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. clarkontheweekend says:

    The answer to your question about why Americans have lost trust in our institutions is pretty straightforward. Liberals see conservatives in positions of power, like scotus, or even the just revealed shite show of the last administration and it’s influencers with the Mark Meadows texts, as being wholly corrupt and believing in the batshit crazy, like true believers, and we’re like, “Jesus, these people are nuts, how can I trust them at all.” Whereas conservatives believe liberal theories and institutions, like legacy media and a Biden or Obama, are somehow evil, hate America and want to destroy it based on previously noted nutjobbery. So one base is crazy which us reality based people don’t trust, and one base is actually sane and real which the crazies can’t abide by. Combined, the whole thing falls apart. But it’s really because 35% of the country are just nuts.

  2. Jen says:

    Something interesting for the professors on this board.

    Today, I turned in the first plagiarist I’ve caught using A.I. software to write her work, and I thought some people might be curious about the details.
    The student used ChatGPT (, an advanced chatbot that produces human-like responses to user-generated prompts. Such prompts might range from “Explain the Krebs cycle” to (as in my case) “Write 500 words on Hume and the paradox of horror.”
    This technology is about 3 weeks old.

    He goes on to explain how he figured out that it was AI, but doesn’t give away key red flags like how the AI consistently structures pieces.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The company recently announced that it will pay $168m to settle 364 claims that were brought against it. According to Hertz, the settlement will bring resolution to “more than 95% of it pending theft reporting claims.”

    “My intention is to lead a company that puts the customer first. In resolving these claims, we are holding ourselves to that objective,” the Hertz CEO, Stephen Scherr, said in a statement.

    I thought that’s what they were already doing, putting the customer first in jail, then in court, then…

    Numerous lawsuits filed against Hertz in recent years accuse the company of knowingly and falsely reporting its customers to authorities. They accuse Hertz of not investigating alleged thefts before filing theft reports, as well as reporting cars stolen without any verification that they are stolen.

    In addition, the lawsuits allege that the company rents “stolen” cars to unsuspecting customers and supplies false information in theft reports by secretly deleting customer rental extensions and backdating rental due dates.

    Now that’s what I call first class customer treatment. What I wonder is why? Where’s the money?

    “As a direct and proximate result of Hertz’s conduct, Ms Reece-Williams was falsely arrested, jailed for two weeks, prosecuted on criminal charges for theft, made homeless, almost lost her child to child services, had her personal and family relationships damaged, had her reputation destroyed, lost her possessions in the car, and has suffered severe mental and emotional harm, including anxiety, depression and sleeplessness,” the lawsuit states.

    Another customer, Shontrell Higgs, also filed a claim against Hertz after she was falsely arrested in April 2019 in Broward county, Florida, for auto theft, despite extending and paying for her vehicle from Hertz. Higgs, a nurse, ended up spending 37 days in jail and says that she lost her job, missed her nursing school graduation and also suffered a miscarriage while incarcerated.

    “Sitting in a cell, not knowing what’s next, and I’m telling them, like, ‘I have proof. I have the proof in my phone, it’s in my phone. All the evidence is in my phone,’” Higgs told WSVN.

    Similarly, Pennsylvania resident Kelly Grady was arrested in 2017 after Hertz falsely accused her of stealing an SUV in 2013. Grady subsequently spent 12 days in jail. “It was humiliating. It was scary. It was horrible. It was degrading. I was sexually assaulted and gang beaten,” she told 6ABC.
    In another instance, customer Nicholas Wright rented a car from Hertz with his family while on vacation in Savannah, Georgia in October 2021 and was falsely accused of theft. According to a lawsuit, 30 minutes after renting the car, 10 police cars surrounded the vehicle and held Wright and his 13-year old daughter at gunpoint for auto theft. “He learned the car had been reported stolen before he rented it,” the lawsuit said.

    $168 million is no where near enough. They should have gotten the Alex Jones treatment. This at the end caught my eye:

    “It’s wrong primarily to the customer, who is a valid paying customer or has a business relationship. It’s wrong to the police, who were basically acting as strong arms for a private corporation. And it’s wrong to the taxpayers, who are basically having their funds diverted away from stopping crime or resolving issues in the community, by putting it towards a global corporation’s security and finding their own cars because they’re not doing it themselves,” Francis Malofiy, an attorney representing several customers in one of the many lawsuits against Hertz, told Atlanta Black Star.

    Same as it ever was.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I got my MRI yesterday (6:15 AM, first in, first out!). When we finally finished up (25 mins in the machine, with all that noise)(and a fan blowing cool air thru it! a nice touch that, first time I ever got it) the tech asked me if I wanted the pictures.

    Huh? Nobody ever offered me that before (the analyses of my last 2 colonoscopies came with full color pictures tho). So I said, “Sure.” full in the knowledge that I would never be able to interpret them. I have no idea what a tear looks like but it would be kind of cool to see my shoulder that way.

    And it was. It was interesting to see the insides of my shoulder in layers. A couple things I saw might be tears, or just as well might not. The sawbones will give me the lowdown on Monday.

  5. CSK says:


    I’m glad I’m out of it. Messrs. Joyner and Taylor, however…

    My colleagues and I spent a lot of time thinking up non-plagiarizable term paper topics.

  6. Kathy says:


    This has been a story on the aviation and travel blogs for years.

    If this happened once or twice, it would be a minor issue (though not for those arrested). As is, it happens a lot, and only with one car rental agency. At the minimum, Hertz is awfully negligent. For all we know, something even worse is happening.

    The law offers plenty of interventions when it comes to money and solvency. There should be something similar, akin to receivership, to straighten out morally bankrupt who harm their customers habitually.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    Has Beth disappeared? Didn’t see her yesterday.

  8. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Nope, she checked in; the catheter was removed. She says she’s feeling much better, though still experiencing some discomfort.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    I must have missed her.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    In the latest instalment of the Musk saga (the ArsTechnica devotees have been keeping up a good analysis), ol’ Elon is now supposedly trying to raise money by selling stock at Twitter for the same price he was finally forced to buy it at.

    This is so crazy I can’t help but think that this is a hoax. No one is that stupid….right? (Aside from the finances of the idea, someone at ArsTechnica also pointed out it would be a private stock being sold, which limits a helluva lot of the people you can sell to unless you want to get the SEC really mad at you. But am pretty sure Elon doesn’t care about blue-sky laws.)

  11. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    She says she’s “emotionally euphoric.”

  12. CSK says:
  13. Sleeping Dog says:


    I told you a long time ago to get fitted for the red dress and white bonnet. Avoid the rush. 🙂

  14. Erik says:

    @grumpy realist:

    No one is that stupid….right?

    The answer to this question will, now and forever, be “Trump trading card NFTs”

  15. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And everyone knows a social network loses half its value as soon as you drive it off the lot 😀

  16. Kathy says:


    The argument is ipso facto false, as contraceptives are not required for sex.

    Ban them, and teens barred by their parents from having sex at all will only wind up pregnant at higher rates.

  17. CSK says:


    I think a young daughter being pregnant out-of-wedlock would be a source of malicious satisfaction to these kinds of parents. Serves the little slut right! Force her to drop out of school and bear the child! Then after she’s suffered the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy, maybe she’ll learn to be a decent, God-fearing Christian!

  18. Kathy says:


    The point isn’t to keep teens from having sex (it’s not possible), but to catch them afterwards.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: While the judge, who was nominated to the bench by Trump in 2017, did not halt the program in his ruling, he allowed both slides to present their arguments for what should happen next.

    What should happen next? Deanda should have his parental rights terminated, his legal team should be disbarred and his daughter should get counseling to ameliorate and reverse the intense cult grooming she has been subjected to.

  20. CSK says:


    Yes, of course. That’s why I said it would make these kinds of parents happy.


    Forget it, Jake. It’s Texas.

  21. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Awwww you miss me. I’m here and feeling a lot better today. I had my first follow up appointment and made things awkward for the dr. Looks like everything is healing properly and it looks like I’m going to have a full range of sensation and function. I started dilating last night. That’s, um, intense. Very intense. Physically and emotionally.

    Now that the catheter is gone, the biggest issue seems to be that all my graft sites and wounds are all tight, swollen and itchy. It feels like my whole crotch region is made out of cheap hard plastic.

    Oh, and I’ve now switched from medical gauze to pads. Everywhere I walk (well, waddle) I feel like I’m riding a bicycle made of diapers.

  22. Beth says:


    Their argument is worse than that. They are building it out on the LGBT rights cases too. Their basic premise is that if the existence of something violates their religion (LGBT people existing, getting married, having sex, or say contraceptives), then anything that allows that thing to exist is a per se constitutional violation.

    For example, the fact the government, any government, allows gay people to be married, and being gay violates their religious beliefs, the government has therefore violated the constitution by allowing gay marriage.

    It’s basically a religious veto over everything. The U.S. will simply stop functioning as a country as this takes hold.

  23. Kathy says:


    Jews and Muslims ought to agitate for an end to the sale of pork, shrimp, and shellfish and Jainists and others against the sale of all meat.

    We could found a Church of Zero Population Growth and outlaw all marriage and pregnancy as well.

    It’s an odd situation. Their arguments begins with the absurdum and skips the reductio altogether.

  24. Kathy says:

    On local and personal news, evidence that King Manuel Andres is not the moron Benito is, government just passed an amendment to the federal labor law increasing the number of paid vacation days.

    Long story short, I should get 26 days next year, instead of 18. That’s not nearly a month off, it’s more than that. Only business days count as vacation. So if I leave on the first of a month and come back the 15th, I took ten days, not fourteen, as four of those days were non-business day weekends. For 26 days, assuming no holidays, it works out to five weeks and one day 🙂

    We have yet to hear from corporate, but odds are they won’t want us to take it all. But if we don’t, then we should still be paid for the time off we’re not taking. currently those who don’t use up all their vacation days can roll them over for the following year. But if you have 26 and are told to take 20, then you should get paid double for six random days of the year.

    I’ll still try to take them all. Though sometimes (often) work gets so heavy we come on weekends and stay alte, now and then there are stretches of up to a month were we do so little we spend most of the time browsing the web.

    We’ll see.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: Color me skeptical on the game changer issue re GPTChat. Any teachers who are asking for essays about the dominant themes in Moby Dick or the causes of the Ukrainian war in situations other than bluebook or other similar in-room essay tests after grade nine are bonkers to begin with. But the give away is his comment that the sample reads well but shows low knowledge. For me, if the student is providing the data that the answer contains, I’m not sure I care how it got written. Lots of us teach plug-in scaffolding techniques that are not so different from using an AI. They only work to the extent that the student has something to say. That’s what I was measuring.

  26. Gustopher says:


    It feels like my whole crotch region is made out of cheap hard plastic.

    Maybe you should have splurged for the upgrade and gotten rich Corinthian leather?

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Hey, the judge asked. If she didn’t want to know she should have kept her yap shut.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: The Pastafarians would insist that everyone eat noodles at every meal. I’m not sure what the Satanic Templetons would want.

  29. DrDaveT says:


    He goes on to explain how he figured out that it was AI, but doesn’t give away key red flags like how the AI consistently structures pieces.

    I can’t be the first person to have had the idea to train a neural net classifier to distinguish between human-generated and AI-generated text. The only question is whether it’s still just an academic result or you can download the app today. (I suppose it could also be the case that they’re still building the labeled training set you would need to train that model…)

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    The point isn’t to keep teens from having sex (it’s not possible), but to catch them afterwards.

    […sigh…] Nailed it. 🙁

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I am playing with ChatGPT

    why are schools providing litter boxes for students?

    It is not common for schools to provide litter boxes for students. Litter boxes are typically used for pets, such as cats, to use as a toilet, and it would not be appropriate or hygienic for schools to provide them for students to use.

    It is possible that you may have misunderstood the question or that there is some other context that you are not mentioning. If you have any further questions about this topic, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to help.

    why do people think that schools are providing litter boxes for students?

    I’m not sure why people might think that schools are providing litter boxes for students. It is not a common practice for schools to provide litter boxes for students, and there is no logical reason for them to do so.

    It is possible that there is a misunderstanding or a rumor circulating that has led some people to believe that schools are providing litter boxes for students. Without more information, it is difficult to say exactly where this idea might have come from.

    It’s important to be mindful of the information we consume and to verify the accuracy of information before sharing it with others. In this case, it seems that the idea that schools are providing litter boxes for students is not based in reality.

    So far, I am more impressed with ChatGPT than a significant chunk of America.

  32. Kathy says:

    I had a thought: what if Benito is off these days and not making a trump of himself in the usual manner, because he is suffering the effects of long COVID?

  33. CSK says:

    Well, he still manages to play golf daily.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: As a former freshman comp teacher, I’d like to have seen more development in the paragraphs. They’re a little perfunctory. I actually had the same problem with the GPTChat sample opening paragraph from the Atlantic article I read; I was wondering what the paper that followed was going to be about and what the writer’s thesis was. Even so, GPTChat writes, at the mechanical level at least, better than some of my students did, and the quality of thought was no more lacking than theirs either.

  35. JohnSF says:


    …train a neural net classifier to distinguish between human-generated and AI-generated text…

    Then an AI to fool that AI that can detect an AI.
    And iterate…

    “I for one welcome our new overlords.”
    “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: @Just nutha ignint cracker: As an additional thought, I used to teach my students a scaffold based on research that asserted that a well written essay paragraph will answer 4 questions:
    1) What is true and important (to the subject topic)?
    2) How, why, or under what circumstances is it true and important?
    3) How will the writer show that it is true and important?
    4) Why will the reader care?

    I would note that in your sample, each of the paragraphs provided answer only questions one and two (or maybe four, it’s difficult to know without more detail), so it’s unlikely that a student would find using GPTChat a game changer in my classes. Still, the samples provided are significantly better than some students I tutored over the years produced, even after my best efforts to help them. Maybe those students SHOULD use GPTChat, if only to get out of the class with a barely passing grade rather than subjecting another teacher to their…

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: @Just nutha ignint cracker: Nah. It’s to make those sluts pay for it.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And I still manage to wipe my ass every day. So?

  39. CSK says:



  40. CSK says:


    Golfing might be a tad more strenuous than wiping.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: a well written essay paragraph will answer 4 questions:
    1) What is true and important (to the subject topic)?
    2) How, why, or under what circumstances is it true and important?
    3) How will the writer show that it is true and important?
    4) Why will the reader care?

    All in the same paragraph??? Boy you are tough. All this time I thought one should dedicate a full paragraph to each aspect of the subject. 😉

    @CSK: I know, I was being facetious. Did you know that Sarcasm is my first language? It is, and sometimes it just bleeds over into all my other languages. Both of them.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: From what I hear, not the way trump does it.

  43. dazedandconfused says:


    On the subject of religion and absurdism

  44. CSK says:


    That reminds me of something my grandfather used to say: “I speak two languages: English and Profanity.”

  45. JohnSF says:

    LOL. Parallel lives
    An acquaintance of my father, former RAF Flight Sergeant :

    “But I speak profanity a fuck of a lot better.”

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    All this time I thought one should dedicate a full paragraph to each aspect of the subject.

    Believe it or not, in lower than 101 courses, the next lesson after the paragraph one was how to write a 5-paragraph essay using your opening paragraph. The lesson? Use each sentence, in order, to start the next paragraph as your “what is true and important.” So, yeah, you dedicate a full paragraph to each aspect of the subject opening paragraph. (I usually suggested that writers need to show two different examples of something being true and important, so paragraphs were usually 5 sentences long.)

  47. CSK says:


    Love it.

  48. Mister Bluster says:

    So Trump is predicting Doomsday if McCarthy doesn’t get to be Speaker.

    “I’m friendly with a lot of those people who are against Kevin. I think almost every one of them are very much inclined toward Trump, and me toward them. But I have to tell them, and I have told them, you’re playing a very dangerous game,” Trump said. “You could end up with some very bad situations. I use the Boehner to Paul Ryan example. You understand what I’m saying? It could be a doomsday scenario.”

    Doomsday for Republicans? Bring it on!

    (Isn’t speaking of oneself in the third person a symptom of poor mental health?)

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: @JohnSF: Profanity is my 2nd language. I was a union carpenter for a long long time.

    I once had to explain to somebody on the internet that it was just the way I speak. That it wasn’t intended to intimidate them, or insult them, or anything else. It was just the way I had been speaking for the past 35 years or so. If they found it all that insulting or scary, they should just pie me and we could go our separate ways. We (happily) had a meeting of the minds soon after that.

    People are funny.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Yeah, that’s what I remember. Not sure where it came from, but it must have been one of my english profs. (all 2 or 3 of them)

  51. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Well, it’s something that two-year-olds, professional athletes, and lunatics do, so yes.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Speaking of trump in any way other than ridiculing is a symptom of poor mental health.

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    So now twice in the last 10 minutes when I click on Saturdays Forum the mystery screen that appeared yesterday presents itself. This time long enough for me to read that it is something called “CleanTalk”. I can Google Cleantalk and there are several links. When I click on the link cleantalk(dot)org I get a message that the server is not responding.
    Apparently it is some sort of anti spam plug-in and is somehow associated with WordPress.
    I know that I have not installed any plug-ins. I have no idea what this is all about.

  54. Mister Bluster says:

    Mister Bluster is confused…

  55. JohnSF says:

    In England, the term was “industrial language”.
    Factory and construction workers with a rich vocabulary of obscenity.
    But heaven help you if you spoke like that in company of wives and mothers and sisters.

    Funny thing is, the one person I ever met who could out-swear uncle Geoff was an aunt of a country gentry girl.
    She’d casually come out with language that’d make a docker blush.
    The British aristocracy are notoriously potty-mouthed in private.
    The real trick is to combine utter obscenity and classical allusion. 😉

  56. DrDaveT says:


    The real trick is to combine utter obscenity and classical allusion.

    “You couldn’t find your woman’s Clytemnestra with a map and a guide, you felching smeggy prat.”