Wednesday’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. MarkedMan says:

    Here’s something (No subscription required) I haven’t seen in a while: a self described Conservative, someone who I generally disagree with and specifically disagree with on this issue, writing a cogent and well thought piece on the subject without eliding the hard parts of the counter arguments. It’s Ross Douthat arguing that the “life of the mother” exceptions in abortion laws can work in a way that truly protects the mother.

    I can posit counter arguments, but my point in bringing this up is how refreshing it is to see this type of Conservative argument. I’m naturally attracted to good arguments against positions I hold, or good arguments in general. It used to be relatively easy to find this on the Comservative side but over the past twenty years has become virtually extinct.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Lynda Carter

    People are mad that The Little Mermaid is Black? The lady who is also a fish? Who lives under the sea? Whose best friend is a talking crab?

    Some people need to get a life.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A jury of three men and three women – along with several alternates – will decide how much the conspiracy theorist should pay relatives of eight victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school massacre. Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable without a trial last year after he failed to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.

    On Tuesday, she sanctioned Jones for failing to turn over analytic data related to his website and the popularity of his show. She told his lawyers that because of that failure, they will not be allowed to argue he didn’t profit from his Sandy Hook remarks.

    Jones did not attend the opening of the trial Tuesday. He said on his show Monday that he would be traveling to Connecticut next week. The trial is expected to last about a month and feature testimony from both Jones and the families.

    Bellis instructed the jury that Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, have already been found liable for damages to the plaintiffs for calling the shooting a hoax on multiple media platforms and saying that no one died.
    Jones, whose Infowars web show and brand are based in Austin, Texas, has been banned from YouTube, Facebook and Spotify for violating hate-speech policies.

    He now says he believes the shooting was real. At the Texas trial, he testified that he realizes what he said was irresponsible and is now sorry for hurting people’s feelings.

    He continues, however, to insist that his comments were protected free speech. He views the lawsuits as efforts to silence him and put him out of business.

    I find it funny that he refused to participate in a trial where he could have had his say and now claims people are trying to shut him up.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Ok, after saying nice things about a Conservative’s column, I found an egregious example of the more typical Con column from the last decade or more. I’m not going to bother linking to it but it is a classic example of lazy half-logic and thinly disguised racism typical of the genre. It starts out asking a serious question: is the United States public reacting to every medical issue as a crisis (Monkeypox, Polio), flying into a panic when they don’t get instant preventions and simple answers? But then he goes off on how it’s all the Democrats fault – not just the panic, but literally everything in society is worse when Democrats have control. I finally stopped when I came to this statement:

    Illegal aliens who make it through our borders, no matter where they come from, are often not checked. Legal immigrants to America must pass medical batteries. Common sense and logic should require the same of anyone coming to the country, but the Biden administration’s policy seems to be to ignore this at the expense of the health of lawfully present persons or American citizens.

    This is just a half-assed nonsense statement. What percentage of people coming in and out of the United States are immigrants, legal or illegal? 1%? 0.1%? Perhaps he is being intellectually consistent and is seriously proposing that tourists and business travelers go through extensive medical screening before being allowed in? And, of course, that other countries do the same. Do you want to pop over to Ireland for a long weekend? To Israel to visit the Holy Lands? To Germany for Octoberfest? Well, here’s several thousand dollars worth of medical tests you have to complete, which will not be covered by insurance of course since it is elective.

    And what is this deep thinkers qualifications? He hosts a radio show on something called “Sirius XM Patriot 125” and hosts an unnamed show on Fox TV.

  5. Jax says:

    No side effects to speak of from the new bi-valent Covid shot (Moderna), just a little sore at the injection site. In fact, it feels less sore than the first two shots, my whole arm was sore from those.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Just another MAGA Militia Member who wants to install the former guy as King.

  7. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: ” how refreshing it is to see this type of Conservative argument”

    Hmm. Not my take on it at all. To me it was the usual Douthat bad faith argument, sounding perfectly reasonable in theoretical terms but entirely ignoring the actual, real-world facts that make it worthless. For instance, he talks about how the real problem is that doctors might misinterpret the law and deny care out of erroneous fear of prosecution, or that ignorant lawmakers might choose to prosecute by mistake… but these miscommunications should be easy to fix.

    Meanwhile, patient care is now frequently on hold because hospitals are businesses, and the kinds of legal risks they take have to be determined by their lawyers, and so we get story after story about women whose lives are in jeopardy and their doctors who are forbidden to help them.

    In Douthat’s eyes, since this is all theoretical, it can be measured against his fanatical Catholic opposition to abortion (and sex in general). Meanwhile, people’s lives are being measurably harmed. And he pretends not to know so he can claim to be presenting a good-faith argument.

  8. steve says:

    Douthat is not as even handed as he could be. It is not so much doctors misinterpreting the law as it is our lawyers interpreting the law and giving us guidance. I have run a medical group for over 15 years and chair a department. I sometimes joke that because I took a course in contract law as an undergrad I am almost a lawyer. In reality when it comes to anything remotely like a possible legal issue I consult our legal team for their opinion. We all do. When there is ambiguity in the law, which Douthat acknowledges after making the case that doctors are misinterpreting the law, then that means the law can be selectively prosecuted. The local DA can prosecute almost anything and you may really need to wait until the woman is almost dead before acting or face jail time. Lawyers will advise precaution.

    But its even worse than that in Texas and I think some other states. They have passed a law allowing anyone to sue if they just suspect an illegal abortion was performed. Standards for civil suits are lower than for criminal and for some hospitals the financial hit could put them out of business.

    So in my opinion these are vaguely worded on purpose. It allows the anti-abortion zealots to make claims about the law not being so bad while leaving the medical community in limbo and at the mercy of the local DA. The laws could have been written with a lot more specificity outlining specific conditions and determining how decisions would be made. If this were an exception to the tax code allowing some rich person a way to avoid paying taxes there would be 10 pages of details to make sure it worked out for that rich person. For matters of death and health because it involves abortion we get the following, directly from the Texas law. It says emergency. Nothing on how to define that. You get page after page on who gets to sue and bring charges but 7 lines that mention an “emergency”.

    So Douthat is better than many/most conservatives this time, but he is still way off and in effect is just making a slightly milder case for his tribe that lies just a bit less.

    Sec.A171.205.AAEXCEPTION FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCY; RECORDS. (a)AASections 171.203 and 171.204 do not apply if a physician believes a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance with thissubchapter.
    (b)AAA physician who performs or induces an abortion under circumstances described by Subsection (a) shall make written notationsinthepregnantwoman’smedicalrecordof:
    (1)AAthe physician’s belief that a medical emergency necessitatedtheabortion;and
    (2)AAthe medical condition of the pregnant woman that preventedcompliancewiththissubchapter.”


  9. steve says:

    Doing a second part so people can ignore it if want. At link is a piece from another pro-life religious POV that is closer to someone actually trying to acknowledge the issue. Of note, I am actually impressed that he was aware of pulmonary hypertension as a risk factor in pregnancy. When bad enough, especially if the right ventricle is affected it is very high risk. If you want to avoid the risk you need to abort as early in pregnancy in possible. However, early in pregnancy it is not an emergency. Wait until it is a real emergency at term and when you are trying to deliver and then it is too late. So again, a lot of this is completely predictable. We know which problems are going to cause problems and we know that some are best treated early and we know that the definition of emergency is pretty nebulous. I think these are deliberately not addressed so that we have effectively created a police state around the issue of abortion with no one exactly sure what is legal and the local DAs, or the state when it wants, deciding to selectively enforce. (Sorry for the long rant.)

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @wr: Dang, beat me by 20 minutes. You’re right that Douthat is Jesuitically parsing abstract theory, ignoring the real world. I even had a quote copied. I’ll paste it anyway. After arguing existing state bans allow exemptions for the life or well being of the mother, Douthat claims,

    The pro-life side is right that some high-profile cases of women stuck in medical limbo do seem to reflect a misunderstanding of what these laws allow — even if the pro-choice side can respond that doctors may be reasonably uncertain how pro-life prosecutors will interpret them.

    Indeed they may. Always look at the assumptions behind an argument, especially the unstated assumptions. As do all Reformicon arguments, Douthat ignores the real world nature of his party.

    Douthat goes on to argue that assisted suicide and withdrawal of care are comparable issues in which there is reasoned disagreement and comity prevails. This ignores that Republicans have not chosen to make assisted suicide a culture war wedge issue.

    I will offer two irrefutable counter-arguments to Douthat: Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton.

  11. Kathy says:

    Mocha yogurt jello, first draft:

    1 cup zero sugar, unsweetened Greek yogurt
    2 cups milk (I use low fat)
    1 packet sugar-free vanilla jello or flan
    2 tsp instant coffee
    3-4 tbsp low sugar chocolate Quik*

    Will do it over the long weekend.

  12. MarkedMan says:


    In Douthat’s eyes, since this is all theoretical

    I see where you are coming from, and that’s a reasonable take. But for my part I don’t think he is eliding anything here, and he isn’t making claims that reaching a stable compromise position will be easy just that, at least in the case of assisted suicide, we eventually did reach that position in a somewhat similar case. I think his thrust is wrong and I could offer up countervailing evidence. But I still think it is a well reasoned position.

    His use of assisted suicide is ironic though, in a way. His side, the extremist Catholics and evangelicals, predicted doom and destruction, that in no time the state would be encouraging the handicapped to take the suicide route, and besides it was completely immoral no matter how it played out. To hold that up as a reasonable compromise is… odd.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    I would like to point out that the pro-choice position is not predicated on the edge cases Douthat writes about. They are easy and effective as political arguments, they make it easy to characterize the anti-choice argument as, “Abortion is murder, except when that’s awkward for us.” But the real pro-choice position is that it should be up to the woman to decide if she wants to carry, bear, and raise a child. Many Republicans claim to be libertarian. One would think they’d default to this position, but not so much.

    Conservatives argue that the right to carry a gun to defend oneself is absolute and that in a case of, say, domestic violence, if a man is deprived of his gun he’s unable to defend himself. I’ve yet to hear the first horror story about someone who’s complied with an order to turn in his guns being victimized and unable to defend himself. In their edge case they seem unable to provide an example of harm done. On abortion the horror stories had already piled up. Liberal propaganda didn’t produce the 10 year old rape victim in Ohio, reality produced it. Within days of Dobbs.

    Reproductive rights are inherently messy, often distasteful, and are fraught with bad outcomes. Maybe it’s best to just leave it to women and their doctors.

  14. steve says:

    The end of life issues are also not complicated by opponents of euthanasia having the ability to sue for any reason they want with the support of the state. Not that much of a comparison but inasmuch as it exists it demonstrates it has not been abused.


  15. Mikey says:

    Remember when John Durham was going to do this big investigation and put all the Deep State in jail for the RUSSIAGATE HOAX!!!!!!11!!!!

    Yeah, well, about that…

    Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires

    WASHINGTON — When John H. Durham was assigned by the Justice Department in 2019 to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Donald J. Trump and his supporters expressed a belief that the inquiry would prove that a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him.

    Now Mr. Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said.


    Over the course of his inquiry, Mr. Durham has developed cases against two people accused of lying to the F.B.I. in relation to outside efforts to investigate purported Trump-Russia ties, but he has not charged any conspiracy or put any high-level officials on trial. The recent developments suggest that the chances of any more indictments are remote.

    Yet another much-ballyhooed flop pushed by Trump and his credulous dupes.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    Last week we were having a lengthy discussion about whether Trump took those documents with the intent of personal gain from them or whether they were essentially just shiny objects he delighted in having. I was on the side that it is naive to think that Trump didn’t intend personal gain from them, that decades of his personal record showed that is his modus operandi. TPM has conveniently collected a bunch of separate incidents over the years where Trump attempted to extort or blackmail someone over information he possessed.

  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    @MarkedMan: I have always found it unlikely that Trump was thinking of selling secrets for cash. I still do. But using stuff as leverage seems totally in character for him, and is a whole different kettle of (admittedly dark) fish. It’s possible he felt that holding those documents would protect him from any government prosecution, for instance.

    However, these are hypothetical speculations. They would be bad, but what is directly in front of us is very bad. He stole documents containing some of the most heavily guarded secrets the government has, kept them in an insecure way, and refused to return them, even lying about whether he had them. There is clear evidence of all of the above.

    In and of itself, that is criminal behavior worthy of prosecution. It is malfeasance with regard to the public trust. It is dereliction of duty. It is a much easier case to make, and much harder to wave off.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Yep. I’m just separating out what can be proven in law from what what is pretty darn likely to be true. And FWIW I can’t think of any reason to think that someone who collects secrets and blackmails and extorts people with them would somehow draw the line at selling them.

  19. CSK says:

    God, he’s disgusting.

  20. Kathy says:

    For the weekend I want to make chicken enchiladas. So, I figured on getting some chicken pieces, and using the resulting broth for pasta soup. On checking prices, though, I found ready-made shredded chicken at a lower price than loose raw chicken pieces.

    So now I’m doing a version of egg drop soup. Of course, I’ll have to get chicken broth from somewhere (I think I froze some a few months ago….)

    I’m thinking sliced mushrooms sauteed with garlic and ginger in sesame oil, plus some tofu. the thing is to drop the egg in just the seasoned broth, and add the other ingredients afterwards. That’s a three-step soup, then.

  21. EddieInCA says:

    Mainstream Democrats romped in the primaries. Republicans went full MAGA.

    In both parties, ideological forces did indeed try to pull the center of gravity toward the extremes. But the results were sharply different. In the GOP, the hard right prevailed, very much confirming the impression of a MAGA takeover of the party. In the Democratic primaries, the hard left was a nonentity, and the mainstream triumphed overwhelmingly; for all the chatter about the Squad, socialists, “Defund the Police,” “Abolish ICE,” “Medicare-for-all” and the “Green New Deal,” candidates who self-identified with such views barely registered.

    An exhaustive study of all primary contestants for the House and Senate, done by a team led by Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution, categorized the 2,362 candidates (of whom 1,397 were Republican) by endorsements, self-proclaimed ideology and use of hot-button phrases. On the Democratic side, only 28 percent of candidates approvingly used left-wing phrases on their websites (Defund, Medicare-for-all, Green New Deal, etc.) or received an endorsement from either Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Squad, or the left-wing groups Justice for All, Our Revolution or Indivisible. Of the nearly three-quarters of Democratic candidates who had none of the above, about half won their primaries. By contrast, 41 percent of Republican candidates approvingly mentioned former president Donald Trump, MAGA or “America First,” or had a Trump endorsement or a Trump photo on their websites. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans had none of those — but such candidates prevailed only 30 percent of the time.

  22. Stormy Dragon says:


    Of the nearly three-quarters of Democratic candidates who had none of the above, about half won their primaries.

    *Counts on fingers.*

    Doesn’t this imply that 5/8s of the Democratic primary winners came from the 1/4 of candidates who had one or more of the above?

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: More proof that the DEEP State is everywhere and nobody is safe from it. If the DS can get to Durham, how much easier for them to get you.

  24. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    This dude is obviously off his rocker, but why the other MAGAs believe Trump has anything but contempt for them escapes me.

  25. Kathy says:


    A fool’s errand can mean an errand run on behalf of fools, not just one run by a fool.

  26. JohnSF says:

    What about a foolish errand run by by a fool on behalf of fools, but no fool can figure out who is the more foolish fool?

    Mr T:
    “I pity the fool…”

  27. Kathy says:


    I think that’s a Snipe of Morons.

  28. steve says:

    With Durham gone we can expect more focus on Hunter’s laptop. Then after the 2024 election that will also be dropped.


  29. JohnSF says:

    No! Don’t drop the laptop!
    You’ll crack the screen, and its an utter bast@rd getting those things fixed!

  30. Gustopher says:


    No side effects to speak of from the new bi-valent Covid shot (Moderna), just a little sore at the injection site.

    I had no side effects from my Phizer. A little fatigue, but just a little.

    I did, however, call my father the next day to wish him a happy birthday, and my bones began to feel like they were icicles. That man is just some kind of evil ice monster.

  31. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile in the UK.
    Prince Harry and Meghan leave Westminster Hall holding hands; cue the haters.

    Funny that Mike Tindall and Zara also exited holding hands.
    Nobody seems concerned.

    Then again, maybe that’s because Mike Tindall is the one member of the extended royal family you really don’t want to annoy.
    “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

  32. Beth says:


    I’ve thought about that joke constantly over the last 30ish years.

  33. JohnSF says:

    Russian air strike breaches the Inhulets River barrage above Kryvyi Rih.
    What odds of Ukraine hitting the Crimea Canal?
    Or maybe not; if they are planning on retaking Crimea.

    Indication that the delay in getting NASAMS and other area air defence online is taking a heavy toll.
    Goes back to the “chin-strokery” in Spring: “we must calibrate”; “can they be trained?”; “is there any point?”; “how will Russia react?” *faints* etc. Bah!

  34. JohnSF says:

    State of the Union speech by President Ursula von der Leyen.
    Some extracts worth your attention IMHO:

    “They say that light shines brightest in the dark,”

    “Never before has this Parliament debated the State of our Union with war raging on European soil.
    We all remember that fateful morning in late February.
    Europeans from across our Union woke up dismayed by what they saw. Shaken by the resurgent and ruthless face of evil. Haunted by the sounds of sirens and the sheer brutality of war.

    And we will be tested. Tested by those who want to exploit any kind of divisions between us.

    From day one, Europe has stood at Ukraine’s side. With weapons. With funds. With hospitality for refugees.
    And with the toughest sanctions the world has ever seen.
    The production of cars fell by three-quarters compared to last year. Aeroflot is grounding planes because there are no more spare parts. The Russian military is taking chips from dishwashers and refrigerators to fix their military hardware, because they ran out of semiconductors. Russia’s industry is in tatters.

    It is the Kremlin that has put Russia’s economy on the path to oblivion.
    This is the price for Putin’s trail of death and destruction.
    And I want to make it very clear, the sanctions are here to stay.
    This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement.
    The same is true for our financial support to Ukraine.
    So far Europe has provided more than 19 billion euros in financial assistance.
    And this is without counting our military support.
    And we are in it for the long haul.

    Every action that our Union takes should be inspired by a simple principle.
    That we should do no harm to our children’s future.
    That we should leave the world a better place for the next generation.

    This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine.
    This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future.
    This is about autocracy against democracy.
    And I stand here with the conviction that with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Europe will prevail.
    Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable.
    Glory to a country of European heroes. Slava Ukraini!
    Long live Europe!”

    (I may well have garbled the quote order. Sorry, Ursula. 🙁 )

  35. JohnSF says:

    Apparently, Mike Tindall is a really nice guy.
    Never met him myself, but relatives have, via Gloucester Rugby Club connections.
    Very easy going, because he has no need or desire to play the tough guy.

    Same is true of a lot (though not all, LOL) rugby players.
    For instance Sebastien Chabal was reputedly as lovely fella 🙂
    Or at least, no one would tell you otherwise. 😉

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @steve: That was an excellent and thoughtful piece, addressing the hardest issues in the Catholic stance rather than ignoring them.

  37. Stephen Ottridge says:

    Anyone know what has happened to small dead animals?

  38. JohnSF says:

    Anyone know what has happened to small dead animals?

    They were given a respectful burial, and a day of mourning?
    Or: they were stuffed, and mounted in a display cabinet in the hall?
    Or: they was eated.
    With gravy, and roast potatoes.
    Depending upon your animal.

  39. Jax says:

    A level of WTF has entered the chat, y’all gotta wait for me to make some popcorn. 😛

  40. JohnSF says:


  41. Beth says:

    @Stephen Ottridge:

    They are currently eating my brain.

    (worked 3 13 hour days in a row. Almost had to talk my way into a jail to get a doc signed today. That would have been a first. Pro-tip 1, always give your attorneys all the information, up front. Pro-tip 2, don’t lie to your attorneys. We’re mercenaries, we’ve heard worse/weirder. We don’t care.)