Thursday’s Forum

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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. James Joyner says:

    Just a note that I’m headed out of town, sans laptop, later this morning and won’t be returning until Sunday evening.

  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. Bill Jempty says:

    @James Joyner:

    Just a note that I’m headed out of town, sans laptop, later this morning and won’t be returning until Sunday evening.

    James- May you have a safe trip.

  4. Bill Jempty says:
  5. Kingdaddy says:

    The IDF considers croissants, obstetric clamps, water filters, and wheelchairs to be dual-use items blocked from entering Gaza.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy: Remember, despite the fact that Israeli government ministers have publicly advocated using mass starvation as a weapon, and the Israeli military seems to be implementing that policy, you are a blind fool and an anti-Semite if you think it is happening. And besides, Saudi Arabia and Yemen!

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve long said that the number of people that are in any way meaningfully aware of politics is small, mayber 20-30% of voters, maybe even less. And for those who are aware, it is mostly viewed as a sport, where a loss for your team means a victory for mine, and everything that happens from earthquakes to technological developments to recession need only be evaluated as to how it affects the chances of my team and the actual effects on actual people are inconsequential. Dobbs, though, has made me aware that those who actually understand legislation and executive enforcement is a small fraction of that. Why? Well, for decades abortion has been heavily polled, and Republican politicians have ratchetted up their anti-abortion rhetoric year by year by year, seemingly without any negative consequences. Based on that, as recently as a year ago, the general assumption was that Dobbs was going to be a net plus for Republicans in the Trump states, a slight negative in the non-Trump states, and might make a marginal difference either way in the swing states, although the precise effect was murky. But then, when all this anti-abortion rhetoric was being turned into laws, it finally breaks through to people that, “Hey, something is going on that might affect me!” and it turns out to be a huge negative for Republicans, even in Trump states. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, as Republicans couldn’t have been more clear about their intentions, yet it was. So it seems to me that the percentage of people who actually pay attention to such things is tiny.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Enjoy your disconnected time.

  9. gVOR10 says:

    @MarkedMan: I may have, once or twice in these threads, alluded to the idea that the electorate are a box of rocks. I like Paul Campos’ take on it at LGM. He has the Ariana Grande theory of the electorate.

    The Ariana Grande Theory of Politics is this: The large majority — maybe the vast majority — of people in this country know things about politics like I know things about Ariana Grande. I know Ariana Grande is a pop music singer. Can I sing any of her songs? No. Could I pick her out of a lineup of young women pop singers? No. But I do know she’s a singer.

    This seems in current U. S. practice to generate two different strategies. One can do stuff for people, the ACA, student loan forgiveness, the whole stimulate coming out of recession so that we end up with the best economy in the world thing, etc. and hope the electorate notice, or at least feel good. Or one can largely ignore policy, tell people what they want to hear, exploit the anti-majoritarian Senate, EC, and gerrymandering, and buy SCOTUS.

  10. CSK says:

    O. J. Simpson has died.

  11. Kathy says:

    As promised:

    Q: How many Centauri does it take to change a light bulb? (not the one you’re thinking of)
    A: None. They like it in the Shadows.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    Speak only good about the dead
    O. J. Simpson has died.

  13. Bill Jempty says:

    It is almost 30 years since the famous OJ chase on LA freeways. Many people watched it live. What was I doing? Dear Wife and I were watching Dave on HBO. After the movie was over, we went to sleep. We didn’t learn about the chase till morning.

    My father was in declining health from late 1994 to when he died in March 1997. When it was going on, Dad would watch the trial every day.

  14. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Ah, yes. Say nothing but “good” of the dead.

  15. Kylopod says:

    I’m predicting that in the coming days, in the commentary on OJ, we’re going to see a lot of the right-wing conspiracy crowd jumping on the OJ-was-framed train. That may surprise some people given that conservative media at the time tended to use the case to bash the black community (it was in the context of Rodney King and the LA riots, where fear of black violence was the bigger driving force on the right), but I think the rise in conspiracy theories and the embrace of specific black celebrities has led to a certain convergence in these movements.

  16. gVOR10 says:

    @James Joyner: Hope you’re traveling for something fun.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    During the OJ trial I happened to tune into a talking heads public radio show (Diane Rehm?) where a panel was discussing the way it was playing out. Pretty much everyone assumed he was going to be convicted and the discussion centered around whether he would get the death penalty or not. There was a lot of back and forth about evidence of intent and premeditation, etc and then the host asked one panelist who had been quiet what they thought. “There is a zero percent chance he will get the death penalty.” The rest of the panel pushed back. Slim, maybe, but zero? And then the panelist said something that has stuck in my head to this day. “There are X people on death row today (somewhere north of 1000) and every single one was represented by a public defender. People who can afford a lawyer simply don’t get the death penalty, only the poor do.”

  18. Kathy says:


    It could be. For now, the NFL, Buffalo Bills, and SF 49ers haven’t posted a word about OJ in their Xitter accounts.

    What I recall about the case, and I did follow some of it on TV, was the police investigation was inept, and the prosecution didn’t do much better.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: At the time the case broke, to me he was Nordberg from The Naked Gun films, which I loved as a kid. I never was a football fan, so that aspect of his career didn’t mean much to me.

    He was also one of the astronauts in Capricorn One (which I saw later), which I find interesting as that makes him connected in some way with two popular conspiracy theories.

    Reportedly, he was passed over for the title role in The Terminator because of his nice-guy image.

  20. charontwo says:


    Marcia Clark let the jury be packed with women, assuming they would be sympathetic to a woman being murdered. It turned out black women get angry at white women who marry prize black men.

    The LAPD was notorious for racism back then. One obviously racist cop got exposed as having enhanced some evidence, another obvious pretext for acquitting.

    Judge Ito did not exactly enhance his reputation either.

  21. gVOR10 says:

    @charontwo: which, I suspect, is about par for the course in most cases. But as @MarkedMan: alludes, poor people with public defenders can’t take advantage of the weaknesses. That’s a big factor with Trump. The courts and the system are used to handling poor minorities and white trash. They aren’t evolved to handle anybody with millions of dollars of lawyer. Heck, Trump’s spending way more money on lawyers than even O. J. did.

  22. CSK says:


    I hate to be a name-dropper, but I had a conversation about the O.J. trial with the late Dominick Dunne. I said that L.A. knew they HAD to try Simpson because he was so obviously guilty, but they also had to lose the trial, because if Simpson were found guilty. L.A. would have been incinerated. Dunne agreed.

  23. CSK says:

    Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

  24. Kathy says:


    Capricorn One

    I hate that movie.

    I saw it several years after it premiered. I knew what it was about. I’m aware the average movie audience knows as much about space travel as I do about Cricket, but, come on, a Saturn V and an Apollo capsule for a crewed trip to Mars? Just shoot the astronauts instead, it would be quicker.

  25. dazedandconfused says:


    Show business had a defacto ban on using black people to play pure-villain roles for quite some time there. In professional wrestling all the blacks were cast as heroes, and this was not by accident. I suppose few can play a machine as well as Arnold anyway…he’s something of a natural.

  26. Kylopod says:


    Show business had a defacto ban on using black people to play pure-villain roles for quite some time there.

    There’s some truth to that, but there were exceptions, such as James Earl Jones in the original Conan the Barbarian, which came out two years before The Terminator.

    (Of course there were also the blaxpoitation films of the ’70s where often both the heroes and the villains were black, but I suppose that’s in its own category.)

  27. Kathy says:

    I would advise Mr. Bolton to go hunting with Dick Cheney rather than voting for him.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    Just want to plug the Netflix show, Ripley. Plot’s fine, the acting excellent, but it’s the black and white cinematography (Robert Elswit) that is meticulously gorgeous. Every shot could be framed and hung on a gallery wall. It is the most visually beautiful thing I have ever seen on TV. After I watch an hour I wish I could call up Steven Zailllian (writer, showrunner) just to say, thank you.

    And a big shout-out to the location scout or whoever it was who must have spent an epic vacation on the Amalfi Coast and Rome.

  29. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: Elon Musk, who has been using his Xitter platform to promote conspiracies, wrote this about OJ today:

    Everyone makes mistakes in life, and OJ Simpson was no exception. However you feel about his alleged crimes, “The Juice” brought so much joy to sports fans in his college and pro football careers and made countless people laugh with his antics in Naked Gun. May he rest in peace.

    So murder is just a “mistake” now ?!!! I wouldn’t be surprised by other right wingers adopting a similar stance toward OJ as a lead-in to conspiracies about him.

  30. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My partner asked if I wanted to watch that show. My response can be summed up with, “Fuck NO! oh god! Fuck NO!” That reaction has nothing objective to do with the art and is solely because I am a crazy person.

    So, in 1999, me and a couple of pretentious friends went and saw the movie version in the theater. What I didn’t understand about myself at the time was that, as a deeply closeted person, I can’t handle most movies with queer themes. I still can’t. I’m going to force myself to watch Monica and then probably need to be hospitalized. Anyway.

    So we’re watching that movie and for some reason I don’t remember I had a pocket stuffed to the gills with loose change. At one point in the movie I had to leave and get some air. At the time I didn’t know why. Went back in and sat down just in time to witness the one guy getting smacked in the face with an oar. Which is when I came to fully understand my weirdness about teeth, especially damage to teeth. I FLED the theater. In my flight of absolute panic all the loose change in my pocket came spilling out. The other, much more sophisticated, patrons of the theater got to witness a hyperventilating, sobbing 21 year old launch themselves out of the theater on a rocket of change that went everywhere.

    I can still see the teeth flying out of Jude Law’s mouth. So, no, no no no no no. I will not be watching Ripley. lol

  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s the freak-outs in life that make the best stories.

    We all have our things we can’t watch. Anything with needles, and yes, anything with teeth. And given all the violent stuff I’ve written it’s odd perhaps, but I don’t like seeing violence.

    But that Ripley movie was a B, this thing is art. At least let your partner watch it. I’m armchair quarterbacking Ripley’s weak tradecraft. Keep the ring? Seriously?

  32. Kylopod says:


    his alleged crimes

    Yep, Elon is letting us know where his mind is at with regards to the murder of Nicole. Expect to see more of this from the conspiracy crowd.

    (I know the term “alleged” is often used by people to avoid getting sued, but let’s keep in mind that OJ was unquestionably convicted of crimes, just not regarding the original murder charges. And Elon has spread a fair number of unfounded claims against various people without using the word “alleged,” such as in the lawsuit he’s currently embroiled in involving a Jewish man he falsely accused of being part of a neo-Nazi brawl.)

  33. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Oh she did. She went on a solo week long vacation to see Fall Out Boy in a couple of different cities. In her downtime Ripley was one of the show’s she watched. She said it was fine, but too slow. She said it was much better watching it 1.25 speed. I was just happy I didn’t have to be around to see it.

    As an aside, she really hated Des Moines. It just sounded unfriendly, unhappy, and awful.

  34. Beth says:


    I really hate how people use “alleged” in that context. You can’t defame the dead. Saying “O.J. is a murderer” while he’s alive is defamatory*, saying that after he’s dead is not.

    *I struggled whether to add “potentially” defamatory since he would have had to sue about that, but in any suit it would turn on whether or not he actually committed that crime, which, duh.

  35. Kathy says:


    There’s no question Simpson was a gifted running back. There’s also no question he was a horrible person, one who has best improved the world by leaving it.


    I didn’t care for the movie, either.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit…”

    For years now, I’ve wondered what possessed Clark and her team to believe that having OJ try on the shrunken from being blood soaked glove over a hand that also had a “protective” latex surgical glove on it was a good idea. The suggestion that she needed to be certain that the prosecution tanked explains that gaffe admirably.

    Thank you!

  37. CSK says:


    Alex Jones claims O. J. actually died of the Covid vax.

  38. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Naturally. As everyone knows, no 76-year-old ever died of cancer until 2021. Deeply suspicious.

  39. Jax says:

    Well. This is fun. The wolf torture incident has gone viral to the point where I, myself, am getting hate mail simply for being on an all-volunteer county board.

    I absolutely think the motherfucker should face additional charges. If he could do jail time for being stupid, I’d be happy with that, too. Unfortunately, that’s not on the books.

    Totally a Fuck Around and Find Out moment for Cody, and a lot of other people around here.

  40. Bill Jempty says:


    There’s some truth to that, but there were exceptions, such as James Earl Jones in the original Conan the Barbarian, which came out two years before The Terminator.

    There was Yaphet Kotto in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. All the bad guys were black in that film.

    LALD was a bad Bond film. Not as bad as Die Another Day, Moonraker, or No Time to Die but not a whole lot better. Maybe all copies of it should be blown up like Yaphet Kotto was in the film. Why they couldn’t just let him be eaten by the shark I don’t know.

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Bill Jempty: I vaguely recalled there was an older Bond film with a black villain, though I couldn’t place it, and I haven’t seen the film. Wikipedia reports they were consciously trying to cash in on the blaxpoitation craze.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bill Jempty: I liked Moonraker. It was hopelessly ridiculous, but in an entertaining way. I’m finding the latest TV version of La Femme Nikita (called simply “Nikita”) the same sort of guilty pleasure. I am currently puzzled that they managed to get it to run 4 or 5 seasons, but I suspect that I’ll start finding multiple shark jumps anytime now.

  43. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “And a big shout-out to the location scout or whoever it was who must have spent an epic vacation on the Amalfi Coast and Rome.”

    If you’re looking for another great location-and-cinematography thriller, allow me to recommend The Night Manager, which is absolutely gorgeous (once you get past the first episode, which is mainly set in Egypt and Switzerland… which are too shabby, either.) Amazing villa on the coast of Mallorca. And as scenery goes, Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Debicki are pretty awesome, too…

  44. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: “LALD was a bad Bond film.”

    Agreed. I think the only reason it has a better reputation than, say, The Man With The Golden Gun is that great theme song.