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:

    Biden taps oceanographer to lead climate agency weakened by Trump

    Joe Biden has tapped Rick Spinrad to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency at the vanguard of climate, weather and ocean science for the United States.

    The nomination marks the potential end to a rocky period in Noaa’s history, where the agency went years without a permanent leader while enduring scandal during the Trump administration.
    Noaa has an expansive role in protecting the US economy and environment, including providing weather forecasts, monitoring climate, managing fisheries and helping with marine commerce, according to the agency’s website. It oversees offices such as the National Weather Service and the National Ocean Service.

    Donald Trump, nominated businessman Barry Lee Myers to head the agency in 2017. But Myers later withdrew over health concerns after he went unconfirmed for more than two years.

    Trump then nominated Neil Jacobs, Noaa’s acting administrator, who similarly never received a Senate vote.

    Meanwhile, the agency came under fire in 2019, when it released a statement defending Trump’s inaccurate claims that a hurricane would seriously affect Alabama, undermining its own meteorologists who had tried to set the record straight.

    “Dr Spinrad is the perfect person to bolster the spirits of the Noaa workforce, align them around the critical work before us, and personally lead the way forward,” Eric Schwaab, senior vice-president for the ecosystems and oceans program at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “The women and men of Noaa – the scientists and resource managers, the ship captains and airplane pilots, the disaster response experts and weather forecasters – couldn’t ask for a better leader to restore scientific integrity and honor the agency’s mission.”

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    BBC, India in Covid crisis:

    ‘Day after day the staff works here, knowing full well that if their families get sick, even they will struggle to find medical care. There is helplessness and anger.’
    Report by @yogital

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Max Kennerly

    Fine, time for new public health messaging:

    COVID breaks your dick and balls and gives you low T.
    You need good endothelial function for an erection and you have ACE2 in your testis. COVID goes for those first. 6x higher ED. Hypogonadism.

    Get a prick for your dick.

    If that doesn’t bring them in, they deserve to go extinct.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In Jill Biden gives quiet lesson in juggling first lady role with outside job, I read this:

    This might partly explain why Jill has not elicited the same visceral backlash as the two women who came before her. She has avoided the kind of gaffes that would make her a lightning rod for rightwing criticism.

    Oh yes, Michelle Obama was a virtual gaffe machine:
    Advocating for healthy eating while black.
    Advocating for exercise while black.
    Gardening while black.
    Supporting service members while black.
    Advocating for higher education while black.
    Advocating for educating girls the world over.
    Taking family vacations while black.

    and worst of all, living in the White House while black.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Section of Trump Border Wall in South Texas Cost $27 Million a Mile. It’s Being Foiled by $5 Ladders.

    Every month for the past decade, Scott Nicol, a 51-year-old artist and activist, has set out from his home in McAllen to roam the Rio Grande Valley in search of ladders used to scale the border wall in South Texas. On a cool and overcast day in early April, Nicol has centered his hunt on an eight-mile stretch of border between the towns of Hidalgo and Granjeno, where an Obama-era wall meets up with a newly constructed piece of Trump’s wall.

    The first stop of the day brings him to a dirt field behind a flea market in Hidalgo. A pair of green and white Border Patrol SUVs are parked atop the eighteen-foot-high concrete levee wall, next to a section of bollard-style fence with a closed gate, their noses pointed toward the Rio Grande. Within minutes, Nicol has spotted a ladder roughly halfway up the levee; it’s about a dozen feet long and has only six rungs. “It’s made of cheap, rough wood, quickly nailed together because it is only going to be used once,” Nicol says. “Unlike the wall, these ladders are functional.”

    Just a few minutes later, as Nicol is inspecting the ladder, a group of about thirty disheveled migrants emerge from the brush after crossing the river into Texas from Mexico. Young men and women toting small children in their arms walk to the agents, who jot down their information as the new arrivals place their meager belongings into plastic bags. These migrants are not sneaking in; rather, they are seeking out U.S. Border Patrol in this intensely patrolled area. A half hour passes before the agents open the gate and escort the group of migrants through it single file. They shuffle down the levee wall and onto a waiting bus bound for a processing center where they will request asylum. It’s early yet, a border agent tells me, and the groups will only grow larger into the evening. As for the ladder? “That’s from our regulars,” one agent quips over his shoulder.

    Nicol, an ardent opponent of border walls, can’t help but note the irony: asylum seekers turn themselves over to agents who then escort them through gates in the wall, while so-called regulars—unauthorized migrants—make use of rudimentary ladders to easily climb a barrier specifically designed to keep them out. “These ladders are probably $5 worth of hardware,” Nicol said, “and they’re defeating a wall that cost $12 million a mile in that location.”

  6. CSK says:

    Didn’t Rick Perry say something to the effect that a 30-foot ladder would surmount a 20-foot wall?

  7. Kathy says:


    You beat me to it.

    Walls were a big deal through much of history. since ancient times, cities had walls around them to keep invaders out. Regional walls, to impede invaders over a large area, were sometimes built, like the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall in England.

    The latter were more a series of forts along a wall. They could keep armies out, because an army can’t just climb over a wall. armies carry a lot of gear, including weapons, tools, horses, food, tents, etc. Besides, the forts built along the length of the wall meant any intruders would not simply find a physical barrier, but armed resistance as well.

    Consider the infamous Berlin Wall included amenities like minefields, guard towers, snipers, and razor wire, and it was patrolled by soldiers 24/7.

    That’s what it takes to keep individuals out (rather keeping individuals in for Berlin). Doing that along a huge border is possible, but would cost massive amounts of money, and any country that did it would end up a pariah.

    I think the Orange Ass and his followers had something more magical in mind, like the “topless walls of Troy.” These were built by Poseidon and Apollo, and couldn’t be breached by any enemies of Troy. How? Magic. The walls were built by gods.

    Also, the deities were stiffed on payment by the then king of Troy, Laomedon. So it totally fits the trumpy model.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A handsome, golden-colored therapy bunny named Alex came to the ballpark and stole the hearts of San Francisco Giants fans Thursday night, attending the series opener against Miami with owners Kei Kato and Josh Row.

    Sporting a dark bow tie with orange crabs to represent the Giants’ colors, four-and-a-half-month-old Alex earned some major screen time in the early innings – because it’s just not every day you see a rabbit at a baseball game.

    The bunny in the stands is believed to be a first in the 22-year history of Oracle Park, according to Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter.

    “Never. Crazy. … If we win tonight, she (Kato) has to come back tomorrow,” Slaughter said via text message, noting Alex became an instant Twitter sensation.
    Alex has hopped along with the Warriors dance team at its practice outside nearby Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district. Kato and her fiancee, Row, plan to bring him to see Stephen Curry and Golden State soon enough. Fans return for the Warriors’ home game Friday night against the Nuggets.

    “The bunny is welcome! If he’s fast, we’ll put him in the game to run the fast break!!” Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder said.

    The bunny has attended a Nascar event and is even an ambassador for Lions Clubs International. Alex helped hand out 400 Easter eggs to children, brings smiles and loves to play, even giving kisses on command. He entertains the masses at farmers’ markets, has been tubing at Lake Tahoe and kayaking.

    That rabbit’s dynamite.

  9. The pause on the Johnson &;Johnson vaccine is over. It will be administered again with a warning stating of the infinitesimal possibility of blood clots in women under 65

  10. Alabama joins other right wing as Governor signs bill barring transgender girls from participating in girls sports

  11. Sleeping Dog says:


    Trump’s wall is as effective as the Maginot Line.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    MIT researchers say you’re no safer from Covid indoors at 6 feet or 60 feet in new study challenging social distancing policies

    “We argue there really isn’t much of a benefit to the 6-foot rule, especially when people are wearing masks,” Bazant said in an interview. “It really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room so you’re more exposed to the average background than you are to a person at a distance.”

    Funny, isn’t it, that having a years worth of data brings a different perspective on what is and isn’t effective. Of course the six foot guideline is also intended to mitigate potential transmission of having an infected person breathe on another.

  13. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Further good news is that the clotting can be treated successfully if the condition is detected quickly.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: When the pause was started last week a lot of people said the FDA should somehow overrule its protocols and tell everyone to keep using it. I pointed out that they were following best practice and were soliciting more reporting and reexamination of cases. And it turns out they found significantly more incidents. Rather than one in a million, their have been 7 cases reported for every million doses. Still very unlikely, but can you imagine if they had put out a press release saying the odds are one in a million and then a week later it was reported, “7 Times More Likely Than Initial Estimates!”?

    They also had time to prepare standard of care advice for when this does occur. In my opinion they handled this exactly as they should have.

  15. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As bad as that is, they aren’t blocking them from receiving hormone blockers or other medical treatment like the State of Arkansas has.

  16. Trump has a long history of not paying his bills. Now Albuquerque is sending him to a collection agency

  17. CSK says:

    Trump is moving to Bedminster for the summer to escape the heat and humidity of south Florida and also to be closer to the 2024 campaign action.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:
  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Trump’s wall is as effective as the Maginot Line.

    Less effective. The Germans had to go around the Maginot line.

  20. Teve says:

    Just got off the phone with my idiot mom. “I’m not getting the vaccine because Covid’s got a 99.4% survival rate and anyway the vaccine causes blood clots”

    I might be getting that inheritance early.

  21. Sleeping Dog says:



  22. Barry says:

    @Teve: “I might be getting that inheritance early.”

    Or she ends up badly f*cked up in a nursing home for a few decades.

  23. CSK says:

    It’s only the J&J, and it’s only in women under sixty-five, which I assume she isn’t.

    Yeah, yeah; I know.

  24. Biden to recognize Armenian Genocide. The first American President to do so.

    Good. We’ve been pandering to the Turks for far too long

  25. Mister Bluster says:

    @Doug Mataconis:..We’ve been pandering to the Turks for far too long.

    I am way behind on U.S.-Turkish relations. Do we have any meaningful military bases there or were they all removed as a result of the Cuban Missle Crisis?

  26. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    For some reason, these two items got me thinking about deadbeats and broken limbs.

  27. @Mister Bluster:

    We have two major NATO bases there

  28. CSK says:

    I can see why.

    Beyond that, it seems that Trump schleps off to Bedminster every summer, and Mar-a-Lago shuts down for the season. New Jersey can get pretty hot and humid, so it’s not as if he’s relocating to the Maine coast.

    The interesting part of the article that I read was that it was “unclear” if Melania and Barron would be joining Trump.

  29. @Jay L Gischer: I believe such a bill is pending in the state legislature. I am not sure what its chances are, but I fear they are pretty high.

  30. Gustopher says:

    In the other thread, I wrote: “we can exploit out lower classes less.”

    This reminds me of a fun story. I used to work for a company that provided free food, including a lovely breakfast. It was nice.

    The company and the caterers wanted to make it nicer, and were soliciting opinions to see what employees values. The employees, being very liberal, were more interested in cruelty-free animal products than fancier deserts or a panini station or whatever. Totally reasonable, you get to a certain level of comfort, and the incremental benefit of a panini station is not much.

    But, they ran the numbers and to switch to cage-free, free-range, organic, happy chicken eggs would take 5 times the allocated increase in the budget. Everyone was sad.

    I then suggested 20% cruelty-free eggs. One in five eggs would be cruelty-free, and no one would know which. They could put up signs proclaiming the omelets are now 20% less cruel.

    No one liked that idea. It spawned a massive flame war on our internal mailing lists between the overly logical and those who just didn’t want to think about animal cruelty on a regular basis.

    It was great. It was a near perfect troll for that audience.

    And I honestly believe that 20% cruelty-free eggs would have been better than the all-cruel eggs they were serving.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    @Doug Mataconis:
    Incirlik is one of the largest NATO airbases; and one of the six NATO storage depots for the B61 nuclear free-fall bomb.

  32. @Mister Bluster:

    As part of the Cuban Missile Crisis resolution JFK removed nuclear armed missiles from Turkey.

  33. President Biden became the first American President to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

    Thank you Mt. President

  34. Northerner says:


    Though we’ll need a different message for vaccination refusing women (about the same percentage as with men).

    I’m wondering if Ted Nugent’s discovery that covid actually exists is changing any refuser’s opinion, or if they just think the system got to him.

  35. CSK says:

    I can’t find a single mention of Nugent on any of the crackpot right-wing websites (Google is my friend), so I assume the anti-vaxxers, Covid-hoaxers, and Trumpkins (all the same, usually) are doing what they normally do, which is to avoid any information that doesn’t comport with their world view.

  36. @Jay L Gischer:

    Alabama already has a law banning doctors from prescription gender affirming hormones to any under 18

  37. More pictures as the Mars helicopter Ingenuity makes a 2nd flight

  38. The Covid situation in India is getting worse by the day

  39. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You know technically this means Perseverance is polluting the Martian atmosphere.

  40. Michael Cain says:

    Also this week, the Arizona Senate Republicans’ audit of Maricopa County ballots has begun. So far, a group of reporters was able to simply walk into the supposedly secured coliseum where the ballots and machines are, and employees of the company hired to conduct the audit were observed using blue pens while counting. AZ law allows only red pens anywhere near ballots after they have been cast. This is going to be such a farce.

  41. Mimai says:


    I love this! Well played. Little (good-natured) experiments like these are so clarifying. And satisfying. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with people who are constantly doing this to each other. It hurts so good (h/t Cougar)!

  42. Mikey says:

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that anti-vaxxers are imbeciles, but now they’re doing this.

    The official Twitter of the Auschwitz Museum had this in response:

    Instrumentalization of the tragedy of Jews who suffered, were humiliated, marked with a yellow star, and finally isolated in ghettos and murdered during the Holocaust, in order to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.

    All true, especially the last part.

  43. charon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    the obvious intent is manufacture a grievance to rile up the base, nothing beyond that.

  44. JohnMcC says:

    Hoping someone here can help me know what to think about an article in the WaPo today. Headline is “Minutes Before Trump Left Office Millions of the Pentagon’s Dormant IP Addresses Sprang to Life”.

    It seems that the DoD owns a remarkably large swath of the IP addresses available in the world. And an unknown Florida (of course) company has obtained the use of them. The announced this to the worlds internet coordinators and have been busy doing unknow things there.

    The physical address of the Florida company does not acknowledge that they exist or use that building and will not talk to the media. Their name, Global Resource Systems LLC of course means nothing and could be anything which is itself remarkable.

    I am completely in the dark on how to think about such stuff. But I bet someone here can suggest possibilities.

  45. Michael Cain says:


    The article was pretty clear. The DoD owns some huge blocks of the IPv4 address space (no doubt going back to ARPA days), but hasn’t been advertising to the rest of the internet that they do. Speaking too generally, if the owner of an address block doesn’t have a router advertising their availability, someone can effectively squat on them by being the only party advertising routes to them. From time to time there are screw-ups where some obscure provider sets their gateway router up wrong and advertises that neighboring routers can reach, say, some of Google’s addresses by sending packets to the obscure provider. This is bad for both Google, because some traffic that should be going to them isn’t, and for the provider, whose router is probably buried under the load. DoD’s action here blocks the nefarious people who do such things on purpose.

    In the 116th Congress, the House version of the Defense funding bill included instructions that the Pentagon should sell certain parts of their treasure trove at market value, about 220M addresses in all. And yes, there are people out there who would pay a lot of money for a /8 block of addresses.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Cool stuff.

  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thanks for the information. I’m a bit gobsmacked that they did that first. At least in the bathroom thing there’s a plausible (but false!) story of how someone might be harmed.

    But with hormone treatment? How does that stand constitutional scrutiny? Doesn’t the state have to have a compelling interest? Which would require proof of harm to children, rather than doing harm? I guess they are trolling for lawsuits and they know it?

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I guess they are trolling for lawsuits and they know it?

    Anything to get their names on the front page.

  49. Mimai says:

    Another in a never-ending series of famous men (allegedly) doing terrible things. This one hitting too close to home for me…one of my soccer idols.

    Say it ain’t so Giggsy.

  50. Jax says:

    @Mimai: It’s pretty sad that every woman I know even just in passing has a story like that. “Men (particularly famous men) behaving badly” isn’t new, it just gets more coverage these days. 😐

  51. Mimai says:


    This is a sad sad reality.

    On a much happier note, I just bought tickets to see Trampled by Turtles!

  52. Jax says:

    @Mimai: I’m so jealous!

    Have you watched the series The Nevers? I just started it. I’m quite liking the storyline and the cast so far! Just enough historical fantasy to keep me hooked.

  53. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: This is because we’ve used the wrong model for Covid. 6 feet provided good standoff from something like 80% percent of infectious droplets expelled from a sneeze or cough. That is a flu/cold-based model.

    We should have modeling social distancing policy for Covid of Tuberculosis. Covid spreads through the air. No one would recommending standing only 6 feet from someone with TB–mask or no mask.

  54. Mimai says:


    Never (heh) even heard of it. Google says it’s a Joss Whedon show. Disclosure: I’ve never (heh x2) seen a single Whedon production. I’m not avoidant, it just never happened. Then again, I’m woefully under-watched when it comes to the “good” tv shows. You a Whedon fan?

  55. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Literally don’t care who produces or directs it, I like just enough semi-accurate historical reality mixed with fairy dust to think that it MIIIIIIGHT happen. See: Game of Thrones, Outlander, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. 😉 And I like it in a series form, where I can record it and binge-watch it.

    My kid and I have been watching Forged in Fire during the day in between “chore events”. It’s quite entertaining! I now actually LOOK at every piece of metal I see, wondering if it can be forged into something wonderful.

  56. Mimai says:


    I’m a friend of a friend of one of the past winners of Forged in Fire. Super impressive. There’s a place near me that offers blacksmith classes. I’ve entertained the idea… a total newb. You have experience? Or just like ogle metal.

  57. mattbernius says:

    @Jax & @Mimai: I heart seeing the Forged in Fire connections. I will add one more, Doug Marcaida, the pride of Rochester NY, was my Filipino Martial Arts instructor for a number of years. Really solid guy off camera.

  58. Mimai says:


    Whoa, you trained Kali?! That’s hardcore. Respect.

  59. Jax says:

    @mattbernius: Doug’s our favorite!

    “It will ke-ill.” And his smile when it will REALLY kill!!!

    @Mimai: I have never once paid attention to whether a piece of metal I see on the ground could be forged into a dagger in my life. My Dad’s an “I can weld an entire corral set in my head with no training” kind of welder, my kid can basic weld, I just never had much interest in it until I started watching that show and seeing what they initially use to forge knives!

  60. wr says:

    @Jax: ” Literally don’t care who produces or directs it”

    Interesting. When you’re choosing a book, do you also not care who wrote it?

  61. mattbernius says:

    Thanks. It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t had the chance to train with Doug’s guys in a while. I have some others inductors I work with, though this last year has been tough. I am looking forward to getting my second shot and restarting hitting people with sticks and BJJ.

    Doug had always had a great sense of humor. The “ke-il!” thing was there when I was training with him. He also has a great joke that I am sure he has said on the show at some point, that goes something like:

    In FMA you learn all these fancy disarms. But the reality of bladed combat is that when someone is coming at you, you take your blade and cut, cut, cut until dis arm goes dis way and dat arm goes dat way [pointing to different spots on the floor].<blockquote

  62. mattbernius says:

    my phone is acting weird, so I can’t wait the previous one, but I will also say that Doug is as good, if not better at FMA than what you see in the show. I have seen him do some really crazy (Jackie Chan level things) IRL (and at least once sleep deprived a