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:

    Zodiac: cipher from California serial killer solved after 51 years

    It took 51 years and a team of experts from three countries to crack the code to a cipher left by the still unidentified Zodiac Killer, who haunted northern California communities in the 1960s and 70s. But, on Friday, the code-breaker David Oranchak revealed for the first time, the ominous message sent by the murderer.

    “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me,” the message, sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in November 1969 in a series of symbols, reads. “I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me.”

    The FBI confirmed that the news of the cracked code is the real deal, but said it does little to help investigators in the decades-long search for the serial killer.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    America’s longest-serving marijuana prisoner freed after 31 years

    A man believed to be the longest-serving inmate for non-violent, marijuana charges has been released from a Florida prison, and is set to spend the holidays with family for the first time in more than 31 years. Richard DeLisi walked out of a correctional facility in Palm Beach county this week “grateful to everyone who [had] been there” and expressing appreciation for supporters and criminal justice reform advocates who say the now 71-year-old’s release was long overdue.
    Along with his older brother, DeLisi was sentenced to a 90-year prison term in 1989 after being convicted trafficking more than 100lb of marijuana from Colombia – as well as conspiracy and racketeering charges. Both brothers received three, consecutive 30-year convictions, which well exceeded judicial guidelines for recommended sentences at the time. Criminal justice experts pointed to the sentence as part of the lingering “war on drugs” that saw incarceration rates rise sharply for low-level drug offenders in the 1980s and 90s.

    While his brother eventually appealed and was released from prison in 2013, DeLisi’s appeal was rejected. He left prison this week ahead of a scheduled June 2022 release.

    In a statement, DeLisi said it felt “amazingly wonderful to know that [he] will be home with family and loved ones very soon”. Those family members won’t include his wife, parents and son, however. They all died in the 31 years since DeLisi’s sentencing.

  3. sam says:
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Headline of the day? Police investigate suspected voyeur over fake nude gameshow

    Police are appealing for information as part of an investigation into a fake nude gameshow.

    A 28-year-old man reported that he had been approached by a man claiming to be in the entertainment industry. The suspect asked the man to take part in a game show for the chance to win £5,000, the Metropolitan police said. The man was asked to go to a hotel in Newham, east London, to take part in several filmed nude “challenges” as part of the show. The suspect then kept the footage, believed to be for his own gratification, police said.

    A 31-year-old man also reported to police in February 2020 that the suspect had coerced him into going to a hotel in south-east London to take part in similar activities in August 2013.

    The Metropolitan police said a 29-year-old man had been arrested on 30 January last year on suspicion of voyeurism and released under investigation.

    Sgt James Mason, of the Met’s north-east basic command unit, said: “We believe there may be more victims in relation to these events.

  5. de stijl says:


    I saw that yesterday. I wished they described the methodology a bit more. Obviously it wasn’t simple letter substitution or else they would have solved it in a few days.

    The message was creepy as hell.

    Zodiac by Fincher is a really interesting movie. John Carrol Lynch needs to work more. That guy is good.

  6. Moosebreath says:

    “Judge Christopher Murray ruled Monday that discrimination against people on the basis of their gender identity was unlawful, but he concurrently ruled that a refusal, on religious freedom grounds, to serve customers based on their sexual orientation was permissible.
    The lawsuits came after two companies barred serving a same-sex couple and a transgender individual “on religious grounds,” the opinion states. One of the two businesses is an event center, while the other is a business specializing in permanent hair removal for women, according to state licensing records.” cite

    I am sure Rod Dreher will tell us this is why religious freedom is so critical.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: We own that movie, it’s a good one. I probably watch it once or twice a year.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: I’m sure Rod would be the first to defend my religious right to burn down businesses that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

  9. Mikey says:

    Trump Just Broke Through the Last Level of Neo-Fascism

    What do I mean by neo-fascism? It’s a fairly obvious set of criteria. Here are five essential ones, though there are others: blind loyalty to a leader who’s really more of a national father figure; belief that the leader is the state; belief that opposition to the leader is opposition to the state, and thus treason; conviction (instilled or ignited by the leader) that the source of the problems facing the good wholesome ethnic majority is some Other or collection of Others who must be ostracized if not banished; agreement that the rules and constraints of democratic order are sometimes useful and should be obeyed as long as one can obey them and win, because doing so confers a certain legitimacy, but if they have to be cast aside to hold power, then cast aside they must be. These principles animate every fascist regime in human history. They are at the heart of Trumpism, and they have drawn many more adherents than I’d have thought possible in this country.

  10. CSK says:

    I know little about the Zodiac case, but I have wondered why the killings stopped. Usually it’s because the murderer either died or was imprisoned for something else.

  11. de stijl says:


    They often age out of the active phase.

  12. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Some do; some don’t. The compulsion is very, very strong.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: As best I can tell, the Golden State Killer murdered his last victim in 1986, tho he did call at least 2 previous rape victims to terrorize them further as late as 2001. He was finally arrested in 2018.

    Who knows why some go quiet.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: The BTK Strangler is another who went quiet for awhile, his last victim killed in ’91.

    By 2004, the investigation of the BTK Killer was considered a cold case. Then, Rader initiated a series of 11 communications to the local media. This blunder led directly to his arrest in February 2005.

    Like a lot of sociopaths, these guys have great big egos.

  15. CSK says:

    Indeed. For all we know about them, it’s not enough. Years ago I had studied them for something I was writing.

    In some cases, I think, serial killers who appear to have gone quiet have committed murders that haven’t been detected. Transients and runaways who seem to vanish are possible victims.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: My oldest lives across the street form the brother of the South Side Rapist. He’s a nice guy, a good neighbor, a good plumber. The SSR’s case is fascinating. For his first 20 years the cops had no idea that one man was responsible for so much carnage.

  17. Mikey says:

    @de stijl:

    I wished they described the methodology a bit more.

    I got you, buddy. Here’s the codebreaker himself describing how he and his associates did it.

    Let’s Crack Zodiac – Episode 5 – The 340 Is Solved!

  18. de stijl says:


    A lot of us in the age range of 20 – 30 or so see a text “Yo, man! We at CC Club. Come join us” and you leap.

    You hit your mid 30s and you decline the offer. It’s a weekday and I have to get up at 6:30 AM. Nah, man. Gotta pass on this. Hit me on Friday night tho.

    For 0.00001 percent of the population it plays out like should I murder a prostitute tonight or should I stay home? After age 35 a lot of them just stay home. Pull out the trophy box and reminisce.

    Creepy as fuck. But adult obligations burden all of us.

    Many simply age out.

  19. de stijl says:


    Dude! That was super cool. Thank you!

  20. Teve says:

    @de stijl: look up the music video for Ingrid Michaelson’s song Time Machine. Lynch has a bit part. It’s a funny video.

  21. de stijl says:

    I re-watched Hannibal just the other night.

    Hoo, boy! That movie is crap. Well shot and the music was outstanding and Ridley Scott, but it is garbage.

    Liota had a ball playing his dude. Moore as Starling had a hard row to hoe. Impersonate Foster mimicking an up holler WV Appalachian style and tone and closed mouth lockjaw.

    Hopkins nails it of course. I love his improvs.

    I need to re-watch Silence Of The Lambs. American Girl. Jame Gumb is Det. Stottlemeyer on Monk – I love that guy and his voice.

  22. de stijl says:


    That was very cool, but John Carrol Lynch ain’t in it.

    Two guys look like him.

    One of the last episodes of The Walking Dead I remember actually enjoying was him and Lenny James sparring literally and figuratively.

    Working out how quasi-pacifism looks like in a Z apocalypse.

  23. Teve says:

    @de stijl: i was like 40 episodes into Monk when I found myself thinking, “the police chief’s voice sounds familiar….”

  24. Teve says:

    @de stijl: oh, you’re right, that was Brian Baumgartner. Mibad.

  25. CSK says:

    Trump is retweeting a call that he fire Barr by the end of today. He must be too gutless to do it himself.

  26. CSK says:

    This is absolutely pathetic. The Jericho (don’t ask) Marchers in D.C. are thrilled because–get ready–Trump flew over them today in Marine One on the way to his golf course!!!!!

  27. Teve says:

    Friend of mine is a retired scientist who signed up for Trump fundraising emails to to see who they were targeting, and how. Get a load of this one he just posted to FB:

    Are you going to increase your impact by 1000%?

    President Trump selected YOU as our Trump Patriot of the Week, but he noticed you have haven’t claimed Your exclusive offer yet.

    You’ve always been such a dedicated supporter so I pulled some strings and have been authorized to extend your 1000% offer.

    Your offer to extend your impact 1000% is available for two more hours, friend!

    Go to THIS LINK (etc etc)

    They’re targeting people with legit diminished capacity.

  28. de stijl says:


    That is Nigerian prince level of bs and click begging. If this were 1994, that was effective ad.

    I would dismiss it as piffle, but he is our President until Jan. 21 at noon.

    That strange man is going to sow chaos until the Sheriffs chase him off the property. And more after because he can.

  29. de stijl says:


    No worries.

  30. CSK says:

    Charley Pride has died of Covid-19. He was 86. RIP.

  31. Teve says:


    Holy shit. Congressman-elect Bob Good of Virginia starts speaking and immediately proclaims, “this looks like a group of people that gets it. This is a phony pandemic.”

  32. Teve says:


    The person representing Trump’s campaign in court just retweeted a call for Joe Biden & Kamala Harris to “confess their crimes on national TV” or be executed.

    The authoritarian radicalization of the Republican Party and the Republican base is the defining story of the Trump era.

    Sidney Powell did indeed do that

  33. Teve says:


    Jill Biden’s credential is Doctor
    And so an old essayist moctor;
    A man is aggrieved
    By what she’s achieved;
    This hasn’t, presumably, shoctor

  34. Teve says:


    Last week @AOC made a profoundly true observation about Republican members who make fun of her for having been a waitress. I think being a waitress is a qualification for being in the Congress. We would have a much better Congress if it was comprised of more people who actually 1
    Worked at some point in their lives. I know for me that working hard jobs for tree trimming and landscape companies and digging holes for a pool company shaped my work ethic and fundamental values. The point she made was that the people making fun of her couldn’t get through 2.
    A shift and she is entirely correct. Many people have asked me about minimum wage increases. I support them. I think they are reasonable and the reality is that when people have to get government assistance to make it when they are working full time it means that we are 3.
    Subsidizing the employer and I am against corporate welfare. 40 percent of the country doesn’t have $400 cash available. That reality is destabilizing our democracy and is fundamental to understanding how a grifter like Trump succeeded politically. I turned 50 years old this year

    and as I think about the near 30 years I’ve been in Politics one of the things that stands out is the staleness of the political debate. The world has changed but the debate hasn’t. No problems are getting solved and the problems we have are getting worse. Here is a problem I 5/
    think is acute and my view of these issues has changed a great deal over the last ten years. I believe we have too much wealth and too much power accumulated in to few places. We have a crisis of big in America. Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Media, Big everything. Big everything 6/
    Isn’t working for the overwhelming majority of people in this country. There are tens of millions of people who can’t open bank accounts and are life time prey for predatory lenders. Some people have said I was condescending to a congresswoman 7/
    It was not my intention. Here is what I was trying to say. You don’t know a person through a twitter account and we live in a time where our democracy is facing a grave internal threat the likes of which we have never seen before. I will never stop saying the 8/
    Following so long as I have a platform to say it. It is extremely important that people who have big disagreements within the Democracy coalition approach and work with each other through a prism of good will. Here is the difference between the pro-democracy coalition and Trump.
    The Trump coalition accommodates no dissent and it has no real debates. It’s about Trump. He is an authoritarian. The Pro-Democracy side is messy and there are a million opinions and convictions. This coalition cannot fail. We will lose the country if it does. @ProjectLincoln 10/

    Will work within that coalition as a partner of good faith. We are proud of our many relationships and partnerships. Finally, a response about tipping. A lot of people rely on tips for their income and I am astonished by how many people are bad tippers. When I go out to eat I 11/
    Can make someone’s day or night. It’s not a big thing, in fact it’s a little thing. It’s a way of showing respect for hard work. I have been focused on the practice of gratitude and appreciating small things this year. I believe if you can do something to make someone’s day. Do
    it. It’s not just waiters and waitresses who rely on tips, It’s valet parking attendants, doormen, hotel staff etc. Before Covid I was traveling 300,000 miles a year and the reality of that life means a lot of tipping because you rely on people who work in the service industry.
    One of my core convictions in life is the following. There is worth and purpose in every life and everybody who works hard and plays by the rules no matter what they do for a living deserves respect. It’s one of my top 3 Dad speeches to my kids and I mean every word of it

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: When I go out to eat I 11/
    Can make someone’s day or night. It’s not a big thing, in fact it’s a little thing. It’s a way of showing respect for hard work.

    My wife and I have long made a point of tipping the people who make the trip out here to fix our stuff. I have an appliance guy who knows we appreciate him. We recently had a new roof put on our place and I gave every one of those hard working fucks a $20 dollar tip, bought them lunch or maybe a a couple six packs of beer. Whatever, I framed and hanged for 35 years, I know what hard work is and I’ll be dawgdamned if I don’t show appreciation for it.

  36. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: when I worked food service jobs I would occasionally get a $20 tip. Every. Single. Time. That $20 tip came from a customer who was a waitress. Because they know what’s up.

  37. Teve says:

    (This came up in a discussion about that new congressman elect who just said today that the pandemic was fake)


    Really don’t know how we’re supposed to function as a country when one of the two major political parties is made up of the dumbest, most dangerously stupid people on the planet.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    When I drove the Yellow Cab in Sleepytown 50 years ago one of my fares was a regular. I would take him to work most mornings and home at the end of his shift. He worked at the tie plant. A facility owned by Koppers where railroad ties were treated with creosote. A nasty job if there ever was one.
    All he carried with him was a brown paper bag sack lunch and a thermos full of coffee.
    The cabs were not metered, the town was divided into zones. Since he started and ended his trip in Zone 1 the fare was 60cents. When he gave me a dollar bill in the morning I always gave him the change and never expected a tip. I knew he needed the 40cents to put with the two dimes he had left in his pocket to pay for the ride home at night.

  39. Teve says:


    How to understand where we are now: America’s right has always included a paranoid, conspiracist fringe — people who believed that Eisenhower was a Communist agent. But now the crazies make up 64% of the GOP.

    politico: the John Birch society is back

  40. Dutchgirl says:

    Election based violence has arrived.

  41. Teve says:

    Amee Vanderpool

    In between bouts of heavy breathing and over-exertion from standing and speaking, Alex Jones makes an open threat to President-Elect Biden, telling the crowd at #MarchForTrump: “Joe Biden is a globalist, and Joe Biden will be removed, one way or another!”

    Put this asshole in jail.

  42. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    This summer I had to go to an appointment to get a melanoma cut off my cheekbone.

    It was literally across the street from Target so I decided to go in. Going to Target without a pre-planned list is generally a bad idea, but I was good and did not rashly over-buy.

    I had too much to lug home on foot so I called a cab.

    Turns out it was his first day on the job and I was his first ever fare. He was from Cameroon and was busy trying to convert kilometers to miles in his head while keeping a mental map of the city in active memory.

    It was a $6 and change ride. I gave him $30.

  43. de stijl says:


    Life is a karma test. Pass / fail.

  44. ernie1241 says:

    @Teve: The Birch Society underwent a major internal dispute after JBS founder Robert Welch died. By the mid-1990’s, their active membership was reduced to around 14,500. The usually grow when Dems control the Presidency but their actual impact is difficult to gauge because many people who are members do not acknowledge their status.