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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The eradication of the first nest of Asian giant hornets on US soil somewhat resembled a science fiction depiction of an alien landing site. A crew of government specialists in white, astronaut-like protective suits descended upon the hornet nexus to vanquish it with a futuristic-looking vacuum cleaner, to the relief of onlookers.

    The nest of the fearsome invasive insects, notoriously known as “murder hornets”, was found in a tree crevice near Blaine, in Washington state, via a tracking device attached to a previously captured worker hornet. The Washington state department of agriculture (WSDA) confirmed the nest had been successfully removed, with dozens of live captives taken back for inspection.

    “It was cold so they were docile, so between their slowness and the protective gear no one was hurt,” said Chris Looney, a WSDA entomologist who was tasked with vacuuming up the hornets.

    Wielding a lengthy, toxic stinger, the hornets can cause renal failure and death in people, as dozens of people in Japan have found out to their cost. One entomologist in Canada described the feeling of being stung as like “having hot tacks pushed into my flesh”.

    They can also squirt venom, as Looney saw first-hand when his lab workbench was sprayed by hornets as they roused themselves following capture. “I was more worried about getting permanent nerve damage in the eye from the squirted venom than being stung,” said Looney, who wore goggles for the capture. “They are pretty intimidating, even for an inch-and-a-half insect. They are big and loud and I know it would hurt very badly if I get stung. They give me the willies.

  2. Bill says:
  3. Bill says:
  4. sam says:
  5. MarkedMan says:

    NYTimes explains masks much better than I can. Some of the links go into detail about cloth masks and other items.

  6. CSK says:

    There was no one like Connery.
    One of the comments after the article said: “2020 just keeps kicking everyone in the balls.”
    All too true.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Here’s hoping 2020 gives trump and his band of merry miscreants the ultimate kick in the balls.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    You know ‘the list’ couples have? The freebies if, somehow, by some weird chance…? Sean Connery always topped my wife’s list.

  9. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    That man was hot even when he was in his eighties.

  10. CSK says:
  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @sam: Scene at the pearly gates. St. Peter: “Name, please.”
    “Connery. Sean Connery.”

  12. Teve says:


    Ivanka Trump has been making a last-ditch effort in the final days before the election to raise money for the cash-strapped Trump campaign

    But…but…(you can fill in the rest)

  13. Teve says:


    As I watch a conservatives by and large shrug their shoulders or simply ignore the mass death around us, I’m starting to get this weird, nagging suspicion that the 10 investigations over 4 years into the deaths of 4 Americans in Benghazi was maybe not undertaken in good faith.

  14. Teve says:


    When this is over, I feel like we’re going to need a national seminar on “How To Respond To Republican Arguments Now Proven To Be In Bad Faith.”

    People must learn how to say “you are a liar.” And “I don’t give a fuck that we used to clerk together, asshole.” Or “Lol, debt.”

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Pro Life my ass.

  16. Teve says:


    American Medical Association is now pushing back on Trump’s false claim that doctors & hospitals are jacking up death tolls to make more money saying, “The suggestion is … a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge.”

  17. Sleeping Dog says:


    I thought that ad featured on looked an awfully lot like her.

  18. Teve says:

    Suspicious Timing: is Media Reporting on Covid ‘Surges’ Timed to Hurt Trump?

  19. BugManDan says:

    @Teve: It is timed to hurt Trump’s campaign because it is breaking news.

  20. Mikey says:

    New Stanford University study estimates that 18 Trump rallies have led to 30,000 COVID cases and 700 deaths

  21. Teve says:
  22. Teve says:
  23. Teve says:

    Anand Giridharadas says drop what you’re doing and read this.

    The Day After Election Day

    Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on Nov. 4.

  24. JohnSF says:

    Italy 5 England 24! Woot!

    Now the Six Nations victory is either England, or Ireland if they beat France by more than 7 points later this evening.
    That’s my viewing for this evening sorted.

  25. CSK says:

    Well, that was a real little cheerer-upper, as Holden Caulfield would say. And as I said, yesterday, there probably aren’t enough vodka martinis on the rocks with bleu cheese-stuffed olives to get me though this coming Tuesday.

  26. Jax says:

    @Teve: Fits right in with what happened with the Biden/Harris campaign bus in Texas. We’re in for a rough ride.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..Italy 5 England 24
    When I click on this score in your post the link shows a 5-34 score???

  28. Teve says:

    @Jax: I was going to post something about that Texas Bus thing, but it just seems so insane that I was questioning it.

  29. Teve says:


    I feel the need to explain something to the generation that doesn’t remember, or never saw, a world where one person with a high school education could support a family of five comfortably.

    This was real. For millions of US families. It was *normal*.

    It was stolen from you.

  30. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    You are correct. Typo by thick-fingered me.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Newly Released FBI Documents Show Troubling Double Standard on Political Speech

    This morning, we received more than 30 pages of material from the FBI illustrating a remarkable disparity in its treatment of its employees: Five employees, the documents show, have been disciplined for private communications using government devices in which they have criticized President Trump. But none, at least not since 2011, has been disciplined for similar conduct with respect to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney, or President Barack Obama—or for praising Trump.

    It’s not because politically-loaded communications with respect to those political figures have not taken place among agents and other employees. At least with respect to enthusiasm for Trump and opposition to Clinton four years ago, the Justice Department inspector general has found communications that arguably imply similar bias by people working on campaign-related investigations:

  32. Gustopher says:


    malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided

    I’m surprised that “deplorable” hasn’t turned up in this campaign.

    You have an adjective that, if used by Biden, would create a firestorm on the far right, and then focus the rest of the media. That’s a lot of power in one little word, and it could have been deployed at any time.

    How is it that he never said “The failure of this administration in handling the Covid crisis is deplorable.”?

  33. JohnSF says:

    Because Biden wants to gain every single last winnable vote there is.
    Avoid unnecessarily alienating anyone who might conceivably vote for him.
    Iron messaging discipline.

  34. Monala says:


  35. Monala says:

    Detroit Free Press
    Whitmer kidnap suspect wants out of jail. He’s diabetic, and fears COVID-19


    Oct 30
    Replying to
    Wasnt this the same man who wanted to kidnap the governor because of covid restrictions? Man that’s a tough look.


    Cody Sinkler
    Oct 30
    Wait…so he was upset about her strict polices designed to protect people just like him, so he plotted to kidnap and possibly kill her…

    Now he’s concerned about covid?

  36. Monala says:

    @Teve: Would you mind sharing some of its points for those of us without a NYT subscription?

  37. Jax says:

    @Monala: It’s terrifying. Basically, all his former generals and other former staff think there’s a good chance there’s going to be violence on election day, whether he intentionally stirs the pot or not. Enough violence to depress the vote, and call into question the validity of the election.

  38. Jax says:

    I encourage all of you, if your state still has early voting, even if YOU have already voted, get everybody you love and care about to the polls BEFORE ELECTION DAY. The scenario they’ve painted in that article is entirely too plausible to discount completely.

  39. Teve says:


    A bunch of wannabe right wing paramilitaries forcing the opposition campaign bus off the road using armed pickup trucks is the type of shit that happens in developing autocracies. Trump has brought it to the United States.

  40. Teve says:

    @Monala: sorry about that, I hate when a pay wall gets in the way, I wound up subscribing to the Times out of constant frustration:-D

    I’ll post the most relevant paragraphs

    I’ve spent the last month interviewing some two dozen officials and aides, several of whom are still serving in the Trump administration. The central sources in this story are or were senior officials, mainly in jobs that require Senate confirmation. They have had regular access to the president and to briefings at the highest level. As a rule, they asked for anonymity because they were taking a significant professional and, in some cases, personal risk in speaking out in a way that Mr. Trump will see as disloyal, an offense for which he has promised to make offenders pay.

    Several of them are in current posts in intelligence, law enforcement or national security and are focused on the concurrent activities of violent, far-right and white supremacy groups that have been encouraged by the president’s words and actions. They are worried that the president could use the power of the government — the one they all serve or served within — to keep himself in office or to create favorable terms for negotiating his exit from the White House. Like many other experts inside and outside the government, they are also concerned about foreign adversaries using the internet to sow chaos, exacerbate divisions and undermine our democratic process.

    Many of the officials I spoke to came back to one idea: You don’t know Donald Trump like we do. Even though they can’t predict exactly what will happen, their concerns range from the president welcoming, then leveraging, foreign interference in the election, to encouraging havoc that grows into conflagrations that would merit his calling upon U.S. forces. Because he is now surrounded by loyalists, they say, there is no one to try to tell an impulsive man what he should or shouldn’t do.

    “That guy you saw in the debate,” a second former senior intelligence official told me, after the first debate, when the president offered one of the most astonishing performances of any leader in modern American history — bullying, ridiculing, manic, boasting, fabricating, relentlessly interrupting and talking over his opponent. “That’s really him. Not the myth that’s been created. That’s Trump.”

    One of the first things senior staff members learned about Mr. Trump was that he was all but un-briefable. He couldn’t seem to take in complex information about policy choices and consequences in the ways presidents usually do in Oval Office meetings.

    What they saw instead was the guy from the first debate. He’d switch subjects, go on crazy tangents, abuse and humiliate people, cut them off midsentence. Officials I interviewed described this scenario again and again.

    Down the hall, the very next day, Mr. Kelly was almost done cleaning out his office. He, too, had had enough. He and Mr. Trump had been at each other every day for months. Later, he told The Washington Examiner, “I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that.” But, in fact, that’s exactly what Mr. Trump wanted. Seventeen months as chief of staff, stopping Mr. Trump from umpteen crazy moves, from calling in the Marines to shoot migrants crossing the Rio Grande — “It’s illegal, sir, and the kids, they’re good kids, they just won’t do it” — to invading Venezuela. The list was long. Were they just trial balloons? Sure, some were. And, if someone wasn’t there to challenge Mr. Trump, might they have risen to action? Surely.

    “I think the biggest shock he had — ’cause his assumption was the generals, ‘my generals,’ as he used to say and it used to make us cringe — was this issue of, I think, he just assumed that generals would be completely loyal to the kaiser,” a former senior official told me. “And when we weren’t, that was a huge shock to him, because he thought if anyone was going to be loyal, it would be the generals. And the first people he realized were not loyal to him were the generals.”

    This shock, and his first two-plus years of struggle with seasoned, expert advisers, led to an insight for Mr. Trump. It all came back to loyalty. He needed to get rid of any advisers or senior officials who vowed loyalty to the Constitution over personal loyalty to him. Which is pretty much what he proceeded to do.

    The reason having loyalists at both the Department of Justice and D.N.I. is so very important for the president is that it allows him, potentially, to coordinate two key agencies of the government — secret intelligence and prosecution — toward his own political ends. This is exactly what he was criticized for doing in the summer and fall of 2020, with Mr. Barr being accused of announcing politically motivated action and investigations — including to support the fiction of widespread voter fraud — and Mr. Ratcliffe, with collecting and releasing information that is targeted at Mr. Trump’s opponents.

    The third leg of what would be an ideal triad for this sort of activity is the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, who drew Mr. Trump’s ire in September, when, in congressional hearings, he echoed the consensus of the intelligence community that the Russians intervened in the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf, that they were doing it again in this election cycle, that “racially motivated violent extremism” — coming mostly from right-wing white supremacists — was a persistent threat, and that widespread voter fraud was a nonissue.

    The F.B.I. has been under siege since this past summer, according to a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The White House is using friendly members of Congress to try to get at certain information under the guise of quote-unquote, oversight, but really to get politically helpful information before the election,” the official said. “They want some sort of confirmation that we’ve opened an investigation,” for example, into Hunter Biden, “which, again, the F.B.I. doesn’t confirm or deny whether it’s opened investigations.”

    Nov. 4 will be a day, said one of the former senior intelligence officials, “when he’ll want to match word with deed.” Key officials in several parts of the government told me how they thought the progression from the 3rd to the 4th might go down.

    They are loath to give up too many precise details, but it’s not hard to speculate from what we already know. Disruption would most likely begin on Election Day morning somewhere on the East Coast, where polls open first. Miami and Philadelphia (already convulsed this week after another police shooting), in big swing states, would be likely locations. It could be anything, maybe violent, maybe not, started by anyone, or something planned and executed by any number of organizations, almost all of them on the right fringe, many adoring of Mr. Trump. The options are vast and test the imagination. Activists could stage protests at a few of the more crowded polling places and draw those in long lines into conflict.

    A group could just directly attack a polling place, injuring poll workers of both parties, and creating a powerful visual — an American polling place in flames, like the ballot box in Massachusetts that was burned earlier this week — that would immediately circle the globe. Some enthusiasts may simply enter the area around a polling location to root out voter fraud — as the president has directed his supporters to do — taking advantage of a 2018 court ruling that allows the Republican National Committee to pursue “ballot security” operations without court approval.

    Would that mean that Mr. Trump caused any such planned activities or improvisations? No, not directly. He’s in an ongoing conversation — one to many, in a twisted e pluribus unum — with a vast population, which is in turn in conversations — many to many — among themselves. People are receiving messages, interpreting them and deciding to act, or not. If, say, the Proud Boys attack a polling location, is it because they were spurred on by Mr. Trump’s “stand back and stand by” instructions? Is Mr. Trump telling his most fervent supporters specifically what to do? No. But security officials are terrified by the dynamics of this volatile conversation. It can move in so many directions and very quickly become dangerous, as we have already seen several times this year.

    The local police are already on-guard in those cities and others around the country for all sorts of possible incidents at polling places, including the possibility of gunfire. If something goes wrong, the media will pick this up in early morning reports and it will spread quickly, increasing tension at polling places across the country, where the setup is ripe for conflict.

    Conservative media could then say the election was being stolen, summoning others to activate, maybe violently. This is the place where cybersecurity experts are on the lookout for foreign actors to amplify polling location incidents many times over, with bots and algorithms and stories written overseas that slip into the U.S. digital diet. News of even a few incidents could summon a violent segment of Mr. Trump’s supporters into action, giving foreign actors even more to amplify and distribute, spreading what is, after all, news of mayhem to the wider concentric circles of Mr. Trump’s loyalists. Groups from the left may engage as well, most likely as a counterpoint to those on the right. Those groups are less structured, more like an “ideology or movement,” as Mr. Wray described them in his September testimony. But, as a senior official told me, the numbers on the left are vast.

    Violence and conflict throughout that day at the polls would surely affect turnout, allowing Mr. Trump to claim that the in-person vote had been corrupted, if that suits his purposes. There’s no do-over for Election Day.

    Senior intelligence officials are worried that a foreign power could finally manage a breach of the American voting architecture — or leave enough of a digital trail to be perceived to have breached it. There were enormous efforts to do so, largely but not exclusively by the Russians, in 2016, when election systems in every state were targeted. There is also concern that malware attacks could cripple state governments and their electronic voter registration data, something that could make swaths of voters unable to vote. A senior official told me that provisional ballots can then be passed out and “we keep all the receipts,” meaning that these votes would have a paper ballot trail that can be laboriously counted and rechecked. But a breach or an appearance of a breach, in any state’s machinery, would, in a chaotic flow of events, be a well-timed gift to Mr. Trump.

    The lie easily outruns truth — and the best “disinformation,” goes a longtime C.I.A. rule, “is actually truthful.” It all blends together. “Then the president then substantiates it, gives it credence, gives it authority from the highest office,” says the senior government official. “Then his acolytes mass-blast it out. Then it becomes the narrative, and fact, and no rational, reasonable explanation to the contrary will move” his supporters “an inch.”

    No matter how the votes split, there’s an expectation among officials that Mr. Trump will claim some kind of victory on Nov. 4, even if it’s a victory he claims was hijacked by fraud — just as he falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton’s three million-vote lead in the popular vote was the result of millions of votes from unauthorized immigrants. This could come in conjunction with statements, supported by carefully chosen “facts,” that the election was indeed “rigged,” as he’s long been warning.

    If the streets then fill with outraged people, he can easily summon, or prompt, or encourage troublemakers among his loyalists to turn a peaceful crowd into a sea of mayhem. They might improvise on their own in sparking violence, presuming it pleases their leader.

    If the crowds are sufficiently large and volatile, he can claim to be justified in responding with federal powers to bring order. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, have both said they are opposed to deploying armed forces on American soil.

    A senior Pentagon official, though, laid out a back-door plan that he was worried about. It won’t start, he thinks, with a sweeping move to federalize the National Guard, which is within the President’s Article 2 powers; it’d be more of a state by state process. The head of the National Guard of some state “starts feeling uncomfortable with something and then calls up the Pentagon.”

  41. Jax says:

    @Teve: Call me paranoid, but I’m stocking up on supplies today. There could be…..disruptions.

  42. Teve says:


    You cannot have a sustainable democracy where one side has to win by landslides in the face of open cheating, vote suppression, structural apartheid representation & election systems, foreign interference, and outright theft of family & campaign documents, to hold power.

  43. CSK says:

    Well, at the campaign stop in Minnesota, Biden apparently referred to some Trump supporters as those “ugly people over there.” Even if it’s true, which it probably is, he shouldn’t have said it. We expect that from Trump. Not from his opponent.

  44. Teve says:

    @Jax: i bought this cheap aftermarket bidet for $35 last year. Easy to install, easy to clean, just a wonderful improvement. Then Covid happened and the toilet paper disappeared from the shelves, and demand for those things were so high that the company bought their own factory in China and raised the price to 130 bucks and they were still flying off the shelves. Now they have overcapacity and they’re selling for 20 bucks. I highly recommend it.

    It doesn’t eliminate the need for toilet paper, but it reduces it by about 80%

  45. Jax says:

    @Teve: Oh, I’m good on toilet paper, I stocked up on that as soon as we were able to buy more than one package at a time. I’m thinking more like perishables, milk, veggies and shit like that, that might get slowed down in trucks where highways and interstates are blocked. We get our fresh stuff on Wednesday only, that’s the danger zone next week.

  46. keef says:
  47. Teve says:


    How is an armed caravan of Trump supporters—lead by a hearse—surrounding and harassing the Biden/Harris bus and ramming into volunteer vehicles in Texas not a bigger story?

    Somebody says in the comments, because this is a 1934 story. Nobody’s going to pay attention until it’s 1939.

  48. Teve says:

    “” I wondered where John Solomon went after he got fired from The Hill for being a biased conspiracy nut. Good to know. 😀

  49. Teve says:

    @Jax: I was sad to discover that while you can freeze milk, when it thaws it’ll have a weird grainy texture.

  50. JohnSF says:

    Fascinating information, keef.
    I’m sure that really hurts Hillary Clinton’s chances of ekeing out an electoral college win…

  51. JohnSF says:

    France 35 Ireland 27
    Did not expect that; I’d have bet on Ireland.
    les Bleus are back, bigtime.
    England win the Six Nations tournament.

  52. flat earth luddite says:

    Teve, that’s why there’s powdered milk. Pick one with a high butterfat content. Or shelf-stable product. BTW, if you’re stockpiling for potential “disruptions,” whether natural or man-made, don’t count on keeping electricity or running water. Just saying.

  53. Teve says:


    New @CNN polls (LVs)…

    Arizona: Biden 50%, Trump 46%
    Michigan: Biden 53%, Trump 41%
    North Carolina: Biden 51%, Trump 45%
    Wisconsin: Biden 52%, Trump 44%

    It’s all over but the right wing violence.

  54. JohnSF says:

    My Pensylvania obsession, contd.
    CNN Pennsylvania 51/44
    270 summation 51/45
    538 summation 50.1/45

    Unless polling is totally screwed up, Biden looking safe now.

    Albeit if it turns out this close, it really is worrying about how unreachably stubborn the Republican base may be.
    But that’s a second-order problem.

  55. JohnSF says:

    UK news (least surprising news ever IYAM):
    Covid-19: PM announces four-week England lockdown

  56. mattbernius says:

    Reposted here for pookums-@keefie’s benefit… (BTW any thoughts about that Trump Charity bet? Why you ghosting me when it’s such a great chance to own a mushy-headed lib like me… I mean, boat parades and rallies!!!… Amiright? Anyway, let me know the amount and it’s a deal)…

    Another point that’s been mulling around my head…

    I find it sad that anyone who is willing to look past the corruption, nepotism, kids-in-cages and lost children/parents, failed foriegn and trade policies, quid pro quos, racism and xenophobia, incomptience, not to mention approximate a quarter of a million people dead through mismangement, to vote for Trump lacks the fundamental empathy to understand how others are willing to look past this particular tempest in a tea pot to vote for Joe Biden.

    I’m not sure if it’s a case that they don’t want to understand or are simply not capable of understanding.

  57. JohnSF says:

    Tweet from President Macron:

    La laïcité n’a jamais tué personne.

    Approximate translation:“Secularism has never killed anyone.”

  58. mattbernius says:

    Reminder that the past is always present.

    Alamance County sheriff’s deputies and Graham police pepper-sprayed people — including a 5-year-old girl and other children — who were participating in the “I Am Change” march to the polls on Saturday afternoon.

    Read more here:

    Have no doubt, your reaction to something like this is what your reaction would have been too hearing about attacks like Selma or any major class within the civil rights movement.

  59. Teve says:

    Parker Molloy about the Texas bus harassment

    This is just unbelievably fucked up. Meanwhile, a bunch of the “pro-Trump” accounts on here are all sharing these same videos and talking about how “epic” it is. This shit is bad. These people are bad.

  60. Jen says:

    @Jax: Ah, crap. I wasn’t going to bother with the grocery store tomorrow, as we have enough for the coming week (I’m on an every-two-weeks shop). I might go to the store anyway tomorrow, just to stock up a wee bit more.

  61. Jen says:
  62. JohnSF says:

    “I never thought leopards would eat MY face…”

  63. Teve says:


    It’s come to this: A neighbor reports that AG William Barr’s house in McLean is being picketed by Trump supporters who believe he’s not doing enough to lock up Joe Biden

    Link to photo

  64. de stijl says:



    I am an enlightenment, secular person, but what?!

    Macron is French. There was a Revolution. Stuff happened.

    I am very poorly educated on French history yet even I know about the Reign of Terror.

    There may be a subtle distinction on laicite.

  65. Jax says:

    @Jen: The liquor store was my second stop. 😉

  66. de stijl says:


    Isn’t “cancel culture” held to be a bad thing by RW types?

    Can someone explain the difference?

    (Many of the participants will find that running a bus off the road for sport is, in fact, a felony. A small hole in their plan.)

  67. Teve says:

    @Jen: what’s the problem, he definitely got what he paid for.

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: A couple of days ago, driving through Portland, OR and looking at the tents and homeless camps on freeway medians and sidings, it suddenly came to me in ways that it never had before that I’m living in the largest, wealthiest, third-world sh!thole the world has ever seen.

  69. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    It’s complicated. 🙂

    The French draw a distinction between the politics of the French Revolution and the secularism of the Republican State.

    The Revolution itself, and the arguably up to 1945 saw a three-t0-five(!) four cornered fight between Jacobins (later revolutionary Socialist/Communists), centre/right republicans, Bonapartists, liberal Monarchists and Catholic/Monarchist “ultras”.

    The monarchist/Catholic “old conservatives” were totally discredited by support for the Vichy regime, and have become a political irrelevance since. (Though some of their heritage has resurfaced in the National Front).

    The secular Republic became the common ground upon which all the main post-war parties agreed; and which the Catholic Church was reconciled to by agreeing to political quietism in return for it’s remaining property and schools being left alone. (Unlike the Third Republic, where the anti-clericals often actively persecuted the Church).

    This agreed foundation partly accounts for the aggressive collective response of French liberals, socialist, conservatives, and all, to challenges from religious groups.
    At present, Islamic ones in particular.
    But the same has occurred with Christian fundamentalist attempts to challenge the secularity of the state.
    It is something that often takes non-French “liberals” aback.
    The French state is emphatically NOT tolerant of intolerance; and is even more unaccepting of “established religion” than the US.
    Totally different to some other European countries as well, which are in some cases formally Christian (e.g. the UK).

    Related is that France has a long tradition of extremely blunt, even savage, criticism of religion.

    Christians and Jews in the past have regarded it as blasphemous. A large number of Muslims do now, both within France, and in largely Muslim countries.

    In some European countries, a compromise might be sought, or speech limits formally or informally used (e.g. UK, Germany)

    The French WILL NOT back down on this.
    It is a fundamental part of their mainstream world view.

  70. de stijl says:


    A cautionary tale about getting what you asked for.

    The monkey’s paw is satisfied.

  71. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: it was if it weren’t for the fact that the average salary in the US is very high, we’d definitely be a Third World country. On that one metric we’re great.

  72. Teve says:

    Not 20 minutes ago Trump tweeted a video of the trucks harassing the Biden bus in Texas with Trump saying I LOVE TEXAS!


  73. Teve says:


    France has a long tradition of extremely blunt, even savage, criticism of religion.

    Vive la République! Vive la France!

  74. Teve says:

    My friend David:

    Fun fact if you trick or treat at Rudy Giuliani’s place he gives every kid with a MAGA hat a different Hunter Biden laptop

  75. JohnSF says:

    I may not always agree with the French, but I try to understand them.

    Like most Western countries, behind superficial similarity there can be profound differences.

    I’m a “conservative-Social Democrat” Brit, and personally quite comfortable with established religion.
    As long as it knows its place, as the Anglican Church does.
    US Evangelicals or pre-War continental Catholicism would be another matter entirely.

    And as a corollary of one faith variant being Established, there is also a requirement for restraint in dealing with the sensibilities other churches and faiths, within pragmatic limits.

    The UK has never been quite as insistent on “free speech” as some other countries.
    Such as France; or the United States.

  76. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve been meaning to comment that this Forum has 70+ comments and growing. Of late we’ve often gone over a hundred, IIRC even 200. We children are keeping ourselves amused pretty nicely. This Open Forum thing seems like it was a pretty good idea. Thanks James, and Dr. T.

  77. de stijl says:


    I knew there was a subtlety I’d missed.

    Macron is too savvy to make such a boldly wrong disprovable statement.

    As a rank outsider, I think the Gallic French are on a bad path in regards to visual depictions of Mohammed. It is deeply and profoundly offensive to your neighbors, many of which are French by birth.

    Deliberate provocation will provoke a response. Your historical colonialism, immigration policies, present-day segregation, and policing tactics make things bad and tense. Visual depictions are gasoline on the fire. And is it needed except to prove how secular we are?

    In no way am I condoning the ghastly response.

    That was horrific murder.

    But perhaps not pissing on someone when he is already your bootheel is prudent.

    Many US Southern cities have (or until recently had) statues of Confederate “heroes” in town squares and at major crossroads. The vast majority of them erected post-Reconstruction and to well into the 20th century. The Lost Cause fought with bronze four or six decades later.

    It was a supremacist and provocative poke in the eye at our black neighbors. It took until just the last few months to fully (semi) address it even though these had been noted and protested for decades.

    The culture has to reckon with its depraved past.

  78. Jax says:

    @gVOR08: The best part is that you never know what the day’s subject matter amongst the commentariat will be!

  79. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: restraint and accommodation among the European religious came about after a few hundred years of being ankle-deep in the blood of heretics. 😀

    Keeping religion out of political power in the US was a deliberate decision made by men familiar with European history.

  80. JohnSF says:

    Oh yes.
    Just been reading a history of the Thirty Years War.
    (Big historical argument for your essay question: “Was the Thirty Years War more influenced by religious conflict, dynastic rivalry, or princely particularism? Discuss”)
    Not to mention the intersection of religion and politics in the British Civil Wars, which lingered horribly on in Northern Ireland (and may not be wholly ended yet).

    But this reminds me of the argument of some more wacky “originalists”: as the early US had established churches in the states e.g. Connecticut till 1820 (?) then does the 14th Amendment neccessarily forbid state establishment now?
    Have fun with that one.

  81. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: I would argue yes it does. As the Reconstruction amendments fundamentally changed several things. Originalism is jibber jabber. 😀

  82. de stijl says:


    It’s like a box of chocolates.

  83. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m inclined to agree with you.
    Thing is, the French are not.

    Right or wrong, just or unjust, they view an absolute freedom to offend religious sensibility as an inviolable right. The left, right and centre are united on this point.
    I once discussed this with a liberal socialist French guy.
    His response, in essence:
    Curbs on speech against religion? Non.
    If it means riots? Non.
    If it means civil war? Non.
    If it means war with the Muslim world? Non.
    If it means world war? Non.

    They are absolutists on this.
    And they will deliberately repeat the provocation in response to threats.

    See the whole Charlie Hebdo business, and the repeated republication of the “offensive” cartoons, and the deliberate “Here. In YOUR FACE!” use of them.

    Every time that Muslims, even moderate ones, call for limits on “blasphemous” speech, the French secularists double, redouble, and redouble again.

    Some in outside France equate this with the anti-Islamist attitudes of the neo-right or the Christian extremists.
    The French do not; they make a basic distinction between the anti-Muslim attitudes of the Far Right, and the “laicisime” of the mainstream.
    Don’t forget, Hebdo was aligned well left of centre, and liberal.
    And they intend to repeat the offence again, and again, and again, and again.
    And the French state and (most) of French society will support them.

    You or I may think them undiplomatic in this.
    The French DO NOT CARE.

  84. de stijl says:


    Originalism is judicial activism cloaked under an “ism” label. Reactionary at its core. Relativistic based on outcome.

    The Federalist Society has a to answer for.

  85. de stijl says:


    I dislike anyone who is deliberately provocative against an essentially powerless minority.

    Baked in deep and hard. Lifelong.

    Deliberate antagonization will not win. It makes you lose. Post-colonialism did not hatch in a laboratory but on streets.

    If France chooses to go down a path like Israel and goes proto-Apartheid they will have fucked themselves hard. I truly hope they do not.

    Everybody needs to chill the fuck out and have a serious sit-down. Yes, I am that naive.

  86. de stijl says:


    Chocolate by Snow Patrol is pretty boss.

    Final Straw is better.

    Transcendental alt pop. Non-traditional pop song structure, though.

  87. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I particularly like their living room sessions!

    I admire so many of the artists that have continued to produce, even while disconnected from all of the tours and studio recordings they were scheduled to do, pre-COVID.

    Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is one of my favorites (Raise a Little Hell is my internal theme song 😉 ). They’ve done livestreams regularly since the beginning of the lockdowns.

    I will admit to having a bit of a lady crush on Breezy and her flaming washboards.

  88. Gustopher says:


    A Florida man was mauled by a leopard after paying $150 for a ‘full-contact experience’

    Without clicking through, I feel like I can safely say that the moral of the story is “don’t fuck with leopards”

  89. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: I don’t think he should refer to people as deplorable, just that he could have used the adjective to describe Trump’s actions, and completely derailed Trump, and gotten a little media storm pointed 80% at the target of his choice.

    “The administration’s failure to act while 1,100 people die from covid every day is deplorable.”

    Cue media storm, with a nice mix of frothing on the unreachable far right, The NY Times doing a bothsiderism article about “many on the right are bothered by the use of deplorable, while many on the left are bothered by mounting death counts”, and another set of people saying it’s only 1,000 people a day.

  90. Gustopher says:


    But this reminds me of the argument of some more wacky “originalists”: as the early US had established churches in the states e.g. Connecticut till 1820 (?) then does the 14th Amendment neccessarily forbid state establishment now?

    Yeah. That’s pretty much settled law for most of the Bill of Rights. They restricted only the federal government until the reconstruction amendments.

    To some extent, the civil war was fought over states’ rights, but the states’ rights side lost. (Specifically fought over the states’ rights to protect slavery)

    And thus originalism is bunk. Or at least a hundred and fifty years out of date.

  91. wr says:

    @de stijl: “Originalism is judicial activism cloaked under an “ism” label”

    Isn’t activism an ism?

  92. de stijl says:


    Yes. Busted.

    I thought that thru poorly.