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:

    Tariff Debate Heats Up With Lagarde Defending Rules-Based System

    If elected again, Donald Trump has pledged to enact a 10% across-the-board tariff on imports that he says will raise billions of dollars in revenue to pay for more tax cuts. But mainstream economists say such a plan, plus a 60% levy on Chinese imports, would amount to a tax increase for American households.

    Not true, says the Republican National Committee. According to reporting Monday from Bloomberg’s Nancy Cook in Washington, RNC spokesperson Anna Kelly said “the notion that tariffs are a tax on US consumers is a lie pushed by outsourcers and the Chinese Communist Party.”

    Hey GOP, whatever happened to the sacred free market?

    Oh… Right… The Chosen One said “Who needs them?” And good little lickspittles that you are, you echo it.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    David Cay Johnston

    Best political art of the day:

    Land of the Free
    … and 167 Million Women

    Also this:

    A pair of Texas professors figured out that their female students have sex and, boy, they do not like it. So now the philosophy professor and finance professor are suing for the right to punish their students who, outside of class, have abortions.

    “Pregnancy is not a disease, and elective abortions are not ‘health care,'” University of Texas at Austin professor Daniel Bonevac sneers in a federal court filing with professor John Hatfield. Instead, Bonevac writes, because pregnancy is the result of “voluntary and consensual sexual intercourse,” students should not be allowed time off to get abortions. If the students disobey and miss class for abortion care, the filing continues, the professors should be allowed to flunk students. Additionally, Bonevac asserts that he has a right to refuse to employ a teaching assistant who has had an abortion, calling such women “criminals.”

    The sexual hang-ups of abortion opponents are rarely far from the surface, but even by those low standards, the unjustified male grievance on display in this new Texas lawsuit is a doozy. At issue are federal regulations, called Title IX, first signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972. They currently bar publicly funded schools from discriminating on the basis of sex or gender. This means that schools cannot penalize students for health care based on sex. As a male student would be granted leave if he had to travel for surgery, so must a female student, the federal statute requires. The two men argue that granting students an excused absence in such cases violates their First Amendment rights.

    Even though the plaintiffs suing for the right to flunk female students for abortion include boilerplate arguments in which they feign concern that abortion is “killing,” the legal filing makes it clear that what really outrages Bonevac and Hatfield is that Title IX prevents them from controlling the private lives of students. Along with their anger about abortion, they grouse about not being allowed to punish students “for being homosexual or transgender.” They also argue they should be able to penalize teaching assistants for “cross-dressing,” by which they appear to mean allowing trans women to wear skirts.

    Apparently, Texas is not too big to be an insane asylum even if South Carolina is.

  3. Mikey says:


    RNC spokesperson Anna Kelly said “the notion that tariffs are a tax on US consumers is a lie pushed by outsourcers and the Chinese Communist Party.”

    And pretty much every professional economist, but hey, maybe they’re all commies!

    Better check under the bed. There could be a Red there too, you know.

    Seriously, the utter ignorance on display here would be shocking were it not coming from a Republican.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: With them tying themselves into so many knots, they are little more than burnt unsalted pretzels these days.

  5. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I say this with all sincerity: I wonder if the RNC has run this by the US Chamber of Commerce.

    The Chamber has a very well-funded PAC, and I really want to know how TF they are going to square this circle. There’s no way that the companies funding the PAC are supportive of a massive new tariff scheme.

  6. Beth says:


    And it won’t even work! Like lot of Republican politicians can’t be that dumb. Some of them have to know that the tariffs and excise taxes weren’t enough to fund the government.

    I get the reality is that a lot of very rich people don’t want to pay taxes and think that they are very rich because they are ordained by god. I also understand that they have a fetish for a tiny government. What I don’t understand is how they can look at this and not understand that this will end the economy and there are a lot more of us than them.

  7. CSK says:


    I worked myself up into a foaming rage about this here on OTB last week, I think.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: It came out of trump’s mouth and they are so knee jerk submissive they automatically repeat everything he says. So no, they did not run this by the US CoC (trump sure as shit ain’t listening to them). I rather suspect they are all having phone calls with their local CoCs telling them, “Oh noooooos, we will never do that. Don’t worry, trump will forget all about it by the end of the week.”

    @CSK: I had to stop reading it. Got to watch my blood pressure, don’cha know.

  9. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Pardon me for asking, but exactly how many female students have taken time off to have an abortion during the school year? I’m asking because in 8 or so years of being a university student and 25 or so years teaching (including 6 teaching in a country where an absence for a doctor’s appointment was excused on receipt of a medical report) I’ve never known of a student taking an absence for that purpose. (And my student peers and students confided waaaaayyy TMI during my career.)

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    I am a Sun Worshipper*.
    Today is my High Holy Day.
    Here is my song.

    *This is my enabling Scripture.

    Although it’s hard for me to see a more profound cosmic connection than the astonishing findings of modern nuclear astrophysics: except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up – the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains – were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.

    Science as a Candle in the Dark
    Carl Sagan

  11. just nutha says:

    @Beth: Wait! When did Republicans become interested in financing government?

    ETA: And for the record, rich conservatives don’t have a fetish for tiny government as much as not paying for government regardless of size.

  12. Kathy says:

    The matter of tariffs can have many complications, depending on the tariff rate, profit margin, overhead, etc. But overall, the final consumer gets stuck paying all or most of the tariff.

    Coincidentally, I’m in the middle of a history of the Republican party (may it rest in peace), by Heather Cox Richardson. Tariffs feature prominently throughout, as they were both an important part of government revenue, and a contentious political issue.

    At one point early in the XX century, tariffs were so high that most consumers resented them a lot. In figuring out how and what to lower tariffs on, it came down to “everyone wants all tariffs lowered, except for those goods they manufacture or grow.”

    Or take a more modern quip: tariffs are sanctions a country imposes on itself.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    *This is my enabling Scripture.

    Oh, well, that’s a problem.

    Few, if any, atoms in your body, or on Earth, were made in the Sun. So you should be worshiping stars, specifically dead stars who gave up their bodies for you (and some then collided with other dead stars to make more atoms).

    The Sun won’t make elements past carbon, I think, and precious few of that will ever leave it. Most of what the Sun will shed are the top layers of hydrogen, helium, and maybe a little lithium.

    You could worship the Sun as the avatar of all other stars, I suppose. But then why not adopt a god? I suggest Ra, the Egyptian Sun god. Sure, he once tried to wipe out humanity, but he changed his mind and got his destroyer, Sekhmet, drunk on dyed beer until she passed out. Contrast that with Jehovah, who did kill an awful lot of people by copying what older gods had done with the world’s waters.

  14. Joe says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    We are stardust,
    We are golden,
    We are caught in a devil’s bargain,
    And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

    – J. Mitchell

    @Kathy: Who else remembers Al Gore holding up the picture of Smoot and Hawley at the VP debate with Dan Quayle as the suggestion that tariffs (the Smoot Hawley Act) had triggered the Great Depression?

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @just nutha: Details details, you are so demanding.

  16. DrDaveT says:


    The Sun won’t make elements past carbon, I think, and precious few of that will ever leave it. Most of what the Sun will shed are the top layers of hydrogen, helium, and maybe a little lithium.

    Even supernovas won’t make anything past iron. I was delighted to learn last year (through an xkcd comic, of course) that essentially all of the gold in the universe was produced in the extremely rare events when two neutron stars collide.

  17. Kathy says:

    You know, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is wasting the Oscar nomination process. Come on. they announce the nominees all at once, taking only a few hours.

    They should do as the SCOTUS does. Namely announce they’ll be releasing nominations next week. This lets the media run wild with speculation as to which actors, movies, and directors will get nominated. Then the Academy announces the nominees for best editing, best sound editing, and best foreign language documentary short animated film (or whatever), and that there may be more nominations tomorrow.

    Seriously, they could milk this for a month, maybe two, generate opinion pieces, rumor pieces, etc., and sneak in one fo the big ticket awards among the ones no one really cares about. Right now they’re just giving it away.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A trade unionist has called for a crackdown against “barbaric exploitation” after an Indian farm worker died when he was allegedly being left on a road by his employer following an accident that severed his arm.

    Satnam Singh, 31, was injured on Monday while working on machinery on a farm in Latina, a rural area close to Rome with a large community of Indian immigrant labourers. Singh, who came to Italy with his wife three years ago, was allegedly left with his arm severed on the road outside his home in Borgo Santa Maria. Police said they were called by his wife and an air ambulance was sent to transport him to San Camillo Forlalini hospital in Rome, where he died of his injuries on Wednesday.
    “He was left on the road like a bag of rags, like a sack of rubbish … despite his wife begging [the employer] to take him to hospital. Here we are not only faced with a serious workplace accident, which in itself is already alarming, we are faced with barbaric exploitation. Enough now.”

    Geez, it’s like these immigrants seem to think they are actual real, living people and should be treated as such.

  19. Kathy says:


    I think it was at a debate with Ross Perot on Larry King, the subject being specifically NAFTA.


    I wonder how abundant neutron stars were earlier in the life of the Milky Way.

    What I also wonder, is how heterogeneous the nebulae that form stars and planets are. It makes sense the most massive body will concentrate the lighter elements, as it can hold on to them where less massive bodies might not. But shouldn’t the Sun also attract and concentrate a lot of heavy elements in the nebula as well?

    Sure, most of the nebula is hydrogen and helium (that’s the gas part of the “dust and gas” that make up these things). But the nebulae our Solar System sprang from had a relative lot of iron and heavier elements. Our planet has a lovely magnetic field and partially molten interior because of some of those heavy elements, namely uranium and thorium, which produce heat through radioactive decay.

    Shouldn’t the giant planets, never mind the Sun, hold large amounts of uranium, lead, gold, etc? Far, far larger than Earth’s share?

    I do get that relative abundance means. If we categorize the Solar System by mass, then it consists of the Sun and debris*. I think the Sun is like 300,000 times as massive as all planets, satellites, comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt objects combined. So if all these things were made of solid heavier elements only (spoiler alert: hardly), and all proportions were the same, then the Sun could have a reserve of heavier elements equivalent to 0.0003% or so of its mass.

    Ok, that pretty much answers my own question.

  20. Joe says:

    @Kathy: I happily stand corrected on the particulars, but I still remember the point.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    For the most part I don’t notice that much difference between my Mac (home) and Windows (office) setup as I spend most of my time either in a browser or on Microsoft Office apps, which tend to be the same on both systems. But I just got a new office computer and it has Windows 11 on it. This is a relatively minor nit (but what the hey – this seems to be the place where we can all go over the top on minor nits. 😉 ), but the way Windows 11 handles widgets is annoying. Both operating systems have widgets, which are small apps that are dedicated to things like the weather, or stock tickers or traffic incidents, or news. The Windows 11 version comes with a seemingly handy little widget icon on the task bar which shows, for example, current temperature and whether it is likely to rain. It was showing a bunch of other stuff and I finally got around to figuring out how to turn those off. It wasn’t that hard, except you can’t turn off the newsfeed. Which means all day long Microsoft is cramming stories on your home page. If you have widgets in the taskbar turned on, they have to include these stories. So I just turned it off.

    Now I’m going to have to look at my watch or my phone or my iPad for the weather. A travesty!

  22. Kathy says:


    I wasn’t sure, so I went googling. I found this transcript. Search “Smoot”, and you get to the portion. Gore was kind enough to say he brought a photo of messrs Smoot and Hawley.

    I reasoned that Quayle was part of the first Bush administration, which began the negotiations for NAFTA. Ergo, Quayle wouldn’t have been against it. I don’t recall whether the Clinton/Gore campaign supported or opposed NAFTA.

  23. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: Small correction, as that one figure didn’t seem right. The sun is about 1000x the mass of all its debris. The figure you used appears to be the ratio of masses between the sun and Earth.

    But still, it’s got a lot of heavy stuff in it, too.

  24. Eusebio says:

    I learned only a couple of years ago (from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk podcast) that the core of the sun produces about the same power as a compost pile, or less than the human body, per unit volume. He mentioned quantum tunneling, but didn’t get into the details except to say that fusion of nuclei occurs relatively infrequently at the sun’s core temperature.

  25. Kylopod says:


    I don’t recall whether the Clinton/Gore campaign supported or opposed NAFTA.

    Yes, they supported it, and enacted it after entering office. The Larry King debate mentioned before was between Gore and Perot, with Gore supporting NAFTA and Perot opposing it. It took place in 1993 after Clinton took office, not during the campaign a year earlier.

  26. CSK says:

    Donald Sutherland, 88, has died. A great actor. RIP.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Anne Applebaum

    Because it’s like saying, “that’s not a bird, it’s a pigeon”
    (also – who is “The Left” in this context? constitutional scholars? )

    David Harsanyi
    Jun 19
    Why The Left Hates It When You Point Out We’re ‘A Republic, Not A Democracy’

    They think they’re being cute when they say this, but the truth is they don’t have a very firm grip on the English language.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Damn.

  29. CSK says:


    I know. First Willie Mays, now Donald Sutherland.Two of the GOATs in their respective fields.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I hate this timeline I am in. Of course, it’s not all that different from all the other timelines but this is the one I’m stuck in.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Niall Harbison@NiallHarbison
    On the 22nd of September last year I found Cindy Crawford on the streets. She was morbidly obese and about to die.

    She weighed 46kg or just under 100lbs.

    Her transformation today is seriously hard to believe… (1/7)

  32. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Donald Sutherland and Willie Mays may have just been promoted to a better timeline.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: When’s it gonna be my turn????

    Also, this has me laughing my ass off:


    Padres manager Mike Shildt kindly asks the umpire to eject him, a breakdown

    3 minutes well spent.

  34. Barry says:

    @Jen: “The Chamber has a very well-funded PAC, and I really want to know how TF they are going to square this circle. There’s no way that the companies funding the PAC are supportive of a massive new tariff scheme.”

    They allied with the loonies, who are now running things.

  35. Kathy says:


    1) I did use the Earth.

    2) That’s a lot of Jupiter.

    Still, just 0.001% of the mass of the Sun, and seeing as Jupiter makes most of this and it is largely hydrogen and helium, the amount of heavier elements in the Sun is still ridiculously small compared to that of the main light elements.


    I remember it passed under Clinton, but not what his opinion of it was during the campaign.

  36. Kurtz says:


    Bonevac writes, because pregnancy is the result of “voluntary and consensual sexual intercourse,” students should not be allowed time off to get abortions.

    I’m guessing that Bonevac will also fail pregnant students if they have to miss class for a prenatal visits as well.

    The dude is a philosopher who specializes in logic.

  37. CSK says:


    Does Bonevac also require that the fathers of these fetuses assume at least half the medical, educational, and other living expenses once they’re born and also share the expenses of the mothers’ prenatal and postnatal care?

    If not, why not?

  38. JKB says:

    The difference between the government “inflation” numbers and what people feel in the change of cost of living is order of magnitude different.

  39. Kurtz says:


    First year philosophy students could rip his argument apart. Not a good look for a professor.

  40. Kylopod says:


    I remember it passed under Clinton, but not what his opinion of it was during the campaign.

    He was for it during the campaign, though he argued for certain labor and environmental protections not backed by Bush. I’m not sure how central the issue was to the election, though it was one area where Perot significantly differentiated himself from the two major-party candidates on policy, and it was the source of one of his most oft-quoted lines, about the “giant sucking sound.”

  41. Kurtz says:


    Jomboy is great.

  42. CSK says:


    Given that attendance isn’t mandatory at his classes, how would he know about any reason for a student’s absence? Or care to find out?

    Oddly, most of his students seem to adore him. That’s according to “Rate My Professors,” anyway.

  43. Jen says:

    @Barry: Yes, that is true.

    But corporate dollars being donated to the US CoC’s PAC are dependent upon the CoC advancing policy positions favorable to those companies. In short, the companies donating–in some cases tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars–expect those funds to go to campaigns that support their policy positions.

    Basically, if Big Company Z donates $100K to the CoC PAC, they expect that money will go to races wherein the candidate supports a free market, pro-trade position. And those companies expect reports on which races they’re helping to fund. How their money will make a difference.

    At this point, on the Republican side, fundraising based on policy is about as accurate and effective as throwing spaghetti at the wall, and any corporation that donates to the CoC PAC needs to understand they might be supporting Republicans who either truly buy into this nonsense, or, more likely, they are going to be bullied into passing this type of stupidity into law if Trump is elected.

  44. Kathy says:


    You make it sound as though the Leopard Eating People’s Faces Party will eat their faces.

    Surely that’s an unwarranted assumption.

  45. EddieInCA says:
  46. CSK says:


    Trump is now yelling that Fox polls have always treated him “very unfairly.”

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: it’s nice to see some positive news, but it doesn’t change my belief that polls are of limited value, given the baked in 45-45 split. All that matters is the middle and pollsters can’t identify them

  48. EddieinCA says:


    I hope Trump keeps it up. As I said, from the beginning, the more Trump is visible. The better Biden‘s numbers will become. The trend is all Biden. And the trend started about two months ago for anyone paying attention.

  49. EddieInCA says:


    You can completely ignore the actual polls. Just pay attention to the trends. The trends usually don’t lie.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB: Waaaaahh. Eggs cost soooooo much. Why didn’t Biden stop the bird flu??!! The Chosen One would have held his hand up and stopped it at the US border! Just like he did with Covid!

    Yah. Go back to FOX/OAN fantasy land where they tell you all you need to know about life in America now.

    Meanwhile, the cost of gasoline is just 9 cents above $3 gallon here. I’ll bet you haven’t even noticed how low it is where you live, because Charlie Kirk is the economic Guru you follow. Or is it Steve Bannon? Tucker Carlson? I know! Joe Rogan!

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kurtz: I’m gonna keep an eye on him. That was too f’n funny.

    eta What’s this??? A Yankees fan??? Bah!!!!!!

  52. just nutha says:

    @Jen via Barry: No, the companies funding the PAC won’t support a tariff increase. But they might vote for the additional tax relief and talk themselves into believing that he will take their advice on tariffs because of their support. (My mistake and apologies on the linking.)

  53. just nutha says:

    @Kurtz: Faith always trumps logic. It’s one of the problems of the sorts of faith-based policies evangelicals like to advocate. Another problem is that faith, in the guise of dogma, will also trump the teachings of whichever sacred book said faithful will espouse. Call it a twofer.

  54. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..But then why not adopt a god?

    I’m a cat guy. I could adopt a cat from a shelter. Or a CatDog!
    Remember God is Dog spelled backwards.
    Or is it the other way around?

  55. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Cats are gods. Don’t believe me? Ask them.

  56. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..Cats are gods.

    I have been owned by at least 15 or 20 cats over the years and I have worshiped every one of them.