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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This cracked me up: Boris Johnson: police called to loud altercation at potential PM’s home

    A neighbour told the Guardian they heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging”. At one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat”.

    The neighbour said that after becoming concerned they knocked on the door but received no response. “I [was] hoping that someone would answer the door and say ‘We’re okay’. I knocked three times and no one came to the door.” The neighbour decided to call 999. Two police cars and a van arrived within minutes, shortly after midnight, but left after receiving reassurances from both the individuals in the flat that they were safe.

    When contacted by the Guardian on Friday, police initially said they had no record of a domestic incident at the address. But when given the case number and reference number, as well as identification markings of the vehicles that were called out, police issued a statement saying: “At 00:24hrs on Friday, 21 June, police responded to a call from a local resident in [south London]. The caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.

    “Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well. There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”

    “Oh, you mean that 1434 Flopsweat Way. Our bad.”

  2. Scott says:

    In Oregon, the Republicans in the state senate fled the state in order to prevent a quorum on a vote on a climate bill. The Governor, Kate Brown authorized the Oregon State police to retrieve them.

    This has a precedent here in Texas. In 2003, the Senate Democrats fled the state to avoid a redistricting vote and avoid being returned by Texas Rangers.

    Both cases used law enforcement to solve a political problem. I think this is both dangerous and wrong. It puts law enforcement in a bad place and sets a bad precedent in problem solving.

  3. @Scott:

    It also happened in Wisconsin when Republicans were pushing through their bills regarding public employees. Democrats in the state Senate retreated to Illinois.

    Regardless of which party does it, it strikes me as pretty juvenile.

  4. JohnMcC says:

    @Scott: And today the remaining legislators cancelled their session because the state police advised them of creditable threats from the right wingers who occupied the Malheure site up there in OR. Good times.

  5. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: Fortunately, the solution to the global warming crisis is right around the corner and we don’t actually need to take any action. The market has it in hand now, and we can rest easy. I’m so relieved.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    Independence Hall. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Thursday June 21, 1787

    Mr. Jonathan Dayton from N. Jersey took his seat.
    Mr. MADISON was of the opinion that there was 1. less danger of encroachment from the Genl. Govt. than from the State Govts. 2. that the mischief from encroachments would be less fatal if made by the former, than if made by the latter. 1. All the examples of other confederacies prove the greater tendency in such systems to anarchy than to tyranny; to a disobedience of the members than to usurpations of the federal head. Our own experience had fully illustrated this tendency. -But it will be said that the proposed change in the principles & form of the Union will vary the tendency; that the Genl. Govt. will have real & greater powers, and will be derived in one branch at least from the people, not from the Govts. of the States. To give full force to this objection, let it be supposed for a moment that indefinite power should be given to the Genl. Legislature, and the States reduced to corporations dependent on the Genl. Legislature; Why shd. it follow that the Genl. Govt. wd. take from the States any branch of their power as far as its operation was beneficial, and its continuance desireable to the people? In some of the States, particularly in Connecticut, all the Townships are incorporated, and have a certain limited jurisdiction. Have the Representatives of the people of the Townships in the Legislature of the State ever endeavored to despoil the Townships of any part of their local authority? As far as this local authority is convenient to the people they are attached to it; and their representatives chosen by & amenable to them naturally respect their attachment to this, as much as their attachment to any other right or interest. The relation of a General Govt. to State Govts. is parallel. 2. Guards were more necessary agst. encroachments of the State Govts. on the Genl. Govt. than of the latter on the former. The great objection made agst. an abolition of the State Govts. was that the Genl. Govt. could not extend its care to all the minute objects which fall under the cognizance of the local jurisdictions. The objection as stated lay not agst. the probable abuse of the general power, but agst. the imperfect use that could be made of it throughout so great an extent of country, and over so great a variety of objects. As far as as its operation would be practicable it could not in this view be improper; as far as it would be impracticable, the conveniency of the Genl. Govt. itself would concur with that of the people in the maintenance of subordinate Governments. Were it practicable for the Genl. Govt. to extend its care to every requisite object without the cooperation of the State Govts. the people would not be less free as members of one great Republic than as members of thirteen small ones. A Citizen of Delaware was not more free than a Citizen of Virginia: nor would either be more free than a Citizen of America. Supposing therefore a tendency in the Genl. Government to absorb the State Govts. no fatal consequence could result. Taking the reverse of the supposition, that a tendency should be left in the State Govts. towards an independence on the General Govt. and the gloomy consequences need not be pointed out. The imagination of them, must have suggested to the States the experiment we are now making to prevent the calamity, and must have formed the chief motive with those present to undertake the arduous task.

    Friday June 22, 1787

    Mr. ELSEWORTH, moved to substitute payment by the States out of their own Treasurys: observing that the manners of different States were very different in the Stile of living and in the profits accruing from the exercise of like talents. What would be deemed therefore a reasonable compensation in some States, in others would be very unpopular, and might impede the system of which it made a part.
    Mr. WILLIAMSON favored the idea. He reminded the House of the prospect of new States to the Westward. They would be poor-would pay little into the common Treasury-and would have a different interest from the old States. He did not think therefore that the latter ought to pay the expences of men who would be employed in thwarting their measures & interests.
    Mr. GHORUM, wished not to refer the matter to the State Legislatures who were always paring down salaries in such a manner as to keep out of offices men most capable of executing the functions of them. He thought also it would be wrong to fix the compensations by the constitutions, because we could not venture to make it as liberal as it ought to be without exciting an enmity agst. the whole plan. Let the Natil. Legisl: provide for their own wages from time to time; as the State Legislatures do. He had not seen this part of their power abused, nor did he apprehend an abuse of it.
    Mr. RANDOLPH feared we were going too far, in consulting popular prejudices. Whatever respect might be due to them, in lesser matters, or in cases where they formed the permanent character of the people, he thought it neither incumbent on nor honorable for the Convention, to sacrifice right & justice to that consideration. If the States were to pay the members of the Natl. Legislature, a dependence would be created that would vitiate the whole System. The whole nation has an interest in the attendance & services of the members. The Nationl. Treasury therefore is the proper fund for supporting them.
    Mr. KING, urged the danger of creating a dependence on the States by leavg. to them the payment of the members of the Natl. Legislature. He supposed it wd. be best to be explicit as to the compensation to be allowed. A reserve on that point, or a reference to the Natl. Legislature of the quantum, would excite greater opposition than any sum that would be actually necessary or proper.
    Mr. SHERMAN contended for referring both the quantum and the payment of it to the State Legislatures.
    Mr. WILSON was agst. fixing the compensation as circumstances would change and call for a change of the amount. He thought it of great moment that the members of the Natl. Govt. should be left as independent as possible of the State Govts. in all respects.
    Mr. MADISON concurred in the necessity of preserving the compensations for the Natl. Govt. independent on the State Govts. but at the same time approved of fixing them by the Constitution, which might be done by taking a standard which wd. not vary with circumstances. He disliked particularly the policy suggested by Mr. Wiliamson of leaving the members from the poor States beyond the Mountains, to the precarious & parsimonious support of their constituents. If the Western States hereafter arising should be admitted into the Union, they ought to be considered as equals & as brethren. If their representatives were to be associated in the Common Councils, it was of common concern that such provisions should be made as would invite the most capable and respectable characters into the service.
    Mr. HAMILTON apprehended inconveniency from fixing the wages. He was strenuous agst. making the National Council dependent on the Legislative rewards of the States. Those who pay are the masters of those who are paid. Payment by the States would be unequal as the distant States would have to pay for the same term of attendance and more days in travelling to & from the seat of the Govt. He expatiated emphatically on the difference between the feelings & views of the people-& the Governments of the States arising from the personal interest & official inducements which must render the latter unfriendly to the Genl. Govt.

  7. Gustopher says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    Fortunately, the solution to the global warming crisis is right around the corner and we don’t actually need to take any action. The market has it in hand now, and we can rest easy. I’m so relieved.

    An over-abundance of carbon in the atmosphere will lead to corrective forces such as rising temperatures and sea level, along with more powerful storms, which will reduce the population producing the over-abundance. The invisible hand of the market works!

    Also, we are our own apex predator.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I have a suggestion for James and Doug and Stephen: We do a lot of reacting to news events and manhandling trolls. There are a lot of interesting people hanging around, a lot of smart people who bring a lot of education and life experience. What if every now and then you posted a question, like “What do we do about climate change?’ to pick something randomly. J, D or S sets it up with a summary of the issue, does a piece on their own ideas, then poses the question. We could cure cancer. Or something.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: I second Michaels idea. And to add to it, I propose that Coate’s Horde rules apply to these discussions: “the jerks are invited to leave [and] the grown-ups to stay and chime in.” When Ta Nahesi Coates had his Atlantic Blog, the comments section was ruthlessly policed (he used a fairly large group of volunteers to do most of the work). If someone played the fool, engaged in whataboutism, insulted legitimate posters, or failed to respond to legitimate challenges they were banned for anywhere from 24 hours to eternity.

    Now that Dreher has gone down the gay-germophobic rathole, this is literally the only place where I view the comments section. It’s a strength of this blog and to be honest, I don’t understand how it has survived. Everything on the internet eventually turns to sh*t. It’s just a fundamental law of nature.

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    North Korea’s Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump
    North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter from US President Donald Trump, state media has reported.
    Mr Kim praised the letter as “excellent” and said he would “seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the KCNA news agency said.
    He also praised Mr Trump’s “extraordinary courage”.

    Love letters in the Sand

  11. Teve says:

    this is literally the only place where I view the comments section. It’s a strength of this blog and to be honest, I don’t understand how it has survived. Everything on the internet eventually turns to sh*t. It’s just a fundamental law of nature.

    same here. I don’t know how this comment section has managed to say so good. It’s been especially nice the last week or two with one particularly tedious troll absent.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: What causes me to really roll my eyes about Dreher is his ability to go absolutely hysterical about behaviour exhibited by 0.00001% of the population and claim we’re on the verge of immediate social collapse….he continually reinterprets media stories of the “man bites dog” variety as “normalising” the behaviour when they’re just trying to snag eyeballs.

    For someone who has made his way as a journalist, Dreher is singularly clueless about why the media write certain stories.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The gaggle over at the DT are of course furious about the taping and the report and accusing the neighbours of anything from invasion of privacy to being “quislings and traitors.” Amazing how no one is supposed to say anything against “their Boris”, who is supposed to take the U.K. out of the EU on a no-deal Brexit and lead the U.K. to sunlit meadows filled with frolicking unicorns and sunshine.

    (And the people over at EUreferendum are highly peeved that the U.K. media has gone scampering off after this story and are totally ignoring the fact that the clock is ticking down on the Oct 31 deadline, the EU is singularly disinterested at providing another extension for the Brits to fart away, and the U.K. has done very little actual preparation for the aftereffects of going off the cliff.)

  14. grumpy realist says:

    Boris as a car reviewer.

    Lordy lordy me.

  15. Kathy says:

    I finished “A Canticle for Leibowitz.”

    I have to ask: what the fork just happened?


    You’ve been warned.

    Ok. I get it that the story progresses along with human progress and rediscovery after a nuclear war, until there’s nuclear energy again and another nuclear war. Fair enough. Very pessimistic, but very clear.

    But what was the whole last scene about the abbott and Rachel all about? I get who/what Rachel is biologically, but what the fork did the abbott see or think he saw as he very slowly died under the rubble?

  16. @Kathy:

    Given the heavily religious overtones of the book, my assumption at the time is that the scene is meant to imply the birth of some new form of life that, like man originally was in Genesis, is free from Original Sin. This is why it was Rachel who was giving the Eucharist to the Abbott and not the other way around.

  17. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I thought I might have missed something. Apparently I did not.

    It was an ok novel, but the ending makes it feel tainted as Catholic propaganda. I can see how it would have played different when published, when fear of an actual nuclear war was much greater.

  18. @Kathy:

    There’s a sequel that came out in the 1990s. It was kind of a flop.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    I was very impressed by Canticle when I was a teenager and felt it held up well when I reread it several years ago. I recognize it is a little “inside baseball”. How many people, even Catholic ones, under the age of fifty have even heard the legend of the wandering Jew (outside of Heinlein fans)? As I recall he has a minor role in the novellas.

    For another book that explores Catholic faith and beliefs I recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Some of its themes are faith in the absence of proof, the spiritual value of pain, martyrdom (specifically the martyrdom of missionaries), and the historic role of science in Catholicism. FWIW I served my dozen years in Catholic primary and secondary schools so I’m familiar with these concepts, but I’m in no way religious at this point. I’m not even an atheist, it’s just that organized or unorganized religion has no meaning to me. But I don’t expect others to feel the same way and I don’t judge the faithful. I recognize that I might be “faith blind” in the same way people are color blind, although I think it’s unlikely. However, I am interested in the role religion plays in our world and in peoples lives.

  20. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t suppose it addresses any of the teasing the author did in part 2? If it did, it might be worth reading.

    I mean the notion that an old hermit might have been alive for centuries, or that humanity might be the creation of an earlier humanity, or that a saint did a favor for an abbey built in his honor.

  21. @Kathy:

    To some extent. Unfortunately Miller became ill while finishing the sequel, and died before it was completely finished. They brought in another author to tie up the loose ends, and it shows.

  22. MarkedMan says:


    I mean the notion that an old hermit might have been alive for centuries

    Ah, that’s what I meant above by the legend of the Wandering Jew. Trusting only to my memory here, there was someone who knew Jesus, a fellow Jew, who wronged him in some way. Supposedly he was condemned by god to wander the earth until Jesus returned. My understanding was that the hermit was the Wandering Jew, and he had a vested interest in the birth at the end of the collection, as it is implied that it is the second coming.

    [Okay, wait. I better check wiki before I embarrass myself.

    Nope, I got it more or less right]

    The Wandering Jew is a mythical immortal man whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century.[1] The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming.

  23. As long as people are recommending books, I am going to throw in a recommendation for The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s an alt-history/fantasy novel that starts out with the premise that the Black Death killed off 99% of Europe’s population, leaving the settlement of the world to other civilizations. There’s also an element of reincarnation to the story that binds its parts together.

    It’s long at 600 pages but probably one of the best alt. history books I’ve ever read.

  24. Teve says:

    @Doug Mataconis: that looks good.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: For a few years now I have been offering the speculation that our role in the ecosystem is more akin to parasite than it is other roles. People seem to take offense at this speculation for some reason.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “It was as though the whole county of Hampshire was lying back and opening her well-bred legs to be ravished by the Italian stallion.”

    EWWWWWWW! WTF??? That’s tasteless even for GQ. Wow.

  27. DrDaveT says:


    For another book that explores Catholic faith and beliefs I recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

    Seconded; I thought this was a really good first-contact novel, though it suffered from some of the usual issues of SF written by a non-specialist. I love the one-page prologue, which ends:

    The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God’s other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the furthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God.

    They meant no harm.

  28. Teve says:
  29. Teve says:

    I just got ads on Facebook for New Balance tennis shoes with two velcro straps, despite the fact that I’m 42, not 72. Every day I get ads for height increasing shoes, despite the fact that I’m 6 ft tall. It’s amazing that Facebook can make so much money on targeted advertising when their targeting is so terrible.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: FWIW, there is a tradeoff between specificity and price-per-view, and sometimes it is more cost effective to cast a wider net. There are things that are worth a lot of money, for instance people that are searching for and reading articles on 1952 Ferrari’s and have purchased at least one car costing over $1M in the past five years. If you are selling a specific 1952 Ferrari it may be worth paying a whole lot to reach those folks. But if you are selling a wide variety of old sports cars it might be more cost effective just getting the randos that subscribe to Hemings Motor News and so forth.

    Which is a long way of pointing out that maybe it isn’t your age that is the trigger. How’s your fashion sense? 😉

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: I’ve been getting ads for lab microscopes. I have NO idea what brought THAT on.

  32. Teve says:

    I think the algorithms are just shitty. On the YouTube app I get endless suggested videos of Louis CK and Jordan Peterson despite selecting Not Interested every single time for the last 6 months. I think the algorithms are built to serve up inflammatory garbage no matter what you want.

  33. DrDaveT says:


    I think the algorithms are just shitty.

    It’s not an algorithm; it’s an auction driven by multiple algorithms, one per vendor.

    Basically, when you load a page there is a competition among the advertisers for who will get to show you an ad. Each vendor estimates the value of putting their ad in front of you, based on the available information about your browsing history, location, settings, and other information visible to the vendor. The high bid wins; that’s the ad you see. All of this takes milliseconds.

    So, a vendor with a bad algorithm that overestimates your propensity to click might show up repeatedly for you. Presumably this is a problem that is self-correcting in the long run.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: there’s a whole industry around putting those algorithms closer to to the auction systems to get another millisecond or two that would otherwise be used on network time.

    It’s dead smack between “amazingly fascinating” and “I really don’t give a fvck”. Huge technological problems, for so little useful effect.

    I’ve started gently looking for work after taking about a year off. There are jobs I see where I say “well, I’m glad someone is doing this, but I wouldn’t want to waste my life doing it”, and then there are things like this, where I’m not even glad someone is doing it.

  35. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: the targeting is better than the untargetted advertising by a few orders of magnitude, even when it gets half the people completely wrong.

    Makes you wonder what a better system could do, doesn’t it? One that recognizes that you aren’t interested in increasing your height…

    Also @Teve: YouTube has a couple of death spirals in its recommendations. Just be glad you got that one, as the alt-right death spiral and the pedophile death-spiral are worse.

    The pedophile death spiral will make you want to cry. Open a new private window, go to YouTube and find children’s gymnastics. Click to two others. Then, note the comments — it’s all time codes where pedophiles found something particularly nice. The last step of this experiment is to cry, and then wonder if they use your ip to identify you as much as a login. They do. Resume crying, and then ponder if the pedophile spiral is more or less destructive than the alt-right spiral. Cry some more when you realize that pedophiles don’t vote for a pro-pedophile agenda.

  36. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: Jordan Peterson is part of the alt-Right. And a complete demagogue. And YouTube won’t stop suggesting videos titled things like “Jordan Peterson DESTROYS Feminist twit” etc.

  37. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: @MarkedMan: Yes, good suggestions. We don’t have the bandwidth of The Atlantic, so aggressive policing of comments is beyond our means. We do try to drive out the worst of the worst.