Tuesday’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. Jen says:

    Zeroing in on those fake calls from Biden:

    Fake ‘Biden’ calls traced to AI startup
    Fake robocalls that appropriated the voice of President Joe Biden to encourage New Hampshire voters to stay away from the polls have been traced to ElevenLabs, a successful startup company in the field of artificial intelligence.

    Officials at the company said they suspended the account of an unidentified user who created these calls, which were placed to some Democrats the weekend before the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
    ElevenLabs specializes in developing natural-sounding speech and text-to-speech software.

    The company allows users to make audios using celebrities’ voices, but only if they are obvious parodies.
    Pindrop Security Inc., a voice-fraud detection company that analyzed the audio late last week, had named the ElevenLabs technology as the likely source of it.

    ElevenLabs CEO Mati Staniszewski issued a statement last week that the company is “dedicated to preventing the misuse of audio AI tools” but would not comment on specific incidents.

    The statement further said ElevenLabs cooperates with authorities in cases where its software is misued.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: The company allows users to make audios using celebrities’ voices, but only if they are obvious parodies.

    BWA HAHAHAHAHAHA…. “Oh noes… Nobody will ever abuse this.”

    From “7 ways to get sued without even trying.” It’s a book I’m working on.

  3. Scott says:

    I read this in the San Antonio Express-News this morning and it made me laugh. Sorry, I couldn’t find a working link yet so here are some quotes.

    Spec’s joins delta-8 market with seltzer partnership

    Spec’s, the liquor superstore headquartered in Houston, has entered the cannabis beverage business, partnering with a Kentucky-based company to distribute nonalcoholic, delta-8 infused seltzer at its more than 200 stores across Texas.

    FYI. Delta-8 is similar to Delta-9, the active ingredient in pot but supposedly has a milder effect. It is, due to a quirk in Texas law, legal in Texas.

    Delta-8, officially delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8 THC, is a product derived from the hemp variety of cannabis sativa; marijuana is a different variety of the same plant. Federal legislation commonly called the farm bill in 2018 legalized production of hemp and, in states where recreational use remains illegal, kicked off a flurry of innovation that created delta-8-infused edibles and drinks. In Houston, delta-8 products can be found at many so-called smoke shops, gas stations, and bars and restaurants.

    The partnership with hi Seltzer comes as demand for cannabis-based and nonalcoholic beverages is growing at a rapid clip across the United States, fueled by dietary considerations among consumers and the availability of products such as delta-8 in states like Texas and Kentucky that have not legalized marijuana for recreational use.

    And this is what made me laugh:

    In November, hi Seltzer became the official hemp-derived beverage of the Professional Pickleball Association’s tour, which is coming to Dallas, Austin and Houston this year.

    The prospect of pickleball playing seniors getting buzzed seems so on-brand for the times.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The prospect of pickleball playing seniors getting buzzed seems so on-brand for the times.

    On brand indeed. Pretty much sums up us baby boomers.

  5. Kathy says:

    I’m currently reading The Story of Russia, by Orlando Figes. It begins even earlier than Duncan did in his Revolutions podcast.

    Anyway, at one point he describes the Russian monarchy’s overall character in the XIX century. In brief: conviction that Russia is superior to all other nations, yet it keeps falling short and is always surpassed by others in most measures. So there develops a tendency to isolate, and to blame others, particularly Europe, for their corrupting influence.

    Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like the modern incarnation of the GQP?

  6. Thomm says:

    @Kathy: really, my Russian history course basically said the same thing about Russia all throught its history (especially Peter the Great’s infatuation with French culture) up to the modern day.

  7. Kathy says:


    Peter knew his country lagged and tried to move it forward. He didn’t try very well.

    On the other hand, one can imagine Mad Vlad fitting in as Czar in just about any Russian era,

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Let’s find out’: shipwreck mysteriously appears on Newfoundland coast

    A coastal community in Newfoundland has been left baffled and excited by the sudden and unexplained appearance of a centuries-old shipwreck on the sands of a nearby shore.

    Gordon Blackmore, a local resident, was hunting seabirds on the sandy shores of Cape Ray when he spotted a dark shadow under the turbid waters. It had not been there when he visited the spot just a few days earlier. He rushed back into the family home, shouting about the discovery, his mother told the Canadian Press. She grabbed her jacket and hurried to the beach to see it for herself. “It’s amazing, there is no other word for it.”
    The community’s Facebook page has transformed into a forum for speculation and research into the wreck’s possible origins, with local residents trawling through old records and family knowledge of fatal voyages.

    But it also serves as a stark reminder, one all too familiar to Newfoundlanders, of the tenuous relationship communities have with the the ocean.

    “It is a part of our history that has just been awakened. Some descendants will still want to know the names and the places where their ancestors were lost in the icy waters off our shores. It would be good for all of us if we could offer some history we know and a place for remembrance. At least a marker,” wrote Elizabeth Gover, a resident. “This is our history. Let’s find out.”

  9. CSK says:

    @Thomm: @Kathy:

    I thought immediately of Trump and George Santayana’s most famous quote.

  10. Kathy says:

    I’m running into the limits of the air fryer…

    It’s kind of a paradox. The cooking volume is fine, but the cooking surface ins’t. So I can air fry a whole chicken, sure, but not six sliced potatoes. I can only fit like three of the latter so the surface is exposed. Any more, and they have to overlap and they won’t brown or crisp well. In the oven, in contrast, I can fit in many, many more (and a whole chicken).

    The whole point of an air fryer is that it’s a small convection oven. The small size is what allows hot air to circulate all over and transfer heat to the food. My gas oven also does convection, but in the huge volume the air doesn’t circulate as effectively; not to mention the fan seems small and underpowered for the volume of the oven (I’ve tried it many times).

    I don’t mind doing batches when the cooking time is relatively brief, like with the chicken thighs I did a couple of weeks ago. But for longer cooking times, I may as well use the oven. At least it requires less attention.

    I know they’re all tools in the end, and different tools have different uses. So it’s a matter of determining which tolls does what better, or in a more convenient fashion.

  11. wr says:

    @Kathy: “Peter knew his country lagged and tried to move it forward. ”

    My first instinct was to disagree with you, but then I remembered that all I know of this period I learned from watching The Great, so maybe I’m not on solid historical ground here…

  12. Mikey says:

    @wr: Man, my wife and I LOVED that show. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult were priceless and the supporting cast excellent.

  13. Bill Jempty says:
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill Jempty: “Forget it Jake, it’s Florida.”

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:
  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Why are moths attracted to lights? Science may finally have an answer

    Now researchers believe they have a more compelling answer: rather than being attracted to light at night, moths and other flying insects become trapped in their glow. It is the unfortunate consequence of a neat trick evolved over millions of years failing in the modern world.

    According to Dr Sam Fabian, an entomologist at Imperial College London, moths and many other insects that fly at night evolved to tilt their back to wherever is brightest. For hundreds of millions of years, this was the sky rather than the ground. The trick told insects which way was up and ensured they flew level.

    But then came artificial lighting. With fresh sources of illumination to contend, moths found themselves tilting their backs to street lamps. This sent them into endless loops around the lamps, the insects trapped by their evolutionary instincts.

    When we bought our place, the first thing I did was get rid of the yard light.

    At first I had to constantly remind my wife to turn off the light at the door (which she was none too fond of hearing) but now it’s automatic for her. Take care of the night critters.

  17. CSK says:

    Last night I commented that the MAGAs believe Taylor Swift is part of the Deep State globalist plot to re-elect Biden. Well, here’s more on that:


    This piece really is funny.

  18. Kathy says:


    Quite a change from 2016.

    Why not go with what Swift herself says and does? In the 2018 midterms, she endorsed Democratic candidates.

    That’s the whole deal. I doubt the current conspiracy theories about Swift are any more correct than those from 2016, or, come to think of it, any conspiracy theories ever.

    Oh, and I’d bet all I own and can steal and borrow that she doesn’t appear on the field during halftime.

  19. Scott says:

    This came across the transom this morning out of DoD. Hoping maybe some of our more knowledgeable national security folks can weigh in:

    The text of the following statement was released by the U.S. Department of Defense and Kurdistan Region Presidency.

    Senior officials from the U.S. Government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq conducted the inaugural Peshmerga Executive Steering Committee at the Kurdistan Region Presidency in Erbil on January 29, 2024. The committee met to assess progress on Peshmerga reform objectives outlined in the U.S. DoD – Kurdish Region Government (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was renewed in September 2022.

    The committee reviewed the progress made towards Peshmerga reform and agreed upon the milestones for the next year as part of the shared long-term commitment to unify Peshmerga forces under the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs (MoPA) and build a professional, capable force to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. The MoPA has made significant progress towards financial and force structure reform, and both the DoD and MoPA look forward to the continued advancement of reform efforts outlined in the 2022 DoD – KRG MOU. The United States stands with the people of Iraq, including the people of the Kurdistan Region, as they build a strong, stable, and sovereign Iraq.

    I know many believe that Kurdistan should be its own country. Hopefully, the central Iraq government approves of this US-Peshmerga dalliance. Pretty sure our Türkiye NATO partner does not. On the plus side, also pretty sure Iran does not approve.

  20. CSK says:


    The fact that Swift was embraced as an Aryan goddess and neo-Nazi by white supremacists in 2016 and accused by them of being a Deep State globalist operative in 2024 shows you how pea-brained these people are.

  21. Bill Jempty says:


    “Forget it Jake, it’s Florida.”

    Just over a week ago, there were charges on one of my wife’s credit cards. They were all Uber related in the Netherlands. Haven’t been in the NL since 2000.

    Earlier this month a friend of my wife got a call from her CC company. Somebody was trying or had tried to use her card for several hundred $$$ in sex toys.

    All the charges were canceled and new cards issued.

  22. CSK says:

    Gina Swoboda, the new Arizona GOP chair, says Donald Trump selected her for the job and that she’s “wearing the armor of God.”

    It makes me wonder who she thinks is more powerful: God or Trump?

  23. Kathy says:


    Usually, musicians and other entertainers don’t talk much about politics, with some exceptions, as they may turn off half the market otherwise.

    Swift is white, slender, blonde, and pretty (the latter is subjective). Apparently she sings well (I really don’t pay enough attention to music to be able to say).

    So, mix an attractive, famous, rich, blonde, white woman, with little to no talk of politics (until 2018), and let the parasocial relationship play out.

    But the deplorables can pick any number of rich, famous white women who do share their politics. how about Aryan Goddess Roseann Barr?

  24. DK says:


    Any more, and they have to overlap and they won’t brown or crisp well. In the oven, in contrast, I can fit in many, many more (and a whole chicken).

    My parents traded their standard 6 quart air fryer for a 34 quart air fryer, for this reason. It’s a behemoth, but everything is crispy now that’s supposed to be.

  25. SenyorDave says:

    @Kathy: how about Aryan Goddess Roseann Barr?

    I almost gagged when I read that.

  26. Kathy says:


    It might come to that. I had a feeling the moment I got one of these newfangled appliances, they’d prove to be like potato chips: you can’t just have one.

    That’s one reason I got a multi function pot with air fryer built in.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    Chita Rivera 91

  28. DK says:

    @Kathy: I was very much skeptical about this air fryer colossus…

    …until we cooked a family dinner of steaks in their air fryer a couple of summers back. The steaks for my siblings, nephews cooked perfectly. Incredible. Charred crust — juicy, pink middle. And the process was so quick. It was a lightbulb moment.

    My parents are barbarians who have to eat steaks well-done (srsly?) — but I had a bite of theirs and those were also delicious.

    I had no idea air fryer steaks were a possible thing. I bought subsequently bought my own an air fryer, standard-sized but big enough for a single guy with a 1 bedroom.

    Have you tried anything else that’s interesting, with the air fryer? The sliced potatoes idea sounds delish, but I’ll have to do batches.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill Jempty: I had that happen to me once too. The credit card company notified me of “a suspicious pattern of purchases.” I called them up and we established that this was somebody else*. They canceled my card and all the charges, no muss no fuss.

    *As best I could figure somebody had gotten into my hospital’s billing system and pulled it from there. I read about it a week or 2 after my issue was resolved.

    @CSK: I would not be surprised if she thinks they are one and the same.


    Swift is white, slender, blonde, and pretty (the latter is subjective).

    I have to admit that while she hits all the usual metrics, I don’t find her particularly attractive. Too much make up for my tastes.

    Apparently she sings well (I really don’t pay enough attention to music to be able to say).

    She has a very strong voice and of course can carry a tune. Beyond that I am ambivalent to her music. Different strokes and all that.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DK: I had no idea air fryer steaks were a possible thing.

    That… is sacrilege.

    @CSK: Heh. Thanx for that.

  31. Kathy says:


    You really need to toss the potatoes well in oil.

    Past that, all I’ve done was chicken thighs. The skin is so crispy and golden it’s hard to believe.

    I also tried some experiments. I browned some hot dogs in it before cutting them up to add to scrambled eggs and cheese. Nice, but not worth the hassle. Then I tried air frying some soybean sprouts*. Plain, no oil no seasoning. The results were ok, but also not worth the hassle.

    Youtube is full of air fryer recipes, many of which are definitely not worth doing (like pancakes). One channel I like is Pro Home Cooks. They guy who runs it loves his air fryer, and seems to be highly skilled.

    Next I want to try twice baked potatoes. If I do, I’ll post about it here. After that, I may take a long break from the multi pot, as it does consume a lot of electricity. And do some browsing of recipes in the meantime.

    *This arose from the time some sprouts escaped the wok and wound up next to the stove’s burner. They became stiff and crunchy, rather pleasant as a salad topping.

  32. dazedandconfused says:


    There’s a great old book by Hedrick Smith, “The Russians” which delves into the nature of the Russian people. He was the NYT Moscow correspondent for over a decade in the 70s, and for whatever reason the Soviets trusted him and gave him remarkable freedom to go where ever he wanted and talk to whomever….for the most part.
    This is a story of a people presented in about 100 anecdotal stories of interacting with the Russians, including several private interviews with Solzhenitsyn, and maybe his story tells the most. A dissident he most definitely was, but why did the Soviets tolerate him? Because he was first and foremost he was a Russian patriot and they loved him. Took a hell of a lot before they felt they had no choice but to deport him, and it broke his heart, which seemed to pain the Soviets deeply to have to do that to him.

    It’s a nation forged under invasions spanning back to the Mongols. Perhaps the most invaded place on earth. The brutality of the invasions of Napoleon, WW1 and 2 reenforced this mightily.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m not a big fan of uber-produced pop but I’ve got nothing against it. What put me in the Taylor camp was learning about her training regimen for going on tour. Monster crazy committed. Gotta take my hat off to that.

  34. Kathy says:


    I think I hear about that book every other time I talk about Russian history or society. it’s out of print, and definitely not on ebook form… I guess I’ll try to find it again.

    Figes does go into some detail about ordinary people in another book, The Whisperers, which deals with Stalin’s various bouts of terror and repression, between the start of rural collectivization and his untimely death (he should have died much earlier).

  35. CSK says:




    You’re welcome.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Gotta take my hat off to that.

    Oh yeah, I can’t even think of what it costs her to put on a show. When it comes to music, i’ve fallen away from it in the past 15 years or so. Mostly because my truck does not have a working radio and I really don’t care. I don’t know anything at all about today’s pop music. I’ve only heard a few TS songs and her voice has impressed me, her stuff just isn’t my thing. I like old country and folk music, some 60s and 70s rock, along with a smattering of jazz, blues, and even some swing. Play it on the computer a lot but that’s about it.

  37. Joe says:


    how about Aryan Goddess Roseann Barr?

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . the master race.

  38. CSK says:

    Trump insists he’s more popular than Taylor Swift


  39. Bill Jempty says:
  40. Bill Jempty says:


    *As best I could figure somebody had gotten into my hospital’s billing system and pulled it from there. I read about it a week or 2 after my issue was resolved.

    The only things this card has been used for the last year, was AAA replacing the battery on my car when it went dead at my wife’s work, and for me renewing my The New Republic subscription. Could one of those people been hacked? Maybe.

  41. Kathy says:


    There’s one person who can make that claim believably: Xi Jinping.

    After all, he can decree all 1.4+ billion Chinese love him more than anyone and anything else in the whole universe for all eternity.

    No doubt the Orange Ass also thinks he’s richer than Swift.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: @DK: I got one of the Ninja air fryer ovens for Christmas. So far, I’ve not found that the quantity of potatoes that it can air fry was too small. It can air fry a bunch more potatoes that I should eat in one sitting. Then again, the air fry basket is the same size as the rack that toasts 6 slices of bread (also more than I should eat at one sitting). Is the air fryer for an insta pot smaller? It would seem to me that if it will do a chicken it wouldn’t be; although, my oven is to small to air roast a chicken like my old convection oven did. It will only roast a cut up chicken.

    (I would also assume that air fried potatoes would not be as good the next day, so there would be no particular reason to make more than I would eat right away. Am I wrong on this point?)

  43. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The multi pot air fryer function is pretty much the pot, which can comfortably fit a whole chicken, used with the air fryer lid and the circular bottom tray insert. It can fit three chicken thighs with some space between them. Four would have required one partially covering another. As far as I can judge, it’s about the same surface area as most dedicated air fryers I’ve seen.

    One thing is you can’t take the pot out and shake it to toss the food midway, the way you can with an air fryer basket. You can open it and flip or stir things around with tongs or a spatula. With much care, as the sides of the pot are really hot*.

    Now, while I call what I make oven fries, or air fryer fries, they’re more like roasted potatoes. Tossed in oil and cooked in the oven. I hoped they’d brown and crisp more with the air fryer. maybe they needed more time for that.

    They’re best straight out of the oven or fryer, but are good enough the rest of the week. At least I’m used to eating them that way.

    *Pro tip: when using oven mitts or a cloth or towel to pick up a hot appliance, pan, pot, etc, never use a damp or wet one. This goes especially for cast iron cookware on the stove. These things can get hot enough to flash the moisture in the cloth or towel into steam, which can burn you. a dry one won’t.

  44. Mimai says:

    Oh man, why do you make me do this?*

    According to the Time article you linked:

    Her training regimen included running on the treadmill every day while singing the entire Eras setlist aloud—”Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs”—following a specialized strength, conditioning, and weights program at her gym, Dogpound, and doing three months of dance lessons.

    The Eras setlist is 45 songs. According to GPT4, playing these songs back to back would take 2 hours, 53 minutes, 50 seconds. This makes sense given that her concert is over 3.5 hours.

    If she averaged a 10 minute/mile pace on the treadmill, she would cover just over 17 miles.

    If she averaged a 15 minute/mile pace on the treadmill, she would cover just over 11.5 miles.

    Doing this everyday would put her at 119 miles and 81 miles, respectively, per week. That is high volume marathon+ training that is usually only attempted by pros. And that is supposedly in addition to all her other training.

    Needless to say, I find this implausible.

    *It’s my fault of course. I just have a particular thing about these so-called training regimens that famous people (actors are the most flagrant offenders) supposedly go through. I don’t even blame Taylor Swift — she was not quoted in the article… at least not about these specifics. I blame her publicist. Among others.

  45. Kathy says:

    The pece doesn’t say what the new law is called, but if it has to be named, then credit where it’s due: the Trump Rape Act.

  46. EddieInCA says:


    My parents are barbarians who have to eat steaks well-done (srsly?)

    I’m one of those barbarians. I was once denied a steak at a very upscale Vegas restaurant because the chef would not allow a well done steak to be served. True story. The chef actually came out, apologized to me, explained why, and offered me anything else on the menu – comped – but he would not cook a well done steak.

    I had a great salmon that night. The restaurant went out of business about 9 months later.

  47. EddieInCA says:


    I don’t find it implausible at all. For mere mortals, it might be. For someone who can hire the best physical therapists, the best nutritionists, the best massage therapists, the best doctors, it’s not only plausible, but probable. I worked on a commercial/documentary featuring PINK a few years ago, and watched one of her workouts up close and personal. It was mind-boggling. Singing her songs, hanging upside down, while her trainer hit her in the midsection repeatedly, for HOURS.

    I don’t doubt Swift did what is said she did. Not one bit.

  48. Mimai says:

    You are right to point out that her access to PTs etc is an important consideration. Still though, there are limits to human anatomy and physiology.

    According to the article, she was doing all this high volume running on a daily basis. While also doing other no-doubt demanding “strength, conditioning, and weights.” Oh, and don’t forget all the dancing and choreography that is also incredibly taxing.

    Mind you, she was doing all this training in preparation for her tour. The tour itself is a grueling 151 shows across 5 continents (source: wikipedia). And each show is extremely demanding – physicality X duration. Suffice to say, to even approximate such a tour, she would need to be well-conditioned (no doubt), but also healthy and physically intact.

    Taking all of this into consideration, alongside my own experiences as an athlete, my experiences rubbing shoulders with elite athletes and trainers, and my deep reading on high level human performance (it’s kind of an unhealthy interest), I remain skeptical that Taylor Swift was doing this volume of physical work BEFORE going on tour.

    ps, I am also familiar with Pink — she too is a physical specimen and high level performer.

  49. Kathy says:

    How about this: low cost business class seats.

    It’s a better seat, spacious, comfortable, and it turns into a bed. But it doesn’t come with any additional service, as you’d find in regular business class. No drinks, no food, etc. If you want any, you pay on board same as in economy.

    It’s kind of like Spirit’s Big Front Seat. Domestic first class seat without first class service.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy: I love this idea. As much as I enjoy the food and drink in full-up business, it’s really all about that actual night of sleep. If I could get the lie-flat seat for half the difference between economy and business, I’d do it all the time.

  51. EddieInCA says:


    Points taken.

    But when I was her age (34), I was working full time in film and TV, while also training for Triathlons, Marathons, and Competitive Cycling. I completed the Paris Marathon at age 34 in 3:01, a month after completing the Solvang Century bike race in less than 4:20. I was running 80 miles per week, I was cyling over 300 miles per week, and I was swimming 5 miles per week, while working full time. Just based on my own experience, again, I have no doubt Swift, with much more resources than I had, could do what it is claimed she did.

    My regimen was insane, looking back. I lived in North Hollywood. I cycled M-F, from my home in North Hollywood, to my office in Marina Del Rey. Every day, I cycled to work, and I cycled home. At lunch, I ran five miles every day. Every day. Tues, Wed, Thu, I’d go to LA Fitness after I got home, and I’d swim 1500 yards. Saturday was my long run, between 15-20 miles. Sunday, was my long cycle day, between 60-100 miles. Followed by my long swim, which was between 2-3 miles. I had zero social life, but that was my choice.

    I did that for almost a year. Finished 3 marathons that year, with a best of 3:01. Finished two half Ironman Triathlons. Raced Category 2 both on the Road and on the Velodrome. Finished three century bike rides, and one 200 mile race.

    And I did it all while working 40 hrs per week. Ah… good times.