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. Kathy says:

    The second dose of AZ gave me the same body aches and mild fever as the first. Fever does not go well with a too-warm night. I’ve been having semi-lucid fever dreams. Wherein I dazzle myself by my brilliant reasoning pondering questions like the relationship between dogs and people, and some dystopian scenario based on Severance.

    And now I cant sleep.

    It was still worth it. The body aches and fever will fade over the next few hours. Later I’ll have more circulating antibodies, and new and better T cells.

  2. Kathy says:

    I wrote down my dystopian Severance fever dream so I wouldn’t forget it. I’m still tired, sleepy, and too much out of it to tell if it’s any good, but if anyone’s interested, and this being an open thread, here it is:

    There’s a minimum wealth level. Those who don’t reach it, i.e. 90% of the population, are no longer citizens, and are imprisoned for a life of honest labor. In theory they can save their wages and increase their wealth and get out. In practice, no one does. For one thing, their wages are very low. For another, they are charged for room and board and work materials, and clothes since prison shouldn’t be a free ride.

    The Severance link is they have their memories severed for work, so they won’t suffer, or recall suffering, the awful, backbreaking jobs they do. Like what? Like unclogging and maintaining sewers, trash pickup, animal slaughter, farming, herding, repetitive factory work with fewer machines, etc. All jobs are provided by private industry, who pay most of the wage to the government for use of these non-citizen convicts*.

    Some jobs take 8 hours. If so, the convicts are severed again for another job of 8 hours as well. When they return to prison, where they spent two hours cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, and eating. There’s no time for anything else. They sleep for six hours and begin all over the next day.
    They’re not told this. They’re told they only work 8 hours a day, with the other 8 hours spent in educational, training, and treatment programs. Why? To help keep them controlled. They are also drugged, but not told this. They don’t think they are exploited, they are convinced it’s their own damned fault they ended up below the minimum wealth level. All they can do is work.

    Reproduction isn’t allowed in prison. But there are so few poor and middle-class people left out of prison, that there will be a shortage of workers. So reproduction, managed by the prison authorities, is permitted from time to time.

    The overall population goes down, naturally.

    How did we get to this point? The usual way: first gradually and then suddenly.

    First it was done to the homeless, as a means to manage the problem. Then it was offered, on a volunteer basis, to middle class people. The ads talked of perfect work-life balance, and told the prospect they could essentially live without working. They would work, but not recall doing so. In essence, they would become enslaved to themselves. In my dream I recall an ad saying, “Enslave yourself, and set yourself free.”

    Then wages kept going down and prices up, and there was a need for a minimum wealth level to keep people from growing too poor. Those determined to do without power and entertainment and all but the most essential food, in order to save enough money to acquire capital goods to avoid the minimum wealth limit, are often unjustly harassed and prosecuted in order to get them to fail. Why? It’s evident: these people are more industrious and determined than the norm. They’ll work very hard once they’re severed, and they’ll no longer use up capital the elite could own instead. Win-win!

    * I can’t help but think the “lucky” lower class people just above the wealth limit who mange these poor souls, would take their frustrations out on them. After all, they won’t recall you beat them up. And so long as no slaves are impaired from working, all is well with the elite.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    How hospital wedding dance restored Ukraine bombing victim’s will to live

    “They were tears of happiness at first,” says 23-year-old Oksana Balandina of her first dance with her new husband, captured on video by a nurse and now shared across the world.
    “The dance was a complete surprise,” she says. “We had come back to the hospital from the registry office and Natalia and Olesia [hospital volunteers] had brought a dress and a laptop for music. Natalia said, ‘What kind of wedding is that without a dance?’”

    “It was pure joy and happiness,” she adds of her response to Viktor picking her up. “But then the realisation came. It’s not how I wanted my first dance to be.”

    There have, of course, been innumerable other difficult moments, not least explaining the injuries to her children, who are staying with their grandfather in the Poltava region to the east.

    Talk about having strength and the will to live.

  4. Scott says:

    My daughter pointed this out to me:

    As Roe v. Wade reversal looms, should you delete your period-tracking app?

    The U.S. Supreme Court is anticipated to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that guaranteed a person’s constitutional right to abortion, allowing states to decide whether to heavily regulate or ban the procedure. This reported move, based on a leaked draft of an opinion that hasn’t yet been issued but would mean abortion rights would be protected in less than half of all U.S. states, has reignited the years-long conversation about the privacy — or lack thereof — of period-tracking apps, which are used by nearly a third of women in the U.S.

    Though popular, and undoubtedly a useful tool for those who want to plan and avoid pregnancy and track signs of menopause, it’s no secret that the objective of many of these apps — of which there are more than a thousand in the app stores alone — go far beyond that of tracking periods. Monitoring menstrual cycles has proven to be a lucrative business for developers, many of which share users’ personal information and activity on the apps with third-party marketers and advertisers.

    With that in mind, and in light of the reported decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some are calling for people to delete their period-tracking apps amid fears that the data they collect — and subsequently share — could be used to target and punish those seeking an abortion.

    Back to paper and pencil.

  5. Scott says:

    I was just notified that my local newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News will be publishing my Letter to the Editor this Sunday. Here it is:

    Re: “Biden criticized ‘radical’ draft, cautions other rights in danger,” Front Page, Wednesday:

    The draft Supreme Court opinion went far further than Roe v. Wade. It questioned whether the Constitution provided an inherent right to privacy.

    If it does not provide a right to privacy, then this attacks many rights freedom-loving Texans take for granted: the right to marriage, the right to family planning, the right of privacy in your own home.

    Texas needs to enshrine these privacy rights through amending the Texas Constitution. Otherwise, our state politicians will be exercising their freedom to intrude into Texans’ homes and bedrooms.

    It is not as harsh as my first three drafts. Been sanded down to a bit of banality. But I figured they would not publish words like “adulterous, indicted felon AG Ken Paxton and the mendacious Ted Cruz”. So I wrote “politicians”.

  6. CSK says:

    I’m not alone in my view that J. D. Vance was always an opportunistic phony, even when he was the darling of literary critics:

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: It is not as harsh as my first three drafts. Been sanded down to a bit of banality. But I figured they would not publish words like “adulterous, indicted felon AG Ken Paxton and the mendacious Ted Cruz”. So I wrote “politicians”.

    Don’t know about the San Antonio Express-News, but a lot of papers will print such a letter, just minus the more colorful descriptive phrases.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    If Democrats were doing this, it would be playing every 5 minutes on Fox:

    “City [of Philadelphia] elections officials last week received applications from more than three dozen Republican voters across a pocket of the neighborhood. Those applications requested that mail ballots be delivered not to the voters’ homes, but to P.O. Box 54705, an address registered to a recently formed GOP political action committee, according to state data.

    Many of those voters told The Inquirer they have no idea why their ballots were sent there. Some said they never even applied to vote by mail.”

    Showing that once again, every allegation the GOP makes is projection.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The first 2 installments of a (ongoing?) series:

    Inside the division: how a small team of US prosecutors fight decades of shocking injustice

    Life in prison for stealing $20: how the Division is taking apart brutal criminal sentences

    They are both pretty brutal indictments of what “justice” in Orleans Parish consisted of for decades.

  10. CSK says:

    According to Mark Esper, Trump wanted to recall to active duty Gen. McChrystal and Adm. McRaven in order to court-martial them for being disloyal to him.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A long read from the New Yorker:

    Can Liberty University Be Saved?
    After Jerry Falwell, Jr.,’s ouster, some students and alumni have sought a more thorough excavation of Liberty’s values.

    The upshot:

    Watching the lawsuits accumulate, I was reminded of something that Wahl had said to me one day, while we were talking about the Falkirk Center. “We have to ask for what we think is necessary,” he said, “even though we probably won’t get what we want in the end.” I understood that he was responding, at last, to a question he’d often sidestepped with me: What, realistically, was he trying to achieve? “Really,” Wahl continued, “we’d like Liberty to be a good, Christian school. But, to be frank and honest with you, we’re worried it’s not very possible.” He paused. It was the first time I’d heard Wahl acknowledge that his work might be futile. “That’s depressing,” I finally offered. “There’s something good about it,” Wahl said. “It’s good for us to get it off our chests. And it’s good for the school and the students to hear it.”

    Good luck with that, Dustin.

  12. Jax says:

    The sheer audacity of Clarence effing Thomas worrying that “respect for institutions is eroding”….

    Ya think?! People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks, look no further than your own wife and her actions, and the actions of the former President you support, you sorry sumbitch.

  13. Sleeping Dog says:
  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    I’ve a couple of hobby horses that I regularly flog, most recently, Dems choosing not to compete in rural areas. Today I’ll leave that horse in the stable and ride my other, how NIMBYism and provincial grievances are undermining the fight against global warming. This morning the NYT reports from the front lines.

    A Fight Over America’s Energy Future Erupts on the Canadian Border

    Over the past few years, an unlikely coalition of residents, conservationists and Native Americans waged a rowdy campaign funded by rival energy companies to quash the effort. The opponents won a major victory in November, when Maine voters passed a measure that halted the project. Following a legal fight, proponents appealed to the state Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on the case on May 10 about whether such a referendum is legal.

    At stake is more than one transmission line. The fiercely contested project is emblematic of fights going on around the country, as plans to build clean energy infrastructure run into opposition from residents resistant to new development, preservationists and other companies with their own economic interests at stake.

    “At the end of the day, everyone might want more transmission for renewable energy,” said Timothy Fox, vice president at ClearView Energy Partners, an independent research firm. “But no one wants it in their backyard.”

    The project in Maine, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, or NECEC, is the kind of large-scale, clean-energy infrastructure that will be required if the United States is to shift away from fossil fuels — a transition scientists say is urgently needed in order to prevent further catastrophic climate change. According to a major study by Princeton University, the country must triple its transmission capacity by 2050 to have a chance at reaching its goal of not adding any more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by that point.

    Before Maine, NH activists blocked this transmission line when one town denied a right of way along a town road. While in New York, opponents of a transmission line through that state intended to serve the NYC metro are succeeding.

  15. JohnSF says:

    Let all celebrate!
    Today was this year’s “John plants out the sweetcorn day!”
    Most auspicious omens.
    Time for a gin and tonic.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Heh, Read about it somewhere else the other day. Pretty cool stuff. In the was of historical/archaeological stuff I never found anything more than some pottery shards or arrowheads, tho I did help map an Ozark cave that had the signature of a guy from Sheboygan WI dated July 4, 1876.

    A guy I caved with briefly did some work in Mammoth/Flint Ridge. He told me one day they were working in some nasty little passage way deep in the system and the wind* was just howling thru it. In an effort to warm up they crawled up into small room to get out of the wind. They ate snacks and he laid back on the floor to close his eyes for a bit but when he looked up at the ceiling he espied a very distinct SB. There is only one person it could have been and that was Steven Bishop, the one time slave and the earliest and greatest explorer of the M/FR system.

    I like that “19th Unnamed Cave”. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that was the name of the cave. Cavers are quirky sorts and they like to give strange names to caves and places in them. In addition to the famous Chandelier Ballroom in Lechuguilla, there is also Deep Seas, Rusticles, The Leaning Tower of Lechuguilla, There be Dragons, Apricot Pit, the Oasis Pool Room, Tres Amigos, etc etc. Sometimes they make sense, other times one just goes “Huh?”

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: We’ve got the same fight over a transmission line for wind out west thru Misery. There is a nice little piece in the latest Smithsonian about the building of the Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. They ran into similar stupidity there.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I tweet this every time men decide it’s time to make decisions about women’s bodies, but my ex boyfriend thought all women got their period on the 15th of the month. He was 26 at the time.

    The comments…. Jeebus men are stoopid.

  19. Mu Yixiao says:

    Drive-by comment:

    I’ve had a couple drinks. My rototiller is self-propelled.

    If I till my garden, am I guilty of operating a motor vehicle under the influence?

    (I mean… I know a guy who was arrested for OWI while his car was parked and he was asleep, so…. ??)

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    After posting the Quebec hydro article, I saw a Reuters article on CA and how they are concerned about having enough electric capacity to make it through the summer. Which raises the question, if CA, with all its geographic and weather advantages for solar and wind energy can’t be secure in its energy system, how’s MA going to meet its needs with wind and solar. And yes, as in Misery, the same issues with transmission lines will rear its ugly head in the distribution of wind and solar power.

    I get it that solar arrays are pretty ugly, we were out on the MC’s yesterday and passed several large installations and yup, ugly. That begs the question as to why aren’t these being developed atop large parking lots for big box stores. The parking lot on its own is an eyesore, placing a solar farm over it won’t be an improvement, but at least it will be useful.

  21. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Hey hey hey, as an official, card-carrying sorry sumbitch, I resent you lumping him into our proud organization. His membership was denied, he’s too sorry to be admitted!

  22. JohnSF says:

    Ukraine news:
    Reported in The Guardian:
    Ukraine says all women, children, and elderly, have now been evacuated from Azovstal, Mariupol.
    Let’s hope they are right.

  23. Mu Yixiao says:

    Sinn Fein take primacy in Irish Assembly.

    The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein has won the largest number of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time.

    With almost all votes counted on Saturday, Sinn Fein had secured 27 of the assembly’s 90 seats. The pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had 24, and the cross-community Alliance Party scored its strongest ever result with 17 seats – firmly establishing itself as a third pillar in the political system in Northern Ireland.

    The historic win means Sinn Fein is entitled to the post of first minister in Belfast for the first time since Northern Ireland was founded as a Protestant-majority state in 1921.

    I remember being in London in January of 1992, sitting on the tube at Warwick Station (Bakerloo “brown” line) for a good half hour with the train not moving–and the doors not even closing. My friends and I finally walked off the train. Later we learned that the IRA had called in a bomb threat (or actual bomb? I don’t know) on Downing St.

    It would be 6 years and a few months later that the Good Friday Agreement* was signed. The following summer, I briefly dated a woman from Belfast (Donna–pronounced “dough-nah”). She and her sister told me a few stories of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles. When their car was stolen, the first people they went to were the IRA–to tell them what happened and let them know they were reporting it to the (British) police. The police were, of course, going to go around asking questions about the theft. If they hadn’t informed the IRA, it could have been misinterpreted and turned violent.

    That Sinn Fein is now the leading party of the Northern Irish government is… wow.

    I don’t know where we are or where we’re going, but… what a long strange trip it’s been.


    * I keep wanting to say “Good Friday Accords”, but that appears to be something else.

  24. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    …(British) police.

    Definitions get both fuzzy and fraught in Northern Ireland.
    But quite a lot of moderate unionists would describe themselves as Irish, not British.
    And the same for e.g. the police.
    UK ≠ GB, in these peoples opinions.
    Of course, nationalist and republican views may differ from unionists, loyalists and independents.

    All this is why the Brexiteers lack of regard for Northern Irish ramifications was of their worst sins, IMO. (And one a lot of the BrexiTory English base are totally ignorant of.)
    Northern Ireland was relatively peaceful, and evolving towards a cross-islands cohabitation.

    The interesting thing now is, how well will Sinn Fein do in the next Irish (i.e. Republic) general election.