Open Forum

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

The floor is yours.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Teve says:
  2. Teve says:
  3. Teve says:
  4. Tevr says: has an article up about how Alabama’s abortion laws are now more severe than those of Saudi Arabia.

  5. CSK says:

    Franklin Graham has called for a “day of prayer” for Prez Trump on June 2.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tevr:..Alabama’s abortion laws are now more severe than those of Saudi Arabia.

    Somehow I’m not surprised.
    See Arab, Alabama:As late as 1990, Arab was a sundown town, with a sign warning African Americans not to stay in Arab after dark. While Alabama is 26% black, in the 2000 census 0.18% of the population of Arab was black.

  7. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster: @Mister Bluster: Arab Alabama is located mostly in Marshall county and a little bit in Cullman county. In 2016 Marshall county voted 84% for Trump, and Cullman county voted 88% for Trump, numbers that I’m sure will shock you 🙂 😛

  8. Teve says:

    @CSK: blessed are the poolboys.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Yeah. We showed them how.

  10. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: one would hope that poor and middle class right-wingers will at some point wake up to the fact that they’re being conned. it’s easy to look at the few trolls we have here who are pathologically resistant to reality, and say no they’re just too dumb, they’ll never figure out they’re being conned, they were born to give money to Trump and televangelists and the like, but maybe that’s a little too cynical, and we should notice the trolls who did figure it out, and stopped coming around so much.

  11. DrDaveT says:


    it’s easy to look at the few trolls we have here who are pathologically resistant to reality, and say no they’re just too dumb […]

    I’ve been assuming that the trolls we get here are in on the con — they stand to benefit from it, either financially or socially. Am I wrong about that?

  12. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: I live in the rural Deep South so I’m surrounded by Trumpers, but my most vivid interaction with one was about three years ago when I was working at a hardware store on the weekends to save up extra cash, and this guy blurts out at me unprovoked, “finally we’re gonna have a president that’s gonna drag 10 million of em outta here kickin and screamin!”

    That guy probly thought he was #WINNING. But he wasn’t.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    OK, sometimes I use these threads as little self assigned essay challenges to see if I can say something a bit complicated in the confines of a blog comment. Comment, and argument, are welcome.


    one would hope that poor and middle class right-wingers will at some point wake up to the fact that they’re being conned.

    One would hope. But I think about the Germans who maintained faith in the Fuehrer as allied armies advanced from two sides and the allied air forces bombed their cities into burned out rubble.

    Prius or Pickup talks about fixed and fluid personalities. Lakoff talks about Nuturant Parent or Strict Father framing. Colin Firth funded research that talks about the size of the amygdala. Haidt talks about stressing different “foundations” of personality. In the US “conservative” is roughly congruent with “fundamentalist”. The net effect is that conservatives see the world differently than you or I. They are more fearful, more prone to us v them, and tend to see truth as a matter of true to the faith. And they are gullible.

    Piketty teaches us that we are returning, worldwide, to Gilded Age levels of wealth concentration. With wealth comes power, and their goal is to preserve both. This means supporting political policies that no thoughtful person would support: ignore AGW, cut taxes on the wealthy, “free market” health insurance, etc. I don’t think Koch, Adelson, Mercer, and on and on give a damn about guns or abortion or gays, but they’re happy to use them to elect the politicians they pay to do their bidding. You or I see Putin’s Russia as a shithole country, they see it as a role model.

    Their minions have studied conservative psychology and they have gotten very good at manipulating the fearful and gullible. Mass media, marketing, and social media have provided them with powerful tools. The Koch Bros astroturfed the Tea Party, the same sort of thing the European billionaires in your link @Teve: are doing. And they, and the rest of the Billionaire Boys Club are continuing to do it here. Small D democracy is in deep, deep trouble.

  14. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: I tend to agree with that.

  15. Jax says:

    At what point do we need to have Congressional action regarding data privacy and what these privately owned companies can sell?

  16. Jax says:
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: Sadly, you make a lot of sense. In the 1920’s, when wealthy businessmen could literally call on the government to shoot strikers in the streets, labor organizers could work for years to gain trust and build up an organization. Then the mine owners would hire a hundred Southern Italians or Irish and start a rumor that one of them had raped a shitkickers daughter. It was ninety percent effective in getting the community “united” around the real threat and dropping the whole union thing.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: I agree with your overall thrust but I’m a little puzzled by your specific complaint here. If you have a gmail account, or yahoo mail or hotmail etc, this type of thing is literally what you signed up for. You actually signed a user agreement that lets them mine your email and sell your name to entities based on what’s in there. I expect Apple to be better than this, but can’t see any reason to be pissed at them and not at those other companies.

  19. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m angry at all of them. First American Title is a big deal. It was readily available on the internet with no hacking tools necessary. 885 million people exceeds the population of the United States. Is that what you expected when you signed your mortgage?

  20. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: When do we get to start doing something about that?

    I realize we’re on the same side, here. We absolutely SHOULD be focusing on data security, and we’re distracted by Trump. 🙁

  21. Kylopod says:

    Apropos the discussion about people being duped, in LA Times last week there was a moving article about a guy who voted for Trump, only to see his wife deported. A few tidbits:

    (1) He voted for Obama in 2008.

    (2) He’s an evangelical Christian who was convinced to vote for Trump by Dobson and his ilk on the grounds that abortion would be outlawed.

    (3) He felt Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric wasn’t aimed at “good people” like his family.

    (4) Despite what he’s going through now, while he says he’s probably not voting for Trump again, he refuses to admit his 2016 vote was a mistake.

  22. Jax says:

    @Kylopod: Goes back to that “I voted for the leopard-eating my-face party, but I didn’t expect him to eat MY face!”

  23. Gustopher says:


    blessed are the poolboys.

    Some friends and I rented an AirB&B in Florida a few years back, and it had a pool. We were told the pool boy would be there on Wednesday, and I was disappointed to discover that the pool boy was about 60.

    Felt like false advertising to me.

    We didn’t rent the place for the pool boy, but it was still a bit disappointing. “Pool cleaner” would have been a perfectly fine term to use, and would have been a lot clearer.

  24. Gustopher says:


    From your article:

    “For example, any person or entity could rent a list with the names and addresses of all unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000 who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application,” the suit states. “Such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed.”

    Over ten cents per customer is really high. I do wonder how many people fit that demographic though….

    Also, do they mean country music, or that shit they put out now and call country?

  25. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: You would be surprised how many “senior citizen” computers I get called in to “fix”, who clicked on the gold ads on Fox/Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin sites. They also have iTunes pre-installed, either on their tablets, or their grandkids have put it on their computers. There’s nothing I can do to fix their “clicky” habit….I can fix the shit out of their computer, but I have no control over their stupidity.

    I’d say probably 35% of the 46-7% of the people who voted for Trump fit that demographic. They are also unable to discern the difference between fake news, real news, and deepfakes.

    LMAO at the country music. My daughter listens to it. I’m more of a punk rock, industrial or Johnny Cash gal.

  26. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: But the point is, really…why is this information available for sale? If they have the option of selling our information, they should pay us! We’ve gone on too long thinking we’re getting the better end of the deal because their service is “free”…..I would happily pay for ad-free Facebook/Twitter/iTunes, with the additional guarantee that my information is not for sale.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    Mailing lists have been for sale for decades, long before the Internet. In the early 90’s I used to design systems that put addresses on catalogs. The mailing lists could be incredibly specific: Jewish women in a certain income range in a specific zip code who had a baby three years before. Middle aged men who had recently divorced and changed address.

    How were these things compiled? Every magazine makes money by selling their lists. Virtually every place you shop sells your purchasing info (just what do you think your grocery “loyalty cards” are all about?). State DMVs sell the fact that you were just issued a ticket or that you drive a blue 2014 Honda Civic. Pre-HIPAA your Ob-GYN made a tidy bit of extra cash by selling the fact that you had just found out you were pregnant. One couple in our birthing group got their first ads and catalogs 2 days after they found out. Given the timing, their name was sold even before they were given the results.

    So we shouldn’t be focusing only on the Internet. We need something that covers everything.

  28. Teve says:

    I’d say probably 35% of the 46-7% of the people who voted for Trump fit that demographic. They are also unable to discern the difference between fake news, real news, and deepfakes.

    when that altered Pelosi video was being shared by millions of conservatives on Facebook as if it was actual factual legitimate information, and Facebook refused to take it down, that was a bad, bad sign. Because maybe next year, and definitely by 2024, there are going to be Russian computer science phds making a living creating videos where Liz Warren or whoever appears to say that white people’s bank accounts should be confiscated as reparations for illegal immigrants, Kamala Harris appears to say white men should have higher tax brackets, etc. audio deepfakes are nearly perfect.

  29. DrDaveT says:

    OT for Memorial Day:

    Dammit, Memorial Day is not about veterans. We have a day for them in November, which is fine. But Memorial Day is about people who gave their lives in our nation’s wars — an entirely different category that should not be diluted. You media people, stop talking about/with/on behalf of veterans on Memorial Day, and talk about the fallen instead.

    From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State
    And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
    Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
    I woke to black flak, and the nightmare fighters.
    When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.


    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    But Memorial Day is about people who gave their lives in our nation’s wars — an entirely different category that should not be diluted.

    Do they have to die on the battlefield or can we honor those who die a slow death that fill the veterans hospitals and die 50 years after they return from Vietnam from the effects of
    Agent Orange.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: A point in time will come–and maybe is actually already here–when it will simply be wiser to assume that anything one see’s on the internet is bullshirt. And I already hold the belief that in any internet transaction I am part of, I’m primarily the product even when my role is ‘customer.’ There’s a reason the movie was called Pirates of the Silicon Valley, and the milieu has not become more benign as time has passed.

  32. Gustopher says:

    Kevin Drum is doing a number of posts where he is digging into census data to see evidence of rural decline, and his results are surprising.

    He describes his methodology, and to a person who failed out of one of the most selective engineering schools in the country, it sounds like a perfectly plausible methodology, but I did fail out.

    Ok, I would want to increase his sample — the data is there, and I see no reason to sample at all, there aren’t that many counties, especially since the conclusions are the exact opposite of what so many of us would expect. And regional grouping to see if anything surprising pops up there.

  33. Gustopher says:


    when that altered Pelosi video was being shared by millions of conservatives on Facebook as if it was actual factual legitimate information, and Facebook refused to take it down, that was a bad, bad sign.

    A Facebook recruiter contacted me on Friday, not sure whether I want to preemptively burn a bridge by telling them that I am not interested because of that decision, but they are definitely not in my first round of companies to apply to (I’ll be looking for the trifecta of easy commute, doesn’t make world a worse place, and pays well)

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: Drum’s piece was interesting. I found it more so because in his sample of rural counties Rolette Cty ND is the county north of where I was raised and another, Glades Cty FL, is two counties east of of me as I sit here. Once you’re well south of Orlando, FL is kind of a hollow shell. I’m in the coastal strip from Tampa to Naples. Ten miles inland it starts getting very rural. Basically I-75 has major cities and beaches to one side and nothing on the other side. They call themselves “forgotten Florida” when they argue gerrymandering should benefit them even further.

    I’ve been reading Identity Crisis, John Sides et al, because somebody said it’s the best book on the 2016 election. It is. They talk about economic anxiety not really being a thing in 2016, or more precisely only a thing in terms of racial resentment. The Craig T. Nelson thing – I was poor, I was on welfare and food stamps and nobody helped me. If Drum is right, and I’m not sure, it would fit with economic decline not really being an issue.

  35. Teve says:

    Oregon Becomes First State To Offer Free Abortions For All


    They should call it The Israeli Plan, for when evangelicals throw a shit fit.

  36. Kathy says:


    Proof that when conservatives say the matter should be left to the states, they don’t really mean it.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, but it’s all part of the whole “you can tell Republicans are lying because their lips move” joke.

  38. Gustopher says:

    From @Teve’s linky

    Republican Representative Bill Post added on Facebook, “The saddest day of my life was when I had to vote on this bill, though of course I voted NO, there was no reason to actually run this bill at all. Oregon should be ashamed and embarrassed. [T]his is NOT just about ‘taxpayer funding’ it’s also forcing YOUR insurance, against [its] will, to include abortions in their coverage … and it’s a violation of the Weldon Act of Congress.”

    Oh, that poor insurance company. It must feel violated.

  39. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: ha what a dumb dipshit.

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Do they have to die on the battlefield?

    No. In fact, the vast majority of war dead (until very recently) died of disease, including the Civil War dead for whom Decoration Day was invented.

  41. Tyrell says:

    News you may not have seen:

    Updates on the Peru scale 8 mega – earthquake: so far two killed and damage to roads and some buildings. See Dutchsinse
    Huawei holds second place in cell phone vendors.
    “Aladdin hits $100 million mark. I am looking for merchandise; and why have no fast food places got on board?
    “Incoming: A June meteor swarm could be loaded with surprises”
    (Washington Post)
    Are we in for a repeat of the famous Tanguska event in Siberia?
    Larry King said there is “no news” on cable networks anymore: “all Trump”.