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. steve says:
  2. MarkedMan says:

    @steve: This is the world the gun rights people think is the right one. This is the world the Republicans are fighting for. While they fantasize and fetishize about playing the macho hero saving the day, what they are really calling for is gun battles like this, day in and day out, as a highly armed, ramped up citizenry live out their fantasies and spray bullets into streets and neighborhoods, restaurants and shopping malls.

    And, given what was presented in the article, I call BS on this guy’s defense. He “thought he heard gunshots and feared he was being shot at.” No. He was a man boy swaggering around with his gun, certain that because of it he was the alpha in every situation. When the robber humiliated him he lost it and as soon as the thief’s back was turned he recklessly opened fire on a busy street. A nine year old is dead because two morons with bad impulse control and guns came together, and Texas is a place where politicians all but call them pussies if they are not packing.

  3. Mikey says:

    Re: the discussion of David Lynch’s Dune that concluded yesterday’s open forum.

    I love that movie. I had read the book well before the movie came out, so I know it’s far from a perfect adaptation (especially the ending). Obviously my opinion is very far from universal (ha!). And sometimes I wonder, why do I love this hugely flawed movie?

    And then I found this piece, the author of which could have pulled the whole thing from my brain.

    Before the new version, let’s revisit 1984’s Dune—the greatest movie ever made

    Detractors call Lynch’s saga—a tale of two noble space families 8,000 years in the future, fighting over the most valuable resource in the universe amidst sandworms the size of aircraft carriers—incomprehensible, stilted, and ridiculous. It lost piles of money. Yet fans, especially in recent years, have reclaimed Lynch’s film as a magnificent folly, a work of holy, glorious madness.

    This! And it only gets better.

    Dune is the dream you have after reading a book about the distant future while listening to a 90-minute prog-rock album. Also, you may have done a pile of blow before falling asleep, because Sting is strutting around in Batman’s speedo.

    Bonus Picard mention:

    The movie also features Captain Picard, whose weapon of choice is a pug and who later grows out a wicked skullet.

    Read the whole thing, as they say.

  4. KM says:

    Not to mention the note that the robber will be the one to face felony murder charges in the killing. Felony murder is gun nut logic on steroids – you shoot a person for “reasons” and then get to dodge responsibility for that death by blaming it on the person who supposed caused said “reasons”. It’s not the person who actually pulled the trigger that should do time in their world, removing any sense that they should be careful around others because hey, they ain’t going to jail if you die!

  5. Tony W says:

    @Mikey: Interesting to read enthusiasm for Dune. I saw it at a drive-in movie theatre and fell asleep halfway through because it was so boring.

    I guess it takes all of us to make the world go around!

  6. Mu Yixiao says:

    Here’s a little something to get discussion rolling today:

    (Poll in our HR Dept)
    Would you rather…

    a) fight 10 duck-sized horses?
    b) fight 1 horse-sized duck?

    The results are currently 6:2

  7. KM says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    (B) because horses are terrifying and people don’t seem to get that. They think “oh pretty” and not “murder machines we ride and managed to control 95% of the time”. Horse-related deaths used to be pretty damn common not too long ago……

    You can get kicked to death rather easily, especially if the 10 little things managed to swarm you, knock you down and get to vital targets like your head. A huge duck however nasty is a single opponent I can dodge and has a larger center mass for me to target. Also, dinner for weeks I imagine.

    (B) please.

  8. Kathy says:


    Well, ducks don’t have teeth.

  9. CSK says:

    The attorney for one Dawn Bancroft, a Jan. 6 rioter, argues that she deserves a more lenient sentence because she’s suffered enough from the fact that Goggling her name results in reports of her arrest.

    Quoth Ms. Bancroft: “We broke into the Capitol…we got inside; we did our part. We were looking for Nancy [Pelosi] to shoot her in the friggin’ brain, but we didn’t find her.”

    Sounds like an admission to attempted murder to me.

  10. Jen says:

    This photo…Barron Trump has to be what, about 6’5″ or so? Wow.

  11. Scott says:

    Who could’ve predicted:

    Truth Social Users Are Fuming Over ‘Censorship’ on Trump’s Platform

    Claims of “censorship” are flying on Donald Trump’s alternative social media platform, Truth Social.

    The main point of contention among users is that Trump’s site continues to apply “sensitive content” notices obscuring some posts, including a popular anti-Biden meme that mocks the president over increasing inflation rates.

    “This content may not be suitable for all audiences,” the notice states.

    That content warning has also covered up a popular graphic depicting Jesus Christ and a quote from the Bible with a gray filter, leaving users fuming.

    “Truth Social loves censorship,” one user wrote, whose bio on the site included the hashtag “NoMoreRINOs.”

  12. Michael Cain says:

    @KM: Not a direct answer to the original question, but I remember the first time I saw a 1200-pound horse panic, rear up, and start waving its front hooves about. One of the little voices that live in the back of my head observed, “Perhaps adding steel shoes to what were already lethal weapons was not the smartest thing…”

  13. CSK says:

    I’d say more like 6’7″ or 6’8″.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @KM: This is a horse rider site and their analysis seems maybe iffy, but they estimate 710 horse rider deaths per year in the U. S. Jeebus.

  15. Reformed Republican says:

    @Mikey: The Lynch version of Dune was my introduction to the franchise. I still think it’s a great movie, even if it strays far from the book. I would take it over his son’s additions any day.

  16. Mister Bluster says:
  17. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yep, according to Google he is 6’7″ at age 16. That photo makes it really obvious! Again, wow.

  18. CSK says:

    It’s going to be 100 degrees here in northeastern Mass. on Sunday. It’s 96 today.

    Enough already.

  19. Jen says:

    @CSK: I echo that sentiment. Deeply unpleasant. I am also thinking of my friends in the UK, who don’t have ready access to A/C. Ugh.

  20. Scott says:

    @CSK: I would love to sympathize but somehow can’t. In San Antonio, we had 4 days over 100 in May, 14 in June, and are at 15 so far in July with no relief in sight.

    I grew up on Long Island (60s/70s) and those few hot days were pretty miserable particularly since we didn’t have A/C then. What’s the state of A/C in New England these days?

    I’ve learned to consider the summers here like winters up North. We stay inside more often than not.

  21. CSK says:

    I know. Very few people have A/C there because it’s usually not necessary.

    Oh, practically everywhere has A/C, because it can get ferociously hot in the summer; it always has been that way. The trick is to get from the house to the car without passing out or dropping dead.

  22. CSK says:

    I recall wearing an Alpine sweater in August in Edinburgh. I was walking across the George IV Bridge when a young Japanese woman stopped me and said: “That is very beautiful sweater. Where did you get it?”

    I regretted having to tell her that I purchased it at the Marshall’s in Reading, Massachusetts.

  23. Jen says:


    What’s the state of A/C in New England these days?

    It varies. A lot of homes here in NH still are built without A/C installed. Our house, built in 2014, had the duct work built in, but we purchased and installed the AC when we moved in. At least one of our neighbors didn’t bother with central AC, he has one window unit. Our previous home was built in 1880, and no central air. My husband didn’t even own window units (he’s not as affected by the heat as I am)–he said it would only get hot enough to bother for a day or two in the summer. The town I currently live in was established in the early 1700s, and there’s still a fair amount of older housing stock in the community without AC.

  24. Kathy says:


    It sounds like a “so bad it’s good” kind of thing.

    I recall three things for certain from seeing it, once, in the 80s:

    1) I hated the loud whisper internal monologue characters engaged in. I mean, internal monologue is tolerable in small doses, but not as a whisper that’s louder than a normal speaking voice.

    2) I didn’t understand various developments. Though I will admit that may have something to do with the stream of sarcastic comments one of my friends kept making.

    3) Patrick Stewart was in it.

    The last is an odd thing to remember, as the movie, IIRC, came out before Trek TNG.

  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    194 Republicans voted against protecting access to contraception, but I guess we shouldn’t worry because there’s no desire to restrict it /sarc

  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    Put me down for fighting horses the size of ducks. I grew up around both, and a duck that big can do very bad things to you just by pecking with their beak, and probably crush a limb if it bites you.

    Meanwhile, nothing the size of a duck scares me that much. I could push ducks away with one foot quite easily, imagine what I could do if I wanted to stomp on them.

    Yeah, horses the size of horses are scary. We had one that loved to chase me around the corral. She never hurt me, she didn’t want to, but I was sure a fun plaything. But horses the size of ducks – not so scary.

  27. Stormy Dragon says:


    I suspect a lot of that is due to too many people riding without helmets and falling, not because the horses are attacking them…

  28. Kathy says:

    Despite attempting to pace myself, I watched two eps of Picard yesterday, 7 and 8. Maybe because the seventh was so slow and uninteresting. I may wrap things up today.


    Anyway, I got all Trekkie about young Guinan. I like her, don’t get me wrong. The actor’s good, and she passes as a younger version of Guinan very, very well, from looks to attitude.

    But if memory serves, and I haven’t searched online to check, in The Next Generation Guinan first meets Picard in the XIX century in San Francisco, when the crew of the Enterprise traveled there to stop time-traveling aliens from harvesting people back then. She also met Data at that time.

    I came up with a hypothesis, too. I think they won’t manage to separate Jurati from her Royal counterpart. Instead it will turn out the “Borg Queen” that attacked the Stargazer in ep one is Jurati trying to get help. Or Jurati merged with the Queen manipulating events to set her timeline in motion.

    This one can be falsified 🙂

  29. JohnSF says:

    Two days in the upper 30’s here = two too many (West Midlands didn’t get quite as hot as London or Lincolnshire).

    The interesting thing is, most older properties in southern France or Spain or Italy also don’t have air con.
    But they are designed to be liveable in the 30’s (40 plus is over their comfortable limit though ): shaded southern sides, deep set windows, external shutters and awnings, thick walls of brick or stone or mortared concrete,, tile floors, roof venting for internal air etc.
    British houses are generally designed to retain heat; making them awful in very hot weather.

  30. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I might outrun duck sized horses so that’s my pick. Not messing with either.

  31. Kathy says:


    Here we don’t design houses or buildings for any kind of weather, because we like to pretend Mexico City doesn’t have any (it’s the only logical explanation for various observations).

    Summer is mostly ok, because that’s when it’s cloudy most of the day, and we get a lot fo rain. So the weather’s warm but not hot. Spring, though, it gets really hot.

    What helped me this year was to close the blackout blinds all the way down to keep the sunlight out of my bedroom. It worked reasonably well.

  32. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Obviously; because the duck-sized horses are herbivores.
    Cute little herbivores.
    Whereas the horse-sized duck is an omnivore.
    A very large omnivore, and technically a dinosaurid, no teeth and web feet notwithstanding.

    Anyone who has a garden and ducks can tell you they gobble up slugs by the bushel.
    And even a standard size swan or goose is best avoided if in a bad mood.

  33. Beth says:

    For myself I vote horse-sized duck. I want to ride it, because I am a crazy person.

  34. CSK says:

    Indeed. I got pecked by a swan once when she thought I got too close to her cygnets. Ouch. I thought my toe was broken.

  35. Stormy Dragon says:


    Good point here, I want the duck sized horses, but I would try to make them pets instead of fighting them

    Especially if they’re like duck-sized clydesdales, because a tiny draft horse would be adorable

  36. JohnSF says:

    Another problem with horse-sized ducks.
    You’ll be needing a very large supply of orange sauce.

  37. KM says:

    @JohnSF @Jay L Gischer:

    A very large omnivore

    Meh. If we’re assuming proportions stay the same, it’s mouth wouldn’t be enough to eat a human or even a mid-sized mammal like the family dog. Squirrels and rats might be screwed but I like my chances.

    Additionally, it’s a bird – hollow bones, y’all. Geese and ducks are nasty and can break your bones when pissed but now you got a large avian who’s main appendages that they attack you with can be broken pretty easily in a scuffle. Being larger also means it will be worse if they break the wing same way breaking a femur is bad news for a horse or human. It always won’t be able to fly so once you are able to take out a wing, it’s game over. Conversely, being smaller means breaking a leg will be less a concern for the tiny horses as a major reason it’s problematic for horse is their size and structure. Shrink ’em down and the cube law starts working in their favor.

    Meanwhile a herd of tiny horses attacking all at once? Problem. Swarming is a valid attack strategy for a reason. You can’t kick them all away at once and all it takes is one to trip you or break your leg – remember, they’ll still have horseshoes on and retain their proportional strength. Horses also bite with crushing force, something ducks can’t do and can jump really high. If all 10 are on you at once, they will get hits in unlike the giant duck you stand a chance of evading. Perhaps they jump to kick you in your midsection to rupture something or bite a hand, breaking your defenses.

    The cuteness of tiny horses will not save you if they decided it’s on. Don’t be fooled and end up on the wrong end of a Zerg rush!

  38. JohnSF says:

    Crazy national leaders, entry #247:
    A video in which Putin explains that he thinks Europeans are participating in a viral challenge to not wash properly in order to spite him.

    Crazy national leaders, entry ~248:
    Boris Johnson issues a parliamentary statement praising his success in government:

    “…why the millions of people who voted Conservative in 2019, many for the first time, were right to place their trust in me”.

    “Since our exit, we have been seizing the opportunities that come with this new freedom.”

    “…we guided the country through its greatest challenge since the Second World War.”

    I missed the paragraph where he lauded his modesty, objectivity, and sense of proportion, but I’m sure it must be in there somewhere.
    How they did ye wrong, eh, Bozza?

  39. MarkedMan says:

    Blockchain nonsense continues unabated. Now, the crucial thing is protecting Indigenous Americans Tribes Genomic data, which can only be done by blockchain because of an infinite number of buzzwords. The Hill has this listed under “Breakthroughs -> Medical Technologies”. I suspect it should be listed under “Sponsored Posts”.

  40. CSK says:

    It might be a tad difficult to saddle.

  41. JohnSF says:

    Interesting in the Financial Times:
    China reckons with its first overseas debt crisis.
    Paywalled, but you may be able to view cached version or view a free taster(FT varies in that respect between countries IIRC).
    Very short version: China may find it’s policy of splurging loans-with-hooks-in to entice cash poor countries (and politicians feeding on the associated graft) coming back to bite it.
    Big time.
    Especially as quite a lot of the loans depended on very optimistic economic projections.

    “Its Belt and Road lending has helped to make China the world’s biggest bilateral lender. To the 74 countries classed as low-income by the World Bank, it is bigger than all other bilateral lenders combined.”

    Now China is being forced to contemplate “haircuts” on the loans; or else drive the debtor countries toward economic and political collapse, and full-on default.
    See e.g. Sri Lanka.
    (I suspect at least some loans going sour would do Chinese banks no good at all, but this aspect needs a China financial sector expert to analyse)

    A lot of these countries facing problems due to rising fuel and food costs, and to faltering demand in Europe.

    Just possibly, Chairman Xi may be starting to get a vague inkling that Russia’s Ukraine operation sending global prices of hydrocarbons, grains, fertilisers soaring may, in fact, have been a teensy bit sub-optimal for the Chinese economic/strategic position.

  42. Slugger says:

    There were duck billed beings bigger than horses, the hadrosaurs, that roamed the earth about 80 million years ago. I don’t know how menacing they would have been to a human. One of them, Hadrosaurus foulkii is the official state dinosaur of New Jersey which probably means that they could had you whacked.

  43. becca says:

    With all this talk of tiny horses, I will never get Moving to Montana Soon out of my head.

    Overnight Sensation was Zappa’s best.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Before the new version, let’s revisit 1984’s Dune—the greatest movie ever made

    WTF? Iron Man 3 was better than Dune; and IM3 was TERRIBLE. (And completely missed the boat on the Mandarin–Iron Man’s best counterpart villain.) I get that the author is satirizing the role of movie critic–at least that’s what I hope he’s doing–but even so, there are limits.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I also read Dune–well actually skimmed through it when I kept falling asleep every time I started reading it. The book is the only thing that’s actually worse that the movie. But in a completely different way. Comparing the book and the movie is like comparing oranges and old-timey chrome auto bumpers.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: NY Post article I Bing-ed (but didn’t bother opening) says 6’7″ based on FG’s height being 6’3.

  47. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I don’t know.
    The book is sort of quite good.
    If you actually avoid thinking about the whole scenario.
    Which makes no sense whatsoever.
    OTOH hardly unique in that respect.
    The writing is pretty good, and that carries it.
    Sequels after Dune Messiah totally fall over their own feet though.
    (I must re-read it again. 🙂 )

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: No only no desire, but they also have no ability to ever get it because a Democrat is President.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: I wouldn’t want orange sauce all the time. I have a good recipe that uses pineapple, and I’d want to smoke some, too. Lotte Mart near the KTX station in Seoul sells smoked duck every day. Mmmmmmm. 🙂 Other Lotte Marts I shopped at only had it sometimes. 🙁

  50. Beth says:


    I mean, there’s all sorts of technical difficulties with this whole plan of mine. I don’t really do “plans”. They’re not my thing. I make decisions and go, for good or ill.

    But just imagine, getting on the back of one of those bad girls, bluetooth speaker blaring some wild techno, as we chased Mr. Reynolds around his neighborhood.

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Back in the late 70s or early to mid 80s (don’t remember the time frame exactly anymore) the chairman of Chemical Bank was asked about the credit worthiness of loans the bank made to some Eastern Bloc nation (I think Hungary, but again, don’t remember clearly) at a pretty high interest rate (over 10% IIRC, maybe 14 or so). Asked if he was worried about the nation not being able to repay the principle, he replied something to the effect that at this interest rate their ability to repay the principle was immaterial. Later, he discovered that while their ability to repay the principle might have been immaterial to him their ability to repay the loan at all was destined to become an issue.

    I would wonder if this same scenario might become an issue eventually for lenders of student loans, but I’m confident that some conservative somewhere will declare the banks “too big to fail” and demand that the banks be reimbursed by the government for the bad debt and, subsequently, to be allowed to sell the defaulted loans to other entities for collection. John McCain had a similar solution to the CDO crash–reimburse the banks at 100% of their losses and then allow them to resell the defaulted homes to more creditworthy people. [headdesk]

  52. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Were I an American, I’d have a a bad desire to start a black propaganda campaign along the lines of “Republicans don’t care about contraception, because they are all gay reptiloid androgynous cyborgs!
    Gotta be some mileage in that. 🙂

    Which reminds me of some of the early medieval differences from modernity re. contraception: i.e. mostly related to marriage, and for understandable reasons, given the legalities of inheritance etc at the time. (Later on, for variety of reasons, the Augustinian anti-contraception view became dominant)
    Inheritance law was a major aspect: in civil and customary law, contraception could be seen as denying the parties to a marriage (which were not just the marital couple) the transmission of property which the whole thing was intended to achieve.

    At a tangent: the modern vs medieval understanding of “priestly celibacy”: in medieval terminology, celibacy did not necessarily imply sexual abstinence, but not being married according to canon law.

    Therefore any children of celibate priests were unable to inherit within canon law; which was vital to the protection of Church property in an age when the presumption was that the (legitmate) child should inherit the property and place including property controlled as fief etc of the father.
    And “celibacy” was a matter of “discipline not doctrine”.
    In other words, the primary purpose was to maintain the essential property base of the Church.

    And it was essential: see how rapidly imperial domains or Protestant secularized episcopal domain got grabbed.
    Inviolable ecclesial property was vital to medieval charitable social support systems, education, etc.
    See also the role of waqf estates in the Muslim world.

  53. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I would wonder if this same scenario might become an issue eventually for lenders of student loans, but I’m confident that some conservative somewhere will declare the banks “too big to fail” and demand that the banks be reimbursed by the government for the bad debt and, subsequently, to be allowed to sell the defaulted loans to other entities for collection.

    Uh….. I hate to break it to you, but 92% of student loan debt is already held by the US Department of Education

  54. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Always depends.
    If the collapse of the banks concerned collapses the entire economy, it may be necessary to be pragmatic.

    In the 1930’s, allowing banks to go belly-up may have accorded to classical economic doctrine, but a Great Depression is a rather high price to pay for the entertainment value of saying “eat it, loser banksters!”

    In re. the Chinese loans, quite a few analysts believed that a lot of them were designed to fail, and thus leave China holding the collateral of ownership of resources, and a dependently enriched political elite hoping to avoid the torches and pitchforks, and retain their ill-gotten.

    A ploy not unfamiliar to students of European empires in the 19th century: see Egypt, which was never formally part of the British Empire, but directed on behalf of a nominal creditor consortium by the Consul General.

    Ultimately it is impossible to distinguish between the Chinese banks and the Chinese state: as the state is party (unintentional play on words, honest) that says “hop, froggie.”
    Western banks operate more independently, albeit often just as stupidly.
    See property bubbles, repeatedly.

    But as long as the credit excess doesn’t outweigh the underlying productive and organisational capacity of the base economy, it’s not a big deal, long term/systemic.

    The problem is when it does get huge enough to wag the physical/service production dog: as in USA 1930’s; or when resolution requires totally vaping market regulatory bounds, as may happen with China. (Opinions vary)

  55. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    At a restaurant in Belgium that served breast of wild duck, c. 1990:
    Me: “So, this duck was wild?”
    Father: “Bloody furious, I should imagine.”

    Also, best recipe for duck is roast with cherries.
    Trust me on this.

  56. Kurtz says:


    For myself I vote horse-sized duck. I want to ride it, because I am a crazy person.

    You win, the prize is a free year of OTB.

  57. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: the horse sized duck will be unable to stand or fly, due to its crushing weight. I just need to stay out of flailing distance until I can find a long stick I can use as a spear. And there’s a good chance the lungs will collapse.

    Alternately, with a small step ladder, the horses are fine.

    If I am provided nuclear weapons, of course, either is fine.

    But unarmed, the duck. I can just stay away and out wait it as it slowly dies.

  58. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ll take David Lynch’s Dune over the new one. It’s shorter, for one thing. And it’s a full story.

    I’ll be interested in the new ones if they keep going and get to God Emperor of Dune. That would be fun.

  59. Kari Q says:

    The video of Josh Hawley running away from the mob on Jan. 6 should be enough to end his career. It may not, but it should.

  60. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: If time has been altered, then Picard never went back in time, and so never met Guinan. Which is apparently what happened.

    On the other hand, that means someone else had to step up and take care of whatever the villains in that episode were or humanity would have been eaten or something. I don’t remember the episode that well.

    I would enjoy a Young Guinan and Mark Twain adventure where they had to stop it, whatever it was. Toss in a zombie Abraham Lincoln to fill out the cast, to take the Spock/Data/Odo low-emotion role that every Star Trek story needs.

  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Well, as long as the banksters are only profiting and not on the hook, all is well.