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:

    Despite the title, half of this piece is about Andrew Cuomo:


  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. Jen says:

    This is exceedingly strange. Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne (R-TX24) has had massive staff turnover (Chief of staff and Legislative director both fired, Comms director quit) and a staff aide apparently died by suicide *on the congresswoman’s front porch.*


  4. Jax says:
  5. Jen says:

    @Jax: Wow, what an @sshole.

    There’s almost too much to choose from in that piece…but UGH:

    O’Brien said Simons began harassing her soon after her election to the state House in 2016, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

    “Every couple of days he’d walk by and give me the up-down,” O’Brien said, referencing the way Simons looked at her.

    Other days, O’Brien said Simons would ask her about her personal life, questioning who was home doing the dishes and laundry when she was at work. “He would say that I must be a ‘good secretary for your boss,’ ” she told the Herald. “He would say ‘you’re lucky your boss lets you come out here to work.’ ”

  6. CSK says:

    Apparently the man who shot himself, Chris Dillard, had been Van Duyne’s campaign communications director.

  7. Jax says:

    @Jen: It makes me wonder….has he always been an asshole like that, or was he emboldened by Trump’s behavior? It will be interesting to see if anybody steps forward from the time BEFORE he was elected.

  8. Jen says:

    @CSK: The whole thing is exceedingly weird. Three staffers fired/quit within less than two months on the job AND a staff member’s suicide? I’m honestly surprised it’s not getting more coverage. Something seems very, very wrong.

  9. CSK says:

    I was startled to notice (just now) that, from the date on an NBC news article, this happened on February 10.

  10. Has anyone ever gotten a random free item from Amazon?

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    It’s called “Brushing”:


    They’re basically making fake orders in other people’s names and then leaving a five star review for themselves to improve their seller rating.

  12. @Stormy Dragon:

    The issue is that there’s no indicator that it came from a third party seller or who else have sent him

    Also, it’s a a box of AdvilPM.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes, but very long ago.

    Aside from paper bookmarks in just about every book order way back in the late 90s, they once sent a blue tumbler with inspirational quotes printed on it. That was around 1999 or 2000.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: From Wiki, concerning the referendum last year for statehood:

    The referendum was held on November 3 as part of the 2020 United States elections and yes to Statehood won. There were 655,505 voted yes to statehood (52.52%) and 592,671 voted no to statehood (47.48%).[2] After the results, the Puerto Rico Legislature passed the “Puerto Rico Congressional Act” Law 167 of 2020[50] calling a special election to elect two (2) shadow senators and four (4) shadow congress-members to Washington D.C. to advocate for Statehood.

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, they don’t want YOU to go leave a good review. Whoever placed the fake order in your name will be leaving the review. Furthermore, whatever they actually sent isn’t necessarily what the order is for. They’re taking advantage of the fact Amazon doesn’t inspect most of the stuff going through its warehouses, so the thing they send just has to be the right size that it’s not obviously fraudulent.

  16. @MarkedMan:

    But what was voter turnout like?

    In the past statehood has either won or lost because one side of the other boycotting the vote. I have posted several times here at OTB you should be able to find them via search

  17. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: ❤️

  18. Teve says:

    @Doug Mataconis: months after they started, in the mid-90s, my former friend Mike ordered something from them and got the wrong item. He called them. “How do I send this back?” “Uh…we really don’t have a way to take things back….so I guess just keep it.”

  19. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I can understand why the author of a self-published book would want to create a scam for producing good reviews, because no legitimate reviewer bothers with such things. But unless I’m missing something, why would the manufacturer of Advil have to engage in that kind of fraud?

  20. @Teve

    That has never happened to me

  21. Teve says:

    @Doug Mataconis: they were burning endless cash at the time.

  22. Jen says:

    We’ve received extra stuff from Amazon…in one case, it was an extra item in a box along with something we did order. My guess in that case was that some robot (or human) knocked something into the wrong box. We were told to keep whatever it was (it was something odd/small, like a rubber gasket or zip ties…something that could easily fall into a box without anyone noticing).

    We’ve also been on the receiving end of the brushing scheme. What they’re looking for in those situations is a verified purchaser notation next to the review. Those were odd things like a cell phone case etc. We were also told to keep those.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Returns are expensive. And it creates goodwill with the customer — don’t make them jump through hoops to fix Amazon’s mistake.

  24. Stormy Dragon says:


    Let me use a specific example that occurred recently:
    1. Shady seller in Taiwan opens an Amazon account, selling $50 gold earrings.
    2. Starts placing fake orders, but instead of earrings sends out seed packets.
    3. People all over the US start randomly getting seed packets they didn’t order from Amazon.
    4. Meanwhile, shady seller is leaving self “Verified Purchaser” reviews about how amazing the earrings are.
    5. Reviews push up seller rating so they get high enough in the rankings that people searching for earrings start placing orders
    6. Between the people complaining about getting seeds they didn’t order and people complaining they got ripped off on the earrings, Amazon finally notices what’s up and shuts shady seller down, but not before they’ve made a bunch of money off the scam
    7. Shady seller starts another account and process begins again.

  25. The answer to the supposed scandal of transgender women playing girls or women’s sports.


  26. @Stormy Dragon:

    I no idea how I can connect this delivery to a specific seller

  27. Scott says:

    This seems morally and ethically confused.

    New Orleans Archdiocese warns Catholics to avoid ‘morally compromised’ Johnson & Johnson vaccine

    On Friday, as a Food and Drug Administration expert panel recommended approving the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, the Archdiocese of New Orleans offered a differing opinion. Taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Archdiocese said, would be immoral.

    “The archdiocese must instruct Catholics that the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing,” the Archdiocese of New Orleans said in a statement on Friday.

    To use events in the past to put people in the future at risk of death is really shoddy moralizing.

    And for the Catholic Church to opine on “moral compromise” is breathtaking.

  28. Mikey says:


    We’ve received extra stuff from Amazon…in one case, it was an extra item in a box along with something we did order.

    I ordered some small item and a huge box showed up. It contained my small item and a stainless steel kitchen sink. I called Amazon and they had no record of having sent me a sink and therefore no way to generate a return for it. I waited a couple weeks and then sold the sink on eBay for a couple hundred bucks.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: My reading is a bit different. Taking only modern era votes:

    2012: Turnout quite high. At least 1.8M voted out of total population fo 3.5 M. Note that the 3.5M is total population, not just eligible voters. The results are a bit complicated to understand because they tried to ask two questions simultaneously, and a significant number did not answer the second question:
    – Should Puerto Rico remain a territory? “No” won with 54% of the vote
    – If the above vote is “No” what should happen? 61% for Statehood, 33% Free Association and 6% Independence
    After the vote the Puerto Rican Legislature formerly requested that the US President begin the transition to statehood

    2017: This is the one that became a mess because of various factions calling for boycotts. Only roughly 800K people voted, and they chose statehood by 97% to 1.5%. But bear in mind that the reason the anti-statehood and others called for a boycott was that they felt certain they were going to lose.

    2020: 1.25M out of 3.2M (population declined). Question was clearly put: Yes to statehood (52.5%) or No to statehood (47.5%). After the results were in, the Puerto Rican Legislature passed a law calling for a special election for 2 shadow senators and 4 shadow congress members to advocate for statehood.

    It’s pretty clear that a small but consistent majority has wanted statehood over the past ten years, as measured by at least 2 major elections that had a large turnout. As a comparison, in recent years the Gubernatorial elections, the highest office on the ballot, had a turnout of around 50% of the eligible voters. I couldn’t find the number of eligible voters but saw that at least 16% of the population is under 18

  30. Jon says:

    @Scott: And yet oddly the archdiocese has no issues with all the morally compromised wealth they accumulated from slavery and the slave trade.

  31. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Well named…


    The Who Announce Gigantic 112-Track Edition Of ‘The Who Sell Out’
    The Who announced a gargantuan edition of their third studio album, 1967’s The Who Sell Out, which features 112 tracks, 46 of which have never been released before.

    I mean, it always was a sell out. Think I’ll go back to listening to some Leo Kottke.

  32. inhumans99 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    First, welcome back! I had a package sent to me from Amazon maybe a couple years back (or even a bit further back than that) that contained some weird get up to provide a scent for your home/apt that I clearly had not ordered. I was nervous about the delivery but said to myself I would not contact Amazon and just ignore the order unless it became a thing.

    I checked my Amazon account, credit card statement, and even my bank account to check if my identity had been compromised or something like that but nope, after googling I determined it was what Stormy described and I feel I did the right thing just tossing the order, keeping an eye on my accounts for the next month or two and will note that it has not happened to me since then.

    At least you got a bottle of aspirin which you can use (assuming it does not look like the bottle has been tampered with), lol! The item I received was weird and involved work to make it work for me so as I mentioned, I just tossed and moved on with my life.

  33. Skookum says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I have a friend who lost thousands of dollars in an Amazon scam. I’m not sure how it all came about, because she is embarrassed about being played and doesn’t discuss it. Somehow the Amazon vendor said that they has mischarged her and needed to give her a refund. They asked for her bank routing number and account number so they could make a funds transfer. Instead they wiped out several of her accounts before she realized it was a scam. She lost a significant amount of savings–in the tens of thousands.

  34. I still think Sykes is hilarious vis-a-vis his own role in bringing us to this point in politics, but he has some good writers on there: https://thetriad.thebulwark.com/p/bidens-future-has-two-parts

    Despite what the URL says it’s mostly about GOP revanchism.

  35. DrDaveT says:


    And for the Catholic Church to opine on “moral compromise” is breathtaking.

    Hey, if they were to admit that abortions can actually save lives, then all of their lovely black and white distinctions would suddenly go all fuzzy camo gray…

  36. Kathy says:

    New non-update: still waiting for the insurance company.

    They’ve pronounced on expenses so far, and don’t want to cover one blood test (Beta 2 microglobulin*), which isn’t a big deal, and the PET CT study, which is a huge effing deal, making up about half of my expenses thus far. This may change if/when the hematologist sends his medical report all filled out.

    * My understanding of this test, is that a result above the normal limits could indicate, if we stay technical, a neoplasm and/or malignancy (aka cancer). It came out well within normal limits.

  37. Stormy Dragon says:


    At least you got a bottle of aspirin which you can use (assuming it does not look like the bottle has been tampered with), lol!

    I wouldn’t use the Advil, as it could be counterfeit.

  38. @Stormy Dragon:

    There’s no tampering

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    Hey, can I pick your brain on something? What’s your read on whether Mexico is making progress against drug gang violence.

  40. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think you have it reversed on who is making progress against whom.

    These kinds of things will end when drugs are either decriminalized or regulated. and then the gangs will move on to other things.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    Over at Progress Pond Longman notes that the ND Senate has passed a bill prohibiting election officials from reporting prez vote totals until after the Electoral College has voted. They can report only a winner and percentages. They’re trying to proactively ratfrack the Nat’l Popular Vote Initiative by not reporting popular vote numbers.

    This hardly seems a local ND issue. Have to believe it’s coming from ALEC or some other tentacle of the Kochtopus. If they get away with this in ND (where the total vote is roundoff on the national totals) they’ll push it elsewhere. And I don’t see the current Supremes stopping them.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Just another day ending in “Y”.

  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    Secondary effects of Covid lockdown. Katherine and I still love this house, still love LA, but Friday will be a year since we personally went into lockdown. Since then we’ve seen one of our kids for three days, made maybe six trips to CVS for things they couldn’t deliver, a couple trips to the bank for international wires (laundering a little drug money on the side). We each saw a dentist once.

    So, still love the house but we’ve seen a bit too much of each other, me and my couch. Now we just want to go on the road and travel for a year. Perhaps relocate permanently.

  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    That was my sense. Pity.

  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I just find this amazing

    Cuomo: “Can I kiss you?”


    Trump: “I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and f*** her. She was married….. I moved on her like a bitch… You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait…. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.”

    Clearly, the latter has been sent by god to save America.

    This shit is exhausting.

    As a Democrat, I can tell you: If Cuomo harassed, there should be consequences. If harassment borders or became abuse, he should step aside.

    Because I believe in fairness, justice and that the rules apply to all.

    So, please somebody explain to me why 74 million Americans don’t.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: They hate the wimmens?

  47. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If some shady factory puts a fake Advil label on bottles of glucose tablets, there wouldn’t be tampering.

  48. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:
    I remember when Trump was forced to make an apology for this; it was very half-hearted. Then, a few days later, he was suggesting that the tape might have been faked. He indeed claimed that the voice didn’t sound like his.

    I think some of his supporters might have bought the “fake” rationale, ludicrous as it was. Another group dismissed the contents of the tape as “boys will be boys.” And still another group probably admired him for it: “Finally, a dude who knows how to treat bitches! What a man!”

    But the real point is that, at the time the tape was released–October 2016–no one expected Trump to win. So he never had to face any real consequences.

  49. DrDaveT says:


    They hate the wimmens?

    Perhaps, but I think it more likely that they hate being forced to curb their urges. A huge part of Trump’s popularity was his disdain for common courtesy, and for self-control in all its forms. People whose urges are… deplorable… find that liberating.

  50. CSK says:

    And they further excused the boorishness on the grounds that it was a sign that they and Trump were “real Americans.”

  51. Kathy says:


    It seems I performed an inadvertent reverse jinx. About a half hour after posting the non-update, the insurance letter came in.

    I’m not sure I understand it. If I do, then they’ll cover the price the surgeon asked for, minus what’s left of the deductible (which means I need to get the unapproved expenses approved ASAP), and they’ll cover hospital costs, minus 10% copay.

    I don’t know how the hospital’s COVID protocol tests figure in all this.

    So, depending on when the hematologist’s report comes in, plus what the insurance agent tells me, I could schedule surgery for Monday. At work it was made clear I can take off all the time I need, provided I don’t take any time off before March 5th.

  52. Gustopher says:


    At work it was made clear I can take off all the time I need, provided I don’t take any time off before March 5th.

    Are they planning on firing you on the 5th?

    (I hope not)

  53. Kathy says:


    No. Nothing like that.

    there’s just a lot of work to get done by the 5th. At that, I suppose I could take the 5th off, but to what end? besides, try doing the 48hour prep for surgery while working 18-hour days back to back. No thanks.

    As to time off, from what I’ve been reading it should be a whole week at least, it could be longer.

  54. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Appendectomy I was told a week, and this seems less fun. But I am a weakling, and you are strong, so who knows?

  55. Kathy says:


    I’m more impatient than strong.

  56. Mister Bluster says:

    Tanden withdraws as Biden’s budget chief pick
    President Joe Biden is withdrawing Neera Tanden’s nomination to be his budget director, Biden said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

  57. Kurtz says:


    and then the gangs will move on to other things.


  58. EddieInCA says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Mister Bluster says:
    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 19:21

    Tanden withdraws as Biden’s budget chief pick
    President Joe Biden is withdrawing Neera Tanden’s nomination to be his budget director, Biden said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

    As I, and many other predicted here more than a few days ago.

    Now Biden will nominate someone with Tanden’s exact same policy positions, and that person will be confirmed.

  59. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Here’s wishing you the best with the surgery and subsequent recovery.
    My wife and I will be sending our best, warmest regards your way. We will miss you for a few days; know that you have many many friends!

  60. Kathy says:


    Thank you.

    You may not miss me much. I’m bringing my laptop along.