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:

    The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

    Unlike the northern free states, Mexico didn’t agree to return fugitive slaves.

    Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Minors

    What liberals will say if it turns out Bill Clinton is implicated in the Epstein crimes: “Put him in jail.”

    What conservatives will say if it turns out Donald Trump is implicated in the Epstein crimes: “Fake News! What about so-and-so?”

  2. Teve says:

    A Lakers superteam would have been boring, the upcoming battles between the Lakers and the Clippers will be fun.

  3. EddieInCA says:


    A Lakers superteam would have been boring, the upcoming battles between the Lakers and the Clippers will be fun.

    As a lifelong Angeleno, I can tell you, with certainty, that the Clippers will NEVER be embraced by the city like the Lakers are embraced.

    Perfect example: The last several years, the Lakers have been awful. AWFUL. Meanwhile, the Clippers have been good, going to the playoffs every year. YET…. The Lakers still drew more fans (Lakers were 10th in fan attendance, Clippers 20th), had a larger TV audience, sold more merchandise, and increased the value of the franchise exponentially more than the Clippers.

    But the games should be fun. If you go to a Clippers/Lakers game where the Clippers are the home team, there are more Lakers fans in the building than Clippers fans. Why? Because the Lakers tickets cost so much more that the only way some Lakers fans can see the Lakers is going to see them when they play the Clippers because the Clippers ticket prices are much, much lower.

  4. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: I don’t care how much the city embraces the Lakers, and I think Steve Ballmer should be spit upon when he dares go out in public, but these Lakers/Clippers games might be big fun.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: Since I’m more a LeBron fan, I was kind of hoping Kawhi would join him to form a superteam. But I agree that having yet another team with two superstars will be exciting.

    @EddieInCA: I don’t see how the Clippers ever overcome the Lakers’ decades of dominance. And the LeBron-AD-Cousins-Kuzma-Rondo roster could well add another title before LeBron fades away. Still, the Kawhi-George-Beverly Clippers should be fun to watch.

  6. Teve says:

    MS-13 beat me up and threatened to kill me. Then the US government took my kids.

    I sought asylum in America after MS-13 beat me and threatened to kill me and my kids. Then US government falsely accused me of gang ties and took my sons.


  7. Teve says:

    I still want to see what the 76ers and the Bucks do. If I were the 76ers’ head coach, Ben Simmons would have to practice 3-pointers all day long and if he stepped inside that line he’d get tased.

  8. MarkedMan says:


    Donald Trump biographer Tim O’Brien on Saturday took note on Twitter of an old quote from the president about his one-time pal Jeffrey Epstein, whom he called a “terrific guy” and “fun.”

    It’s “even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump told New York Magazine in 2002 for a profile on Epstein

  9. Trump isn’t the only one with ties to Epstein. Bill Clinton has them as well.

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    USA Women just won the World Cup!…Again!
    Kick Ass!

  11. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster: and Rapinoe scored the first goal which is icing on the cake 🙂

  12. Kathy says:

    I finished season 1 of Star Trek Discovery.

    I must say I liked it.

    Ok. the drive thing is a) a wrecking ball applied to the series chronology, and b) high-level nonsense. and then there’s this latest iteration of the Klingons .

    But the story and some of the characters are really good. Without going into spoilers, I wonder whether Lorca’s arc was planned that way from the start, or made up as they went along. I lean towards the planned hypothesis. In particular there’s the ep where he persuades the admiral to meet with the Klingons, and it was clear, based on subsequent actions,he knew what would happen.

    Unless they drop the whole idea of the magic mushroom drive, they should find a way to bring him back somehow. He’s a great character.

  13. Teve says:

    Has the idea of giving commenters the ability to post pictures in the comments been considered and rejected, or not considered?

  14. Teve says:

    @Kathy: there is so much to like about Discovery, but I have an irrational hatred of the Klingons as characters, and don’t even get me started on that “spore drive”.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: I think it would’ve more trouble than it’s worth. There are tremendous liability issues with photo copyrights plus the potential for abusive, offensive, and even illegal photos to get posted and escape our notice. And we’d either have to host the images on our servers or leach somebody’s bandwidth. Oh, and pages would load slower.

  16. Teve says:

    @James Joyner: yeah that makes sense. At the website I help moderate we had to shut this one guy’s account down because he wouldn’t stop posting really gruesome porn.

  17. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I would refer you to @Teve’s first comment.

  18. Mistr Bluster says:
  19. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Discovery is very much a mixed bag for me. Too many soap opera level twists, just to be twisty, and the Klingons, and the spore drive, but it also had Saru, Lorca and Phillipa.

    I grew very tired of Michael Burnam’s “I am going to disobey a direct order because I still haven’t learned any lessons” expression.

  20. Kathy says:


    Agreed. But don’t you think that Magic Mushroom Drive is more derogatory? I mean, it makes the Infinite Improbability Drive from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy seem positively plausible. Not to mention, where did the infinitely improbably scaled tardigrade come from?

    But the story has been quite good, not to mention it has been following a long-term arc, which is unheard of in Trek.

    Besides, there’s Burnham and Saru.

    BTW, I’d have ended the season with “We overshot by nine months.”

  21. Teve says:

    @Mistr Bluster: kitteh!

  22. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: Yeah. It’s why we can’t have nice things.

  23. Stormy Dragon says:


    I liked Discovery as a standalone thing, and think it would have been an amazing series if it had been a new IP. But I hate it as a Star Trek show because it is thematically hostile to entire Star Trek worldview, which I consider the essential thing that makes Star Trek Star Trek.

    Star Trek is ultimately an optimistic show based on the the premise that conflicts are created by a lack of understanding, and that the key to resolving them is science and technology, learning more about others, and working together as a team.

    Discovery is a pessimistic show based on the premise that conflict is inevitable and the only way to survive is to be as ruthless as possible, and to either destroy or dominate anyone who’s not like you. Oh, and science is evil and should be abandoned before it destroys us all.

  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    So, does this mean the rest of the world has to call the sport soccer for the next four years?

  25. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t disagree with the optimism/pessimism angle, but it feels more like Star Trek than the JJ Abrams movies do. Except the final episode of Season 2.

    It sometimes manages the sense of wonder that Star Trek often has. More in Season 2 than Season 1.

    And Saru is great, and very Star Trekky. Very different species with very different motivations, taking a character trait what we would characterize as a flaw (his incessant fear) and thriving because of it.

  26. SenyorDave says:

    Trump on his teleprompter issues:

    “Yeah, the teleprompter went out,” he continued. “It kept going on. And then, at the end, it just went out. It went kaput. So I could have said — and, actually, right in the middle of that sentence, it went out. And that’s not a good feeling, when you’re standing in front of millions of millions of people on television, and — I don’t know what the final count was, but that went all the way back to the Washington Monument. And I guess the rain knocked out the teleprompter.”
    He continued, “I knew the speech very well, so I was able to do it without a teleprompter. “But the teleprompter did go out. And it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it.”

    He truly sounds like he functions on about a third or fourth grade level. And BTW, didn’t he regularly criticize Barack Obama for using a teleprompter?

  27. MarkedMan says:


    which is unheard of in Trek.

    What about DS9?

  28. Teve says:


    What about DS9?


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

    And that’s not a good feeling, when you’re standing in front of millions of millions of people on television, and — I don’t know what the final count was, but that went all the way back to the Washington Monument.

    So almost nobody came or watched on television? That’s sooo sad. I almost feel sorry for him. (I really don’t know what happened there, I’d forgotten that there was a thing that day and probably wouldn’t have been able to find a streaming feed even if I had remembered–or cared.)

  30. Teve says:

    This is a magnificent thread:

    Anne Thériault
    Tell me a line in a book that changed how you see the world or shifted your understanding of how language can be used or just haunts you for reasons you don’t quite understand and maybe never will. A line that just pops into your mind unbidden, like some weird internal narration.”

    the thread.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    How Britain is about to lose up to 30% of its medical consultants because of tax billing cliffs in pensions.

    Is there something about the Brits and stupid regulations? First we had the whole silliness in Common Law where if you couldn’t shoehorn your case into one of the very particular forms they had for actions your only recourse was to throw yourself on the mercy of the king (a.k.a. courts of chancery), then there’s what they managed to do with screwing up EU regulations, and now there’s this stupidity…..

  32. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump

    weekend anchors is worse than watching low ratings Fake News
    , or Lyin’ Brian Williams (remember when he totally fabricated a War Story trying to make himself into a hero, & got fired. A very dishonest journalist!) and the crew of degenerate……
    7:50 PM · Jul 7, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

    Donald J. Trump
    …..Comcast (NBC/MSNBC) Trump haters, who do whatever Brian & Steve tell them to do. Like CNN, NBC is also way down in the ratings. But
    , who failed in getting the very BORING Dem debates, is now loading up with Democrats & even using Fake unsourced

    Donald J. Trump

    …a “source” of information (ask the Times what they paid for the Boston Globe, & what they sold it for (lost 1.5 Billion Dollars), or their old headquarters building disaster, or their unfunded liability?
    is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!

    It’s almost like something happened this weekend that’s got him spooked and anxious.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: Hey, thanks for that link. And if you go deep enough there is a bonus: someone listed an Animorphs quote.

  34. Gustopher says:


    or Lyin’ Brian Williams (remember when he totally fabricated a War Story trying to make himself into a hero, & got fired.

    As I recall, the story didn’t make Williams out to be a hero, just terrified, and amazed at the soldiers who were taking it all in stride. Similar to Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia story.

    Memory does wacky things and can’t really be trusted.

  35. Stormy Dragon says:


    My favorite book ever is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. One of the lines that has most haunted me since I read is, oddly, the book’s dedication (although it’s hard to explain why to someone who hasn’t read the book):

    “This is not for you.”

  36. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @MarkedMan: one of my favorite Douglas Adams lines is in there too.

  37. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t know the book, and what “this is not for you” might mean in context of the book, but it seems like an amazingly good thing to always remember.

    From gays getting married, to chick flicks, to people speaking Spanish, to vegans, to blacks doing whatever blacks do that offends white people this week, to a black mermaid, to a thousand other things, “this is not for you” is an important thing to remember.

    It’s not for you. move on, and leave people to their own devices. I mean, if you are a furry/black-mermaid-enthusiast/person-who-thought-the-most-recent-fantastic-four-movie-was-good, maybe it is for you, in which case, give it a try, but otherwise, if it’s not for you, just shrug, roll your eyes if required, and don’t get so worked up about it.

    And if you see someone rolling their eyes and you’re getting all worked up, then, dude, dudette, or non-binary dudelike person, that eye-roll isn’t for you.

  38. Gustopher says:

    So, I got into a snippy back and forth with SKI the other day, on the subject of what the right term for the Tenakh/Old-Testament/Jewish-Bible is…

    First, I just want to say that he pushed some buttons in me that I didn’t realize were so easily pushed. Sorry, SKI.

    But also, there’s a very interesting (I think) issue of how much should one bend over to avoid causing offense. “Old Testament” is insulting from a Jewish perspective, but there isn’t a neutral name for it that is recognized by everyone.

    I don’t want to drag up that issue (although I assure you I am totally in the right), but it got me thinking about Fundamentalist Christians objecting to gay marriage because of the word marriage being religious (sorry, guys, you let that become generic, just like Kleenex and Aspirin and now you’re fighting an uphill battle). And transfolk being called by a gender that isn’t their genetic gender, and pro-lifers, and the Persian Gulf (also called the Gulf of Arabia or something) and the English Channel which is called “le channel du Francios et fvck ze English” in French)…

    I kind of regret shifting from BC to BCE, as by moat accounts a historical Jesus would have been born a few years before that, in the summer, and it amuses me to use a date system that points out that religion shouldn’t be taken literally, but I respect the views of non-Christian folks who don’t like Jesus’s 4.5th birthday being used as a reference point.

    Part of me wants to say to the aggrieved minorities “suck it up, Buttercup” because it rhymes. But, rhyming isn’t always a sign of of truth or wisdom. And I totally get where SKI is coming from, and some of my best friends are Jewish (actually, my two closest friends, and then a whole lot of the good-aquaintances, but they are Jewish atheists, and they don’t care).

    So, the point of my long, rambling comment is this: does anyone have a vague rule of thumb that helps here?

    (Why yes, I have been drinking, why do you ask? My Sunday night habit has always been to get a burger and a couple of beers at a bar near my house, and check work email, but I have been taking time off between jobs so I don’t have work email, but I keep the habit just so I don’t lose track of what day of the week it is)

  39. Kit says:


    This is a magnificent thread

    That is a long thread that demands a good hour of thoughtful reading if those pearls are to mean anything. Just as I felt my attention faltering, it turned out I was nearly at the end. Thanks for that!

  40. Kit says:


    does anyone have a vague rule of thumb that helps here?

    I think that absolutely everyone needs to slow way down when it comes to taking offence. It’s become the poison of our age. And we should all share more of what we love than of what we hate. These open threads are great for that, by the way.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I put offensiveness on a scale.

    At the top: Things that are meant to be offensive – “The Irish are nothing but drunks”

    Next: Things that are not meant to be offensive but reveal that the speaker dehumanizes a group or at least puts them in the category of “other” – “All you Asians are so smart”

    Next: Things that are offensive to individual members of a group based on beliefs that are easily shown to be false or misleading – “If Rian worked hard he could be as successful as anyone. Instead he makes excuses because he is a Uyghur under Han Chinese rule.” (This may seem to be the opposite of the first two, because it minimizes rather than maximizes the importance of the group. But it’s actually tangential, since it is about ignorance of the effects of oppression upon individuals in a group. I put it in a lower category though, because it does imply recognition of the agency of people as individuals and not inevitability due to group membership.)

    Next: Things that should be obviously offensive but due to a denial of facts or history are minimized: the confederate flag. If the person displaying it has awareness of its past, this moves up to the first category. But if they are historically oblivious, well that is fundamentally different then deliberate disrespect.

    Next: Things that truly and legitimately offend and could easily be changed – the name of the Washington DC football team.

    Next: Things that truly and legitimately offend but are essentially impossible to change – the Nazi swastika vs. the Buddhist swastika.

    Finally: Things that through interpretation can offend and even mutually offend, but change in one direction leads to a repudiation of the legitimacy of the other. – this is where I put the Old Testament discussion. Christians really do believe their New Testament overrides the older books. Jews believe that this is not so. Each belief actually and truly delegitimizes the other, so they are mutually exclusive. It is possible to understand and respect the others point of view, but for one side to change to suit the other side is a concession of rightness.

  42. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Discovery is a pessimistic show based on the premise that conflict is inevitable and the only way to survive is to be as ruthless as possible, and to either destroy or dominate anyone who’s not like you. Oh, and science is evil and should be abandoned before it destroys us all.

    It didn’t strike me that way on season 1. We’ll see about season 2.

  43. Teve says:

    Pew Research Religion

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @PewReligion
    % who say the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees:
    Religiously unaffiliated 65%
    Black Protestant 63%
    Catholic 50%
    White mainline Protestant 43%
    White evangelicals 25%

  44. Teve says:

    I try to be good about linking to things but I’m not going to link to this because it’s at the, which is a piece of shit garbage site that is everything wrong with The mobile internet.

    Barr says Trump administration can legally add citizenship question to census

    Barr says regardless of what the Supreme Court ruled Trump can do what he wants.