Open Forum

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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. CSK says:

    The Trumps appear to be selling the lease on the D.C. hotel and a property in St. Martin, for $500 million and 6.9 million, respectively, plus removing the Trump name from other acquisitions.

  2. Teve says:

    I never watch news shows but apparently Maddow was good last night.

  3. Teve says:


    (I needed to edit my last comment, but Click to Edit wouldn’t appear, so if you post a new comment it comes back)

  4. Teve says:
  5. Kathy says:

    It was just a matter of time before Bolton would engage in regime change at home.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A little long, but a very good read: “I Would Only Rob Banks for My Family”

    Just after sunrise on the morning of August 9, 2012, in the Houston suburb of Katy, Scott Catt, a fifty-year-old structural engineer, was awakened by the buzzing of his alarm clock in the master bedroom of the apartment he shared with his twenty-year-old son, Hayden, and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Abby. The apartment was in Nottingham Place, a pleasant, family-oriented complex that featured a resort-size swimming pool and a large fitness center.

    Scott took a shower, dried off, and ran a brush through his closely cropped, graying hair. He put on a T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and some work boots and walked into the living room, where Abby and Hayden were waiting for him on the couch. Hayden was also wearing a T-shirt and jeans, along with some slip-on tennis shoes. His short dark hair was brushed forward, splayed over his forehead. Abby, whose highlighted blond hair fell to her shoulders, was wearing a blouse, black yoga pants, and flip-flops.

    “Okay, kids,” Scott said. “You ready?”

    Hayden and Abby both nodded. The family headed out the back door and walked toward Abby’s 1999 green Volkswagen Jetta in the parking lot. Scott was a big guy, six-foot-four and 240 pounds, and he had to bend forward at the waist and duck his head to squeeze into the Jetta’s passenger seat. Hayden, who was six-two and 200 pounds, crammed himself into the backseat, pulling his knees up to his chest.

    Abby started the car, pulled out of the complex, and made a couple of turns. In five minutes, she was driving into the parking lot of a strip center filled with small businesses—Fitness Unlimited, Shipley Do-Nuts, Weddings by Debbie, RadioShack, and Texas Mesquite Grill, among others. Abby parked the car about fifty yards from a Comerica Bank.

    Scott grabbed a black garbage bag from the floorboard and took out two pairs of white painter’s coveralls, two white painter’s masks, two pairs of blue latex gloves, and two Airsoft pistols, which look like real guns but shoot only plastic pellets. In the tight confines of the Jetta, he and Hayden squirmed as they put on the disguises. Scott clipped a walkie-talkie to the lapel of his coveralls and handed another one to Abby.

    It was nine-thirty. For the next thirty minutes or so, they sat in the Jetta, staring at the front door of the bank. Finally, Scott said it was time for them to make their move. Abby dropped her father and her brother off a few stores down from the bank and then drove around to an alley in the back. Just minutes later her dad’s voice crackled through her walkie-talkie.

    “You there, Abby?” he said. “We’re going in.”

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pallbearer appears to snub Mitch McConnell at Elijah Cummings’ memorial – video

    The look on Mitch’s face…. And then he looks to Schumer who has a great big grin on his face.

  8. Tyrell says:

    Top scary places in the US:

    Waverly Hills Sanatorium: Anyone who would go in that place has to be crazy. They will certainly be crazy if they make it out. Said to be one of the most haunted place.

    Gettysburg National Park: Many have seen ghosts in a basement in the Lutheran Seminary. It was used as a hospital during the battle.

    Devil’s Tramping Grount (near High Point, NC) I went there when I was a teenager: during the daytime’ I would never get near that place at night. It is just a bare place in some woods. But some people who have tried spending the night there disappeared. Others wound up in a mental institutions.

    Unitarian Church Cemetery, Charleston, SC
    See the ghost of Annabelle Lee walking the cemetery. The subject of Poe’s famous poem.

    Winchester House, California
    A house so convoluted that people get lost in there, and see ghosts!

    Maco Station light, near Wilmington, NC
    The station and tracks are gone, but some still the the strange light.
    I also have been there, but not at night.

    St. Augustine lighthouse, Florida Tourists report seeing two ghostly sisters roaming the grounds. The door is often open the next morning.

    Stanley Hotel, Colorado The setting of the movie “The Shining” “Ghost Hunters” filmed there and found unexplained events.

    Clinton Road – Milford, NJ Be careful on the curves and watch out for a young boy. Whatever you do, don’t stop at night.

    There are too many scary places in this country to name them all. Perhaps you have been to one.
    Many areas have their own local lore and legends.

  9. Kathy says:

    I just made, and ate, banana coffee pancakes again. This time they were just right. So, the recipe:

    1 cup pancake mix
    3/4 cup milk
    1 egg, beaten
    2 bananas, pureed
    2 tsp. instant coffee
    1 tsp. vanilla
    cinnamon to taste

    Mix the pancake mix with the milk and egg, and whisk well. Add the coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, and banana, and mix in well. then cook the pancakes as usual.

  10. grumpy realist says:
  11. CSK says:

    @Kathy: I wonder how this mixture would be for a crepe? Probably very good.

  12. Sleeping Dog says:
  13. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    And Liddle Donny is upset because he can’t play golf in Scotland as often as he’d like. Poor wee tyke.

  14. Bill says:

    Florida headline of the day-

    They got married– in criminal court

    My wife and I got married in court too. In the Philippines, a civil wedding is not uncommon before a church wedding. So we have two wedding anniversary date- May 30 and June 17. Both are in 1989 or 30 years ago.

  15. Mr. Prosser says:

    Finally finished my “summer” reading choice, Fall or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson. Initial reaction is NS wrote two or three good books but then rolled them into one. This was a start and stop read for me.

  16. Kathy says:


    I’ve never made crepes, but a short while ago I made mushroom soup with simple egg noodles. The recipe is just egg and a little flour, which makes for a thin batter that cooks very quickly. Then you roll them and slice them and you get noodles (kind of).

  17. gVOR08 says:

    Adam Silverman at LGM has a good, longish, post tying things together. He sees is as a black PSYOP with three main lines of attack:

    1) The Ukrainian deliverable.
    A) The real deliverable wasn’t manufactured dirt on the Bidens. Rather, it was getting Zelensky to go on CNN to announce the opening of an investigation into the Bidens, because CNN is a mainstream news outlet and is in opposition to the President in its reporting. As soon as that happened, the President’s team would have campaign ads running 24/7 with this.

    2) The Firtash initiative. Firtash wants off house arrest in Vienna and out from under the extradition order to send him to the US to face the Federal crimes he’s been indicted for. The reason Firtash wants this done is because he’s Putin’s man in Ukraine’s natural gas industry. If Firtash can get back to Kyiv he can then once again try to take over Ukraine’s natural gas sector, suck it dry of profits, and fuck up its operations, which will force the Ukrainians to buy natural gas from Russia while removing Ukrainian natural gas as an alternative to Russian natural gas for the rest of the EU market.

    3) The lift Russian sanctions initiative. Here’s where it all ties together, by laundering these conspiracy theories, especially that the Democrats and the Ukrainians, in conjunction with DNI, CIA, FBI, NSA, and DOJ, conspired to steal the 2016 election by running a false flag (maskirovka) operation to make it look like Russia was actually conspiring with Trump, his campaign, Republicans, and major conservative movement organizations to steal the 2016 election, it provides a fig leaf for Trump to order the lifting of US sanctions against Russia that went on after the seizure of Crimea and the invasion of Donbass and were expanded as a result of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Silverman includes a deal more detail.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I suspect this answers the question I’ve had since Trump’s “purchase” of the hotel was announced: does he actually own it or is it just another branding deal? Looks like the actual owners are realizing just how much it’s going to be investigated when Trump
    leaves office.

  19. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: Trump owns the lease on the hotel building, so in effect he’s his own tenant and landlord. He can legally sell that lease to someone else. The $500 million he’s asking would make this the largest ever transaction of its kind.

    I made an error in my initial post. The asking price for the Caribbean property, which Trump rents out, is actually 16.9 million, not 6.9 million. The sale is being handled by Sotheby’s.

  20. Guarneri says:


    Only a petty juvenile would find this funny.

  21. Kathy says:

    So I wanted to talk about gambling, especially advantage play.

    Advantage play is playing such games that offer a player advantage, as opposed to the more common house advantage. Or to play in such a way that the house advantage turns to a player advantage.

    It is possible to beat the casino. But: 1) it’s hard work, 2) the yields are not huge, 3) the casinos don’t like to gamble (ergo the house edge), so they’ll combat advantage players tooth and nail.

    The best known example is card-counting in blackjack. It’s also surprisingly easy to explain in a simplified form. here goes:

    The more tens, face cards (worth ten points), and aces (worth either one or eleven points) that remain in a deck, the better the odds for the player. So you count the cards by assigning a value of -1 to tens, face cards, and aces, a value of one to all cards from 2 to 6 (or 5, I’m not sure), and zero to the rest.

    You don’t alter your playing strategy at all, regardless of the count. you play what’s called Basic Strategy. what you change is your betting strategy. You bet more when the count is high.

    Simple, right?

    Well, no. you have to juggle a mental count of all the cards at the table (yours, the other players’, and the dealer’s), while adding up the points in your hand and the dealer’s up card. that takes skill and practice

    And remember casinos guard against this. They keep count of the cards, too, and will notice if you bet more when the count is high. They can refuse to let you play, or throw you out of the casino (this happened to a friend of mine in one of my trips to Vegas).

    But the simplest way for a casino to prevent card counting is to use a continuous shuffle machine.

    See, card counting works because the play is made up of dependent events. The cards remaining can be deduced by the cards played. Card counting works bets in a single deck, if you keep playing from it until all cards are used up. A continuous shuffler mixes the cards up all the time. Cards played are fed back into it. So the play becomes a series of independent events, and keeping a count doesn’t tell you anything.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: But we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. We have visibility into a few “Trump Properties” where things went badly enough that the whole mess ended in court cases. Whenever someone tries to drag the Trump Organization into it, they have successfully argued it was just a branding exercise and they don’t actually own the property.

  23. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes, but I think it can be proven that they own the lease they’re trying to sell. In any case, they’re not pretending they don’t own it.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I saw as the news show played the clip 3 or 4 times. That was mean. I would have done the same thing, given the thought and the opportunity, but I always hope others are better people than I am.

  25. Michael Cain says:

    @Mr. Prosser: I thought it showed promise at the beginning of posing interesting questions, then it just completely bogged down. I couldn’t finish it.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: While I was in Korea, I went to a Jeot (fermented seafood) festival in a smaller (population under a quarter million) seaside town where a major attraction was a noodle restaurant where the chef was pulling noodles by hand out in front of the restaurant. It was fascinating to watch him grabbing a handful of soft dough, stretching it out into a tube, doubling it over and spinning and restretching it several times until he had about a dozen 5 or 6 foot threads which he then cut from their dough anchors and threw into a pot to cook. Amazing artistry. There are lots of places where they serve hand pulled noodles, but you almost never get to see them being made.

    (I never ate noodles except at home. Korean soup stocks have lots of red pepper paste and other additions that would make amazing stains on my shirt. I have a tremor that makes more soup go on my shirt than goes in my mouth. 🙁 )

  27. Teve says:

    a friend who’s also a Stephenson fan read Dodge this summer, and said it ran out of gas about two-thirds of the way through.

  28. Teve says:

    All my life, I’ve been committed to advancing fairness and opportunity for the African American community. And today, I am here before you with the empty — and we have to say, we’ve had so many people with empty political rhetoric. We’re doing the opposite. We’re acting, not talking. People have talked. (Applause.) They’ve talked. They’ve talked a lot and they’ve got nothing done. And we’re talking about for a century. We’re talking about for over a hundred years it’s been all talk by a certain group of politicians and no action.

    Donald Trump, 10-25-2019

  29. Teve says:

    “I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.”

    -White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham

    She should have just called him Glorious Leader and gotten it over with.

  30. CSK says:

    @Teve: “The genius of our great president?” Either she’s illiterate or tragically befuddled.

    I wonder if these people know, or care, how many books are going to be written portraying them as the fools, dupes, and sleazes they are.

  31. SenyorDave says:

    @Teve: “I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.”

    It is not like he has ever been in a major position before or dealt with strong, accomplished people. I mean he was just a lowly four-star general.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    That was mean.

    Mitch McConnell isn’t exactly a nice person…

    We’re acting, not talking. People have talked. (Applause.) They’ve talked. They’ve talked a lot and they’ve got nothing done. And we’re talking about for a century. We’re talking about for over a hundred years it’s been all talk by a certain group of politicians and no action.

    And yet black people still overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party…how amazing…I can’t imagine why…

    @Teve: It’s incredible that people can spout shit like that with a straight face…Kim and other dictators must be jealous…

  33. Scott O says:
  34. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Without the intonations of his speech, Donald Trump’s words are close to gibberish.

    Also, I believe he is saying that there has been no progress for African-Americans since women got the vote in 1919.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Guarneri: @Just nutha ignint cracker: If it were me, I’d have probably kicked him in the nuts. That asshole sold out his country in 2016.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Jackie Chan does the noodle thing in the movie Mr. Nice Guy. It’s the usual fun flick with fantastically choreographed fight scenes but the noodle thing is really impressive.

  37. Teve says:

    The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it. They habitually cut their own taxes and borrow money without any concern for future burdens. They’ve spent virtually all our money and assets on themselves and in the process have left a financial disaster for their children.

    vox interview with Bruce Gibney, author of A Generation of Psychopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America

  38. Teve says:

    Sean Illing
    Something that doesn’t get discussed enough is how hostile so many of these boomers are to science. It’s not hard to connect this aversion to facts to some of these disastrous social policies.

    Bruce Gibney
    This is a generation that is dominated by feelings, not by facts. The irony is that boomers criticize millennials for being snowflakes, for being too driven by feelings. But the boomers are the first big feelings generation. They’re highly motivated by feelings and not persuaded by facts. And you can see this in their policies.

    Take this whole fantasy about trickle-down economics. Maybe it was worth a shot, but it doesn’t work. We know it doesn’t work. The evidence is overwhelming. The experiment is over. And yet they’re still clinging to this dogma, and indeed the latest tax bill is the latest example of that.

    Time after time, when facts collided with feelings, the boomers chose feelings.

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: Also don’t forget that there’s us–the late Boomers (birth dates 1960-1965)–who have a totally different view towards things than the earlier Boomers. It was our older brothers and sisters who did Woodstock and the protesting and the marching and all that. By the time we came along, our parents had clamped down on rebellion.

    We’re the ones who are getting the backlash against the supposed Great Cultural Revolution, but we still get blamed for the antics of our older brothers and sisters. Pisses me off no end.

    And yes, I’m a scientist.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Somebody’s got to take the blame, might as well be us, whether we are actually personally guilty or not.

  41. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Bruce Gibney
    The baby boomers are conventionally defined as people born between 1946 and 1964. But I focus on the first two-thirds of boomers because their experiences are pretty homogeneous

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve always been a little reluctant to put much stock in generational differences. IIRC those irresponsible Millennials with their avocado toast have a higher savings rate than we did at that age. It always sounds too much like “those kids today”, even when it’s about my Boomer generation.

    I read Illing’s interview, I aways do, his interviews are always interesting. I note that pretty much everywhere he says, ‘Boomers did this thing’ you can fairly substitute ‘ Republicans did this thing’. I also dislike any reference to the craziness of the youth in the sixties that doesn’t mention that our government was sending many of us to kill or be killed for no good reason in Vietnam. I laugh at Tea Partiers who say I don’t understand that the government and the MSM lie. I came of age politically during Vietnam when both were lying every day about everything.

    The Greatest Generation are called such becuase they happened to have a war. A lot of things happened. We had what Piketty calls le Trente Glorieuses, the three decade post war boom, during which I came to see progress, for myself and the world, as normal. We had the cold war when we did duck and cover drills and watched the Doomsday Clock tick toward destruction. After the mid-seventies we had the growing influence of corporate money in politics. We had urban riots and a largely successful Civil Rights movement, We had the pendulum swing back to Republicans after thirty or more years largely without them.

    OK, I are one, but it seems lazy to blame all our troubles on greedy Boomers.

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..I laugh at Tea Partiers who say I don’t understand that the government and the MSM lie. I came of age politically during Vietnam when both were lying every day about everything.

    Well, most of them anyway…

    The generals and even President Lyndon Johnson had been lying to Cronkite and to the American people about what was really happening in Vietnam. This coming Tuesday will mark the 50th anniversary of the night — Feb. 27, 1968 — when Cronkite went on national TV to speak the truth, that the fighting was, at best, a “stalemate” and that it was time for America to negotiate an honorable peace and leave the Southeast Asian nation.

  44. DrDaveT says:


    It’s the usual fun flick with fantastically choreographed fight scenes but the noodle thing is really impressive.

    I highly recommend the classic Japanese black comedy film Tampopo, billed at the time in the US as “the first noodle western”. The film has several mostly-independent threads, but the main one is a parody of spaghetti western plots, in which a drifter saves a young widow trying to run her late husband’s noodle shop by teaching her to make great ramen.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, watching that guy was absolutely fascinating. In Daegu, there was a shop where in a photo the chef had a skein of noodles way longer than he is tall wrapped around himself. I would guess that takes 2 people–and a lot of coordination 🙂 .

  46. JohnSF says:

    As if anyone else here cares, but:
    England 19 New Zealand 7 !
    Yay us!
    On to the ‘Boks in the final!
    Shame about Wales, though.
    England – Wales final would have been epic.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: (Born in 1952) I’m convinced that we don’t really believe in Trickle Down Economics (I for example didn’t believe in it even in 1980); we need others to believe in it to justify the economic policies we prefer and so we keep asserting that it’s true to keep the con going. As long as there are stupid and innumerate (or greedy, either one will work) people looking for a free lunch, we’ll keep getting away with it.

    What would be interesting would be to see if the argument still has legs when Gibney’s generation is my age, but I don’t anticipate living for 20 or 30 more years.

  48. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Never mind the late boomers, the mid Boomers (1955-1960) were the real victims; too young to be hippies, too old too be punks.
    Stuck with glam, yacht rock and disco.

    And of those, the ones who really suffered were those born between 15 and 17 August 1957 🙂

  49. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    “Trickle down economics”
    AKA as “p1ss down their legs and tell ’em it’s raining” economics.

  50. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The people on SGU are always discussing how there was this model in psychology or education or something that said that people having inaccurate beliefs was partly a function of not having accurate information, and that this model has been pretty much obliterated.

    There’s some collection of attributes that Supply-Side Economics has that seems to make it survive. It violates basic algebra, and in practice has failed basically forever, but that hasn’t dented it’s appeal.

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Supply Side Economics benefits the 0.1%, who benefit enormously. They don’t, as @Just nutha ignint cracker: notes, believe it. It’s just something to use to keep the rubes on board. I’m not sure who ignint means by “we”. I believe I’ve seen surveys that say almost no one believes the Supply Side, Trickle Down stuff anymore. But it gives GOP politicians something to say when asked why they’re hell bent on cutting corporate and wealthy individuals’ taxes. What else can they do? Admit Charles Koch and others pay them well to cut the right taxes?

  52. Teve says:

    Katie Hill is resigning because of an improper consensual relationship with a staffer. RedState may have published revenge porn someone gave them of her, but I’ve had a good weekend and I don’t feel like immersing myself in RedState creeps ATM.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: 1) SGU??????
    2) Exactly my point. It’s propelled by innumeracy and greed. Mostly greed is my guess. Look at all the people who don’t like taxes even in our little corner of the universe/blogosphere. Economists–even dishonest douchy ones–telling them that cutting taxes raises revenue makes a tasty free lunch offer. Who cares that it doesn’t work?

    By the time those chickens have come home to roost, I’ll be gone.

    (And yes, everything Gibney said about us is probably true. We started global warming awareness, but it didn’t stop us from buying 6 mpg Hummers at all. By the time the icecaps melt…)

  54. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: SGU is one of the very first podcasts. It started in 2005 and is hosted by a Yale neurologist.

  55. Gustopher says:


    Katie Hill is resigning because of an improper consensual relationship with a staffer.

    Consensual? Seems more like it should be a decline to run again situation. Her constituents deserve uninterrupted representation, and a consensual relationship can be wildly inappropriate in a boss-worker scenario, but I would think staying is less worse for the constituents.

    RedState may have published revenge porn someone gave them of her, but I’ve had a good weekend and I don’t feel like immersing myself in RedState creeps ATM.

    If they published revenge porn, I hope she sues their balls off. There’s scum, and then there’s scum.

    I will also not wander over to RedState to check. I like myself too much. (Fine, I went to their homepage, saw something about SJWs and thought against continuing… “n-clang,” spurious Soros references and “SJW” are all about the same to me — it’s a sign you’re wandering into a cesspool and should just leave)

  56. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I’m guessing SGU is not Stargate: Universe.

    By the way, Stargate: Universe is not as terrible as people say it is.

  57. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: Stargate Universe is not as bad as people said, I liked that cranky Australian guy.

    Apparently Hill has a horrible soon-to-be ex husband who is harassing her.

  58. Kathy says:

    @Scott O:

    Card counting was first developed by a mathematician named Edward Thorpe, who then later published a book called “Beat the Dealer.”

    Casinos thought this was the end of blackjack (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). Quite the contrary. More people think they can successfully count cards than can really do so. Unfortunately many people gamble more than they can afford to lose.

    A friend of mine, Michael Shackleford, is a dedicated gaming mathematician. He runs or ran(*) a site called Wizard of Odds, which provides guides and advice for gambling. Among the latter are his ten commandments of gambling. the very first is “Thou shall expect to lose.”

    (*) He’s still associated with the site and he writes for it, but he no longer owns it.