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. de stijl says:

    At the beginning of this year I was a piss-poor percussionist. I still am.

    But I am exponentially better at being piss-poor than I was January 1. Holy crap, I have improved a lot. More than I thought I could have.

    Some things I listen to and try to replicate are utterly beyond what I could possibly do, but, damn me, it is becoming within the realm of possibility. My arms are still incapable of what I want them to do, but they are getting way better.

    Who knew studious practice could realize positive results?

    What’s the movie with JK Simmons? That freaked me out even before I took up this task / practice. Fuck that dude!

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Volvo is going after the entry level EV market in a big way. Volvo doesn’t sell inexpensive cars, but their newest electric vehicle is going to be their cheapest vehicle, gas or electric, at $35K. It competes at the low end with the Volkswagen ID.4 which is nominally somewhat more expensive but made in the USA so eligible for a $7500 discount.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    One of my coworkers is 65, a programmer/EE, and definitely one of those people that you say to yourself, “On the spectrum, I spose”. She stopped me the other day and, as she does, started talking in the middle of something, assuming I knew the predicate, which was that she had gone in late last week and gotten an official diagnosis of autism. “And not just a little! A lot! Halfway through the chart!”. She came back to it several times during the day and I gradually realized she was overjoyed to have the diagnosis. We talked about it a little bit and I commented that we think it is superstition when cultures or sects say, “to know the true name of someone or something is to have power over them”, but there is real truth in that. She is very excited that there are people who are in the same space as her, and enough of them that there is a name and a field of study to go with it. And she is delighted that some of the traits are real plusses in her chose field, like moderate OCD.

  4. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: I’ve been thinking about EVs quite a bit lately, and to me, this makes sense. Until charging infrastructure is as ubiquitous as the network of gas stations, with high-speed charging, EVs will be relegated to local trips. I am not buying a $60-70K car for local running around. $35-40K…far more likely.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The murder rate in numerous large US cities has undergone a “sharp and broad decline” this year, new research has found, even as the number of mass shootings around the country continues to climb.

    Statistics compiled by New Orleans-based AH Analytics show a 12.2% drop in murders in 90 US cities to the end of May over the same period last year, although the study notes there are places, such as Memphis and Cleveland, where the murder rate has actually increased.

    And while the overall drop in recorded deaths in that time, from 3,358 in 2022 to 2,948 this year, is a welcome reverse from recent trends, the crime analyst Jeff Asher, who compiled the report, warns that the full-year figures could still rise.

    “Even a record double-digit percent decline in murder in 2023 would still mean that a couple thousand more people will be murdered in America this year than in 2019,” he said.
    “Murder is down 13% in New York City, and shootings are down 25% relative to last year.”

    He cites Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia among cities where murders are down by more than 20%. And in Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; Atlanta, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and several others, Asher has recorded a drop of more than 30%.

    “The US may be experiencing one of the largest annual percent changes in murder ever recorded,” he said.

    With all the Republicans harping on “CRIME IN THE CITIES!!!!” I am not surprised. Even STL has had a 10% drop in their murder rate.

    The study also potentially blows a hole in recent arguments pushed by Donald Trump and other Republicans that Democrats are ignoring a massive crime wave in US cities.

    “Joe Biden and the defund-the-police Democrats have turned our once-great cities into cesspools of bloodshed and crime,” Trump, the former president and frontrunner for his party’s 2024 nomination, said in a recent campaign video.

    Like trumpublicans ever let little things like facts stop them?

  6. de stijl says:


    I have encountered many people in my life left of normal. They are like anybody else – most / many are great folks and some are assholes.

    Neurodivergent challenges your social skills but if you can exhibit empathy naturally it isn’t hard. Be cool.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: as she does, started talking in the middle of something, assuming I knew the predicate

    Heh, my wife does this to me all the time. We will be talking about one thing and midstream she will change subjects entirely.

    “Huh? What?? What are you talking about now?”
    “Oh, I’m sorry…”

    It makes for some funny moments.

  8. de stijl says:

    Assiduous precision and utterly letting go and flowing simultaneously – it is expanding my brain.

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m actively suspicious of people who seem too normal.

  10. de stijl says:


    My next vehicle is an EV, no question.

    For my trips – local, short, relatively infrequent it makes sense. But I want a future where Vespa scooters are still cool.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: The care we just bought is an ICE, because we needed a tow vehicle and we plan on boondocking (trailer camping without electrical hookup) so it was pur ICE or hybrid and the list of hybrids that could handle it was a) very short, b) hard to get at the time and c) very expensive. But if we replace our other car (a Mini Cooper) and we have moved to a place we can install a charger, we will get an EV. If we are still street parking it will be a plug-in hybrid.

    As an engineer I am both astounded and horrified by what the industry has done to boost mileage, improve response, and drastically reduce pollution. It has left the modern ICE as one of the most complex mechanical consumer products in regular use but 2/3 of that complexity goes away when you switch to electric.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’m actively suspicious of people who seem too normal.

    Fortunately there are not too many of them. You might say that it is abnormal to be normal.

  13. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    I miss my JunYu scooter that I had in China. It was a “hog” of scooters–low, fat, and much more powerful than the norm*. With 6 batteries (the max) I paid about $400 for it. When I looked up electric scooters in the US, they’re smaller, taller (higher CoG), and start at $2500.

    If I had my “hog”, I’d use that all around town for my usual shopping. Strap a tote on the back like I did in China, and it’s good for the week’s groceries or a usual trip to the hardware store.

    * I could go 30 km at speeds up to 60 kph.

  14. CSK says:

    Who else is getting the haze/smoke from the Canadian wildfires? Jen, you mus be. And Sleeping Dog and Daryl.

  15. Daryl says:

    It was pretty bad here in CT late yesterday afternoon and last night.
    I was huffing on the inhaler that I barely use, otherwise.

  16. CSK says:

    Warner’s announced that Chris Licht will be bounced out of CNN within the coming 48 hours because of backlash from the Trump town hall.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I walked out of my Baltimore house this morning and had deja vu for Shanghai Smog. Not just hazy, I can actually smell it.

  18. MarkedMan says:


    because of backlash from the Trump town hall

    People never learn. Trump survives but those who try to ride his train always, always end up with less than they had going in.

  19. Stormy Dragon says:


    The drive home from work yesterday was a mess because the reduced visibility was forcing people to drive real slow on the highways

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Raises hand. We’ve been getting it for over a week now, I think.

    eta: higher in the atmosphere for us than you I suspect.

  21. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Most folks seriously underestimate the utility of the humble scooter. And how fun it is to drive one around. More Americans should own and drive scooters in my opinion.

    And how useful it can be. Many trips do not require a car. If they do, take it.

    I love my Vespa! Extraordinarily useful. Very practical.

  22. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @MarkedMan:

    Not too much to worry about here at OTB. This is as fine a collection of sane, literate, and well-informed weirdos as I’ve ever encountered.

  23. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Is the Vespa Elettrica available in the US?

  24. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I am all for meeting new people, but if that person grasps and clasps normal too hard I don’t want to bond.

    You never go home to your partner and say, “Hey, I met a totally normal person today who behaves totally normally like any idiot could predict.”

    However, if you met someone at the coffee shop who was a CPA and also into urban exploration you would take notice.

    Myself, I’m “normal”. I present as normal. Until you ask me interesting questions. Then I open up.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I would have loved to have a late life where my balance was good enough to ride a Vespa. Sadly, I getting so that I’m going to need a walking stick to walk to the kitchen. Just yesterday, I had a jolt to my sense of balance from stepping on the piece of cardboard from a wire hanger that had fallen off the hanger.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Four years ago, Fawcett was having a workshop built at his house in Boxford, Berkshire, in which he hoped to pursue his new retirement hobby of wood-turning, when contractors called him over.

    “They asked me to look at something they had pulled out of a hole in the ground,” he said. “It looked like a big stump of wood. I wondered if I could turn it into some nice bowls.”

    After hosing it down, Fawcett noticed curious markings on the piece. “I could see they were possibly man-made. I recognised straight away that this was something unusual.”

    The piece of oak had been lying in peat – known to be an excellent preservative of organic material – 1.5 metres (5ft) below ground.

    Fawcett contacted a local archaeologist, who in turn contacted Historic England. Its experts, working with scientists from the Nottingham Tree-ring Dating Laboratory and the Centre for Isotope Research at the University of Groningen, carried out radiocarbon dating of a timber slice from the wood.

    They concluded there was a 95% probability that the piece of wood dated to between 4640BC and 4605BC. That made it 500 years older than the only other known decoratively carved timber discovered in Britain, found near Maerdy in Wales and dating to the late Mesolithic/early Neolithic period (4270BC – 4000BC).

    eta: not the first time this has happened to me, but when I first posted this up, nothing showed. Assuming I had screwed up, I was about to repost it when it occurred to me to first refresh the page. Voila! Here it is.

    Just out of curiosity, has anybody else experienced this gremlin?

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Apparently so. And with an option to support a global charity as part of the deal.

  28. de stijl says:


    Barely. You have to go out of your way to buy one / use one.

    I live in an inland city that is used to traditional means of transport in inland US. Circular reasoning there. Scooters are very rare here.

    Scooter culture in the US is not really a thing. You are seen as a weirdo (which is not a problem for me).

    The only thing I can do is continue to represent. I’m totally okay with that.

    For short hops I frigging love my Vespa. It works perfectly for the tasks it does well.

    We’re it offered I would seriously consider an electric Vespa. I don’t think it’s available here now.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:
  30. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Couple weeks back my left knee rebelled at the world and went on strike. Don’t know what it was rebelling against, but every 1 or 4 steps it would just Yee-ouch rebel randomly.

    Getting old kinda sucks.

  31. CSK says:

    Here’s a bit more on the smoke/haze:


    Stay inside and don’t exert yourself.

  32. wr says:

    @CSK: “Who else is getting the haze/smoke from the Canadian wildfires?”

    I’m in California for the week, but my wife says Manhattan is terrible right now.

  33. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A few years back I tripped and severely fucked up my foot. I paralyzed my right foot on a half inch high door jamb. So stupid, but it happened.

    It was very invasive and intrusive. It took me several days to figure out my foot was paralyzed. I knew immediately it was severe and just isolated it and stuck an icebag on it and propped it on a pillow. It took me two days to realize it was entirely insensitive to, well, anything. It was dead. No feeling. Immobile. The piggies were not going to market. The piggies were absolutely inert and could not wiggle. They were dead to the world. The whole foot was.

    For nearly two years I used a cane and clomped about. My foot was dead. I could poke at it hard or burn it with a lighter and feel nothing. Left foot step, right foot clomp, left foot step, right foot clomp. For two years. Thought it was probably forever.

    I feel what you are experiencing. That really sucks and I’m sorry and wish I could ameliorate it.

    Man, that fucking blows.

  34. CSK says:


    Yeah, it’s awful. In some shots, you can barely see the Manhattan skyline or the Brooklyn Bridge.

  35. Mikey says:

    @CSK: The DC metro area just went to red alert for air quality, it is pretty bad here right now. Tremendously hazy and we can smell the smoke.

  36. Kathy says:

    I got some sugar free Jell-O pudding today, along with a 454 gr. jar of no added sugar Quik.

    The former will be used in an experimental vanilla and peanut butter dessert*. The latter is for making cold chocolate milk to help me cope with the current heatwave.

    I’m also waiting for a package of kasha, which is estimated to arrive between friday and saturday. Problem is I ordered it delivered at the office (I’m there more than I’m at home). So if it gets in on Saturday, I won’t be able to use it for cooking this week.

    So, it will either be meatballs in chipotle sauce with kasha and potatoes, or burgers with blackened onions and pan roasted potatoes, with a side of rice with rajas, corn, and a little cheese.

    *Pretty much vanilla pudding with peanut butter.

  37. CSK says:


    The photos of the D.C. metro area are really bad. Stay indoors as much as possible.

  38. Kathy says:
  39. Sleeping Dog says:


    Looking at that Volvo, I noted that all the controls are on the touch screen. Mfg are going to touch screens because they’re cheap to manufacture, though driver’s report hating them. That got me to wondering, when some enterprising aftermarket provider will develop a button pad or idrive-like controller, connected via bluetooth that you can map to the virtual buttons on the touch screen. With several mfg’s abandoning their proprietary SW efforts and going to Android Automotive it would be straight forward. For proprietary systems, it would be more difficult.

  40. Daryl says:

    For a few minutes I considered breaking out a mask, last night, but it didn’t seem quite bad enough to bother.
    But I wasn’t exerting myself.
    I did see a few people doing yard work and wearing masks.

  41. Sleeping Dog says:


    Until I saw this morning’s NYT’s article on the haze, I didn’t know it was happening. Right now it’s too cloudy to determine if it’s hazy. Yesterday the sky was bright blue for a brief period before the clouds returned.

    The map in the times article, showed the effected area as beginning SW of us.

  42. Modulo Myself says:

    There was a moment of better air in NYC this morning, but it seems to be getting worse.

  43. inhumans99 says:

    Sorry to refer to yet another Kevin Drum post, but he has a post up that over 500(!!) anti-trans bills have been introduced by presumably all GOP leaning members of the political class.

    As he says in his post: “This is stark raving mad, and there’s no reason for it aside from pure tribal insanity. The whole business simply beggars belief.”

    There has to be a way for Democrats to turn this into a major negative for the GOP, and lay bare the sheer distaste for many fellow Americans that is shared by members of the GOP.

    Kind-of like what the GOP did when they hammered some folks who got behind the disband the police/defund the police bandwagon. I know Michael and tons of other folks groaned and shook their heads at the thought that we were enthusiastically handing the GOP the ammunition they would in turn use to destroy many Democrats chances of getting elected/re-elected.

    I really do hope a savvy Democratic politician figures out a way to turn this issue into one that puts the GOP in a really bad light.

  44. Daryl says:

    This is where all the fear-mongering leads…

  45. Stormy Dragon says:


    I like the nickname someone came up with for Moms for Liberty: Klanned Karenhood

  46. de stijl says:

    I’m trying not to be a dick about this and I know that smoke can be bad for folks with lung issues, but weather conditions in NYC is a regional issue today.

    It was as big an issue a few weeks ago in Portland, Boise, Denver, Pierre, Fargo, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Omaha, Des Moines from a different fire. As big a deal. The news coverage was regional. As was appropriate.

    The CNN effect – if it happens in NYC or metro DC it’s big news. No, it’s not. It’s regional weather news. Treat it appropriately.

    Trust me, our weather sucks way harder than yours does by far. I can give you stats.

    A weather story about NYC is appropriate for that local / regional audience. Not a national story. Idgaf.

  47. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I think being right on the New England coastline helps.

  48. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Okay, I kinda do give a fuck.

    But it’s because I’m a human concerned about fellow humans.

    Did y’all give a fuck about Denver two weeks ago? The ppm smoke particulates were off the charts very bad and it was page three news.

    Are Denver residents less worthy of news coverage?

  49. Jen says:


    Yes, we are getting some of the haze, with some air quality issues. Not as bad here as friends in Upstate New York though.

  50. CSK says:


    That gremlin has attacked me a few times.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: The filter media in N95 masks filter out 95% or better of all particles down to 0.01 microns or less, and significantly better for larger particles. As a comparison, a visible dust particle is 25 microns. Of course, if you don’t have a good seal, that number is almost meaningless.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: Denver has wildfires every season. NYC has wildfires once in a generation. (And a hell of a lot more news media)

  53. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    Of course Denver reisdents are worthy of news coverage. The point about the smoke in the northeast down to Virginia is that it affects 75-100 million people.

  54. Daryl says:

    @de stijl:
    It’s a national story because the national media is based there.
    Nothing more.
    Just another example of how myopic and lazy our 4th Estate is.

  55. de stijl says:


    So do people in New York matter more than people in Denver?

  56. Kathy says:


    I got my hands on a few 3M N95 masks (or respirators) last year or maybe late in 2021.

    I’m convinced their effectiveness lies not so much in the filter, as in the seal. Instead of ear loops, these come with two elastic bands that go on the neck and the head. If you’ve seen footage of actual surgical masks (not N95), you may notice they tie around the neck and head as well.

    Beyond that, the elastic straps are tight. They proved to be too tight for me. I can take one for around two hours, before the bridge of my nose seriously begins to hurt.

  57. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    No. There are just a hell of a lot more of them.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yep, it’s perfect.

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: OK, at least now I know it’s not picking on me.

  60. de stijl says:


    If it affects only 40 million people out west it is less newsworthy?

    The health impact is the same. Actually in Denver it was far worse ppm..

    Tell me again why this is different. It is news?Undoubtedly, yes. It was also big news then.

    Why is it big news now and it wasn’t two weeks ago?

    The answer is geography. News that happens west of a certain line is treated as less important.

    We understand that.. We know it happens.

  61. Sleeping Dog says:


    There has to be a way for Democrats…

    It depends. Most of these bills are occurring in solidly red states, where Dems doing 10% better, won’t move the needle neither nationally or in that state. Dems will use R radicalism against them, but the message will be censorship, R’s messing in the privacy of the family etc. The most effective place for Dems to use this message will be in the prez race, where the words of trump and DeSantis can be used against them. Otherwise ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, unfortunately.

  62. steve says:

    For N-95 masks it is both the seal and the material. The material in the masks is designed to be effectively permanently charged so that they they actively attract particles. In a regular mask it’s acting just as a barrier. I think the literature doesnt answer very well whether fit or material is more important. It’s a hard study to do as you want to know how it works clinically and hard to be sure about fit over an extended period and viral load exposure is important. Lab studies seem to suggest fit is more important but a lot of them have regular masks achieving success rates I have trouble believing.


  63. de stijl says:


    I hope you are being facetious.

  64. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    Newspapers of record are funny things, not only are they writing the first drafts of the history of the nation and the world, they also report on what is of interest to the city/region that they are located. Probably 75-80% of the newspapers and other news outlets, subscribe to the NY Times news service, so if the Times prints something there is a good chance that it will be picked up by local media anywhere in the country.

    Not to insult you, but I seldom seek out news of Iowa, when I come across something of interest, it is usually due to the Times having reported it. The funny the same article pops up in the Boston Globe, my local paper and the Mpls Tribune etc.

  65. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    Yes, a bit facetious. But the population of Denver, which you cited, is 711,230, whereas the population of the smoke-affected areas is 75 million. Size matters when it comes to the news.

    In any case, I think the folks at OTB are the wrong target for your ire. We’re all mindful of disasters everywhere.

  66. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Newspapers are not the issue.


    For future reference the Minneapolis daily is the Star Tribune.

    If you come with “Mpls Tribune” as the name you look like a tourist. And the St. Paul paper is the Pioneer Press. If you are going for authoritative you have to get the name right.

  67. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    “Not to insult you”… well fuck you too

    Do you not understand how petty that is?

    Talk about geography bias!

    I am naive because I currently live in IOWA? Seriously, fuck that.

    That was a stupid statement you need to back away from, dude. Kinda proves my point about the geography bias thing I pointed at earlier.

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: I think you are mistaken that the main stream media has been ignoring the West wrt to smoke and fires. I can only speak for the media I read, but I’ve seen articles about wild fires and smoke pollution in California and Colorado for years and years, with New Mexico, Idaho and other states thrown in for good measure. There have been endless articles about how school children are faring and how it affects quality of life and, of course, how it creates a general sense of dread. Articles on how it affects asthmatics, articles on hospital emergency rooms, articles on how people try to mitigate. Dozens of articles every year.

    The fires are affecting new areas. For the people who live in those areas who follow the news it makes it all real to them in a way just reading about it can’t, and for the people who don’t follow the news it’s come completely out of the blue. In either case they want to read about it, which drives news sources to generate a lot of articles about it. And since the NYTimes and the WaPo and all the stuff I don’t follow has a national audience, the whole nation gets to hear about it too.

  69. de stijl says:

    My ex writes for the Star Tribune daily and she kicks ass.

    Where is the Gannett strike in effect today? I’m not sure.

    Gannett is the biggest contributor to shitty local journalism by far. Local journalism is dying now thanks to owners like Gannett.

  70. MarkedMan says:

    @steve: I don’t think there is any doubt that seal is at least as important as material. A poor seal can mean that 50% or more of the air taken in does not pass through the filter.

    I had to go into a 3M filter cartridge manufacturing plant during the pandemic and they sent me two of their N95 masks and then I had to get fit tested. These were the good, double elastic band ones Kathy mentioned. Put it on, adjusted it, and then the guy spent 10 minutes spraying a noxious substance around the mask. Didn’t smell a thing. At the end he had me pull the mask a bit of a ways from my face and then sprayed again. I almost threw up.

  71. JohnSF says:

    A bit more on the Kakhovka Dam destruction.
    It appears the explosion was so powerful it was picked up on at atmospheric magnetometer in Bucharest; 2:50 am Ukraine time; with the c. 30 minute time delay estimate and +/- 5 min error estimate fits exactly with the local reports of massive explosion heard c. 2:20 am local.
    Further analysis showed simultaneous relative time resonances at three different stations, Bucharest, Bulgaria, Vienna.
    Transient type thought to indicate a detonation not a collapse.

    Post by a Ukrainian: Smart Ukrainian Cat

    “Remember how Ukrainian forces blew the Kazarovychi dam up to stop the advance of russian forces towards Dymydiv & Dymer?
    This one. 50 meters long. Want to know how many explosive we used to blow it up?
    We tried it twice.
    First time with 1000kg of TNT + UR-77. It did nothing. Just a crater.
    Second time 800kg of TNT has been placed in the crater made by the 1st explosion + UR-77 again.
    Second explosion managed to destroy the lock. THE LOCK ONLY. Not the structure itself.
    Now compare these 2. Half of what you see on the 2nd picture has been washed out. 200m long section, 16.5 meter tall. 5-story building.
    Tell again how Ukrainian forces destroyed it with GMLR, artillery or whatever, you Tucker the Fucker (aka @TuckerCarlson) believers.

    This dam has been destroyed by the underwater explosion, when hundreds kg of TNT has been placed under each pillar and in machine room.

    On the economic implications for Ukraine, ChrisO_wiki and the tweet he quotes from Tom Giuretis.
    In short, it’s bad. Very bad indeed.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is mounting a major rescue effort.
    But Governor Saldo, on behalf of the Russian occupation forces (recall him from his little black comedy turn in yesterday’s forum?):

    “There are few people (affected)…there are no requests for evacuation.”

    I hope for his sake Governor Saldo has a bolthole lined up in Russia, because I suspect he has the life expectancy of a mayfly if local Ukrainians get hold of him.

  72. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t follow any TV news at all, and haven’t for my entire adult life, but I know a little bit about how it works. In this day and age the production companies know instantaneously how their viewership goes up and down during and after an article, and so they will craft more and more articles about subjects that get the highest interest. More people will tune in to, say, CNN when what’s being discussed is actually happening to them and that goes up by multiples if its the first time.

    I was once in Europe getting busted on by two Dutch friends about how ignorant Americans were about European politics, but how the typical European knows a lot about American politics. I let them go on for a while, and then I started grilling them: Did they know how Australia’s relationship with Malayasia was faring? Did they know who the current leader was in Egypt? Is Ghana a democracy? Is Nepal part of China? Why is that a loaded question? It turns out they were as ignorant about all that as most Americans, because most people are primarily interested in what is affecting them. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  73. Gustopher says:


    Sorry to refer to yet another Kevin Drum post, but he has a post up that over 500(!!) anti-trans bills have been introduced by presumably all GOP leaning members of the political class.

    I think we reached the point where there is one anti-trans kid in school sports bill for each trans kid in school sports.

    As he says in his post: “This is stark raving mad, and there’s no reason for it aside from pure tribal insanity. The whole business simply beggars belief.”

    It beggars belief because we have memory holed the Great Satanic Panic.

    The Satanic panic is a moral panic consisting of over 12,000 unsubstantiated cases of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA, sometimes known as ritual abuse, ritualistic abuse, organized abuse, or sadistic ritual abuse) starting in the United States in the 1980s

    If you can believe 12,000 cases of satanic rituals, blood sacrifice, etc, then you can believe that people are sexually mutilating children for profit. The insanity found something semi-plausible to latch onto.

    Semi-plausible in that there are trans kids, and some of them get surgery or hormones as part of gender-affirming care. They actually exist, and can be pointed to, along with the doctors. (Complete misrepresentation of motives, etc, but the kids do exist)

    Very different from the couple down the street to sacrifice in infant and bathe in the blood near an upside down cross. Different even from the basement of Comet Pizza.

    The insanity is always there, it just sometimes lands on actual people and inevitably hurts them.

    Part of me thinks we need to create a fictional minority group that we can demonize, with outlandish practices and manner of dress that people won’t mistake for Arabs or Jews. Just keep the insanity focused on something that does not exist, as a harm reduction technique.

    Or maybe the Blue Man Group can take one for the team.

  74. CSK says:

    Mark Meadows has pled guilty to some charges and will receive limited immunity in exchange for testifying against Trump.

    The indictment may come down tomorrow.

  75. Daryl says:

    Lots of buzz on this…principally from the Independent, and from John Solomon who is a Trump supporter…not sure I believe it quite yet.
    I’m guessing it’ll be next week if it is true.

  76. CSK says:


    If it’s next week, I do hope it’s on Trump’s birthday.

  77. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: Musing on this while walking to coffee shop, I think a lot of the blame for things like the Great Satanic Panic lies firmly on the various churches, particularly the Catholic Church.

    The child sexual abuse “scandal”* shook faith in the institution, and showed an actual grand conspiracy of pedophiles. Both parts of that were very bad.

    First, a lot of people have a church sized hole** in their lives, and if the church can’t fill it, something else will. Churches often provide a safer outlet for those who are mentally lost and need to commit to something.

    Second, it confirms every conspiracy theory at least at a general level. Except a lot of people don’t want to blame the church, so they look for another target.

    And the real danger is those who fall into both those at-first-glance mutually exclusive groups. Pushing a little bit away from the blander, normal church, but focusing their anger at some other.

    I think that if the various churches were just handing evidence over to local prosecutors rather than protecting the pedophiles, we would be living in a much better world today.

    And I see much the same in the Republican Party today — constant revelations of terrible behavior, a refusal to accept any responsibility (not even purging the bad actors), and a shifting of the blame and anger onto anyone else. They circle around Trump and defend him, despite the obvious.

    (Meanwhile, Democrats are happy to regularly have the Governor of Illinois go to jail, and would be content to jail either or both of the Clintons if there was evidence)
    *: remember when we all shifted suddenly from making jokes about altar boys being molested by priests to being shocked that altar boys were being molested by priests? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

    **: Churches have traditionally provided community, a sense of common purpose, an unhealthy dose of “I’m morally better than you unbelievers” and fun riddles like “if bread takes 20 minutes to rise, why did Jesus take three days? Wtf, slacker Jesus?” (Or “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”, for less Jesussy religions)

  78. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Holy shit

  79. Jay L Gischer says:

    I just had a visit from my sister who tells me that a guy we both kind of know from our youth is posting things on Facebook of the nature, “All trans people should be shot”.

    So, I’m thinking the trans people talking about genocide aimed at them aren’t really hyperbolizing.

    Though I bear in mind that if I were to show up face to face with him and say, “If you want to shoot her, shoot me first, go ahead and get your gun and try it.” he would probably fold.

    And then go back to spouting crap on FB the next day. Sigh.

  80. CSK says:


    My sentiments exactly.

  81. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I think the Great Satanic Panic was what got me to the point that I trigger when anyone says “Group X never lies about Y”. These little kids were saying crazy things, impossible things but anytime someone questioned it they were berated as naive or worse. So called experts were all over the media explaining passionately and forcefully that children never lie about this type of abuse. Just a bad statement on every level. Kids that age have a fuzzy relationship with reality to begin with and they are very good at picking up on what an adult wants to hear and feeding that back to them. “Lie” doesn’t really enter into it. Fortunately it didn’t have have the effect I feared, which was to become too skeptical about claims of child abuse. It did probably make people too skeptical about claims of ritual murder but considering how rare that is, it’s probably doesn’t have a big impact.

  82. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    There was a headline at Memeorandum earlier for an commentary with the headline to the effect that the attacks on trans people is how genocide begins. So people are justified in being scared.

  83. CSK says:


    I don’t know if you recall (or even heard about) the Fells Acre Day Care case up here in Mass., but back in the 1980s, the director, her daughter, and her son were arrested, tried, and convicted of sexually abusing their littel charges. Eventually it emerged that, under adroit questioning, the kids had fantasized everything, including elephants being slaughtered, flying saucers landing, etc.

  84. Kathy says:


    Jack Smith is making Mueller look terrible.

  85. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I agree.

    Even when the news is of other, less populated places, it can be turned to focus on the bigger city/region.

    When Popocatepetl spewed ash recently, there were news about the nearby communities affected, yes. There was also a call back to the time in the 90s the ash fall reached Mexico City, and assurances there’s no danger to the city or its inhabitants this time.

  86. Daryl says:
  87. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: remember when we all shifted suddenly from making jokes about altar boys being molested by priests to being shocked that altar boys were being molested by priests? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

    Remember when people were joking about nuns beating 8 and 10 yr old kids with yard sticks and pointers? Yeah, they’re still joking about it.

    (and ftr, I never joked about altar boys being molested by priests and I sure as shit wasn’t shocked that they were, everybody knew better than to be in a room alone with Father Joe)

  88. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Though I bear in mind that if I were to show up face to face with him and say, “If you want to shoot her, shoot me first, go ahead and get your gun and try it.” he would probably fold.

    I can almost guarantee you he would. None of them have shot me yet. And I’m an old, fat, 5’9′, arthritic, bursitic, broken down union carpenter who wears his heart on his sleeve, back, head, truck….

    eta: I’m not brave, I’m just out of fucks to give.

  89. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Why? Why? Who gives a damn who’s L or G or B or T or Q???? (And I mean this in the kindest possible way.) Why should I care? How does this affect me????

  90. Jay L Gischer says:

    @CSK: Quite frankly, that’s my question to these folks. Why do you care at all? How does this have any impact on your life?

  91. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Who cares who’s Jewish, who’s Muslim, who’s Christian, who’s black, who’s Asian, etc?

    Chimpanzees live in tribes on vaguely delimited territories. If they run across a chimp form another tribe along the borders, they are as liable to attack them as not. Some among H. sapiens haven’t advanced farther than our wild relatives.

  92. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Who gives a damn who’s L or G or B or T or Q????

    They could just MYOB. (mind your own business)

  93. Jay L Gischer says:

    Welp, a Federal judge in Florida just granted a temporary injunction to allow hormone blockers be used with three trans children. I’ve been enjoying reading his opinion

    A methodology often used for evaluating medical studies—for evaluating
    research-generated evidence on the safety and efficacy of any given course of
    Case 4:23-cv-00114-RH-MAF Document 90 Filed 06/06/23 Page 27 of 44
    Page 28 of 44
    Case No. 4:23cv114-RH-MAF
    treatment—is known as Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development,
    and Evaluation (“GRADE”). The defendants stridently assert that the evidence
    supporting the treatments at issue is “low” or “very low” quality as those terms are
    used in the GRADE system. But the evidence on the other side—the evidence
    purportedly showing these treatments are ineffective or unsafe—is far weaker, not
    just of “low” or “very low” quality. Indeed, evidence suggesting these treatments
    are ineffective is nonexistent.

    The choice these plaintiffs face is binary: to use GnRH agonists and crosssex hormones, or not. It is no answer to say the evidence on the yes side is weak when the evidence on the no side is weaker or nonexistent.
    The defendants assert there are risks attendant to treatment with GnRH
    agonists and cross-sex hormones. […] An unreplicated study found that sheep who took GnRH
    agonists became worse at negotiating a maze, at least for a time. Another study
    showed a not-statistically-significant but nonetheless-concerning decrease in IQ
    among cisgender children treated for central precocious puberty with GnRH agonists. These and other studies cited by the defendants would surely be rated low
    or very-low quality on the GRADE scale and, more importantly, are not very
    persuasive. The latter study has not led to a ban on the use of GnRH agonists to
    treat central precocious puberty.

    I found the whole thing an interesting, informative, and yes, entertaining read. It confirmed what I’ve been saying – that this kind of thing will not play well in the courts.

    Politically, I’m sure the actors – people like Rick DeSantis, Greg Abbot, and Ken Paxton – knew it wouldn’t do well. But it worked for them politically.

  94. CSK says:


    That’s what I like about Massachusetts. The state motto could be “mind your own business,” whether a Republican or a Democrat is giovernor.

  95. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It’s so simple.

  96. Gustopher says:


    Why? Why? Who gives a damn who’s L or G or B or T or Q???? (And I mean this in the kindest possible way.) Why should I care? How does this affect me????

    “I don’t understand X” and “I don’t understand Y” lead people to be very ready to make an equivalence between X and Y with a little prompting. It’s stupid, but it happens all the time.

    If X is LGBTQIA+ and Y is child molester, it only requires a few vaguely trustworthy (to some) people to make that equivalence of unknowns feel real, regardless of any actual facts.

    You don’t understand how a dude can be interested in another dude, and you don’t understand how a dude can be interested in a child… just tie it together, and it’s even better if you can find a few real instances of gay or trans child molesters to repeat forever. (And, there are a few, just like every group)

    Why do you care (if you are on the right, and have the right trust circles)? Because they are pedophiles hurting children, why wouldn’t you care? What kind of a monster are you? Think of the children! No, not that way! Etc.

    Aside from the Objectivists, people think they are part of a community, and that they have a responsibility to protect that community — and that’s a good thing, usually/often. The bigots tie their bigotry into that.

    It’s a pretty dangerous time for queer folks (particularly trans folks), and on the knife’s edge of a very dangerous time.

    It’s why representation matters, particularly boring representation*. It removes the unknown and makes it harder to define it with another more terrifying unknown. And it’s why any form of representation is considered “woke garbage being shoved down our throats.”

    *: Will and Grace, for all its formulaic plot lines, and leaning into stereotypes, was great. It probably did more for gay acceptance than most of the activism of the previous decade. Good fucking lord was Will boring — perfect for boring people to relate to. 😉

  97. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    An unreplicated study found that sheep who took GnRH
    agonists became worse at negotiating a maze, at least for a time.

    We should keep trans kids away from hedge mazes. Got it.

  98. wr says:

    @de stijl: “The CNN effect – if it happens in NYC or metro DC it’s big news.”

    If it happens in a place where all the journalists live, it’s news. You can get mad about this if you want, but it’s not going to change.

  99. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump notified that he is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation
    Prosecutors consider a target a person for whom there is “substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.”


    Is that anything like a putz?
    A stupid or worthless person.

    (yeah, I know he’s a dick)

  100. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    this kind of thing will not play well in the courts.

    I’m not sure that principle applies to SCOTUS anymore. Just sayin. 🙁

  101. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’m slightly less pessimistic about it, because the court recently signed on to a decision that title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to transgender and homosexual individuals.

    The court was different then, with 4 liberals and 5 conservatives. But both Gorsuch and Roberts joined in for a 6-3 decision. We can assume Justice Covid Barret would have voted against. In such a case the decision would have been 5-4.

    The political situation has changed more than the court, especially in the deplorable wingnut base. Therefore the “less pessimistic” qualifier.

    I don’t think this decision will be overturned when 4 active justices signed on to it, and Jackson will likely be on their side.

    What the Democrats should start working on is a law that keeps state governments, or for that matter the federal government, from interfering with medical decisions which by all rights should be decided by the patient and their doctor(s), and maybe their family.

  102. Jax says:

    @CSK: @Jay L Gischer: It’s because they like being angry and dramatic, and the Bible told them so. I live amongst them, and when I ask them what their fucking problem is, they just say it’s because it’s “yucky, and all up in my face about it.”

    Then they follow up with “I didn’t care about who loves who until they got all up in my face and telling my kids in school that it’s ok to be gay or trans.”

    Cue my tiny violins that your homicidal munchkins are being taught to love one another, even if they’re different from them.

    **Proudly puts my pride flag t shirt on top of my American Flag pants, because fuck allllllllll a y’alllllll**

  103. Jax says:

    And in case anybody wonders, that is, indeed, how I dress in public. No fucks left to give. 😛 😛 They’ll take my pride shirt and my American Flag pants out of my Cold. Dead. Hands.

  104. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    I’m old enough that to me “Mothers for Freedom” sounds like the suburban party that started after the kids got off to the first day of school. But I agree, this whole wackadoodle thing is a mystery and abhorrent to me. What happened to the idea that I don’t need to know/care about my neighbor’s sins (real/imaginary/non-existent), as I should be taking care of my own?

    @Jay L Gischer:
    And it always cracks me up when these folks assume that I’m a Dawg-fearing ‘Meriken because I’m an old/fat/balding/Luddite. Then they discover that my politics are somewhere to the outside of “shut up and leave everyone the eff alone!” I love the noise their heads make when they explode.

  105. de stijl says:


    It should change.

    It’s parochial and stupid.

    If something happens in NYC is it more newsworthy? Does geography bias exist?

    You are implicitly excusing bad behavior of national media as that is just what happens. Deal. Don’t be naive. Don’t want better from them. Don’t question. Don’t push. It’s Chinatown. Bullshit!

    I reject that.

    I know it’s the status quo and what is currently acceptable, but is it right / correct?

    I know I do not want parochial national media.

  106. Jax says:

    @de stijl: So did the feeling ever come back in your foot? I remember you talking about it being dead years ago.

  107. de stijl says:


    Hey, love!

    I compliment you on your outfit. You look snazzy, no doubt.

    Love the attitude! Different = good in my book. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    No one has changed their path in life to the better by having a bunch of ditto-heads congratulate them on their group think. Keep on pushing!

    It takes a wrinkle or a tear to change people’s minds.

    Keep on being you.


    Give me sec and I’ll whip a music recommendation.

  108. de stijl says:


    Yes. Roughly 75% mobility. It still sends weird, transient nerve signals up my spine occasionally. Some are pain signals, but whatever. I cope.

    I took up drumming! (I still suck at it) I practice daily now. I remember that was a thing your kiddo was into.

    After about 22 months I could wriggle my piggies again. They moved a millimeter or two.

    Song recommendation? The drum song I am practicing to currently is Kokopelli Face Tattoo by AJJ. Punk folk, may not be your taste.

    I got it! Small Red Boy by also AJJ. The cello bit kicks ass. Deep song, I think so at least.

  109. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Oddly enough, my left foot started going numb, starting with the pinky toe, about a year ago. It’s almost up to my ankle now.

    I have baby chickens, they really love to jam out to some Ray Lynch. Particulary the Oh of Pleasure and Rhythm in the Pews on the Deep Breakfast album. They’ll be going crazy, doing chicken things, and when Ray Lynch comes on, they all get silent and listen.

    Oddly enough, A-Ha’s 2017 acoustic version of Take on Me puts them all to sleep. The radio version makes them crazy.

  110. de stijl says:


    I am convinced farm animals respond to human music. After all, they sort of are complicit with that domestication stuff. They trust us and we are obligated to show them love, a good home, warmth, and a good life. We take their milk, their eggs, their wool, eventually their meat and leather. We owe them that, at least.

    Give them some good knotty classical music. Some Vivaldi, some Marin Maris. Big cellos.

    We owe them a good life.

    I love chickens. Kinda don’t know why. They’re sort of assholes even when they are happy. Maybe more so when. Jerks, mostly. Love ’em still.

    My neighbor down the street has urban chickens. Exotics. My favorite is an all black. She struts and preens like a princess who knows she is drop-dead gorgeous. Makes sense – she is. They make me laugh with their silly shenanigans.

    There is an achievement in Saints Row 4 to get your playable character to sing along to A-Ha. The trick is to drive around listening to the pop radio station.

    Take on me.
    Take me on.

    When that cheevo pops it’s pretty sweet.

  111. de stijl says:


    I am convinced farm animals respond to human music. After all, they sort of are complicit with that domestication stuff. They trust us and we are obligated to show them love, a good home, warmth, and a good life. We take their milk, their eggs, their wool, eventually their meat and leather. We owe them that, at least.

    Give them some good knotty classical music. Some Vivaldi, some Marin Maris. Big cellos.

    We owe them a good life.

    I love chickens. Kinda don’t know why. They’re sort of assholes even when they are happy. Maybe more so when. Jerks, mostly. Love ’em still.

    My neighbor down the street has urban chickens. Exotics. My favorite is an all black. She struts and preens like a princess who knows she is drop-dead gorgeous. Makes sense – she is. They make me laugh with their silly shenanigans.

    There is an achievement in Saints Row 4 to get your playable character to sing along to A-Ha. The trick is to drive around listening to the pop radio station.

    Take on me.
    Take me on.

    When that cheevo pops it’s pretty sweet.