Christmas Eve Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Merry Christmas to you, James, Doug, Kingdaddy and all the commenters. Here’s to another 10 years of OTB

    Shoot, as usual, someone beat me to it. Happy lurking, Eric! And thanks from the Clan Luddite to all the bloggers and commentators who make this possible!

  2. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: I second those good wishes.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:


  4. Teve says:

    “The instant ability—unmanaged ability—for people to say horrible things to each other because of phones is tearing our culture apart. It just is. And so sometimes, I’m like, Man, I wish our headline had been: ‘iPhone Released. It’s A Mistake.’ … But I think there’s a really important flipside to that … a bunch of teenagers are able to create culture at a scale that has never been possible before. Also, a bunch of marginalized communities are able to speak with coordinated voices and make change very rapidly. And that balance—I don’t think we’ve quite understood.”

    -Nilay Patel

    from this podcast episode

  5. Kathy says:

    ‘Tis the season to spread COVID
    Fa la la la la, la la la la.

  6. JohnSF says:

    Hah! Bumhug!

  7. JohnSF says:

    ‘Tis the season for the new even more infectious COVID variants.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Merry Christmas All!

  9. JohnSF says:

    UK news: we have a EU/UK trade agreement.

    On the one hand, it’s pretty crap, but it’s better than no deal.
    On the other hand, it’s better than no deal, but it’s pretty crap.

    Sort of, glass half full of a rather unpleasant drink.

    Sneaky clever politics by Johnson (or perhaps Gove?) though.
    Christmas Eve, brief trauma of the Straits shutdown due to new variant COVID, looks like Farage is deflated and the ERG being bounced, right news media are bigging it up and passing on the govt. messaging storm.
    Most of the country to busy with Christmas and/or worried about COVID to be bothered, and will be in a haze of booze and food for the next seven odd days. (I certainly intend to be).

    Brexit sorted will be the message, and it will win out, I predict.
    Assuming the worst of the initial Channel inspection disruption gets sorted within a few weeks.

    The real damage will be slow and longer term: slow erosion of the UK competitive position especially in services and data.

  10. Paine says:

    Driving through town yesterday I saw an older car with a Mondale/Ferraro bumper sticker. Hopefully 2020 made up for the 1984 shellacking.

  11. JohnSF says:

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all!
    And tho those who don’t celebrate Christmas, a joyous pagan Yule! Or a fantabulous secular end of December sorta thing! Or whatever.
    Live long and prosper!

  12. JohnSF says:

    Was it a Ferrari Mondial? Cause that would be nice. 🙂

  13. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @JohnSF: My takeaway is that viruses have to make a tradeoff between being more deadly or more infectious. If that’s the case, these more infectious strains means the virus is moderating itself. Kinda good news

  14. JohnSF says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Not much data on severity as yet.
    Initial indication not much change either way; but definitely more transmissable.
    Spreading fast in London.
    Estimates of 2%+ of population there infected.
    Expectation is whole country will be moving to Tier4 (near full lockdown) after Christmas; and likely schools won’t open for the new term IMHO.

  15. Kathy says:


    It’s a bit like the joke of the optimist son on Christmas. Santa left the UK a pile of steaming bullsh*t, the leavers know it’s bullsh*t, but they prefer that to remaining in the EU. It’s insane.

  16. JohnSF says:

    At least it avoids the horrible impact of “no deal”; it can be built on to incrementally edge towards an EFTA/EEA type relationship, similar to Norway or Switzerland.
    Make the best of a bad deal.

    OTOH it will never be as good as full EU membership, will cost the UK in influence and economics, and fill poison internal politics for a generation.

    Next stages, over the next year or so, will be elements of the ERG having second thoughts and trying to leverage into a repudiation of the terms.
    Plus related impact on politics in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

  17. Kathy says:

    On other news, Hell Week 2 is done. We have three proposals to deliver on the 28th, two online and one in person (even at the height of the pandemic), but the push is on to finish them NOW so we can leave early today and not show up tomorrow.

    As I wasn’t required to stay up all night yesterday, i don’t care anymore.

    I still have to catch up on reimbursements owed me, and other matters related to petty cash. But I’l leave that for Sunday.

    Saturday I’ll celebrate by cooking tangerine chicken with a side of coconut rice (boil the rice in coconut milk instead of water), and a simple pasta soup courtesy of leftover samples at work.

  18. JohnSF says:

    It is a pile sh*t, we can all see it’s a pile of sh*t; but I continue to hope that maybe there’s a pony in there somewhere

  19. Moosebreath says:


    “Hah! Bumhug!”

    If you want to go around hugging bums (either the people down on their luck or the body parts), please do so privately.

    And, as Digby says, Happy Hollandaise.

  20. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I’ve read the same thing. I hope it’s true.

  21. JohnSF says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Digby.
    After a quick glance, looks like something worth reading on a regular basis.
    I noticed Tom Sullivan there talking about the King’s College Carol Service, which I am listening to right now.
    A family tradition at Christmas.
    Also drinking Duvel 🙂

  22. al Ameda says:

    Thanks and wishing all here at OTB – landlords Steven and James, all regular contributors, and all the opinionista who comment here regularly – peace and good health.

  23. Teve says:
  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Paine: Used to know a guy with a ’64 Caddy convertible with a Goldwater – Miller sticker. Unfortunately it was not only appropriate to the period and the car, but also to his current politics.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Hope your shoulder is bothering you less. Have a good holiday.

  26. Teve says:

    For those you, like me, who aren’t preoccupied with plans and family and need stuff to read right now:


    On this day in 1992, President George H. W. Bush issued pardons for six men. Arguably, these pardons did more to enable future criminal presidencies even than Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon.
    The pardons—mainly for perjury, obstruction of justice, and withholding evidence—pertained to the international organized crime known as Iran-Contra.
    The administration of Ronald Reagan had lent secret military aid to the Nicaraguan guerrillas known as Contras who sought to overthrow the Sandinista government.
    Upon discovering this secret aid, Congress outlawed it, in amendments attached to annual defense appropriations bills and therefore known after their sponsor as the Boland Amendments.
    As Edward Boland said, his “provision clearly ends U.S. support for the war in Nicaragua.”
    Or, you know, it clearly ended *legal* U.S. support for that war.
    The Reagan administration broke this law, sending weapons and materiel to Israel for sale to Iran for cash (and also the release of U.S. hostages); and then ferrying that cash to the Contras.
    These actions violated not only the Boland Amendment but the Arms Export Control Act, and also entailed a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
    Appointed independent counsel to investigate these crimes, Lawrence Walsh tried to discover the truth from 1986 through the end of the Bush administration.
    Walsh wanted to try Oliver North for conspiracy, but the Bush administration stymied this effort by refusing to release relevant documents either to defense or prosecution.
    North was convicted of obstruction instead; an appeals court threw out the conviction 2-1 because the jury might have been influenced by North’s televised testimony to Congress.
    Walsh prosecuted former national security adviser John Poindexter for similar offenses next, obtaining a conviction that was thrown out for identical reasons.
    Walsh found himself further frustrated by official refusals to acknowledge the existence of contemporaneous notes and claims never even to have received his requests for such notes.
    He got former defense secretary Caspar Weinberg’s notes only in late 1991, and Bush’s diary in November 1992—after the president had lost his reelection bid.
    Such delays helped ensure Walsh couldn’t indict Weinberger for obstruction until June 1992.
    Walsh filed a further charge in October using evidence from Weinberger’s notes showing that Bush knew about the arms-for-hostages portion of the deal.
    Weinberger’s trial would therefore surely have implicated Bush.
    But on Christmas Eve, 1992, Bush pardoned Weinberger, preventing a trial and protecting himself from whatever disclosures it might entail.
    Bush also pardoned Robert MacFarlane, Elliott Abrams, and three CIA officers for their roles in Iran-Contra.
    Walsh—a lifelong Republican—said, “In light of President Bush’s own misconduct, we are gravely concerned about his decision to pardon others who lied to Congress and obstructed official investigations.”
    “The Iran-Contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed with the pardon of Caspar Weinberger,” Walsh noted.

    Text of Walsh Response to Bush Pardon
    Following is independent counsel Lawrence Walsh’ statement on the presidential pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar W.

    When pardoning the Iran-Contra criminals, President Bush said, “the common denominator of their motivation—whether their actions were right or wrong—was patriotism.”

    THE PARDONS; Text of President Bush’s Statement on the Pardon of Weinberger and Others (Published 1992)

    Bush was prepared to justify “wrong” actions—crimes—if they sprang from what he considered patriotism.
    That’s why the Iran-Contra pardons dealt an even more serious blow to U.S. democracy than the pardon of Nixon.
    Ford’s pardon of Nixon demonstrated that the president need not worry about prosecution; he was above the law.
    Bush’s pardon of Weinberger, MacFarlane, Abrams et al. demonstrated that *anyone* who did crimes for the president need not worry about prosecution; they too would be above the law.
    (and yes, the attorney general then was William Barr, who supported the pardons.)

  27. Kathy says:

    So, I had to go to the bank today to cash a petty cash reimbursement. Usually I count the notes along with the teller, but this time they used the bill counting machine, which is turned away from the teller window.

    I counted them when I got back to the office, and it was about US $200 short. I tried calling the branch office, but couldn’t find a number. The bank’s helpline is everything except helpful. I drove all the way back (all 7 minutes of it), and told the bank employee standing at the door what happened.

    I was taken to a teller, I explained the matter again, and produced both the receipt and the money, explaining that I’d taken $2.50 to pay the parking fee. He counted the money, looked over the receipt, excused himself, and came back with the missing money. He apologized and wished me Happy Holidays.

    I’d expected to be grilled, to be asked to prove I wasn’t trying to scam the bank out of money, or told to file a form and they’d get back to me between next March and 3021 at the latest. I did not expect to simply be told “Our bad. Here’s the rest of your money.” I say this based on a time, a couple of years ago, when an ATM was short by about $5 US.

    Sometimes the universe throws you a good turn.

  28. Kathy says:


    thanks. You as well.
    I’ll probably leave work shortly and then take a long nap.

  29. Mister Bluster says:
  30. Teve says:

    Trump pardons his cronies who obstructed justice for him. 18 years ago on this day George H.W. Bush pardoned 6 people involved in Iran-Contra. If it had gone to trial, Weinberger’s notes would have shown that Bush was involved. Before that, Ford pardoned Nixon.

    I think the lesson here is, we need to take the pardon power away from Republicans.

  31. Mister Bluster says:
  32. Mister Bluster says:
  33. Teve says:

    Ugh. Power was just down for three hours. Fortunately I have a 700 lumen flashlight and a cellular iPad 😀

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Merry Christmas to the cat in the title picture!
    Hope Santa fills it’s stocking with a years supply of catnip!

  35. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    My takeaway is that viruses have to make a tradeoff between being more deadly or more infectious.

    Depends on what you mean by “have to”.

    All of the combinations of more/less deadly and more/less infectious are possible, though not equally likely. The trick is that we usually only notice the less-deadly-more-communicable and more-deadly-less-communicable combinations because less-deadly-less communicable results in something nobody cares about and more-deadly-more-communicable exhausts its pool of potential victims before it can spread very far*.

    The nightmare is moderately-deadly-very-communicable with a medium-to-long incubation period. That was the 1918 flu, and smallpox (back in the day), and syphilis, and haemorrhagic fever, and…

    Merry Christmas :-/

    *If it can pass easily between animals and humans, or otherwise live outside of human hosts, all bets are off. Yersinia pestis is way too deadly if it has to be passed from person to person, but when you add in the fleas and a bazillion rodents it just keeps going and going.