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. EddieInCA says:

    Good morning from Charlotte, NC.

    24 hours later, and I’m still seething over that police video.

  2. Mister Bluster says:

    @EddieInCA:..24 hours

    I fear that the mere passage of time will never be enough to purge the raw cruelty of these acts from the minds of decent people.
    I have heard this plea far too many times in my life: “When will this stop?”

  3. Scott says:

    For the last few years, I’ve been banging on about the dangers to this country of the Christian Nationalist movement. There are many aspects but there is also a dark, violent, dangerous aspect which manifested itself at the Jan 6th insurrection.

    Politico has a long interview with former evangelist, Bradley Onishi (author of Preparing for War: The History of White Nationalist Extremism and What Comes Next). It is worth a read.

    ‘There Is a Real Sense That the Apocalypse Is Coming’

  4. Scott says:

    If you’re looking for a little feel-good diversion, I watched two movies on Netflix last night and recommend them:

    The Elephant Whisperers: An Oscar nominated Short Documentary about an Indian (I believe Tamil) couple raising a baby elephant at an elephant camp in Southern India and their bond with it. The middle-aged couple marry during the story. It’s only 40 minutes so go for it.

    I Used to be Famous. A utterly predictable little movie about an aging boy band star who is down on his luck trying to get back in the game. He meets an autistic teenager (age 18) who is a percussionist and the story is the ups and downs of trying to work together. Follows a predictable path but is so generous and warm that you shouldn’t resist. The young drummer is on the spectrum. Reminds me a little of the “Sound of Metal” but is lighter. Just watch it and don’t resist smiling and tearing up a bit.

  5. Kathy says:

    Dream of the week. It happened just yesterday during a nap.

    Woman: I travel the world teaching young children
    Me: What subject do you teach?
    Woman: Curiosity.
    Me: I wish they’d taught that when I was in school.

    In the dream this made perfect sense to me. After waking, it still kind of does (maybe not traveling the world to teach).

    But, how would you teach curiosity?

  6. CSK says:

    I don’t know if you could teach it. Encourage it, yes.

  7. Kathy says:


    I think overall most people don’t lack curiosity, but they tend to focus it on social matters almost to the exclusion of everything else. Citation: see the popularity of gossip and of “reality” TV.

    Me, I’m about the exact opposite. I won’t claim I’m curious about everything, but almost all my curiosity is about science, politics, economics, cognition, etc. I find gossip and “reality” TV” to be soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring, I would really rather watch paint dry, or even watch 1/18th of a baseball game.

    Setting personal preferences aside, there’s the small (humongous) matter that gossip is taken in without any need nor rules of evidence. So, when people actually engage in discussions of science and such, or receive explanations about it, they don’t consider evidence. That’s why “some guy I know says they know someone whose cousin died of a COVID vaccine,” carries more weight with such people than actual evidence compiled by medical professionals worldwide.

    children tend to be very curious and to ask incessantly “why” at every turn. I don’t think they get adequate answers, nor guidance on how to obtain such answers. And that teaches bad habits in such things.

  8. CSK says:

    In the case of the Covid vaccine, some people accept hearsay wth no clinical proof because they want to believe that the vax is a killer specifically designed to eliminate right-wing Christian Americans.

  9. Kathy says:



    But also lots of people who don’t hold that pre-existing belief, will at least hesitate to get vaccinated because of the misinformation gossip around the vaccine.

    You see it all the time with other things, too. GMOs are harmful, cell-phones cause brain cancer, and amny more.

    Some years ago, my mom told me the US visa had to be valid for more than six months or one would be refused entry to the US. At the time, my 10-year visa had four months left and I had a trip to Vegas planned in a few days time.

    How did she know this? Some friend told her. How did her friend know? Someone else told her. How did that person know? She didn’t even know who that was, much less how they knew. But I should get a new visa anyway. Never mind there was no time to get one.

    I spent hours looking up websites. State Department, Homeland Security, US Embassy in Mexico, travel advisory sites, newspapers, airline sites, and found nothing.

    Eventually I called a State Department help number. After a long time on hold, I learned a visa had to be valid only for the period of one’s stay.

    Even after I told my mom this, she still believed her friend and advised me to postpone the trip until I got a new visa.

    The main difficulty here is that it’s not easy to find what doesn’t exist. If such a visa policy had been in place, then finding that out ought to have been simple.

  10. Skookum says:

    @Scott: Enjoyed the Elephant Whisperer, too. May I also recommend The Garden of a Thousand Bees.

  11. Kathy says:

    Speaking of curiosity and finding information, I did a very short search for asymptomatic Omicron cases.

    I found nothing, except pieces, and actual science papers, about asymptomatic transmission.

    Problem is this: asymptomatic does not mean the same as presymptomatic.

    The former means you show no symptoms at all from the moment the trump virus enters your body until your immune system clears it all out (with or without aid from Paxlovid). The latter means you’re infected but haven’t shown symptoms yet.

    Since few pathogens cause instant symptoms, and many incubate for a period of time, everyone has experienced having an infection without symptoms, even if they later develop symptoms.

    One can transmit Omicron before developing symptoms. To me, this is presymptomatic transmission. Presumably one can also transmit Omicron if one never develops any symptoms. To me this si asymptomatic transmission.

    As transmission goes, there’s little difference. Although then one without symptoms should isolate until they test negative.

    The question of whether there are full asymptomatic cases of Omicron is still unclear to me.

    Well, I’ve other things to do. Bonus hell week is not quite over. I estimate we won’t leave work monday before 2 am Tuesday, if no major problems develop. Meantime I’m getting ahead of some of the work, plus I’m doing some petty cash reports and reimbursements as well. And there’s a game in under two hours, too.

  12. CSK says:

    A lot of people put more credence in what they hear from a friend or acquaintance than a faceless official source.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    One thing I wonder is how many red states depend on the demographic presence of boomers to maintain that tilt?

  14. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I struggle with the concept of Boomers as right-wingers because I remember the sixties and early seventies: Vietnam War marches and protests, the Chicago Democratic Convention, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today,” the Weather Underground, SDS…Boomers all.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Offered in the same vein as comments about other stuff teh gubmint be’s comin’ afterLooks like Congress now wants to take over praying, too.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Prayer Breakfast, one of the most visible and long-standing events that brings religion and politics together in Washington, is splitting from the private religious group that had overseen it for decades, due to concerns the gathering had become too divisive.

    The organizer and host for this year’s breakfast, scheduled for Thursday, will be the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, headed by former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

    Coons, D-Del., said that in the past, he and Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the committee’s vice chairman, had questions about who was invited and how money was being raised.

    The annual event “went on several days, had thousands of people attending, and a very large and somewhat complex organization,” Coons said in an interview. “Some questions had been raised about our ability as members of Congress to say that we knew exactly how it was being organized, who was being invited, how it was being funded. Many of us who’d been in leadership roles really couldn’t answer those questions.”

    That led to lawmakers deciding to take over organizing for the prayer breakfast itself.

    While I can understand people thinking that leaving the running of a breakfast to Congress is fraught with problems, I’m optimistic (for a change) and think that the successful running of a breakfast may lead to Congress deciding that it wants to start running other things as well.

    Beyond that point and in a departure from my “brothers and sisters in the Lord,” I’ve sort of always questioned the idea of a government event “centered around ‘the person and principles of Jesus'” because I’m more of a fan of a “naked public square” and less so of the “we’s a chrischun nayshun” ethos–even though that sentiment has fans going back all the way to John Adams.

    Beyond my personal objections, I question whether an event focusing on the teachings of Jesus is appropriate for an event that includes participants from multitudinous religions and nations. And even if people from other nations and religions weren’t attending, the reality of present-day American secularism poses the same problems anyway:

    “For decades, FFRF has protested the appearance of the National Prayer Breakfast being a quasi-governmental gathering, which pressures the president and Congress to put on a display of piety that sends a message that the United States is a Christian nation,” [Laurie Ann Gaylor, co-president of FFRF] wrote.

    It will be interesting to see what Congress–specifically former Senator Mark Pryor–turns it into. And I, for one, will be relieved that it is Congress, rather than some bygone notion of cultural unity, that pressures whatever display of public piety this becomes.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: One minute of it was more than enough for me.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: the vax is a killer specifically designed to eliminate right-wing Christian Americans.

    Be still my beating heart… Not really but maybe if they came up with a vaccine that inoculates a person from stupidity.

  18. Kathy says:

    Lecity for this NFL conference finals weekend: SNL does the Southwest apology and upgrades.

  19. CSK says:

    The cockeyed pilot at the end made me laugh out loud.

  20. Stormy Dragon says:


    Whether it makes sense or not, the Boomers vote very Republican, and given recent research that the “people get more conservative as they age” not being as true as commonly believed, it’s not clear they can be easily replaced.

    It’s possible the 60s-70s stuff was more self-centered then originally portrayed (i.e. they didn’t oppose the Vietnam war because they opposed aggressive foreign policy, but rather because they specifically didn’t want to be the ones fighting it), so as they shifted from outside the establishment to being the establishment they became more comfortable with concentrations of power