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. CSK says:

    Last night, Jazz Shaw tweeted this:

    “Keep in touch with the people who are close to you. These are weird times and sometimes people have problems that they don’t reach out to you about. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are okay.”

  2. Scott says:

    Kristi Noem’s National Guard Deployment Is America’s Future

    The recent decision by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to accept private funding from Willis Johnson, a major Republican donor, to send her state’s National Guard to the Mexican border has been called unprecedented, a conflict of interest, an abuse of public power for personal political gain, an outsourcing and privatization of national security, an assault on the authority and legitimacy of the federal government, and a reflection of, as the journalist Paul Waldman put it in The Washington Post, “some people’s rejection of the idea that existing rules and structures have to be considered legitimate at all.”

    What Noem and Johnson are doing destroys modern boundaries between public and private, political and personal, and governmental and commercial.

    At some point, private organizations become de facto governmental organizations simply because of the power they wield.

  3. Kylopod says:
  4. Joe says:

    At some point, private organizations become de facto governmental organizations simply because of the power they wield.

    I believe, Scott, this is the basis for Trump’s 1st Amendment lawsuits against Twitter et al.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: ?

  6. CSK says:

    I don’t get it, either.

  7. Scott says:

    @Kylopod: Top 11 electoral states can win the Presidency over the remaining 40 (including DC)

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Scott: Exactly. I posted it at another forum last night, and I got a similar reaction–one commenter was just puzzled as heck, but the next one cracked it fairly quickly.

    There were a few combos I could have used, and I actually substituted a slightly less populous state in the blue column (VA instead of NJ) just so I could get to exactly 270. But the point is the same. You can win an EC majority with virtually the same number of states as Dukakis.

    Among other things, I think it’s a good illustration of how perilously close the Republicans are to being effectively locked out of the EC. Of the 11 states, 7 were won by Biden in 2020, and of the remaining, 2 went to Trump by low single digits, the other 2 by high single digits. And that’s without even getting into the many solidly blue states not among this bunch.

    There have only been two elections in history where the winning candidate carried fewer states than the losing one–1960 and 1976. Biden’s 25-state victory was the first time since 1880, and the third time overall, that both candidates won the same number of states. But if Gore had prevailed in Florida in 2000 he would have reached the White House with just 21 states, and if Kerry had nabbed Ohio in 2004, he’d have won with just 20 states. If Hillary had won WI, MI, and PA, she’d have scored a 23-state victory. So there definitely appears to be a dynamic today where R’s dominate a greater number of states, but D’s tend to dominate the more populous ones. The effect is that it contributes to a Republican advantage currently, but it’s one that could quickly turn against them.

  9. CSK says:

    Two good articles at today

    “The Moral Collapse of J.D. Vance,” by Tom Nichols

    “There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is Becoming,” by David rum

  10. Scott says:

    For Ozarkhillbilly:

    Come across this and laughed out loud.

    Greitens Tries Desperately to Duct Tape Himself to Trump at Missouri Rally

    Disgraced former governor and exercise equipment enthusiast Eric Greitens held a political rally in Robertsville on Saturday, meaning that, for a few hours at least, it could reasonably be assumed he wasn’t actively sexually assaulting or blackmailing anyone.

    The former chief executive of the state of Missouri, who resigned in 2018 after being accused of doing just that, mostly treated the afternoon event as an audition for an endorsement from former president Donald Trump for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s soon-to-be-vacated seat, despite recent reporting that Trump does not support him and is angry that anyone in his orbit does. In keeping, the entire affair amounted to a series of fevered hallucinations plucked straight from the former president’s own addled brain and presented in the direst of terms to a frothing crowd in the serene environs of a Franklin County wedding venue. There were warnings of the imminent destruction of the United States at the hands of the (lol) communists currently occupying the White House, dutiful hand-wringing over nonexistent election fraud and lamentations about the impending ban on the singing of “Amazing Grace” that’s apparently coming down the pike any day now.

  11. Kathy says:

    Getting in a lighter topic early, dogs understand humans, according to Dr. Novella at Neurologica.

    I find it interesting that puppies not raised by humans, can interpret human directions anyway.

    I’d like to see how this correlates with the fox domestication experiment in Russia.

  12. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: One time when I was a small child, my mom went to the hospital for several days. The day she left, the cat (who was supposed to be an indoor cat but regularly found ways to sneak outside) walked out of the house and we didn’t see him for days. The day my mom was set to return, but several hours before she did, the cat just appeared and came back inside.

    Of all my personal experiences with pets and animals, this ranks by far as the weirdest and most mysterious. I can’t figure out how the cat knew. And I’ll never know.

    Everyone says the comic strip Garfield is unfunny, but there was an old one I really related to. Jon is trying to get Garfield into the car for a vet appointment, but telling him they’re just going for a ride. He finds Garfield out in a tree. He asks, “How did you know?” Garfield replies, “I don’t know. I just know.”

    Maybe it’s part of the cat vs. dog distinction. Dogs are very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. But both probably have more comprehension than we often give them credit.

    I think that’s true of a lot of animals, actually. There’s the countervailing effects of lazy anthropomorphism and blinding skepticism. The whole Clever Hans episode is an excellent illustration of that. Animals can be pretty damn aware of what’s going on around them, even if they aren’t thinking in human terms at all.

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    In today’s episode of awe-inspiring Republican hypocrisy…we find out that Ken Starr, who hounded Clinton over an extra-marital blowjob, played a major role in keeping Jeffrey Epstein, who trafficked in multiple underaged girls, out of jail.
    You may remember that Starr looked the other way when he was the President of Baylor University and there was a sex scandal involving a large number of football players.
    50 Shades of Gym Jordan.
    Anyone who thinks the impeachment of Clinton was righteous…is a fool.

  14. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Kylopod:

    “Dogs are very mysterious and often do things i don’t understand.”

    — Robert B. Parker

  15. Mu Yixiao says:


    My philtrum* is twitching, and has been since I got to work. It’s so weird!

    *That divot in your upper lip.

  16. Kathy says:

    This would have gone better on a thread from two days ago:

    Q: Why does Bezos want to go to space so badly?
    A: He wants to see what the world looks like without him.

  17. Kathy says:


    Natural selection suggests animals, especially herbivores, who are not mindful of their surroundings, would get eaten by other animals.

  18. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Too much caffeine? Potassium deficiency? Stress? Tiredness? Reaction to medication?

  19. Mu Yixiao says:


    No clue. I don’t drink much caffeine (one cup of coffee in the morning), potassium could be an issue due to BP meds, I’m not stressed, not tired.

    I think it’s just a random twitch.

    It’s not that I have a twitch that’s bothersome… it’s where it is. Arms, legs, toes… I’m used to that. The philtrum? Weird!

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: It was about 3 generations ago when Federal troops were being sent in to violently put down strikes at the request of private factory and mine owners. And the use of state forces continued long after that.

  21. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: The Battle of Blair Mountain took place almost 100 years ago.

    The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and the largest armed uprising since the American Civil War. The conflict occurred in Logan County, West Virginia, as part of the Coal Wars, a series of early-20th-century labor disputes in Appalachia. Up to 100 people were killed, and many more arrested. The United Mine Workers saw major declines in membership, but the long-term publicity led to some improvements in working conditions.

    For five days from late August to early September 1921, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers (called the Logan Defenders) who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields when tensions rose between workers and mine management. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired and the United States Army, represented by the West Virginia Army National Guard led by McDowell County native William Eubanks, intervened by presidential order.

  22. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    It seems to be a fairly common condition.

  23. Kathy says:

    This is what I’ve been warning about:

    Covid outbreak among vaccinated Vegas hospital workers underscores Delta risks

    Not those infected did not require hospitalization. Still, it points to how dangerous the Delta variant is, and that vaccines, especially among large numbers of unvaccinated people, do not offer absolute protection against it.

    Of course, this will get worse. Some people will conclude that if you can get Delta after being fully vaccinated, this means the vaccines don’t really work. That’s false. They still protect you from severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Not in an absolute sense. You could still die of COVID Delta even if you’re fully vaccinated, but the odds of that are tiny. The odds of dying are much higher if you’re not vaccinated.

    Keep wearing your mask after you get the vaccine. Don’t let your guard down until daily cases go way down.

    I estimate another year, of pandemic, maybe two. It may also be the first time in human history when people die of a disease because they chose not to protect themselves against it with a vaccine.

  24. KM says:

    Another Karen strikes again. A white woman (Abigail Elphick) struck a black woman (Ijeoma Ukenta) on camera and had a *massive* meltdown due to being recorded. What’s so striking about this one is how Elphick (who is not autistic but has a brother who is) deliberately mimics the behaviors in her tantrum. At one point, she puts her purse on the floor and proceeds to do a controlled, fake faint so her face lands directly on the purse. She kicks her legs like a toddler while on the floor and shrieks in a register only dogs should here while chasing her victim around screamin’ “Get away from me!” She calls 911, lies her ass off on camera about being threatened (aka being filmed) and her hysterics got her visible sympathy and comfort from the other shoppers.

    So of course people are defending her racism and blatant manipulation by citing mental health – she had a panic attack, she might be on the spectrum, she had a breakdown give her a break, yadda yadda.

    Bull. Shit.

    That’s not a panic attack nor is it how autism works…. though it’s interesting she deliberately used some mannerisms to add to the realism. You don’t chase someone around screaming in a panic attack. Autistic meltdowns aren’t controlled fake falls like you see in Beginner Drama class or clear, coherent statements about how you’re worried you’ll be fired for this between overdramatic screaming. If anything, that’s a personality disorder coming out like BPD or malignant narcissism. What it is *not* is a justification for assault, repeated harassment and frankly causing a massive scene for over 20 minutes with no one stepping in to stop it.

    We really, really need a massive public education campaign on mental illness in this country – what it is and what it isn’t, when to be supportive and when to call out BS. Behavior is a spectrum like everything in life and just because it’s abnormal (towards the end of acceptable spectrum) doesn’t mean it’s a diagnosable disorder. Being an asshole is, in fact, a normal and common thing for human to be. It’s the difference between being cray-cray and being insane – one’s someone being jerk and the other has a health condition. It’s truly upsetting to see someone who knows a person that has severe autism turn around and use that to manipulate others after assaulting a stranger. It’s even more upsetting to see how many people tried to coddle Elphick, indulged in her crap and tried to blame her victim for “not going away” or still filming. So much of our current political and cultural woes stems from the fact we let people be cray-cray under the aegis of mental illness and write off bad behavior as insanity.

  25. Kathy says:

    Some Democrats in Congress are talking about an exception, they call it a carve-out, to the filibuster for voting rights legislation.

    We could debate the wisdom of making exceptions to long-held rules, but then we’d be missing the reconciliation exception already in use. And I see the Republican’s misuse of the filibuster rules for massive obstruction as the real problem. Any workaround for that is a good thing overall.

    The problem remains getting Manchin and Sinema on board.

  26. wr says:

    @Kathy: “Q: Why does Bezos want to go to space so badly?
    A: He wants to see what the world looks like without him.”

    Finally I have something in common with a multi-billionaire!

  27. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Did you see the medium post by one of the staffers of the Clinton Impeachment discuss her extra marital affair with Starr (sadly, not Ringo)?

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I have wondered why a reporter doesn’t ask Manchin or Sinema if they would have supported the creation of the reconciliation rule back in the ’70s had they been around then. (I assume they’d dodge the question.) After all, it would have seemed at the time like an attempt to weaken the filibuster, which of course it was (and Manchin’s predecessor Robert Byrd was responsible for creating rules to rein in its use). I am sure people could come up with reasons why the federal budget is of such paramount importance it uniquely deserves to be protected from the filibuster, but the net effect is that it makes it easier for Republicans to pass legislation more than Democrats, since cutting taxes is practically the GOP’s entire legislative agenda at this point, whereas Dems often seek to make broader regulatory changes that cannot be passed through reconciliation.

    I found out recently that cloture was first created after a bill for naval weaponry was filibustered during WWI. A sense of urgency is usually the precedent for placing additional limits on the filibuster.

  29. Joe says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The philtrum?

    I think this is is a psychosomatic reaction to knowing what that dimple is called.

  30. Mu Yixiao says:


    Nah. I googled it. 🙂

  31. Kylopod says:

    A letter Roger Ebert once received for his Answer Man column:

    In a recent Answer Man, a reader noted a problem with the movie portrayal of head-butts. He wrote, “Whenever a head butt is delivered in a movie, the receiver of the butt is sent reeling into a semiconscious stagger with all manner of hideous facial contusions, while the deliverer of the butt doesn’t even wince, even though his own head has just received an identical impact.” As an aging rugby player, I have had the distinct displeasure of receiving my share of head-butts (and given a few). Your correspondent is more a student of physics than of hard-scrabble street maneuvers. The point of a head-butt is to strike the soft part of your opponent’s head (e.g. nose, filtrum, mouth) with the hard part of your head (e.g. forehead). If you do that correctly, you will likely hear a noise similar to a walnut cracking. If you do it wrong, both of you will stagger away looking like the Moe after Curly nails him with a 2-by-4.

    Just rose to the surface of my memory after the mention of the word “philtrum” (misspelled above apparently).

  32. flat earth luddite says:

    bon anniversaire Cracker!

    Oh, and to all joining the French in celebrating this crackin’ day (sorry, couldn’t resist), La Fête Nationale!

  33. Kathy says:


    Maybe because people rarely give decent answers to hypothetical questions, especially so when counterfactuals are invoked.

  34. Jen says:


    “…and exercise equipment enthusiast Eric Greitens…”

    You came very close to owing me a new monitor with that gem! 😀

  35. Just nutha says:
  36. inhumans99 says:

    That is a well-written and informative article. Thanks for linking to it.

  37. dazedandconfused says:
  38. CSK says:

    I watched as much of the video as I could stand. What struck me–other than this woman’s obviously faked histrionics–was that no one in the shop seemed remotely bothered by what was happening. (The clerks and customers appeared to be people of color as well as white, and you’d think that at least the Black women would be disturbed by an attack on a Black woman.) No one turned a hair. Are they used to this happening? I could understand if they all decided to leave quickly. But no–they just calmly went about browsing the racks.

  39. Kathy says:


    There was something my cat, Ramona, and my dog, Emm, both did. When they exposed their belly and I petted them, they’d both lick my hand.

    When Ramona did this, I thought she was warning me off nicely. Later I decided that wasn’t the case, as she’d keep licking as long as I kept petting, and did not attempt to move away. Also, cats lick each other when they lie down together. Of course, they’re grooming each other, which wouldn’t apply to us humans, but I concluded that was the intent.

    I’m not sure why Emm did so as well, or whether she learned it from the cat (Ramon was there first by about a year; they got along reasonably well). She did like sitting or lying or even playing with her chew toy in such a way that she touched me. Maybe she was just petting me in return?

  40. KM says:

    I watched all six – it doesn’t get any better. All respect to Ijeoma Ukenta – I wouldn’t have been able to remain so calm and I used to deal with that kinda crap for a living. She’s got a GoFundMe for legal representation because she was assaulted and the cops /VS did nothing.

    No one turned a hair. Are they used to this happening? I could understand if they all decided to leave quickly. But no–they just calmly went about browsing the racks.

    Never underestimate the power of awkwardness in the face of the unbelievable. This is why TFG was able to get away with what he did for so long and why women can get harassed in plain sight with no one lifting a finger. It’s why men let “locker room” talk go even if it pisses them off and why Karens are even a thing. It’s easier to just ignore it, blank it out or have that awkward little side-step shuffle then to do something that makes them uncomfortable. Terrible people count on this – abusers and manipulative folks will deliberate do things in public, knowing that you won’t challenge them or contribute to “causing a scene”. They are very aware the one acting out isn’t going to be seen as the issue; you’re the problem for “starting” it and not stopping it by appeasing them.

    If you watch closely, at the very beginning she’s grinning and even winks at the cashier, secure in knowing they won’t actively do anything other than call security….. and they don’t. They let another customer be chased around multiple times and nobody tries to block her or force her out of the store. They could have invited Ukenta behind the counter to create distance and insert a barrier – nope. The other shoppers either just glare at her for filming and one asked Elphick if she was ok; no one checked on Ukenta because she was seen as the cause of the problem. That’s why she was told to leave by other shoppers since it would appease the screaming lady.

    After all, grown-ass adults don’t do this so you must have done something to cause it, right? They think no one would do that on purpose and when someone does, wow awk~ward. This craziness is makes them uncomfortable so rather then deal with it, they’ll gonna pretend it’s not really happening, blank it to go about their day. This is the toxic mindset that got us TFG, QAnon and other insanities – cray-cray people exist and society needs a mechanism to deal with them other than letting them tantrum it out.

  41. Mu Yixiao says:


    What struck me–other than this woman’s obviously faked histrionics–was that no one in the shop seemed remotely bothered by what was happening.

    Bystander Effect

  42. Mu Yixiao says:

    Okay…. I’m really confused. Campus Reform is posting stories about LGBTQ+ events that are factual and neutral??

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The RFT is always good. I’ve been reading them for years. They’ve always been free for the taking but the pandemic put them on their ass and they started begging. I am now a monthly contributor and most likely will remain one till I die. They’re worth it.

  44. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I know, but the other women in the shop looked as if absolutely nothing untoward was happening. Totally oblivious. A couple of people even strolled in front of the camera.

    I’m not really surprised that no one intervened. I’m a bit startled that no one seemed to notice what was happening right in front of them

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Animals can be pretty damn aware of what’s going on around them, even if they aren’t thinking in human terms at all.

    We take our dogs with us most everywhere we go, outside of work. Long before we ask them, they already know if they are coming with or not.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: So much of our current political and cultural woes stems from the fact we let people be cray-cray under the aegis of mental illness and write off bad behavior as insanity.

    Unless one is black.

  47. CSK says:

    Whenever I asked my dog if she wanted to go for a ride in the car, she’d practically do backflips of joy. She’d hop into the rear seat, curl up, and zone out. Chocolate lab cross.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    Any time we travel we have to hide the suitcases from the cats. The dog reads it too, but he’s a Chihuahua, so not really a representative of the species.

  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    In my professional opinion, frankly my connoisseurship (OMG, that’s actually a word?) of human behavior, I am willing to stake my reputation on a diagnosis of stage 5 assholery. (And that’s not a word. OK, spellcheck.) Healthy respiratory system, though. If it hasn’t already happened, someone is going to marry her. It doesn’t bear thinking about.