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. de stijl says:

    I was into “power posing” decades before it became a named thing.

    Listen to some Clash, Jank about in the bathroom between shower and shaving. Stick your hands in the air. Scream.

    If you posture as big, as confident, you feel big and confident. I lucked into “power posture” therapy in my mid teens by accident.

    Is it bullshit? Fuck yes. Does it work? Also, fuck yes.

    Extend your body wide. Kick your legs out wider than your hips. Stance out. Lift your arms up. Lay your head back. Look up. Mean it. Really mean it. You got this. Go with it for 5 ten seconds or so. Fuck yeah!

    That feeling does not last all day, for me anyway. Cope as you can. I developed tricks.

    When “power posturing” became a thing I was “Yo! I figured that out in 1979 on my own!” I do it every day before I leave the house. Tell me something new.

  2. de stijl says:

    Posture and bearing affects attitude.

    Stand tall. Walk proud. Step like you mean it.

    Fake it.

  3. Scott says:

    Two vaccine mandate stories:

    I do feel sorry for this guy. Rock… Hard place

    Oklahoma Guard commander defends rejecting vaccine mandate as Pentagon warns troops who refuse

    The Oklahoma National Guard’s commanding general Wednesday defended his directive countermanding federal requirements that all U.S. military personnel be vaccinated against the coronavirus, telling troops in a private town hall event that he was following orders from the state’s Republican governor and meant no disrespect to his superiors at the Pentagon.

    Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, speaking to several dozen members of the Oklahoma National Guard in Oklahoma City, cast himself as an apolitical leader bound by law to answer to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who fired the state’s previous National Guard commander last week and ordered Mancino the next day to issue a policy allowing members to avoid the vaccine.

    Mancino said during the town hall that he had consulted with National Guard lawyers and appeared to point out a path for the Pentagon if it wishes to assert its authority, saying that if he is placed on federal orders, he will carry out the vaccination mandate

    Some Guardsmen have some choices to make also.

    Oklahoma’s vaccine mandate rejection won’t apply to Guardsmen going to drill weekend, DoD argues

    Both the governor and adjutant general of Oklahoma have said they will not enforce the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops under their authority. The question now is how much authority they actually have.

    The Defense Department has the authority to mandate vaccines in support of medical readiness, a defense official told reporters on Wednesday, reiterating statements going back to Friday from Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

    “I don’t believe there’s any dispute that the secretary of defense and the secretaries of military departments have the ability to establish medical readiness requirements that apply to all of the active and reserve components, including the National Guard,” the official said. “Whether or not a governor forces that under his or her own authority is another matter, but [it] in no way relieves members of the National Guard from compliance with medical readiness requirements established by the secretary of defense and the secretaries of the military departments.”

  4. Mike says:

    @Scott: no pay for Federally funded drill weekends… Those antivax “beliefs” will become expensive for these guard members. No sympathy for them.

  5. Kingdaddy says:

    Anne Appelbaum’s latest piece in The Atlantic, arguing that the authoritarians are winning, is a must-read:

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Harvard University historian Tiya Miles won the National Book award for non-fiction for All That She Carried. For that book, Miles tracked down the provenance of Ashley’s Sack: a piece of cloth from the mid-1800s embroidered with a message about the slave sale of a nine-year-old girl.

    “My great grandmother Rose, mother of Ashley, gave her this sack when she was sold at age nine, in South Carolina,” the embroidery reads.

    “It held a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of Rose’s hair. Told her, It be filled with my Love always. She never saw her again. Ashley is my grandmother. Ruth Middleton, 1921.”

    The sack is now housed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

    Look for it on a school library shelf near you.

  7. Scott says:

    And what happened to Alexander Hamilton? As ignorant as he is venal.

    Paul Gosar compares himself to Alexander Hamilton while facing censure over an anime video he shared showing him killing AOC

    Republican Rep. Paul Gosar compared himself to Alexander Hamilton as his colleagues in the House moved to censure him for sharing an animated video that was edited to show him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and brandishing swords at President Joe Biden.

  8. CSK says:

    Matt Gaetz wants to hire Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional intern.

  9. Mu Yixiao says:


    And what happened to Alexander Hamilton?

    He made it big on Broadway?

  10. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kingdaddy: well, aren’t you just a ray of sunshine this morning. (thanks for the recommendation)

  11. CSK says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    I’ll say.

  12. Kathy says:

    At long last, evidence that masks are worthless against COVID.

    They only reduce transmission by 53%. Anything short of 100% is as good as 0%, and we shouldn’t endure a minor inconvenience to save the lives of millions of people.

  13. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: Well, hanging with young Matt might get young Kyle laid. Perhaps that would improve his attitude.

  14. CSK says:

    I didn’t think of that. By gum, you could well be right. I once worked with a guy who was obsessed with guns. He flunked all the pysch and personality tests to become a cop, which he desperately wanted to be. He was also legendary for his inability to attract female, uh, companionship.

    It fits.

  15. Kathy says:

    Anyone in the Western Hemisphere who plans to be awake tomorrow at around 4 am Eastern Time, look up and let us know how the near total Lunar eclipse went (99.1% of the Moon will be on our massive shadow).

  16. Scott says:

    @Kathy: I’m normally up at that hour and tend to still get excited about such things but, alas, it is predicted to be cloudy at that time.

  17. Kathy says:


    Total Lunar eclipses are far more common than total Solar eclipses, and seeing how the Earth’s shadow is bigger than the Moon’s, they lat several hours rather than a few minutes. So there are lots of chances still.

    For me, after the total Solar eclipse of 1991, all other eclipses seem like no big deal in comparison. That one, BTW, took place smack in the middle of the rain season, when most days are solid overcast. That day, there were enough breaks in the clouds to see the Sun’s corona and a few reversed constellations. I also glimpsed Mercury

  18. Kathy says:

    On lighter topics, I started to watch Loki, the limited series about the MCU character. I was instantly hooked by the notion of a “Time Variance Authority.”

    I noticed something. Much of the decor and technology we see there is kind of mid-20th Century style, Clunky computers and terminals with large buttons and small screens. Much the same is true in the season 1 depiction of Heaven in “Miracle Workers,” and also in part of the Bad Place in “The Good Place.”

    I don’t think it means anything past a stylistic choice, or perhaps they’re all copying each other. It just struck me as curious.

  19. flat earth luddite says:

    1 a.m. here. I’m usually awake around that time, if the cloud cover’s thin, I’ll head out to my usual overlook spot to check for a photo op. Thanks!

  20. gVOR08 says:


    Matt Gaetz wants to hire Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional intern.

    I fear a greater degree of cynicism is appropriate. All we know from Gaetz’ statement is that he wants to blow about hiring Kyle Rittenhouse. Gaetz is a Republican. That he said he wants to hire Rittenhouse is not evidence that he wants to hire Rittenhouse.

  21. CSK says:

    I’m pretty sure Gaetz said that just to be provocative in an assholish way. Another opportunity to own the libs.

  22. flat earth luddite says:

    From a humorous tilt, I’m not sure quite what to make of these two items that popped up in my email this morning.

    a. Amazon is selling a 7.5 lb. jug of Hershey’s chocolate syrup for $8.50. Oh, my poor pancreas!
    b. Costco is selling a 72 lb wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for $950.

    Which leads me to a two-part question: (1) who on earth (outside of the restaurant industry) buys this stuff; and (2) how on earth did I get on their mailing lists? Actually, I’m probably better off not knowing either answer.

  23. de stijl says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    Weather forecasts are sketchy for here. More likely than not it will be full cloudy.

    I don’t care. I plan on being awake then just in case we get a lucky weather roll.

    There is a park down the street which is a couple acres of empty space. No trees. I can walk there in 10 minute. I can see the sky there. If it is clear I am going.

    I wish I had prepared better. Hooked up with some friends for a trip up to the Boundary Waters. Get some shrooms. Made it an event.

    The naked sky in the deep boonies where there is no light pollution is a true wonder to behold.

    I am making a promise to myself that I will celebrate the next major celestial event in a less slipshod manner. To treat it as worship in a way. A manner befitting.

  24. de stijl says:


    It is the aesthetic of the Fallout video game series. Alt history Mid 50s vacuum tube punk. Then shattered and broken by nuclear war. The detritus is scattered everywhere in houses and commercial buildings and derelict cars. Remnants. It is haunting.

    Hiddleston is fantastic in Loki, btw. Owen Wilson is also a stand out.

  25. Kathy says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    That much chocolate syrup strikes me more as befitting a bakery than a restaurant.

    Mass emailing is cheap. Addresses are sold all over the place.

  26. flat earth luddite says:

    Well, yes. I just find it baffling what my corporate/consumer masters deem me worthy of… especially given my personal purchasing practices. Funny, but I never get ads for extra short/extra troll size Aloha shirts, or rye whisky… and the only cigar ads I get are from the folks at the discount joint I buy from.

  27. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I’ve heard of it, in a podcast called “Looking Back at Tomorrow” a couple of years ago. I didn’t think of it (and have never seen the game, much less played it).

    Speaking of alt history, here’s an idea:

    Suppose when astronomers and physicists were trying to reconcile Newton’s law of universal gravitation with the actual movements of Mercury, they don’t find a small tenth planet tucked away close to the Sun (as happened in reality). But then when Einstein discovers general relativity, his theory can’t account fully for the discrepancies shown by Mercury.

    This leads to debate and controversy over general relativity, as other predictions are confirmed (like gravitational lensing), and aside from Mercury it seems to work well. Still, there’s consternation because now we have two theories of gravitation and both have, or seem to have, profound flaws.

    Years later, when the first X-ray telescopes are deployed (I’m thinking mid-1970s), some odd readings are seen coming off the Sun. Namely, the source seems to be moving, and not quite the way a sunspot would, if that were the source. Some months of intense observations later reveal a tiny black hole orbiting very, very close to the Sun.

    Well, that’s the idea. I’ve no story idea to go with it.

    The obvious idea is that it will swallow the Sun, but that seems cliche by now.

  28. Mu Yixiao says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    (1) who on earth (outside of the restaurant industry) buys this stuff;

    Churches, civic groups that have fund-raising events (like Optimists or Rotary), community sports leagues (especially kids leagues for the syrup), food pantries (who portion it out), companies having a company picnic or holiday party, etc.

    Oh. And hoarders. Definitely hoarders.

  29. de stijl says:


    Also cliche, but always fun:

    it is a interdimensional portal and Cthulu style monsters spill out.

    I.e., the Cloverfield movies. The Mist, possibly. Arguably, The Cabin In The Woods.

    Interstellar played with that premise too. No monsters, though.

  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    I just ran across this short essay. I love it so much I wanted to share.

    The real problem is at the foundation: a business model that sells people’s attention to advertisers, which motivates companies to reward the content that most effectively manipulates people’s emotions. That in turn, because of the platforms’ scale and dominance, has knock-on effects for all of media, culture, and politics. The only path to a healthier internet is to build a new foundation, with a model that gives power back to people.

  31. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Have I ever told you my main criticism of Jurassic Park is they’re just monster movies?

    Anyway, it could be a 2001-style detector. Say we find info encoded in the X-rays (black holes emit X-rays as matter heading for the event horizon heats up), and then the debate is whether to respond (not easy to send X-rays through 8 light minutes of space). Why X-rays from a mini black hole? because X-rays are rather rare in nature.

    Maybe it moves closer to the Sun so it begins to consume the Sun’s atmosphere if it detects intelligence (ah, so it was a mousetrap!), having thus far existed on a diet of solar wind only. Maybe it moves away from the Sun if it detects intelligence. Maybe it stays where it is and signals its owners/masters/partners/children/parents/pets/spouses/whatevers many light years away.

    And maybe at the center of the black hole there’s a little man with a flashlight searching for a circuit breaker.

  32. de stijl says:


    Everyone in the 1st World has a shit ton of data associated to them. Some if it is basic identity data. Who where when.

    But a lot is heuristically associated with your name. A lot of data gets associated to you by “best guess” assumptions. We’re pretty sure person x is associated with that IP address then. That correlates to public records at that then and where.

    Data mining is not absolute. Associations come in flavors of connection types. Degrees of reliability. Heuristic association.

    You are profiled. Absolutely guaranteed. About 80 bazillion data points are associated with that profile some more surely tagged than others.

    And you are not a person; you are a consumer.

    It is all about marketing. It is insidious. Every search is mined. Every website visit.

    I used to work with some of these data vendor companies in my professional life. I was very heavily recruited by one of them for several years. I turned them down every time. It felt good to be courted, though.

    They are not the Devil. They are Devil adjacent. The Devil buys their data.

    Google Ad Services used to think I was a spanish speaker living in Omaha. I got the weirdest ads then. They now think I live Minneapolis. I got at least a thousand YT video political ads leading up to the election in November.

    Everything you do is captured, logged, and mined. Associated with your profile.

    Example: a song I really like is titled Autoclave. I listen to that song a lot. Done searches. The song has nothing to do with the physical object at all. The word is used as a metaphor. Occasionally, I get served ads to see if I want to buy an actual autoclave. It is insidious.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Since there is no mention otherwise, I assume this applies to medical masks or N95 masks. As far as I know the US is the only major country where people wear cloth masks, but I could be wrong on that.

  34. de stijl says:


    Maybe you are the person in the center with flashlight?

    I had the weirdest dream the other day. I was watching the Shining only Jack Nicholson wasn’t Torrance. And Shelly Duval wasn’t Wendy. Other unidentifiable actors were playing those roles. (Danny was still Danny. All things serve the beam.)

    Dream me freaked the fuck out. I was in a parallel world. No one would listen to me.

    That was a pretty cool dream.

  35. de stijl says:

    Gonna nap now in case it is clear tonight for the eclipse.

    It is near sundown now and the sky is perfectly clear now.

    Crosses fingers. Hope hope. I would like to see this.

  36. Kathy says:


    Good question, I’ve no idea.

    I still wear a KF94 mask the whole day at the office (just about everyone says they’ve been vaccinated), and whenever I go out. I do think it offers some protection, even among the maskless maskhole hordes at work these days. And I’ll keep wearing one, or a KN95 or N95, for the duration.

  37. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Everyone in the 1st World has a shit ton of data associated to them.

    And the Third World, and Florida, too, I bet.

    I used to get ads for things I searched for, but not much lately. aside those that come up with the search results.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I get ads from Thompson Cigar now that I browsed there once. Not worth the time to open them unless you’ve become in the market for full box purchases. (And I haven’t even smoked all 10 of the ones I bought in September.)

  39. flat earth luddite says:

    @de stijl:
    I have (occasionally) waaayyy too much fun with customers…

    Example: Customer comes in, and I ask cash/credit for payment? He provides a lengthy tirade regarding how credit allows you to be tracked, evil corporate, political, corporate, evil, etc., etc. I assure him I have credit cards and subscribe to all of it. In response to his “WHY?” I calmly respond that as one of a skazillion data points I’m for all effects and purposes invisible in the herd, but that hardy types like him are the orange/blue zebras sticking out from the herd. After his head exploded, he wandered out with his purchase, muttering to himself.

    Once again proving why (outside of OTB) I’m not usually allowed in the sandbox with the nice kids…

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Don’t know if this has changed because of Covid-19, but cloth masks were a staple of pharmacies, schoolbook stores, and various kinds of variety stores when I lived in Korea. The largest inventories (and thus the best selections) came at the start of Yellow Dust season and demand tapered off toward the end of flu season.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: interesting. I currently design machines that, among other things, can be used to test N95 masks. The worst ones we’ve come across still stop 96% of particles in the size range of the Covid virus. The best result for cloth was 8% and that was almost impossible to breathe through. More typical was 2-3%

  42. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Look for it on a school library shelf near you.”

    Unless you live in Virginia. Or Texas. Arkansas…

  43. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I’m almost a little offended that my favorite band decided to cover one of my favorite songs by The Doors, and I definitely hate the video….but musically….I think they hit it about right. 😛

  44. Mimai says:
  45. flat earth luddite says:

    Well, wish me luck. Covid booster and flu vaccine both scheduled tomorrow noon-ish. Figured the twofer couldn’t possibly make me sicker than chemo did.

  46. JKB says:

    MSNBC tries recon for post-trial doxing of the Rittenhouse jurors, gets caught. Now banned from Kenosha courthouse.

  47. James Joyner says:

    @flat earth luddite: I did the two-fer last Wednesday and it was slightly less bad than the second shot of Moderna. Basically, slight soreness at the injection site and no other symptoms for 26ish hours and then considerable fatigue and a fever that lasted a couple of hours. Fine the next morning.