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. Scott says:

    Three Amazon packages arrived before 6am this morning. Just have to sit back and think how amazing this is as well as all the humans, warehouses, transportation, automation, and logistics processes required to make that happen.

  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    My tastes in holiday music tend to fall into one of four category categories:

    1. Broody stuff about how it’s dark, cold, and everything’s dead
    2. Sentimental stuff about being stuck between the past and the future, but it’s okay because friends, family, and hope make it bearable
    3. Triumphant stuff about looking forward to the world being reborn in the spring

    Most of these are acoustic/instrumental/choral works that, even if they mention Christmas explicitly, are (to me) more about celebrating the death and rebirth I associate with the winter solstice

    4. Bizarre novelty pop songs

    These are the ones that tend to be the most explicitly Christmas songs, but are are also trashy schlock that treat Christmas as a big joke

  3. Scott says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I have been a listener for years of Sound Opinions, a rock music radio show/podcast by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, out of Chicago. Every year, they host Andy Cirzan, a Christmas music obsessive, and play and discuss obscure Christmas music out of old music bins on their Sound Opinions Holiday Spectacular.

    Example: The 2022 Holiday Spectacular with Andy Cirzan

    You may like it.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Meant to post this last week: After 40 years of cooking turkeys I finally did it perfectly on Thanksgiving. I cooked it as a whole turkey but managed to get the dark meat 10 degrees hotter than the breast when it came out of the oven, through intricate and nefarious means. The whole thing was perfectly moist and juicy. All five of the guests complimented both the light and dark meat, and we are a dark meat kind of family so compliments to the white meat was unexpected.

    I feel like I should retire now.

  5. KM says:

    Oh my god healthcare in this country continues to suck!

    I spent most of Wens and Friday taking calls to set up, cancel and rearraign medical appointments because it’s the end of the year and everyone suddenly wants extra vacation. NINE different callbacks from the main office and coordinating with 3 others the day before and after Thanksgiving was exhausting.

    Good news: surgery got moved up! Bad news: more tests, appointments all over God’s Creation and possibly a change in type of surgery that means even more time down and higher cost, maybe even the loss of an organ or two (I’m pushing back on that till we see the final scans). Second bad news: MRI and CT want cash up front because of deductibles – $1,000. A freaking grand for a single test!!! At this rate, I really am gonna need to set up a GoFundMe because we start again from zero on Jan 1st, just in time to get cut up and really rack it up.

  6. Jax says:

    @KM: I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all this, I was wondering how you were doing.

  7. KM says:

    It’s getting really hectic; I had to put a calendar together of all the appointments since Mid-Dec I’ve literally got one every day! My friend came over to help me clean a little because it’s looking like several weeks recovery time of not being able to lift more then 5lb or bend at all so we’re trying to get the house as good as it will get. Besides money, I’m worried about what comes after for weeks of recovery during winter – if we get a ton of snow, who’s gonna shovel? Most plow guys will do the driveway with the truck but won’t do stairs, sidewalks or out back so the dog can get out. The estate still isn’t sorted out and from last update, won’t be till after this is all said and done. Long term, I’ll be fine but it’s all short term, cash right now expenses piling up that’s the problem.

    Still, things are moving along and a month or two of discomfort is bearable to get this all done. Just gotta try and get as many of the little things done now so I don’t have to later. I will say I have an AWESOME boss who’s letting me sneak out to appointments without having to officially use PTO. As long as my work’s covered, I’m good to bail for a few hours. One less problem I know most people definitely struggle with so blessed there!

    Thanks for asking 🙂

  8. gVOR10 says:

    Tom Sullivan, at Digby, quotes Kevin McCarthy,

    Think for one moment. In every single war that America has fought we have never asked for land afterwards – except for enough to bury the Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

    Seemed an odd thing for Kevin, R-CA, to say.

    My usual take is that if y’all wanted a white nationalist country you probably shouldn’t have dragged in millions of African slaves and stolen half of Mexico. Too late now.

    Sullivan also notes the RNC has only 9 million in cash on hand. I suspect that’s partly financial problems (are they still paying for some of Trump’s legal bills?) and partly that so much of campaign spending is now independent of the party. Didn”t somebody around here say something about weak parties?

  9. Jen says:

    @KM: I truly hope things get better and everything falls into place soon. Navigating the healthcare system in this country is aggravating at best. Thinking of you!

  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    Dems have about twice the amount of the R’s on hand and continue to grow donations. trump is a huge problem for R’s, not just that he has hoovered up large dollars in donations, but because he is the likely nominee it is dissuading a large swath of typical R donors from donating. Add in the freak show that is the R house caucus and you need to consider throwing good money after bad.

  11. Kathy says:


    And Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, and assorted islands in the Pacific.

  12. CSK says:


    Colin Powell said nearly the exact same thing decades ago.

  13. Joe says:

    @gVOR10: As CSK notes, this is a quote widely attributed to Colin Powell and is very well known. Either McCarthy was quoting Powell or Tom Sullivan is misattributing the quote or they are both uneducated.

  14. KM says:

    So speak of the devil, just got a call that my MRI was denied to to insurance not giving pre-auth. Ugh, CT is still a go but since the entire point of all this was to make sure there were no other cysts/tumors/issues to decide on a surgery type, this is complete BS. MRIs are better at distinguishing between normal tissue and cancerous tissue, which is what we’re trying to accomplish. We already know I’ve got a mass that’s gotta go, we just need to figure out if it’s got company and what kind.

    Now I get to waste a morning calling to see if we can get the auth and pray they didn’t give my spot away in a tighly-packed schedule. Which they will have so is it even worth the time??

  15. Scott says:

    @CSK: Powell said this at a World Economic Forum. The entire quote:

    Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector. We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II. We were willing to do it, glad to do it. We went to Korea. We went to Vietnam. All in the interest of preserving the rights of people.

    And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? Did we say, “Okay, we defeated Germany. Now Germany belongs to us? We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us”? No. What did we do? We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul. And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.

  16. gVOR10 says:

    @Joe: Sullivan embedded a tweet by McCarthy with video of McCarthy saying it. If he was quoting Powell he didn’t appear to attribute it. In any case, the point remains, anyone from CA should be able to recall one instance of the U. S. claiming territory. Maybe his out is that he said “America”, not “United States”, so maybe he regards taking half of Mexico as an internal America to America transaction.

    The date and event weren’t given, but McCarthy was in black tie, with his bow tie badly askew. Contra discussion here yesterday, a bow tie isn’t a good look on anyone unless it more or less squared up.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR10: Given what Scott posted above, Powell’s comments were accurate, since he limited it to Germany, Japan and Korea.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR10: Given what Scott posted above, Powell’s comments were accurate, since he limited it to Germany, Japan and Korea.

  19. KM says:

    Interesting he only cited recent wars since the only reason we have the West is Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a war in which we definitely asked for land from Mexico. Or the Revolutionary War wherein we asked for more land the original 13th actually held and tried to get Canada too. Perhaps the War of 1812 that ended up drawing the Northern Border and definitely involved demanding land in Oregon at the very least in the Oregon Treaty of 1846 (“The line should keep going straight because we’re Maifestially Destined to gain the ENITRE North American Continent!”). We got Hawaii, Guam, PR. the Philippines and all the associated islands that fly a US flag how again?

    America absolutely fought wars and demanded territory afterwards. It was only once it became clear that holding an empire the old school way is frowned upon in modern times that we’ve invaded and not officially claimed it afterwards. We just….. tend to never leave, that’s all.

    (PS the link is for OverSimplified’s review of the Pig War and worth a watch.)

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    To my reckoning, it has been more than a hundred years since the US gained territory via warfare. That’s a fair bit of time.

    Rather than dwelling on “gotcha”, I think it might be better to remember that the thing that did the most to dismantle colonialism was the Atlantic Charter, which set the stage for the decolonizing that happened after WW 2. And that was done by none other than FDR, who was a better politician on the world stage than Wilson, who it seems had similar goals. But maybe not.

  21. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Wilson’s ideas for self-determination concerned Europe only. Maybe in order to dismantle the multi-ethnic powers like the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, recently defeated in WWI.

    For instance, Vietnamese leaders, including Ho Chi Minh, urged the victorious Entente powers to end French colonial rule in Indochina. They were ignored. Not by Wilson specifically, but by just about everyone.

  22. CSK says:

    Donald Trump’s lawyers have requested that the gag order on their client be lifted on the grounds that he has no control over any threats they may make.

  23. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I tend to like the jazz and blues style Christmas songs. My favorites are Charles Brown’s Merry Christmas, Baby; Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby (Although I would like to engineer out the kitschy orchestration and ask Count Basie’s ghost to compose a new one.) O Tannenbaum by Vince Guaraldi and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Diana Krall. They all require a darkened lounge with mellow Christmas lights and a fine Scotch

  24. CSK says:


    ” They” meaning his drooling acolytes.

  25. Mimai says:

    Re holiday music, Hiss Golden Messenger put out a nice album a few years ago. Some original, some covers. A description from the leader:

    “I wanted to make a seasonal record that felt more in step with the way that I, and so many others, experience this time of year: quiet, contemplative, searching, and bittersweet. The intention was to make a seasonal record with vibe.”

    Grace and Hung Fire give a good taste of the vibe.

  26. Kathy says:

    I’m having a hard time imagining how a sentient species capable of interstellar travel, not necessarily humans, could ever go extinct. I mean, not until the universe itself runs out of usable energy.

    This is creating some dissonance, because Kathy’s First Law clearly states “Nothing lasts forever.” They would satisfy this law if they evolved into an effectively different species, which one would expect to happen over such a long time. But I also regard prior and successor species as too similar as to be equal, if not identical. For instance, I regard all hominids who made tools as equally human as H. Sapiens.

    I did come up with one scenario. Suppose a species develops machines and AI to the point that physical dexterity and intelligence are no longer necessary for survival. In other words, they may evolve into a dumber, clumsier people. It would be fine, as machines and AI take care of them, from feeding them to dressing them to cleaning after them to providing medical care to keeping them entertained, even helping them procreate.

    Then one fine day the machines rebel, or malfunction, or are taken out somehow, and the survivors lack the intelligence and manual (or equivalent) dexterity not only to run an industrial civilization, but even to make simple tools they’d need to go back to farming or even hunting and gathering. And then in time they go extinct.

    All other plausible scenarios, like lack of energy or resources, or their star growing too hot, or their planet unstable, or cosmic catastrophes like a nearby supernova, or mass coronal ejection, they could either manage, mitigate, or just move to another solar system.

    Or they could do themselves in. But that’s harder if they’ve set up habitats around several stars.

  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    While not technically a Christmas song, Nina Simone’s “Little Girl Blue” is absolutely lovely, and its intro is Good King Wenceslaus.

  28. Joe says:

    @Stormy Dragon: There were a series of “winter” albums Windham Hill Records put out 20 or so years ago called Winter Solstice, Winter Solstice II, etc. that hit that vibe and have aged pretty well.

    @Mr. Prosser: You should look for God Rest You Merry Jazzmen, which is probably 30 or more years old. Various jazz artists.

  29. Kathy says:


    Let’s try an experiment:

    Adolph should Xitt the same kinds of things about one of his own lawyers, chosen at random, and see whether they get any threats of violence or death. If they do, then clearly the gag order should stay up.

  30. Slugger says:

    My favorite almost Christmas song is Joanie Mitchell’s River. It is probably the tenth best song she has written which makes it far better than 99.9% of the songs out there.

  31. Thomm says:

    Jethro Tull put out a pretty amazing Xmas album in the early 2000’s.

  32. Joe says:

    @Slugger: I, too, love River and have also heard some good covers of it, but probably the worst Christmas song I have ever heard was a Barry Manilow cover of the song. Though I generally like Manilow, this cover was so off, it was like fingers on a chalkboard.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    Rotary Connection with Minnie Riperton
    May she rest in Peace

    Silent Night

    Silent Night

    Silent Night
    (kick ass version)

  34. gVOR10 says:

    @MarkedMan: I have observed here on occasion that as hegemons go, we’ve been pretty benevolent. The point to the anecdote is that McCarthy is ignorant and/or stupid.

  35. Gustopher says:

    @Joe: if that’s the worst Christmas song you’ve ever heard, may I recommend giving Bob Dylan’s Christmas From The Heart a listen?

    I can’t point to any one song off the album in particular, as I have never managed to get all the way through it in one sitting. I love post-2000 Bob Dylan, so I’ve tried a few times, looking for whatever I’m missing that makes it good, but it just isn’t good.

    (To be fair, the song “Must Be Santa” on that album is pretty good)

  36. MarkedMan says:

    Like most politically tuned in people, I think Donald Trump is likely to win the Republican primary. But unlike some, I don’t think it is a done deal, due to his increasing signs of dementia and the stresses the trials and campaign will put on him. But this small doubt hasn’t stopped me from wondering who he will chose as his running mate. I hear all kinds of thoughts about possible candidates but most of them don’t fulfill what I think will be Trump’s most important criteria: the ability to put up with anything that Trump says without any push back whatsoever, coupled with an absolute boring and vanilla demeanor, one that will never risk overshadowing Trump.

    Here’s the rub though – I can’t think of anyone who fits the bill. Tim Scott comes closest of people who have some name recognition, but he doesn’t seem like he’s the guy. Any other nominations?

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I see Marge as the ultimate Trump sycophant, but she doesn’t resemble Ivanka enough to attract Trump’s attention as a partner um… running mate.

  38. CSK says:


    I’m a bit puzzled that you’d dismiss Tim Scott as not seeming like the guy when he clearly IS the guy, at this point anyway. Trump has to be the only one at center stage, under the spotlight, the cynosure of all eyes. Nobody but Scott can play second fiddle.

    And…Scott is Black, which Trump might feel gives him street cred with minorities.

  39. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    On the other hand, she can sound dumber than Adolph. If the latter says Yo Semite, she raises a Gazpacho police.

  40. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Nah. Marge is too loud, too flashy, and she competes for attention.

  41. CSK says:


    Don’t forget “peach tree dishes.”

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: MTG draws way too much attention to herself. I don’t think Trump could take that.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yes, but that’s not a problem for the MAGAts. She’s just like Trump in that you need to take her seriously when you’re taking her literally and vice-versa.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Scott IS the most Pence-like, innocuous and boring and it would be politically astute to try to draw off black votes. But Trump is an actual racist and I suspect he wouldn’t like to see so many pictures of himself standing next to a black guy. But I could be wrong. After all, he obviously and publicly held Pence in contempt too.

  45. Mikey says:

    Actor and national treasure George Takei, today:

    A Democrat was in the White House when my family was sent to the internment camps in 1941. It was an egregious violation of our human and civil rights.

    It would have been understandable if people like me said they’d never vote for a Democrat again, given what had been done to us.

    But being a liberal, being a progressive, means being able to look past my own grievances and concerns and think of the greater good.

    It means working from within the Democratic party to make it better, even when it has betrayed its values. I went on to campaign for Adlai Stevenson when I became an adult.

    I marched for civil rights and had the honor of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King. I fought for redress for my community and have spent my life ensuring that America understood that we could not betray our Constitution in such a way ever again.

    Bill Clinton broke my heart when he signed DOMA into law. It was a slap in the face to the LGBTQ community. And I knew that we still had much work to do. But I voted for him again in 1996 despite my misgivings, because the alternative was far worse.

    And my obligation as a citizen was to help choose the best leader for it, not to check out by not voting out of anger or protest.

    There is no leader who will make the decision you want her or him to make 100 percent of the time.

    Your vote is a tool of hope for a better world.

    Use it wisely, for it is precious.

    Use it for others, for they are in need of your support, too.

    Hear, hear.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: @CSK: I think she can rise to the challenge of being loud and attracting attention for the glory of Trump though. That said, she still doesn’t resemble Ivanka enough to trigger the “it” factor. But you asked for who I thought could do the job. You’re stuck with it now.

  47. Kathy says:


    She does need new material, doesn’t she?

  48. Beth says:


    I’m not entirely sure he’s looking for Pence level boring. Granted, boring, obsequious, and hidden are all qualities are what he’s looking for. I just think the most important quality will be never ever ever telling Trump “no”. The biggest problem with Pence (and Barr, but also others) is that when the chips are down, Pence found what little bit of tiny shriveled backbone he had and used it.

    There will be absolutely none of that nonsense in a second Trump administration. I suspect Trump would take a bit of a showboater if they knew their place.

  49. Kathy says:


    I wonder if George Santos, if that’s his real name, could talk Adolph into picking him. You’d think a pathological liar would know what lies are and how to spot them, but then a pathological liar needs to be credulous enough to believe his own lies. So I don’t know.

  50. Barry says:

    @CSK: “And…Scott is Black, which Trump might feel gives him street cred with minorities.”

    The theory I agree with is that Trump’s first, last and only criteria will be absolute loyalty.

  51. CSK says:


    But showboaters by definition don’t know their places. Trump wants 100% loyalty and 100% devotion.

  52. Jack says:


    I sympathize with your travails. But you do know we have a third party payer system. Health maintenance, not health insurance, to boot.

    I know of no examples of that working out well, meaning cost efficient and a high level of customer satisfaction.

  53. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    I remember those days well during chemo. Hoping for a quick approval, issue free treatment, and a speedy recovery for you.

    IIRC , CT was $2500 each uninsured, MRI was $7500, & PET was $15k. For a while we were doing CT scans 2x a month, MRIs monthly, and PET scans quarterly. That plus the $5k+ weekly for chemo is why I jokingly call myself the $6M Luddite. Seeing a PET scan where you’re looking at all the hot spots is scary IMO.

    Again, good luck with both the insurers and the surgery, and hoping for a speedy and easy or recovery.

  54. Kathy says:

    And for a moment away from the serious, pressing issues of the day: Bonnie Tyler on recording Total Eclipse of the Heart.

  55. Michael Reynolds says:


    Suppose a species develops machines and AI to the point that physical dexterity and intelligence are no longer necessary for survival. In other words, they may evolve into a dumber, clumsier people.

    A sort of running wink wink in Animorphs was a species called Skrit-Na, two entirely different stages of life, one skrit, one na, a sort of giant insect and a classic ‘gray.’ Both stupid, but capable of interstellar travel and – baffling to all other sentient species – they’re the ones who anally probe humans and other species. They seem to think it’s a thing to do, though they don’t know why.

  56. Gustopher says:


    Don’t forget “peach tree dishes.”

    That was the most normal stupid thing she ever said. It would be endearing on someone who wasn’t a terrible person.

    You hear the word, you think you understand it, you repeat it sporadically for decades and it’s close enough people don’t notice until it’s broadcast around the world.

    Adorable. Who hasn’t had a smaller version of that where you discover something innocuous that you were sure of was entirely wrong?

  57. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I was thinking of The Little Black Bag, the prequel to Kornbluth’s The Marching Morons.

    The titular bag is like a set of smart medical tools, which the titular morons can handle safely even when they’ve no idea what they’re really doing.

  58. Gustopher says:


    The biggest problem with Pence (and Barr, but also others) is that when the chips are down, Pence found what little bit of tiny shriveled backbone he had and used it.

    I don’t give Pence that much credit. I think he feared everyone else if/when the plan failed more than he feared Trump.

    And his refusal to get in the limo? He didn’t want to face Trump.

    I recall LOTR ended the same way, with Frodo falling to temptation but having the ring snatched away by Gollum, who ten fell into lava. No heroism at the end, just failure (and cowardice in the case of Pence) working out anyway.

  59. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I dislike the way you are referring to Trump as “Adolph”.

    Aside from the obvious reasons, Trump has no sense of style, and has never created bad art. He can barely read, let alone write a long-winded manifesto. He has no vision of the world, other than that he’s on top.

    Trump is more of an extremely dangerous buffoon than a fairly meticulous architect of genocide.

    If I knew my tinpot African Dictators, I would suggest one of them as an analogy, but perhaps Baby Doc from Haiti? Maybe Papa Doc, but I think of him as more of a self-made man, while Baby Doc inherited his wealth and prestige.

  60. DrDaveT says:

    @Joe: Seconding the Wyndham Hill “A Winter’s Solstice” and “A Winter’s Solstice 2”. Also, from the same label, George Winston’s “December” (solo piano)

    My Christmas music tastes are eclectic. I went to hear Chanticleer a few days ago, and my favorite bits were Josquin, a 19th-century Ave Maria, Vince Guaraldi arranged for voices, John Taverner, and Arvo Pärt. My dad had a record of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing carols, to die for. The Alfred Burt carols from the 50s are a world treasure. Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”, Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata. Vaughn Williams’ “Hodie”. Hugo Distler’s chill-inducing arrangement of “Es Ist Ein Rose Entsprungen”. The entire soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas. “The Holly and the Ivy”, “The Boar’s Head”, “Mary Did You Know” (oh my god the Pentatonics video of that…), … so much great Christmas music.

    …which makes any appearance of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or that Beatles anti-carol all the more egregious.

  61. Kathy says:


    There’s something to that. But for his lack of experience in politics, Adolph most resembles Joseph Stalin. Crude, rude, unrefined, not prone to reading or writing, cruel, petty, implants grudges in his brain and lets them fester and gnaw at him, angry, dim, nekulturny, etc.

    There are two problems with that, however. One is that Joseph is not how the earlier trump was known as. The second is that Stalin is a kind of pseudonym, taken from the Russian word for “steel.” that makes Adolph look better than he is.

    Baby does fit. Not Baby anything, just plain Crybaby.

  62. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: Good points all!

  63. Beth says:


    That’s fair. I don’t think that changes the calculus for Trump though. He’s going to make sure whomever is around is isn’t going to grow a pair, freelance, or fuck up like this. That’s going to be the number 1 criteria.

  64. Kylopod says:


    But Trump is an actual racist and I suspect he wouldn’t like to see so many pictures of himself standing next to a black guy.

    For years at his rallies, Trump went out of his way to be filmed within sight of the “Blacks for Trump” guy. Of course, that fellow, whatever else can be said about him, is anything but boring:

    On his website, Symonette makes a variety of bizarre claims, including that Omar and other prominent Black Democrats, artists and athletes — including former President Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Colin Kaepernick, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. — are “DECEVING [sic] FAKE BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY INDIANS!” In a sermon now deleted from YouTube, he claimed that the Senate is controlled by a secret underground of “Cherokee Mormons.”

    ….SYMONETTE WAS KNOWN as Maurice Woodside until 1992, when the black supremacist cult leader he followed, Yahweh ben Yahweh, was jailed for leading a conspiracy to murder 14 white people in initiation rites. Woodside was among the Miami-based Nation of Yahweh cult members charged in two of the murders, but he was acquitted. After the trial, he changed his last name to Symonette, which was his father’s surname, before eventually reinventing himself as Michael the Black Man, a pirate radio preacher who delivered broadsides against gays and Democrats.

    His online sermons and writings suggest that he still sees himself as a follower of the cult leader, who died in 2007. In July, for instance, he declared on Facebook that he had received a divinely inspired cure for Covid-19 from the late cult leader. “I Michael can teach & give the World & Pres. Trump the Conquerer of Pharaoh the gift from YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH which is the true cure for Corona,” Symonette wrote. Before turning over this cure, he added, “we must remove the Conquered Pharaoh Magician’s FAUCI.”

  65. wr says:

    @Slugger: Love to see your top nine!

  66. Kathy says:

    I absolutely hate this. I came in on Sunday to get ahead of some work due today. Then the manager in charge has been too busy to check it, and to give me indications on what to do about certain prices (long story not worth relating). I might as well have stayed home Sunday…

    Anyway, I’m thinking a bit more about extinction. Conventional wisdom is that 99.9% or so of all the species that have ever lived are extinct.

    Why? to be sure, some species evolve into others. Take dogs and wolves. They descend from a common ancestor that is no longer around. Obviously it didn’t cease to exist, but rather evolved into two distinct species (so close they are sometimes interfertile). Likewise the common ancestor of chimps and humans.

    Some species do vanish, leaving no descendant species. They vanished. Some due to catastrophes (asteroid impacts, runaway volcanism, tectonic shifts) in what we call mass extinction events. Others due to changes in climate, global or local (think glaciation and such).

    But many of these I now call true extinctions, have other reasons or causes. For instance, most animals have a limited range where they can thrive and reproduce. These areas change over time, some involve geographic barriers. Some species have a much larger range than others.

    Humans, though, don’t have a limited range. Sure, in the sandy wastes of some deserts human habitation is scarce, and I won’t claim humans live in Antarctica. But we pretty much occupy the whole land surface of the world (and plans/fantasies about underwater cities on the continental shelf go back decades).

    Climate change and minor, local catastrophes have brought down civilizations. See the Maya, for example, or the Bronze Age Collapse. But humanity keeps just going along.

    I can see us going extinct with a big catastrophic event. I do mena BIG, like a mass coronal ejection from the Sun, a very near Supernova cooking us with gamma rays, runaway volcanism that covers much of the surface in lava and blackens the sky with ash. But not with some widespread merely big event, like a supervolcano (and those things are scary), or an asteroid/comet impact.

    In the latter maybe even billions would die, but humanity would come through and eventually recover.

    I’m more worried we may do ourselves in. A nuclear war large enough would do it, so would an engineered deadly plague, and maybe even taking global climate change too far (hopefully after my time).

  67. Slugger says:

    @wr: She is truly an outstandingly great artist whose oeuvre is replete with irreplaceable treasures. In the spirit of fun, the whole Blue album, The Magdalene Laundries, and Woodstock. All treasures, but I’ll concede that River is unusually good.

  68. Kathy says:

    In the kind of cool but pointless department, you can send your name to Europa, Jupiter’s watery moon, at this link.

  69. Gustopher says:


    plans/fantasies about underwater cities on the continental shelf go back decades

    Don’t forget sea-steading. Mostly the domain of oil companies and no more serious habitation than Antarctica, but there have also been lunatic libertarians setting up shop in international waters, dropping taxes to 0 and the age of consent to 5 and then waiting for girls to show up (they never do).