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. gVOR08 says:

    Can’t sleep. Rare for me. Partly because I read a line that pissed me off. Jamelle Bouie referenced a May 9 WAPO editorial objecting to protests at Justices’ homes. James quoted it in a post on the 10th. But I skimmed past a critical line in it,

    Erasing any distinction between the public square and private life is essential to totalitarianism.

    No. Wrong. Precisely backwards. For the government or society to top down erase the private space of citizens is totalitarianism. When anti-abortion activists protest at the homes of providers, that’s attempted totalitarianism. When citizens bottom up protest officials of the state, that’s just protest. This latter is not intended to control the Justices’ beliefs or their behavior as individuals, it’s to protest their acts as government officials. The former is legal, the latter not. But only because of what turns out to be a McCarthy era law targeting commie protesters, who may not have even existed.

  2. Kathy says:

    It may be the graph at this link explains much of why the red states have embraced the trump virus.

    People tend to be slow not just in adapting to change, but in simply recognizing it. In the graph we can see at first COVID affected blue areas first and fast, while it took time to grow in red areas. This confirms to many in red areas that the leak is indeed on the other side of the lifeboat, and surely we have nothing to worry about. Notice the inversion takes place around Biden’s inauguration.

    Next COVID does continue to grow all over, but worse in read areas. This may reflect vaccine uptake, but also other preventive measures like masking, capacity restrictions, distancing, etc. Later over the course of 2021, the effects of mass vaccination are more easily discerned.

    The trump pandemic feels like a shipwreck where the ship sank slowly and there were plenty of lifeboats for everyone, but over half the passengers and crew either would not get on the lifeboats, or decided to spend their time finishing dinner or paying at the ship’s casino rather than rushing for the lifeboats. Because getting off the sinking ship was too much of an inconvenience.

  3. Kathy says:

    BTW, I did check for baby formula at three supermarkets, albeit in the same area. I saw no shortage of any, be it breast milk substitute or supplement formula for older infants.

  4. Kathy says:

    W. Bush commits a Freudian slip.

    At that, it’s not rigged elections that impede checks and balances. And his slip was right: checks and balances don’t magically impede unjustified wars.

  5. charon says:

    Murders connected to extremism, classified.

  6. charon says:
  7. Scott says:

    @charon: They forgot to include the adjective Christian as in right wing Christian extremists.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve been thinking about the NY Supreme court ruling overthrowing the Democratic gerrymander there. I am of exactly two minds on this. First, I think it is good for New York State, and part of the necessary and eternal pruning essential to keeping a government functional and responsible to the citizens. Second, I think it is bad for the US as a whole, because it forces Democrats to take a hit for the team while Republican judges allow any type of voting manipulation under any circumstances.

    I don’t now how to resolve these two conflicting results.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve read a few reports of the UFO hearings this week and they turned out to be what I expected. A small dose of reality (those mysterious triangles that seemed to turn and accelerate on a dime turned out to be an artifact of the camera that was filming) and a huge dose of the usual “Alien!” BS, with the true believers practically vibrating with outrage that the government is withholding the evidence that they surely must have. So, basically a replay of every such cycle since the 1950’s, with those clever aliens constantly staying just a quarter step behind our ever more sophistiated cameras – far enough behind to slightly slip up on occasion yielding blurry photos and video, but never so far behind that they are clear enough to serve as actual proof. And of course a vast government conspiracy involving tens or hundreds of thousands of people over the course of seven decades, with secrecy almost flawlessly maintained the whole time.

    This calls to mind the classic trope: what if the President was really a space alien and the only paper to get the story was the National Enquirer? Someday some real aliens will show up, get greeted by the true believers, assume they are representative of the human race, and hightail it out of here.

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, I recommend “How Politics Poisoned The Evangelical Church”. This piece, written by someone with long history in evangelicalism, details the fracture within Evangelicalism, between those who demand politics at the pulpit, and those who think it is inappropriate.

    In my opinion, the former are so far off the rails that it’s a stretch to call them Christian any more. (Ahem, kind of like me. But I’m off the rails in a very different way.) Identifying them as the Christian right gives them too much credit and erases the existence of the other side of this conflict – which is the side we probably should be giving assistance to.

    One of the fundamental ideas of counterinsurgency (I did some reading during the Iraq thing) is to act in a way that further isolates your enemies, not in a way that pushes neutrals into their camp. This can be challenging, and requires discipline. And yes, the Dominionist movement is an insurgency. They imagine that they must cheat in order to do God’s Will. (Which gives the game away right there, demonstrating just how little faith they have that God can take care of His business).

  11. Slugger says:

    @Kathy: Yes, that war of convenience that killed about 5000 American troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians was a grievous wrong. We, ordinary citizens, are blameworthy for mostly cheering this along. Human lives are not poker chips.

  12. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I haven’t read the piece yet but I just listened to Tim Alberta on the Bulwark podcast discuss his article with Charlie Sykes. Well worth listening to. Especially near the end of the podcast where Tim talks about 6 Jan as just the beginning. They believe they are at war. We should believe them and respond accordingly.

  13. gVOR08 says:


    This (early prevalence of COVID in Blue ares.) confirms to many in red areas that the leak is indeed on the other side of the lifeboat

    I think this is the root explanation for opposition to masking. They see it as implying I think they’re unclean, when it’s those other people who are unclean. There were stories that a lot of COVID death undercounting was Red families who saw some stigma in admitting daddy had COVID.

  14. CSK says:

    U.S. News and World Report has Huntsville, Alabama listed as the Number One Best Place to live in the country.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    My wife was watching Downton Abbey reruns last night. I didn’t. I don’t know if they did the episode where Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, miscarries, and is sent to prison for 20 to life by Ken Paxton.

  16. Jen says:

    Via NPR:

    These 14 states had significant miscounts in the 2020 census

    A follow-up survey the bureau conducted to measure the national tally’s accuracy found significant net undercount rates in six states: Arkansas (5.04%), Florida (3.48%), Illinois (1.97%), Mississippi (4.11%), Tennessee (4.78%) and Texas (1.92%).

    It also uncovered significant net overcount rates in eight states — Delaware (5.45%), Hawaii (6.79%), Massachusetts (2.24%), Minnesota (3.84%), New York (3.44%), Ohio (1.49%), Rhode Island (5.05%) and Utah (2.59%).

    Hmmm. I mean, I guess it’s always hard to try and count everybody?

    Still, the 2020 results stand in stark contrast to the findings from the bureau’s follow-up survey for the 2010 census, which had no statistically significant over- or undercounts for any state.

    Oh. Well then.

  17. Scott says:

    @Jen: I’ve asked this question before and no one really could answer. And probably can’t unless tested in a court of law. If the census taken is required by the Constitution, can the census be determined to be sufficiently inaccurate so as to be unconstitutional and be forced to be reaccomplished? I would like to see that case made.

  18. Gustopher says:


    I think this is the root explanation for opposition to masking. They see it as implying I think they’re unclean, when it’s those other people who are unclean

    I think the reason is simpler and stupider.

    Trump didn’t wear a mask because it would mess up his bronzer. Others followed suit.

    How many died because of Trump’s bronzer? Let’s say 100,000?

    An actual, literal case of “orange man bad” that depends on his orangeness.

  19. JohnSF says:

    A lot of bad news coming out of Sri Lanka.
    Defaulted on primary debt, for the first time.
    Government still unsteadily recovering from collapse of the Rajapaksa family dominance.
    Currency crisis following price increases means imported fuel, food and medicine all running out.
    Inflation rate now expected to hit 40%.

    There are local specific factors in Sri Lanka; the government corruption, and ill-judged organic farming schemes.
    (Some people think the Chinese high interest debt relating to their investment schemes/scams hasn’t helped)
    But if the global fuel and food price shortages and price escalation continue, a lot of other countries could have similar problems.

    Pakistan is already looking rocky, for one.
    Several non-oil ME/NA countries also.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    Given the credibility of their college rankings, I’d question their rankings of places to live.

  21. Jen says:

    @Scott: I think there’d need to be a concrete demonstration of harm, first (I am not a lawyer, just trying to think this through). The NPR piece didn’t really get into whether or not the undercounts/overcounts might have been sufficient enough to alter the number of congressional seats a state would have–I think that’d be the most direct impact. If a state has a serious under-count and loses a Congressional seat over it, then maybe that Rep. would have standing to challenge the overall accuracy of the count.

    On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t be beyond the pale for Texas or Florida to challenge the results (and subsequent loss of federal dollars) even though both states seemed more than happy to undercount certain populations. After all, they are Republicans so hypocritical behavior is rarely far behind.

  22. senyordave says:

    The House voted on a bill to help low income families buy baby formula. It passed with bipartisan support, with only 9 no votes. The no votes were: GOP Reps. Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Thomas Massie, Clay Higgins, Matt Gaetz, Chip Roy, Paul Gosar, Louie Gohmert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
    Its like the murderers row of the 1927 NY Yankees, if you substitute morons for great hitters.
    Apologies to Ruth, Gehrig, et. al for using them in the analogy.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    The Republican candidate for governor in CO wants to implement a state Electoral College. As an added fillip he wants to weight the Electoral Vote by turnout, giving each county 3 to 11 votes based on turnout percentage. Apparently just doing an EC didn’t advantage the Red counties enough.

    I guess it was inevitable that once it sank in that the EC advantages GOPs they’d want to do it at the state level.

  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    It’s all Biden’s fault.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: You know, I never understood why the Republicans were so adamant about screwing up the census and undercounting minorities and immigrants. After all, it was Red states that had the highest populations of those groups. But it was such a key part of their strategy that I n the end figured there must be something I didn’t understand. But here you go. Red States undercounted and Blue states overcounted.

  26. CSK says:

    It’s going to be 96 degrees here in northeastern Mass. on Saturday.

  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Resident legal minds – any reaction to the 5th Circuit’s ruling on the SEC?
    I’m seeing a lot of comments along the lines of;

    The 5th Circuit just gutted the SEC’s power to enforce securities law — meaning all other agencies’ enforcement power is now at risk.
    That means the government has essentially lost the ability to enforce regulations, something conservatives have been working towards for decades.

    Is this over-reaction in your opinion(s)?

  28. Monala says:

    I’m doing some musing… stick with me for a moment.

    I tend to read movie and TV reviews after, and not before, I have watched the movie or show. I like to see what other people (critics and viewers) are saying about it, whether we had similar impressions or not, and if anyone had any insights that I might have missed.

    I’ve been a fan of the show This Is Us, which aired its penultimate episode this week. If you are also a fan and haven’t watched it yet, be forewarned that spoilers follow.

    In this episode, the family matriarch is dying. The episode spends a lot of time in her psyche, which is portrayed as a moving passenger train. As she walks from car to car, she stops to talk with the passengers, who are all people that have been important to her, as well as reliving some of the significant moments of her life.

    Basic overall plot of the series is about a couple (the matriarch and her husband) and their three kids. The series moves back and forth through time, from the couple’s own childhoods to their deaths, and the kids’ lives from infancy until middle age.

    The couple had two biological children, and then lost a third baby. In their heartbreak, they chose to adopt a third child. A very significant story arc has followed the adopted son, Randall, and his search for identity and his birth family.

    One of the people the matriarch sees on the train is her OB/Gyn. He talks to her about the loss of her baby, and how he had been afraid during her delivery that he would lose her, too. He says something like, “But you were strong, and you survived, and you made a beautiful life for your three children.”

    Now onto the reviews I have read: I started to notice a disturbing pattern among the viewers commenting on these reviews. A good many of them were upset and disappointed that the show didn’t portray the stillborn baby as one of the people the matriarch encountered on the train. Many seem to suggest that they wish the showrunners had cast a young actor to play the baby who died, so that the matriarch could interact with him.

    I found this rather disturbing. The character is still alive during this episode, and indeed, hears the words of her family around her as they have gathered to say goodbye. (She incorporates their words and presence into her train ride). She is reliving the lifetime of memories she had raising her three children, and the times she has spent with her two husbands (her first husband died, and she remarried), and her 7 grandkids. She has no such memories with her stillborn baby.

    Now, I’ve never lost a child, nor had any miscarriages (as far as I know), so I can’t speak to this from experience. Some commenters were women who had lost babies, who said that the loss of the child is never forgotten. And I believe them.

    Yet, I still found it troubling that people were so upset about the lack of presence of a fictional child who never lived, in place of a mother’s fond reminiscences about the children and grandchildren who she knew and loved for decades.

    It made me think of the whole abortion debate, and how so many Americans place so much more value on fetuses, rather than on living, breathing children. And, as one commenter noted in objection to the others, a focus on the stillborn baby diminishes Randall’s story. After all, the reason he was adopted into this family in the first place was because the other baby died.

    Anyway, just musing, wondering if anyone else has any thoughts.

  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Shoreline in CT.
    Our forecast was similar…but has recently been pulled back to low-to-mid eighties.

  30. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Lucky you.

    It’s about 57 degrees here today. Typical New England.

  31. Sleeping Dog says:


    We’ll benefit from a sea breeze, topping out at 88, but not very humid. Grab your beach chair.

  32. Beth says:

    So, when you hear about the right wing screeching about puberty blockers for Trans kids. Basically the whole point of blockers is so that the kids don’t go through changes that will require major surgery (like grinding down a masculine brow bone) or major prep work. I just went through 4 hours of having my crotch electrocuted to get rid of a bunch of awful hair in preparation for bottom surgery. This was my second time. The first was over six hours. I have at least 2 more and maybe as many as 6 more to go. I’m currently sitting in my car shaking about to cry. This is the kind of suffering Republicans want us to go through.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I don’t think it’s an over reaction at all. The Republicans have spent the last 40 years working on dismantling the administrative state and their work is almost done. The Uber-rich will get what they want in terms of no oversight and the poor Republicans will cheer as they get ground into dog food. In the meantime, a country that is the worlds sole superpower, a country that populated another planet with robots, will shoot its self in the brain. The anarchists will be the only victors here.

    And now I’m going to cry.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Huntsville, Alabama listed as the Number One Best Place to live in the country

    FTR, and it’s a very narrow record, Huntsville is really a very nice place to visit. I used to know a whole lot of really very nice people who lived there. It is the home of the National Speleological Society, in the very heart of TAG, very friendly people everywhere you turn, and the caving is some of the best in America.

    It is also home to the NASA U.S. Space & Rocket Center , and the Unclaimed Baggage Center,
    The nation’s only retailer of lost luggage.

    I have spent a lot of time in TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) and Huntsville lies at the heart of it. I can’t speak for living there, but some of the best times of my life had Huntsville at the center.

    One of the best was spent on some I didn’t even know folks back deck after dropping a 200′ foot pit just a hop and a skip from their front door, being fed copious amounts of blue ribbon home brew followed by a selection of single malt scotch (after which, I could barely move), several delivered pizzas and passing out on their back deck.

    All followed up by a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon in the morning.

    I never met an ugly person in Huntsville, but cavers have to be among the most beautiful everywhere I’ve ever been.

  34. CSK says:

    Thanks. I knew about NASA, but not the other attractions.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: I blame Joe Biden.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You and I think a lot alike.

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..But if the global fuel and food price shortages and price escalation continue, a lot of other countries could have similar problems.

    First World Whining:
    Mustard Potato Salad at the Kroger Deli:
    Three Weeks Ago: $2.99/lb
    Five Days Ago: $3.99/lb
    Yesterday: $4.99/lb
    Today: $5.99/lb!

    Regular Unleaded at the same Kroger store today: $4.89/gal

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yeah, it is beautiful country to drive thru, even better to hike thru, and if one is even a little bit adventurous, Neversink pit is a must see. I can’t recommend enough dropping it, but if one is not so inclined climbing the mountain to gaze into it’s depths is well worth the trip. And the people are used to cavers who in general* are not very conservative. You should feel welcome, or at least not despised.

    *which is not to say there aren’t conservative cavers. there are.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: I paid $4.50 a gallon yesterday. I blame Putin. And the Sauds. And GMC, Chrysler, and Ford. Oh yeah, the GOP too.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: It’s probably for the best that your car doesn’t run on mustard potato salad.

  41. CSK says:


  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..$4.50 a gallon
    Over the years I have spent time traveling the Show-Me State either to work in places like Clarence or Rolla or Lebanon or to visit my sister in Columbia or to run across Southern Missouri on US Route 60 on my way to the west coast. Almost always I would schedule my trips so the tank was almost empty when I’d cross the Mississippi westbound at the Chester Bridge to get gas in Missouri where the price was always significantly lower than Illinois. Lower tax from what I could figure.
    Not sure when I’ll be travelling west again but when I do I may bring a grocery list.

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..It’s probably for the best that your car doesn’t run on mustard potato salad.

    No kidding.
    On another note the closest thing to gasoline that I ever drank was a 5 Star Metaxa at Diana Greek Grocery and Restaurant on South Halsted street in Chicago circa 1970.

  44. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: Well, ouch.

    Transitioning is one of the boldest, most courageous things I’ve ever known a human being to do. I am so proud to know and be associated with trans people.