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:

    It’s begun to feel like a bad monster/terror movie, where the monster keeps rising repeatedly after we think it’s been slain.

    Adam Neumann, formerly of WeWork, is not slain.

    Buried near the end is this tidbit:

    “..We take money from rich people or groups that have large pockets of capital, and our job is to make them more money,” McKeever Conwell, who is Black, said. “Our job is not necessarily to care about ethics, morality, systemic racism or financial inequalities. There are many VCs who care about that, but that’s not the job.”

    Despite Neumann’s past, Conwell noted that the founder brought generous returns to early investors of WeWork who sold out before its crash.

    So, the purpose is to make money, regardless of whether wealth is created or not. So, if a startup can inflate its stock value to the point the venture capitalists, who made the original investment, cash out with more money than they put in, then that’s a successful investment. If the company then busts, or is found to have been a fraud (see Theranos), or the stock merely crashes to its realistic value, that’s all well and good.

    By this measure, the early investors in a Ponzi scheme, or a pyramid scheme, who cash out and leave, should regard the fraud at the heart of their investment as eminently successful. It’s the suckers that came late to the party who are screwed.

  2. Jon says:


    “Our job is not necessarily to care about ethics, morality, systemic racism or financial inequalities. There are many VCs who care about that, but that’s not the job.”

    Christ, what an asshole.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nebraska child dies from rare infection caused by brain-eating amoeba

    Federal health officials confirmed on Friday that a Nebraska child died from a rare infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a river near Omaha. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the child, according to the Douglas county department of health in Omaha. Health officials believe the child became infected while swimming last Sunday in the Elkhorn River, a few miles west of Omaha. Authorities have not released the child’s name.

    I take note of this mainly because of this bit at the very end:

    In the US, infections from the amoeba typically occur in southern states because the amoeba thrives in waters that are warmer than 86F (30C). But infections have migrated north in recent years, including two cases in Minnesota since 2010.

    Those Chinese thought of everything when they put this climate change hoax together.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: That principle is engraved upon the heart of every MBA.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dana Nessel

    Michigan Deputy Attorney General Christina Grossi making an impassioned plea to allow women the ability to continue making their own decision about their bodies, their futures and their lives.

    Well said, Ms Grossi.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Beth bait: Japanese trans woman denied status as parent of own child – reports

    A Japanese court has ruled that a child born after a transgender woman went through her surgical and legal transition should not be recognised legally as her child, according to local media.

    Japan requires that anyone who wants to legally change their gender have surgery to remove the sexual organs they were born with, a practice sharply criticised by human rights groups.

    The trans woman, who was assigned male at birth, had two daughters with her female partner using sperm preserved before her transition, the public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency reported.
    On Friday, the Tokyo high court ruled that she could be recognised as parent of the daughter born before her legal gender change, but not the second, who was born afterwards. No further details were immediately available.

  7. Stormy Dragon says:


    In a related Capitalism WTF story:

    Why Are All Those Shows Leaving HBO Max? It’s Complicated

    Discovery is pulling dozens of its own shows off HBO Max. Not pulling them off and movie them elsewhere or selling them to a different streaming service. Just eliminating them completely. And eliminating in the “purged by Stalin” sense. Overnight the show’s websites, youtube clips, soundtrack and dvd sales, etc. are just gone.

    Some of these shows have new seasons that just finished production and haven’t aired yet.

    Apparently this is because Discovery can get a tax break by deliberately destroying it’s own IP and then claiming the money it didn’t make as a capital loss.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    There’s also rumors going around that the real reason Discovery bought Warner Brothers is so that David Zaslav can turn it into “alt-right Disney” and that these tax write downs are partially about making shows he sees as having left-wing sensibilities permanently unavailable to consumers.

  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: I’m kind of wondering how a dude that looks like that gets the name of “McKeever Conwell, II”, which is how he appears to style himself. He goes by “Mac” so that’s better, at least.

    Also, he’s a CS major who started work with a Beltway Bandit. They usually have a pretty wide streak of cynicism.

    To be fair, with what he does, he isn’t selling inflated stock to widows and orphans. Those waters are adult swim, and if he took people’s money, it was likely the money of stupid rich people. I could never be a VC, though.

  10. Jax says:

    Well, wish me luck. We’re hosting our very own super-spreader event called my parents’ 50th Anniversary party today. We’ve got about 70 family members coming to town, plus a lot of locals invited.

    My liver is dreading today. There will be booze. A lot of it! 😛

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Congrats to the celebratory couple!

  12. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: 50 years, and she still hasn’t hit the grouchy old coot upside the head with a frying pan yet. 😛

  13. becca says:

    @Jax: we just recently forgot our 43rd anniversary. As Olivia Harrison said, the secret to a long marriage is don’t get a divorce.
    Congrats to your folks!

  14. charon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    so that David Zaslav can turn it into “alt-right Disney” and that these tax write downs are partially about making shows he sees as having left-wing sensibilities permanently unavailable to consumers.


  15. Stormy Dragon says:


    The Batgirl is female superhero whose “guy in the chair” is her transgender roommate. The film version was being played by a POC actress with a POC writer and POC directors.

    I’m sure David Zaslav HATED it.

  16. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Apparently this is because Discovery can get a tax break by deliberately destroying it’s own IP and then claiming the money it didn’t make as a capital loss.”

    When the Taliban blew up those ancient statues of Buddha for “religious reasons,” they were condemned around the world. If they’d done it for a tax break or to up up condos, they’d be considered great businessmen.

    Meanwhile, Zaslav is playing the same scummy game that has destroyed companies and lives for decades — he “buys” a large company and gets the money for the transaction by loading the company down with debt. Then he has to butcher the company and sell off the parts to pay the interest. Meanwhile, he pays himself tens of millions of dollars per year.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The Batgirl is female superhero whose “guy in the chair” is her transgender roommate.

    “Guy in the chair”? Is that a movie trope I’m unaware of?

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: I’ve always gotten a chuckle out of using Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujahat weddings. Instrumental. The lyrics include, “She tied you to a kitchen chair”. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that Stormy’s usage is similar.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: On the occasion of my Uncle Tony and Aunt Betty’s 50th, somebody asked Tony if the thought of divorce had ever crossed his mind.

    “Divorce? Never. Murder on the other hand…”

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:
  21. charon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Thanks, obviously I know nothing about the superhero universe.

    (Although I do plan to watch Harley Quinn).

  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    @charon: Interestingly, the “guy in the chair” didn’t start with superheros, I don’t think. I think it started with spy thrillers and heist movies.

    For instance in “Sneakers” there are several sequences where Robert Redford’s character is the operator, and various others, such as Sidney Poitier or Dan Akroyd are the “guy in the chair”.

  23. Stormy Dragon says:


    “Guy in the chair”? Is that a movie trope I’m unaware of?

    It’s the hero’s normal person assistant who sits back at base talking to the hero over radio solving problems via computer, looking up information, etc.

    It provides away to provide exposition to the audience and also gives the hero a reason to keep talking when they’re putatively by themselves without looking nuts.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    So, the purpose is to make money, regardless of whether wealth is created or not. So, if a startup can inflate its stock value to the point the venture capitalists, who made the original investment, cash out with more money than they put in, then that’s a successful investment. If the company then busts, or is found to have been a fraud (see Theranos), or the stock merely crashes to its realistic value, that’s all well and good.

    Ayup, pretty much. And Warren Buffet came to a similar conclusion, IIRC, about the selling of Collateralized Debt Obligations at the start of the Great Recession–there was no failure in the bond rating mechanism as its goal is to create the conditions in which bonds can be sold, and it accomplished that mission.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I keep losing my place here. How does it become anything other than a WGAF type question? Especially for the courts. (And Japan is supposed to be above the types of petty grievances that plague the United States. I’ve had several Japanese exchange students tell me that over the years.)

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: Enjoy the party and remember that just because there will a sh!tton of liquor there, that doesn’t mean you have to drink all of it–especially in the first hour. You have my* permission to be moderate in your consumption.

    *A cirrhosis patient at that. (non-alcohol related)

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My thought went to “Oracle” the Barbara Gordon, and former Batgirl, character in both “Suicide Squad” and “Birds of Prey.”

  28. Flat Earth Luddite says:
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I know, right? We are all so conditioned by decades of Republican morality crusades that we think we are the troglodytes of first world countries, stuck somewhere in the 14th century. But IIRC, that article states that gay marriage is not legal in Japan.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: There have been a number of them over the years. I happen to be rather fond* of the latest iteration of the Spiderman franchise so it came first to my mind.

    *which doesn’t surprise me considering he was my favorite smart ass when I was a kid.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ahhh, from yesterday…

    @Andy: I should have known better. I hardly ever revisit yesterdays arguments but I wanted to see if somebody had replied to something I’d said. I’d forgotten all about our little back and forth. All I can say is, you would think, wouldn’t you? Makes sense right? But that ain’t the way the minds of construction workers are bent, and the only thing your reply illustrates is the fact that you have never spent a day on a jobsite.

    You say I paint with a broad brush? Damned right I do. And if the brush fits? They gotta wear it. And it does mf’er. But if it makes you feel better, feel free to insert Jim Wright’s emergency “not all” whenever I speak in generalities. But really, never mind me, look in the mirror to see how your experiences color everything you see. You cite statistics like they give meaning to people’s politics. I can’t decide if you are exceptionally naive or just totally ignorant of people and what motivates them.

    I know you aren’t gonna listen to me, and it ain’t my job to educate you. So get a job in construction, spend 6 mos on a jobsite or 2. Work with a crew of carpenters, ironworkers, or pipefitters. You will begin to have an idea. Just begin. Spend 35 years on jobsites* and you will know that guns, Jesus, niCLANGS, spics, and homos have more meaning to most of these guys than their unions do. Most of them will vote for a Republican every damn time no matter how hard the GOP works to tear down our unions before they will consider voting DEM, and DEMs vote for damned near every federal jobs dollar that comes down the pike.

    Maybe it’s different in NY, or MA, but here in Misery? That’s reality. Sorry if it doesn’t fit with your conception of reality.

    *in my 35 years of construction, you want to know how many black men I’ve worked with? 1.
    Guess how many Hispanics? 0.

    I have been on jobsites where there were blacks or Hispanics, but buddy, we didn’t work with them.

  32. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Something I’ve been paying increasing attention to past few years:
    Number of UK retailers and manufactures going out of business.
    And you look at the figures and the actual “base” business is still profitable re. operating costs.
    But is sunk because the business has had massive loads of debt piled onto it in multiple “buyout/buyback” schemes, and had the “property portfolio” separated out, spun off, and debt-loaded.
    etc etc
    And the owners/investors/directors make a damn fortune from fees as manager of the bonds they themselves hold!
    The “vampire squid” model.
    So viable companies collapse, and money realised from “restructuring” ends up in pockets already bulging.

    It’s enough to make a traditionalist look around for the nearest pitchfork and torch vendor.
    (Irascible Scots Marxist lecturer slaps JohnSF upside the head: “Did I teach y’ nothing, laddie, that y’ should be surprised?” Also, Labour activist mother and grandfather shakes heads and sigh.)

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Ewwww… Those places look HORRIBLE! Thanks for the warning!

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: WA! Reminds me of my days in warehousing except that until Reagan cut a deal with the Teamsters, I was the outlier because I voted Republican. I never quite groked how the change happened as quickly as it did either. I’ve suspected that the key was that COLAs brought us into the upper middle class because we were keeping pace with inflation. (And I was surprised that toward the end of my stay in warehousing, I was making as much as I guy I knew who was an associate–but not partner track yet–at a downtown law firm.)

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Tory. We’re all finally Keynesians corporatists, now.

    (With apologies to, of all people, Richard M. Nixon.)

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You know the hard thing for me? There has been progress. My union is trying very hard to recruit blacks and Hispanics. But damn, they are swimming against the tide of prevailing racism. It’s not easy being the only black man on a job site. I know because I was once the only white person in an all black restaurant kitchen. The day came when I was face to face with the reason why my coworkers didn’t trust me. Management had hired me to be a “spy.”

    “What happened back there? You can tell us the truth.”
    “You want the truth? NOTHING happened back there. Her order didn’t come thru on the mike.”
    “C’mon, don’t be afraid…”

    I almost quit on the spot I was so pissed.

  37. Beth says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    For a large number of Cis Hets, the very idea of being Trans is so fundamentally alien to them that they can’t imagine why ANYONE would be Trans because they can’t begin to imagine themselves being Trans.

    How this plays out politically is that people in power decide that, well maaaaaaaybe, possibly, some people are like this, but how can we be ABSOLUTELY 100% certain. They figure if they make it super hard, super onerous and super degrading then only the “Real” Trans people will do it. The truth is we either suffer or kill ourselves. That’s the basis for the English (and I’m being specific here), German and Japanese systems. In the U.K. the gender certificate and gender clinic system is a human rights violation designed specifically to degrade and murder as many people as possible and for them to suffer as much as possible along the way.

    I’m not as familiar with the Japanese system other than it is intensely barbaric. Japan had somehow managed to come off as not looking bad when it comes to LGBT rights, but it’s as bad or worse than FL or AL.

    For what it’s worth, Germany, Scotland and Spain are all slowly moving to a system of Self-ID like we have here in much of the U.S. As an aside, I joke that what will be the final straw in the break up between Scotland and England will be London’s refusal to allow Scotland to do Self-ID.

    Also, a little note. States such as IL and CA are both Self-ID and informed consent. This means we can walk into our doctor’s office, say we’re Trans and want HRT, get a little speech about the pros and cons, get a blood test, then walk out with a script for our meds. That’s it. We can amend most of our legal docs with just a simple attestation that we are the gender we say we are and we’re done. The name change if we go that route is probably the hardest part. And by hard I mean super annoying. There is no requirement we surgically\medically alter ourselves (though most of us do) or jump through obscene waiting periods. About the worst we have to endure is the frustrating embarrassment of getting permission slips before we can get surgeries which is an antiquated insurance requirement, because again, Cis Hets can’t imagine doing it themselves so they tend to think that they have to make it hard so that we are sure and won’t regret it later which is a whole post on its own.

  38. JohnSF says:

    Perhaps you are right about the English system.
    But I have at least one colleague at work who is trans, and neither employer nor anyone else (AFAIK) has any problem with her self-identification.

    And anecdotally, that is the case with most employers and work environments.
    And with society in general: the objection to trans on “religious” grounds in some areas of US “popular culture” ain’t a thing in Britain.
    Because, by and large, the British working class (like most Europeans) couldn’t give a flying F about religious damnations of identity; and haven’t since (arguably) the 18th Century.

    Cases in the UK that have caused issues relate NOT to trans persons, but to the problem of het. males “identifying” as trans in order (to use the Britism) to take the piss.
    Several notorious cases of male sex offenders in prisons trying this for the LOLs.
    And one really nasty case of a rapist in a hospital, and female only wards, and I’ll stop there.

    But everyone reasonable (eg excluding idiots and Liz Truss, but I repeat myself) understands the problems are not with trans persons; it’s with sexual aggressors, usually het male.

  39. Beth says:


    Self-ID is less about interpersonal IDs where in general people tend not to care. The problem is with government and how your legal rights are effected. We don’t have Gender Recognition Certificates. The requirements of that are frankly a human rights violation. You’re forced to live at least two years in a weird liminal state in which you have to prove to someone else that you can correctly perform your gender and if you don’t perform correctly you can be denied your cert along with being denied access to things people of your gender take for granted.

    Here, I walked into a clinic and walked out with my meds. Because of my personal circumstances I spent a year in what I called “terrible male drag”. When it was time I changed my name which took 60 days. Once I had that I signed one form to get a “F” on my driver’s license. One other form to fix my Birth cert. I did have to have a form signed by therapist saying I underwent “medical care” but that was more formality since as long as I had that form IL had to issue me a new Birth Cert. No one had the opportunity to challenge it. That in hand, one more form fixed my SSN. After that it was just the standard name change hell of updating everything. PITA.

    That not even getting into the wait times to access gender related healthcare:

    Here, you can make an appointment at our local LGBT focused clinic and be on HRT in less than a month.

    I would love to hear your colleague’s take on how things over there. The stories we get out of there are pretty bad.

  40. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: I thought the Harry Benjamin protocol was still in use and embedded some “we’re gonna take some time between steps to make sure” things. Because there are people seeking treatment who are confused (or maybe just scared) and back out.

    I recall hearing about a person (presenting female) wearing a shirt that read “I survived testosterone poisoning”, for instance. I personally cannot imagine being confused about this, and frankly few if any of the trans people I know are confused about it. Rather they are determined to make their social experience match up with their internal state. You know, they want to live authentically. However, it seems to be a thing that happens, though I can’t say how often. I guess there are intersex and non-binary people…

    Of course, that’s treatment regimes, not the legal system.