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. Teve says:
  2. Teve says:
  3. Mikey says:


    By Punishing Raffensperger, The GOP Moves One Step Closer to Nullifying Democracy

    Well, that’s what they’ve always wanted, isn’t it?

  4. Mikey says:

    @Teve: Also they didn’t seem to mind so much when Brian Kemp was Secretary of State while running for governor in an election HE WAS OVERSEEING.

  5. CSK says:

    The thing about Trumpkins is that they can switch from loving you to hating you instantaneously. A week ago they adored Kristi Noem. Now she’s anathema. All it takes is the slightest deviation from the party line.

  6. Jen says:

    All it takes is the slightest deviation from the party line.

    Which can change from moment to moment itself, depending on which grievance is top of mind that day.

  7. Teve says:

    @CSK: I had heard about the transgender thing but I wasn’t really up to speed on what the situation was, so I read this Daily Beast article which explained the whole thing. Man, those conservatives will hate on the transgendered with absolutely no regard for the consequences.

  8. CSK says:

    Or what Donald Trump opines about something.

  9. Teve says:
  10. KM says:

    @CSK @Teve:

    The thing is Noem *isn’t* deviating from the party line, she just following the Business angle instead of the Culture War one. Big Business hath spoken and decreed It Is Not Good that thou shalt not mess with thine source of income. Corporations have done the math and realized the profit isn’t in hate. They don’t give a good goddamn about trans folk but rather they don’t want the negative publicity. So when Big Business comes knocking on the governor’s door and says knock it off or the money goes bye-bye, it is VERY Republican to give in.

    The Culture Warriors are just getting pissed that RL evidence shows they don’t have a leg to stand on. The only color that matters to them is green and so when the green speaks, they must obey…. even if that means letting people they hate have something nice for once.

  11. Teve says:


    SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — Suez Canal service firm says massive container ship that was stuck in vital waterway has been set free, on the move.

    Thank Heavens. A recession caused by one beached ship is not what we need right now.

  12. Kathy says:


    In the early 50s, nukes were America’s answer to everything. Things like using them for construction projects might derive from the Atoms for Peace line in a speech by Eisenhower, but there were also proposed for tactical military use in ways that seem astonishing today.

    For instance, a nuke-tipped air-to-air missile to bring down bomber formations in one shot, nuke artillery shells, and more. It seemed like every problem could be solved with a nuclear weapon only.

    You can, of course, carve out a canal with nukes quickly. The environmental costs of mass fallout, though, make the idea worse than terrible.

  13. Scott says:

    @Kathy: Nuclear power was very popular.

    Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion

    The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program and the preceding Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project worked to develop a nuclear propulsion system for aircraft. The United States Army Air Forces initiated Project NEPA on May 28, 1946.[1] NEPA operated until May 1951, when the project was transferred to the joint Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)/USAF ANP.[2] The USAF pursued two different systems for nuclear-powered jet engines, the Direct Air Cycle concept, which was developed by General Electric, and Indirect Air Cycle, which was assigned to Pratt & Whitney. The program was intended to develop and test the Convair X-6, but was cancelled in 1961 before that aircraft was built. The total cost of the program from 1946 to 1961 was about $1 billion.[3]

  14. Teve says:

    @Kathy: A friend of mine who was in the 82nd airborne said that the nuclear artillery shells were fired from a truck which had to immediately haul ass because it was within the blast range. Madness.

  15. Kathy says:


    That’s not a terrible idea, until you consider aircraft crash and you don’t want radioactive material spilling all over when they do.


    According to Tom Clancy, the delivery of nukes planned by Israel up to the 1970s, would put the pilots tasked for it in a similar position. The difference is Israel would have used nukes as a last resort when faced with an imminent existential danger, not as battlefield weapons.

    IMO, nuclear explosives, to be generic, won’t ever be used for anything other than weapons.

  16. Liberal Capitalist says:

    People suck.

    Tennessee will continue observing Nathan Bedford Forrest Day every year on the slave trader, Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard’s birthday, after yet another unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the day of observation once and for all.

  17. Kathy says:

    The most widely accepted theory of the Moon’s formation is the impact theory. This holds that a planet-sized body, named Theia*, collided with the earth as it was cooling down, and ejected the material that alter coalesced into the Moon.

    There are reasons to believe this, namely the Moon’s composition, as determined by samples brought back, is very similar to Earth’s.

    What’s often left out, is what became of Theia. It seems now, that some large parts of the Earth’s mantle differ markedly form other parts, which suggests they may have come from Theia (other parts of the impactor were also ejected and some of them no doubt wound up on the Moon. Alas, they’re far too deep to sample and analyze.

    Collisions in the Solar system are common, see all the craters on the Moon, on Mercury, mars, various moons, etc. It’s also thought likely that a big planet-sized body struck Uranus, and titled its axis nearly 90 degrees, so it would seem early on such things happened often.

    *Theia is the name of a Titan who gave birth to Selene, goddess of the Moon.

  18. CSK says:

    L. Lin Wood, conspiracy loon extraordinaire, is running for the chairmanship of the South Carolina GOP.

    And Lara Trump is joining Fox News as a contributor. I thought she was going to run for the senate from North Carolina.

  19. Michael Cain says:


    The US had a plan in the 1960s to blast an alternative Suez Canal through Israel using 520 nuclear bombs

    As I recall, there was also a proposal to excavate a sea-level canal through Nicaragua. Or one with only a couple of locks to compensate for the daily differences in sea level at the two ends.

  20. Scott says:

    @CSK: They got to compete with Texas. We have our own loon extraordinaire, Allen West, looniness being the least among his many negative attributes.

    Allen West (politician)

  21. a country lawyer says:

    The aircraft I flew in the Marine Corps (the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk) was originally designed during the cold war to deliver a nuclear weapon. Although the Marine Corps used it primarily as a ground support aircraft, we were trained in the “over the shoulder” nuclear delivery method. You flew toward the target at maximum speed at ground level to a predetermined initial point short of the target and at that point initiated a high G pullup. Just before reaching the vertical the device was released, traveling up several thousand feet. We continued the loop until we approached the ground and rolled out near ground level heading 180 degrees from our inbound heading and at max speed. The device would continue in a parabola striking the ground a minute or so later as we were speeding away in the opposite direction. The engine and fuselage behind us were supposed to protect us from gamma radiation and our speed would allegedly allow us to outrun the fallout. Just about everyone who trained this maneuver expected that it would be a one way mission.

  22. CSK says:

    I notice that toward the end of his Wikipedia bio West is identified as a “Christian.” What does that mean? Doesn’t one normally affiliate with a denomination? Baptist? Lutheran? Methodist? Episcopalian? Presbyterian? Congregationalist? As opposed to a Druid? What?

  23. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kathy: I remember reading that, for at least one design, the shielding was so heavy, they ended up not shielding the reactor, but just the pilot cabin, so they’d be irradiating everything around them as they flew.

    My grandfather worked for the air force working on the design of planes and for a time studied how to make sure that a pilot could survive delivering a nuclear device, as you could imagine, he had some stories… most of which he couldn’t tell because they were still classified. Anyhoo, he once told me that every now and then somebody would start a pitch for a new plane by saying “Imagine a plane that you never have to refuel…” and everybody knew what was coming next.

  24. Mister Bluster says:

    I remember an animated Disney production from the 1950s that claimed that nuclear power would be so cheap that it would not have to be metered at your house. My memory was confirmed when I brought this up to our guide when I toured the Diablo Canyon nuclear power facility near San Luis Obispo CA sometime in the ’80s. Although he was not yet born in the ’50s he was aware of the film and said that the claim at the time was not that nuclear power for a residence would be free but the cost would indeed be cheap enough that metering would not be necessary. We all know how that turned out.
    I have searched Google and can’t find the clip but offer this for your viewing pleasure.
    Our Friend the Atom Disney 1957 49min.

  25. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Probably that he’s either evangelical and knows that the label has some toxicity or that he “culturally” identifies as Christian but doesn’t hold/have a denominational background.

  26. Scott says:

    @CSK: It usually means non-denominational. Denominations usually have a body of work that defines its commonly held beliefs, interpretations, or doctrines (called confessions, creeds, catechisms, etc.)

    Non-denominational churches (or individuals) practice sola scriptura which means that scripture alone is the only acceptable foundation for faith and no other words are needed. As practiced, it then can mean anything an individual wants it to mean. And use it to justify anything they want scripture to say. As practiced, sola scriptura can result is small cultish congregations or gigantic mega churches, all affiliated with a denomination. Also, they tend to be very preacher-centric and fall away with the preacher inevitably grows old and passes away. Or gets caught in some sexual scandal.

  27. Kathy says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    That’s still better than launching a spaceship by setting off low-yield nukes, one after the other, against a thick metal plate on the ship.

    Radioisotope power sources have been used in space probes, to provide electrical power and heat. Mostly for probes going past Jupiter, but also in the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars.

    This poses some risk, should the launch vehicle blow up, but we’ve bene lucky thus far. More important, there were no alternatives. Solar power is just too feeble past Saturn. Still progress in solar panels menas the latest probe to orbit Jupiter, Juno, was able to rely on them, unlike Galileo which used radioisotopes.

    If/when we develop fusion reactors, it’s likely they can be used to propel spacecraft, assuming the radiation can be shielded. In any case, some kind of radiation shield is necessary for long voyages, if we don’t want to have crew attrition as a regular cost of exploration.

  28. CSK says:

    @just nutha: @Scott:
    Thanks. That clarifies a lot for me. I wasn’t raised in any religion, so much of this is unknown to me.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but an interesting sidelight (to me) of the George Zimmerman case occurred when he was being interviewed by a detective. He noticed she was wearing a cross, so he asked if she was Catholic. She replied: “No. I’m a Christian.”

    And here I’d always assumed Catholics were Christians. The first Christians, in fact. Silly me.

  29. Gustopher says:



    Psst, I hear they don’t like this word. It’s the whole people of color vs. colored people thing, and a cultural marker like the Democrat party.

    “Transgender people” or the like is preferred, I always go with “trans folks” because for the longest time I couldn’t remember whether “transgender” was good and “transgendered” was bad or vice versa, and whether it’s just some groups that object and I just want simple certainty.

    (In context, it’s clear that you aren’t being a bigot, but someday you will use it in a different context)

  30. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kathy: Oh, come on. What’s a couple dozen low-yield nukes between friends, right?

    I had to look it up, but those nuclear plane designs, well there were 3 main ones. Two of them used the air to directly cool the reactor fuel, heat up and push the plane (in the case of the Nuclear Ram Jet (yes, you read that correctly), it was to be used in a missile), spewing radioactive material behind the plane as exhaust. There was a third that used indirect heating, but that never quite got it together.

  31. Teve says:


    Non-denominational churches (or individuals) practice sola scriptura which means that scripture alone is the only acceptable foundation for faith and no other words are needed.

    I have a friend named Stephanie and one of her Masters degrees is in religious studies. And when we’ve talked about biblical topics before, the extra-biblical information she brings in, such as the nuances of how the Greek was translated, really enlighten and sometimes completely alter the meaning of the text. She gave me an example of how, if you know the ancient Greek, this particular story which appears to be at face value in English is very obviously a metaphor.

    Thinking that all you have to do is just read the English translation, alone, and you’ll get it all, strikes me as daft.

  32. CSK says:

    Per CNN, the container ship is now floating free. The Suez canal is no longer blocked.

  33. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: i can live with that.

  34. Teve says:

    @CSK: yup, last time i looked at it on Vessel Finder it was chugging along at 7.2 knots.

  35. Kathy says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    Two of them used the air to directly cool the reactor fuel, heat up and push the plane

    That makes sense. Today’s jets essentially compress and push out ambient air mixed with a small amount of heated fuel exhaust, but most of the fuel’s energy is used to turn the turbines that move the compressors.

    That’s why I do’t think we’ll get electrical aircraft for mass passenger transportation. Electrical prop planes would be good for small, short, regional routes, but for longer distances and more passengers, you’ll need a denser energy source.

    Absent fossil fuels, the alternatives are bio fuels (essentially renewable fossil-like fuels), and hydrogen.

  36. Teve says:

    Right now it’s at 6.4 kn.

  37. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I was taught that the Roman Catholic Church was “the Whore of Babylon” mentioned in The Revelations and that the mitre that Bishops and the Pope wear is actually a tribute to Dagon–a Philistine god thought to resemble a fish–and not a tribute to St. Peter starting his career in commercial fishing. So no, not everybody agrees that Catholics are Christian. Not even close. [Insert “No Pope Here” chant]

  38. Kathy says:

    A few weeks ago, I think I mentioned a coworker got his first shot of a COVID vaccine. today he was supposed to get the second one, only he says when he got to the vaccination site, no one from the government or with vaccines ever showed up.

    So, I’m getting a passport and risking a trip to a red state.

    I would be willing to wait if large numbers of people were vaccinated before me. Not so much if it will take months more.

    Still, if I get a choice fo shot, I’ll likely choose the J&J if it’s available. Not only because it’s one shot, but because we know how effective it is against some variants. It’s not every effective, but it does keep you from serious illness, hospitalization, and death. We don’t really know the numbers yet for Pfizer or Moderna.

  39. dazedandconfused says:


    Luckily for the Ever Given, there’s a different attitude about nukes these days.

    They didn’t understand the dangers of the radiation. Certainly the egg-heads did but that memo didn’t get around to everybody.
    Five Guys At Ground Zero, a blast from the past:

  40. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    Well, I did tell you that I was largely ignorant of these matters. I didn’t fully realize till I was an adult how unusual (for the time) my upbringing was. Most people are raised to pay lip service, at the very least, to some religion, aren’t they?

    I have a niece-in-law from Iowa who is vociferous about being a “Christian” (no denomination ever given). I sometimes wonder how my nephew can stand her.

  41. Kathy says:


    It was kind of mixed.

    In the tests of the first nuclear weapons, the nukes were placed atop tall structures in order to minimize fallout. On the other hand, people in Nevada crowded hotel rooftops to watch tests being conducted nearby in the early 50s (you can see photos at the Atomic Testing Museum in Vegas).

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..And here I’d always assumed Catholics were Christians. The first Christians, in fact. Silly me.

    One summer during my grade school years in the mid ’50s when I was 8 or 9 years old my parents sent me to a YMCA camp for a week. While I was there I asked another kid why a mutual friend of ours was not camping out with us.
    “He’s Jewish.”
    “Yeah so…” I said
    “This is the Young Men’s Christian Association camp. Jews aren’t Christians.”
    ” Yes they are.” I insisted.
    Don’t know where I was getting my information at 9 years old but this was news to me.
    I suspect I asked my parents when I got home and they likely told me that no Jews were not Christians and left it at that.
    They were devout Missouri Synod Lutherans but I never heard them utter a disparaging word towards anyone of a different faith.
    Thanks Mom*.
    Thanks Dad.

    *This was before my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Heard all kinds of shit from her then but even at 10 years old I knew it was the disease talking.

  43. gVOR08 says:

    You may remember a Russian nuclear accident a couple years ago. It involved trying to recover a nuclear powered cruise missile that had crashed in the water. An unmanned aircraft solves the problem of shielding the crew, and the Russians have been known to be indifferent to environmental impacts.

  44. a country lawyer says:

    @Teve: I’m fairly familiar with large ships but having seen several pictures of the Ever Given from all directions I can’t locate the bridge. This ship looks like a gigantic barge to be towed or pushed and not steered. No wonder it ran aground.

  45. Teve says:

    @a country lawyer:

    It’s easy to see in this image. But anyway, supposedly it wasn’t driven aground it was pushed by the wind in a sand storm.

  46. a country lawyer says:

    @Teve: Thanks. It looks from pictures of the Ever Given in the Suez, that the container are stacked up to the top of the bridge.

  47. flat earth luddite says:

    and let’s not forget the grunts, who got their very own nukes:

    The M-28 or M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System was the tactical nuclear recoilless gun (smoothbore) for firing the M-388 nuclear projectile that was deployed by the United States during the Cold War. It was one of the smallest nuclear weapon systems ever built, with a yield between 10 and 20 tons TNT equivalent (40–80 gigajoules).

    From what neighbors who served in these units in (then) West Germany, they were never informed that the weapon was, in fact, a suicide weapon, because the launch point was within the blast radius.

  48. just nutha says:

    @CSK: If you are in the same rough age range that I’m in–6os to 80s–yes, your upbringing as described is outside the norms of where I grew up. I knew kids with no religious upbringing from school, but not many. And even in my childhood, Washington State was more relentlessly secular than many places in the US. We even have articles in the state constitution enshrining secularity. One that I was taught about in my education classes says that the public schools are to remain entirely free of sectarian influences. We’ve always only had Spring Break (even in the years where Easter coincides with it).

  49. just nutha says:

    @Mister Bluster: When I was young, Seattle had a YMCA and a YMJA. I’ll let you figure out the second.

  50. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster: @just nutha:
    It’s the YMHA here, as in H for Hebrew. The YMHA has been around since 1854.

    I was born in New York, and although I knew there was such a thing as racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Catholicism, I certainly wasn’t indoctrinated in it by my family and friends. It was a different story when we moved back to the ancestral paternal home in Massachusetts.

  51. dazedandconfused says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    Very small sub-kiloton warhead, so the blast radius was significantly less than the range. Being within the blast radius is not a death sentence, there was a guy in Japan who got nuked twice and lived to tell the tale…

    That’s got to be the GOAT of a bad week.

  52. Mister Bluster says:

    @just nutha:..YMJA
    I don’t recall when I became aware of the Young Messianic Jewish Alliance. Maybe when I took a comparative religions class in college. Don’t know. I’m pretty sure that there were Jews for Jesus on Campus in the 60’s. Round pegs in square holes?
    I hung out with several Jewish friends in college. I’m pretty sure that it was the one ounce bag of green powdered hashish that we bought with intentions of selling off grams to finance our habit that brought us together.
    When I was in High School choir (class of 1966) we performed a Catholic Mass in a Catholic Church somewhere in the Chicago area and sang a Jewish Sacred Service in a Reform Jewish Temple that I think was in Park Forest.
    When I told my hash smoking Jewish buddy about that he was surprised that even a Reform Temple would allow us to perform.
    I think I still have a vinyl copy of those performances somewhere.

  53. Sleeping Dog says:


    There was an announcement today from some company developing an SST, in the press release it addressed fuel, which for this plane will be a synthetic fuel and that and electric plane would only be possible when/if hydrogen became a viable fuel type.

  54. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That seems odd.

    Hydrogen has been used for fuel cells, to a limited extent, in cars and trucks (the space shuttle used hydrogen fuel cells to produce both electricity and water). The big problem is distribution.

    On aircraft, though, the idea would be to burn hydrogen with air, much as now we burn jet fuel with air. I’ve yte to come across any notion of using fuel cells for electric aircraft.

  55. Teve says:
  56. Teve says:

    YAY free sticker in the mail from the ACLU. Gotta send ‘em this year’s check.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Man, those conservatives will hate on the transgendered with absolutely no regard for the consequences.

    I honestly don’t think they hate trans people. Trans are just confused and in need of guidance and they are just the people to lead them to the light.

    It is those of us who would enable the trans to be trans that they hate.

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Aha! You are correct. Thank you for the correction. @Mister Bluster: The Jews for Jesus associated groups were during my college years and later, but as I noted, CSK has the right acronym for the organization of my childhood. There was a branch in Downtown Seattle of the YMHA–near the YMCA in fact–but only the one. The YMCA had several clubs, including one in the area I grew up in, though not in my neighborhood.

  59. Teve says:
  60. Teve says:

    Actual FoxNews headline tonight, under an image of a Dr. Seuss book


  61. DrDaveT says:

    I’m stoked! My Local Health Authorities just informed me that I am shockingly eligible to be vaccinated, and I now have an appointment for this Friday to get my 1-dose J&J Fauci Ouchie.

    I was expecting to have to self-quarantine far into the summer…

  62. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: I was hoping for April but expecting May. There must be a lot of decliners around here because 72 hours after they opened it up to 40+ I was getting stuck in the deltoid.

    Something that I feel, and what I’m seeing expressed on Twitter, is a kind of elation after getting the vaccine.

  63. Teve says:

    BTW, I guess because it’s just some molecules they are injecting, and not whole adenoviruses and such, they were able to use such a tiny needle that I didn’t even know I had been stuck. I’m not averse to needles, I give blood about once every six months and it sucks because they use a small gauge (=large diameter) needle, but it’s still tolerable. But the Moderno vaccine was an extremely fine but long needle and I didn’t even feel it.

  64. Jax says:

    @Teve: Same. I was preparing to help her pinch my arm nice and tight like KM suggested, and she was already done.

    I’m 6 days into my second V-safe checkups on the second shot, and I DO feel a sigh of relief. I know it’s very unlikely I’ll be able to infect my children or parents, should I catch it. That was my big worry.