Thursday’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:

    Mystery of Black Death’s origins solved, say researchers

    “We have basically located the origin in time and space, which is really remarkable,” said Prof Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. “We found not only the ancestor of the Black Death, but the ancestor of the majority of the plague strains that are circulating in the world today.”

    The international team came together to work on the puzzle when Dr Philip Slavin, a historian at the University of Stirling, discovered evidence for a sudden surge in deaths in the late 1330s at two cemeteries near Lake Issyk-Kul in the north of modern-day Kyrgyzstan.

    Among 467 tombstones dated between 1248 and 1345, Slavin traced a huge increase in deaths, with 118 stones dated 1338 or 1339. Inscriptions on some of the tombstones mentioned the cause of death as “mawtānā”, the Syriac language term for “pestilence”.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    New Mexico’s secretary of state on Tuesday asked the state supreme court to order the Republican-led commission of rural Otero county to certify primary election results after it refused to do so over distrust of Dominion vote-tallying machines.

    The request by Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, came a day after the three-member Otero county commission, in its role as a county canvassing board, voted unanimously against certifying the results of the 7 June primary without raising specific concerns about discrepancies.

    The commission’s members include the Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin, who subscribes to unsubstantiated claims that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Griffin was convicted of illegally entering restricted US Capitol grounds – though not the building – amid the riots on 6 January 2021, and is scheduled for sentencing later this month.

    He acknowledged that the standoff over this primary could delay the outcome of local election races.

    “I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” the Otero county commissioner, Vickie Marquardt, said on Monday. “When I certify stuff that I don’t know is right, I feel like I’m being dishonest because in my heart I don’t know if it is right.”

    You aren’t being dishonest in your heart honey, you’re being an idiot.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As I listened to María Puga’s words, I closed my eyes and could smell the familiar stench that was a border patrol processing center, where I worked as an agent for six years.

    The handcuffs, badges, batons, trucks, the creaking of my old leather boots and belt – all came back to me.

    I listened as she described how over a dozen agents from border patrol and Customs and Border protection (CBP) beat her husband and the father of her five American-born children to death while he was handcuffed behind his back. I knew none of them got disciplined, thanks to the illegal and secret “critical incident team” units, or CITs.

    As agents, we referred to them as the “cover-up incident teams”.

    Later that evening, I looked for articles on Anastasio Hernández-Rojas. I watched the videos of his beating on YouTube. María’s husband was clearly handcuffed behind his back, lying on the ground in a fetal position screaming for help while agents kicked, punched and stomped the shit out of him. I felt nauseous at the sight of them beating this man to death. I felt it in my gut that I was somehow a part of it, in some way connected to it, even though it had happened in 2010, nine years after I had resigned.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s been 21 years since the St Louis Cardinals pitched a no-hitter. Miles Mikolas needed one more strike.

    The right-hander didn’t give up a hit until Cal Mitchell doubled with two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday night, and the St Louis Cardinals routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 to sweep a doubleheader.
    Mitchell drove a 2-2 curveball over the head of Gold Glove center-fielder Harrison Bader as he tried to make a running catch with his back to home plate.

    “If he can’t get it, nobody can except maybe one of those guys in the stands when they have that like three-foot glove, maybe that guy,” Mikolas said. “We’re playing shallow so they don’t kind of doink one in. I think that’s what you’re always guarding against is you don’t want to lose it cheap. The guy hit a ball to the track, I’ll give it to him. And it was a good pitch. I’m more OK with that then if the dude bloops a broken-bat bleeder in there somewhere.”

  5. MarkedMan says:

    For the geeks here. An article on how the Large Hadron Collider is restarting after three years of upgrades. No subscription needed.

  6. MarkedMan says:
  7. CSK says:

    Retired Republican Judge J. Michael Luttig plans to testify today to the Jan. 6 committee that Trump and his allies “instigated a war on democracy so that he could cling to power.”

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Thanx, a good summation, very informative.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: What Ozark said. Strikes me as a well done article for a general audience on a very difficult topic.

  10. DAllenABQ says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I practiced law in New Mexico from 2005 to the end of 2020 when I closed my office. The NM Supreme Court pretty clearly exercises the role of the adult in the room when it comes to governing shenanigans. There is a legal vehicle in NM called a Writ of Superintending Control; it is a catch all writ by which litigants can go the Supremes and ask for pretty much whatever they want in terms of addressing alleged governmental malfeasance. In fact the petition to order the Otero County Commission to certify the primary election results was a Writ of Superintending Control.

  11. CSK says:

    According to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Cal.), Trump knew the mob had broken into the Capitol when he tweeted that Pence lacked the courage to overturn the election results.

    Would it surprise any of us if we found out that Trump timed this deliberately? Ninety seconds later Pence was evacuated.

  12. Erik says:

    @CSK: It would surprise me only in the sense that I think it is unlikely that Trump could plan, much less execute, anything to occur with that sort of precision

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, there was a time when I gave the side eye to Diebold voting machines, which seemed crazy insecure to me.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My take was that she was showing that she’s not qualified to hold that office. I feel sad for the voters in NM with not being able to find and elect competent people to “small”/local offices. Another thing to add to the list of things I can do nothing about.

  15. CSK says:

    I see your point, but all Trump really had to do was wait till the mob had stormed the building and then issue his tweet about Pence lacking courage. (I’m sure he knew that that would just inflame them more.) It’s not something that requires intricate plotting.

  16. Erik says:

    @CSK: yeah I should have not posted my comment. Usually I have better self control when I’m inclined to post pure snark that doesn’t contribute to the conversation. Sorry to waste your time

  17. CSK says:

    Please don’t worry about it. Trump has that effect on people anyway.

  18. Kathy says:

    This is one of those weeks you just wish t would hurry up and end.

    ON other things, I got an idea for cornbread enchiladas, kind of (well, I’m calling them that).

    The notion is to make cornbread batter, bake it on a dish for around 1/4 the needed time, then mix in salsa with sauteed onions, white corn, shredded beef, and cilantro, then finish baking. Or perhaps just mix the salsa and stuff with the batter and bake. I haven’t decided yet.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: IIRC the original Diebold machines were actual voting machines, you indicated your vote on the machine without creating a paper ballot. And they used the Windows operating system of the time which was vulnerable to hacking.

    I believe current machines are not “voting” machines, but optical scan counting machines, which process paper ballots which are then subject to audit. That is the key, that the system leave a paper audit trail.

    Which makes most of the criticism of voting machines obvious nonsense as the paper ballots can be, and routinely are, audited. In AZ again and again and again. Unless, of course, you believe those nefarious Italian military satellites are capable of materializing paper ballots.

    Three footnotes: One, I believe that on some machines a vote can be made on a touchscreen and the machine then prints a ballot, which the voter can accept as recording his intent or reject and try again. But this is used rarely to accommodate handicaps. So a MAGAt can scream, “They can too print ballots.”, but it’s basically meaningless. Two, the punch card system used in much of FL in 2000 was actually pretty reliable, but the result was so close 99.99…% wasn’t good enough. And the hanging chads and other one in a thousand edge cases also bedeviled the hand recounts. Three, reporting on voting machines is as bad as on everything else, so I’m not absolutely sure of anything.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I think method 2 would be better, mixing things into partially baked batter sometimes leads to unfortunate results.

    Maybe, pour half the batter in the pan, add the other ingredients in a layer, top off with remaining batter?

  21. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Maybe, pour half the batter in the pan, add the other ingredients in a layer, top off with remaining batter?

    I’ve tried that in other recipes. Both the batter and filling are too fluid to get a solid layer on top. I wind up with chunks of cornbread amid the filling.

    I’m more inclined for a straight mix.

  22. CSK says:

    The Jan. 6 committee hearings are unhinging Trump. Now he’s demanding “equal time” to present evidence of “the massive Voter Fraud & Dem Security Breach!”

  23. Kathy says:


    In the second place, I thought his team of kraken lawyers had already presented such evidence in 60 or so courtrooms in various states.

    But in the first place, he cannot present evidence for events which never happened.

  24. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I can’t remember what it’s called, but there’s a dish similar only inverted: the meat/sauce/onions are on the bottom of the dish, then cornbread batter (which is usually more of a spread than a pour for me, mine is quite thick) is spread on top and then the whole thing is baked. The “enchilada” portion is on the bottom, the cornbread on the top. I think it’s called enchilada casserole?

  25. Jen says:

    @Jen: Sorry, not enchilada casserole; it is called Tamale Pie:

  26. CSK says:

    I think he operates on the assumption that if he says it often enough, and loudly enough, people will believe it.

    You’d think even the most ardent MAGAs would be getting bored and impatient at this point.

  27. Kathy says:


    I prefer a more even mix. I used to make a chicken, beans, and lentil stew with rice on the side, then I’d mix the rice into it. So now I cook the rice along with everything else. It also spares me from washing another pot, as I don’t need a separate one for the rice.

    Oh, another thing is you can’t find cornbread batter here. I make my own with white cornmeal.

  28. Michael Cain says:


    In the second place, I thought his team of kraken lawyers had already presented such evidence in 60 or so courtrooms in various states.

    It was notable that every time any of the kraken lawyers actually got to a courtroom, where there are real world implications for lawyers lying or making claims with no evidence, the accusations always dwindled down to “There may have been some procedural irregularities.” And in one or two cases the courts agreed with them. In the case I’m sort of remembering, the court ordered the election officials to do something they had already started doing once they realized there had been a process error.

  29. Scott says:

    @gVOR08: That sounds like our voting machines in San Antonio. We use ExpressVote Universal Voting System installed in 2019h. A paper card with your name and precinct on it is printed when you present your ID. The card is then inserted into the machine. You vote and your votes are printed and the card is ejected. You can examine the card for accuracy. It is then inserted into another machine for recording the vote. A really nifty feature of the system is that it creates Voting Centers where you can vote anywhere in the county, not just your precinct.

  30. Michael Cain says:


    …the meat/sauce/onions are on the bottom of the dish, then cornbread batter (which is usually more of a spread than a pour for me, mine is quite thick) is spread on top and then the whole thing is baked.

    I used to do something similar and never had any problem with the cornbread staying on top. Like you, my batter was pretty thick. If it was the bottom coming apart, I’d probably try pouring half the batter into a cast iron skillet on the stove, let that cook for a few minutes, then add the filling and the top batter and put the whole thing in the oven.

  31. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I haven’t made it in ages (as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t remember what it was called) but it’s a great vehicle for leftovers. I prefer a fairly thin layer of the cornbread (which I too make from scratch).

  32. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Cain: On the Kraken, you know it’s bad when even Texas can’t abide your BS:

    The Kraken reports the Texas State Bar has moved to disbar her.

    (insert Hindenburg O-the-humanity meme photo here)

  33. Kathy says:

    My sense from today’s Putsch hearing, is that Donnie Benito’s plan would have worked, if it weren’t for Mike Pence. That is, the whole coup hinged on Pence illegally either rejecting the electoral vote count outright, or declaring a ten day recess where the legislatures of the disputed states (ie in reality none) would be presented with a demand, from Pence, to reexamine the election and declare who had won each of those states.

    Well, then, since Pence had rejected both such options in advance, I wonder whether Benito didn’t try to fire him as VP* and named Eastman in his place. Surely the good law professor would take enact his own legal advice.

    *Yes, I know the VP is an elected office and the occupant can’t be fired. But we’re talking about the trump so-called administration. I’d bet even money he tried to fire Pence, or asked someone how to do it.

  34. dazedandconfused says:

    The VP is an elected official and can’t be fired. This is may have been why Dick Cheney was the lone survivor of the stove-pipe-the-intel crew that GW Bush purged before the surge.

  35. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused: @Kathy:

    In any case, Trump needed someone to blame, so he could say: “See? If it hadn’t been for Mike Pence’s cowardice, I’d still be your rightful president. Pence was too chicken to do the right thing.”

  36. DK says:

    @dazedandconfused: My favorite Sidney Powell tidbit is that she was so bats**t that she made Trump question his own Big Lie:

    President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. “Ugh, Sidney,” he told the staff in the room before he picked up. “She’s getting a little crazy, isn’t she? She’s really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It’s just too much.”

    He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states…

    “So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?” Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it. “She really is crazy, huh?” he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

    The thought of Trump mockingly repeating “So what are we gonna do about it Sidney” in an SNL-style Trump impersonator voice — egging on a frothing-at-the-mouth Powell while Trump staffers muffle laughs in the background — cracks me up to no end. This comedy lives rent-free in my head.

  37. DK says:

    So now Ginni Thomas was in cahoots withthr stupid coup’s legal mastermind John Eastman. When is Mrs. Thomas going to be subpoenaed and/or arrested? Maybe Chief Justice Roberts should call on the court’s marshall to investigate her, too. She’s more shady than any law clerk.

    And is Trump’s criminal theft and destruction of classified records still being probed? Obviously backburner to his fascist Jan 6 treason. But.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DAllenABQ: Always nice to hear a voice of experience. Thanx.

  39. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile in Europe:
    Macron, Scholz, Draghi and Iohannis visit Kyiv.
    Macron emphasises he is not advocating Ukrainian concessions to Russia.
    This has in fact been the French message throughout, as I’ve remarked here before, but Macron’s use of sober language and references to a negotiated termination, without humiliation as a goal in itself, have been subjected to “analysis” by some media opinion rather over-keen to spin any rhetorical nuances into an alliance collapse.

    France also throws some extra CAESAR 155mm SP howitzers and ammunition into the pot.
    Macron has also instructed the howitzer manufacturer Nexter SA to step up production to ‘war time’ mode.
    French diplomatic source in Kyiv make the message even more clear:

    ´We are in favour of a total victory with the restoring of the territorial integrity of all territory conquered by Russia, including Crimea’

    The four leaders stated they backed Ukraine’s bid to join the EU: it should be given “immediate candidate status”.

    At the same time, and entirely by coincidence, Russia cuts pipelined gas supplies to Germany by half (also affecting supply to Austria, Czech Rep., Slovakia, and Italy.)
    Looks like Europe is making more countermoves in this area:

    On Wednesday, the EU, Israel and Egypt signed a provisional natural gas export deal at an energy conference in Cairo.
    The Israeli gas is expected to be sent to liquefaction plants in Egypt, then shipped north to markets in Europe.
    Israel’s energy ministry said it would allow significant exports of Israeli gas to Europe for the first time.

    There has been reporting for years about possible massive gas fields in the eastern Med: but they need massive inputs of capital and technology, secured markets for the investment to proceed, and the strategic cover of a Great Power coalition.
    Looks like its now all in place.

    UK has also delivered a further twenty M109 155mm SP howitzers.

  40. KM says:

    If Trump had demanded Pence be removed or sidelined in any official capacity, it would have given away the game ahead of time. The VP’s one and only duty is tied to Congress and Congress certifies the election. Trump throwing a fit and wanting his VP out right before the certification of an election he insisted was stolen would have made a lot of people more curious and a ton of 1/6 plotting would have been found out PDQ. Someone with 2 brain cells must have told him that at some point and it stuck.

    Honestly, a real autocrat or smarter coup leader would have had someone stationed with him to *cough* observe *cough* and ensure he was playing ball….. or not available to be at bat when needed. I’m sure Putin would have lent him somebody if asked nicely or at least given instructions on how to create a convenient “illness” a few days ahead of time to put Grassley in play. Hell, they could have even claimed it was COVID and people would have believed it.

  41. Kathy says:

    Reason fourteen million six hundred and six* why social media companies should be treated as publishers:

    Elon wants to allow all legal speech on Twitter, which of course includes hate speech, misinformation, and propaganda (not to mention spam).

    Perhaps he’d feel different if he were liable for all that’s posted on the website of the social media company he wants to buy.

    *Yes, that was on purpose.

  42. Kathy says:


    It’s as we’ve been saying for years now: Benito’s incompetence was the only check on him.

    It would have been funny if he had pressured Pence to resign, then found he couldn’t just name anyone VP and install them, but had to be confirmed by the Senate and the House.

  43. Monala says:

    Today while I was listening to an R&B/ hip hop oldies station in the car, Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message” came on. It made me recall a simple yet absolutely hilarious SNL skit from my teen years:

    A guy walks into a men’s room and enters one of the stalls. As you see his pants drop to his ankles, he starts singing, in a sweet, beautiful voice, “Under the Boardwalk.” The camera pans to the bottom of the rest of the stalls, all full with men whose pants are down around their ankles. Slowly and hesitantly, the other men start tapping their feet to the first man’s song. Then first one, then another, and soon all the men join in, until they are all joyfully singing the Otis Redding classic together.

    The door opens and another man enters, and the men in the stalls go silent. This guy is only there to wash his hands. As he does, he boos and raps, “The Message.”

    He finishes and leaves, and the men in the stalls stay quiet for another beat or two. Then in unison, they gustily finish their song. When done, they all flush and exit their stalls. Once out in the open, however, they avoid looking at each other and try to pretend like their spontaneous choir didn’t happen.

  44. Monala says:

    Monala: bops, not boos!

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I was thinking that the enchilada part was more like the fillings I’ve used making enchiladas where I’m using the salsa to dip the tortillas and as a finishing layer so they don’t burn in the oven (which doesn’t make sense for cornbread, now that I think of it).

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “I thought his team of kraken lawyers had already presented such evidence in 60 or so courtrooms…”

    My recollection is a little different. I thought that in the 60 courtrooms, all they had was “oops, we left the evidence on our desk at home, but it’s damning, let me assure you.” Sadly, only the MAGAts are willing to take them at their word.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DK: Based on an MSNBC interview with a FTFWaPo reporter that I saw at the gym this weekend, Ginny’s not gonna be subpoenaed. Liz Cheney objects to subpoenaing her.

  48. Jax says:

    @Kathy: @Jen: I’d be interested in your recipes for the homemade cornbread, as opposed to a mix, if you ladies are willing to share! I have some masa corn flour I haven’t opened yet, because I swear SOMEDAY I’m really gonna try to make tamales.