Saturday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kathy says:

    Masks should go back on?

    Yes, but mine has yet to come off.

    It’s funny. This Hell Week at the office, coworkers are exchanging tips on what to take for cold and flu, and one at least caught a third round of COVID. And I just smile behind my mask and carry on.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Yes.

    Masking can feel like a thing of the past in the US, even in cities such as New York and Los Angeles that once embraced the precaution. But as healthcare facilities grapple with a “tripledemic” of respiratory viruses – with Covid, flu and RSV surging simultaneously – experts are once again urging the public to don face coverings.

    “I would not go into a grocery store without a mask,” says John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley. “I wouldn’t go into rapid transit without a mask. I wouldn’t go into an airplane or be in an airport without a mask,” nor would he attend a crowded outdoor event such as a concert without one, Swartzberg says.

    Still, after nearly three years of mixed messaging from officials, with many Americans seeming to have moved on from Covid – and a president who has said “the pandemic is over” even as hundreds die every day – will anyone listen?

    As of 2 December, the CDC reported a seven-day average of 4,201 Covid hospitalizations and 254 deaths. Meanwhile, the flu and RSV seasons have come unusually early, with flu hospitalizations at their highest in a decade. On 2 December, the agency reported 8.7m cases of the flu, including 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths, this season. And we haven’t seen the worst yet, given that it’s been less than two weeks since Thanksgiving, with many more holiday gatherings to come, says John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley.

    The good news: “Masks work against Covid, masks work against RSV, masks work against influenza and masks work against other respiratory viruses,” Swartzberg says. “They really do work to help prevent people from getting infected and the consequences of that infection.”

    I also still wear mine.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘The police came because of the sea of red gore’: unseen photos from the set of The Shining

    Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has legions of admirers the world over – not the least Lee Unkrich, director of Pixar classics including Toy Story 3 and Coco. Unkrich spent years collecting pictures, artefacts and stories about the making of the film, uncovering deleted scenes and getting to grips with its most obscure details. Here are a collection of unseen photographs from his forthcoming book about the 1980 horror classic

    “Stanley was extremely nervous,” said Leon Vitali, actor and personal assistant to Kubrick, of the infamous blood elevator shoot. “We didn’t know if it was going to work. It was a one-off. We had thousands of gallons of this stuff that was going to be coming out of those elevator doors and it had to work … It was so beautiful you wanted to hug [him].” To the horror of nearby residents, a good deal of the blood allegedly escaped from the studio into the surrounding areas, and police were called to address the sea of red gore running through town.

    I like the stories behind the pics better than the pics themselves.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Huge flip of circumstances’: end of US child tax credit pushing kids into poverty

    Last year, Joe Biden and Congress’s Democratic leaders agreed to allow even the poorest American parents to receive a tax credit of a few thousand dollars a year. What followed was a dramatic fall in the child poverty rate, which dropped by nearly half to its lowest level ever, according to the Census Bureau.

    Just months after it was enacted, the expanded child tax credit expired amid the objections of Republicans and an influential Democratic senator. By the start of this year, millions of American children had slipped back into poverty.

    “Once January 2022 hit and the monthly deposit did not hit families’ bank accounts, we saw an immediate sort of reversal, and there were 3.7 million more children in poverty in January 2022 compared to December 2021,” said Megan A Curran, director of policy at the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. “And so that’s a huge flip of what the circumstances were for kids.”

    But don’t you worry, the wealthy get to keep their tax cuts.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Renato Mariotti

    The purpose of the DOJ’s contempt motion was not to gain the upper hand in a criminal case.

    DOJ wanted to give the judge leverage to force Trump’s team to find and return any remaining classified documents.

    That leverage still exists, which is why her decision is unsurprising.

    Hugo Lowell

    Just in: Chief US judge for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell did not hold Trump office in contempt of court today over subpoena noncompliance and told the Trump legal team and DOJ to resolve the dispute themselves, per people familiar — story coming.

    I had been wondering how lawyers would interpret this ruling.

  6. CSK says:

    President Biden may promote Ulysses S. Grant from General of the Army to General of the Armies.

    Only Washington and Pershing have held this rank before.

    The whole story is here:

  7. CSK says:

    I find it fascinating that right-wing forums such as regularly condemn Twitter, a private enterprise, for “censoring” conservatives and Trump supporters. Yet itself regularly bans Trump critics from posting at their own site.

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Grant has never gotten the respect he deserved. He was a far better general than the sainted Robert E. Lee – and unlike the slave-owning Lee, Grant manumitted a slave he was gifted, despite being desperately poor. He also opposed the Mexican-American war as an obviously imperialistic land-grab.

    Grant understood modern wars of attrition, but he also understood maneuver. His Vicksburg campaign was brilliant. More than any other officer, he won the war for the US.

  9. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I’m sure everyone’s heard the story of how Lincoln, when he was informed that Grant was a lush, said: “Find out what kind of whiskey drinks so I can send a barrel of it to my other generals.”

  10. Gustopher says:

    Vaguely on the subject of the civil war and the glorification of General Lee, I think I would like a tv show focusing on the neighbors to the Dukes of Dukes of Hazard.

    Just normal people, slowly getting more and more irritated by their white trash neighbors with their loud cars, louder racist dog-whistles, continuous petty crime and interactions with the law… until they finally just break and take matters in their own hands, setting the Duke home on fire. The Shermans of Hazard.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    This is a really important piece in the Times (no subscription needed). It concerns individualized cures using the CRISPR genetic engineering technique. A number of important issues are raised but one of them is key: we now have the ability to take a single sick individual, identify the single gene that is responsible for it, and edit it out, yielding a total cure. But the entire medical oversight structure we have built in place over the past century, which has saved millions of lives and prevented untold suffering, actively prevents individualized medicine of this sort. Not directly, but because the testing and validation required to release a therapy costs many millions of dollars and that’s not viable for a single individual.

    Vast tracts could be written about this, and the debates will range from, “should we treat this as we do surgical techniques and allow individual clinicians to decide how to use it?”, to “Should parents be allowed to genetically alter their children to be better at sports, or to lighten dark skin?” It’s easy to rail against the evil and heartless medical establishment, but that’s a cop out. We haven’t had something like this before and so there is no obvious authority to decide what is allowable. What agency head, or medical standards group head wants to step up and face the certain vilification and death threats that will inevitably come with it, especially in todays hypercharged climate?

  12. Sleeping Dog says:


    Saw that article this morning. The medical technology (drugs and tools) is predicated on the development and testing of technology that is applicable to the general population that develops a specific condition. When considering that a tech has general application, the current development/testing regime makes sense. But CRISPER is the tool, not the specific genetic modification that effects only one patient.

    Much like mRNA vaccine development has shown effectiveness against Covid and updated mRNA vaccines that defend against future variants and flu vaccines, these don’t need to go through the testing hoops.

    For CRISPER, casual uses of genetic modification, like improving athletic ability, can be addressed by listing approved uses.

  13. Franklin says:

    @MarkedMan: I don’t have time to read the whole thing now … but can I guess insurance companies will use these excuses to not pay for it?

  14. CSK says:

    Not much action here today.

  15. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Grant was both a brilliant strategist, a good field commander, and, it appears, a decent, if flawed, human being.
    IMHO Grant and Lincoln are among the most significant figures for the good in modern history (and historical materialism can bugger off 🙂 )
    Have ordered “Grant” by Ron Chernow as a Christmas present to me from me.
    I should have read it before now; but, so many books, so little time.

  16. Jax says:

    What is the deal with the right wing obsession with the non-binary nuclear person and their penchant for stealing luggage?! Fuckin fire them and get over it already. JFC.

  17. CSK says:


    Are the RWs obsessing about Sam Brinton? Brinton ought to be fired, and then treated for kleptomania, if that’s what it is. Brinton is facing felony charges in Vegas, though.

  18. Kathy says:

    Sometimes there’s a very short explanation for a major blunder. Consider this:

    The MP for Spelthorne (Kwarteng), who was sacked by Truss after 38 days, has now said that the then prime minister and her team had lost perspective on the budget and its political or financial consequences.

    So, two politicians, one in charge of the economy and the other merely of the country, did not consider the financial or political consequences of their budget?

    What the f***ing hell did they consider?

  19. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Late response. This is getting a lot of interest in the cancer community of which I am part. Speaking from personal experience, a huge concern is cost. At the time of my diagnosis in 2011, and throughout my treatment (ending mid-2015), I took standard chemo drugs (no tailored drugs were past experimental stage, and I wasn’t interested in entering a double-blind program given my already poor prognosis). In that time, my total bills for surgeries, testing, and drugs exceeded $6M. IRRC, regular chemo (Folfox, 5FU, etc.) ran about $5k per treatment. Medicare (and hospital/doctor write-offs), combined to pay about 90% of the total. SWMBO and I celebrated last Christmas by finally paying off the 10% that was our out-of-pocket.

    At one point, I was offered a treatment drug which carried a co-pay of $10,000 per dose. That was my out-of-pocket cost after insurance!*

    I can only imagine what the costs of these treatments will be, but the vast majority of patients will not benefit until 2-3 generations from introduction.

    *IIRC, the standard Blue Cross policy available in the Portland area at the time I became a patient had a $1M lifetime cap. I would have exhausted that policy in the first 5 months of treatment.

    Cost of treatment was a major driver for the insurance companies finally acquiescing to colonoscopies starting at age 45. It’s no longer an old fart’s disease.