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:

    In the months leading up to the arrival of a strict new animal welfare law in California, headlines warned of a “Great California bacon crisis”. The law sets minimum living-space requirements for breeding pigs, which restaurants said could make bacon more expensive and harder to get. But so far, the pork apocalypse has yet to arrive.

    “There seems to be little disruption,” said Ronald Fong, the president of the California Grocers Association, of the law that took effect this month. “We just have not seen a pork shortage.”

    So, much ado about nothing? Not so quick:

    The lack of disruption in California’s pork supply chain so far could be due to the fact that pork produced before 31 December 2021 is considered compliant, and grocers and restaurants can keep inventory for five to six months before it needs to be sold. That means the final supply of 2021 pork is due to arrive in June.

    The fat is not yet in the fire.

    Industry groups, however, have continued to protest against the law, saying it will destabilize the multibillion-dollar US pork supply chain by raising the cost of raising animals. California consumes about 14% of the country’s pork yet only 4% of existing sow housing nationwide meets Prop 12’s standards, according to a 2021 report by the financial services company Rabobank.

    Big pork producers have already pulled some products out of the state. And a legal challenge is snaking its way up to the supreme court, filed by the National Pork Producers, though the court rejected a similar challenge last June.

    “This will cost the average family farm $15m to $17m,” Michael Formica, the general counsel for the National Pork Producers Council, told a news station in San Diego. “We believe it’s entirely unconstitutional.”

    Yeah, the pigsht is pretty think in that statement. Trust me, the NPPC doesn’t lobby on behalf of “the average family farm”. The work for big pork which is heavily invested in industrialized CAFOs, and they really object to providing

    Breeding pigs must have at least 24 square feet per sow – the size of two large bath towels. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s a big change from the crates many animals live in.

    4′ x 6′ ain’t gonna break anybody’s bank, that’s barely enough space for some sows I’ve seen to lie down in. The CAFOs will just have to spread out a little more.

  2. sam says:
  3. sam says:

    Things like this always make me laugh — (it’s probably a character flaw). Remember Sarah Palin at the the turkey farm?

  4. Kathy says:

    Is it just me, or were the Titans playing rather casually in their last offensive series, almost as though they were running out the clock and awaiting overtime?

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Cuban is a good guy.

  6. CSK says:

    Trump apparently doesn’t know what the phrase “banging your head against a wall” means:

  7. Mikey says:

    Here’s the latest imbecility out of Virginia.

    The Governor has done his part, and the rest is up to each one of us to take our rights back. One such opportunity is this Monday 24th, when Executive Order No. 2 takes effect, reaffirming parental rights to decide if our children wear a mask to school. The communist allies (FCPS, Arlington, Alexandria, for example) are aligning right now to fight this Executive Order and prevent you from exercising your parental rights. Contact your school immediately and declare your freedom.

    Joke’s on them, FCPS doesn’t have school Monday.

    Also “the communist allies…” what a fucking moron.

  8. Mimai says:

    A while ago, Kathy invited people to propose an amendment to the Constitution (Kathy, please correct me if I misremember). I don’t recall any follow-up on it, which is too bad.

    I’m reminded of it by something Conor Friedersdorf recently asked:

    “You can appoint any American citizen to one term as president,” I wrote earlier this week, “so long as your choice has never run for president before. Who do you appoint to the White House and why?”

    I’m curious who the OTB crowd would appoint. And, in particular, the “why” part.

  9. CSK says:

    Is Amelia King planning on showing up with her guns? She promised she’d be there.

  10. Moosebreath says:


    “Also “the communist allies…” what a fucking moron.”

    Today’s comic pages has something to say on that topic.

  11. Jen says:

    @sam: I’m a horrible person for finding that amusing. I’m going assuage my guilt at giggling by convincing myself that it was done expressly for its potential to go viral.

  12. Kathy says:


    I think I phrased it as a magic wish granted once.

    I’d appoint Hillary Rodham Clinton president, because it would make the wingnuts go insane. 😉

  13. charon says:


    I wonder how long he can keep on with doing these Hannity appearances, with his cognitive impairment (senility) progressing?

  14. Kathy says:

    I finished watching “Eternals” yesterday.

    Not bad. The visual effects aesthetic was different than the regular superhero fare. I also liked the musical sound effects for the “cosmic energy” artifacts. Above all they did a fair job portraying the lives of long-lived immortal beings.

    It’s also the first superhero movie/story I can recall without a long, intricate origin story. We’re told their origins (twice!), but without much of a story. Specifically we’re told this, not shown it. I know the mortal sin of fiction is supposed to be to tell rather than to show, but what if the telling just gets in the way of the story.

    Now, in superhero movies that take place in a story universe where many superheroes exist, I often wonder “why don’t they ask other superheroes for help, when the stakes are incredibly high?” The answer is that this movie is the showcase for this hero or group of heroes, and in any case it would cost too much to bring other big name actors in.

    In this case, only they could confront the Thing That Will Destroy The World This Time, so asking, say, Spiderman for help would only lead to a dead Spiderman.

    I await a sequel.

  15. Sleeping Dog says:


    The more that TFG talks, the more that it is apparent that his dementia is advancing. It has to be as apparent to his enablers as it is to everyone else, the question is what do they plan to do?

    He’s likely experiencing hearing loss and is too vain to wear hearing aids, which probably was the reason he misheard the question and then the dementia took over.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mimai: Me, of course. As to why, that’s for me to know and you to find out.

  17. charon says:


    Hannity clearly knows dude is impaired, that’s why he handled it the way he did.

  18. CSK says:

    That’s a good question. It’s fascinating how Trump fixates on one word–“wall”–and then rambles on about it. It’s as if he only hears what he wants to hear, or just reacts to trigger terms, and nothing else. Hannity, of course, just plays along with him.

    He’s gearing up to do another rally in March, so we’ll see how much he’s declined between now and then.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: the question is what do they plan to do?

    Continue to manipulate him of course.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    After having written many dark, grim books in the ANIMORPHS series, we wrote one about the Helmacrons, a near-microscopic species with gigantic egos. They had a distinctive form of leadership: the captain of their ship had to be dead because only a dead captain could avoid making any mistakes. Satire, which was not much loved at the time. But as I see the falling poll numbers for Biden and the inability of Americans to put anything in perspective, to cut the man any slack, I’m liking the idea.

    So I’d choose Betty White. She’d be a popular choice, she wouldn’t be bothered by criticism, and she’d be very unlikely to commit any major errors.

  21. charon says:

    @Sleeping Dog: If you look at all the other crap they believe, it’s likely most MAGA’s will never believe their god is going senile – the enablers and grifters will keep the plates spinning for a long time yet.

  22. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: My wife and I didn’t really like it too much. Kumail Nanjiani injected some great comedy but otherwise it was just kind of dull until the last 20 minutes. The story was just kind of “meh” for us. Granted, we were probably a bit spoiled by how great Shang-Chi was.

    Now the thing that was revealed in the second end-credits scene, we are certainly looking forward to.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    TFG regarding the 1/6 committee; They go after children! Hunter Biden agrees that children should be left alone.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:
  25. CSK says:

    Well, who would know better than Hannity, Hannity having spent virtually every night on the phone with Trump since 2016.

    Trump is more married to Hannity than he is to Melania.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:


    Manipulating only gets them to the desired end, if they can get him elected. Beyond the cult, who would vote for him?

  27. wr says:

    @Kathy: “I await a sequel.”

    But don’t hold your breath while you’re waiting!

    The Eternals is the first movie Marvel has produced that is considered a failure. My guess is that they will eventually follow up on the events of the post-credits scenes, but it won’t be in Eternals 2.

    Personally I was disappointed in the movie. Marvel has been really good at finding new filmmakers and letting them blend their vision into the Marvel style of storytelling. (The one time this really didn’t work was with Edgar Wright, who left or was fired from Ant-Man.)

    But Chloe Zhao really seemed to be uncontrollable here — and for all her many talents, she just doesn’t seem to understand how plot works, and how it’s necessary to tell this kind of story. So none of the big emotional beats that she clearly prizes land… because she doesn’t understand how to set them up earlier in the script. Again, Marvel is usually pretty good at making sure all their scripts work first on the genre level, but this one doesn’t. Maybe they were intimidated by her Oscar?

    Also, Zhao didn’t seem to understand that some of the things that were so important to her would just be meaningless in this kind of move. She was so insistent on shooting real locations at magic hour so she’d get that beautiful light… and never stopped to think that once she placed digitally enhanced superheroes shooting power beams at CGI monsters in front of the backgrounds, no one would be noticing the sunsets…

  28. Michael Reynolds says:


    I know the mortal sin of fiction is supposed to be to tell rather than to show,

    Like all categorical rules for fiction it’s bullshit. File it alongside Chekov’s gun and ‘write what you know.’

  29. Sleeping Dog says:


    Any one of the first 2000 names it the Boston phone book.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, I didn’t have this headline on my Bingo card: Two men take corpse into Irish post office to claim dead man’s pension

    The outlandish series of events began when one of the men entered the post office at about 11.30am on Friday, asking to collect a pension payment for an older man, the Irish Times reported. He was refused, with staff informing him that the pensioner would have to be present in order for the money to be handed over.

    The man returned soon after with two other men, one of whom was in his 60s and appeared to be being supported by the two others. The younger men asked to be given his pension payment.

    No cash was handed over and the two men fled the scene, abandoning the man’s body after a woman who had become suspicious raised the alarm with a staff member. The deceased man is reported to have been well known to the men who had been carrying his body.

  31. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Actually, I believe in adhering to the Chekhov’s gun rule. Smart man, Anton.

  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    For some reason I get a lot of memes from a FB group called “The Other 98%” in my Feed. For a left leaning site–they have their meme game on point. They lean a little too much Bernie Bro IMO at time–but from a technical standpoint of how they craft their meme logic–probably the best progressive meme site I’ve every come across.

    *Disclaimer–I am not out actively seeking progressive content so there may very well be better sites but this one clearly is targeting liberals with conservative tendencies.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    See, I think Chekov’s gun tips the modern trope-aware reader off, and I don’t want to tip them off, I want to surprise them. Thanks largely to TV the meta rules of fiction are embedded in readers’ brains, even if they aren’t consciously aware of them.

    What does it mean when an otherwise extraneous character suddenly gets a few minutes of definition and backstory? Fucker’s dead. What does it mean if a character coughs? Fucker’s dead. What does it mean if we see initial friction between two attractive actors? Fuckers are fucking. So if I place a gun above the mantel everyone knows some fucker’s getting shot, and I don’t want readers knowing that. I go to a lot of trouble to sidestep tropes and clichés and ‘rules’ because when I kill someone I don’t want the reader prepared, I want them shocked. But different strokes, etc…

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Manipulating only gets them to the desired end, if they can get him elected. Beyond the cult, who would vote for him?

    You presume too much, me thinks. Who knows what their desired ends are, they are probably as numerous as they are, with many of them not caring whether they see the inside of the WH ever again.

    They may have attached themselves to the rotting corpse of his failed presidency because they think that what with all the shekels the rubes are sending trump’s way, and can be counted on to continue to, they can either skim some off the top, or enough will filter down to them to make it worth their while. Or maybe they are hoping that when he gets too far gone/dies they will be able to take his place on the throne of the Empire of MAGA (the internecine battles among the hangers on should be epic)(I can hardly wait). Or maybe they figure they can con the con. (lord knows, that shouldn’t be all that difficult) The My Pillow guy probably made a few million just being associated with trump. (going, going, soon to be gone now) etc etc

    As for the cult, it is at least half of 74,000,000 people, just waiting to be fleeced.

  35. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I see your point, particularly about shocking the reader with an unexpected twist or turn, but I think adhering to Chekhov’s rule can actually help in that matter, especially so if you’re subtle about observing it.

  36. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Different strokes for different folks I guess. I find unexpected twists unearned and boring, they cause me to lose interest in the work for sure and maybe its creator too.

  37. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Did they think they were Waking Ned Devine?

    (A wonderful film, if you haven’t seen it.)

  38. Mikey says:


    Also, Zhao didn’t seem to understand that some of the things that were so important to her would just be meaningless in this kind of move.

    Sersi and Ikaris rolling around in the dirt in what was apparently supposed to be a sex scene…my wife and I were just WTF? So out-of-place.

  39. Kathy says:


    But Chloe Zhao really seemed to be uncontrollable here — and for all her many talents, she just doesn’t seem to understand how plot works, and how it’s necessary to tell this kind of story.

    The cynical part of me decided there was no plot, but there were plot devices. Funny how that works.

    An explanation requires spoilers.

    Maybe it helped I saw it in three parts. No particular reason for this, I just got sleepy while watching it rather late on Tuesday and Wednesday, and got in too late Thursday and Friday to see any of it. I finished it on Saturday after a nap.


    Spoilers follow:

    You’ve been warned.

    Ikaris’ death scene was laid on too thick.

  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    You have to walk that fine line sometimes. You can do shock without noticeable foreshadowing and still make it earned.

    I wrote a WW2 trilogy called FRONT LINES. Death was expected in general, what with it being a war, but if you add a layer of expectation (foreshadowing) you subvert the impact. I wrote a character early in the third book, a new guy, a combat virgin, introduced him, built his backstory, made it clear he was joining the cast, then killed him out of nowhere, because that mirrored reality in which inexperienced soldiers had a distinct tendency to die suddenly. And it seems to have worked.

    Of course I also had to deal with expectations specific to my readership. They know I kill characters, so all four of my leads survive. The twist was that there was no twist.

    In ANIMORPHS we killed a main character whose death had been overtly foreshadowed, but because it’s a sci-fi series and a kid series at that, the reader expectation was that the foreshadowing was a bluff. So they were still duly shocked. There are many ways to play the game.

    However, series writing is admittedly different. A stand-alone is a date, a series is a marriage, you’re building it to last. There’s only one rule I believe in: write something interesting. The goal is to get the reader to go from page one to ‘the end’ and think, ‘Hmm, that was good. More please.’ I think if I wrote stand-alones it’d be less of an issue, but GONE is 3000 pages long, EVERWORLD clocks in around 2500 pages, and ANIMORPHS all-in was about 11,000 pages, and you just can’t play by the rules and keep readers on the edges of their seats for that long.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @wr: Eternals seemed like any other Marvel movie to me. I enjoyed it well enough, and noticed it had better backgrounds. Like, really good backgrounds.

    The racially diverse cast helped my general low-level face blindness keep all these new characters separate.

    Beyond that… it was a Marvel movie following the Marvel pattern. I’m not sure I can tell a good Marvel movie from a bad Marvel movie as they are all so formulaic and dependably 10-20% better than mediocre.

    I was surprised that they left Chekhov’s Deviant on the mantle. If you have a Deviant absorbing Eternals, and the Eternals are trying to create a Unimind, I expect those to resolve each other. Perhaps there was a rewrite.

    It was better than Thor 2, which was the only actively bad Marvel movie. Iron Man 2 was also not great, but had some good parts.

  42. dazedandconfused says:
  43. CSK says:

    Gingrich purports to believe that the January 6 Committee is breaking laws, but I don’t think he specified which ones.

  44. Gustopher says:

    After a text chat with my brother, I am coming to the sad realization that a large portion of America would be better informed if they got their news from watching Marvel movies.

  45. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: A large portion of the country would be better off if they didn’t have internet at all. Or power, for that matter. Set them back to swords and walking on their own damn feet, like on that show Revolution.