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:

    ‘A terrible tragedy’: US passes 800,000 Covid deaths – highest in the world

    The US death toll from Covid-19 has passed 800,000, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after vaccines became available last spring.

    The figure represents the highest reported toll of any country in the world, and is likely even higher. The US accounts for approximately 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known deaths from the coronavirus since the outbreak began in China two years ago.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Proud Boys and Oath Keepers sued over Capitol attack

    Karl Racine, Washington DC’s attorney general, said the suit seeks compensation for damages to the District of Columbia and to inflict maximum financial damage on the groups responsible.

    “Our intent is to hold these violent mobsters and violent hate groups accountable and to get every penny of damage we can,” Racine said. “If it so happens that we bankrupt them, then that’s a good day.”
    “They’re going to have to spend money to defend themselves,” Norton said. “Even if we don’t get a penny in restitution, this lawsuit’s deterrent effect will say, ‘Be prepared to spend money to defend yourself because we are coming after you.’ ”

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Nasa spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona. Scientists announced the news Tuesday during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

    The Parker solar probe actually flew through the corona in April during the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the sun. Scientists said it took a few months to get the data back and then several more months to confirm.

    Nour Raouafi, a project scientist with Johns Hopkins University, described the news as “fascinatingly exciting”.
    Launched in 2018, Parker was 8m miles (13m kilometers) from the center of the sun when it first crossed the jagged, uneven boundary between the solar atmosphere and outgoing solar wind. The spacecraft dipped in and out of the corona at least three times, each a smooth transition, according to scientists.

    “The first and most dramatic time we were below for about five hours … Now you might think five hours, that doesn’t sound big”, the University of Michigan’s Justin Kasper told reporters. But he noted that Parker was moving so fast it covered a vast distance during that time, tearing along at more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) per second.

    To quote the immortal Jesse Pinkman, “Science, btches.”

  4. CSK says:

    So tired of these violent idiots calling themselves patriots:

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Kentucky candle factory bosses threatened to fire those who fled tornado, say workers

    Haley Conder, 29, said she was one of a number of employees who approached three managers again at about 9pm when the alarm sounded a second time.

    “‘You can’t leave, you can’t leave. You have to stay here,’” Conder said the managers told the group. “The situation was bad. Everyone was uncomfortable.”

    McKayla Emery, 21, interviewed by NBC from her hospital bed, said she overheard a group receiving a similar answer earlier in the evening.

    “People had questioned if they could leave or go home,” said Emery, who said she had wanted to stay to earn overtime pay. “‘If you leave, you’re more than likely to be fired,’” she said they were told. “I heard that with my own ears.”

    The Guardian was unable to reach Mayfield Consumer Products representatives for comment on Tuesday, but according to NBC the company is denying the allegations. “It’s absolutely untrue. We’ve had a policy in place since Covid began. Employees can leave any time they want to leave and they can come back the next day,” said Bob Ferguson, a company spokesperson.

    Yeah. Right. Sure they can. Yep yep yeppers. You betcha. I must’ve worked for hundreds of contractors over the years who had that exact policy. And I’ve got some prime Florida beach front property to sell for pennies on the dollar.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And from this piece on the collapsed Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville IL, we get this little gem:

    John Gasper, associate professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, cautioned that he didn’t know the particulars of what happened at Amazon. But he said for companies like Amazon that have high turnover in labor, it likely is harder to conduct regular emergency training schedules, particularly during the busy holiday season when there are many seasonal workers.

    “The cost of the time to do the drills is also time they are not [moving] the packages,” he said. “They have to think about these tradeoffs. But I don’t think any company wants to harm its employees.

    Hey John? You are absolutely correct. They really don’t want to harm their employees. Well, kind of, sort of. What they don’t want is a Loss Workday. Or hospital bills. Physical therapy. etc etc. That kinda stuff plays havoc with the Workmen’s Comp insurance rates.

    The actual employees? They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about them.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Critical Race Theory run amok:

    How much air pollution are you exposed to in your daily life? The answer may depend on the color of your skin, a new study released Wednesday confirms. The study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that, no matter which of the main types of air pollutants you look at, people of color are breathing more of it. And while great progress has been made in reducing deadly pollutants in the air in the US over recent decades, the racial disparities have persisted, according to the work by an international team of researchers led by the University of Washington (UW).

    The group modeled the concentrations of a host of different air pollutants down to the neighborhood block level, then computed how exposure levels compared for different races.

    “For all pollutants, where there were noticeable differences in pollution levels, the most exposed group was a minority group,” said lead author Jiawen Liu, UW doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering. And she said “the racial and ethnic disparities existed in all states.”

    The research also showed that race mattered more than income in determining who lives with the most air pollution. The study scientifically confirms what many Black and brown communities, which have endured outsized amounts of industrial smoke and freeway pollutants, have been saying for decades.

    “If you are living in a community that is experiencing the brunt of bad air, this is not news to you at all; you notice it already,” said senior author Julian Marshall, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW. “Communities that have been living with the health risks have been speaking up for a long time, and often their voices are not heard,” he said.

    If all they’re gonna do is make white people feel bad, they oughtta get their funding cut.

  8. Jen says:

    A “mystery disease” has killed 89 people in South Sudan.

    Doesn’t sound very good at all.

  9. Scott says:

    There is always push back when something new in language is created. Think Ms. in the 70s. Now it is completely normalized. Personally, I find Latinx clumsy and unnecessary as there are other alternatives.

    LULAC drops use of ‘Latinx’ as term for Hispanics, considering it ‘non-inclusive’

    The country’s oldest Hispanic civil rights organization has decided to drop the use of “Latinx” as a pan-ethnic term to refer to people of Hispanic or Latino heritage, saying it considers the word to be “non-inclusive” and at odds with its centric, non-partisan political positions.

    Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, instructed the organization to stop using Latinx in official communications after a survey by the research firm Bendixen and Amandi published last week found only 2 percent of Hispanic or Latino voters chose the word Latinx to describe their ethnic background and 40 percent said the term bothers or offends them.

    “I thought it was important that we drop a term, Latinx, that is not used by José and María on the streets and is not used by most people to define themselves in our communities,” García told the Chronicle.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @Scott: There are pushbacks, but there are also terms that enjoy a brief period of support before falling by the wayside–remember “Afro-American” in the ’80s?

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A four-year-old boy left his Sydney family gobsmacked after ordering more than $1,000 worth of gelato on a food delivery app, including a personalised birthday cake and tubs of his favourite flavours.

    Christian King used his father’s phone to order $1,139 worth of gelato and cakes from Gelato Messina on UberEats on Monday. His father, Kris King, had given his son his phone to keep him distracted while his sister’s touch football match was happening. He said his son warned him he had “something on the way”, but he didn’t believe him until an UberEats delivery driver called his wife.

    It was at that moment he realised what was going on. “First of all I thought it was $139. And then I really looked at it and it was $1,139 and we almost had a bloody heart attack. I flicked through the screen about 30 times. That’s how long the order was, it was like 99 cakes. He actually told me he ordered a birthday cake for himself, and I didn’t even believe it. I had steam coming out of my ears first of all, screaming his name down the street. He ran to his room before I told him so.”

    “[UberEats] weren’t aware of anything wrong, but really we thought there should have been something in place. It was a very unusual order. We thought someone would question a $1,000 order of random things, and a personalised birthday cake that said happy birthday.”
    King initially told his son Santa wasn’t coming this year as a result of the order, but it appears the situation has changed. “The icing on the cake was when UberEats said we’ll give you your money back. He’s back in the good books and Santa is coming again.”

    I find my sympathy reserved for Christian here, and feeling as thou UberEats should have just told him “It’s not our job to watch your child.”

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My kingdom for an edit function! @OzarkHillbilly: I find my sympathy reserved for Christian here, and feeling as tho UberEats should have just told his father, “It’s not our job to watch your child.”

  13. MakredMan says:

    We frequently debate the merits of various electoral systems, with the assumption that other systems provide better outcomes than the US. But I feel like there is some pretty flagrant question begging going on with that assumption. It seems we skipped past two questions we need to answer: What are the metrics for “better outcomes”, and what systems (as opposed to countries or populations) achieve the best metrics?

    FWIW, my feeling (which has as much worth as anyone else’s feeling, i.e. darn little) is that by far the most important things about a political system are that it provides a) a peaceful transition between in groups and out groups, b) a mechanism by which an out group can peacefully become an in group, and c) special interest groups can achieve their goals within the system.

    To me, the only obvious problem with the US two party system is that of plurality victors. Runoffs, whether instant or through a runoff election, takes care of that.

  14. Mu Yixiao says:

    This didn’t work yesterday, and today is a foggy mess, so let’s try again:

    Good morning, Wisconsin.

  15. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Viewing this requires me to add another Google account.

  16. Kylopod says:

    @MakredMan: I often point to Bolsanaro’s election in Brazil with 55% of the popular vote as an illustration of how the EC isn’t the only thing enabling the election of a Trump-like candidate, and how the electoral reforms most liberals favor in this country aren’t necessarily a panacea. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy reforms in themselves. I tend to focus less on outcomes and more on issues of fairness and representation. In a country like Brazil, you can make a much better case that the country deserves the outcome it got than you can with Trump and the GOP here in the US.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s time for us to stop worrying about people who refuse to be vaccinated and who end up dead due to COVID. Let it be known that they were suicides. There was something out there that could have protected them, and they refused to use it. There’s something in tort law called “assumption of the risk”.

    Stupidity should hurt.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Red sky morning, sailor takes warning!

    Very pretty.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Is it child abuse if their kid gets it? I know which way I lean but the law seems to disagree with me.

  20. Mu Yixiao says:


    I’ll check permissions. It should be public.

  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    Your feel-good story for the day:

    How to give an electric eel an MRI.

    “There are years and years of experience and training behind all these one-off stories about how

    do you reconstruct a bullfrog’s knee, or how do you build a nebulizer for an anaconda, or what level of pain medication will help a shark,”

  22. Jen says:

    Up to 40% of cases of covid-19 are asymptomatic according to this piece in JAMA.

    I can’t figure out definitively if this is asymptomatic through the entire course of the disease or at time of diagnosis, but it appears to be at time of dx.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I agree that the EC is problematic, but that is separate from the our two party system itself

  24. CSK says:

    The term Afro-American was introduced by Malcolm X in 1964 with his Organization of Afro-American Unity.

  25. CSK says:

    WHO defines asymptomatic as showing no symptoms through the entire course of the infection.

  26. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yep, as would I…but in reading the abstract, I can’t figure out how they determined that.

  27. Kylopod says:


    I agree that the EC is problematic, but that is separate from the our two party system itself

    How so? It’s one of the mechanisms that reinforce the two-party system (see Perot 1992–won nearly 20% of the popular vote but not a single electoral vote).

  28. Kylopod says:


    The term Afro-American was introduced by Malcolm X in 1964 with his Organization of Afro-American Unity.

    If I recall, the term African American was also introduced in the 1960s (though there are isolated occurrences of the term going back to the 19th century), but it wasn’t until the ’80s that both these terms started to break into the mainstream.

    I find it interesting that the Afro- prefix is still often used with other nationalities, as in Afro-Cuban.

  29. CSK says:

    My memory is that African American came later, replacing Afro-American. You might want to see this

  30. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Here’s Online Etymology Dictionary:

    there are isolated instances from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but the modern use is a re-invention first attested 1969 (in reference to the African-American Teachers Association) which became the preferred term in some circles for “U.S. black” (noun or adjective) by the late 1980s. See African + American. Mencken, 1921, reports Aframerican “is now very commonly used in the Negro press.” Afro-American is attested in 1853, in freemen’s publications in Canada. Africo-American (1817 as a noun, 1826 as an adjective) was common in abolitionist and colonization society writings.

  31. Jon says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Lovely!

  32. Jen says:
  33. CSK says:

    I’ve already seen the MAGA’s reaction to this. It’s 100% Fake News, they say.

  34. senyordave says:

    An adult male who talks like a 12 year old boy:
    Elon Musk lashing out at Elizabeth Warren:
    “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason,” Musk continued.
    “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen,” Musk added in another Twitter jibe, using the slang term for a white woman perceived as entitled.
    At last it wasn’t r-rated like this insult at Ron Wyden:
    “Why does ur pp look like u just came?”

    Makes me almost long for the days when Elon was all about union busting. Of course, he might have to care about how his company deals with women since it might hit him in the pocketbook, based om these reports:
    6 women workers have sued Tesla over alleged sexual harassment at its Fremont factory

  35. JohnSF says:

    This not good.
    This is in fact, very bad.
    Head of the UK Health Security Agency says that Omicron variant doubling time is now under two days in most regions of the UK.

    …“probably the most significant threat” since the start of the pandemic as she told MPs to expect “staggering” growth rate over the coming days.

  36. Jen says:

    @JohnSF: Impossible! We were just informed yesterday that there’s no exponential growth in Europe./s

    All snark aside, the issue I’m already starting to see among my friends and family is that they are processing the news about omicron causing less severe disease as the current condition and acting accordingly, when our cases are still delta variant cases.

    Meanwhile, this…”Hospital officials in the North Country say the health care system in the region is being overwhelmed more than at any other time of the COVID-19 pandemic….”

  37. MarkedMan says:


    It’s one of the mechanisms that reinforce the two-party system

    Not to be a prick, but that’s the question begging I’m referring to. You are pre-supposing that it’s the US two-party system that needs to be fixed in its entirety, and not just the EC (and the plurality victories I mentioned earlier).

    What metrics are we using that results in a determination that our system is worse than, say, a parliamentary system? And to what extent are those metrics determined by the electoral system versus other factors?

  38. Sleeping Dog says:


    Jen, you know that is fake news. 🙂

  39. Kylopod says:


    You are pre-supposing that it’s the US two-party system that needs to be fixed in its entirety, and not just the EC (and the plurality victories I mentioned earlier).

    I wasn’t presupposing anything of the sort. All I said was that the EC reinforces the two-party system. Do you agree or disagree with that? It’s weird that you didn’t opine on what I actually said, and instead are responding to something I didn’t say.

  40. JohnSF says:

    The “omicron is mild” belief seems to be pretty general.
    It may be true; I hope it’s true. But it’s still a bit early to be definite.
    The best summary seems to be that it’s no worse than delta; but not necessarily any less severe than that either.
    (South African data needs a lot of caveating re. sample size and prior antibody prevalence)

    But just “no worse” is a relief, as fast transmission variants have more opportunity to evolve greater virulence.

  41. JohnSF says:

    Figures now out and it’s official:
    UK reports highest daily cases since the pandemic began

    The UK has reported the record number of daily Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 78,610 new cases on Wednesday.
    The previous highest number of daily cases recorded was 68,053 on 8 January.
    On Tuesday, 59,610 confirmed cases were confirmed by the government, which means the cases have risen by nearly 20,000 in one day.

  42. Sleeping Dog says:


    Except for information on Omicron, I’ve stopped reading articles and discussing Covid. I told my wife, who is obsessing over it, that she has 5 minutes a day to discuss it with me and after that I’m not paying attention.

    This doesn’t mean that I’m living like it is 2019. Going to Home Depot or similar where there is no one w/in 20′ of me and I’m generally alone in the aisle that I’m shopping, the mask stays in the pocket. Enter an 1800 sq/ft retail store with a dozen customers, yes I’ll be masked. I’m going out for lunch a couple of times a week and stop at my fav coffee shop at least once a week. We’re not dining out now but as we implies my better half is concerned For me there is a new normal, but it’s normal.

    A while ago I saw this and it makes a lot of sense. Hell, I could be out on the motorcycle and get run down by a wayward Tesla operating in Full Self Driving mode.

  43. Scott says:

    @JohnSF: Not to be all doom and gloom but just listened to a podcast (In The Bubble) where Andy Slavitt discusses Omicron with Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist. If I understood right, the Omicron is not a descendant of Delta but a different lineage altogether (i.e. a common ancestor). This raises the possibility that Omicron may not necessarily crowd out Delta but could live side by side like influenza viruses do. So even if it is a milder strain, delta may still be around to wreck havoc. Time will tell.

  44. inhumans99 says:


    Fyi, I was able to right click and open in an incognito window and the beautiful picture opened just fine.

  45. CSK says:

    Thank you, but that doesn’t seem to work for me.

  46. inhumans99 says:


    While I technically agree with you, I am sure it took some Uber higher ups a nano-second to realize that the $1,139 they would end up eating with this order (pun unintended, as the kid ordered gelato, yum) would come back to them magnified more than 10X in the form of good publicity when the story gets to the part where the father said Uber said they would refund the money and he assured his kid Santa was still on his way to their home.

    Dang, that is some great PR for Uber. I think Jen is a PR person and would agree. Can you just imagine the PR disaster if Uber said that Schools do a better job of educating their kids than pare…I mean if they said that while they sympathize with the father, he should have kept a closer eye on his kid and there would be no refund coming for the super-size order.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I was going back to the beginning of our exchange, where I asked about metrics. I didn’t realize your comment was tangential to that.

    So, to answer your question, I’m not so sure the EC has any practical effect on our two party system. I’m not saying it doesn’t, just that I’m having trouble seeing where someone who failed to achieve the majority of the vote in any of 50 states could have somehow had more of an impact on the viability of third parties going forward if the count was by popular vote.

    My gripe against the EC is simply that it allows candidates who received fewer votes to win.

  48. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m actually not sure it’s the EC itself that’s detrimental to third parties, but rather the winner-take-all method of allocating electors in most states. That’s why Perot didn’t win a single electoral vote despite significant nationwide support. You don’t come out in first place in any state, you get nothing. (Even the two exceptions, Maine and Nebraska, are simply winner-take-all at the district level rather than state level.)

    My gripe against the EC is simply that it allows candidates who received fewer votes to win.

    My biggest gripe against it is that it incentivizes the candidates to ignore the majority of states.

  49. gVOR08 says:


    Louder, so the kids in the back can hear:
    Massive AP Investigation Finds Election Fraud in 2020 Was Virtually Nonexistent

    And what little there was seems to have been mostly by GOPs. But the kids in the back row aren’t listening. And if they do hear it, it’s fake news.

  50. JohnSF says:

    An interesting example of the intersection of US Republicans and British Conservatives: former Conservative MP – and briefly one of two UKIP MPs (both Tory defectors) Douglas Carswell.
    Turns out that since January he has been president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

    Our loss is not necessarily your gain. But thanks for having him. 🙂

  51. CSK says:

    Oh, they’ve already established that this was fake news. Who trusts the AP, after all? It’s a tool of the Communist Deep State, just like the NYTimes, the WaPo, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

  52. MarkedMan says:


    it incentivizes the candidates to ignore the majority of states.

    Wouldn’t that happen anyway under popular vote, just with a different set of states? Sure, Republicans would make more of an effort in California and Dems more in Texas, but the square states would still be ignored.

    OK, now that I wrote that, I see that just having the parties making an effort in “safe” states could have a beneficial effect.

  53. Jen says:


    Dang, that is some great PR for Uber. I think Jen is a PR person and would agree.

    It’s good PR for UberEats and also what I would have recommended they do, even though they probably didn’t have to (because if you’re going to entertain your child by handing them your phone…make sure that they can’t do something like this).

    I’ll be honest, this attitude coming off the parent ticks me off:

    “It was a very unusual order. We thought someone would question a $1,000 order of random things, and a personalised birthday cake that said happy birthday.”

    I’m betting they get ALL KINDS of what an average person would consider a bizarre order. People have all sorts of reasons for ordering stuff online and it is some major blame-shifting to assume that a company that sells food is going to question an order…of food.

  54. Kylopod says:


    Wouldn’t that happen anyway under popular vote, just with a different set of states? Sure, Republicans would make more of an effort in California and Dems more in Texas, but the square states would still be ignored.

    Candidates for statewide office don’t just ignore the rural areas. They may pay more attention to the population centers, but that’s just because there are more friggin voters there, which just goes to show how perverse the representation becomes under the EC.

  55. gVOR08 says:

    Thomas Edsall has a piece in NYT, How to Tell When Your Country Is Past the Point of No Return. He references and excerpts several sources like Gellman’s Atlantic piece and several academics. Mostly it’s an academic rehash of what Dr. T has had to say about a two party system and how it got us here. Well worth reading, but short version, Madison thought a large, diverse country would have enough competing interests that people would align on some but differ on others which would counter “the mischiefs of faction”. But the GOP funders, pols, and voters have driven each other into forcing all issues onto a single axis of us v them. And yes, there’s fair agreement the Ds are moving that way, but the GOPs are there. Edsall quotes Pierson and Schickler,

    Our two-party system has been grounded in a structural decentralization of political authority. Yet the emergence of hyper-partisanship means that the check on authoritarian developments in the presidency that the Madisonian system relies on most, Congress, may not work. Instead, G.O.P. members of Congress in particular face multiple incentives to bandwagon rather than resist. Among those incentives are the intense preferences of the party’s interest groups, the heavily “red” and negatively partisan electoral bases of these politicians, and the likelihood that influential partisan media will exact a very high price for defection.

    Edsall notes that 75% of Republicans agree with, “American democracy is under attack” as opposed to 46% of Dems. Which is to say more Rs believe The Big Lie than Ds recognize the threat driven by The Big Lie. Edsall concludes,

    This level of anxiety is in and of itself dangerous, all the more so when it masks the true aim of America’s contemporary right-wing movement, the restoration and preservation of white hegemony. It is not beyond imagining that Republicans could be prepared, fueled by a mix of fear and provocation, to push the nation over the brink.

    “Beyond imagining” doesn’t really seem to touch it. Very scary column.

  56. dazedandconfused says:


    The information we really want on Omicron is if having been infected with it makes the victims immune to COVID. It may have been the way the Spanish flu disappeared. Evolved to a highly contagious but mild form, everybody got it and became immune to the related strains.

  57. JohnSF says:

    Hopefully this.
    But see@Scott: for a possible nastier outcome.
    Simply: we don’t know yet. Insufficient data.

    As I’ve said before the real threat is higher transmissibility and increased virulence.
    A not-implausible eventuality as higher spread enables the virus to propagate quicker than the host dies.
    Hopefully not.

  58. MarkedMan says:


    But the GOP funders, pols, and voters have driven each other into forcing all issues onto a single axis of us v them. And yes, there’s fair agreement the Ds are moving that way,

    I disagree strongly with this. What seems to be happening is that Republicans are removing themselves from the equation when they are not in power, so the debates happen amongst factions of the Dems. That’s what’s happening in California and what happens in solidly blue cities and is also currently playing out in the striving between factions of the Democratic Party at the federal level too. And, at least at the federal level, the Republican legislators have taken themselves out of consideration even when they are in power. Remember, the Republicans don’t overturn environmental laws or consumer rights legislation. And they don’t pass any new legislation changing the powers of those agencies. Instead, Republican executives install people as leaders who trash it and make a mockery of enforcement.

    There is no meaningful symmetry between the parties on this. The Dems are not passing more extreme legislation, but continue to pass meaningful legislation and keep the government running. The Republicans have just decided not to legislate unless it is something unequivocally demanded by their wealthy patrons.

  59. Just nutha says:

    @inhumans99: Now if I only knew what an I incognito window is. (Just kidding. The link opened fine for me.)

  60. Kathy says:


    Natural selection pressures for replication, which means more transmissibility. It does not select for virulence.

    Natural selection favors predators that have many offspring who can reproduce, not for how much gazelle meat a lion can consume in one sitting. this may be small comfort to the gazelles who get eaten, who are dead regardless. However, a lion variant that makes more efficient use of energy, for example, may kill fewer gazelles as they need to eat less often.

    The analogy fails because lions, and other animals apparently, do more than reproduce. Whereas viruses literally do nothing else.

  61. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Jim Jordan’s office has confirmed that he did indeed send this text to Meadows;

    “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).”

    This is going to get crazy as it goes on…

  62. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: I tend to agree that the people Edsall cites are too pessimistic about Ds going down the same path. But then I haven’t seen their data. Ds are still a big tent and there has been discussion here, perhaps by Dr.T, you, I don’t recall, that Rs have essentially removed themselves from governance and from policy debate, leaving all useful discussion and adjudication within the D big tent. And I agree nationally and in Blue states. However within the R states, legislatures seem to be very active.

    But you almost have to admire the skill, and chutzpah, in finagling the rubes into accepting deregulation and wealthy/corporate tax cuts, “as demanded by their wealthy patrons” onto a single right/left, us/them axis along with guns, CRT, and abortion. To the Right it’s all one big, fuzzy “populist” agenda, even if only the tax cuts make it into legislation.

    And by going full on us v them, Rs are forcing Ds down the path to the same attitude. I’ll confess that if Mitt Romney ran on a platform of UBI, Medicare for all, and a carbon tax I’d vote against him. I’d assume that being a Republican, he was lying.

  63. Kathy says:

    Any thoughts on the NY legislation allowing non-citizen legal residents* to vote in local and state elections?

    I’m in favor, though I must admit the arguments can get slippery-slopey pretty damn fast.

    *Like people with green cards and DACA recipients.

  64. dazedandconfused says:

    Nevertheless, a parasite that kills it’s host is a poorly adapted parasite.

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @inhumans99: I know, but the part where the father is yelling at the kid… Pisses me off. “Hey! Dumb sht! You gave the kid your phone unsupervised and you thought everything was going to be OK????”

    My wife recently gave our 2 yo granddaughter an old i-phone of hers to watch Sesame Street videos. The kid locked my wife out and it took my wife an hour or more to figure it out. My wife would never give a kid her current i-phone for entertainment purposes.

  66. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FWIW, iPhones have a mode which disables all apps but those you allow, specifically meant for activating it and then handing it to a kid. I assume Android has the same feature.

  67. JohnSF says:

    Yes, it pressures for replication.
    But unless I misunderstood him (which I may have done), an epidemiology specialist at work stated that replication selection drive is not just between hosts but also within hosts.
    This means that a higher viral load in the host can lead to higher effective virulence; and also greater “shedding” and so transmissibility.
    So long as the virulence is not so high as to kill the host (or indeed incapacitate) before sufficient transmission has occurred.
    The viral evolution trade-offs are more complicated than at first sight, it seems.

  68. JohnSF says:


    …a parasite that kills it’s host is …poorly adapted

    Not necessarily.
    As a near pure replicator, the virus replication gain may be maximised by direct reproduction, which hammers the host, but as long as more of that type transmit to new hosts, then the transmission gain may outweigh the host mortality loss.

    I’m no expert, but experts have told me the modelling is more complex and counter-intuitive than might be expected.
    And depends a lot on the virus transmission modes.

  69. Kathy says:


    Well, yes. If it were simple, it wouldn’t be biology.

    I wonder if the virus competes against other copies of itself. It’s rare to have more than one infection at a time, but not impossible (especially with immunocompromised patients). More rare in this golden age of vaccines

  70. CSK says:

    I understand that Marjorie Taylor Greene told OAN that the text messages Hannity, Kilmeade, and Ingraham sent Trump begging him to call off the Jan. 6 rioters (her word) prove that Trump is “innocent.”

    I am unable to establish how she arrived at this conclusion.

  71. Kathy says:


    Perhaps because you expect a rational thought process from an irrational person.

  72. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: The conclusion was arrived at before any data was considered.

  73. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Gustopher:
    I fear you’re both correct.

  74. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: For what it’s worth, that makes the idiot father even more responsible.

    Not that this idiot luddite would ever know.

  75. Jax says:

    Our school district has had multiple days with over 100 kids out sick so far this week (There’s only 520, total). There are so many staff members sick that none of the high school sports teams will be able to make it to their weekend games.

    But sure, let’s keep the damn schools open.

  76. dazedandconfused says:

    Direct reproduction is the process of an organism splitting itself into two identical copies. It doesn’t destroy the host. Were you thinking of another process?

  77. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Hey now, let’s not be lumping him in with Clan Luddite… He’d never pass the initiation. After all, we have standards!

  78. Kathy says:

    Here’s something really odd.

    A few days ago I woke up around 2 am with a cramp on my left calf. This is not uncommon when I wind up tossing myself into sleeping on my back, and a foot bends too far under the weight of the covers.

    What’s odd is that I dreamt I was getting a cramp and should move my foot to prevent it. That’s when the pain woke me.

    Now, if this happened once it would be an amazing coincidence. The thing is it happened last night, too. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

    What I think happened is my leg cramped, and my sleeping brain tried to make sense of the sudden input of pain somehow. Kind of like when you incorporate the alarm clock into a dream, or a knock on the door, or other sudden noises.

    This also tells me a painful cramp takes some time to wake me, a few seconds, when I’m really tired.

  79. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: That reminds me of the time when a dream of mine suddenly incorporated my holding on to an unbalanced washing machine during the spin cycle.

    Woke up the next morning and discovered when I went into the office that everyone was talking about the earthquake we had had the night before.

    (After all my years living in Japan my body now refuses to wake up during minor earthquakes.)