Open Forum

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

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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:
  2. @Teve:

    The only possibly redeemable character on the show was Ross and even he was an ass at times.

  3. Guarneri says:

    Reading comments from the previous post I’m reminded that for a group that wants to paint itself as anti-racist, or color blind, the lefties sure do obsess over it. 24/7. And worse, it’s almost always just a juvenile anti-Republican rant. If I was a cynic I might think their real objective was just crass political gain.

    If I was a cynic.

  4. If so-called conservatives in the Trump Era aren’t racist, why do they keep repeating white supremacist conspiracy theories?

  5. Guarneri says:

    95% of network sitcoms are terrible, no good shows.

    There. Fixed it for you.

  6. 95 South says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Democrats talk about non-whites outnumbering whites more often than Republicans.

  7. Guarneri says:

    C’mon, Doug. They suddenly turned racist when Trump was elected? How many racist Republicans do you know? How many lefty race conspiracy theorists do you know? Most importantly, who do you think you are kidding? Or convincing? It’s an obvious political narrative and pathetically groundless. Tin foil hat stuff. It does society and the political debate no good. It simply irresponsibly fans the flames of an already fractured body politic.

  8. Teve says:
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    white supremacist conspiracy theories?

    Doug, you have a funny way of saying “the unaltered word of God as handed down to the prophets Pirro, Tucker, Hannity, and Ingraham.”

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    10,000 unemployed comedians and here guarneri is giving it away for free.

  11. Kit says:

    @95 South: I was wondering about this. Can you please supply your proof?

  12. Bill says:


    95% of network sitcoms are terrible, no good shows.

    There isn’t a prime time sitcom that I have watched since The Nanny.

    Dramas are no better. Cop and medical dramas all degenerate into soap operas eventually. Legal dramas, Boston Legal for example, start off as a preposterous soap. I stopped watching BL 20 minutes into its pilot episode.

    I miss the old days of the original Steve McGarrett catching the criminals and without having to hear about his mother, Danno’s gunrunning 11th cousin twice removed, who Kono sleeps with, etc etc.

  13. Bill says:

    After having the @#$%! scared out of me yesterday when the 5 a.m. advisory had Dorian pointed straight at Lake Okeechobbe, today’s forecasts make it look like the storm may not hit Florida at all.

    I’m in south central Palm Beach County BTW. We’re not out of danger yet.

  14. Bill says:
  15. CSK says:

    Speaking of sitcoms, Valerie Harper has died. Very funny, very beautiful woman.

  16. @Bill:

    The newest forecasts show it pointing straight at the area between Hilton Head and Charleston in South Carolina. Just because of the flooding issues alone, this could end up being disastrous.

  17. Teve says:

    @Bill: vegan cake mix deserves only slightly less prison time.

  18. Teve says:

    Becca Lewis

    In light of Bret Stephen’s truly atrocious column, I thought I’d do a quick thread explaining one of the prime reasons why the NYTimes opinion section sucks as badly as it does
    11:22 PM · Aug 30, 2019


  19. michael reynolds says:

    1) TV has never been better.

    2) Yes, the GOP is a racist, white supremacist party, they always have been, Trump just tore off the mask.

    3) Guarneri. Answer the question. Coward.

  20. Bill says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The newest forecasts show it pointing straight at the area between Hilton Head and Charleston in South Carolina. Just because of the flooding issues alone, this could end up being disastrous.

    My in-laws are from Tacloban Philippines which was the epicenter for Super Typhoon Yolanda almost six years ago. Never in my life did I expect to see Tacloban’s regional airport
    (Which I’ve flown in and out of a dozen times approximately) shown at the beginning of a United States national news broadcast. Fortunately my wife lost no close family members

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To find a clue about what might have gone wrong with Georgia’s election last fall, look no further than voting machine No. 3 at the Winterville Train Depot outside Athens.

    On machine No. 3, Republicans won every race. On each of the other six machines in that precinct, Democrats won every race.

    The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million, according to a statistician’s analysis in court documents. The strange results would disappear if votes for Democratic and Republican candidates were flipped on machine No. 3.

    It just so happens that this occurred in Republican Brian Kemp’s home precinct, where he initially had a problem voting when his yellow voter access card didn’t work because a poll worker forgot to activate it. At the time, Kemp was secretary of state — Georgia’s top election official — and running for governor in a tight contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.

    The suspicious results in Winterville are evidence in the ongoing mystery of whether errors with voting machines contributed to a stark drop-off in votes recorded in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Republican Geoff Duncan, who ended up winning, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.

    Even though it was the second race on the ballot, fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than for labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and every other statewide contest lower on the ballot. Roughly 80,000 fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot elections.

    Remember tho, we have a Republic, not a Democracy.

  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    A commentary on absolutely meaningless news that should be of importance to only a tiny number of people. I like it that Sasha Obama has chosen to go to Michigan, rather than Harvard, another Ivy or Stanford.

  23. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, that’s too close to us for comfort.

  24. CSK says:

    Apparently Madeleine Westerhout was fired as Trump’s P.A. because she told reporters, among other things, that Trump dislikes being photographed with Tiffany because she’s overweight; also that he “couldn’t pick Tiffany out of a crowd.”

    I believe Trump said this. Interestingly, he didn’t deny saying it.

  25. Teve says:

    The Unbearable Fragility of Bret Stephens

    @CSK: Trump’s a piece of shit.

  26. Teve says:


    In part this is standard backlash. Those who have held unquestioned power for so long aren’t comfortable with a changeup in dynamics. But it’s also something more telling — proof that Stephens’ ire was never about “political correctness,” but the belief that some people are above critique.
    After all, there’s a reason men like Stephens claim “free speech” when the marginalized people are targeted, but decry a “lack of civility” when it’s powerful white men under the microscope.

  27. CSK says:

    @Teve: He’s always been dismissive of Tiffany (awful name; apparently it was his idea).

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Why would Sasha even want to go to Harvard, the Michigan of the East? (Not an alum, but lived in Ann Arbor for a few years.)

  29. Kathy says:


    He’s always been dismissive of Tiffany (awful name; apparently it was his idea).

    That’s actually an interesting name, and not because of the famous jewelry chain. The name is of Greek derivation, and goes back at least a thousand years. There were several notable women in the Byzantine Empire named “Theophano;” the male version of the name was “Theophanes.”

    “Tiffany” is what the English version wound up being, after centuries of changes. I don’t know of a male version in English.

    It means something like “divine manifestation.”

  30. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Interesting; thanks for the etymology.

    Trump specifically named the child after the jewelry store. It was his idea of “classy.”

  31. mattbernius says:


    They suddenly turned racist when Trump was elected? How many racist Republicans do you know?

    Just a reminder, Guarneri has gone on record saying he doesn’t think Trump is a racist or a bigot. So let’s be honest, his calibration on what is and isn’t racist probably isn’t one we want to rely on for anything.

    And to be clear, many progressives fundamentally reject the idea of color-blindness. And that’s one of the things that makes a lot of people deeply uncomfortable.

    Its critical to talk about race because we are a country that was built on and is still perpetuating systemically racist institutions. Acknowledging and working to address that uncomfortable fact isn’t being un-American. Running away from it, however, is cowardly.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:


    Harvard, Yale and Stanford seem to be the default choices for children of famous, wealthy or connected and I suspect if a poll was conducted last spring of where she’d choose to attend, Harvard would have been the runaway favorite. I have no idea what criteria she used in choosing Michigan and don’t care, I just found it refreshing that she showed some independence from expectations.

  33. Kathy says:


    Trump specifically named the child after the jewelry store. It was his idea of “classy.”

    Of course. I suppose to him, “Greek” is what youngsters call yogurt these days.

  34. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Trump would be comparing himself to Pericles, if he had any idea who Pericles was.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    1) TV has never been better.

    Not a high bar to jump. (Just wondering, is your declaration coincidental to having had some book of yours or your wife’s greenlighted for 13 episodes?)

  36. Teve says:
  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Of course, there IS the possibility that the administrator at GWU who has invited Stephens to speak has done so knowing that the students will recognize him to be an empty suit once his lips start moving. Or at least we can hope that it possible.

  38. Carol says:

    @Guarneri: Republican racism was in full flower during President Obama’s two terms.

  39. Teve says:

    I’ve got a friend who worked for the CDC and writes articles for national magazines about the importance of getting measles vaccines etc. Women who have any level of public recognition and who often get emails like “I hope you get raped to death” and “I know where your family is” etc are probably looking at Bret Stephens like he just made a mess in his pants. What a pathetic loser.

  40. Carol says:

    @Guarneri: Republican racism flourished during President Obama’s two terms. Really nasty racism.

  41. Teve says:
  42. charon says:
  43. Teve says:

    @charon: 3 hrs ago i IMed a friend to email that to me. The WaPo and NYT have changed their paywalls and my old tricks no workee. 🙂

  44. Teve says:

    @charon: really good piece:

    In Ben Shapiro — who ascribes right-wing anger to unwise left-wing provocation (“How do you think people are going to react?”) — I hear a letter printed in the Charleston Mercury, which warned that “if the mad career of the hot headed abolitionists should lead to acts of violence on the part of those whom they so vindictively assail, who shall be accountable? … Not the South.”

  45. Gustopher says:


    And to be clear, many progressives fundamentally reject the idea of color-blindness. And that’s one of the things that makes a lot of people deeply uncomfortable.

    I’m totally in the “celebrate the differences” rather than “we shouldn’t even see color” camp.* I’m not a big fan of the Cultural Appropriation Police who get upset when some white girl wants her bridesmaids to be in a vaguely traditional Chinese inspired dress — part of celebrating the differences is embracing those differences.

    On the other hand if you live in an all white neighborhood, and work somewhere where they don’t often hire brown folks, and you hang out with white folks, it’s pretty easy to say “I don’t see color” without realizing it is really “I don’t see colored people, except for the token brown guy who acts white… why can’t they all just be normal like Token?” — which is where a fair number of conservatives earnestly are. They’re idiots who don’t think of other people, but they’re not evil, and they’re reachable, they just don’t think about what they don’t see.

    The cynical ones, who are just trying to hoist the libtards by their own petard, aren’t really worth dealing with.

    *: Someday, were going to find a difference that will make everyone very uncomfortable. Populations get separated, and respond to different pressures, and Northern Europeans have Neandrathal DNA, so I would expect we will eventually find that indigenous Guatemalans are better at spacial geometry or something and this will be oddly important.

    So far, the only real measurable difference we have found with separated populations is that the British Royal Family is more inbred than their corgis. I’m very glad that we have begun expanding their gene pool before they go completely extinct.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Sadly no, not yet. Katherine’s One and Only Ivan is supposedly coming out as a feature in August next year. With the arrival of Disney+ we’re wondering if it’ll go theatrical or not. But she got a very sweet payday to write a sequel book.

    I get rights requests for Gone all the time, and we’ll take another run at it in September. But I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

    But as it happens a duology of mine is making slow progress to a TV series. (It’s out to possible showrunners since I have zero interest in writing it.) Fingers crossed. And we’re even getting questions about Animorphs but that thing is mired in contractual hell. And Katherine’s Wishtree is in negotiation at Netflix.

    What I’m excited about at the moment is my first ever feature script: Driverless. But it’s just been born and it’s a looooooong way to getting anywhere, if it gets anywhere.

    I also have an old-school, multi-cam sitcom we may be pitching soon. And I’ll say this: people who know me here would never for a minute believe I came up with this concept.

    Books, I still have. My last ever (please, God) YA novel – Hero – comes out in a month, and I have two adult thrillers in the can – A Sudden Death in Cyprus and An Artful Assassin in Amsterdam – waiting for the publisher to get release dates together. Those are basically me finding a way to write off my vacations.

    Bottom line, have I, despite sitting at numerous conference tables and being told how swell I am, earned a penny off selling directly to Hollywood as opposed to chickensht option money? No, I have not. The wife has. Her talking gorilla has been very good to us. If I knew how to relax I could sit back and draft on her for a few years. I should have learned to golf.

  47. 95 South says:

    @charon: Leftists and centrists say we’ve abandoned reason and civility too.

  48. Scott O says:

    @95 South: Anyone who supports Trump has clearly abandoned reason and civility. They celebrate his insanity and cruelty.

  49. An Interested Party says:

    Regarding charon’s link, it is positively eerie how similar many modern conservatives argue compared with antebellum Southerners…on the one hand, this shouldn’t be surprising since the modern conservative movement has been largely shaped by Southerners…at the same time, it is rather tiresome how this flawed, illogical line of arguing is still being peddled…in the end, beware of anyone in power who whines about being powerless…

  50. Jen says:

    Yet another mass shooting, again in Texas.


    How many more of these are we okay with as a citizenry?

  51. Jax says:

    @Jen: I got pretty angry. 17 month old baby shot in the face. I’m a rootin, tootin, gun ownin Democrat, but this shit has gone beyond ridiculous. Those who want to own weapons are going to have to start policing their own a lot harder, I would hazard a guess it’s a standard white boy who only raised a “few” red flags. I don’t let my kids access my weapons for a reason. They’re dumb teenagers.

    Pretty soon the number of people affected by mass shootings are going to outnumber the number of gun owners in the United States.

  52. 95 South says:

    Charon’s article is illogical and uncivil.

    Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.

    This form of the argument is as follows:

    Group A makes a particular claim.
    Group B, which is currently viewed negatively by the recipient, makes the same claim as Group A.
    Therefore, Group A is viewed by the recipient of the claim as associated with Group B, and inherits how negatively viewed it is.

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    standard white boy

    …white male in his 30s…

    People kill people with guns in this country because they can.

  54. 95 South says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    the percentage of mass shootings by white men is lower than their share of the male population, according to Mother Jones

  55. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jen:..How many more of these are we okay with as a citizenry?

    Clearly President Puke is OK with the body count.

  56. Jax says:

    @95 South: 2017 Politifact stats? Your google-fu is getting a little better, at least. Now do 2019.

  57. An Interested Party says:

    Charon’s article is illogical and uncivil.

    Not so…it’s not simply a similarity in the arguments, it’s also a similarity in those making the arguments…I can understand why you wouldn’t want you and your fellow travelers to be associated with racism and bigotry, but perhaps those who don’t want to be painted with that brush shouldn’t use arguments which are racist and bigoted…oh, and thanks for proving one of the article’s points by describing someone who would dare speak the truth as being “uncivil”…

    the percentage of mass shootings by white men is lower than their share of the male population, according to Mother Jones

    Did you forget to read the rest of the article?

    Under both definitions and datasets, white men have committed more mass shootings than any other ethnicity group.

  58. charon says:

    @An Interested Party:

    The main thing I got from the piece is that it is a dishonest way to “work the refs” that has been a go-to tactic for “conservatives” continuously going back to the Civil War and Reconstruction.

  59. Mister Bluster says:

    Apparently the killer with a gun in Texas was being pulled over for a traffic stop so he started to shoot at the police who were trying to apprehend him.
    A sure sign of mental illness.
    Trump has said that gun killings are a mental health problem.
    We should force all prospective gun owners to submit to psychological testing before every gun purchase and follow up examinations everytime a gun owner buys ammunition.
    Remember, this is a mental health issue. President Pud said so.

  60. Gustopher says:

    @95 South: I’m less convinced that Guilt By Association is a bad thing than most people are. It’s not conclusive, but it often points towards the truth

    Here’s an example:

    Person A believes that businesses should not have to serve dark skinned people, because the white race is supreme and they shouldn’t have to deal with uppity negroes. This is a common and openly stated argument among mouth breathing morons. Person A is a Dixiecrat.

    Person B cones to the same conclusion with a rationale based on a Principled Stand For States’ Rights.

    Over 95% of the time, Person B is just a racist that uses bigger words than Person A. On those rare occasions that he is not, he is rubbing elbows with racists and is likely to be picking it up. Person B deserves closer scrutiny and no benefit of the doubt.

    Now, here’s where it gets tricky: Person C, lets call him Donald Deagan, uses the arguments of Person B for something else, while kicking off his presidential campaign in Dillidelphia, Dississippi, a place only notable as where Person A killed some uppity negroes, and a place where Person C has no previous connection.

    Is Person C:
    1. A racist mouth breather taking the mantle of the Dixiecrats
    2. An opportunist taking the mantle of Dixiecrats
    3. Who cares? It’s a distinction without a difference?

    Let’s just stipulate, for the purposes of this hypothetical scenario, that when Person C is told that people take it poorly, his reaction is not “Holy shit! I did not consider that, I was looking for cheap public event permits and never heard of this place before. Good Fucking Lord, that’s awful and offensive and I am am sorry it happened and sorry to offend so many people.”

    It’s 3, a distinction without a difference.

    It’s like the people who defend Epstein by saying he’s not a pedophile, he’s an ephebophile. Maybe they’re just a sticker for precision, but these are not people you should leave watching your kids of any age for a long weekend.

    I’m sure three people involved in GamerGate really were worried about ethics in game journalism. But, as a first order approximation, they’re all just a bunch of misogynistic twits defending their turf against cooties.

  61. gVOR08 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Regarding charon’s link, it is positively eerie how similar many modern conservatives argue compared with antebellum Southerners

    I’m not sure it isn’t normal. It’s the old lawyers’ adage – except instead of pound the table, if neither the facts nor logic are on your side, talk about anything else. The tobacco companies argued the science wasn’t settled long before climate became an issue. The creationists want to teach the controversy. ‘I got a right to not wear a helmet on my motorcycle’ Let’s have a semantic argument about what “theory” means. I’m entitled to my opinion that cutting taxes reduces the deficit. I’m a white nationalist because you were mean to me. I bought a big truck to show you sissy environmentalists aren’t the boss of me. I, Charles Koch, donate tons of money to RWNJs because of my deep libertarian convictions, which only coincidentally coincide with my profits.

    Is there a Latin name for the fallacy of talking about side issues to avoid facing the real issue? What’s Latin for “smoke screen”?

  62. Teve says:

    Ben Wikler

    You rarely see news analysis pieces asking whether the GOP has drifted too far right to be viable in 2020. But their plan to steal people’s health care and Social Security to pay for their tax cuts for billionaires is pretty much textbook political suicide.

    In 2016, Trump ran on a dual platform of A) racism & B) promising to raise taxes on rich people like himself and protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while guaranteeing health care for all and ending outsourcing. He’s kept the first promise but shredded all the others.

    One reason so many Republicans were tepid about him in 2016 was that on economic issues, he often sounded like a populist progressive. But that was key to his victory. Now, he’s broken all those promises, and Wisconsin communities are reeling from the results.

    He can’t run on his record. It’s our job to also make sure he can’t run *from* his record. To make sure folks know what he’s done, and what he plans to do. To make sure $1 trillion in proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid can’t get swept under the rug.

  63. Mikey says:

    I caught a bit of Trump’s press conference about Hurricane Dorian, which is now Category 5. He said “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Category 5.”

    Maria was a Category 5. The hurricane that killed 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico, not even two years ago, who he obviously doesn’t give a fuck about because they were brown.

  64. Teve says:

    @Mikey: Irma Maria Michael and now Dorian were all Category 5’s while Trump has been president.

    Trump’s gone downhill markedly.

  65. gVOR08 says:

    We had a post a few days ago about the political independence of the Fed. Nice piece this morning at NYT on why the Fed should be raising rates, not cutting to help a Republican President* get reelected.

  66. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Teve: Two years ago, while one of the other big, nasty ones was churning its way toward the U.S., one of my friends posted a map of Florida with a circle around Palm Beach and the notation: “Yo, Irma! Right this way!”

  67. Gustopher says:

    I think we need rigorous studies on the effects of thoughts and prayers in preventing mass shootings.

    I would expect that Texas would be close to leading the nation in the production of thoughts and prayers per capita, but if thoughts and prayers are effective, then anecdotal evidence suggests they are doing it wrong.

  68. Guarneri says:

    We sure do need to do something about all those divisive racists dividing the country. You know, those white supremacists.

  69. Andrew says:

    This guy has lists of Trump’s behavior. Pointing to a POTUS with a serious case of dementia.
    Including photos of recent where he says Trump is wearing balance/walking braces.

    The link below is list of instances where Trump proclaims he has never heard of a CAT 5 hurricane etc.

    This could be more evidence for dementia. Or a running joke/con.

  70. gVOR08 says:

    Balloon Juice has a nice 80th birthday tribute to Lily Tomlin, including the currently relevant quote,

    No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.

  71. charon says:


    Various people noticing:

    ..!/c/quantazelle .


    (Frontotemporal Dementia, FTD)

  72. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri: Strikes me as tacky, but I would trust black preachers to call out their constituents more than I would trust you to figure out if it’s offensive.

    No offense, but you’re not an honest actor.

  73. charon says:
  74. Gustopher says:


    Including photos of recent where he says Trump is wearing balance/walking braces.

    Herr Trumpenfuhrer has been afraid of stairs basically forever. I assume he has had some form of long term balance issue, rather than this being a sign of some kind of rapid neurological degeneration.

    His suits are cut very poorly for whatever they are covering — his disgusting body, medical equipment, bullet proof vest, whatever — and it’s really surprising that no one has gotten him to a better tailor. Even expensive clothing looks bad when it is the wrong size. If he went to Men’s Warehouse he would look better than this.