Thursday’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. Bill Jempty says:
  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. Scott says:

    So the real question is: Is the Abbott-run State of Texas just incompetent, malicious, or both:
    BTW, Texas has a $32.7B surplus in 2023.

    One-third of Texas foster care caseworkers left their jobs last year as the agency continued putting kids in hotels

    The Department of Family and Protective Services has increasingly relied on housing foster kids in hotels when it can’t find them a home. In the 2022 fiscal year, after record staff turnover, more than 1 in 4 caseworkers had less than one year of experience.

    ‘An understaffed and broken system’: 900,000 Texans have lost Medicaid as others struggle to access SNAP benefits

    Almost 900,000 Texans have lost Medicaid since April and a backlog of applications has piled up, overwhelming the system and setting off a ripple effect that advocates worry is delaying families’ access to SNAP food benefits.

    While some individuals have become ineligible because their incomes increased or they were children who aged out of the program, a majority — more than 600,000 — have been disenrolled in Texas because of procedural errors, according to KFF, a health policy research organization. This includes everything from sending in applications in the mail a day late to not including the correct documentation.

    Nonprofit drug treatment center for low-income Texas teens shutters amid opioid crisis

    After decades of treating low-income Texans fighting substance addiction, Phoenix House Texas is closing down all six of its outpatient clinics and its last residential treatment center for teens this week because they can no longer count on the state to help fund them, the nonprofit group’s director said Tuesday.

    The 28-year-old organization relies heavily on federal block grants administered through the state to serve its mostly low-income adolescent patient population. And the nonprofit is the latest casualty in an escalating funding crisis for Texas residential treatment centers that comes as the state struggles with startling increases in overdose deaths, particularly among young people.

  4. Scott says:

    This amendment was passed by the House on a voice vote. Why Democrats didn’t demand an actual vote is beyond me.

    This is, of course, performative nonsense, from a non serious party but that’s no excuse not to contest every damn little thing and make life as difficult as possible for the other side.

    Defense Secretary Austin’s salary cut to $1 under GOP budget plan

    House Republicans on Wednesday approved a measure to slash Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s salary from more than $221,000 annually to less than $1, based on their dissatisfaction with his work so far.

    The move has little chance of becoming law, but underscores the growing animosity between conservatives and military leaders reporting to President Joe Biden. House Democrats dismissed the move as little more than a political stunt.

  5. charontwo says:

    Trump and violence:

    The stench of political violence has attached to Trump from the start. In 2016, when his critics were being bombarded by violent, antisemitic, and other abuse on Twitter, Trump did nothing to discourage it. Invited by CNN’s Jake Tapper to denounce the KKK, he declined. Every American should have recognized at that moment that we were dealing with something sinister. At his rallies, he reveled in violent fantasies of roughing up protesters and killing not just terrorists, but the children of terrorists. That summer, when talk circulated of a convention floor fight, Trump consigliere Roger Stone warned that the Trump team had plans in place in case delegates proved independent-minded: “We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal. . . . We urge you to visit their hotel and find them.”

    Not subtle. Threaten them with the mob. The Trump method was evident then.


    The MAGA Republican party is less like the party that nominated Romney than it is like the party that nominated Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. And it’s a mistake, in my judgment, to minimize the role that fear now plays in assisting and enabling Trump’s continued dominance.

    Romney is hardly alone among members of Congress in worrying about personal security. In the first year of Trump’ tenure, threats against members of Congress quadrupled from fewer than 900 to 3,930. Threats continued to rise throughout the Trump presidency, more than doubling by 2020. After January 6th, the Capitol Police estimated that there were more than 10,000 threats of violence or death against members.

    These members face their constituents in person on a regular basis. They do town halls and show up at church breakfasts and ribbon cuttings. They are at far higher risk from a stray gunman than journalists or others who also routinely receive threats. Liz Cheney displayed inspiring courage during the House January 6th Committee hearings. History will doubtless credit her, but her constituents did not. During the 2022 campaign, out of concern for her safety in Wyoming, she stopped doing town halls and other public engagements entirely.

    It isn’t just members of Congress. The sense of menace has invaded every level of American politics. As Time magazine reported in 2022:

    Threats against federal judges have spiked 400% in the past six years, to more than 4,200 in 2021. Of 583 local health departments surveyed by Johns Hopkins University researchers, 57% reported that staff had been targeted with personal threats, doxing, vandalism, and other forms of harassment during the pandemic. The U.S. Justice Department was forced to create separate task forces to combat the intimidation of public officials—one focused on threats to education workers, the other on threats to election administrators.

    A survey of mayors found that one in three had considered resigning due to death threats and 70 percent reported knowing of someone who chose not to run for office out of fear for their personal security. A study of local officials in San Diego found that 75 percent had received threats or harassment, with women bearing the brunt.

    Among election workers nationwide, 20 percent knew someone who would no longer participate due to threats and 73 percent said threats and harassment had increased in recent years. Twelve states have enacted legislation to increase penalties for harassing or threatening poll workers.

  6. gVOR10 says:

    In Kathy bait, NYT (depaywalled) reports scientists at CERN have confirmed that, as expected, anti-matter falls normally in the Earth’s gravity. And credit to FTFNYT where due, a well written science article.

  7. gVOR10 says:


    underscores the growing animosity between conservatives and military leaders

    Another example of unchangeable conservative principles. And if asked, they’ve always opposed the woke military.

    It’s not your father’s Republican Party.

  8. Kathy says:


    I saw a piece on that yesterday.

    Honestly, I always assumed antimatter responded normally to gravity. For one thing, antimatter is defined largely by having an opposite charge (it’s a tad more complex than that). Since gravity pulls on electrons and protons, and neutrons for that matter, with the same gusto, I saw no reason why antimatter should be any different.

    Also, no one’s ever detected a graviton, nor knows whether such a thing even exists. Much less whether there’s an antigraviton to go along with it.

  9. Kathy says:


    Animosity between the military and the GQP is a good thing. It makes a coup far less likely.

  10. Scott says:

    According to the Economist/YouGov Presidential poll Biden is up 5 over Trump. Where are all the articles about Republicans in panic and how much trouble Trump is in?

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: The reporters are all out on the golf course transcribing his every word about how he was the BESTEST PRESIDENT EVER for unions.

  12. Kathy says:

    Returning to the structure of arc seasons in this brave newish era of streaming, by my count, Ahsoka has one ep left to defeat Thrawn, turn Shin, apprehend or kill Elsbeth, finally teach Sabine the true meaning of the force, and return home in triumph.

    So how was the search not stretched out and the ending hurried up?

    Unless, of course, ep. 8 ends in a cliffhanger for season 2, if there’s a season 2 planned.

    The latter is real iffy. One day the streamer will announce a new series is in development, and two to three years alter when it drops we learn it’s a limited series (ie, an elongated movie). Then, if it’s wildly successful, a second but last season gets approved (see Andor). And that may take another two years to be released.

  13. inhumans99 says:

    I forgot there was a Debate yesterday, but Deadline says Newsom was the star of the night, and overshadowed everyone else who was part of the GOP spin room.

    I would say that Newsom certainly is making it appear that he has aspirations towards running for a higher office.

  14. just nutha says:

    @Scott: Anybody care to speculate on which ethnicities are most impacted by the systemic failure of Texas?

  15. just nutha says:

    @gVOR10: No, but it may well be another example of the “greatness” of the Boomers.

    The environment and the GOP? Who, other than Ozymandius of course, has ever done more?

  16. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: All of those things are what Season 2 (?? 3?? not following the series) are for.

  17. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    You would think, but my best info is that no season 2 has been greenlit. We’ll see next Tuesday.

  18. Kathy says:

    It’s looking like the Big Bad Brandon Impeachment Fishing Expedition will end up with “IF Hunter Biden did X, and IF Dark Brandon did Y, and IF that resulted in Z, that might possibly be an impeachable offense.”

    But the purpose is to run ut the clock and shut down the government.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of fabricating evidence presented in today’s impeachment hearing.

    “Earlier today, one of our colleagues, the gentleman from Florida, presented up on the screen something that looked, appeared to be a screenshot of a text message containing or insinuating an explosive allegation. That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to a presentation from Republican Byron Donalds.

  20. Gustopher says:


    Ahsoka has one ep left to defeat Thrawn, turn Shin, apprehend or kill Elsbeth, finally teach Sabine the true meaning of the force, and return home in triumph.

    So how was the search not stretched out and the ending hurried up?

    Except Ahsoka is not going to do most of that. Thrawn will return to the main Star Wars galaxy, with Elsbeth and friends. This series was always about setting up bad guys for future things.

    I have loved Baylan and Shin. Every scene with either of them has been just a delight to watch. The reserved Baylan and the weird unblinking Shin — both roles are so incredibly physical.

    I do hope Baylan dies, since Ray Stephenson has died and I really don’t want to see CGI Ray Stephenson going forward.

  21. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    The headline of the day- Target, Citing Theft, to Close Nine Stores

    Two of those stores are in Seattle, both the new, smaller footprint, limited selection Targets that are essentially overgrown pharmacies with everything else being cut way back from usual.

    One was at an intersection where there was a pharmacy on each corner.

    The other… if you cannot get a Target to work right next to the University, you’re doing it wrong. But, again, the mini-Target design.

    I don’t think they closed because of theft or crime. It’s more likely that this is how they close stores without admitting to investors that they screwed up.

    The Target a block away from Third and Stabby* is still there, and it has to deal with a lot more crime.

    *: the local name for Third and Pine, because of all the crime including, but not limited to, stabbings.

  22. Beth says:


    I’m not super happy with the pace of Ashoka, but I figure they had a lot that they had to get in and either they could chop it all up and force it or just let it breathe. I suspect that “Ashoka” season 2 will actually be a different show, like The Mandalorian or any number of those. Which will then all cumulate into whatever movie Filoni has cooked up. Like, I think they could have like 2 or 3 seasons of shows that end in a movie. It would be alike a comic book almost. It’ll drive Reynolds nuts, but I’ll be happy with it.

    I also think they are going to have to recast Baylan. He’s too awesome of a character. Its a shame that Ray Stephenson died. He was great in this and smoking hot. I want him to scold me and then seduce me into whatever evil-ish he is. I also think they just need to bite the bullet and recast Luke and Leia. I get why they did the C3P0 thing, but come on. Leia is too important to that time and wouldn’t that have been an awesome surprise.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: The fact that the series may not get greenlit is not a comment on the intent of the story arc as much as a comment on the solvency of Disney+.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    But onto other things: The dwarves had their second debate last night without the Dwarf in Chief and nobody has said anything. So let me open by nominating Christie’s “Donald Duck” quip as simultaneously the best and most insignificant quip of the night. (Though I will concede Pence’s “sleeping with a teacher for 38 years” mal mot as a potential upset winner for most insignificant.)

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Third and Stabby? Isn’t that where Bartell’s was?* WA! It sure isn’t the Seattle I grew up in anymore. 🙁

    *Or had Target moved into some corner of the Macy’s *(nee Bon Marche) building?

  26. wr says:

    @Kathy: “You would think, but my best info is that no season 2 has been greenlit. ”

    That doesn’t mean they won’t end season one with a cliffhanger…

  27. Beth says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Disney+ is probably the only one that has a built-in solvency. Parents. They probably have to figure out pricing and commercials, but I know in my house we would cancel everything else but Disney +. The kids would murder us with their Bluey toys. My daughter has watched Elemental roughly 500 times since it came out. I watch a lot of Star Wars, but those two watch it constantly. I don’t think any of the streamers have anything like the lock Disney + has on parents.

  28. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Scott: The absolutely frustrating thing about living here is that, due to the work of the Texas Tribune and others, all of these events are being meticulously documented, and shared to the media markets throughout most of the state. My local tv news channel carries Tribune content ‘above the fold’ on its website!

    But it seemingly changes nothing. So many people here either just don’t care, or see the cruelty / stupidity as a feature rather than a bug, or have been so beaten down by the unrelenting and overwhelming pace of it all that feeling the impact of each of these stories becomes almost impossible to maintain.

  29. Kathy says:


    I get annoyed when there’s too much development, or too much manufactured drama, when we all know the inevitable conclusion that has to come.

    Here we had 6.5 out of 8 eps before 1) the inevitable reunion with Ezra, and 2) the inevitable showdown with the not-Jedi (which still didn’t play through to the end).

    As to a season 2, I hope so. But I hope there’s no cliff hanger. I’m ok with an open ending, but waiting two or three years to resolve a cliff hanger is just too long (as is now also the case with Severance).

  30. Jax says:

    How disappointing for JKB. Even his beloved Jonathan Turley says there’s not enough evidence for impeachment. Oh well. Better throw some more shit against the wall, see if anything sticks!

  31. DK says:


    Where are all the articles about Republicans in panic and how much trouble Trump is in?

    “A poll that is bad for Democrats is newsworthy. Polls and special election results that are bad for Republicans are not newsworthy.”
    – The Liberal Media


  32. DK says:


    Even his beloved Jonathan Turley says there’s not enough evidence for impeachment. Oh well.

    Turley is now a Deep State liberal in 4, 3, 2, 1…

  33. DK says:


    I would say that Newsom certainly is making it appear that he has aspirations towards running for a higher office.

    Whither Whitmer, Polis, etc?

    The other Biden surrogates better step it up. Newsom is looking more and more like the Democratic Party’s most effective communicator, and the guy you’d want stepping in should Biden drop dead between now and Nov 2024.

  34. Matt says:

    @Kathy: I really hope not as Thrawn NEEDS to win or this is all just a bad joke.

    Thrawn is without a doubt my favorite star wars character. He worked for the empire but not because he was some kind of true believer. No he worked for the empire because he knew there were far worse threats to the galaxy out there and only the empire had the cohesion to deal with those threats (Yuuzhan Vong, Abeloth, etc). A calm collected HIGHLY intelligent imperial that didn’t waste lives while getting shit done was scary to me when I was young reading the EU books. Thrawn lacked the common weaknesses of conceit and arrogance that permeated the empire’s command structure. One of the few people to figure out that Vader was Anakin (he worked with both versions with mutual respect). Hell Thrawn was basically the only one to tell the emperor that his deathstar plan was stupid and survive.

  35. Kathy says:


    He worked for the empire but not because he was some kind of true believer.

    That’s Thrawns 1.1 and 3.0.

    I haven’t read many Star Wars books, but I read all of Zahn’s that I know of*. In the first trilogy in the 90s, Thrawn 1.0, his motivation was power.

    The notion of powerful threats came in The Hand of Thrawn duology, and in Final Flight. Thrawn 1.1. This also got fleshed out a bit int he new Thrawn trilogy, which recaps his life within the empire and what else he’s doing besides. That’s Thrawn 3.0. All in compliance to what he did in Rebels, where we saw Thrawn 2.0.

    I recall no specific identification or description of any powerful threat. So I assume he knows of the Borg and when they are coming. He should relax. they were neutered in Picard 2.0 and eliminated in Picard 3.0

    Now, if we were going to get a couple three movies loosely based on Zahn’s original trilogy, where Thrawn single-handedly rekindles the empire’s embers to the point they become a major existential threat to the New republic, I’d be all in favor of that. Even if we now how to shoehorn in Ahsoka, Din Djarin, Hera, Din Grogu, Sabine, the Armorer, Bo Katan (so many Mandalorians), Mon Mothma, Ezra, and Zeb, and write off Luke, Han, and Leia (because it’s a mortal sin to recast SW characters apparently).

    I don’t think we’re heading that way.

    There’s talk of a movie to tie up the threads in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fet, and Ahsoka. If so, then by cosmic law and very likely by contract, there has to be one humongous space battle that’s even better than the Battle of Scarif in Rogue One.

    That would be neat, but not really the style for the long list of characters above.

    *That involve Thrawn

  36. Michael Reynolds says:


    It’ll drive Reynolds nuts, but I’ll be happy with it.

    Not me, I’ve never been a Star Wars fan. I like the first two movies and was bored by the others. The TV stuff has been crap – I’d watch an ep or two then tune out. I did like Andor, though.

  37. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    They’re closing three in Puddletown (PDX). Two are the small format stores and one is the weird Galleria (which became the place where retails go to die when Light Rail came in 20+ years ago. The small format stores are both in smallish bowling alleys that they bought out and remodeled at hideous expense. The one I’ve visited with Cracker after bibimbap had permanent armed private security at the doors staring at everyone who walked in or out.

    And I thought the REIT goobers were buffoons. *

    *Apologies to any actual goobers reading this comment.

  38. steve says:

    Beth- Our adopted grandkids, longish story, got me to watch Elemental for the first time this weekend. I liked it. They, and I, are long time Bluey fans. Wife says I am a real live Unicorse. Just got back from babysitting them tonight. We are making them learn to cook. Simple dinner (they made the salad and salad dressing, chopped the veggies) and also did chocolate chip cookies but with M&Ms added. Got the crispy edges but still soft, almost underdone, the way wife likes them. Nothing like the intensity and concentration of 3 year olds making sure each M&M is the right color and placed exactly where they want.


  39. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I like the first two movies and was bored by the others.

    Looks like we have even more in common than I thought, Michael. For me, the franchise died the moment Revenge of the Jedi was renamed Return of the Jedi