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:

    Interesting. Just received an email from my employer. As a Federal contractor, all employees must submit proof of their vaccination status.

    Not a problem here. I am curious how many dumbasses I work with.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: We are in the same boat. Up til now, we have been 90+ % vaccinated. I wonder how many of the holdouts we will lose?

  3. CSK says:

    Trump announced yesterday that he will be launching something called the “TRUTH Social,” a social media network dedicated to fighting “the tyranny of big tech” in the first part of 2022. This entity will be part of the Trump Media & Technology Group.

    It will provide “a voice to all.” The biggest voice will, naturally, be that of “your favorite President.”

  4. Scott says:

    @CSK: As someone has already pointed out, TRUTH, translated into Russian, is PRAVDA.

    Lot of media dragging going on about his “initiative”.

  5. CSK says:

    And…the site was hacked within hours of its announced opening:

  6. CSK says:

    Oh, I know; it’s hilarious. Especially since the site already got hacked. Trump obviously doesn’t hire the best people to create his online enterprises.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: According to trump, he doesn’t hire the best people for any of his endeavors.

  8. CSK says:

    Who would work for him but those at the bottom of the barrel?

    If you’re curious, his new site is: . You can sign up for the waiting list!

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Solar storm confirms Vikings settled in North America exactly 1,000 years ago

    The new dating method relies on the fact that solar storms produce a distinctive radiocarbon signal in a tree’s annual growth rings. It was known there was a significant solar storm – a burst of high-energy cosmic rays from the sun – in AD992. In all three pieces of wood examined, from three different trees, 29 growth rings were formed after the one that bore evidence of the solar storm, meaning the wood was cut in 1021, said the University of Groningen archaeologist Margot Kuitems, the study’s first author. It was not local indigenous people who cut the wood because there is evidence of metal blades, which they did not possess, Dee said.

    The length of the occupation remains unclear, though it may have been a decade or less, and perhaps 100 Norse people were present at any given time, Dee said. Their structures resembled Norse buildings on Greenland and Iceland.

    Oral histories called the Icelandic sagas depict a Viking presence in the Americas. Written down centuries later, they describe a leader named Leif Erikson and a settlement called Vinland, as well as violent and peaceful interactions with the local peoples, including capturing enslaved people. The 1021 date roughly corresponds to the saga accounts, Dee said, adding: “Thus it begs the question, how much of the rest of the saga adventures are true?”

  10. gVOR08 says:

    In case anyone’s still wondering about Joe Manchin’s motivation and “political philosophy”, via Political Wire CNBC has an informative piece, Billionaire Cheers On Joe Manchin. The rando billionaire, one Nelson Peltz says,

    Joe is the most important guy in D.C. Maybe the most important guy in America today. I call him every week and say, ‘Joe, you’re doing great. Stay tough. Stay tough, buddy.’ He’s phenomenal.

    Peltz was a big Trump backer, but now he sees Manchin as the ticket to keeping his taxes low. And Manchin isn’t taking his calls because he thinks Peltz is a great guy. CNBC adds, “Both (Manchin and Sinema) are targets of corporate influence and lobbying campaigns.” Gee, do you think?

    We have a bunch of wannabe oligarchs and a Supreme Court that thinks money is speech. McConnell is hugely unpopular in KY, but wins reelection easily. How? Money, and lots of it. Manchin thinks that’s his best plan in WV. Fate has made he and Sinema the most important people in congress, and they’re going to raise every nickel they can while it lasts. And how does someone deep in the pocket of the conservative Billionaire Boys Club constantly get labeled a “centrist”?

  11. CSK says:

    Matt Gaetz said on the House floor yesterday that someone is trying to kill him, and the DOJ won’t do a thing to stop this. He also mentioned that if his name were Tlaib or Omar the DOJ would be on the case right away.

  12. CSK says:

    According to the NYTimes, many of the investors in Trump’s new social media undertaking (invested to the tune of $300 million) didn’t know Trump was involved in it.

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

  13. Kathy says:


    Nobody knew online security could be so complicated.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An unprecedented drone operation is being prepared to rescue four dogs stranded for weeks between rivers of red-hot lava streaming from an erupting volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma. The emaciated dogs are stranded in two empty water tanks in the town of Todoque, flanked by slow-moving lava flows from the Cumbre Vieja volcano that erupted on 19 September .

    The molten rock has so far covered over 760 hectares (1,885 acres) of land and destroyed about 2,000 buildings, although prompt evacuations have helped avoid fatalities on the island, part of the Canary Islands off northwest Africa. On its way to the Atlantic Ocean, the lava has spared a few areas by creating islands of terrain that remain relatively unharmed, such as the spot where the dogs are.
    Reaching the animals on foot is impossible as this would require crossing scorching lava, and helicopters cannot fly in the area because the ash and hot gas from the volcano could damage their rotors, said spokesperson Alejandro Molina. “This is the only way to do it,” he told AFP.
    The company’s CEO, Jaime Pereira, said the plan was to send a 50kg (110lb) drone equipped with a wide net to trap the dogs one by one and fly them to safety. “We don’t have experience transporting a live animal by drone. Nor does anyone,” he told private television Telecinco.

    The success of the mission will depend largely on how the dogs respond to the drone, he added. “The dog could react by running away, moving, jumping,” Pereira said. “There are those who say the dogs could fracture a bone, have a heart attack. Of course there are all sorts of risks, but either we get them out or probably in a few days or weeks they will no longer exist.”

  15. gVOR08 says:


    Matt Gaetz said on the House floor yesterday that someone is trying to kill him

    Gotta do something to attract attention and keep the grift going. Political Wire reports,

    “Contributions to Gaetz’s campaign committee, Friends of Matt Gaetz, have cratered, with the congressman posting a $100,000 net loss on the quarter after donations fell off by well more than half.”

  16. Long time Listener says:

    @Ozark: humans will spend untold amounts of money, and risk life/limb for dogs. Human refugees? Not so much….

  17. CSK says:

    Of course they didn’t.
    He may get desperate enough to stage his own assassination attempt.

  18. Kathy says:


    Just wait til the K-pop fans get involved.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    AI was eavesdropping on us yesterday and today I find this from Atlas Obscura on the “Recommended by Pocket” page:
    How Writers Map Their Imaginary Worlds

    One of life’s great treats, for a lover of books (especially fantasy books), is to open a cover to find a map secreted inside and filled with the details of a land about to be discovered. A writer’s map hints at a fully imagined world, and at the beginning of a book, it’s a promise. In the middle of a book, it’s a touchstone and a guide. And at the end, it’s a reminder of all the places the story has taken you.

    The 2018 book, The Writer’s Map, contains dozens of the magical maps writers have drawn or that have been made by others to illustrate the places they’ve created. “All maps are products of human imagination,” writes Huw Lewis-Jones, the book’s editor. “For some writers making a map is absolutely central to the craft of shaping and telling their tale.”

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:
  21. CSK says:

    Mystery Hill (aka America’s Stonehenge) in Salem, NH was once thought to have been established either by Norsemen or Irish Culdee monks. Now it’s believed to be considerably older.

    A QAnoner vandalized the site in 2019.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: A QAnoner vandalized the site in 2019.

    Because, of course.

  23. Kathy says:

    I’m doing a selective re-watch of Futurama.

    First I watched the two series finales, “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings,” done when the show was first cancelled, and “Meanwhile,” done in the cancellation after the revival.

    Next I watched the eps I had missed, mostly on the last season.

    And now I’m watching the episodes I liked best.

    When that’s over, it’s back to finish the one season of “Beware The Batman,” a CGI take on a darker, less mentally stable Batman (there’s an awful lot of animated Batman media, kind of a Batverse of its own with many different versions), and then season 3 of Young Justice (there’s also an awful lot of DC animation other than Batman).

    and I’ve got to fit Dune in between all that.

  24. Joe says:


    He may get desperate enough to stage his own assassination attempt.

    [Best Willy Wonka voice]: no. don’t. stop.

  25. CSK says:

    The authorities were able to track down the miscreant because he a) boasted about it on Twitter and b) carved his Twitter handle into one of the rocks: IAMMARK. He was one Mark Russo of New Jersey.

    Not too bright. The only better thing he could have done was to post a video of himself committing the vandalism on Facebook.

  26. CSK says:
  27. CSK says:

    @Scott: @Kathy:

    According to TPM, “The new social network founded by Donald Trump may the terms of use of the software on which it is based.”


  28. Kathy says:


    I was thinking about last year when they made Tiny Benito and his campaign managers think they’d have a massive crowd for their super-spreader rally, which ended up with El Cheeto doing the walk of shame from Marine One.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Is the would be killer the father of an underage girl?

  30. Mr. Prosser says:

    @CSK: Although a pre-Columbian stone quarry for material to make lithic tools (projectile points, awls, drills and knives) was located at the site the rest appears to be 18th and 19th century activity. “While it is quite likely that the site is simply the combination of Native American habitation (hence the radiocarbon dating), Colonial usage and building (hence the stone structures) and a series of amateur archeologists doing some seriously wishful thinking and even hoaxing (the supposed Ogham, Phoenician and Iberian scripts), the complete truth is difficult or even impossible to know.”

  31. CSK says:

    God, that warms my heart.
    @Mr. Prosser:
    It’s fascinating.

  32. Kathy says:

    We were told for much of last year that vaccines against coronaviruses were problematic. We seem to have forgotten the tones of warnings upon learning the phase 3 results from Pfizer and Moderna, which revealed very good protection against infection, not to mention severe disease, etc.

    The results from other technologies, namely virus vector vaccines, were less impressive and far more ambiguous, though they’re holding up for severe disease and death. Now we’re learning of the limitations of the mRNA vaccines, and of course we’re disappointed.

    Waning immunity wouldn’t be as big a problem if the COVID outbreak were confined to parts of the world rather than all of it. As it is, we are going to need many more billions of doses to stay safe until the pandemic finally burns out, and that will take longer due to those refusing to take the vaccines.

    Unless something changes radically. Last week French company Valneva put out a press release of its vaccine, claiming high efficacy as compared to the AstraZeneca shot.

    Valneva employs older technology*, using a whole inactivated virus and adjuvants, rather than the spike protein alone. This could induce a better kind of immunity, as it exposes the immune system to all parts of the virus. But then, keep in mind “natural immunity” gained when recovering from an infection, where the whole active virus is involved, seems similar to that of the mRNA and viral vector vaccines.

    It’s possible, though, that lasting immunity against coronaviruses is just not possible, given our immune systems.

    It’s a bit frustrating to keep coming back to “a booster will be necessary every six or twelve months.”

    *I wonder what the antivaxxer objection will be to a very mature technology that took longer to develop.

    Ironically, there is one additional concern for a whole virus vaccine. errors or defects in preparation might leave some viral particles alive and active, thus there is some small risk in contracting COVID from the vaccine.

    This has happened before with other diseases.

    Would I take this vaccine? I would, without hesitation. For one thing, the risk is tiny. For another, I’m not defenseless against the trump virus (thanks BioNTech!)

  33. CSK says:

    If they make getting a Covid booster as easy as getting a yearly flu shot, that won’t be a problem. For me, anyway.

  34. Kathy says:


    What’s the situation right now for getting a COVID shot, both regular first/second dose and booster?

    I understand in some places, namely urban areas, it’s as easy as visiting a pharmacy and asking for it. At least once its authorized.

    In Mexico the government has more control. COVID shots are a government monopoly, administered solely by government health sector institutions. They haven’t done a terrible job, but it’s not that easy given they offer rather limited windows (typically three days), per age group and only at a few locations per municipality.

    Here we don’t have a custom of annual flu shots. They are offered at government clinics, but until last year there was no drive to administer them, nor any publicity urging the population to get it. Last year this changed because it seems the flu shot can protect a bit against COVID, and because the last thing we needed was to add flu cases on top of the COVID cases in hospitals.

    Flu shots are not a government monopoly, but government gets them first. Last year I got mine free of charge form the government, when they sent vaccines and nurses to offices. This year I’m looking to get one through a private doctor, but the supply seems scarce (I was supposed to get it last week along with a shingles vaccine. I only got the latter).

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: I got my notice (but we’re not federal contractors) just before the school year started again. No problem for me either. Big problem for that Wazzu head coach, though.

  36. CSK says:

    I had to schlep all the way to Massachusetts General Hospital to get my Covid shot this past spring, but now (in my neck of the woods anyway) you can just make an appointment at your local CVS or Walgreen’s or Rite-Aid. I think some places will even do walk-ins.

    Flu shots are walk-ins (though you can make an appointment for them if you like), and have been for quite some time now. Or your doctor will give you one if you already have an appointment with her or him.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Or maybe he deliberately built it porous. Gotta keep the conspiracy at max hype?

  38. Scott says:

    It’s seems easy to get here in San Antonio. My wife got her Pfizer booster yesterday. She was authorized because she’s a teacher but she said the pharmacist didn’t even ask her why she was getting a booster.

    My son, 24, also got a Pfizer booster because he works in healthcare (physical therapy) and there were no questions asked.

    The only reason I’m waiting on my Moderna booster is because the pharmacies have to wait for instructions on the dosage. At least, that is my understanding.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: “And how does someone deep in the pocket of the conservative Billionaire Boys Club constantly get labeled a “centrist”?”

    Who do you suppose the most important people in “the center” are? Who even decides what “the center” is in this country? (And while we’re speaking of oligarchs, who own WaPo and FTFNYT?) [pensive face emoji]

  40. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Nah, Trump’s too stupid. He probably did it on the cheap, the way he does everything.

  41. Jen says:


    It sort of seems to vary by state. Here in NH, I was planning on walking in to a local Walgreens to get my flu shot, but called ahead and was told that they weren’t doing ANY walk-ins, everything had to be scheduled online, covid, booster, or flu shot.

    I dutifully went to the website and was greeted with dozens of potential options to get a same-day flu shot, so my guess is the scheduling is just to prevent bottlenecks at high-traffic times.

    My husband is scheduled to get his covid booster tomorrow. He had to sign up online and the only restriction was that he wasn’t even able to access the appointment scheduler until 6 months from his second shot had passed. No other questions, restrictions, or requirements.

  42. Kathy says:


    My understanding is that Moderna trialed a booster with a half dose rather than a full one.

    On the other hand, the FDA has approved mix and match, so that might be a factor. Data on heterologous vaccines is sparse, but it seems mRNA boosters work best than virus vector boosters, regardless of what vaccine you got first.


    That seems simple enough.

  43. CSK says:

    Liz Harrington dutifully Tweets all of Trump’s statements–but she only has 219,000 followers. That must really gall him.

  44. Dude Kembro says:


    And how does someone deep in the pocket of the conservative Billionaire Boys Club constantly get labeled a “centrist”?

    Because the pundits issuing said labels are they themselves “centrists” aka corporate shills beholden to right wing narratives.

  45. Kathy says:

    Boeing can’t catch a break from Boeing.

    First the issues with the 787 development, then battery fires on the 787, then the tragic mistakes on the 737 MAX line, then delays on the 777X, and now the Starliner capsule is leaking water.

    SpaceX, whose capsules have done three crewed missions including 2 to the ISS, probably can’t handle NASA’s space program (when and if NASA decides what that will be past the ISS), but maybe Airbus would like to build a spaceship.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    Well, it looks like I’m going to lose that vaccine resistant employee. He’s a nice enough guy, and I hate to lose him but we have a lot of government business and we fall under the mandates. He was upset, but it was all about the Constitution and the Covenant and how the Supreme Court will overturn it before it takes effect. He did mention briefly his beliefs that the vaccine was ineffective and that it could actually cause harm and that what was best for his health was not to get it.

    … and then he brought up religious objection. In fifteen minutes of conversation the guy never mentioned anything at all to do with religion (and as far as I know, has never mentioned religion anywhere else). I told him he had to talk to HR about that. Then ten more minutes about the constitution. Finally, I asked him if he was going the religious objection route. “Yes”. That was the only thing he said that pissed me off. I’m not religious myself, but his view of himself as motivated solely by his uper-principled and ethical mindset would seem to be given the lie by his willingness to pretend to be religious in order to get out of something he doesn’t like.

    Anyway, I don’t know how much luck he will have. I just went through our religious exemption policy and it is not easy.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Boeing increasingly reminds me of Johnson and Johnson. A once shining medical device and drug company who started cutting corners and then got into so much trouble with regulators that I wonder if they will ever get their reputation back. They continue to exist and make money but everyone has an eye on them and the top talent, especially Quality and Regulatory, is reluctant to take a job there if they have an alternative.

  48. Scott says:

    @Kathy: @MarkedMan: As far as I’m concerned, Boeing started its long decline when they moved their HQs to Chicago in 2001 and they began to care more about financial engineering instead of real engineering.

  49. Kathy says:


    Cheaply and quickly. Tiny has no patience.

    But the platform should run much better once he begins to stiff the people who make it run.

  50. Kathy says:


    What I hear now and then on aviation sites, is that when Boeing ate McDonnell Douglass, it assimilated the latter’s management culture, which was 99 parts bean counting to one part engineering.

    I’m not sure how much of that is true. On the one hand, the DC-8 and DC-9/MD80-90 programs were very successful. On the other, the DC-10 had a fatal design flaw (of the cargo door locks of all things). They also seem married to existing designs, as seen with taking the DC-9 more or less along the route Boeing later took with the 737. That is, from small short haul jet to mainline passenger liner. The DC-10 follow-on was the nearly identical MD-11.

    As to money, a lot of the MCAS problem with the 737 MAX was money. First in making yet another modification to the very old 737 design, which required larger engines placed further forward, which required MCAS. And then in keeping commonality to the prior incarnation the 737 NG line, so pilots wouldn’t need much additional training to be certified to fly the MAX.

    Partly, IMO, there’s the security inherent in a duopoly. No one else makes mainline medium and long haul aircraft but Boeing and Airbus (not after that tasty McDonnell Douglass meal). But that may be imperiled. China and Russia are developing separate medium haul aircraft (the C919 and MC21 respectively), and jointly a long haul wide body, the CR929.

    These planes don’t look good compared to the 737 MAX or the Airbus A320neo families, much less the newer 787 and A350 designs. But it’s early, and there’s been some technology transfer to China from both Boeing and Airbus, with assembly plants for both in that country. There’s no reason China won’t be able to develop, in a decade or two, a competitive design.

    Russia is another matter. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, Soviet and Russian passenger jets, and for that matter fighter aircraft, became far less popular without a captive market. I think about the only airlines still operating Soviet designas are Air Koryo in North Korea, and Cubana de Aviación. their latest effort, the Sukhoi Superjet (a small regional jet), hasn’t foud much of a market outside Russia, and performed poorly where it did (I think it helped bankrupt Interjet).

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m certainly open to that interpretation, but FG, while in no way a marketing MOU or anything, is has certainly been good at knowing how to hype his audience. It may be important to keep this in mind.

  52. Matt says:


    that it could actually cause harm

    I recently had an elderly coworker tell me that the COVID vaccine was designed to weaken the immune system and that was why I got an infection in the root of my last bad tooth…

  53. CSK says:

    According to Rolling Stone, Michael Flynn thinks the Deep State globalist Satan-worshiping blood drinkers might, just might, be putting the Covid vaccine in…salad dressing.

    Hold the vinaigrette, please.

  54. CSK says:

    Well, Rick Wiles, pastor and right-wing conspiracy theorist par excellence, believes that the vaccine contains an egg that hatches into a parasite within the human body.

  55. Kathy says:


    No need. Just make sure it reaches room temperatura before you use it. Not that the mRNA vaccines would still be viable, or that any MAGAts know what salad is or why you need to dress it.

    A parasite egg in the vaccine, at least, is biologically feasible for microscopic parasites.

  56. CSK says:

    A parasite might be the tentacled creature about which that loon in New Hampshire was raving.

  57. Stormy Dragon says:


    the vaccine contains an egg that hatches into a parasite within the human body

    Hey! Xxyyzzxx hates being called a parasite! They’re an intercranial collaboration partner!

  58. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’ve wondered about putting out misinformation on monoclonal antibodies, so the crazy crowd will rely solely on ivermectin and other useless non-remedies. But they’re still the best treatment if given in time, and work on breakthrough infections as well.

    On the other hand, a story that these are cloned from xenomorphs and will eat your face from the inside, is good enough to give people nightmares.

  59. Stormy Dragon says:


    Why jump to the worst possible option? The synthetic vaccine parasites could be like the Tom Hardy version of Venom or like Jadzia Dax from Deep Space 9…

  60. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Suppose you sign up for Jadzia Dax and get Curzon Dax instead.

    I wonder why no one has claimed the vaccines contain demon sperm. Matter of time, I guess.

  61. CSK says:

    I think all you’d have to do is say that Anthony Fauci highly recommends monoclonal antibodies. The Trumpkins think Fauci is the devil incarnate.

  62. Stormy Dragon says:


    Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax were the same symbiote (Dax), the difference between them was who the host was.

    So if you sign up for Jadzia Dax and get Curzon Dax instead, that’s entirely on you, not the parasite. 😉

  63. EddieInCA says:

    Horrible horrible accident in New Mexico.

    Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, loaded with blanks, that killed the DP and seriously injured the Director.

    So many people had to have screwed up for that to have happened. OMG.

    It’s my #1 fear: someone getting injured or killed on a set of mine.


  64. Jax says:

    @EddieInCA: I worry every day that someone I hire will die doing cowboy shit. Many hugs to you and your co-workers. We don’t often deal with “guns gone wrong”, mostly “horses gone wrong”, but it’s every bit as deadly. 😐

  65. flat earth luddite says:


    Professionals with guns don’t scare me. Amateurs with guns scare me. People who think they’re toys fracking terrify me!

    I’ve had them pointed at me by members of all three groups. Alec is obviously in group #3.