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. Kylopod says:

    If Teve were still with us, he’d have a field day with this:

    “At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not? … If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it,” Herschel said in an appearance at Sugar Hill Church in Georgia on Sunday.

    The thing I love most about this (debunking the argument itself seems boring at this point) is how he implies science no longer makes this claim, as if the theory of evolution has already gone the way of spontaneous generation or the four humors.

  2. Kylopod says:

    I just finished Rick Perlstein’s 2020 book Reaganland, which despite its title covers the five years prior to Reagan’s presidency. It could have been called Carterland as it does go into quite a bit of detail about Carter’s presidency, though its focus is on the forces that led to Reagan’s electoral victory, with particular emphasis on the emergence of the New Right during those years. And while Perlstein never comes out and says it, the book lends support to a belief I’ve held for years, which is that, despite his lionization in our political culture over the past several decades, Reagan was the Trump of his time.

    Key quote:

    It seemed never to have occurred to anyone in the White House that Reagan had years and years of rhetoric outside his campaigns and terms in elected office…. His biweekly newsletter columns, for instance, which included chestnuts like “Nuclear ‘Wastes’ Have Valuable Uses.” Or that newsletter’s endorsement of Laetrile (“an extract of apricot kernels which many think may be efficacious against cancer but which government in its wisdom wants to keep people from using”)–which was medically useless, and killed many of those who traveled to Mexico for the treatment, but was a pet cause of John Birch Society stalwart (and Citizens for the Republic endorsee) Congressman Larry McDonald…. [T]hey could have weaponized gems like Reagan’s claim in a radio commentary that all the world’s projected atomic waste through the year 2000 could fit on a single football field (actually that statistic was for one nuclear plant), or the 1976 speech in which he argued that teachers’ unions were following a script laid down by Hitler–just for a start.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Don’t get me started on Reagan.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:


    a href=”″>Matt Vekakis
    10 years ago, my dad left highlighted bible passages on the kitchen table for me to find re: abomination, hellfire, “you shall not lie with a man,” etc.
    Today, he drove my partner to work early this morning because it was raining and he didn’t want him to get wet

    Lots of great follow up comments.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Link embed went bad. Try try again.

    Matt Vekakis

  6. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @OzarkHillbilly:
    That’s wonderful.

  7. de stijl says:


    Yep. Reagan was, indeed, a monster.

    Many folks saw him as avuncular. Folksy. His affect and “charm” made me want to vomit. His shtick wore thin for me immediately and forever. I could not look at a picture of the man and feel vaguely nauseous.

    Proto Trump. Ur-Trump. A bad nexus for the Republucan party. They never recovered after that. Been downhill ever since.

    Reagan did not create Trump. Reagan emboldened a new sort of Republicanism that gave us Bush and Trump. A through-line of ugliness and spite.

    I view it as a disease. I have no idea what the cure is.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: Reagan’s racism and pathological lying has gotten some attention over the years, but one thing this book gets into which has been comparatively overlooked is that he was also a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy theorist. For instance, one time during a dinner with Jack Germond he suggested that the two assassination attempts against Ford were staged. Germond at first thought he was joking, then as it dawned on him that he wasn’t, he decided to keep it off the record. That says a lot about the press’s attitude toward Reagan. And according to this book, John Sears was kind of the turd-polisher who helped hide this side to Reagan and make him more palatable to the public.

  9. de stijl says:

    One thing I note is that no one on the D side is proclaiming that Biden is THE GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER.

    He is a fairly competent. He does not threaten to withdraw from NATO out of pique or vanity. A decent example. Not an active fuck-up or agent of chaos.

    Trump was arguably our worst President. The Gaslighter In Chief trying desperately to convince us that facts were “fake news” and that the workaday press were the “enemy of the people”. A gasbag vulgar narcissist.

    It is not inconceivable he could win again in 2024.

  10. de stijl says:

    I saw yesterday that the Senate voted to establish Daylight Savings as always time.

    Is this an actual thing that might actually pass?

    I am old enough to vaguely remember the 1974-75 experiment and remember mornings as very dark and weird.

    In my longitude and latitude the sun rose at ~ 8:30 AM in the heart of winter. It was kinda creepy. I remember not liking it.

    I am perfectly okay with the current system.

    A person like me actually arguing for the status quo.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: Yep, one of my pet peeves, someone who thinks of (or, more likely, hears of) some clever refutation to a well accepted and well studied idea and immediately thinks, “what a bunch of losers those scientists are! I’ve disproven their idea! They must have never even thought of this blindingly obvious thing, never taken it into account!”

    FWIW, the first person to acknowledge and deal with the “why are there still apes?” question was Darwin, when he laid out his theory of evolution as well as every objection he had come up with in two decades of thinking about this intently, and dealt meticulously with each one. But yeah, Herschel f*ing Walker is smarter than he was, and smarter than 150 years of evolutionary biologists.

  12. Jen says:

    @de stijl: I believe it still would have to pass the House and then get signed by Biden. It’s certainly more likely than not, but who knows with this Congress…

    If it does pass, it wouldn’t take effect until the next “spring forward” in 2023.

    I’m a fan of the current system and am fine with 2x time changes a year, for the reason you just cited. I *hate* the idea of it not being light out until almost 9:00 a.m. in winter. Absolutely HATE it. But, whatever. There are people dying in Ukraine and I saw a tweet of a man desperately trying to get his dog out of the road (it was so terrified of the shelling that it stopped and shut down in the middle of the street, leaving the dog and the man completely exposed). There are much bigger things to worry about than waking up in full dark and it staying that way for hours. 😐

  13. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Watched Zelensky’s address to US congress this morning, excellent plea to the US.

    Why do the networks (in this case CNN) feel obligated to apologize to it’s viewers for the video that Zelensky included that depicted the contrast between peace and war?

    Depiction of the effects of war should be horrifying, and everyone should see it for what it is: offensive., but that’s IMHO

  14. Michael Cain says:

    @Jen: Technically, it takes effect at midnight on Nov 5, 2023. It also sets Nov 4, 2023 as an important date for states seeking exemptions to have their ducks in order.

  15. CSK says:

    That photo of the man and dog was painful to view.

  16. charon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Most of Arizona (all except the Navaho Nation) is on year-round Mountain Standard Time, does not do DST. I don’t see any reason for that to not continue, the only thing that changes here is when the cable TV shows come on..

    (Hasn’t time always been set by the states, not Congress)?

  17. de stijl says:


    Whenever I call someone in Arizona I cannot recall what time it is there. It’s Mountain Time with an asterisk.

  18. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Keep this link in your bookmarks.

  19. Michael Cain says:


    (Hasn’t time always been set by the states, not Congress)?

    The courts have agreed that the weights and measurements clause in Article I of the Constitution gives such authority to Congress, if they choose to exercise it. Which they have since the Standard Time Act of 1918, and the Uniform Time Act of 1966. And delegate to the executive branch — Congress directed the (then) Interstate Commerce Commission to define the time zones. States do have some quite limited options to do their own thing, but those are granted by Congress in the statutes.

  20. de stijl says:


    As a long term Minnesota Vikings fan I will never forget or forgive the Herschel Walker trade.

    The team got boned for a half decade because some owner idiot wanted instant flash.

  21. Jon says:

    James Webb Telescope marks another milestone, including a stunning new image.

  22. Jen says:

    @CSK: It was indeed. I’m probably more susceptible to images like that because both our last dog and our current one are utterly terrified of loud noises, and I could easily imagine either one of them shutting down like that.

  23. Kathy says:
  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Peter Schiff

    I understand times are hard, but doesn’t the President of the #Ukraine own a suit? I don’t have much respect for current members of the U.S. Congress either, but I still wouldn’t address them wearing a t-shirt. I wouldn’t want to disrespect the institution or the Unites States.

    Just when you think people can’t get any more obtuse…

  25. CSK says:

    Well, that lays the case out nicely. One thing, though: Could Trump argue successfully that his statement that he’d be there with the Capitol marchers/rioters wasn’t meant to be taken literally? That he only meant he’d be with them in spirit?

    Remember what his defenders always say: You have to take Trump seriously, not literally.

  26. CSK says:

    We had a dog–a lovely, sweet, intelligent Shepherd cross–who’d nearly go into cardiac arrest if there were fireworks.

  27. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yes–both Current Dog and Former Dog are/were Shepherd mixes. I’m baffled when I see them as military dogs who function around gunfire, because my experience with the mixes has been decidedly anti-loud-anything.

  28. Kathy says:


    Obtuse and shallow.


    My last dog, Emm, and I don’t know what breed she was, would get scared to death when there was thunder, unless I was with her. At the first hint of thunder I brought her to my room, where she’d lay on the bed as though nothing were wrong even if the thunder got really loud.

  29. CSK says:

    The training–which lasts about 3 months–probably exposes the dogs to loud noises. Doubtless the dogs that can’t cope wash out of the program.

  30. JohnSF says:

    Excellent news!
    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori have been released by Iran.
    On their way back to UK.

  31. Crystal Ship says:

    I watched Powell today. He’s all about markets, and inflation seems like a minor thing to him. He spent most of his time reassuring the moneyed class. It seemed like every time he opened his mouth the markets went up. Re-appointing him is the worst thing Biden has done, and I think it sends a clear message that the Biden administration doesn’t consider inflation a long term issue. Combined with Buttigieg’s recent remarks about it being a short term problem the only reason the middle class should support the Dems on the economy is that they aren’t as bad as the Republicans.
    If I were a single-issue voter on the economy only, I would vote Democrat because the Republicans are terrible, not because the Democrats are good. By the way, the market went up over 2% today, mostly based on what Powell didn’t say, like what we will do what to help curb inflation. Elon Musk, Carl Icahn, et. al thanks you

  32. JohnSF says:

    More excellent news!
    Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol who was kidnapped by Russian occupation forces freed in raid by Ukrainian Special Forces.

    Looks like Russian “occupied areas” very far from secure.
    And interesting point: in their phone call Zelensky and Fedorov were speaking Russian.

    {snark} Yes, Fedorov is one of those “Russians” who were so longing for liberation from nazi oppression and the embrace of Mother Russia {/endsnark}

  33. Kathy says:

    It looks like a new COVID wave is sweeping the world.

    There has been no new variant of note, so it may be 1) still Omicron, 2) Omicron BA.2 (a subvariant), 3) the lifting of restrictions and fewer people wearing masks, or 4) a combination of the preceding.

    Add the low vaccination rate in most of the world, and here we go again.

    I must ask, because I really don’t get it: what is i about death from COVID that is so appealing?

    By now, I know a fair number of people, dozens, who’ve recovered from several types of COVID, from the original strain to Omicron. Excluding those who were hospitalized, none had an easy time with this thing. Two who got ill after vaccination say it wasn’t “that bad,” but it was “bad.” Worse than any cold or flu they’d had before.

    In 1985 I had a bout of bacterial pneumonia. I had little trouble breathing, very much like a bad cold, but the chills, fever, loss of apetite, lack of sleep, fever-induced hallucinations, and assorted aches and pains made it the worst illness I’ve ever gone through.

    I assume COVID would be worse, given loss of smell and taste and actual trouble breathing.

    The mask is not coming off any time soon.

  34. JohnSF says:

    And yet MORE good news (no linky, BBC Radio report)
    US sources are saying that the arms package from the US/NATO as per President Biden’s announcement will include SA-8, SA-10, SA-12 and SA-14 mobile surface to air missile systems, and additional radar sets. Systems Ukrainian force are already experienced in use and support.
    Also Switchblade drone/missiles.
    Also UK Starstreak SAMs being supplied.

    And, another little detail from Kadri Simpson, EU Commissioner for Energy

    The electricity grids of Ukraine and Moldova have now been successfully synchronised with the Continental European Grid.
    This will help Ukraine to keep their electricity system stable & lights on. It is a historic milestone for our relationship – in this area, Ukraine is now part of Europe!

    That was fast work.

  35. Kathy says:

    On lighter things, I’m planning some fusion this week:

    Ground beef in tomato sauce with spices and beans, mixed with sauteed bell pepper, onions, snow peas and celery, served over pasta with some grated cheddar on top.

    And a side of plain chilaquiles (just fried tortilla and salsa).

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Heading down to NOLA in a few hours. Don’t think I’m dead when you aren’t subjected to my useless prattle for the next 8 days or so. You ain’t getting that lucky.

  37. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We’re gonna miss you in the morning with the conversation starters in the Open Forum! Be safe and have a wonderful time with your family!

  38. Jon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Drive safe! Holler if you need anything 😉

  39. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Jon: You guys should absolutely meet up and have a beer! 😛

  40. Jon says:

    @Jax: As a not particularly wise man once said, “I like beer.”

  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    Are we all being slow to realize just how inept the Russian military is? I can’t get my head around the idea that the Ukrainians might actually fight them to a stalemate. Maybe even push them back a bit. But it no longer seems absurd.

  42. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I don’t think most of us anticipated them being quite this inept.

  43. CSK says:

    Bon voyage.

  44. dazedandconfused says:

    Why not sweet or hot Italian sausage?? Hamburger is…well…hamburger.

  45. dazedandconfused says:

    Bad news for Pooty-poot.

    China’s ambassador to Ukraine has praised the strength of the Ukrainian people and promised to respect the choices of its sovereign government in a subtle move to balance its pro-Russia complexion.

  46. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It depends on several things.

    First, what armaments and how many troops does the Ukrainian army have? Remember back in 91 Saddam had a very large army (it was claimed to be the 4th largest in the world, if memory serves), and was equipped with Soviet tanks and guns, plus some European missiles and other munitions.

    This failed to impress the US-led coalition, even taking into account the peculiarities of Gulf War I.

    Next, how big a force did Vlad the Butcher deploy? Conventional wisdom holds you’ll take fewer casualties standing on the defensive than conducting offense, especially when the sides are more or less evenly matched.

    Third, Ukraine is a big country with over 40 million people. Not something you can just take over in a few days. It’s entirely possible the plan was the Ukrainian army wouldn’t fight, soldiers would desert, and the Ukrainian population would welcome the Soviets, er, Russians with open arms. Grand strategic visions are too optimistic (often they are grand strategic delusions). Note in WWI Germany took 4 years to not reach Paris.

    I still think the Russians will win, if we define winning as occupying the whole country with troops, deposing the legitimate government, and installing a bastard government in its place, while rebellions simmers for years and years. It’s positively a trumpian victory: a loss declared to be a win.

  47. Kathy says:


    What you call sausage and what’s available here are very different things.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    Putin’s three weeks in and he’s not got air supremacy. Three weeks in and he has less than 10% of the territory and not the capital. He’s scrounging troops in Syria. He’s begging Xi for help. Morale is not great on his side and sky high on the other side. Now we’re shipping more weapons. A lot more weapons. I’m not sure that Putin is physically capable of winning this war. I mean, probably he is. But maybe not.

  49. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I find I don’t get invested in pessimism, while I do on optimism. It makes more sense, then, for me to do a pessimistic assessment on an uncertain situation. Then I’m not disappointed if I’m right, but am pleasantly surprised if I’m wrong.

    Aside from that, how long will European and NATO countries keep pumping weapons, supplies, and support in? Two months? Six? Two years? And at what level? And what if Putin decides to declare material support for Ukraine an act of war? Does the west call his bluff?

    Too many unknowns.

  50. Jax says:

    If I recall correctly, we have a regular around here who does work with patents? I have questions, I’d like to get a patent application going for an invention my Dad made.

  51. de stijl says:


    Beer is good. Beer with friends – better.

    Ozark, drive safe.

  52. de stijl says:

    I remember the days when Republicans warned New Democrats against being knee-jerk reactionists and feeling too many feels. Moderation in all things about I very all else.

    Nowadays, the Rs are the emo kids. Sudden, seemingly glandular whipsawing from topic to topic and perpetually aggrieved. Bunch of fucking 14 year olds. Chesty and stupid. And ignorant, too.

    No offense to an actual 14 year old.

    I hate bullies. Always have.

  53. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I heard this song the other day and it reminded me of you.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jon: I am so uncool and short of community memory. When I first read your statement, I thought of Tom T. Hall. (link)

  55. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    My new phone has a very aggressive stance on auto-correction. It aggressively substitutes text I wrote. Inserts crap randomly from my recently deleted buffer space, too.

    “About I very all else” is gibberish. No one would type that ever.

    “above all else” is what I wrote, but my bleeping device is programmed to correct actual idiomatic American English into weird pseudo English.

    I fight it all the time. I intentionally type “bleeping” and the auto-correct changes that that to “bleeding” automatically and without my consent. It constantly hijacks my expressed intent.

    I have to assiduously back check and proof-read and, frankly, it pisses me off. I chose “exceedingly” on purpose. I did not mean “extremely” and you just decided that was what I intended and substituted text I wrote on purpose.

    You didn’t even ask for permission to so.

    I’ve looked and have no clue how to turn it off. Previous iterations would underline in red certain words or phrases or potential grammatical errors that it flagged as misspelled or dubious. This version just flat out substitutes because it is programmed to do so – and is driving me fucking bonkers.


  56. de stijl says:


    I have always wanted to drive the Al-Can. Not for any rational purpose, I just want to. Drive to Alaska, spend a night in a motel. Then turn around and drive home. Because I can.

    I love long trancy drives. Getting in to that zone. I especially love driving through the big empties during the day. All that space! All that sky! My head is both completely empty and chock full simultaneously.

    When I am doing long driving I am both really particular about music and also meh. A lot of times I just tune into the local NPR classical music station and drive. Sometimes I turn everything off and just watch the world roll by for a bit. Get my zen mindlessness meter pegged.

    I’m trying to think of a really good driving song to pay you back properly.

    Okay, oldie, but goodie. You might hate it, whatever – that’s your business.

    Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads kinda sorta approximates my headspace on long cross-country drives. Everything is both infinite and also cyclical. Myself, I like the original album audio, although the video is super cool. I still do the forearm chop motion like David Byrne at times when it is appropriate – it delights me.

  57. Jax says:

    @de stijl: It was probably my 3rd time listening to it while driving before I actually listened to ALL the words, the music was definitely trancey enough while thinking about “driving to Alaska” and the wonders I would see.

    They’ve got some other good music, too. Some have just the right amount of banjo, and some have too many extended jam sessions with everybody screaming for my tastes. 😛 Apparently they got their band name because Goodnight, Texas, is exactly in the middle of where most of the musicians live on East and West coasts. I would go see them live if it wasn’t too big of a venue. I just can’t do the big crowds anymore.

    I’ve always liked the Talking Heads. 😉

  58. de stijl says:

    Dear one, you’ve steered me right on many occasions. I listen to July Talks’s Guns + Ammunition on the regular to this day. I love the vid!

    More Talking Heads, a bit more obscure, but also great for when you need to drive from Wichita to Soiux City: Dream Operator off True Stories.

    It gets me into that trancy roadtrip headspace immediately.

    There is a movie called True Stories that is David Byrne interacting with John Goodman and Swoozie Kurtz and assorted locals set down in Texas. It is awesome. A very interesting odd-ball musical. I enjoy it very much. It makes me happy cry.

    No long ass trip is fun in and of itself. Kinda boring. You have to invent a narrative. Curate the soundtrack. You get to make it an event, a process.

    For 13 months I worked in Des Moines and lived in Minneapolis. Every week I would drive back and forth on really boring ass interstate 35 four hours down on Sunday and four hours north on Friday afternoon. 3:45 if you don’t stop to pee and have a cig.

    I pretty quickly got to a place where the stupid, boring drive was kinda the highlight of my week. I was alone. No one could bug me. I got to pick the music. It was low-key epic for four hours.

    You spend maybe ten percent of your mental energy on the driving, and the rest is basically free to roam to weird, wild, fun places. I sorta got addicted to it in a way. It was eight hours a week guaranteed self time.