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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Ever Forward finally backed off the mudbar it was stuck on.

    The ship, which is the length of more than three football fields, was refloated early on Sunday by two barges and five tugboats. The operation to free it from the bottom of the bay was the third attempt after two previous ones failed, and after the removal of roughly 500 of the 5,000 containers it was carrying. A full moon and high spring tide helped provide a lift to the salvage vessels as they pulled and pushed the massive ship from the mud, across a dredged hole and back into the shipping channel.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: This circus was going on near me and so garnered a fair amount of local press, but I never saw an explanation for how it got so far out of the shipping lane.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Today’s addition to the “Headlines I Never Thought I’d See” file: Bolsonaro faces hard scrutiny over military’s purchase of penile implants.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Maybe the pilot was doing Wordle.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Catherine Rampell

    Texas legislator warned Citigroup that he would introduce a bill to prevent the bank from underwriting municipal bonds in the state unless it rescinded its policy covering travel expenses for employees who go outside their state to seek an abortion

  6. Kathy says:

    I started streaming “For All mankind” on Apple yesterday.

    It’s an alternate history about the space race in the late 60s and beyond. The premise is the USSR makes it to the Moon first (apparently landing only one person at a time), by about a month (and this spoils the first few minutes of the first episode).

    Two eps in, it’s not bad. I was surprised they get historical matters more or less right, and unsurprised they don’t get technical matters quite right.


    They correctly state Apollo X conducted tests of the Lunar Module (LEM) a few months before Apollo XI was scheduled to land, although they use a fictional crew for the purpose*. They also correctly state the Apollo X LEM, formally named Snoopy (also accurate, believe it or not**), came within a few kilometers of the Lunar surface, and could have landed.

    That’s all wrong.

    Physically, Snoopy may have been capable of landing. it was a functional LEM in every way (else why test it?), but it was being tested for a reason. Plus I’ve no idea how well equipped everything else was. Since it was a rather important test, it matched Apollo XI in configuration, meaning it carried a similar mass (within mission parameters). But did they carry actual lunar spacesuits and packs, or merely ballast to match the mass? Did they have instruments to place on the Moon, or again just ballast. Did they even carry a flag?

    In any case, the “failure” of Snoopy’s commander ot land becomes a plot point.

    Oh, well…..

    * It’s too bad they didn’t use the actual crew. The real Apollo X included one John W. Young as command module pilot. Later he commanded Apollo XVI, which landed on the Moon. This makes Young one of very few people who’ve been to the Moon twice.

    For all that, he may be best remembered as the commander of the inaugural Shuttle flight in 1981.

    ** My understanding is that crews chose the names of their modules.

  7. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.” — Peruvian dictator Oscar R. Benavides and now the GOP

  8. Neil Hudelson says:


    The show continues to do a really good job of developing it’s alt-history, neither being too heavy handed nor allowing their alt-history to become a one-time ploy. For instance, it’s casually mentioned Ted Kennedy is President during what would’ve been Nixon’s second term. And that’s it. Nothing about Kennedy’s presidency changes the future (or, at least, this fictional NASA’s future). At other times, the changed politics are incredibly important to developments in the show. The effect is to create a very believable timeline.

  9. Beth says:

    @Kathy: @Neil Hudelson:

    I’m a huge fan of Alt-History. I’m glad I forced myself to slog through the first couple episodes. I thought that show just kept getting better as it went along.

  10. CSK says:

    For his show Tucker Carlson Originals, Tucker Carlson interviews a self-proclaimed men’s fitness expert who promotes “testicle tanning” as a means of increasing testosterone levels.

  11. Scott says:
  12. CSK says:

    One could probably do both simultaneously, although I think one is supposed to use infrared light for testicle tanning.

  13. Scott says:

    This seems so surreal to me now. I mean, it is almost 20 years since capture and we are just getting to pre-trial hearings? How does the US have any international credibility on matters of law?

    Military Commissions Media Invitation Announced for United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al. Pre-Trial Hearing

    The Department of Defense and the Office of Military Commissions (OMC) invites media to cover pre-trial proceedings in the case of United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarek Bin ‘Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Ramzi Bin al Shibh, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi, scheduled for June 27 – July 22, 2022. Specific coverage windows are identified below as they relate to flight availability. Media desiring to cover this hearing from the Expeditionary Legal Complex located in Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (NSGB) Cuba must complete the online travel request form to initiate the approval process

  14. Kurtz says:


    This Wellness Blogger Wants You to Sunbathe Your Butthole

    Wow! I have been doing this for years just for enjoyment. Never would have thought something so fun could also contribute to my wellness. Bonus!

  15. Kathy says:


    The premise, fortunately, seems to deny an avenue for the usual “ingenious replay of actual history in a different setting.”

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: It gets worse. The link in this LGM post is to a teaser (groomer?) for some Tucker Carlson special. NSFW. I can never remember, is it “suppressed” or “repressed”?

  17. Kathy says:

    Not all the news are terrible. For instance, Infowars has filed for bankruptcy. The company claims to have assets under $50,000 and liabilities between $1 and $10 million (what accountant estimates a whole order of magnitude?)


    Jones, InfoWars and related holding companies have so far spent $10 million on legal fees and costs, the filing said.

  18. CSK says:

    That’s the show to which I was referring.

  19. CSK says:

    Jones has been transferring all his assets to relatives and friends to keep for him.

  20. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Catching up from the weekend, and responding here to a sentence from the post about Feinstein. Steven, you said, “A blanket rule simply forcing people out at, say, 75 would be unwise even if it were legal.”

    I get the legal part, but why would it be unwise? We have a blanket Constitutional rule for minimum ages that is hardly questioned at all, why not a maximum? Of course it would eliminate some outliers who remain capable, just as the minimum eliminates some outliers amongst younger generations who absolutely are capable of holding office. I think anyone still sharp can still find ways to contribute, and the benefits of getting rid of an out of touch gerontocracy seem obvious to me. Certainly a mandatory retirement age (for the Supreme Court and Presidency too) is a better idea than term limits.

    Why would a mandatory retirement age be unwise?

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: On a more serious note, that Tucker Carlson video reminded me of seeing a recruiting or documentary video about Russian paratroops, bare chested manly men hitting each other in the stomach and such. A few days ago I mentioned Masha Gessen’s The Future is History and a couple people expressed interest in it. I may regret recommending it. I’m a little deeper into it and it’s becoming really frightening. Around 2010 Putin’s government got really into homophobia. Things had opened up some, but they quickly regressed to oppressing LGBT. This was followed by a huge flap about pedophelia with wholesale book banning “for the children” and witch hunts leading to beatings, imprisonment, and worse. There’s a news story that the DeSantis regime has banned a couple dozen math texts over CRT. What we’re seeing in red states is nothing other than the GOP copying political tactics from the leader of a failed totalitarian petro-state. And a fair amount of the agitation here is probably coming directly from Russian hackers.

    On the other hand, there is something in Gessen’s book I find hopeful. One of the people she follows is a guy who sort of restarted Political Science under the Gorbachev thaw. He sees Russian history for a hundred years as continuous with bumps of “abortive modernization”. People would start to get ideas, maybe even protest, that life could be different. Then the government would crack down, the public would rally behind the government against the protesters, and everything would revert to, “a radically simplified states: us, them, and our leader, who shoulders all our responsibilities and has all out trust.” So the government needed a protest now and again. Or a war. Putin started a war, people protested, they got stomped, and the bulk of Russians support the war and feel comforted under their strong leader.

    Putin’s goal may well be purely domestic, another cycle of “abortive modernization” to strengthen his hold. If that was the goal, he’s succeeded. He’s identified and punished dissidents. He’s pretty much destroyed independent news media. And from what I see the Russian public are united behind his “strong” leadership. He may take what he can get, declare victory, and quit. I’m seeing a few hints he may. There seems to be approved talk on what amounts to state TV about having done what they wanted and leaving it to Ukraine to finish de-Natzifying themselves. And if, in another eight years or so, he feels a need to strengthen his hold on power, he can always invade Ukraine again. Or Finland. Or Chechnya.

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:..Of course it would eliminate some outliers who remain capable,..

    I’m 74 now. I guess I should get on the stick and try out for a part playing a stiff at the opening of Law and Order now that it has been resurrected. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I suspect it pays more if there are lines to speak before I get wasted. I don’t want to wait till next year when I’ll be a washed up outlier.
    I’ve only seen one episode of the new L&O production.
    Is that redhead still poking around at the bodies in the morgue? She’s the best part of my fantasy as a TV corpse.

  23. just nutha says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: Because Silents and Boomers are unwilling to give up their positions until those positions are pried from their cold, dead, fingers?

  24. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Steven, you said, “A blanket rule simply forcing people out at, say, 75 would be unwise even if it were legal.”

    James said that (and I responded to it). He was arguing that it would preclude the capable, but otherwise aged, from being in office (e.g., Pelosi). I tend to believe that the upside outweighs the downside and so I would be happy with a 75 age limit.

  25. just nutha says:

    @just nutha: Because the value of protecting the privilege of the outliers outweighs the destructive capacity of also keeping those who are not outliers?

  26. Kathy says:

    The reason a minimum age gathers fewer objections, is that capable people too young for a post or office will, in the normal course of events, grow to an age when they can occupy the office they seek. Whereas someone pushed aside for being too old, can look forward to nothing more in that area.

    I wonder, though, whether younger lawmakers, especially in the Democratic side, are under fewer illusions of the possibilities for bipartisanship than their older colleagues.

  27. DaveD says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Off topic but I was back home for Easter and missed the thread on Alabamian politics over the weekend and didn’t want to shout this question into the ether. This will be my first voting cycle in the great state of Alabama. Is it even worth requesting a democratic primary ballot or should I get a republican one. Also if it is the latter am I better off voting for the craziest person and hoping for a Jones like miracle or the sanest if that is even possible down here. I see Ivey is being primaried by at least two contenders and it seems to be about the gas tax increase. I also don’t understand Durant’s run other than he was in the battle for Mogadishu. I know a Republican is gonna win a statewide election because duh… but I don’t know the best way as a lefty to play the system. I grew up in purple states which is a turnout game this is a beast I don’t know how to fight.

  28. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Sorry about that Steven, should have been more careful. Now I hope to get an answer from James.

    Mister Bluster, I apologize for my phrasing. I don’t mean to make any judgements about individuals. My question is simply that if age minimums are so unquestioned, what makes age maximums unwise? I appreciate Kathy’s point about WHY maximums gather more objections, but that doesn’t address whether it’s wise for minimums or maximums to exist from a societal POV.

    You can go to Wikipedia and sort current Senators by age. There are 16 Senators 75 or older, with 2 more about to turn 75. They are

    Dianne Feinstein
    Chuck Grassley
    Richard Shelby
    Jim Inhofe
    Patrick Leahy
    Bernie Sanders
    Mitch McConnell
    Jim Risch
    Ben Cardin
    Angus King
    Dick Durbin
    Richard Blumenthal
    Ed Markey
    Tom Carper
    Jeanne Shaheen
    Mitt Romney

    The two about to turn 75 are
    Joe Manchin
    Mazie Hirono

    I’d have a couple regrets there, but to be honest dumping McConnell alone makes the rest of it worth it to me. YMMV.

    FYI, there are 36 Representatives 75 and older (not going to list them). Both lists skew Democrat (especially the House), evidence of how many more traditional Republicans have been purged I suspect.

    PS: cannot post anything vaguely resembling a link without this post getting eaten, so just search for List of Current Senators at Wikipedia for my source.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @DaveD:..Off topic.
    This is the Forum. Nothing posted on the forum is “off topic”.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    She’s the best part of my fantasy as a TV corpse.

    This… is a little disturbing…


  31. MarkedMan says:

    @DaveD: FWIW, my strategy is to vote in the primary that is going to win the general (so Republican in Alabama, Democratic in California) and vote for the best possible candidate. Trying to play nine dimensional chess rarely works out.

  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: Hey remember Dem commitment to Representation that “looks like” their constituency and America? Who knew that America was old and white with speckle of brown and black?

  33. Mimai says:
  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: On its face, the arguments against term limits would also apply to age limits. I believe there are generally two arguments against term limits. One is that voters should be able to retain an incumbent they like. You’ve been making a good case that voters, as opposed to dominant party primary voters, don’t really have much say. The other argument is that that observed effect of term limits is to hand more power to lobbyist as they’re the only one’s hanging around long enough to develop both subject matter expertise and experience in working the system. I would think the learning curve flattens out well before 75 years old, so there should be capable replacements in the wings. So I’d also be OK with a 75 age limit. FYI, I’m 75, so it’s not ageism. I’m with @Just Another Ex-Republican:. Dumping Moscow* Mitch is worth whatever downsides there might be to an age limit.

    * I read he hates being called Moscow, which is reason enough to keep doing it. I keep hoping something bad, like an indictment of himself or Chao, will happen so I can start calling him Moskva Mitch.

  35. gVOR08 says:

    @Mimai: I won’t steelman it, but I’ve seen arguments about the presence of Russian athletes being a security issue as they might generate protest and threats. And the Boston Marathon is understandably twitchy about security. My feeling is it’s really political theater and pandering. But bad things happen to good people all the time. And horrible things are happening to good people in Ukraine. Unfair treatment of Russian athletes is not something I’m going to get very worked up about.

  36. just nutha says:

    @Mimai: I suspect that there is no charitable explanation. It’s the same as most other sanctions–aimed at people who have no power to alter the conditions in their countries.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DaveD: Misserian here, in a deep red part of the state. I vote straight D all the time. Partly because they are all crazy but mostly because then, nobody can blame me.

  38. DaveD says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I moved from Iowa after it shifted red but grew up in Wisconsin. Fingers crossed those two states could turn back blue at any time, although maybe not WI because of the gerrymander. I’ve never lived in a state where I have felt my vote doesn’t even kinda matter. It is weird. I live in the most populous city in the state and have a republican mayor, nothing makes sense down here. But maybe that’s just me bringing my yankee politics to the south.

  39. Kurtz says:


    I live in the most populous city in the state and have a republican mayor, nothing makes sense down here. But maybe that’s just me bringing my yankee politics to the south.

    I may be misreading, but I don’t think Birmingham’s mayor is GOP.

  40. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    In the House, R’s skew younger due to the caucus rules on committee assignments and specifically chairmanships. R’s term limit committee and subcommittee chairs and frequently those Reps choose to retire or run for a different office, rather than return to the back bench. It is a rule that I’ve long wished Dems would adopt, but alas…

  41. wr says:

    @Mister Bluster: “I suspect it pays more if there are lines to speak before I get wasted. ”

    If you’re just a corpse, you’re an extra (or a “background actor”) and you get one or two hundred bucks. If you speak a single work, you’re an actor, and you get a little over a grand per day. But since you probably won’t be speaking from your slab, your line will be shot in a different location on a different day, and you’ll get that same thousand dollars for each day — and I believe for each day in between, although Eddie can correct me on that…

  42. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    On this tax day I was going to make a joke about trickle-down economics.
    But 99% of you won’t get it.
    Thank you, and don’t forget to tip your servers…

  43. Mimai says:

    @gVOR08: The security issue hadn’t occurred to me. Upon reflection, it seems rather strained…and also something the BAA might have gestured to as a cover of sorts. My gut feeling is similar to yours wrt the theater/pandering, which is why I’m hoping for a plausible, more charitable explanation. Re your point about good-bad-things-people, I recall you expressing similarly in the past. We have different perspectives on this.

    @just nutha: Try harder! Please. I know you can do it. I believe in you.

  44. DaveD says:

    @Kurtz: I live in huntsville we overtook Birmingham with the publication of the last census. It was trending that way but we were supposed to be smaller for another 7-10 years. It might shock you that we don’t have the infrastructure to handle being this big. The arsenal is expanding to be the base of the space force and the fbi southern headquarters is moving from Atlanta. Property is insane right now and renting is really hard too.
    Tl:dr huntsville is the largest city in the state and we have a republican mayor

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kurtz: Wiki informs me that the most populous city in Bama is now Huntsville. Birmingham is the most populous city in the most populous county but Huntsville has ~ 2000 more people, give or take. (I didn’t bother to look at what party holds the mayorship there.)

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Alas, merely suspecting (as opposed to holding as an article of faith) ill intentions is the best that my cynicism will move me to. Sorry.

  47. Kurtz says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It might shock you that we don’t have the infrastructure to handle being this big.

    Shocked AND chagrined, actually. TBF, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been to either city. But Huntsville always struck me as generic, whereas Birmingham has long been my favorite city below the Mason-Dixon line.

  48. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Ha! Incrementalism it is then. I accept. Though I suspect that you care little about my acceptance.

  49. Mister Bluster says:


    Thank you for the information. Seems like I heard an interview on NPR a while back with an actor who was called to audition for the role of a victim of some sort of fatal violence on a L&O production.
    For whatever reason she did not get the part but I recall her saying it was not so easy to remain motionless as required for the role. I suspect that it would be a challenge for me as well.
    I did see a photo of a young Jerry Orbach somewhere. Kinda’ looked like my High School yearbook picture. Maybe I could get a role playing his cousin who moves from the San Francisco PD to New York City Detecive Squad. If they go for it I would have to insist that they bring back Jessie L. Martin to play Det. Ed Green as my partner. Otherwise I just don’t think it would work.

  50. de stijl says:

    Today I learned what “steelman / steelmanning” means.

  51. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    When I was young I used to look like Rick Astley so much so strangers would mention it.

    Nowadays I look like Willem Dafoe. Hopefully, not The Lighthouse Willem Dafoe.

    I clean up okay most days.

  52. DaveD says:

    @Kurtz: This city is a strip mall come to life. The food is garbage and the city doesn’t really have a soul. Pretty much everything is a chain. Birmingham actually feels like a city. However, you work where you can find work and thus this is my life.

  53. @DaveD

    Is it even worth requesting a democratic primary ballot or should I get a republican one.

    Sorry about the slow response: my strategy tends to be to vote in the GOP primary for the most sane candidate and then vote my sincere preferences in the general.

    The gov race is a great example, as for all my complaints about Ivey, she is definitely better than anyone else running.

    Ditto Britt v. Mo Brooks, et al.

  54. @Kurtz:

    Huntsville always struck me as generic, whereas Birmingham has long been my favorite city below the Mason-Dixon line.

    I am a big fan of Birmingham–it is just a really fascinating place and has some real uniqueness to it. And yes, while the Huntsville area is nice, it is a pretty plain place (although I haven’t been up in there in several years now).

  55. @DaveD: There are few good breweries up there, as I recall.

  56. DaveD says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: There are but there is nothing special about this city save the rocket program. The only bright spots I’ve found in this past year have been there are a couple good German restaurants (because of the nazis) and one really good Korean place. Everything else is very generic and as I have watched the city explode with new development in the past year everything being built is a chain. For example we got a Whattaburger and the cops had to block the left turn lane into it for a week because it was so busy. Birmingham has charm and great food, but again sometimes if you love your job you learn to deal with living in a city that is a Walmart come to life.