Tuesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open 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

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Looking for a unicorn’: The View hunts for a new conservative co-host

    Producers searching for a replacement for Meghan McCain as a co-host of ABC’s The View ran into criticism on Monday, over their reported preference for a conservative who does not support Donald Trump’s lie about electoral fraud or attempts to overturn the last election – but is not a “Never Trumper” either.
    ……………………………
    The website also said that while executives would not “consider a Republican who is a denier of the 2020 election results, embraced the 6 January riots, or is seen as flirting too heavily with fringe conspiracy theories or the Maga [pro-Trump] wing of the GOP”, they also wanted a host with “credibility with mainstream Republicans, many of whom still support Donald Trump”.

    Good luck with that.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Workers at the American Red Cross charity are speaking out about what they say is low pay, chronic understaffing, poor working conditions throughout the pandemic and proposed cuts to their healthcare.

    “The morale is at an all time low in my 23 years of history here,” said Darryl Ford, a collection technician at American Red Cross in Warner Robins, Georgia, and president of local union branch USW L254.
    ……………………….
    “People are quitting,” added Ford. “It’s a slap in the face to the employees for management to say ‘we’re going to cut your healthcare and not pay you anything, while we’re going to work from home and be safe.’”

    The Coalition of American Red Cross Unions, which represents about 4,900 workers from 11 international unions at American Red Cross across the US, is bargaining with the American Red Cross over the national addendum to the unions’ contracts, which expires on 31 March 2022. The unions are pushing for wage increases, to preserve existing healthcare plans and for solutions to address chronic staffing shortages around the US.

    The American Red Cross reported a revenue of more than $2.8bn in the 2020 fiscal year and the CEO of the non-profit received a salary of more than $700,000.

    Alexis Zebrowski, a member of CWA Local 1118, worked as an aide specialist at the branch in Albany, New York for one year before quitting in November 2021 over the low pay around minimum wage, understaffing and working conditions through the pandemic.

    As an aide specialist, she collected platelet, plasma and blood donations, conducted medical physicals of donors and took patient histories and helped run blood donation drives, which she noted were consistently understaffed and resulted in work shifts that went at least one hour or longer past her scheduled ten-hour shift without being able to take breaks.

    “I can go work at any fast food restaurant and make more money,” said Zebrowski. “I was sick of the pay and all the constant bargaining and everything. The contracts still keep getting pushed out because they don’t want to give us a raise or even acknowledge anything we do for the company. It’s a slap in the face to work for the amount of money we are working for.”

    Looks like the Red Cross got MBA’d.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A British cheesemaker who predicted Brexit would cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds in exports has called the UK’s departure from the EU single market a disaster, after losing his entire wholesale and retail business in the bloc over the past year. Simon Spurrell, the co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Company, said personal advice from a government minister to pursue non-EU markets to compensate for his losses had proved to be “an expensive joke”.

    “It turns out our greatest competitor on the planet is the UK government because every time they do a fantastic deal, they kick us out of that market – starting with the Brexit deal,” he said.
    …………………..
    “We no longer have any ability to deal with the EU as our three distributors in Germany, France and Italy have said we have become too expensive because of the new checks and paperwork.

    “And now we’ve also lost Norway since the trade deal, as duty for wholesale is 273%. Then we tried Canada but what the government didn’t tell us is that duty of 244% is applied on any consignment over $20 [£15].”
    …………………………….
    The “sad” thing, Spurrell said, is that it is the small to medium-sized companies such as his, important employers up and down the country, have been hammered by Brexit and other trade deals struck by the government, rather than giant rivals.

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  4. wr says:

    If the weather’s got you stuck inside this week and you’re looking for some entertainment, I strongly recommend the British thriller Vigil, which is streaming on Peacock (and surely you can grab a free sample week if you don’t subscribe…)

    It’s a great set up — a British detective is sent to solve a murder… on a Trident submarine. It can’t come to port for several weeks, so she’s got to handle the investigation by living for days on the sub… can’t bring anyone else with her… and can’t send a message to the outside world. (Oh, and she has issues with claustrophobia, of course.)

    Six hours of pure pleasure — and doubly so, since that’s six hours you won’t spend watching the new Matrix movie!

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  5. CSK says:
  6. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    From the story:

    Naturally, the source of right-wing anger at Trump was over the one good thing he’s done: telling his base that it’s good for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

    I’ve said if his base ever turned against him, it would be if he acted like a decent, responsible human being. Called it.

    Also, the benefits of the COVID vaccines are so effing obvious, even a f**g moron like Benito can see them.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Modern America’s Most Successful Secessionist Movement

    In rural Oregon, voters fed up with their state’s leftward turn have embraced a simple and outlandish idea: What if we were just Idaho?

    I don’t know guys. Have you ever considered just moving there?

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  8. Kathy says:

    Three quick takes on Omicron:

    1) It is overtaking Delta, therefore it is more transmissible.

    2) Countries with higher vaccination rates, like Spain, report a substantial increase in cases. therefore it is really good at breakthrough infections.

    3) Hospitalizations rates aren’t as high as with Delta or the prior variants. This may mean it’s less virulent, but it also may reflect the high reate of breakthrough cases, as these are known to fare better even under Delta. It may also be infecting younger people more, who also do better and have under prior variants.

    Even if it were less virulent, it’s far from harmless. Combine high transmissibility with a milder disease, and this also means more people in the hospital and the morgue.

    Keep your fucking mask on.

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  9. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    Also, the benefits of the COVID vaccines are so effing obvious, even a f**g moron like Benito can see them.

    Except we both know that isn’t the reason he’s touting their benefits. If he believed for a second that crapping on the vaccines would benefit him, he’d do it in a heartbeat. Which there’s still a very good chance he will. I think it’s entirely possible that the attacks he’s receiving from his normally adoring fans are going to start to get to him, and he’ll flip, just as he has in the past on so many other issues.

    Make no mistake: I do give him credit for adopting this pro-vaccine stance (for now), and I think it’s a good thing (and I’m not talking about the raw political calculation that I think infighting among Trumpists is good or that it’s fun to watch his fans uncharacteristically tear him apart–I mean, sincerely, that it’s good that he just might persuade a few more people to take the vaccine). But let’s not pretend he’s doing it because he understands the benefits. As we saw from the Woodward conversation in early 2020, he’s had from the beginning a much more accurate understanding of the pandemic than he’s let out, and is perfectly willing to throw millions to the dogs in the service of his own interests. At present, he thinks being pro-vax is in his interests. That’s all there is to it.

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  10. Jax says:

    -15 with a “feels like” temp of -29 here in the “Icebox of the Nation” this morning. I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining too bad, we’ve usually had several months of these temps by now, but the first really cold one’s always a little bit of a shock to the system!!

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  11. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    Hospitalizations rates aren’t as high as with Delta or the prior variants. This may mean it’s less virulent, but it also may reflect the high reate of breakthrough cases, as these are known to fare better even under Delta. It may also be infecting younger people more, who also do better and have under prior variants.

    Deja vu all over again. Do you remember we were having this exact conversation during the summer surge of 2020? It appeared at first that the death rate was lower than before. Later it started catching up. It seems that deaths are a lagging indicator.

    (It’s still quite possible omicron is indeed less virulent than delta.)

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  12. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Indeed. Trump probably believes it will win him more votes in 2024 if he publicly encourages vaccination.

    He could also be hoping that the pandemic is over and forgotten by then.

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  13. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    The way the red states have embraced the trump virus, we’ll be lucky if the pandemic even ends by 2024.

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  14. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators. But aside from that, there are a number of confounding variables that make it hard to discern how virulent Omicron is.

    To be sure, not waiting for the lagging indicators causes problems. To this day, I keep encountering people who think if you don’t have symptoms by the time you test positive, then you’ll be ok and won’t even get sick. Some of them have died of COVID. That’s why for a time I insisted in drawing a distinction between presymptomatic and asymptomatic COVID..

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  15. becca says:

    @Jax: we hit 80 on Christmas Day here in Memphis and it has pretty much stayed there. All the doors are open to let the breeze in. It’s supposed to stay warm until Sunday and then drop 30-50 degrees with a chance of ice and snow. Oh, and a chance for “strong storms and damaging winds with power outages” in between.
    I liked it better when weather was boring.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Turnout has been the GOP strategy for years now, and it’s worked for them. They know their “silent majority” is really an annoyingly loud minority. But they can win if they get them to turnout in high enough numbers. (And gerrymander, and depend on the EC, and maybe manage to drop a select few votes from the count.) Trying to appeal to the middle would imply some fear their base has gotten smaller.

    On the other hand, TFG’s (sort of) pro-vaccine statement may have been a trial balloon. He’s been described as trying out lines in his rallies. If they get applause, they get repeated. If not, they’re dropped. Which is supposedly how he got onto the Wall thing. Or it could be he’s inoculating himself from a charge he opposed vaccines by saying it one time. Like W said once Saddam wasn’t behind 9-11 and McCain said once that Obama was a good Christian. Or, it may just be his ego crying out for credit for the vaccines.

    We’ll have to wait and see if he says it again.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Or, it may just be his ego crying out for credit for the vaccines.

    His ego would have gotten plenty of gratification on the vaccines, if he had spent the last days of his term campaigning for people to get the shots, instead of trying to steal the election and throwing the world’s greatest tantrum.

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  18. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    Well, he definitely wants credit for the vaccines. Look at how thrilled he was when Biden said something nice about “the previous administration’s” role in creating them. So that makes it very difficult for Trump to say anything bad about the shots. Or Biden, for that matter, as he himself admitted.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps on promoting the vaccines. It would also be interesting if “get the shot” became like “lock her up” and “build the wall” (neither of which ever happened), but somehow I doubt it.

    You’re certainly correct about Trump testing out certain phrases to check their crowd appeal.

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  19. sam says:
  20. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: The thing is, pro-Trump media is also invested in making Trump look good. It’s just that, in this case, they’ve run into two competing narratives on how to make that case.

    Prior to Covid, the explanation for why Trump was a great president centered on the strong economy. Covid completely scrambled that strategy–not just because of its negative impact on the economy, but because it brought something to the center stage that both Trump and his backers had trouble inventing a coherent story about to save his reputation. Pro-Trump media over the past year settled on a hardcore anti-vax message, because it fit into the larger narrative of minimizing the pandemic, framing it as a conspiracy to control the masses, and focusing on opposition to mandates as part of a pro-freedom agenda. This is an effective message for a movement so built on aggrievement. The problem is that it makes it harder to spin 2020 into a record of positive achievement on Trump’s part. To counter the reality that he botched the pandemic, they’ve become more invested in denying the crisis was even real than arguing that he handled it well, which–whether they admit it or not–comes out to a net zero for Trump. And I think Trump understands that.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    Six hours of pure pleasure — and doubly so, since that’s six hours you won’t spend watching the new Matrix movie!

    I really enjoyed the new Matrix movie. The first third of it was excellent, and the rest was just goofy, dumb fun. So, it was like a summary of the first three movies that way…

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Omicron is “not the same disease we were seeing a year ago” and high Covid death rates in the UK are “now history”, a leading immunologist has said.

    Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and the government’s life sciences adviser, said that although hospital admissions had increased in recent weeks as Omicron spreads through the population, the disease “appears to be less severe and many people spend a relatively short time in hospital”. Fewer patients were needing high-flow oxygen and the average length of stay was down to three days, he said.

    A number of scientists have criticised the government’s decision not to introduce further Covid restrictions in England before New Year’s Eve, with some describing it as “the greatest divergence between scientific advice and legislation” since the start of the pandemic. They have expressed concern that while the Omicron variant appears to be milder, it is highly transmissible, meaning hospital numbers and deaths could rise rapidly without intervention.

    The NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, said it was still unclear what would happen when infection rates in older people started to rise. “We’ve had a lot of intergenerational mixing over Christmas, so we all are still waiting to see, are we going to see a significant number of increases in terms of the number of patients coming into hospital with serious Omicron-related disease,” he told BBC Breakfast.

    We can hope, but only time will tell.

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  23. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That was the point. The sad joke and, frankly, magic of marketing is that these people were snookered into begging for the very poison that would eliminate them.

    “The Man” wins—again.

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  24. Kathy says:

    I need to go and punch someone hard. A very specific someone.

    Without getting into complications, before submitting a proposal to a government agency, we can ask for changes in the net content of packaged goods. Usually they allow most of them. This year they’ve been difficult about it, even for products that have been in the market a long time.

    For instance, the 170 gram can of tuna was discontinued 12 years ago. They still list it. The big box of corn flakes is 500 grams, and has been for the past four years. The 560 gram version is long gone, never mind the 620 gram version. They keep asking for both.

    Now one agency did allow all changes, but they want a letter form the manufacturer stating the requested content does not exist. Logically this would mean getting a letter form every manufacturer, as none has a duty to know all the different net weights of all competing products, down to small regional brands that may sell under 10,000 cans a year.

    The law regulating government acquisitions states agencies cannot ask for requirements that are impossible to meet. This one qualifies.

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  25. inhumans99 says:

    So last year on the last or second to last day of the year I took advantage of a Washington Post premium digital subscription promotion for 1 year for $39.00, and part of the reason was I was tired of clicking on links from this blog and others sites to WP stories and getting the you have used 2 of your 3 free articles for the month message, click here to watch an annoying ad or click here to subscribe pop-ups. The fair yearly rate was more than worth it to subscribe ad-free, well…the WP makes it easy to cancel, which is what I was going to do because my renewal would be for $150 (eeek!) in the new year with the promo ending, but if you select Promo is ending (and I suspect other reasons would lead to the same offer) as a reason for your cancellation you get a $9.99 for the entire year offer!

    So, if anyone is in my shoes keep an eye on when your promo rate ends and make sure to cancel before the regular market rate (aka, crazy rate) of $150 kicks in. You should get a nice $9.99 offer, and for a news consumer like me I definitely did not want to really cancel my subscription so I am a very happy camper. Nice that my per year cost for the post will only average out to $25 per year.

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  26. wr says:

    @Gustopher: I confess I’ve still only made it through the first half of the new Matrix and found that interminable — I wasn’t all that crazy about the 90s the first time around, and here we are stuck in a time capsule. But if makes sense that we see the new one differently, as I thought the two previous sequels were all but unwatchable, as the Wachowskis seemed to believe that what people really loved about the first one was the philosophy and decided to spend hours of screen time in extended lectures on the subject…

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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Harry Reid just passed away from pancreatic cancer.

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  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    That’s an interesting contrast. I spent the first section of the movie (which I absolutely disliked) hoping the art film thing would end and the action would finally get started. When it finally did, I thought it was quite enjoyable.

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  29. CSK says:

    John Madden has died.

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  30. Kathy says:

    Speaking of The Matrix, I never liked it. I saw most of the first movie on cable, and none of the sequels.

    I was a bit intrigued by a throwaway line by one of the bad guys, saying the machines had tried to simulate a paradise, but something or other and here we are. I would like to have seen that.

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