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:

    A New Jersey high school teacher was suspended with pay for making profanity-laced comments to students about George Floyd.

    A recording aired by WNBC-TV showed Howard Zlotkin, a Dickinson high school science teacher, talking about Floyd and Black Lives Matter during what was supposed to be a climate change discussion in a Zoom class on landscape and design.

    In the footage, Zlotkin, who is white, is heard to say people are “whining and crying about Black Lives Matter”. He then refers to Floyd with a profanity as a “criminal” who “got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply”. Another profanity is heard as he says Floyd is being treated as a “hero”.

    Floyd, 46, was killed during an arrest over a counterfeit banknote in Minneapolis in May last year. Former police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was found guilty of murder last month.

    The video of Slotkin’s remarks and another taken the next day also included a profanity directed at a student and a vulgar gesture, WNBC reported. The student said Zlotkin grew irate when she and three other students challenged him, and the four were told to write an essay on “Why Black lives should matter” – an assignment not given to other students.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hidden World of WWI

    I came across this tumblr a couple of months ago and it is fascinating. A bit of the back story. John Gusky, the photographer, is an ER doc in Dallas, who moonlights as a National Geographic photographer. Prior to this series on WWI trenches and bunkers, he did a series on a German concentration camp that was behind the Iron Curtain. That series led to a lead on the bunkers.

    Generally he found the remains as they were left by the French, German and American troops that occupied the area. The fact that the area was intact after 100 years is pretty amazing, even when you consider that it is on a French military base. Personal artifacts, weapons, unexploded ordinance, all undisturbed. A portion of the bunkers are open to the public as a museum, but most have just remained. The American troops located there were from the Massachusetts based Yankee Division and the only all Black, including officers, combat unit in the Army, which was nicknamed the Black Devils. The site is locate near Verdun.

  3. Kathy says:

    According to the government’s official Tweeter announcement, I should get my first vaccine dose next Wednesday.

    Sure, Tuesday would have been more appropriate, But Cinco de Mayo is not bad.

    Still no clue what vaccine I’ll get.

  4. Teve says:
  5. @Teve:

    This is both unconstitutional and in violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

  6. CSK says:

    I guess he doesn’t understand that censorship comes from the government, not private enterprise.

    And how would this work, anyway? You’d be allowed on Twitter and Facebook in Florida, but nowhere else?

  7. Trump’s most insane lawyer (and I don’t mean Rudy Giuliani) is running to become the head of the South Carolina Republican Party.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: @Doug Mataconis: I wonder how they’ll react after the companies are forced to reinstate Louis Farrakhan and defenders of ISIS.

  9. A four man crew from the ISS returned to Earth with the first nighttime ocean return of astronauts since the Apollo Era

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:
  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    That is so cool. Thanks for that link.

  12. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    This past Wednesday, Wood apparently claimed on Telegram that he’d been roaming around the White House and encountered Trump working in the Oval Office. No “Joey ‘Bribes’ Bandito” on the premises, nor outside.

    He told Newsweek that this was his idea of a joke.

  13. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I forgot to add that Trump has endorsed McKissick, Wood’s opponent. Sometimes you can be too insane/incompetent even for Trump, and clearly Wood is.

  14. Scotland has elections this week. The Scottish Nationalist Party will likely win this election but that does not mean independence is likely.

    The British Parliament would have to approve the referendum and that’s not going to happen while the Tories are in power. It’s also not clear that a Labour Government would allow if either.

  15. Teve says:

    Just seen on Facebook

    Twitter is a joke. The only reason I downloaded it was to follow President Trump. When they banned him from their platform I had no further use for them. When a company that hides behind first amendment rights decides to silence the sitting president of the United States of America they need to be shut down. You can’t talk about free speech and being a private company and then turn around and censor the most powerful person in the free world.


  16. CSK says:

    The ignorance of this statement is breathtaking.

    And what about all those right-wing websites that ban commenters for criticizing Trump?

  17. Teve says:

    @CSK: it was so idiotic that i had to share.

  18. Kathy says:


    You begin to see why they believe Pence could, or had to, determine who won the election.

  19. Jen says:

    @Teve: Oh FFS. I am willing to bet that same person has posted multiple “private businesses can do what they want”-type posts too.

    How do people STILL not understand that *government* cannot censor speech, but *private companies* are completely within their rights (and, some would correctly note and it is their *responsibility*) to restrict what happens on their platforms?

    And, whee! second shot done and only a mildly sore arm and some very manageable minor fatigue.

  20. Jax says:

    @Kathy: Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful day to get your shot! (It’s also my birthday 😉 )

  21. Mimai says:


    This is great, thanks. I love street art like this. Love it. Gives me a chance to plug the Portuguese artist Vhils. Here’s background on him (scroll to the bottom for pics).

    And a tribute to healthcare works.

    Arresting stuff!

  22. CSK says:

    I too have wondered how these idiots reconcile their contention that private enterprise can do what it likes with their contention that private enterprise shouldn’t be allowed to “censor” conservative voices.

    My only theory is that the shrewder people in this crew do realize the contradiction. But they also understand not only how easily manipulated the others are but how short their memories are.

    Congrats on getting your second shot.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Yesterday, Mimai commented

    ps, Too bad that no one took you up on the paper topic. Did they think you were joking? Or did they know you were serious?

    I live in a pretty Red State-ish area, so they were mostly offended at the temerity that their teacher could show in suggesting such an idea. I assume they thought I was serious (which I am–but suspect you figured out on your own). I did have one biology major who wrote on why the American school system is prejudiced against teaching evolution–she discovered that her district had been an outlier on this subject, but eventually (trigger warning, look away Teve!!) argued for teaching intelligent design. I actually tried to dissuade her because the question, as she had presented it, did not call for a resolution on what the curriculum should be, that just her observation that evolution was not inherently hostile to Christian world view had made her point. Interesting paper. My comments detailed why the intelligent design position was superfluous to her argument. (And outside the scope of the evaluation rubric–I do not “dog” my students’ work. It was done to me enough in high school and grad school–twice was enough there–that I’ve had my fill.)

  24. Paine says:

    @Teve: I heard that law has a giant, planet-size carveout for companies that own a theme-park. Hmmm… that’s a rather specific clause… wonder who it could be referring to…

  25. Northerner says:


    I’m guessing it’s aimed at supporting a company that starts with D. But it simultaneously seems like a very easy out for Facebook and Twitter — spend a couple hundred thousand to buy (or build) a small theme park and the law doesn’t apply to them. I suspect the GOP itself knows that, and are only bothering with the law because it’ll make some of their more rabid supporters happy even if every major company can easily use that loophole.

  26. Kathy says:


    Aw, you fell just a little short of April, the best month in the year 😉

  27. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: i have a good friend who is an evolutionary biologist and also a committed Christian. The two are reconcilable. I don’t even know how he reconciles them, and I don’t much care. I respect his beliefs and he respects mine.

    He’s also a committed opponent to the fraud of Intelligent Design.

    Do you know how they made the ‘Intelligent Design’ textbook Of Pandas and People? Edwards v Aguillard came down while they were writing a creationist textbook, so they global search and replaced “Creator” with “Intelligent Designer” and “creationists” with “design proponents”. except the software fucked up in one instance.

  28. Teve says:

    My Philosophy of Science prof thought McLean v Arkansas was bad and Michael Ruse was a dumb stupidhead whose butt smelled bad P-U! Bud i graduated 6 mos. before Kitzmiller, I wonder what he thought of that.

  29. A new poll finds that a majority of Americans, including a majority of Republican voters, oppose bills barring transgender student athletes from playing sports with the gender they identify with.

    Despite this 7 Republican controlled states have passed such bills and similar bills are pending in 23 other

    For the most part this is because, as with gay marriage, Republicans are pandering to the bigotry of Evangelicals and social conservatives.

  30. Teve says:

    I have qualms about the transgender sport thing but was told by a friend, ‘is LeBron James wearing a wig and dunking and collecting WNBA checks and rings? No? Are trans athletes walking away with all the medals? No. It’s not a problem.’ And i put that in single quotes cuz i took a little license with it.

  31. Gustopher says:


    I too have wondered how these idiots reconcile their contention that private enterprise can do what it likes with their contention that private enterprise shouldn’t be allowed to “censor” conservative voices.

    Luckily, I have ranting right wing loons for brothers, so… something about 230 granting a liability shield so long as the company doesn’t censor anyone, but liberal judges/regulators not enforcing that.

  32. CSK says:

    That may well make sense to your brothers, but it doesn’t to me.

  33. Gustopher says:


    is LeBron James wearing a wig and dunking and collecting WNBA checks and rings? No?

    How would you know?

  34. Paine says:

    The Atlantic has a good piece on the problems with the filibuster (at least from the Dem’s perspective):

    Although Republicans do not need as much support to achieve 60 votes, getting there is still nearly out of reach because they usually win fewer votes nationally than Democrats. (In fact, Republicans have never once achieved 60 seats in the period since 1980.) But exceptions to the filibuster rule have been carved out that allow two major Republican policy priorities: cutting taxes and confirming federal judges. For Republicans, then, the status quo gives satisfactory results. For Democrats, current levels of partisan loyalty and obstruction guarantee that virtually no other bills can pass. The net result is a system that preferentially blocks one side’s goals.

    I kinda get Manchin’s position but Sinema’s intransigence here is baffling.

  35. Barry says:

    @CSK: “I too have wondered how these idiots reconcile their contention that private enterprise can do what it likes with their contention that private enterprise shouldn’t be allowed to “censor” conservative voices.”

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

    Businesses can choose whom they do/do not serve, unless they are refusing to serve the maskless.

  36. CSK says:

    And don’t forget…Christian bakers are entirely within their rights to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I haven’t studied the topic to speak of and not in any detail. It’s something that sounds good and fair in theory, but falls apart as the conversation rolls around to “how do you account for X?” with the answer being “oh, we don’t, that falls outside of our sphere of investigation.” Really? It shouldn’t. Sorry, no sale. (Which I noted in my comment to my student at the time.)

  38. @Paine:

    1. Sinema has always been a Manchin-like moderate Democrat.

    2. She represents what may be the most purple state in the country.

  39. Northerner says:


    Many people who think the bakers should be free to refuse to make cakes think social media companies shouldn’t be able to refuse messages.

    Many people who think social media companies should be able to refuse messages think that baker’s shouldn’t be able to.

    There’s a pattern there somewhere.