Tuesday’s Forum

More word of mouth.

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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Revealed: Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms

    The companies said they would make new dicamba formulations that would stay where they were sprayed and would not volatilize as older versions of dicamba were believed to do. With good training, special nozzles, buffer zones and other “stewardship” practices, the companies assured regulators and farmers that the new system would bring “really good farmer-friendly formulations to the marketplace”.

    But in private meetings dating back to 2009, records show agricultural experts warned that the plan to develop a dicamba-tolerant system could have catastrophic consequences. The experts told Monsanto that farmers were likely to spray old volatile versions of dicamba on the new dicamba-tolerant crops and even new versions were still likely to be volatile enough to move away from the special cotton and soybean fields on to crops growing on other farms.

    Importantly, under the system designed by Monsanto and BASF, only farmers buying Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds would be protected from dicamba drift damage. Other cotton and soybean farmers and farmers growing everything from wheat to watermelons would be at risk from the drifting dicamba.

    According to a report prepared for Monsanto in 2009 as part of industry consultation, such “off-target movement” was expected, along with “crop loss”, “lawsuits” and “negative press around pesticides”.

    A 2015 document shows that Monsanto’s own projections estimated that dicamba damage claims from farmers would total more than 10,000 cases, including 1,305 in 2016, 2,765 in 2017 and 3,259 in 2018.
    The documents show that both companies were excited about the profit potential in the new system. BASF projected its new dicamba herbicide would be a “$400m brand in two years”, with sales by May 2017 exceeding $131m and a gross profit of 45%.

    The companies saw part of the opportunity in selling to soybean and cotton farmers who didn’t need or want the special dicamba-tolerant crops but could be convinced to buy them as a means to protect their crops from dicamba drift, the documents show.

    That strategy was noted in multiple documents. In one BASF 2016 strategy update, the company noted “defensive planting” as a “potential market opportunity”. Monsanto also saw “new users” in farmers who suffered drift damage.

    In one November 2016 email exchange, a Monsanto distributor noted that “all the dicamba drift damage complaints” were spiking demand for Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant seed. The Monsanto executive responded: “We have more potential this year than I have ever seen since 09 to blow it out.”


    BASF and Monsanto’s German owner, Bayer AG, has denied liability and has said it plans to appeal against the verdict in the peach farmer case. Their products are safe and effective when used correctly, both say

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    NYT: N.Y. Hospitals Face $400 Million in Cuts Even as Virus Battle Rages

    For the last few weeks, Dr. David Perlstein has been scrambling to find more beds and ventilators, knowing that the coronavirus outbreak, which has filled his Bronx hospital with more than 100 patients, will undoubtedly get much worse.

    Then a week ago, Dr. Perlstein, the chief executive officer of St. Barnabas Hospital, was given some disturbing news by a state senator: His hospital could soon lose millions of dollars in government funding.

    The funding cut was proposed by a panel that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo convened earlier this year, before the virus had reached the United States, to rein in the state’s growing Medicaid program by identifying $2.5 billion in savings.

    But the timing of the proposals, which were released in mid-March and include about $400 million in cuts to hospitals, was a blow to the morale of many hospitals and medical workers on the front lines of the fight against a ruthless virus that has infected tens of thousands in New York.
    “It’s a shot in the gut,” Dr. Perlstein said. “During a time I need to commit all the energy I have to really save lives and expand access and not skimp on resources, now I have to worry about how we’re going to continue to pay our bills.”

    Asked about the proposed cuts, the governor said on Saturday that hospitals would receive a windfall from the $2 trillion federal stimulus package, which provides over $150 billion in grants to hospitals fighting the virus across the country.

    “The places that are getting the most funding now because of what the federal government did are the hospitals,” Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said. “They are doing better than anyone else.”

    He then said, as he has before, “The state has no money.”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:
  4. Bill says:

    Bernie Sanders still has an office here in Palm Beach County and its in the news-

    Bernie Sanders’ unofficial campaign office in Lake Worth Beach is vandalized

    The only good thing about the coronavirus? It is that the Presidential campaign is almost forgotten at the moment.

  5. Mu Yixiao says:

    Trump claims credit for Cuomo’s popularity.

    Not a ton of data out there for individual states, but here’s change in net job approval ratings for a few govs + Trump.

    Whitmer (MI): +30
    Cooper (NC): +31
    Cuomo (NY): +55
    Trump (US): +5

    Now’s the time for Biden to step up and support the states; build momentum going into the summer that he can ride out in November.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The frontline in the battle against coronavirus has shifted a couple of hundred yards down the main road through the Kansas city of Wellington.
    Two weeks ago, as the virus crept closer and people in other parts of the state started dying, the owners of the city’s only hospital thought it a good time to close down with just a few hours’ notice on the grounds the facility was losing money.

    “We lost our hospital abruptly and without warning,” said Dr Lacie Gregory, a family practitioner in Wellington. “Even as the healthcare providers here in town, we did not hear that it was closing until it was a done deal. We received a text message from the director of nursing saying as of now there’s no hospital. So really, really unfortunate timing.”

    That has left Gregory and a small group of other doctors and nurse practitioners at the city’s Family Care Center at the forefront of preparing for the coming pandemic with little guidance and not much equipment.
    The doctors improvised, setting up a separate drive-thru clinic at the back of their building for people complaining of coughs, fever or showing other symptoms of Covid-19. But even finding the protective equipment for the physicians handling those patients is a challenge.

    The county’s emergency management office in Wellington has put in orders for masks, visors and gowns but been told by the state that only part of the request will be delivered. So far nothing has arrived.

    The doctors at the health centre went looking elsewhere. At the local farmers cooperative they found masks designed to protect workers on the city’s grain elevator from dust. At another store they bought face shields farmworkers use when working with chemicals. They are not medical grade but better than nothing. The doctors still face a shortage of gowns and gloves.

    “It’s been really frustrating. It’s been what we have been able to piece together,” said Gregory. “All of us as physicians are reading and researching and relying on colleagues across the country for information on where they are getting equipment and what’s working for them. This is going to overwhelm our system and we won’t be ready to to treat people. We won’t have the resources to treat people.”

    The makeshift clinic is seeing about 20 people a day but even then there is only so much they can do. The director of the Sumner county health department, Laura Rettig, said that at any one time it has only a handful of coronavirus test kits for the entire county of 25,000 people. They have to be sent to the state laboratory and the results take days.

    Only the best healthcare in America. Land of the Free, Home of the Dead.

  7. Kari Q says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Now’s the time for Biden to step up and support the states; build momentum going into the summer that he can ride out in November.

    There is absolutely nothing Biden can do to ‘step up.’ He’s not an elected official, he has no role in any government. I suppose he could call for donations for relief efforts. Beyond that, what is there?

    Either a miraculous cure or vaccine will be developed and we can all go back to work, or we are doomed to become a textbook example of what not to do in a crisis. If the first, Biden loses no matter what he does now. If the second, Biden wins.

  8. Kari Q says:

    Jonathon Chait’s article “The Conservative War on Science” reminds me of just how fast things are changing. I had completely forgotten about
    Richard Epstein predicting there would be 500 Americans killed by covid-19, total. There were over 450 yesterday alone.

  9. Jon says:

    @Kari Q:

    You may also like this Isaac Chotiner interview with Epstein, then: The Contrarian Coronavirus Theory That Informed the Trump Administration.

  10. Tyrell says:

    Police are already seeing another epidemic: reports of domestic violence are going up – already. Some victims are requiring hospitalization. The police are in a fix about arresting someone because the jails are being emptied.
    Unintended but expected consequences. People can’t be cooped up for long without there being consequences.
    At least here people are being encouraged to get outside, go walkng, ride a bike, do yard work, walk the dog.
    In our neighborhood the parents and schools have organized activities for kids such as running, sidewalk art, and dying t-shirts. There are also two tracks nearby.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A hero for our times: Planting hope: the Syrian refugee who developed virus-resistant super-seeds

    The call came as she sat in her hotel room. “They gave us 10 minutes to pack up and leave,” Dr Safaa Kumari was told down a crackling phone line. Armed fighters had just seized her house in Aleppo and her family were on the run.

    Kumari was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, preparing to present a conference. She immediately began organising a sprint back to Syria. Hidden in her sister’s house was a small but very valuable bundle that she was prepared to risk her life to recover.

    Kumari is a plant virologist. Her work focuses on a quiet yet devastating development crisis. Climate-fuelled virus epidemics affecting fava beans, lentils and chickpeas are spreading from Syria to Ethiopia, gradually destroying the livelihoods of low-income populations. Known as “poor man’s meat”, these pulses are vital for both income generation and food security in many parts of the world.

    Finding a cure was urgent, Kumari explains. Hopeless farmers were seeing increasing levels of infected crops turning yellow and black. The cause? “Climate change provides aphids with the right temperatures to breed exponentially and spread the epidemics,” she says.

    For 10 years, Kumari worked to find a solution. Finally, she discovered a bean variety naturally resistant to one of the viruses: the fava bean necrotic yellow virus (FBNYV). “When I found those resistant seeds, I felt there was something important in them,” says Kumari from her lab in Lebanon where she now works. Only the fighting in Syria had moved. “I had left them at my sister’s in central Aleppo to protect them from the fighting,” she says.

    Determined not to let a war get in the way of her work “for the world’s poor”, Kumari felt it her duty to rescue the seeds in Aleppo. “I was thinking: how am I going to get those seeds out of Syria?

    The best part?

    Kumari now plans to distribute her super-seeds free to farmers. She has already turned down an offer from a large company for the virus detection technology.

    “They wanted to buy our product and then sell it to the farmers, but we refused,” says Kumari. “Ours is free. It’s our responsibility to provide our solutions to people everywhere,” she says.

    Us Americans could teach her a thing or 2.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:


    Even as US hospitals complained of shortages and struggles, Trump boasted that the US would soon have a surplus, and be able to provide millions in aid to Italy, France and Spain. He came under fire today over reports that the US provided nearly 18 tons of ventilators and other equipment to China, weeks after the first cases were reported in Washington state.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    I’m going to continue to beat the drum that Trump is hoarding supplies and doling them out to his allies or using them to enrich himself personally in some way. One thing I cautioned about was counting the administrations promises as proof of good faith. Here’s a TPM article describing how the administration had trumpeted their promise to deliver N95 masks to Illinois but instead sent inferior surgical masks. The word of Trump or any administration official, means nothing. They continue to keep secret actual shipments. There is no non-corrupt reason for that.

  14. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “People can’t be cooped up for long without there being consequences.”

    And yet somehow my wife and I have managed to refrain from physically assaulting each other.

  15. Tyrell says:

    Well, we have an arrangement. I stay outside, ride the bike, do lawn work, and walk in the woods.
    She stays in.
    She watches her programs. I watch mine: Smackdown, H50, MacGyver, Flash, Super Girl, Supernaturals, Disney +, History Channel.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: And there will be consequences from that!

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Jon: I’ve been dumping on Epstein for a few days now. Thanks to the Chotiner interview, this morning Dan Drezner at WAPO is on the bandwagon of Epstein’s self destruction, in the broader context of the uselessness of the”conservative intelligentsia”.

    It’s safe to say that Epstein’s reputation took something of a hit, although I bet his hubris remains intact.

    Note that Epstein is not some rando RWNJ, he’s one of our most influential conservative legal scholars. And this coronavirus piece is so bad it’s hard to believe the sloppiness and motivated reasoning are confined to his writing on the pandemic.

  18. Kathy says:

    The Mexican government has issued a very vague order to shut down all non-essential activities until April 30th. Supposedly no one can be fired, and salaries will continue to be paid, but there’s no word of any government money involved for this purpose. No doubt many big businesses can do this, but how are small businesses which close supposed to manage this?

    As for me, work continues. Food production and distribution is essential. But this doesn’t mean we should continue to keep putting proposals together.

    The way government goes about acquiring goods and services, most commonly, is through open invitations for companies to submit bids. Federal ones are mostly done online, with no contact with the participants, except if visits and/or samples are required. State and local ones are 99% in person, with a meeting for questions, samples and visits if required, then a meeting to present the proposals and bids, then a meeting to issue a ruling on who qualifies, then another meeting to open the bids and declare a winner. In Mexico City, in addition, there’s a reverse auction, where participants can offer lower prices.

    All this involves a lot of contact and travel, all of which is unnecessary. Laws vary by state, but about all allow for simplified procedures in case of emergency or force majeure. A pandemic certainly qualifies.

    Also, existing contracts can be extended as much as 20-30% at any time after they run out, except, again in case of emergency or force majeure. Again, the pandemic certainly qualifies.

    Now, there’s a measure of self-interest. My employer currently is bidding for contracts it already services that are running out. A suspension of the acquisition process would extend them for a month or two, or even longer. Sure. But we’re also competing for contracts we don’t currently serve, so those are gone. And all these contracts are at fixed prices, so a suspension means we have to keep last year’s prices instead of raising them.

  19. Jon says:


    Ah, I missed that. Well done, then, and sorry to re-post!

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Jon: There’s room on the Epstein-is-an-idiot bandwagon for everyone.

  21. Gustopher says:


    In our neighborhood the parents and schools have organized activities for kids such as running, sidewalk art, and dying t-shirts. There are also two tracks nearby.

    You’re not supposed to be mixing the kids. This isn’t day camp. Might as well have Opie in school if you’re doing that.

    Just crate them like dogs or something. But make a game of it, so it’s not child abuse.

  22. David S. says:

    Trump says Republicans would ‘never’ be elected again if it was easier to vote


    Report of Urns Stacked at Wuhan Funeral Homes Raises Questions About the Real Coronavirus Death Toll in China


  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    Depending on just how desperately bored you are, I’m doing a sort of free write-in-the-open of a project I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while: Guns and Dragons.

  24. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: The state governor said no more than ten people, so the little groups are usually about 4 or less at different stations or activities. They are kept six feet apart. All are outside in the fresh, warm air. The school people come around and give out gift bags that have books, crayons, candy, coloring paper, and toys like yo-yo’s.
    That seems to be a better arrangement then having them in the day care places, which are still open.
    The teens – no telling what they are doing. I see some playing basketball or swimming. But what can you do? I think most of their parents are still working.

  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @David S.:

    Report of Urns Stacked at Wuhan Funeral Homes Raises Questions About the Real Coronavirus Death Toll in China.

    Yep. I said from the start the Chinese numbers were almost certainly bullshit. It won’t surprise me in the least to learn that a million people have died in Wuhan and elsewhere.

  26. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yep. I said from the start the Chinese numbers were almost certainly bullshit. It won’t surprise me in the least to learn that a million people have died in Wuhan and elsewhere.


    Let’s see how many down votes this post of yours gets. I said something similar about 7-10 days ago and I stirred some of the natives here.

  27. Sleeping Dog says:


    When did you start trusting what the government says??

  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The latest Republican talking point is that Impeachment distracted Trump form the Coronavirus, and thus his poor response to the crisis.
    So, while Trump is saying he has done a great job and no one could do better, Republicans are admitting that he hasn’t done a great job? I wish soemone in the 4th Estate would show some balls and ask Trump about this.
    But…essentially…they are saying that if someone robs a convenience store and crashes into a school bus while trying to escape, and kills all the kids, that it’s the cops fault for chasing him in the first place???

  29. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kari Q:

    There is absolutely nothing Biden can do to ‘step up.’ He’s not an elected official, he has no role in any government. I suppose he could call for donations for relief efforts. Beyond that, what is there?

    He’s a former Vice President, a 36-year senator, the de-facto candidate of the Democratic party, and possibly the next President of the United States. He has connections, he has influence, and he has a voice with authority behind it.

    If he can’t do more than “absolutely nothing” with all of that, he should drop out of the race and retire somewhere. Leadership doesn’t depend on votes. Leaders step up and lead.

    He can speak openly and honestly with America and build trust. He can use his influence to move things along in Washington–with the knowledge that he might be the one in charge 9 months from now. He can put those in need and those with influence in the same room and let them work out deals. He can call on local parties and precinct captains and put them to work where they’re needed. He can call on experts in the appropriate fields and give them a platform from which to speak. He can use some of his ad-buys to highlight blue-state blue-collar workers and what they’re doing to fight COVID-19–in solidarity with red-state blue-collar workers. He can craft a message that says this is an American crisis, not a political one.

    He can step up and be a leader.

  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Folks, Interesting read. Second generation mobster.

    Tinker, Tailor, Mobster, Trump

    Mobsters, casinos, informants, Moscow… many details woven together.

  31. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Biden’s Team has put together some powerful ads, and his podcast is generally interesting.
    But mostly, he should remain in the background.
    There is no point in murdering a man who is committing suicide.

  32. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    That was interesting. Thanks for the link.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: What makes me crazy is that all that was known years ago. But the supposedly liberal MSM didn’t report it because it wasn’t news or it wasn’t balanced or gawd knows why. What did come out was dismissed on the right as fake news. And he got elected President*.

  34. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    But mostly, he should remain in the background.
    There is no point in murdering a man who is committing suicide.

    Ah… but that’s where the real skill of leadership comes in.

    Biden should do all the things I said–without openly attacking Trump. I could navigate that, and he probably has assistants to assistants that are far more skilled than I am.

    He just needs to step up and be a leader that people want to follow. Strong, confident-yet-humble, honest, and positive.

    Aside from doing the right thing, that approach would play well in swing states. A lot of northern conservatives would respect Biden for rising above politics and looking out for all Americans. A lot of southern conservatives would respect him for being honest and “being a good Christian” (honesty, help thy neighbor).

    Of course plenty of others wouldn’t, but it’s about tipping the balance.

  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I think, if you bother to look, you’ll see he is doing those things.
    He has a new ad out today which is very powerful.

  36. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I don’t have a TV. I don’t have Facebook. I… basically don’t have anything that shows me ads.

    Thanks for letting me know. I’ll see if I can find his ads on YouTube tomorrow.

  37. charon says:


    Hospital was probably in poor shape, the prospect of uninsured or underinsured COVI-19 seriously ill patients triggered pulling the plug. This will happen elsewhere also.

  38. Kathy says:

    So this may be the reason why the US government decided to indict Maduro.

    I’m sorry. But I keep picturing old Nick with a smirk, asking “Yeah? You and what army, Donnie Boy?”

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Their products are safe and effective when used correctly, both say.

    And of course, part of using them correctly includes advising your neighbors to buy Monsanto dicamba resistant seed, right?

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Note that Epstein is not some rando RWNJ, he’s one of our most influential conservative legal scholars.

    It seems to me that the two statements in that sentence contradict each other. Or am I being too cynical?

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: When it became convenient to–just like all the other “can’t trust the gubmint” types I’ve ever met.

    Or in the alternative, when the government does something they believe they will benefit from.

  42. Bill says:

    Mike Pence just said ‘help is on the way’. That reminded me of this.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Interesting read. I have only one observation, related to the Gravano comment near the end:

    (Gravano himself was asked about the Comey pull-quote by Jerry Capeci of Gangland News; he said, “The country doesn’t need a bookworm as president, it needs a mob boss. You don’t need a Harvard graduate to deal with these people…[Putin, Kim, Xi] are real gangsters. You need a fucking gangster to deal with these people.” This seems to indicate that Sammy the Bull thinks Trump is a “mob boss” and a “fucking gangster.” Takes one to know one?) [emphasis added]

    While I will acknowledge that the implication of Gravano is that Trump is a gangster, the outcome of his forays with Putin, et al. would seem to argue against Trump being a “fucking gangster”–or at least a competent one.

    Of course, it may also be that Gravano is simply wrong and it doesn’t take a gangster to deal with those leaders. Still in all, an interesting read. Thanks for the link.

  44. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Not mutually exclusive.