Saturday’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:

    “If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them, would you,” Trump replied: “It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things.

    “We were threatened,” the president added. “They were going to throw fruit. We were threatened. We had a threat.

    Trump also said: “I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit.”
    “We were told. I thought Secret Service was involved in that, actually. And you get hit with fruit, it’s very violent stuff. Tomato, when they start doing that stuff, it’s very dangerous. There was an alert out that day.”
    “It was said sort of in jest. But maybe, you know, a little truth to it. I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than … tomatoes are bad by the way. But it’s very dangerous … they were going to hit very hard.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one Brave Brave Sir Donald, 45th President of the United States, flee-er of tomatoes.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:


    • (D)uring the age of Biden, a perch inside the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room has become something altogether different. It’s become a bore.

    • “I can’t think of any [stars],” said a well-known television news executive. “I don’t really watch the briefings.”

    • Running for office against Donald Trump — the most theatrical, attention-seeking, Beltway-panic-inducing president in living memory — he pledged to make Washington news boring again. And, well, mission accomplished sir.

    • “Jen [Psaki] is very good at her job, which is unfortunate,” one reporter who has covered the past two administrations from the room said. “And the work is a lot less rewarding, because you’re no longer saving democracy from Sean Spicer and his Men’s Wearhouse suit. Jawing with Jen just makes you look like an asshole.”

    • Gone are the Tweets that sent newsrooms scrambling. So long to the five alarm Friday news dumps that had editors frantically rearranging weekend plans.

    • “It’s a boring and difficult job. It’s tough to be a White House correspondent if you want to break news, they’re so airtight,” another reporter who covered both the Trump and Biden White Houses from the briefing room. “There’s no Maggie [Haberman]. Who’s the Maggie of the Biden administration? It doesn’t exist.”


  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    delthia ricks

    #Covid death rates have been higher in the South—the Old Confederacy—due to behavioral differences, a new study has found. Shunning masks & vaccines resulted in >316k deaths could have been avoided nationwide. 62% of the avoidable deaths were in the South

    Is anyone surprised?

  4. CSK says:

    J.D. Vance says Joe Biden is trying to kill Trump supporters by flooding the country with fentanyl.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: How to say, “Republicans are nothing but a bunch of drug addicts.” without saying “Republicans are nothing but a bunch of drug addicts.”

    ETA mind you, if Biden did do that, it would kill a whole lot of MAGAheads.

  6. CSK says:

    And Mitt Romney has to disguise himself from Trump supporters when he goes out in public:

  7. CSK says:

    And Marjorie Taylor Greene says that Satan persuades women to have abortions by promising them that their boyfriends will marry them if they abort.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: What I wonder is why couldn’t Satan have talked to her mother?

  9. CSK says:

    I think most of us are wondering the same thing.

  10. Kathy says:


    You know, Benito would make a great Confederate president. Just move the capital from Richmond to Mar-a-Lago, and the Confederate congress to a rubber stamp on his desk.

  11. Kathy says:


    Because then he’d have been the good guy, and he’s contractually obligated not to be.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    People who endorse conspiracy theories tend to be more religious, and this may be due to ideological overlap

    A large study published in the journal Political Psychology suggests that the link between conspiracy belief and religiosity is rooted in cognitive similarities between the two beliefs. The overall findings suggest that people with higher conspiracy belief also tend to be more religious, and this is likely driven by overlapping ideological and political worldviews.

    Scholars have noted the similarities between religion and features of conspiracy theories, but the nature of this overlap is uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that the two beliefs fulfill similar psychological needs, such as morality, belonging, and sense of control. Others suggest that the beliefs share cognitive styles, with both alluding to invisible forces at play and offering “anomalies as explanatory starting points.”

    “Several similarities have been noted between religiosity and conspiracy theory beliefs: Both suggest that there is more in the world than is visible, both promise to address similar needs like to understand the world, and both tend to speak to similar political orientations. But it was unclear what these parallels mean empirically for their relation. They could either serve as surrogates or as complements for each other,” explained study author Marius Frenken, a doctoral research assistant at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Hey now, everybody is allowed to make a mistake now and then.

  14. Joe says:

    @OzarkHillbilly, CSK and Kathy:
    It’s a projection/deflection thing: She actually is Satan.

  15. Kathy says:


    At the height of the right’s love affair with the war in Iraq, I heard more than a few commentators on that side suggest the US should do what it was accused of doing. You know, taking over weaker countries to steal their oil and other resources.

    How about instead we suggest Biden do one of the many awful things he’s falsely accused of doing, say flood the market with fentanyl (which unlike the microchip vaccines is at least feasible), or really go after gun fetishists and take their precious toys away.

    We know they don’t like it when it’s their kind at the wrong end of the “justice” system.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Corey Ryan Forrester First of His Name@CoreyRForrester
    “Everyone is so offended these days and Hollywood is shoving their gay agenda down our throats!”

    You and me Corey.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joe: Well shit. That explains a lot.

  18. CSK says:

    Or her father. She could title her autobiography Sired by Satan.

  19. CSK says:

    This is child abuse. Some guy has his young son impersonating Trump. That wig the kid’s wearing looks like an unbaked pizza crust.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    That is a very good cookie recipe and the chocolate chip was good as well.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:


    A large study published in the journal Political Psychology suggests that the link between conspiracy belief and religiosity is rooted in cognitive similarities between the two beliefs.

    No shit. And yet when I made the exact same point – that religion was at the heart of the MAGA/Q hive mind – I get beat up for being an anti-religious bigot. The person that can believe the Noah story can believe anything. The person who can believe the crucifixion story is anything but appalling is not capable of making moral judgments. But I suppose now that we have a ‘study’ people can more easily agree with what was screamingly obvious.

  22. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Indeed. I’d go so far as to say that the vast majority of MAGAs consider themselves to be devoutly Christian. They’ve certainly managed to convince themselves that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary.

  23. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Aw, thanks! Baking is a passion of mine, and I am always happy to share. 🙂

  24. Mu Yixiao says:


    @Mu Yixiao:

    Hell… I’m having a Cinco de Mayo party on May 8th. Any of y’all want to come, let me know.

    I believe that is Cinco de Octo.

    No. I’m serving everyone a fifth of Mexican mayonaise. 😀

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Brings a whole new meaning to “incoherent twaddle.”

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Genuine question: I’m curious if you believe in ESP or ghosts or lick or anything else like that?

  27. Slugger says:

    @CSK: Biden is killing the young Magas with fentanyl which the libs duplicitously don’t use. He is killing the older Magas with Covid which the libs avoid by sneakingly getting vaccinated. He has even targeted young female Magas by making abortion hard to get which increases maternal mortality. He has no boundaries!

  28. CSK says:

    That’s a good summary of what the Trumpkins believe.

  29. Mister Bluster says:


  30. Gustopher says:
  31. Mister Bluster says:



  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I’d passed over it as an undecipherable typo, but yeah, “luck” makes sense. (Although modern man has de-personified Fortuna, so believing in luck is not quite the same as believing in ghosts. One can believe in luck without supernatural foundations.)

  33. Michael Reynolds says:


    That said, I’m always open to being proved wrong – how else do you learn? If I saw convincing evidence of ESP or ghosts, well, I’d be convinced. I’d have no choice, I don’t argue with reality.

    I rarely get supernatural in my writing. My ‘universes’ tend to contain religion, (I’m one of a very few YA writers who treat religion seriously) but within an essentially secular, evidence-based world. Albeit while hand-waving away inconvenient science, or similarly swallowing scientific nonsense in service to story. It’s a rational framework within which I play fast and loose with actual science, while maintaining belief in that science. If that makes sense.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I think it ocho de mayo (or a bad joke about “hold the mayo” 🙁 ).

  35. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The person that can believe the Noah story can believe anything.

    Except the vast majority of those who believe the Noah story do not believe the equally insane conspiracy theories about Pizzagate and Q.

    And yet when I made the exact same point – that religion was at the heart of the MAGA/Q hive mind – I get beat up for being an anti-religious bigot.

    Given the number of Americans that are religious, and the number that are MAGA or Q, it’s pretty clear that you’re blaming religion for something that it doesn’t create.

    The study, if it is confirmed, shows an overlap, but it doesn’t answer the question of whether religion (a collection of bullshit that connects people to their families and communities) sets someone up to believe in Q (a collection of bullshit that will separate them from their families and communities).

    Those are two very different forms of bullshit.

    The study doesn’t show any causality — repeat after me “correlation is not causality.”

    An alternate explanation is that people have a deep need for the world they see to be ordered. For a lot of people, that’s effectively a religion shaped hole, which can be easily filled well enough with a perfectly mainstream religion that they then ignore the parts they don’t need.

    For a smaller segment, that hole is bigger. They’ll try to fill it with religion, but in the end they need something stronger.

    In this model, religion becomes a moderating factor — its ubiquity in society means it’s going to get the first opportunity to fill that religion shaped hole, and for those who are capable of being content with it, they are effectively inoculated against Q-like shit.

    It also means that you can start looking at what makes that hole larger to the point where mainstream religion can’t fill it. And it’s the same thing that every other cult feeds upon — people who are mentally disturbed, who have suffered loss, who feel put upon and who are just … lost. It’s the stuff every cult depends upon.

    Q thrives not because people believe in some religion, but because the religion doesn’t provide them with the answers they need. Q thrives because religion doesn’t have an answer to “why is the middle class declining?” — because the people who set the rules in life are more interested in running a pedophile ring than ensuring rising standards of living.

    Also brain-worms. There’s something deeply wrong with Ginni Thomas, and it ain’t a declining standard of living for the middle class, or a belief in Noah. This isn’t her first cult though, and economic stress is just one of the things that makes people susceptible to cults.

    Your assumption that religion leads to MAGA/Q causes you to lash out at religion, which is literally the thing that prevents more people from looking to crazier shit for answers. If it was effective it would be counterproductive. And it’s also just kind of rude.

    To combat something like Q, we would need to prevent the spread of Q lore (very hard with the first amendment, but social pressures might have some effect), steer people towards less destructive bullshit, and/or fix the underlying stressors that cause large chunks of the country to feel hopeless.

    To argue with Marx, religion isn’t the opium of the masses, it’s the methadone — the far less destructive substitute.

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Luck can also mean different things, from a simple acknowledgement that some improbable thing happened, to a belief that improbable things will happen.

    One suspects Mr. Reynolds acknowledges the amount of luck he has had, without necessarily believing he is lucky — or he defines being lucky as being smart enough to actually recognize a good break and take it.

  37. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher: To borrow and slightly bastardize a phrase: we are “converted” by answers that satisfy our mental search for narrative closure.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: “luck”

  39. Gustopher says:

    @Mimai: Humans really suck at handling unknowns and we will construct all sorts of things to cover them up.

    I think we only have to look at the pandemic response to see that — kung flu, miracle horse paste and “it’s just a cold” are all efforts to add certainty to Covid. And masks as totems to ward off plague, while at the same time being a visual reminder that there is a pandemic.

    Which is more appealing:

    A) the current best guess is that masks reduce risk in these circumstances and that vaccines reduce but do not eliminate the risk of terrible outcomes, plus there’s long covid.

    B) it’s just a cold. The masks do nothing. And we have a magic cure.

    Surely it is B, and if A is better from a public health perspective the government needs to be clear and united in messaging.

    A) your kids are having a hard time because jobs have moved from your hometown and the middle class has been systematically hollowed out. You are entirely powerless against the whims of the powerful.

    B) the pedophiles who control everything and cause all the problems are about to be captured, put on trial and executed.

    Again, B. You just have to be really desperate to believe B.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I knew you were gonna jump on that. As a fellow atheist I agree with you, I’m just a little more forgiving of the human condition than you. Most people want to believe that all this has a meaning, that there is a purpose behind all the trials and tribulations. I know better, I know that whatever meaning this life has is the meaning I give it and that when I’m gone, shrug, I’m gone. Any memories of me will fade and it will soon be as tho I never was. I’m OK with that.

    I also know that for most people that isn’t enough. I figure if believing that the sky daddy actually cares about them makes their lives more easily endured, OK. Most times it’s harmless enough. Every now and again tho…

    Yeah, I’ll be burnt at the stake.

  41. Michael Reynolds says:


    Those are two very different forms of bullshit.

    No, they are identical epistemologies. It is epistemology that’s at the heart of this, the inability to filter or classify data, and the refusal to reconsider data previously accepted.

    From Gallup in 2017: 1 in 4 Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God. Trump’s approval numbers ended up around 40%. So, no, more people do not believe in the Noah story. 43% of Americans believe demons are real. MAGA is white Evangelicals and conservative fringe Catholics.

    You’re just wrong, dude. There is no way – none at all, not even the causation dodge – to separate Evangelicals and MAGA. That’s not a coincidence, that’s shared stupidity.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Not speaking for Michael, but I don’t.

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve had friends come to me with their tales of ghost sightings. I always say, “Cool! I’d really like to see that too.” but the intended date never is set. As sincere as some appear to be in the initial telling, I wonder if maybe they are just too scared to return. Tho there is always the possibility that this doubting Thomas’ excitement at the prospect of seeing a real live ghost has them doubting what they thought they saw.

  44. CSK says:

    Naomi Judd, 76, has died. Her daughters Wynona and Ashley announced this; they said the cause was “mental illness,” which might mean Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know.

    The Judds were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow.

    RIP, Naomi.

  45. Mimai says:


    Humans really suck at handling unknowns and we will construct all sorts of things to cover them up.

    I suggest that when we consider this, we expand beyond the intentional (eg, the verb “construct”). I do NOT mean to suggest that there is zero intent. Rather, I posit that intent is not a universal for all people, all issues, all the time.

    Focusing on intent is overly narrow and too often leads us to separate the rubes/scoundrels/etc from us wise and enlightened ones. I don’t find this, er, enlightening. Quite the opposite.

    Moreover, there is compelling neuroscience evidence indicating that we are hard-wired (forgive my use of a terrible, but widely understood, term) to reduce uncertainty, complexity, etc. And this operates outside of intent.

    Now of course, brains don’t exist outside of humans (I’m sure you’ll have a cheeky reply to this) and humans don’t exist outside of social contexts. So the manifestations of this hard-wiring (ugh) vary enormously – between and within.

    There are patterns. And idiosyncrasies.

  46. Mister Bluster says:


    I’d like to say that I figured it out by substituting other vowels for the i. However truth be told @Gustopher clued me in at 14:02.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Might be fear of what it would mean when they say “Look! There’s the ghost!” and you reply, “What? I don’t see anything.”

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: “Focusing on intent is overly narrow and too often leads us to separate the rubes/scoundrels/etc from us wise and enlightened ones. I don’t find this, er, enlightening. Quite the opposite.”

    True. But moving to another model makes it much harder to organize the purge. 😉

  49. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It is epistemology that’s at the heart of this, the inability to filter or classify data, and the refusal to reconsider data previously accepted.

    We all walk around with countless things that we believe in our heart of hearts to be true but aren’t, or which we cannot ourselves prove. Most of it is irrelevant to our ability to function. Some helps us function. Others cause great harm.

    You have to start dividing it into different types of bullshit.

  50. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Amalric had something to say about this just the other day.

    Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

  51. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    OTOH, some people can be religious, and inclined to the conspiracist/paranoid/over-connective mindset and still be a genius.
    Check out Isaac Newton’s penchant for mixing unitarian theology, abstruse scriptural interpretation and alchemical traditions.
    Start with Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John for a bit of light reading.

    The Anglican church has for a long time had an informal distinction between “belief” (i.e. convention and tradition) and “enthusiasm” (i.e. being an f’in nutter). Used particularly to denigrate the “sects” in general, and Methodists in particular.

    See also the utility of monasticism as a means of keeping the more mystically inclined away from both secular power and reproduction.
    Benedictine Darwinism and European History is a book I’d be tempted to write, if only I were actually competent to do so. 🙂

  52. JohnSF says:

    Sometimes you have to go with that though.
    Ukrainian tank commander Almas (quote from Times print, so no link):

    “So long as I’ve got enough shells I’ll keep blasting everything I see with a Z on it.
    I’ll let St. Peter sort them out.”

    Heard very similar things from some Brits of the WW2 and Cold War vintages in years gone by.

  53. Gustopher says:


    I suggest that when we consider this, we expand beyond the intentional (eg, the verb “construct”). I do NOT mean to suggest that there is zero intent. Rather, I posit that intent is not a universal for all people, all issues, all the time.

    I was thinking humans as a group, as much as individual humans. We detect patterns, we tell stories, we make up stories to explain the patterns and we have different storytelling traditions.

    As helpful as it is to separate scientific advancement from religion, it’s also just as helpful to recognize them both as story telling traditions that attempt to explain things. Blood letting and leeches was the height of scientific advancement for a while, after all — and at that point prayer might be best.

    (And I remain very skeptical of dark matter as it having most of the universe unknowable feels too much like us being Plato’s shadows on the cave wall)

  54. Mimai says:


    Sometimes you have to go with that though.

    Agreed. How one operationalizes the “sometimes” part makes all the difference.

    ps, If you kept it to under 300 pages, I might commit to reading that book…the first chapter at least.

  55. JohnSF says:

    It’s a historical irony that amuses me.
    We have both the evangelical types and the Catholic ultras chuntering on about the woes of the impact of lack of reproductive enthusiasm on Western society due to contraception, abortion, gayism, the lures of Satan, whatever.
    While totally ignoring the inclination to celibacy and contra-natalism of pre-Reformation Christianity.

  56. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher: Yes, we are pattern “detectors” and story telling beasts indeed.

    We tend to focus exclusively on the right vs. wrong epistemology, with little consideration of the functional aspect of different “ways of knowing.” It’s all too easy to dismiss. And it’s all the more attractive because in dismissing, we elevate our own status.

    More difficult is seeking to understand how a certain epistemology is serving the individual (and group). Why are they prioritizing that way of knowing for that phenomenon? This takes curiosity and humility.

    (If you aren’t familiar, you might look into the work of Donald Hoffman at UC Irvine. He’s got a new book out called The Case Against Reality, but you can find his writings/talks elsewhere. It’s thought-provoking, trippy, and almost certainly wrong. And worth considering. ymmv)

  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Of course, not as many of us are actually willing to die for the cause as say we are. I’m getting old now and the prognosis for my living a truly healthful and vibrant old age is iffy at best, so I guess I might be ambivalent about being taken up in the purge. Luddite and I have often joked that it’s foolish to support the revolution when you are one of the ones they’ll come looking for first. Still, immense numbers of people lack sufficient self-awareness, so I’m never much surprised by events.

  58. Liberal Capitalist says:

    If this is where we are at, then there is no hope for a USA…

    Tennesseans Now Able To Deworm Their COVID Without A Prescription

    You know what? If people are that desperate to own the libs by taking medication that does not work and could give them seizures, then they should be free to do that. At this point, I feel the same way about this as I do with drugs that actually are illegal — it’s better to “legalize” and try to make things as safe and unlikely to end in death as possible, since people are going to use them anyway. That’s all you can do. Either they’re going to get it from a pharmacist or they’re going to get it from the farm, nothing we can do about it. We’ve shouted from the rooftops for at least a year now, and if they haven’t gotten the message by now, no one can help them.

    The truly obnoxious thing is that they want it to be treated like a medication that will actually do something to treat covid, and they want the pharmacists to play along and pretend like it will, doling out “fact sheets” and the like. That’s what’s dangerous.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: “with little consideration of the functional aspect of different ‘ways of knowing’.”

    Which, ironically enough, is where the interesting stuff in the study of epistemology starts happening (at least for when I was studying philosophy). Oh well…

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Your comment reminded me of the Korea Herald article I read while I was living in Yong-in where the Ministry of Health announced that it had just started it’s annual inspections of the thousand-something registered illegal dog soup (boshintang) restaurants in Seoul. The ministry spokesperson noted that serving boshintang had been made illegal at the time of the Seoul Olympics, but people still ate it in many places, so the government chose to conduct inspections so that the safety and purity of the product could be maintained.-

  61. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: This is prolly well known to the long-time regulars around here, but I’ve been meaning to ask…

    Are you and Luddite brothers? Cousins? “Cousins”?

  62. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Ha! For a long time I thought maybe Cracker had split personalities and Luddite was one of them. Best I can tell they’ve been long-time friends forever and still hang out for holidays and whatnot.

    Also my #1 and #2 choices for “If I make a Pacific Northwest road trip and want to meet some OTB buddies”. 😛

  63. Matt Bernius says:

    Naomi had a well documented struggle with depression.

    “Lost her struggle with mental illness” has become the preferred way to refer to someone taking their own life. The rationale is that losing a fight for life with depression or other forms of mental illness is ultimately no different that losing a fight with cancer.

    While I don’t know if that is the case here, given the suddenness of the announcement, my suspicion is that depression claimed another person.