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. OzarkHillbilly says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Don’t shoot for it: shrinking moon sees hours-long quakes and landslides

    As the core of the Earth’s only natural satellite cools, the moon is shrinking, causing it to shrivel. That creates ripples tens of meters high, called thrust faults, across the moon’s surface. In turn, those thrust faults can be the site of hours-long moonquakes and landslides, which could imperil people and robots as humans continue to explore the moon.

    “Our modeling suggests that shallow moonquakes capable of producing strong ground shaking in the south polar region are possible from slip events on existing faults or the formation of new thrust faults,” said Tom Watters of the Smithsonian Institution, lead author of new research published in the Planetary Science Journal.

    In particular, researchers focused on the lunar south pole, a region seen as strategically important because scientists believe there may be permanently shadowed regions with deposits of water ice. The lunar south pole has already been identified as the focus of Nasa’s Artemis III crewed moon mission scheduled for September ​​2026.
    Watters later told CNN he does not want to “alarm anyone” or “discourage exploration”, but to warn future explorers. He said: “The moon is not this benign place where nothing is happening.”

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Another sign that illegal immigration is out of control: ‘I was thrilled and shocked’: images raise hopes of return of wild jaguars to the US

    Mexico is now sending their predators to us.

  4. Bill Jempty says:
  5. Bill Jempty says:
  6. Kathy says:

    Yesterday was the deadline to pay a credit card. For some stupid reason, I deposited the money to my debit account instead.

    Later, as it became clear we’d be staying late at work, I checked my debit balance before ordering dinner, and realized the mistake. Just in time to transfer the money to the credit card and avoid late fees.

    This got me thinking about luck. IMO, luck is, sometimes, shorthand for “I did everything wrong but things came out ok in the end.”

  7. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Kathy: This got me thinking about luck. IMO, luck is, sometimes, shorthand for “I did everything wrong but things came out ok in the end.” Sounds like my life.


  8. senyordave says:

    What is the Taylor Swift hate about? I understand the Maga types because they are told who to hate, but members of Congress? Texas republican Troy Nehls was talking to FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker during hearings and at one point claimed that “Taylor Swift, flying to the Super Bowl in her supersonic jet”.
    To his credit, Committee chairman Garrett Graves (R-LA) noted after Mr Nehl’s time expired that he did not believe Swift was in possession of a supersonic jet. Although I would have been even more impressed if he had used the term “dumbass” when addressing Nehl’s comments.
    And of course they couldn’t go without the obligatory illegals narrative so Republican Scott Perry of Pennsylvania used his time to demand answers about “illegal foreign nationals” being housed at airports .

  9. Bill Jempty says:

    The Florida headline of the day- Taylor Swift’s lawyers threaten UCF* student who tracks her private jet

    *- University of Central Florida

  10. CSK says:


    That was charming.

  11. CSK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Paywall. For me, anyway.

  12. Kathy says:


    There are a grand total of 2 (two) operational supersonic jets outside of the world’s military forces. One is Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator, which has yet to take flight. The other is an experimental design meant to lower the sonic boom, I think built by Lockheed for NASA to test. It also has yet to take flight.

    I’m sure Swift owns neither.

    At the height of supersonic passenger travel, there were less than 20 operational planes all told, including the Soviet TU-144s.

  13. senyordave says:

    @Kathy: I don’t know, Nehls is in Congress, he must know what he’s talking about. After all, he was a police officer in Texas, at least until 1998, when he was fired for destruction of evidence.

  14. Kathy says:


    There are a few vintage jet fighter planes, mostly Soviet, in private hands. Some might be supersonic. Most are one-seat fighters. So if Swift owns one, she has to have a pilot’s license and the right type rating.

    Fighter jets also don’t have much range, and most can’t cruise supersonic for long periods. Not the earlier models. So she might not make better time with two or three refueling stops.

  15. Bill Jempty says:

    @CSK: Here’s the article

    Taylor Swift has bad blood with a Florida college student.

    According to the Washington Post, the pop superstar’s attorneys have sent several cease-and-desist letters to Jack Sweeney, a 21-year-old University of Central Florida junior, demanding that he stop posting the whereabouts of her private jet.

    Sweeney gathered a large online following for tracking private jets of celebrities and billionaires, from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg. He uses open-source flight data gathered from hobbyists around the world, as well as public data from the Federal Aviation Administration, and posts on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Threads and X (formerly known as Twitter). His documentation of Swift’s whereabouts have been especially popular as the singer’s carbon emissions continue to be criticized by environmental advocates.

    Swift’s attorney, Katie Wright Morrone of Washington law firm Venable, first sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sweeney in December, the Post reported, calling his flight-tracker accounts “stalking and harassing behavior” and threatening legal action.

    The letter states that Sweeney caused the Swift family “direct and irreparable harm, as well as emotional and physical distress,” and had worsened the performer’s “constant state of fear for her personal safety.”

    Instagram and Facebook disabled Sweeney’s accounts that month, so Sweeney started sharing Swift updates on his Celeb Jets accounts, where he posts updates on a variety of stars.

    Morrone sent a second letter in January.

    In the same month, a man was arrested three times in five days near Swift’s Manhattan apartment on charges of stalking.

    “We cannot comment on any ongoing police investigation but can confirm the timing of stalkers suggests a connection,” a spokesperson for Swift wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. “His posts tell you exactly when and where she would be.”

    Sweeney has not responded to a request for comment.

    Sweeney started tracking Elon Musk’s jet in 2020, as well as those belonging to Jeff Bezos, Kim Kardashian and Drake, among others. He has been known to bargain with jet-owners who want their information deleted. Musk removed Sweeney’s twitter account, @elonjet, after he asked for $50,000. Sweeney deleted his Twitter account dedicated to the jet of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but only after receiving basketball tickets from Cuban himself.

    “We are aware of your public disputes with other high-profile individuals and your tactics in those interactions, including offering to stop your harmful behavior only in exchange for items of value,” reads one of the letters sent by Swift’s team. “While this may be a game to you, or an avenue that you hope will earn you wealth or fame, it is a life-or-death matter for our Client. Ms. Swift has dealt with stalkers and other individuals who wish her harm.”

  16. CSK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Thanks, Bill.

  17. Gustopher says:


    What is the Taylor Swift hate about?

    It’s because she’s not a secret Nazi. White supremacists were convinced that she was one of them earlier in her career when she was rabidly non-political at the advice of family and managers. And then when she became big enough that she could weather any backlash, she started saying big-standard basic Democrat things, and now the white supremacists feel betrayed.

    She’s also a woman, which doesn’t help.

  18. CSK says:


    Andrew Anglin said that Swift was an “Aryan goddess” with a white supremacist agenda, which she would present when Trump made it appropriate for her to do so.

  19. senyordave says:

    @Gustopher: Even for the modern GOP, this seems like a stretch. Besides, outside of a few male country music stars, its hard to find hard core conservatives in the music business, at least big time ones.

  20. al Ameda says:


    I don’t know, Nehls is in Congress, he must know what he’s talking about. After all, he was a police officer in Texas, at least until 1998, when he was fired for destruction of evidence.</blockquote>

    Yeah, there’s that.
    Reminds me of the old SNL skit where two guys bust uninvited into an apartment, show their ID which shows an outline where their badges used to be, and declare themselves as, ‘ex-Police!’

  21. Thomm says:

    @senyordave: not to say it is a najor driver of the ire, but that definitely did happen and sent the, “trad-life” community against her and is a bit of an undercurrent that influences some way that it manifests itself. An example would be how there is a part of the garbage chute of viciousness that focuses on her age and, in their view, her limited time of childbearing and that she has been, “run through”.

  22. CSK says:

    Judge Lewis Kaplan has denied Trump’s motion for a mistrial in the E. Jean Carroll case.

  23. Joe says:

    @Bill Jempty: Companies like AT&T moving away from POTS (plain old telephone service) is a large and lurking issue. Without addressing the merits of relying on wireline telephones, AT&T is correct that it is being forced to spend significant resources on an antiquated technology while everyone else can just roll out the fiber and tell most (definition of regulated utility varies by state) state public utility regulators to pound sand.

    There are lots of collateral issues to abandoning wireline phones – like they maintain power and continue to operate even when the power goes out – that will live under the radar until the service goes away, but it is going away. Like the song says, the radio and the telephone are only passing fads.

  24. Matt says:

    @Kathy: There’s a whole list of supersonic military jets in private hands. I’ve been watching a dude on youtube work on his F4 phantom. One of the few privately owned Mig-23s crashed last year at an airshow due to engine trouble (common problem with that model).

    There are commercial companies in various stages of producing a supersonic business jet such as the Spike S-512. So it’s about to be a growing field.

    EDIT : Ah I see further down you noted the private ownership. The lack of supersonic travel mostly comes down to the FAA and the rules banning it over land. The amount of money, skills, and equipment required to keep a military surplus plane flying is such that keeping an afterburner working is kind of child’s play. There’s around a thousand military jets in private hands in the USA alone.

  25. Kathy says:


    Ah, the F4 has a seat for the radar intercept officer. So Swift could ride on the back and hire a type rated pilot*. But the un-refueled range is around 3,000 kilometers. That won’t get you from Tokyo to Vegas. I suppose they could refuel on land**, but that adds time to the journey. not just stopping, but deceleration from Mach 2 to approach and landing speeds, then acceleration back up.

    Really, short of resurrecting a Concorde, Swift is stuck subsonic like the rest of us.

    BTW, I think it was the F4 that proved air-to-air warfare with missiles only was way overrated. It was designed without a built-in gun. Gun pods were added later.

    *I’m sure if Taylor Swift had a pilot’s license I’d have heard about it.

    **The F4 can do aerial refueling. I doubt either the USAF or USN would oblige her in this respect. Even if they did, you have to slow down and descend to meet the aerial tankers, then speed up and climb. It uses up less time than refueling on land, but it does use up some time.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yes, but I’m confident that if/when they come on the market, if either is the size of plane she wants, she’ll buy one.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @senyordave: Wait. What’s going on in a Congressional district where the voters will elect a former police officer who was fired for destroying evidence? Who are these people?

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: That’s a big jump: from Ayrian Goddess to See You Next Tuesday. 🙁

  29. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It’s the way Trump and his ilk categorize women.

  30. Matt says:

    @Kathy: The f4 proved that air to air missiles was the future and the USA had a training/equipment problem. Missiles were used in air to air victories at a rate of 3x that of guns. One of the big problems early on was that they were using AIM-4 falcons against fighters. This was a bad idea because the AIM-4 was designed to shoot down giant poorly maneuvering Soviet bombers. THe problems were compounded by the early sidewinders requiring a very narrow angle view of the target’s tail pipe to get a lock. That problem was solved when the sidewinder was given all aspect capability in 77 or so. During the falklands war all aspect sidewinders had a kill rate of 80%. Earlier versions in Vietnam were like a 15% or so? It was terrible but regardless the USA still had up to a 15:1 kill ratio in air to air combat. There’s a lot of thing about the Vietnam war that people love to distort or outright lie about. Air combat being one of those areas.

    Kind of reminds me of the early mark 14 torpedos that were used by the USA. The detonators had numerous problems including the proximity sensor being calibrated for the equator and not the area where they were fighting Japanese ships. Once the contact detonator was modified the torpedoes were much more reliable.

    EDIT : THe gun pods were for ground attack as the f4 spent most of it’s time engaging in close air support. Unless you’re talking about the XM12/M12 or Suu-16/A pod in which case it was still used for ground attacks when not used for limited anti-air. Funny story about that pod is that it was powered by a ram air turbine so if the plane was flying below a certain speed the rate of fire would start slowing. Regardless your post gaming out the possibilities amused me 😛

    EDIT 2: My favorite air to air kill has to be the guy who hung out the side of a bell 205 with an AK-47 to shoot down an AN-2

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!! Exactly the type of bipartisanship Joe Manchin has been talking about all along. 🙁

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan border package Wednesday, scuttling months of negotiations with Democrats on legislation intended to cut back record numbers of illegal border crossings.

    Many Republicans said the election-year compromise wasn’t enough, even as supporters of the bill insisted it was the best possible in divided government.

    The 49-50 vote, far short of the 60 ayes needed to take up the bill, came after most Republicans said they would vote against the legislation, which also includes $60 billion in wartime aid to Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel and was backed by President Joe Biden. GOP lawmakers had insisted that the money for conflicts abroad be paired with help for the U.S. border.

    Any of the advocates for “no, the Republican Senate is committed to supporting Ukraine” from previous years are welcome to weigh in and explain what happened. Personally, I’ll go ahead and keep believing that Republican care nothing about border crossings except as a political tool or democracy anyplace where chattel slavery isn’t a thing.

  32. senyordave says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I just found out recently what See you next Tuesday stands for. Figures that Trump allegedly said it to Roberta Kaplan. Amazing how Trump is consistently worse than we think, if that’s possible. For maybe the eleven thousandth time one has to wonder how any woman could ever support him.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Joe:..…like they maintain power and continue to operate even when the power goes out…

    It is true that traditional land line telephone exchanges have Central Office buildings that have banks of batteries that provide current to maintain dial tone all the time including when the local electric power utility may be down from storms or other hazards. However if a tree falls on an aerial telephone cable and damages it so that the individual conductors are shorted or grounded or completely pulled apart (open) the customer will go OOS NDT (out of service-no dial tone). This may be anywhere between the customer premises and the CO. Many miles in rural exchanges. The customer may not be near the damage which must be repaired to restore service. If a tree branch falls on a drop wire connected to a terminal on a telephone pole and it is pulled off the house protector it has to be re strung before the customer is back up.
    If the customer has a charged cell phone it may well be working even if landline telephone service and electric power are down at home.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: Indeed, the potential problems run both ways. I guess it’s sort of a “pay your money and take your chances” type of thing.

    ETA: For what it’s worth, I’ve never had connection issues in either system, so I’ve been pretty lucky.

  35. CSK says:


    Yeah; I had to look it up, too. Apparently Kaplan’s males partners had to enlighten her as well.

    You would think that Trump’s ceaseless vulgarity and coarseness would discourage at least his fundamentalist groupies, but it doesn’t. I’m sure they close their ears to it.

  36. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..I’ve never had connection issues in either system,..

    Many customers never have trouble with utility services. After 35 years in the land line telephone industry I learned that some customers would tell me “the line has had noise off an on for a long time”.
    “Did you call in the trouble every time it happened?”
    “No. It stopped after a while.”
    I would repeatedly tell customers to report the problem so the the there would be a record.
    I would also tell them if it didn’t get fixed to report the telephone company to the Illinois Commerce Commission or what ever agency regulated utilities in the state where I was working. More than a few times I was met with “Oh, I don’t want them to get into trouble.”
    Can’t win for losin’!

  37. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t think there will be much of a market for supersonic private jets, until they either get quiet enough to be able to fly over land, or until Xlon and Zuck bribe enough governments to let them spread sonic booms along with their data mining malware they call social media apps.

    The rest depends on unrefueled range, reliability, maintenance downtime, and to a much lesser extent public reaction. Cost would be a concern for the poorer billionaires and miserable millionaires, who might not want to pay two or three times the fuel costs they pay now, or pay more for jet subscription services.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Relative to the entire population of the world, there’s not much market for private jets right now. It’s always been a conspicuous consumption item, at least in my mind.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: I just found out recently what See you next Tuesday stands for.

    You and me both and I was a union carpenter.

  40. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’m not very interested in private jets, past aesthetics (I love a clean wing and engines at the back). there may be more than one thinks. Large corporations tend to own or lease a few, for executive business travel. They save a lot of time. And they also wait for their passengers rather than the other way around.

    There’s fractional jet ownership, shared jet ownership, charter companies, medical transports, and governments also like them a lot.

    I don’t know how many are made per year. I do know they are not used as intensively as commercial or even military planes. So they accumulate few cycles and flight hours. Meaning they last longer.

  41. Kathy says:


    It’s a childish and cowardly form of insult.

    Back in elementary school we’d sometimes get Hebrew teachers from Israel, who spoke no Spanish at all. In time they did learn. One of the first things they learned, is that students would call them names using swear words in Spanish, making it seem, by tone of voice or body language, that they were being friendly or polite.

    Many kids did this, then would laugh when the teacher was out of earshot. I never saw the point of insulting someone if they don’t know that’s what you’re saying.

  42. dazedandconfused says:
  43. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I loaded trucks in a warehouse for 15 years, but we didn’t do oblique too much.

  44. Mister Bluster says:

    WASHINGTON — Marianne Williamson ended her 2024 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday after poor showings in both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.
    NBC News


  45. Jax says:

    Giggling….apparently I’m about to get asked to sign my first NDA Friday. I’m super excited. I can’t wait to tell them how many ways to fuck right off, and get the fuck off my land.