Sunday’s Forum

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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

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    @thor_benson

    Thinking about starting a trend called the Jeanine Pirro Challenge where you shotgun a box of wine

    2
  2. Teve says:

    @green_footballs

    NPR Special Investigation: How Big Oil Misled the Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled lgf.bz/3hh436M

    Many moons ago I worked in polymer physics. Polymers are all basically completely immiscible. Polystyrene will not mix with polymethylmethacrylate will not mix with polycarbonate. Dealing with them mostly involves horrible solvents like toluene. Hi cancer! The payoff in trying to reclaim a PET bottle that only weighs 9.9 g to begin with, that has to be sorted by hand at least twice, that to be dissolved has to be boiled in 2-Chlorophenol At 100° C… The whole idea is risible.

    4
  3. Teve says:
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    There’s a Moby Dick joke here somewhere: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

    Scientists have been left baffled by incidents of orcas ramming sailing boats along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts.

    In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.
    …………………..
    On 29 July, off Cape Trafalgar, Victoria Morris was crewing a 46ft delivery boat that was surrounded by nine orcas. The cetaceans rammed the hull for over an hour, spinning the boat 180 degrees, disabling the engine and breaking the rudder, as they communicated with loud whistling.

    It felt, she said, “totally orchestrated”. Earlier that week, another boat in the area reported a 50-minute encounter; the skipper said the force of the ramming “nearly dislocated the helmsman’s shoulder”.

    At 11.30 the previous night, British couple Beverly Harris and Kevin Large’s 40ft yacht was brought to a sudden halt, then spun several times; Harris felt the boat “raise a little”.

    Earlier that evening, Nick Giles was motorsailing alone when he heard a horrific bang “like a sledgehammer”, saw his wheel “turning with incredible force”, disabling the steering as his 34ft Moody yacht spun 180 degrees. He felt the boat lift and said he was pushed around without steering for 15 minutes.

    It is not known if all the encounters involve the same pod but it is probable. Dr Ruth Esteban, who has studied the Gibraltar orcas extensively, thinks it unlikely two groups would display such unusual behaviour.

    I have to admit, considering how we treat their ocean homes, I’m surprised more don’t do this.

    6
  5. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: would you say they were…orca-strated?

    15
  6. Teve says:


    Ethnic antagonism erodes Republicans’ commitment to democracy

    Most Republicans in a January 2020 survey agreed that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” More than 40% agreed that “a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.” (In both cases, most of the rest said they were unsure; only one in four or five disagreed.) I use 127 survey items to measure six potential bases of these and other antidemocratic sentiments: partisan affect, enthusiasm for President Trump, political cynicism, economic conservatism, cultural conservatism, and ethnic antagonism. The strongest predictor by far, for the Republican rank-and-file as a whole and for a variety of subgroups defined by education, locale, sex, and political attitudes, is ethnic antagonism—especially concerns about the political power and claims on government resources of immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos. The corrosive impact of ethnic antagonism on Republicans’ commitment to democracy underlines the significance of ethnic conflict in contemporary US politics.

    We might’ve had a post about this here before, my memory is crap.

    8
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Ouch. Forty lashes with a wet noodle for you.

    Thanx for that piece on Maya Gabeira’s big wave surfing. This stopped me:

    Big-wave surfing, like many extreme sports, is seen as masculine to its core. The sport’s most recent innovation, towing in athletes via Jet Ski to waves that are 50 to 100 feet tall (sometimes triple the size that surfers can reach by paddling via arm strength alone), ups the macho factor even more. Competing to surf the biggest waves in the world is inherently dangerous and life-threatening. Thorpe, the sociologist, grew up deep in surf culture in New Zealand and points out: “Big-wave surfing is that kind of last bastion of surfing that is still very male-dominated, and it reinforces a particular type of masculinity. So when [women] challenge that, they’re really challenging all of those ideas.”

    Maya Gabeira knows what it means for her existence to challenge preconceived notions. In 2013, her first year chasing the biggest waves in the world in Nazaré, Portugal, she suffered a major crash. The force of the waves broke her right fibula in half and forced her underwater repeatedly, until she was floating facedown in the water for more than a minute. Her surf partner revived her on the beach via CPR. Some prominent male surfers said that she should never have tried to surf such dangerous waves in the first place.

    During her recovery time, Gabeira focused not just on healing, but also on becoming a good teammate. With tow-in surfing, athletes go out in teams of two or three, one driving the tow Jet Ski, and one watching to perform rescue when a surfer inevitably crashes out, pounded by the incredible force of those monstrous waves. She learned to drive the Jet Ski and perform rescue, so that when she was healthy enough to surf again, she was seen as a viable surf partner for Sebastian Steudtner, an award-winning big-wave surfer from Germany. After three spinal surgeries, Gabeira came back. And in 2018, she set the first women’s big-wave world record when she rode that 68-foot wave.

    First off, damn. I mean, you gotta wanna. 2ndly, as a woman competing in that world, Damn… you really gotta wanna.

    3
  8. Bill says:
  9. Bill says:

    It’s not really a good Florida headline day, but we’ll take a shot anyway-

    Tractor fire at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium causes scare

  10. Bill says:

    @Teve:

    Many moons ago I worked in polymer physics. Polymers are all basically completely immiscible. Polystyrene will not mix with polymethylmethacrylate will not mix with polycarbonate. Dealing with them mostly involves horrible solvents like toluene. Hi cancer! The payoff in trying to reclaim a PET bottle that only weighs 9.9 g to begin with, that has to be sorted by hand at least twice, that to be dissolved has to be boiled in 2-Chlorophenol At 100° C… The whole idea is risible.

    Back in the 1970’s, people thought it was a good idea to use tires to create artificial reefs. That didn’t turn out well either.

  11. Teve says:

    @Bill: plastics are absolutely great for the week(s) that you need to use the particular item, then they’re just a catastrophe for the next 10,000 years.

    25 years ago we got genre’s most unapologetic heroine

    I’m binging Deep Space Nine from the beginning right now, but after that I might have to binge Xena.

    1
  12. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I was reading an article about Kelly Slater when they talked about using a JetSki to tow you into waves you can’t get to, and talking about how he’s had to bail at the top of an 80 foot wave with a picture of him falling, vertically, toes pointed and arms crossed because he still had another 50 feet or so before he hit the water. Then, once you’re underwater, you get hit by a rolling pile of waves that can last as long as you can hold your breath…

    … Yeah, you do that, I’m gonna binge deep space nine. Oh look, it’s Avery Brooks, and he looks unhappy… I wonder what’s going on…

    1
  13. Bill says:

    @Teve:

    I’m binging Deep Space Nine from the beginning right now, but after that I might have to binge Xena.

    Right now, I’m watching The West Wing. I’m almost done too. The episode I’m at is the first of season 7. Season 7 was TWW’s last year on the air.

    Donna Moss is still my nominee for the most annoying character in television history. The stupid subplots involving her and Janel Maloney’s whiny voice* make me want to throw something at the television too often. Just once did TWW use ‘stupid Donna’ plots to good effect. I’m talking about the one where she is told she isn’t a US citizen anymore but a Canadian instead. Which brought about this show closer, arguably the funniest scene in the show’s entire run.

    It’s too bad Aaron Sorkin didn’t have President Bartlet appoint Donna Ambassador to Canada so we didn’t have to put up with her anymore.

    What do I watch after the West Wing? I’m not sure. ST Voyager or ST Enterprise?** Madame Secretary? Barnaby Jones?

    *- Just imagine Lisa Kudrow in the role of Donna. I’d have lots of broken television sets then.
    **- I’m a ST fan but I never watched those shows. A certain reviewer of DS9 who I’m forgetting, wrote how horrible Voyager was and I stayed away from the show because of that.

  14. Teve says:

    @Bill: if you have HBO max, you have to watch both seasons of Barry. NoHo Hank is a character so good that he was supposed to be killed in the pilot but once they started watching the actor play him they just had to keep going.

    If you haven’t seen Buffy, I highly recommend binging from start to finish. Simply great show.

    If you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek you should stop what you’re doing and watch that.

    3
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Minister says he would resign over Brexit bill if law is broken ‘in way I find unacceptable’

    The publication of the bill on Wednesday, under which key parts of the withdrawal agreement agreed last year with the EU would be negated, has infuriated Brussels and prompted a Tory rebellion. With the bill’s second reading on Monday before a parliament vote, Labour has confirmed it will vote against it in its current form.

    Buckland, who as justice secretary has taken an oath to uphold the rule of law, faced repeated pressure on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday to say whether he would consider resigning over the bill. The legislation was a “break the glass in emergency provision if we need it”, Buckland claimed.

    Pressed on whether he would walk away from the government, he said: “If I see the rule of law being broken in a way that I find unacceptable then, of course, I will go. We are not at that stage.”

    Asked again directly if he would resign if the government breaks international law, Buckland said: “What I will be seeking to do, and indeed the government will be seeking to do, is to resolve that conflict as soon as possible.”

    He added: “I don’t believe we’re going to get to that stage. I know in my mind what I have to do. But the government collectively here also has a responsibility, we’ve got to resolve any conflict, that’s what we will do.”

    Pressed a further time if he would resign at the point the government actually breaks international law, he said: “I don’t believe we’re going to get to that point and that is why I shall be working very hard to ensure we don’t.”

    “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”
    — Frank Wilhoit.

    8
  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Headline of the day? 300 years on, will thousands of women burned as witches finally get justice? I think it’s a little late for justice.

    1
  17. Sleeping Dog says:
  18. Mikey says:

    @Teve:

    If you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek you should stop what you’re doing and watch that.

    Waiting impatiently for season 6 to drop on Netflix. Not sure when, but Daniel Levy let slip recently that it’s sometime next month.

    And one my wife discovered on HBO Max that’s quite funny: Ghosts, a BBC comedy about a young couple who inherit a haunted estate and plan to turn it into a hotel, which the ghosts don’t appreciate. The ghosts are pretty funny on their own, but things take an even more amusing twist when an accident makes the wife able to see and communicate with them.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mikey:

    Ghosts? Seems like they’ve ripped off the old Topper screenplays.

    2
  20. CSK says:

    Cult45 is blaming Lindsey Graham, whom they call “Miss Lindsey,” for the fact that Trump spoke to Woodward. Graham talked him into it.

    This suggests that their very strong, decisive, fearless leader can be ordered around like a child.

    4
  21. Teve says:

    @Mikey: I definitely have to check out ghosts for the next three weeks while I still have HBO max!

  22. Teve says:

    I don’t follow any right wingers on Twitter because I like getting my right wing nonsense distilled and second hand. So based on what people have quoted on Twitter this morning from the right wingers, I have learned that a) the fires in California are happening because of all the Democrat politicians, b) arsonists are being arrested for all the fires it has nothing to do with climate change, c) Trump has done the unbelievable and brought peace to the Middle East, and d) Lindsey Graham says that since his campaign opponent is not releasing his taxes yet, he must be hiding something.

    I figured out in my mid-20s that my conservative/libertarian beliefs were a bunch of horseshit, but then again, I read books. So, you know.

    4
  23. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Bill: Honestly, I can’t watch the WW after the end of season 4. Once Sorkin left, I thought that became nearly unwatchable. The dialogue became awful, the plot lines became ridiculous, the characters suddenly radically changed, and worst of all, it stopped being funny.

    2
  24. Jax says:

    @Teve: I just watched a couple episodes of Xena the other day. Laughed so hard! I used to watch that show all the time, it’s so much cornier and at the same time even more amazing now!

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I figured out in my mid-20s that my conservative/libertarian beliefs were a bunch of horseshit, but then again, I read books. So, you know.

    Thus proving the conservative argument against books and libraries.

    3
  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Bill:

    I binge-watched the entire Madam Secretary series earlier this year during coronavirus confinement. Starting in year 4, it went far downhill, with absolutely laughable Presidential electoral politics and much more liberal virtue signaling than earlier seasons. Also Tea Leone switched from lingerie to concert T-shirts for the bedroom scenes.

  27. Kylopod says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I thought Arnold Vinick, who dominated the final two seasons, was a great character. But I do think the entire show was mired in fantasy. It depicts a world that some liberals think should exist, but which simply doesn’t–and it becomes even less relevant in the age of Trump.

    4
  28. Teve says:

    Jessphoenix2018

    After being in Europe for 2 weeks, I can say with confidence that this part of the world thinks the US has quite literally gone insane. They act like they’re watching a car crash…morbidly fascinated & saddened, with no way to stop it from happening. My heart breaks for us.

    4
  29. CSK says:

    This past Thursday, Roger Stone told Alex Jones that a Trump victory is the only possible legal outcome of this November’s election, and that if Trump loses, he should declare martial law or invoke the Insurrection Act and arrest Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and the Clintons, along with anyone else who has engaged in illegal activity.

    3
  30. sam says:
  31. Teve says:

    @Mike in Arlington: @Kylopod:

    I watch several of the late shows so over the years I saw lots of clips from the west wing and I didn’t like what I was seeing, because it looked like this kind of Rah Rah liberal preaching to the choir, and that’s really not something that interests me. I’m not saying it’s a bad show or that I shouldn’t watch it or that it’s not a great drama, it just turned me off because I could tell that I was in the choir and they were preaching to me. Maybe because I was always immersed in science, anytime someone is telling me what I want to hear, my eyes narrow and i start looking around. 😀

    PS I don’t know what the numbers are now but 10 years ago the numbers were that 6% of scientists were Republicans. There’re reasons for that number.

    2
  32. Teve says:

    @CSK: i’m sure the airwaves are positively full of Republican politicians denouncing such sedition.

    1
  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: It just took a break because it wanted to be well rested for the northern hemisphere flu season.

  34. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Since Jones has basically admitted that he’s nothing but a huckster pushing supplements, and Stone is an obvious charlatan and creep, I wonder who actually takes them seriously?

    I know Jones used to have a huge audience, but ever since his lawyer in the custody case argued that he was a performance artist and not a real political commentator I would think that some of his more ardent fans would have been discouraged.

    2
  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..but ever since his lawyer in the custody case argued that he was a performance artist and not a real political commentator…

    Rush Limbaugh claims that his program is an entertainment venue and not a news broadcast relieving him of any obligation for accuracy yet his fans accept his word as gospel truth.
    Why do I think Jonesses’s audience doesn’t even know what “performance artist ” means?

    1
  36. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    You have a point, certainly, about the acuity of Limbaugh’s and Jones’s listeners. It is interesting, though, that after Facebook and Youtube expunged Jones, his audience fell from 1.4 million daily visitors to 715,000. That was in September 2018. It attracts more millennials than it does any other age group. He’s least popular with Boomers.

    2
  37. Bill says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I binge-watched the entire Madam Secretary series earlier this year during coronavirus confinement. Starting in year 4, it went far downhill, with absolutely laughable Presidential electoral politics and much more liberal virtue signaling than earlier seasons.

    When Joseph Mantagna came out with a new series called ‘First Monday in October’ I tried watching the episode. It was horrifyingly bad, I’m not even sure I made it to the end of the first episode. It was clear the show’s writers knew little about how the court works or this country’s justice system. FMIO was a short lived show.

    About a year ago I had a repeat experience but with a show that ran about 5 years. It was Boston Legal and it was available for watching thanks to Amazon Prime. I found the initial episode so horrifyingly bad I gave up at the 20-25 minute point.

    It is proven that the quality of a television show declines the longer it is on the air. Mostly because writers can’t come up with anything fresh. When a show starts off badly it is probably not worth watching.

  38. CSK says:

    Oh, joy…

    Sunday night, Trump told his Nevada Superspreader Event (excuse me; I mean rally) that, in response to The Atlantic article, “Now I can be really vicious.”

    Given that he’s been like a rabid jackal for the past five years, I wonder what this new level of snarling fury will entail?

    2
  39. CSK says:

    @Bill:
    That’s why they killed the Mary Tyler Moore Show after its seven-year run: They wanted it to go out on a high note, and they figured they’d run through all the plausible plot lines for a single woman in her late thirties living alone in a midwestern city.

    5
  40. Moosebreath says:

    @Bill:

    I was in law school when L.A. Law started its run. While it was decent entertainment, a popular conversation topic was which of the characters should and should not have been disbarred for ethics violations. By the time we graduated the consensus was the firm should have had no practicing attorneys left.

    2
  41. Bill says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I was in law school when L.A. Law started its run. While it was decent entertainment, a popular conversation topic was which of the characters should and should not have been disbarred for ethics violations. By the time we graduated the consensus was the firm should have had no practicing attorneys left.

    Arnie Becker would have been disbarred about 10 times over.

    I watched LA Law too and your evaluation of the show is valid. Some shows (LA Law or The Nanny) or movies (Like the Gumball Rally. Don’t forget the first rule of Italian driving!) are so campy you like them.

    Since we invoked certain television shows, we aren’t real but all the creation of an autistic boy’s imagination.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: Usually shows that touch on something I actually know a bit about can be excruciating to watch (I’m looking at you, shows that show someone perfectly revived by CPR, or shows where people conk each other on the head with metal objects and they regain consciousness and are back to their normal selves in a couple of minutes with no lasting damage!) One unexpected exception was “Person of Interest”. The show was pretty scrupulous in how it portrayed tech and it’s vulnerabilities. It took some liberties, such as that cloning a phone could be done in a few seconds, but that made sense in the necessity of moving the plot along quickly. Even after the show ended more came out about the reality of a core plot device, and it turns out there was an actual effort to link up every camera in NYC, from bodega surveillance cams to ATMs to traffic light monitoring cams, to a centralized system. (In the real world however it turned out that most of the private business cameras didn’t actually work or were so dirty or decrepit they didn’t provide images good enough for AI to process.). I recently started a rewatch and the show actually holds up pretty well. And there is one plot line where a self aware system manages to overcome a limitation placed on it with one of the most clever hacks imaginable, one that makes internal and external sense (assuming access to vast sums of cash).

    4
  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: As she herself notes in the article, the Republicans only have themselves to blame for this.

    1
  44. Bill says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Usually shows that touch on something I actually know a bit about can be excruciating to watch (I’m looking at you, shows that show someone perfectly revived by CPR, or shows where people conk each other on the head with metal objects and they regain consciousness and are back to their normal selves in a couple of minutes with no lasting damage!)

    That’s poyfectly fine. If you’re the 3 Stooges that is. Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.

    Don’t get me started on medical shows. I spent over 25 years working in the medical field.

    Miami Dolphins football starts in about 5 minutes. I’m out of here.

  45. sam says:
  46. CSK says:

    @sam:
    I love it.

  47. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Since Jones has basically admitted that he’s nothing but a huckster pushing supplements, and Stone is an obvious charlatan and creep, I wonder who actually takes them seriously?

    Unfortunately, that budding Q-anon fan, the Former Reality Show Host.

    3
  48. Teve says:

    @CSK:

    Since Jones has basically admitted that he’s nothing but a huckster pushing supplements, and Stone is an obvious charlatan and creep, I wonder who actually takes them seriously?

    There’s an idea that occurred to me recently and I am believing in increasingly. We think of intelligence as a normally distributed thing, there’s half the people over here and half the people over here, there’s 6% of people in this category on the left side and 6% of people in this category on the right side, etc. For every person ten percent smarter than average there’s a person ten percent dumber than average.

    I’m starting to think this is just an assumption and it’s just wrong. I’m starting to think it’s more like 20% of people are fairly smart, and 80% of people are just functionally dumb.

    Think about the number of people you encounter who can correctly put together a logical argument, can actually identify, instead of misidentify, logical fallacies, can look for whether the data supports the conclusion, can identify when they should reserve judgement because they aren’t well enough informed on the topic, etc. And how many people are just running on a mix of aphorisms and confirmation bias.

    Maybe they just assumed a normal distribution because it looks sciency and the math is easy. Maybe it’s really heavily skew.

    1
  49. Teve says:

    @Bill: sometimes. But sometimes the show starts off terrible and then becomes really good. I’m thinking of Seinfeld. Watch the first couple of episodes, it’s terrible. George is a cheap Woody Allen impression, and Kramer comes across like a serial killer. They were supposed to be canceled a couple of times. Then something clicked.

  50. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: no, the problem with Person of Interest was hey I’m Jim Caviezel and I’ve got to be really ethical, so I can’t kill people but I have to disable them so I just shoot them in the knee and that somehow renders them helpless and no threat.

    Once you notice that it’ll ruin literally every shooting scene.

  51. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And there is one plot line where a self aware system manages to overcome a limitation placed on it with one of the most clever hacks imaginable, one that makes internal and external sense (assuming access to vast sums of cash).

    “Evolution is cleverer than you are.” -Leslie Orgel

    1
  52. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I don’t know if Trump believes or disbelieves anything. I think, like all opportunists, he does recognize what’s useful to him and exploits it.

    When some Christian fundamentalist pastors came to the Oval Office and laid hands on him during a prayer session, he bowed his head and looked appropriately solemn. After they left, he turned to one of his aides and derided them and their beliefs. This is Trump. He despises those who love him, because they’re “losers,” but he recognizes their utility.

    As for Limbaugh, he and Trump have much in common: They’re two old, rich, fat white guys who used to live in NY, now live in Florida, have multiple trophy wives, and play golf.

    4
  53. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    God, that’s depressing.
    On the other hand, stupid people are generally happier than smart ones, so they have that going for them.

    3
  54. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan: …shows where people conk each other on the head with metal objects and they regain consciousness and are back to their normal selves in a couple of minutes with no lasting damage!

    On the other hand my earliest memories of 1950s TV westerns were the gunfights between the good guys and the bad guys usually out in the desert. Cowboys shooting at each other from behind big rocks that would give them cover. I was convinced that when a bad guy was killed that it was so realistic that these must be actual real life criminals sentenced to death and this was how they were executed!
    Yikes!
    I mentioned this to my parents and got an early lesson about acting and the difference between fiction and reality. Might be why I can’t always suspend disbelief when watching Hollywood productions.

    1
  55. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    As for Limbaugh, he and Trump have much in common: They’re two old, rich, fat white guys who used to live in NY, now live in Florida, have multiple trophy wives, and play golf.

    Unfortunately only one of them has terminal cancer, and it’s the wrong one.

    Not that Limbaugh shuffling off soon is a bad thing, but still.

    2
  56. ImProPer says:

    “Exclusive: Top health officials defend Trump against Bob Woodward’s coronavirus claims” 

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/exclusive-top-health-officials-defend-trump-against-woodwards-covid-19-claims?_amp=true

    From a story I came across by Rob Crilly.

    “President Trump’s most senior health officials leaped to his defense against allegations that he mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic, insisting that he based his decisions on the best scientific advice and saved lives.”

      These ” top officials” however did not  defend their  defense against the President himself. Trump  loudly asserts that he misrepresented the facts he was presented with at the time to “not cause a panic”. This is totally contrary to the behavior of one objectively informing the public as to a looming health crisis. So asserting that his motives were anything but political, is at best, stupid. Among these “top health officials” making said assertions is  the current director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, a Trump appointee.

    Further in the article;

    …”his secretary of health and human services and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both told the Washington Examiner that Trump had used up-to-the-minute evidence to make crucial decisions.”
      
    This I don’t find this disputable. Unfortunately  though, the decisions made after aquiring the “up to the minute evidence”, was filtered and obsfucated as necessary, to maintain his smartest man in the universe myth, rather than keeping the American people informed with said information. The results of this, speak for themselves.
      A far right bomb thrower who  purports to fight corruption, while becoming themselves a caricature of corruption, is not surprising, indeed this is the very essence of right wing politics. However maintaining rabid support from a large segment of the policy victims will never cease to amaze me. The fact that there are people like Dr. Redfield, who I assume is a true believer with a PhD, complicates the argument that Trump’s followers are all just rubes, and furthers my amazement.

     

    1
  57. Northerner says:

    @Teve:

    Think about the number of people you encounter who can correctly put together a logical argument, can actually identify, instead of misidentify, logical fallacies, can look for whether the data supports the conclusion, can identify when they should reserve judgement because they aren’t well enough informed on the topic, etc. And how many people are just running on a mix of aphorisms and confirmation bias.

    And then think about the number of people who can be shown a plumbing problem or a car problem and fix it. Or fix a shorting circuit in a house. Or compose a song that other people want to listen to. Or teach a kindergarten class and keep the children engaged. Or keep animals or plants alive under a wide variety of changing conditions (green thumbs etc).

    There are a lot of types of intelligence, and my experience is that its fairly rare for the same people to be good (or bad) at every type. There’s even a good evolutionary reason for the development of these different types. Humans are social animals, we survived for hundreds of thousands of years because of our ability to work together in small communities — communities that I suspect did best with a mix of practical and abstract intelligence.

    A society with both pragmatic and abstract thinkers is going to do better than one composed of just one or the other. I’m not sure why the two are so often mutually exclusive (perhaps only enough area in the neo-cortex to adequately wire for one or the other), but it seems pretty clear that in most cases they are.

    4
  58. flat earth luddite says:

    @Bill: @Teve:
    I look back fondly to my hard science major (73-77) in chemistry and oceanography. Routine final rinse on glassware was a rinse in benzene or toluene (in a 5 gallon jug on counter, IIRC), which was then dumped down the drain. Spent several quarters “picking/counting,” which involved being hunched over a petri dish of bio samples (which had been preserved in a formaldehyde solution). Most likely I spent hundreds of hours breathing in these concentrated fumes without protection. Of course, when my cancer was diagnosed in 2011, I was asked about smoking/diet history. When I mentioned the science background (as an afterthought), my oncologist said it was unlikely, as I had colon cancer, not pancreatic. Ah, we’d never get away with that behavior today.

    1
  59. flat earth luddite says:

    @Teve:

    Most Republicans in a January 2020 survey agreed that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” More than 40% agreed that “a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.”

    Seriously, WTFF?
    I’m worried about foreign enemies of the Republic. I’m absolutely terrified about its internal enemies.

    4
  60. flat earth luddite says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Looks like the perfect GOP candidate to me (transsexual/Satanist/anarchist). But then I read her position, and no wonder GOP’s up in arms – she promotes decriminalizing most things that impact poor/minority as opposed to keeping them oppressed.

    1
  61. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: I guess I just took that as a giant wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the audience.

  62. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: My problem is that you are equating intelligence with critical thinking. The latter is something that can be taught, and even when it is, people can choose to reject its lessons. None of that has to do with underlying ability. I’ve seen Mensa types go totally down the conspiracy rabbit hole. There may even be a correlation between extreme paranoia and high creative intelligence.

    4
  63. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    I watch several of the late shows so over the years I saw lots of clips from the west wing and I didn’t like what I was seeing, because it looked like this kind of Rah Rah liberal preaching to the choir, and that’s really not something that interests me.

    That’s fine, and I’m certainly not out to tell people what shows they should watch. But some things should be kept in mind. First of all, although the show contains a lot of liberal preachiness and fantastical idealism, it also features a great deal of authentic detail about the nuts and bolts of the political process in America. Furthermore, the show has plenty of conservative fans, and I think one of the reasons for that is how sympathetically many of the Republican characters are depicted. (I already mentioned Arnold Vinick, the GOP nominee for president in the final season, but the show has likable Republican characters going back to the very beginning.) That indeed is part of why I said it seems less relevant in the Trump era.

    I also think some of the common criticisms of the show are overstated, possibly in part by association with stereotypical Sorkinisms that pervade many of his other works. It’s been a while since I saw the show in full, but I don’t actually remember a point when a soaring political speech saved the day. Some of the characters give inspiring speeches, but I don’t think it ever implies it’s some unstoppable force of political power. Lawrence O’Donnell, one of the show’s producers and writers, has said he thinks Obama was a much better president than Bartlett, who never actually passes any major liberal legislation. Bartlett is kind of an awesome character, but it doesn’t really show this trait leading to anything of consequence besides awesomeness.

  64. flat earth luddite says:

    @Bill:
    We used to tell “baby” paralegals and attorneys coming into the legal industry that if, after a year or two in, they hadn’t yet met Denny Crane, they needed to lock themselves in the bathroom, lean in close to the mirror, and say quietly to themselves, “I’m Denny Crane!” The personality of Shatner’s character was frighteningly spot-on.

    1
  65. ImProPer says:

    @Teve:

    “…anytime someone is telling me what I want to hear, my eyes narrow and i start looking around. ”

    Ditto that. In my case it is a learned response, rather than scientific tool. However after the instincts subside, the residual skepticism can be a good starting point for distilling truth.

    “PS I don’t know what the numbers are now but 10 years ago the numbers were that 6% of scientists were Republicans. There’re reasons for that number.”

    This is definitely a frightening statistic. That a large majority of our scientific community is publicly aligned with one of our major parties. That their conclusions, almost always alligning with that party’s politics, could be seen as partisan by the underrepresented other side, doesn’t bode well for a bipartisan trust in science as a methodology, rather than mere political opinion.

    1
  66. Mikey says:

    @Teve:

    After being in Europe for 2 weeks, I can say with confidence that this part of the world thinks the US has quite literally gone insane.

    My wife’s niece got married yesterday, in a lovely spot overlooking the Chiemsee in Bavaria. We should have been there, but of course thanks to Trump’s utter shitshow failure as a leader and the consequent utter shitshow failure of America to control the pandemic, we are not allowed in Germany. So we had to settle for pictures.

    I can tell you for sure the Germans are nearly universal in their horror at what America has become under Trump. A lot of that is because they are all too familiar with the kind of people Trump and his followers are, but it’s also because they actually did have a great deal of admiration for America, warts and all, that was utterly crushed by the 2016 election and its consequences.

    2
  67. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    they actually did have a great deal of admiration for America, warts and all, that was utterly crushed by the 2016 election and its consequences.

    I well remember the 2000s when a lot of people abroad thought America had become a big joke because of Dubya. Nowadays we tend to think Trump is so much more outlandish, and it leads to all those pieces attempting to resuscitate Dubya’s reputation. I don’t have any doubt you’re right that Trump was the final straw for a lot of people who once admired the US, but I do think the crumbling started with Bush.

    4
  68. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: you’ll notice I didn’t say dumb, I said functionally dumb. That takes into account the complaint you’re making.

  69. Teve says:

    @ImProPer:

    “PS I don’t know what the numbers are now but 10 years ago the numbers were that 6% of scientists were Republicans. There’re reasons for that number.”

    This is definitely a frightening statistic. That a large majority of our scientific community is publicly aligned with one of our major parties. That their conclusions, almost always alligning with that party’s politics, could be seen as partisan by the underrepresented other side, doesn’t bode well for a bipartisan trust in science as a methodology, rather than mere political opinion.

    70 years ago most scientists were Republicans. The 6% figure is a consequence of how bananapants the GOP has gone. If you’re anti-global warming and anti-evolution, you’re not going to get thinking scientists on your side.

    2
  70. gVOR08 says:

    Small bit of good news in WAPO, Robert Samuelson says he’s retiring. In future, there will be slightly less economic nonsense being published.

  71. Gustopher says:

    President Trump alleges that Cuban-Americans gave him the Bay of Pigs award, which doesn’t exist. Also, if it did exist, it wouldn’t be a good thing.

    “Mr. Trump, sir, we would like to give you the Massive Clusterfuck Award.”

    The man has no idea what the Bay of Pigs was, does he? Or a bay.

    He was confused, because he is very old and doddering. He was actually endorsed by the Versns of the Bay of Pigs, who by Trump’s definition, are a bunch of losers. But, that’s ok, as he is endorsed by losers everywhere.

    ——
    Also, the Daughters of the Confederacy do not give out the coveted Appomattox Award…

    1
  72. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: Donald Trump thinks that Roe v. Wade is two ways to cross the Potomac.

    8
  73. Jax says:

    @Kylopod: Hahahahaha…..I just about spit my perfectly mixed cocktail on my screen…..Maybe we should start a late-night OTB comedy show where it’s all zingers! 😉

  74. ImProPer says:

    @Teve:

    “70 years ago most scientists were Republicans. The 6% figure is a consequence of how bananapants the GOP has gone. If you’re anti-global warming and anti-evolution, you’re not going to get thinking scientists on your side.”

    I agree, however in the words of Richard Feynman; “I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy”.
    On a related note, I read that only 14 percent of engineers identified themselves as Democrats.

  75. Kylopod says:

    @Jax: Just another example of repurposing old jokes into Trump jokes. This line was originally attributed to Pat Schroeder, referring to Dan Quayle.

    1
  76. Northerner says:

    @ImProPer:

    On a related note, I read that only 14 percent of engineers identified themselves as Democrats.

    According to this site

    71% of engineers who state a preference are Democratic Party, 29% are Republican.

    Using your figure of 14% Democratic, that gives about 6% Republican and roughly 80% are independent. And that strikes me as about right, given that most engineers I know (I’m one) dislike all political parties, and politics in general.

    1
  77. ImProPer says:

    @Northerner:

    Thanks for the link. Now I know that I have the dubious honor of being in the number one, Republican supporting occupation. The one thing I am sure of this election cycle, just like the last several, I will not be voting Republican. Polls and popular opinion don’t have much influence over me either. The little tidbit of unverified trivia I shared was not meant to be an endorsement of a party, just making a point that a very low percentage of “scientists” identifying as Republicans shouldn’t be seen as any type of proof about them being anti-science and visa versa for their opponents.