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:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gee, this sure sounds familiar, don’t it?

    A Black FedEx driver who was allegedly shot at by a white father and son in Mississippi while delivering packages said he “can definitely see the similarities” between his case and that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was murdered in 2020 by three white men while jogging in Georgia.

    “Because Ahmaud Arbery didn’t survive to speak up for himself, so I want to take that upon myself to do that for me and him as well,” said D’Monterrio Gibson, 24, in an interview with CNN on Friday.

    The father and son, Brandon and Gregory Case, were reportedly arrested and charged this week over the incident. According to Gibson, he was delivering packages on an evening route in Brookhaven, Mississippi, on 24 January when the two men allegedly chased him in a truck for several minutes and fired at least five shots towards his van.

    “They came out of nowhere,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “Even if [the van] was unmarked, civilians still can’t take the law into their own hands … I’m thinking this is a racism thing,” he added.

    So does this:

    The Cases were arrested on 1 February, over a week after the incident. According to court records reviewed by the Washington Post, Brandon Case, 35, was charged with feloniously attempting to cause bodily harm with a firearm and a deadly weapon. His 58-year-old father, Gregory Case, was charged with unlawfully and feloniously conspiring to commit aggravated assault. The father and son were released from jail the next day on bail.

    Despite the charges, Gibson and his lawyers argue that the local police are not taking the case seriously and are calling for a federal hate crimes investigation.

    “Some semblance of justice was served, but we’re disappointed since we think the charges should be attempted murder because that’s what it was,” said Carlos E Moore, one of Gibson’s lawyers.

    Same shit, different (southern) town.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Those cartels are going to far this time: Mexico lime inflation leaves sour taste as cartels gouge prices for cuisine staple

    The citric kick of the limes which grow abundantly across Mexico – the world’s largest producer of the fruit – help give the country’s cuisine its distinctive flavour.

    But aggressive price-fixing by criminal groups has sent prices soaring, prompting some eateries to stop offering limes with their tacos – and leaving diners in a sour twist.

    “If you go to the taquería they tell you there is no lime, or there is one small lime for 10 people,” said Romain Le Cour, security and violence reduction program officer at the thinktank México Evalúa. “It’s almost a joke.”

    Prices often peak in winter but this year they have reached unprecedented highs, due to falling production, continued exports and colder weather. The average cost of limes has tripled since January 2021 – from 17 pesos (almost a dollar) to 56 pesos per kilo, according to state data.

    And amid an escalating cost-of-living crisis due to inflation, cartels are imposing increasing controls over producers during the bumper crop season – in part to fund an escalating war in the western state of Michoacán where the aggressive expansion of the Jalisco New Generation cartel (JNGC) has unleashed a bitter conflict with a coalition of local groups known as the United Cartels.

    “The lime trade is a billion-dollar industry and, for any criminal group, it’s very easy and extremely profitable for them to go to the farmers and tell them what they need to pay for protection,” said Le Cour. “It’s classic mafia.”

  4. MarkedMan says:

    There’s been some discussion about Apple’s responsibility to prevent stalking using its AirTags. Here’s an article that sheds some light on the current state of the tracking industry in general, in which a NYTimes journalist conducted an experiment with different types of trackers.

    TLDR: if you want to surreptitiously track a person or a pet, use one of the gps trackers out there. They cost the same as an AirTag, although you need to spend $20 a month for real time alerts when you are actually using it. Both the Tile and the AirTag, which are really meant to find mislaid items, provide some ability to track a moving object. If that object is a person with an iPhone or an Android with an app installed, and the tracker is an AirTag, they will get an alert that an AirTag not registered to their phone appears to be following them. If the tracker is a Tile, they get nothing.

  5. CSK says:

    From the WaPo, via Raw Story:

    Sounds like an utterly stupendous book, written in–what else–a Sharpie.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is interesting:

    What would happen if we all had clear information about current and future flood risks to our properties?

    First Street Foundation wants to answer that question. The climate and tech non-profit is building up-to-date flood maps to estimate what could happen to homes and businesses in an era of rising sea levels and more frequent, stronger storms. The New York-based foundation says the free-to-use maps are based mostly on open source data and will eventually be granular enough to cover every property in the U.S.

    Through its recently announced Flood Lab project the foundation is now partnering with researchers from eight top universities—including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—to analyze the data for broader social and financial impacts.

    First Street’s Executive Director Matthew Eby predicts the move will not only affect home prices but also municipal bonds and mortgage-backed securities linked to real estate in risk-prone areas. We asked him to elaborate. (The following interview has been edited for clarity.)

    They are doing the same with fire risk.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    Philip Bump has a piece titled The imperfect comparison between Hillary Clinton’s server and Donald Trump’s boxes in WAPO. He sets out to explain to us bumpkins why it’s unfair to compare their coverage of Trump to the 2016 coverage of HER EMAILZZZZ!!. I found it to be an infuriating load of thin rationalization and evasion. Judging from comments, mine is the common reaction. He inadvertently confirms the criticisms that they all hated the Clintons for no good reason, got played by the GOPs, and went chasing after clicks.

    The crowning evasion is that this Trump story is only a week old, give them time. The boxes and flushing details are a week old. We’ve been seeing bits and pieces of Trump and his minions abuse of email, documents, and security for five years FFS. Hell, back to W’s people using the RNC email server for government business. But they’re all Republicans. What more can you expect from those lovable rapscallions? And Democrat Hillary fell short of best practice.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Short and sharp: Beyoncé launches ‘back to the office’ powerboob

    That’s the way I read it, damned if I know why.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The James Webb telescope sent back it’s first (calibration) photo.

  10. CSK says:

    You must have been titillated by the article.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Ouch. You are really pushing it these days.

    Truth is, I didn’t actually read the article. Same as I did with all my old Playboys and Penthouses.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I see things like the Webb telescope and the rapid development of mRNA vaccines, Then I look at politics. We as a society are so impressively good at some things and so bad at others.

  13. CSK says:

    It’s a cliche to say it, but politics doesn’t necessarily attract the smartest, most upright people, does it? Not that science and medicine don’t have their sleazeballs and incompetents, but not nearly the number as does politics.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: @CSK: The difference between science and politics (religion too for that matter) is that science is based on “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena, and is testable and repeatable”, where as politics (and religion too) are too often based on absolute bullshit.

  15. CSK says:

    Yep. But art, literature, and music are based on evanescent things as well. They do, however, require talent. Politics requires certain talents as well, but none of them seem like particularly admirable ones.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve been reading on American Pragmatist philosophy, which is very much about exactly that. I think it was Rutherford who said of philosophy something like,

    There’s physics, and there’s stamp collecting.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    Senators and Congresspeople earn $174,000 a year, which is a nice paycheck unless you spend your time begging money from much wealthier people just so you can keep your job, in which case it’s embarrassing. They’re dogs begging for table scraps. One cannot expect much from such creatures.

  18. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Dogs, however, are considerably more delightful beings. And generally far more useful.

  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    There are, I agree, a lot of terrible people in politics.

    Also, I think that being a politician in a democracy is pretty tough. It’s tough enough to be a courtier to a monarch or a despot. With a democracy, it isn’t just one person, it’s 300 million of them, each with their own internal conflicts and contradictions. Out of this chaos, you are expected to put forward policy that protects them, serve them, and also pleases them, for you serve at their whim.

    Uh, yeah. That ain’t going to be pretty. We all think Lincoln was great, right? If you look closely, he did some pretty eyebrow-raising things. I think it’s kind of built in to the job.

    I also think that one of the most important functions of voters is enforcing rule of law, by voting out lawbreakers and supporting their prosecution. So there’s kind of a tightrope there for the pols.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Don’t make excuses for these people. Cowardice is a choice.

  21. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Undesirable traits seem to be built in to the characters of most of those who seek a career in politics.

  22. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Speaking of Lincoln, today is his 213th birthday.

  23. dazedandconfused says: