Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Teve says:

    Little Fires Everywhere was good, but Station Eleven was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  2. Bill says:

    Makes me want to vommit Florida headline of the day- Florida man arrested after recording himself molesting a 3-year-old girl: report

  3. Teve says:

    I need a good legit olive oil.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Move to Europe.

  5. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: European olive oil is one of the most fraudulent product categories you can find.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump was on 2 Boobs and a Blonde. He said some things:

    “I do want, always, corruption”

    “She wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy … it took like a year & a half or 2 years for her to get the picture up … this was not an angel, ok?”

    “We have to stand with Hong King, but I’m also standing with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine, he’s an incredible guy. We have to stand … if it weren’t for me, thousands of people would have been killed in Hong Kong right now.”

    “I would have been in some trouble right now, because they were coming after me … turned out to be the best move I ever made — firing Comey. Because they were looking to take down the president.”

    This… is the president of the United States.

  7. CSK says:

    @Teve: Try Australian olive oil. The standards are very strict.

  8. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Teve: Combine your quest for olive oil with an OTB meet-up. Vegas is out! Now the commentariat just needs to decide: Italy or Greece?

    Actually, I think I recall you (Teve) mentioning that you are/were learning Italian, so that’s settled.

  9. Teve says:

    Bill Kristol
    I very much prefer Biden or Buttigieg or Bloomberg or Klobuchar to Warren. But the idea that one term of Warren would pose anything like the threat of a second term for Trump to the basic norms and institutions of our liberal democracy, including to free markets, is laughable.

  10. Teve says:

    @Kit: maybe Guarneri is in Italy. Italian politics is notoriously stupid. 😛

  11. mattbernius says:

    “I picked up the table, and I went to work on him,” she said. ‘The table broke.”

    If you read one story about an octagenarian, female bodybuilder stopping a home invader today, make it this one.

  12. Teve says:

    I’m a hundred pages into the Ascent of Money and it’s surprising how much of modern finance came from Italy.

  13. CSK says:

    @mattbernius: I love this woman.

  14. Kit says:


    Italian politics is notoriously stupid.

    But then again people in Italy eat very well, so it sort of balances out.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I don’t have the palate to tell the difference between a good olive oil and a bad one and don’t know any good ones that can be had here in the US (notice I made no recommendation for purchase), but my Mallorcan MiL knew what was good and what wasn’t (the only thing I knew was that if she cooked it, I would happily eat it) and I’m pretty sure my wife’s relatives don’t settle for slime. Her cousin has a business that depends on it.

    So, my recommendation remains, go to Europe, see what people who know how to cook with olive oil have in their pantries, buy that. Oh and do it soon. The Olive crop was for shit this year. Again. No no, not climate change, just really bad weather. Again.

    That last part about the crop is serious. Good olive oil could be real scarce real soon. Everything else above is at least half tongue in cheek, except for the part about my Dingo like palate.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Well, that leaves Italy out but I haven’t been to Greece yet.

  17. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: the olive crop was a disaster last year and California Olive Ranch, a well-respected California producer, switched to international blends and their reputation took a hit. Too bad the stuff doesn’t store forever, I’d just buy 500 gallons and put it in the basement. 🙂

  18. Teve says:

    Luka Dončić is tearing it up.

  19. Kit says:


    I’d just buy 500 gallons and put it in the basement.

    I’m guessing that would set you back $30k at retail prices! More worrying is that, assuming you consume all of that within two years, you will need to burn an extra 23k calories/day. If not, you should plan on putting on an extra 6.5lb each day…

  20. Teve says:
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Movement to Make Texas Its Own Country

    It’s very tempting to simply say “see ya,” but the mind boggles at the complexity of such a divorce. Any comparison Brexit is a farce, as the UK has the structures of an independent state with Brexit essentially leaving an economic and trade organization.

    Of course Tiny’s wall will need to move to Texas’ borders with Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

  22. Teve says:

    I think about this essay a lot.

    American democracy is doomed.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: I’m not an olive oil expert but simply go by the aroma that comes off the pan. The stuff I’ve bought in the regular supermarkets seem at best random in quality regardless of price. For the past couple of years I’ve been buying Trader Joe’s Premium. I can’t give you the exact name since I’m not at home so I don’t have the bottle in front of me but it is only a dollar or two more expensive than their regular oil.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    It now looks like Mr. 9-1-1 may have done his own attempts at a “quid pro quo” in order to dig up dirt on the Bidens…

  25. Teve says:


    As dysfunctional as American government may seem today, we’ve actually been lucky. No other presidential system has gone as long as ours without a major breakdown of the constitutional order. But the factors underlying that stability — first non-ideological parties and then non-disciplined ones — are gone. And it’s worth considering the possibility that with them, so too has gone the American exception to the rule of presidential breakdown. If we seem to be unsustainably lurching from crisis to crisis, it’s because we are unsustainably lurching from crisis to crisis. The breakdown may not be next year or even in the next five years, but over the next 20 or 30 years, will we really be able to resolve every one of these high-stakes showdowns without making any major mistakes? Do you really trust Congress that much?

    The best we can hope for is that when the crisis does come, Americans will have the wisdom to do for ourselves what we did in the past for Germany and Japan and put a better system in place.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    More than 60 doctors have written an open letter saying they fear Julian Assange’s health is so bad that the WikiLeaks founder could die inside a top-security British jail.

    The 48-year-old Australian is still fighting a US bid to extradite him from Britain on charges filed under the Espionage Act that could see him given a sentence of up to 175 years in a US prison.

    In the letter to the British home secretary, Priti Patel, the doctors called for Assange to be moved from Belmarsh prison in southeast London to a university teaching hospital.

    They based their assessment on “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his 21 October court appearance in London and a 1 November report by Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.

    Apparently some doctors aren’t quite as reticent to diagnose and prescribe medical care for Assange without ever examining him as they are to diagnose and prescribe medical care for trump without a medical exam.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    For any of you still following the TSB bank debacle, it looks like they haven’t managed to recover.

    If ever there was a cautionary tale about why computer migration to new systems requires a helluva lot of backup testing and pilot trials, this is it….

    I’m starting to think we should really start insisting on personal criminal liability for mind-bogging business stupidity. Usually the originators simply have the business blow up around them while they waltz off with large retirement/severance packages, leaving the customers and workers and retirees to shoulder the costs and damage.

  28. Liberaal Capitalist says:

    A moment to mention my misguided pursuit…

    I fly AA a lot. And it s a hate love relationship. But still, I have to make my miles, and this year has been light on travel.

    So, two mileage runs in December, both in business:



    While the Singapore one is not my first visit, it does allow for an overnight.

    But Dubai, I will be there for only 2 1/2 hours before making that turn.

    Luckily, AA is helping to pay for some of these flights with $2800 in vouchers that I received over the last year for voluntary bumps.

    While I am excited about flying in a 747 again (upper deck), Dubai is three days nearly all in a plane.

    The crazy thing is that those two trips alone get me 66% of the way to AA EP status. All so I can get upgrades for 2020.

    I would say that I have no life, but instead I will say I have a weird one.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Like lots of other products, olive oil is registered. I don’t use olive oil myself (switched to grapeseed as I only need oil to saute), so I don’t remember the details, but you can get information about the process and where to look for the registration number for the producer on the interwebs.

    After that, the only issue is what type you want for what sort of food preparation. Good luck.

  30. liberal capitalist says:

    (please pull my comment out of moderation. My guess is too many hyphens?)

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The fact that Mr. Miller only achieves his pro-Texas mathematics of money flows by ignoring social security payments from the U.S. government shows exactly how likely this “Texit” would be in reality: very unlikely, and certainly not if he is the head of the secessionist movement. Chances are high that he will deliberately ignore any data which tells him what he doesn’t want to hear, whether it be financial sustainability, amount of local support, or the existence of legal barriers, and will thus set himself up for failure.

    An independent Texas would, most likely, turn into an effective outpost of Mexico as soon as the Mexican drug cartels discovered the lack of a barrier between Mexico and Independent Texas, the lack of DEA agents, and the lack of the U.S. military. I doubt Independent Texas would be willing to start taxing itself at much higher rates to fund the necessary services now obtained via the federal government and thus Independent Texas would quickly devolve into a chaotic state, a.k.a. the American Somalia.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Considering that the nation most likely to be imposing a new order in the event of the collapse of the US is China, I wouldn’t be optimistic. Fortunately, I’m not likely to live 30 or 40 more years.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Liberaal Capitalist:

    I would say that I have no life, but instead I will say I have a weird one.

    Here’s hoping you still have a life when you are done. That would be enough to make me go postal.

  34. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: And rapidly take on the characteristics of a corrupt petrostate.

  35. Teve says:

    the best reason not to allow a new Confederacy to secede is that as soon as the federal dollars dried up they would rapidly become a third world country, and we’d have an indefensible border with them.

    I do want them to secede, but that’s just out of pure spite.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Liberaal Capitalist: I can’t stress this enough: do the leg exercises in the plane and walk around as much as possible. 5 or 6 years ago I did 120 hours flying time in the span of 4 weeks and ended up with a DVT and possibly a small pulmonary embolism. On the last stopover before returning to Shanghai I tried to go for a run in San Diego, thinking it would help with what I thought was severe jet lag. I made it two blocks and had enough trouble breathing I thought I had the flu or pneumonia. I also had a bad enough pain in my calf I thought I had torn a muscle. If I had gone into an ER then there would have been much drama but instead waited until I returned to Shanghai. Given that I was still alive the drama was less but even so I immediately ended up in the (western style) hospital and spent the next year or so on blood thinners. No fun.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:
  38. Teve says:


    Brian Stelter

    President Trump “reads more than anybody I know,” @SarahHuckabee said on @SteveHiltonx’s Fox show tonight

    what a stupid liar. The Trumpers probably love her to pieces.

  39. Kit says:

    As much fun as it is to imagine any of the shit-kicking southern states seceding, they would quickly prove an existential threat to both the remaining states and to the world itself.

  40. Kit says:
  41. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Yeah… I plan on getting a bit mobile during those flights. Especiall the times between flight, when I hit the Airline Clubs.

    With a million+ actual miles on two separate airlines, I have to say that I have been lucky. Maybe it’s my Eastern European peasant and 3% Neanderthal genes.

    More likely it was 2 1/2 years in Brazil, covering Latin America. When you look at 8 hours as a regular commute, the long flights (Sydney, Dubai, etc.) don’t seem as bad.

    For those considering mileage runs: Google Flights is your friend.

    For the advanced course: ITA Matrix

    ITA Matrix is what Google flights is based on. And is what gave me the crazy routing to Dubai. I specified that I needed all the flights to be an AA flight number, and that the flight needed to be at least 10,000 miles one way.

    Et voilà.

  42. Jen says:


    President Trump “reads more than anybody I know,”

    This has to mean she doesn’t know anyone who reads. (Or she’s lying. Again.)

    PS- Glad you enjoyed Station Eleven, I really liked that book too!

  43. CSK says:

    @Jen: Ms. Huckabee’s nose must have its own zip code by now.

  44. Kathy says:

    I go through The Fall and Rise of China in what seemed a shorter time than I expected. Unfortunately it ends before Xi ascended to power.

    Now I’m reading “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen. It’s about all the distorted history people learn in the US. I should mention distorted history is all too common the world over. But in some places it gets un-distorted in high school, at least to some extent.

    I’m thinking about suspending my Audible account for a few months. I’ve six credits piled up, the first of which expire in June next year. Meantime, I’m downloading to Scribd most of the titles on my Audible wish list.

    Audible still has The Great Courses lectures, which are great, and some original content not found elsewhere. So it’s worth it, but it may be smart to download what I can from Audible and suspend the subscription for a few months.

  45. Zachriel says:

    @mattbernius: If you read one story about an octagenarian, female bodybuilder stopping a home invader today, make it this one.

    “Whereas we send our young men to war, ants send their old ladies.” — Famed myrmecologist, E.O. Wilson

  46. Teve says:
  47. SenyorDave says:

    I’m reading “The fire is upon us”, which talks about a debate in 1965 between James Baldwin and William F Buckley. The topic was “the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro”. One thing that really sticks out is what a complete and total white supremacist Buckley was. He was, as always, very eloquent about it, but essentially he had views on blacks that would have been right at home with any run of the mill
    racist in the 1960’S. He seemed to feel that blacks had not earned the right to be treated equal. Oh, and apparently Baldwin was judged by those in attendance to be the winner by more than 75%.

  48. gVor08 says:

    @SenyorDave: I’ve seen video tape of the debate. Buckley did not come off well. One thing that seems to me consistent in conservatism is that for the privileged to have a cultured society there must be an underclass. What this does to the underclass never seems relevant to them. (I have a few times asked people to name the great cultural achievements of the antebellum South. Never gotten an answer.)

  49. grumpy realist says:

    Now Canada is having its own home-grown secession movement (non-Quebec.)

    It looks like secession movements for a lot of countries are the equivalent of the young-un threatening to run away from home because Mommy and Daddy are so MEAN to him.

  50. CSK says:

    According to The New Republic. “Anonymous” might be Guy Snodgrass, author of Holding the Line. Snodgrass was a speechwriter for James Mattis.

  51. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: What makes your comment all the more pertinent is that Texas originally joined the US because it made more economic sense to petition for statehood than it did to remain autonomous. The same was true for the California Republic, too, IIRC.

  52. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:, In fairness to Mrs. Sanders, considering who she is likely to know…

  53. DrDaveT says:


    I have a few times asked people to name the great cultural achievements of the antebellum South. Never gotten an answer.

    I was going to say that Stephen Foster ain’t enough to justify much, but then I learned that Foster was pure Yankee anyway — born in Pennsylvania, lived and worked in Pennsylvania and Ohio and New York City. He wrote an abolitionist play. Who knew?

  54. mattbernius says:

    The CDC recommended that Border Patrol inoculate migrants in custody for the flu. They decided not to. Since then two children in custody have died of the flu.

    [Edit: I had originally said two, but the first child died of the flu prior to the denial].

    Prediction: The volume of the outrage from pro-life, pro-Trump Christians (like our own @Tyrell) over these easily preventable deaths will be deafening. /s

  55. MarkedMan says:

    File this in the “Trivial But Once Again Shows That Everything Trump Is Weird” bucket. Has anyone seen the video of Trump and the dog involved in capturing the ISIS guy? It’s pretty obvious Trump does not want that dog near him. Mike Pence is randomly standing in between Trump and the dog, constantly petting him. And in the whole presentation Trump only glances at the dog one time, very briefly.

  56. Kathy says:


    Not that trivial. For one thing, I’ve always felt there is something off with people who don’t like dogs(*). For another, maybe if he said he hated dogs, he’d lose some supporters. So it would be a good idea to get him on the record in that respect.

    (*) I can understand people with allergies who don’t want dogs around them, and people who don’t like some things dogs do, like how they are oblivious to dirt, muck, and really bad smells, and of course aggressive dogs are hard to like. But there’s really something fundamentally wrong about a dislike for a creature so loyal and friendly.

  57. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: Calling someone a dog is one of Trump’s favorite insults. I prefer almost any dog to Trump.

  58. grumpy realist says:

    A brilliant exposition of what Britain and the EU will have to think about for the next stage of Brexit. (also all the elephant traps that Britain is going to stumble into. By Ivan Rogers.

  59. Kathy says:

    BTW, I made the Mexican risotto.

    Verdict: there are limits to fusion in cooking.

    It was good, some of the best rice I ever made. But Mexican rice is supposed to be fluffy and airy, not creamy, I realized why when I mixed some with the green mole(*): it should be able to absorb some of the sauce.

    (*) Mole is a complex dish. I don’t know anyone who’s ever made it from scratch. Typically you buy it either 1) ready made, 2) in a concentrated paste, or 3) in powdered form. the latter two are diluted with chicken broth or (sacrilege!!) hot water.

    I don’t even know what’s in it. I know it’s made largely with: hard bread, lard or vegetable oil, a variety of chilies,a variety of spices, cocoa beans (ground, I assume), peanuts (also ground), and really who knows what else. I know green mole uses ground pumpkin seeds and doesn’t have cocoa beans.

    There are three main varieties: Poblano or red, Oaxaqueño or black, and green (not associated with any region as far as I know). But there are endless regional variations as well. The commercial ready made mole is nothing like the powdered varieties you get in popular markets.

    Oh, and it’s yummy.

  60. Jen says:

    @Kathy: The video of Trump with the dog that has had more military experience than him was something to behold. Melania didn’t want to get anywhere near Conan either. I don’t tend to trust people who don’t like dogs, and Trump’s visceral dislike for them (IIRC he told Pence that he didn’t want him to bring his pets to DC because it was “low class” to have animals in the house) just makes me hate him (Trump) even more. Pence earned minor points from me when he was clearly heartbroken when his dog died.

    @CSK: I too prefer pretty much any dog to Trump. But that’s not much of a contest, I prefer most dogs to people in general.

    @Kathy: I made a mole recipe from scratch once, and will never do it again. It had something like 20+ ingredients and took the better part of a day. I like a cooking challenge (I make croissants, baguettes, and the Tartine bread recipe from scratch and routinely make stuff from my Cordon Blue at Home cookbook without blinking an eye) but making mole is insane.

  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: They say that dogs are good judges of character. Maybe Trump knows that, too.

  62. Kathy says:


    After two attempts at making biscuits, bread and I reached a truce.

    I liked a challenge, too, until I started working 12-hour days most weeks, sometimes even longer, and then I became a fan of minimal prep and recipes that require little attention while they cook. and, more important, minimal washing and cleaning up afterwards.

    All that said, I still make tomato soup starting out with fresh tomatoes, just not as often. I have to want it really bad. It’s not the cooking and blending that I mind, but the peeling and seeding that drives me crazy. But I will not make tomato soup from a can, not matter how convenient.

  63. DrDaveT says:


    But there’s really something fundamentally wrong about a dislike for a creature so loyal and friendly.

    I know several people who love dogs in the specific, but absolutely will not trust a strange dog. Most of them have been attacked by strange dogs at some point in their lives, and require some proof that a given dog is gentle. I can believe that they would not go cuddle with a military dog until proof of socialization had been established.

    None of this has anything to do with Trump, of course. He’s just a sociopath.

  64. Jax says:

    His Dark Materials is a pretty good series to watch with kids, if anybody’s looking for one. 😉 My kids have both read the books, and so far they seem satisfied….the daemons in the books seem cooler than the CGI daemons, but you’ll have that.

  65. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I’ve got two months to kill before I go back to work full time until next November, please share the mole recipes you’ve tried! I also <3 a challenge.

  66. Kathy says:


    All my dogs have been small, and I’m a bit wary around large dogs. Larger dogs like the German shepherd have considerable bite force, and sharp flesh-tearing teeth, never mind even larger breeds. Some caution is warranted given the damage a bite can do.

    BTW, it’s possible to love dogs in general, and dislike specific dogs. Some, after all, are real jerks.

  67. Jax says:
  68. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: @Jax: I used to make black mole sauce pretty regularly from scratch for our office Cinque de Mayo potlucks. Yeah, it has a lot of ingredients, but it’s not that more complicated than some Indian cookery. I would measure out all the ingredients into tiny bowls, line them up in rows, then go bing-bing-bing down the rows. Toast the spices and the seeds, grind, simmer the four varieties of chilis, whirr in the blender, add the chocolate. A lot of it really is just throwing everything into the pot and letting it fight itself out. I should try it next time in a crockpot. The recipe I used involved braising chicken with the mole sauce which I find is much tastier than dumping the sauce on boiled chicken (the standard).

    The other main point is to only put SMALL amounts of sauce in the blender (1 cup or less) when homogenising it. Otherwise the lid will fly off and you will get mole-spattered kitchen.

  69. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. I use coconut oil when making mole. Makes a nice substitute for lard.

  70. Kathy says:


    Oh, I’ve never made it from scratch. Ask Jen about that.

    Of the things I’ve made with mole, the one worth mentioning is cornbread with chicken and mole.

    It’s rather simple. Mix your cornbread batter and divide in half. Mix one half with shredded chicken and mole (I also add like a whole sauteed onion with some minced garlic), spread that at the bottom of a greased baking dish and bake until the cornbread is done. the other half of the batter you bake in a separate baking dish, also greased.

    Take the mole half and add more mole and chicken (and onion), and cover with the plain cornbread. Spread some plain mole, no chicken, on top of that, and if you like also some shredded cheese. Pop back in the oven to warm the whole thing up, and melt the cheese, and you’re done.

  71. DrDaveT says:


    Larger dogs like the German shepherd have considerable bite force, and sharp flesh-tearing teeth, never mind even larger breeds. Some caution is warranted given the damage a bite can do.

    My wife grew up with well-trained Irish Wolfhounds — the largest dogs on the planet. She loves dogs — and is nevertheless very hesitant around unfamiliar dogs of any breed. She doesn’t trust the owners to have trained them properly.

  72. Jen says:

    @Jax: I believe this is the recipe I used–from Saveur magazine, now sadly defunct.

    In reading it, it doesn’t seem like it’s that complicated, just a lot of prep. I wonder if I had something else going on at the time, that can lead me to being frustrated and taking it out on the wrong thing (i.e., the recipe!) PS–if you love a challenge, I highly recommend following the Tartine bread recipe that was printed in the NYT. I’ll see if I can track down the link.

    Good luck–I do remember it was tasty.@Kathy: I’ve had the opposite experience re: large and small dogs. Smaller dogs seem more likely to snap and nip, larger dogs less so. I’ve had two German Shepherd mixes (rescues) and they have been amazing, loving, and loyal dogs.

    And yes, some dogs can be jerks. I’m always cautious around new-to-me dogs, no matter their size.

  73. Zachriel says:

    @Kathy: It’s not the cooking and blending that I mind, but the peeling and seeding that drives me crazy.

    Just purée the tomatoes, seeds, skins and all. If you want a few chunks for texture, blanche just one or two tomatoes.

  74. Kathy says:


    I had a toy poodle named Fuzz who was very aggressive, thoroughly unaware of her very small size. But only when you did things she didn’t like, like blowing on her face or grabbing her paws. If she got very annoyed, she barked and snapped the air. She never once bit anyone (aside when she was a small puppy and bit everything within reach, including my fingers). She also liked to bark at people walking past the house.

    Most of the time, though, she was a sweet angel, begging for scraps at the table, following people all over the house, and taking in hours of tummy rubs.

  75. Kathy says:


    I do that in some recipes. but for soup, I like to cook the tomatoes in a pan thoroughly before giving them a ride in the blender. That means removing all seeds and skins first.

  76. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Trump, signing the Sufferage Commemorative Coin Act, asks why the Centennial of the 19th Amendment wasn’t celebrated years ago.
    Hopefully someone on the WH staff can explain to the fat orange imbecile how time works.

  77. Jax says: