Monday’s 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. BugManDan says:
  2. Kylopod says:

    I usually don’t go for’s contrarian takes on pop culture that are primarily attempts to fill up article quotas every day, but…. I have to admit, this one was rather great:

    Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Predicted The Alt-Right

    … In my opinion, the most charitable thing you can say about character development in the prequels is “could use a second draft.” But in hindsight, turning Darth Vader’s pre-Sith self into an irritating prick who believes in his own talent so much that he doesn’t “believe the system works” and supports people “being made to” agree with one another accurately predicted a whole generation of debate-club-dorks-turned-fascist-pundits.

    Lucas has openly talked about how he was trying to address his issues with the Bush administration and fears about American imperialism with the prequels. While it seemed nonsensical and annoying at the time because the goal of Star Wars is largely to get children to demand new toys every time you have to make a Target trip, it’s possible George had his finger on the pulse of a budding style of new, dorky fascism.

    How different is Anakin’s whiny voice and teenage pampering from Tucker Carlson’s? How different is Anakin’s failure to achieve Jedi Master rank from Stephen Crowder or Dave Rubin’s failed comedy careers? These are people who failed at something and immediately decided the problem was that they didn’t have supreme power. Anakin’s willingness to sell out while remaining an insufferable know-it-all the moment Palpatine offers him the slightest validation mirrors the journey of these billionaire-backed unfunny podcasters. Who knows, maybe Christensen’s choice to portray Anakin as a swaggerless loser who clearly thinks he’s being charming without realizing everything about him is skin-peelingly creepy was just him channeling the alt-right a decade before it was a thing. Let’s just hope some clay-faced dweeb like Tucker Carlson doesn’t have a whole planet full of Star Destroyers hiding away somewhere.

    This still won’t get me to want to watch it another time, of course.

  3. Kathy says:

    A Boeing 737-800 crashed in China.

    All I can say for certain now is that it was an older Next Generation 737, not a MAX.

    What follows is an investigation by whatever competent authority exists in China. International rules are the US should be involved, as the country of manufacture, and Boeing should offer support as the manufacturer.

    And, naturally, we’ll hear all sorts of theories about it.

  4. Scott says:

    @Kathy: Read this in this morning’s paper and, of course, immediately thought of you.

    Mexican president opens new — and distant — airport

    Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is inaugurating one of his hallmark building projects on Monday, a new Mexico City airport that reflects the contrasts and contradictions of his administration.

    There is government austerity — his main campaign promise is fully on display in the rather bare-bones terminal — as well as his customary outsized reliance on the Mexican army.

    But there are also widely ridiculed government claims about how long it will take passengers to get to the new terminal, located 27 miles (43 kilometers) from the city center, and repeated complaints by the president that there is a conspiracy in the press to besmirch his new airport, which is named, of course, after an army general, Felipe Angeles.

    “It is such an important project that our adversaries want to sling mud at it,” López Obrador said Thursday of the army-built terminal constructed at a military base. “There is a whole campaign refusing to recognize that was a very good decision.”

  5. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I would be very surprised if China tried to short circuit an investigation. The repercussions of taking themselves outside the normal international crash investigation process would go far. How could anything else about aircraft be trusted, such as maintenance, training, etc.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    For some reason, I read the Collins/Stephen’s weekly Liberal vs. Conservative piece in the NYTimes this morning, and I’ll have a comment about it later, but I realized I really don’t have any idea what the purpose of this weekly missive is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a funny take on serious issues? Light hearted? Witty? World weary sophistication? Because it always just comes across as incredibly performative and shallow to me. Or am I just being a grump?

  7. CSK says:

    Lopez Obrador sounds like Trump bitching about the press, doesn’t he?

  8. Scott says:

    @CSK: Yeah, I was thinking that leftist authoritarians are just about the same as rightist authoritarians.

  9. Michael Cain says:

    My immediate reaction is “27 miles from the city center’s not so bad,” but then I travel in and out of Denver, where the airport is 25 miles from downtown. Denver didn’t really have a choice about putting the new airport far out, as the FAA wanted it to be physically gigantic.

  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    We were in Boston yesterday and took a few minutes to wander through the public spaces of the Newbury, ex Taj, ex Ritz. A very tasteful re-do. Essentially the bar is as it always was. The woodwork has been stripped and refinished, fresh wall coverings and paint, and all new furniture replacing that upon which Henry James would have sat.

    The lobby has changed, where the reception desk was has been changed into a ‘library’ for guests, with the new, much smaller, desk being where some seating would have been. Big changes for the seasonal rooftop restaurant, it is now a four season greenhouse with great views of the Back Bay, Fens and of course the Garden and Common.

    On a things are always changing note, one of our favored haunts for post ballet/theater repasts is closing, Artero on Tremont between Avery and Boylston is closing this weekend. Guess we’ll try the rooftop place at the Newbury.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This will be a very unpopular take.
    Not to mention extremely bad karma.
    I don’t care.
    Die, mother-fuqer.
    America will be better without you.
    The man is evil. And deserves evil.

  12. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Thanks for the update. I wish they hadn’t stopped calling it the Ritz-Carleton. I had some good times in the bar there. Do they still have the cafe that looks out on Newbury Street?

  13. gVOR08 says:


    but I realized I really don’t have any idea what the purpose of this weekly missive is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a funny take on serious issues? Light hearted? Witty? World weary sophistication? Because it always just comes across as incredibly performative and shallow to me.

    As you highlighted it, I read the Collins/Stephens thing, although I seldom do. Stephens brought up Hunter Biden’s LAPTOP!!! and Collins response was cringeworthy. I tend to think NYT hired Stephens because they feel they have to have conservative opinion voices, and now that they’ve got him, pairing him with Collins for a vapid back and forth is an effort to legitimize him. And maybe squeeze another few column inches out of the presumably six figure salary they’re paying him. Just another episode in the ongoing mystery of WTF is wrong with FTFNYT.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: That’s perfect.

  15. Kathy says:


    History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.

    Sulla taught Romans how to seize power and intimidate their enemies. Benito did the same, except he mostly taught incompetent narcissist with massive inferiority complexes.

  16. CSK says:

    At a rally in Sarasota, Fl. yesterday Trump said that when he was president, “the world didn’t fuck around with us.” The crowd loved it.

    Another tidbit from the same graceful oration: “We will take back the House, we will take back the Senate, and we will take back our country. And, most importantly in 2024, we are going to take back our White House.

    Obviously, he’s trying to raise of the MAGAs that he’s going to run again–to keep the money from the saps rolling in–but he’s very carefully not saying that he himself will run in 2024. He is, however, betting that the crowd will take it that way.

  17. Barry says:

    @MarkedMan: “Is it supposed to be a funny take on serious issues? Light hearted? Witty? World weary sophistication? ”

    Two elites up in a tower, glancing down on the peasants, reassuring each other that their differences are nothing compared to their eliteness.

  18. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Many major cities have more than one airport. NYC has three, London has five, Paris has two. It does seem to work, but I’d need to look more closely at how flights are divvied up, how many airlines use them, what the transportation options to and from the airports are, etc.

    Toluca airport worked very well when two airlines were based there and had no flights at Mexico City airport. When they got slots at the latter, they abandoned Toluca quickly.

    I last flew from Toluca in 2015, when Interjet both still existed and ran a flight to Vegas twice a week. The airport was nearly empty, with only a few flights to leisure destinations.

  19. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    When I saw the headline yesterday, my first reaction was “Christmas in March?” Alas, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    No. While the old main entrance on Arlington is still in use, there is a new main entrance on Newbury where the cafe was. Zenga has replaced Chanel, having moved across the street, in the retail space.

    Back when I was travelling for business, I stayed in a Hampster Inn, in Cambridge and the next night at a Hilton in Saratoga Springs, with the rooms being identical. The only difference was that I needed to buy my breakfast at the Hilton, that was included at the Hampster and for that pleasure my ~$200/night Hampster room, was $350 at the Hilton. Given that even mid market hotels can appear to have a physical amenities of luxury hotels, the difference is the staff. And I will say that based on our interaction with the woman tending bar and one of the bellmen, the Newbury has ticked that box. Attentive, informative, both aware that the building has a history and many who pass through have good memories of the place.

  21. DK says:

    @BugManDan: Did this Rolling Stones piece sicken Justice Thomas as much as it sickened me?

    Scott Johnston, who worked on the planning of Trump’s Ellipse rally, told Rolling Stone that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and a national campaign spokesperson made plans to encourage the president’s supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Johnston has since testified to House investigators about the phone call…

    …Johnston says he overheard Mark Meadows, then-former President Trump’s chief of staff, and Katrina Pierson, Trump’s national campaign spokesperson, talking with Kylie Kremer, the executive director of Women For America First, about plans for a march to the Capitol. Johnston said the conversation was clearly audible to him since it took place on a speakerphone as he drove Kremer between the group’s rallies in the final three days of 2020.

    Ginni Thomas has curiously close links to Women For America First. But who is Scott Johnston and is he credible?

  22. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Sorry to hear the cafe is gone. Once Norma Nathan, the notorious gossip columnist for the Boston Herald, took me to lunch there. The maitre d’ put us at the table in the bay window overlooking Newbury Street, presumably so Norma could be gazed upon by the passing hordes. Art Buchwald wandered over to say hello and exchange pleasantries with Norma. She introduced us. All I could think was: “Holy shit, I just met Art Buchwald.”

  23. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was apparently not beloved by the Ritz staff. Very, very demanding and difficult to satisfy.

  24. Sleeping Dog says:


    Mrs Kennedy-Onassis made enemies wherever she went. If I can find the link, I’ll post a conversation with the first exec director of the Kennedy Library that gossiped about the process of siting the museum and library. She was despised by Harvard and large parts of Cambridge, but the feeling was mutual.

  25. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Please do. At the Ritz, she apparently wanted her sheets and towels changed 3-4 times a day. Not the way to ingratiate yourself with the staff.

  26. BugManDan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Since posting, I have seen reports he is doing better and expects to be home soon.

  27. Jen says:

    @CSK: That is completely bizarre. Why on earth would anyone need sheets changed more than once a day (if that)? Same with towels for that matter. Very annoying behavior.

  28. CSK says:

    I don’t know, since probably she was out most of the day and not using the bed or bathroom anyway.

  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: I’ve always wondered if I’d get weird if suddenly wealthy. Since it has no chance of happening, I’ll never know, but I just don’t ever see myself, regardless of circumstances, doing strange sh!t like demanding sheets be changed if I haven’t used them. I can’t even wrap my mind around having multiple houses.

  30. CSK says:

    Neither can I. I can barely keep my own house clean. 😀 Although I suppose if I had multiple dwellings, I’d also have the staff to pick up after me.

    With respect to Mrs. Onassis, I wonder if she felt that all the trauma she’d suffered in her life entitled her to be demanding. Not that that’s an excuse for her behavior. But it might be a reason for it.

  31. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @BugManDan: Unfortunately we have made big strides in treatment, and I’m betting he is fully vaxxed.

  32. CSK says:

    A 96-year-0ld Holocaust survivor, Borys Romanchenko, was killed Friday when the Russians attacked Kharkiv.

    My father’s older brother Robert was at the liberation of Buchenwald (where Romanchenko was incarcerated) and, in some official capacity, took photographs, copies of which he brought home with him. On the back of each, he wrote: “This happened.” It was as if, even in 1945, he feared people someday might forget.

  33. Sleeping Dog says:


    Found it, an interview with Dan Fenn

    Mrs Onassis on Harvard via Fenn

    …Jackie (Kennedy Onasis) interrupts me and I can see her now, she leans forward in the back seat and she says—never mind that wispy voice—with great firmness, Teddy, there are three stages of maturity if you’re Irish. The first is when you get off the boat you want to go to Harvard. The second is when you go to Harvard. The third is when you say poo on Harvard. She was having a fight over the Institute of Politics with them at the time. Then Teddy (Senator Ted Kennedy) burst out laughing and he said, Yes, Jackie, I know, I’ve been cleaning up after you over there for months.

  34. HelloWorld! says:

    Which happens first? Lindsay Graham jumps up and screams at Jackson “You can’t handle the truth!” or Ted Cruz makes a 30 minute speech about what a sham these hearings are?

  35. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Thanks; that looks fascinating.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HelloWorld!: Now I’m curious. What are you referring to here? Is it possible that you posted your comment on the wrong blog?

  37. inhumans99 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: This is an open thread, so technically the correct thread but some context would have helped. This is clearly a comment about the hearing that will be held to vet Biden’s SC nominee pick.

  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Judge Jackson is all of America; forced to endure the ideocracy that is the Republican party for no apparent reason.

  39. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    When Josh Hawley has lost Andrew McCarthy over at the NR, you know that they’ve gone over the deep end.

  40. gVOR08 says:


    I’ve always wondered if I’d get weird if suddenly wealthy.

    Yeah. Get a few billion dollars and people do seem to get weird. Elon Musk wants to live on Mars. Charles Koch wants to destroy democracy. Peter Theil wants to destroy democracy and live forever. And Vladimir Putin wants to destroy democracy and Ukraine.

  41. CSK says:

    You forgot to mention that self-styled billionaire Donald J. Trump, the arch-churl of all time.

    I’m pretty sure Jen, on the other hand, would be responsible and decent.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @inhumans99: Thanks! That helped some. The openness of this thread is why I asked if HW had meant to post on another blog (site), though. I understand that people can say what they want. (I just wish the trolls would provide some context was included. I don’t really follow politics as closely as it seems like I do sometimes.)

  43. Jen says:

    @gVOR08: Well, hopefully I’d stick to “change the sheets and towels unnecessarily”-weird, rather than “destroy democracy”-weird.

    Probably any newfound wealth-weirdness for me would be confined to ever-increasing book purchases and adopting too many dogs. I have a feeling that wealth-weirdness probably just compounds whatever latent weirdness one already has.

  44. CSK says:

    Along with the books and doggies–an affection I share–don’t forget the occasional sally to the N.H. Liquor Store. And also some really primo edibles.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: I thought about including Trump as another billionaire wannabe destroyer of democracy, but decided no. I’d declared I was talking about multi-billionaires, not pretend billionaires.

  46. Michael Cain says:


    Yeah. Get a few billion dollars and people do seem to get weird. Elon Musk wants to live on Mars. Charles Koch wants to destroy democracy. Peter Theil wants to destroy democracy and live forever. And Vladimir Putin wants to destroy democracy and Ukraine.

    Some amount of that is forced upon them. Many years ago I was at a technical conference where the Intel CEO was the speaker at the big dinner. I was sitting out near the hallway where he exited when he was done. Along with two big burlies in sunglasses and the behind-the-ear curly cord for communications. They stopped at the restroom. One of the burlies went in, two guys came hustling out. The CEO used the restroom while the burlies blocked the door, then they all left.

    When you get rich and famous enough in America, just being out in public can be dangerous. Once you start living in that rarefied environment, getting weird seems inevitable.

  47. CSK says:

    I figured as much. 😀 But I can’t resist any opportunity to dump on Trump.

  48. Gustopher says:

    I started reading John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society, and there is an action scene with a character with they/them pronouns. It’s fine. No more confusing than a few dudes — names are used when needed to distinguish.

    I’d post a quote, but by “reading” I mean I am listening to Wil Wheaton read it.

    So, to a certain writer who keeps saying it is impossible to write an action scene that flows normally with one of the them-people, I have this to say: suck it.

    (Or, you know, go read a thoroughly mediocre (so far) book that does it adequately, and adjust your sentiments accordingly — but don’t tell me how it ends as I am a slow reader sometimes. Will the Kaiju be preserved? And will it be made into a jam, or pickled?)

  49. Gustopher says:


    Well, hopefully I’d stick to “change the sheets and towels unnecessarily”-weird, rather than “destroy democracy”-weird.

    Also, you might be too late to destroy democracy. Perhaps you can be “restore democracy” weird. With extra votes for dogs, but only if they are good boys and girls.

    (I would not give the vote to cats… not even by proxy through their humans… not worth the risk)

  50. Kylopod says:


    I would not give the vote to cats… not even by proxy through their humans… not worth the risk

    What would it matter? They’d all vote third party anyway.

  51. Mister Bluster says:
  52. wr says:

    @Gustopher: A new Scalzi! I had no idea — but it’s downloading from Audible as I type. Thanks for the tip!

    And speaking of Scalzi and pronouns, I read Lock-In without realizing that the protagonist was never gendered. It wasn’t until I got the audio of the second and was informed that there were actually two audio versions, one by Wil Wheaton and one by a female reader, that it ever occurred to me.

    Scalzi is a smart dude, and unlike some of his fellow writers is much more interested in rising to a challenge than sniffing that it’s impossible.

  53. Kathy says:

    Flying Ted strikes again.

    A quote from Aladdin strikes me as appropriate: “If I were as rich as you, I could afford some manners.”

  54. The Q says:

    If Abbott and Costello were alive today and had to deal with all the bulkshit pronouns coming from 2% of the obnoxious “fuck if I know what I am” population so I’m gonna burden you with my pronoun lunacy.

    “Who’s on first?”

    “they is on First”

    Who’s “they” on first?

    Not Who’s “They”. They.

    So, They are on first.

    Now, you’re getting it.

    Getting what?

    That They are on first. And second base is His

    So second base is His? Doesn’t that depend if they steal?

    No, even if They steal, second base will still be His.

    So who exactly is playing second base. I think they don’t even know.

    No They know. They know the problem is getting Her to hit to the opposite field.

    Why can’t she hit to the opposite field?

    She can.

    But you said her hitting is bad.

    I did. She can hit. The problem is Her.

    Her? Not She?

    No you’re getting it!!!!!!

    The Great Generation weeps at our banality.

    What how can Depends, Which they are you refering? The he they on first or the they on second?

    The he they on first.

    Oh, they name

  55. The Q says:

    Ok lack of edit button for last 3 paragraphs

  56. Wr says:

    @The Q: Honestly can’t imagine it would have made a difference.

  57. Gustopher says:

    @wr: This is my first Scalzi. I’m not blown away so far, but it’s fine. Still a ways to go, so it could turn out to be great. Or not.

    I’ll be curious to know whether I picked one of his better books — let me know how it compares to his best work.

    Wil Wheaton captures the voice of the work really well, but it’s a bit too “clever” for my tastes right now. I might have wanted something a bit more earnest. We have enough smart-assess in the real world (myself included). At least it’s good-natured smart-ass.

    Good enough that I expect to finish, though, and I’ll dump a bad book quick — try it again at a different time to see if it was the wrong book at that time, or whether it is just bad.

  58. Scott O says:

    @The Q:
    If Abbott and Costello were alive today and were trying to appeal to 40% of the population:

    Who’s on first?
    Who’s on second?
    I thought you said Trump was on first.
    He was. He stole second, third and home. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. A lot of people are saying there should be more bases so Trump could steal more. Etc., etc., etc..

  59. wr says:

    @Gustopher: Scalzi isn’t the greatest writer ever known, but I’ve found almost all his books and series to be friendly and inviting, just a good place to hang out. I’ll try to remember to let you know what I think about this one, but if you’re interested in investigating further I’d recommend two of his series — Old Man’s War, which reads like Heinlein juveniles only for grown-up, and The Interdependency, which is more sophisticated, both in politics and plotting.

    But what am I saying? The true Scalzi gateway drug has to be Redshirts, in which lesser crew members on a star ship much like Enterprise realize that the reason they keep dying is because their entire universe is being controlled by the writers of a Star Trek-like television series from the distant past. And if you’re doing audio, that’s one where Wil Wheaton was born to narrate!

    Can I get an amen from Kathy?

  60. Kathy says:


    Can I get an amen from Kathy?


    I was rather disappointed by Redshirts. It was a great premise, and I loved it until they do what they need to confront the source of the problem. Then everything just fell down as far as I was concerned.

    An explanation requires spoilers, alas.

    I do endorse Wil Wheaton as ideal for reading the audiobook. Since then I heard two more of his performances, in Randall Munroe’s books What If? and How To?

  61. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Kinda weird I’ve been made persona non grata with no notice and the comment, that I assume was the issue, wasn’t even deleted???

  62. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I don’t know what happened. I have been all but absent from the site this week and Steven wouldn’t have banned without mentioning it to me first. And there’s nothing out of bounds in the comments.

    I suspect it has something to do with your email address. I tried to respond to your query yesterday afternoon and it bounced back. Gmail gave me a big red traffic light saying the message was blocked and this is small text:

    The response from the remote server was:
    550 permanent failure for one or more recipients (******@**********.com:blocked)

    I approved the three comments, including this one. Let’s see what happens. If it happens again, try a different email address.

  63. James Joyner says:

    @James Joyner: I just tried replying again with the same result. I’m guessing you’ve landed on some sort of spam list, which Akismet and Google both subscribe to.