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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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Elon Musk defamation trial begins in case brought by British diver

    The trial will start after jury selection on Tuesday. Potential jurors will be asked whether they hold strong opinions on billionaires who visit Thailand, Reuters reported. Once a panel of jurors is selected, Musk is expected to be the first witness.

    Asking me that specific question would not tell them very much because while my opinion of billionaires is generally not very high (there are exceptions) I can’t say that where they visit has ever had much of an impact on that opinion.

  2. As some of you may have noticed, we were having some issues with comment moderation and the spam filter yesterday, This is why many of your comments ended up in moderation when they should not have. All of those comments were ultimately approved, but I’m sorry for the hiccups.

    It should be cleared up now, though.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thanx Doug. I was afraid the spam filter had decided I was Satan’s minion and was targeting me again.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    For Ingrid, a 15-year-old in La Crosse, Wisconsin, going to high school means being monitored on surveillance cameras in her hallways and classrooms. Students are required to carry their school supplies in clear backpacks, as ordinary backpacks might be used to conceal a weapon, she said. Water bottles must also be clear, so school officials can see the color of the liquid inside. The monitoring continues on the laptops students use in school. Teenagers are warned that the school is tracking what they do, and that they can get in trouble for visiting inappropriate websites.

    This level of surveillance is “not too over-the-top”, Ingrid said, and she feels her classmates are generally “accepting” of it.

    Clear clothing is right around the corner. And I’m only being half sarcastic.

    When it comes to digital surveillance of what they do on school laptops, “I feel like everyone’s adjusted. I don’t think anyone really cares at this point,” Ingrid said. “The subject doesn’t really come up until someone’s gotten in trouble for something. Usually it’s just like, ‘Oh, that person is stupid, looking at what they were doing on a school device. They should have known better.’”

    If the school were monitoring anything on her personal cellphone, that would be a privacy violation, Ingrid said. But on her school-issued laptop? “I have no problem with it, because it’s a school device, you know?”

    For decades, American school shootings have driven a booming school security industry. Last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead, has helped expand the market for products that allow schools to monitor what students are doing on their computers for signs of violence or self-harm. Tech companies are now offering a range of products that help schools track the websites kids are visiting and the searches they are making; that monitor everything students are writing in school emails, chats and shared documents; or that even attempt to track what students are posting on their public social media accounts.

    One leading student privacy expert estimated that as many as a third of America’s roughly 15,000 school districts may already be using technology that monitors students’ emails and documents for phrases that might flag suicidal thoughts, plans for a school shooting, or a range of other offenses.

    Because nothing says Freedom like monetizing fear.

    In interviews, students and parents across the United States said they were still grappling with how this new school surveillance works, whether it goes too far in violating student privacy, and what effect it might have on a generation of children.

    Because nothing says Freedom like keeping people in the dark.

    Some believe students are already fully adjusted to the experience of intensive school surveillance.

    “They’re resigned to it,” said Jarrett Dapier, 40, a parent of a middle school student, and a young adult librarian in Skokie, Illinois. “They all know – at least the ones I’ve talked to – that this is going on. It’s sort of like: this is the cost of getting a school device.

    “It’s pretty disturbing,” he said.

    When Dapier talks with other teen librarians about the issue of school surveillance, “we’re very alarmed,” he said. “It sort of trains the next generation that [surveillance] is normal, that it’s not an issue. What is the next generation’s Mark Zuckerberg going to think is normal?

    “It’s the school as panopticon, and the sweeping searchlight beams into homes, now, and to me, that’s just disastrous to intellectual risk-taking and creativity.”

    Good question.

    But some privacy experts – and students – said they are concerned that surveillance at school might actually be undermining students’ wellbeing.

    “I think it does have an effect on our brains that we’re constantly being surveilled, and there’s cameras where we are most of the day,” said Sara, the 16-year-old private school student from New York City. And not just in school: “A lot of kids have cameras in front of their house, on the subway, in stores.”

    When students are not on school cameras or city cameras or store cameras, they’re on their own phone cameras.

    “Anxiety and depression is the highest that it’s been,” she said. “I do think the constant screen surveillance has affected our anxiety levels and our levels of depression. It’s over-guarding kids, you need to let them make mistakes, you know? That’s kind of how we learn.”

    Much more at the link.

  5. Bill says:
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:
  7. Kit says:

    The cameras and metal detectors, the transparent backpacks and live-shooter drills, well these are all signs that we are a sick country that lost the plot about what freedom means.

    But the fact that school computers are monitored? I really wouldn’t expect anything else for a host of reasons. And I think people would be hard pressed to find a kid who wasn’t primarily accessing the internet through a different device. That’s not at all to say that the question of how constant surveillance affects mentality is not an important one.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:


    But the fact that school computers are monitored?

    The problem isn’t that the school computers are monitored, it’s the apparent lack of standards or regulation over the collection of data and the lack of transparency. Any system can be abused, this one is being abused. I feel safe in saying that because of all that is lacking.

  9. Kit says:

    For me, this is the money quote from that article:

    he is well aware of how much data digital platforms collect about their users, and how freely they offer to sell it to other companies.

    I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the schools are in over their heads.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: Yep.

  11. Senyordave says:

    Lisa Page, former FBI lawyer, speaks out about Trump:
    Page, 39, had avoided speaking out publicly for 18 months but broke her silence in an interview with the Daily Beast published Sunday, saying Trump’s recent rally appearance mimicking her and Strzok in the throes of passion riled her enough to fight back. “His demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
    As disgusting as Trump as, this might be a new low point, watch at about 1:20 for the fake orgasm, but the whole thing is so repulsive that it ends up being surreal:
    Here is the link for the youtube video
    I guess some men who are pigs like Trump might find this funny, but how does a woman watch this and not feel dirty.
    If he wins again this country will start a steep decline. 40% of the people support this?

  12. Mister Bluster says:
  13. CSK says:

    @Senyordave: Cult45 is denying that was a fake orgasm, just as they denied it when Trump made fun of Serge Kovalesky’s desability.

  14. DrDaveT says:


    Cult45 is denying that was a fake orgasm

    When I first read that, I interpreted you as saying that they were claiming it was a real one. And now I need some mental Clorox…

  15. Teve says:

    Jon Cooper
    If you’re wondering why Republicans in Congress all seem to be in Putin’s back pocket,remember that Russia hacked the RNC server in 2016 but conspicuously released no documents stolen from the Republicans. Russia/Trump are likely using dirt they found to blackmail GOP lawmakers.

    Speculation, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  16. KM says:

    “For the Children!!” has always been the best excuse to get people to accept invasion of rights, government overreach and flat-out fascist or authoritarian mentality. Take the recent hysteria over vaping – states are banning flavored products *for everyone* solely because someone decided it would be a good idea to be seen “doing something” for a problem with 37 deaths nationally caused by folks using black market crap with one state being an obvious standout (looking at you IL). In other words, it’s fairly clear what the cause is but noooo, because “children” are affected everyone is not allowed to have a legal product since they might get a hold of it. Security theater on display – it will do nothing since the org problem came from black market goods so there is zero reason to think flavored products won’t just get added to that menu.

    We have real problems in this country with a much, much higher death toll. Hell, Samoa has had over 50 deaths from measles in the last few months due to anti-vaxxer stupidity. While Samoa itself is not part of our country, America Samoa is incredibly close by and a stop for service men and women that can carry the virus to their next deployment within hours. That has the capability to kill FAR more then vaping pretty frigging quickly but nobody seems to care – the drugs boogeyman rears it’s ugly head again.

    We’re training citizens to accept government surveillance and control without gaining any real benefit from it. We accept it as panacea for existential fears while not using it address actual problems.

  17. CSK says:

    @DrDaveT: Yeah, I can see why you would. I had not had my coffee when I wrote that. And, obviously, it should be “disability.”

    A new unauthorized bio of Melania Trump, Free, Melania, by Kate Bennett, claims that Donald has a lock on his bedroom door. Somehow I doubt it’s to keep Melania from gaining entrance and overpowering and ravishing him.

  18. Kathy says:

    I’m near the last third of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen. It’s a critique of the way history is taught in the US, particularly of high school history text books.

    I was skeptical, a bit, about his expansive claims on how much the books leave out. But then I realized I have confirmation.

    About six years ago I read barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly” (great book, BTW), which contains a chapter on Vietnam. Tuchman goes into some detail about the independence drive in Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh’s attending the Paris peace conferences after WWI, pleading for self-determination rights in Indochina. And then about Vietnamese cooperation with the US during WWII against Japan, America’s aid to France in reconquering Indochina after WWII, the temporary partition of Vietnam, and America’s escalation to keep South Vietnam “free.” To that point, I knew little about the Vietnam war.

    Some time later, Ken Burns’ documentary on Vietnam came out, and it was much talked about in a message board I frequented at the time. I was surprised how many Americans there were astonished to learn about all the details I mention above. Surely they learned that in school, didn’t they?

    Well, no.

    This is not entirely a US problem. Take a pivotal event in Mexican history, the independence of Texas. In school we learned it was all Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana’s fault, which is not far off the mark. But there was no mention of Spain having allowed Americans to settle in Texas decades earlier, or the dissatisfaction of many of them with Santa Ana’s government, or the fact many owned slaves, etc.

    Another point Loewen makes is that history is presented as unrelated events, without any exploration of causes. This seems particularly odd to me, as in junior high school history causes were a major part of all topics covered in world history. I recall a question in a test was “Describe and explain the major causes of World War One.”

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: Anytime children are involved, people overreact. It wasn’t that long ago that a parent/s was cited because s/he/they allowed their children to go to a playground w/o adult supervision.

  20. Teve says:
  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Well, that and Macron is mean to him.

  22. Kathy says:

    Florida Man Waxes Incoherent on NATO. Would not recognize irony if it came up to him and flipped his comb-over.

  23. Joe says:

    I wish Lisa Page well, though her speaking out on this is a fool’s errand and will get her zero closure. I was nevertheless struck – yet again – by how bizarre it is that the POTUS spends time talking about her in any way at all, let alone the way he does. He is a broken and obscene person.

  24. Teve says:

    Speaking on behalf of all native-born Florida Men, Donald Trump is an interloper Yankee snowbird loser. He is in Florida, not of Florida.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    ‘It Just Isn’t Working’: Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Efforts

    Needless to say that this report is a Rorschach test for the various interest groups. Whatever the cause, we are wasting billions and weakening our future.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:


    It may have something to do with why Tiny locks his BR door.

  27. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Curious habit. You’d think the Secret Service would object.

    Maybe he’s afraid someone will steal his nightly bag o’ hamberders.

  28. Kathy says:


    Well, we can’t say for sure, of course. But the odds that even one person one time stole one french fry from Florida Man’s stash are very high.

    Naturally a man in Dennison’s position would take all precautions to prevent a recurrence of such American carnage.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Joe: I too wish Lisa Page well and feel she has been ill treated. After all, all she really did was express disdain for Trump, something most educated, well informed people are guilty of. That said, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a book deal involved.

  30. Teve says:

    Evan McMullin
    I desperately want to be optimistic for the GOP because the nation needs it to be healthy and thriving, but looking at it now, it’s hard to see it as anything other than unsalvageable. Worse, it’s truly become a menace to liberty in America.

  31. sam says:

    And some folks wonder why there are doubts about his mental state:

    Trump says he doesn’t know Britain’s Prince Andrew. They had a breakfast meeting in June.

  32. Kathy says:


    I’d worry more about his supporters’ and followers’ mental states. Dennison pretty much claims not to know 1) people who speak badly about him, and 2) people who get bad press.

    This is disingenuous, and should not have been taken seriously by anyone after the first few times he tried it. But his cult believes it to be the gospel truth, and/or pretends to believe it is.

  33. Sleeping Dog says:


    I suspect that the Secret Service has someone outside each door to the residence, what happens inside is in private.

    Maybe he has an inflatable girlfriend…

  34. CSK says:

    @sam: I think it’s Trump’s default response to deny knowing someone when that person gets in trouble. Cult45 will buy it, of course.

    @Sleeping Dog: An inflatable gotlfriend is about the best he can do at this point.

  35. Scott O says:

    An article recommendation, False Idol — Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump in Rolling Stone. It’s a very long read but there’s an audio version too.

  36. Joe says:


    I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a book deal involved.

    Still wish her well, but I would rather read a phonebook.

  37. Teve says:

    Political rumor is that Harris is calling it a day.

  38. mattbernius says:

    Ugh, so file the following under the stupidest thing I’ve read today:

    Sgt. Juan Valencia, an office spokesman, told The Chronicle that a carotid restraint hold is not a choke hold, because if used correctly, it does not constrict the airway. It is used to render a person unconscious so deputies can conduct an arrest, he said, adding that “it’s not considered deadly force at all.”


    If we’re being pedantic, he is correct that a carotid restraint isn’t a choke hold. It’s a strangulation hold (i.e. cuts off blood versus air).

    First, “I wasn’t choking him, I was strangling him…” really doesn’t sound all that much better.

    Second, there’s always a risk of stoking an older individual out with a strangle (by dislodging arterial plaque via trauma) or inducing heart attack (via rapid blood pressure change or stress).

    Finally, with most restraints, the difference between a choke and strangle is a degree or so of positioning. Which is tough on a resisting opponent. So pretty much any strangle can easily become a choke.

    (This is before I get into how little practice most police who don’t practice things like BJJ or Judo on the side actually get with applying these things to an actively resisting individual).

    (Rant done — and it’s beside the point that this entire story is a cluster-eff from start to finish.)

  39. CSK says:

    @Teve: Harris has bailed, according to Politico.

  40. Teve says:

    @CSK: the last three major polls had her in 6th place.

  41. Jen says:

    @CSK: NYT has it too.

  42. CSK says:

    @Jen: About 13 inches of snow here. How about you? Glad you have power.

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    Circular firing squad?…
    Right-wing thug attacked man in car park – then stopped when he realised ‘they were on the same side’

  44. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Indeed. We all know that having one more scoop of ice cream than everyone else is vitally important to him. God help us should he be one meal short of a fry.

  45. Kathy says:


    That’s kind of an unwarranted assumption. for all we know, Dennison the dog hater doesn’t even like ice cream.

  46. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Hey, they don’t call him “Donny Two Scoops” for nothing.

  47. Kit says:

    @Scott O:
    That was a great recommendation, although I found it hard reading. Parts had me involuntarily clutching my hand to my chest with the pained realisation that these simple-minded people could so misread a situation. Several times, I couldn’t help but think that the shadow of evil has laid hard across the south for centuries. And again and again, this line from Voltaire came to me:

    Enlightened times will only enlighten a small number of honest men. The common people will always be fanatical.

  48. Jen says:

    @CSK: 14″–and we got lucky, neighboring town just south of us got 21″!

    Power never went out, thankfully. Doesn’t matter that much to us as we have an auto-on whole house generator (I insisted when we moved in).

  49. Kit says:

    I’m not sure that I should be encouraging this, but here’s The Best Bidet Toilet Seat or Washlet. Go and sin no more.

  50. Kathy says:

    At the NATO not-a-summit, Macron clashed with Edrogan and Trump.

    It brings to mind a quotation about Grover Cleveland, which says “they love him most of all for the enemies he has made.”

  51. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    House Intel released their Impeachment Report.
    Pretty damaging. Super job, by Schiff, in focusing and explaining the issues involved.
    It includes new information regarding phone calls between OMB (holding up funds) Rudy, Nunes, and Parnas.
    It concludes that Pence was at least knowledgeable, and likely an active participant, which means he is Impeachable as well.

  52. Scott O says:

    @Kit: I think it’s an explanation of how half of Trump’s supporters believe that he’s a better president than Lincoln.

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    I am sitting in the local Panera listening to two students quiz each other on the Constitution.

    Article I… Legislature
    Article II…Executive
    Article III…Judicial

    Amendment III …Quartering of Troops
    Amendment V…Double Jeopardy
    Which Amendment is about Citizenship…XIIII
    Amendment IV…unreasonable search

    I am guessing they are High School students since I am pretty sure Illinois requires students pass a US and State Constitution test to get a diploma.

    I think that they are going to pass.

  54. mattbernius says:

    Contained within the intelligence committee report:

    The report describes a tangled web of contacts among an array of Trump associates and allies as the Ukraine effort took shape earlier this year — including previously undisclosed communications between these individuals and John Solomon, a former columnist for The Hill newspaper whose writings have animated GOP defenses of the president.

    Interesting that Solomon disclosed none of that in his reporting, huh?

  55. Stormy Dragon says:

    BTW, there is something broken with the site’s software. Whatever adds articles to the archive pages seems to have failed in mid September, such that if you go to the “US Politics”, “World Politics”, etc. links at the top of the page or the “Read All Posts” at the bottom of the page, all of the articles after September 19th are missing.

  56. An Interested Party says:

    @Scott O: Jesus, that article was depressing…but it provided vivid examples like the following…

    By the time Trump came along, the gulf was so wide that criticizing Trump’s behavior seemed beside the point. There was now a scorched-earth policy, and any leader who tackled the wedge issues with Trumpian ferocity was on the side of righteousness. Which also happened to be where the money was. “I had a huge donor that was the puppet master behind the whole Trump campaign,” says Thornbury, who was also president of the King’s College, a small Christian school, from 2013 until 2017. “Rebekah Mercer was funding Breitbart. Who is an evangelical college president going to talk to, to raise $10 million a year? Right-wing crazy people.”

    And as Jesus himself pointed out, money tends to shut down moral inquiry. “It’s all about money,” Thornbury argues. “All these people were told, ‘Don’t say anything about Trump or we’re going to stop giving to your thing.’ All of the money that is behind these evangelical institutions is being given by Trump supporters.”

    …that amply prove that certain evangelicals are some of the most anti-Christian people on Earth…in the end, this is the full truth…

    These faith leaders helped me see that no one political party had a monopoly on God; that Jesus himself was revolutionary, upsetting hierarchies wherever he went; and that a form of Christianity that could be co-opted by a political agenda was suspect at its core. “I find the term ‘Christian right’ highly objectionable because I don’t think there’s anything Christian about it, frankly,” says religion historian Balmer. “What is Christian about what’s happening at the border right now? What is Christian about the economic policies since Trump took office?”

    I thought Christians were supposed to be wary of false prophets…

  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I thought Christians were supposed to be wary of false prophets…

    Revelations says only 144,000 will be saved during the second coming, so with 2.19 billion+ Christians on the planet, that would imply that 94% of Christians are fraudulent.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    Revelations says only 144,000 will be saved during the second coming, so with 2.19 billion+ Christians on the planet, that would imply that 94% of Christians are fraudulent.

    Maybe they’re like people who play the lottery and think that they’ll be one of the 144,000…

  59. Teve says:

    Matt Viser
    · 8h
    With Kamala Harris out, the debate stage in December at this point will be all white candidates. Striking for a field that was historically large and historically diverse. Here’s who has qualified:


    Liz Cheney
    You forgot about Pocahontas.

    Andy Richter
    What a boring, sister-betraying gas bag

  60. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think your decimal point slipped on you. 99.994% of Christians are fraudulent?

  61. Gustopher says:

    D.C. Fontana has died. She was pretty ok.

    She wrote several episodes of Bonanza and Kung Fu, but used her initials so people wouldn’t be frightened of a woman writing.

    She will be missed.

  62. EddieInCA says:
  63. Scott says:
  64. OzarkHillbilly says:


    An inflatable gotlfriend is about the best he can do at this point.

    You misspelled ‘goatfriend’.

  65. mattbernius says:

    Apparently that’s the type of state sanctioned authoritarianism that “Middle America”(tm) wants injected straight into their veins.

  66. Teve says:

    Ezra Klein
    It’d be an awful legacy for the 2020 field if the fight between Medicare for All and Medicare for More ended up empowering the Republican agenda of Obamacare for none and Medicaid for fewer.

  67. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thanks! 😀

  68. Teve says:
  69. Mister Bluster says:

    @Stormy Dragon:..broken site software

    This has happened before.
    Archives lagged for a long time and then last spring? summer? they seemed to be up to date.
    I noticed a few weeks ago that things were lagging again. I had not checked archives for a while so I don’t know for how long.
    I suspect the OTB Internet Wizards are aware of the problem but have not had time to deal with it.

  70. al Ameda says:


    Florida headline of the day-
    Florida woman causes plane to divert after faking illness for bigger seat: report

    Many travelers complain about the airlines (airline staff) but my experience is that many customers (aka ‘the public’) are no piece of cake either.

    I fly occasionally during a year – sometimes from here in CA from SFO to LA, across the country to the Great Lakes or NYC, and sometimes to Europe and I’ve seen various types of inconsiderate behavior. This usually includes people holding up lines to place or extricate their mini-fridge sized luggage from overhead bins, reclining seats to make it nearly impossible for the traveler seated behind them to move, to … you name it. Most of the time, uneventful, but …

  71. An Interested Party says:

    Talk about adding insult to injury…this is disgusting…

  72. Kit says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Yes, I saw that. It immediately put me in mind of Iran recently charging the families of slain protesters for the bullets used to kill them. Heartless fanaticism exists everywhere and in all times.