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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Filed under gosh, what could possibly go wrong here?

    Rite Aid facial recognition misidentified Black, Latino and Asian people as ‘likely’ shoplifters

    Rite Aid used facial recognition systems to identify shoppers that were previously deemed “likely to engage” in shoplifting without customer consent and misidentified people – particularly women and Black, Latino or Asian people – on “numerous” occasions, according to a new settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. As part of the settlement, Rite Aid has been forbidden from deploying facial recognition technology in its stores for five years.

    The FTC said in a federal court complaint that Rite Aid used facial recognition technology in hundreds of stores from October 2012 to July 2020 to identify shoppers “it had previously deemed likely to engage in shoplifting or other criminal behavior”. The technology sent alerts to Rite Aid employees either by email or phone when it identified people entering the store on its watchlist.

    The FTC said in its complaint that store employees would then put those people under increased surveillance, ban them from making purchases or accuse them in front of friends, family and other customers of previously committing crimes. The facial recognition system was largely used in New York City; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Detroit; Atlantic City; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Wilmington, Delaware and Sacramento, California, according to the settlement.

  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Dang, are Dr. T and I the only ones awake? Ozark? Steve? Anybody?

  3. Bill Jempty says:

    Yawn….I’m here just barely after a 14-day hospital stay. I came home Tuesday.

  4. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Ugh. Rest up, and let us entertain you

  5. The Q says:

    Is it the “Beer hall riot” or “Beer Hall Putsch”?

    Some parse that Trump didn’t lead an insurrection but rather a riot. Therefore he is technically entitled to be on the ballot.

    I’m sure the German people, if they could redo history would go back and throughly crush and destroy the instigators at the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall in 1923; to stop the spread of an evil virus soon to decimate Europe. They would see it not as a small localized “riot” but rather a threat to the nation’s very existence.

    Similarly, it was not a riot on Jan 6, it was the first attempt ever to vacate electoral results under the threat of violence and anarchy – an insurrection.

    We should treat it as such and eliminate any other attempts to emulate it with extreme prejudice.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Sorry, I slept in till 5 CST.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill Jempty: Whoa, that’s a long time to be in the beeps, lights and tubes of a hospital bed! Best of luck for coming home safe and sound

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill Jempty: I was kind of wondering where you had disappeared to. Fingers crossed for smoother sailing from here on out.

  9. CSK says:

    Happy Winter Solstice. Today’s the shortest day of the year, isn’t it?

  10. KM says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Been sleeping later and later lately since I’m just exhausted. God bless WFH since the laptop is right there. Am hoping side effect of the surgery is I get my energy back and can be awake in the mornings without 3 coffees

  11. Bill Jempty says:


    I was kind of wondering where you had disappeared to. Fingers crossed for smoother sailing from here on out.

    Thanks but the fun might not be over. My PT INR is through the roof and my pulse is in the 120s. My cardiologist will see me today at 12:30. I so do not want to go back in the hospital. My recent stay involved me not getting medicines at all or hours late, me too getting touch of one, too little of another, and me having to call for a hospital administrator to get proper care. Let me not forget the phlebotomists at JFK. My arm’s bruising by these graduates of the Marquis de Sade of blood drawing is something I prefer not have to endure again

  12. Kathy says:

    There seems to be a lot of demand for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID booster shots. The news reports pharmacies offering it are swamped, and running out of shots to give.

    One wants to find this heartening, but I fear it may be misleading. That is, most of the people who want it will get it soon, but they’ll prove to be a small percentage of the population. And what looks like a massive surge, may be an artifact of the few locations where it is available.

    On other news, the judge ordered Rudy to pay up now.

    Me, I’d put him in prison until he pays up. But I don’t think the law allows it.

  13. Kathy says:

    Side effects of the Hell Week marathon include an inability to think up what I want to cook for next week.

    We’re doing our damnedest to finish all that’s due for next Tuesday, so we can take Monday 25th off (apparently it’s some kid of holiday?). My brain went straight to tomato soup, which is the one thing I like to have in winter when I have some extra time off.

    But, come on, we may come in on Saturday after getting off really late on Friday. That much work blanching, peeling, coring, and seeding tomatoes after all that is ridiculous. Besides, I have to make rice to mix with the soup, and then there’s the whole entree I can’t think up.

    But dear brain won’t move on from tomato soup.

  14. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I am a fan of a good tomato soup as well. Having a can of high-quality skinned tomatoes on hand helps to satisfy the craving. I saute onions and garlic, add some oregano, salt, and pepper, and the full can of tomatoes and let it simmer a bit. If it’s too thick I add stock or even water to loosen it up a bit. Use the immersion blender until it’s smooth, and boom, tomato soup. If I have heavy cream, I’ll sometimes add a bit of that at the end, right before serving.

  15. Kathy says:


    I’ve tried not skinning the tomatoes, and it still works well enough. But the seeds have to go. So canned tomatoes are out. Tomato pure doesn’t work either (though in my recipe I add some for color).

    I do saute onions and garlic, too.

    One time I tried a tomato and carrot soup, but didn’t care for the results. Carrots and ginger now, that works.

    Everyone has their favorite recipe for every dish they make. I cook to suit my tastes, so, to me, my soup is heaven in a bowl (with rice and lime).

  16. becca says:

    @Kathy: I usually roast halved Campari or plum tomatoes along with garlic and a red bell pepper. Skin slides off and seeds ooze out. Into the food processor, then a pan. Some chicken stock, thyme or marjoram or basil, salt and pepper. A splash of heavy cream. Sharp cheddar grilled cheese on sourdough for dipping. Heaven

  17. CSK says:

    @Jen: @becca:

    My mouth is watering.

  18. de stijl says:

    Woke up to an exceedingly gray morning. Per The Weather Channel’s app, I won’t see sunshine again for at least a week.

    Also, it’s going to be about 20F above average the entire time (good for me, selfishly, but probably bad for the planet). It will also apparently drizzle or spit small rain every day for a week.

    I really don’t have a problem with gray, drizzly days. In summer, they are a welcome break. But seven gray days in a row will grate my nerves. If it were sunny all day, every day I would slowly go insane, too, eventually. Give me variety!

  19. de stijl says:

    @The Q:

    Imagine BLM rioters attacked Capitol Police and invaded the complex.

    The reality of white privilege was borne out by the measured, some might say anemic, LE response to the January 6 mob that stormed the Capitol.

  20. just nutha says:

    I’ve always found Campbell’s adequate, but I don’t eat tomato soup often.

  21. CSK says:

    Hey! The commenting format just changed. What’s going on?

  22. Beth says:

    I didn’t sleep well last night. Between an 85 pound pit bull and some crazy dreams I’m zonked. Dream-wise, just about every woman I dated at some point woke up mad at me for something that happened in her dream. This morning, I woke up incredibly pissed off at my Partner. She was incredibly mean to me in my dream last night. Apparently I was talking in my sleep loud enough to wake her up. We laughed about it a bit, but I’m still mad at her.

    @de stijl:

    I have really bad seasonal affective disorder. Winter time is hell for me. I could maybe, possibly, sorta handle the cold, but the oppressive greyness of everything crushes me. I’m blasting myself with a happy light right now. I would LOVE for every day to be sunny and hot (and like 99% humidity, but I’m crazy). I should live in a jungle.

  23. Kathy says:

    Did someone hack the comments section?

    It looks easy to format stuff and even to

    • make
    • pointless
    • lists.


    But I can’t seem to find a means to reply directly to someone.

    Not complaining, just pointing it out.

  24. restless says:

    yes, on my iPhone running the latest OS, I see large gray (or green or red) lozenges that obscure the text (one vertical, two horizontal per comment), and can’t find the reply link (short of copy/pasting the link as above)

  25. CSK says:

    The reply function has indeed vanished.

  26. restless says:

    I think the “lozenges“ I see are some kind of manifestation of up and down votes, and possibly avatars, on my phone

  27. Jen says:

    CSK You can copy and link to reply.

    But, I miss the reply button (poor James, now he has to contend with the human desire to resist change…)

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    This new comment format must be OTB’s Holiday gift to the blogosphere!

  29. de stijl says:

    Um, this change in commenting systems really sucks.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    Haven’t figured out EDIT function
    Attach an Image!

  31. de stijl says:


  32. Mister Bluster says:

    Apparently I don’t have to fill Name and Address fields for each comment that I make.

    Just gave my post a thumbs up. That hasn’t changed.

    ETA: Just noticed date and time format has changed. Can’t wait to see what it looks like in 24 hours.

    ETA: Curious about lowercase o at the bottom of all comments.

    ETA: No timer on edit function.

  33. Kathy says:


    Too much work. I’ll just say I did and complain it isn’t working 😉

    Ranting seemed to work. I’m thinking of adapting a simple hot dogs and beans in tomato sauce thing to a stew of meatballs, hot dogs, beans, potatoes, onions, bell pepper, rice and tomato sauce.

    No soup, alas.

  34. Sleeping Dog says:

    There have been changes in the asylum

  35. CSK says:

    I see the upvote function is working, but why underneath that is a zero?

  36. James Joyner says:

    All: I was testing a new-to-me and very popular WordPress commenting plugin, hoping to gain some functionality related to user statistics. It didn’t really give me that and broke some other functionality that relied on other plugins, so I’ve deactivated it for now.

  37. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Thanks for trying to improve the site.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Joyner:..I’ve deactivated it for now.

    I was so looking forward to the cat images…

  39. Bill Jempty says:

    I’m back from the cardiologist. My heart is fluttering and he wants me to have cardioversion again.

    That’s not bad. I am not back in the hospital either. So I can spend my days watching LA Law or the Bob Newhart Show, writing my next ebook*, playing strat-o-matic baseball, or giving my kitty lap time.

    *- The one set in Hong Kong. It’s 90% done and will be my first traditionally published book. Say a prayer for my editor

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: But not consistently. Right now, I have the old format here but had the new one on my phone an hour ago.

  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Winter break must have started

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Having just visited the voter fraud post–where the new format is still presenting, at least on my machine–if I were going to complain–and I’m not going to–my complaint would be about the typeface in the new format not being old-blind-reader-friendly. The grayscale typeface and pastel font for the commentator names are a touch hard for me to read.

    ETA: And in other universes to which I sometimes travel, the number (0) at the bottom is the link that allows replies–which get nested under the original comment, but that feature did not appear to be activated here.

  43. de stijl says:

    I was writing a critique of the new, now gone interface.

    1. Owners of OTB are way too smart to drop a major UI change unannounced. It’s just bad manners, and they wouldn’t.

    2. Several features don’t work.

    Conclusion, this is unintended, and will soon be remedied.

    They fixed it before I could hit “Post Comment”.

  44. de stijl says:


    I hate hot and humid. I did a gig in Orlando in mid summer to early autumn and it was damn miserable, to me.

    That part of inland Florida is insufferable without AC. On the coast you very often get refreshing nightime breezes. I love taking walks and wandering around in my off time, figuring out the vibe of the town I’m working in. Orlando in high summer is fucking miserable. To me, anyway.

    Way more comfortable with cold temps – I can always layer up. If it’s too hot and humid I can’t get any more naked than naked. In cold, I can always bundle up.

  45. de stijl says:

    In my neck of the woods, wintertime precipitation should/would be snow.

    A week of drizzly rain with daytime highs in the 50s is extremely anomalous in late December. At this latitude, and intercontinental position, that basically never happens. I guess it happens now.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    The WaPo has an article up (no subscription necessary) that is pretty conclusive in finding that there was no significant Hamas activity at or under the al-Shifa Hospital. There were a few small tunnels found, but the five buildings that the Israelis claimed as Hamas command and control centers weren’t connected to the tunnels and no evidence of anything other than hospital use was found in them.

    So – the Israelis adamantly maintained that Hamas was conducting widespread operations from these command and control centers and were moving hostages, materiel and soldiers through the tunnels which, again, turned out to be not actually connected to the command and control centers. The Israelis and those that accept them at their word assured us that despite the Israelis going above and beyond in minimizing civilian casualties the operations were so extensive it necessitated bombing a hospital containing thousands of injured and sick patients and the families that were taking care of them, repeatedly and over days and even weeks. I can see three explanations:

    1) The Israelis truly believed this at the highest levels of the government, the military and the intelligence services, and acted accordingly, but once again had a major intelligence failure

    2) The Israelis thought it was possible and didn’t really give a shit about civilian casualties and so bombed indiscriminately.

    3) The hospital is in the North and the ultimate goal is to make the North uninhabitable. Any large scale gathering of Palestinians had to be broken up and pushed south. The supposed intelligence was simply made up to justify the bombing to their more squeamish allies.

    In any case, the US has once again come out looking like either fools or co-conspirators. We accepted the Israeli intelligence and publicly supported it.

  47. Kathy says:

    Colbert makes some good points on the Colorado ruling:

    “Counterpoint: removing the guy who tried to overthrow a democratic election is actually pro-democratic,” Colbert responded. “That’s like saying it’s anti-hen to keep the fox out of the henhouse. Let the chickens decide whether he finds them delicious.”
    To be clear, he concluded, the Colorado supreme court did not kick Trump off the ballot. “The United States constitution kicked Trump off the ballot.
    “The 14th amendment says if you try to destroy our democracy, you can’t come back and try again,” he said. “It’s the same reason I’m not letting my appendix back into my abdomen, no matter how well it polls in Iowa.”

  48. anjin-san says:

    I’m still seeing the new commenting format in the Wed. Forum post. It’s jacked in Safari & iOS, seems to be working properly in Firefox.

  49. restless says:


    After a bit of experimentation –

    On my Mac, Safari still has the messed up comment forum in the ‘Voter Fraud’ post, but I can switch to Firefox and get the old style. FWIW, I almost always have to open OTB in a private window on Safari.

    On my iPhone, the messed up comment forum exists on both the Safari and Firefox apps.

    However, if I log into the site on that page, on either my Mac or my phone, I get the old style (readable) comment section. To log in on any other page, I need to select ‘Register’, then select ‘Log In’.

    BTW, I second the motion that the text on the new comment section is too light and too small my my old eyes 🙂

  50. Gustopher says:

    It feels like there are more bankruptcies under Biden than Trump, what with Alex Jones and Rudy Giuliani filing for bankruptcy.

    Bidenomics is great.

  51. Gustopher says:

    Seen on Twitter:

    A noun, a verb, chapter 11.

  52. restless says:


    If you registered back when Dr Joyner was testing that approach, try logging in. Did the ‘test’ comment section change back to the ‘standard’?

  53. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: 4) Something had to be done. This was something, so it had to be done.

    (Yes, Minister remains an excellent show, by the way)

    I don’t know whether there is a big Israeli plan for ethnic cleansing, or whether there’s just a belief that they have to respond “BIG” and they just have no idea of what to do.

    I expect a bit of both, actually, with the pro-ethnic-cleansing crowd taking advantage of a vacuum in the space of ideas, and a lot of the Good Israelis (and their followers outside Israel) accepting it because it’s something.

    Displacing 1.8M people, destroying or damaging half the housing stock, bombing hospitals and killing over 20K people (1% of the population of Gaza, so far) shouldn’t be the default something but here we are.

    Scared, stupid people listen to anyone who promises an easy answer.

  54. de stijl says:

    One of my last corporate jobs was rolling out new software and updates to existing software to every desktop and laptop in the organization. About 103k devices.

    It’s utterly unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and unrecognized. You get recognized if you fuck it up. You can cross every t, dot every i, test every scenario, get every sign-off at every checkpoint, and still fail spectacularly. Hopefully rarely, but it will happen, and you can roll back to previous version.

    It’s an inevitable task, a freakishily complex task that needs to happen seamlessly, be communicatedly extremely clearly to all parties at all levels, signed off on at the highest level, and executed perfectly. And that’s for the easy stuff you can roll-back to the previous version easily.

    In the biz, it’s a backwater, unsexy job. No one good and seasoned wants that job. It’s old hacks and brand new grads. My job was to manage the roll-out, but everybody who did the initial testing, integration testing, packaging, and pushing worked for somebody else. They worked for six different managers that were sort of permanently seconded to that task group.

    I couldn’t fight that so I sought processes, procedures, hand-offs, sign-offs, general tightening up, and detailed documentation. I could manage by proxy ar best, so I built process.

    It’s important work, and the people who do it are talented, smart, and undervalued.

    Do not underestimate the process and people behind seamlessly rolling out new software updates to your device. It is damn hard work!

    I got burnt out and left for contract consulting dollars in stuff I was actually good at.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Could be an anomaly still in all. Check back when it’s happened 3 or 4 years in a row or 8 out of the past 10.

    (And even if it’s actual climate change, doesn’t that mean that that the die is pretty much cast?)

  56. gVOR10 says:

    Most of us here know Wilhoit’s Law,

    Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

    One might assume such a pithy and insightful statement came from a philosopher or political scientist. And there is a late Francis “Frank” M. Wilhoit who was a political scientist. The author of the Law, however, is a classical music composer. Balloon Juice has proof and samples.

  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I think you’re missing the larger point–These are people who elected vermin to be their government and then didn’t rise up to drive them out once they discovered what Hamas was. They’re only getting what they deserve.

    (Did I get the right tone in that?)

  58. Beth says:

    What the absolute fuck!

    According to a complaint filed by Seattle Children’s Hospital in Travis County on December 7, the office of the attorney general under AG Ken Paxton has demanded that the hospital turn over patient data for transgender patients who traveled or moved from Texas. The demands include “no redaction” and apply to any Texas trans youth. The letter also states that the hospital is required by law to “wean children off of” gender-affirming care if they travel or have moved from Texas. The letter lists several other records-related demands and even threatens Seattle hospital workers with jail time if they do not comply.

    Texas isn’t safe for women.

    Texas isn’t safe for Trans people.

    Texas isn’t safe for queer people.

    You think you’re safe from Texas? You’re not.
    Texas is a fucking nightmare.

  59. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A series of anomalies is potentially a new pattern. Two years ago we had a thunderstorm on Christmas Eve, lightening, thunder, brief heavy downpour as it rolled through. I was gobsmacked. That doesn’t happen. That never happens.

    That is extremely way out of normal weather for late December for Des Moines.

    For all of the next week it’s going to be mid to upper 50s and rainy. That doesn’t happen. That never happens.

  60. Beth says:

    @de stijl:

    I’ve told my kids that this is the coldest winter they will experience in their lifetimes. They are 7 and 10.

  61. Jax says:

    @Beth: I saw that article earlier today and thought WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!

    Nobody is safe from Texas.

  62. Kathy says:


    That’s a gross, illegal overreach, and Paxton is polishing his dictator credentials.

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Just when you think the world can’t get more absurd than it is…

    George Santos is living his best life. The disgraced congress member from New York—who recently made history by becoming the first House member to be ejected by his colleagues without a criminal conviction—says he has found a new and better source of revenue: making personalized videos on Cameo for $500 apiece. “I will have made more money in seven days than I would’ve made in an entire year in Congress,” Santos told CBS New York recently.

    Santos’s boasts have brought renewed attention to Cameo, the website and app where users can commission personalized videos from celebrities. Its roster of past and current stars includes professional athletes like football Hall of Famer Brett Favre, actors like Chuck Norris and Ice-T, reality TV stars from The Real Housewives and Survivor, social media influencers, comedians, and even Santa Claus. The site, which exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, had struggled to stay in the zeitgeist in recent years—but Santos may have given it the lifeline that it needed.

    SMH. (I’d do a /headdesk, but my desk has a sharp edge.)

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: What can I say? Welcome to the other side of the climate tipping point?

  65. Beth says:


    What is starting to terrify me is that he can send one of his lackeys into a walgreens and get my prescription history. I wish I knew why he was targeting a hospital in Seattle, there has to be a reason.

  66. CSK says:


    Forgive me for being naive, but isn’t that a violation of HIPAA?

  67. Beth says:


    All eight of the pharmacies said they do not require law enforcement to have a warrant prior to sharing private and sensitive medical records, which can include the prescription drugs a person used or uses and their medical conditions. Instead, all the pharmacies hand over such information with nothing more than a subpoena, which can be issued by government agencies and does not require review or approval by a judge

    The lawmakers note that the pharmacies aren’t violating regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The pharmacies pointed to language in HIPAA regulations that allow health care providers, including pharmacists, to provide medical records if required by law, with subpoenas being a sufficient legal process for such a request. However, the lawmakers note that the HHS has discretion in determining the legal standard here—that is, it has the power to strengthen the regulation to require a warrant, which the lawmakers say it should do.

    In IL as an attorney, all I need to issue a subpoena is an active case where I have an appearance as an attorney for a party. It does not need to be approved by the judge or anyone else. I can simply issue it under my own authority. My guess is that’s fairly common.

  68. CSK says:


    Thanks very much for the clarification…I think. 🙁

  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: I suspect because Children’s Hospital–formerly Children’s Orthopedic Hospital–is a large-scale provider of medical services to people of the age his pogrom is targeting. Other than that, it would be because people are moving to Seattle from Texas, I suppose.

  70. anjin-san says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “I will have made more money in seven days than I would’ve made in an entire year in Congress,” Santos told CBS New York recently.

    Not sure why anyone would believe a word this pathological liar says…

  71. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Santos viewed his Congress gig and treated it like it was a cheesy reality show. A combination of Big Brother and Real Housewives of wherever.

    He got voted off the island. His torch got snuffed.

    He should have flipped a table on his way out the door.

  72. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: @restless: I’m not having issues, whether logged in or not, on my MacBook on Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Ditto on my iPhone or iPad. Unless it’s an Apple/not-Apple thing I suspect it’s just a matter of the cache somehow still storing the old style?

  73. restless says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s pretty consistent – even after restarting my iPad, if I’m not logged in, the comments section on yesterday’s ’Voter Fraud’ thread is 1) the new style and 2) almost unreadable, but when I log in, it reverts to the old style.