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. charontwo says:

    Getting the Fighters Fighting (and keeping them fighting)

    The Platformer learned that Twitter, under Musk, maintains a list of around 35 VIP users whose accounts it monitors and offers increased visibility alongside Elon Musk. The list includes:

    Daily Wire founder and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro

    Pseudonymous conservative commentator @catturd2

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY

    @Catturds and Ben Shapiro enrage the left. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez enrages the right. Among other things, this list will get fighters fighting and keep them fighting, which of course, stimulates engagement and helps bring in advertising revenue.

    Both sides think they win a dunking contest: The dunker (usually a liberal) shows how clever he or she is, and the dunkee (usually a Conservative) gets to be the star of a show entitled “Watch Me Trigger the Libs.”

    Internet Triggers

    Social media + algorithms amplify what Timothy Snyder, in this video, calls “Internet Triggers,” which he defines as something a person sees on the Internet, often because an algorithm directed the content to the person. The person then feels triggered and repeats it to someone else, who also feels triggered and in turn repeats the phrase. Soon you have an Internet Trigger gone viral.

    Snyder explains that these triggers are dangerous for democracy because they prevent us from thinking complex thoughts. People see these Triggers on the Internet because they are directed at them. The people are then transformed into repeaters of targeted memes. Snyder finds this terrifying because democracy depends on us having “some sense of time beyond our immediate outrage.”

    Think about that phrase: A sense of time beyond our immediate outrage.

    Snyder also talks about how, in Orwell’s 1984, the fictionalized totalitarian government worked on reducing the number of words in the language. Having each of us become repeaters of Internet Triggers accomplishes the same thing by reducing our ability to have complex thoughts.

  2. steve says:

    My daughter, the IT nerd/professional, keeps telling me that if twitter and other social media just want to act as unbiased message platforms then they should have legal protections. However, if they want to engage in amplification of messaging, especially choosing what and whom to amplify, then they should be held legally liable for what is on their platforms.


  3. Sleeping Dog says:


    Of course the devil is in the details.

  4. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Speaking of trolls,

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the passing of a law that could render driver’s licenses and other forms of identification from several states invalid…

    Florida Senate Bill 1718 is considered to be a policy to crack down on illegal immigration, attempting to prevent the use of publicly funded services by those who may not pay taxes.

    The law directs Florida police officers to write a ticket to anyone they pull over who has what is now recognized as an invalid license.

    The claimed rationale is that these states drivers licenses do not provide proof of American citizenship. The states specifically targeted by the bill are Vermont, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Rhode Island.

    I can’t decide whether the primary purpose is to own the libs or increase the amount of revenue from tourists who wander into their sights, as it were.

    Oh for flying flocks sake.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the passing of a law that could render driver’s licenses and other forms of identification from several states invalid…

    A little thing called Article IV of the Constitution says otherwise

    Section 1.
    Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

    Section 2.
    The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

    That law will fly about as far as a pig on LSD.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:


    That won’t stop performative Ron and his tame legislature. He can demagogue on it before the courts step in and again when they call his bluff.

  7. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Well, that’ll be my hope. But given my unfortunate experience with acid…

    My first thought (after mopping up the spilled coffee) was “what if the driver has the enhanced driver’s license? The one where you provide a birth certificate? ”

    But it’s nice to see that Florida is running so smoothly that there’s time for this performative BS.

    ETA For some reason, my AP & Reuters news feeds this am are centering around Vermont.

  8. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s the pattern with these guys, isn’t it? Pass laws that make it look like they are “doing something” or “taking strong action” which turn out to do nothing at all, because they are clearly unconstitutional. It’s all grift.

    I mean, I think some of the folks behind the banning of gender-affirming care believe in it, but I am quite sure than Greg Abbot and Ken Paxton knew full well they couldn’t get away with it. Probably DeSantis does too.

    And then there’s Abbots border security theater show a couple years ago.

    Of course, this goes hand in hand with Teri Kanefield’s observations reported above by @charontwo. Whether something works or not is a complex thought, not a triggering one.

    ALSO, I would observe that “dunking” as Kanefield describes it, doesn’t accomplish much either, beyond garnering applause and approval.

    Frankly, I have come to the conclusion that “dunking” and things like that fuel the right. Those MAGA celebrations seem to me to be counter-shaming, and the product of a threat of shaming. But shaming is social, not individual. So if you surround yourself with other people that share the behavior targeted by the shaming (you know, like voting for Trump) that’s going to be euphoric.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever stop people from doing this, though. I would like to develop other methods. I would like to develop some antibodies to this kind of thing, and help others develop them, too.

    Man, though, I really think I need to set up a Mastodon server.

  9. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island…Can Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire be far behind?

    @Flat Earth Luddite: @OzarkHillbilly: @Sleeping Dog: @Flat Earth Luddite:

    I get that it’s performative, but to what end? Owning the libs?

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Land of the free, home of the dead

    A Virginia man who previously served as an interpreter for the US military in Afghanistan was fatally shot this week working as a rideshare driver in Washington DC.

    Nasratullah Ahmadyar, 31, was shot and killed on Monday while driving for Lyft, WUSA 9 reported. He had worked as an interpreter with the army special forces, but left Afghanistan on the last flight out of the country during the US withdrawal in 2021.

    Ahmadyar had immigrated to Pennsylvania with his wife and their four children, aged between 15 months and 13. But after experiencing violence in Philadelphia, the family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, a few months ago “in pursuit of a better life”, according to a Facebook page raising funds for Ahmadyar’s funeral expenses. He was the sole provider for his family.

    Ahmadyar was discovered in his vehicle after midnight on Monday with a single gunshot wound, according to police. He was taken to hospital, but pronounced dead “after all life-saving efforts failed”, said police, NBC News reported.
    “I can’t emphasize enough how he was always helping,” said his friend Jeramie Malone said. “Leaving the house was very dangerous for him, but he was always eager to help somebody else who is a good guy. His children were the most important thing to him, and he brought them here so he could be safe.”

  11. gVOR10 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: They know the press. Passing the law gets a big story. The eventual overturning, after boring and time consuming appeals, gets a small story, if anything. And with any luck, after the next primary. E.g. the Wall.

    And they know their supporters. Posturing about trying to do the right thing counts for more than actually doing anything.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I get that it’s performative, but to what end?

    I doubt they planned it this way, but right now it has the unintended effect of turning him into the person nobody want’s to stand next to and turning Florida into the place where any body with brains can’t wait to get out of or refuses to come near it.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: But given my unfortunate experience with acid…

    I had a similar experience when somebody passed me a dipper. Bad enough to make me swear off dope for good.

  14. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    First time/last time someone thought it was funny to hand me a soda with a couple of tabs of blotter acid in it. I was supposed to be the designated driver.

  15. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    This just breaks me. Ugh.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Those were such fun times…

  17. CSK says:

    Since when are 5 to 15-year-olds considered of military age?

  18. CSK says:

    The mob disengaged from doing casino business with Donald Trump in the 1980s because, according to retired mob boss William D’Elia, Trump “don’t keep his word.”

    Imagine being too unethical for organized crime.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I mean, I think some of the folks behind the banning of gender-affirming care believe in it, but I am quite sure than Greg Abbot and Ken Paxton knew full well they couldn’t get away with it. Probably DeSantis does too.

    I’m somewhat less optimistic than you that they won’t get away with at least some of the draconian bills they’ve been passing, and I’ve increasingly come to the conclusion that DeSantis is more delusional than he’s given credit, but I do think his cynicism is a big reason why he’s having so much trouble in this race, other than Trump’s built-in popularity. When he talks, he doesn’t sound like someone who actually gives a fuck. Because, let’s face it, he doesn’t. As buffoonish as Trump is, there is passion in his voice when he speaks. It’s a passion centered entirely on himself, but it’s still passion. DeSantis reminds me of Kelly Loeffler in 2020 when she would begin every sentence with the words “Radical liberal Raphael Warnock….” but she just sounded totally robotic. He’s like that, with the word “woke.” There seem to have sprung up a cottage industry of Republicans without an ounce of charisma who think blandly reciting buzzwords in a dull monotone with a flat expression will be like some kind of Pavlovian bell on their constituents.

  20. Kylopod says:


    The mob disengaged from doing casino business with Donald Trump in the 1980s because, according to retired mob boss William D’Elia, Trump “don’t keep his word.”

    Imagine being too unethical for organized crime.

    The fact that he lived to lie about the tale suggests they have more restraint than is popularly believed.

  21. CSK says:


    Apparently the mob wanted seven million for a casino parking lot. Trump agreed, and then said he’d give them only six. They settled it with a coin toss. DJT seems to have won.

    I thought the mob disposed of welshers in various extremely unpleasant ways. Letting DJT off with a coin toss is shockingly lenient. They can’t have been scared of him.

  22. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I think there’s a chance the Supreme Court could let these bans slide by. We’ve had decades of weirdos asserting 24/7 that the Constitution gives you no right to private health matters.

    But the problems with the trans debate are:

    a) very people who transition are against it, and these people when given a forum sound credible and empathetic and normal

    b) everyone who becomes anti-trans goes completely insane and declares any form of a) a suspect activist and then falls for obvious lies, like that Bari Weiss piece about the clinic in St Louis, And when these lies are exposed they don’t care: if you were truly concerned about health care for trans kids you would be happy rather than dismissive of any evidence that the situation is okay.

    A) in the end will win. No amount of screaming by freaks and panics by government is going to make puberty blockers actually not work for kids or prove to be more problematic as meds than any other part of health care. But the B) side is everywhere up and down the power structure. That nuts DeSantis ad made sense to people who had some authority. Sam Alito has a burner account on twitter and he’s loving it. That catholic freak can’t get enough of the totally-straight bodybuilder memes.

  23. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Modulo Myself: I’ve been reading some opinions and the thing that gives this all away is that every medicine in the gender-affirming-care arsenal is used on children for other purposes.

    This makes it really, really difficult to press a claim of “harm to children”. Good lord, something like 10,000 minors had breast enhancement surgery last year. Can you argue “but not for trans people”? That’s a blatant violation of equal protection. Likewise for puberty blockers and even hormones.

    Add to that that there is a freakout, yes, but freakouts don’t last. They dissipate over continued contact. In addition, there are some very conservative parents of trans children out there who love their kids and support them. (Yeah, there are also parents who don’t do that, and they aren’t all conservative).

    If this was all intended to sway the 2024 election, I think they started their push too early. However, a lot of it is driven by a crowd that thinks “It’s sinful, therefore it must be illegal”. They know they can’t argue “the Bible says its wrong” in a court, but they have nothing else.

  24. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The drug war lasted, and it lasted despite there being a consensus amongst my world that weed and a few other drugs, used responsibly, were fine. I mean, Barack Obama and I have both done cocaine, and while he’s done slightly better than me, career-wise, we both turned out not to be cokeheads.

    I think the GOP is flailing to find an anti-gay version of the drug war, where it becomes too entrenched to stop. I don’t think they’re going to be able to build one, but they have a legal apparatus and a bunch of hack judges who would authorize a crackdown in a second.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    my AP & Reuters news feeds this am are centering around Vermont.

    Look at it from the bright side zeeb, that means that nothing newsworthy is happening in Orygun for a change.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: It seems to me that the solution is to realize that social media–even back to the early days of facebook–was to provide a forum where the “ins” could diss the “outs” and to curtail your own participation–which is the only participation you can control anyway.

  27. Kazzy says:

    My son is very small for his age. Like, ranging between 1st and 10th percentile for age and weight for most of his life. We’ve seen some docs for it and the general consensus is that he likely has a “constitutional delay”, meaning he’s growing slower than same age peers but will likely have a growth spurt that closes much of the gap eventually.

    Doctors did discuss hormone therapy, though we never got far in the discussion because they acknowledged it’d be purely for cosmetic reasons since he is a perfectly healthy kid. They agreed that they didn’t recommend it but said some parents in our exact scenario do pursue it.

    So… we could put him thorough rigorous medical procedures to change how he looks and is seen by the world… but only if the change we seek relates to his height, not his gender identity/expression.

    Go figure…

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The drug war lasted, and it lasted despite there being a consensus amongst my world that weed and a few other drugs, used responsibly, were fine.

    The drug war was based on a social consensus so powerful that both parties went along with it for decades. And while the campaign against weed was based on lies, not everything was: many of those drugs were very dangerous. The drug war was the wrong solution to the problem, but the problem wasn’t invented out of whole cloth.

    There is no bipartisan consensus in the war against trans people: it’s Republicans, period, just using their power wherever they have it. And even though there is widespread public ignorance about the topic, the underlying contempt for trans people is something that the broader public increasingly rejects. The Republicans are fighting a losing war, and they know it. They’re like the Nazis who upped the death camps after they realized they weren’t going to beat the Allies.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    That’s a blatant violation of equal protection.

    As if anybody in the “harm to children” camp gives a R’sA about “equal protection” for anyone not named [insert own name here].

  30. Mikey says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    They know they can’t argue “the Bible says its wrong” in a court

    Seems to me the current SCOTUS majority would be entirely open to that line of reasoning.

  31. Modulo Myself says:


    Drugs are a problem for humans, not institutions. You can spend a weekend doing a bunch of Molly or coke and barely sleeping and then taking 2 Xanax on Monday morning and slipping back into your finance job. You probably have a problem if you’re doing this when you are 35. I think the current trend to make weed an actual medicine is just as problematic. But in both cases the only thing the substance is giving you is a good time, mostly. The social consensus on the drug war was a lie: it was about being indifferent of even the good time you get from drugs while meanwhile doing drugs on the sly, and maybe in a responsible manner. With opiates, I’ve never used heroin, but I’m guessing the high kicks ass, if you are into it. I’ve had morphine after a surgery and coming down off that was sinking into death. The consequences though are terrible if you get hooked.

    And our war on drugs did not stop Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers from marketing OxyContin and no cop is going to shoot the Sackler family, as much as they deserve it. In fact, I suspect that the stupidity of the war on the drugs goes hand-in-hand with corporate greed and paved the way for this. The war on drugs was about slogans, following orders, and indifference, without which American capitalism would not function.

  32. Kathy says:

    About Zuk’s not-Twitter Twitter Killer, it still isn’t available for desktop browsers, but apparently you can link to specific threads or users. For instance, here’s the guy booted off Twitter for posting the location of the God Emperor’s Jet

    If you do the natural next step and try the address you get a QR code to download the app.