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. Scott says:

    The military, as they say, is not a democracy.

    Air Force discharges 27 for refusal to get COVID vaccine

    The Air Force has discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them what officials believe are the first service members to be removed for disobeying the mandate to get the shots.

    The Air Force gave its forces until Nov. 2 to get the vaccine, and thousands have either refused or sought an exemption.

    All of them were in their first term of enlistment, so they were younger, lower-ranking personnel. And while the Air Force does not disclose what type of discharge a service member gets, legislation working its way through Congress limits the military to giving troops in vaccine refusal cases an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions.

    None of the 27 airmen sought any type of exemption, medical, administrative or religious.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: The linked story, as usual, doesn’t seem to mention the denominator. It’s apparently about 330,000 active duty and about 160,000 Reserve and Guard.

  3. Scott says:

    @gVOR08: Yes, 27 is an exceedingly small number in the greater scheme of things. Time will tell whether these 27 are the low hanging fruit in ease of discharge.

  4. Mu Yixiao says:

    Hmmm…. Apparently, a link with no additional text runs afoul of the moderation bots. 🙁

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: @Scott: OH NOOOOES! However will we repel the invading forces of Ardvarkia???

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: @Scott: The Guardian informs us that,

    According to the latest air force data, more than 1,000 airmen have refused the shot and more than 4,700 are seeking a religious exemption. As of last week, a bit more than 97% of the active duty air force had received at least one shot.

    Our armed forces can not possibly recover from these grievous losses.

  7. CSK says:
  8. wr says:

    @CSK: “The title says it all.”

    Actually, it doesn’t. Because it doesn’t include the fact — certainly in the body of the story — that while they were begging Trump to call off the insurrection, they were also going on air and insisting that the rioters were actually Antifa and BLM…

    The headline alone can’t sufficiently describe what scum these people are.

  9. Kathy says:


    I’d ask a related question: how many active Air Force personnel have died or been disabled by COVID?

  10. CSK says:

    Did that–Fox people claiming the rioters were Antifa and BLM–actually happen on January 6, or did it take place a few days later? Not arguing here, but my memory is that the shrieks of “all the bad guys were on the other side” didn’t start happening till after the rioters (the True Patriots, as they like to style themselves) started getting arrested.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    The past couple of days the Boston Globe has been doing a deep dive into the condition of Maine’s lobster fishery.

    Climate change threatens the livelihoods of Maine’s lobstermen

    The Gulf of Maine has been kind to McCarthy and his neighbors. The vast expanse, which stretches from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, is one of the fastest warming ocean territories on the planet — and, for 30 years, that trend worked in Vinalhaven’s favor, turning the waters that surround the island into a near-perfect nursery for lobster. It is now the state’s second-richest port, and hard-working men and women like McCarthy have joined Maine’s one-percenters, pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in a state where the average worker earns about $32,000.

    McCarthy’s decision to invest in a new $650,000 boat — a gleaming, green-hulled fiberglass beast, 45 feet long and the envy of every captain in Vinalhaven’s 200-boat fleet — was a vote of confidence that the good times would continue. At least it was when he made the down payment three years ago.

    That was before the coast of Maine became a front line in the battle over climate change.

    Lobsters, which make up the nation’s second-most valuable fishery, are sensitive to temperature, preferring the chilly North Atlantic to southerly waters. Since the 1970s, the epicenter of the lobster population has shifted more than 100 miles to the north as the Gulf of Maine warmed. That brought new prosperity to Maine coastal villages, while in southern New England, lobster populations and profits dwindled — and, in some places, all but vanished.

    Vinalhaven need only look to the south to see how Maine’s boom times could end. In the once bountiful waters off Connecticut, a single full-time lobsterman remains — but today he fishes in a watery graveyard. The lobster catch has also waned in the hard-hit fishing ports of Rhode Island and the south coast of Massachusetts.

    Federal rules protecting whales put lobstermen’s jobs at risk

    As Mainers prepare for a likely decline in their lobster catch, the most immediate threat doesn’t involve lobster or politics, but a type of plankton no bigger than a pencil eraser. The plankton, Calanus finmarchicus, is a favorite food of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, fewer than 340 of which still survive.

    Their traditional summer feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy have become too warm for the plankton, which plays a central role in the marine food chain. As the plankton population there and elsewhere has declined sharply, right whales have followed their food into colder waters as far north as Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence — bringing them closer to shipping lanes and fishing boats.

    The consequences have been tragic: 34 known whale deaths since 2017, and a sharp decline in births. Regulators have attributed nine of the whales’ deaths to entanglement in fishing gear, after which they starved or succumbed to infections as ropes cut into their fins, tails, or bones. At least 14 more suffered serious injuries.

    Maine lobstermen say they almost never see the whales and aren’t to blame. It is true that no whale has ever been found dead in gear conclusively traced to Maine fishermen, but no gear is recovered in 70 percent of entanglements, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, making it impossible to determine the origin.

    Scientists say the whales are there, even if Maine fishermen don’t see them, and could die elsewhere after being entangled in Maine lobster gear. Maine only began requiring its lobstermen to mark their gear in 2020.

    Amy Knowlton, senior scientist at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, said more than 85 percent of all right whales have been entangled in gear at least once in their lives, a problem worsened by the increased strength of fishing lines and the higher density of lobster traps off Maine’s coast since the boom began.

    “It’s a chronic, pervasive problem for [whales], and a stress they’re constantly dealing with, that causes dramatic declines in their health,” Knowlton said. “It’s a pretty sad story out there.”

    Off the coast of Massachusetts, in a well-documented feeding ground for whales, NOAA has already closed some fishing grounds, beginning in 2015, and says Maine must be next: Its scientists predict that even one right whale death a year will doom the species to extinction in as little as two decades.

    Often overlooked is the legal mandate that binds regulators: They must take action to protect the whales — even if extinction is unavoidable.

    In many ways, this is a story climate change giveth and climate change taketh away. But these families are going to lose a prosperous livelihood sooner or later.

    An explainer: Today lobster traps are set using 2 methods, the first is that each trap has a line between it and a buoy (marker) that is color coded to let the lobstermen know whose traps are below. This method is used by small boats that are crewed by only one or maybe two people and the traps are being hauled manually or with a small winch.

    In the second method a dozen or so traps are tied together in series with a line at each end rising to the surface attached to a buoy. This is the common method on larger boats.

    This article focuses on commercial lobstermen, those who are setting and harvesting hundreds of traps. There is also a culture of non-commercial lobster fishing. In NH and Maine, residents of coastal towns are eligible to request a non-commercial lobster license that allows them to set and harvest up ten traps (in NH), during a restricted season, typically summer and also restrictions on the sale of that catch.

  12. Scott says:

    @Kathy: Couldn’t find AF only stats but worldometer.info had total of 621 deaths out of 398K cases.

  13. CSK says:

    @wr: @CSK:

    Yes, wr, you’re right. I checked. I don’t watch Fox, so I wasn’t aware that Ingraham and Co. were yelling about Antifa and LM on Jan. 6.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Microbes in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic, according to a study.

    The research scanned more than 200m genes found in DNA samples taken from the environment and found 30,000 different enzymes that could degrade 10 different types of plastic.

    The study is the first large-scale global assessment of the plastic-degrading potential of bacteria and found that one in four of the organisms analysed carried a suitable enzyme. The researchers found that the number and type of enzymes they discovered matched the amount and type of plastic pollution in different locations.

    The results “provide evidence of a measurable effect of plastic pollution on the global microbial ecology”, the scientists said.


  15. wr says:

    @CSK: I’ve been reading that it was simultaneous, but I can’t claim independent knowledge…

    But as they used to say at the Weekly World News — home of the Bat Boy and the Space Alien — we don’t believe in fact-checking a good story to death.

  16. CSK says:

    You seem to be correct about your initial assertion, as I noted here @CSK: .

    Yep. Scum. All they were worried about was Trump preserving his “legacy.”

  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    @CSK: Well, they may or may not be scum regardless, but if I were going to try to convince Trump, I would tell him how what’s happening would harm him. I wouldn’t try to, you know, appeal to his compassion for others, or idealism.

  18. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Well, you’d be right that the only way to budge Trump is to appeal to his self-interest or vanity. But would that have worked in this particular case? He seems to have been enthralled by the television spectacle of people invading that Capitol in order to make him president.

    What an ego-boost! You could hear him thinking that “these people are rioting for me!”

  19. senyordave says:

    White privilege?
    Pennsylvania Man Who Planted Explosives After BLM Protest Sentenced to Probation, Thanks to Judge Who Was Convinced ‘He Had a Breakdown’
    So a domestic terrorist who planted three bomb (which fortunately did not explode) was having a difficult time around the time he planted the bombs. His attorney, Ken Haber said “I think the judge was somewhat convinced that he had a breakdown,” Haber said. The attorney said. Michanowicz was stressed at the time that he planted the devices and didn’t intend for them to detonate or harm anybody, his defense claimed.
    In 1994 I lost my job and was out of work for 4 months. I was having a bad time and was very stressed. I don’t remember planning to bring bombs to former employer. I remember leaning on family and friends.
    I guess this guy wasn’t so lucky with his judge:
    Shamar Betts, 20, was sentenced to four years in federal prison in August on charges of inciting a riot after he posted a provocative flyer on social media before a protest turned destructive in Salt Lake City, Utah.
    I do love the “he planted three bombs but didn’t intend to harm anyone” defense.

  20. Joe says:

    @senyordave: I think you need to check your Shamar Betts story. While your comparison holds with regard to the relative privilege, up Mr. Betts posted an “invitation” to riot on FB and it was in Champaign, IL.

  21. CSK says:
  22. senyordave says:

    @Joe: Betts deserved to go to jail for incitement to riot (it was in Champaign, IL). Michanowicz? He got time served and three years probation for planting three bombs.

  23. Joe says:

    @senyordave: I think Betts getting jail time for his message was ridiculous. (Disclosure: I have a close friend who was/is working for his release.) He was barely 20 years old, with no leadership position, shit posting on FB. How that makes him criminally responsible for people he didn’t even know actually gathering and actually rioting is beyond me. I think he is being made responsible for carrying matches near a powder keg that this country (and this city) have been amassing for years.

  24. Jen says:

    @CSK: I wish I could say I’m surprised.

    Voter lists can be purchased, but this still seems like a very bad idea here in NH. I can say with a high degree of certainty that a number of my neighbors are gun owners. We have a dog who doesn’t take kindly to intrusions. Etc.

  25. CSK says:

    Nor does NH seem to me to be the optimal place to pull this kind of stunt.

  26. flat earth luddite says:

    On a lighter note, as seen in today’s Guardian op-ed:

    Johnson is as corrupt as Clinton – but at least Bubba bothered to brush his hair

    No, you have to read it for yourself. But the tone is priceless. Looking to @JohnSF to learn if it’s accurate – or representative.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: “he planted three bombs but didn’t intend to harm anyone” defense.

    Well, I plant bombs every spring in the hopes of growing a bomb tree.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: @CSK: I really doubt anyone will try that around here. It’s very rare anyone knocks on my door and it’s generally somebody lost or needing help when it has happened. There was one meat seller I almost pulled my shotgun on after several “Get off my land”s but he figured out I wasn’t kidding short of that.

  29. CSK says:

    Well, Trump won Missouri, so he wouldn’t be wanting to prove voter fraud there. This business in NH seems to be happening in states Trump thinks he should have won.

  30. CSK says:

    O. J. Simpson is a free man (his parole ended) as of today. His first words: “I’ve got a little getting even to do.”

    Not smart, O. J. Not smart.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    Martina Hyde really loves putting the boot into Johnson, LOL.
    Though I think Jonathan Freedland or Rafael Behr are more surgical in their skewering, but Hyde is better for belly-laughs 🙂

    Thing is, it’s not that funny any more.
    Rather, Hyde still is; Johnson ain’t.

    His various mendacities and inability to work the detail, and the discipline to act like First Lord of Her Majesty’s Treasury-in-Commission and Prime Minister of the Cabinet, rather than a self-serving piss artist chasing more cake and a crafty shag, have left him politically trapped.

    The thing is it IS a health emergency, BUT ALSO Johnson was plainly jumping ahead of Cabinet decisions to get himself out of bad headlines (see Guardian for details).
    Hence the evident fury of Health Secretary Javid: he’s fine with the policy but plainly narked at how Johnson has buggered the presentation and implementation thereof.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:


    Well they are dumb asses and should know that even Dems in NH come well armed.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Well, Trump won Missouri, so he wouldn’t be wanting to prove voter fraud there.

    TBH, trump has absolutely nothing to do with it. The state GOP would love to “prove” voter fraud on the part of DEMs. It’s all about the narrative they use to justify their voter suppression. Mind you, they still wouldn’t do it out here, not enough DEMs to make it worth their while. They’ll do other things.

  34. JohnSF says:

    And is this how it will spread it’s seedlings in turn? Tree bombs!

  35. Gustopher says:


    The military, as they say, is not a democracy.

    It’s a republic!

  36. Sleeping Dog says:


    The problem for the GQP is that those getting busted for voter fraud are R’s that voted for TFG. Three more today in the Villages in FLA

  37. Mu Yixiao says:

    6-3 SCOTUS denies striking down NY vaccine mandate that excludes religious exemptions.

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected emergency requests by two groups of New York health care workers seeking to block enforcement of the state’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement because of their religious objections.

    The two denials continued a trend in the court of denying attempts to bar vaccine mandates by those raising religious, due process and equal protection arguments. The justices earlier turned down three other requests by a group of New York public school employees, a group of employees of a Massachusetts health care system, and private employees challenging Maine’s mandate.

    [emphasis added]

    The dissent was written by Gorsuch, joined by Alito. Thomas also dissented, but no word on whether he wrote an opinion.

    When everyone here seems to be assuming that the 6-3 conservative court is going to overturn Roe v Wade, it should be noted with interest that 3 of those conservatives refused to allow religious exemptions to a vaccine mandate–a much lower bar.

  38. Kathy says:


    IMO, a stage tree would be more fun.

  39. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Growing up, Grandma’s brothers used to launch saplings with det cord when things were slow. Launching stumps was serious. I quit planting bombs when I was about 13, IIRC