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. senyordave says:

    Headline from Yahoo news:
    GOP lawmaker Mo Brooks admits he wore body armor at Jan. 6 Trump rally, and says he was tipped off to ‘risks’
    Aside from the fact that his colleagues must hate his guts since he decided not to share this knowledge with them, he should be subpoenaed and forced to divulge the source of his information.
    I can’t imagine how he can look other members of Congress in the eye after this.

  2. Teve says:

    if you are vaccinated and get covid, but have no symptoms or mild symptoms, that is tbh not a breakthrough case. that is the vaccine working as intended. again:
    q) what do you call a virus that doesn’t make people sick?
    a) who cares?

    — Gerry Doyle (@mgerrydoyle) July 28, 2021

  3. Teve says:

    Why So Many Millennials Are Obsessed With Dogs

    The only thing getting me through my 30s is a cranky, agoraphobic chihuahua named Midge.

    By Amanda Mull

  4. Scott says:

    I’m going to use this forum to indulge my disdain for Ted Cruz:

    Ted Cruz shows up to vote on Capitol Hill in gym clothes

    Journalists in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday spotted the junior senator from Texas darting through the halls of the U.S. Capitol in sneakers and gym clothes.

    In one image shared on Twitter, Cruz is contrasted in his high Nike socks and shorts by the crowd of men and women wearing slacks, ties and dresses.

    Cruz was reportedly late to a vote in the Senate Chambers, telling reporters on Tuesday that officials scheduled a vote “in the middle” of his basketball game

  5. Teve says:

    TIL Laura Ingraham has a brother who fact-checks and talks shit about her on a daily basis on Twitter 😀

    Curtis Ingraham

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: I remember reading about Laura Ingraham’s brother Curtis some years ago. He’s gay and a liberal, but despite that the two were once close and they had a falling out. He calls her a monster and says that their father was a Nazi sympathizer whose views rubbed off on Laura.

  7. KM says:

    There goes the “it was spontaneous! It’s not our fault” GOP argument… not that it held any water. For God’s sake, there were groups of people wandering around in preprinted shirts stating Revolution and the date. Gallows don’t come pre-built and they’re kinda obvious when you lug them around.

    They knew. There was a plan. A stupid, half-assed, probably figured out on meth and QAnon plan but a damn plan nevertheless. They were going to riot, be violent and attack something and that something was likely Congress itself. All those people went there to “Stop the Steal” and they knew it meant more than waving signs.

  8. Teve says:

    Missouri AG wages war on masks as state blazes with delta cases

    AG Schmitt, who is running for Senate, accuses “ruling class” of lying about COVID.

    BETH MOLE – 7/28/2021, 6:50 PM

    Missouri has been one of the hardest-hit states so far in these early days of a delta-fueled COVID-19 surge. Cases increased nearly 500 percent since the start of July, while vaccinations stalled. Right now, with just 41 percent of the state fully vaccinated, 112 of the state’s 114 counties have high or substantial levels of coronavirus spread. Hospitalizations are up statewide, and some facilities have already run out of ventilators and seen intensive care units hit maximum capacity. Deaths are also increasing, with more than 300 people losing their lives since July 1. And the proportion of COVID-19 tests coming back positive is still rising, suggesting that things will likely only get worse in the weeks to come.

    By nearly every metric, this entirely preventable surge is tragic. Yet, it hasn’t stopped the Show Me State’s Republican attorney general, Eric Schmitt, from waging war on local health restrictions aimed at trying to curb transmission. On Monday, Schmitt filed a lawsuit to stop St. Louis County and St. Louis City from enforcing mask mandates for fully vaccinated people and children, which took effect that day.

    The timing of the lawsuit is awkward. It partly rests on now-outdated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people didn’t need to wear masks in most indoor settings. “The Mask Mandates are arbitrary and capricious because they require vaccinated individuals to wear masks, despite the CDC guidance that this is not necessary,” the lawsuit claims. The rest of the lawsuit didn’t argue that masks were ineffective at curbing transmission but rather claimed that they were unnecessary for children—despite that they are largely ineligible for vaccinations—and that requiring them is “unconstitutional.” Otherwise, the lawsuit nitpicked the language of the mandates, such as alleging that they didn’t define the word “dwelling.”

    The CDC reversed its mask policy Tuesday, citing evidence that even fully vaccinated people are catching and spreading the hypertransmissible delta coronavirus variant—though at much lower frequencies than unvaccinated people. The agency now recommends universal masking in K-12 schools and that fully vaccinated people mask in indoor public settings when local transmission is high or substantial. Both the city and county of St. Louis have high levels of COVID-19 transmission, as defined by the CDC.

    Lies and freedoms

    Still, Schmitt is not backing down. Though his office did not immediately respond to a request from Ars, Schmitt took to Twitter and Fox News to blast the CDC’s update.

    “People are tired of being lied to by elites & the ruling class,” Attorney General Schmitt, who is also running for US Senate, tweeted on Tuesday evening. “We were told—get vaccinated and you don’t have to wear a mask. Now the vaccinated are forced to wear masks in St. Louis. Kids forced to wear masks too. The lies go on and on.”

    On Wednesday, Kansas City’s Democratic mayor, Quinton Lucas, announced that he, too, would reinstate an indoor mask mandate in the city for all persons age five and older, regardless of vaccination status. And Schmitt quickly said that he would sue to stop that mandate as well.

    “To the great people of Kansas City: I will be filing a lawsuit to protect your freedoms,” Schmitt tweeted Wednesday. “This mask mandate is about politics & control, not science. You are not subjects but citizens of what has been the freest country in the world & I will always fight for you.”

  9. CSK says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we see proof on Facebook and Twitter that the insurrection was being planned?

  10. Kylopod says:

    I just found out something new today that I did not know before: Mitch McConnell was on the ballot in Arizona and Georgia.

    Said Trump: “Under the weak leadership of Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans continue to lose. He lost Arizona, he lost Georgia, he ignored Election Fraud and he doesn’t fight.”

  11. CSK says:

    Actually, Trump lost Georgia, or at least the senate election, when he and Sidney Powell and Lin Wood urged Georgians not to vote in it because it was rigged.

  12. Teve says:
  13. Teve says:
  14. KM says:

    Yep – there’s tons of evidence scattered all over social media that this was never going to be a peaceful protest.

    It’s one of the things that pisses me off the most about 1/6 denial. It wasn’t like these folks were going two streets over to the local food trucks or fair; almost everyone drove or flew quite some distance to get to DC for this thing. That requires planning and info – you need to know where it is, where you’re going and how to get there. They talked and they planned and consequently there’s no way every single attendees didn’t hear some flavor of seditious or violent BS that was gonna go down. They knew – they either didn’t care, didn’t take it seriously or were absolutely down for the insurrection.

  15. Scott says:

    @KM: Exactly, investigation should peel back all the layers even down to trivial stuff like the posters and signs. Who designed them, who ordered them, who paid for them, who picked them up from the printers and distributed them. Takes work to get that all accomplished. And someone organized and accomplished that work.

  16. Stormy Dragon says:


    To coin a word, I would prefer sejection. I don’t want Texas to leave; I want them kicked out

  17. Mu Yixiao says:

    Adding human gene increases crop yields by 50%.

    Time to buy stock in pitchfork futures!

  18. CSK says:

    This news about Brooks wearing body armor on Jan. 6 is all over the place now.

    My question: Did he go to the Capitol building after his and Trump’s speeches, or was he hiding somewhere safe?

  19. Teve says:


    If there were a vaccine against stupidity, the people who need it most wouldn’t get it.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Mister Microphone RIP
    Ron Popeil, Pioneer Of ‘Wait…There’s More!’ Late-Night Infomercials, Is Dead At 86

    CDC should have promoted the vaccine as The Ronco Rejuvinator and hired Popiel to pimp it.
    I’m sure everyone in Missouri would buy it.

    Full diclosure. I finally bought a Veg-O-Matic at a flea market some 25 years after they first came out. I used it once. It’s still in the kitchen cupboard. Might even have the box.

    Rod, Todd, this is God!

  21. flat earth luddite says:


    I’m becoming increasingly pro-secession.

    I’m thinking more in terms of eviction.

  22. de stijl says:


    Ingraham dated convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza in college. Dartmouth of course. No foolin’. True fact.

    It is reported but not confirmed that after their breakup she stuck the yard hose through his mail slot and turned the spigot on.

  23. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    Ingraham dated convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza in college.

    In fairness, he wasn’t yet a convicted felon at the time she dated him. But I’m sure he was just as insufferable a jerk, and self-hating brown person. Real-life villains don’t have origin stories; they were always shitheads.

  24. de stijl says:

    I watched Raising Arizona earlier on a whim. Been a long time since I watched it last.

    Holly Hunter was absolutely phenomenal. It’s a broad comedy (sophisticated broad comedy with distinct acts), but she plays Ed as if it were a tragedy. She has perfect control of her face and her voice. Oscar worthy.

    I cried twice watching her performance.

  25. de stijl says:


    If both people are shitheals you root for both to lose.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: Few filmmakers do pathos in comedy better than the Coens.

  27. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    Holly Hunter was absolutely phenomenal.

    If you haven’t seen her in “Always”, I highly recommend it. She plays off of Richard Dreyfus and John Goodman exceptionally well–and with an amazing emotional range for a (arguably) comedy movie.

    Plus… Audrey Hepburn. {sigh}

  28. flat earth luddite says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Don’t worry, I’ve stocked up on torches!

  29. senyordave says:

    @Mister Bluster: My personal favorite was GLH. It was basically spray on hair, and GLH stood for Great Looking Hair.
    Here is the real ad:
    here he is on Conan O’Brien’s show:
    Funny thing is that it actually looks like it might work.

  30. Teve says:


    Dr. Fauci created Covid-19 in the Wuhan lab out of WMDs, Hillary’s emails & Obama’s real birth certificate.

    But the Benghazi stand-down order caused Biden to ban hamburgers & that’s why FOX viewers won’t get the vaccine, even though Trump made it w/his own hands.

    (owns libs)

  31. de stijl says:


    R’s knew they politicizing Benghazi. It was baked in. They had something like 35 “investigations” that found zero malfeasance but presented incendiary accusations seemingly weekly.

    I said this a week or so back, but I think it bears repeating:

    Imagine a 9/11 commission where half the panel is basically supportive of Osama Bin Laden’s actions.

    The unimaginable has become reality in 2021.

    And they are seemingly proud of it. Makes me nauseous.

  32. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Broadcast News where hypercompetent Hunter ran the shebang and scheduled daily crying breakdowns.

  33. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: I’m still not convinced the GOP politicization of Benghazi hurt Democrats at all. Now, that wasn’t the case with emailgate, which did do serious damage to Hillary Clinton, enabling Trump’s victory. I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s undeniable that’s what happened. But Benghazi never really penetrated the right-wing bubble. It was never given favorable coverage in mainstream media and it was never a focus of the Russian-backed smear campaign against her on social media–quite unlike the email stuff.

    The right is brutal and relentless in its attacks on Democrats, but the left often makes the mistake of thinking all the attacks are equally effective. The right often gets lost in its own obsessions in a way that ends up looking simply perplexing to anyone outside that world. It’s why the Hunter Biden stuff has never landed, yet the right has never figured this out and still won’t shut up about it.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Yeah, but we’re still short of rope and lampposts. 🙁

  35. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    To the hardware store, Cracker! We must stock up on genuine manila hemp rope!

  36. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Broadcast News

  37. de stijl says:


    No effect on Clinton in the 2016 election? Really?

    In PA, MI, WI?

    “Lock her up!” at every Trump rally?

    I enjoy theories but yours needs evidence.

  38. CSK says:

    Like de stijl, I’d question your assumption that Benghazi wasn’t a factor in the death of Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes. It was a very, very big in the right-wing media and blogosphere.

    Many factors contributed to her defeat: the emails were certainly a big factor. But ever since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, she’s been portrayed as a shrew and a harridan. She could never overcome that; I know very liberal Democrats who couldn’t stand her personally. I should note that they voted for her nonetheless.

  39. Teve says:

    Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals

    There are about 2 million abandoned oil and gas wells nationwide that haven’t been properly plugged with cement

  40. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: Start with the point when Benghazi actually happened, in 2012. Romney’s attempt to make an issue of it totally backfired (“Please proceed, Governor”), and Hillary throughout the following year enjoyed the highest favorability ratings of her career.

    It’s true that the Benghazi hearings of 2015 were soon followed by a collapse in Hillary’s popularity, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a causal connection. Polls suggested most Americans weren’t even paying attention.

    The crash in Hillary’s popularity was mostly driven by other controversies, the biggest of which was emailgate. That was the “scandal” that dominated the Russian-backed disinformation campaign on social media (as well as various other “scandals”), and it was also the one that got massive coverage over the following year in the mainstream press, which almost completely ignored Benghazi. When Comey concluded his investigation into the email matter in the summer of 2016, even though he cleared her of the charges, her poll numbers took an immediate dip. And that was basically what happened again with the Comey letter a week before the election–even though there was nothing there, just reminding Americans why they disliked her in the first place was enough to sink her at exactly the wrong moment.

    None of that had to do with Benghazi. Benghazi was irrelevant. Maybe arguably it had a marginal effect by being seen as one more “scandal” proving her corruption, but it was never at the center of the scandal narrative outside the right-wing media or even really in the Trump campaign itself which focused more on other controversies, and it didn’t appear to have any negative impact on her popularity at the time it actually occurred despite the Republicans screaming about it incessantly, which suggests it lacked resonance.

  41. Teve says:

    It was a race in Pennsylvania that could have sent cyclist Phil Gaimon to the Tokyo Olympics; instead, a serious crash landed the Californian in two hospitals on the East Coast.

    Gaimon knows accidents are, unfortunately, part of the sport. He had retired from competitive road cycling three years earlier, but a recruiting call came in the spring of 2019 from a coach of the USA Cycling track team.

    The coach needed speed for a four-man event. At the time, Gaimon was making a name for himself — and money — by mountain racing, and he was setting records.

    “It was a dream come true,” said Gaimon, 35. “A chance at a second career in racing.”

    But his Olympic dreams were short-lived. In a sprint with a pack of riders at the velodrome track in eastern Pennsylvania, Gaimon sailed over his handlebars after colliding with a fellow racer. Gaimon hit the ground hard. The result: a fractured collarbone, five broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung and a broken scapula — his worst injuries in the 10 years he had raced on pro road teams in the U.S. and Europe.

    An ambulance whisked him to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa., which is part of the health system that sponsored the cycling event. Emergency doctors admitted the athlete, and he underwent surgery on his collarbone. He also needed surgery on his scapula (shoulder blade), which he said felt “like a collapsed taco.” But that surgery would happen days later, after he was discharged from the Pennsylvania hospital and a friend helped him find a surgeon in New York.

    He chronicled the whole ordeal on his social media channels, and soon he was recuperating — painfully, but successfully — back home. And then the bills came.

    The patient: Phil Gaimon, 35, a former professional cyclist, a YouTuber and blogger who earns most of his income through sponsorships. He paid about $500 a month for his insurance policy with Health Net through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange. He also had a secondary health insurance policy with USA Cycling.

    Total bills: $151,804 from Lehigh Valley Health Network and $49,526 from the Hospital for Special Surgery. He had additional bills from various physicians. Health Net has paid approximately $27,000 to Lehigh Valley, according to Gaimon. His secondary insurance, with USA Cycling, paid $25,000 to the Hospital for Special Surgery and his surgeon there.

    He had two insurance policies, crashed on his bike, and is now being billed $200,000. How much longer are Americans going to put up with this shit?

  42. de stijl says:


    Rs sowed the seeds of distrust, disdain, and hate for Clinton for years.

    Emailgate in the waning hours of the election built upon previous attempts at vilification. It was not stand-alone. There was a narrative.

  43. de stijl says:


    Our current model of for-profit healthcare is an abhorrent outlier.

    Developed nations have routinely foregone this model to good effect as to public health.

    We are stuck in a morass of a private system that is incentivized by public policy to treat insured people at exorbitant cost. Uninsured can fuck off as you don’t have an insurance we can bill $1200 for a chest x-ray.

    It is a circular failure. Those of us who can pay for medical insurance pay premiums into a pool that subsidizes a predatory medical health delivery system incentivized on maximizing cost per patient regardless of outcome.

    Our original sin was accepting slavery.

    Our continuing sin is our incredibly fucked up medical / health care delivery system.

    And how we police the poor, but that’s a different rant.

  44. de stijl says:

    Today was 97F in the shade. Felt like 108.

    Totally brutal.

    The new normal.

    All around me I see systems collapsing.

  45. Jax says:

    Random shit from Twitter that made me laugh/cry.