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. Daryl says:

    Year on year inflation was 3% in June.
    That’s a pretty big drop from a year ago when it was 9.1% in June 2022 and everyone was talking about a recession.
    It’s not all roses; food is still at 5.7% and shelter is at 7.5%…gas prices are the biggest driver of the drop.
    Watch for MAGA to try and derail the economy over the next 9 months.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl: As I understand it, the way we measure shelter essentially makes it a one year trailing indicator. So that 7.5% has a lot of last year built in.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    John Victor Russell, 75, has been charged with two felonies after the shooting, police said. The shooting came a month after he was recognized for his services to horses during a ceremony in Tryon, North Carolina. Russell was arrested at his home near Columbus, North Carolina, on 5 July, WYFF reported, after sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a fight involving gunfire.

    “When deputies arrived, they found several people on the property and determined that a dispute happened between Russell and his son, resulting in gunfire and the death of a horse that the son had been riding,” John J Suave, Polk county sheriff’s office spokesperson, told WYFF.

    The Chronicle of the Horse, a horse news website, reported that Russell has been charged with felony cruelty to animals and assault on a person with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

    Russell was described as a “legendary horse trainer” by WYFF. The news outlet reported that the Russell family is well known in the Tryon area “with an equestrian legacy of horse training in the community”. A Tyron International Equestrian Center profile of Russell, who is known as “Vick”, described him as a “local legend”, while a 2022 article in the Horse Country Quarterly said Russell was a “renaissance horseman”. Russell’s history with horses was recognized in June, when he was crowned “horseman of the year” by the Carolinas Show Hunter Hall Of Fame.

    The Carolinas Show Hunter Hall of Fame did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian. It is unclear if Russell will retain his title now he has been accused of shooting a horse.

  4. Scott says:

    This is another article that talks about another way we are cutting ourselves off from one another.

    Austin Is Getting Bigger. So Are Its Fences.

    One morning this spring, I looked out my sliding glass door to see an explosion of purple flowers in my next-door neighbor’s backyard. Her Texas mountain laurel tree had bloomed, seemingly overnight. I carried my sixteen-month-old son outside, reached over, and drew a blossom to his nose. It was his first time smelling that distinct aroma, and it sweetened the rest of our day.

    We could enjoy my neighbor’s fragrant shrub—and the rest of her recently landscaped lot—because the only thing between us is a dinky chain link fence. Used everywhere from tennis courts to prisons, it’s the unsexy workhorse of fencing, containing balls, dogs, and humans, but not sight lines. Ours stands about four feet tall and also runs along the rear of our Allandale house. The transparency means we’re able to chat with the family behind us, as well as with the people beside them.

    Our yards form a semi-open green space that’s a relic of the fifties and sixties, when our neighborhood was built on Austin’s then northern edge. Waist-high chain link fences were a popular choice for backyards. Though plenty of the old metal survives, over the years, many residents have replaced theirs with six-foot wood fencing.

    “People want their backyards fully enclosed, fully private, so they have a space where they don’t see anybody,” says Nate Austin of Austin Brothers Fence Company. “It’s becoming increasingly rare for them to want an option where they can talk to the neighbors.”

    “You don’t feel like you’re in a neighborhood anymore,” says Bruce Wiland, a zoning committee member of the Zilker Neighborhood Association. He moved to Zilker in 1978, when he could still see his neighbors over the back chain link fence. Now it feels like “a bunch of little forts.”

    Article is long but it does make one think about the environment we intentionally create and live in. I’m in a standard suburban neighborhood with most houses having 6 ft wooden fences. I’m fortunate to live on a wide creek bed with no one behind me so I haven’t fenced anything in except the areas for the vegetable gardens.

  5. gVOR10 says:


    Watch for MAGA to try and derail the economy over the next 9 months.

    MAGA = Jerome Powell.

    (I love OTB. If this were a letter to my local paper, or even a comment at WAPO, I’d have felt it necessary to add Jay Powell’s title.)

  6. CSK says:

    Milan Kundera, the Czech writer and activist, has died in Paris at 94. A long life well lived. RIP.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve been wondering why we’ve heard so little about the writers strike. Here’s a depressing update.

    “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”

  8. Daryl says:

    Plus I imagine the high cost of housing in places like Florida DeSantistan is skewing the number.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Unprecedented’: Nasa releases image of star-forming region

    It’s a pretty damned impressive photo, that’s for sure.

  10. CSK says:


    I’ve known three screenwriters. When I asked each of them how Hollywood treated them, they made the exact same reply: silently balling up a piece of paper and tossing it aside.

  11. CSK says:



  12. Kathy says:

    The problem with inflation is that the effects linger on. Overall, prices that went up will stay up.

    The other thing is that while 3% inflation is better than 9%, it means only that price increases are slower. But they still rise.

    It would help to index wages to inflation.

    I know, in what universe, right?

    In the late 80s, Mexico experienced “mild” hyperinflation (mild by contrast with Argentina or Brazil). I think it peaked at around 150% (imagine that as mild). It was pretty bad, but the minimum wage was indexed to inflation and revised monthly, I think, and other wages were indexed to the minimum wage.

  13. CSK says:

    Yesterday, Lauren Boebert said this: “I love freedom because Jesus set me free because I am Christian.”

    She also says Jesus instructed her to impeach Joe Biden.

    Is there a bigger dipshit in Congress?

  14. Kathy says:

    Speaking of high inflation, one consequence was the printing and use of bills in higher denominations. We topped out with a 100,000 peso bill (at the time, a bit under $30 US). When conditions stabilized, 3 zeroes were loped off the currency, and its name changed to new peso (and they promptly issued a 500 new peso note, among the rest of the other new notes). By the early 90s, the number of zeroes remained, but the currency name went back to peso.

    The latest peso notes were identical to the new peso notes, save that they omitted the term “new”. But there was an additional change. The latest notes, and all subsequent ones, no longer carried the legend near the top that read “The Bank of Mexico will pay to the bearer the amount of,” followed by the denomination in writing, or placed over the denomination.

    I’m not sure why that was necessary, nor why it was later removed. Some notes emitted by private banks, as well as those of individual states, carried such a legend, too. Many even specified where the bearer could get paid. Notes printed by the Bank of London and Mexico specified Mexico City, for example.

    I think this goes back to when gold and silver were the real currency, and bills functioned more as checks or promissory notes for actual specie. I’ve seen some XIX century US dollar notes with a similar legend, only specifying payment in gold.

    Gold stopped circulating in coins long ago in most countries, silver as well. Certainly by the 80s and 90s. Government mints do issue gold and silver coins, but they’re sold as investments in precious metals, even when they have a denomination specified.

    Another thing. newer USD bills still carry a legend saying “this note is legal tender for debts public and private,” or something very much like it. Mexican notes don’t

    I may take up numismatics again. I wonder if I can do that without collecting coins and notes. I’m a lousy collector.

  15. Kathy says:


    Does it strike anyone else that some people have like a very unhealthy codependent relationship with their imaginary friends?

  16. CSK says:


    Even if I felt the way Boebert does I’d be too embarrassed to blather publicly about it.

    It also strikes me, a non-religious person since birth, that to talk about God and Jesus as if
    they were old buddies and personal advisors is blasphemous.

  17. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: That’s a decently long life. I’ve loved Kundera’s writing (or his translator’s writing*) since I read Laughable Loves for a class in college, and eventually read basically everything he wrote.

    *: There were a bunch of “new, revised” translations of The Joke each claiming to be better than the last, with Kundera eventually learning English well enough to help with the translation. I suspect the problem with the earlier translations was that it was his first novel and parts weren’t quite as good as Kundera thought they were.

  18. Gustopher says:


    She also says Jesus instructed her to impeach Joe Biden.

    I’m not going to impugn the integrity of Boebert by suggesting that she is lying, but has she considered that Jesus might not like her and is encouraging her to embarrass herself?

    I know He’s not known for spite, and it really seems a bit more Old Testament, but it really doesn’t seem like Jesus has her best interests at heart.

  19. CSK says:


    I’m sure God and Jesus tell her everything she thinks she hears from them. And everything she wants to hear.

  20. steve says:

    Reminds me of the Austin Lounge Lizards classic, Jesus Loves Me But He Cant Stand You.


  21. CSK says:


    I wish there were a “laugh” button as well as a “like” button.

  22. JohnSF says:

    NBC reports US CPI inflation reported as falling to 3%.
    With unemployment at 3.6% and real incomes growth at 1.2%, and investment running at 20% of GDP, the US looks to me to be in pretty good place, economically.
    Maybe someone can persuade the Fed not to piss in the punchbowl just yet.

    Certainly from a UK perspective, we’d love to have those figures.
    UK inflation 7.9%, unemployment 4%, investment c.15%

  23. JohnSF says:

    Jesus probably likes a good laugh from time to time as much as the rest of us.
    J: “Watch this Holy Ghost, next I’m going to suggest public jell-o fights with MTG.”
    HG: “Jesus, Jesus, but you can be a real devil sometimes.”
    J: “Don’t tell Dad, mkay?”

  24. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: ““The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline”

    What’s really insane is that this comes out the day the actors are going to decide to go out on strike. The studios are announcing that they have no interest in a fair deal, and (if you read further in that article) insist that their goal this time around is to destroy the WGA — which of course would be the first step in destroying all the Hollywood unions.

    Saying this stuff out loud just sounds like a strange strategy to me. Maybe they think this will terrify SAG into settling for a sub-par deal. But it sounds more like Putin saying that Ukraine should surrender, at which point the Russians will march in a execute every living Ukrainian. Just kind of makes you want to keep fighting…

  25. Beth says:


    My problems with inflation are:

    1. I have to constantly fight with my lovely, but dumb, idiot brother. He dips his toes into Rogan and Zero Hedge and subsequently thinks that any inflation is the absolute worstest ever hyperest death of the sun inflation. It’s always a tedious discussion. I have hated listening to the Republicans whine about inflation since the 80’s. I HATE IT.

    2. Those of us working in real estate are getting hammered. I’d be way more freaked out about my personal situation if every single realtor and real estate attorney wasn’t singing the exact same tune. “we’re bored. There’s no work. This is like 08, but without the screaming. I’m booooooooooored.” I talked to another attorney yesterday who obviously was bored out of his mind and was looking for someone to talk to.

    my guesses as to what’s going on? At least in Chicago?

    1. People, especially people in their 20’s and 30’s don’t understand that a 2% interest rate on a home loan isn’t normal, it’s probably closer to 7-9%. So they don’t want to buy (or can’t)
    2. People with low interest rates don’t necessarily want to move and have to get a new high rate loan.
    3. investors have taken a HUGE chunk of housing out of circulation.
    4. and in my neighborhood, a whole cohort of old white people died already and their kids sold their houses to the nice Chinese family. I need another cohort to go. Unfortunately, I don’t get any Chinese clients because I don’t speak “Chinese*” and because their are at least 2 fantastic Chinese attorneys in the neighborhood that do (there are also 3 terrible ones, I feel bad for their clients).

    *I know Chinese isn’t a language, but I don’t know what the actual languages of the immigrants and families in the Neighborhood are.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: We topped out with a 100,000 peso bill (at the time, a bit under $30 US).

    I remember well, that feeling of becoming an instant multi-millionaire by merely crossing the border. 🙂

    When conditions stabilized, 3 zeroes were loped off the currency,

    I had a big ol’ sad 🙁 when they did that, but I got over it.

  27. JohnSF says:

    Missed your comment on US inflation before posting mine.
    Interesting question: can the House Republicans jam a big enough spoke in the wheel between now and the elections?
    I suspect the momentum may just be too great for them to have any effect.
    Look for a big push on 3% still too high?
    The one remaining big issue is deficit level being a bit high for comfort; and that seems to me easily enough resolved, with a sensible Congress: just edge taxes up a bit, and look at some of the more wasteful areas of corporate subsidy.

    Similarly in the UK: both inflation and deficit control, and the need for investment, might be better handled by higher taxes then on economy-crushing interest rates.
    But the hopes of the Conservatives seeing sense on that are none too good.
    As with sensible alignments with EU on trade agreements.
    Probably just have to wait for a Labour government for sensible policies to stand a chance of being implemented.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: She’s been sniffing glue again.

  29. JohnSF says:

    Interesting. In the UK it’s almost unheard of for back gardens not to be fenced/walled/hedged.
    IMO there should be some sort of encouragement for hedging.
    It’s by far the best solution for biodiversity.
    OTOH, its more labour intensive for upkeep, and takes more space out of the pocket-handkerchief excuses for back gardens in a lot of modern developments.

  30. Kathy says:

    On the topic of Threads, Meta wants to de-emphasize news and politics.

    Tell me again how that is not an editorial function?

    BTW, I loved this line: “But Brian Ott, a social media scholar who teaches at Missouri State University, … said Meta is attempting to position Threads as an anti-Twitter Twitter…”

    That’s so close to my mocking term “not-Twitter Twitter replacement.” 😉

    Back on topic, what would happen if it social media platforms were deemed to be publishers, and therefore responsible for the effect of their content?

    The obvious is one could sue Twitter, for instance, on a number of grounds, same as one would a newspaper or other old media.

    But what would be the effect on the content itself? We’ve learned moderating millions of people posting stuff is not really possible, it may not even be a realistic aspiration.

    Any thoughts?

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: One of the features of striking in a climate of general ambivalence to hostility towards unions is that you have to pick fights that you can win–or where you have nothing left to lose. From the time I left the wholesale produce business, I watched about half a dozen unions get broken to smithereens in my home town over about 6 or 7 years. Very sad. 🙁

  32. Stormy Dragon says:


    New “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Twitter” brand microblogging, now available from Meta

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: While I was in Korea, Woosong University was paying me 36 million won a year. Once you get used to the dissonance of it, it seems normal. The fact that the government and the society both work very hard at keeping things stable makes a big difference, too.

    There are occasional discussions about a devaluation/revaluation to rescale the currency, but most people seem ambivalent to hostile toward the idea, so it doesn’t go anywhere. But it’s also not broken, so it doesn’t seem necessary to fix. And while I was in Daegu, some of my adult students asked me how I felt about having to come to Korea to become a millionaire.

  34. Jax says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Ha! I only have one thumbs up to give, but here’s your laughing emoji! 😛

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Yeah, it was just a joke among me and my fellow cavers. After 3 or 4 days we’d have adjusted and took no notice of it.

  36. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    There was much talk about taking off zeroes in the late 80s. There were even rumors that the currency would be renamed “Aztec.” I’m not quite sure whether there was popular support or not.

    But several South American countries were also doing it, sometimes renaming their currencies as well. So it seemed like the natural thing to do.

    Me, I favored not having to type “000” after most amounts entered into the accounting and payroll programs I managed at the time. By the peak, about the lowest denomination coin was 100 pesos, and it barely got any use aside from making change.

  37. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    With SAG-AFTRA’s current film and television contracts package expiring at midnight on July 12, negotiators for both labor and management have one more day to reach a potential compromise or a performers’ strike could be called as soon as Thursday. A federal mediator has been brought in for the final day, after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers made a last-minute request this week that SAG-AFTRA agreed to on Tuesday evening, even as the union said in a statement it suspected a “cynical ploy” to extend talks further was afoot. (The union maintained that it will not accede to extending its contract’s deadline again, as both parties did on June 30 — meaning the federal mediator will have just a single business day to help the two sides come to an agreement on a number of open issues.)

    Talk about a thankless, Sisyphean task for the mediator. Wonder who they pissed off at the home office.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Meanwhile, as the potential for around 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members to go out on strike grows, a coalition of entertainment unions pledged their solidarity with the performers’ union in a statement on Wednesday. A coalition of the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America East and West, IATSE and Hollywood Basic Crafts declared that SAG-AFTRA’s fight ties in with their own: “While the studios have collective worth of trillions of dollars, billions of viewers globally, and sky-high profits, this fight is not about actors against the studios, but rather about workers across all crafts and departments in the industry standing together to prevent mega-corporations from eroding the conditions we fought decades to achieve.” The unions added, “Together, our solidarity is not to be underestimated. The Hollywood Unions and Guilds stand more united than ever.”

    Well, maybe everyone can camp out over at Merryl’s place by the beach after they lose their dwellings.

  38. Gustopher says:


    Back on topic, what would happen if it social media platforms were deemed to be publishers, and therefore responsible for the effect of their content?

    I think you would need to determine what actions the platform is liable for before you could guess at this.

    Assume person X posts something risky — “cure Covid by shoving lightbulbs up your butt” or something. Here are a few things that platform might do:

    – Hosting a risky comment by X
    – Showing the risky comment to people who follow X
    – Showing the risky comment to people who follow Y who liked the comment
    – Showing the risky comment to random strangers because it looks nice and they are interested in lightbulbs, butts or Covid.
    – The CEO tweets out the risky comment and says that the woke lame stream media doesn’t want you to know about lightbulbs in your butt curing Covid, it worked great for noted communist pedophile Tom Hanks, and now you can buy an NFT of a monkey shoving a lightbulb up it’s butt.

    The degree of editorial decisions being made in each case differ, and depending on where you want to start drawing lines of liability, the degree of chilling effect will differ.

    The technology to implement the chilling effect is far more available than people anticipate.

    Also, some things should be chilled. Chilling effect is not always bad.