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:

    Dozens of thieving sea lions in western Canada have spent the last few weeks gorging on fish after brazenly slipping into an industrial salmon farm – and ignoring all attempts to make them move on. Cermaq, the aquaculture giant with operations in Norway, Chile and Canada, says the wily predators were able to evade netting and electric fences in late March as part of a “breach event” at the Rant Point farm near Tofino in British Columbia.
    Efforts to scare the sea lions away, including with loud noises, have so far failed. The company said exits are available to the intruders “should they choose to leave”– an offer the sea lions appear to have declined.
    Sea lions, a common mammal in the waters off Vancouver Island, typically hunt in groups and feast on herring, salmon, rock fish and even small sharks. But the pinnipeds hit paydirt when they made their way into pens full of salmon. The farm can hold as many as 500,000 Atlantic salmon, although the company had already started the weeks-long process of harvesting in March when the first sea lions arrived. More sea lions have since joined in the heist, much to the frustration of the company, which says it hopes to finish harvesting by the third week of April.

    “Hey Fred, Mabel? Charley, Shirley? Wanna free lunch?
    On the more serious side:

    Glambeck worries the sea lions will become habituated to humans and once the salmon are gone, turn to the 14 other farms in the area. “They’re very intelligent animals and it’s so disheartening and heartbreaking to see these animals being potentially harmed by this industry,” she said.

    Yep. Entanglement is a problem. But why work at finding food when the hoomans have so kindly set up an all you can eat buffet?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A teenage gorilla in a Chicago zoo has been getting too much screen time, according to zoo officials. Amare, a 415-pound gorilla at Chicago’s Lincoln Park zoo, has been staring a little too frequently at the screens of cellphones from visitors who show him pictures and videos through the glass wall – including selfies, family photos, pet videos and even footage of Amare himself.

    He has apparently become so distracted as a result that last week, when another teenage gorilla rushed at him in a show of aggression, Amare did not appear to notice. “It seemed to almost surprise Amare because his attention was very much distracted,” said Stephen Ross,
    Three other male “bachelor” gorillas live in the same enclosure with Amare, and zoo officials are worried that they, too, might become addicted to screens.

    “It’s within the realm of possibility and something we really want to get ahead of,” said Ross. “What we’re keeping an eye on here is that he doesn’t end up watching screens that the visitors are presenting him for hours on end. It’s more of a quantity issue than a quality issue. If we can all sort of agree that we want to do what’s best for the animals, then we can sort of resist that desire to sit there and flip through pictures for an hour with him.”

    Uh huh. I knew smart phones were a bad idea.

  3. CSK says:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene has reported Jimmy Kimmel to the Capitol Police for threatening her.
    He asked where Will Smith was when you really needed him.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Sounds like a perfectly reasonable question to me.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Ross Douthat has a column up that is a nearly perfect distillation of the hand waving that “Reasonable Republican” writers go through in order to get the clicks they need from the NYT mostly liberal readers while still preserving their ability to earn speaking fees at events sponsored by billionaire hobbyists. Titled “ How Republicans Failed the Unvaccinated”, it starts out promisingly. Researchers targeted Republican vaccine-resisters with videos of party leaders including TFG promoting vaccines, and that had a measurable positive affect on vaccination rates. Douthat then blames Democrats for not making this a nationwide effort. (I would like to be in the room when the Biden administration tries to get permission and cooperation from TFG and the rest of the clown show.) But he goes a step farther. Democrats should have paid Republican resistors to take the vaccine, and not the paltry amount that was tried in some states. He appears to be arguing that the administration should have asked Republicans how risky they thought the vaccine was, (you know, the one with Bill Gates microchips developed in a Chinese lab to make us all trans) and pay them enough to overcome their fears.

    There are a few half hearted nods to the premise of the lede that get sidetracked into how Republicans were actually right to resist government overreach before, in the penultimate paragraph, he names a name, Ron Desantis. It seems it is entirely understandable that Ronny boy was more effective in the necessary work of railing against the Feds encroachment on our lives but maybe he could’ve thrown in something more about vaccines. In the last paragraph he concludes that maybe Democrats and Republicans could have tried other approaches. Of course we can never know if any of that would have been successful but Douthat, for one, will come out strongly that he kinda thinks it might’ve.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I have been curious about exactly how many and which projects David Attenborough has been involved in. Finally googled it this AM and came across this little tidbit:

    Despite his growing success, Attenborough left the BBC in the early 1960s to study social anthropology at the London School of Economics. However, when BBC Two was created in 1965, Attenborough was asked to return to the station as its controller. In both this capacity and as director of programming for both the BBC and BBC Two, Attenborough continued to collect milestones, pioneering such educational series as The Ascent of Man and Civilisation, overseeing the BBC’s transition to color television and having the wisdom to sign up an oddball comedy series called Monty Python’s Flying Circus, starring John Cleese and Terry Gilliam among others. In recognition of his contributions, in 1970, the British Academy honored him with its Desmond Davis Award. Yet Attenborough could not shake the passion that had remained with him since his youth, and in 1972, he resigned from his post at the BBC to follow his dreams into the wild.

    Thank you Sir David, you are a servant to all of mankind.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This gave me a giggle:

    mariana Z@mariana057
    Why is Iron Man called Iron Man and not Fe-Male?

  8. CSK says:

    Me too. As far as I know, Kimmel hasn’t been arrested for…telling a joke. Greene’s office says that they take all threats to the congresswoman very seriously.

    Perhaps Collins, Murkowski, and Romney should sue Greene for libel because she accused them on Twitter of being pro-pedophile.

  9. Kylopod says:

    A while back I talked here about how I’ve always had intense visualizations of abstract systems such as numbers and letters. For instance, when I picture the years, I see a line of numbers representing each year, with a turn of the corner for each decade, and a sharper turn for a century break.

    I also mentioned that in my visualization of the political spectrum, for some reason the political left appears on my right, and the political right on my left. It’s very consistent: if I think about specific people and where they fall on the spectrum, it’s as if there’s a tiny Joe Biden slightly to the right of the middle of my chest, a Bernie Sanders at about my right arm and a Trump at about my left arm.

    I’ve had these visualizations for as long as I can remember, though it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became conscious of the weird left-right disjuncture. It was always there in my head, I just had never thought about it before.

    Recently I was telling someone about all this, and he said it sounded like a form of synesthesia. That surprised me, as I’d heard of synesthesia, but what I’ve described just seemed a bit mundane for that category.

    I searched online for more information, and it seems that what I’ve described may fit the definition of something called spatial sequence synesthesia or sequence-space synesthesia. According to a 2014 psychology article:

    Sequence-space synesthesia (SSS) is a common condition in which ordinal sequences such as months, numbers or the letters of the alphabet are perceived to occupy spatial locations in the mind’s eye or peripersonal or extrapersonal space (e.g., Price and Mentzoni, 2008; Jonas and Jarick, 2013). For example, thinking about a month may elicit the visuospatial impression of a circular arrangement of the months, or hearing a numeral may elicit a specifically shaped number line. These “spatial forms” are typically thought to be consistent over time within an individual (e.g., Smilek et al., 2007), though they can actually evolve (Price and Pearson, 2013; Gould et al., 2014; Price, 2014; see also Simner, 2012; Meier et al., 2014). They are also idiosyncratic, with synesthetes reporting many different shapes of varying complexity (Galton, 1880; Phillips, 1897) that are experienced outside the body (i.e., projected) or in the mind’s eye (i.e., associated; Dixon et al., 2004; Smilek et al., 2007; Ward et al., 2007).

    I don’t know what to make of this. The big question that occurs to me is, what’s the significance of this phenomenon? Why give this so-called condition a name at all? And why are people so fascinated by it? Synesthesia in general often gets treated in popular culture as a Rain Man-like savant ability if not something almost quasi-paranormal. When I think of synesthesia, the first thing that pops into my head is someone who claims they can “see” music. And by “see,” that means essentially a visual hallucination in front of the person whenever they hear music (that’s more or less how it was described in a novel I once read). What I experience isn’t hallucinatory in nature: my “seeing” rows of numbers or a tiny Joe Biden by my chest is simply an internal conceptualization. As for music, now that I think about it I do in fact visualize songs–not the melodies per se, but the structure (the arrangement of verses, choruses, bridges, etc.) and how it progresses over the period of time in which it is played.

    I always thought that to be a synesthete, that means you must possess some kind of special ability. I don’t think of what I described in myself as an ability per se; all it has ever meant to me is that I’m a highly visual thinker. Some of the articles I ran across suggested that SSS might be connected with a strong memory. Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a fair amount of skill at memorizing large chunks of information in a short time; I’m also an excellent speller. On the other hand I have trouble remembering names, and I’ve got an absolutely abysmal sense of direction. (I always related to the Indiana Jones line about his friend Marcus: “He once got lost in his own museum.”) My mind “maps” everything out except, apparently, maps.

    What do you think? Is synesthesia real? Bullshit? Overhyped? Does anyone else here have a form of it? Why does it get the attention it does?

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Always it is the fault of DEMs for not giving into the ransom demands of the GOP. Or something like that.

    When my sons were growing up, I got blamed for everything their alcoholic druggie mother did because I didn’t stop her or rescue her from herself. They were boys, just wanting their superhero father to make it all right. Of course I wasn’t a superhero, just a man doing the best I could for my sons. It’s always that way tho. The children of divorce always blame the responsible parent for not fixing the problems, while doubling and tripling the love they send the abusive/neglectful parent in the hopes that they will see the light.

    That’s pretty much the way a lot of folks look at DEMs and GOP.

  11. Mikey says:


    The children of divorce always blame the responsible parent for not fixing the problems, while doubling and tripling the love they send the abusive/neglectful parent in the hopes that they will see the light.

    This is entirely untrue of my daughter. She knows exactly why her abusive mother and I divorced, blames me for none of it, and has spoken to her mother only a handful of times since 2009 (and not at all for the past several years).

    Perhaps I’m just the lucky exception.

  12. CSK says:

    I believe synethsesia is real; I visualize a year as a sort of roller coaster, with the high point in the winter and the low point in the summer.

    I also believe that most people who have it don’t think about it, probably because they’re accustomed to experiencing the world that way.

  13. Mu Yixiao says:


    My current renter has a version where she sees spoken words. And as she gets to know a person better, the font, color, etc. change to better represent them.

    I was able to request a serif font. 🙂

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: My wife’s daughter is the same as yours. realized early on exactly who and what her father is.

    When my first wife and I got separated, the court ordered counseling for the boys (they were 5 and 3) thru Kids in the Middle. Of course, I was the one to take them. My eldest son’s counselor told me it was not uncommon. He finally grew out of it* at about the age of 14. My youngest not until 18. But even now, they make exceptions/excuses for her. I do wonder how much of it might be due to the special place a mother has in her son’s heart. Or maybe it’s just the result of all the years of abusive behavior. I certainly don’t know.

    *it was a slow gradual process. I knew B had finally grasped who and what his mother was when he called me after her 2nd husband went after him when B intervened in one of their fights. (calling a beating a fight is gilding the lily, but she gloried in them)

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: It’s real, I know someone who has it. In True Detective Rust Cohle gives about as good a short and quick explanation as I’ve ever heard. No idea how accurate it is.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:


    Saw that this AM and believed the headline and lede were promising. But alas Ross began babbling, engaged in both siderism and in the end it was the liberal’s fault because obviously R’s needed to oppose the libs.

  17. Kathy says:


    It may be time to admit that not all oddities are conditions, defects, diseases, and so on. IN particular when they are neither debilitating nor pose some kind of obstacle to one’s life.

  18. CSK says:

    This is what Trump has been reduced to for legal representation: an attorney who’s been suspended twice and is under investigation for a third infraction. He is also the author of a book about Trump (more of an extended love letter to Trump) and poetry, which he provides a sampling of at his website, . The poetry is ghastly.

  19. Kathy says:

    Yesterday I left work around 8:15 pm. Traffic was light. I prepared dinner right after I arrived and changed clothes. I then ate dinner while doing some stuff online I can’t do at the office. When I finished I had some dinner left to eat, and it was 10 pm, which is the lower range of bed time.

    Where the f**k did the time go?

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: Sounds like fairly typical Douthat. Which is to say he just starts writing and let’s the stream of consciousness go wherever it goes. Usually nowhere. But at least the comments should be entertaining.

  21. Kathy says:

    The big aviation news this week is that JetBlue made a very generous offer to acquire Spirit airlines.

    First, Spirit and Frontier have agreed on a merger, which is awaiting DoJ and regulatory review. This makes sense, as both these ultra-low cost airlines operate on a similar business model, have similar fleets, and their routes overlap about 30 or 40%.

    JetBlue began life as a low-cost carrier, but as ultra-low cost became the new low cost, it is now more of a near full service airline. It has fleet commonality with Spirit and some route overlap, but that’s it.

    Frontier merging with Spirit would be like Burger King merging with McDonald’s. JetBlue taking over Spirit is more like a 3-star restaurant chain buying McDonald’s. Sure, they both offer cooked food, but everything else is different.

  22. Jen says:

    Advanced placement classes (AP) in high schools are great, challenging options for kids who want to take these classes, and they can also be a cost-effective way to get a head start on college credits (I have several close friends who have saved thousands of dollars in college tuition costs by having their kids test either out of, or get credits for, classes).

    The College Board–the organization that runs AP–issued a statement a few weeks ago that basically is a warning shot to state legislatures. Passing legislation that prohibits the teaching of “divisive concepts” etc. may end up getting AP classes pulled from your state’s curriculum.

    But on March 2, the organization sent AP teachers a reminder of program principles they must adhere to. If instruction is censored, the College Board says, students could end up losing AP credit.

    The College Board sets the required teaching topics—and in some cases, the required foundational texts—for all AP courses. A school must prove that their AP courses meet these requirements to get a legal license for AP authorization of the course.

    For instance, an AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher must assign the reading of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” essay, College Board says. But if that teacher chooses to omit that required text from their authorized AP U.S. Government and Politics course—be it in fear of crossing a state law limiting classroom discussions on racism, fear of parent pushback, or some other reason—the course would then lose its AP license and the AP designation would be removed from students’ transcripts.


    F*%k around and find out, indeed.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    Bill Clinton on why he expanded NATO

    I understood that renewed conflict was a possibility. But in my view, whether it happened depended less on NATO and more on whether Russia remained a democracy and how it defined its greatness in the 21st century. Would it build a modern economy based on its human talent in science, technology, and the arts, or seek to re-create a version of its 18th-century empire fueled by natural resources and characterized by a strong authoritarian government with a powerful military?

    The opponents of NATO expansion were correct in that could leave Russia feeling hemmed in. But they also couldn’t guarantee that Russia wouldn’t revert to its imperialist, ultra-nationalist past, which indeed it has.

    One choice presented an unknown risk, the other was a hedge that carried different risks, but the invasion of Ukraine and the return of imperial Russia, weren’t caused by expanding NATO.

  24. Kathy says:

    Ok, Zuckerberg has a serious ego problem. Just look at that photo. he’ll be running for president soon, mark my words. Unless he, too, like Lex Luthor, decides he’d have to give up too much power to be president.

  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s seen this, and frankly I have moral reservations about linking to it because: Warning: Rabbit Hole. Don’t click if you have any interest in music and plans for the day.

  26. CSK says:

    I looked at the photo of Zuck and saw…Donald Trump. Same chin lift, although Zuck isn’t carrying the ten-pound bag of lard on his throat that Trump is.

  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kylopod: It’s not nonsense. Jason Matthews’ three Red Sparrow have a character who perceives other individuals with strong colors. Putin, unsurprisingly, is coal-black.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: Most of the online material I’ve found on synesthesia talks almost exclusively about the color-related version, which I don’t have at all. I downloaded an iPhone app claiming to be a synesthesia test, and all the questions were about whether or how much I associated a particular thing with a color.

  29. CSK says:

    Trump has endorsed Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan. Of Greene, he says: “She loves our Country and MAGA, its greatest ever political movement. Marjorie is running for re-election to Congress, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

    What’s with the 18th-century capitalizations?

  30. Kathy says:


    He lacks the healthy orange glow, too. Maybe he’s too young to wear makeup?

  31. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You really are evil…

  32. Beth says:


    There was a fight on the LSD subreddit the other day over whether Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) was a defect or a blessing. Personally, it doesn’t seem like a good thing to me, but?

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You are a god among men!

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr: @Beth:
    For God’s sake no one show this link to @De Stijl or we’ll never hear from the boy again.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    WTF? Two guys claimed to be DHS “special police” and befriended DHS and Secret Service people. WAPO via Atrios,

    Taherzadeh provided members of the Secret Service and an employee of DHS with items such as “rent-free apartments (with a total yearly rent of over $40,000 per apartment), iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in D.C.

    Taherzadeh also offered the employees use of vehicles he said belonged to the government and offered to buy a $2,000 assault rifle for an agent assigned to protect the first lady, the affidavit said.

    Sounds like someone might be trying to set up an assassination. But why Harris? I don’t think Russians or terrorists have any particular hard on over Harris, but MAGAts do. There seems to be serious money behind this. Whose? Aren’t SS agents trained to report any suspicious attempt to get close to them? Wasn’t this suspicious? Like I said, WTF? I hope this isn’t one of those cases reported when it arises, but is then forgotten as it wends it’s way to speedy trial for years.

  35. Sleeping Dog says:


    I always thought that Zuck resembles those composite sketches of serial killers or child molesters that the police sometime put out. No distinguishing features and such a common look that you see in feral dogs in third world countries.

  36. Kylopod says:

    Does anyone remember when The Social Network came out over a decade ago and there was some pushback against its portrayal of Zuck as an asshole? (Today we’d probably describe the character in that film as an incel with brains and money.) Now it looks like a whitewash.

  37. CSK says:

    It seems to have been Jill Biden’s detail these guys wanted to infiltrate, not Kamala Harris’s. Whoever they are, there’s a lot of money behind them.

    As down on MAGA as I am, I don’t think Taherzadeh and Ali are Trump followers.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..Rabbit Hole

    Just saw a new coupon for $2 off the regular $19.99/lb price for Death Wish Coffee. I may have to run over to Kroger and get some so I can come back home and start clicking these links.
    Too bad this list wasn’t available when I was tooting crystal meth up my nose in my drug days back in the ’60s! I would have probably covered it in a few hours.

  39. CSK says:

    Russia’s been booted from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

  40. Mikey says:

    Just watched the Senate floor vote confirming our newest Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

    History is made.

  41. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    OMG! Clicking on the little arrow’s brings you to the artist!!! Deep Disco House >> Hot Since 82. Phenomenal.

    Deep Tech House >> Camelphat. I just saw them play on a tiny stage on a hill under palm trees. It was soo beautiful.

    German Dark Minimal Techno. I’m gonna drive my partner crazy.

  42. Jen says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: I thought of that! I enjoyed all three of those books.

  43. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “For God’s sake no one show this link to @De Stijl or we’ll never hear from the boy again”

    I think it’s just the opposite. He will have already heard every single thing on here… and have an anecdote about each.

  44. Monala says:

    Good news: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court,

    Sad news: journalist and blogger Eric Boehlert was killed in a bike riding accident.

  45. Mikey says:

    @Monala: I heard about Eric Boehlert earlier today. What a tragedy, and a loss for good journalism.

  46. Just nutha says:

    @wr: I found the font too small to read on my phone, so I can’t make sense of it.

  47. inhumans99 says:

    Yes, I can google this….but did the hoped for 2-3 Republicans cross the aisle and vote for Justice Jackson?

  48. Kathy says:

    This move by NY’s attorney general is terribly unjust.

    Benito should not be fined. That’s not justice. He should be locked up until he complies.

  49. Mikey says:

    @inhumans99: Romney, Collins, and Murkowski.

  50. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey: Murk voted against Sotomayor and Kagan. Graham voted for both. Those are the only two Senators to have voted differently between then and now.