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. MarkedMan says:

    Several weeks ago we were discussing the Supreme Court ruling that social media could not be sued for harm based on content recommended by their algorithms, provided those algorithms were not deliberately created with the intent to promote harmful material. I expressed concern that prohibiting tort suits simply because an AI based algorithm was interposed between the harm and the provider could be opening up a can of worms. Kevin Drum has a short piece today referencing a WSJ investigation into Instagram’s promotion of child porn related content that would seem to enter the same territory as the ISIS one the court ruled on.

    Here’s a quote from the majority opinion in last month’s case:

    “As presented here, the algorithms appear agnostic as to the nature of the content, matching any content (including ISIS’ content) with any user who is more likely to view that content,” Thomas wrote. “The fact that these algorithms matched some ISIS content with some users thus does not convert defendants’ passive assistance into active abetting.”

  2. Jen says:

    This is pretty funny–although I have no idea of the validity. A “psychological care” AI chatbot replies to former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa’s analysis of a potential indictment for Trump:

    PsychMate on Twitter

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: As if trump ever focused on anything other than self-care.

  4. Mu Yixiao says:

    I’m wondering if any of you have heard of Ground News. They sponsored a YouTube video I was watching, and it sounded interesting.

    It’s a news aggregator which shows where stories are reported by political lean (left, center, right). When you create an account, it tracks the stories you read, by political lean, and highlights “blind spot” stories–ones that fall outside your political placement.

    I’ve been reading the headlines on the free site, and am considering a basic account ($9.99/year).

    Just curious about others’ thoughts.

  5. Mu Yixiao says:

    Robocalls claiming voters would get “mandatory vaccines” result in $5M fine

    The Federal Communications Commission issued a $5.1 million fine against pro-Trump robocallers who targeted Black people with calls promoting a conspiracy theory that the government would use mail-in voting records “to track people for mandatory vaccines.” The calls also falsely claimed that mail-in voting would be used by police to “track down old warrants” and by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.

    This is only because they were robocalls, not because of the content.

    Another civil case is currently wrapping up regarding the content.

    The case already resulted in a judge’s ruling stating that “undisputed facts” show “that Defendants violated the Support or Advocacy Clause of the KKK Act.” US District Judge Victor Marrero also granted a motion for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ Civil Rights Act claim, saying that “Defendants’ planning, execution, and internal communications demonstrate that they intended to interfere with the right to vote.”

    Marrero further granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on liability for all claims but said that “the action remains pending with respect to the scope of relief sought against Defendants, including damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.”

    Why aren’t there criminal charges on this?

  6. CSK says:

    Pat Robertson has died. He was 93.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: It’s an intriguing idea, but after a quick review, I’m skeptical. They seem to have two main metrics, Bias and Factuality. They label Bias on a Left to Right scale, but as near as I can tell it really equates to a Democratic to Republican scale. It seems, at least at first glance, to equate neutrality with having equal numbers of positive Dem stories and positive Republican stories, without regard to the contents. So the Bias metric is actually harmful and has nothing to do with political philosophy but only party affiliation.

    I’m more interested in Factuality, but they don’t show their work here and I’m skeptical of the results. They put the Washington Post in the same category as (national) Fox News. And a lot of their sites are pretty small and I have a hard time believing they are actually spending enough time analyzing the Greensboro Fox News Television channel that they can put it in the “High Factuality” category.

    It may be something, but my initial impression is that they are at best a “fairness calls for the baby to be cut in half” organization, and at worst are yet another billionaire funded stealth propaganda site.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Good riddance to bad rubbish. A truly despicable person. Fleeced millions of elderly and mentally challenged out of their savings and social security checks, and put a smiling face on the rankest bigotry.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Alex Kokcharov

    Just look in the eyes of this poor doggo rescued by the emergency services in #Kherson region, south #Ukraine, now partially flooded due to #Russia destroying #Kakhovka dam.

    Photos by Serhii Korovayny

    That poor puppy dog…

  10. Daryl says:

    Pat Robertson…may he rest in hell.
    There are very few people that I think the world would just be better off without.
    Scalia was one.
    Limbaugh, too.
    Robertson is another.

  11. CSK says:


    What a sweetie. I hope it finds a loving home.

  12. JohnSF says:

    Multiple reports that Russians are shelling rescue operations in Kherson.
    They really are vile.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To observe him in full flow is like watching a pickup truck do ballet.

    Aaron Timms on Nikola Jokić

  14. Sleeping Dog says:


    The meeting with St Peter, should be interesting.

  15. Tony W says:

    @CSK: Only the good die young.

  16. Jen says:

    I’m sure we’ll get a separate post on the SCOTUS voting rights decision soon enough, but I did not see that one coming.

  17. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    If there is an afterlife, I would like it to be one of the Egyptian versions.

    The bottom line is you meet Toth, the Divine Scribe,* who weighs your heart against a feather. If it’s lighter, you go into The Field of Reeds. If it’s heavier than the feather, Ammit, Devourer of the Dead, eats your heart and sends you to a rather unpleasant place.

    What I like to picture most is this self-righteous, hateful, nasty Evangelical meeting Toth and Ammit, and being greeted with “Guess you bet on the wrong god, friend.”

    *It might be Toth and Anubis. Egypt lasted as a nation/empire and culture/religion for over 3000 years. Versions of the afterlife vary.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    Maybe there is a bridge too far for some of the SC conservatives. Nah, this wasn’t a good case to choke the voting rights act.

  19. Bill Jempty says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The meeting with St Peter, should be interesting.

    Another meeting Saint Peter had.

    It began when a husband came home early because he felt sure his wife was cheating on him. When he got home, the husband found his wife in bed with a guilty look on her face.

    Suddenly the husband saw a half dressed man running down the apartment firestairs. The husband pushed the refrigerator over to the window. He then dropped the refrigerator out the window killing the half dressed man.

    Then the husband suffered a heart attack and died.

    Up in heaven. Peter greets the next people in line

    Peter- What happened to you.
    Man #1- I was running late for work and was half dressed going down the firestairs when somebody dropped a refrigerator on me.
    Peter- All right you can come in. Next!

    Man#2= I thought my wife was cheating on me. So I came home early and I saw somebody running away half dressed. So I dropped a refrigerator on top of him. Then I had a heart attack.
    Peter- All right you can come in.

    Another man arrives. Peter asks what happened to him.
    Man#3- I was hiding in a refrigerator when somebody dropped it out a window.

  20. Daryl says:

    Agreed…did not have this on my bingo card.
    I wonder if Justice Boof was drunk???

  21. DK says:

    @Jen: Either John Roberts had a sudden conversion after spending decades trying to dismantle the Voting Rights Act, or Roberts is worried about legacy and “Roberts Court” ending up as just byword for corruption and reactionary, dishonest jurisprudence.

    He is probably too late at trying to reign-in his court’s out-of-control religious extremists, but good luck.

  22. Mister Bluster says:
  23. Daryl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    So this SCOTUS ruling is kinda fuq’d.
    In Feb. ’22 the Court, thru the so-called Shadow Docket, allowed Alabama to use a map which today’s decision now says is unconstitutional.
    What that means is that the Court effectively handed the House to Republicans because they allowed many states to use maps that are now illegal. Majority-minority districts in at least Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana would’ve been safe Democratic seats but for the Shadow-Docket ruling.
    So praise the Court for finally doing the right thing, but only after they stacked the deck for Republicans.

  24. just nutha says:

    A recurring theme among the commentariat here is “teh skoolz don’t teach our kids about managing money.” Funny coincidence: just today: this is the lesson the kids I’m with are working.

    Using the careers from the previous day’s PowerPoint presentation:
    Fill in your hourly wages and other info.
    Decide how many people are in your household (you can change this number to see how different sized households affect your monthly living)
    Pick $1200 dollars if you are renting and $1500 if you are buying a house for cost of housing [note: fat chance of being able to rent or buy at those rates in our market, but…]
    For monthly utilities in Washington State, use $225.
    Put $200-300 per person in for food (use $300 if you like to eat out)
    Use a car payment of $500 for a new car or $300 for a used one
    Budget $200 for health insurance and $50 for health expenses
    [These numbers make the MONTHLY budget]
    This data all goes onto a form that makes a monthly total from which the students are asked to conclude whether they can afford their selected life style.

    I cannot comment on how much of this will stick with students–which is one of the shortfalls of our belief that “we should teach X” is the answer to various shortfalls in our society–but I can tell you that their regularly scheduled teacher told me that the topic is mandated in the Washington Administrative Codes. I can also tell you that I’ve had students in both middle school (as is the case today) and in high school (as was the case a few weeks back) working similar budget process exercises.

    But I am sad about the places where teh skoolz aren’t teaching our kids to manage money. There are program on the interwebs that help students with the details, so some places must be doing it.

  25. CSK says:

    At the risk of replicating yesterday’s unseemly squabble, let me furnish an update on the wildfires:

    ETA: I don’t know why the link doesn’t work. But if you click on it you’ll see where to go.

  26. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    Sounds like a good start.

    I cannot comment on how much of this will stick with students–which is one of the shortfalls of our belief that “we should teach X” is the answer to various shortfalls in our society–


    I can vouch that any knowledge useful in daily life, as well as what one finds of interest, will very likely stick.

    I realize you posted an example and not a syllabus, Still, what, IMO, needs to be taught is everything to do with banking, savings, investments, mortgages, other type of consumer loans, credit, and in particular student loans.

  27. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Of course, “knowledge useful in daily life, as well as what one finds of interest” being the content that sticks has been known for centuries. The list varying by individual is a less accepted corellary, frequently being replaced by “this is interesting and useful to MY daily life and therefore is an essential component” or other similar notions. Offering only what is useful and interesting (particularly interesting) additionally has, on occasions at least, proven to be an inadequate model, Maria Montessory not withstanding.

    As to your specific list of topics, I’m generally charry about statements that include the word “everything,” but your list is good, if too extensive for my taste. I find myself wondering how many Americans would need even rudimentary familiarity with investing, for example (though it would be a better world if more American DID need such familiarity). And teaching students about student loans is less important than creating the conditions where either students will not go into crippling debt to get education or wages will increase to levels where those loans can be paid in a timely manner.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @just nutha: Teaching children to live month by month!

    Ok, it’s actually pretty decent, although I would quibble with the numbers, but it needs an emergency fund.

  29. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    Offering only what is useful and interesting (particularly interesting) additionally has, on occasions at least, proven to be an inadequate model,

    This can get faux philosophical very quickly if I dive into an analysis. Therefore I won’t. I agree there is more that is necessary to know than what is useful or interesting.

    I find myself wondering how many Americans would need even rudimentary familiarity with investing, for example (though it would be a better world if more American DID need such familiarity).

    I can see two important aspects.

    1) The best means of savings and building wealth is through investment, rather than merely stashing away money or settling for minimal bank-paid interest.

    2) To better understand what the rich people with all the power do with their money and why.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    The headline:

    Your expanded Southern Illinoisan coming soon

    Four paragraphs into the article:

    …in an effort to preserve the excellent local news coverage that you’re used to, on June 20 the print edition of The Southern will move to a different publication schedule, with delivery three days each week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

    When I worked for this paper (2002-2003) it published 7 days a week. Several years later it dropped the Monday edition. Then went to 5 days Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Weekend. Just last fall home delivery was eliminated and home subscriptions are now sent through the mail.
    Currently the monthly subscription rate is $32 including digital access. The “newsstand” price is $2 daily and $3 weekend. I haven’t paid for one since the weekday edition went up to 50¢/copy at the Kwik e Mart.
    The Carbondale Times that I deliver once a week is free and according to the boss is going strong.
    I wonder how much longer the print edition of the Southern Illinoisan will last?

  31. Mikey says:

    Finally. Trump indicted on federal charges. Reports say at least seven counts including willful retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct an investigation.

  32. CSK says:

    Trump says he’s been indicted.

  33. Kathy says:



  34. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Beat you by SECONDS.

  35. Jax says:

    Well, I’ll be…..Happy Indictment #2 Day!

  36. Kathy says:

    The whataboutism and death threats should begin momentarily. I hope the prosecutors and investigators will be safe for the duration and beyond.

    For now, we celebrate.

  37. Kathy says:


    And here’s to many more!

  38. clarkontheweekend says:

    The post TFG wrote where he broke the news himself is comic gold. The harangue he goes on about garage doors, in a situation of such historic import, I mean, funniest thing ever, in history!? I laughed my ass off.

  39. dazedandconfused says:
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Been a long time ago, but a study that I read when I was young indicated that there was no appreciable difference in the financial security of people who invested in stocks over people who merely saved regularly. The key to building security in old age is being able to save money some way or another on a regular basis. That financier types (like Donald Trump* [eyeroll emoji here]) are certainly wealthier than the average is balanced out because they usually also started out wealthier to begin with. Either way, people who become “rich” investing are outliers.

    As for me, I made my financial security (such as I have) the old fashioned way–I inherited it from my grandparents (who were outliers). Then again, I had a 15-or-so-year stretch where I never made more than ~$20K a year. Most of those years I made less, sometimes $4 or 5 thousand less. On the positive side, those years got me conditioned to low income, so that getting on Social Security represented a significant increase in my income. (Social Security pays more than the last job I held in the US before I left to teach in Korea.)-
    *imagines himself to be

  41. de stijl says:

    @just nutha:

    Schools should teach X – in this case basic budgeting.

    Sometimes it takes a few years or a few decades for that lesson to land. It’s still a good lesson to teach even though the results are realized in the future.

    I’m 21. I have $13.72 in my checking account and 6 twenties in my wallet / purse. Next payday is a week away. My friends want to go out to a club or to see a new band.

    Do you stay in or go out?

    When you are 21 everything is pulling at you to go out and have fun.

    Everybody makes bad decisions about money. Everybody. We are not optimized algorithms.

    When I was 21 I would have gone out. Maybe. Depends on my mental state at the moment.

  42. de stijl says:

    Thinking about the usefulness of school lessons, advanced math beyond basic algebra is way too much for teenagers.

    I’m all for practical math and geometry, but calculus or trigonometry is just stupid for high school aged kids.

    I haven’t used anything beyond basic addition, subtraction, division, fractions, basic statistics in my adult life. Being overseas and trying to figure out the currency – trying to figure out how much a kroner is to a dollar.

    At one point I had to make a dashboard for someone who really liked weighted averages. Had to look it up. That was a requirement.

    Advanced math classes in high school taught me how to cheat. Not straight up cheating per se, but the ability to predict the questions and stash the process to solve in short term memory to answer that particular question for that particular test. Gaming the system. Solve for x. I did, backhandedly.

    None of it landed or stuck and I was a pretty bright kid who tried hard to get it. It mostly befuddled me.

    There is no point in trying to teach teenagers calculus.

    Unless you are an engineer or a rocket scientist it doesn’t help you in life.

    In college I ticked off the math requirement with two classes in statistics which, to me, was marginally useful later in life.

    It takes up hours best used for other more useful lessons. An unoptimized practice.

    Advanced math taught me a valid, life-useful lesson – how to game the system.

  43. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    @de stijl:

    You both make good points I’ll have to give some thought to.

    But, still, I know what it’s like to try to manage money starting from near ignorance, and knowledge is always better than ignorance in all areas.