Sunday’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:

    Crash of the Century

    At the unassuming corner of Flatbush and Ocean Avenues, where the greenery of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden abuts a Wendy’s in a drab stretch of Crown Heights, if you look over a low stone wall and through the chain link and trees, you can see a curve of train track making a sharp jog into a tunnel.

    If you had been standing on this spot in the crisp night air, just after seven p.m. on November 1, 1918, you would have been part of a large, anxious crowd. And had you been able to push to the front, you would have witnessed a single man exiting the tunnel alone. He was a businessman who lived in Brooklyn, along the Brighton Beach train line. It was a Friday night, and he had been traveling home for a weekend of rest. His mind had likely been occupied not only with his work but also the impending peace in Europe—an imminent end to the carnage of World War I was beginning to brighten the newspaper headlines.

    But that night he emerged “almost divested of clothing,” wrote The New York Times. Staggering forward nearly naked, “his coat and trousers…ripped from him; he had only one shoe, and was without hat, collar, and tie.” As he stumbled closer, you would see that he was gravely hurt, that “his face was bleeding from many gashes and his left arm was useless,” dangling from his shoulder. With the rest of the crowd, you would have parted and let him pass into an ambulance from the Kings County Hospital. He would not be the first person or body to emerge from the Malbone tunnel that night.

    A longish but good read.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “We dress up our racism,” he says. “We put it in bright beige khaki pants and we go out and we put our little collar up on our crew shirt or whatever but it’s still insidious, it’s still ugly and it still permeates a lot of what happens in this country. The reaction that some white folks still have to it is self-evident. It’s a hide behind this law-and-order narrative as if that’s the code. It is the code.”

    – Michael Steele.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Political leaders are raising ‘false hopes’ about coronavirus vaccines

    Vaccines will not be a silver bullet to end the Covid-19 pandemic and leaders must avoid creating false hope, a key government adviser has warned.

    Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, writes in today’s Observer that the first vaccines are likely to be only partially effective. Raising expectations and rushing new drugs into production risks damaging public trust in any vaccination programmes that eventually arrive, he said.

    Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), also takes aim at “vaccine nationalism”, saying supplies need to be allocated fairly rather than hoarded by richer nations.

    Vaccines in the UK should go first to those who need them most, he says, and he calls for action to prevent the virus spreading to vulnerable people from young adults, who are testing positive for Covid-19 at an increasing rate.

    “We are facing a chaotic stop-start winter for schools and businesses,” Farrar writes. “We have to do everything possible to avoid this. The first vaccine may not be a silver bullet that sends us back to normal in a matter of months, but by using doses wisely on people who most need them along with truthful, considered public health messaging that does not place false expectations, we will be in a strong position to avoid a repeat of early 2020.”

    More than 170 research teams around the world are trying to find Covid-19 vaccines, and although nine have reached large-scale trials, there has never been any effective vaccine against a coronavirus before.

    “I am optimistic we will soon see results from the first vaccines coming through late-stage clinical trials,” Farrar writes. “However, we must temper this optimism, talk of the perfect vaccine ‘just around the corner’, or that it can be given to everyone immediately.

    “The speed and scale of vaccine development has been remarkable but it’s important to avoid false hope.”

  4. sam says:

    Hashtag on Twitter re the Trump Flotilla fiasco: #Dumbkirk

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Heh. Thanx for the chuckle. I can always use one.

  6. charon says:


    Great post/thread on this at LGM, the post’s comments tres funny:

    and informative too.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A good read germy at Ballon Juice passed on: My Eighty-Six Jobs

    Politicians are now trying to resell the idea of the American Dream to a workforce that has had its hand forced one too many times. But even when it seemed pretty good in our town, it was never so great, so there’s nothing to make great again. As the 1986 mill strike taught me, those simple rules of work hard, don’t be late, you earn what you deserve mean little today, if they ever meant anything at all. It turns out our dreams were filled with booby traps, ladders with busted rungs, and required money to achieve.

    My struggles were small compared to those of my grandfather and my father. While I couldn’t pull myself out of the clogged sink trap of minimum wages until I married the right man, they had no choice but to accept the bargain of being steadily poisoned by the industry that sustained them. If it wasn’t for my father’s hard work, I may also have faced an untimely death myself. He gave me more than I could ever earn. Yet the arc of my employment history mirrors theirs. We saw the landscape shift beneath our feet while we could only stand still.

  8. Bill says:
  9. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I really like Chairman Steele’s podcast. I understand what he was trying to do but even he faced reality that it was a lost cause..just like JC Watts did. He was hoping to establish a beach head to allow some diversification of the black vote. Tim Scott is trying to do the same thing but he’s going to have to face reality sooner or later.

    It is dangerous to have it (or POC vote in general) mostly in one Party where it can’t be a moderating force for Republican policy as well. I suppose we’ll have to Vote Dem or stay home for the foreseeable future–there is no gateway to the Republican party.

  10. Joe says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I recently heard an extended interview of Mr. Steele. He was far more interesting than I would have expected – I don’t watch politics on TV so I was only aware of him through his stint as Chairman of the RNC a while ago. My take away is that his efforts within the Republican Party are the very definition of Quixotic. Admirable, but Quixotic.

  11. CSK says:

    According to Michael Cohen’s new book, Trump hired an Obama impersonator to come to his office in New York so he could belittle the man and then “ritualistically” fire him. Cohen provides a photo of the occasion.

  12. CSK says:

    Steele was lt. gov. of Maryland from 2003-2007; he was the first Black man to be elected to statewide office there.

  13. Monala says:

    @CSK: not just photo. There’s a video that he filmed for the 2012 RNC. A schedule change scrapped it from the lineup.

  14. CSK says:

    I don’t think I can stand to watch it.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Meh… it’s mostly like the thing with Clint Eastwood debating the empty chair. Just Trump bloviating a lot.

  16. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I still think I’ll spare myself. When isn’t that malevolent buffoon bloviating about something?

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32: @Joe: Maybe it’s that I’m from Maryland, but I’ve been following Steele’s career for a long time. He’s a real piece of work. Here are some of his greatest hits:

    — While speaking before a Jewish group during his 2006 Senate run, he told his audience that “you of all folks” should have a problem with stem-cell research, because of the Nazi medical experiments.

    — When taking the job of RNC chair, he declared his intention to do a “hip-hop makeover” of the party.

    — Argued against global warming on the grounds that the island called Greenland is covered in ice.

    — Cited his favorite book as War and Peace, then went on to quote it as saying “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

    Putting aside the issue of race, I place him in a category of Republicans with a long history of saying loopy things who somehow gained their respectability back after hopping aboard the Never-Trump train. (Jen Rubin is another example in this category; it isn’t black Republicans I’m talking about per se. One thing a lot of these people have in common is their getting gigs on MSNBC.) I am sometimes stunned by the naivete of liberals who are quick to embrace someone who appears to be saying just the right things at a particular moment, not realizing it’s just as much a form of grift as what they were doing before. I realize people can change, but some change is more convincing than others, and my suspicions are raised whenever there’s a lack of record of the person undergoing any sort of meaningful evolution in their views, and there seems to be a concerted effort on both sides to ignore their past.

  18. Mr. Prosser says:

    @sam: The Proud Buoys, Poseidon Ain’t Ridin’ with Biden, Boater Suppression

  19. Kylopod says:
  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I hadn’t intended to imply that you should watch. I did it to pique my curiosity, and having done that, elected to give what I hoped was a cue to prevent people with more demanding schedules from wasting minutes that they’d never get back.

  21. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Fair, but Im not sure you can comprehend the compromises it takes for a black man trying to move into (or stay in) a position of power within a white dominated institution. I don’t know about the retail political sphere but in institutional politics, I can’t count how many times I had to mouth the company line just to create the space and capital I needed to make sure I could ensure I could take care of POC within the organization fairly.

    Black people within these organizations don’t get the luxury to be the maverick–there is much going along to get along as a compromise to stay in a position to make incremental changes or stop gross injustice. You have to pick your battles–wisely. I’ve seen black men over play their hand and get marginalized–fine–but what bout all the people who are going to get shitted on now that youre gone. This is checkers.

    My take on Steele–he’s unencumbered now and free to be candid about his real feelings on race. His commentary is in line with the conversations I have with other black men that have rose to positions of power within large institutions when no other white people are in the room.

    I’ll cut him some slack until Trump is out and see what his message is then. I suspect now that he has a pass to poke Republicans in the face over race–he won’t ever give up that freedom and power

  22. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Joe: When he started in the 70s it was admirable–today– its farting in the wind.

  23. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I didn’t think you did. And I appreciate that you watched it so I didn’t have to do so.

  24. sam says:

    Gives a new meaning to the term High Flying.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Fair, but Im not sure you can comprehend the compromises it takes for a black man trying to move into (or stay in) a position of power within a white dominated institution.

    I may not comprehend it, but it doesn’t change anything I said. The issue isn’t why he grifts, it’s that he does. I am concerned about liberals who have a habit of assuming someone is being sincere and open-hearted as long as that person is saying all the things they want to hear. It makes us easy to manipulate.

    I am not saying we should just shut our door in their faces; I am more than willing to give people credit wherever its due. The Lincoln Project ads are excellent. Whatever Stuart Stevens’ motives, he’s speaking truths that desperately need saying. Michael Cohen is a weaselly, lying opportunist (who may still be covering for his former boss), but he can still be useful–as long as we don’t forget he’s a weaselly, lying opportunist.

    I have no idea what Michael Steele actually believes, apart from a vague feeling that he was never as deranged as he pretended to be during his days as a Republican official. (But then, I suspect a lot of Republican officials aren’t as deranged as they pretend to be.) I have no problem with people praising him for saying the right things at present, or contextualizing his past actions as those of a black man struggling to forge a path in white-dominated institutions. What makes my eyebrows go up is hearing people speak admiringly of his character with very little evidence.

  26. ImProPer says:


    “I like boaters that don’t capsize! Losers and suckers!”
    I found this quote on the internet, could it be he’s turning on his navy as well?

  27. CSK says:

    Wait till Trump starts raving about boating by mail.

    ETA: Trump just called Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor of the Atlantic, a con man. Projection. Pure projection.

  28. ImProPer says:

    I’m sure he meant it as a complement, not being a sucker and such.

  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Equally fair– Its also worth noting that I am not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination. However, I tend to play these things from a nation-state competition lens. There are no allies or enemies–only interests.

    There is obvious a priority to ones interests (if everything is a priority–nothing is a priority). Right now, Steele and the Never Trumpers are aligned on my (and what I feel is the Nation’s) #1 priority:

    To deliver Trump and the rest of the White Nationalists the most HUMILIATING defeat achievable. And I emphasize humiliating. There will always be opposing views in a Democracy but a faction that carries on in bad faith has to dealt with in the most severe (yet still peaceful) manner allowable. For Liberals, this will also mean drawing a distinction between the Romneys, Joyners, and other good faith Conservatives–despite the weakness of their views relative to where we find ourselves in this moment in space and time. And lets not leave out the bad faith Left wing nuts either.

    We can drink a Scotch with Mike Steele and friends this year and spar with him next year (or at least I would. That’s the nature of the game. Ive got my beef with Liberals but that’s another battle for another day.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jim Brown 32: @Joe: Steele is a very interesting person.

  31. ImProPer says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    And who said Trump couldn’t help unify the country?

  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @ImProPer: If there is any argument for Trump playing multi-dimensional chess–this is it.

    Become the focus of hatred for all the major factions and thus unite them against you while isolating and destroying the rump faction you hated all along. Brilliant strategy–I actually give it a 2 in 10 chance of being true. Maybe its the optimist in me that needs to believe the last 4 years had some sort of higher noble purpose to it. It sucks to believe people suffered for naught.

  33. gVOR08 says:


    Tony Plohetski
    BREAKING: Travis sheriff’s office releases official information about ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ boat parade:
    – 5 boats sank, 2 towed, 3 still submerged.
    – Most boats that took on water were towed before sinking.
    – Weather was calm. Large boats generated waves.
    – No evidence of foul play.

    9/6/20, 1:43 PM

    So in the Lake Travis TX Trump boat parade the hillbillies who sank were swamped by the wake of other billies with bigger boats. Seems a pretty good metaphor for Republican faux populism.

    Somebody tell me again why I’m supposed to respect these people.

  34. ImProPer says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Master plan or not not. There are a lot of different folks that have spent 4 years getting to know one another, and it’s hard not to respect those in the trenches with you, regardless of how different they might be.
    Shared pain, is a great motivator, I hope it’s memory will last much longer than Trump.