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. CSK says:

    Well, it’s Coronation Day. Do try to control your excitement.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Kentucky man with a long criminal record has been sentenced to a record-setting 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the US Capitol with his wife.

    Peter Schwartz’s prison sentence is the longest so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The judge who sentenced Schwartz on Friday also handed down the previous longest sentence – 10 years – to a retired New York police department officer who assaulted a police officer outside the Capitol on 6 January.

    Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months for Schwartz, a welder.
    Schwartz was armed with a wooden tire knocker when he and his then-wife, Shelly Stallings, joined other rioters in overwhelming a line of police officers on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, where he threw a folding chair at officers.

    “By throwing that chair, Schwartz directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the entire terrace,” prosecutor Jocelyn Bond wrote in a court filing.

    Schwartz, 49, also armed himself with a police-issued “super soaker” canister of pepper spray and sprayed it at retreating officers. Advancing to a tunnel entrance, Schwartz coordinated with two other rioters, Markus Maly and Jeffrey Brown, to spray an orange liquid toward officers clashing with the mob.
    Prosecutors said Schwartz has bragged about his participation in the riot, shown no remorse and claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated. He referred to the Capitol attack as the “opening of a war” in a Facebook post a day after the riot.

    Schwartz has raised more than $71,000 from an online campaign titled Patriot Pete Political Prisoner in DC. Prosecutors asked Mehta to order Schwartz to pay a fine equaling the amount raised by his campaign, arguing that he shouldn’t profit from participating in the riot.

    Schwartz was on probation when he joined the riot and his criminal record includes a “jaw-dropping” 38 prior convictions since 1991, “several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures”, Bond wrote.

    Just a peach of a guy, a true patriot.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I can hardly contain my excitement.

  4. Kathy says:

    I’m up too early again, but a bit pleased with myself.

    Rebooting the Chromecast worked, so I was able to watch the latest Air Crash Investigation.

    There’s a pattern in this show. First they show the moments leading to the accident, as seen from the cockpit, and sometimes from the cabin and from the perspective of air traffic control (including the control tower).

    But they omit much of what gets found in the investigation. Even when the cause is rather obvious or easy to determine, the omission makes it so one can’t see it at the start of an episode.

    This time it was Corporate Airlines flight 5966. A lot was omitted, but I managed anyway to determine two of three main factors. Namely: 1) the crew descended way too low* before seeing the runway, and 2) the pilot flying was looking out for the runway when he should have been watching his instruments.

    Omitted was that the crew structure broke down near the end, and why it did.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The best laid plans and all that: Super League game descends into chaos as raging bull chases players from field

    A Super League game in France has descended into chaos and near-tragedy when a raging bull broke free of its handler and charged down the Stade Gilbert Brutus field while players were warming up on the ground.

    Catalans Dragons players were going through their pre-game drills ahead of their home clash with reigning Super League champions St Helens when the bull broke loose of its handlers as it was being paraded around the field.

    The home team were wearing red warm up tops, giving the bull extra motivation.

    The bull had been on parade around the field with several mates to highlight the quality of beef in the Pyrénées-Orientales region of France when it channelled Greg Inglis to break free and thunder downfield, sending Dragons players leaping out of the way, vaulting the fence into the crowd to get away from the rampaging bovine.

    Video, tho a bit of a let down after that build up. All’s well that ends well.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:


    Yeah, that bull looked more “trotting up to players and trying to make new friends” then “raging”

  7. charon says:


    The home team were wearing red warm up tops, giving the bull extra motivation.

    Bulls are red-green colorblind, like most herbivores. This is why the coloration of tigers is actually good camoflage, the tigers’ coloration blends in with vegetation.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: I probably should have known that but always accepted the cape being red as indicative of incitement of the bull as opposed to for the crowds eyes.

  9. CSK says:


    I’m confident you can do it.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I fell down a critical race theo… I mean civil rights his… I mean Alabama history rabbit hole this AM. It all started with this article: Alabama violated civil rights with poor sanitation, Biden administration finds which, as I am wont to do, caused me to google earth Lowndes County. There, I clicked on the wiki link for Lowndes County, and whoa… What is all this? I first recognized the name Ruby Sales but for the life of me I could not place her. And down the rabbit hole I went. I came up for air every now and again but it was well over an hour before my curiosity was sated.

    Yeah. I’m pretty sure the AL GOP won’t allow the little children to learn any of that.

  11. Stormy Dragon says:


    I believe the cape is more about the motion than the specific color and is about misdirecting the bull about where the center of mass for the thing it is attacking is so the it charges a point a couple feet to the side of the matador instead of head on.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Which isn’t to say it wasn’t something to run away from as a playful bull can be just as dangerous as an attacking bull simply due to size, I’m just saying it didn’t look like it possessed the murderous intent the textual description seemed to imply.

  13. Kingdaddy says:

    Catholic group spent millions on app data that tracked gay priests
A group of philanthropists poured money into a Denver nonprofit that obtained dating and hookup app data and shared it with bishops around the country, a Post investigation has found

  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My favorite part of that video comes right at the end, where the bull trots back to its handlers and one, a woman, grabs his lead and then glares at him in classic mom fashion. “You’ve been a naughty boy!” and the bull slows down and stops.

    But perhaps he’s thinking, “Yeah, but that was fun!”

    I don’t think he had a lot of intent to harm those humans, but that he did think it was fun watching them scatter. My sister’s horse liked to do that with, ahem, me. She would chase me around the corral as an amusement. (I was maybe 10 years old). She never hurt me at all.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Kingdaddy: Those “philanthropists” are another argument for a ninety percent top income tax rate. Or maybe ninety-nine percent. Rich “philanthropists” too often make a hobby of rat fracking the country.

    In their concern for protecting the sanctity of the priesthood I see nothing about pedophiles. I fear once Roman Catholicism decided on priestly celibacy it was inevitable a lot of craziness would follow. But mostly this is a warning about big data.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a theory. As AI generates ever more fake news and increasingly floods social media with nonsense, the only safe harbors will be old-school media heavyweights: the NYT, WaPo, AP, Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg and a few others. The reliability of social media will drop even further (sub-basement?) and be ceded to the freaks and weirdos and people like Republicans who love to dine on lies. We’ll get an even clearer IQ/education gap in politics. The GOP is already moving downmarket, that may accelerate.

    Invest in old media. The hour of the Gatekeepers comes ’round again.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Notice in the video, at the point where the pull is returned to the handlers, there is another head of cattle, likely a cow. A past acquaintance bred horses, and when she needed to get her frequently uncooperative stallion in from the field, she’d parade an mare past, that got his attention.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I agree on the cape. In a previous life I worked on a Wyoming ranch. Bulls were nothing to fuck with but at the same time “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” In other words, just keep your eyes on ’em. Don’t do anything stupid.

    @Jay L Gischer: Yeah, so very anticlimactic. “Awww shucks, Ma…”

    @gVOR08: Back in the early ‘7os my father had a young man working under him at Monsanto. They were pretty close. He was as nice a guy as you’d ever want to meet. Always laughing. Had a beautiful fiancee, was going places at Monsanto, a very bright future to say the least.

    Then one day he broke up with his fiance quit Monsanto and joined a seminary. Became a priest, ended up at the Vatican. Looking back, it’s obvious he was gay. I can not say for certain but I think he was hopeful that immersing himself in the church would ward off his “sinful urges.” I rather suspect that is a common motive for joining the priesthood for those of such… unsavory predilections.* I doubt it ever gives them any real absolution.

    It’s rare, but he comes to mind from time to time (like now, when your comment reminded me of him), and I hope he made peace with himself in one form or another. He certainly deserved it.

    *remembering that back then homosexuality was very much an “unsavory predilection”.

  19. steve says:

    When I was little I was worried about collecting eggs since I thought the mama chickens would attack me for stealing their babies. I got over that. Got comfortable slopping the pigs. Milking the cows was no big deal. There was a horse that was a real biter when you tried to saddle it. Some bulls were stubborn but not that big of a deal. However, our one neighbor had a bull that radiated mean so we all stayed away, even my uncles who I thought were fearless.


  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As AI generates ever more fake news and increasingly floods social media with nonsense, the only safe harbors will be old-school media heavyweights: the NYT, WaPo, AP, Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg and a few others.

    Dead on. Couldn’t agree more.

  21. Mikey says:

    A January 6 insurrectionist has been ID’d by her ex-boyfriend after he saw her picture in a Tweet from the FBI Washington Field Office. The reason he’s her ex will probably not surprise anyone.

    Jan. 6 rioter in pink beret identified after ex spotted her in a viral FBI tweet

    WASHINGTON — The breakthrough in the FBI investigation started inside a Joann Fabric and Crafts store. Last weekend, a clothing designer was standing in the checkout line waiting to purchase a needle for his sewing machine when his buddy saw something funny on his phone.

    It was a tweet from the FBI’s Washington Field Office featuring two striking images of the 537th person added to the bureau’s U.S. Capitol Violence webpage, which has functioned as a “most wanted” list of Jan. 6 participants since the investigation began more than two years ago.

    No. 537 on the FBI list is a woman wearing a white coat and black gloves, carrying a black Dolce & Gabbana purse, who has been the subject of Jan. 6 conspiracy theories. In one image, with her eyebrow arched, she looks dead at the camera like she’s Jim from “The Office.” In another, she’s standing near the Capitol, appearing to direct rioters with a stick.

    Atop her head: a pink beret.

    “I stopped dead in my tracks,” the designer, who asked not to be named to avoid harassment and threats, recalled in an interview with NBC News. “I’m like, ‘That’s Jenny.’”

    As to why he broke up with her…

    “I was just instantly turned off, like, ‘Yo, I don’t think this is going to work out,’” he said. “You’re, like, reading ‘Mein Kampf,’ you think immigrants don’t deserve X, Y, Z.” (One of the social media accounts linked to Vargas, which was viewed by NBC News, also makes references to Hitler.)

    Like I said, probably no surprise there.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Not my circus, not my clown car.

  23. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Michael Reynolds:
    Also, and a little fixation of mine at work (to the annoyance of some colleagues), the importance of curated information databases and certified publishers.
    Blockchain and similar tech may finally actually find a useful role, not in crypto-currency scams, but in validating information “purity” from trusted sources.

    Also, thought just occurred: I wonder what extra safeguards Wikipedia may need to put in place to guard against info-taint?

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    My thoughts went to Wikipedia, but not to blockchain. Interesting.

  25. gVOR08 says:


    *remembering that back then homosexuality was very much an “unsavory predilection”.

    Erik KLoomis at LGM happens to have a post this morning on the “Lavender Scare” of the 50s.

    At first the State Department denied harboring any communists, but later admitted to firing 91 “homosexuals.” This admission seemed to confirm McCarthy’s charges about “sex perverts” and “lavender lads” in high government positions. Mail poured in to the Capitol thanking McCarthy for exposing “sex depravity” in Washington. Journalists given a peek at the 25,000 letters concluded that the vast majority of writers were alarmed more by the presence of gay men and lesbians than communists. All this set off a moral panic we now call “the lavender scare.”

    He mentions that homosexuals were regarded as a security risk because they could be blackmailed into betraying secrets. Like many conservative panics, apparently no one ever came up with an example of that actually happening.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The problems exist now, but at a lesser scale — AI won’t be creating fake news stories for no purpose, it will be directed by people with an agenda. So, Fox, which tells certain people what they want to believe and which those people choose over reality. Or NewsMax, for people who want a stronger hit.

    AI will make the production of crap faster and cheaper, so there will be more of it, but I think we’re already at a point where enough information is misinformation that the problems of people choosing their own reality are already there.

    The AI will also be used to disrupt organizing on the left. Flood the zone with shit, so they can’t talk among themselves, and make them isolated. We can see this in small scale on Twitter right now, with the promotion of replies by Twitter Blue freaks, crowding out things (albeit in an easily blockable manner)

    Presumably, lefties will deploy the same tactics to disrupt Nazis and other right wingers, and we will have AIs doing blocking, and eventually end up with people more firmly in their bubbles than now.

    Deep Fakes seem more troubling, and more of a game changer. When it is hard to determine if the raw evidence is real or not, it becomes much harder to dislodge people from their alternative facts, and makes other real facts harder to report. Are you going to believe that the DC mayor was found in a cheap motel smoking crack with prostitutes? It doesn’t pass the smell test, and if the video evidence is suspect…

    @JohnSF: Blockchain doesn’t really solve the trust problem for most people. Can I verify the provenance of data using a blockchain? Maybe, but can my brother? No.

    People are going to have to trust other people when they say that they have verified the blockchain, and this footage is real, unmodified footage from whatever known source. And, so much information initially comes from random sources — most of the police-kill-a-black-dude footage, for instance, comes from someone’s cell phone.

    Modifying the footage to make the black dude more threatening is just going to happen. Do you trust the liberal socialist Cuck ABC verified footage, or the Fox verified footage?

    importance of curated information databases and certified publishers.

    I was thinking the other day that the current data sets used to train AI models, scraped from the internet as they are, are likely to be the most pure raw datasets going forward. Every new dataset is going to have a lot of AI generated crap in them, which will have to be identified and filtered out (a very error ridden process) to try to avoid training AI models on the output of AI models.

    Most of the crap will be mildly innocuous — SEO link farms on how to clean the filter in your air conditioner, or whatever, churned out to try to grab ad revenue* — but it’s still going to screw everything up.

    *: a problem Google has had for years is getting that shit out of their search results. They’ve been losing. AI generated shit will be more common than the current stolen content or badly written text.

  27. JohnSF says:

    Trust your librarian. 😉

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: He mentions that homosexuals were regarded as a security risk because they could be blackmailed into betraying secrets.

    Yep, and Republicans would love to return us to those days, it’s not like a gay person ever made a contribution to national security or anything.

  29. Sleeping Dog says:


    I grew up in the Catholic church, by high school most of us knew that, not an insignificant number of priests were gay or we at least suspected as much. In truth, for a lot of serious young Catholics that knew they were gay, joining a religious order provided away of living up to the teaching of the church that you belonged to and dealing, or not dealing with your sexuality. But the flesh is weak and celibacy is not all that it cracked up to be.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: It’s funny, I’ve known several librarians, became good friends with a couple. I have always thought librarians are really cool people.

  31. Michael Reynolds says:


    Deep Fakes seem more troubling, and more of a game changer. When it is hard to determine if the raw evidence is real or not, it becomes much harder to dislodge people from their alternative facts, and makes other real facts harder to report.

    I have very little knowledge of blockchain (comic understatement) but I look for some reassurance to military advances. Create a fighter jet and anti-aircraft missiles follow. Build a boat someone else builds a torpedo. Or disease. Syphilis? Penicillin. Covid? Moderna. There are always countermeasures, some successful, others less so. But I don’t see this as an insoluble problem. If nothing else it may be AI that ends up showing us how to defeat AI.

    BTW, I’ve long believed that anonymity on the web, while good in cases of persecuted people, was nevertheless, on balance, a bad thing.

    As for targeted lies meant to manipulate people, religion’s been doing that for millennia. People have died over the question of whether wine is blood or just a symbol of blood. People are often idiots. I’m not dismissing the danger, but I don’t think it’s the end of civilization.

  32. JohnSF says:

    I did have a link to study of the utility of google search to actually return what was required, and how enormously it has degraded due it’s effin’ second guessing and “newsy” ranking.
    Lost said link, but the drop-off is HUGE.
    Try searching for anything that’s recently newsworthy for original material; it’s almost impossible unless you use advanced search and cut out the most recent material.
    In some ways Bing or Duck-Duck are better, but also have odd failures to map known sources.

    And then there’s the ongoing collapse of institutional apparent capability to maintain logical websites, and proper archives: “Who cares how we structure it, Googling will work!” aargh! 🙁

  33. JohnSF says:

    “We are my dear, we are.”.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yep, it’s a pathway to failure. But if you are a committed Catholic, you believe all the church’s bullshit about prayer being the answer. I learned in the 5th Grade that prayer was no answer to Sister K. I finally decided god wasn’t listening any more than anybody else in the school and nothing since has altered that pov in the slightest.

  35. JohnSF says:


    Blockchain doesn’t really solve the trust problem for most people.

    Personally, still lobbying for pacts of fidelity on penalty of one’s immortal soul, signed in blood and enforced by the demon Paimon.

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Nuclear weapons — no effective countermeasure. Not that I want to be a doomer, but just because many things have a solution doesn’t mean we cannot create a problem without one.

    The big problems aren’t going to be AI, they’re going to be people. The AI will just increase the scale and decrease the cost.

    I think foreign bad actors* have discovered that the weakness of democracies is the people, and that the people can be misled and misinformed. The US, UK and much of Europe are under attack and the right in all those places are shifting hard right.

    I’m of two minds on anonymity on the internet. On the one hand it promotes terrible behavior, but on the other hand I see lots of people being terrible under their own name. I think there are ways to split the difference, with some verified spaces and some anonymous spaces, so persecuted people can still communicate, but I would worry about the boundaries, and making the anonymous spaces so reviled that accessing them is a red flag — if you are on Tor, for instance, you’re probably buying drugs or a child sexual assault materials, or maybe an Iranian dissident. At that point, accessing the anonymous space is a big red flag.

    My own anonymity online is paper thin. Mostly I want to make it hard for a few determined but stupid people to follow me from place to place being an asshole (do you want my brother to show up here?).

    On the subject of religion — I kind of think that American spirituality has fractured and floundered, and that crazy ass shit like Q and Trumpism has taken the place of religion for a lot of people. Religion, for all of its many flaws, points people towards a common, usually less vile, shared delusion that organizes the universe and provides a sense of community and purpose.

    A lot of people have a religion shaped-hole that needs to be filled. Those who don’t (you and me, in all likelihood) are freaks.

    *: the foreign part isn’t necessary, but aside from the Russians and Chinese, we also have Rupert Murdoch.

  37. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF: I think Google is getting a little ahead of itself, trying to make itself the trusted authority knowing that the websites it is indexing aren’t.

    There’s also stickiness, keeping people exposed to ads, etc., but the key goal is to remain good enough that people don’t switch to another search engine. And for most people, for most searches, Google parsing the data and telling you that Helen Mirren became an American citizen in 2017 is good enough, and you didn’t need to go to some other web page that then put up a dick bar about cookies or whatever and asks if you want notifications (in case Helen Mirren becomes a citizen of some other country?)

    But there are lots of searches it doesn’t do well enough on. Basically, everything important (not that Helen Mirren is not important…)

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnSF: Here’s one (of the many things) I can’t get past with blockchain. Let’s say we get people educated to only trust blockchain sites. How does the average, non-technical person differentiate between a web site that says “Block Chain Verified!” and an actual blockchain trail?

  39. JohnSF says:

    With great difficulty. 😉
    To be serious-ish for a minute, I think this is going to become one of the key issues of the next decades.
    I suspect government validation certificates may become the key.
    But perhaps that’s just statist Eurocentric me.
    (blows raspberry at American libertarians)
    Enforced by sending SAS hit-squads after those who try to fake authenticity?
    (joking/not joking)

  40. JohnSF says:

    My point is, this may be getting way beyond what we may expect market forces and popular choice to effectively control, in relation to the massive potential societal downsides.
    As the radical liberals discovered in the Victorian era, there’s a point when laissez faire just don’t get it done.
    But then, 0f course, you have to think about what your goals and constraints are.
    Are current government systems suited to this?

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    Dateline: Allen, Texas
    No corpse count yet.

    Texas Rep. Keith Self said his prayers are with victims, their families and law enforcement officers who are investigating the shooting in Allen, Texas,…
    When asked to respond to critics who say prayers aren’t enough to prevent shootings, he told CNN: “Well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty God who is absolutely in control of our lives. I’m a Christian. I believe that he is.”

    Clearly this can only mean that God was in control of the killer and that God allowed the killer to murder citizens.

  42. Michael Reynolds says:


    A lot of people have a religion shaped-hole that needs to be filled. Those who don’t (you and me, in all likelihood) are freaks.

    The question is whether the hole is natural or it’s implanted. If implanted can the hole be repaired? Then, should it be? Is it a net positive or a net negative? For the individual and for society as a hole?

    The Japanese seem to do well enough without a god as we would define it. Spirituality, sure, even religion, but no god and I believe, no hope of a real afterlife.

    In the AI world, would not a competitive AI be used to minimize damage by other AI’s? Can we engineer a sort of balance of power?

    As it happens I’ve written a feature script I’m calling DRIVERLESS, although CAR-NAGE works too. Near future, AVs (Autonomous Vehicles) are appearing in numbers from two companies, each run by AI. DOT decides it has to choose a winner and the decision may spell doom for one of the two. The losing AI isn’t having it and car-nage (heh) ensues. I see it as a full employment act for stunt drivers.

  43. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Have you read the Roger Zelazny story about killer cars and wild car herds?
    Can’t remember the title., but you may want to check it out.

  44. Mister Bluster says:

    Shopping Mall Slaughter
    Allen TX

    Eight killed. Shooter also killed by police.

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As AI generates ever more fake news and increasingly floods social media with nonsense, the only safe harbors will be old-school media heavyweights: the NYT, WaPo, AP, Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg and a few others.

    If you think those content producers are not already using LLMs and GAI to generate content, I would like to interest you in buying a very important and attractive bridge in NY…

  46. DrDaveT says:


    A lot of people have a religion shaped-hole that needs to be filled. Those who don’t (you and me, in all likelihood) are freaks.

    Sorry, there’s no escape. Evolution has guaranteed that we all have that religion-shaped hole that needs to be filled. If it isn’t filled by an actual religion, it will be veganism or skepticism or Platonism or some other self-justifying axiomatic belief system. The exceptionally self-aware among us will at least admit what their unfalsifiable beliefs are.

  47. DrDaveT says:


    Have you read the Roger Zelazny story about killer cars and wild car herds? Can’t remember the title

    Are you thinking of “Auto-da-fé”, 1967, published in Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions? That’s not quite wild car herds…

  48. DrDaveT says:


    Well, it’s Coronation Day. Do try to control your excitement.

    As I said to a UK acquaintance, he’s the best King Charles that Britain has ever had. The bar is so very low…

  49. JohnSF says:

    Charles II was reasonably competent; managed to get the monarchy restored.
    And as he said to brother James:

    “I am sure no man in England will take away my life to make you King.”

  50. JohnSF says:

    Not that; “Devil Car”, in the collection “The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories”