December’s 1st 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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    As HarvardLaw92 wrote yesterday, Chuck Schumer is not a wartime consigliere.

    Schumer should just cancel Christmas break for the Senate. Heck, Hanukkah is over early this year on Dec 6th.

    POLITICO Playbook: Scoop: Conservatives plot government shutdown over vaccine mandate

    FRIDAY’S SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN GETS REAL — Conservatives on both sides of the Capitol are privately plotting to force a government shutdown Friday in an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on the private sector, multiple GOP sources told Playbook.

    Capitalizing on a last-minute scramble to fund the government, a group of Senate conservatives is planning to object to quick consideration of a stopgap measure to extend funding into early 2022 unless Democratic leaders agree to deny money to enforce the mandate. Because of the tight schedule — and Senate rules that require unanimous consent to move quickly — the senators believe they’ll be able to drag out the process well past midnight Friday, when funding officially expires.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Marcus Lamb, a brazen anti-vaxxer & Christian TV network owner, has died of Covid. He founded Daystar network that reaches ~2 billion people globally. He denigrated vaccines calling them satanic & pushed an array of quack treatments, including ivermectin

    Your soul may belong to Satan but your ass belongs to Covid.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pro-Life my ass:

    DR OZ: “Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.”

    Hey, it’s a tradeoff any childless couple would be happy to make!

  4. Moosebreath says:


    “Conservatives on both sides of the Capitol are privately plotting to force a government shutdown Friday in an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on the private sector, multiple GOP sources told Playbook.”

    The Party of Life strikes again!

  5. Jon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: 2-3% is only like a million kids, which is basically just a rounding error!

  6. JohnSF says:

    A follow on response re. yesterdays thread; I tend to miss the ends due to time zone and need for zzz’s. Dune once more!


    However the Dune spice is clearly an allegory for oil, as Herbert made it essential to his Spacing Guild.

    Interestingly, Herbert said in an interview:
    “The scarce water of Dune is an exact analog of oil scarcity. CHOAM is OPEC”
    But that, IMO, is Herbert retrofitting.
    Water was not exported from Dune; CHOAM as written did not trade in it.
    And spice and water are distinct.
    In the novel water traders are a powerful interest group on Arrakis; but only on that planet.

    When Dune was originally written, in the early 60’s, oil was cheap, OPEC only founded 1960 and rather ineffective.

    Also read, a couple of decades ago in the dawns of the intertubes, a dicussion thread on SF, and IIRC it referred to some other comments by Frank Herbert, that spice and CHOAM and the imperialist economics thereof were a mash-up of multiple sources.

    Oil is one part of the melange of melange, but also:
    The opium trade, the spice trades and British and Dutch East India Companies;
    King Leopold of Belgium’s Congo Free State;
    The salt tax systems of Ancien Regime France and British India;
    The concept of “hydraulic despotism” in the histories of Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, that control of vital resource enables imperial control;
    And coming in from the side, Herbert’s experiences with psilocybin.

    Also, re. the bullion shortage: led to instances in Europe in the early 1400’s when pepper was used as a substitute for precious metal coin; hence the legacy of “peppercorn rents”. They have come to mean whimsically minimal today; at the time they were likely anything but.

    Interesting that pepper, salt and sugar have all been used as substitutes for bullion coin.
    I suppose pepper has an edge over the other two: you don’t lose your stash if you get rained on. 🙂

  7. JohnSF says:


  8. Franklin says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: As stupid as that quote was, especially considering how little we actually knew at the time it was made (and we *still* don’t know enough), I don’t think it was talking about children dying. I think it was just talking about how that action would spread Covid to more vulnerable people.

    It was glib, but everything is a tradeoff. A year of no school has adversely affected many vulnerable kids. I’m glad I don’t personally have to answer whether that was worth reducing the risk to X number of lives.

  9. KM says:

    We wouldn’t have had to lose a school year if selfish jerks hadn’t decided to politicize basic health and public safety. The argument should be “kids are dying and being held back because of the self-centered maskless and anti-vaxxers…. and they want to make it happen *again* for another school year. Why are you letting them hurt your kids?”

    We need to be pounding it into parents’ heads that if your kid gets sick because of COVID, it’s because those people are still letting it flourish. That if your kids loses a friend or is being negatively affected in their schooling /socialization, it’s because of these jerks. Other countries aren’t having this problem because they’ve got a population that understands how to protect their kids while we get a nation of snowflakes that don’t realize they make up the destructive avalanche.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin: I don’t think it was talking about children dying.

    Whether he was specifically referring to the deaths of children or deaths in general, “Pro-Life my ass” still applies. Regardless, there are risks to children including long covid (which we still don’t fully understand) and he was minimizing that fact.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Drum has a depressing chart about how the US is fairing compared to other advanced nations. We are not doing well. But to my amateur eye it looks like the outcomes roughly fall along the lines of religiosity, meaning that the more religious a country is, the worse it’s outcome. If there were to measure the prevalence of pseudo-religions such as wellness movements (“The body knows better than any medical doctor”, “These crystals promote your immune system”, etc) I suspect it would correlate even more.

  12. MarkedMan says:
  13. MarkedMan says:

    Here’s a clarifying blurb from Talking Points Memo:

    Not a terribly surprising stat but still noteworthy. Yale New Haven Hospital reports that 90% of their hospitalized COVID patients in recent months have been unvaccinated. What makes this so striking is that Connecticut is a super-highly vaccinated state. Among Connecticut residents over the age of 12, 83% are fully vaccinated and 94% have had at least one shot. In other words, there aren’t that many unvaccinated people in Connecticut to make up the 90%.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Matthew Yglesias

    This is why Greenwald has been so gushing in his praise of Biden after being very critical of the prior Democratic administration.

    ryan cooper
    · 23h
    I didn’t appreciate how Biden has all but halted the drone war, especially compared to Trump

  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    Seems that the press has finally awoke to the fact House Rs aren’t one big happy family. For all the sniping that has been reported about Dems, none of that was as personal and vindictive as what is coursing through the R caucus.


  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Germany: Burglars knock hole in wall to steal Lego bricks yesterday

    BERLIN (AP) — German police are looking for witnesses after burglars broke through the wall of a toy store to steal dozens of Lego sets. Police said Tuesday that the theft took place over the weekend in the western town of Lippstadt. The burglars left about 100 empty cardboard boxes behind, German news agency dpa reported.

    It wasn’t immediately clear whether the burglars had taken the instruction books.

    Why do you rob toy stores?
    Because that’s where the Legos are.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Got any links? I could use a good uplifting read.

  18. Mu Yixiao says:


    It wasn’t immediately clear whether the burglars had taken the instruction books.

    This is what’s wrong with kids these days! Instructions for Lego?? NO. Just use your imagination.

    Now get off my lawn!

    On a more serious point, for years I’ve been talking about the “legofication of childhood”–the fact that very few toys are designed for open imagination, and “free play” is being actively discouraged by schools, parents, and worry-warts. This is reflected in the fact that Lego has become focused on “kits” with instructions.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Meh, it doesn’t bother me if they come with instructions. I have a cedar chest all but overflowing with my sons’ Legos, all of which came with instructions and not a single page of which survived their childhoods. They followed the instruction booklet just once, maybe twice, and then had to imaginatively freelance once the instruction booklet was predictably lost.

    One of these days I’m gonna get the eldest to retake possession of them.

  20. Jen says:

    According to Mark Meadow’s memoir, Trump tested positive for covid before his debate with Biden. He took a subsequent, less-accurate test, which returned a negative result and decided to go on as if nothing had happened.

    This execrable person knowingly exposed countless others, including his opponent, to a disease that is particularly deadly to older individuals.

    I didn’t think my opinion of Trump could sink any lower, but he’s managed to exhibit behavior that does just that. What a horrible person. That ANYONE is thinking of voting for him is depressing AF.

  21. Kathy says:

    Instruction booklets are a sore spot for me.

    My parents would get appliances and gadgets when they traveled to the US, long before free trade, and bring them home. To save space in their luggage, they’d ditch the boxes and much of the packaging material. Also the warranty, as that wouldn’t be useful across the border. And about, oh, at a guess, 10 times out of 10, they’d also throw out the instructions.

    Then they expected me and my siblings to be able to assemble them, when that was required, and get them to work. We broke many when we figured things out wrong.

  22. Kathy says:


    I’ve concluded Il Piccolo Duce is a real bottomless pit.

  23. CSK says:

    I saw that, and was going to post about it, but you beat me to it.

    Sadly, there will probably be even worse revelations about Trump.

    Sadder still, some people will be more inclined to vote for Trump as a result of this news. FJB, you know.

  24. Sleeping Dog says:
  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    Charlie Baker won’t seek reelection

    Should be a Dem pickup if they don’t nominate another Martha Coakley

  26. CSK says:

    Charlie Baker, the most popular governor in the country, will not run for re-election in Massachusetts. My first reaction is that trying to manage the pandemic worse him out.

    Massachusetts, the bluest state, has no problem electing Republican governors.

  27. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Man, I’m slow on the uptake today. This is the second time this morning I’ve been preempted by my neighbors just to the north. 🙂

  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    you gotta get up pretty early in the mornin’ to out fox we, cagey cow hampsireites.

  29. Mike in Arlington says:

    A week or three ago, someone made the point that parties have become so weak that they were unable to define themselves or be able to exclude people who hold politics contrary to the party or to enforce discipline within its elected officials.

    I was thinking about that when I saw articles about the spat between MTG and Nancy Mace, like this:

    I have to say that I’m happy that it’s not the Democrats who are lining up the circular firing squad, well, at least this time.

  30. CSK says:

    Trump also presided at an indoor event for Gold Star families the day after testing positive. What price other people lives when he can be the center of attention?
    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, you and Jen have to tend the cows, right? 😀

  31. Jen says:

    If anyone needs a break from all of the depressing stuff, there’s a hysterical thread running on the Marie Callendar’s Facebook page. A woman burnt one of their “heat and serve” pumpkin pies and posted a picture of the charred remains on the brand’s FB page, saying “thanks for ruining Thanksgiving” and the comments are COMEDY GOLD.

  32. inhumans99 says:

    Lego sets can be expensive AF. If they took 100 sets it is quite possible that they stole over $10k of Legos, which would mean the burglary put them into the grand theft larceny category of crimes.

    So, I googled before I decided to hit Post Comment, and Grand Theft larceny can be as little as stealing 1K of goods, so yeah….this was a fairly decent score for the burglars. Without googling further, I also suspect that stealing potentially $10,000+ worth of goods makes what they did a felony in most/all states in the U.S. and probably in most countries around the world.

    Just think about that for a moment, 100 sets of Legos could set you back up to (and possibly even more than) $10,000. An expensive toy for adults and children alike, beloved by both.

    Maybe the burglars just needed some nice Christmas presents for their family members and decided this was the most cost effective way of buying presents (it would be kind-of hilarious if the intent was not to re-sell all the sets on the secondary market, but that some purloined sets actually ended up in the hands of the burglars family and fiends, lol!).

  33. Scott says:


    From CNN’s Brian Stelter:

    Remember the sense of shock when Trump admitted he was Covid positive and then was rushed to Walter Reed 18 hours later? Patients don’t usually go downhill that fast. Well, on the Meadows timeline, his hospitalization (six days later) makes a lot more sense.

  34. senyordave says:

    Trump released a statement releasing that says this about Omar Ilhan:
    Congresswoman Ilhan Omar should apologize for marrying her brother, committing large-scale immigration and election fraud, wishing death to Israel, and for essentially abandoning her former country, which doesn’t even have a government — Exactly what she’d like to see for the United States.
    The story on the internet was by Business Insider, not exactly a liberal news outlet, and the headline was:
    Trump promotes lies about Ilhan Omar and suggests she apologize for ‘abandoning’ Somalia, which she fled as a child
    Omar’s family fled Somalia when she was NINE years old, and arrived in the US when she was 13. The stuff about marrying her brother is a right wing lie, she never said death to Israel, there s no evidence that she committed election or immigration fraud.
    It barely makes the news when Trump does stuff like this, just like it barely made the news when he said that Melania knows he isn’t into golden showers. It is hard not to have complete contempt for anyone who would consider voting for him for any office, much less POTUS.
    For lawyers out there, could she sue him for defamation? The thing about marrying her brother is an objective lie, as is the death to Israel allegation.

  35. Sleeping Dog says:


    Nah, the cows are gone and we just need to avoid the flops that’s been left behind. Mostly in the legislature.

  36. CSK says:

    Yes. I also recall when Trump said, in the spring of 2020, that he was popping daily hydroxychloroquine pills as a Covid preventative. Clearly they didn’t work–if he was even so doing, of course.

    There is no limit to this creature’s loathsomeness.

  37. Kylopod says:


    Well, on the Meadows timeline, his hospitalization (six days later) makes a lot more sense.

    I have a serious Q for everyone. Is there anyone here who is surprised by this revelation? I sort of assumed from the start (ever since his positive Covid test was reported) that he was probably infected during the first debate, and that there was a good chance he knew it too.

  38. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    You know, I’ve never really understood why New Hampshire is Cow Hampshire. There seem to be more cows in Vermont.

  39. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Must Stop Laughing … 😀


  40. Kathy says:


    I’d like to volunteer him for a human challenge trial to gauge the probabilities of breakthrough infections with the Omicron variant. He can take all the ivermectin he wants.

  41. CSK says:

    As far as I can tell, Business Insider has always been willing to publish articles highly critical–to put it mildly–of Trump.

  42. Sleeping Dog says:


    Well Vermont is a state with a single word for its name. NH’s proximity to the populated part of MA has a lot to do with it. Going back to the late 50’s there were far more cows in NH than there were people. That ended when changes in the farm programs forced a lot of small farms out of the business. My uncle unrelentingly gave my dad grief about moving to Cow Hampshire and that his nephews would grow up to be hill billys. From Lawrence, no less.

  43. Joe says:

    From one of Sleeping Dog‘s links:

    “it’s the Nancy Maces that should be called out,” Ms. Greene told Mr. Bannon. She added that she, not Ms. Mace, represented the Republican base, a comment seconded by others on the far right, including Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona.

    I am pretty sure I don’t agree with about anything MTG or Gosar say, but I might agree with this. I just don’t feel about that statement the way they feel about that statement.

  44. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Okay, I will now devote a good part of my day to trying to envisage a hillbilly from Lawrence.

    Sounds like a bad c&w song: Hillbilly from Lawrence.

  45. senyordave says:

    @CSK: I agree, they seem even-handed, but I’m just saying its not Huffington Post or Axios, which have a strong liberal bent.

  46. CSK says:

    I agree.

    BI is one of my go-tos when I want to read something unkind about Trump.

  47. Franklin says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh, definitely agree with that! Pro-Life is a marketing term akin to Grape Nuts.

  48. Sleeping Dog says:
  49. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    But that’s self-defense against real Democrat FRAUD!! It’s perfectly legal!11!

  50. JohnSF says:

    Won’t anyone think of the virus?

  51. JohnSF says:

    Good lord, but that man is utterly vile.

  52. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: Yes and no.

    Am I completely surprised? No. But I will admit that in the back of my mind, somewhere, resided the apparently false hope that the people who surrounded the former president wouldn’t–out of a sense of duty to their FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS–allow him to wander around potentially infecting hundreds of people had he truly tested positive.

    So, yeah, on one level I’m not surprised, but on another level…these people are even worse than I thought, which is saying something.

  53. CSK says:

    Not meaning to defend them, but, short of locking Trump in a closet and posting an armed guard before it, what could they have done to stop him?

    One of the things that was so dangerous about Trump was that he was deaf to all appeals to reason, common sense, and just plain humanitarian considerations.

    I suppose they could have found out about the test results only after the event.

  54. Mu Yixiao says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    Federal judge blocks mandate for Medicaid/Medicare workers to be vaccinated.

    This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one. However, it is important to [not allow the mandate to go into effect] in this case. The liberty interests of the unvaccinated requires nothing less.

  55. Kathy says:


    SARS-CoV-2 in any variant and the Cheeto deserve each other.

  56. Kathy says:


    Not meaning to defend them, but, short of locking Trump in a closet and posting an armed guard before it, what could they have done to stop him?


    Straitjacket and locked in a closet (padded or not), hard hit on the head to render him unconscious, handcuff to a plumbing fixture or a heavy piece of furniture, leg irons, two broken legs, one broken spine (if he has one), or an injection of a potent sedative.

    the problem is getting past the Secret Service agents to do any of it.

  57. CSK says:

    Those are all quite enticing scenarios you’ve sketched, but realistically? No.

  58. Jen says:


    what could they have done to stop him

    Leaked it to the press, or gone to the head of the debate commission and said that under no circumstances should anyone on the Trump debate group be allowed to skip the pre-debate screening (remember, they arrived too late to the debate for the scheduled screening, and instead went on an honor system–dear lord help us all that they decided that was enough given the players involved).

    Of course, either of those could have resulted in getting fired, but that’s what honorable people do: they put others ahead of their own interests.

    Just more evidence that this gang of fools were completely spineless and without merit.

  59. Sleeping Dog says:


    And it wasn’t as if we lived on Tower Hill before moving the NH. But younger brother taunts of older brother seldom make sense.


    Maces probably represents a suburb that is competitive.

  60. CSK says:

    Yes; I see. Good points.

    I wonder if Trump deliberately delayed getting to the debate so that, knowing he’d test positive, he’d miss the test.

    I still think it’s possible that only Trump and his doctor (or whoever administered the test) knew about the positive result. Trump would see it as an admission of weakness, fatal to his self-image.

  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The odd thing about these decisions is that the SC refuses to hear appeals of mandates, yet the district court judges continue to intervene.

  62. Kathy says:


    Realistically the Secret Service agents won’t let you.

  63. CSK says:

    So in essence you’re agreeing with me that there was no way to stop him from being a one-man superspreader.

  64. Kathy says:

    And then Omicron arrived in America.

    More info at CNN (careful, auto play video).

    It seems to be a breakthrough infection. No word on whether the person involved had a booster.

    When the vaccines were first rolled out, I’d hope that we could end this thing by mid 2021. Now I think we’ll be lucky if it ends before late 2022, with late 2023 far more likely. I expect I’ll have had anywhere from 6 to 8 shots of COVID vaccine and boosters by then.

  65. Kathy says:


    I imagine that in the trump White House, the expression “stop Benito!” or words to that effect, were repeated so often they lost all meaning.

  66. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..No word on whether the person involved had a booster.

    The report that I heard on NPR stated that the person had the first two doses of the vaccine but not the booster.

  67. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Mister Bluster:
    According to Anthony Fauci, the person is experiencing only mild symptoms, and is improving.

  68. Kathy says:

    On positive news today, Stacey Abrams will run again for the governor spot in Georgia. This is the woman who did more than anyone else to drive Democratic turnout in Georgia, giving Biden the state and electing two Democratic senators. Hopefully she will manage to do the same while running for governor, as high Dem turnout is the way she’ll win. This may help keep one senate seat in Democratic hands.

  69. dazedandconfused says:

    IF Omicron is mild it might effectively be a booster shot. Perhaps a vax in itself. If so quarantines would be counter-productive. Just spit-balling here.

  70. DrDaveT says:


    2-3% is only like a million kids, which is basically just a rounding error!

    It’s not the kids vectors who would be the extra 2-3% dying.

  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: In Korea, preschoolers go to Lego Academy. There was one in Daegu. A kid in my neighborhood went to it. Special Lego-brick shaped backpack and everything.

  72. CSK says:

    If he can find a semi-literate ghost writer willing to work for him, Trump may self-publish any memoir he might produce.

    I can’t recall where I read this, but apparently he’s terrified of getting a smaller advance than the Obamas, which would make him look like a loser.

    I can tell you now that absolutely no major publisher has any interest whatsoever in publishing Trump’s memoir.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Thanx.

  74. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Your linked story notes that the Florida GOP woman who voted more than once had filed papers, but never ran, in a non-partisan school board election. I happened to see a story this morning that GOPs are looking at making FL school board elections partisan. Board elections were made non-partisan by a 1998 constitutional amendment passed by referendum. My local state senator is pushing a bill to reverse that. His stated reasons are vague and unconvincing. Mostly he says local party committees sometimes endorse so the elections are partisan anyway. I take it they’re looking at Youngkin and planning to really politicize school boards and feel they can profit from putting their brand name on it.

  75. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    d@gVOR08: The sad part is Republican-brand schools and school boards probably have a market there.