Wednesday’s Forum

Come on do it again.

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. Scott says:

    Veteran Affairs coronavirus cases top 3,000 nationwide, deaths near 150

    As of April 7, there have been 144 patients who have died from the illness. That number increased by 19 from the day before. On March 30, the total was less than 20

    Across all VA sites, 3,038 patients in VA care have tested positive for the fast-spreading virus. That’s about 11 percent of all of the cases tested by the department, and has nearly tripled in the last 10 days.

    Given the average age of a VA medical client, I fear it is going to be real ugly, real fast.

  2. Kit says:

    I was reading the always-excellent John Cassidy’s latest article over at the New Yorker:

    If the immediate public-health challenge is still enormous, so is the task of preparing for a gradual reopening of the economy. The most detailed consideration of this subject I have seen comes from Germany, where at the end of last week a group of economists and public-health experts published a paper titled “Making the Fight Against the Coronavirus Pandemic Sustainable.” Noting the grave economic and social costs of an indefinite lockdown, the experts advocated a “gradual transition to a risk-adapted strategy” of reopening businesses such as highly automated manufacturing plants or firms located in areas with low rates of infection while also taking additional measures to protect the most vulnerable populations.

    I can certainly recommend these exceptionally clear and well-written pages to everyone, even if I have only been able to make it about half way through.

    Here is one part that leapt out at me:

    If we assume that there is not a very high number of unreported cases and that about 70% of the population must have had the disease (and thus probably become immune to the virus), and if we continue to take the figures on severe cases from Wuhan as a basis, and if we finally reserve the entire current capacity of intensive care beds (about 30,000) for COVID-19 patients only for one week each (which is hardly realistic), then our health system would be able to cope with about 600,000 newly infected patients per week. This would mean two years for a 70% immunity in the population. Even if we hope for new therapies and for a vaccination (the latter with good reasons, despite various possible efficacy and safety problems, but very probably not before 2021), this rough calculation shows over which periods of time we might have to hold out.

  3. Teve says:

    @Kit: I do sales in Florida. Two weeks ago we started doing much more serious protocols about cleaning everything between customers. And some of the customers are wearing masks now. Even so, I expect to get the virus if I haven’t already.

    America’s tested fewer than 1 million people and found 340,000 cases. I was shocked to read yesterday that if people die at home they’re not even being tested for Covid. The real number of cases has to be in the millions.

  4. Teve says:

    ”This guy doesn’t know anything”

    A 2018 Guardian story that’s an excerpt from Michael Lewis’s new book, this part about Trump’s utter incompetence at the transition aspect of the presidency.

  5. Scott says:

    @Kit: It is good that a lot of thinking is happening now on getting transitioned back to some semblance of normality. However, that sentence is loaded with a lot of ifs and unknowns involved. First, when don’t know if there is immunity once we have the virus. A lot of thinking presumes that. However, it may be partial or specific to certain kinds of people, etc. Second, people talk about protecting vulnerable populations. This tends to revolve around old folks but it is increasingly clear that vulnerable refers also to the basically unhealthy, whether old or young. And this country has a lot of those.

    My wife is a teacher and she is convinced (and a lot are not saying it out loud) that school will be cancelled for the rest of the spring and probably into the summer.

    It is important to keep making assumptions and assertions, test them, and run them to their logical conclusions so we have the maximum option set available when it comes time to make decisions.

  6. KM says:


    I was shocked to read yesterday that if people die at home they’re not even being tested for Covid.

    The “logic” behind that is since they’re already dead, why waste a kit that could be used on a living person? The fact that it helps suppress the number of confirmed cases and deaths down should be ignored, look at how humanitarian they’re being! We have such limited supplies you know, why bother assigning blame via testing (and making the crisis look even worse) when we can just write them off as “dead” and move on?

    Rural areas are going to be dealing with this all year long. Finding dead neighbors in their houses days or even weeks after they’ve passed and risking infection because we aren’t testing the dead…. after all, if they’re not doing it now, they sure as hell aren’t going to be doing it in July / August when it’s not “flu season”.

  7. KM says:

    I read an article on the Disney CEO’s speech regarding future plans for re-opening. They were discussing things like requiring health checks on people, both at the hotels and park entrances. Temperature checks at a minimum, requiring all guests to wear masks or be ejected from property, restricting what guests could touch, limiting park capacity to only pre-sold tickets and less then 10K (no walk-ups), extensive cleaning routines, etc – all in the future for park go-ers. Since my family has a vacation scheduled for after Labor Day that hasn’t been cancelled yet, this is very relevant to my interests.

    What struck me was the comment that how after 9/11 people got used to the safety measures put in place and they’ve never really gone away. It became the new normal so that younger generations are confused when you talk about things like being able to go to Canada or Mexico just for fun without your passport. Think about it: bag checks, picture ID being required to enter secure buildings, airport security and the TSA. Once these things become commonplace, they tend to stick. Are we going to see a world where grocery stores demand your temperature be taken before letting you in? Is coughing or sneezing going to be grounds for being thrown off of someone’s property? Will masks in public become the latest fashion requirement like hats or gloves used to be… or if we are unlucky, like the burqa is by more draconian governments?

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    For the US reopening the economy is going to weighed down by the disjointed containment efforts. For German, much of Europe and Asia, the central government ordered a lock down and the whole country responded, the US, not so much. For most countries, keeping the virus from reigniting will be about controlling their borders, which US states have limited ability to do.

    Optimistically, the northeast, west coast an selected interior states, Colorado, Ohio & Minnesota e.g., could be ready to reopen in June, but in other states, the south, much of the mid-west, the virus will be just taking off. Re-infection of the opened regions is quite likely.

    Best comment on this that I’ve read, was an estimate that by summers end, 5% of the US population will be immune to C-19 and 95% will be potential victims.

  9. sam says:
  10. mattbernius says:

    Just wanted to wish Kylopod and the other Jewish OTBer’s a happy passover. I suspect for many, in particular Kylopod, its going to be a challenging seder and I’m sorry the C19 has had such a profound impact on your traditions.

    Also, I hope you’re feeling better Kylopod.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Last Anti-Trump Republicans Are Biding Their Time

    This is bait for Dr. Taylor, but to my mind this kind of realignment is wishful thinking. Both 538 and Thomas Edsall give their take on the liberal-moderate split amongst the Dems, quoting the same studies.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: If you aren’t scared enough by that, you should read the whole book.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:


    The fact that it helps suppress the number of confirmed cases and deaths down should be ignored, look at how humanitarian they’re being!

    We have a very limited testing capacity. It only makes sense to reserve it for the living. Besides, the actual death toll from Cv19 is going to include those who die of heart attacks etc but couldn’t get timely treatment because the hospitals are jampacked full.

  14. Kingdaddy says:

    Last night, I asked the local police to have a talk with the neighbors, who had several people on their small balcony, in close quarters, drinking and howling at the super-moon. The drinking and howling weren’t the issue, obviously. A police officer arrived in just a couple of minutes, but the group had already gone inside. (Maybe they spotted him coming?)

    In our neighborhood, there are several people in at-risk categories. One of them, a man who has COPD, is terrified of getting the virus, because he’s convinced it would be game over for him. The behavior of the party couple, who have been talking about getting together with friends for events such as last night (“Our friends are fine, after two weeks at home, so what’s the risk?”), increase the danger for everyone, including my neighbor with COPD.

    We’re not the Greatest Generation, storming the beaches of Normandy. We’re the Flabbiest Generation, being told to stay at home. It’s infuriating to see the selfishness and stupidity of many Americans during this crisis. I had no qualms about calling the police.

  15. Kit says:

    @Teve: You mentioned having been in a serious accident. Do you have any reason to feel that you are in a high-risk group? How are you dealing with having a public-facing job?

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I agree. I started reading that article this morning but gave it up as fantasy halfway through.

  17. Kit says:


    It is good that a lot of thinking is happening now on getting transitioned back to some semblance of normality. However, that sentence is loaded with a lot of ifs and unknowns involved.

    Absolutely! But the report strikes me as a sober assessment of what we can expect based on what we know today.

  18. Teve says:

    @Kit: I was in a savage car crash about a year and a half ago, but I don’t have really any health issues from that, except for some fairly mild brain damage. I’m a healthy-weight 43 year old who’s had about 1 pack of cigs per week for 20 years.

    We are sanitizing doors tables chairs etc. in between every customer. But there is reason to believe that there are a few million cases that are just undetected, so the mortality rate maybe is lower than it looks from the confirmed numbers. So I’m not terribly worried about myself. I know people who have serious respiratory issues and I’m quite concerned for them.

  19. KM says:


    We have a very limited testing capacity. It only makes sense to reserve it for the living.

    I would normally agree with that very reasonable statement if it weren’t for the fact that the “limits” are because of incompetence, not true deprivation. Other nations have managed to test far more of their citizens in far shorter time and are *still* managing to keep up. We’re behind because we simply weren’t prepared and given how this Administration is still currently trying to suppress numbers, it’s hard not to see it as an easy way to for them to do that. Why aren’t we trying to get kits from other nations if we can instead of waiting for things to developed in house?

    Of course it makes sense to save the living then verify the dead. That’s not only the more moral thing to do but the practical as well. However, one of the things we’re using to make decisions is infection rate and death counts so if those numbers are artificially low, it can lead to bad data and thus bad judgement. A disease with a 2% fatality rate should be treated differently then one with a 10% chance. A lot of the optimism in reopening the country rests on assumptions we’re making with the low figures we have now. It’s important for them to be as accurate as possible or we could just be setting ourselves up to do this all over again.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We actually have some numbers on that. I can’t remember where I saw it (Drum?) but NYC is seeing an increase in overall mortality of around 80% of C19 deaths. So for example, on a day when there were 250 C19 deaths there were an additional 200 deaths above the normal NYC fatality rate (roughly 25). And although a few of these might be things like heart attack patients who could have been saved if they had been brought into an ICU, we also know that there has been a significant decrease in things like pedestrian and motorist deaths

  21. Kit says:

    There was one other line from that report that jumped out at me:

    Regions with low infection rates and lower risk of infection (rural vs. urban) and less
    potential for spread (remote vs. transport hub) are more likely to be opened.

    Of course that seems reasonable except for the fact that the rural/urban divide is a rather toxic on in the US. I shudder to think how this might develop politically.

  22. Kit says:


    We have a very limited testing capacity. It only makes sense to reserve it for the living.

    I suspect that just a sampling of the dead would give a clear enough picture. But if planning has failed so far that insufficient resources are available, then it probably never took into account how best to deal with limited supplies.

  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Of course that seems reasonable except for the fact that the rural/urban divide is a rather toxic on in the US. I shudder to think how this might develop politically.

    Yes…but there’s more to it than that.
    Where I live, in rural Connecticut, there are around 150 cases as of yesterday’s data, and deaths in the single digits.
    The next county over is New Haven…with 10 times both the incidences and deaths.
    What happens if they open up this county and folks from New Haven start wandering over here, because hey…I can do something normal?
    It’s insane to think this is OK. But there is little doubt that this President is, in fact, clinically insane.

  24. 95 South says:


    The CDC says:
    In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed.” In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgement in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely. However, please note that testing for COVID–19 should be conducted whenever possible.

  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    There’s another way this could go. If we get the number of cases down, and the amount of testing we can do up, we can do a sort of containment routine, because we have our hands on most of the cases, and can trace down all contacts and test them all. Once you have that down pretty solidly, most people can go about their business.

    We aren’t there yet, but we could get there. Of course, someone would have to be trying to get there.

  26. Jen says:

    I read an article yesterday about how effectively New Zealand has crushed its covid-19 curve (Link).

    They mention, but don’t really go into detail, about how the next big challenge is reopening the country, which is particularly critical as NZ is a big tourist spot. It got me to thinking about travel. How on earth are we going to open travel back up until there’s a vaccine?

    My husband and I had been planning on going abroad in November for a vacation. But that doesn’t seem feasible now, even if covid-19 cases drop, because what are they going to do, quarantine us at destination for 14+ days, then allow us to travel in-country, only to fly home and be quarantined in the US for 14+ days? By that count, we’d need at minimum roughly 35 days vacation time to take a 1-week trip. Anything less runs the risk of the virus flaring up again.

    How on earth is travel going to work?

  27. Tyrell says:

    Why are dentist offices shut down, yet liquor stores can open? Some people do have needs of dentists for serious problems such as an abcess or broken tooth. Those can’t wait.
    Why are prisoners set free, but law abiding citizens being tracked? (Google)
    How can a private citizen be arrested for playing cards on their own property?
    How can the military go into a home without a search warrant?

  28. Jen says:

    @Tyrell: Dentists’ offices are closed because dentists rank extremely high as a profession that is vulnerable to catching covid-19. Like, off-the-charts high, and most of the time they are doing non-emergency procedures.

    Dentists in New Hampshire are available for emergency procedures only, and even that is so that people with dental problems don’t show up at emergency rooms. I have received multiple communications from my dentist’s office, outlining exactly what constitutes an emergency, what they are doing to reschedule appointments, etc.

    Oddly, part of the rationale to leave liquor stores open–although it’s never stated officially–is that if alcoholics are suddenly cut off, they too can end up in the hospital, causing an unneeded burden on the system right now.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Here’s some data from Spain from TPM

    In 2019 they estimate there were 2,394 deaths between March 14th and March 31st in the Madrid region. In 2020 that number was 9,007. So a difference of 6,613. But the number of official COVID-19 deaths during that period was 3,439. So simple math, 3,174 unexplained deaths.

    So roughly on par with NYC, almost twice as many deaths likely due to C19 as being reported by the coroners office.

  30. Gustopher says:
  31. Mikey says:
  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Damn…you beat me to it…
    About time…he’s way past his “Best-By” date.

  33. Teve says:

    My pediatrician’s wife died because she was involuntarily committed to a facility that cold turkied her. Fatal heart attack. Something do with the neurotransmitter GABA.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Interesting reads. If the anti-Trumpers are led by Bill Kristol it’s hard to believe anything good will come of it. I believe his most noteworthy “accomplishment” to date is bringing Sarah Palin to the national stage.

    Like the reformicons before the anti-Trumpers , I feel they and the Atlantic article you link misunderstand the nature of the Republican Party. It is still the party of wealth. The populism is pretty faux, the advertising facade, not the product. Everyone talks about immigration and abortion, but what’s really going on is McConnell and Ryan securing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy while long time Republican apparatchiks in the administration destroy regulation.

    Do we really think McConnell or Charles Koch personally gives a damn one way or another about abortion? The judges McConnell is so desperate to confirm are anti-abortion as a matter of politics, but the real point is that the Federalist judges are reliably pro-establishment and pro-corporate.

    That said, there is always the possibility of the Tea Party inmates taking over the asylum. But real change in party alignments will only come if Republicans fail miserably at the polls. There have to already be GOPs in NY and CA scheming how to get back up. Pandering to “populist” sentiment and cheating in elections in order to protect the wealthy is kind of a shitty strategy, but it’s worked well for GOPs so far. The rules say we have to have two parties. They don’t say the split must always be along the current L/R lines.

  35. wr says:

    @Tyrell: Who put the ram in the ram a lama ding dong?

  36. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jen: wasn’t that (going cold turkey) a contributing factor to Amy Winehouse’s death?

  37. Bill says:

    I will say this again. The major television news networks have no perspective.

    First the term Breaking news is overused to death. During the NBC Evening News everything is labelled as Breaking News.

    Today I am watching Price is Right and CBS interrupts it for a Special Report. Does VP Mike Pence have the coronavirus? Has a 747 with 500 people on board crashed at Chicago O’Hare Airport? Has Elvis come back?

    None of the above. Bernie Sanders is announcing his withdrawal from the race for the Democratic party race for President.

    That’s a Special Report? CBS should have saved it for the 6:30 news IMHO. So far as I know ABC and NBC didn’t interrupt programming for this bullshit.

    It reminds me of a scene in a 35 year old HBO movie, Countdown to Looking Glass. Due to a American banking crisis brought on by South American countries defaulting on loans ends up causing tensions in the Middle East.

    The movie was mostly a fictional television network reporting on events. Among the talking heads in the movie was Newt Gingrich.

    Anywire a report comes over the network newswire in the middle of the night. An AWACS plane was shot down. People at the station wake an executive up in order to get an ok to interrupt regular programming.

    Do the networks really practice that way? If so, who’s the Bozo today who thought Bernie Sanders withdrawal was worthy of a special report. He or she should get a special prize for stupidity.

  38. Jen says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I do not know–a quick review of what is out there says that she died of acute alcohol poisoning after drinking a substantial amount of vodka; it could well have been a contributing factor, I just don’t know.

  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    She died of alcohol poisoning.
    Having blown a .22, myself, I can’t imagine what that must take.

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    Bill. You’re lucky Trump wasn’t behind door number 3.

  41. Kingdaddy says:

    The situation with the neighbors is even worse than we thought. We learned second-hand from another neighbor that their justification for partying in close quarters with friends is (1) they think they’ve already survived a bout with COVID-19, so (2) they’re no threat to anyone, or anyone to them.

    When the US expires, it will succumb from some strain of our own stupidity.

  42. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Thanks. I couldn’t remember. I thought that I had heard that, but apparently I misremembered.

  43. Sleeping Dog says:


    In certain elections, like the upcoming one, I can see moderate rethugs, particularly the neo-cons voting for a Dem and vice-versa some moderate Dems for a rethug. But some sort of true party realignment, no. The center right rethug would need to accept a larger safety net, higher taxes more regulation of business to make that happen. Not to mention a foreign policy based on soft power and not the military. Generally on social issues the libertarians and the business rethugs could care less, so they’d sign to whatever the Dem platform is on those issues.

    The never-trumpers were coming to terms with voting for Warren in Nov, rather than Tiny, that they’re getting Joe, is a wish come true.

  44. Tyrell says:

    Most of the news networks have left actual news reporting. They focus on sensationalism and scandalisms. They left professional journalism long ago. Some organization are still reporting news: NPR, CNBC, CNN tech and science, NewsEla, Popular Science, Scholastic.
    “It’s not news” (Larry King)

  45. Kathy says:


    First I learned that this guy who came in yesterday had a fever and reported losing his sense of taste. Allegedly he had it checked out and it’s some bacterial infection, but I don’t know if he got tested for COVID-19. In any case, who the hell goes to work when running a temperature in the middle of a pandemic?

    Second, remember Blanco who finds the whole pandemic thing hilarious? Well, his father, who also works in our department and who has had two heart attacks, so he’s at very high risk with COVID-19, has been seeing friends and family on the weekends. Today he felt ill and went to the hospital, just a few minutes ago.

    The first thing that came to my mind was “I hope it’s another heart attack.” Not that I hope he’s having a third one, but in his condition that may be more survivable than COVID-19, and it’s not contagious.

    I have to keep showing up to work until at least the 15th. but if nothing new comes up between now and Monday, I will take my vacation between the 16th and 30th.

    It’s ridiculous to have to take time off in order to shelter at home during a stay-at-home order…

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Can’t say for Red State ‘Murka where you live, but on the Socialist Left Coast of the nation where we began telling people to stay away from others as much as possible as of March16, emergency dental treatments are available by people calling their dentists. My dentist sent me an email outlining that on March 17 or 18 IIRC.

    I’m sorry that you have to live with so much darkness and insecurity. I hope things improve for you soon.

    On a more general note, Washington State closed schools for the balance of the school year on Friday of last week. As many districts as can (Seattle announced 2 week ago that they could not) are providing online instruction to the limits of their curriculum and systems.


    Like the reformicons before the anti-Trumpers , I feel they and the Atlantic article you link misunderstand the nature of the Republican Party. It is still the party of wealth.

    I can’t imagine that as a troubling thing for Bill Kristol. He’s always seemed pretty aristocratic to me.

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: I would normally agree with that very reasonable statement if it weren’t for the fact that the “limits” are because of incompetence, not true deprivation.

    I’m only pointing out that the doctors and pathologists don’t have any choice. They have x amount of patients, y amount of bodies, and z amount of tests and x + y is far > than z. Whether they like it or not they have to prioritize no matter what the reason for the shortage is.

    As far as I can tell, the states are the ones counting the dead and the Feds are the ones responsible for supplying the tests. So I certainly don’t blame the states for not testing all the bodies when the Feds provide inadequate amounts of tests.

    Now who I wonder would have an interest in keeping the Covid death #s down? Too bad he can’t block the total number of dead from coming out.

  48. CSK says:

    Linda Tripp has died.

  49. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Linda Tripp has died.

    Lewinsky was quite gracious.
    I would not have been.

  50. Kathy says:


    The update on Blanco Sr., is that it’s not coronavirus, and doesn’t seem to be a heart attack.

  51. Tyrell says:

    I have seen some good deals for Disney World packages for next year. I have learned that they are flexible and will make deals.
    Perhaps they can build a walk through thermometer similar to metal detectors.
    I wish they would do away with the bag checks. It is hard to spend all day in the parks without a bag.
    I would not want the rides to be limited to single riders. The fun is riding with friends. The first time I went we had no wait times: not crowded, but it was hot with 90% humidity and storms every afternoon: 1975.
    People’s normal temperatures can vary.
    And a fever does not mean you have the Carona.
    Limiting numbers might sound nice, but it would drive up prices, probably at least double.
    Before they closed, the wait times were rough! Even the Tea Cup ride was long.