Tuesday’s Forum

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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

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has withdrawn his request for immunity from prosecution hours before parliamentary proceedings on the subject were set to begin.

    Netanyahu, who was visiting Washington before the launch of Donald Trump’s long-anticipated peace plan on Tuesday, said he decided “not to let this dirty game continue” in a statement issued on his official Facebook page.

    Translation: “They were going to beat me like a rented mule.”

    “In this fateful hour for the people of Israel, when I am in the United States on a historic mission to design the permanent borders of Israel and ensure our security for decades to come, the Knesset is expected to start another spectacle in the circus of removing immunity,” Netanyahu wrote.

    “Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.”

    Netanyahu and Trump were scheduled to meet later on Tuesday at the White House for the peace plan’s announcement.

    As thick as thieves.

    1
  2. drj says:

    Seen on Twitter, a neat summary of the GOP’s defense of their spiritual leader:

    Trump didn’t do the thing he’s accused of doing, but if he did it was fine, and in fact that’s exactly what he did, get over it, because it’s not only fine, it’s precisely what we want from a president, and can you believe that Biden did the same thing, shame on him.

    7
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Terminally ill, he wanted an assisted death, but his hospital was Catholic

    I grew up Catholic. By the age of 14 I’d had the Catholicism beaten out of me. I have known good nuns and bad nuns, good priests and bad priests. But none of that has anything to do with my absolute loathing of the Catholic Church as they use their money and power to impose their religious beliefs on believer and heretic alike. Who here is OK with turning over their healthcare decisions to someone who is going to base them on a religious dogma that is foreign to their own beliefs? In a lot of places a Catholic hospital is one’s only choice, and that is exactly what they are forced to do.

    2
  4. franco ollivander says:

    Interesting article at the New York Times

    The authors – both law professors and one of them the author of “Impeach: The case against Donald Trump”, claim that there are rules/laws that give Justice Roberts the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents, either on his own or at the request of the House managers. Blocking such subpoenas requires a 2/3 vote. These rules are separate from the rules set by the Senate and can’t be altered by a Senate vote.

    1
  5. Teve says:

    @juddlegum

    1. This will be a thread of Republican members of Congress who defended Trump by saying there was not a quid pro quo but now say Bolton’s claim that Trump told him there was a quid pro quo is irrelevant

    link

  6. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve seen a number of articles and opinion pieces calling into question the utility of China’s attempt to quarantine greater Wuhan (app. 40m people). While I concede the writers may understand the way epidemics spread I am skeptical they are able to analyse this particular situation because none of them even acknowledge something unique to this quarantine: this is happening during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year is one of the days of Spring Festival). 400 million people travel round trip during the month of Spring Festival. If every single person in the US and Canada left home at the same time it wouldn’t equal the migration. Imagine the US during Thanksgiving and then imagine that every traveler brought 6 other people with them. During Spring Festival every seat and aisle on every train and bus is packed shoulder to shoulder, every airport, train station, bus station and roadside rest area is overflowing with people, and they are all tired and stressed and perhaps not as careful with a face mask as they should be. To give you an idea of the effect this had on the country, during our first spring festival in 2012, my family walked down the center of West Nanjing Road in Shanghai during the middle of the day, just for the marvel of it. This is as if you could walk down the middle of Broadway in NYC or Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, with only the occasional car appearing with plenty of time for us to move to the side. Why were we able to pull this off? Shanghai is famous as being a city people moved to and therefore return home from, especially in that area of Nanjing Xi Lu.

    So an analysis of the efficacy of quarantine that doesn’t even mention this round trip migration seems suspect on its face.

    2
  7. CSK says:

    QAnon is promoting the notion that ingesting a bleach-based substance will ward off the coronavirus.

    2
  8. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Well, dead cells are a poor breeding ground for viruses. Dead people’s cells die quickly.

    3
  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Goody, Darwinism in practice.

    3
  10. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    True.

    @Sleeping Dog:
    The Daily Beast has an interesting piece about this today.

  11. Kathy says:

    On the lighter side of the news, sort of, His Majesty Manuel Andres I, presented the design of the lottery tickets for the presidential plane raffle.

    OMG.

    Here’s a link where you can see the design (it’s in Spanish). The tentative day for the raffle is May 5th, the day that commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when Mexican forces won a victory against the armies of Napoleon III.

    The radio news says the issue will be 6 million tickets, each worth 500 pesos (about $25-$27). Apparently 4 million will be reserved for sale to “people of means” and the remaining 2 million among the general population.

    Apparently, too, the grand prize comes with strings attached. For instance, it cannot be sold for under $130 million or so (there goes my plan to sell it quickly, but perhaps it could be auctioned with a secret reserve price everyone knows).

    According to my (rough) calculations, $25 invested at 5.2% would yield, with compound interest, $63.78 in interest payments over 25 years. That’s not much, but it’s like 6 million times more than what buying a ticket for this raffle is likely to yield.

    One of my brothers once told me that lotteries were a form of “mental masturbation.” That is, you buy a ticket, and then spend some time daydreaming what you’d do with so much money if you win. Eventually you lose, or win a very modest prize, and start over.

    Ok. But, you know, i discovered you can do the same without buying a ticket.

  12. Teve says:

    Friend on fb:

    Just read on Drudge: Trump’s lawyers looking into getting a restraining order to stop Bolton speaking. The behavior of an innocent person. Suuuuure

  13. Teve says:

    @CSK: “MMS” aka industrial bleach, is a horrific “alternative medicine” crime that’s been around for years.

  14. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    I know. This business about the coronavirus is just the latest iteration.

    1
  15. Teve says:

    @CSK: we are beset on all sides by idiots and conmen.

    1
  16. Teve says:

    @ColinKahl

    I staffed Biden on every Ukraine call, mtg & trip from fall 2014-2017. I sat in the Oval & SitRoom & coordinated w/State. Everything he did was to advance US policy alongside our allies, internat’l institutions & Ukrainian reformers. No amount of Trump spin changes those facts.

  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Netanyahoo has been indicted on three separate counts of corruption.
    I have to assume this means that the Great Corruption Fighter, Donald J. Trump, will be withholding aid to Israel until this is resolved…correct?

    3
  18. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    We are. And the biggest idiot/conman of all is squatting in the Oval Office, the nuclear launch codes within reach of his stubby little fingers.

    2
  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Absolutely, no greater fighter of corruption than our lord and savior trump.

  20. Kathy says:

    Would anyone care to discuss development on The Good Place?

    I found two of the last three episodes tackled, and resolved, questions I’ve held for some time. Namely “You’ve Changed, Man” and “Patty.”

    Part of why I asked yesterday if we’ll ever know everything there is to know, is related to a question I’ve had: “What would you do if you lived eternally?” This goes waaay back to high school, when I read “Ringworld,” by Larry niven. the protagonist, Luis Wu, is two hundred years old (which is common in his time). We learned he’s had several professions, wives, children, etc. That’s when I began to wonder what life would be like for a being facing no time limits on living.

  21. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I’m at the last ep of season 3. Probably watch that tonight.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Netanyahoo has been indicted on three separate counts of corruption.
    I have to assume this means that the Great Corruption Fighter, Donald J. Trump, will be withholding aid to Israel until this is resolved…correct?

    Apparently it means Donald J for Genius Trump will introduce a heavily pro Israel pretend peace plan to help out his buddy NetanYahoo in his election. This would be a prosecutable corrupt quid pro quo if we or Trump were getting anything in return. And Trump is, albeit through more legit looking channels like AIPAC.

    1
  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Heinlein addressed this with his Lazarus Long character, in many short stories and at least one novel. If I remember correctly, Long ends up living for over two hundred years before technology develops to the point where everyone has a shot to live indefinitely, and so is eternally “The Senior”.

    1
  24. Teve says:

    Kevin Drum
    Revenge: It’s Not Just For TV Shows Anymore
    KEVIN DRUM1 HOUR AGO

    A few days ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unloaded on an NPR reporter for having the gall to ask him—the Secretary of State—about Ukraine. The reporter then made Pompeo’s temper tantrum public, and Pompeo retaliated by telling a slew of obvious lies about their interview.

    But in Trumpland that’s not enough. Pompeo has now banned NPR from his upcoming trip to Europe. It’s not even the same reporter! Nobody from NPR is allowed to come along.

    This is not surprising: Trump’s world is consumed with revenge. Trump himself, of course, has been methodically taking revenge on Barack Obama for three years now, all over a single joke Obama told about Trump at a White House Correspondents Dinner. And fear of revenge is what keeps Republican members of Congress in line. They all know that anything more than the mildest disagreement with the great man will unleash a relentless program of vengeance designed to toss them out of office.

    Pompeo has obviously caught on to this. Stay loyal to Trump and take highly public revenge on all your enemies. It’s all you need to know to succeed in Trumpland.

    Most Americans aren’t psycho dipshit Trumpers. But most Germans weren’t Nazis, either.

    Maybe we’ll survive.

    8
  25. Jax says:

    IFP is reporting that the plane that went down in Afghanistan had the CIA head of intelligence for Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan on board.

    https://ifpnews.com/murderer-of-soleimani-killed-in-us-plane-downing-in-afghanistan-sources?fbclid=IwAR1vNyO54Uw1XqeC8FItbuExrKj1Lz9sYPnc2BYWQv6ufYKHI_mhBUTTmB0

  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This Middle East Peace Plan is a fuqing joke.
    I think that is all that can be said.

    1
  27. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I read the novel. I wasn’t much impressed with it. Heinlein’s pretty hit or miss, and I think here he missed; at least as far as I’m concerned.

    My all-time favorites of his works are “Friday” and “The Door Into Summer.”

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: One of my friends said that Heinlein used to write novels as he pleased then would throw out most of the sex resulting in one good novel. Later on in life he stopped throwing out the sex….

    I should reread “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and see if it is still as good a novel as I remember.

  29. CSK says:

    @Jax:
    This has not yet been reported by any other news agency. I would think it would be big news. IFP, incidentally, sounds like a propaganda site.

    1
  30. Bill says:
  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: The link gives me a fine opportunity to attempt to translate from Spanish, having had three years of Latin, 30 years ago.

    AMLO presenta diseño del ‘cachito’ de la rifa del avión presidencial

    El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador dijo que este contendría una leyenda que especifique que lo recaudado se utilizaría para el sector salud.

    Here’s my attempt:

    AMLO presents something of cachet for the raffle of the Presidential Plane. President Andy offers a legendary contest with something utilizing private sector salad.

    Not sure about the salad, but the alternative is that someone added a “hello” to the end of the sentence.

    (I’m hoping this comes off as playful rather than offensive… Google Translate offers an alternative with less leafy greens.)

  32. Gustopher says:

    @grumpy realist: Now I want to read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress just for the sex scenes.

    I’m thinking a femme-dom Fifty Shades of Gray for the astronomy and science fiction set, with a lot of butt/moon jokes. Perhaps I should just pick up a Spanish translation, and then slowly work my way through it, and it can be whatever I want it to be.

  33. Jax says:

    @CSK: It’s starting to trend on US websites that bodies have been recovered, but no official word has been released on identity or number of casualties.

    I have no idea if it is or not, it’s the first time I’ve run across it. I scoot around on the internet looking for interesting tidbits and then seeing if I can find anything to corroborate it when I’m bored. 😉 I’ve been on the hunt for that article I saw the night Iran bombed the base in Iraq that indicated the casualty count was 80, but so far I haven’t run across it again.

  34. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I should reread The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and see if it is still as good a novel as I remember.

    I thought it held up surprisingly well, and I loved it when I first read it 40 years ago.

    My personal Heinlein favorites are TMiaHM, The Door into Summer (in spite of squick), Stranger in a Strange Land (I prefer the uncut posthumous edition), Starship Troopers, and The Puppet Masters. (Glory Road and Farnham’s Freehold did not age well at all.) I also like a handful of his short stories: “We Also Walk Dogs”, “The Long Watch”, “Gentlemen Be Seated”, “The Green Hills of Earth”… Oh, and “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”.

    1
  35. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Towards the end Heinlein suffered from Old-Science-Fiction-Writers-Disease in which an author starts to bring back all their old characters, often to have sex with each other. In advanced stages they start to bring in characters from other authors, especially ones they read as adolescents.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.”

    I’d be more inclined to go with “Squirrel!!” but to each his own.

  37. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jax:

    If the Taliban are responsible, that opens the possibility that Iranian intelligence tipped them off. Iran’s response will always be asymmetrical.

    1
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: While I would like to read a discussion of the final episodes of The Good Place, I’m not sure how much I can contribute to such a thread. For my money, the story just fizzles out, although there were some funny sequences in the episode where the Judge is searching the various Janets looking for the end the universe thingie and the Chidi episode before it.

    Then again, I thought the series should have ended at the end of Season One, too. I would have been sorry to see it go, but there wasn’t any logical development to have for the story after the reveal.

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: One thing I’ve noticed–in my experience potentially more prevalent among female fantasy/SF writers than male fantasy/SF writers (but I’d have to go back and see how many female fantasy/SF writers vs. male fantasy/SF writers I’ve read overall)–is the tendency for the fantasy/SF series to end up with a wonderful utopian all-the-problems-have-been-solved-and-all-the-nasty-meanies-have-been-destroyed. About the only strategy the author can take at that point if she wants to continue playing around in the fantasy/SF world she has created is to jump back in time to earlier periods in said universe and re-create another storm-und-drang conflict, usually with less technology/magic. The two series that caused me to develop my theory are the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey and the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. (By the end of the original Dragonriders of Pern the writing was so perky it make my teeth ache.)

    Male writers can end up carrying out this trajectory as well (hello, David Eddings!) but usually the author cuts off playing in his universe and goes and finds another one to muck around in.

    Very few writers have the gumption to carry on beyond the “happily-ever-after state” and point out that no system will be forever stable and look how it is liable to contain the seeds of its own destruction. Poul Anderson has done so; so has Cordwainer Smith. I think the best fantasy trilogy which points out that Evil Always Returns is The Winter King’s War (Ring of Allaire, etc.) by Susan Dexter.

  40. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’m interested in versions of the afterlife, though I don’t believe in any kind of afterlife. as such stories go, The Good Place has provided a more thorough view of it. the story’s interesting as well, even if the show isn’t as funny as it was.

    See, it’s a comedy about ethics that takes ethics seriously.

  41. Bill says:

    @grumpy realist:

    One thing I’ve noticed–in my experience potentially more prevalent among female fantasy/SF writers than male fantasy/SF writers (but I’d have to go back and see how many female fantasy/SF writers vs. male fantasy/SF writers I’ve read overall)–is the tendency for the fantasy/SF series to end up with a wonderful utopian all-the-problems-have-been-solved-and-all-the-nasty-meanies-have-been-destroyed.

    I write a type of fantasy fiction. A few years ago I wrote an ebook where the ending has the main characters killed by a stalker. The unhappy reviews poured in at Amazon but PB is my third best selling* of all my ebooks and it spent some time at #1 in its genre at Amazon.

    Happy endings don’t guarantee sales. Another ebook of mine, which one reviewer said had 3 happy endings (The main character defeats the bad guy and reconciles with her family. Another important character makes over their life and is pleased with the results) , all reviews have been positive, but the sales or kindle page reads for NHNS never amounted to much.

    *- My three best selling ebooks have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th worst overall review average (Minimum five reviews. My dung beetle story has a 2.5 average review but just two reviews) at Goodreads of all my books.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley…

    Bob Shane, Founding Member of Grammy-Winners The Kingston Trio, Dies at 85
    Bob Shane, the last surviving member of The Kingston Trio, a celebrated Bay Area group who sparked the folk music revival in the 1950s, died Sunday (Jan. 26) of complications connected with pneumonia. He was 85.

    encore

  43. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m hoping this comes off as playful rather than offensive

    Actually, hilarious.

    Though not as bad as a friend who kept referring to literal meanings in low quality dictionaries when he tried to learn Spanish.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Again, I’m not sure I agree with the “about ethics that takes ethics seriously” thing, although I don’t care to challenge the view either. Then again, I take the whole “plug-in drug” attitude about TV (from the late 50s/early 60s) more seriously than most and watch it almost exclusively for it’s virtues as a safer tune in/turn on/drop out than LSD (particularly), weed, or shrooms (none of which I ever used, took asthma medications–mostly theophylline–for 30 years, so I was already as stoned as I could get).

  45. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Then again, I take the whole “plug-in drug” attitude about TV (from the late 50s/early 60s) more seriously than most

    Most TV programming is juts entertainment. But some of it is serious and can be as good literature as a novel or play.

    But then, I define entertainment as “something that engages your mind in a pleasant or enjoyable fashion.” So I can say I read serious non-fiction books on history, economics (of late) and so on for entertainment purposes, although I also learn quite a bit.

  46. Kathy says:

    So Bibi’s been indicted.

    You have to admire a nation that does not grant immunity from criminal prosecution to its criminal politicians.

    Ok. I get that a president, or equivalent, is too busy with too many important things to do. But justice shouldn’t wait. If a president, or PM, cannot handle their job while mounting a defense, they should either resign, or temporarily place their legal successor in office for the duration.

  47. Tyrell says:

    This Corona virus seems to be getting seriously scary, yet little mention of it on main stream news.
    Possible mutating. Numbers of infected may be way off. Parts of China in turmoil?
    Someone better get a handle on this. Congress needs to get on it and stop the political games: get to work on what you were elected to do.

  48. @Tyrell: I have heard numerous in depth reports on NPR, FWIW.

    And what is it that you think Congress can do at this juncture? The CDC is already on the case, so to speak.

    2
  49. Jax says:

    @Tyrell: This is a good reminder of when you should think seriously about who you REALLY want running the government “In Case of Emergency”. Trump’s cut funding to the CDC by 20%, all of the other governmental departments that might be able to step up in this situation are gutted. President of the United States, Donald J Trump, spends most of his “executive time” tweeting.

    Is that who you really want in charge?

    3
  50. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell: So long as the number of dead remains pretty low, the number of infected being a gross underestimate would be a good thing.

    We don’t know how many people get sick, feel a little awful, and get better without going to the doctor. We will catch more of those people as we are looking at the epidemic more closely, so we should expect the number of infected to jump way up. So, take the known fatality rate as an upper bound.

    A moderately easily spread, low-fatality novel coronavirus is likely the best case scenario for what we are seeing.

    And, corona viruses do mutate. A lot of viruses do. It’s why we don’t have a cure for the common cold (a lot of that is corona virus, I believe), and why flu vaccines are often ineffective or less effective.

    Basically, don’t panic. But do make sure you have some Purell on hand before the big rush, because it will be unpleasant if you catch it. And practice basic cold/flu season safety.

    Also, Congress really can’t do a damned thing about it short term — this is all executive branch stuff. Maybe go back in time and elect someone who isn’t hiring incompetent people and not listening to scientists.

    2
  51. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    @Jax:
    @Gustopher:

    Oh, we all know the Branch Trumpidians won’t gently request, never mind demand, effective action from their Cheeto, when they can use his inaction to cast blame on the Democrats.

    See? Now the ilegitimateunconsitutionalwitchhunt is going to get us all killed!

  52. Gustopher says:

    Because I clearly have too much time on my hands, I watched the first episode of Wild, Wild West from the 1960s.

    Spoilers for something over 50 years old, but there is a man in yellowface who is a walking stereotype of the opium-smoking shopkeeper. In a surprise reveal, it turns out he actually is a guy in yellowface in the story.

    I’m not sure if that is delightfully subversive or just still offensive.

    If it helps/hurts it is revealed that he is actually a stereotypical Mexican revolutionary, hiding in plain sight.

    Other than the racism, it was delightful. An American James Bond, set in the old west, with racism taking the place of misogyny — a proper adaptation taking American culture into account.

    1
  53. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    Heard late at the White House:

    “Mr. Trump? It’s the 3 am call. It wants to talk to Hillary Clinton. Do you know where she is?”

    4
  54. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Mister Bluster: Well, he’s not “A Worried Man” any longer.

  55. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: We also don’t know how many of the dead are babies and the elderly.

    The reason the 1918 epidemic was so devastating economically was that it killed healthy adults in the prime of their lives.