Sunday’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:

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Earlier this week, as Tennessee registered what then was its highest single-day coronavirus case increase, Gov. Bill Lee held a news conference and issued a stern response.

    It wasn’t a mandate to wear masks in public or clamp down on businesses or social gatherings. Instead, it was a plea for residents to do the right thing.

    “When we have people dying in this state as a result of this virus, we should be taking personal responsibility for this,” the Republican governor said.

    Remember all those Republican sermons about “personal responsibility”? Yeah, Republican voters never thought that BS applied to them.

  2. Bill says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, rapper Kanye West declared his candidacy for US president.

    The unlikely challenger to Donald Trump – of whom he has been a vocal supporter – and Joe Biden, chose American independence day to make the surprise announcement on Twitter, triggering a social media storm.
    With just four months to go before polling day on 3 November, it was not clear whether West’s tweet would have been more fitting on April Fools’ day than American Independence Day.
    But after businessman and reality TV star Trump won the White House in 2016, perhaps the idea of Kim Kardashian as first lady could be written in the stars as America’s fate.
    And West, a 21-time Grammy award winner, picked up an immediate endorsement from Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric-car maker Tesla and another celebrity known for eccentric outbursts, who tweeted in reply: “You have my full support!”

    A West-Musk ticket is not what anyone was expecting in an election that has already delivered a cornucopia of the unexpected.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: And people still wonder what’s the matter with Kansas.

  5. Bill says:


    And people still wonder what’s the matter with Kansas.

    I’ve been to Kansas but either when I was young (1967) and we stayed in Wichita or as I crisscrossed the country in 1985.

    Interestingly two of my future ebooks* open in Kansas

    1- A United States Army major reporting for duty at Fort Riley. This oddly is my Japanese gangster story.
    2- A Wichita policeman who responds to what he thinks is a plane crash but it is actually a alien space ship.

    My espionage novel published last year had a short but important scene in Fort Scott Kansas. Fort Scott isn’t a Army base but a community of around 10,000 people in Southeast Kansas.

    Around 20 years ago I played a correspondence chess game against a Jewish Rabbi who resided in Kansas.

    *- Both are being edited right now for future publication.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: When one says Kansas, people think “flat, treeless, boring…” and it is but a lot of it is stunningly beautiful, including some of those flat, treeless, and boring places. If only it wasn’t full of Kansans.

    (to anyone who might get their nose out of joint, yes, one can say the same for Misery being full of Miserians, it’s a joke, that’s all just a joke)

  7. Bill says:


    When one says Kansas, people think “flat, treeless, boring…” and it is but a lot of it is stunningly beautiful, including some of those flat, treeless, and boring places. If only it wasn’t full of Kansans.

    One of my favorite authors is from Kansas and still lives there so far as I know. Bill James, baseball writer, historian, and advisor to the Boston Red Sox.

  8. sam says:
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: I. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    Comparing mask mandates to the holocaust? Yeah, but they deny the Holocaust.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From England:

    John Apter, who was on shift in Southampton where he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”, said: “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

    Say what? Drunk people doing stupid stuff? Who’da thunk it?

  12. charon says:

    Something more on what I talked about yesterday, the tongue protrusion is another symptom: (Picture at the tweet).

    Trump’s dementia decline is on display for the world.
    -Tongue protrusion
    -Trouble standing w/ MT
    -Jolting “swift & swiffian, it was swift & it was sweeping like nobody’s ever seen”
    -Can’t look up or he’d lose his balance

    There was a pic a while back of him with his whole body bent back to view some space launch, only way he can look up.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yesterday, in the Why are Masks Political? thread HAL_10000 said “The second was a few weeks ago when a bunch of them downplayed the risks of the protests. I said at the time that they were flambeeing their credibility by pretending that the virus cared about the justice of the cause.”

    While the disease may have also spread amid the massive protests against police brutality, epidemiologists aren’t connecting big outbreaks to the demonstrations.

    He also said, “And now we’re seeing a surge of the virus in young people which is partially due to early openings but partially due to the protests as well (unless you think Republicans are in control of California).”

    The Newsom administration’s four-phase plan to reopen slowly, while encouraging Californians to remain vigilant about wearing face coverings and maintaining distanceto stop the spread of disease seemed “perfectly good and smart”, Watchter said.

    “But what I think we didn’t get right was the national political scene,” he said. California, despite its reputation as a progressive state, wasn’t immune to a growing conservative movement that rejects face masks as muzzles on independence and vilifies public health officials as enemies of the people.

    In Orange county, where more than 15,000 people have been infected, health director Nichole Quick resigned in mid-June after being confronted with a banner depicting her as a Nazi, protests outside her house and personal threats. Quick had issued an order requiring residents to wear masks in public, which the county sheriff insisted he wouldn’t enforce. After she became the third high-level health official in Orange county to quit, the county quickly reversed Quick’s order – recommending, but not insisting that residents wear masks.

    By the Memorial Day holiday Californians “thought they were safe to just have parties, go to overcrowded beaches, to get close to other people and take off their masks”, said Lee Riley, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “People began to fixate on individual liberties without understanding that one of the most fundamental civil liberties in the US is the right to health – the right to stay alive.”


    Among the hardest-hit regions are rural counties in the south and the Central Valley, where farmworkers have been toiling through each stage of this pandemic. California is referred to “the breadbasket of the world” for good reason: it is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and agricultural commodities.

    As more Californians emerged from their homes, crowding restaurants and public spaces, “it really put our essential workers most at risk”, said Ninez Ponce, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The vast majority – more than 90% – of farmworkers in California are Latinx, working in precariously crowded environments. More than 60% of workers involved in food preparation are Latinx as well. And it’s those workers, many of whom lack access to healthcare and can’t afford to stay home, who have the most to lose as the virus barreled through the state, Ponce said.

    Latinx, Black and other minority groups are disproportionately infected with and dying of Covid-19, according to a tracking tool designed by UCLA, and early metrics suggest that the state’s reopening has exacerbated disparities. Devastating outbreaks in California’s prisons and homeless shelters have further fueled inequities.

    Quotes come from ‘They feel invincible’: how California’s coronavirus plan went wrong

    I had been wondering WTF was going on in CA. Turns out it doesn’t fit a neat Red/Blue narrative, but it very much is political.

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: yes this is a case of (rolling eyes at the obviousness of it) x (facepalm), isn’t it?

  15. MarkedMan says:

    In case you needed another reminder that Republicans only want weak and ineffectual governance, here’s one: FDA head Stephan Hahn wouldn’t correct Trump’s assertion that 99% Of C19 cases are harmless. He is “not going to get into who is right and who is wrong”, even in the face of a deadly disease.

  16. CSK says:

    I take this to mean that Hahn thinks Trump is 100% wrong but is too cowardly to say so.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: That seems correct. But it’s important to note this isn’t exclusive to Trump. Republicans favor appointees who fall into one or more of three categories:
    – Weak and ineffectual
    – Corrupt
    – Actually hostile to the office they have been appointed to
    This goes back at least to Reagan.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    As if things aren’t bad enough in Fla. Brain eating amoeba.

    Perhaps an explanation for DeSantis, Scott

  19. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Don’t go swimming in lakes, rivers, and ponds, clearly.

  20. DrDaveT says:


    But it’s important to note this isn’t exclusive to Trump. Republicans favor appointees who fall into one or more of three categories:
    – Weak and ineffectual
    – Corrupt
    – Actually hostile to the office they have been appointed to
    This goes back at least to Reagan.

    Of course — they have been campaigning on a platform of “government can’t do anything right”. The only surprise is that they are still working so hard to make that come true, even now that it has been established that truth is irrelevant…

  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    Some Black Lives Don’t Matter

    (It’s not what you might think.)

  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    This past week I met (online) a Mainland Chinese woman living in Hong Kong. She had just returned home from visiting Houston.

    During our conversation she said “Hong Kong is chaotic now. But the situation in America is too serious.”

    That hit me: Someone in Hong Kong thinks that America is doing worse.

  23. Bill says:

    Florida headline of the day-

    Four Pinellas hospitals completely out of ICU beds

    Pinellas County is St Petersburg Florida. One of the original Florida meccas for retirees. Also the subject of the joke- The average temperature is 85 and so is the age.

  24. CSK says:

    Kanye West is running for the presidency. He has the support of Elon Musk, unless Musk is being cute.

    The notion of going from Melania Trump to Kim Kardashian as First Lady is…piquant.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Indeed! I posted that “news” to friends thinking the same thing.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Actually, it turned out to be exactly what I imagined.

    ETA: And your Mainline Chinese friend is correct. America is doing worse.

    @CSK: Maybe she’ll “grow into the role.” I’ve heard it’s happened before. 😉

  27. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: that amoeba doesn’t kill many people because it has to be blasted up your nose hard enough to break through the skin and crawl to the brain. People mostly used to get it jumping off something high or waterskiing.

  28. CSK says:

    A woman in Seattle got one of these amoebic brain infections from a neti pot in which she’d used tap water rather than sterile water or saline solution. She died.

  29. Teve says:

    @CSK: she might have gotten injured by the pot or had some rupture in the skin. You usually have to blast it up there, that’s why it’s so rare. Like 3-4 infections per year.

  30. CSK says:

    Apparently her doctor suggested she use the pot to treat a longstanding sinus infection, so there was already an issue.

    Think of all the people who swim in lakes, rivers, and ponds. If it were easy to get infected, the death toll would be staggering.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: @MarkedMan: I don’t know the man, his politics, what his credentials are, or what job he comes from, but it seems to me he could be thinking, “If I go, whoever replaces me will be worse.”

    We all know he’s right about that.

  32. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “(It’s not what you might think.)”

    Actually, it’s exactly what I thought — a collection of every right-wing cliche about race, right down to OH MY GOD MURDERS IN CHICAGO but brought to you by a black woman so you know it’s All True. The same fairy tales Republicans tell themselves so they can continue to pretend that there are no social problems, only what our own HL92 calls “lazy and shiftless” black people.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: It’s exactly what I expected.

    I wonder how she got her MD with such simple minded thinking.

  34. CSK says:

    That could well be it. I think that’s what motivated several people to stick with Trump longer than they should have.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    He Built a Privately Funded Border Wall. It’s Already at Risk of Falling Down if Not Fixed.

    Tommy Fisher billed his new privately funded border wall as the future of deterrence, a quick-to-build steel fortress that spans 3 miles in one of the busiest Border Patrol sectors.

    Unlike a generation of wall builders before him, he said he figured out how to build a structure directly on the banks of the Rio Grande, a risky but potentially game-changing step when it came to the nation’s border wall system.

    Fisher has leveraged his self-described “Lamborghini” of walls to win more than $1.7 billion worth of federal contracts in Arizona.

    But his showcase piece is showing signs of runoff erosion and, if it’s not fixed, could be in danger of falling into the Rio Grande, according to engineers and hydrologists who reviewed photos of the wall for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. It never should have been built so close to the river, they say.

    Just months after going up, they said, photos reveal a series of gashes and gullies at various points along the structure where rainwater runoff has scoured the sandy loam beneath the foundation.

    “When the river rises, it will likely attack those areas where the foundation is exposed, further weakening support of the fence and potentially causing portions … to fall into the Rio Grande,” said Alex Mayer, a civil engineer professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who has done research in the Rio Grande basin.

    As predictable as the sun rise.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:



    How’s the saying go? Oh yeah, “Where’s a cop when you need one?”

    The donut shop of course.

  37. senyordave says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It is actually worse than I expected. Maybe there are mass protests because we have a president who supports police unconditionally, even to the point of openly encouraging police brutality. Or that we have a president who has a history of racism and ran and has governed on a not so thinly platform of white nationalism.

  38. An Interested Party says:

    RE: Some Black Lives Don’t Matter…this piece is rather simplistic and the author is guilty of the same generalizations that she criticizes…I especially laughed at, “Reliance on government money is the road to a permanent low income.” Ha, tell that to all the rent-seekers that suck at the government teat…and I’ll bet she’s never been the victim of mistreatment by the police because of her skin color…

  39. reid says:

    @MarkedMan: “This is no time for the blame game.” Idiots….

  40. Monala says:

    @Mu Yixiao: There have been marches and organizing against black on black violence for decades. Watch The Interrupters documentary, about Chicago. Or the work of the Ten-Point Coalition in Boston. It’s a blatant falsehood that African-Americans care nothing about black on black crime. Or that we can’t protest police brutality while also caring about it.

  41. An Interested Party says:

    Did you know that Obama failed on Ebola but Trump has stepped up with COVID-19? No? Me neither…we have yet another shining example of a senator who is little more than a Trump flunky and needs to be shown the door in November…and that effort is helped when she says ridiculous things that can be used in attack ads against her…

  42. Monala says:

    @Mu Yixiao: furthermore, what was her point about her dentist aunt in the 1940s? Anyone with knowledge of African-American history knows that there have always been African-Americans who reached professional status. Those same folks were still victims of extreme discrimination. Watch a movie like The Great Debaters, where a young James Farmer, who would grow up to become a Civil Rights leader, had to watch his college professor father scrape and bow before illiterate white farmers in 1930s Oklahoma.

    Speaking of Oklahoma, more people today are now aware of the wholesale destruction of prosperous black communities like Tulsa by violent whites throughout the twentieth century. Regardless, there are hundreds of thousands more black professionals today than there were in the 1940s.

  43. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: If you’re using the neti pot to treat sinusitis or a nasal infection, there might be enough inflammation to allow the amoeba to pass through. Certainly if you’ve ruptured a blood vessel in your sinuses (not all the uncommon in either situation) it would be able to enter.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve never seen any particular correlation between academic prowess and complex world view. A doctor can be as simple minded about life in general as anyone else.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    It seems to be Economically Woke Sunday at NYT. The Editorial Board has a long piece on average workers seeing no wage increase for decades because the wealthy sucked up all the money. Paul Krugman has a column on why the wealthy have such disproportionate political power. David Leonhardt has a column on the Black-White pay gap being at 1950s levels. One Mehrsa Baradaran has an Op-Ed called The Neoliberal Looting of America. Leonhardt also contributed to The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why. IIRC they announced some weeks ago that they understand wealth concentration really is the problem of our era and apparently they meant it.

    And for a cherry on top they have a review of a new book I’m going to have to read, Hacker and Pierson What Keeps America Divided?

    In the spring of 2016, the moneyed backers of the Republican Party proclaimed their horror at Trump’s emergence as a presidential contender. But whatever genuine anguish they may have felt was quickly suppressed. They had already acclimated themselves to the populist rage that prevailed in their party. This rage would occasionally destroy the careers of their favorite politicians, like the congressional leaders Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan. But such ritualistic sacrifices — and a little distasteful rhetoric — were nothing compared with the lucrative rewards that the populists supplied them in the form of tax cuts.
    None of this analysis will astound a reader of journalists like Paul Krugman, Jane Mayer or Jonathan Chait. But there’s value in a calm overview that relentlessly traces the biggest themes of the era.

  46. CSK says:

    Next Saturday, July 11, Trump will hold an outdoor rally at the Portsmouth Intl. Airport in New Hampshire. Masks will be distributed and hand sanitizers made available.

    Jen? Sleeping Dog? What say you?

  47. An Interested Party says:

    A doctor can be as simple minded about life in general as anyone else.

    Ben Carson being a prime example…

    @gVOR08: All of that simply makes the NY Times look like it’s trying to live up to its reputation as the newspaper of record…no wonder so many people in certain quarters dislike it…

  48. Jen says:

    @CSK: What say I?

    First, I hope no one shows up, but he still has support around here. I see people with Trump flags on dedicated flagpoles in their yards in this area. Still see yard signs for him too. He’ll draw from Maine as well, my guess is that’s why they chose Portsmouth–it’s right off of 95 and easy to get to from surrounding states.

    Second, I am staying the eff away from the area. I should probably grocery shop that day, so that the likelihood of me encountering any of those covidiots the next day at the store is eliminated.


  49. CSK says:

    I wonder why he picked New Hampshire? It’s not as if he’s going to get the kind of rapturous reception he would in a redder state. I’m aware that Hillary Clinton won NH by a very narrow margin in 2016, but doesn’t that argue in favor of Biden getting even more votes this November?

  50. Jen says:

    @CSK: My guess: one, his campaign people are probably looking at the 2016 map (rather desperately) and trying to figure out how they can adjust for his slide elsewhere. First states you’d focus on would be narrow wins and narrow losses, which, as you note, NH was Clinton’s narrowest win. Second, I really do think they are looking at optics, and it’s easier to get supporters from Maine here if the covid-fest is right on the border, which Portsmouth is. Third, he probably still thinks that the military is his safest constituency, along with older people, and NH has a bunch of those (as does Maine). Finally, I think the Republicans still think that Shaheen is vulnerable, and this could also be a play for the Senate. (I disagree.)

    I would not discount a rapturous reception. His support here is small but SOLID.

  51. Sleeping Dog says:

    @just nutha ignint cracker:

    As I recall the Neti pot woman used tap water in the device and not purified water as specified.

  52. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    She did use tap water.

  53. Sleeping Dog says:


    Jen is lucky, Portsmouth is across the state, unfortunately for me it is just up the road. But you can be assured that I’ll be safely social distancing at home.

    Last fall, NH was one of the states that Tiny hoped to flip, it was delusional then as he was -10 in approval, but considering Hil only won by a percent or so, not unreasonable. He did win one congressional district in Maine and he’s likely hoping to cement that.

    I wonder what Susan Collins is going to do?

    If I’m feeling real soft hearted, I might feel bad for Chris Sununu who has tried to keep his distance from Tiny, without going full Charlie Baker, saying what he needed to say, but not being enthusiastically supportive. It won’t hurt him for reelection but being a spawn of Tiny may hurt him when he runs for Senate in 2022.

  54. CSK says:

    Portsmouth is just a stone’s throw from northeastern Mass., too, so what supporters he has here would find it an easy journey. Not too many, I should think.

    I just read something that suggests Trump’s advisers are interpreting Clinton’s narrow win in 2016 as a chance for Trump “to expand his electoral map,” which is the exact opposite of the way I interpreted it. I take your word that his support in NH is solid, but I can’t believe it’s big enough for a win.

  55. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Jen is lucky, Portsmouth is across the state

    I’m actually not too far from Portsmouth–I’m about midway between there and Manchvegas. Takes us about 30-40 minutes to get to either one of them.

    @CSK, I agree that his support isn’t solid enough to win. But it IS here, NH is doing well with declining covid cases, and it’s a geographically small state. If one was, say, trying to recover from a disastrous failure in…let’s go with Tulsa, this might not be a bad idea. In theory.

  56. CSK says:

    I see what you mean. This may be part of his advisers’ attempt to retool the campaign. Or maybe Trump has gotten it through his thick skull that for COVID-19-related reasons, he can no longer expect a worshipful mob of 60,000 to greet him with screams of adoration.

  57. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A doctor can be as simple minded about life in general as anyone else.

    Or indeed moreso. I went to Johns Hopkins as an undergrad; 1/3 of my classmates were pre-med. They were on average the least intellectually curious and the shallowest thinkers in the class. Not stupid, not at all — but narrow.

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The voice teacher who I knew used one–he called it a “nasensphuler” or something similar, but it looked like a neti pot–recommended either saline solution or Epsom salts solution. I’ve never heard anyone suggest tap water. Although for a while saline solution nasal sprays were popular as a homeopathic treatment for hay fever. My hay fever was always too intense for saline to work. Too blocked up.

  59. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Gaut Dammit!!!!! Most Black people ARE NOT on Welfare. How can a program that most people of a demographic do not partake of…be a problem handicapping said demographic? This would be like saying Jim Crow policies did major damage to the White Community in the 50s.

    It is only possible for people to believe this Tripe because very few people in this country are exposed to AAs outside of major metropolitan cities and the South. And Ill be honest, some of these islands of AAs are not representative of the full spectrum of AA classes. Frankly, some of them look beaten down. But to everyone in that community, this is who Black people are.

    By the authors picture she probably has 1 AA grandparent. By her writing, Id bet she wishes she had none. You seem to be a good faith commenter…but you gotta read better material.

  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @An Interested Party: Yes. She is what were called by my parents and grandparents generation a PFW. Pass for White…they normal would only socialize with their black kinfolks at the family reunion, if that, and go back to their white lives.

    But you bring up a salient point government assistance. All the land grants given away by the government in the 19th century which became generation estates to white families….did that lead to permanent wages?
    My Grandfather worked for the WPA which bolstered his savings to purchase 10 Acres of land…

    These people are FOS…period.