Thursday’s Forum

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

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:

    Every once in a while Jimmy Kimmel sends a “news crew” out onto the streets and interviews people for their reactions to some ridiculous fake news. A couple of days ago he did this again, asking people for their reaction to the Trump administrations new ban on allowing anyone with a beard into the country. What struck me was the number of Trumpers who unhesitatingly and without any thought whatsoever immediately expressed total support for the policy because “President Trump is keeping us safe”. I suspect these are in-person versions of our resident Trumpers. And yes, Godwin’s Law legitimately applies here.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    US says ‘flash crash’ trader should not face further prison time

    In a recommendation issued on Wednesday, Michael O’Neill, assistant chief of the fraud section of the US Department of Justice, said: “The defendant’s keen insights and explanations regarding both general and specific patterns of deceptive and manipulative trading have illuminated the government’s understanding of similar spoofing. As a result, he has substantially assisted and informed the government’s nationwide efforts to detect, investigate, and prosecute these crimes.

    “Although the defendant’s cooperation with the government is complete, the government has no doubt that he would promptly make himself available to assist the government’s investigative and prosecutorial efforts in the future if asked.”

    O’Neill concluded: “For the foregoing reasons, the government respectfully recommends that this court depart significantly below the advisory sentencing guidelines range. Specifically, the government agrees with the probation officer and the defendant that a sentence of time served would be appropriate.”

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    According to data recently made available from the US Federal Reserve, more than half of companies that have black owners were turned down for loans, a rate twice as high as white business owners. The report found that while black-owned firms were the most likely to have applied for bank financing, less than 47% of these applications were fully funded. Even when black business owners get approved, their rate of failure to receive full financing is the highest among all categories by more than 10%.

    The bad news doesn’t end there. The report also found that black-owned firms were the most likely group to have applied for a credit card and experienced the highest turn-down rate. For those that applied for bank financing, a smaller share of black-owned and Hispanic-owned businesses received loans of $100,000 or more as compared to other ethnic groups.

    Absolutely. Galen Gondolfi, a senior loan counselor at a not-for-profit that helps small-business owners build credit, recently told NPR’s St Louis Public Radio: “St Louis’s seemingly provincial lending struggles not only with entrepreneurs that don’t historically ‘look like them’, but [also] the types of businesses that are unique to these populations.”

    But discrimination isn’t the only reason. There are other factors that give bankers pause when considering a loan to a black business owner.

    Dell Gines, a senior community development adviser with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City believes that the lack of intergenerational wealth and “insufficient knowledge” about the banking system are also significant obstacles. “Let’s say, hypothetically, there’s no discrimination in the banking industry, we would still probably have disparate outcomes because the system itself hasn’t prepared us to utilize the banking system effectively,” said Gines, who is black. “Then, when you layer on the levels of discrimination that research has showed … when you combine those two, that’s why you see these kind of disparate outcomes.”

    In other words, racism in society, both past* and present, combined with racism in the banking industry, ends with racist results. I am sure you are every bit as shocked as I.

    *I love that part about “the lack of intergenerational wealth”. Not only does that put the lie to the whole “meritocracy” BS, but think back to the financial crash of ’07-’08. Which demographics were shown to have time and again been targeted with the shady loan deals that were at the heart of the crash? Which borrowers were then pushed into those types of loans even tho they were more than qualified for safer more secure traditional loans? And which demographics suffered the worse losses of family wealth in the crash?

    It’s a lesson in how “insufficient knowledge” about the banking system insures a lack of “intergenerational wealth” within certain racial demographics. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Steven, I have a small suggestion about the blog and was going to send it to you directly, but didn’t know how to do that. FWIW, I’m (very happily) not on Twitter.

  6. Scott says:

    For more depressing news:

    Not just a steady climb but it looks like the rate of increase is increasing.

  7. Paine says:

    This was posted a few days ago at Vox. An article from the Harvard Law Review proposing, well…:

    To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.

    All completely constitutional, apparently…

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The long read
    Bring up the bodies: the retired couple who find drowning victims

    When Gene and Sandy Ralston returned to their truck after a day on the Beardsley reservoir in northern California in March 2002, they discovered several handwritten notes taped to the doors and windscreen: “Call Lieutenant Lunney as soon as you get back to town. It’s urgent.”

    The Ralstons, a married couple from rural Idaho, had been scientists until the late 1980s, when they began helping out on local search and rescue missions. By the winter of 2002, they had volunteered on more than a dozen searches for victims of drowning across the US, and had developed an uncanny ability to find bodies. They had just helped Lt Lunney’s sheriff’s department locate the remains of a man who had drowned in the reservoir three-and-a-half years earlier, after falling off his boat while fishing. Divers had brought him back to the surface that afternoon.

    As the notes instructed, the Ralstons drove to the nearby town of Sonora to meet Lunney. Their expertise was needed by some other folks, he said, although he wasn’t allowed to tell them who. The next morning, the Ralstons were briefed by FBI agents on a series of kidnappings for ransom that had turned into murders. The families of four victims of abduction had wired more than $1.2m between them to an account in New York, which then transferred the money to a bank in Dubai. But the bodies of the victims were now thought to be lying at the bottom of a reservoir just east of Yosemite national park. The killers, the FBI said, were possibly connected to the Russian mafia.
    The Ralstons are now in their 70s and spend most of every year travelling to search sites or on the water, looking for bodies. They have clocked more than 31,000 miles on their motorhome in a single year. In almost two decades of searching, they have found 120 victims of drowning in lakes and rivers across the US and Canada. They are considered among the best underwater search and recovery specialists in North America, and have worked for agencies from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to Nasa (hunting for the wreckage of the space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated on atmospheric entry in February 2003, killing all seven crew members). They have helped solve crimes and generations-old mysteries.

    When the Ralstons’ home phone rings with a search request, though, it is usually a family member of a missing person – someone reaching out after an official search has been called off. By the time the Ralstons arrive at the scene of a disappearance, no one expects the missing person to be found alive. What Gene and Sandy offer is not the hope of rescue, but the solace of finality. They have spent years crisscrossing North America in the service of grief.

  9. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sad but fascinating. The Ralstons do good work.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments:

    Amending the constitution is a constitutional process.

  11. CSK says:

    Jazz Shaw Tweeted 14 hours ago that Doug Mataconis “has provided proof of life.”

  12. @MarkedMan: You can email me as drsltaylor at gmail.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: He managed to get a message smuggled out of Guantanamo? Good news.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    NOW Nunes remembers talking to Parnas.
    Makes you wonder what else is coming out. Remember, Nunes is on the committee and he has seen what they have.

  15. KM says:


    Get worried sometimes – the nature of the internet makes it hard to tell if someone just got busy and can’t post vs actual problem. It can be distressing at times to think people you chat with regularly can suffer tragedies, health issues or even pass away and you’d never know because they just go dark. I have several passing acquaintances on several forums I suspect to have perished in the Australian fires but have no way to prove it or even find out. I just know they’ve from Australia and no one’s heard from them in a while. The last post from one was a truly apocalyptic looking pic of a red sky and smoke where they spoke about having to leave. I’m hoping it’s just infrastructure issues or that there’s more pressing concerns then posting to let us know they’re ok but still….

    All my best to Doug and anyone else we haven’t seen in a while. Hope things are well and if they are not, virtual hugs and cookies are being sent your way!

  16. CSK says:

    Rudy Giuliani now says that you should believe [Lev Parnas] at your own peril.”
    And here I was under the impression that they were besties.

  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The GAO has concluded that the funds withheld from Ukraine were withheld illegally…in violation of ICA.1 See U.S.C 684.
    The President may not substitute his own policies for those of Congress. So not only was the Bribery, the Wire Fraud, and the Obstruction, illegal…the VERY ACT of withholding the funds was illegal.
    Not that it matters one bit to the Republican lickspittles in the Senate.

  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Rudy Giuliani now says that you should believe [Lev Parnas] at your own peril.”

    This always cracks me up. If he can’t be trusted, WHY DID YOU HAVE HIM WORKING FOR YOU???

  19. sam says:

    Enjoy: The Most Scathing Reviews of 2019

    A taste from a review of Don Jr.’s book, Triggered:

    Reading it, I even began to suspect that parts may have genuinely been written by Don Jr. himself. The excruciatingly insecure prose wasn’t the tell—that could have come from any of the hacks who work for him. It was that some of the errors are so ludicrous they couldn’t possibly have come from anyone else …

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Future Rudy Giuliani statement on that: “Who should know better what kind of a liar he is than his former partner in crime? He used to be lying for me and I was OK with that. Now he is only lying for himself and that is just plain bad for everybody.”

    Hmmmm…. Now that I’ve written that it doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head.

  21. CSK says:

    Where is Jen? I always found her comments interesting and intelligent.

  22. Jax says:

    @CSK: I was wondering that, myself, I haven’t seen her comment in a while.

  23. Paul L. says:

    The NRA is a Russian funded terrorist organization. The NRA member list should be used to place them into gulags/camps and confiscate their property under civil forfeiture.

    The Walls are closing in.
    This is the beginning of the end for Trump.
    Vote Warren.

  24. CSK says:

    @Paul L.:
    Oh, please. You are, I assume, being sarcastic. Right? Right?

  25. DrDaveT says:


    Amending the constitution is a constitutional process.

    Back when Martin Gardner stopped writing the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American, Douglas Hofstadter took it over and renamed it to “Metamagical Themas”. One of the first columns he wrote described a game called “Nomic” that was used to teach constitutional law. It consisted of a list of voting rules, in two categories: mutable rules and immutable rules. Immutable rules can’t be changed, and included things like the scoring and victory conditions for the game — but the rule that specifies which rules are immutable is itself mutable.

    Rules are changed by a vote of the players. Hofstadter pointed out that it was perfectly possible for the nature of play to morph radically during any given game. The players could all end up playing dodge ball, or tiddly winks, or competing in poetry slams.

  26. DrDaveT says:


    Oh, please. You are, I assume, being sarcastic. Right? Right?

    Paul L. lives at the bottom of the slippery slopes in some personal non-Euclidean space.

  27. CSK says:

    Yeah. I should ignore him.

  28. Paul L. says:


    in some personal non-Euclidean space

    Reading the Balloon Juice, Crooks and Liars, Media Matters, Plum Line, Right Turn, and Vox blogs.

    The Walls are closing in.
    This is the beginning of the end for Trump.
    Vote Warren.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    Will Democratic candidates for President please grow up!

  30. JohnMcC says:

    @Paul L.: Already did that. Those Walmart stores in Texas that were repurposed to hold millions — MILLIONS I TELL YOU — who were rounded up during Jade Helm, have you forgotten?

    So soon we forget.

  31. Kurtz says:


    I’ve been in non-Euclidian space before. Bruh, you gotta try that shit. It was epic, bruh. I was so effing twisted, bruh. Bruh. Bruh.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    Here’s a fine example of how GOP senators facing tough races this fall can help themselves with their base but hurt themselves in the general election…Republicans, keep throwing out that raw red meat!

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @An Interested Party: It would be heartening If she is truly angry and panicked but it could be just an act for the mindless Trump-bots in her primary

  34. CSK says:

    @An Interested Party: @MarkedMan:

    It probably won’t help McSally. Cult45 already sees her as a traitor.

  35. Paul L. says:

    I thought McSally was a McCain protege but the McCain family denounced her for disrespecting the press.
    Good luck to Commander Mark Kelly running on Gun Registration and Confiscation in AZ.
    The Walls are closing in.
    This is the beginning of the end for Trump.

  36. CSK says:

    According to CNN, citing a Pentagon source, Saudi Arabia hasn’t forked over the 1 billion bucks Trump said it did in exchange for a deployment of our soldiers.

  37. Kathy says:

    Doesn’t there come a time when you want Trump to lose just so you can see the tantrum his cult base will throw?

  38. Moosebreath says:


    Normally, I’d say yes, but given how often Trump’s supporters threaten violence over real or imagined slights, I’d say a non-zero number will actually do so, which would be too many.

    Note, the prior paragraph is not enough of a reason for me to want Trump to win. Just that I want Trump to lose for weightier reasons.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    Good luck to Commander Mark Kelly running on Gun Registration and Confiscation in AZ.

    He certainly isn’t suffering for wanting “Gun Registration and Confiscation”…

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: They forked it over, but Obama stole it and gave it the Iranians so they could build missiles with which to kill US soldiers in Iraq. Q told me.

  41. CSK says:

    Thank you so much for that clarification.

    You know how Cult45 will respond to this revelation? By screaming “Fake news.”

  42. EddieInCA says:
  43. Moosebreath says:

    And in other news, the Administration is asking Congress not to hold hearings on world wide threat assessment to avoid making Trump mad.

    “US intelligence officials have quietly asked the Senate and House Intelligence Committees not to hold public hearings on this year’s World Wide Threats Assessment after testimony from agency chiefs last year prompted an angry response from President Donald Trump, according to a source familiar with the talks.

    Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence broached the topic during informal preliminary discussions with committee staff, the source said.”

    Apparently, they feel it is better to keep Congress in the dark than for Trump to have a temper tantrum.

  44. CSK says:

    The new book A Very Stable Genius, by WaPo reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, sounds wonderful. There’s a review in today’s WaPo by Ashley Parker.

    Trump had a vague idea of what Pearl Harbor meant historically, but had to ask John Kelly to explain it to him.

  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    James Pearce asked me to send this message. Since this open topic I hope that it won’t be an issue. If it is you can delete this comment:

    “”I’m grateful to be banned from OTB, especially since personal attacks are tolerated and political differences are not. That this continues to be a topic of discussion months after my ban indicates that the problem might be on your end of the demarc.”

  46. @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Thanks. I am not sure how productive that message ultimately is, but so it goes.

  47. DrDaveT says:

    Many of you will be fascinated to know that the defense committees of our Congress feel that improved civics education (no, I’m not kidding) is vital to our National Security. This is part of the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act for 2020:

    (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Defense, in consultation
    with the Secretary of Education, shall carry out a pilot program
    under which the Secretary provides enhanced educational support
    and funding to eligible entities to improve civics education programs
    taught by such entities.
    (b) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the pilot program is to provide
    enhanced civics education on the following topics:
    (1) Critical thinking and media literacy.
    (2) Voting and other forms of political and civic engagement.
    (3) Interest in employment, and careers, in public service.
    (4) Understanding of United States law, history, and
    (5) The ability of participants to collaborate and compromise
    with others to solve problems.
    (c) CONSIDERATIONS.—In carrying out the pilot program, the
    Secretary of Defense shall consider innovative approaches for
    improving civics education.
    (d) METRICS AND EVALUATIONS.—The Secretary of Defense shall
    establish metrics and undertake evaluations to determine the
    effectiveness of the pilot program, including each of the activities
    carried out under subsection (e).
    (e) TYPES OF SUPPORT AUTHORIZED.—Under the pilot program
    the Secretary of Defense—
    (1) shall provide support to eligible entities to address,
    at a minimum—
    (A) the development or modification of curricula
    relating to civics education;
    (B) classroom activities, thesis projects, individual or
    team projects, internships, or community service activities
    relating to civics;
    (C) collaboration with government entities, nonprofit
    organizations, or consortia of such entities and organizations
    to provide participants with civics-related experiences;
    (D) civics-related faculty development programs;
    (E) recruitment of educators who are highly qualified
    in civics education to teach civics or to assist with the
    development of curricula for civics education;
    (F) presentation of seminars, workshops, and training
    for the development of skills associated with civic engagement;
    (G) activities that enable participants to interact with
    government officials and entities;
    (H) expansion of civics education programs and outreach
    for members of the Armed Forces, dependents and
    children of such members, and employees of the Department
    of Defense; and
    (I) opportunities for participants to obtain work experience
    in fields relating to civics; and
    (2) may provide any other form of support the Secretary
    determines to be appropriate to enhance the civics education
    taught by eligible entities.
    (f) REPORT.—Not later than 180 days after the conclusion of
    the first full academic year during which the pilot program is
    carried out, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional
    defense committees a report that includes—
    (1) a description of the pilot program, including the a
    description of the specific activities carried out under subsection
    (e); and
    (2) the metrics and evaluations used to assess the effectiveness
    of the program as required under subsection (d).
    (g) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
    (1) The term ‘‘civics education program’’ means an educational
    program that provides participants with—
    (A) knowledge of law, government, and the rights of
    citizens; and
    (B) skills that enable participants to responsibly
    participate in democracy.
    (2) The term ‘‘eligible entity’’ means any of following:
    (A) A local education agency that hosts a unit of the
    Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
    (B) A school operated by the Department of Defense
    Education Activity.

  48. Kathy says:

    I’ve been thinking of cognitive biases and fallacies lately, largely in part due to reading about Kahneman and Tversky.

    I should read more about their work, though. There’s one bias I’ve been thinking about lately, but I don’t know its name or what’s known about it. It goes like this:

    You reason that if A, therefore B will follow. so you try A, but B doesn’t follow. However, there were conditions associated with A that weren’t met. so fix those, try A again, and again B doesn’t follow. However, some of B did follow, just not all of it. Next you tweak the conditions of A again and give it another try, and more of B does follow, but not all of it. You examine things again, and decide this is the best that can be expected. The portion of B you get isn’t what you want, but it’s what you can have.

    So far so rational, yes? the fallacy comes when you again need to do A to get some of B, and knowing that’s all you get you still expect full B to follow.

    Let me try to illustrate with a personal example:

    Some years ago I underwent facial electrolysis to remove unwanted hair. This involves inserting a thin needle into each hair follicle in turn, and running a current. As you may expect, it hurts like hell.

    There’s a topical anesthetic called EMLA which can numb the area(s) to treat. It’s a bit of a pain to apply, and must then be covered with plastic for one hour. So the expectation is: If I use the EMLA, the electrolysis won’t hurt.

    The first time I tried it, I lacked sufficient time to let it work. it helped, but not much.

    The second time I did better, but realized some areas had been uncovered en-route to the electrolysis place. Still, it was better this time.

    The third time everything went well (I learned to secure the plastic covering with tape), and again things improved.

    But it still hurt a lot.

    So that was that. I tried A (EMLA) and B (pain-free electrolysis) did not follow. Some of B did follow, it hurt far less than without the anesthetic, and that was all I could get. Fair enough. it was still worth buying a small tube of anesthetic cream every three or four weeks.

    And yet, I kind of kept expecting that this time it wouldn’t hurt.

    But we see things like this in politics all the time. Cut taxes and tax revenue will increase. Woo moderates and you’ll win the election. Bomb country X and terrorism will stop.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: Department of Defense?

    @Kathy: Anesthetics have varying effects on people. I have had general anesthetics that worked great (some with horrible after effects), and others that worked somewhat (several times I have awakened while they were stitching me up, once I could swear I remembered their conversations. Didn’t ask but it was a very vivid memory). Same with locals, tho a couple times with them they didn’t work at all. Then again maybe it was the person responsible for them. I’ve had such a wide range of effects that I don’t expect any specific result. As long as it takes the edge off, I’m happy.

  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Doesn’t there come a time when you want Trump to lose just so you can see the tantrum his cult base will throw?

    Yes…I’m anxious AF to see the Red Hats fighting against the US Military. That civil war should last about an hour and a half.

  51. DrDaveT says:


    I should read more about their work, though.

    Since you didn’t mention it the first time you brought up K&T, let me make sure that you’re aware of Kahneman’s 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow, which was a huge bestseller. It looks back at the long arc of their joint work, plus some more recent work by Kahneman and others, and walks a nice line between popularization and summary.

  52. DrDaveT says:


    Department of Defense?

    Indeed. Speculating about the proximate motivations behind the legislation is fascinating.

  53. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: if the dipshits did try to rebel, how are they going to communicate? Laptops? Smartphones? The internet?

    There’s this place called Ft. Meade in Maryland…

  54. Kathy says:


    Thanks. It seems to be on Audible, but not on Scribd (just a “summary”). I’ll get to it next month, after I’m done with Michael Lewis, and some other backlog.

  55. Kathy says:


    Many of you will be fascinated to know that the defense committees of our Congress feel that improved civics education (no, I’m not kidding) is vital to our National Security.

    They’re not all wrong.

    Maybe it’s not “vital to national security,” but it’s very worthwhile to have more people know and understand the basics of civics.

    You know what I think should be taught in school? Savings. how to put money away, what instruments are available, how they work, what the benefits are, how one benefits from saving for retirement, the role of insurance (life, health, auto, home, etc) as hedge and investment (you will use up vast amounts of health insurance if you live long enough).

    A lot of people don’t save because they don’t know how, and feel intimidated by banks and brokerages.

    Finances in general should be taught in school, too. How loans, debts, credit cards, etc. work and when and how they are convenient to use. How mortgages work.

    And I don’t mean an hour or two sneaked into regular classes, but a savings class for a whole semester, ditto finances (maybe the same class).

  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: That is just bizarre to me. Makes me wonder what kind of civics they are going to teach.

  57. Teve says:

    I just saw a Canadian and a Spaniard on Twitter discuss how even the most right wing parties in their countries promise to keep universal healthcare. So it made me think, are there any examples of countries that had universal healthcare and got rid of it?

  58. Teve says:

    How long before Lev Parnas “commits suicide”?

  59. An Interested Party says:

    @EddieInCA: Would that not be a formidable ticket…

  60. EddieInCA says:

    @An Interested Party:

    @EddieInCA: Would that not be a formidable ticket…

    In my opinion, that ticket wins 350 electoral college votes, but I could be completely wrong. I was one of those idiots that didn’t realize 46% of the country would support an obviously unqualified con-man.

  61. Teve says:

    Dude needed a medical scan. If you think America has a good healthcare system, read what happened.

  62. An Interested Party says:

    You guys are nuts. Clowns. Just clowns.

    Writes the fool who quotes from a website founded by Michelle Malkin…no wonder there was no link connected to the quote…