Open Forum

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. Teve says:

    Anne Wheaton
    Sometimes I look at the comments on a celebrity Instagram post and it’s FILLED with people touting the same q-anon absurd lies and accusations and I wonder who the hell broke those people so badly that their whole existence is believing and spreading that kind of insanity.
    1:33 AM · Aug 29, 2019·Twitter for iPhone

    Rhiannon Frater

    I saw an interview with some of the followers who said they like “being in the know.” It’s the appeal of most cults and conspiracy theories. Having the inside information on the workings of the universe. At least, that’s what I gathered from what was said.


    Anne Wheaton

    I think the sentence “inside information on the workings of the universe” may be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. They think they’re getting info on that…from a website?

  2. Teve says:

    The Man Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore
    “I had no choice but to leave,” General James Mattis says of his decision to resign as President Trump’s secretary of defense.

    On december 19 of last year, Admiral Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met James Mattis for lunch at the Pentagon. Mattis was a day away from resigning as Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, but he tends to keep his own counsel, and he did not suggest to Mullen, his friend and former commander, that he was thinking of leaving.

    But Mullen did think Mattis appeared unusually afflicted that day. Mattis often seemed burdened in his role. His aides and friends say he found the president to be of limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character. Now Mattis was becoming more and more isolated in the administration, especially since the defenestration of his closest Cabinet ally, the former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, several months earlier. Mattis and Tillerson had together smothered some of Trump’s more extreme and imprudent ideas. But now Mattis was operating without cover. Trump was turning on him publicly; two months earlier, he had speculated that Mattis might be a Democrat and said, in reference to NATO, “I think I know more about it than he does.” (Mattis, as a Marine general, once served as the supreme allied commander in charge of NATO transformation.)


  3. Jen says:

    Children of federal employees born overseas no longer will have automatic birthright citizenship.

    I realize that this applies to a specific set of children born overseas, but what an utterly disgusting thing to do. This administration is chock-a-bloc full of awful people.

  4. @Jen:

    There are a lot of technicalities at play here but from what I’ve read so far it looks like this will impact only a very small subset of children of Americans born overseas, perhaps as small as 1%, and that the solution for those children is as simple as having their parents apply for citizenship on their behalf via naturalization.

    I’ll try to post something about this in the next day or so once I’m sure I have the legal issues right since it involves some rather obscure parts of the law on citizenship.

  5. Guarneri says:


    Other than the fact that that isn’t what the policy says, you’re doing great.

    Here’s another blockbuster secret for you: don’t listen to Lawrence O’Donnell either. Or CNN, NBC, NYT……….

  6. Jen says:

    @Guarneri: As usual, you saw my name/the post and jumped to a conclusion about my point. You are, if nothing else, consistent.

    Note I said clearly:
    I realize that this applies to a specific set of children born overseas,

    I was born overseas to US citizen parents who were working for the federal government. I am, therefore, a natural-born US citizen. I also know what I am talking about.

    This policy would primarily impact non-US citizens serving the government, either in the military or other, who have a child overseas. I tend to think that those who are serving our country SHOULD be extended birthright citizenship for their children. They are serving in a manner that most Americans choose not to.

    The open-ended question is what this means for military members who serve consecutive posts abroad. Citizenship rules that state someone must have lived in the US for 5 years or more would make this aspect very murky.

  7. Teve says:

    @Jen: And what problem are they solving by doing this? None. As countless others have said, the cruelty is the point.

  8. 95 South says:

    @Guarneri: The echo chamber has already forgotten the Lawrence O’Donnell story and apology. Today it’s the Washington Post unsourced story. After that one crashes it’ll be a story from someone who never makes mistakes, like Lawrence O’Donnell or the Washington Post.

  9. Moosebreath says:


    “And what problem are they solving by doing this?”

    That John McCain was a US citizen from birth due to this policy. So much of Trump’s behavior is explained by personal feelings, both favorable and unfavorable.

  10. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: I realized what the policy actually said yesterday, when I read it. It will, as Jen correctly stated, apply to a specific set of children. The majority of those born to military members will continue to gain citizenship at birth.

    That being said, it is not surprising a lot of people would infer a greater reach for this policy change, given the current administration’s open hostility to immigration in general, and Trump’s repeatedly-stated opposition to birthright citizenship specifically (including his reported desire to try to eliminate it via executive order, which he can’t, but then neither he nor his idiot base actually care about the Constitution).

  11. Teve says:
  12. SenyorDave says:

    @95 South: So a story turns out to be erroneous and/or improperly sourced. Shouldn’t happen but it does. How many stories about Obama turned out to be false? And if they were on Fox News (or some of the other conservative outlets) I suspect that apology never came. For FFS, the WH has seated such paragons of journalism as NewsMax and One America for the now non-existant press briefings. Also bear in mind that Trump is the leading major purveyor of fake news. How many stories has he made up personally over the past 2+ years? And many are at least as defamatory as the one O’Donnell pitched.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Regardless of the number of people affected, what is the rationale for this change? These are citizens working for the US government and the administration is changing policy so as to make it more difficult for their children to become citizens. It just seems bizarre.

  14. Teve says:

    @SenyorDave: Trump made false claims about Obama’s birth certificate from at least 2011 to 2016.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

  16. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “His aides and friends say he found the president to be of limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character.” Pretty much sums up Trump and his fan base.

  17. Kathy says:


    My understanding is that several non-citizens serve in the US military, and that this service does not qualify them for citizenship (yes, that’s totally effed up). I’m guessing this is aimed at them.

  18. Jen says:

    @Kathy: Non-citizens serve our military, embassies & consulates, in intelligence capacities, and more. In many cases, we need them rather desperately, particularly for language skills.

    This policy will have two effects: one, it will wreak havoc on duty rotations, because anyone covered by this having or considering having children will want to cycle back stateside every other rotation to make sure they can fulfill the residency requirement. Two, which is perhaps the most disruptive, it will cause uncertainty because if they can do this, what’s next? I’m willing to bet that top brass at the Pentagon are not very happy with this.

  19. Teve says:
  20. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath: This policy would not have affected John McCain, as both of his parents were US citizens.

  21. Moosebreath says:


    I have read that it depends upon how long the parents were away. The Times article you cited says:

    “The policy appeared to be aimed at military families who have not lived in the United States for years. According to the immigration agency, the change would not affect the children of families with at least one parent who is an American citizen and has lived in the United States for at least five years.”

    which is subject to some interpretation on the “lived in the United States for at least five years” part.

  22. CSK says:

    @Teve: Fascinating article. Thanks for the link.

  23. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath: I get what you are saying, but my understanding is that the 5 years clause applies to lawful permanent residents, not US citizens such as McCain’s parents. (Meaning, from the article, the one parent is a US citizen and *the other* would have to have lived in the US for at least 5 years.) IANAL, however, and am interested in reading Doug’s post once he has a chance to tackle the intricacies of this policy change.

    But this reinforces my point: this change is so garbled and unnecessary that the biggest problem going forward is going to be the uncertainty that it causes. As if our military members don’t have enough to worry about, they now have to deal with this sh!t too. It’s unconscionable.

  24. Joe says:

    Like Jen, I

    am interested in reading Doug’s post once he has a chance to tackle the intricacies of this policy change.

  25. Moosebreath says:


    “IANAL, however, and am interested in reading Doug’s post once he has a chance to tackle the intricacies of this policy change.”

    This isn’t my area of the law, so I would also be interested in reading a more definitive view of this order.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    Random observations on the overseas citizenship change:

    – This may affect State Department foreign service families more than military

    – Given that it was crafted by Trumpers, it may have had a completely different intent and is just so poorly crafted it turned into their usual sh*t show

    – Does the executive branch even have the authority to make this call?

  27. 95 South says:

    @SenyorDave: That’s why echo chambers are bad for you. If you find me in one, make fun of me for it and I’ll thank you.

  28. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: given it was crafted by Trumpers you can bet your bank account it’s going to hurt some brown person somewhere.

  29. Mikey says:

    The DOJ IG report on former director Comey is out. He violated some FBI internal rules, but was neither a liar nor a leaker, as Trump and his followers have repeatedly claimed.

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: I trust you don’t expect Trumpsky’s followers to see it as anything short of total condemnation of Comey and all his works and ways.

  31. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: Do the Trump Chumps have a good excuse for why Hillary isn’t Lock Her Upped?

  32. Teve says:

    Shocking News:

    A new poll shows what really interests ‘pro-lifers’: controlling women

    According to self-identified “pro-life” advocates, the fundamental divide between those who want to outlaw abortion and those who want to keep it legal comes down to one question: when does life begin? Anti-abortion advocacy pushes the view that life begins at conception; the name of their movement carefully centers the conceit that opposition to abortion rights is simply about wanting to save human lives.

    A new poll shows that’s a lie. The “pro-life” movement is fundamentally about misogyny.

    A Supermajority/PerryUndem survey released this week divides respondents by their position on abortion, and then tracks their answers to 10 questions on gender equality more generally. On every question, anti-abortion voters were significantly more hostile to gender equity than pro-choice voters.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri: @95 South:

    Oh, good, you’ve both ventured out into the world now that we aren’t talking about your cult leader’s disastrous economic policies. So put your little heads together and give me an answer:

    What is the innocent, plausible explanation for why Trump refuses to allow any other American to be present when he meets with Putin?

    I know you’ll both read this, so evasion, misdirection, and your usual refusal even to make the attempt, won’t impress anyone.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri: @95 South:
    Oh, but I will accept: God works in mysterious ways, who are we to question Him. That at least would be an acknowledgement that you are in #Cult45.

  35. Teve says:

    from voodoo economics to evil eye economics

    Almost four decades ago then-candidate George H.W. Bush used the phrase “voodoo economic policy” to describe Ronald Reagan’s claim that cutting taxes for the rich would pay for itself. He was more prescient than he could have imagined.

    For voodoo economics isn’t just a doctrine based on magical thinking. It’s the ultimate policy zombie, a belief that seemingly can’t be killed by evidence. It has failed every time its proponents have tried to put it into practice, but it just keeps shambling along. In fact, at this point it has eaten the brains of every significant figure in the Republican Party. Even Susan Collins, the least right-wing G.O.P. senator (although that isn’t saying much), insisted that the 2017 tax cut would actually reduce the deficit.

    During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump pretended to be different, claiming that he would actually raise taxes on the rich. Once in office, however, he immediately went full voodoo. In fact, he has taken magical thinking to a new level.

    True, whenever tax cuts fail to produce the predicted miracle, their defenders come up with bizarre explanations for their failure.

    My favorite until now came from Art Laffer, the original voodoo economist and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Why did George W. Bush’s tax-cutting presidency end not with a boom, but with the worst economic slump since the Great Depression? According to Laffer, blame rests with Barack Obama, even though the recession began more than a year before Obama took office. You see, according to Laffer, everyone lost confidence upon realizing that Obama might win the 2008 election.

    But Trump has gone one better. As it has become increasingly clear that the results of his tax cut were disappointing — recent data revisions have marked down estimates of both G.D.P. and employment growth, to the point where it’s hard to see more than a brief sugar high from $2 trillion in borrowing — Trump has invented ever more creative ways to blame other people. In particular, he’s now claiming that the promised boom hasn’t arrived because his opponents are hexing the economy with bad thoughts: “The Democrats are trying to ‘will’ the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election.”

    Can opposition politicians really cause a recession with negative thinking? This goes beyond voodoo economics; maybe we should call it evil-eye economics.

  36. Mister Bluster says:

    …when does life begin? begins at conception;..

    Human life begins before conception.
    The human eggs in a womans body are alive before conception and the human sperm in a mans body is alive before conception.
    Human life begins before conception.

  37. 95 South says:

    @michael reynolds: Not surrendering. You said Trump was the only president to meet with Putin one on one, and he doesn’t meet with anyone else one on one. The first one might be true (although he sometimes brings someone). Can you back up the second one?

  38. Tyrell says:

    Labor Day weekend: a big vacation weekend for many.
    In the southeast, all roads lead to Darlington Raceway, SC: the home of the legendary Southern 500.
    “The track too tough to tame”
    “At Darlington you race forty three other drivers, and the track”
    For five hours, it will be one of the hottest and loudest places on Earth.
    Driver with most 500 wins is Jeff Gordon with 6. Chevrolet leads the manufacturers with 27 wins, Ford has 20.

  39. MarkedMan says:

    @95 South: Well, throwing out wild speculation and asking Michael to run it down for you is more than your buddy Guarneri ever did, so I’ll give you that much.

    Just off the top of my head though, we know there are other people present for meetings with allies because that’s part of the reporting that follows. I wouldn’t be surprised if he met alone with other people who may have blackmail dirt on him or who can offer him bribes, such as the Saudi Prince.

    But let’s say that it turns out he also meets in private with say, the Prime Minister of Equatorial Finnlandistan and a half dozen other minor leaders. This doesn’t compare to his continued secret conversations with Putin. Most of the thinking world assumes Trump has been co-opted by Putin. Why would he continue these secret meetings if they were innocent? What completely innocent thing are they discussing that he can’t let members of his own administration find out?

  40. 95 South says:

    @MarkedMan: Mike is the one making speculation. It might be true. I don’t know. It’s his job to back it up.

  41. Jen says:
  42. michael reynolds says:
  43. Teve says:

    Leaked emails show how white nationalists have infiltrated conservative media

    David Roberts
    I appreciate this reporting, but another way to tell that white nationalists have infiltrated conservative media is simply to *look at the output of conservative media*.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @95 South: Are you seriously questioning that it is extraordinary for a president to meet any world leader alone, much less one that he has been accused of colluding with? Because there were numerous analysis published on that very thing the first time he did it and the conclusions were unequivocal that this is almost unknown. That the very, very few times it has happened it was for a very brief time, between long standing allies where the two leaders had known each other well and for a very long time, and it still gave staff the heebiejeebies and it wasn’t repeated.

    I could point to those analysis but, well, you’re a Trumper, so I assume facts and reality mean nothing to you.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: You DO realize that you’re expending a lot of effort on someone who swears by the insights of, right? (And understand, I enjoy seeing someone lay the smack on Guarneri as much as anyone. 😀 )

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @95 South: We’ve been trying to tell you and you pay no attention. (sigh…)

    (I promise I will not feed the troll again this thread.)

  47. Teve says:

    Avoiding reading or arguing with idiots is good for one’s mental health. 😀

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    My favorite until now came from Art Laffer, the original voodoo economist and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Why did George W. Bush’s tax-cutting presidency end not with a boom, but with the worst economic slump since the Great Depression? According to Laffer, blame rests with Barack Obama, even though the recession began more than a year before Obama took office.

    Would this be a new genre of logical fallacy–pre hoc, ergo propter hoc?

  49. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Well, it wasn’t that much effort.


    I do find it irritating when someone gets all in a huff and snippy at me like that over what they *think* I said, rather than what I actually said. I mean really. My original comment wasn’t that long.

  50. 95 South says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Washington Post reported this weekend, citing unnamed sources.

    It was unclear if that was the only time Trump took his interpreters’ notes

  51. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, touch screen ballot security shown to be non-existent.

    The attachment shows a voter repeatedly trying to vote for one candidate in Mississippi’s primary, and the other candidate being marked as his choice.

    But of course, #MoscowMitch continues to block any ballot security measures.

  52. Teve says:
  53. Scott says:

    @Teve: Speaking of cruelty being the point.

    There seems to be a cruel gleeful cabal in USCIS, that looks for small populations to screw around with. It is almost as if they don’t seem human beings. Must be right wing Christians.

  54. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: Methane has many valuable uses if used properly. There is a landfill nearby that uses the methane gas from it to generate clean heat and power. Methane burns cleaner than other fuels. It would be foolish to waste this, as it was crazy to waste natural gas like they used to do. Most motor vehicles can be re-fitted to use natural gas.
    Look at this: “Methane as a fuel source”: A UM professor is retooling engines to use methane gas from landfills, helping to reduce gas emissions harmful to the environment. (University of Miami Education)

  55. Gustopher says:

    @Scott: I believe it was in the Gospel According To Andrew Lloyd Webber And Tim Rice that Jesus said unto the lepers “HEAL YOURSELVES!!!”

    You can hardly fault religious conservatives for following the teachings of Jesus.

  56. Joe says:

    Trump says the Chinese have called him, wanting to get back to the trade negotiating table. No one else seems to be aware of these call, including Mnuchin or the Chinese. I wonder whether Trump is getting those spam Chinese phone calls and thinks it must be Xi’s office trying to negotiate.

  57. Kathy says:


    I’m sure he has a phone on his desk not hooked to a phone line, in which he receive any calls he wants to receive, and no one even has to make them! It’s the greatest phone ever made!1

    On other things, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I drive, exercise (but I repeat myself), cook, travel (not driving), and sometimes while waiting (say in line at the bank).

    I’m thinking I should get a waterproof speaker to listen while I shower, as otherwise I feel I’m wasting time.

    Is that too much?

  58. Guarneri says:

    Joe losing his mind:

    He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!” Biden said, his jaw clenched and his voice rising to a shout. “‘Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!'”

    The room was silent.

    “This is the God’s truth,” Biden had said as he told the story. “My word as a Biden.”

    Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect. Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.

    Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden’s visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, around his neck.

    The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.

    But look at the bright side, he’s not Comey, who’s flat out delusional.

  59. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri: A friend and I have a horrible childhood story involving a squirrel in the chimney. Neither of us is quite sure who it happened to, as we’ve both told it enough that we cannot recall.

    It turns out that remembering something isn’t just reading your memory, it involves reading your memory and writing back what you currently think, so everything gets messed up.

    (Oddly, both my brother and her sister remember a squirrel incident. It’s possible that there are two squirrel incidents that have been merged, which seems utterly preposterous)

  60. Jax says:

    @Guarneri: So we’ve got one old guy is certifiably nuts, lies constantly, “grabs them by the pussy”, thinks nuking hurricanes is viable, wants to buy Greenland, separates families and puts them in cages, calls people “Poopy face” on Twitter and calls it diplomacy….versus the guy who is also forgetting shit, a generally decent human being, and will ACTUALLY hire decent people? It’s not a hard choice, dear. Whatever we gotta do to get the nut out of the people’s house.

  61. Jen says:

    Oh, good. The FEC will lack any real enforcement authority due to a lack of quorum, going into an election year.

    As FEC Nears Shutdown, Priorities Such As Stopping Election Interference On Hold

  62. Teve says:

    Ian Millhiser
    It’s WILD that the most powerful nation on the planet let a professional con man become its president because a bunch of dead slaveholders decided that the votes of white people in rural Michigan count more than those of brown people in Los Angeles.

  63. 95 South says:

    @Teve: It’s WILD that the most powerful nation on the planet let a professional con man become its president because a bunch of dead slaveholders decided that the votes of black people in Detroit count more than those of white people in rural California.

  64. Mikey says:

    @95 South: What does this even mean? Oh, I understand, you think you’re being clever. Bless your heart.

  65. Mikey says:

    Now Trump is blaming the damage his idiotic trade war is inflicting on American companies on…the companies themselves.

    Trump blames ‘badly run and weak’ US companies for struggling to cope with tariffs he imposed

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: I can kind of see his point. After all, shouldn’t they have realized that he was going to fvk up things because he was in over his head?

  67. Teve says:

    Madeleine Westerhout, who left her White House job suddenly on Thursday as President Trump’s personal assistant, was fired after bragging to reporters that she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany Trump, and that the president did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he perceived her as overweight.

  68. 95 South says:

    @Mikey: Race has nothing to do with electoral votes.