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. DK says:

    Washington Post: DeSantis doubles down on claim that some Blacks benefited from slavery

    Former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who announced last month that he was joining the race for the GOP nomination, blasted the idea that enslaved people were able to use slavery as some kind of training program.

    “Slavery wasn’t a jobs program that taught beneficial skills,” Hurd, the son of a Black father and a White mother, tweeted. “It was literally dehumanizing and subjugated people as property because they lacked any rights or freedoms.”

    DeSantis, however, is continuing to defend Florida’s new curriculum, which covers a broad range of topics and includes the assertion for middle school instruction that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

    Do Ron DeSaster and MAGA Republicans really think they can win this argument because some enslaved person became blacksmiths and cobblers? Those same slaves might have chosen to become doctors, attorneys-at-law, poets, physicists etc with freedom to actually have choices in a society devoid white supremacy, anti-blackness, and brutal chattel slavery.

    Not that the so-called benefits of being enslaved is a salient or relevant discussion at all, or one that helps the GQP broaden its voter base. What’s the next brilliant anti-woke strategy from Ron DeFascist and Florida conservatives? A culture war over why some of the folks who survived Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz developed grave-digging or weight loss skills that could be applied for personal benefit?

    Yet more evidence Meatball Ron is an unlikeable, overrated one-trick-pony with narrow appeal, no charm, and limited political instinct. And a far right extremist bigot.

  2. charontwo says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thar’s GOLD in them thar fields!

    Kentucky man finds ‘hoard’ of civil war gold coins worth millions in cornfield

    A man has dug up over 800 gold coins in a Kentucky cornfield dating back to the civil war era that is estimated to be worth millions. On 9 June, coin dealer uploaded a video onto YouTube of the remarkable discovery. In the video, the unidentified man can be heard identifying $1, $10 and $20 gold coins that he dug up, adding that the discovery was “the most insane thing ever”.

    According to, the gold coins, which have been called the “Great Kentucky Hoard,” date back from 1840 to 1863. The hoard consists of $1 Gold Indians, $10 Gold Libertys and $20 Gold Libertys, as well as a few 1863 Gold Liberty Double Eagles, which said are a “super-rare date that is scarce in all grades”.

    “The most amazing discovery in this hoard is about eighteen 1863-P $20 Gold Liberty coins, one of the rarest dates in the $20 Liberty series! This is a coin that often commands a six-figure price,” the website said.

    Seriously, this isn’t just the find of a lifetime, it’s the find of a few million lifetimes.

  4. drj says:


    Once you treat it as an argument to be had, you won’t be discussing what slavery meant in the vast majority of cases.

    Which is, of course, the purpose of this nonsense.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Welcome to Florida
    Arbeit macht frei

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Nevada woman who admitted to hiring a hitman on the internet for $5,000 in bitcoin to kill her ex-husband “and make it look like an accident” was sentenced to five years in prison.
    Felkins began communicating with someone in 2016 on a dark web hitman website that claimed to offer murder-for-hire services, according to her September 2020 indictment. Felkins wanted her ex-husband killed while he was traveling in Chico, California, the indictment said.

    Authorities described the website as a scam that simply took money from unsuspecting customers.

    She was given leniency because she’s too stupid to ever be a threat to anyone.

  7. steve says:

    Something I dont understand. I not uncommonly see stories about police in Florida wrestling/capturing an alligator that is somewhere it might harm someone. Yet there are lots of reports of police shooting the pets of homes they raid or sometimes when they arrive outside to a disturbance, even if the pet was not attacking them. Is there a law protecting the gators? Is this just arbitrary?


  8. Kurtz says:


    They are protected.

    The American alligator is Federally protected by the Endangered Species Act as a Threatened species, due to their similarity of appearance to the American crocodile, and as a Federally-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

  9. Kylopod says:


    She was given leniency because she’s too stupid to ever be a threat to anyone.

    I know that’s snark, but it does look like she’s been treated leniently. Five years is a very short sentence for attempted first-degree murder. I have my doubts she’d have gotten off so easy if she weren’t white. (The article you linked to didn’t show any pictures, but I checked Google and some other articles on the incident, and she’s a white woman with blonde hair.)

  10. CSK says:


    She’ll probably get time off for good behavior, too.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Yeah it was obviously lenient, should have been at least 10 or 15 years. Being white and blond no doubt played into it. My snark was directed at the idiocy of thinking one could hire a hitman thru a website. How dumb does one have to be to think that?

  12. Kylopod says:


    My snark was directed at the idiocy of thinking one could hire a hitman thru a website. How dumb does one have to be to think that?

    It’s dumb, but it’s not surprising. We live in a world where QAnon and the Nigerian Prince emails exist. I’m not shocked there are people dumb enough to fall for these things. What I am a little surprised about is that there are fake-hitman websites out there to begin with–it seems an awfully risky scam to try to pull off, because it’s something very likely to attract the attention of authorities. But then, the people who create these scams aren’t always the brightest bulbs either.

  13. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    … the idiocy of thinking one could hire a hitman thru a website.

    Aside from the squalor and petty, grinding violence, one thing that still lingers in my head from my time in prison (40+ years ago – how time flies) was just how stupid, how incredibly naive, most criminals of my acquaintance were.

    I particularly remember the lad who wanted to disguise himself as a DEA agent to rob drug dealers, but was convinced that no one would get killed.

    Sounds like she’s confused television with reality

  14. CSK says:


    I recall reading that Reality Winner was overheard telling her sister that she’d get off easily because she was “pretty and blonde and cute.” Didn’t work.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Sounds like she’s confused television with reality

    I just finished reading Will Sommer’s book on QAnon, and I also watched a recent interview with him on Jordan Klepper, and a great deal of the beliefs sound like they come from tenth-rate rejected Hollywood thriller or sci-fi scripts. (Indeed, one of the outed Q promoters, Robert Cornero, was a failed aspiring Hollywood screenwriter.)

  16. inhumans99 says:

    I know folks on this blog are fans of Star Trek Strange New Worlds, to prevent the Lower Decks crossover episode from being spoiled by folks who saw the episode at Comicon, Paramount dropped the episode yesterday evening. It is a really fun episode.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: There’s always an exception to the rule. 😉 😉 It sure worked for Elizabeth Holmes, of course she swung for the fences by getting pregnant twice.

    “Please don’t deny my poor innocent children the love and comfort that only a mother can provide!”

  18. CSK says:


    Oh, it worked beautifully for Holmes. As Sally Quinn once said, “Being blonde doesn’t hurt.”

  19. Kylopod says:


    As Sally Quinn once said, “Being blonde doesn’t hurt.”

    I wonder if there are defense attorneys who advise their female clients to bleach their hair before the trial.

  20. CSK says:


    I don’t know if any would go that far, but it helps if the client is young or youngish, blonde, and pretty.

  21. Kathy says:


    Thanks for the tip. I went and watched it and beat the spoilers.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Indeed. I remember my amusement at discovering that because I had a vowel at the end of my name, I must be mobbed up and would be able to get people hired by the Co–oops not going to mention who. Don’t want to get sued.

    ETA: Fortunately, you and I were able to dissuade him on that “nobody would get killed” thing, eh zeeb?

  23. gVOR10 says:


    My snark was directed at the idiocy of thinking one could hire a hitman thru a website.

    I am reminded of an old IIRC Hercule Poirot murder mystery. Somebody paid for a hit by a group that advertised they’d kill by witchcraft. The victim died soon thereafter of apparently natural causes. The officials couldn’t prosecute the witches for murder because they obviously didn’t kill with their spells. And for the same reason they couldn’t prosecute the buyer for murder as there was no murder. Or even attempted murder as the means were ridiculous.* The intrepid hero detective discovered similar cases and exposed the clever poisoners for whom the witches were fronting. It was a way to advertise murder for hire.

    * I didn’t write the book and am probably forgetting nuances of how this worked in British law. I don’t mean to imply I think Trump is innocent of seditious conspiracy just because his conspiracy was ridiculous.

  24. olivierbush says:

    @Kylopod: Will Sommer’s book on QAnon and his interview with Jordan Klepper shed light on the connections between certain QAnon beliefs and the aspirations of a failed Hollywood screenwriter, Robert Cornero, who was among the promoters of the movement. It’s fascinating to see how certain elements from fiction can find their way into real-world conspiracy theories. Check out this link for more insights.

  25. Slugger says:

    Please let me know if I’m out of line or in the wrong. I watched the baseball Hall of Fame inductions today. The inductees and the TV announcers talked a lot about hard work. Hard work is good, but it’s not really unusual nor exceptional. Did they work harder than some less gifted guy who never got out of the minors? I was talking to the woman who cleans my vacation home; she’s a single mother of two who works about 52 hours a week cleaning houses. How about a nurse in a pediatric oncology unit or a central American day laborer without documents or a thousand other examples that you can all think of? Do these honorees have a claim on exceptional hard work? Talented athletes receive special treatment starting in high school, adulation, and make good money. I’m not saying that they don’t deserve respect, but there is a larger picture than “hard work”.

  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ll trot out my well-worn ‘philosophy’ which of course does not deserve the word philosophy. We exist inside a Venn diagram made of four interlocking, overlapping but not fixed circles. 1) DNA – the hand life deals us at birth. 2) Environment – the world around us. 3) Free will – the decisions we make. And 4) random chance – shit happens.

    Americans insist on the idea of hard work. But as you point out, most people work hard, very few get rich. To succeed at an elevated level you need the gift of good DNA, an environment that challenges you without breaking you, a few smart decisions, and some lucky breaks.

    Hard work is part of it, and by the standards of my business I work hard. My wife works hard. But we agree that for us the definition of hard work is not writing, not even under a tight deadline. The definition of hard work for us is waiting tables at dockside restaurants in Annapolis during boat show. That was work. Even adjusting for inflation all that ‘hard work’ earned me about as much in a month as writing three or four pages (maybe 2 hours of actual work) does now.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: To succeed at an elevated level you need the gift of good DNA, an environment that challenges you without breaking you, a few smart decisions, and some lucky breaks.

    Or a rich daddy but I guess that is just one of those lucky breaks.

  28. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Indeed. Rich parents or richer grandparents, are the poster child definition of a lucky break

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @Slugger: The issue of “hard-working American” has been engraved into the U.S. psyche ever since Horatio Alger Jr. did his schtick. (His books are great fun to read if you don’t mind the fact that once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.)

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: I had richer grandparents. (my maternal grandfather did very well post Depression) and while my parents spent a little bit of my mother’s inheritance on a few things they didn’t need they were things that allowed them to live out their dreams of travel and even at that they were frugal. Unfortunately Alzheimer’s does not respect frugality and between my old man’s long term health care insurance, his Monsanto pension, and own considerable savings, what had been a $4 million + estate had been whittled down to about $650 K. I used my share of the estate to pay off our house and set up a small bit of savings for the unexpected things (which my pension feeds every month).

    My wife and I have a small bit of security denied to most and I am grateful for it.

    eta: looking back I realize they were in no way filthy rich by today’s standards, merely well off, but on a 1960s scale they were richer than I could ever imagine. Hell’s bells I never wore anything other than hand me downs until I was a teenager and had a job such that I could buy my own clothes.

  31. Gustopher says:

    I’m a little surprised that Israel having mass protests against Netanyahu and his government’s plans to limit the power of their Supreme Court isn’t part of our national conversation.

    Been going on for a while.

    Major ally (for better or worse), sliding into authoritarianism with a right wing exercising power without any concern for a backlash because they have the power to ram through the changes. No moderation in the face of opposition.

    I don’t know, it just seems like something that could be relevant to our country at least thematically, and definitely something that’s going to have consequences that will will end up feeling the effects of.

    WaPo reports on it, from time to time, and other papers do as well, but it really very much fades right back into the background. I think 20 years ago, we would be seeing a lot more about it, but maybe global news has sucked forever.

  32. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    My current long term disability plan features a bottle of scotch and 2 bottles of Seconal. Then again, I blew my retirement $$ on my copay for $6M+ in cancer treatment.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    I had rich grandparents. They cut me out of the will. It may have had something to do with me skimming when I worked for them, and disappearing for 22 years. Sadly I deprived them of a well-earned bit of payback by having made money during the interregnum. I wouldn’t have taken the money in any event. I was a prick to them. Not behavior I’d want to profit from.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, Americans have no interest in foreign policy. The average American couldn’t tell you what two nations we share a border with. And if you showed an unmarked globe to 100 Americans in a row, only one would correctly locate Israel, and that would be the one kid from schule. We only know the nations we’re bombing. Still couldn’t point them out on a map, but we know the names.