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. CSK says:

    On Fox Business, Giuliani said of his voter fraud claims: “I’m exaggerating a bit.”

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Oh really? Do tell us more, Rudy.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I love it: Helicopter pilot finds ‘strange’ monolith in remote part of Utah

    A mysterious monolith has been discovered in a remote part of Utah, after being spotted by state employees counting sheep from a helicopter.

    The structure, estimated at between 10ft and 12ft high (about 3 metres), appeared to be planted in the ground. It was made from some sort of metal, its shine in sharp contrast to the enormous red rocks which surrounded it.
    The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told local news channel KSLTV: “That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.” Hutchings was flying for the Utah department of public safety, which was helping wildlife resource officers count bighorn sheep in the south of the state. “One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” Hutchings said. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there – we’ve got to go look at it!’”

    Hutchings said the object looked manmade and appeared to have been firmly planted in the ground, not dropped from the sky. “I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.

    The monolith and its setting resembled a famous scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, in which a group of apes encounter a giant slab.

  4. Teve says:


    One thing I’ve learned over the last week is the that the Right is terrified of consequences for what they have done.

    For four years they reveled in an orgy of corruption, law-breaking, overt racism, hate, misogyny and “fuck your feelings LOL nothing matters” mania. /1
    They broke every norm, shattered every rule, let Trump run the most corrupt administration in history in exchange for stolen judges, and told the decent majority of the country to pound sand while locking kids in cages away from the their families and rolling coal. /2
    Most of them still can’t give it up. They told themselves Trump could never lose, the bill would never come due, their destinies were assured. Millions still think “the storm is coming” and that the libs will be owned forever and ever in a final culling. /3
    They committed so many gigantic, brazen open crimes that one of the big debates on the left is how many of them to bother prosecuting at risk of civil conflict.

    And like with any manic night of lawbreaking where nothing seems real, with the cold light of day comes shock. /4

    So if you suggest even mild measures like “don’t hire Stephen Miller for anything” or “instead of prosecuting everything maybe a truth and reconciliation commission” or “unplug the propaganda and show them the COVID wards and caged kids” they ABSOLUTELY. LOSE. THEIR. MINDS. /5
    What they want is for the last four years to either continue without end, or for it all to have been like a bad dream–consolidating their stolen gains, and everyone just pretending like it was just politics as usual.

    It will not continue, and it was not politics as usual. /6
    They’ve spent so long fantasizing about sending all the libs to GITMO & shooting every protester in the street, that if you suggest just turning off OAN & showing them what they did, they think you’re threatening them w/ concentration camps. Because it’s what they would do. /7
    Of course, no one on left or center-left is going to do much of anything. Not only are we not violent totalitarians like them, America’s apartheid systems of govt ensure that they will face little accountability for their 4-year-long manic orgy of brazen, criminal immorality. /8
    But the psychology of it is this: it’s been a long, long night of euphoric madness, a spree of taunting ecstasy. And now it’s dawn.

    Some are insisting the night will never end. Some are terrified of what comes after. And they’re freaking out at the sound of the sirens. /9

    They’re hoping to bully you into letting them get away with it all, with letting this just be the new normal where they get to break every rule and tell you to fuck your feelings, and then play the victim and tell you you need to go to more diners to understand them. /10
    So here’s the thing. Nobody on the left is going to do anything immoral or totalitarian.

    But nothing will ever be the same, either. We know what motivates them, and it’s not economic anxiety. And we know what they want to do to the decent majority if they get a chance. /11
    And we’re not going to hurt them in any way. In fact, we’re going to try to help.

    But we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure they don’t get to hurt anyone ever again, and that the long Purge night of the last four years never, ever happens again. /end

  5. Teve says:

    There were two Republicans involved in certifying the results. Aaron van Langevelde, and Norman Shinkle. AVL voted to certify, and dumbass Shinkle abstained. This comment is rude, but if you have those votes in mind and google image search them, you’ll see pretty much what you expect to see.

  6. Mu Yixiao says:

    Amongst the bevy of really weird dreams I had last night was a section where I was on a cross-country train with a bunch of families… and Joe Biden.

    And he dropped dead while watching TV in the lounge car. We had to stop the train and figure out what was going on.

    And then it drifted off into some other really weird stuff. But I had to check the news as soon as I woke up–just to be sure.

  7. Teve says:

    I had some serious fright the other day, when I thought back to the crisis in 2008 and what would’ve happened had Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate at that time.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Random thought for a Tuesday morning.

    Something Biden should do is pardon Roger Stone. Trump commuted his jail time, but left the conviction in place, giving Stone cover to avoid testimony before Congress. A Biden pardon would allow the appropriate House committees to subpoena Stone.

    There are several likely outcomes. The least likely is that Stone provides a full an honest accounting of what went on. Probablility <1%. Stone refuses to initially testify. Probability 100%. The House could then hold him in contempt and a Bided DoJ would jail him. Stone eventually agrees to testify and lies. Probability 100%, after all he is a congenital liar. He could then be indicted for lying to Congress and back to jail he goes.

    Elections have consequences.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’m pretty sure he can refuse a pardon.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    One per cent of the world’s farms operate 70% of crop fields, ranches and orchards, according to a report that highlights the impact of land inequality on the climate and nature crises.

    Since the 1980s, researchers found control over the land has become far more concentrated both directly through ownership and indirectly through contract farming, which results in more destructive monocultures and fewer carefully tended smallholdings.

    Taking the rising value of property and the growth of landless populations into account for the first time, the report calculates land inequality is 41% higher than previously believed.

    The authors said the trend was driven by short-term financial instruments, which increasingly shape the global environment and human health.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I don’t think he needs to pardon him. Congress just needs to grant him immunity.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    This election was even closer than 2016. Instead of the famous 80,000 votes in MI, PA, and WI, this year it was AZ, GA, and WI by 43, 735 votes. Paul Campos at LGM has a nice illustration of just how dicey the EC made this election.

    Assume a medium-sized arena, of the type suitable for mid-major conference college basketball teams and B-level 1970s rock groups still on tour 45 years later. This arena holds 7,226 people, and all the seats are filled by voters who, statistically speaking, precisely reflect the 2020 presidential vote.

    Here’s who they would have voted for:
    Biden: 3,685
    Trump: 3,396
    Minor candidates: 145

    You know there’s a punch line, and here it is: How many of those 3,685 Biden voters would have had to vote for Trump to flip the election?

    The answer is one (1). One voter, representing the 21,868 collective Biden voters in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin that, if they had voted for Trump instead, would have given the election to him, despite losing the popular vote by about 6.2 million ballots, out of 158 million total cast.

    One vote out of 7,226. That’s how close it was, again because of that 230-year-old Wisdom, that we can’t seem to quit (because the same Wisdom has made it impossible to amend the Constitution in this regard.)

    And that’s all before they tried to steal it anyway!

    If we’re ever going to get rid of the EC this is the time. We can convince Republicans to go along by using Republican tactics. We had the EC and something bad happened, we had a couple weeks of suspense and Trump lost. Did Trump lose because of the EC? No, it gave him his only hope of winning. But don’t think like a member of the reality based community, think like a Republican messaging person. EC = Stolen Election. If anybody wants to take a shot at pushing through the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, now’s the time. Hire the Lincoln Project and hit it. “Let’s never have an election like 2016 again.”

  13. Kathy says:


    Well, I checked.

    If you moved WI, AZ, and GA to Trump’s column, the result is a 269 tie in the EC.

    On the other hand, if you leave WI in, and count that Biden flipped (or recovered) it as well as MI and PA, and he wins the EC even without AZ and GA, then the difference is about 236,000 votes.

    IMO, one has to take MI and PA into account, as those states voted for Trump in 2016. Not counting them is cherry-picking.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: But you made me glance at my comment again @gVOR08: and realize I said 2016 in the last line when I meant 2020. @^&*^%.

    Let’s never have an election like 2020 again!!! NPVIC!!!

  15. Kathy says:

    Progress report on the KN95 masks.

    I wore one yesterday for around 12 hours (Yeah, I should change it around 6 to 8 hours; I plan to do that today). The clip is badly molded and hard, so it gets uncomfortable after a few hours. The ear straps are rather short and not very elastic, but they gave me no trouble for the first 8 hours or so. They do let in or out little air through the sides and top, making them better than the disposable surgical types Id been wearing. So, still worth it.

    I’ll say again it’s like wearing shoes. Most of the time you do’t even notice it, but yo’re glad to take it off at the end of the day.

  16. JohnSF says:

    FWIW Pennsylvania have now certified their results.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve been meaning to post this for a few weeks. My wife was trotting out Halloween pictures of our kids, which got me thinking about my Halloween costumes when I was a kid or up into my 20’s. No, I never wore blackface, but if I had decided to go as Ray Charles or Prince I would have done so without a second’s hesitation, just as I would have worn platform shoes and painted a gap in my teeth if I had gone as Elton John. I wouldn’t have thought I was racist then and wouldn’t really regret it retrospectively, although of course I would never do it now.

    I know that a frequent Halloween prop was a noose and I could certainly tie one and did and draw them as well. I may well have put up decorations that involved nooses and if I thought of it might have made a costume as a hanged man as it would fall into the minimal effort type of costume I favored. But my nooses had nothing to do with the lynching of African Americans. For anyone under the age of say, fifty, it’s probably unimaginable how dominant the Western was in American TV and movies in the 50’s through the 70’s, and almost all of them touched on hanging in one way or another. Heck Clint Eastwood was probably in 25 Westerns and he rescued people from hanging, hanged people or was hanged himself in nearly every one of them. For crying out loud, “Bonanza” probably at least mentioned hanging in every other episode. So, whatever the meaning of the noose has become over the years, I don’t have any retrospective regret for hanging the occasional manikin from a tree on Halloween.

    But I know my go-to lazy costume was that of a bum or hobo. Smear my face with dirt (is that blackface now?), put on some too-big clothes with holes in them, also covered in dirt, and a stick with a bandana bindlestiff and I was good to go. As it happens, I haven’t heard of anyone being outed for insensitivity to the homeless in decades old Halloween costumes, but it could have happened, and still could. And then, unlike blackface, I would be right in the crosshairs. I could plead ignorance rather than malice, and of course it would be true. If anything, as a kid I thought of the hobo as kind of a glamorous life. There was a hit song when in the sixties, “King of the Road” about just that, and it was so famous I would bet it still turns up enough to be familiar.

    So when I hear about some politician who dressed up as Prince or Will Smith in college and darkened their skin to do it, not only do I immediately NOT think they were racist, but I think, “there, but for the focus on race rather than homelessness, go I.”

  18. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I was about to post that here as well….the one thing that is making me think it isn’t from a 2001 fan is that the proportions aren’t correct for an Arthur C. Clarke monolith.

  19. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Nor the color, the material, and the lack of frenzied australopithecines 🙂

  20. Teve says:

    Holy shit


    FACT: Greenhouse gases generated by the U.S. will slide 9.2% this year, tumbling to the lowest level in at least three decades. @EPA

  21. Teve says:


    FACT: The coffin business sees its best year in decades!

  22. Sleeping Dog says:


    A true Trumpian solution to global warming, kill hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens and bankrupt the economy so thousands more can die. Next thing you know, she’ll be tweeting, let them eat cake.

  23. Jen says:

    @Teve: Please tell me she is being ratioed for posting this. I’m afraid to look.

  24. CSK says:

    Be interesting if there’s a follow-up.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: The article notes that NM artist John McCracken does stuff that stylistically is very similar. I won’t venture to say he is the guilty party or not, but I will make a bet: There are more of them out there in the lonely places of this continent or possibly the planet.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Linky: John Mcracken. My kingdom for a reliable edit function.

  27. Mu Yixiao says:


    I know that a frequent Halloween prop was a noose and I could certainly tie one and did and draw them as well.

    The issue with the noose is an interesting one when you look at the facts vs. “what everyone knows”.

    Lynching ≠ hanging. Lynching is an “extrajudicial execution”. Any time a mob shot, drowned, or beat someone to death, that was a lynching.

    It’s a fair bet that most of the mob hangings didn’t actually use a noose; just a slip-knot. A noose is used to snap the neck. An experienced hangman would adjust the number of wraps to accommodate the weight of the hanged. Too many and the the persons strangles (hanging for minutes), too few and it could pull the head off.

    Hanging with a noose was a standard form of legal execution–and just based on population numbers, I’d wager that far more white people were hung from the gallows than blacks.

  28. just nutha says:

    @Mu Yixiao: But probably more blacks and Native Americans from the limbs of trees. Context is everything (and I’m a touch skeptical about your base statistic, too).

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Hanging with a noose was a standard form of legal execution–and just based on population numbers, I’d wager that far more white people were hung from the gallows than blacks.

    Not down south what with rates of incarceration for blacks and rigged juries. I would bet about equal numbers.

  30. Mu Yixiao says:

    @just nutha:

    But probably more blacks and Native Americans from the limbs of trees. Context is everything (and I’m a touch skeptical about your base statistic, too).

    From the limbs of trees, undoubtedly.

    From the gallows with a proper noose… I’m not so sure.

    Ah… Ask and google shall provide:

    More than half of the 15,746 executions in U.S. history have been by hanging.


    Scholars estimate that 4,742 total people, mostly male, were lynched from 1882 to 1968. About 3,445 of those individuals were African American and 1,297 were white


    So… 3,445 lynchings of blacks–no data on how many of those were by hanging, though–vs. 7,875 legitimate executions by hanging. A few of the articles I’m scanning mention that shooting, stabbing, and burning were common for lynchings (Oxford comma optional, as it was often more than one of those).

  31. Mu Yixiao says:


    Not down south what with rates of incarceration for blacks and rigged juries. I would bet about equal numbers.

    I considered putting “legitimate” in scare quotes just for that reason. But those still count as “judicial executions” because they went before a judge and jury–even if there was very little real justice involved.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I figured, I was just saying that the numbers would be influenced by the fact that justice in the old South was for Just Us.

  33. Kathy says:

    Questions are surging about the effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The notion that a small dose followed by a full dose is more effective than two full doses, looks too anomalous.

    I gather the researchers involved are testing this specific aspect. Meaning dosing people that way and see what happens.

    But even a 60% to 70% effective vaccine would be good enough for low and middle income countries who can 1) afford enough doses, and 2) aren’t set up for the ultra-low temperatures required by the other leading vaccine contenders.

    Provided, that is, as near to 100% vaccination rate as possible, and provided a better system of testing and tracing, especially of asymptomatic cases.

    Unfortunately, I think that’s a rather large proviso. We can predict some people eon’t want the vaccines on any terms, others may eschew the second dose, others might get the second dose too late, and many countries have failed at testing and tracing (and some even boast about their lack of testing).

    And for all that, a less efficacious vaccine you can get is still better than a more efficacious one you can’t obtain.

  34. Teve says:

    @Jen: there are 14,000 replies calling her a moron, but sadly 37,000 likes.

  35. JohnSF says:

    The most recent explanations I’ve heard (I work at a university site with a big nurse graduate training element, and some of our researchers are involved in planning for testing and vaccination programmes; but my knowledge is second hand, via their technical support staff) is that the 90% response to small dose/full dose sounds weird but that it is genuine.

    Supposition is that, though AZ/Oxford isn’t mRNA, it is still rather different from conventional vaccines (I get a bit lost at this point; I am by no means a medical biologist!) and that likely accounts for the anomalous response pattern; something to do with either a secondary part of the immune system, or the genetically modified delivery system interacting with something.

    Anyway, it sound like several other mRNA vaccines are in train beside Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and more conventional types (which are taking longer for technical reasons that, once again, are over my little head) from Sanofi, Novavax and Sinopharm.
    Then there’s yet another, even more novel, approach using genetic modification to mimic the CV structure while not actually incorporating it (don’t ask me!).

    But at any rate: there is a whole load of pretty good looking vaccine variants coming on fast.
    And for therapeutic treatments as well.
    Combine that with an effective fast and at-scale testing/tracing system (though I have doubts that will ever be effectively used in the US) and by second half 2021 we could be getting on top of this.
    Just so long as we keep up masking/distancing/isolating/hygiene in the meantime.

  36. Kathy says:


    The small/large does increased effectiveness might be genuine. I’ve long maintained biology is messy above all else. And this would rank rather low on the odd biology meter. It’s just both unexpected and very odd. I gather it’s being tested specifically, which will delay the vaccine for a few weeks.

    The Oxford vaccines uses a monkey common cold virus to infiltrate human cells and get them to make SARS-CoV-2 protein spikes, which then generate the adaptive immune response. This is similar to the mRNA strategy, which uses messenger RNA to infiltrate cells and get them to produce spikes.

    The different vectors matter. A whole virus is far more stable, and better protected, than naked mRNA, ergo the difference in storage temperatures.

    The more conventional vaccines use fragments of the actual pathogen, dead/inactive pathogen, or live but weakened/crippled pathogen to generate a response. These are far more time consuming and difficult to develop (developing techniques for mRNA vaccines took decades; we’re lucky they were done when we needed them). They also run a much higher risk of side effects or even infection.

  37. Gustopher says:


    (developing techniques for mRNA vaccines took decades; we’re lucky they were done when we needed them)

    Now that we have (hopefully) plowed through the first batch of vaccines with these techniques, I am wondering if it will speed vaccine production for other illnesses. Lyme Disease, Ebola, Ennui, HIV, etc. It’s bound to, right?

  38. Kathy says:


    It may not be possible to develop a vaccine for every pathogen. 4 decades of ineffective vaccines for HIV make this plausible.

    What mRNA allows is faster development. I speculated here we might use mRNA against multiple strains of seasonal flu, for instance, perhaps in a polivalent shot (given the cost, it would have to be).

  39. JohnSF says:

    From what little I can understand of the matter, it depends a lot on the characteristics of the virus.
    mRNA for instance seems to be an effective approach only with some, for reasons that escape me.
    OTOH, there seem to be a whole slew of new approaches to vaccines gathering pace fast, e.g. the “engineered mimicry” approach.

    And various methods of accelerated initial design and testing using both computer simulation and rapid genetic manipulation, and combinations of the two.

    It looks like covid has resulted in a lot of bottlenecks being hit by a tidal wave of money, effort, and acceleration of pace.
    Probably no panaceas, but I’d bet that we’ll learn quite a bit.

  40. CSK says:

    A Lyme disease vaccine was developed and marketed in 1998. It was withdrawn from the market 3 years later because of declining sales and fears of side effects.

    Back then, Lyme disease was thought to be confined to a very limited area of the country, specifically New England.

  41. Teve says:


    “One of the reasons why it has been so difficult to make an AIDS vaccine is that the virus infects the very cells of the immune system that any vaccine is supposed to induce,” senior author Dr. Guido Silvestri, chief of microbiology and immunology at Yerkes National Primate Research Center said in a statement.

  42. Kathy says:


    Messenger RNA, mRNA, is a single strand molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene, and is read by a ribosome (a cellular organelle) in the process of synthesizing a protein.

    This means mRNA vaccines send the mRNA segments to make specific proteins, like those that form the spikes of the SARS-CoV-2.

    I don’t know if the mechanism can be adapted to make something other than proteins (say the lipid coating of a virus, for example), to induce an immune response.


    I suspected something like that. I know AIDS patients produce lots of antibodies, but these don’t stop HIV from spreading and replicating. HIV attacks T Cells, another part of the adaptive immune system. I know treatments interfere with its reproduction, keeping it from causing too much trouble, to the extent that a patient can live a near-normal life for decades. But it remains a chronic, serious illness.

  43. Teve says:

    @Kathy: when I worked in the hospital labs I actually wasn’t afraid of HIV. What I was afraid of was hepatitis B. The infectious dose is 10 times less. You can get stuck with an HIV-laced needle and wind up fine. You get stuck with a hepatitis needle, there is a much lower chance you’re fine. Heptavax came out as a vaccine against Hep b. The last Hep b vaccine dose i ever had? A doctor made it known that he’d put a vial in our fridge in a lab in Valdosta. I happily sucked it into a syringe and poked myself. Fuck Hep b.

  44. MarkedMan says:


    It was withdrawn from the market 3 years later because of declining sales and fears of side effects.

    Part of what made this vaccine unprofitable was that it came out during the height of the anti-vax craze and the company just decided it wasn’t worth the liability for a marginally profitable drug. I blame having contracted Lyme disease several years ago on the f*ing anti-vaxers and I can tell you that was a bad, bad illness. And not just physically, it also affected me mentally, with paranoia and severe animation. The year before I contracted it I set a personal best in a half marathon but After Lyme it took me over a year to recover to the point that I could walk a 5K.

  45. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: We call it Tick Fever here, but it’s no joke. I’ve seen lifelong cowboys never be able to ride a horse again because of it. I don’t ever recall a vaccine being available, I know I’d take it if it was.

  46. CSK says:

    Sorry you had to go through this. Lyme is indeed a bad illness.
    For some stupid reason, it was thought not to exist in your part of the country.

  47. Jen says:

    Re: the Lyme disease vaccine–New Hampshire Public Radio did a whole series about Lyme disease. Where it started, when and how it was identified, etc. I remembered wondering why I could get a Lyme disease vaccine for my dog, but couldn’t get it for me, and the show explained exactly what CSK said. Lymerix was developed and manufactured, but they pulled it because no one wanted to take it.