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:

    Surprise surprise surprise! Clarence Thomas is a lying sack of shit.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    From time to time we debate whether being a Trump supporter automatically makes you a bad person. I say no, and argue that there is a significant fraction of the country that are completely disengaged from political discourse, and therefore are only vaguely aware of what is going on with politicians. To them, Donald Trump might be that guy that had that TV show they used to watch, or their understanding of him might be that he was a great real estate tycoon. As an illustration I offer this bit from last night’s Kimmel show. Fast forward to the 11:00 minute mark to see people struggle to remember the name of Kamela Anderson’s husband.

  3. Tony W says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It only matters if he is held accountable.

    Lawyers of OTB: Do they teach this in law school? The idea that crimes are only crimes (or civil transgressions are only civil transgressions) if the person committing the act is unwilling to accept the consequences and feels that the consequences will apply to them?

    It seems like a basic foundation of law – one that Republicans are keen to exploit.

    The idea that folks will be shamed into good behavior seems quaint – and I’m not sure it was ever the case.

  4. Franklin says:

    @MarkedMan: Thank you for that! Lol I thought I was even more behind on pop culture – “who tf is Kamela Anderson?”

  5. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “Fast forward to the 11:00 minute mark to see people struggle to remember the name of Kamela Anderson’s husband.”

    I’m not sure that really means what you’re saying it does. I’m pretty engaged politically, I come from California and watched her rise, and it took me a good three minutes to remember his name. And that was only after I ran through “Chasten” and “Dr. Jill.”

  6. Sleeping Dog says:


    I have no idea who the second husband is. He keeps a lower profile than even Queen Elizabeth’s consort.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: I wouldn’t give anyone grief for not knowing who Doug Enhoff is, but in this case it was Mike Pence he thought was married to Kamela Harris.

  8. BugManDan says:

    @Franklin: Same.

  9. CSK says:

    This is truly funny:

    Joe Tacopina says that Trump will not return to NY for his defamation trial because–are you ready–he wants to spare New Yorkers from the traffic jams and road blockages his visit will cause.

  10. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: ” I wouldn’t give anyone grief for not knowing who Doug Enhoff is, but in this case it was Mike Pence he thought was married to Kamela Harris.”

    Now that’s pretty good!

  11. gVOR08 says:

    I see I’m not the only one reminded of late of the 1992 killing of Yoshihiro Hattori. Hattori was an exchange student, recently arrived from Japan. In costume, he went to the wrong door looking for a Halloween party. The homeowner shot him dead. The case turned on whether the shooter had been in a state of fear. Not said in the linked article, but as I remember coverage at the time, his defense presented evidence the shooter was a complete dweeb who lived in a perpetual state of fear. The jury, and the State of Louisiana, in effect decided he therefore had a license to shoot anybody.

    There was a huge stink at the time. In reaction, one would have thought the law would be changed at least to a reasonable person standard. Alas no, red state after red state has moved to facilitate shooting people.

  12. Just nutha says:

    Why is everybody misspelling Kamala Harris’ name? Is that part of the joke/gotcha? Pretty lame guys! ☹️

  13. Kathy says:

    Starship didn’t last long.

    I wonder if this counts as a successful or unsuccessful explosion.

    I’m reminded a bit of the Soviet N-1. That was another super heavy rocket with many, many engines. I think the Russians blew up four before giving up.

    The would-be Emperor God etc. etc. might have better funding than that.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha: Part of the joke. My guess is the speaker was confusing Kamala with Pamela and that’s how he ended up with Kamela Anderson. He pronounced it “Kamela”

  15. Erik says:

    @MarkedMan: too bad they didn’t have a magic marker to put a black dot on his hair to help people out when they couldn’t get it

  16. CSK says:
  17. Kathy says:


    The Republiqans will ban basketballs before they consider any gun controls at all.

  18. Kathy says:

    NPR links to the full SpaceX launch video.

    The graphics bar at the bottom is really nice. It shows speed and altitude, but also fuel remaining and engine status (the circle of dots to the left). And lets one see problems right away.

    One big issue with the N-1 was that some engines didn’t work at all, others didn’t work at the required power. That’s an issue with multiple engines. the alternative is to have fewer, but bigger engines. that was the approach for Apollo , five effing big engines, and the Shuttle, three engines. Of course, there are drawbacks to this approach as well (in accordance with Kathy’s First Law: there’s a downside to everything).

    It seems the problem here wasn’t the few non-working engines. It might have been the aerodynamic forces near or past max Q, or maximum dynamic pressure. Or it may have been something else.

    I thought SpaeX would have solved the problems of multiple engines. The Falcon 9 uses nine (hence the name), and the 9 Heavy has 27 (divided in three boosters).

    We’ll see.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:


    You’re familiar with the concept that when someone does something awful or even different, it gives others the permission to do the same. It is often used as an explanation to explain away a raft of teen suicides in a relatively small area. So it is with these self defense shooters. For now, they’ve gotten away with it and one is even being pardoned.

    So perhaps we should expand on Mike Pence’s idea for ending mass shootings by quickly exterminating the shooter. Summary execution on live TV of the KC, NY and Dallas shooters.

  20. inhumans99 says:

    Kevin Drum has a great post referencing a Washington Post article about DeSantis blowing his chance to become the next President of the United States.

    I am copying Drums words from his blog post: “DeSantis is acting like the United States is just an extension of the most conservative parts of Florida. It’s not, and DeSantis has put himself into a pickle.”

    I agree with Drum. At least Trump understood that you needed to actually have grabbed the brass ring before you openly communicated to your base that you planned to try and screw over blue/purple states.

    Folks have been saying on this blog for quite some time that DeSantis is not doing a good job of reading the room, and it does appear that we are far from the only ones to agree with that statement.

    I am not worried that he is a velociraptor that has learned how to open a door. He was very premature in going full dictator in chief of the state of Florida. Too many folks on both sides of the political aisle are not liking what they see when they look at DeSantis.

  21. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing Kerbal Space Program, it’s if your launch vehicle starts doing somersaults, it will end in a rapid, unscheduled disassembly.

  22. Kylopod says:

    I try to avoid taking seriously those late-night segments where people on the street are unable to answer basic questions about politics or other subjects. First of all, these are obviously heavily edited clips where they interviewed dozens of people for hours before they got the kinds of responses they wanted. But another problem is that I think a lot of these respondents just like seeing themselves on TV, even if they come off sounding stupid. (That last guy, in particular, seemed to be pretty shamelessly mugging the camera.) This has been a problem with these types of segments for years.

    That said, I’m sure it’s true that most Americans couldn’t name or recognize Mike Pence. Veeps are almost never noticed much, and Pence exudes blandness.

  23. Stormy Dragon says:
  24. Kathy says:

    Any thoughts on the finale of season 3 of The Mandalorian?

    I found nothing obviously wrong with it, but the denouement struck me as largely pro forma. Except Gideon finally reveals why he needed Grogu, and what the shy imperial scientist was doing.

    So much cultural appropriation.

  25. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: I’ve always realized that while I might ace the politics-type questions, if they tried one of those person-on-the-street segments with me and asked about most Sportsball things, I’d look like an idiot.

    @Kathy: I haven’t watched yet, but I am now interested as the “why was Grogu being pursued” has intrigued me for a while.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: This reminds me of the case of Mel Mermelstein, a Holocaust survivor who took up a challenge from the Institute for Historical Review to prove the existence of the gas chambers in Auschwitz; when he did, and they refused to pay the 50K they had offered, he took it to court and won. (The incident was later made into a TV movie starring Leonard Nimoy.) The IHR claimed they’d been vindicated anyway because of the publicity they received.

  27. Kathy says:


    Look for the scene where Gideon confronts Din Djarin.


    On the other hand, James Randi never had to pay out a million for proof of paranormal phenomena.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I don’t like what they did with R5-D4 this season.

    Here was a droid best known for breaking down, rather than going with Luke and Uncle Owen. He considered a life on a moisture farm, and said “nope, that’s hard work, that’s not for me.” His earlier appearances in this show were just fun cameos where he was a lazy, unmotivated droid.

    He literally has a bad motivator. I love him for that. I have a bad motivator too.

    He should not be heroically fighting off Mouse Droids and saving the day. He should not have worked with anyone in the rebellion. It’s not true to his character, and it makes the world of Star Wars preposterously small.

    Other than that, the finale (and the rest of this season) was fine. I liked the first season more, with the adventure-of-the-week structure and very minimal season arc most of the time.

  29. Kathy says:


    Maybe he just thought mouse droids with delusions of grandeur need to be taken on.

  30. MarkedMan says:


    Folks have been saying on this blog for quite some time that DeSantis is not doing a good job of reading the room

    My opinion is that DeSantis is just too politically inept and mean spirited to get the nomination, but I’m very cautious about that opinion. Despite how he comes across to me I doubt he was much different when he ran for governor, and he won that.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey: To my untrained eye it looked like there were small side firing rockets causing it to spin. I admit it could have been an optical illusion. Or space aliens.

  32. MarkedMan says:


    I try to avoid taking seriously those late-night segments where people on the street are unable to answer basic questions about politics or other subjects.

    In general, I agree with you and I almost always turn Kimmel off when he gets to these segments, although that’s primarily because they are mean spirited. But despite the fact that they are cherry picked, I still watch when it is focused in on general politics like this one was. I find it all too easy to think, “If only the press would do more reporting on X, then people would understand how awful Y is!” Bits like this one help me reset back to reality and I realize that a significant percentage is never going to hear, or if they do, they aren’t going to listen, or if they listen, aren’t going to differentiate it from the sea of political ads that, in sum, paint everyone as heinous hypocrites.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Given Romney and Trump, I’m having difficulty imagining what “too politically inept and mean spirited” would look like in a Republican election setting. Would a Marianas Trench of mean spiritedness be deep enough to be too low for Republicans?

  34. CSK says:


    Trump is insanely mean-spirited and politically inept, yet he got the nomination.

  35. EddieInCA says:

    All criminal charges dropped against Alec Baldwin in “Rust” shooting.

    Finally. Some sanilty. Now go after the people responsible. 1st AD, Propmaster/Armourer, and whoever purchased the live ammunition that ended up on set.

  36. Gustopher says:


    My opinion is that DeSantis is just too politically inept and mean spirited to get the nomination,

    If Trump dropped dead next Tuesday, do you think DeSantis wouldn’t get the nomination?

    The GOP primary voters like the mean spirited, and the “politically inept” dominance through exercise of power.

    I do wonder how he would get polished up for mainstream acceptability. The Florida Caligula* doesn’t seem to have an ability to tone down the assholery, nor does he have the Trump charisma that makes the assholery fun.

    But that’s a general election problem, and the mainstream press will be working overtime to try to make him seem respectable.

    *: Caligula is Latin for “Little Boots”, and he looked particularly ridiculous in his little white boots.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Although the thread about the Supremes and the threatening guy is still active, I decided to post my comment here also:
    @James Joyner:

    Society should be protecting her from threats.

    I’m reminded of a line that I saw in a novel recently:

    He’d come to the conclusion that the Gardai don’t really fight crime as much as they clean up after it.

    Color me skeptical about this whole society protecting people from threats thing.

  38. Kylopod says:


    although that’s primarily because they are mean spirited.

    You know, in this case I wasn’t even thinking about it from that perspective–largely because it’s so self-inflicted. The people we’re seeing seem to crave the attention. I’ve had sympathy for some of the Borat victims in the past, despite liking Sacha Baron Cohen’s work to some degree. But the late-night stuff is always very anodyne, and I don’t think it really targets people who weren’t seeking it out.

    It’s a dynamic that goes all the way back to Candid Camera, probably the oldest TV program to try to turn people’s humiliation into entertainment. I remember watching a special that went into the history of the show, and one thing I noticed was that in its earliest incarnations, the subjects were caught totally off-guard; they had no idea what was happening until it was revealed to them. As the show began to penetrate the culture, however, gradually people became better prepared; anytime you encountered a situation that seemed a little off, the thought crossed your mind that you were being set up for a Candid Camera prank (or other shows with a similar format). So in later episodes the subjects often seemed unsurprised when the truth was revealed to them, and in some cases I had the distinct feeling they knew it all along and were deliberately playing it up. That’s the feeling I get from these late-night segments, except of course it’s never a secret they have a camera turned on them. You might find it hard to believe people would willingly aim to be made fun of on national TV, but that’s been part of the culture for a long time.

    Bits like this one help me reset back to reality and I realize that a significant percentage is never going to hear, or if they do, they aren’t going to listen, or if they listen, aren’t going to differentiate it from the sea of political ads that, in sum, paint everyone as heinous hypocrites.

    That may happen to be true. But I don’t think segments like this are particularly proof of anything, given that they’re so heavily manipulated and I suspect some of the people are deliberately playing dumb for the attention.

  39. becca says:

    Yesterday we went to the local animal shelter and brought home two dogs. The last of our pack died of old last December and we missed having the furry creatures around. So now we have Wister and Sadie, 6 month old male lab mix and almost two year old female boxer, pit and lab mix, respectively. Wister is incredibly laid back and calm, almost lazy. He was a great fit from the get go. Sadie has got issues with possessiveness that didn’t present at the shelter. I am concerned about her with my grandchildren. We have an appointment with a trainer on Monday who worked with Sadie when she was still with her original owners. An older couple, the husband fell ill and the wife couldn’t give the attention needed for an energetic dog. Very sad.
    Anyway, fingers crossed training helps and we can keep her. We want to give her every chance, but we have to think of the grandkids, who have their own bunk room here, first. Still, I really really want this to work. She wants to be a good girl, I can tell.

  40. CSK says:


    Is Sadie the pit bull mix?

  41. Stormy Dragon says:


    I once had an idea for a gameshow called “The Lowest Common Denominator” that was kind of like Family Feud, except the survey questions were ones with singular correct answers and you had to guess the most common answers other than the actual answer. (e.g. We asked a thousand people who the vice president is, what were the most common answers that aren’t “Kamala Harris”?)

  42. becca says:

    @CSK: yes. We had a boxer pit mix before and she was a fine girl. I’m hoping Sadie is the same . I’d appreciate any helpful hints, tho.

  43. Jen says:

    MAGA not sending their best, or something…

    Christ on a bike, these guys are dumb.

    Jan. 6 Defendant Opens Fire on Deputies Before Surrender to the F.B.I.
    The Texas man, who had been charged with misdemeanors for entering the Capitol, was arrested on a felony count of shooting at local law enforcement officers.

  44. Jen says:

    @becca: One day is way too early to be making judgments–did they go over the rules of three with you?

    There are different expectations for a shelter animal at 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months. This is particularly true for a dog who has been re-homed (versus a puppy).

  45. Sleeping Dog says:


    He’ll expect Abbot to pardon him. After all, he was only standing his ground.

  46. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Unfortunately for Pelham, he has a prior felony conviction that prohibits him from owning a gun.

  47. becca says:

    @Jen: no rules of three, no discussion of previous issues that led to needing professional training. Animal shelters here are nothing like rescue groups. You walk in, pick a pet, and walk out, no questions asked basically. No applications or requirements for living conditions. Rescue groups do a thorough background check on prospective owners. Previous pets, vet records, fenced yards, crate training, work hours, etc. Quite pricey, too.
    My husband is checking the website you suggested as I type. Thank you!
    You are right that one day is way too soon, but she has nipped me several times and husband, too. She drew blood on Wister and broke the skin on my thigh. Worrisome.
    Good news is we just went for another walk (our fifth) and she is calming down and not choking on the lead anymore. She is less aggressive with the puppy, who is actually bigger than her. She met our neighbor and was good as gold and she’s more afraid of the cats than they are of her. If it wasn’t for the grandkids and their very protective parents, I would feel more confident, but I am getting more optimistic things will work out.

  48. Arnold Stang says:

    About 20 years ago, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted a wide receiver, Freddie Mitchell out of UCLA. During his introductions in the city, it came out that he had been on the Jay Leno Tonight Show during one of those sidewalk questions about historical figures and could not name George Washington.
    When asked about it, the reporters wondered how Mitchell, a history major at UCLA, could not name the first president.
    He responded “If I had answered correctly, you wouldn’t have seen me on TV.”

  49. Kylopod says:

    @Arnold Stang: That’s exactly what I’ve long suspected a lot of the people are doing. Thanks for the anecdote.

  50. Kathy says:


    MAGA not sending their best

    I’m afraid they actually are their best.

  51. Kathy says:

    I’ve been going back and forth as to what to cook this weekend. I’m almost settled on chilaquiles with bean sauce, and chicken breasts with tomato sauce, cheese, and chorizo on top. Maybe also oven baked potatoes.

    The bean sauce is made by blending cooked beans with some cottage cheese, and then mixing the result in a pot with sauteed onions, garlic, and one or two minced serrano chilies. Maybe some tomato paste and half a cup of chicken broth.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: It only matters if he is held accountable.

    I am holding him accountable, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? sigh… So much for the little people.

  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha: I don’t even have a clue of what they are talking about. The whole joke is over my head.

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: As much as I like to poke fun at Elon, space is hard.

  55. Kathy says:


    Not mutually exclusive.

    Maybe Mars Emperor God St. Musk Elon was too distracted with the new blue check designs on twitter, instead of paying closer attention to his Starship.

  56. Jen says:

    @Just nutha:

    In the Jimmy Kimmel clip referenced, they asked a person if he knew who the person in the photo they presented him was (photo is of Pence). He said something along the lines of that he knew it was a vice president, but couldn’t get the name. They then asked who the person was married to, and the guy said “Kamela Anderson.”

    Essentially, the poor guy had Pence and VP Harris confused, and then–somehow–his brain settled on “Kamela Anderson” (I agree with the Pamela Anderson brain fart theory).

  57. Jen says:

    @becca: Good luck to you. Best thing is to give it time, but unfortunately, that can be hard to do.

    It can take a rehomed animal some time to settle. They are also a flight risk for about the first month or so, even if they seem integrated, so if you don’t have a fenced yard, definitely watch around you when opening doors.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Oh dawg… I”ll be honest, that sounds like something I might do. (i know who Kamala is and I know who Pence is but give me 5 years or so and I might easily F it all up.)

  59. SenyorDave says:

    They don’t even pretend anymore:
    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has nominated a far-right politician who once boasted that she is “proud to be a racist” as his country’s top diplomat in New York.
    Golan made a political name for herself by denouncing African refugees in Israel, calling them “Muslim infiltrators”, criminals and rapists. She said many have Aids, suggested they were spreading HIV by working as waiters, and demanded they be expelled from the country.

    In other words, she’s an Israeli Proud Boy with less of a filter.

  60. becca says:

    @Jen: our whole property is gated and fenced to the water’s edge. There’s a large “corral” fenced in between the house and the lake, too. It’s shaded and plenty of room to run and play. She’s been lakeside once and didn’t chase the geese or try to jump in. We hope to get them into water vests and take them out on the pontoon one day, if they like the water. This place is kinda doggy heaven.

  61. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @MarkedMan: My sister, who knows a host of politically prominent folks in Florida, said DeSantis won because his opponent, Andrew Gillum, had some legal difficulties.

  62. MarkedMan says:

    So I guess today’s open thread will be just continuing this thread from yesterday?

  63. gVOR08 says:

    Hide the empty beer cans, Dr. T is back.