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:

    Doug on yesterday’s forum:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Sunday, 2 May 2021 at 18:14
    This is yet another sign that the GOP is now a Trump Cult.

    At the link:

    Debra Ell, a Republican organizer in Michigan and fervent supporter of former president Donald Trump, said she has good reason to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
    “I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we’ve learned to trust when he says something, that he’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified,” she said, referring to Trump’s baseless claims that widespread electoral fraud caused his loss to President Biden in November.

    No comment.

  2. CSK says:

    “I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong…”

    Tell me again that this isn’t a cult. It certainly has all the characteristics of one.

  3. CSK says:
  4. Jax says:

    May 3rd and it snowed a couple inches. Very rude behavior for May. 0 stars, do not recommend. 😉

  5. CSK says:

    May 9-10, 1977 saw parts of Massachusetts get 20 inches of snow.

  6. Jax says:

    @CSK: I remember one Saturday before Mother’s Day, we were supposed to brand calves and got a foot of snow the night before. We had a ton of family in town, and everybody was snowed in with no power, no working toilets or running water, and a shit ton of booze. Things got….interesting. 😛

  7. Kathy says:

    Vaccine update.

    the page where I registered says I’ll get an email and/or phone call to let me know when and where to get the vaccine. On the other hand, the municipality (roughly equivalent to a country) where I live, announced on social media the dates and places for vaccination according to the initial of one’s last name.

    By the latter criteria, I get vaccinated next Wednesday, May 5th, starting at 9 am, at a university that’s close to my place (where they did the over 60 vaccination group). So I plan to be there at 7 am.

    As to which vaccine, that’s unknown. the municipal government says they’ll know when the doses get there. The over 60s at that location got Pfizer, FWIW.

  8. KM says:

    @Jax :
    Tell me about it. I’m glad I set up space in the basement for pandemic gardening – my pepper seedlings are struggling but still alive but the inconsistent weather’s killed off my neighbor’s garden before it had a chance. The hybrids are taking a beating and will straight up die if I expose them to the outside at this point.

    I’m not asking for perfect weather, Lord – I’m just asking for it to not be bipolar x3 in a week.

  9. Kathy says:


    I’ve read of places in Siberia that only have two season: Winter, and July 23rd.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Standard North Dakota joke – three seasons, July, August, and Winter.

  11. Mu Yixiao says:


    Whereas in Wisconsin we have 4 seasons–sometimes all in one day.

    (The other joke is that we have two: Winter and Construction)

  12. Much like they did with the late Ruth Bsder Ginsburg, some liberals are calling on Associate Justice Stephen Breyer to retire while Joe Biden is POTUS and Democrats control the Senate.

  13. Kathy says:

    Any idea when exactly “socialism” became a curse word in American English?

    While there are many variants of socialism (Communism being one), they all involve a significant degree of public or social ownership of the means of production. this is not what even self-described “socialists” like Bernie Sanders advocate.

    I know many regard any public (ie tax/government debt) money used for welfare as socialism; though many of them seem to be fine with municipal/city/state bond issues for constructing stadiums for billionaire owners of major sports league teams.

    But for all intents and purposes, “socialist” and the related “communist” is what people in the right wing use for invective against their opponents, even for minor transgressions. Little different from using words such as “motherf**er.”

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jax: @CSK:
    I hear you! Here in LA it was quite overcast yesterday. The extended forecast warns that we may get clouds again. . . around May 16th. And then probably some more in October.

  15. Michael Cain says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Where I was a kid, there were four: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Mud.

    Where I live now, we have four, and aren’t afraid to use any three of them in a given week. Days where the high doesn’t reach 60 in August. Playing golf in the 70s in February. Thundersnow to confuse the newcomers. “What season are we having today?” is a perfectly reasonable question to ask before getting dressed.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    Are you able to pop over the border to the US and get a shot?

  17. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Awesome! Here’s wishing you a successful vaccination!

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    Minnesota joke; 2 seasons, winter and road repair.
    Northern New England joke; 2 seasons, winter and tough sledding.

  19. just nutha says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Now the question remains–is Justice Breyer wise enough to know when to retire or non-ideological enough that he doesn’t care who replaces him?

  20. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yes. I’ve been looking since I got out of the hospital, but flight prices have gone way up, and appointments in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Vegas don’t get you much lead time. Around mid-April I found a good price, one night included, for Vegas for May 7th, but no appointments anywhere close to that date.

    The idea is to book a trip, then get an appointment when they’re available. Suppose you can’t get one? the advice is to go anyway and try to get it as a walk-in.

    Imagine if I’d paid for that trip, then found out I could get it two days earlier at home?

    The current plan is to get any vaccine that’s on offer. If it’s not Pfizer or AstraZeneca, I may then travel to the US once the summer rush quiets down and get a Pfizer or Moderna shot. I don’t know how effective that might be, but I’m sure it won’t cause any harm.

  21. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: My state representative explained the difference to me one time. Professional sports teams are valuable infrastructure. (Yes, he actually said that–in so many words, too.)

  22. just nutha says:

    @Michael Cain: Old PNW joke: Don’t like the weather? Check back in 10 or 15 minutes.

  23. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    We have the exact same joke here in New England.

  24. Scott says:

    @Kathy: In San Antonio, a walk-in is always available now. They’re advertising it. Pretty much every pharmacy has openings right now and the mass vaccination sites are pushing walk-ins.

  25. Mister Bluster says:

    Old PNW joke: Don’t like the weather? Check back in 10 or 15 minutes.

    We have the exact same joke here in New England.

    I heard the same thing in every one of the 300+ cities and towns in the 14 states I worked in over 35 years.
    Whenever I told that to someone who just said it they were astonished that anyone else could say such a thing.

  26. Scott says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Several thoughts here. Trump hates strong women. This makes Republican male leadership look totally weak. Makes Liz Cheney a tough guy.

    Makes me happy.

  27. just nutha says:

    Late yesterday, Kurtz wrote:

    On the other hand, if we were to raise taxes on the low income people who pay little on their income now, the social and economic effects would be catastrophic. An astonishingly large chunk of the population is one piece of bad luck away from homelessness and/or frozen economic mobility. Worse, much of that is generational to the point that if a betting market existed for each person born in the US, one could make a ton of money on futures with very little information about the child beyond household income and race.

    I recall that in an economics class that I took just before I left for Korea, the teacher noted that the bottom quintile of Americans spend 120% of what they earn on subsistence necessities (the extra 20%–actually more [taxes]–coming
    from government subsidy, off-the-books employment, borrowing, illegal activity, etc.). So yeah, you’re right–in fact, a little optimistic.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: I heard the same thing in every one of the 300+ cities and towns in the 14 states I worked in over 35 years.

    Me too. And, “We have the worst drivers”

  29. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: My home town (Seattle) doesn’t have the worst drivers–in my experience, Portland (OR) does. Seattle has the stupidest drivers, but their skill levels are pretty good.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    If this is just about a plane ticket: michaelreynoldsgrant (at) gmail (dotcom). You’re one of the most interesting people here, we can’t have you getting sick. Let me get you a ticket.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..“We have the worst drivers”

    Common variation: ” Those people must have just moved here from Hooterville. They don’t know how to drive.”

  32. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I know you like to present as a heartless badass, but you’re a good person.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Political terminology is hugely frustrating. Meanings are never precise and constantly changing. “Liberal” was a compliment, as in “liberality of spirit”. Then Republicans, I suspect with a big boost from Frank Luntz, made “liberal” into somehow a bad thing. Liberals then should have embraced the word, but ducked it and began calling themselves “progressive”, harking back, I guess, to the Teddy Roosevelt progressives. Now “liberal” seems OK again and “progressive” seems to denote leading edge liberal.

    Yes, the dictionary describes “socialism” as involving ownership of means of production, and Republicans imply it’s demonic, but in our current politics it’s just European Democratic Socialism as practiced every day in socialist hell-holes like Sweden and France.

    Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist”, I believe lower case. There is such a thing as the Democratic Socialists of America, and they have endorsed Bernie, but I don’t believe he’s a member.

    I have no idea what “libertarian” means, the WIKI page is largely a taxonomy of wildly different flavors of “libertarianism”.

    I frequently find myself putting “conservative” in quotes because it’s so ill defined.

  34. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    All the thumbs, all the way up. Good man!

  35. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I appreciate the offer, and very much the sentiment, but I’m getting a first dose day after tomorrow.

    Besides, not to brag, but I’ve manged to stay not sick for over a year now. I think that correlates strongly with “doing something right.”

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @just nutha: My understanding is that the common approach in Europe is to tax everyone more or less alike, the VAT being a prime example, but make up for it with direct payments to the poor. IIRC from the Bruce Bartlett book on taxes I read years ago, Europeans tend to do direct payments, we tend to do “tax expenditures”, i.e. a child tax credit. We “spend” the money by not taxing it away. They tax it and give it back. He claimed that if you add in tax expenditures, taxes here as a % of GDP are roughly equal to European numbers.

  37. JohnMcC says:

    @gVOR08: Your memory is the same as mine but I didn’t have the courage to comment without spending a bunch of time checking myself. Thanks!

  38. Kathy says:

    Speaking of COVID (as Nov. 4th 2020 never actually arrived), it’s been noted that the latest season of flu was pretty much a non-event, first in the Southern Hemisphere, and now up North of the Equator.

    I know of no studies cited, but the consensus seems to be the measures against COVID work even better against the flu, meaning the latter is less contagious.

    Anecdotally, I can say I’ve seen not one case of common cold since late March 2020. I’ve certainly didn’t get any since then. Common cold is caused by a variety of pathogens, including types of coronavirus, rather than a family of viruses like flu. But, again, it seems measures against COVID are even more effective against the milder coronavirus types, adenovirus, rhinovirus, etc.

    In normal years, flu cases are higher than the number of cases we’ve seen of COVID, but with fewer hospitalizations and deaths, according to the CDC for the 2019-2020 season.

    Flu shots, as we all know, are not very effective (though maybe this will change with mRNA vaccines), and there’s no vaccine nor treatment for the common cold (and this won’t change soon), therefore it makes sense to keep some measures for cold and flu season. It’s as simple as masks, some distancing, fewer outings, hand-washing, etc for a few months.

    To be sure, the risks are smaller. So, no, there’d be no need for lockdowns, school closures, or even limiting capacity at public events. Still, one can be smart about it. masks can be worn anytime. One can go to the movies and restaurants at less popular times, avoid sporting events, etc.

    It’s something to thin about. A few tens of thousands of deaths, mostly among the elderly, every year seems like nothing compared to what we’ve gone through in the COVID era. But it was everything for every person who died of flu, and to their families and friends. If we can take care of ourselves and each other, shouldn’t we?

  39. @Doug Mataconis: And man, RBG should have listened.

  40. Kylopod says:


    Then Republicans, I suspect with a big boost from Frank Luntz, made “liberal” into somehow a bad thing.

    Luntz may have helped, but the negative meaning of “liberal” goes back decades earlier; it has its roots I believe in the late ’60s which is when you first started to see a big backlash against the left. That’s when the phrase “bleeding-heart liberal” first appeared, along with the emerging stereotype of a pretentious snob living in an ivory tower. In the next couple of decades, Democratic candidates from Carter to Dukakis were running from the l-word like it was rabid, and Republicans were just as eager to tag them with the label. That all happened before Luntz hit the scene, and he merely cemented what was already there.

  41. just nutha says:

    @gVOR08: Just guessing at this, but I suspect that the European approach is better at redistribution targeted to the lowest quartile, and wonder how the degree to which the US deficit finances its spending shapes the numbers. It doesn’t seem to me that the different approaches yield the outcome you describe, but I’m also not a mathematician, accountant, or economist.

    I would also note in passing that some–maybe most, but certainly not all–tax expenditures tend to benefit higher earners more than lower ones, but again, I don’t really know how that affects the ratios or social outcomes (curse you! immutable laws of arithmetic/mathematics).

  42. CSK says:

    In the sixties, liberalism was demonized by the SDS and the New Left in general, as Richard Ellis remarks. And Isserman reports that they began to use the word as an epithet.

  43. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: “…avoid sporting events, etc.”
    Bite your tongue! You’re talking heresy here! We elect coaches and sporting heroes to lead the country. Avoid sporting events? Better to slash your own throat.

  44. @Steven L. Taylor:

    She liked her job anf, until the end, remained able to do it well into her 80s

  45. @Doug Mataconis: That doesn’t change the outcome and the fact that she lost the bet she made about how she would be replaced.

    There is a time when you have to ask yourself whether your long-term legacy is worth a few more years in a job.

  46. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: The negative use of the word definitely came from both directions–from the hard-left as well as from conservatives, and there was a period where the term was used to suggest a kind of moderate squish. Over time, though, one of the effects of conservative propaganda was blurring the line between liberals and the left, a tactic that continues to this day.

    It was around the early 2000s when the modern use of “progressive” began to gain in popularity. Of course the term is very old, but historically it wasn’t always used to suggest a connection with the left. It’s associated with the early-20th c. Progressive Movement, but people have interpreted that movement’s legacy in varied ways, and a lot of people adopted the p-word to suggest a kind of middle-of-the-road reformism. In the ’80s the centrist DLC called its think tank the Progressive Policy Institute. In 1976 Carter referred to himself as a “progressive Southerner,” and I believe it was mainly a way of signaling that he wasn’t a Dixiecrat (especially since his leading rival in the South was none other than George Wallace). In the 21st century it became a way for younger people with left-leaning views to avoid the stigmatized term “liberal,” and that’s how the term has been used ever since.

  47. CSK says:

    Re “progressive”: Back in the 1980s, there was a Massachusetts politician (not known nationally, but well-known in the greater Boston area), a Democrat, who insisted that Michael Dukakis was a progressive rather than a Democrat. He was quite insistent about this.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    IMO, Justice Ginsburg did what Shakespeare called gilding refined gold.

    That said, after Scalia passed away and Mitch wouldn’t even have hearings on Garland, it would have been stupid beyond belief for her to resign.

  49. Kylopod says:


    That said, after Scalia passed away and Mitch wouldn’t even have hearings on Garland, it would have been stupid beyond belief for her to resign.

    That’s why she needed to step down while Dems still controlled the Senate. Remember, the first justice to step down under Obama was Souter, who was just 69 and is alive and (as far as I know) well as we speak.

  50. Kathy says:


    And she had ample time to do that. If memory serves, the Senate wasn’t lost until 2014. granted Justice Ginsburg held on for 6 more years, but we’d all be better off today had she retired early in 2014.

    As for Souter, I often wonder how many people even know he served on the Court, including those who sat in the Court with him 😉

  51. @Kylopod: Indeed–this is kind of the point: that strategic choices are relevant if one thinks it matters who replaces you. Obama had a Democratic Senate for most of his time in office.

    Now, I am assuming the RGB would have preferred to be replaced by someone philosophically similar, but perhaps it didn’t matter to her.

  52. Joe says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree with Kathy. Given the Garland experience, RBG would have had to retire in about 2014 to have any confidence of being replaced by a Democratic president rather than the 6 more years of impact that she had. No easy bets here.

  53. @Joe: This is true. But, again, this is my point: she lost the bet.

    Obviously, we can’t ask her, but I wonder if she would trade those extra years in retrospect.

  54. wr says:

    @Kathy: “Any idea when exactly “socialism” became a curse word in American English?”

    In the early 1920s, when radio broadcasting was going from a hobby to a professional medium, questions arose about who would pay for the content that would be going over the air. Before America landed on the idea of commercial sponsorship, one suggestion that a fee or tax be charged on every radio tube and that money would pay for a national broadcasting system — as was being done with the founding of the BBC in Britain.

    It was shot down here with accusations of “socialism.”

  55. Fundamentally, it seems to me that given the importance of the position, it is not unreasonable to say that she should have retired when she was around 80. She would have had two decades+ on the Court and been assured of a replacement closer to her judicial philosophy than ended up being the case.

    This was especially true given her history of cancer.

  56. flat earth luddite says:


    With regards to The Great Orange One:
    My Grandma used to say, “Remember what happened to the last man who walked on water. AND they made him cross his ankles because they were short a nail.”

    But then again, seems like it’d be a terrible thing to do to perfectly good lumber.

    Cracker can tell you that her grandson didn’t roll very far when he fell out of the tree.

  57. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    I think the Trumpkins have decided that every negative thing that the press prints or says about Trump is fake news.

  58. CSK says:

    Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing.

  59. Kathy says:


    Which one will get custody of the vaccine microchips?

  60. FDA to authorize Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 old children

  61. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I continue to be impressed by the original ‘court packing’ proposal that FDR came up with: Add a new Justice every time a sitting Justice turns 70.

    All sorts of reasons it could never be. But a dandy solution.

  62. CSK says:

    Maybe they’ll share.

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think most Silents and Boomers ever ask themselves such questions. The time to consider letting someone else take the reins will always be “tomorrow” for us. As my ex-wife has expressed it, “my goal is to die with a piece of chalk in my hand.” As one of my fellow faculty in Korea expressed it, “Where are they going to find anyone with my skills and experience?” (And she was teaching “Hi, my name in Song-mi. What’s your name?” As was I.)

  64. Kathy says:


    In one of her podcasts, Dr. Jill Lepore mentions an early attempt at public healthcare in the US was defeated, in no small measure, by painting the proponents as either socialists or communists. I forget exactly which one.

    The USSR gained pariah status rather ipso facto after the Bolsheviks took power. Several Western powers, including the US, sent troops and other aid to bolster the White Army against the Red Army.

    So, yeah, I’m sure that goes a long way back.

    It’s just that the cuss word used to be “communism” rather than “socialism.”

  65. Sleeping Dog says:


    I guess the rumor that she doesn’t do windows is true.

  66. CSK says:
  67. @Just nutha ignint cracker: Perhaps. My Grandfather was like that, although he was Greatest Generation, not Silent.

    I would note that his stubbornness in not giving up some control caused a great deal of stress on my Mother and complicated his and my grandmother’s later years in ways that were wholly avoidable.

    I can think of some other examples that I would prefer not to put in a public forum.

    In other words, I am not so sure what you are describing is a virtue (in fact I am pretty sure it often isn’t–and I am not even saying you are suggesting it is), although I certainly understand the point you are making.

  68. DrDaveT says:

    I would note that his stubbornness in not giving up some control caused a great deal of stress on my Mother and complicated his and my grandmother’s later years in ways that were wholly avoidable.

    I am typing this from my in-laws’ house, where my wife and I are “visiting” — by which I mean giving my brother-in-law a break from his 24/7 babysitting of his parents, ages 92 and 86, who refuse to admit that they are no longer competent to take care of themselves. The 92 year old, who can’t actually read printed text any more and takes 20 minutes to write a check, insists on retaining control of his investment accounts. The 86 year old, who will tell you the same story 4 times in half an hour without realizing it, can’t wait for COVID to end so that she can drive herself to her friends’ again.

    My attitude toward people who want to preserve their independence has changed radically over the past couple of years.

  69. Gustopher says:


    Add a new Justice every time a sitting Justice turns 70.

    And with one vacancy, I can create a dozen by lining up judges about to turn 70.

    Do you want one justice who will likely sit on the court for 20 years, and shift the court a little bit during that time, or a dozen justices who will likely sit on the court for 5-10 years and utterly remake the judicial landscape during that time?