Steven L. Taylor
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
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).
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I have been watching The Last Of Us. Played the game. Several times through and the second part as well, again several times.
One part that freaks me out is that I had been prescribed ergotamine sublingually for decades for cluster headaches. The primary purpose is as a vasoconstrictor. It is not recommended today. But until about 2000 it was a go-to drug. Vasoconstriction and a nice trip.
Ergotamine is a derivative of the ergot fungus common to spoiled rye bread. Famously, a possible explanation for the Salem witches. Ergot is a hallucinogen. Ergot is a fungus.
No one knows the cause of cluster headaches. They are commonly considered the worst pain a human can experience. So docs just pushed meds at you willy-nilly: Steroids (prednisone), barbituates and opiods for pain management, random quackery for abortives like ergotamine. Have a nice trip!
Nowadays, they presribe triptans, and oxygen as the possible abortive, and opiods still for the pain. Doesn’t work that much better, but better than in decades past. It’s still basically a shot in the dark.
When they say the worst pain a human can experience they are not lying. Imagine a cubic centimeter of molten metal directly behind your right eye radiating max pain for an hour, hour fifteen. 3 or 4 times a day for 6 to 8 weeks two or three times a year. Women who have given birth say cluster headaches are way worse.
With a name like C/2022 E3 (ZTF), I don’t think they will be writing any songs about it.
An elderly woman in prison is losing her memory. Why won’t California release her?
Her case sounds fairly egregious but…
@de stijl: I have a triptan prescription for what used to be debilitating headaches. Pain behind the eyes, nausea. Still doesn’t sound as bad as your clusters!
Being in much better shape and eating healthy helped a lot, headaches are rare and mild now. Thankfully!
Opiods are not pain-killers. They are pain disassociaters. Can be, anyway.
It’s there, but under that effect, you can be removed from it. It’s there, but one room down the hall in a mental palace paradigm. There, but next door. You convince yourself that the pain is just adjacent so it doesn’t really hurt. Erect a barrier.
I learned disassociation when I was 17 on purpose. Because I had to.
Shortly before the 2016 election it leaked that the FBI was investigating Trump’s ties to Russians and had found nothing out of line. Atrios notes that McGonigal, the guy just arrested for working as an agent of Russian oligarch Oleg Derepaska, was in charge of the investigation at the time. IIRC there were stories that Comey went public on Hillary’s emails to head off a leak by agents in the NY FBI office. Agents tied to Giuliani. There seems to be something rotten in the FBI, or at least the NY FBI. Did we go through four years of Trumpsky because of FBI corruption?
Also, remember the announcement of a Russian aluminum plant in KY that evaporated after McConnell got re-elected? The Russian company was Derepaska’s Rusal.
@de stijl: I have never had a headache in my life. Never had a hangover either.
When I collapsed my lung I had emergency surgery without anesthesia by an absolutely terrified med student who had no idea what he was doing, which probably made the whole ordeal worse. When I got to my room I felt like chopped liver. And then I got that first shot of morphine and a warm golden wave washed over me. Didn’t kill the pain but it became a beautiful pain.
@gVOR08: Rule of thumb: If the Republicans are making an accusation, it is likely to be a confession.
@OzarkHillbilly: They might also be deciding to “hang on to these people” because they think there’s nowhere for these people to go. A demented 69-year old felon in a wheelchair who hasn’t been interacting with the outside world for 25 years? What are they supposed to do–just dump her out in the closest alley?
Unless there’s a process by which these people can be released from prison and into the hands of other caretakers, the parole board may be deciding this is the “least worst decision”.
And now classified documents turned up at Mike Pence’s home.
This is the final nail in the coffin of the hope Benito might be prosecuted for his mishandling of classified documents.
I expect additional nails now. I’m sure there are such documents in the homes/offices of many former cabinet officials and current and former senators and representatives.
This should lead to a review of both what gets classified and how classified documents are handled and tracked. It really should.
It probably won’t.
It makes Trump look even worse. According to CNN, Pence asked his lawyer to check Pence’s home for the docs. The lawyer found them and immediately contacted the FBI and the National Archive.
The difference between Pence/Biden and Trump is 1) Intent, which makes it a crime and 2) Obstruction.
@daryl and his brother darryl: You are right in a legal sense. @Kathy is right in a political sense. It is impossible to underestimate the knowledge of the average voter, and this is now going to be mucked up in “both sides do it” and “a pox on all their houses” feelings.
@grumpy realist: She has a sister, who want’s to bring her home. If you read the article, you will probably think along the same lines as I: WTF??? A LIFE sentence????
A couple of weeks ago I was having an exchange (with Andy, I think) about the seriousness of the Biden documents and I contended that the attitude of “but I was always able to keep control of my classified documents when I had clearance” is just not applicable to that of senior government officials who have a half dozen or more workplaces, including their homes, a staff that is making sure they have documents on hand if they need them, and have to deal with virtually everything in paper format because of security risks. Obama had literally millions of documents in his possession at the end of his term. He worked with the Archives and they agreed he was OK to keep them in a private secure facility under his control until his Library was ready. This has been true for presidents since at least HW Bush. Add to this that many “classified” documents are not marked as such. In the latest batch of Biden documents were handwritten notes he took when he was VP.
I said at the time that if you searched all the locations that senior White House staff you would likely find such documents at all of them. That’s what the Pence revelations are about. I’m not minimizing the need to have adequate security and not justifying the failures. But trying to compare a single individual working in a government office to what goes on with a President is just orders of magnitude out of alignment.
As a systems and process person I am personally offended by the lax procedures in regards to the use and dissemination of classified documents.
Add a barcode. Scan them out and in. Log who checked them out and then back in. The laxadaisical willy-nilly nature of how and where these documents are lost is just antithetical to my purpose in life.
A simple logging system would be so easy. Why does it not exist now?
So baffling my brain is unable to cope with the rank incompetence.
You could run the simplest of reports. Documents not checked back in.
It is a shockingly easy and obvious solution any middle-schooler could devise. Libraries do this every day. It is stock standard procedure and really easy to do.
I am baffled. Utterly. The solution is so easy and simple. Grocery stores have better inventory management systems than this.
Pah! I am so disgusted!
Jesus bleeping tap-dancing Buddha, how can a properly run security infrastructure not know what classified documents are unaccounted for? WTAF? How is that possible?!
I going full Karen on this. I want to speak to your manager. This is unacceptable!
@Just Another Ex-Republican:
The only sense that matters is what Garland thinks.
I have to have faith that he is going to follow the law.
Otherwise I no longer have faith in our nation.
Meanwhile, in Wyoming, Dick Cheney stands over a filing cabinet, wringing his hands and mumbling…
@MarkedMan: I wholly concur with your position.
And to elaborate on a basic point: it isn’t Biden or Pence handing these documents and then storing them improperly, as much as it is their staff doing so.
And even with Trump, if he had just cooperated, the whole thing wouldn’t have matter all that much.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Maybe I’m not paying enough attention to this, but why does it matter that Biden has/had documents at his home? I mean, he is currently president and we expect him to do his job 24/7. If he takes something to his DE house one would expect that place is super secure. Maybe not White House secure, but it’s not like it’s sitting there empty waiting for him to come home.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Plus…as noted the Biden Pence documents were found STORED in boxes that (likely) staff packed and they hadn’t been seen since.
A number of the Trump documents were found in a desk drawer intermingled with other documents that were actively in use. (IIRC multiple fingerprints were found on them.)
Again; intent, which Trump has admitted to repeatedly, and obstruction.
@Just Another Ex-Republican:
Benito might be charged with obstruction, or whatever the legal term is, because he refused to return documents the NARA requested back. For that to stick, we’d need iron-clad evidence that he intended to hold on to the documents. He stands as much chance of being convicted as Batman does of being pulled over for speeding.
His base, if anything, will claim Biden’s case is worse. After all, the Orange creature had his impenetrable Fort Cheeto security, while Biden’s documents were in an office and a garage. Never mind the actual facts.
Germany reported in multiple sources to confirm tomorrow that it will send at least 18 Leopard 2A6 MBT and approve transfers from other third countries.
It looks like the pressure on the Kanzleramt finally got too much for Scholz to withstand.
Especially as Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, Chair of the Defense Committee Marie Strack-Zimmermann, and Finance Minister Christian Lindner have all been critical of the foot-dragging: that, is the critics include the leaders of both of the SPD coalition partner parties.
The 2A6 is one of the more recent upgrade variants from the 2000’s; so not the old Mk2’s from the 1980’s that some had expected.
Third country provision expected to be at least 14 initial supply from Poland.
Netherlands is considering buying 18 Leopard 2 tanks leased from Germany and giving them to Ukraine. Prime Minister Mark Rutte to FAZ:
Perhaps even more important, US announce plan to increase 155mm artillery production sixfold. Together with French and UK projects, this may enable an increased replacement level for depleted national stocks by late summer, and avoid the need to throttle the shell supply to Ukraine.
Grocery stores make a living off their inventory.
So, maybe there should be a charge for taking out classified files, like a deposit.
When Biden found classified documents (just a couple of weeks ago?) , I commented that the various White House officials, cabinet members, and anybody close to touching classified should immediately go through their home and non government offices to make sure they don’t have any stray classified lying around. Personally, if I found something at home (versus having some lawyer do it), I would’ve immediate pushed those docs through a shredder (GSA approved, of course) and kept my mouth shut.
I think you have a (mostly) wrong idea of what these documents are or how they are handles. Except for a very rare few, they are not checked out of a “classified documents library” where documents are cataloged and then checked in and out. There is a staff of dozens of people who are generating documents all day long, some of which are considered classified and some are not. Now, some actually are marked as classified. I’m pretty sure that a Presidential daily briefing is considered classified. But then Biden (or Obama, or Bush or Clinton) during that daily briefing says, “Whoa, China has that many fishing vessels off the Philipines?” and observant aides make a note and pass it to someone to make sure all the backup material is available. The note is probably classified now, but not marked as such. Junior aides start collecting data. Something from the CIA World Fact Book, available for sale at any book store (and a copy of which used to sit on my nightstand for help in solving crossword puzzles, back in the day). They copy some pages from there so that isn’t classified. A McKinsey report on fishing. Not classified. Oh wait, it was done for the military. Maybe then it is classified? Or is available via FOIA? A page from an NSA report which, as a whole is classified and so contains markings on every page, but this particular page is an excerpt from the New York Times so it is not classified. (But even that is questionable. Hillary got dinged because an aide asked her if she had seen an article in the Washington Post about a highly sensitive topic and Clinton replied that they would have to deal with it. How could a WaPo article be classified? Well, the fact that the SOS is interested in a classified topic is considered classified. Or something.) So the stack of papers gets thicker. A classified document that contains an NSA intercept of two Chinese officials discussing their strategy. A translation of a public Chinese government report on their fishing industry, but with a post it note that says a CIA analyst is calling some of it into question. Soon we have a folder that is an inch thick, maybe two. And then Biden never asks about it again. But he might, so for a few days or weeks it travels with him until finally someone decides it doesn’t make the cut and puts it in a file cabinet at one of the locations. Does he even know that folder was created? Remember, when Obama left office they cataloged millions of documents that were technically under his control. Have you handled even a million documents in your entire life, much less millions? This idea that the President, on his last day in office sets aside time to go through a few boxes of documents and hands over all the ones marked “Super Top Secret” is, frankly, farcical.
Not to mention that, if my experience is anything to go by, and if US practice is anything like UK, almost anything north of the departmental lunch menu ends up getting classified for no good reason.
Primary reason IMO is to get out of ever having to do FOI over anything by tagging “confidential” or “commercially sensitive” or “legally nondisclosure”; plus sheer “classification creep”
(I must relate the fun story of how I got required to sign the Official Secrets Act over administrivia, someday. Unless it’s still classified, LOL)
Trump has admitted it, repeatedly.
I worked in a grocery store for close to two years when I was late teens. My second job.
Grocery stores have a certain dignity. They sell needed food to the masses. A worthy trade.
I was a stock boy. I stocked shelves. This was before rational data driven inventory management. The manager would slowly walk down the aisle and make notes. Order more cans of crushed and diced tomatoes. Order more Tang. An eyeball savant.
One time I fucked up. I read the price sheet wrong and did a whole shipment of beans at 59 cents instead of 57 cents. He made me mark them again as 57 with the price gun but just offset enough so you could see the under 59 cent sticker. He showed me how.
Mr. C was an ABC guy. Always Be Closing. He maneuvered my fuckup as a subtle marketing scheme. Mr. C was a very savvy cookie and a really decent boss.
Of all the bosses I have ever had, Mr. C is solid second place, no question.
Grocery stores are both straight forward and extremely complex and elegant in data analysis. Mr. C. taught me well.
@MarkedMan: While I sympathize with your position, why isn’t there a procedure for those clerks to turn the folder over to some agency for security review instead of just putting it in a cabinet somewhere? It’s clearly material prepared for a Presidential briefing (even if it ended up being a potential rather than actual briefing).
And yes, I’m fully aware that currently pretty much every possible agency we have routinely over-classifies.
I’m aware the private sector never totally matches public, but it’s not like I can leave my current position with anything from useful stuff like customer lists to trivial stuff like an email requesting a meeting on a unspecified subject. When you leave a workplace, you LEAVE it. My wife sent me some emails at work? Tough, my account is locked. It’s ridiculous that aides packing or filing any sort of work documents because Biden hasn’t asked about in months can just decide to stick it a cabinet somewhere.
Let’s say we treat the White House like a regular workplace–nothing work related should be taken when you leave the job! Period. What happens after that depends. It could all get sent to the archives and they could have a (large) bureaucracy trained to go through them and identify properly classified materials or not. Or the documents could just sit there until a FOIA request, library request, or even personal request from the ex-official (uh, I think I left my kids report card in the file about how bad Russian schools are) at which point a (smaller) bureaucracy can check it for security purposes. But honest to God, being a senior member of the administration does not mean you have some right to keep ANY documents related to your job after your job ends, whether they are classified or not. In some ways I find the whole “classified” thing to be a distraction. And neither the aides or officials themselves should be parking work-related documents in random filing cabinets, even if the location (such as Mar-A-Lago) is temporarily a working location.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
Filing cabinets? I want to know what was and is in the safes, plural, he reportedly had in his veep office and apparently left with him.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
He admits to taking empty folders. That’s like a bank robber admitting he took empty sacks of money. It’s larceny still, but not grand larceny.
I admit to being unable to keep track of Trump’s various excuses, but didn’t he claim he’d declassified the docs by thinking about it? That would certainly suggest he had them.
It’s the intent. To prove most crimes you have to prove intent. He intended to take them. He intended to keep them. The folders, or most of them anyway, were NOT empty despite his claims.
Then you get to obstruction…which is completely absent in the Pence/Biden cases.
Someone else, above, made the point…if Trump had proceeded as Pence and Biden have we wouldn’t even be having the conversation.
The thing to take note of is that while Trump has said many things in social media and so on with regard to the documents, he has been very cagey about what he’s asserting within the confines of the legal system. Because he doesn’t want to commit himself to a statement that can be proven to be a lie, or used against him some other way, it would seem.
Here’s a thing, though. We might well not see any indictment or conviction for mishandling documents, but the special prosecutor is darn well going to be looking really hard at just how these documents were put to use, and who got to see them.
So, charges of espionage may well follow. Or, it might have been just a case of Trump being super willful. The indictment of McGonigal is kind of stunning, and makes me lean a bit more in the direction of the former.
@Just Another Ex-Republican:
I agree with the premise, and I think we need to deal with it, but it is a non-trivial problem. If we could somehow guarantee security and make electronic documents as easily accessible and portable as paper documents, it would solve a lot of problems. But that’s not a reality at this time. And the President and other senior staffers have private personal and political documents all over the place, and wouldn’t trust turning those over to government bureaucrats for a decision.
I perfectly understand why it is a) reflexive to classify anything and everything and b) why Presidents want to keep as many documents out of the hands of people they don’t know. Can you imagine if a note leaked where Biden, as party leader, signs off on pulling DNC money from Senator X’s campaign to benefit Senator Y? And it happened a week after his staff turned over that tranche of documents for a classification decision?
That’s why I don’t argue with anyone who wants to make it better, but find the arguments about how simple it is to be absurd.
@OzarkHillbilly: Kevin Drum has no charts about the green comet, but he’s got some pretty nice photos of it.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
I agree with all that, but the literal meaning of his word salad needs to be taken into account, if it can be determined. And in the more specific instance, he’s saying he took empty folders, not documents held in folders.
The classification status is somewhat irrelevant, as he had to return the documents when NARA asked for them back.
@Jay L Gischer:
I’m willing to bet a substantial sum* Benito thinks anything he says out in the open in conversation, interviews, on TV, and on social media, is not valid evidence against him, because he didn’t say this under oath or in a courtroom.
I hope the special prosecutor will teach him the error of his belief.
*Not quite all I own and can steal or borrow, but close.
@OzarkHillbilly: @de stijl: I was on a morphine auto system once (where you press a button on a cord by your bedside to get another burst of it). Don’t recall why or that I noticed anything particular about how morphine worked on my pain issue other than that I didn’t notice that I had any pain. As I recall, I pressed the button once to see if I would sense a difference and never pressed it again.
I’ve also never gotten (or needed) pain relief from oxycontin or oxycodone, but that may be a fluke/irregularity because I’ve used Tylenol with Codeine a couple of times after oral surgery. I suspect that I may have a high pain threshold.
@CSK: “It makes Trump look even worse. According to CNN, Pence asked his lawyer to check Pence’s home for the docs. The lawyer found them and immediately contacted the FBI and the National Archive.”
I’m not sure the contrast matters. The issue is turning into an “everybody does it” thing and people, especially Trump defenders, will say that they can understand why someone would get mad at being called a crook for fighting back over something that everyone has done. The fact that he didn’t call the archivist–yea, told the archivist to fwk off–will fade into the flames of the memory hole for everyone except the cohort that wants to see Trump in an orange jump suit (about 8-10 months and counting for expiry).
How long between the request from the National Archives and the FBI showing up to take the documents? Months? A year?
@daryl and his brother darryl: That’s where you and I differ. I’ve never had any belief that there weren’t two (or more) sets of laws depending on your place in society. In much the same way that the jocks and cheerleaders and student government kids had different rules (and maybe even different sets of rules) than the greasers in high school, the same is true in national life. But I do feel bad about your disillusionment and hope you find a way to be okay with it.
“…as Batman does of being pulled over for speeding.”
Oh I disagree. Batman has a much higher likelihood of being pulled over for speeding. Even though he’s a fictional character.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Do you figure Superman, or for that matter Iron Man, ever got fined by the FAA?
The FAA only regulates operation of vehicles, so Superman is not within the FAA’s purview.
I can argue the Iron Man suit is a vehicle, though.
BTW, NASA is developing a nuclear rocket demonstrator, with a hoped-for date for testing in 2027.
Me, I’d add 3-5 years to that.
Apparently, based on the sketchy info at the link, the thinking is a nuclear-electric ion propulsion deal. Here the “nuclear” part generates electricity, therefore it could be anything else. NASA tested an ion engine using solar cells for electricity in a probe some years ago.
Using nuclear fuel for electricity, though, probably would weigh less. And I suppose it would be radio-isotope thermoelectric thing like the ones used on the two big Mars rovers, and the Voyagers. definitely not a more complex, and much heavier, molten salt reactor (a water cooled reactor without a handy source of water is just not possible).
When I was on a job I knew that all work product belonged to the client, no exception. When I left poof. Gone. Not my property, never was.
Now, if one were to *indepently* invent a very helpful trick or process on the very next job, that would be quite beneficial and would goose my value-add profile within that subset of that field. It’s super hard to copyright or trademark processes or systems or ideas. To legally claim it as yours.
Is that “work product”? Lawyers can figure that out.
I borrowed/stole/acquired thoughts and ideas and cool hacks from every job and brought that with to the next and the next. Amateurs copy, pros accrete.
Knowledge is basically accretion over time.
One recent grocery store thing I do not get.
Tyson brand breaded chicken strips are priced $14.99 for a two pound bag. Store brand breaded chicken strips are $6.99 for a 1.5 pound bag.
That price differential is massive! The unit cost per ounce difference is remarkable. Why?
Mr. C. taught me that many times manufacturers/producers sometimes insist that their product retail price must be x. They specifically want to hit that sweetspot of price point to value. They have big data and marketing brains that insist that this bag of white corn tortillas should be retail priced at exactly $2.99 USD in this market. Basically, a pricing requirement.
Rationally, a two pound bag of breaded chicken strips should be roughly 8 dollars plus or minus 99 cents. $14.99 is a huge stretch. Tyson is way overestimating market flexibility on that.
I buy the store brand, Best Choice, at $6.99 for a 1.5 pounds. Easy decision. Tyson is crazy!
I initially thought it was some sort of price mix-up. Someone fucked up. Nope. Six months later, still the same price at $14.99 which is absolutely insane. It’s frozen breaded chicken strips, not saffron! Not market price lobster.
I’m baffled. I buy the store brand because I am not insane.