Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kit says:

    The late, great Roger Ebert came up a couple of weeks ago. Any recommendations for a film critic with wide ranging tastes who reviews most of the major releases?

  2. Teve says:

    I guesstimated the other day that about one in five Americans are pieces of shit.

    John Harwood
    new AP/NORC poll on how Americans view Trump’s job performance as president:

    36% approve, 62% disapprove

    sharper focus:

    21% approve STRONGLY
    46% disapprove STRONGLY

    Looks about right! No wonder #MoscowMitch is skeered. 🙂

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:
  4. Teve says:
  5. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: WCGW is great 🙂

  6. Teve says:
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: When I need a laugh, that and Paul Bronks are sure to provide.

  8. Teve says:

    Psychopathically greedy David Koch is dead.

  9. Monala says:
  10. Teve says:

    Monmouth just released some Dougbait re: impeachment, but there’s something more interesting in the numbers:

    Trump’s overall job rating stands at 40% approve and 53% disapprove, which is similar to his 41% to 50% rating in June. Over the past 12 months, the president’s approval rating has ranged between 40% and 44% in Monmouth’s polling while his disapproval rating has ranged between 49% and 54%. The usual demographic clefts remain present – men are divided on the president’s job performance (49% approve and 43% disapprove) while women are decidedly negative (31% approve and 62% disapprove). White Americans without a college degree tend to approve of Trump (55% approve and 37% disapprove), while the reverse is true among white college graduates (38% approve and 57% disapprove).


  11. Teve says:

    If you still actively support Trump at this juncture, we all know why:

    The Justice Department Sent Immigration Judges A White Nationalist Blog Post With Anti-Semitic Attacks

    “The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” a union chief said in a letter.

    By Hamed Aleaziz

    Last updated on August 22, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. ET

    Posted on August 22, 2019, at 4:16 p.m. ET

    An email sent from the Justice Department to all immigration court employees this week included a link to an article posted on a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” according to a letter sent by an immigration judges union and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

    According to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing earlier this week that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges.

    The briefings are sent to court employees every weekday and include links to various immigration news items. BuzzFeed News confirmed the link to a blog post was sent to immigration court employees Monday. The post detailed a recent move by the Justice Department to decertify the immigration judges union.

    A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.

    “The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” wrote Tabaddor. The VDare post includes pictures of judges with the term “kritarch” preceding their names.

    Tabaddor said the term kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during a time of rule by a system of judges.

    “VDare’s use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an Anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control,” she wrote.

    Tabaddor called on McHenry to take immediate action over the distribution of white nationalist content.

    “Publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, anti-semitic website throughout the EOIR is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice,” she wrote. The court, Tabaddor wrote, should immediately withdraw the email and issue an apology to all immigration judges, including those mentioned in the post.

    “Separately, EOIR should take all appropriate safety and security measures for all judges given the tone and tenor of this posting,” she wrote.

    After publication of this article, EOIR Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly told BuzzFeed News “the daily EOIR morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included. The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms.”

    A former senior DOJ official said that the email in question was “generated by a third-party vendor that utilizes keyword searches to produce news clippings for staff. It is not reviewed or approved by staff before it is transmitted.”

  12. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Watched new DHS secretary describe the “new immigration detention facilities” the other day. The description of the facilities see here really sound delightful.

    When news of the new accommodations being offered by the US to the impoverished of Central America, it appears to be an added incentive to cross the border.

    What can I say, that hasn’t been said before.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    Irony: had Disney not lobbied for the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, Spiderman would have become a public domain character last year and they wouldn’t need to negotiate with Sony to begin with

  14. Teve says:

    OF ALL THE WONDERS OF the modern American Chinese menu, crab rangoon is one of the strangest. It consists of cream cheese, sometimes sweetened, plus, usually, very small bits of imitation crab, stuffed into a wonton wrapper and deep-fried, served with a syrupy, neon sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. It is, essentially, deep-fried cheesecake with fake crab in it—as sweet as any dessert, but served as an appetizer. It has a Burmese name, is served in a theoretically Chinese restaurant, and its main component was invented in New York in the late 19th century.


  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: You beat me to mentioning the passing of David Koch. I note that in comments elsewhere the mourning is taking on an edge of hilarity. In the spirit of not speaking ill of the dead I will simply say goodbye. Good. Bye.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: In this case, not speaking ill of the dead leaves me speechless.

  17. Jax says:

    This is so depressing. As are the statistics of people arrested since Dayton and El Paso for making “mass casualty” threats…roughly 2 a day. About half of them actually had the firepower to carry out the threats.

  18. Slugger says:

    Not earthshaking, but annoying: when I buy something or use a service, more and more I get email requests to rate their service. I am tired of this. I got one after an oil change on my car recently. It is a simple nuisance, and I should rise above it, but the button has been pushed too many times. I am especially frosted by getting these requests from medical providers. If the people running doctors’ offices actually gave a sh*t about client service, they would spend the 105% of minimum wage to have a human answer the phone rather than an electronic survey. Want to know if people like you, check for return business.
    Thanks for reading my inane thoughts. Back to inane thoughts by important people.

  19. Teve says:


    Ramon Torres, a U.S. citizen, was detained for four days — despite carrying a U.S. passport, a driver’s license, and a Social Security card.

    The sheriff’s office explained that they had a policy of detaining all Latinx people for immigration review.

    from the great state of Louisiana

  20. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Koch’s death put me in mind of this line from Julius Caesar:

    When beggars die there are no comets seen;
    The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

    Expect for Koch, of course, it’s the Amazon that blazes forth.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Another example of Trump releasing the inherent assholery of a lot of law enforcement. Didn’t we used to make fun of movie Nazi officials going, “Papers, please.”

  22. gVOR08 says:

    Doug, this Koch stuff is what comes of equating money and speech.

  23. Teve says:

    Mike Drucker
    First Epstein dies, then David Koch. This is the first time I’ve been super psyched for the rule of threes

  24. Kit says:

    @gVOR08: I always appreciated the Right’s ability to praise the rich for their ability to deploy capital far better than government ever could, while also assuring us that the rich couldn’t possibly spend money effectively when it came to influencing elections.

  25. Kathy says:


    Not earthshaking, but annoying: when I buy something or use a service, more and more I get email requests to rate their service.

    I ignore all such requests, with two exceptions: 1) If I was genuinely pleased by their service or product, 2) if they offer something worthwhile in return.

    As examples for the second:

    Domino’s offers a free desert in the next order. I don’t like theirs, so that’s not a good inducement. Starbucks offers points in their rewards system. That’s not much, but it’s something and costs little to obtain.

  26. 95 South says:

    @Teve: So? Disgusting post, but the last paragraph shows that there was no intent.

  27. Bill says:


    Another example of Trump releasing the inherent assholery of a lot of law enforcement. Didn’t we used to make fun of movie Nazi officials going, “Papers, please.”

    My dear wife is a Filipina. Born in Alangalang , grew up in Tacloban. We just celebrated out 30th wedding anniversary and she immigrated to the States in Dec 1989 and became a US citizen in January 1994. One week ago I gave DW an old passport of hers so she could bury it in her purse.

  28. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    From an article in the Atlantic about the mess in Italy: “Italy today is a sea of protest voters, allied into parties held together by anger more than ideas.”

    It ain’t just Italy. Not sure I’ve heard a better description of today’s Republican party.
    For example, monumentally angry at Obamacare for years, but unable to pass a replacement when they had control of the entire government because they don’t have anything to offer except outrage. And even among Democrats, I see signs of a party united more by fury at Trump than policy. They strike me as being in the same place the Republicans were 10 or 15 years ago–still have policy ideas but the anger is taking control and moderates are being primaried if they don’t toe some constantly shifting line about what it means to be a Democrat vs a Dino.

    I fear the human race won’t evolve fast enough to live in today’s world of information overload with facts getting lost in outrage and noise, where ratings and getting attention matter more than objective reality, and where the only way to get that attention is to become more and more extreme. Yellow journalism has existed for a long time, but the sheer volume today is overwhelming our societies.

    Just glad I don’t have kids.

  29. Teve says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: there’s anger on both sides but the anger has different flavors and degrees. There’s some anger among the liberals, sure, but I see way more on the right, and the anger among liberals is more one of despair, while the anger on the right is one of malice.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I don’t see the problem; if the plastic pellets are a source of pollution and environmental damage, why don’t they just burn them? 😛

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: And here all this time I thought cream cheese was invented in Philadelphia. First I confused Wayne Allyn Root with Mitchell Roop (I think) and now this. Has dementia already set in? Should I start smoking a hookah instead of a briar pipe?

  32. charon says:
  33. charon says:


    I take back what I said about him putting on a show next summer at the RNC convention. It does not look like he lasts that long.

    BTW, typical onset of FTD is before age 65 but it can develop later.

  34. Teve says:

    @charon: obshtucas? What?

  35. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Teve: As of today I completely agree. It’s the next 10 years where I’m concerned about anger overwhelming the Democrats as much as it did the R’s in the last 10-15.

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    the anger is taking control and moderates are being primaried if they don’t toe some constantly shifting line about what it means to be a Democrat vs a Dino.

    Moderates in very left leaning districts are being primaried. The leftmost candidates don’t get a lot of play in the more moderate districts.

    That’s very different from the Teapartification of the Republican Party.

  37. Kathy says:

    We can stop worrying about climate change and warming. Should melting polar caps and glaciers threaten to make sea levels rise, no less than Trump himself will stand firm at the nearest coast line and hereby order the oceans to recede to normal levels.

  38. Tyrell says:

    News you may have not seen:

    “Homeless veterans have decreased by 50%”

    “Giant panda no longer an endangered species”

    “Drone Juno flies to orbit Jupiter”

    “Robert Ballard is looking for Amelia Earhart wreckage”

    “Nationals Juan Soto sees English as a skill to be mastered”

    “Cosmic rays affecting weather”

    “Dog elected mayor of California town”

    “Bison stampede at Yellowstone, crush car”

  39. Teve says:
  40. Moosebreath says:


    What happened to “Aliens from outer space are living in my car”?

  41. DrDaveT says:

    Out of curiosity, I went looking for recent examples of one sovereign nation purchasing territory from another. It’s shockingly rare these days. The only post-WW2 examples I could find were:
    1. Muscat and Oman sold an enclave they owned on the Pakistan coast, to Pakistan, in the mid-1950s.
    2. Finland sold a small piece of land near the 3-way junction of Finland, Norway, and the Soviet Union, to the Soviet Union in 1948. They needed someone to rebuild the hydroelectric plant that had been destroyed in WW2, and they couldn’t afford to do it themselves.
    3. Jordan bartered a few thousand square miles of desert to Saudi Arabia in exchange for expanding their coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba by a little bit.

    The US bought the US Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917, but that was a forced transaction under threat of military conquest. It was also sleazy — the US rejected the Danish condition that residents become US citizens, or that they retain their Danish legal privileges. It wasn’t until the 30s that Congress finally made them citizens.

    The last bit of territory that the US purchased without any conquest or threat was probably Alaska. I don’t know of any large unforced transactions anywhere in the world since then.

  42. de stijl says:

    I recently twisted my ankle badly / radically, and found I’d actually severed a nerve and have a paralyzed foot / ankle from below the calf.

    Of all paralysis scenarios, this is the best, probably by far. I can still walk, just have to watch where the foot lands, ascertain it looks aligned and quickly move my weight from left foot, right foot, back to left foot quick and certain.

    Down side: I walk like Lurch and it’s slow. I will be on a cane til death, likely.

    What’s mind blowing is that I can look at my foot and will / command it to move and it just sits there. Nothing. Not a wiggle.

    That is really disconcerting. The rules of how the world works are now broken.

    Btw, don’t even try to wear slippers. It just falls off. Wearing slippers requires a down flex and up flex of toes and an up cant of the foot with each step. You don’t realize how subtle it is until it doesn”t happen.

  43. Teve says:

    @de stijl: canes can be very stylish.

  44. de stijl says:


    Oh, I know!

    I will get a super bad-ass one asap. Believe me. I’ve been looking already.

    Not a cane, but a proper walking stick. A super bad ass one!

    The deal I have now is general issue hospital cane.

    So unstlyish.

  45. de stijl says:


    If I need to use a cane the rest of my days, I’m going to lean in and do it right.

  46. de stijl says:


    Kit brought up a very good point in the the very first comment.

    Who are the successors to Ebert?

    I read A.V. Club every day. I could not name the reviewers off the top of my head to save my life.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I’m sorry to hear that. I use a cane a lot because I have some balance issues from having had vertigo other issues. Really cool canes are hard to find. Good luck.

  48. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Sword canes are illegal in Washington State. Apparently, the only legal concealed weapons are guns.

    Not sure how much swashbuckling you can do — I’m guessing a paralyzed foot is like a peg leg with a floppy bit at the end? — but if sword canes are legal in your state, they are cooler than non-sword canes.

    I hope you learn to putter about a bit better as you get used to this unfortunate new normal.

  49. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You have my deepest sympathy.

    I experienced vertigo 5 or 6 times one month from medication and it felt that I’d fallen off the edge of the earth. I was full sitting on my sofa, yet the experience felt as if that I was plummeting and gyrating.

    Incredibly unpleasant and disorienting, and intense in a bad way.

    I feel for you. I got new meds and it stopped, thankfully.

    Good wishes and good luck!

    Btw, it doesn’t matter what other folks think. If you believe your cane is bad ass, then it’s bad ass.

  50. de stijl says:


    Are you reading my mind?

    I was looking at lacquer shiny black walking sticks with a silver knob. I flat out was thinking about the concealed blade. Just because I’m a weirdo.

    Walking now is weird. I sorta use my upper leg and lower leg to kinda throw the right foot into the proper balance point. Then I eyeball it to ascertain if it’s aligned properly and stably oriented and then do the weight shift.

    I *will* get a bad ass walking stick, concealed blade or not.

  51. de stijl says:


    Thinking it thru, you’re absutely correct.

    It feels like having a pegleg from just below the calf muscle with a dead, wobbly bit on the end.

    It’s creepy and I am not used to it yet.

  52. Bill says:

    @de stijl:

    Who are the successors to Ebert?

    I read A.V. Club every day. I could not name the reviewers off the top of my head to save my life.

    For around 20 years I read the reviews of Stanley Kaufman of The New Republic and John Simon of the National Review. I own two of Simon’s books and sometimes add snippets of his reviews into Wikipedia articles.

    Ask me to name a critic today, I couldn’t.

  53. de stijl says:


    There is a guy on Terry Gross’ show Fresh Air on NPR who’s on once a week (I think the world of her. Best interviewer extant.)

    I like him.

  54. Tyrell says:

    @Moosebreath: I will check on that when I am out at Area 51 soon. You are welcome to come also.

  55. MarkedMan says:

    … and I’m 100% back to the position that he is a 42 year old guy sitting at his kitchen table trolling us in a sort of more subtle Ken M style

  56. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: I usually don’t read his posts, but they seem less malicious than, say, Guarneri. His ‘news you may have missed’ posts are entertainingly weird.

  57. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: Louisiana: I like the food down there: barbecue, shrimp as large as your hand.

  58. Teve says:
  59. Teve says:
  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I’ve had 3 or 4 really neat canes. My best one is a 5 ft. or so long hiking stick shaped and painted like a serpent. Another neat one I had was a pruned limb from an apple tree. I also have a cane made from animal horn (probably from an endangered species, but I hope not) threaded onto a piece of rebar. The cane I use most right now has a dragon plasticized onto it (a thick enamel coating with an even thicker enamel overlay). The best part about this one is I bought it at a clearance store for about 2 or 3 dollars. You never know where you’ll find a rad cane.

  61. Teve says:

    Republicans want Trump to deal with the exploding deficit by gutting the social safety net, and the president is reportedly receptive to the idea.

    AUGUST 22, 2019
    When Donald Trump was running for president, he boldly proclaimed that he would not only balance the budget, he would eliminate the entire national debt, which at the time was approximately $19 trillion. That, of course, was about as likely to happen as Don Jr. going vegan or Ivanka publicly admitting that her father is a sick individual who needs help. Instead, President Trump has pushed the federal deficit to new heights thanks to a tax cut that did not, in fact, “pay for itself,” and a trade war that has turned out to be neither “good” nor “easy to win.”

    On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office said that the federal deficit will reach $960 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, which ends September 30, and breach the $1 trillion mark in 2020. Previously those figures were expected to come in at $896 billion and $892 billion, respectively, but the damage from the president’s tariffs, along with a sharp falloff in revenue thanks to the 2017 tax cuts, have caused deficit projections to rise faster than expected. Incredibly, this is all happening against the backdrop of the longest economic expansion on record and the lowest jobless rate in 50 years, conditions that typically cause the budget deficit to shrink. And under the continued tutelage of Donald Trump, the New York Times reports, things are only expected to get worse:


  62. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    In your mind, cane or walking stick?

    If a cane, curved handle or flat?

  63. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: I’ll bet all those old pale people who voted for him to shake things up in Washington and scrub away the taint of the Kenyan usurper will love him for that…