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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The floor is yours.

    But mopping up the mess we leave is still your problem. 😉

  2. @OzarkHillbilly:

    “The blog cleans itself.”

    “Well good for the bloody blog.”


  3. OzarkHillbilly says:
  4. Teve says:

    Tech firms “can and must” put backdoors in encryption, AG Barr says

    US Attorney General William Barr today launched a new front in the feds’ ongoing fight against consumer encryption, railing against the common security practice and lamenting the “victims” in its wake.

    “The deployment of warrant-proof encryption is already imposing huge costs on society,” Barr claimed in remarks at a cybersecurity conference held at Fordham University Tuesday morning. Barr added that encryption “seriously degrades” law enforcement’s ability to “detect and prevent a crime before it occurs,” as well as making eventual investigation and prosecution of crime more difficult.

    The existence of encryption means “converting the Internet and communications into a law-free zone” that criminals will happily take advantage of to do more crimes, Barr added, likening it to a neighborhood that local cops have abandoned.

    The cost of encryption, he said, is measured in “victims” who might have been saved from crime if law enforcement had been able to lawfully intercept communications earlier.

    He also accused tech firms of “dogmatic” posturing, saying lawful backdoor access “can be and must be” done, adding, “We are confident that there are technical solutions that will allow lawful access to encrypted data and communications by law enforcement, without materially weakening the security provided by encryption.”


  5. Jen says:

    Remember that weird story about VP Pence suddenly cancelling a visit to NH, and the strange half-response that came out a few days later? Apparently one of the employees at the drug treatment center Pence was to visit was trafficking in fentanyl.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Cesar Sayoc’s defense attorneys:

    “He truly believed wild conspiracy theories he read on the internet, many of which vilified Democrats and spread rumors that Trump supporters were in danger because of them. He heard it from the President of the United States, a man with whom he felt he had a deep personal connection. He read it on almost every website he visited. He saw it on Fox News, which he watched at the start and end of his day. And it was reinforced to him on social media,” attorneys wrote.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: So somebody tipped Pence off that his dealer was about to get pinched and he canceled the buy. Makes sense to me.

  8. Teve says:

    Under Trump, 26% of Climate Change References Have Vanished From .Gov Sites
    A new report documents two years of science being scrubbed from government websites.


    The Trump administration has undermined the fight against climate change by suffocating facts and science on government websites, according to a federal watchdog group that monitors thousands of government pages for changes.

    A report published by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) on Monday found that language related to climate change has disappeared at an alarming pace since Trump took office in 2016. Across 5,301 pages—ranging from websites belonging to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the US Geological Survey (USGS)—the use of the terms “climate change,” “clean energy,” and “adaptation” plummeted by 26 percent between 2016 and 2018. Of the pages where “climate change” was stricken, more than half belong to the EPA.

  9. FYI, there’s a post up regarding today’s Mueller hearings for discussion of that issue.

    Hearings begin at 8:30 Eastern

  10. grumpy realist says:

    If anyone thinks that I’ve been too harsh on the stupidity of the Brits, you should see what the rest of Europe is saying about BoJo’s election.

  11. Jen says:

    @Teve: A couple of weeks ago I was puttering around listening to NPR, and there was a fascinating discussion on Reveal about a National Park scientist who was subjected to incredible pressure to modify her findings. It was a rebroadcast, but absolutely alarming what this scientist was subjected to.

  12. Teve says:

    @Jen: here in Florida under Rick Scott, state officials were prohibited from making any reference to global warming or climate change. And that order was distributed verbally throughout the chain so there wouldn’t be evidence of it.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: They did the same in NC with coastal development, they even passed it into law. (iirc)

  14. Teve says:

    Meanwhile on Twitter

    Donald J. Trump
    So why didn’t the highly conflicted Robert Mueller investigate how and why Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted and acid washed 33,000 Emails immediately AFTER getting a SUBPOENA from the United States Congress? She must have GREAT lawyers!
    7:43 AM · Jul 24, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

    Joey Liberty
    Replying to

    Replying to
    It’s time to expose their corruption and crimes!

    Baconet i Koshermackan
    Replying to
    The whole Jew apparatus wanted her as its president. And ZOG still supports her by all means necessary.


  15. Kathy says:

    In cognitive biases and/or logical fallacies, is there something like a “first and done” bias/fallacy?

    What this means is that often people will take up the first explanation or statement they hear about something, and it will lodge in their minds as absolutely and unshakably true, even if they are given, or find out, a correction later; and by later I mean as little as five seconds.

    For example, one time in vegas I got into an elevator at the lobby after a man with a suitcase got in. We were going to the same floor. We got to talking, he was just checking in, and asked whether I knew where his room was. It was like three doors down from mine. So I told him, “just turn left at the hallway. Wait, no. Turn right.” He asked “Just turn left?” “No,” I said. “Turn right.”

    When we exited, he turned left.

    There are other concrete examples, but I won’t go through them. Things like rumors that get debunked, but people still believe them. Simple rumors like someone died, then you see them alive on TV, but keep thinking they died (seriously). Or someone makes a claim that is proved to be not true or accurate, but people keep believing it is. Things like that.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Trump really is freaking out. What is it he thinks Mueller may have on him? I had to look up ZOG. And they say Ilhan Omar is the real antisemite. Vote Blue, no matter who.

  17. SenyorDave says:

    @gVOR08: And they say Ilhan Omar is the real antisemite.
    Since Trump’s tweets about “The Squad”, Trump has ratcheted up the lying about Omar’s supposed anti-semitism. He has now gone to saying that she used the term “evil Jews”, when in reality she used the phrase “evil doings of Israel” in reference to the 2012 conflict between Israel and Gaza, in which between 57 and 105 Palestinian civilians were killed and four Israeli civilians were killed. He also is claiming that AOC referred to Americans as garbage, when this is what she actually said:
    We’ve strayed so far away from what has really made us powerful, and just, and good, and equitable, and productive. All of these [progressive economic policies] sound radical compared to where we are, but where we are is not a good thing. This idea of 10 percent better from garbage shouldn’t be what we settle for.
    It is pathetic that he lies so often, and worse that his supporters seem to love him in part because of those lies.

  18. Teve says:

    Today is the hottest day in the recorded history of Belgium and the Netherlands.

    (Seen on the Tweety machine)

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    I Used To Believe In Reincarnation, But That Was In a Past Life.
    Paul Krassner 1932-2019

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Willful obstinance will hold the waters back, I’m sure.

  21. Teve says:
  22. Kit says:


    Today is the hottest day in the recorded history of Belgium

    Tomorrow is predicted to be another 2°C hotter here in Brussels. What’s really crazy here is the weekly variation.

  23. Jen says:

    @Teve: Randy Rainbow is a national treasure. He is *divine.*

  24. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Rutger Hauer passed away today

    “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…
    Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
    I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
    All those moments will be lost in time,
    like tears in rain.”

  25. Katharsis says:

    @Kathy: I don’t know of a particular argument classification but I just so happen to be taking a psychology class this summer. In psychology they call trouble encoding new longterm memories based on prior knowledge: proactive interference. (wikipedia)

  26. Teve says:

    When Donald Trump spoke in front of a presidential seal on Tuesday, it appeared to have been edited to look like Russia’s coat of arms. At a student summit hosted by the conservative group Turning Point USA, the president stood in front of an image of the seal, which looked at first glance to be perfectly normal. But a closer look shows the eagle has two heads, like Russia’s national symbol, and the bird is holding golf clubs instead of its usual arrows. Neither the White House nor Turning Point knows how the apparent practical joke on the president got on the screen or who created it, The Washington Post reports. A Turning Point spokesman said: “It was a last-minute A/V mistake… and I can’t figure out where the breakdown was… but it was a last minute throw-up, and that’s all it was… I can’t figure out who did it yet.”

    image here

  27. Teve says:


    Older voters handed Donald Trump the presidency, and now his campaign is looking for a repeat. According to Axios, the president’s campaign is directing close to half of its Facebook ad budget at Americans 65 years old and older, far more than his potential Democratic challengers are spending on the same demographic. The campaign is reportedly targeting the group with “nativist language around immigrants”—an attempt, it seems, to exploit older Americans’ vulnerability to hyper-partisan messaging online. “We assume Trump is making a huge play to hold an advantage he had in 2016 with older white voters,” Ben Coffey Clark, a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive, which provided data on the 2020 candidates’ Facebook spending, told Axios.

    According to the data, the Trump campaign is spending 44 percent of its Facebook budget on older Americans—nearly double the spending of Democrats, whose base is younger and more diverse. And while Dems have largely focused their Facebook advertising on fundraising and other policy issues, according to the report, Trump’s campaign is using 54 percent of its ads to stoke fears about immigrants. Such nativist content may not hold much appeal beyond his base, but the campaign appears to be betting that appealing to older Americans, who tend to be more active in civic life, could once again deliver Trump a victory. “The one thing the Trump campaign has proven time and again,” said Zac Moffatt, C.E.O. of the conservative public affairs firm Targeted Victory, “is that they follow the results and optimize for outcomes and not the general consensus.”

    As his rhetoric in recent weeks suggests, Trump seems to be planning a full-scale fear-mongering campaign in the lead-up to 2020, similar to his efforts ahead of 2018 midterms. But the campaign’s Facebook push also underscores the potential for older Americans to be led astray by misleading or sensationalist information online. According to a recent BuzzFeed News report, research suggests older Americans have “disproportionately fallen prey to the dangers of internet misinformation and risk being further polarized by their online habits.” Members of the 60- or 65-plus demographic, who have lower levels of digital literacy in general, appear “more likely to consume and share false online news than those in other age groups.” They’re also less deft at discerning news from opinion, gauging the reliability of online sources, and understanding of how algorithms factor into what they see on social media. At the same time, BuzzFeed noted, they tend to play a larger role in civic life.

  28. Kathy says:


    Thanks, that seems similar.

  29. teve says:

    GOP blocks election security bills after Mueller testimony

    Senate Republicans blocked two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure on Wednesday in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller warning about meddling attempts during his public testimony before congressional lawmakers.

    Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance, as well as a bill to let the Senate Sergeant at Arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff.

    But Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked each of the bills. She didn’t give reason for her objections, or say if she was objecting on behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to pass a bill, but any one senator is able to object.

    The floor drama comes after Mueller warned about election interference during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, saying Russia was laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election “as we sit here.”

    “We are expecting them to do it again during the next campaign,” Mueller said.

    But election interference bills face an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans aren’t expected to move legislation through the Rules Committee, the panel with primary jurisdiction, and have warned about attempts to “federalize” elections.

    Democrats cited Mueller as they tried to get consent on Wednesday evening to pass their bills.

    “Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    He added that “unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on stand-alone legislation to protect our elections.”

  30. Mikey says:

    I just got back from three weeks in lovely southern Germany and if there’s one thing I learned while there, it’s that “universally despised” probably understates Germans’ feeling about Trump.

  31. DrDaveT says:


    But Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked each of the bills. She didn’t give reason for her objections, or say if she was objecting on behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus.

    She was objecting on behalf of Vladimir Putin.

  32. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: Russians, Republicans, there’s little difference.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Teve:..But a closer look shows the eagle has two heads, like Russia’s national symbol, and the bird is holding golf clubs instead of its usual arrows.

    More from USA Today
    Additionally, instead of “e pluribus unum,” the scroll above the eagle appears to say “45 es un titere,” which appears to translate from Spanish to mean “45 is a puppet.”


  34. Mister Bluster says:


    (Looks more like greenbacks than an olive branch in the other claw and the hammer and sickle are a nice touch.)

  35. Kit says:

    I’m no longer getting email notifications on new posts. Checked spam. Nothing. Anyone else?

  36. Teve says:


    John Fugelsang
    If it turns out Jeffrey Epstein has tapes of powerful men then I hope his prison bodyguard has a bodyguard.

    10:56 PM · Jul 19, 2019·

  37. Mikey says:

    Probably the single best summary of the why, who, and what of the current American shitshow:

    This is Going to Get Worse

    Why do I think it’s the best? Because the conclusion of the second paragraph I’m excerpting here indicates the author actually understands what the fuck is happening.

    It will get worse because the Democratic Party still believes that the mushy center is the place to campaign against Trump, that white votes are the only votes worth winning, that people of color or young people will never vote so why bother giving them a reason to, and that, in the brilliant words of Chuck Schumer, “for every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia.”

    Except they didn’t, and they won’t, and now they want the Blue Collar Guy back. He will never come back, because the stereotypical “white working class” media caricature has lost his job and watched his city disintegrate and has no future, so whiteness is his last remaining asset, and he likes the candidate who promises to protect it. [emphasis added]

  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Mikey: Great article. This nails it. We not only can’t find people to man the barricades, we can’t get the people with the means to do something to recognize that we need barricades. Double points for highlighting the complicity of the media in letting the putsch look like “politics as usual”.

  39. Teve says:

    @Mikey: that’s the guy who runs the Gin and Tacos blog and he’s almost always worth reading.

  40. Teve says:

    FlightRadar24 tracked 225,000 airplane flights yesterday???? I knew humans were going to be hyper-boned from global warming, but I somehow missed that little detail. 🙂

  41. Tyrell says:

    Science news:

    “Physicists have reversed time on the smallest scale by using a Quantum Computer” (Science Alert)

    “Skunk Works exotic fusion reactor program moves forward with larger, more powerful design” (The Drive)
    Fusion energy – just ahead!

    “Navy’s 6th generation fighter could put F35 in a museum” (The Nation)

    “Physicists just discovered the first elusive candidate for a 3D quantum spin liquid” (Science Alert)

    “Permanent liquid magnets have now been created in the lab” (Science News)

    “Elon Musk wants to upgrade our minds because of AI” (US News)

    “We might finally be able to safely drink salt water” (US News)

    “One more thing that AI can beat you at: solving a Rubik’s cube”
    (Popular Science)

    “General Relativity Rules: Einstein Victorious In Unprecedented Redshift Test” (Forbes)

    “India’s Army Finds Yeti Footprints in Nepal: World Is Skeptical” (Newsela)