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. Kylopod says:

    My takeoff on an iconic scene.

    “To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you’re a ‘stable genius,’ don’t you, ape?”

    “Apes don’t become president.”

    “Yes they do, Donald, they just don’t accept when they lose! Now let me correct you on a couple of things, okay? Windmills don’t cause cancer. Airports didn’t exist in the 1700s. And the Montreal Cognitive Assessment is not an IQ test. Those are all mistakes, Donald. I looked them up.”

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    reposted from the tab clearing thread, this time where it belongs:

    How restrictions on syringe programs led to a severe HIV outbreak in West Virginia

    “I was really trying to be proactive in getting out into the community, and [to] educate people about the importance of using clean syringes,” said Teague, who along with local public health authorities was able to keep HIV numbers lower by distributing clean needles. “Hundreds” of people showed up for sterile syringes each week.

    But in 2018, the city imposed severe restrictions on syringe service programs. Soon, cases were rising. Now, amid an HIV outbreak in her city, Teague says her program can only work “with our hands tied behind our back”.

    The outbreak has been severe. Kanawha county, where Charleston is the seat, diagnosed 40 people who inject drugs with HIV in 2020, about as many as New York City, a place 47 times more populous than the rural county of 178,000. Last year, the head of HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Kanawha had the nation’s “most concerning” outbreak of HIV among injection drug users.

    Last month, the Biden administration pushed to expand access to clean needles for people who inject drugs. Its National Drug Control Strategy outlined a plan to expand syringe service programs by 85% in high-overdose counties.

    But there is little chance of that happening here, where the same syringe restrictions pioneered in Charleston and the nearby city of Huntington were later adopted statewide by West Virginia lawmakers. A Guardian analysis has found that between 2018 and early 2022, nearly half of all syringe service programs registered with health authorities in West Virginia shuttered – and the local fight against clean needles even drew in the Democratic US senator Joe Manchin.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    By 2021, less than two months after the CDC’s warning that Kanawha’s outbreak was among the nation’s worst, and fully aware of the situation, West Virginia lawmakers passed the most restrictive syringe program requirements in the nation.

    It happened amid an acceleration of the American drug overdose epidemic. More than 100,000 people in the US died of drug overdoses in 2021, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. The disaster is now, in 2022, driving the most interest in syringe service programs and other harm reduction policies in “recent memory”, according Gibson. For the first time in decades, a $30m fund in the Covid-19 stimulus bill allowed for government purchase of sterile syringes.

    But it also stoked conservative outrage, sucking in lawmakers including Manchin. When the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a grant for organizations to buy and distribute clean syringes in February, the Biden administration was pilloried. A conservative news outlet described it as “distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts”; the Republican senator Ted Cruz tweeted the Biden administration’s “crime policy” was “crack pipes for all”.

    In response, Manchin joined two Republican colleagues to express concern about the plan. The following day, he introduced a bill to expand a decades-old, government-wide ban on the purchase of sterile syringes for drug use. He co-sponsored the bill with the Republican Florida senator Marco Rubio, whose home state has the second worst rate of new HIV diagnoses in the country. Although Manchin’s bill did not pass, it showed the political perils of trying to help people who inject drugs, even as the horror of death and disease ravage communities.

    Pro-Life my ass.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Also reposted from the tab clearing thread, this time where it belongs:

    Consider my gob to be thoroughly smacked:

    Scientists are developing magnetically guided microscopic projectiles that can be injected into patients’ blood to attack breast, prostate and other tumours.

    The project – led by researchers at Sheffield University – builds on progress in two key medical fields. The first involves viruses that specifically attack tumours. The second focuses on soil bacteria that manufacture magnets which they use to align themselves in the Earth’s magnetic field.

    “The essence of this approach is straightforward: we are using bugs as drugs,” said Dr Munitta Muthana, one of the project’s leaders. “We are taking a class of viruses that naturally target tumours and are developing ways to help them reach internal tumours by exploiting bacteria that make magnets. It’s a twin approach and it has a lot of promise, we believe.”
    “The problem is that oncolytic viruses attract the attention of the body’s immune defences and only skin-deep tumours can be tackled this way before the viruses are blocked fairly quickly by our cell defences,” said Dr Faith Howard, another project leader.

    A solution, the scientists say, is to coat the viruses in magnetic particles. Injected into the blood, these microscopic projectiles could then be directed quickly to a tumour – by using magnets placed over a patient’s body – before their progress can be blocked by immune defences.

    “It’s like having a coat of armour or a shield,” added Muthana. “The magnets help protect the virus but crucially they also help them to target a tumour. We place a magnet over a tumour and it will draw the virus speedily and directly to it.”

    An oncolytic virus had a diameter of about 180 nanometres while the magnets needed to be about 50 nanometres in size, added Howard. (A nanometre is a billionth of a metre.) “These tiny magnets could be made in the laboratory but we have found bacteria do a better job of manufacturing them than we could,” she added.

    Some species of soil bacteria synthesise iron oxide nanoparticles that are called magnetosomes. These are used as compasses that allow the microbes to navigate in Earth’s magnetic field and help them find optimum conditions for their growth and survival. “These microscopic magnets they make are perfectly shaped and ideally suited to the microscopic packages we need to target deep cancers,” Howard said.

    To quote the immortal Jesse Pinkman, “Science bitches!”

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Also reposted from the tab clearing thread, this time where it belongs:

    Chad Loder

    People are protesting outside Justice Kavanaugh’s house. Someone said “But think of his neighbors” and Kavanaugh’s neighbor replied “We ARE his neighbors. We organized the protest”

  5. CSK says:

    Chef Mario Batali is going on trial in Boston today on sexual assault charges. Didn’t Donald Trump say celebrities could do whatever they liked, including grabbing women by the pussy?

    Speaking of which, I hear Trump is apparently “weirded out” by Madison Cawthorn’s antics.

  6. Kathy says:

    Putin claims his not-war on Ukraine is going exactly as planned.

    He reminds me of the joke about the expert marksman cowboy. All over town there were circles slightly wider than a bullet, with a bullet hole neatly centered on each. The cowboy achieved this by making a random bullet hole, and then drawing a circle around it.

  7. Kathy says:

    In “The Third Chimpanzee,” Diamond remarks there’s no day to commemorate the arrival of people in the western hemisphere, only the one to mark the arrival of Europeans.

    When I heard that, I imagined a right wing moron saying “Why would we commemorate the arrival of the first illegal immigrants to our country?”

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: “Why would we commemorate the arrival of the first illegal immigrants to our country?”

    I would reply, “Indeed, why? Let’s just get rid of Columbus day.”

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..Someone said “But think of his neighbors”

    One can only hope that “Someone” is as concerned for the neighbors of the many school board members across the fruited plain who have been harassed and threatened with death by cowardly American citizens.
    School boards get death threats amid rage over race, gender, mask policies

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘It was happy and sad’: sisters reunited after 20 years by war in Ukraine

    “There are days that go by and I’m looking at her and I still can’t believe it,” said Tatyana. “I just think: ‘You’re here.’”

    Echoing the uncertainty facing many of the 135,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Spain in recent months, neither sister knows what comes next: whether Angelika will eventually return to her fiance, job and family in Ukraine, or seek to bring them to Spain and start over. “Since we were little we’ve been dreaming of seeing each other again, but we would never have imagined that it would be because of a war,” said Tatyana.

    For Angelika, being back with her sister was a “wonderful, unbelievable feeling”. The joy, however, was rivalled by the angst of leaving her loved ones in a country at war. “I just can’t stop thinking about it.”

  11. Sleeping Dog says:
  12. Kurtz says:


    I would reply, “Indeed, why? Let’s just get rid of Columbus day.”

    Whenever I think of Columbus Day, I think of the Sopranos scene wherein the mob guys go to the indigenous people protesting the Columbus Day parade and one of the protestors yells, “Mussolini was Hitler’s bitch!”

    Cracks me up.

  13. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Standing around waiting for the excavator to show up so I can shoot it (with a Canon). 4000 SQ ft house in inner NE pdx that’s undergoing a complete gut/asbestos abatement. In ground pool that’s coming out. General and subs from horizon to horizon. $1.4M for land and shell. Le sigh.

  14. Mimai says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens to STI rates on account of the impending Supreme Court decision.

    Here are the latest data wrt STIs and COVID.

  15. Paul L says:
  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    Lincoln College Closing its Doors

    Lincoln College is scheduled to close its doors Friday, becoming the first U.S. institution of higher learning to shut down in part due to a ransomware attack.

    A goodbye note posted to the school’s website said that it survived both World Wars, the Spanish flu and the Great Depression, but was unable to handle the combination of the Covid pandemic and a severe ransomware attack in December that took months to remedy.

    The Illinois school, which is named after President Abraham Lincoln and broke ground on his birthday in 1865, is one of only a handful of rural American colleges that qualify as predominantly Black institutions by the Department of Education.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    It occurs to me that abortion is another example of the effects of primaries. Preserving Roe polls about 2:1 in favor. Even Republicans, by a sliver, favor retaining Roe. But among GOP primary voters I’d guess it’s higher than 2:1 against.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Every time I see a story about GOP pols unwilling to distance from TFG because they get death threats from MAGAts I wonder if they get any more threats than the D pols who also get death threats from MAGAts but get on with their jobs.

  19. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    For those wondering why Cracker and I have been largely AWOL for the last couple of weeks:

    It appears that the bioweapons lab known as Cracker’s local school district has succeeded in catching him. I haven’t seen him this sick in 40+ years. Good thing he was vaxed, faxed, and boosted.

    As for me, I’ve been trying to finish up the paver project in the back yard, and then there’s these pesky photo shoot projects. My days are packed.

  20. Jax says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Thanks for letting us know! Cracker, you better get well soon, ya grouchy sumbitch. 😛 We’ve had quite enough of losing members of the commentariat around here.

  21. Kathy says:

    Is it too late to introduce ballot initiatives for reproductive rights in such states that allow them?

  22. steve says:

    The syringe story reminds me of Desert Storm where we were handing out free condoms. The Army general in charge in the area said that would promote immoral behavior so he put a stop to that. After that the only pregnant women we saw, including some ectopics, were all Army women. Was kind of scary as the Saudis would not run HCGs for us since they thought we were all gay witches having orgies or something. (Obscure Simpson reference FTW.) We had to diagnose ectopic pregnancies based upon clinical exam and presentation then guess if it was safe to put them on a plane or operate there. I had not done a pelvic exam in 5 years and diagnosed the first one. But at least we weren’t promoting immoral sex.


  23. Kathy says:

    For anyone interested, there will be a Lunar eclipse on May 15 to 16, starting at 10:30 pm eastern time, with totality around 11:30.

    I plan to sleep through it. I could stay up, given I begin my vacation Monday 16th, but I expect a solid overcast. It’s hard to stay awake that late for nothing.

    Then, too, the downside of a spectacular total solar eclipse, is that it ruins all lesser eclipses for you. I think the only way I’d be excited about a Lunar eclipse would be if I could watch it on the Moon.

  24. Mikey says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Sorry to hear, hopefully a quick and thorough recovery for Cracker.

  25. Mikey says:

    Also my wife has COVID. 2.5 years in, she is pissed off and we are 100% sure she got it at a work meeting. Why the hell did they get 50+ people in one room? Idiocy.

    So far it’s a bad cold for her and her symptoms are already improving on day 2. Thank goodness for vaccines and boosters.

    I have no symptoms so far and tested negative this morning. We’ll see how I am tomorrow. The worst part is sleeping separately.

  26. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: True. We were in the right place (path of totality) to watch the solar eclipse in August, 2017. It was an incredible sight.