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. Bill says:
  2. Teve says:

    The great thing about Twitter is you can mute words. Then if that word appears in a tweet you won’t see it. To my long collection of muted words such as “Assange” and “Brexit” I have now added “Tulsi”. Life’s too short.

  3. Teve says:

    Preet Bharara Retweeted
    Chris Murphy
    It’s hard to over-hype how terrified you should be about the free fall of American global credibility right now.

    The Doral disaster, Ukraine quid pro quo, double cross of the Kurds, the Afghan/Camp David debacle.

    It’s just one mind-blowing, embarrassing fiasco after another.

  4. Kathy says:

    I made banana coffee pancakes yesterday.

    They turned out almost right.

    The recipe is:

    1 cup pancake mix
    3/4 cup milk
    1 egg
    2 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 1/8 cup of hot water (let it cool before adding it to the batter)
    1 banana, sliced, then pureed with a fork (it’s rather easy).
    Cinnamon to taste.

    Prepare the batter with the mix, milk and egg, then add the cinnamon, coffee and banana and whisk well. Cook pancakes as usual. It goes well with maple syrup, or maple syrup substitute. This gets you 6 to 8 pancakes, depending on how large you make them.

    They were ok, but I definitely need to add at least another banana. I’ll try that next week.

  5. CSK says:

    Trump has decided not to hold the G-7 at Trump Doral, citing “Media & Democrat Crazed ostility” to the idea.

  6. CSK says:

    @CSK: Excuse me. That would be “Crazed and Irrational Hostility.”

  7. Kathy says:


    “Mean Democrats won’t let me get away with corrupt practices! Whaa! Whaa!”

  8. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Quite so.

  9. mattbernius says:

    And once again he leaves his defenders and allies – who spent so much time explaining why this was a good idea – out to dry.

    At least this time it didn’t end in the war crimes massacre of those allies.

  10. Kathy says:


    Come to think of it, if the coffee is dissolved in a little water, then I suppose one could use concentrated brewed coffee rather than instant. If he equivalent of two cups of coffee can be brewed with 1/8 cup of water, that is.

    I’d recommend filtering the coffee. And definitely letting it cool before adding it to the batter. Otherwise a portion of the batter will partially cook before it’s ladled on the pan.

  11. DeD says:

    Yes, Kathy; two bananas are just right. Any more than that, and they become overpowering. Also, make sure they’re good and ripe. They’ll make a better puree.

  12. mattbernius says:

    @Cris Ericson: if you are that worried about senility, I suggest you look closer to home:

    Donald Trump:

    Mark Esperanto, Secretary of Defense, “The ceasefire is holding up very nicely. There are some minor skirmishes that have ended quickly. New areas being resettled with the Kurds.” USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!

    His defense secretary’s name is *Esper*.

    Also the troops are not coming home, they are being restrained in Iraq. That’s before we get to his focus on oil versus war crimes.

  13. mattbernius says:

    Honestly if you want coffee flavor without adding liquid, the best bet is instant espresso powder.

    Also consider adding vanilla extract.

    BTW, you might really enjoy this book:

    It’s not a cook book per sae but incredibly useful if you are developing recipes.

  14. CSK says:

    @mattbernius: Astonishingly, some Trumpkins are defending this move as another example of Trump’s unparalleled ability to play 64-dimensional chess.

    Don’t ask.

  15. DeD says:

    @Cris Ericson:
    Now, you’re just Trumping the thread. Give it a rest.

  16. mattbernius says:

    Mick Mulvany keeps saying the silent parts out loud:

    “He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback,” Mulvaney says of Trump selecting his Doral resort to host G-7. “At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,” Mulvaney says of the president of the United States.

  17. CSK says:

    @mattbernius: Well, Trump has provided some first-rate accommodations for visitors on the southern border, hasn’t he? I understand the child care facilities in particular are superb.

  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    you know…

    Does this open things up to “sidewalk councilors” in other areas?

    Casinos? Gun Shops? Questionable fast food establishments?

    Court Rules That Anti-Choice ‘Sidewalk Counselors’ Can Annoy Anyone Trying To Get An Abortion In Pittsburgh


    Oh, and in keeping with the thread, my wife makes the best banana bread. Just had some for breakfast in in the Denver foothills, where there is a dusting of new snow on the lawn.

    The best part is the crumble. On the banana bread, not the snow.

  19. Teve says:

    If somebody decides to block this loon I won’t object.

  20. Joe says:

    @mattbernius: So the Doral decision is where the Republicans finally got to Trump and turned him around. At least we know the priorities and the boundaries.
    I am taken back to Mulvaney announcing this and saying “the President said, why not Doral and we said, that’s not a crazy idea.” Well, Mick, it was a crazy idea. And whoever sat in that room and told him it wasn’t a crazy idea should commit hara kiri very publicly and right away.

  21. DrDaveT says:

    So, it will be Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros in the World Series. I am gleeful at the thought of how Fox executives are wetting their pants over the absence of any New York or California teams, and how that will hurt their ad revenue.

    It has been reliably reported that major league baseball has changed the ball for the playoffs — the juiced ball that led to record home run rates this year had a measurably lower drag than the balls used in the playoffs. So which ball will they use for the Series?

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    my wife makes the best banana bread

    I’m quite partial to my wife’s banana bread — heavy and moist, with dried cherries baked in. But this is one of those foods like cornbread or pizza, where the version that some people consider to be perfect is inedible to others.

  23. Kathy says:


    Bananas are plain weird. Not really solid. they’re like the cats of the plant world 😉

  24. Kathy says:


    I forgot. I did add a tsp, vanilla. It’s so routine to do that, I didn’t even think about it.

  25. Teve says:

    Mark Esperanto, Secretary of Defense,

    the writers are really going hog-wild in this season of America.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Cris Ericson: Ah yes, yet another communication from Babble-On.

    Hasn’t anyone ever taught you how to use sentences and paragraphs?

    Either a fruitcake or another Trump Troll Drive-by.

  27. Tyell says:

    News you may have missed:

    “Samsung 10 phone: anyone’s fingerprint can unlock it!” (BBC)

    “Stephen King’s house to become archive and writer’s retreat” (Rolling Stone) You would never get me in that place after sunset.

    “US Navy just got a patent for a reactor that looks like it belongs in a UFO!” (Hot Air) It seems this was designed by the Secretary of the Navy himself. A safe, cheap way to generate electricity, or power rockets.

    “Fix slow wifi in three minutes” (WIFI BlastShop)

    “Inside Dyson’s costly decision to kill his electric car” (Forbes)

    “Scientists Discover Fractal Patterns In Quantum Material”
    (Science Alert)

    “Blood Red Water In Mexico” (Begley)

    “California woman gone missing found by “junior detectives” on bicycles” (NewsEla)

    “NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Oasis On Mars!” (NYT science)

    “Officer Helps Homeless Man Struggling to Shave Over Street Puddle: It’s a ‘Need to Help People’” (People) Good news about police officers that the main news usually ignores.

    (next time: top scary places in the US !)

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: As soon as I see the name, I just scroll past most of the time. Yesterday’s comment (about the “pit bull chain”) was the first time I’d read a Cris post in several days and was triggered by another comment, not Cris’s. Not entertaining enough to read for the yuks, not controversial enough to hijack the thread. Color me passionately ambivalent.

  29. Tyrell says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: No. I don’t need anyone “counseling” me on my weekly Whopper outing at BK.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Either a fruitcake or another Trump Troll

    It’s the former. Click on the name for the full tour. Kinda the Vermont Republican version of Marianne Williamson, with extra curmudgeon.

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: Somebody earlier explained she’s cutting and pasting from her website or Facebook page to create the carriage return problem. Presumably here and other sites. Likely never comes back to see comments.

  32. DrDaveT says:


    Likely never comes back to see comments.

    No, she has responded a couple of times. Not particularly coherently, but it’s not pure drive-by.

    That said, I would think that having 98% of her contributions in the form of copy and paste from her own website would be grounds for saying “no thank you”. It’s one thing to quote or link to support a point you’re making; it’s another to not actually be responding to the OP content or other commenters at all.

  33. Teve says:
  34. mattbernius says:

    Her Wikipedia page is pretty amazing as well:

    Not particularly coherently

    Given that her primary issue has historically been pot legalization, she might be getting a little high on her own supply.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @mattbernius: Hmmm, doesn’t’ chronic pot smoking end up doing something to the brain?

    (You’d also think that if you had run that many times with an average vote of 1%, at some point you’d throw in the towel and realise that the surrounding populace wasn’t interested in what you were trying to sell. Especially interesting because we’re now seeing a relaxation of pot laws all around the U.S. Lady, you’re coming off as a fruitcake.)

  36. An Interested Party says:
  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    If being a billionaire is the sole measure of your worth (yes, I do happen to be thinking of the current occupant of the White House; how did you know?), coming to take some of your money is an attack at the very core of your reason to live. (And you are more shallow than either a petri dish lid or a contestant on The Bachelor/Bachelorette.)

  38. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: it seems like there was some research a few years ago that suggested that the richer people became, the greedier they became. Some social science research has turned out to be unreliable and I don’t know if this is still considered accurate or not.

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Back when I took Psych 101, when Freud was still referred to as the late Dr. Freud, there was a thing about wealth at some point becoming score keeping. It took decades for the car manufacturers to figure out regulation didn’t hurt them, as the competitors faced the same regulation. Maybe, over a generation or two, rich people can be taught that if the other guy pays the same taxes, it doesn’t change the relative score. You can’t afford as big a yacht, but he can’t either, so your’s is still bigger than his.

  40. Liberal Capitalist says:

    And sometimes, he lies because he can’t be bothered with facts…

    Trump just got fact-checked from space, again

    Today, President Trump took a few moments out of his day to speak with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who are currently conducting the first all-female spacewalk in history on the outside of the International Space Station. While speaking with the pair, Trump mistakenly suggested this was the first female spacewalk ever — a point that the astronauts corrected him on.

    “This is the first time for a woman outside of the space station,” Trump said. He later added: “You are amazing people; they’re conducting the first ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the space station. They’re doing some work, and they’re doing it in a very high altitude — an altitude that very few people will ever see.”

    In her response, Meir made it clear that they were building on the work of many previous women who had spacewalked before them. “We don’t want to take too much credit because there have been many other female spacewalkers before,” Meir said. “This is the first time that there’s been two women outside at the same time.” In the history of spaceflight, only 15 women have ever spacewalked, including Meir and Koch.

  41. Teve says:


    Back when I took Psych 101, when Freud was still referred to as the late Dr. Freud, there was a thing about wealth at some point becoming score keeping.

    I’ve heard that a number of times too, and never thought much about it, but after hearing that Trump said the same thing, it occurred to me recently that it could just be spin. ‘I don’t really care about the money, it’s just about keeping score.’ sounds a lot better than ‘I’m psychotically greedy, and will impoverish thousands of people if it means a bigger number on a piece of paper showing my balance.’ Just keeping score makes it seem like it’s a harmless game, instead of pointless hoarding that hurts people.

  42. Teve says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: there’s only so much energy I want to devote to Trump’s bullshit, but this guy claims that Trump surreptitiously flipped them off for correcting him.

  43. Teve says:
  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    1. Dearie, if you won’t want to be accused of sounding like a senile lunatic, don’t write like a senile lunatic. We don’t like trolls, or people who sound like trolls.

    2. This website was not put on this Earth in order to provide an adoring audience for whatever you regurgitate. Get a cocker spaniel instead.

    3. How many platforms do you have to get kicked off before you start realising that maybe the fault is in you, not everyone else?

    4. Don’t whine. It’s very unattractive. No one owes you anything.

    5. Your consistent unwillingness to adhere to accepted formatting in your writings indicates an unwillingness to respect common rules of communication, and correspondingly, a lack of respect for readers of this blog. How many times do we have to tell you that IT’S HARD TO READ?! Enough said.

  45. MarkedMan says:

    The FEC hiring private investigators to harass someone off Facebook? The Jewish State of Israel CFCA? Really?

  46. mattbernius says:

    Man, have you ever noticed how MAGA folks, who are so interested in supporting a person they perceive as a “tough” leaders, are absolutely and positively the most delicate snowflakes?

  47. wr says:

    @Cris Ericson: “You may have noticed I haven’t been on facebook today”

    Um, really, no. That would have required me to know and care you were on Facebook. Personally I would be quite happy to go back to not knowing you existed at all, which pleasant state will reoccur once you stop posting here.

  48. Teve says:

    Chile is one of the places where the Chicago School of Idiot Libertardian Economics really got to run things. There’s huge inequality and basically an oligarchy now and things are starting to turn violent.

  49. Teve says:

    @Cris Ericson: So your questions are letters and their possible answers are numbers. Okay, I …suppose you can do it that way.

  50. Kathy says:


    If you insist on
    feeding the troll,
    shouldn’t you at least use
    their language?

    I mean, if you want to
    be understood at all. Perhaps this
    person simply cannot read well-
    formatted paragraphs for some

  51. al Ameda says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    (B) What does the phrase
    “Loose lips sink ships” mean to the
    Democratic Party, which clearly wants
    President Donald Trump to totally and
    completely flunk military manuevers?

    (5) it means Jeffrey Epstein’s yacht is moored at Mar-a-Lago

  52. CSK says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    Well, for one thing, you’re wasting a hell if a lot of bandwidth with your formatting.

    And…it’s pit bull, not pittbull.

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    @Cris Ericson:..The public internet display of videos from war zones is only intended to help the enemy.

    You mean like this…

    Your boyfriend Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump should be proud!

  54. Teve says:
  55. CSK says:


    Nope. Trump’s their boy. He fights.

  56. DrDaveT says:

    Well, crap. I had hoped that the Defense Department had somehow managed to avoid being corrupted by this administration, but it appears those hopes were in vain:

    Pentagon will not comply with House impeachment subpoena
    By Tony Bertuca
    October 15, 2019 at 9:48 PM
    The Defense Department will not comply with a subpoena from House committees seeking information related to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump and the decision to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

    The Pentagon will not provide the information because it does not think the subpoena is legitimate, according to a letter sent to lawmakers and signed by Robert Hood, the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs.

    Hood said the subpoena “raises a number of legal and practical concerns that must first be addressed” and cited an Oct. 8 letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who asserted that the current impeachment inquiry is “an attempt to overturn the democratic process.”

    The White House’s refusal to cooperate has prompted concern about a constitutional crisis, as the U.S. Constitution gives the House “sole power of impeachment.”

    Among the Pentagon’s concerns, according to the letter, is the fact the House has not voted to begin an impeachment inquiry.

  57. wr says:

    @Kathy: Is she really a troll, or is she just nuts? She seems to be on the verge of flouncing out of here in a huff… just trying to encourage her a little!

  58. john430 says:

    You may have read the news just a few days back: the Mexican military captured not one but two of El Chapo’s sons in the heart of Culiacán, the Sinaloan capital. One son freed himself—which is to say his entourage and retainers at hand overpowered and killed the soldiers at hand—and then, in a decisive riposte, seized the entire city center of Culiacán to compel the liberation of his brother.

    The forces that emerged were in the literal sense awesome and awful. Heavy weaponry that would be familiar on any Iraqi, Syrian, or Yemeni battlefield was brought to bear. More and worse: custom-built armored vehicles, designed and built to make a Sahel-warfare technical look like an amateur’s weekend kit job, were rolled out for their combat debut. Most critically, all this hardware was manned by men with qualities the Mexican Army largely lacks: training, tactical proficiency, and motivation.

    Then the coup de grace: as the Chapo sons’ forces engaged in direct combat with their own national military, kill squads went into action across Culiacán, slaughtering the families of soldiers engaged in the streets.

    Cowed and overmatched—most crucially in the moral arena—the hapless band of soldiers still holding the second son finally received word from Mexico City, direct from President AMLO himself: surrender. Surrender and release the prisoner.

    It’s an absolutely extraordinary episode even by the grim and bizarre annals of what we mistakenly call the post-2006 Mexican Drug War. The Battle of Culiacán stands on a level above, say, the Ayotzinapa massacre, or the Zetas’ expulsion of the entire population of Ciudad Mier. Killing scores of innocents and brutalizing small towns is one thing: seizing regional capital cities and crushing the national armed forces in open fighting in broad daylight is something else.

    Yet, Stephen Taylor denies that Mexico is a “failed state”.

  59. Michael Reynolds says:


    Yet, Stephen Taylor denies that Mexico is a “failed state”.

    Yes, because unlike you he knows what the term means. I’d suggest improving your education, but if you did that you’d no longer be a Trumpaloon.

  60. MarkedMan says:

    Stephen Taylor: I don’t know how you could look at the mess Israel is having with the inability to form a government and come away thinking that more parties are better.

  61. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: I was just about to post this link on the political hamster wheel we’re now seeing in Israel.

    (Note: Israel has proportional representation, while the U.K. is a first-past-the-post system, so obviously neither of those is an absolute solution.)

  62. Gustopher says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    (4) Dalmation Puppy: “When I grow up,
    I’m going to be a fire engine.”

    A friend of mine when
    She was young
    Was asked what she wanted
    To be when
    She grew up and
    She answered

    She has now grown up, and she is not a firetruck.


    This is a true story, by the way, or as true as any story ever is.

  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: That was beautiful. I cried a little.

  64. Jax says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson: So how many prison terms is Trump looking at for all his lies since he’s been in office?

  65. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Nope. Trump’s their boy. He fights.

    Which is exactly what Jesus said to do, right?

    Which begs the question: Are Evangelicals even Christians?

  66. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Which begs the question: Are Evangelicals even Christians?

    In a tribal sort of way, I suppose so.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Interesting. I went with the pit bull answer because it was the only one that represented a factual possibility. But all the difference shows it that right/wrong/alike/different depend on the context in which the test takers make their decisions and whether those contexts match those of the test creator.

    While I was in Korea, there was a similar issue with the TOEFL test because the writer of the test used different grammar theories for various questions. The capstone of the evaluation came when the researchers discovered one question where all four answers could be correct depending on what grammar the students had been taught.

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson: Alas, when I visited your link, the story about Rep. Schiff being censured had been removed. (To quote Bugs Bunny: “Boo hoo hoo, now I’ll never get to know what Tasmanian Devil little thin pancakes taste like.” I feel his pain.)

    On the other hand, there was a new story in its place–also about Adam Schiff.

    Fact-checking Trump’s shifting narrative on Adam Schiff

    Happy reading! 🙂

  69. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You might have to cut and paste that into improper paragraphs before she’ll be able to read it. 😉

  70. grumpy realist says:


    ….has gotten so confusing I haven’t the foggiest idea as to what is going on.

    Just discovered a YouTuber I’m going to follow. Thomas Laurent films mini-documentaries on historical mysteries, mainly about Iron Age Gauls. (Lots of skeletons in weird locations). Fascinating, and at great way to practice your French!

  71. Gustopher says:

    @Ms. Cris Ericson:

    be it well known that poodles may go
    “yipe, yipe, yipe” while pittbulls may recite “bark-grrrrrr, bark-grrrrrrrrr, bark-grrrrrrrrrr” but it is the Basset Hound who tells us “Bow-wow-wow-roooooooooooooo, bow-wow-wow-rooooooooooooooo, bow-wow-wow-rooooooooooooooooooo”.


  72. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: I hear it works better with hand puppets. Google it. I dare you! 😉

  73. Mister Bluser says:

    “You people with this phony emoluments clause,” Trump told reporters.

    Well, OK then.
    What’s to stop the next President, or me for that matter, to declare the 2nd Amendment phony?

  74. Mister Bluster says:

    “You people with this phony emoluments clause,” Trump told reporters.

    Well, OK then.
    What’s to stop the next President, or me for that matter, to declare the 2nd Amendment phony?

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Which begs the question: Are Evangelicals even Christians?

    Nope. There is actually scripture about this. The key phrase is “I never knew you.” Evangelicals all seem to have erased the 7th chapter of Matthew from their bibles.

  76. john430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yet another article but this time from the Federalist. The article actually uses the term “failed state” See:

    Living in Texas, we see this stuff up close, not from an academic podium.

  77. DrDaveT says:

    @john430: You can insist on this definition of “failed state” if you want, but you would have to then be willing to say that the US has been a “failed state” at various times in the past. That’s a defensible position, but it changes how people hear the phrase.

  78. An Interested Party says:

    Whatever one wishes to call Mexico, let us not forget our role in why there are so many problems there, particularly connected to the failed War on Drugs…

  79. john430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Do you have any other position besides being a snide name-caller? Please consider calling yourself a neo-idiot.