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:

    The insurance giant Geico must give more than $5m to a woman who had sex with a motorist in his car and contracted a sexually transmitted disease, a Missouri appellate court ruled. The ruling represents a preliminary legal victory for the plaintiff over the company best known for commercials starring an anthropomorphized gecko which speaks with a British accent. Geico can still go to the state supreme court to seek a reprieve, and may get a more favorable ruling in a related federal case.

    The plaintiff – identified in court records as “MO” – alleged that in 2017, during sexual encounters in a 2014 Hyundai Genesis, her boyfriend infected her with a virus that causes genital warts. The woman accused the man of acting negligently and argued that the Geico policy which insured the car should cover her “injuries and losses” from the disease.

    Geico denied coverage of the claim and rejected a settlement offer from the woman. Court filings say the woman and her boyfriend agreed to arbitrate her claims, the official overseeing that process determining the man “negligently infected MO” and awarding her $5.2m in damages. The woman went to a state court in Jackson county, Missouri, and filed suit against Geico, aimed at confirming the arbitration award. That court ruled in her favor, prompting Geico to ask an appellate court to overturn the decision. Attorneys for Geico argued that they never had a meaningful chance to contest the claim. The appellate court found Geico did get the chance, an opportunity it forfeited when it chose to simply deny coverage.

    “We would note that [Geico] had every opportunity to enter a defense … but chose not to do so,” said the ruling, issued by judges Edward Ardini, Karen King Mitchell and Thomas Chapman. “Geico [has] no right to relitigate those issues.”

    Only in a state of Misery. I love it.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A swag bag dished out by the American chamber of commerce to promote US industry at an international summit wasn’t quite on message – with some gifts bearing the slogan “Made in China”.

    Delegates and attendees at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles this week have been plied with all manner of freebies and samples from various groups wanting to push their agenda.
    The US chamber of commerce, which describes itself as a “non-profit membership organisation representing the unified interests of US business”, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Irony is dead. US capitalism has been charged with murder.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Wreck of Royal Navy warship sunk in 1682 identified off Norfolk coast

    The wreck of a Royal Navy warship which sank in 1682 while carrying the future king James Stuart has been identified off the coast of Norfolk.

    The wreckage of HMS Gloucester was actually found in 2007 by two brothers, Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, alongside their late father and two friends, following a four-year search which covered an area of more than 5,000 nautical miles.
    Lincoln Barnwell said that the discovery of the wreckage was on their fourth dive season looking for HMS Gloucester, and that the group were beginning to think that they were not going to be able to find the ship.

    But Barnwell said that on one particular dive to the seabed, he spotted a “large cannon laying on white sand” which was “awe-inspiring and really beautiful”.

    He said: “It instantly felt like a privilege to be there, it was so exciting. We were the only people in the world at that moment in time who knew where the wreck lay. That was special and I’ll never forget it.”

    Pretty cool.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: While local chambers of commerce can be vital parts of a community, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce only borrows that small-town moniker and is basically a scam, a way to trick relatively small businesses into paying some of the lobbying expenses of the giant mega-corporations. If I were a Congress critter, I wouldn’t let their K-street crew past my door.

  5. de stijl says:

    Google’s YouTube continues to confound me.

    Over the past several years it has been serving up localized ads at me. It never gets the location correct. Ever.

    In order over the past 5 years YT thought I lived in:

    Omaha (and spoke Spanish), for many years thought I lived in Minneapolis, lately it has been both Detroit and Chicago – sometimes both in one video which is a whiplash.

    Even nationalized ads get a tag line “2 stores near Dearborn”. Thanks, but I don’t live in metro Detroit.

    They are shooting a doughnut hole around me.

    And it’s really baffling.

    I have a Des Moines phone number landline and mobile. My laptop has an IP address clearly associated to my ISP’s Des Moines operation.

    Even though I knowingly have turned off geolocation sharing for every app I can, there are still undeniable markers that locate me down to the block and actual physical street address.

    This is data mining and profile association 101. You have a profile and its associations. Chief drivers are public records, physical address, IP address, email address, and phone numbers associated to various app sign ups and online purchases, searches, and just general footprint.

    It is complicated, but not difficult. Messy. I worked with data vendors and was massively recruited by one. It’s not rocket science. It’s mostly about getting a new dataset to join properly to the mothership. SQL and DBMS stuff.

    There is no valid reason for YouTube (Google) to think I live in Omaha, Minneapolis, Detroit, or Chicago. There are thousands of reasons for them to think I live in Des Moines. It used to be annoying. Now I’m amused.

    At this point, I am convinced they are just fucking with me on purpose for the lulz.

  6. CSK says:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene is upset that our due process rights are being “fragrantly” violated.

  7. de stijl says:


    It is pretty stanky.

    I heard the same misaprehension out of somebody’s mouth at a model UN in Norman, Oklahoma. Cracked me up then, too. From a native born American English as their first language speaker. Some people are stupid.

    BTW, college level model UN conferences are a hot bed of of sex, drugs, debauchery and booze. It was awesome.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Now for the latest in fragile egos…

    Trump’s Truth Social Is Banning Users Who Post About Jan. 6 Hearings, According to Reports

    The irony is rich: Truth Social, Donald Trump’s Twitter copycat claiming it is “free from political discrimination,” has reportedly banned users who posted information from Thursday’s congressional hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — in which the former president is a key focus.

  9. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Gee, if Trump is, as they maintain, the victim of the greatest crime in American history, why should this bother them? Surely they can easily refute this.

  10. CSK says:

    The woman who spilled hot coffee on her crotch and sued McDonald’s could have done this in addition. A double-header pay-off for her.

  11. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    The big data vendor I dealt with most and the one that recruited me was ChoicePoint.

    Their mothership then was exurban Bay Area.

    Had it been in San Francisco downtown and they would have paid to relocate, I probably would have said “yes”.

    Nowadays, they got bought out by LexisNexis and hq out of Alpharetta.

  12. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Every dog that has ever barked about online freedom of speech hits that end state where they realize what unregulated, unmoderated freedom of speech actually means and their potential legal liability. Terms of service exist for a reason.

    Truth is just banning people over topic and POV. That is way more than what Twitter did to Trump. The hypocrisy is expected, but still really funny.

  13. Sleeping Dog says:


    I suspect those being banned are providing an accurate portrayal of the hearings. Can’t have that, even if raise FUD with a small percentage of the cult, you risk that erosion turning into a landslide. Sort of like cattle in a field. You can walk towards them and they will continue to do what cattle do, then all of a sudden they bolt.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    Indeed, moderation is critical. As Lord Elon will learn.

  15. Michael Cain says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Oh, good, another chance to break out my “not surprised” face :^)

  16. Roger says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I apologize for getting all wonky, but this is the kind of reporting that drives me crazy. Although a non-lawyer who hasn’t read the underlying opinion would never know this, despite the headline and first line of the article Geico has not been ordered to pay a dime. Like the McDonalds hot coffee verdict, the facts have been misrepresented in a way that will stir up the rubes, who will never notice if the actual ruling is that Geico owes nothing.

    What really happened? A creative lawyer made a demand on Geico. Geico denied coverage. Missouri has a law that allows insureds whose insurers have denied coverage to enter into settlement agreements limiting any recovery to insurance proceeds. This benefits the insured by protecting their assets and benefits the claimant by allowing them to move quickly to getting a judgment on the underlying claim so they can concentrate on the coverage fight with the insurer. Insurers hated this, claiming that damages were being inflated by collusive settlements where nobody had an interest in keeping the damages number down. Because the insurance industry and the Chamber of Commerce own the Misery legislature a number of increasingly Byzantine requirements have been added to the statute that allow insurers to intervene in these actions to dispute the amount of damages while still denying coverage.

    This opinion is only about how some of the procedural technicalities work when an insurer intervenes (or actually how they used to work, since the statute has been amended again to give insurers more rights). A completely separate declaratory judgment action is pending that will decide whether Geico has to pay. I suspect we won’t see much reporting on it if the dec action finds no liability and certainly won’t see an explanation of why the coverage language that Geico itself drafted requires coverage if the court rules that way.

  17. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Oh, I don’t know, Puget Sound area has its own nutty whiff:

    Kent to pay $1.5 million to settle dispute with assistant police chief who displayed Nazi insignia.

    The city of Kent will pay more than $1.5 million to settle a dispute with a former assistant police chief who was disciplined for posting a Nazi rank insignia on his office door and joking about the Holocaust.

    Personally, I preferred the stench from the pulp mills in the 60s. I’m appalled this goober spent 27 years on the force.

    H/t Seattle Times. For some reason, I can’t get the link to copy over, probably their paywall issue. Sorry gang.

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    I get the Senior Coffee at McDonald’s all the time. All you can drink for 88¢ here.
    Sometimes they say: “It’s old. We will brew fresh coffee for you.”
    “Did you make it today? I’ll start with the bottom of the pot.”
    When the coffee is served they almost always say: “Be careful. It’s hot!”
    My reply: “Coffee is supposed to be hot.”

    The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case
    It is the case that gave rise to the attacks on “frivolous lawsuits” in the United States. Almost everyone seems to know about it. And there’s a good chance everything you know about it is wrong.

  19. de stijl says:

    Another weird thing about YouTube misidentified my location is they also misidentified my stage of life.

    I have have been served an ad for Eastern Michigan University at least 40 times in the past two weeks.

    I don’t live in greater Detroit, I am already a college graduate, I am 58, I am retired comfortably.

    Maybe I am in IDGAF pile of not very attractive consumers. I really don’t buy much of anything online. I am really not worth profiling actually. There is no profit in me. I buy some big ticket items a handful of times a year, but nothing basic. No Amazon Prime. My purchase footprint is low.

    If that were true, though, they would not serve me localized ads. Badly localized ads.

    The weird thing is that I had extended gigs in Omaha and Chicago. I lived in Minneapolis most of life. I connected through Detroit DTW all the time. Northwest Airlines, back when they still existed.

    I kinda want to contact them and do a deep dive study as to how and why they have mischaracterized / misprofiled me that poorly for years and years. I think that would be fascinating.

  20. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Thanks; that was very informative. I didn’t know all those things about the coffee case.

    It’s not just legal reporting that’s flawed. I’ve heard complaints about the quality of medical reporting from more than one doctor and dentist.

  21. de stijl says:


    The McDonald’s coffee case is a fascinating study in how an actual tort gets distorted into a false narrative about frivolous lawsuits.

    Guess who pitches such narratives?

    The frivolous lawsuit panic is basically bullshit. Such matters never make it to trial unless there is a there there.

  22. Mister Bluster says: case.

    You are welcome. I’m not sure how long after the initial reports of the resolution of this lawsuit came out that I learned the facts of the case.
    It was disappointing to see Jane Pauley misrepresent the matter in the video. Disappointing but not surprising.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    If I were a Congress critter, I wouldn’t let their K-street crew past my door.

    Yes, you would. And for the same reason that every other Congress critter does–because the money will look better in your reelection fund than it will in someone else’s.

    Of course, I guess it’s possible that you would be a person who only wanted to serve one term. But if that’s the case, why run in the first place?

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Snopes has come to her rescue, proclaiming that it’s really clear that she mispronounced the word–noting that even the Congressional Record transcript changed it. I prefer to believe that she has the vocabulary level of a 5 year old.

    But to each their own.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I doubt politics or even Trump’s ego has anything to do with it. Fox, Truth Social, Sinclair Media, etc are about attracting a pool of gullible marks and selling them off to advertisers. They can’t let anyone splash in that pool or the marks will leave.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: (Gives cracker a very wry thumbs up…)

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  28. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Thinking about it, investigating how Google Ad Services constructs a profile and how online and offline stuff gets attached to that profile would be really fucking fascinating.

    Pick one established person / one profile (me) and work backwards and figure out how and why information gets tagged to that.

    Figure out how and why they decide which ads you see.

    That could be a book. That could be a documentary. That would be really fucking fascinating.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I get SNHSU and Grand Canyon University ads all the time (not on YouTube, though, don’t watch regularly enough). Sometimes these ads are targeted to fundraising/name awareness rather than admissions directly. (i.e. They want you to think of Brand A when you’re talking to your grandchildren and/or their friends. Yeah, I get that this doesn’t work very well, but the ads go out millions of times a day for a few pennies, so… And maybe the AI has a better grasp on CTB percentages than we do or uses different valuations.)

  30. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I’d figure she’d just made a slip of the tongue too if it weren’t for “peach tree dish” and “gazpacho police.”

    But since I can’t stand the woman, I’m disinclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: It’s all fuzzed out and covered with “turn off your ad blocker”, but I’m willing to bet that the $1.5M to settle the dispute with the Nazi cop was not hiring a bunch of thugs to make the problem go away.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Roger: A completely separate declaratory judgment action is pending that will decide whether Geico has to pay.

    Yeah, I read that this is a long ways from done, but thanx for the explanatory.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: I was gonna point out that she had gotten 3rd degree burns but you brought actual live ammo, so thanx for that.

  34. Gustopher says:

    I just misheard a lyric to a fluffy song as “silent as lamp shades.”

    Does that come from somewhere? A Google search shows nothing, but I don’t trust my Google Fu.

    It’s a bit too clever to have come from my head, even subconsciously. (Used in a sentence: Republicans want trans folks to be as silent as lamp shades)

    (The song was “Nobody” by Mitski, which definitely does not have that line, but this is what happens when I am doing three things at once)

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..3rd degree burns

    You are welcome.
    One other fact of the case that is often overlooked was that the plaintiff”s lawyers found 700 claims filed against McDonalds about hot coffee burns.
    This web page posted by a personal injury law firm mentions another case that I recall from 1982 of an 18 year old burglar who fell through a skylight at a school while attempting to steal a floodlight. He was permanently disabled. Turns out that the skylight he fell trough was painted over and not visible.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Speaking as somebody who was personally harmed to the tune of thousands of dollars on several occasions and consulted with lawyers about “what I could do about it” and later came to the conclusion that even if it was $20, $40, $80,000* it just wasn’t worth the trouble, I suspect a whole lot more gets stolen from folks who do not not have the money, time, or energy to try and get it back, than who do.

    *ftr I had an employer rip me off for $10-20K and my ex took me for $40-80K (I didn’t exactly keep records. the state said $40K but they didn’t know the half of it). The former would have been so little in my pocket as to “Why botha?” The latter would have required me to sue the mother of my children while she was in prison. Yeah. “Why botha?”

  37. dazedandconfused says:


    …and the insurers of Motel 6 (variously spelt) breath a sigh of relief.

  38. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Although actually this was cheap. And you can’t really trust the kinds of thugs you hire these days to keep their flipping yaps shut after the fact.

    During the discussion of firing him, they decided to negotiate a settlement to get him to resign, because if they’d fired him, they’d ultimately lose in court, and would have to pay him and rehire this revolting POS. He started out demanding $3.1M, and got less than half. Minus attorney fees, shipping and handling. Cheap as chips (he’ll likely get under $1M, and although WA doesn’t have income tax, it won’t go far in the Kent Valley).

    And actually, he didn’t do that much…

    1. Displayed Obergruppenfuhrer badge (from the Waffen SS) on his office door
    (oh, is that what it meant? I just liked the design).
    2. Was photographed at an event giving a Nazi salute (oh, no, I was waving
    at someone)
    3. Joked at an event that his grandfather died in the camps – when he got
    drunk and fell out of the tower. (what? It was a joke, doncha know?)

    Again, what a revolting POS. Unfortunately, he’s far from the exception. Kind of guy that gives Good Ol’ Boys a bad name.

  39. de stijl says:


    Just go with it. Your subconscious is vigorously inventive. Think of your dreams.

    Lamp shades have no mouth. They exist to shield the eye from too bright of a light so that the experience becomes unpleasant or untenable.

    Lamp shades are cool in my book. They do their jobs silently. I have no mouth and I must diffuse light.

    For decades I thought the lyric in the B-52s song Deadbeat Club was

    Dancing at Torchie’s in the rain

    I thought it was a call out to an actual bar called Torchie’s where all of the cool cats hang out.

    I constructed an interior subscene of who would hang out there and when and why. The Platonic ideal of a cool hang out bar.

    Turns out the actual lyric is:

    Dancing in *torn sheets* in the rain

    Not Torchie’s, but torn sheets. My brain misheard that lyric for decades.

    I was kinda depressed knowing that. Had I ever had a reason to go to Athens, GA I would have gone out to Torchie’s and had a beer or two and soaked up the atmosphere. Alas, it does not exist. My brain made it up.

    Dancing in torn sheets in the rain does sound like a kind of awesome as an experience, though.

    Deadbeat Club is a great song, btw. Not as quirky or campy as many B-52s songs are. A pop gem.

  40. Jax says:
  41. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: oh, I guarantee my subconscious “silent as a lampshade” is a holocaust reference. I guess I’ve just had Nazis on my mind for a while, for various reasons.

    (It turns out the Jews to Lampshades story is either a myth, or a fairly isolated occurrence. Soap as well. I would not trust our modern Nazis to know this though.)

  42. de stijl says:



    My brain never went to lampshade as a tie to Ed Gein or the Holocaust. Makes sense in a weird way. You reset my calibration.

    Maybe sometimes a lampshade is just a lampshade. Like a dream cigar except less phallic.

  43. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: There was a guy in Wyoming, one of the warden’s of the state prison in the 1800’s, I think….he had luggage, lampshades and shoes made out of the skin of death row inmates.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Jax: The Nazis regularly terrorize Portland, with their truck caravans and brandishing weapons, and trying so hard to get a response so they can go to war against Portland.

    Bravo to the Idaho police for apprehending this batch of Nazis before they caused major problems.

    The Pacific Northwest has way too many Nazis. A surprisingly diverse group of Nazis though. Would you initially expect a Samoan Nazi? We’ve got one!

    Tiny Toes shot himself in the foot at one rally by prominently appearing on camera, unmasked, while he was supposed to be confined to home as part of his probation for previous crimes. He also shot himself in the foot at that rally by shooting himself in the foot, although he claims Antifa shot him in the ankle from above.

    Alas he is not 9 Toes.