The First Forum of August

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. MarkedMan says:

    From a WaPo Op Ed about how both the Dems and Repubs are full of scolds

    But now, only two churches remain. You probably go to one or the other. But you must attend all day, every day. There’s no escape from services anymore; church is always in session. And if you don’t like the teachings, you can either go along without question or your church might decide you’re no longer fit for membership.

  2. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: Meh. I know whenever I praise Cheney and Kinzinger’s actions on the Jan 6 committee all my liberal friends agree both are principled and courageous in that context even if we would disagree with them on pretty much every other policy position.

    Contrast this with how Republicans view them, office holders who would vote 100% for policies they support but who have committed the cardinal sin of honoring their oaths to the Constitution rather than cultish fealty to Trump.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hotter than Dubai: US cities at risk of Middle Eastern temperatures by 2100

    Just in case it isn’t already hot enough for you.

  4. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    I know revenge is supposed to be served aged and chilled, but this seems over the top…

    79-year-old torches cars decades after dealership sold him bad Jeep, officials say

  5. Kathy says:

    You may recall I ranted last week about a coworker who showed up to work with COVID symptoms (cough and fever), because he had tested negative the week before that.

    I got news yesterday he passed away over the weekend. They’re saying heart attack, but these days who knows. I don’t expect any details.

    I do expect more ranting from the maskhole boss about taking precautions, as he takes none himself.

    As to the very unfortunate coworker, I’ve no idea whether he was vaccinated, much less boosted. He left the company for a few months around late spring 2021 and came back earlier this year. I recall he mentioned he’d had the second dose around December, which is incredibly late given his age group (he could have had it in August 2021). So, he likely never got a booster. No idea if that affected anything.

    On related news, Biden got the dreaded Paxlovid rebound. I may have more to say on that later.

  6. CSK says:

    I’m hoping John SF turns up to answer this question:

    Why is the British public so apparently obsessed with WAGs? Here in the U.S., I can’t think of anyone who gives a damn who sports stars date or are married to.

  7. Jax says:

    @CSK: There’s obviously some interest in the US, or they wouldn’t have the “Basketball wives” reality tv show and whatnot.

    The only reason I know it (and others like it) exist is because I routinely watch Criminal Minds re-runs, and there are a lot of ads promoting them on that channel. Occasionally they follow Criminal Minds and I can never find the remote fast enough. 😛

  8. MarkedMan says:


    all my liberal friends agree both are principled and courageous in that context even if we would disagree with them on pretty much every other policy position

    Same here.

    In reality, both Parties are self declared. If you register as a Dem or Repub then you are one, whatever your opinions might be on any issue. The Purity Police don’t own the parties, they are just self appointed scolds.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I think Americans do it with movie stars rather than sports figures. Hence all the coverage of Bennifer and the Pitt/jolie split.

    ETA and pop music stars.

  10. CSK says:

    Some interest, perhaps. But what I’m speaking of verges on obsession.
    Yes, but the Brits share that with us as well. It seems pretty universal, in fact.

    This fixation on WAGs seems uniquely British.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: @Mikey:

    From the column,

    I remember a time when it was considered normal and healthy to criticize the political team to which one belonged.

    I seem to recall more than occasional comments here at OTB criticizing Democrats.

    The author speaks from his own experience as a religious person and imposes a religious framing on politics. There are, of course, Democrats for whom it is the true faith. But there is a fair element of Ds maintaining faith in objective reality and GOPs maintaining faith in something other than reality. It’s common for the religious to see atheism as a religious belief.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Well, I do know that what’s his names wife, so and so, was convicted of some kind of tax evasion in one of those Euro countries. So, I’m not much better.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Although what I said about the Purity Police being self appointed is generally true, some groups actually do have official Purity Police. The Taliban and the Saudis come to mind. But so do some Orthodox Jewish communities. Years ago I lived in a neighborhood with a large concentration of Orthodox Jews and I have to admit I delighted in what I perceived as an eternal war between the Purity Police and the average Joe. A lot of this involved what the PP considered “work” and therefore forbidden on the Sabbath. Turning a dial or pressing a button to start a burner was working, so no hot meal for you! Solution: buy a gas stove and light a burner just before sundown on Friday. Pressing a button for an elevator is deemed work so walk the stairs! Solution: Jewish friends told me there were apartment buildings where an elevator rode up and down very slowly on the sabbath, and all the doors were open. But the funniest is the wire around Manhattan (and other cities). The PP say you are allowed to do certain things inside your house like carry something from one room to another, or push a baby in a stroller. Centuries ago the average Joes got a ruling that the entirety of a compound was inside, and then that got expanded to anywhere inside a fence surrounding your house, so the solution is obvious. String a wire on 15 foot tall poles all the way around the island of Manhattan and voila, the whole thing is your back yard.

  14. Kathy says:

    The infamous Paxlovid rebound is simple to define: it’s when a COVID positive person takes Paxlovid, gets better, tests negative, goes back to their normal life, then test positive again.

    Why it happens hasn’t been explained.

    I’ve a hypothesis, which hinges on the crucial difference between antibiotics and antivirals. It’s kind of informed guesswork, as I’m not a virologist, physician, or even biologist.

    Antibiotics kill bacteria. Antivirals don’t kill viruses, but they keep them from replicating. We know from HIV treatments that a virus can be kept in check with antivirals, but not eliminated. Patients on antiviral therapy do not develop AIDS, and they’re not likely to infect others through sexual contact, but the virus remains. If they stop taking their medication, they will become infectious and develop AIDS. This means the virus still manages to replicate, but not very much.

    Likely it’s the same with the trump virus. The Paxlovid course keeps it at low levels, which eases symptoms and leads to negative tests. If the immune system fails to clear it, though, it will flare back up once the drugs are removed and nothing prevents massive replication anymore.

    This seems obvious to me, but, as noted above, I’m not versed in the subject and could very well be wrong.

    Regardless, is it a good idea to take Paxlovid? Yes For one thing, rebound seems to happen in relatively few cases. I’ve heard ranges from 1% to 6%. For another thing, it still prevents hospitalization and death even in rebound cases.

    Now, is a second course indicated after rebound? No idea. The news doesn’t say one way or another.

  15. EddieInCA says:


    Why is the British public so apparently obsessed with WAGs? Here in the U.S., I can’t think of anyone who gives a damn who sports stars date or are married to.

    With all due respect, you couldn’t be more wrong. You’re just not in the demographic that gives a shit.

    There was an actual show called “WAGS” as early as 2015, which ran for several seasons. Here are others I remember.

    Real Wives of Atlanta
    Basketball Wives
    Love & Hip Hop
    Baseball Wives
    Atlanta Exes
    Football Wives
    The Game

    The above are just the titles off the top of my head…

    It’s a whole genre to itself.

  16. Kathy says:

    Lately I’ve seen a great deal of Star Trek, Babylon 5, and The Orville.

    Now I’m wondering, what is the evolutionary advantage of facial prosthetics? I mean, a hell of a lot of species all over the galaxy in no less than four different universes develop them. there must be a reason. On the other hand, humans lack them entirely and do just as well.

    So, it may come down to something as prosaic as sexual selection. Like birds who develop long tails for no useful purpose (other than to be able to mate).

  17. CSK says:

    Well, yes, but I don’t see newspaper headlines about them

  18. CSK says:

    Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed loon running for governor of Arizona, has accused Cindy McCain of being in league with George Soros to end the United States.

  19. wr says:

    @Mikey: I wonder how many “liberal friends” this guy had to talk to about Liz Cheney before he got the response he was looking for. Or made it up.

  20. Scott says:

    @CSK: Just trying to boost her polling numbers amongst the Arizona Republicans. SOP.

  21. CSK says:

    Indeed. Lake said this on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. Is that popular in Arizona?

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: “And if you don’t like the teachings, you can either go along without question or your church might decide you’re no longer fit for membership.”

    Or you might be Joe Manchin (or virtually any other political figure in America at any level of government) and ask “whadaya gonna do, kick me out?”

    If political parties had the equivalent of excommunication, the threat might be worth something, but they don’t and it isn’t.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Right lawyer will get him off the criminal end of the charge with an insanity plea. The civil depends on whether he has a wallet worth rolling him for.

  24. Stormy Dragon says:


    The evolutionary advantage is making it obvious which Planet of Hats you come from so that the audience can figure out your thematic function in the narrative

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: The same kind of rebound happens with pneumonia and bronchitis, too. I’ve had several times when they flared up again only days after they cleared up. Because I have asthma, it became important to decide whether the pneumonia was because of or in spite of the asthma because if it was because of, the asthma needed to be treated before the pneumonia would go away permanently.

    As to why it happens with Covid, I, like you, have no idea. But it’s not unique to Covid at all.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: When I was looking up the answer that I gave to CSK yesterday, I stumbled across a listing for what appeared to be a production company named WAG, but I couldn’t find it again today and am not interested in looking for it.

  27. Scott says:

    Manly man has thoughts. Thoughts that don’t make sense.

    Why I Won’t Vote to Add Sweden and Finland to NATO

    Until our European allies make the necessary commitments to their own national defense, we must not put more American lives at risk in Europe while allowing China’s power to grow unchecked.

    It is neither one or the other.

    Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs. But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia. I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse—and America, less safe.

    Since the tensions that are being driven by two men, Xi and Putin, the issue isn’t economics but power and ideology. Hawley’s thesis ignores this completely.

  28. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Wag Entertainment doesn’t seem to have anything to do with actual WAGs.

    But…it’s okay. I was just curious. I’ve been seeing references to Briotsh WAGs for a number of years now.

  29. CSK says:


  30. KM says:

    The eruv is a master class in rules lawyering in the face of strict interpretation.

    Over zealous application of the definition of work by religious authorities meant the regular faithful had to hire someone to do things for you (Shabbat goy), invent things like autostarters or timers or just do the work ahead of time. Instead, someone turned the tables and said that if some work’s OK inside, then we can just expand the definition of inside like they’re expanding work. And if inside is just defined by walls, well then what’s a wall? Why not a fence? And if a fence, what’s a fence but some wire making a barrier?

    Suddenly a thin wire miles long qualifies as “inside” where you don’t have to worry about doing “work” like turning on your light switch. Rules lawyering for the win!

  31. Jen says:
  32. Mu Yixiao says:


    Holy hell! That’s amazing!

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: And guys like him are going to keep multi-billion (at a time) dollar outlays to Ukraine going? Good to know. (And hope you’re right. 🙁 )

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: On the other hand, WAGs are well known to be Briotshes.

  35. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I didn’t know that.

    I know some people who can’t comprehend the simple instruction to take the antibiotic for the full time prescribed, not just until they feel better. You’d think rebound would be a distinct possibility then, as the infection might not have been cleared by the drugs then.

  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    Anyone else see the story about the doctor seeing a guy on the Madrid subway with obvious monkey pox and the guy just responding that it couldn’t be monkeypox because they weren’t gay, while exposing dozens of people in the car?

  37. JohnSF says:

    IMHO it relates to the massive (albeit declining) role the tabloid press: Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Star, The Mirror, and above all, The Sun

    A major staple of their coverage are the scandals of the famous (sports, soap stars, pop stars, minor royals, etc etc) The slebs (celebrities).

    Another is sport, and especially, by a mile, football.
    So any crossover is gold.

    As I never read them, I’m generally indifferent to football, and don’t give a damn about sleb-shagging, that’s about the limit of my knowledge.

    Apart from “Wagatha Christie”: reason being, that it’s absolutely bloody hilarious. 🙂

  38. JohnSF says:

    Hey, what’s wrong with us Briotsh?

    Famous for our bread, that the French stole and misspelled, the bounders.
    Also for our 17th century legwear innovations.

  39. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @JohnSF:
    You two are a real laff riot. 😀

  40. JohnSF says:

    I’d advise Senator Hawley to avoid Finnish social media, if he retains any smidgeon of self respect.

    General tenor seems to be, if it they had to rely on the honour, courage and integrity of Josh Hawley for protection, making a deal with Vlad the Mad might be the better option.

    I wonder if Hawley is actually unaware, or whether he just doesn’t care, because his audience is unaware, that Finland is one of the most militarised countries on the face of the planet?

    IIRC among democratic states, only Israel, Taiwan, ands South Korea have higher per capita military reserves (total of almost 300,000)
    Or that Sweden reintroduced universal liability to conscription in 2017?

  41. Scott says:

    @JohnSF: Speaking of manhood, rhetorically speaking, who has the bigger gonads (to be gender neutral), Nancy Pelosi or Josh Hawley.

    Pelosi expected to visit Taiwan, Taiwanese and US officials say

  42. Kurtz says:


    I wonder if Hawley is actually unaware, or whether he just doesn’t care, because his audience is unaware, that Finland is one of the most militarised countries on the face of the planet?

    Beware of anybody who from a young age builds their life around attaining power. It’s much easier to be a Republican, at least right now, because it doesn’t require doing much of anything.

    Check that, you may have to run from a crowd with whom you expressed solidarity via signal co-opted from the Left. But other than that. Vote no a lot. Put your feet up and relax while you get paid. Give speeches that could probably be mostly written via MadLibs.

  43. dazedandconfused says:


    John Oliver’s take on Boris’s likely successors in the first 6 minutes of this.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Certainly that type of situation, too. But I’ve had relapses several times in my life and one of the few things I’m good at is finishing courses of medication. (Except pain pills. They’re always disappointing. 🙁 I’ve NEVER gotten recreational drugs at all.)

  45. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I didn’t mean to imply you or anyone in particular.

    The immune system is weird. It’s not uncommon for pathogens to hide, inactive, in places the immune system doesn’t bother them. Then they get active again later.

  46. Kathy says:

    Here’s my latest cooking experiment: Ground beef with mushrooms and pasta in a creamy sauce.

    I began by cooking the sliced mushrooms with about 1/3 of a sliced white onion, with a little sherry (at a guess, 1 Tbsp.), which I then set side. Next I cooked the loose ground beef with one small, sliced red onion, 3 minced cloves of garlic, and about 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Then I added one cup of beef broth, some paprika, and 1 tsp. crushed fine herbs, and let it simmer until most of the liquid was gone. While all this is going on, I cooked about 150-175 grams of pasta shapes.

    Next I added 125 ml sweet cream, more paprika, and the pasta, and stirred everything together. Again I let the whole thing simmer for a while.

    It turned out pretty good.

  47. JohnSF says:

    Humourous, but a little too manic for my taste.
    I prefer sly, sneaky malice 🙂
    Blackadder 2 and 3 as opposed to 1.

    Also, I think he missed the point that Truss (who is now heavily odds on t0 become leader, because she’s selling the dreams the Party loves) isn’t going to clean up after Johnson.
    She’s running as continuity Johnson plus extra tax cut happy sauce.
    All the worst of Johnson’s cabinet are in her camp: Rees-Mogg, Dorries, Braverman, Frost etc

    She also got two the few impressive contemporary Tories, Sec.Def. Wallace and Chair Def.Cmte. Tugendhat.
    Why? Suspect she’s promised the additional increased defence spend they’ve been calling for, while Sunak wants to keep the lid screwed on.

    Two interesting takes on the Conservatives political/economic dead end by Prof. Chris Grey and Chris Dillow.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I didn’t think you were implying me. I only talk about me out of vanity and being the only person I have direct sickness experience involving.

  49. Jax says:

    @Kathy: That’s pretty similar to a stroganoff recipe my grandma taught me to make from scratch, it goes well with rice, too! She didn’t add sherry, though, she used apple cider vinegar.

  50. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Jax:
    As my late mother once observed: You can make shirt cardboard taste good with mushrooms, cream, and white wine.”

  51. Jax says:

    @CSK: The trick is having that sherry or vinegar and paprika, I think, because otherwise it’s just hamburger gravy over some kind of carb (usually toasted white bread, for us)….or as she used to call it, shit on a shingle.

    I’m all “fancy” now, so I add the extra ingredients, and now it’s “FANCY Shit on A Shingle”. 😛

  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Confirmed that we took out al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and one of the plotters of 9/11 in a surgical airstrike on Saturday night. Good riddance.

  53. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: It’s possible that the course for Paxlovid is simply too short to clear all cases. This is a novel virus and treatments are new, after all.

    (And on the subject of novel virus and uncertainties with treatments, I will relax a lot if we get data showing paxlovid reduces chance of long covid — disrupting the virus early on seems like it might help)