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. Sleeping Dog says:

    Democrats are sleepwalking into a Biden disaster

    This about summarizes my concern about Biden being the nominee.

  2. Bill says:
  3. The post on Trump’s impeachment can be found here.

  4. Bill says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    This about summarizes my concern about Biden being the nominee.

    Yep and throw in earlier comments of mine about how old tired nominees (Dole, McCain, Hillary) have done in recent memory and the economy is the same or better than it is right now, we’re heading towards a Trump reelection. Down vote this as much as you want. You are only putting your heads in the ground like ostriches to be missing all of this.

  5. Teve says:

    Anybody else see that Trump joked that maybe John Dingell is in hell?

  6. Kit says:


    You are only putting your heads in the ground like ostriches to be missing all of this.

    All the major remaining candidates make reasonable arguments for their case. And as William Goldman said: No one knows anything. I certainly wouldn’t bet my life on any of the Big Four certainly winning or losing.

    That said, I feel the D’s must either aim for taking the Senate or go home. Who wants to be left holding the bag when the inevitable recession hits, blocked by the Senate, and watching as the Right grooms a next-generation Trump clone to surf a Red wave? So the next election had better inspire some passion.

    Biden isn’t anyone’s choice for Mr Passion. But what if he were to choose a running mate who made up for his own deficiencies? Someone young and dynamic? Someone who is expected to play an active role, and who, left unsaid, could take the reigns when Biden leaves the stage? That’s a two for one, and it would make a virtue out of Joe’s advanced age.

    Otherwise, I see Biden coming up short as younger voters stay home. Then again, all the others also risk alienating at least some part of the electorate.

  7. Kit says:

    You know what I’d like the OTB Santa to bring for Christmas? A much larger text box for writing comments on mobile phones. PCs allow the box to be resized, but 99% of my comments are on my phone.

  8. Scott says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I just find it astonishing that Democrats are led by all these old folks. You would think that Obama would be the elder statesman but it seems as though baby boomers have a death grip on our politics and won’t let go. It doesn’t bode well.

  9. Teve says:


  10. mattbernius says:


    You would think that Obama would be the elder statesman

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but there really isn’t much of tradition within the US of any presidents (from either side) becoming “Elder Statesmen” guiding their parties post election. So I’m not sure why anyone expected Obama to break that particular mold.

  11. Teve says:

    @Scott: when Wells Fargo committed straight-up fraud against me (and a hundred thousand others), Elizabeth Warren‘s CFPB saved me. I don’t care if she was Methuselah’s mamaw, she’s fine by me.

  12. Kit says:



    Santa only delivers presents to good boys and girls.

  13. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @Bill: Excellent article, which also summarizes a lot of my feelings as well. The word “sleepwalking” is operative here: the #1 thing I’ve noticed about Biden’s defenders is that they’re focused almost entirely on his on-paper qualities, the idea that he checks the right boxes in their view, and they expect him to just sail to victory on those qualities alone.

    I also think they have been fooling themselves into complacency with head-to-head polls. First of all, it’s striking to me that a lot of those same people were the first to dismiss those kinds of polls in 2016 when they showed Sanders polling better against Trump than Clinton. And the fact is that there’s virtually no pattern suggesting the candidate’s ideology or placement on the left-center spectrum is making the difference: Biden does better than Sanders, who does better than Warren, who does better than Pete. At that point some people say, well, Warren is a woman and Pete is gay. And I say, bull. It’s name recognition, pure and simple. The better known you are, the better you poll against Trump. It’s easy to forget how disengaged most of the public is at this point. Of course the vp to a recent well-liked president is going to poll better than lesser known individuals. That doesn’t mean he’ll prove to be a stronger candidate once we get into the thick of things.

    Trump’s approval ratings have been rising according to several polls. Gallup shows him at 45% for the first time in a while—he’s never been higher than 46%, right at the start of his presidency. Maybe the impeachment is helping him, though I’d be cautious in making that assumption; in any case, I suspect it’s not going to be on most voters’ minds 11 months from now. But I have another theory I’ve had for some time. I think as we get into an election year, that’s when people’s partisan instincts kick in. In other years there are a sizable number of poll respondents who just kind of sit on their hands, refusing to express approval for a president that at the end of the day they were likely to vote for all along. I think we saw some of that effect with Obama, heading into 2012. And while I doubt Trump will become as popular as Obama became that year, I bet we’ll see a basic consolidation of Trump support that will make the race close and competitive to the very end.

  14. Kathy says:

    In his podcast Revolutions, Mike Duncan followed the American and French Revolutions with the Haitian one. He made a point of noting the similarity in the rhetoric of all three, at least in parts, especially when claiming to be fighting tyranny.

    He then contrasted the situation of the American colonists, the French urban classes, and the great, big bulk of the Haitian slave population, and asked who was really living under tyranny when they rebelled.

    Republican partisans ought to look at their situation and ask themselves the same question.

  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    You would think that Obama would be the elder statesman

    Seems to me that Obama is playing this perfectly. He’s not endorsing, not putting his thumb on the scales…and when there is a nominee he will work his ass off to defeat Trump.
    But what he said the other day, about the world being a better place if women were in charge, and “…old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way.” was not an accident. And I don’t believe for a minute that the 200 former Obama staffers endorsing Warren were going rogue.

  16. Teve says:

    % of Americans who are white men: 36
    % of House Republicans who are white men: 90

    That’s a party with good future prospects. 🙂

  17. Kit says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Seems to me that Obama is playing this perfectly. He’s not endorsing, not putting his thumb on the scales…and when there is a nominee he will work his ass off to defeat Trump.

    Obama certainly couldn’t push Hillary over the line, but perhaps he’d have more success with a candidate with whom he could identify more closely. Sure, all the candidates covet his endorsement, but for whom could it make a real difference? Obama campaigning for Joe on some variation of his old message feels stale, and Joe’s age exacerbates that feeling. Both Warren and Sanders represent an optimistic hope for change, but wrapped in a program that goes against Obama’s rather conservative mindset. So Buttigieg, faute de mieux? And if so, perhaps he shouldn’t wait on the sidelines.

  18. Moosebreath says:


    “Anybody else see that Trump joked that maybe John Dingell is in hell?”

    Why do you think Trump was joking? Entirely serious question.

  19. CSK says:

    Yes, I saw the John Dingell comment. Trump appears to have plumbed new depths of trashiness last night.

    Trump told the attendees that the Democrats are only using him to get at them. The audience ate it up.

  20. Teve says:

    @Moosebreath: well, I saw how he delivered it, as a snide joke, and also Trump has no actual beliefs.

  21. Teve says:

    Many years ago I read the book American Psycho, and Trump reminds me of Patrick Bateman.

    I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.

    There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.

  22. gVOR08 says:


    % of Americans who are white men: 36
    % of House Republicans who are white men: 90

    That’s a party with good future prospects.

    They locked themselves into this when they embraced racism and the Southern Strategy, so it’s hard to feel any sympathy. But I fear they won’t go quietly. Charles Koch would really, really hate to see a carbon tax, and he likely sees Putin’s oligopoly as a role model. If Trump gets a second term we can kiss off small d democracy. Doug posted yesterday on the Supremes taking three presidential subpoena cases. If the Federalists manage to rule Trump is exempt from oversight and above the law for real, we may kiss off democracy next year. Trump’s an incompetent twit. The same can’t be said of all the Republican apparatchiks around him.

  23. Roger says:

    Trump’s comment about Dingell looking up from hell is about the least surprising news I heard yesterday. I’ve seen a lot of comments about how horrible it was for him to speak ill of the dead, but that’s probably the aspect of his comment that bothered me the least.

    Instead of talking about what a boor he is for speaking ill of the dead, I’d like to see someone more important than me point out that this demonstrates (again) how absolutely everything Trump thinks, says, and does is transactional. I did a favor for the Dingell family and she paid me back by voting to impeach me. She owed me! What kind of person accepts a favor then doesn’t pay it back? It’s almost as if he was trying to fill in the dots for anybody who was too slow to see how he thought favors should work in the Ukraine deal.

  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Obama certainly couldn’t push Hillary over the line

    Well…she did get 3M votes over Trump.
    What he couldn’t do was drag her ass to Michigan and Wisconsin and rural PA…where Putin was sending targeted Social Media attacks.
    And then there was that Comey letter.

  25. Mister Bluster says:

    For the record it should be noted that Hell is a town in Michigan 77.7 miles from Battle Creek.
    I have been unable to locate a Fire Department in Hell which I take as good evidence that there is no such thing as Hellfire.

  26. Kit says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    That’s all true, and had Hillary won I’ve no doubt that we would be telling ourselves rather different stories these days. Still, when it comes to Obama, I suspect that he will be more effective with candidates that resonate with his values and style. And I’m not seeing many natural fits. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t.

  27. CSK says:

    Mark Meadows is retiring at the end of his current term. Cult45 is distraught.

  28. just nutha says:

    @Teve: Lead article on Yahoo this morning, but it may not matter because Trumpies probably agree with him. Still it’s important for the historical record, I suppose.

  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I prefer Presidents who haven’t been Impeached.

  30. DrDaveT says:


    Obama certainly couldn’t push Hillary over the line

    I don’t think that’s fair. Without any one of…
    * the Comey letter
    * Russian/Wikileaks leaking of hacked DNC emails
    * Russian/Wikileaks non-leaking of hacked RNC emails
    * Russian social media tampering
    …Hillary wins. Possibly by a comfortable margin. And we never ever have these conversations about how she was doomed by her innate [fill in the blank]. Even Trump knows this, and it makes him crazy. Crazier.

  31. Kit says:


    And we never ever have these conversations about how she was doomed by her innate [fill in the blank].

    But that’s not fair! I’m not saying that she was doomed. She was a coin-toss candidate in a 50/50 world. Hillary was more than competent, she was far more sinned against than sinning, but she didn’t inspire much love and so was a poor candidate.

  32. Kathy says:

    21st century problems:

    Afraid that all the massive pile of work won’t let me have the time, or keep me too tired, to go see Ep. IX, cook a good set of meals for the week, and watch some Final Space eps before” Rick and Morty” and “The Good Place” resume on Netflix.

    Oh, and get some sleep.

  33. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Whether it was the ludicrous decades long smear campaign or just her personality (like me, she’s a detail oriented technocrat by nature, and we are rarely popular), Hillary has never been a good campaigner. She was (even according to multiple Republicans) an effective Senator once she was in office, but consistently under-performed in campaigning (per an analysis I think I saw on 538 years ago) compared to a “generic Democrat”.

    She’s just not very good at the “politicking” part of being a politician. This may make her a better human being and make the smears against her even more unjust, but is a handicap in elections.

  34. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Yeah. I’m intrigued that the writers and producer believe that they can stretch the final few minutes of the story out for 7 episodes. I’m also intrigued that Marvel’s “The Runaways” has hired the same shark that CBS has been using on the NCIS shows, Magnum, and Blue Bloods to promote (spoiler alert)…

    Morgan Le Fay as the next villain for the kids to battle. (WTF???)

  35. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    Sorry, which story has to be stretched for 7 episodes?

  36. Teve says:
  37. Jax says:

    @Teve: Can’t happen soon enough, personally. And they have nobody but themselves to blame.

  38. Kathy says:


    Good news, for a change.

    You know, Christianity would be decent if they learned to let go of tired old prejudices and dogmas of a desert people long gone.

    It would still be weird, what with sins inherited, people born guilty of being born (or however that goes), not to mention monotheism with three gods and a bunch of lesser deities, and don’t get me started on the idea of “sin.” But if they stopped thinking of messy biological traits as perfect and ordained by a “superior” deity, for one thing, they’d be tolerable to get along with.

    I know some people who profess Christianity have done just that. And kudos to them.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    You know, Christianity would be decent if they learned to let go of tired old prejudices and dogmas of a desert people long gone.

    Whether he actually said it or not, it certainly has a lot of truth to it…

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: The Good Place. The episode before the last one, the judge ruled that Whazzisname was right about Earthlings not getting a fair shake and that the remediation for that is everyone has to be obliterated. There are still 7 episodes left, according to the article that I read–the final one being a double episode. If I remember the clock timing in that episode, there’s something like 5 minutes left before that happens–spread out over 8 half-hour time slots. Yikes!

  41. de stijl says:

    I remember the night I discovered Prince’s I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man.

    I was being clever. Headphones. My roommate would not get pissed. I had this totally covered.

    When I obsess I want to hear it again and again. This was cassette era. Rewind was an actual thing. You had to pick up the needle on a record and drop it down precisely, or hit rewind on the deck. You kids are spoiled.

    I had it timed. Rewind n seconds, and I was back to glorious beginning. I was in heaven.

    Turns out I was a sing-along guy. Still annoyed the crap out of my roomie anyway. He was super cool about it; came out in his jammies and asked me to shut up kindly.

    When drunk people think they’re being stealthy, they are not.

    I felt super bad. But I fell in love with a song that night.

  42. de stijl says:

    Same apartment.

    Morning. Daytime. I was listening to Mandinka full volume dancing around in my underpants.

    Window washer rapelling dude was suddenly in my window. I’m 20th floor. People can’t peek here. Dude is right there. Freaked me the hell out.

  43. de stijl says:

    To @JohnSF:

    You gave me a solid steer on Mojave 3. Thanks!

    If you like that space, check out The Mountain Goats. I recommend Up The Wolves as the entry song. Folk punk.

    If you’re hardcore check out Andrew Jackson Jihad aka AJJ. People Who Eat People.

    Again, thanks! I appreciate it.

  44. de stijl says:

    If you appreciate melancholia:

    Joy Division:


    Leave Me Alone

    Short days. Sun low in the sky.

  45. de stijl says:

    Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros.

  46. de stijl says:

    Actually, Sigur Ros any song.

  47. de stijl says:

    And Jonsi solo. Who was main dude from Sigur Ros.

    Go Do.


  48. de stijl says:

    Melancholia is a force.

  49. de stijl says:

    Snow Patrol – Chocolate

  50. de stijl says:

    The Replacements – Swinging Party

    You thought I was gonna go with Here Comes A Regular

  51. de stijl says:

    Little Mascara

    Essentially all of The Replacements is melancholic.

    Certainly all of Paul Westerberg’s solo stuff.

  52. de stijl says:

    Little Mascara

    Essentially all of The Replacements is melancholic.

    Certainly all of Paul Westerberg’s solo stuff.

  53. de stijl says:

    I am not alone.

    Others feel what I feel.

  54. de stijl says:

    Hurry up. Hurry up.

    Ain’t got enough of this stuff.

    Goddamn, The Replacements soothe my soul.

  55. de stijl says:

    Look me in the eye and tell me I’m satisfied.

    Paul Westerberg got this way back then.

    Melancholia as state of being. As launch pad for hope.

    My stupid hat and gloves I lay awake. He was beneath the skyway hoping.

  56. de stijl says:



    How far back does melancholic rock go?

    Buddy Holly

    Roy Orbison

    Johnny Cash

    This is trans generational.

    Early country. Hillbilly. C & W.

    Melancholia is human. It has an artistic expression across time.

    I am not a moron.

    This thing has been a big thing across several generations. It’s just not me being a selfish idiot.

    It is Hank Williams. Pasty Cline.

    Melancholia is a thing.

  57. Kit says:

    I just read this article reporting on the Mormon church and taxes (scroll down to the section: 3. What the Mormon church has in common with Larry Page).

    The highlights:

    * According to a whistleblower complaint first reported by the Washington Post, Ensign manages an astonishing $100 billion in assets while paying no taxes.

    * Ensign achieves its tax-exempt status by dint of being an “integrated auxiliary” of the Mormon church. It allegedly receives approximately $1 billion per year from church members’ tithes, while disbursing nothing to charitable causes.

    * The complaint quotes Ensign’s president, Roger Clarke, as saying that the money would be used in the event of the second coming of Christ. 🙂

  58. Teve says:
  59. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The Good Place.

    That’s what I thought, and what got me confused. there are 4 episodes left, five if you take the finale as two. Season 4.

    Truthfully, I think the big mystery was revealed when Michael found out no one gets into the Good Place anymore. Resolution came when the Judge ruled the system is broken. So I wonder what’s left, beyond saving all of humanity past and present.

    It will be Ep. IX (Saturday), Rick and Morty (Sunday), and some Final Space (season 2 is all out) before I find out.

  60. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: I’d read somewhere that there would be 16 episodes for the final season. Still 5 half-hour stories remaining in a series that was essentially over at the end of Season One is still a lot of filler.

  61. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Actually, Sigur Ros any song.

    You ever do folk? If so, check out an Icelandic duo called Ylja. The album DÆTUR is arrangements of traditional stuff, including some of the funky Icelandic harmony in fifths. The song Veröld fláa is probably my favorite, but it’s all awesome. (Full disclosure: I saw them live in a very small room, was totally blown away…)

  62. Mister Bluster says:

    Christianity Today’s editor in chief, Mark Galli: “We did what we were called to do.”

    Get off the blower Edith! Jesus might be on the line!

  63. Kathy says:

    Long story short, I received a Kindle oasis as “recognition” for a number of years at work which shall remain undisclosed.

    It’s nice, but I already have two smart phones with Kindle apps, and Kobo apps, and SCRIBD apps, and Wikipedia apps(*) and I only have a few books from Kindle, I think less than ten.

    So I guess I’ll play with the device a bit and see what it can do. I’ve never had an ebook reader before. But then I think I’d benefit most from selling it. a quick search suggests I should be able to get $200-$225 for it. I have use for that.

    Though I must say it seems way overpriced. I’ll be able to say more about it after I see what the device does.

    (*) I find it useful for quick reference.

  64. DrDaveT says:


    It’s nice, but I already have two smart phones with Kindle apps, and Kobo apps, and SCRIBD apps, and Wikipedia apps(*) and I only have a few books from Kindle, I think less than ten.

    There are free online apps that will convert various other e-book formats to the .mobi format used by Kindle. I like the ergonomics of my Kindle Paperwhite, especially the e-ink that reduces glare to nothing. It’s a nice size, too — fits in a big pocket, but I can make the text a nice size for reading even with my ElderEyes(tm).

  65. Kathy says:


    Want to buy the oasis?

    I’ve other reasons: I lack time to read, so I listen to books more than I read them anyway. It’s another device to keep charged, clean, and out of harm’s way. Yet one more gadget that one can lose or break or have stolen.

    I should mention I’m a very hard person to get gifts for. Maybe I’ll talk about it on the next open forum, ’tis the season and all.

  66. de stijl says:


    Also spent time in Iceland. Lived always in Reykvakik proper. Did do weekends in the boonies though.

    If you spend your entire life in a place where there are plants taller than you, for example trees, standard normal trees, Iceland will freak you out.

    Plus everyone is freakishly beautiful and totally unaware of that.

    It is the most stunning place I’ve ever been. Sparse open stunning.

    See the re-use of stunning? You look about in confusion because markers that allow us orient and align ourselves are utterly absent. You are stunned looking at an alien horizon. It is disconcerting. Overwhelming.

    The world seems immense there.

    I grew up where I could see across the block and up and down the street.

    Out country Iceland is so fucking empty it made my brain freak out. You turn and every vista is utterly bereft of life.

    It is so awesome. You feel puny. It is a very weird, but so cool feeling. Disempowered, observational.

    I can’t describe it. You have to witness it.

    The big empty.

  67. de stijl says:


    Got distracted there.

    Will def check out Ylja.

    Thanks for the tip.

  68. Teve says:

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders just deleted a tweet where she made fun of Joe Biden for stuttering.

    Twitter linky

    Smart people with great values.

    Wait that’s not it…

  69. Teve says:

    Like the Bulwark link said,

    But low-key shittiness is now a rite of passage for calling yourself a Republican.

  70. de stijl says:

    I thought long and hard about being an ex-pat in Reykyavik. To call Iceland my home.

    I speak passable Swedish. If you count passable as a drunk 4 year old suffering from dementia.

    I can do meet and greets and wish people well. Icelandic is similar. I could get better with time.

    Eminently doable since all of the young people spoke better English than my shitty Swedish.

    That time has passed though. I will be North American scum.

  71. de stijl says:


    If you confront her, she will lie.

    Then bitch about being called a liar several years hence.

    Best bet is to ignore her.

  72. Jax says:

    My poor email inbox is really appreciative of the other thread dying, despite all the awesome music! I accidentally clicked “notify” on that one when I was trying to squeak pie-face’s wheels last night…..moral of the story is don’t feed the troll. 😉

  73. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “There are still 7 episodes left, according to the article that I read”

    Either you misread the article or you didn’t look at the date (or the person writing it was an idiot). The entire final season is 9 episodes. I believe 7 have already aired, and the 90-minute series finale airs January 30.