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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    Someone explain something to me: Jeffrey Epstein, like Donald Trump, is a notorious germaphobe. Both men despise shaking hands with others. Yet both men are compelled to insert their penises into any strange vagina within reach, thereby risking HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and probably other ailments I can’t think of. What’s up with that?

  2. Teve says:
  3. Teve says:
  4. Guarneri says:


    Spend a lot of time pondering that, do-ya?

  5. CSK says:

    @Guarneri: Very little, in fact. But it is curious.

  6. Kathy says:


    “Recyclable”? “BPA Free”? Isn’t that kind of “Liberal”? 🙂

  7. Kathy says:

    On other things, Dennison hosted a get-together with major US airlines about the “problem” posed by state-subsidized Middle East airlines.

    In a seemingly out of character move, El Cheeto declined to side with the US companies in a protectionist move.

    But there are two major reasons for this.

    In the second place, Qatar Airways recently placed a large order with Boeing and GE for planes and engines.

    But in the first place, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, did not attend, while Qatar’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, did.

    I wonder whether Bastian doesn’t know if he wants anything from this so-called administration, he has to kiss orange ass first.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dershowitz Defends Himself Amid Lawsuit, Citing His ‘Perfect Sex Life’

    No matter what happens in the years remaining to me, I will never have had to demean myself so.

  9. @OzarkHillbilly:

    If there is one thing I don’t need the detail of, it is Alan Dershowitz’s sex life.

  10. Teve says:
  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    Why does my acrophobia make it an ordeal for me to stand two feet off the ground on a ladder, but being thousands of feet up in an airplane is no problem?

    Psychological disorders are by their nature irrational; if everything about them made sense, they wouldn’t be disorders.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    “Cosmopolitan Elite” is a codeword for Jewish people.

  13. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: that Missouri numbskull’s agenda seems to be 1 less globalization, 2 less multiculturalism 3 fewer ‘elites’, and 4 more Jesus.

    Once Mitch McConnell sends us into Great Depression 2 in order to wreck Warren’s presidency, that numbnut will probly be the 47th president.

  14. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Being in an enclosed space with a floor beneath your feet probably helps. I don’t like ladders, either, but flying is fine.

    Trump brags about his alleged sexual prowess and numerous alleged conquests. It’s odd that a man who revels in grabbing strange pussies should recoil at grabbing strange hands.

  15. Teve says:

    Since we’re going to spend all weekend fondly reminiscing about a time when America reached for the stars, just remember cool government shit like NASA costs money, which comes from taxes, which Republicans have spent the last four decades cutting so millionaires can get richer.
    9:37 PM · Jul 19, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

    Replying to
    America doesn’t do big things anymore by design. Republicans have decided that they care more about keeping America’s billionaire elite comfortable than doing the kind of audacious projects that inspire future generations.

    Republicans aren’t just cheap. They actively hate government. Government has never created a job. The government that governs best is one that governs least. They want to shrink government until it’s small enough to drown in the bathtub.

    This could never happen in 2019 :

    (Photo of two men walking on the moon)

    GOP suckers are ignorantly choosing to turn into a third world country, they’ve been choosing that since about 1980.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    God, you’re as needy as Trump, aren’t you? Just desperate to be part of the adult conversation. Come to think of it, more like Ivanka Trump trying to horn in on conversations at the G20. What’s the matter, Drew, finding conversation in #Cult45 too limiting?

  17. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve occasionally commented on my quite low opinion of that central conservative thinker, George Will. Will has a new book out, The Conservative Sensibility, 700 pages Ezra Klein read so I don’t have to. Klein has an interview with Will in VOX, George Will makes the conservative case against democracy. that I can’t let go unremarked.

    I’m a great believer that how you speak and write reflects how you think. (You can imagine what I think about Trump’s “thought” processes.) So what am I to make of Will’s answer to Klein’s opening question?

    Ezra Klein – You write about a “braided relationship” between a person’s political philosophy and his or her sensibility. Can you tell me a bit about that?

    George Will – By sensibility, I mean something more than an attitude but less than an agenda. I didn’t want to write another book telling people 10 things to fix America, or what to think, I’m more interested in how to think. How we think is a result somewhat of our sensibility of how we respond to the flux and flow of things in a complex society. That’s as close as I can come to defining it.

    Now rewrite that in plain English. It’s not that I disagree, I don’t. My problem is that Will seems to think he’s said something profound, but if you write it out plainly, it’s banal. Yeah, our experience and biases affect our thinking. Duh. Most of us recognize that as a fact, and as a source of error, not the basis of a political philosophy.

    As Will ended that saying it’s as close as he can come to defining it, Klein makes a valiant, and very diplomatic, effort at clarifying.

    Ezra Klein – In political psychology, there’s this concept that Jon Jost, at New York University, calls elective affinities. That depending on where you start with your psychological makeup — whether you like change or you prefer tradition — that some ideologies will be of more appeal to you. And it feels like you’re getting at that concept here.
    George Will – Right. I can put it in a less recondite way by quoting Virginia Postrel, who said that the story of the Bible reduced to one sentence is “God created man and woman and promptly lost control of events.”

    But that’s not a clarification, it’s a change of subject.

    The interview goes on at some length, but doesn’t get any better. Will proceeds to define conservatism in a way at odds with anyone else’s idea of conservatism and ends by recommending activist judges as the hope of the Republic. All the while with Klein vainly trying to make some sense of Will’s mishmash. (FYI – “Holmesian” is Oliver Wendell, a legal pragmatist, not Sherlock.)

  18. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: the Republican scam is predation by the rich on everyone else, and George gets paid good money to class it up with complex grammar and obscure vocabulary and bow ties.

    It wasn’t until I saw him use shockingly cherry-picked dates to claim global warming wasn’t happening that I really saw the depth of his bullshit.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: They’re not sticking their penises in the types of people they consider “germy?”

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Amen to that.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    “The cosmopolitan agenda has driven both left and right. The left champions multiculturalism and degrades our common identity. The right celebrates hyper-globalization and promises that the market will make everything right in the end, eventually … perhaps.

    “In truth, neither political party has seemed much interested in the American middle for quite a long time. And neither has seemed much interested in the republic the middle sustains.

    Okay, I’m with him so far… [remember, at heart, I AM a cracker first and foremost]

    “But the old political platforms have grown stale. And the old political truisms now ring hollow. The American people are demanding something different, and something better. It’s time we ended the cosmopolitan experiment and recovered the promise of the republic.”

    Was that word salad supposed to mean something? Is this what it would have sounded like if Sarah Palin had majored in poli-sci and gone to law school? It seems as if he’s going for a republic “of the [white] people, by the [white] people, and for the [white] people, but isn’t that the stalest and most hollow of all the “truisms” that he’s talking about?

    Dude, we fought a war over this. Your side lost and the only mistake the other side made was the whole “malice toward none and charity toward all” thing when you guys showed that you didn’t really warrant any charity. You really really need to tone down the dog whistle–this is the age of Trump, man! Jump in the sewer! The water’s fine, and your constituents are already ahead of you!

    And by the way, Senator Hawley, Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive! How did you miss that while you were writing a book about him?

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: I’m sorry to tell you this, but Will’s comments were both just as substance free written in English as they were in Georgewillese. It seems to be a theme today–first Hawley and then Will, but still nonsense.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Children haven’t been around long enough to get those diseases.

  24. Teve says:

    Mark Hamill administering the Comic-Con trivia quiz to Conan O’Brien.

    Hamill: how do we know planet of the Apes takes place on Earth?
    O’Brien: they’re wearing MAGA hats.

  25. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: True, but Trump didn’t confine himself to young girls.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve: ‘Cosmopolitan’ is the new ‘libertine’.

    Libertine men and scarlet women and ragtime, shameless music that will grab your son and your daughter with the arms of a jungle animal instinct… Massteria!

  27. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Why does my acrophobia make it an ordeal for me to stand two feet off the ground on a ladder, but being thousands of feet up in an airplane is no problem?

    I once worked with a woman who as an expert in the transmission of risk information. She was very good — Presidential Young Investigator, multiple grant winner, etc. She was also afraid of flying — and 100% aware of how irrational that was.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Why does my acrophobia make it an ordeal for me to stand two feet off the ground on a ladder, but being thousands of feet up in an airplane is no problem?

    I’m terrified of bugs. The more legs they’ve got, the worse: so I dislike insects, I hate spiders even more, and I really can’t stand centipedes and millipedes.

    But I was once at an oceanarium where I got to hold a live horseshoe crab in my hands, and I wasn’t scared, I was fascinated. A horseshoe crab isn’t a true crab or even a crustacean, but is closely related to the arachnids. So you could say it’s kind of like a very large spider with 10 legs and a shell. Weirdly, though, the fact that it was so large made it feel less alien to me. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but it’s how my mind processed it.

  29. Guarneri says:

    Now seriously, how could I not think of the crew at OTB when I saw this:

    A ‘noose’ found last month at the University of Michigan Medical School turns out to have been a practice knot used in fishing after an employee came forward to ‘clear the air,’ according to MLive.

    An investigation by UM’s Division of Public Safety and Security concluded the spool rope used for medical procedures was being used by a person on a break to practice tying a “Uni Knot,” which is a type of knot used for fishing. After the spool was returned to the storage area, the knot was still in place and discovered the following day by an employee. -MLive

    The ‘noose’ was fashioned out of a rope typically used for traction following surgical procedures, according to DPSS Director of Strategic Communications Heather Young, who noted that the loose end of the rope was tied in the knot while still connected to the spool.

    Not one to hedge his language amid an ongoing investigation, UM Medical School Dean Marschall Runge said in an employee email following the June 20 discovery of the ‘noose’: “Yesterday, in one of our hospitals, a noose — a symbol of hate and discrimination — was found at the work station of two of our employees,” adding “We have taken immediate action to have this investigated as both an act of discrimination and a criminal act of ethnic intimidation. This act of hate violates all of the values that we hold dear and will not be tolerated.”

    Without acknowledging that he participated in ‘sewing racial discord’ with false assumptions, Runge now says that while the incident has affected the entire community, it united people in their hatred of hate (and hate-shaped fishing knots?).

    “Our community came together to support each other, reaffirmed our stance against hate, and began having open dialogues about this incident and ways to make our community more inclusive,” he said in a follow-up email.

    “We continue to stand strong as we make it clear to all that this organization — its leaders, faculty, staff and learners — fiercely values and defends equality, inclusiveness, respect and dignity for all, and the elimination of discrimination and intimidation in all forms.”

    In short, the whole noose incident managed to bring the community together.

  30. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It says a lot that you knew what cult45 was and I had to look it up, you poor, tortured soul.

  31. Teve says:

    Meme going around social media:

    “people love to hate Hillary, but she called Trump a Russian puppet right to his fucking face, and I’ll always respect her for that.”

  32. Teve says:

    What economists have gotten wrong for decades

    In a House hearing on monetary policy last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell made a telling confession in response to a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The topic was the so-called natural rate of unemployment: the idea, believed by many economists and policymakers, that there is a rate at which unemployment could get so low that it could trigger ever-rising inflation.

    It’s an idea that has governed decades of monetary policymaking, often prompting the Fed to keep interest rates higher than it should — slowing down the economy in the process — out of fear of accelerating inflation.

    Ocasio-Cortez didn’t waste time poking holes at it. She pointed out that the unemployment rate, now 3.7 percent, has fallen well below the Fed’s estimates of the natural rate, which it forecast at 5.4 percent in 2014 and 4.2 percent today. And yet, she noted, “inflation is no higher today than it was five years ago. Given these facts, do you think it’s possible that the Fed’s estimates of the lowest sustainable unemployment rate may have been too high?”

    Powell’s response, to his credit, was as simple and direct as you’ll ever hear from a central banker: “Absolutely.” He elaborated: “I think we’ve learned that … this is something you can’t identify directly. I think we’ve learned that it’s lower than we thought, substantially lower than we thought in the past.”

    Powell’s response was commendable, perhaps even groundbreaking; here was the Fed chair challenging decades of conventional economic wisdom. It was a welcome sign of a policymaker’s willingness to question age-old assumptions that have dictated policy and affected millions.

    And it’s not the only economic “iron law” that we need to revisit. In the spirit of Powell’s act, I’d like to dig deeper into some assumptions that have defined economic policymaking these past few decades, assumptions that have needlessly caused a lot of economic pain.

    Mainstream economists tend toward several erroneous beliefs, all of which benefit the rich and hurt the poor, Surprise!

  33. Tyrell says:

    @Guarneri: But they came “together” over a fishing knot. Doctors use various knots in working with sutures. Some people like to tie various knots to relieve stress. Others practice knots for magic tricks. This reminds me of other times something harmless is taken out of its original purpose and then it creates problems, panics, and needless anxieties. I don’t know if they found who tied the knot, but if they did that person would have certainly unfairly faced the wrath of administration and law enforcement. Look at the famous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast of Orson Welles that caused a huge panic over a dramatic portrayal; even though it was stated from the start that it was just a play. There are other examples where this has happened, and some of you might can think of others.
    The leaders of the university should have done more to point out how preconceived notions do not always play out. The Dean could have used this as a lesson to point out the dangers of jumping to foolish conclusions. Instead this Dean Runge comes away looking like a nut. His thinking seems to be “oh well, it is really not a noose, but I am going to play the fear card anyway”.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Years ago, I took an Econ 101 class. We used to draw graphs that would chart aggregate consumption against production and peak employment and the other stuff to demonstrate various economic theories and effects we were studying. One day the professor asked us if we wanted to ask any general questions that we’d been curious about. Being a troublemaker at heart, I asked him how the economists “know” where the peak GDP and employment lines go on the graph. He didn’t skip a beat explaining that there were a lot of tools that can be used to prove where those lines go–tea leaves, ouija boards, tarot cards, entrails, lots of things will tell economists where the peaks are.

  35. michael reynolds says:

    It says a lot that you’re proud of not knowing something that every politically aware and informed person knows. Not surprising in the least.

  36. Gustopher says:

    Given that there is a concerted effort on the right to ensure that words like “racist” and “fascist” have no meaning (Nazis are socialists, you know), how long before racists are just called Trumpers?

  37. Stormy Dragon says:


    The problem is that the fed rate is already historically low and GDP is growing well, so if anything we should be raising rates right now. Trump and AOC both apparently want to lower rights to goose the economy further, but this puts us in a position where, when the economy inevitably does slow, we can’t cut rates to stimulate growth then.

  38. Teve says:

    The federal funds rate is 2.5% right now, we’ve got room to cut.