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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. MarkedMan says:

    When it was announced a few days ago that Trump was going to game 5 of the World Series, it struck me as odd. He simply doesn’t do things that are not about him. With all previous Presidents from time to time you would hear they attended some event at the Kennedy Center or took in a game. But Trump has no interest in being in a crowd that is looking away.

    But now it makes sense. He knew the raid was happening and I suspect he thought he would get credit and a standing ovation when they announced his name. In other words it would be about him, for the whole nation to see. Of course in the event he was roundly booed and then everyone returned to their game. How could he misread the situation so badly? Well, he gets his world view from Fox News and worse. He attends rallies in his honor where people pay to see him. He simply cannot judge a situation in the real world.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Those Chinese, their hoaxes just get bigger and bigger:

    The fire and massive evacuation were driven by a “historic” wind event that meterologists had warned of leading up to the weekend. The seasonal winds, called “el diablo” winds in northern California, tore through Sonoma county at 90mph on Saturday night, tossing embers erratically and making fire containment ever more challenging for responders.

    “I’ve been in the business 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Steve Anderson, a forecaster in the San Francisco office of the National Weather Service.

    “Just the sheer intensity and the sustained duration of the winds. Not only does it carry sparks at least a mile but winds at these speeds pushes embers along the ground,” he said.

    Anderson noted that during the 2017 wildfire season, which until that point had been the most destructive on record, gusting winds reached 90mph and lasted for four to six hours. In this case, winds have blown between 80 to 90mph for the past 12 hours, and were expected to continue for through most of the afternoon, he said Sunday morning.


    The Sonoma county sheriff pleaded with residents in the evacuation zone to get out immediately. “You cannot fight this. Please evacuate,” Mark Essick said.

    It’s their own damn fault, they should have raked their trees instead of waiting for the leaves to fall.

  3. Guarneri says:

    From the Washington Post Obituary Archives

    Adolph Hitler, noted vegan and landscape painter dies at 56…..

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hong Kong’s financial secretary has said the region is in recession after more than five months of anti-government protests, and said it was unlikely to achieve annual economic growth this year.

    “The blow to our economy is comprehensive,” Paul Chan said in a blog post on Sunday, adding that figures out on Thursday would show two successive quarters of contraction – the technical definition of a recession.

    “The government will be announcing its advance estimates for the third quarter on Thursday. After seeing negative growth in the second quarter, the situation continued in the third quarter, meaning our economy has entered technical recession,” he wrote.

    “It seems it will be extremely difficult for us to reach full-year economic growth of 0 to 1%. I would not rule out the possibility that the full-year economic growth will be negative.”

  5. Teve says:

    Imani Gandy Corn
    Which New York Times op-ed columnist will be first out with some screed about the lack of civility and how booing trump means Democrats are going to lose in 2020

  6. Teve says:
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Wealthy people don’t want their wealth taxed. I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

  8. The bigger issue vis a vis a “wealth tax” is that it is not entirely clear that such as tax would be Constitutional.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Interesting. Am I correct that if the SC came down in favor of any such prohibition against a “direct” wealth tax, that it would be limited to the federal govt? I am looking at such taxes on the local level (personal property, real estate) and thinking the states could do the same? Assuming their constitutions did not also include such prohibitive ambiguous phrasing of course.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    @MarkedMan: Oh, it was more than just boos…and the look on his face when he realized he was being booed…couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    These climate scientists. Now they’re going too far!

    For the millions of people who descend on Munich for the annual bash, Oktoberfest is a celebration of beer, bands and bratwurst.

    But as the dust settles for another year on the world’s largest folk festival, and die Bierleichen (“beer corpses”) return to the land of the living, environmental scientists have released the first analysis of methane emissions from the 16-day party.

    Researchers at Technical University in Munich walked and cycled around the perimeter of the festival last year with mobile sensors aloft. The instruments found the event emitted nearly 1,500kg of methane – 10 times the amount that wafted off Boston, Massachusetts, in the same period.

    The scientists attributed most of Oktoberfest’s emissions to leaks and incomplete combustion in cooking and heating appliances. Though an appreciable part of the rise in the gas, about 10%, was attributed to the flatulence and burps of attendees.

    Next thing you know, they’ll be passing out tickets for farts!!!

  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Conceptually, I’m on board with the idea of a wealth tax, but leaving aside Doug’s question on Constitutionality, from a practical matter how do you apply it? Income, stocks and bonds, and property is relatively easy, but what about private businesses, including limited partnerships and limited liability corporations? Valuing those assets is extremely difficult and easily manipulated. See Trump, Donald: accusations of setting one value for his holding for tax purposes and another for insurance and collateral purposes.

    I’m pretty sure that that the great wealth will disappear off shore and the ownership of hard assets will be buried behind Potemkin holding companies.

  13. @OzarkHillbilly:

    The provisions of the Constitution that define what taxes Congress can impose, as amended by the 16th Amendment, do not apply to the states.

    That being said there could be limitations on the idea of a wealth tax at the state level based on (1) what the state Constitution says and (2) the implications of the Interstate Commerce Clause on a state’s ability to tax “wealth” not located within its borders.

  14. @Sleeping Dog:

    You raise some very good points about how to define “wealth” and how it is valued.

  15. Teve says:

    you know, in one respect, back when we were living in Dunbar-number-size tribes, things were easier. If one or two assholes were hoarding all the tribes resources, while the tribe’s babies cried with hunger, somebody would pick up a hard rock and fix the problem. 😀

    ETA in Chile right now they might be doing the 2019 version of picking up the rock. ( Oh No! emoji)

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: France used to have sumptuary taxes on possessions like pearls and furs, much to the annoyance of a lot of upper-class women (and presumably their husbands). One of the essays Colette wrote for the French edition of Vogue went into detail about said taxes, the justification for such, and their reception by the rich (presumably the magazine’s readers.)

    (Colette wrote a series of essays for Vogue reporting on particular issues of the day, none of which I think have ever been translated.)

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    the implications of the Interstate Commerce Clause

    Thx, I hadn’t thought about that part.

  18. CSK says:

    @Guarneri: I agree with you that the WaPo’s description of al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar” was ludicrous.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:
  20. grumpy realist says:

    Interesting article in Irish Times about the social splitting of the U.K. into “Remainers” and “Leavers”. I’m not quite as worried as the author–I suspect that as soon as the U.K. leaves (albeit with a very “soft” Brexit), most of the uproar will vanish. Same thing as happened with feminism–as the goals of second-stage feminism were met (careers opened to women, credit cards, etc.) women dropped out of the movement and only the more radical were left.

    Similarly with Brexit I suspect that after any departure at all–even a BRINO one–there will be a total collapse in support and a total unwillingness to carry on further.

  21. CSK says:

    The Boston Globe has a fine and very moving article on Professor Charles Ogletree’s life and current battle with Alzheimer’s. Just go to . It’s at the top of “Most Read” on the right side of the main page.

  22. KM says:

    @An Interested Party @MarkedMan:
    Dontcha know, liberals are pansies and ain’t interested in da der sportsball thingie. That’s where men go because it’s a manly thing and real men are conservatives! Therefore, it should have been full of Trumpkins waiting to adore him and praise his name for descending to mingle with them. Why would they boo him?

    This man clearly doesn’t understand nobody likes him. Not his family, not his friends, co-workers, “allies”, business partners, random people on the street. Even his own groupies don’t wanna party with him – they want to use him as a fetish object to get their hate on and justify their existence. They want the brand, not the man. He just doesn’t get he’s the lingering fart in the elevator that makes everyone GTFO as soon as they can.

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    Chance the Rapper’s opening monologue on SNL this weekend–and, indeed, the entire episode–was one of the best in years.

  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You inadvertently raise a point that I’d forgotten, several countries have tried wealth taxes and all have since replaced them with value added taxes. Much easier to track and collect.

    Note: my dyslexia kicked in on the original post, revelations not revaluations. Sorry

  25. Jax says:

    @KM: “Lingering fart in the elevator”….thanks for that, I almost spit coffee on my computer screen!! Everybody needs to start Monday laughing. 😉

  26. gVOR08 says:

    There seems to be a fair amount of dissent on the idea a wealth tax is unconstitutional. The link is just the first article a search turned up. Does have some interesting history, including the origin, under the Articles of Confederation, of the 3/5 compromise.

    So I suppose, like everything else, it would come down to John Robert’s day-by-day calculation of the reputation of the Court. We haven’t had the first primary yet. I think I’ll continue to look at all campaign proposals as aspirational, and not sweat the details, until we get a lot closer to draft legislation.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: A lot of Brexiteers are banging the drum for Brexit because, quote, we can then get rid of V.A.T., quote. What they expect to replace it with in order to raise an equivalent amount of money seems to have been totally glossed over….

    (And Dr. North over at EUreferendum has been pointing out all the problems adjusting.

  28. Sleeping Dog says:


    Doubtful that it ever gets to the point where there would be a SC ruling. The wealth tax will founder on the implementation and administration details.

    Why European states ditched the wealth tax.

  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Governments love the VAT because it raises so much money and is so easily administered, but in general the voters hate it like they hate sales taxes in the US.

    Progressives often oppose the VAT since it is regressive, though that can be addressed by providing a refundable tax credit in the amount that an individual or family would pay in taxes below a certain income level.

    The idea of a wealth tax is so popular, even with Republicans, because it only applies to the wealthy and in Warren’s proposal only the richest ~75,000 families.

  30. gVOR08 says:

    I would dearly love to have Democrats run on tax reform. Real tax reform. Scrap the whole federal code and start from a clean sheet. With, of course, a planned transition over years.

    Obvious points are lower nominal corporate income taxes with major corporations actually paying, a VAT, with perhaps a modest genuinely progressive income tax. We still aim at encouraging capital formation even though the “savings glut” fueled the Great Recession and we continue to have more capital than paying private projects. So let’s stop doing that and treat capital gains and interest as simple income. Let’s have a wealth tax or something else for the same purpose. Which is not revenue, but suppression of excess wealth. A 90% marginal rate seemed to work.

    I’m not trying to write a tax proposal, I’m trying to show, top of the head, how easy it would be to do better. Write your own proposal, it’s almost certain to be better than the low revenue, easily gamed, mess we have now.

  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    To me the wealth tax is a great political idea if not such a great policy idea. As a political plank, it’s easy to articulate, and defines with clarity what you are for and what you are against. As policy, it has all the problems that y’all are articulating upthread. Constitutionality being one of them.

    Of course, I feel certain that lots of politicians who supported flag-burning knew it was unconstitutional, but it’s a great political plank. See above. I think lots of politicians now know that a wall on our southern border is a terrible policy idea, but a great political plank.

    That said, should Warren get elected, Congress will take up this idea and mutate it a lot, and either dump it or pass something watered down a lot. If it forces a bunch of wealth offshore, wouldn’t the consequence be that that wealth cannot now be spent on political campaigns? I would welcome that.

    Either own it, and pay taxes on it, or keep it out of the political process…

  32. al Ameda says:


    But now it makes sense. He knew the raid was happening and I suspect he thought he would get credit and a standing ovation when they announced his name. In other words it would be about him, for the whole nation to see.


    The way they tried to stage it – merging honoring the troops, and ‘our special guest’ – it is clear to me that Trump expected that he would celebrated and honored. He actually was taken aback; it was a beautiful thing to see.

    I wonder who he will seek retribution against?

  33. Kathy says:

    Question: is the corporate tax rate uniform or progressive?

    It’s not the same to tax McDonald’s at x% and also the corner McDonald’s at the same rate. The former is a big corporation, the latter is a small business.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Was that supposed to make sense or pertain to something?

  35. Bill says:
  36. Bill says:

    Tiger Woods won for the 82nd time on the PGA Tour today. He is now tied for first in career wins with Sam Snead. Kathy Whitworth of the LPGA Tour won 88 times.

    Talk about unbreakable records- Jane Blalock made the cut 299 consecutive times on the LPGA Tour. The next longest pro streak is by Tiger Woods and it is about 150. Blalock’s 299, Cy Young’s 511 wins (baseball) are not going to be broken nor is a man winning a LPGA event ever going to happen again. The previously mentioned Sam Snead did that in 1962.

    Jane Blalock in spite of her 299 record and 27 tour wins, is unlikely to ever be voted into the LPGA Hall of Fame due to this cheating scandal.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You raise some very good points about how to define “wealth” and how it is valued.

    Some of these points already apply to how income is defined and taxed, though many do not. (Certainly wealth is harder to measure than income, which is already hard.) I would think that the Interstate Commerce Clause implications would already have been worked out regarding income, though. Is that not the case?

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: That was in respone to my question here:@OzarkHillbilly:

    Interesting. Am I correct that if the SC came down in favor of any such prohibition against a “direct” wealth tax, that it would be limited to the federal govt? I am looking at such taxes on the local level (personal property, real estate) and thinking the states could do the same? Assuming their constitutions did not also include such prohibitive ambiguous phrasing of course.

  39. CSK says:

    “Like a dog” is, as we know, Trump’s favorite insult. Indeed, he said that al-Baghdadi “died like a dog.”

    But then he goes on to praise the “beautiful” dog that tracked down al-Baghdadi, though he did initially call it a “canine.” As in: “I call it a canine.” Does he think there’s a difference?

  40. Kathy says:

    Got the new phone under a week ago, and I’ve already managed to let it drop to the floor twice.

    The screen is still intact, so that’s good.

    Not ever having broken a screen, I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me screens don’t break or shatter when the phone hits the flor screen-first squarely. My hypothesis is that it requires the corner of the bezel to strike the floor hard, as that might compress the glass and cause a fracture (probably). The corner because it has a small area, therefore upon hitting the floor that tiny area would take on all the energy of the impact, which translates into higher pressure.

  41. Jen says:

    @Bill: On par for Halloween this week, I find that headline to be frightening…(67 and she never hit menopause? Yikes)

  42. Sleeping Dog says:


    You are correct. Most drops that result in the phone landing on its edges or front-back won’t cause it to break, but on the corner, on a hard surface, it’ll never look the same.

  43. Teve says:

    My Nokia 6.1 has a number of unusually good features. The body is milled from a solid block of aluminum and the screen glass is 1 or 2 mm from the edge. I’ve dropped it onto asphalt 3 or 4 times on the corner and zero screen damage.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I highly recommend a case. It makes all the difference in the world.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    And I managed to drop it at the parking garage at home. Note to self: do not try to close the door with the hand currently holding the phone.

    The screen is still whole, though.

  46. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I’ve used an Otterbox (“commuter” model, I believe), and a Mothca military grade matte screen cover on my last 3 iPhones, and even if a horse steps on it or I drop it flat on a rock, it’s fine. I highly recommend.

  47. Teve says:
  48. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Cris Ericson: Is it time for you to get a clue?

  49. Mikey says:

    @Teve: This crap is so typical. They attack the reputations of people who’ve spent their entire careers in the service of our country, to defend a man who has never spent one moment serving anyone but himself.

  50. Jax says:

    @Cris Ericson: Talk radio must be getting really desperate if this is the argument they’re making.

    Short answer: No, and those words do not mean what you think they mean.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Jax: It’s all political lorem ipsum at this point.

  52. Kathy says:


    I’m not a fan of phone cases. Of 5 smart phones I’ve had, one has a case.

    I don’t usually drop them, either. Except the iPhone. That one had a glass-like back, and slid off even level surfaces. I think it spent as much time on the floor as on my desk at work.

    Still, I may get a case for the company phone, but only because now it seems we can be charged if we don’t return the phones 2 years hence in good condition.

  53. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I don’t generally MEAN to drop them. But I’ll swear by that Otterbox. No sliding on flat surfaces, it will take a ton of stuff with it if it slides. One time it fell out of my pocket into an irrigation ditch, and I didn’t even know I had lost it….until it started ringing UNDER THE WATER (imagine my surprise!). My mom ran over hers with the tractor (she had a different model of case, the kind with the full plastic front) and it still worked.

  54. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Cris Ericson:
    Heard a term today that made me chuckle: “Verbal Incontinence

  55. Jax says:

    I have a betting pool on how many degrees below zero it will be by 6:40 AM tomorrow in my area, mountain time.

    Average bet so far is -12 to -27, not counting for wind chill.

  56. Jax says:

    I’m buying rounds for hot toddies at the local bar for the 5 closest temps, posted between 6:40 and 7 am.