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:

    A peculiar granite monument that some have dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” but a conservative politician condemned as “satanic” has been torn down by authorities in rural Georgia hours after it was heavily damaged in a bombing by vandals.

    Investigators from several law enforcement agencies converged on the site 100 miles (161 km) east of Atlanta seeking clues to the pre-dawn explosion on Wednesday that blew a portion of the 42-year-old monument, called the Georgia Guidestones, to pieces.

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) later tweeted a video clip of the blast caught on surveillance camera and separate footage of a car speeding away from the scene.

    It said the remainder of the structure was deliberately demolished later in the day “for safety reasons”, with a photo showing the entire monument reduced to rubble. The initial damage was attributed to “unknown individuals” who detonated an explosive device at the site.
    The slabs were engraved with an enigmatic message in 12 languages calling for the preservation of humankind by limiting the world’s population to fewer than half a billion people to live “in perpetual balance with nature”, according to official translations of the text.

    The Guidestones also functioned as an astronomical calendar, arranged to let sunlight shine through a narrow hole in the structure at noon every day to illuminate engraved dates.

    I had thought to pay them a visit if ever the chance came, but I guess I can skip it now.

    But the monument drew occasional controversy from some who tied its message to far-right conspiracies or religious blasphemy.

    Prominent among them was the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor, a third-place finisher in the 24 May Republican primary, who made removal of the monument part of her campaign platform, a stance spoofed by the TV comedian John Oliver.

    Following news of the Guidestones’ bombing, Taylor suggested on Twitter that the monument’s demise was an act of divine intervention. “God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones,” she tweeted.

    Taylor later released a video saying she would never support vandalism and that “anyone who goes on private or public property to destroy anything illegally should be arrested”.

    Yeah, sure you do. I’m not gonna say what I’d like to say.

  2. Thomm says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: and yet, the Stone Mountain monument remains in all of its traitorous glory.

  3. CSK says:

    You can always pay a visit to the real America’s Stonehenge, Mystery Hill in North Salem, NH.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Biden Promised to Stay Above the Fray, but Democrats Want a Fighter
    President Biden’s measured approach at a time of political tumult has left him struggling to inspire his supporters and allies to action.

    A variation of the Dems in Disarray theme, but less about the whining and more substance about the reasons behind it.

    Dems do this to themselves pretty regularly. During the campaign we look for one type of leadership, usually central casting presidential and then are disappointed that their prez isn’t a street fighter. There were similar complaints about Obama and for you youngsters, also about Carter. LBJ had his own issues, but he was a noted brawler.

  5. Kathy says:

    Another next day reply. This time to @MarkedMan:

    I think your Egyptian example is apt, but I think it as likely to give credence to my point (that we give way too much importance to religion and that just because someone cites that as a primary motivation doesn’t mean it actually is) than yours.

    About the first thing a newly crowned pharaoh did was to start work on his tomb, unless he had to finish building his deceased father’s tomb first.

    There’s more. The pharaoh was regarded as a living god, Horus on Earth. One of the pharaoh’s daughters was usually named as god’s wife of Amun. So this goes on and on. And countless pharaohs also built up the temple complex at Karnak. If you’ve ever seen a royal head dress, you may have noticed a cobra prominently centered. That’s a depiction of the goddess Wadjet, placed on the pharaoh to signify her protection.

    So, regardless of what the royals believed, they used religion to rule.

    If we could see that the pursuit of these edifices cost them power but they pursued them anyway, I would concede your point. But if the pursuit increased their power and prestige then it could go either way.

    That’s not something I’ve studied in detail. I can tell you that Snefru took three tires to build a true pyramid until he succeeded. Khufu’s successor, Khafre, had to build a cheaper pyramid because the treasury lacked the resources to equal the Great pyramid. Later on Pharaohs turned from great, big, expensive, monumental tombs, to smaller chambers built on the Valley of the Kings, in an effort to keep them hidden from grave robbers (spoiler alert: it didn’t quite work). These chambers were as lavishly supplied for the afterlife.

    I’d say that continuing the burial practices away from public view does imply a sincere belief in them.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I was thinking last night; let’s trade Trump, to Putin, for Brittney Griner.

  7. sam says:

    I saw a piece on this the other night on NPR: World’s first commercial sand battery begins energy storage in Finland. Pretty cool (and, yes).

  8. Scott says:

    @CSK: @OzarkHillbilly: Then there’s this Stonehenge which I have been by many times:

  9. Scott says:

    As always with these people, accusation is confession.

    Former FBI leaders who drew Trump’s ire were both audited by IRS

    The IRS conducted audits in recent years of two of former president Donald Trump’s most frequent targets of criticism, former FBI director James B. Comey and his deputy, leading Comey to question whether the audits were motivated by political payback against the law enforcement leaders who investigated Trump and his campaign.

    Trump fired Comey in 2017, intensifying an investigation into Trump associates that had begun a year earlier. After Comey’s firing, his deputy, Andrew McCabe, took over the FBI for several months, during which time the bureau opened an investigation into Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

    The IRS conducted audits in recent years of two of former president Donald Trump’s most frequent targets of criticism, former FBI director James B. Comey and his deputy, leading Comey to question whether the audits were motivated by political payback against the law enforcement leaders who investigated Trump and his campaign.

    Trump fired Comey in 2017, intensifying an investigation into Trump associates that had begun a year earlier. After Comey’s firing, his deputy, Andrew McCabe, took over the FBI for several months, during which time the bureau opened an investigation into Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    Interesting. Though I believe that calling it a ‘battery’ is mildly misleading. I’m not sure how common district heating is, here in the US. I’m aware that parts of downtown St Paul are part of a heating district. And I believe that a number of college campuses are as well.

    I suspect that this would scale up well, but not down, as heat loss through the surface area will be a greater percentage as the volume decreases. That would limit its efficiency as a way of storing excess solar energy in residential uses.

  11. Scott says:

    Meanwhile in Texas:

    Texas’ Operation Lone Star probed for alleged civil rights violations

    The Legislature last year directed more than $3 billion to border measures over the next two years, a bulk of which has gone to Operation Lone Star. Under the initiative, which Abbott said he launched to combat human and drug smuggling, the state has deployed more than 10,000 National Guard members and Department of Public Safety troopers to the border with Mexico and built some fencing. Thousands of immigrant men seeking to enter the country have been arrested for trespassing onto private property, and some have been kept in jail for weeks without charges being filed.

    An investigation by the Tribune, ProPublica and The Marshall Project found that in touting the operation’s accomplishments, state officials included arrests with no connection to the border and statewide drug seizures. The news organizations also revealed that trespassing cases represented the largest share of the operation’s arrests. DPS stopped counting some charges, including cockfighting, sexual assault and stalking, after the publications began asking questions about their connections to border security.

    Lost rifle is latest in feud between Texas Guard and butterfly preserve

    Along the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas, there is no shortage of bad blood between two unlikely antagonists.

    The National Butterfly Center, a non-profit nature preserve whose top official is an outspoken liberal activist, and the Texas National Guard, which is more than a year into its controversial, issue-plagued mission to monitor the state’s border with Mexico, have clashed for months.

    In the latest incident Monday, a Texas National Guard soldier abandoned a loaded M4A1 carbine in a running pickup truck with its doors unlocked. The truck, an unmarked pickup with an Oregon plate, was parked alongside three marked Border Patrol trucks and another unmarked truck along a road near the butterfly center.

    Later that day, she decided to post about it on Twitter.

    “Today, I got my hands on a fully automatic weapon thanks to the stupid, irresponsible #TexasNationalGuard #OperationLonestar who left their vehicle running and unlocked with guns inside on the side of the road,” she said. “Guess the truck could’ve been mine, too.”

    She posted that she had “returned the abandoned automatic weapon to the sergeant ‘in charge’ of this merry band of dipshits.”

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Biden’s election campaign worked hard at not triggering negative partisanship. It worked. It didn’t drive GOP turnout and he could count on TFG driving D turnout. We don’t have TFG driving D turnout in the midterms and IM not so HO, we won’t in ‘24. Ds need something to enthuse D turnout.

  13. sam says:

    Unfortunately, not gone with the wind.

  14. Slugger says:

    The last few months I have limited my internet cruising since it has tended to bring on depression and sadness. Today I found some good cheer that I want to share. Today is Ringo Starr’s birthday (82) and Jimmy and Rosalynne Carter’s wedding anniversary (76). Much joy and good health to them!

  15. Beth says:


    I really hate that.

  16. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Let’s not forgot that the first Taliban action that brought them to the attention of the world was their destruction of two giant, ancient Buddhist statues. For those who have been comparing right wing Christian nationalists to the Taliban, this should serve as their proof…

  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Just saw that James Caan passed.
    Brian’s Song. The Godfather. Misery. Elf.
    Ashamed to say that I also watched him in the exquisite cheesiness of “Las Vegas”.
    Thanks for entertaining us, and RIP.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: How about an agreement among Democratic voters (mostly personal) that they’ll generate their own enthusiasm to avoid getting fucked over because of inaction about voting? The fact that all y’all’s the majority doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise that status for every election.

  19. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    He was a fine actor.

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: Yeah, it amounts to either gay-shaming or trans-shaming, in all cases its queer-shaming. Done by Democrats. Could we not do that, please?

  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    The sentences on that monument were pretty anodyne. On a par with “Let’s all be nice to each other”

    Of course, some call it “satanism”.

  22. Kathy says:

    Sometimes bad things happen to terrible people.

    Sunny Balwani has been convicted on all 12 counts.

    I’ve no complaints, but I’m baffled why he was convicted of defrauding patients, while his ex skated on those charges.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Really? You’re wondering why a relatively dark-skinned man with an obviously foreign-sounding name (ME or Trans-Saharan African, if you ask me, but whatevs, eh?) got convicted of crimes that his blonde, blue-eyed, WASP-backgrounded partner didn’t? Really? Are you not from around here? 😉

  24. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Don’t forget young and cute.

  25. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Silicon Barbie Holmes was convicted of defrauding investors, but not of defrauding patients. If she had been acquitted of all charges, I’d buy the usual explanation.

  26. Kathy says:

    Hypocrisy lives on.

    Today the boss went on a rant about taking care during the ongoing trump pandemic. In particular he was sore that we have a lot of work, and people keep getting sick and isolating from work for several days.

    The hypocrisy is he’s never worn a mask outside of the common areas* since the pandemic started two years ago, and these days not even in the common areas. He already had COVID in 2021 and spent time in the ICU (at least a few weeks after recovering he did get AstraZeneca shots).

    It’s hard to have to hear that, knowing one cannot say “And where’s your f***g mask, you f*** moron?”

    *The common areas of the building, not of the office.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: That’s on my list too.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Well, Jesus never said anything so commie as that.

  29. MarkedMan says:


    So, regardless of what the royals believed, they used religion to rule.

    Or, perhaps, they used religion as decals on what they wanted to do anyway. After all, atheistic countries (USSR, China, etc) build the same grand church-like buildings and monuments, they just label them differently.

    As for the burial chambers being out of sight, if you look at some of the richest people in the world they spend hundreds of millions, even billions on art collections and then store them out of sight, sometimes in special vaults in duty free zones of airports, only occasionally showing them off to a select few other billionaires. Those art works, however hidden, are still filling their purpose: as displays of power. The bull moose doesn’t care what the mice think of his antlers, only what another bull moose thinks of them.

    As for the specific case of Egypt and the ornate parts of the tomb being hidden from the public, well, we will never know how many times the rich and powerful were invited in for a tour. What did a pharaoh care what the neighborhood wine sellers thought of their burial chamber? The gigantic pyramid was enough of a display for the likes of them. The burial chamber could have been there to impress the overly ambitious second cousin, or the too conniving general.

    People adopt crests and symbols and mascots and paint them on their belongings. Sometimes that might be a cross, other times a flag, still others a picture of Chairman Mao. They point to it and says “This represents rightness and power, and look, I’m associated with it, big time. More than you. Mine is bigger.” It doesn’t much matter what the symbol is, or even how it originally got there. All that matters is that enough people have agreed that the symbol is a big deal.

  30. Kathy says:


    I hear the sound of goalposts moving.

    Or perhaps some context is required.

    Egyptian tombs were sealed. At the tomb or nearby there was a mortuary temple, or in a pharaoh’s case a mortuary complex, where rituals, prayers, offerings, etc. were done after burial, and in theory for all eternity (nothing lasted so long).

    Keep in mind Egypt lasted as a civilization for several thousand years, and that mortuary practices grew incredibly complex in the interim. Not least by the actions of grave robbers who brought to light some secrets buried with the kings and other royals.

    Even at my most didactic, I lack the inclination to launch into a complete exposition about them. I’ve left out tomb paintings, coffin texts, pyramid texts, the Book of the dead, the Book of Gates, ushabtis, furnishings, amulets, mummification, miniatures, coffins, inscriptions inside, inscriptions outside, Ka statues, Ba depictions, and a whole lot more.

    Now I’m wondering how I learned about all that. I swear I haven’t read that much about Egypt. Maybe Drs. Mertz, Cooney, and Brier were more thorough than I realized.

  31. CSK says:

    I knew Barbara Mertz. Remarkable woman.

  32. Kathy says:


    Really good writer, too.

  33. CSK says:


  34. dazedandconfused says:

    There’s a credible theory the Egyptian royals were somewhat trapped into the industry. A middle class of artisans and priests which were dependent on that industry for their income could probably have defenestrated any leader who failed to “do his duty to the Gods” and build an elaborate tomb. No doubt these were people in the tomb-robbing business as well.

    Kynes once said a viable economy could be just a bunch of people shoveling out a hole and filling it back in. Something like that. This would only apply to the state confiscating grain from the people and then making them move massive pyramid blocks in Egyptian heat to get it back in the form or rations for a very, very limited time though.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: May be just me, but I never saw “attractive” in her. Maybe it was in her personality, though.

    ETA: Amanda Seyfried is cuter playing her in the series on Hulu right now, and I went to school with blondes who were cuter than Amanda Seyfried.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Fair enough. I never followed the trial closely enough to do anything but snark at people.

  37. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, all the mende she suckered must have seen something in her.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: No moving of goal posts on my account. My supposition is that the primary motive behind the building of gigantic edifices, and most especially ones that don’t pay for themselves, is ego driven or a display of power. The primary role of religion is as a justification for what they would have done anyway (build a giant penis of one sort or another). For many rulers there may be some small element of actual religious belief and for a few it might actually have been the primary one, but those would be a tiny minority.

    Just as no ad company ever lost a contract by telling their clients’ President that they should be the star of the company ads, I’m sure no priest ever got their heads chopped off by telling a ruler they should build a bigger monument than the last guy.

  39. CSK says:

    …men she suckered…

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The sentences on that monument were pretty anodyne. On a par with “Let’s all be nice to each other”

    1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
    2. Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
    3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
    4. Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
    5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
    6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
    7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
    8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
    9. Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite.
    10. Be not a cancer on the Earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.

    Numbers 1 and 2 are clearly pro-eugenics. Not to mention that the world population was 4 billion at the time this was created.

    (I think it was expected these rules would be useful after a nuclear war or something, so I don’t think they wanted to explicitly get rid of 7/8th of humanity)

    But other than the eugenics, it seems nice enough. 😉

  41. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come and follow me”

    -noted socialist