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. Sleeping Dog says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Deer and cattle farmer, Tony Peacock, said the 18-month-old bull was grazing with 37 others in a paddock in the Shenandoah area above the Maruia River, on 10 February, when torrential rain began falling. “It’s the highest I’ve ever seen on my farm. They forecast 60mm and I tipped out over 160mm from the rain gauge the next morning,” Peacock said.

    He had not had time to prepare for that amount of rain, and while he was able to save some from the rising waters, the young Hereford and two others were swept away. A week later, Peacock received a surprising phone call from stock-tracking and agricultural company Ospri. “They said a farmer in Westport had one of my bulls and gave me his [ear tag] number.

    “I rang him and he said he was getting his cows in in the morning when he heard a bit of rustling in the blackberry and a Hereford bull poked his head out.”

    The farmer told Peacock the bull looked like he needed a bit of “rest and relaxation”.

    Peacock believes the young bull survived a monumental trip – being swept into the Maruia River, over the 10m-high Maruia Falls, through the joining with the Buller River, under O’Sullivan’s Bridge, and a long winding journey through the Buller River’s rocky upper and lower reaches, and then finally, avoiding being swept out to sea.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    How the Court Became a Voting-Rights Foe

    So there we have it. Congress has in fact passed numerous laws to make elections fairer and ballot access easier. But based on its 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison making it the arbiter of constitutional ambiguity, the Supreme Court has either slapped such legislation down or added material requirements to a statute to make bringing cases harder for voters. For a particularly problematic category of cases—gerrymandering—the Court has barred all constitutional court actions and sided with states for statutory claims, regardless of the merits, on the theory that it’s better to err on the side of a potential Voting Rights Act violation because elections are around the corner (inevitably every year in some form or another).

    This Court is going to continue to make voting more difficult, leaving it up to a Congress that was substantially voted in under those same unfair standards to fix the problem. Good luck with that. In the meantime, the revisionist justices are deep in the business of snatching power from a supposedly co-equal branch of government—one that, unlike the Court, is accountable to the voters at the ballot box. This is the sleeping dragon, friends. One-party rule will come to federal, state, and local legislatures across the country. But it is already here on the Supreme Court, in the form of four men and one woman in black robes, with jobs for life and nothing to slow them down other than individual conscience.

    Dr T has written eloquently on this several times, Ms Welhe, is a bit more brutal.

  4. Scott says:

    I found this interesting. CDC is tracking COVID through waste water. It’s seems to be a work in progress. Though I heard of this possibility a while back, it seems as though the wheels of progress turn slowly.

    SARS-CoV-2 RNA Levels in Wastewater in the United States

  5. Scott says:

    Skynet anyone?

    Hundreds of AI projects underway as Defense Department eyes future combat

    For combat purposes, in particular, the Pentagon is focused on AI abilities that aid target recognition, battlefield analysis and autonomy aboard uncrewed systems.

    AI capabilities will enable machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as drawing conclusions and making predictions

    Officials, though, have said defense AI is currently nowhere close to outthinking or outflanking humans.

    Yeah, right.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Some cities have been doing this since the spring of 2020 and among the first institutions doing it were colleges and universities, that quickly realized that they could ID and isolate outbreaks by examining sewerage. Alas the rest of the country has been slow on the uptake.

  7. Jen says:

    @Scott: Tracking through wastewater is becoming a go-to method. It makes sense. I first read about it a book about the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The book went into some detail about how they were able to determine the prevalence of a variety of antibiotics by analyzing wastewater from major international airports. It was fascinating, and I think that using this methodology to track covid makes a ton of sense.

  8. Scott says:

    Support the military indeed.

    Air Force officials: Racism in schools, businesses in Cheyenne, Wyo.

    Col. Catherine Barrington has been stationed in Cheyenne three times since 1998. But she said she never knew she experienced a different community than her fellow airmen.

    The commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base discovered not only was her command chief master sergeant encountering racist behavior, but so were families and their students off-base.

    She requested commanders and senior leaders speak with their airmen and give them the opportunity to share their own experiences, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports. Command Chief Master Sgt. Nicholas Taylor joined her in the inquiry, and said many of his fellow minority airmen reported being treated differently out of uniform.

    Taylor described his own hostile interaction at a local store when he purchased a weapon. Taylor originally went in uniform to pick up a gun he had bought, which required an optic to be put on at a future time. He called ahead to ask if they had any availability, and the clerk immediately welcomed him to stop by. When he arrived out of uniform, her attitude shifted, and she told him they didn’t have time to serve him. The command chief said she was very aggressive and instead of arguing with her, he gathered his things and left.

    “Other airmen have also experienced this,” he said. “And when they went in to buy ammunition, they would not sell the ammunition to airmen of color at all. So, they had to ask their caucasian counterpart to go in and buy ammunition on behalf of them.”

  9. Kathy says:


    Wait, wait. Now the CDC is against people drinking raw sewage? That’s just woke libtard nonsense!

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: FWIW, all of us use AI programs everyday. Autocorrect, predictive typing, Netflix or Amazon suggestions, etc, all are based on AI programs.

    AI programs are good at predictions, but are very bad at revealing why they made that prediction. If it constructs a sales maximization strategy based on the fact that someone two nights ago watched “The Expanse” on Prime Video, then their spouse purchased Beats over-the-ear headphones, and now they are searching for Wellington boots, sales will be maximized if they put sexy nighties in the suggestions. The AI can report how successful this is predicted to be but it can’t explain the thought process that led it to that conclusion.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    So far I’m not impressed by the various algorithms and predictive abilities. Netflix is never right about anything. I wish there was a way to completely disable the YouTube algorithm, it actually impedes my ability to find interesting material. In fact, if Netflix and YouTube want to be helpful, they could shut off their algorithms and let me enter criteria instead. I’ve turned off auto-correct and predictive text on my iPhone.

    And Siri? Good grief, I swear it’s actually getting dumber. It functions best as a source of unintended comedy.

  12. Kathy says:

    The bad news is the people upstairs, you know, they who sign my paycheck*, decided we’d put an all out effort to go after a contract in Chiapas we have less than zero chance of obtaining. This has required sorting and packing tons of samples, and printing lots of papers (after taking hours of converting PDF files to Word to get them in a presentable order).

    The good news is coworkers are going to Chiapas and bringing back coffee. One found a place that sells cheap and has a varied selection. he brought back about 3 lbs for the equivalent of about $25 USD. I’ve tried two of the three types, and both are really good.

    *I don’t get a literal paycheck, and when I did the people upstairs didn’t sign it (they have underlings for that). But “the people who approve in advance the payroll schedules for direct deposit” just done’st have the same ring to it.

  13. CSK says:

    It would only require a little of Trump’s time each week.

    Gaetz = Nutz

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Zoom call had about 40 people on it – or that’s what the people who had logged on thought. The all-staff meeting at the glamorous design agency had been called to welcome the growing company’s newest recruits. Its name was Madbird and its dynamic and inspirational boss, Ali Ayad, wanted everyone on the call to be ambitious hustlers – just like him.

    But what those who had turned on their cameras didn’t know was that some of the others in the meeting weren’t real people. Yes, they were listed as participants. Some even had active email accounts and LinkedIn profiles. But their names were made up and their headshots belonged to other people.

    The whole thing was fake – the real employees had been “jobfished”. The BBC has spent a year investigating what happened.

    A good read, enough to make one wonder.

  15. Kathy says:


    Come, the time between 2017 and 2021 clearly show Benito can pretend to hold a job for much longer than a few hours.

  16. CSK says:

    Gaetz admits that he hasn’t yet persuaded Trump to do this. He should tell Trump that when Biden, Harris, and Pelosi are impeached, then he’ll be prez again.

  17. CSK says:

    I don’t generally bother to inform you all of local weather events, but today here in northeastern Massachusetts it’s sunny with temperatures approaching 70 degrees. Friday we’ll get a foot of snow.

  18. just nutha says:

    @Scott: Any budding cyber despots out there should be wary of allowing AI entities to be lulled into forming political parties. If humans can trick their automaton overlords into forming political parties, the subsequent partisan ruptures among the various AI factions will allow humans to regain supremacy.

  19. steve says:

    Hmm. Came to Palm Springs to see old friend and enjoy the sun and warmth. In the middle of a 1200 year drought it rained last night. 44 degrees this morning. Still better than home but talk about bad luck.


  20. Jax says:

    @CSK: The high here yesterday was 5 whole degrees, lower with the wind chill. It’s rude and gross out there. My chickens agree, they were really enjoying that false spring! 😛

  21. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I find predictive text to be very helpful. Auto complete less so, but still better than I thought it would be. On the other hand, my phone is an Android (boo boo hiss hiss!!!) and even with an ~6 in screens, the little letters are too small for me to hit accurately. Without predictive text, I probably wouldn’t bother to try to text or use my phone’s search functions. And I would trade back to a flip phone with a keyboard yesterday if my phone provider had one in it’s inventory.

  22. Mike in Arlington says:

    I don’t know if anybody here is a fan of his music, but Mark Lanegan died yesterday.

  23. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Gaetz is making the wrong pitch. He should be selling the visual of Pelosi handing the gavel over to FG. Maybe also FG “playfully” pretending that he’s going to hit her with the oversize gavel she used in her taking over the speakership phot0.

  24. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    I’m sure Trump would enjoy that, but since he desperately wants to be president again–or still, from his point of view–wouldn’t the idea of him being returned to the Oval Office provide a more enticing visual?

  25. Neil Hudelson says:

    @just nutha:

    Try loading the Flexy keyboard for android. It’s much better than any other keyboard I’ve tried–far less mistakes, and a better autocorrect when I do make mistakes.

  26. CSK says:

    We’ve had a few days like that. Happily, not often. Usually the coldest it gets here is down into the low teens. I realize that’s tropical by your standards. 😀

  27. Sleeping Dog says:

    Squad member to deliver response to Biden SOTU
    Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib will give the speech on behalf of the left-wing group Working Families Party.

    The Squad can be a gift the keeps on giving. An attack from this sextet, makes a lie of the idea that Biden is a captive of the left fringe.

  28. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    I saw his band on their last tour in 2019, turns out it would be one of his last U.S. appearances ever.

    I also saw Soundgarden just two or three days before Cornell’s suicide.

    For the sake of all of us, I’m going to stop attending grunge concerts.

  29. CSK says:
  30. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I’ve a good visual for that.

    Pelosi hands the gavel over along with a bicycle helmet and says “You be careful now and don’t hurt yourself, Donnie dear.”

  31. Mimai says:
  32. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Whoever was making the “after we impeach Biden, Harris, and Pelosi” (unnecessary if FG is speaker) play has the correct scenario for FG’s triumphal return. That FG is too stupid to see it only reinforces how incompetent he actually is.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not promoting AI, although I’m not denigrating it either. I was merely pointing out that this isn’t some exotic technology. An average bloke runs across it many times a day.

  34. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Chris Cornell’s death hit me pretty hard too. The man had range and could put so much emotion into his singing.

    But Mark Lanegan? I don’t think I was really aware of screaming trees when I was living in Spokane and I wish I had known about them so I could have seen them live.

  35. Sleeping Dog says:


    Assuming that the article is accurate, it raises the question as to whether he can get the R nomination in new district?

  36. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    Trump really belongs in the Witless Protection Program.

  37. Kathy says:


    I’m certain most people will agree the autocorrect AI in phones is a ducking mess.

  38. senyordave says:

    My nomination for least surprising headline of the year:
    Truth Social, Trump app, crumbles in disastrous launch
    Here’s the link:

  39. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, it’s more Trump-favorable than even his previous one, so maybe he can.

  40. Jen says:

    @senyordave: So, to sum up, they stole the logo (because OF COURSE they did), added zero original thought to the structure, botched the launch, and require people to adhere to terms and conditions–which is *exactly* what his complaints were with other social networks.

    What a ridiculous person he is.

  41. CSK says:

    The truly pathetic aspect of this–okay, one of many, many truly pathetic aspects–is that all those trying to register for are cooing about how they’re Number 200,000 or so on the list, and wow! These numbers are really going to blow away Twitter. No, they’re not. Trump had 88.7 million followers on Twitter before he got dumped. There’s no way in hell he can ever match that.

  42. Jen says:

    @CSK: To be fair, a whole lot of his “followers” on Twitter were bots. Another large chunk were people who followed him just to be the first ones to drag him whenever he posted something.

    This, from the article, seems very on-brand for this crowd:

    The developers wrote on an internal updates page Monday afternoon that they had “stabilized the account creation process.” But on Tuesday, many were still reporting that they were around 300,000th in line. (Some even went backward: One person reported they’d gone from no. 215,406 on the waiting list Monday night to no. 295,046 by Tuesday afternoon.)

    Going backwards is kind of their “thing,” no?

  43. CSK says:

    Oh, indeed it is. I find it difficult to believe that TruthSocial won’t be added to the lengthy list of Trump’s ill-conceived doomed enterprises.

    Trump Steak, Trump Vodka, Trump Magazine, Trump University…why should TruthSocial be different?

    I’m only surprised they didn’t call it TrumpSocial.

  44. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jen: + journalists who had to follow him as part of their job.

    ETA – although that number is probably very small

  45. Kathy says:

    A bit late:

    Benito is told of the problems with the Pravda app.

    “Impossible!” he screams. “FAKE NEWS!!!! Libtard propaganda! Lock Her up!”

    But he tries to sign up, just to prove the enemy media wrong, and gets the message, “Something went wrong. Please try again.”

    “Damn!!” he says in defeat. “First Melania and now the app!”

  46. Jay L Gischer says:

    This belongs in the open thread: Gov. Abbot requires reporters to report “abusive parenting” of trans kids

    To repeat what I said in the other thread: This looks like a troll to me. I seriously doubt if prosecutions of trans parents for “abuse” will stand up, since what’s at stake using pronouns of choice, changing dress and hormone blockers. Not hormones, hormone blockers, which are generally thought of as reversible.

    Which means that while this is outrageous and terrible, it’s also probably a troll, which Abbot thinks to turn to his advantage in an election year.

    I would go to Texas and dare them to prosecute me for abuse, but unfortunately my child didn’t come out until she was over 18.

  47. Monala says:

    Texas continues to be horrifying:

    AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered state agencies to investigate reports of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming care as “child abuse,” but it’s unclear what immediate effect the directive will have on kids, teachers, doctors and parents.

    In a letter to the Department of Family and Protective Services sent Tuesday, Abbott said the agency “is responsible for protecting children from abuse.” He warned that educators, medical professionals and others who don’t report alleged abuse could face consequences.

    “Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse,” Abbott said.

    His letter was CC’d to several other agencies, including the Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Medical Board and Texas Education Agency.

    Abbott’s order came the day after Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion that said certain types of medical care for trans youth — including treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers — is a form of child abuse. Attorney general opinions do not have the force of law, but former officials said agency heads are mostly expected to follow them.

    Abbott and Paxton’s directives could create uncertainty for transgender children and the adults in their lives. But the immediate and long-term consequences for access to these treatments is unclear: child welfare advocates say the future is uncertain, state agencies have stayed largely mum and some prosecutors have already begun to reject the directives outright. …

    Some local government officials in liberal-leaning parts of the state are balking at acting on the new interpretation of the law.

    County and district attorneys in two major cities have already said they will not take legal action against abuse allegations based on Paxton’s opinion.

    Note the passage I highlighted, especially the word “may.” As with the abortion bounty bill, you don’t even have to know that a kid has had any gender-affirming care (which is horrible enough), you just have to suspect it to be on the hook for reporting it. Get ready for bigots to target any kid who doesn’t meet some idea of gender that the bigot has.

  48. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jay L Gischer: By “reporters” I don’t mean newspaper people, I mean state-mandated reporters, such as social workers, and medical people, and so on, who are required to report certain things they observe. I should have said “mandated reporters”.

  49. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Monala: More information, and thanks for it.

    I continue to believe this is an electorally-focused troll, which is doomed to failure in the courts. However, that doesn’t make it any less odious. It does follow that a politically focused response would be better.

    I was just thinking that this might make the perfect chance for some parents to tell the stories I have already heard to a larger audience. These stories, these children and how their life turns around when they transition are so powerful, it seems the perfect opportunity to get the spotlight. If we can find some who do it.

  50. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I was copy-pasting while you were posting. When you says Abbott is trolling, do you mean that he has no intention of carrying this out? How can you be sure? Because while many professionals who work with kids may be unwilling to follow these directives (which is by no means guaranteed), his directive also includes these words: “There are similar reporting requirements and criminal penalties for members of the general public.” And you know there are plenty of members of the Texas general public who would be happy for an excuse to persecute trans kids.

  51. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: He also includes puberty blockers and hormonal therapy as gender-transitioning procedures that are against Texas law “to subject children to.”

    One bit of dark humor happening on Twitter: among the procedures he bans are “removals of otherwise healthy body parts.” So folks are joking that infant circumcision will now become illegal…

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I’d get a different job.

  53. CSK says:


    From ABC News:
    “Two criminal prosecutors leading the criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and his family real estate business have resigned, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said, casting doubt on the likelihood the former president would face any criminal charges.”

    Bragg is having doubts?

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Monala: So will nose jobs.

  55. CSK says:

    And hair cuts.

  56. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I’m not a lawyer, but this goes against all I know about the law and jurisprudence. For one thing it would be retroactive. Then there’s no law on the subject. Next, the children and teens in question have asked, if not demanded, for these treatments. Lastly, these are recognized, medically necessary practices. I just don’t see how any reasonable, non-prejudiced person can call it abuse, much less launch a terror campaign to stop it.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Any reasons given? Like they are life long Staten Island Republicans?

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Touche!

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I just don’t see how any reasonable, non-prejudiced person can call it abuse, much less launch a terror campaign to stop it.

    Texas Republicans on the other hand…

  60. CSK says:

    Just that they resigned after Bragg expressed doubts about moving forward with the case. It doesn’t appear that they’re fans of Trump.

  61. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Monala: What I mean is that I do not think this will stand up in court. In any court. The people who do this follow very stringent protocols and are quite cautious in their application of any intervention.

    Frankly, the notion that it is “abusive” is laughable. That’s where this scam starts, is with an AG that’s willing to stretch the point with an “opinion” that’s garbage, but perhaps potently politically.

    That’s not to say this isn’t dangerous. It is. People should definitely consider their safety, and the safety of their children first.

    AND, this is a golden opportunity to put some of the most amazing and touching stories about children I have ever heard in the spotlight. Stories about resistant fathers, for instance, that melt when they see how transformed their chronically depressed son is when the family takes a 3-day vacation while allowing the child to be a girl, and this simple thing transforms her.

    I cannot stress enough that the most potent driver of trans phobia is ignorance. Now we have an opportunity to address that ignorance. Let’s use it.

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Ah, so they’re Brooklyn Dems then.

    Oh well, I have no idea what Bragg is seeing, or how principled a person he is, or really much of anything at all. It’s not like I was holding my breath.

    I am satisfied with what James is doing. She has him by the fiscal balls right now. Not that I’m counting chickens…

  63. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I meant to say, not only will it not stand up in court, I think Abbot knows that, as does Ken Paxton. They cite a precedent that is British, and was overturned. That’s how thin this is.

    It’s garbage, but it can still hurt people.

  64. Jay L Gischer says:


    I’m not a lawyer, but this goes against all I know about the law and jurisprudence.

    Which is why I’m pretty sure it’s a troll, with political aims rather than policy aims.

    I mean one line on this could be “The governor wants to set everyone to panty sniffing as a distraction from what a bad job he did at keeping the heat and lights on”.

  65. CSK says:

    I freely admit to being somewhat irrational on the subject of Trump. I want him imprisoned and impoverished. He disgusts me. Always has.

  66. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I’ll settle for impoverished and panhandling on 5th Avenue.

  67. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I know what you mean. A good friend of my daughter’s came out as a trans boy about a year ago, and he’s so much happier and more confident than he was before.

  68. CSK says:

    You know that won’t happen.

  69. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And you know he won’t be imprisoned and impoverished. But we can dream, can’t we?

  70. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    In keeping with my practice of randomly changing the subject, from @JohnSF’s part of the world:

    The move in won’t take too long

    A London apartment with only 75 square feet — or 7 square meters — of living space was just purchased at auction for 90,000 pounds ($122,000), an 80% increase from its initially planned starting price of 50,000 pounds.

    Hmmm, Cracker. Makes your digs look palatial, doesn’t it?

  71. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Well, that ought to make someone a nice storage unit.

  72. Beth says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t think this is a troll, this is a terror campaign. Kids like Kai Shappley made them look bad and now they are going to take their vengeance. The adults in my Trans circles are terrified by this, me included. Even if they don’t prosecute anyone, this will cause kids to kill themselves, this will cause parents to harm their kids by not being supportive, this will make every Trans and Gender Nonconforming person terrified. It’s working. The other huge harm is that the longer you delay blockers/hormones the worse the physical outcomes are. I’ve spent over 100k of Blue Shield’s money this last year on fixing the damage testosterone did to my face. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent electrocuting my face. I can’t tell you how relieved I felt after my nosejob. It was like a 1000 tons of self hate was suddenly gone.

    I am so happy your child got to transition early. I had to waste most of my life to get to this point. I wish we could leave those kids alone to be happy little kids.

  73. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    At that, it’s bigger than a couple of places I’ve lived in. And with better finishes, too. (insert snark emoji)

  74. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Is there a photo of it?

  75. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    I can’t get the links to load, but it’s featured in Bloomberg and independent (the independent link is from early in the listing)…

  76. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Whoooo-hoooo! First time ever! A link that actually linked.

  77. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Yeah. I have 400, so almost 6 times the space.

  79. Jax says:

    @Beth: If Beto has half a campaign staff, they’ll stick on this, Rick Scott’s plans for more middle class taxes, and continuing on with the Texas power grid. Soak the airwaves. Nobody is going to want to move to Texas if teachers are REQUIRED to report “possibly trans” youths, and the parents who might support them.