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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But I want the ceiling.

  2. Kathy says:

    Trump Airlines part Deux, kind of.

    The notion is that someone bought the remaining assets, brand, and name of recently deceased carrier WOW Air and is planning to revive it.

    On its face, that’s not a bad idea. WOW was rather popular, offering low fares to Iceland and connections to Europe. But it’s clear from the link above this person has no idea how to run an airline.

    Simply put, you won’t get low-cost level of costs if you have a lounge for all passengers, hire Michelin 3-star chefs, and having a diverse fleet of only 12 planes. And notice where it says the airline will be based in Iceland but have a US operating certificate? That means, besides some complicated back-end maneuvers, that they won’t be able to offer connections to Europe.

    This is like the Trump shuttle, without benefit of a business plan.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: MOTUs strike again!

  4. MarkedMan says:

    The leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States had a plan to bring the leaders of a fringe branch of the Taliban secretly into the country, pretend that they were the undisputed leaders of the entire Afghani opposition, and stand next to them on the frickin’ anniversary of 9/11 and “declare peace”.

    Not a frickin’ peep out of the Republicans.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: And then publicly cancelled the secret meeting. Given who’s involved, why do we even believe there ever was a planned meeting.

  6. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: I do not believe it. That was my very first thought.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Why would Republicans complain about Trump bringing the same magic to Afghanistan that he brought to North Korea. Even after they discovered that it was all smoke and mirrors, they still praised his courage and wisdom. Why would JKB et al do anything different in this case? Pwning the libs is the only goal.

  8. Gustopher says:

    Mark Sanford (R-Appalachian Trail) is challenging Trump in the primary. Sure, why not? I assume he has a book out, and wants donors to fund a book tour or something.

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    1/2 A thing I haven’t seen noted re: various state GOP decisions to cancel their presidential primaries:At least one of those states (South Carolina) has open primaries and is an important early state in the Democratic primary process.— Josh Chafetz (@joshchafetz) September 8, 2019

    2/2 If the cancelation of the GOP presidential primary results in a non-trivial number of Republicans deciding to vote in the Dem primary, it could have interesting effects …— Josh Chafetz (@joshchafetz) September 8, 2019

  10. Teve says:

    Anne Wheaton
    A man told me I shouldn’t use my account to point out white nationalist tattoos I’ve seen on people because it’s so uncommon it practically doesn’t exist. Sure thing.

    A wild bird landed on my arm yesterday which is also uncommon. Guess I should’ve kept that to myself, too.

  11. 95 South says:

    @Teve: Pics? No?

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    “I didn’t hear the words the man used in that moment, but if I had I would’ve stopped and corrected him,” Kamala Harris

    If this is true I have to wonder what Candidate Harris thought she was responding to when she uttered the words “well said, well said”

  13. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster: I’ve 90% quit calling people retarded. I blame my trashy upbringing for the other 10%.

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: From your link:

    “We are not the butt of jokes, we are people first. Why should voters with [intellectual disabilities] vote for her now that she made fun of them?” Ivanova Smith, a faculty member at the University of Washington’s leadership education in neurodevelopment and related disabilities program, told The Hill.

    Oh, I think the people with intellectual disabilities break the other way…

  15. Bill says:

    Tomorrow I will parting with my car of 20 years. A 2000 Nissan Maxima. It has 139,000 miles on it but a long list of repairs needed that makes it impractical to keep and almost impossible to drive at this point.

    I have lots of memories with the Maxima and a few unfulfilled happenings with it. Like driving my son home from the hospital but instead of that happening Daniel died 14.5 hours after he was born.

    I am replacing the Maxima with a Toyota Matrix. Year unknown but with 51,000 miles on it. My wife has worked at our church for 26 years and for 15 of those she has also been a Eucharistic Minister. She has brought the Eucharist to shut-ins for a long time. One of those shut-ins died a few months back. We were left her car. Thank you Bernice Hartman.

    The Miami Dolphins lost today 59-10 to Baltimore. Being a masochist is a requirement for being a 2019 Dolphins fan. At the Florida Panthers look to be in good shape.

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    Back in the eighties a good friend of mine delivered her third child, Daniel.
    He did not survive his day of birth.
    I have long lost touch with her and her family but every time I hear this song I think of them.

    Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
    God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes
    Oh God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes

  17. An Interested Party says:

    This is like the Trump shuttle, without benefit of a business plan.

    The Trump shuttle had a business plan?

    Why should voters with [intellectual disabilities] vote for her now that she made fun of them?

    Perhaps she should just go full Trump and mock someone with a disability…certainly that didn’t hurt him…

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..I want the ceiling.

    Take it away Fred!

  19. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    The Trump shuttle had a business plan?

    Yes. the one inherited from Eastern Airlines’ Shuttle.

    Trump’s innovation was to make it unprofitable. That wasn’t easy. People said it couldn’t be done. Lots of people said it. But Trump showed them!

  20. MarkedMan says:

    On another thread I was remarking on what a moron Trump was and it reminded me that I used to believe that Trump, although in no way a billionaire, was possibly a hundred-millionaire. I based this on two things. By all accounts he actually owned Trump Tower and Hotel and he flew everywhere on a jet airplane he owned.

    The mystery of the Tower was solved a week or so ago by an article I read. I knew already that the Tower office space was going for well under market value due to having Trump’s trashy name plastered all over it, but this one concerned the hotel. It seems that the owners were getting together to pressure for the name of the hotel to be changed. But wait, doesn’t Trump own the hotel? It turns out that a number of the rooms were sold off in what sounds like a time share scheme. Suckers bought a room outright and they receive a portion of the room rate whenever it is allocated for the night. Someone a lot smarter than Donald Trump must have set this up (given that he is an actual moron) because it seems like sheer genius. You sell off, say, half the rooms and get back all that capital. You mandate that only the Trump Management organization can control the rooms. You charge them management fees 365 days a year regardless of whether the rooms are rented. And then (here’s the evil genius part) you rent them out last. From Trump’s point of view he essentially has a smaller hotel at full occupancy every night at least 50% of the rooms are allocated. His suckers pay for what is essentially a spare hotel, one that he can send guests to without risk of them becoming fans of a rival hotel. But just as likely, Trump might not own any of the rooms to begin with. This, in fact, may the answer to something that has puzzled me since Trump went so catastrophically bankrupt in the 80’s. It is always reported that the reason his creditors didn’t force him into personal bankruptcy was because they would get more for his assets if Trump was still involved. I’ve always wondered what this meant. After all, aside from being a moron he’s also a liar, a cheat and a fraud. How could this combination of “talents” be a net benefit? Oh. It would help them sell off Trump’s assets at inflated prices to gullible suckers who believed they were buying into one of Trump’s unbelievable lucrative deals.

    So either way, it means Trump probably doesn’t own the tower at all, but only manages it. And the creditors didn’t end up owning it since they don’t want to manage buildings. His assets got sold off to probably thousands of different people, none of whom own enough of it (or have the savvy) to get rid of Trump and his skeezy family and stop of paying the endless management. This would go a long, long way in explaining why someone as monumentally stupid as Donald Trump has managed to hang onto the nameplates on these buildings for so long.

  21. Gustopher says:

    There’s a book that I have been meaning to reread for ages — Landscapes Painted With Tea by Milorad Pavic. It’s about a failed architect who reinvents himself and finds success by emulating Tito, and building replicas of all his palaces. I read it as a youngster, and enjoyed it, but recognized that it was really being a book for the middle aged.

    Now in middle age, I find the font is too small.

    It is not available on kindle, where I could resize the text to be big enough for middle aged eyes. I sort of think this is an ADA violation.

  22. Kit says:

    @MarkedMan: Would this be the sort of thing that would be revealed in his tax returns?

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    It seems that @Michael Reynolds is writing for the Atlantic! 🙂

    If not then at least it sounds like he and Peter Wehner are in lock-step on Trump’s mental state and presidential performance to date:

    During the 2016 campaign, I received a phone call from an influential political journalist and author, who was soliciting my thoughts on Donald Trump. Trump’s rise in the Republican Party was still something of a shock, and he wanted to know the things I felt he should keep in mind as he went about the task of covering Trump.

    At the top of my list: Talk to psychologists and psychiatrists about the state of Trump’s mental health, since I considered that to be the most important thing when it came to understanding him. It was Trump’s Rosetta stone.

    I wasn’t shy about making the same case publicly. During a July 14, 2016, appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, for example, I responded to a pro-Trump caller who was upset that I opposed Trump despite my having been a Republican for my entire adult life and having served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the George W. Bush White House.
    “I don’t oppose Mr. Trump because I think he’s going to lose to Hillary Clinton,” I told Ben from Purcellville, Virginia. “I think he will, but as I said, he may well win. My opposition to him is based on something completely different, which is, first, I think he is temperamentally unfit to be president. I think he’s erratic, I think he’s unprincipled, I think he’s unstable, and I think that he has a personality disorder; I think he’s obsessive. And at the end of the day, having served in the White House for seven years in three administrations and worked for three presidents, one closely, and read a lot of history, I think the main requirement for president of the United States … is temperament, and disposition … whether you have wisdom and judgment and prudence.”

    That statement has been validated.

    Donald Trump’s disordered personality—his unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning, and behaving—has become the defining characteristic of his presidency. It manifests itself in multiple ways: his extreme narcissism; his addiction to lying about things large and small, including his finances and bullying and silencing those who could expose them; his detachment from reality, including denying things he said even when there is video evidence to the contrary; his affinity for conspiracy theories; his demand for total loyalty from others while showing none to others; and his self-aggrandizement and petty cheating.

    It manifests itself in Trump’s impulsiveness and vindictiveness; his craving for adulation; his misogyny, predatory sexual behavior, and sexualization of his daughters; his open admiration for brutal dictators; his remorselessness; and his lack of empathy and sympathy, including attacking a family whose son died while fighting for this country, mocking a reporter with a disability, and ridiculing a former POW. (When asked about Trump’s feelings for his fellow human beings, Trump’s mentor, the notorious lawyer Roy Cohn, reportedly said, “He pisses ice water.”)

    The most recent example is the president’s bizarre fixation on falsely insisting that he was correct to warn that Alabama faced a major risk from Hurricane Dorian, to the point that he doctored a hurricane map with a black Sharpie to include the state as being in the path of the storm.
    “He’s deteriorating in plain sight,” one Republican strategist who is in frequent contact with the White House told Business Insider on Friday. Asked why the president was obsessed with Alabama instead of the states that would actually be affected by the storm, the strategist said, “You should ask a psychiatrist about that; I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment.”

    We have repeatedly heard versions of that sentiment over the course of Trump’s presidency. It’s said that speculating on Trump’s mental health is inappropriate and unwise, especially for those who are not formally trained in the field of psychiatry or psychology.

    That’s true, up to a point. Yes, it is best to leave it to experts to determine whether Trump satisfies the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, some combination of both, or nothing at all.

    But if a clinical diagnosis is beyond my own expertise, Trump’s psychological impairments are obvious to all who are not willfully blind. On a daily basis we see the president’s chaotic, unstable mind on display. Are we supposed to ignore that?

    An analogy may be helpful here. If smoke is coming out from under the hood of your car, if you notice puddles of oil under it, if the engine is overheating and you smell burning oil, you don’t have to be a car mechanic to know that something is wrong with your car.

    Accepting the reality about Trump’s disordered personality is important and even essential. For one thing, it will help us to better react to Trump’s freak show.

    Even now, almost a thousand days into his presidency, the latest Trump outrage elicits shock and disbelief in people. The reaction is, “Can you believe he said that and did this?”

    To which my response is, “Why are you surprised?” It’s a shock only if the assumption is that we’re dealing with a psychologically normal human being. We’re not. Trump is profoundly compromised, acting just as you would imagine a person with a disordered personality would. Many Americans haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that we elected as president a man who is deeply damaged, an emotional misfit. But it would be helpful if they did.

    Among other things, it would keep us feeling less startled and disoriented, less in a state of constant agitation, less susceptible to provocations. Donald Trump thrives on creating chaos, on gaslighting us, on creating antipathy among Americans, on keeping people on edge and off balance. He wants to dominate our every waking hour. We ought not grant him that power over us.

    It might also take some of the edge off the hatred many people feel for Trump. Seeing him for what he is—a terribly damaged soul, a broken man, a person with a disordered mind—should not lessen our revulsion at how Trump mistreats others, at his cruelty and dehumanizing actions. Nor should it weaken our resolve to stand up to it. It does complicate the picture just a bit, though, eliciting some pity and sorrow for Trump.

    But above all, accepting the truth about Trump’s mental state will cause us to take more seriously than we have our democratic duty, which is to prevent a psychologically and morally unfit person from becoming president.

    The office is too powerful, and the consequences are too dangerous, to allow a person to become president who views morality only through the prism of whether an action advances his own narrow interests, his own distorted desires, his own twisted impulses. When an individual comes to believe his interests and those of the nation he leads are one and the same, it opens the door to all sorts of moral and constitutional devilry.

    Whether or not his disorders are diagnosable, the president’s psychological flaws are all too apparent. They were alarming when he took the oath of office; they are worse now. Every day Donald Trump is president is a day of disgrace. And a day of danger.

  24. Teve says:
  25. Jax says:

    Because of course they are. The cruelty IS the point. I don’t believe for one second the ferry operator decided to do that on it’s own.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    For you other language geeks out there, there’s a cool new article in Science Advances:

    Language is universal, but it has few indisputably universal characteristics, with cross-linguistic variation being the norm. For example, languages differ greatly in the number of syllables they allow, resulting in large variation in the Shannon information per syllable. Nevertheless, all natural languages allow their speakers to efficiently encode and transmit information. We show here, using quantitative methods on a large cross-linguistic corpus of 17 languages, that the coupling between language-level (information per syllable) and speaker-level (speech rate) properties results in languages encoding similar information rates (~39 bits/s) despite wide differences in each property individually: Languages are more similar in information rates than in Shannon information or speech rate. These findings highlight the intimate feedback loops between languages’ structural properties and their speakers’ neurocognition and biology under communicative pressures. Thus, language is the product of a multiscale communicative niche construction process at the intersection of biology, environment, and culture.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    Lindsey Graham was just photographed with prominent white supremacist Geert Wilders
    Sorry, Senator Graham, but the internet never forgets. Whether it was the brown-nosing South Carolina Senator who had a bout of remorse and asked for the photo to be taken down, or it was the Dutch extremist leader who was embarrassed to be associated with Trump’s toady is still unclear, but either way, those smiling faces demonstrate the close bond of their ideologies, a closeness that should frighten Americans and bring shame upon Senator Graham.

  28. Mikey says:

    Holy shit.

    Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017

    Washington (CNN)In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

    A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

    We could infer the source’s existence from the Special Counsel indictment that stated Putin himself ordered the hack-and-dump of DNC emails. Whoever this person was, they must have been very close to Russian leadership–perhaps even in Putin’s inner circle–for the CIA to actually pull them out of the country.

  29. Teve says:
  30. gVOR08 says:

    Apparently the Palin’s have filed for divorce. Maybe Todd can’t stand Sarah either.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: It’s a shame. I have no doubt that they made each other miserable, but they were a self-contained miserable unit and now they are risking making other people miserable.

    What if some good hearted simpleton falls for one of them? Will no one think of the good hearted simpletons?

  32. 95 South says:

    It’s a shame.

  33. Teve says:


    It is deeply unfortunate that Trump is dragging Republicans deeper into the fever swamps of climate denialism, nativism, protectionism and isolationism. The good news is that, according to Gallup, Republicans make up only 27 percent of the electorate, a figure that grows to 40 percent if you add in Republican-leaning independents. The rest of the country is repulsed by the president and his odious views.

    makes sense.

  34. An Interested Party says:

    …and bring shame upon Senator Graham.

    Considering how he’s obsequiously kissed Trump’s ass, Graham is incapable of feeling shame…

    Republicans make up only 27 percent of the electorate, a figure that grows to 40 percent if you add in Republican-leaning independents.

    And yet they have so much political power at the national and state levels…it’s amazing what gerrymandering and voter intimidation/restrictions can do for a political party…

  35. MarkedMan says:

    On the recommendation of a few people here I signed up for Scribd a couple of months ago, primarily for audiobooks. At first it seemed great but a couple of weeks ago a bunch of books disappeared from my saved file and now I can’t even find most of the books I already listened to. Anyone else have the same problem?