoided). Many of us are front line healthcare workers or essential personnel so it was only a matter of time. I tested positive for COVID last year because my BFF works with immuno-compromised folks and makes everyone test before they come visit. Made her paranoid AF with good reason. Swabbed my nose and had barely taken my jacket off before I was being hustled out the door with the positive test. She made me go home and test everyone in the house, supervised via Zoom call; sure enough we all had it. No symptoms though and I never would have known if she didn’t stringently test. The vax did it’s job – infected with minimal to no damage and quick recovery. Retests showed us clear 2 days later but I was in “quarantine” for 2 weeks before being allowed back.

  15. inhumans99 says:


    No debate suits me just fine, I have no problem not watching two old men wheeze out “no, you are the puppet” to each other for 30 minutes in a row. Or having folks link to a bunch of stories from Fox, etc. the next day that highlight the gaffes from Biden during the debate due to his age, only to ignore that hundreds (well, maybe not that many, depends on how long a debate we are talking about here) of verbal gaffes flew out of Trump’s mouth.

    Gaffes which sites that tally things like the number of Trump lies will tally up and write about but no one will care because the focus from the mainstream media that is supposed to be in the tank for us Liberals/Progressives/Democrats will be on how Biden is to old to be our next President, ughhh…no debates sounds just about perfect to me.

    Let Trump get his dig in that he would be more than willing to debate President Biden if only Biden would come up from his basement, and maybe, just maybe it is not 100% wishful thinking that unless station are allowed to televise a debate where one of the candidates is in a prison cell, that will be the reason for no 2024 debates.

    I do not think it is just completely absurd of me to say that there is a non-zero percent chance that the long arm of the law catches up to Trump between now and November 2024.

  16. Kathy says:


    I wonder what the false positive rate is for rapid antigen tests….

    That aside, between how quickly the trump virus mutates, and the limitations of the immune system, it’s beginning to look more and more like vaccines, at least for some pathogens, result in milder disease rather than no disease.

    It gets complicated, as symptoms are more a function of the innate response than the pathogen’s effects, and, as I understand it, memory cells that are close to the pathogen’s antigens will respond anyway, but won’t be as effective. This would explain why having had a cold from a coronavirus years ago made for a milder case of COVID in some people.

    Then, too, your immune system does not respond only to the spike protein, but will activate for other antigens the trump virus may present, or even those it may cause your own cells to present*

    The bottom line is the best we can expect against fast changing viral diseases, like flu and COVID, is a tame course of disease rather then no disease. We do know the first mRNA vaccines against the original strain did prevent disease with 95% effectiveness. We’ve been racing against variants since then.

    *Your cells present some of the proteins they make on surface receptors on their membranes. If they fit an antigen receptor on a killer T cell, they get the instruction to switch off all processes and die. Then they get consumed by macrophages. This prevents virus-laden cells from bursting and releasing millions of viruses to the rest of the body.

    Some viruses manage to suppress this presentation entirely. Ergo no killer T cells ever find anything objectionable, even if the cell is manufacturing viruses like crazy. But there’s another immune cell type, dubbed natural killer cells, that will induce suicide on any cell that fails to present samples of its inner workings.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: I recently read a book about the battle between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy during the 1980 election (Camelot’s End by Jon Ward). It goes into an incident that some of you here may be old enough to remember, which is when Kennedy did a long-form interview where he was asked about Chappaquiddick, his alcoholism, his womanizing, and even just his reasons for running for president, and he gave a bunch of stammering, um-um-er-er non-answers (he sounded kind of like Austin Pendleton’s incompetent public-defender character from My Cousin Vinny).

    By today’s standards, it’s pretty remarkable he gave such a bad performance. He’d been in the Senate for 16 years. I guess that was before it became a routine part of a politician’s repertoire to give “tough” interviews with reporters. Ted Kennedy certainly had his flaws. But today, no matter what sorts of scandals or controversies or skeletons a politician has, they always come prepared with a glib answer to anything you throw at them. That’s been true for so long, we all take it for granted. It’s a basic part of their training.

    There’s a scene in the HBO movie Game Change where Sarah Palin is at the debate with Joe Biden, and Steve Schmidt is watching from his TV. He’d worked hard at trying to get her mega-prepared after her disastrous interview with Katie Couric. As the moderator asks her a question he knows she can’t answer, he mutters to himself, “Pivot, pivot, pivot…” and when she does, he cheers. He considered it an achievement for her to dodge a question, as long as she did it smoothly and confidently.

    That’s because when it comes to interviews or debates, it almost doesn’t matter what you say as long as you’re saying something, and you’re saying it with confidence. The absolute worst thing a politician can do in these situations is show vulnerability. My favorite example of this involves one of the most devastating presidential debate moments in memory, when Rick Perry said “oops.” Four years later, Ted Cruz made literally the same mistake as Perry–he listed several government agencies he promised to end, and he forgot one of them. But unlike Perry, he never said “oops,” he never gave any indication that he noticed his own error, he just blustered his way through it like nothing had happened. The moment went virtually unnoticed in press reactions to the debate, and it had no apparent negative impact on his campaign.

    I realize debate of any kind is never a fully intellectual exercise. It’s at bottom an exercise in rhetoric. But it often seems that the way presidential debates are viewed is even farther from the question of whether a person is convincingly defending their opinions. Going over the 60+ years of how presidential debates have been covered by the press and remembered in the history books, I find it striking that many of the best-remembered moments have been purely nonverbal: Bush Senior looking at his watch, Gore rolling his eyes, Trump stalking Hillary from behind. It may have been set by the (possibly apocryphal) story that people who watched Nixon-Kennedy on TV felt Kennedy won, whereas those who listened on radio thought Nixon won.

  18. KM says:


    I wonder what the false positive rate is for rapid antigen tests….

    Funny, my initial reaction was “False positive, these things can’t be too accurate considering the mutations” because it was such a faint positive line. Still humored her and went home to test everyone and lo and behold, my mother’s positive line was bleeding red. Like, we took a pic to pass around the nurses’ chat because I’d never seen something go that red that quick (didn’t even take 30 seconds). Mom and I joked that at least it wasn’t a pregnancy test going hell yes so fast and BFF didn’t find it amusing at all.

    I’m not longer allowed to talk about false positives in science since I clearly come from a Plague House. Some people have no sense of humor 🙂

  19. Kathy says:


    I realized a false positive was unlikely when I read your household all had it. I still wonder what the false positive rate is, on general principles.

    On other things, the UAW have reached deals with the big 3 US automakers. I think the membership still has to ratify them, but progress is undeniable. If I worked at Tesla, I’ve be thinking “union” all day long.

    Between the success of other union strikes, directors, writers, healthcare workers, UPS workers, I hope more employees in other businesses like Starbucks and Amazon will revisit the unionization issue. And not just them, but others in the tech sector.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The other gaffe there: Why would Trump take instruction from Melania on anything let alone presidential behavior?
    (And while I’m here, what would she know about behavior, anyway?)

  21. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I think Trump was just trying to show what a close, loving relationship he and Melania have, only he blew it with “Sir.”

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tony W: All Pfizer shots, no Covid so far–even though I was at my high school reunion and traveled on a plane (16 hours) but forgot to mask up. I attribute my success at not getting Covid to being a virtual hermit, though. Also, there were some early speculations that asthmatics–while being a group who would get very ill if they contracted the virus–had immune systems that were heightened to rejecting respiratory diseases and would be slightly less likely to be infected. That phenomenon seems consistent with my situation in that I hardly ever have had colds or flu in 50-some years of adult life. On the other side, I get bronchitis and/or pneumonia several times in a typical year and have all my life.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:


    The Nixon-Kennedy debate was of a different time, before political consultants had figured out how to polish a turd for presentation on TV.

    Likely the worst series of political debates I’ve seen, were those of the 1998 Minnesota governors race. Skip Humphrey (D) v. Norm Coleman (R) v. Jesse Ventura (I). Humphrey and Coleman turned every question into a recitation of their campaign’s talking points, no matter how stilted and off question the point being made was. Meanwhile, Jesse put forth positions that pretty much split the difference on contentious issues, while coming across as a nice guy that you wouldn’t mind having a beer with. Jesse had been a talk radio host and his shtick had been the reasonable guy you talked to at the bar, but the programmed responses that Humphrey and Coleman, despite their beating Ventura on debate points, launched Jesse’s campaign, as overwhelmingly, viewers felt Jesse won the debates hands down.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @inhumans99: No one is going to let Trump debate from his prison cell–the security and logistics of bringing a video crew in are too daunting. He’d be debating from either the sealed off visiting room (easy to do, visiting hours are short in most prisons) or an interview room used by lawyers and their clients.

  25. Jen says:

    @Tony W: My father, who is 86, has had Moderna for his initial series and all boosters and got quite sick (although not hospitalized) when he had covid. My mom and sister, both of whom also had the Moderna series, never got sick despite being around him when he had covid.

  26. Mr. Prosser says:

    My VA Medical Center is giving both Covid and Flu today so will get the Covid shot first then the Flu shot later. I’ve had Covid twice, the first was in December 2019 before Covid was really known of generally, thought I had severe flu and soldiered through it. I found out later in 2022 I had Covid antibodies so it wasn’t flu and remembered I’d had dinner with friends who had just returned from Hong Kong, hmm. The second bout in early 2023 was a nagging cough and fatigue. Anyway it’s been all Moderna three times, this will be #4.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Ah ha. And undoubtedly because the strength, love, genuine affection, and sanctity of their marriage has always been such a vital touch point for both them and the MAGAts. Got it.

  28. gVOR10 says:

    @inhumans99: There is, I would guess, a fair chance the GA case could convict Trump before the election, but well into campaign season. IF: Trump were jailed, Trump were otherwise a legit candidate, and Trump agreed to a debate – the court would likely allow a temporary release under supervision. And Trump would try to get it done in a cell, furthering his martyr act, and otherwise use unfair conditions as an excuse to refuse to debate.

    It’s getting to be something of a pet peeve of mine that no pundits or analysts seem to be looking down the road and gaming out how Trump’s legal issues might play out.

  29. Kathy says:


    I’d lay money that he has called his third wife “Ivanka” more than once while having, or attempting to have, sex.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Not saying Kennedy was a turd, but even in that debate, Kennedy’s people were apparently already aware of the importance of the overall effect: Both candidates had declined the services of a makeup artist before the broadcast, but while Kennedy later had a light coat of cosmetics applied in secret… I remember reading a long time ago one of Kennedy’s people quipping later that a very important factor in the debate was Max Factor.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @gVOR10:..It’s getting to be something of a pet peeve of mine that no pundits or analysts seem to be looking down the road and gaming out how Trump’s legal issues might play out.

    Which of these gurus do you believe have the ability to accurately predict the future?

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: That was just mean.

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: When have political partisans ever cared about the accuracy of punditry except as it negatively impacted their favored candidate?

  34. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Kathy:

    I don’t know even the most delusional MAGA could believe that Don and Mel have a love match.

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..When have political partisans ever cared about the accuracy of punditry except as it negatively impacted their favored candidate?

    Not sure if this counts but it goes back a few years:

    In response to Washington Post Music Critic Paul Hume’s December 6, 1950, review of MargaretTruman’s singing performance at Constitution Hall, stating,

    “Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality – (she) cannot sing very well – is flat a good deal of the time-more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years – has not improved in the years we have heard her – (and) still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish.”

    President Truman responded with the following letter to Hume:

    Dec. 6, 1950

    Mr. Hume:
    I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”
    It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.
    Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!
    Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.


  36. Kathy says:


    Well, I’d say they both love his money, but the NY trial says there’s not as much of that as they claim.

  37. CSK says:


    According to various sources, Melania’s net worth is between 50-55 million dollars. Surely she can make ends meet on that.

  38. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    My point was more that the press asked real tough questions and expected and received thoughtful answers from both Nixon and Kennedy. Today, none of that happens.

  39. just nutha says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yes. My mind went an entirely different direction from your excellent observation.

  40. gVOR10 says:

    @Mister Bluster: I said “might” play out. I don’t think anyone can predict how Trump’s troubles and the election will play out accurately. But the subject is important enough I’m surprised nobody seems to be speculating and looking at scenarios. The case in question was how a hypothetical debate could play out if Trump is incarcerated. The original comment discussed, I think somewhat facetiously, the idea of a debate from a prison cell. Even should Trump be incarcerated, debate from a jail cell strikes me as unlikely, but I’d defer to the opinion of legal experts if any spoke up.

    People keep talking about the Trump trials as perhaps blocking him from the presidency. The Right constantly say this is a plot to do exactly that. I’m not seeing how that happens. Nothing I’m aware of says a convicted felon cannot be president. There are obvious difficulties if he’s in jail in GA, but no legal bar I’m aware of. It’s unlikely he’d be convicted and incarcerated on Federal charges before the election, and even if he is, how does it bar him from office if elected? At which point he’d pardon himself and occupy the Oval Office while the six Federalists debated. I’d love to see expert commentary that says any of this legal activity would actually bar him from office.

  41. Kathy says:

    A Biden-Benito debate with the latter on video hookup from a cell, is more like a skit that SNL should be planning to do for next year.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Don’t know whether it’s even true, let alone good news, but here’s the latest rumor.

    In the latest development to come after the Russian Telegram channel General SVR claimed that Putin, 71, passed away last week due to a myriad of health issues, the outlet reported on Monday that the Russian leader’s personal doctors were freed from his private residence in Valdai.

  43. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: They’ve cried bear too many times for me to believe this.

  44. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It seems to have been posted 4 hours ago, and neither The Guardian nor CNN have anything about it.

    I believe it was posted on a Telegram channel. Whether it’s the good news it seems to be, to quote the Robot Devil, “Most likely probably not.”

  45. just nutha says:

    @Kylopod: Who said anything about believing? I’m just adding a new topic.

  46. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Who said anything about good news? Whatever comes after Putin may well be neutral or worse. Hard to say.