Open Forum

The mid-week edition.

Spout off in the comments below.

Remember, you can always find these via the Open Forum link on the top navigation menu.

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:

    The Hill

    #BREAKING: Mueller team members say final report more damaging to Trump than Barr summary suggested: report

    7:46 PM · Apr 3, 2019

  2. SenyorDave says:

    I know we are all desensitized to Trump’s abhorrent behavior, but shouldn’t this whole Mar-a-lago story be a bigger deal?

    We have a president who is openly selling access for $200k a pop
    The former owner of a spa that is charged with human trafficking bragged about selling access to Trump (and promoted events at Mar-a-Lago with ads targeting Chinese business executives hoping to gain access to Trump and his family).
    A woman was arrested with multiple electronic devices including a thumb drive with malware trying to gain access to Mar a lago

    The bar for future presidents is set pretty low. Get elected , than open a private club and sell memberships at $1 million (I think $200k is dirt cheap given how Trump can be manipulated).

  3. Stormy Dragon says:
  4. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: my favorite was “The Sound of Music: “A family decides to leave Austria.””

  5. Teve says:

    The idea that a person who in 2019 would want to work for the Trump administration would have anything less than stellar integrity and character…why that just defies belief!

  6. MarkedMan says:

    James feels uncomfortable doing this, but I have no qualms. Anyone who wants to support the site can sign up as a patron for as littles a $1 month. Just follow this link.

  7. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Funny 🙂

    I once did one-line non-spoiler reviews of short stories. These look very similar.

    My favorite:

    Franchise, by Isaac Asimov: A man gets to vote.

  8. James Pearce says:

    Saw Aquaman finally. I was surprised that I enjoyed it considering how dimly I usually view these comic book movies.

    December 21st, 2018, Aquaman was released in theaters. It was also the night that Jason Momoa got more people laid than Tinder.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Remember, you can always find these via the Open Forum link on the top navigation menu.

    Um. I don’t think that’s true.

  10. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I expect the report to be leaked shortly if the people who worked on it feel like their work is being misrepresented.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    Also, the Chair of House Ways and Means has asked the IRS for Trump’s tax returns, reminding the IRS that the statute says the IRS “shall” provide them. No subpoenas, no qualifiers, they shall provide as requested by the Chair.

  12. Joe says:

    So, let’s review:
    1. Trump administration tells appeals court that it agrees Obamacare should be deep-sixed in total at your earliest opportunity.
    2. Trump says Republicans can/should/will provide a superior replacement.
    3. The population laughs and Republicans sneer at the thought of actually proposing a replacement.
    4. Administration concedes that no plan will be proposed until after next election, cause, ya.
    5. Administration still advocating the imminent deep-sixing of Obamacare.
    And this is still ok to some people.

  13. Kathy says:


    And this is still ok to some people.

    But it will lower your premiums!

    Once you no longer have a bloated, government-mandated insurance plan, your premiums will drop to zero!

    What more could you possibly want? Rationality?

  14. EddieInCA says:

    I have a genuine question for the group, carrying over from a previous thread. Other than Heather Wilson, from New Mexico, and Buttigeig, I can’t find another Rhodes Scholar who served in the Active Military.

    Anyone know of anybody else?

    Buttigieg had an elite elite upbringing, as the son of two professors, educated at Harvard and Oxford, yet chose to serve his country in an actual war. This wasn’t signing up in the 80’s when the Military was going to Panama and Grenada. This was Afghanistan.

    Still not sold on him, but he’s impressive so far.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That reminds me of the Woody Allen line where he took a speed-reading course and got through War and Peace in 20 minutes and said “It’s about Russia.”

  16. Gustopher says:

    @Joe: Whether ObamaCare is unconstitutional is a separate issue from the Republicans ability to create a health care plan.

    I think I have figured out their plan though… wait for ObamaCare to go away, and then give block grants to the states to implement RomneyCare, which will be called TrumpCare. Block grants distributed on a per-electoral-vote basis, to maximize benefits to empty states.

    Pre-existing conditions will be “protected”, but insurers would be allowed to offer discounts for no pre-existing conditions.

    Lifetime limits will be proposed, but get drawn back as “compromise”.

    Benefits and medical loss will be tweaked to maximize profits, and address talking points. Insurance companies will no longer have to provide birth benefits for 90 year old women, which will cut the cost by nothing. Abortion and contraception will never be covered.

    And somehow, this will also allow selling health insurance across state lines, and have malpractice “reform”.

    Emergency Rooms will be required to contact ICE for any potential illegal immigrant.

    Most people in red states will have lower premiums. Possibly blue states as well, but that is not the intent. The reduced coverage, and the “discounts” for no pre-existing conditions will take care of that.

    If we are very lucky, allowed discounts will be regulated. States will be allowed to implement work requirements for Medicaid, and obviously it only covers citizens. Must present a drivers license while signing up, to discourage “urban” participation.

    Le sigh. I should totally get a job working for a right wing think tank.

    Oh, shit. Call it MediCare 2.0 and start saying they are in favor of MediCare For All.

  17. Kathy says:

    In order not to clutter up the Brexit thread, I’ll ask here:

    Does anyone know of a reason why a monorail is in any way “better” than a regular train using two rails?

    Regular trains are very successful, if we include subways and light rail. Passenger traffic has migrated largely to planes and buses, though perhaps not in Europe and Japan, but they still carry a lot of freight in many other places.

    Monorails, in contrast, are relegated to tourist attractions like Disneyland, and rather short lines here and there. Sure, they look cool and futuristic, but so did the Shinkansen when it was new, and for that matter the TGV now.

    My question reminds me of Igor Sikorsky. He claimed to have been frequently asked when helicopters would be faster, larger, or more efficient than airplanes. He always answered “Never,” but explained there were things helicopters could do, like hover and land vertically, that airplanes couldn’t.

    I can’t think of anything a monorail could do that a train can’t.

  18. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: a raised monorail has a much thinner track than a raised light rail track. It’s about three feet wide rather than the width of the train plus a bunch.

    If you are adding one to a city, it has a lot less shadow — it’s way less intrusive.

    I believe that a monorail is also quieter, but I am comparing the Seattle monorail with the raised sections of the NYC subway, and those are vastly different things.

    Derailment is harder, as the monorail train wraps around the rail.

    Plus, there’s the joy of riding on single railed luxury and elegance. And singing the monorail song. And saying to your cat “Look, Kimchi, monorail!” as you go past. Those are harder benefits to quantify though.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @SenyorDave: We’ve been at a point for almost his entire presidency where nothing seems like new news. He’s been selling access the whole time, so any new story of him selling access seems like “Yeah, we knew that.”


    I can’t find another Rhodes Scholar who served in the Active Military.

    You mean among national-level politicians, or period? I know of several Academy grads who were Rhodes Scholars, for example, but can’t offhand think of any who are still in national politics. (Pete Dawkins ran for Senate in New Jersey a long time ago.)


    Um. I don’t think that’s true.

    I see all four Open Forum posts when I click that link. You don’t?

    @MarkedMan: Thanks. I’ll probably start pitching it more when I’ve removed the remaining ads. All but one are gone and I’m just waiting for the payout on those.

  20. JohnSF says:

    Minimising space requirements; much less compared to surface rail, less obtrusive than a “conventional overhead”; but not as costly (or as long to build?) as underground.

    But with significant drawbacks: still pretty damn obtrusive, not easily extensible (points switching a nightmare apparently) etc.

    It’s much simpler (hah!) to reduce vehicle traffic and use the freed-up roadspace for conventional light rail.
    And there’s why monorails can roost in some politician’s heads: the happy vision of mass transit minus the financial cost of underground and the political costs of traffic restriction.

  21. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @James Joyner: Among unsuccessful presidential contenders, Wesley Clark was a Rhodes Scholar. He was also #1 in class rank at West Point in 1966.

  22. CSK says:

    So far I haven’t seen the slightest mention in the pro-Trump websites (by which I mean, Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit, the Conservative Treehouse) of the fabulations he told about his father’s birthplace and the noise from windmills causing cancer. I guess the official policy must be to ignore what can’t be rationalized or dismissed as fake news.

  23. MarkedMan says:


    Does anyone know of a reason why a monorail is in any way “better” than a regular train using two rails?

    When I was a kid in the 70’s there was a contingent who “knew” monorails were way better than anything else, cheaper, easier to maintain, trivial to get right of way, etc. and they couldn’t believe how stupid everyone was for not seeing it. That movement seemed to have finally died down in the oughts, probably after a couple of dozen monorail demonstrator projects all over the world showed all of those claims to be false.

    That said, I was lucky enough to travel at 400 km per hour on the maglev train between Pudong airport and its terminus 20 miles away. Not a monorail but still maglev. By the time I left China the max speed had been slowed to 300 kph, and it was rumored that it saved a great deal on maintenance. It’s revealing that since it was built Shanghai has developed the largest subway system in the world by a large amount, but never even extended the maglev to the other airport, much less build another.

  24. Joe says:

    @Gustopher: As obnoxious as most of that sounds, it’s still way more of a plan than I have ever heard from the Republican side of the aisle.

  25. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My coworkers have been sending around #BarrCliffNotes

    A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times.

  26. Kathy says:


    Thnak you, those are really good points.

    Evidently, though, not good enough.


    And saying to your cat “Look, Kimchi, monorail!”

    My cat responded really well when I tapped my fingernails rapidly on the wall and said “look, a mouse!” 🙂

    She also meowed a great deal if I talked to her. The dog, in contrast, perked up her ears and cocked her head to one side, as though she were paying attention.

  27. Teve says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: we were near a desert and I saw wildlife.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Joyner:..I see all four Open Forum posts when I click that link. You don’t?

    When I click on the OPEN FORUM button at the top of the page I see two old Open Forum’s, March 24 and March 27. Reloading page changes nothing.

  29. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster: Same for me.

  30. Teve says:

    The Hill
    Question: “Do wind turbines cause cancer?”

    Mercedes Schlapp, White House Director of Strategic Communications: “I don’t have an answer to that.”

    Everyone who supports Trump humiliates themselves in the end.

  31. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: @CSK: Hmm. So, it’s working correctly for me in Chrome. In Firefox, though, all of the top-level category archives are a few days behind. That’s . . . really weird.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    I use Safari Version 12.1 (12607.

    Everything else seems to work. e.g. Comment posting and Edit function.

  33. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: Weird. I’ve sent a note to my IT guy. We’re pushing to the next major iteration of WordPress soon, likely tomorrow evening, anyway, so we’ll see if we can get it sorted out.

  34. Teve says:

    We should ask Tim Apple if he thinks Trump is going downhill.

  35. Teve says:

    Bloomberg says along with Moore, Trump is adding Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve board.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Joe: See? You understand perfectly! Congratulations!

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: You DO realize that some of the “points” you’re making simply aren’t true, right? Still, monorail travel has always had a “coolness” factor that other light rail systems simply don’t have. After all, it was the go to choice for both Disneyland and Vegas.

  38. CSK says:

    @James Joyner: Same with IE–I was using Firefox before.

  39. Jax says:

    I use Opera and the Open Forum section is up to date and accessible.

    I do very often get an “edit” function on other people’s comments, though. From what I can tell they are posted very recently and may still be within the the 15 minute cutoff for the original poster, but it’s odd that an edit function is available for someone else during that time frame.

  40. Joe says:


    The dog, in contrast, perked up her ears and cocked her head to one side, as though she were paying attention.

    When my older son was a high school freshman, he had a small comic role in a show and, to a regular laugh from the audience, reacted to another character’s odd line with an unusual tilt of his head. Months later he mentioned that he had learned this move from our dog.

  41. Mister Bluster says:

    Just checked the OPEN FORUM button on the header. I can now see all four recent “forum” home pages.

  42. Kathy says:


    There was a term in the 80s, “vaporware,” which referred to promised developments, usually in hardware, which never came along. I wonder what you call a development that does come along, but falls flat and is not even half as good as advertised.

    I classify maglev trains this way. And other things like the Segway (remember it?).

    Some developments fail for other reasons. The Concorde was a perfectly reasonable first generation supersonic airplane. Sure, it was expensive. Sure, it was limited. So were the first generation jet aircraft. Had it enjoyed moderate success and sold, oh, 150 planes, we’d have gotten a follow-on model, much improved (contrast the 707 and 747), and other manufacturers would have developed their own.

    We may see this happen soon, if at all, with a little company called Boom (a most unfortunate name for an airplane company, BTW), which is developing a 50-seat supersonic passenger airliner.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: which aren’t true? Elevated rail size? Noise? Derailment? Being able to say to your cat “Look, Kimchi, monorail!”?

    Noise i admit to not being sure about. But every elevated rail I have heard has been loud except monorails. It was also a selling point for the proposed Seattle monorail.

    Have I been suckered by big monorail?

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: No. But having lived in places where there is elevated rail, I doubt that Monorail’s footprint is smaller and the pillars that the track rest on create dead space on the surface street that elevated rail can avoid (but admittedly, doesn’t always). My inclination would be surface light rail, but Seattle traffic is past the point where cars and trains can “share the road” based on the last time I was there. Seattle traffic is unreal–and this comes from someone whose commute to North Kirkland–just short of Woodinville in the 80s was just under 3 hours on a bad day.

  45. Kit says:


    Some developments fail for other reasons. The Concorde was a perfectly reasonable first generation supersonic airplane.

    This is all from distant memory, but I believe Boeing wouldn’t/couldn’t play in this space, and so ensured that supersonic flights were forbidden over the US, thereby drastically limiting the market. The planes stayed in limited service as a prestige project, but were quickly retired after the first accident.

    Probably for the best: today we needn’t live with constant sonic booms, and the planet is likely better off too. Still, the planes remain damn cool. I’ve been in three, all in museums.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: I believe it had more to do with municipalities not allowing sonic booms in their airspace.

  47. Kathy says:


    This is all from distant memory, but I believe Boeing wouldn’t/couldn’t play in this space, and so ensured that supersonic flights were forbidden over the US, thereby drastically limiting the market.

    Boeing was developing the 2707 SST with a great deal of government funding. When the funding dried up, the project perished.

    Around the same time, Boeing had developed the 747 Jumbo Jet. The reason for the cockpit placement on it was to allow for a frontal cargo door, as Boeing judged supersonic passenger liners would render it obsolete, but it could fill a role as a freighter. Indeed, from the first version to the Dreamlifter version (essentially a double deck 747 for cargo), it has been a very successful cargo jet.

    BTW, three major European developments in aviation were 1) the Comet, the first passenger jet, 2) the Concorde, the first supersonic passenger plane, and 3) the A380, the first double-deck passenger plane.

    Of these three, the Comet’s vision caught on, as today most passenger airplanes are jets, though the Comet had a tragically mixed result due to a design flaw which led to the loss of many of the early planes sold. The other two are essentially commercial failures. Oh, the A380 sold several hundred planes, but production will end after just one decade, and pretty much no one wants any used ones. So it, too, flopped.

  48. James Pearce says:

    Saw this on Twitter and it’s so relevant to some of my experiences these last few years:

    “If you go after the left and you’re not a Trump person, people have no fucking idea how to even approach arguing with you, so they just proceed as though you are a Trump person and bring him up incessantly.”

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: Considering that politics here is binary, if you go after the left, then (at this moment) you ARE a “Trump person” since HE is the “leader” of the right. I feel your pain, just not much. It’s not an environment where contrarianist thought is honored or welcome. Even instant runoff balloting requires you pick “a” or “b” no matter how much you’d like “c.” The fact that “c” isn’t outlawed is only because the advocates are aware of the optics and don’t like them.

  50. James Pearce says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    if you go after the left, then (at this moment) you ARE a “Trump person”

    But they’re not Trump people, though, and they hate the left now.

    Implications for Dems wanting to take a hard left turn.

  51. Teve says:

    MAGA painter sues Smithsonian for not displaying his MAGA painting. you’ve got to see this piece of … art.

  52. Kathy says:


    It’s not even “art.”

    Per the article, “Raven is representing himself in the lawsuit. ”

    What was that saying about a man who represents himself in court?

  53. Teve says:

    @Kathy: the illumination of the earth, compared to the apparent position of the sun, compared to the illumination of the other side of the globe…

  54. An Interested Party says:

    you’ve got to see this piece of … art.

    Wow, talk about false advertising! That hair is far too blond and far too thick to actually represent reality…

  55. Mister Bluster says:

    I know Art when I see it.

    I know Art Boatright and I know Art Valentine and that’s not either one of them!