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. Scott says:

    Always a sucker for time capsules and I never learn the lesson.

    Centuries-old coins found in 1828 West Point time capsule

    A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that appeared to yield little more than dust when it was opened during a disappointing livestream contained hidden treasure after all, the U.S. Military Academy said Wednesday.

    It was just more hidden than expected.

    The lead box believed to have been placed by cadets in the base of a monument actually contained six silver American coins dating from 1795 to 1828 and a commemorative medal.

    What did survive were a 1795 5-cent coin, an 1800 Liberty dollar, 1818 25-cent coin, 10-cent and 1-cent coins from 1827, and an 1828 50-cent coin. There was also an Erie Canal commemorative medal dating to 1826.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In 1676, a Black teenager named Ann Joice arrived on the shores of Maryland with hopes of a new life.

    She had traveled to the recently founded colony from England, destined for indentured servitude, and worked as a maid for the ruling Calvert family, who for three generations had presided over Maryland as a religious haven for Catholics fleeing persecution in England.

    Contracts of indenture then could lead to relative autonomy at their completion, but Joice had arrived at a perilous time in the fledgling colony’s history, as the formal legalization of slavery had already spread quickly along the Atlantic coast.

    Eventually, her contract – the only evidence of the agreement – was set aflame by a plantation owner and military officer named Henry Darnall. She was imprisoned in a kitchen cellar for about six months and then emerged as an enslaved woman, forced to work in Darnall’s kitchens.

    So begins the lineage of the Mahoney family – the enslaved descendants of Ann Joice – whose story is at the center of a vital new work of journalism examining the Catholic church’s foundation in America and its reliance on enslaved labor and the sale of enslaved people for institutional survival.

    Authored by the journalism professor and New York Times contributor Rachel L Swarns, The 272 is a meticulously researched work of narrative history and investigative journalism. The book traces the lineage of the Mahoney family, over centuries, from Joice’s arrival in Maryland to the enslavement of her descendants on plantations owned and operated by Jesuit priests, who became among the largest enslavers in the state. It examines in devastating detail the brutality experienced by those the Jesuits enslaved: a priest who sold a child born out of wedlock as punishment for the parents, a group of people exchanged for a horse and some cash, two of Joice’s descendants hanged and mutilated after being found guilty of killing a plantation overseer.

    Much more at the link, and the book is a “must buy” for me.

  3. Bill Jempty says:
  4. Bill Jempty says:
  5. CSK says:

    A must-read for me, too.

  6. Bill Jempty says:

    Adelia didn’t have any effect on the part of Florida I live in. If you listened to the local weather people in the days leading up to the storm you were being told there would be squalls and 30 MPH wind gusts. What a bunch of baloney. We had one very short hard rain. That is typical for south florida in August.

    My wife stays glued to the local stations. I learned long ago to mostly ignore them. The weather underground has been my site for hurricane information for at least a decade.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Assuming Donald Trump clinches the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, it would be unfair for any court dates associated with the former president’s pending criminal charges to “compromise [his] ability to have a robust campaign schedule”, the Democratic US congressman Ro Khanna has said.

    I have a lot I would like to say to Mr Khanna, but I am sure plenty of others will chime in so I’ll just leave it at maybe the GOP shouldn’t nominate an ongoing criminal enterprise as their candidate and if they choose to it’s their own damned fault.

  8. Scott says:

    I don’t know if I’m just too sensitive to or cynical about such things but watching the DeSantis news conference about Idalia yesterday, it seems as though each speaker (including the Florida Emergency Manager and Florida NG two star) had to preface their remarks with effusive praise for DeSantis. Reminiscent of that infamous Trump Cabinet meeting where all the participants took turns praising Trump. Has this always gone on and I just never noticed?

  9. CSK says:


    With the Trump cabinet meeting, Trump went around to the individual members and forced each one to say how much he was honored to work for Donald Trump. Suffering as I do from vicarious embarrassment, I wanted to crawl under the couch while watching that.

    I don’t think DeSantis has ever sunk quite so low as to compel people to praise hom publicly.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    First hurricanes, now wildfire: Louisiana parish takes on a new climate disaster

    “I am tired, all of our people are exhausted,” she said. “But let me tell you something. We won’t stop. We have lost homes, but we have not lost any lives.”

    Like other residents speaking to the Guardian from this heavily Republican region, Bailey was reluctant to draw a link between the disaster and the climate crisis.

    “I don’t feel like in my position I’m qualified to answer those questions,” she said.

    I get the impression that she gets it, she really does but she is afraid to say as much because of the shunning that will surely follow any heresy.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I don’t think DeSantis has ever sunk quite so low as to compel people to praise him publicly.

    Casey on the other hand…

  12. Long Time Listener says:

    Axios spins ‘questions about Scott’s being single’ differently, but I believe that Reynolds called this, last week….

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Long Time Listener: Homophobia takes many shapes. TBH I don’t think that is really what is at issue here for most of these donors but I’m sure it tickles their brains.

  14. Scott says:

    @Long Time Listener: This is just homophobia and a suspicion that Tim Scott is “not normal”. Reminds me of Ed Koch running for NYC mayor holding hands with Bess Myerson, a former Miss America. If Tim Scott wants a chance in hell, he should just be open and upfront with whatever the truth or facts are whether gay or religious or just repressed and be prepared to live with it. Or just declare “none of your damn business”.

  15. Scott says:

    As it is often said: You get what you vote for.

    Disney’s firefighters backed DeSantis as he feuded with the company. Now his new board ignored their pleas and stripped away their park benefits.

    Disney World’s first responders once backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to assume control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which formerly had autonomous control over the land that Disney occupied.

    “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have,” Tim Stromsnes, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union, told the Orlando Sentinel in January.

    But now firefighters are having second thoughts after the new oversight board moved to strip them of special Disney perks they’ve had for decades. Last week, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the rebranded Reedy Creek board, revoked all of the firefighters’ free passes to the Disney parks and resorts. First responders told the Miami Times Online makes visits to the theme park unaffordable now.

  16. Kathy says:

    You know when you’re drifting off to sleep, sometimes you experience a kind of dream imagery while in a state halfway between sleep and wakefulness? At least I do.

    These tend to be simple and not at all memorable. Yesterday, though, I saw a stable atom with a nucleus made up of positrons, no neutrons, and electrons in stable orbitals.

    I don’t think such a thing is possible. An antimatter atom, sure. But positrons all have a positive charge and repel each other. So do protons, but they are also subject to the strong nuclear force, the strongest known force BTW, which makes them stick together (also to stick with neutrons, which have no electric charge). Positrons are not subject to such a force. They’d resist sticking together and fly apart, meet the electrons, and mutually annihilate each other.

    This got me thinking of whether positrons could be forced to hang together and make such a pseudo-atom anyway. I don’t see how, and I don’t see a use for such a thing. But that might lead to some sort of interesting science fiction magical idea.

  17. Kathy says:

    On yesterday’s comment son the dearth of comedies that re not dramas with a few funny moments, may I suggest Futurama?

    Warning. Sometimes they get too sentimental (I can’t watch Jurassic Bark ever again, because the ending makes me cry), but the main focus is comedy.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: If you don’t want to be humiliated into praising some nimrod in meetings with him, don’t go for the job of being the toady. (“I serve at the pleasure of the President” ultimately means that you’re taking a fealty position. Fealty is a cost.)

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    First responders told the Miami Times Online makes visits to the theme park unaffordable now.

    Karma’s a byotch, eh? Then again, I suspect that it’s time that people became used to the emerging notion that “We the people” still doesn’t mean “everybody” just like in 1789. Conservatism becoming more transparent does have its positives.

  20. a country lawyer says:

    @CSK: Except for James Mattis, who said only, that it was an honor to lead the DOD.

  21. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I think that at the time, Mattis, Kelly, McMaster, Tillerson et al. were hoping that they could control Trump.

    @a country lawyer:

    Indeed. Mattis was a standout in that regard.

  22. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Scott: I shall now pull out my tiny violin.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Speaking of tiny violins, Proud Boy seditionist Joe Biggs just got sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in the planning and execution of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

    Fucking traitor. I hope he rots there.

  24. Gustopher says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: “It’s a Small World After All” performed on tiny violin is ideal.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: If they wanted to be in control, they needed to run for the head job. “Serve at the pleasure of the President” is the underling/not in control job–it’s written right in the phrase. The only moron bigger than Trump is the one who believes he can be the “power behind the throne” of a moron who understands the nature of wielding power despite his moronity. (moron-ness?)

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Change of direction (and escape from Trump sucking all the air out of yet another room). This time from today’s Atlantic newsletter.
    A good idea. (And it’s never been about writing the paper–though the paper is the product. It was always about reading, thinking, and connecting your own dots.)
    ETA: No matter how good it becomes AI will never be able to think better than you can, because you have volition and it only does what it’s told. (Now we need more teachers who will let students exercise their volition–wherever it leads. And students who will take it out for a ride once in a while.)

  27. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    They may have assumed–with some justification–that Trump would get bored, quit after six or so months in office, and turn the presidency over to Pence.* As I’ve said before, anyone would have been better than Trump.

    I actually don’t really think that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s called making the best of a bad deal.

    *I was hoping that myself, and I have little regard for Pence.

  28. JohnSF says:

    Continuing events in Africa:
    President Ali Bongo is overthrown by a coup in Gabon.
    (Good riddance, it has to be said; but the coupists are no saints.)
    Timbuktu is effectively under siege by a jihadist coalition.
    Global Southists chorus: “Yah boo, France! Coupist miliary is peoples liberation! Viva la Revolucion!”
    France: “Meh. Sort yourselves out. We’re done. Farewell and f@ck you.”

    This is building towards a regional crisis.
    The ECOWAS group are far more populous and powerful than the “coupist group”, and very worried that the coupists are a bunch of plundering incompetents who are leading to a jihadist takeover in the Sahel while they use Russian mercs to cover their plundering of remaining national assets to Swiss bank accounts.
    Problem is, the ECOWAS militaries are probably not up to full-scale expeditionary warfare in the Sahel.

  29. Kathy says:


    I heard during the last weeks of the primaries that Cheeto Jr formally offered Kasich the post of VP. Allegedly he said Kasich would actually run things, while pretending he didn’t. Kasich asked what then Benito would do, and Jr. answered “MAGA.” (I can’t bring myself to type the phrase without laughing). Kasich declined.

    I don’t know if that’s true. Kasich was not the VP choice, but that proves nothing.

  30. Kathy says:

    Lovely. Now Tucker Carlson, the -$787.5 million dollar man, is predicting the democrats will try to assassinate Benito.

    The reasoning is priceless: “Begin with criticism, then you go to protest, then you go to impeachment, now you go to indictment, and none of them work. I mean what’s next?”

    Let’s see. Bush the younger was criticized and there were many, many protests against him. Same for Obama. I assume the same for Biden, though I can’t recall offhand massive protests against him (maybe the never-ending Cheeto rallies). they were not impeached, nor indicted, because like it or not, they did not engage in massive illegal activities while in office, nor did any of them try to overturn an election.

    But are we to assume criticism of Biden menas Tucker wants to kill him?

  31. CSK says:


    Actually I recall reading the same thing. Junior and Eric stated that the vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy, and Trump would roam around the country doing MAGA rallies for 8 years.

  32. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I’d never heard before that the Trump campaign considered Kasich for vp, but I looked it up and it appears to be true.

    Here’s the account from NYT:

    Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

    When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

    Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

    “Making America great again” was the casual reply.

    Don Jr. later disputed this story. You be the judge.

  33. Kingdaddy says:

    Mitch McConnell looked terrified during his latest freeze during a press conference.

    His staff needed to get him away from the podium, and to a doctor as quickly as possible. Not take more questions.

  34. CSK says:


    Oh, I believe it. (Of course Junior denied it.) I also think that the Trump Fan Club would have been satisfied with this arrangement. Just imagine: eight years of chanting “lock her up.” Ecstasy.

  35. Kathy says:


    A denial by the Cheeto or his spawn serves as confirmation.

  36. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: @Kathy: Reading the NYT article now, I was struck by something which I think I sort of vaguely remember but have since forgotten about, which is that the Trump campaign considered a lot of people for vp only to be told they weren’t interested. (One of them was Nikki Haley, by the way.) I guess nobody wanted to go down with what they saw as a sinking ship. It’s not surprising the Trump people would later deny these offers even happened.

    I have thought before about if he had picked someone other than Pence, won the election then lost four years later, would that person have tried to decertify the results on Jan. 6 as Pence refused to do? Trump’s finalists before Pence included Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Michael Flynn. I’m pretty sure Christie would have done the same as Pence, I’m not sure about Gingrich, and Flynn…there isn’t even any question what he’d have done.

  37. CSK says:


    Oh, Flynn would doubtless have obeyed Trump’s instruction. No doubt about that whatsoever. Gingrich would have done whatever he perceived to be to his advantage at the time.

  38. just nutha says:

    @CSK: And that would have yielded exactly what we got. The problem isn’t Trump, the problem is Republicans.

  39. Kathy says:


    A VP Flynn would have been insistent on sending the Army to seize voting machines weeks earlier.

    I agree as to Gingrich and Christie.

    About the latter, I think of him as Thatcher said of Gorbachev, waaaay back in the early 80s: we can do business with him.