Thursday’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. Just nutha says:

    4:21 PDT and I’m the first here? Congratulations to Ozark on being able to sleep in!

  2. Kathy says:

    One year ago today I got my first dose of Pfizer.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha: I was up at 5:39 (which is about normal these days), but my internet was down until just a little while ago. Big bad thunderboomers that had the hoinds following me everywhere I went. I’m just now reading the news. So far, not much that is worthy of comment.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: hoinds = hounds.

  5. JohnSF says:

    hoinds = hounds
    Possibly, if speaking with an upper class English accent. 🙂

  6. Mu Yixiao says:


    Oh see…. Now here I was thinking that hoinds were some sort of Appalachian mythical beast that comes out during storms.

    “Get back home b’fore the storm gets bad, kids, or the hoinds’ll be nippin’ at yer heels!”

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The state’s pork industry promotes itself as an engine of economic growth and benefit for people in Iowa but a new report published on Thursday from Food and Water Watch, a non-governmental organization, casts doubts on these claims.

    Analyzing census data from 1982 to 2017, alongside data from the US Department of Agriculture and other sources, the report found that Iowa counties with the most hogs have experienced higher levels of depopulation, heavier job losses and seen more retail businesses close, including grocery stores, than other rural counties.

    “This report pushes back on the narrative that factory farms are good for rural communities and that they create jobs and economic opportunities, because we’ve seen the exact opposite,” says the report’s author, Amanda Starbuck, senior researcher and food policy analyst at Food and Water Watch. “Counties in Iowa that had the most growth in factory farms are doing far worse among a number of different [economic] indicators.”

    While hog production has exploded in the state, smaller farms have been pushed out as the industry consolidates, according to the report. The average farm in Iowa markets 9,600 hogs a year, 20 times more than 1982. But over the same period, the number of farms raising hogs in Iowa plummeted by 90%, the report found.

    Confinement operations have mechanized and scaled hog production to facilitate fast and predictable delivery to slaughterhouses, which have also rapidly consolidated. Instead of bidding on competitive open markets, processors write contracts for the vast majority of their livestock, draining the negotiating power of farmers.

    The price farmers receive per pound for their hogs nationally has fallen more than 70%, forcing many smaller operations to either scale up or quit the business.

    High hog-producing counties – those ranking in the top half of the state’s annual hog sales – are seeing significant population decline according to the report. It found that while Iowa’s total population has grown, counties with the most hogs have lost 44% of their population in the last 40 years, declining at twice the rate of rural counties on average.

    While the report says that it’s not possible to make sweeping claims about why people are leaving these counties, it notes “job losses, decline of rural services, and nuisance and public health concerns from nearby factory farms could all play a role”.
    Many Iowans want factory farms to meet higher standards. Only the largest confinements require a construction permit that must be approved by the state environmental office. Those that need this permit must pass an environmental impact test, which focuses on its potential effects on water, air and the surrounding community. If a proposed farm scores 50% or above it will be automatically approved.

    A 2019 poll by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found that 75% of Iowa voters supported raising the passing score, including 70% of Republicans.
    David Swenson, the economist, doesn’t see a success story in the confinement boom. “It’s a story of wealth concentration among fewer and fewer operations over time, and regional economies not thriving,” he says.

    No matter how one looks at it, CAFOs are a blight. But corporate Ag money talks, hogshit still gets spread on a regular basis, and Dawg help you if you are downwind, because the GOP led Iowa state lege sure as hell isn’t going to.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: Heh. Now that you mention it…

    @Mu Yixiao: Someday I’ll tell you the tale of the Ozark hairy tree pigs.

  9. CSK says:

    Nonsense. Iowa is paradise. Everything is wonderful. Everyone is perfect. Just ask my niece-in-law, a born and bred Iowan.

    Tiresome wench.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnSF: Maybe Bill Buckley’s fake mid-Atlantic accent.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Where does she live? Iowa is stunningly beautiful in the counties along the Mississippi.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Orioles are back. I usually get to see them in the spring as they visit my hummingbird feeders upon first arrival. After a week or 2 they disappear again, I presume to get busy with their nesting down in the valleys.

  13. CSK says:

    She and my nephew met at Iowa State. I believe she’s from West Point, Iowa, wherever that is.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It’s in Lee County, right at the Iowa/Misery/Illinois state boundary. Along the rivers Lee County will be very beautiful, but West Point is is as flat and boring as an Iowa pancake.

  15. Sleeping Dog says:


    Yeah, the Baltimore Orioles are back in back of the AL East.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:


    That area around Keokuk is about as boring as landscape can be.

  17. Mu Yixiao says:

    Two weeks ago, one of our receptionists quit with no notice. Today, the other one (part-timer coming back after retirement) called in today. So… I’m covering phones for the day. Which is fine. It’s easy, and I get to watch all the lovely ladies walk through our lobby/cafeteria area.

    It’s a matter of pride with the company that a real person answers the telephone. Most of our regular dealers are used to it (half of them know the receptionists by name). But it’s always funny when someone new calls (usually an end-user at a school or church) and there’s a short pause followed by “Oh! You’re a real person!” 🙂

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Hey, 9-5 against the Twins last night. They’re back!

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: 95% or Iowa is. A few years back my wife and I drove up to visit with my Twin City sis and took US Hwy 61 the whole way. Well worth the trouble.

  20. Kathy says:

    In today¿s predictable development, the Satanic Temple* filed a request to fly their flag at Boston city hall.

    If I ever decided to join a religious group, it would be that one.

    *It’s just a name. there’s not really a temple.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: They were created for the sole purpose of f’n with the Christianists.

  22. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Sleeping Dog:
    Yes, but it has “small town values.”

  23. Sleeping Dog says:


    I traveled between StL and the Twin Cities about 4-5 times a year by car or motorcycle, took the Avenue of the Saints all but once and that was at Xmas in a snowstorm, figured that I55 to I94 would be better maintained.

    A couple of years ago I came down to StL from visiting in Mpls and took the ‘new’ Hwy 61 in Misery. A lot faster than the old road along the river, but without the views and the charm of stopping in places like Hannibal and Clarksville. I would have taken the old road, but it was the year of the floods and large sections were closed.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I am well acquainted with “small town values.” They are the reason people out here leave me the f alone.

  25. Kathy says:


    That’s why I find them so appealing.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:


    And once vied with Omaha in being the call center capitol of the US. Yes, small town values, leads me to thoughts of Hester Prynne.

  27. Just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well sure, the towns are suffering, but the owners and shareholders are doing great. Isn’t that what really matters?

  28. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Sleeping Dog:
    The very phrase “small town values” makes me shudder.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’m looking forward to doing it again, as long as that pesky Mississippi behaves herself.

    Last year coming back from the Black Hills we took I-29 south from Sioux Falls to KC (coming home all my wife wants is to get there, she allows me the luxury of blue highways on the way out) and dawg did that road suck donkey d. Highway engineers really like flood plains. No hills to get in the way of that long smooth ribbon of asphalt.

  30. Jen says:

    Speaking of Misery, I learned today that the state health director testified back in 2019 that he’d compiled a spreadsheet of the last menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients.

    A hearty and loud “WTAF” is warranted here. How is this permissible?

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    Multiple Choice Quiz
    Q: What’s the best thing to ever come out of Iowa?

    A: An empty bus.
    B: Interstate 80.
    C: An empty bus on Interstate 80.
    D: Gayno Smith

  32. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: And also, don’t forget that without the factory those people wouldn’t even have dying towns and counties to live in! The ingrates!

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha: Republican campaign coffers say, “Yes.”

    @CSK: Yeah, some day they will burn me at the stake but for now they are content to stay as far away from the heretic as they can just in case I might infect them with atheist cooties.

    @Kathy: Kinda figured, but wasn’t sure.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: I remember that. It just illustrates that here in Misery there is no right to privacy, which is why they totally won’t mind my hacking their email, credit card accounts, medical records, and iPhones.

  35. Just nutha says:

    @Jen: How would anyone even obtain such information? Does PP make records?

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha: I suspect the idiot just back dated from the day of their appointment because everybody knows the only people who go to PP are sluts looking for an abortion.

    AN Edit function! forgot to add that protestors take down license #s so they can ID the sluts for the reason of harassing them.

  37. Mu Yixiao says:

    Well… apparently colleges aren’t teaching “how to look up starting salaries on Google”.

    College graduates are overestimating the salaries they’ll start out at by $50,000, report finds

    The average starting salary for this year’s crop of graduates is projected to be more than $50,000, based on the most recent data.

    Yet current college students expect to earn twice that — $103,880 — in their first job, according to a separate survey of college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree by Real Estate Witch in March.

  38. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Every single new show I start, there are a few “freshly-graduated from film school-types” we hire as PAs, who don’t last long. They have graduated from USC, UCLA, or NYU Film School, and believe – they really do – that they’re going to be directing big films within a few years. Sadly, I have to tell them that for the next 3-4 years all they’ll be doing is getting me coffee while I “un-teach” the bullshit they learned in film school.

    Give me the kids that come out of screenwriting programs any day as opposed to the Film School kids. The writer kids are realistic and understand they’re only as good as their writing and tend to work much harder than the privileged kids who think they’re all the next Speilberg.

  39. Jen says:

    @Just nutha: My guess is that there’s some state requirement to track complications (this is a common antichoice tactic, to demand reporting requirements to prove that they aren’t injuring women etc.).

    There’s a lot to be concerned about here, since there are tons of healthcare apps that have period trackers. Since many of these apps are “free,” there’s a chance that the data could be sold. Cell phones can be tracked. Combine the two and you have your probable cause for the law Missouri has either passed or is considering that makes it against the law to leave the state for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog:..I would have taken the old road, but it was the year of the floods and large sections were closed.

    Would that have been The Great Flood of 1993?
    One of the aspects of working in the landline telephone industry for 35 years was that natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and such created a demand for my skills. In the spring of 1994 I was called to work telephone exchanges along the Iowa riverfront of the Mighty Mississippi. Six months after the flood there was still much work to be done to bring the landline telephone facilities up to spec. Burlington, Fort Madison and Keokuk were three of the exchanges where most of the damage was that I helped to rebuild. Depending on where I was in Iowa when it was time to head home in Illinois I would often take the upper deck of the Fort Madison, Iowa Swing Bridge. An impressive structure. The lower deck was for the railroads.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    I have occasionally snarked that we should shut down Harvard Law (Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Ron DeSantis, John Roberts, Roberts, Neil Gorsuch) and Yale Law ( Clarence Thomas, John Bolton, Alan Dershowitz, Josh Hawley, Joe Lieberman) until we understand what’s going on. Now, they have also produced some good graduates, our own HL92, both Clintons, and I’m sure many others. But they’ve also produced the most serious threats to our democracy. I’ve wondered why they produce so many horror stories. This morning I stumbled across a good, 70 year old, explanation. Karl Popper discusses the difference between Socratic education, meant to teach people to think, and Platonic education, meant to select and train leaders. Of the latter Popper says,

    This tendency transforms our educational system into a race-course, and turns a course of studies into a hurdle-race. Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career; he is led to acquire only such knowledge as is serviceable in getting him over the hurdles which he must clear for the sake of his advancement. In other words, even in the field of science, our methods of selection are based upon an appeal to personal ambition of a somewhat crude form. (It is a natural reaction to this appeal if the eager student is looked upon with suspicion by his colleagues.) The impossible demand for an institutional selection of intellectual leaders endangers the very life not only of science, but of intelligence.

    And currently endangers the American republic.
    Note that Plato’s Republic is bad translation. Popper notes the original Greek means only “state” and implies nothing about the nature of the state. Also, too, Popper notes Plato lied a lot. Must have been a Republican. Definitely an authoritarian. And contra Plato, whose system depended on rule by the very best people, philosophers like Plato, Popper feels it’s only prudent to design the system to withstand poor rulers. Noting that they seem to occur frequently.

  42. Mu Yixiao says:


    Back in the mid 90s (after being out of undergrad for a while) I looked at going back to grad school to get my Masters degree. I took my time, and was > < this close to doing a double MA in Hong Kong (but during the summer all the faculty I had been talking to moved back to the UK).

    After a while, I decided I wouldn't be able to hack it in a grad program. After years of working in the industry I didn't think I'd be able to do things the "school way". May the gods save us from Yale designers!

    Turns out it was a good choice, since I left theatre about 10 years later. 🙂

  43. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “Give me the kids that come out of screenwriting programs any day as opposed to the Film School kids.”

    Well, we do our best!

    I always tell my students that even those who will end up with successful careers might not find them starting until five years after they finish their MBA. There is no job ladder in screenwriting, so there is no predicting your career.

    That said, I do have a recent former student who landed her first series gig about six months after graduation. And I’m thrilled that now I’ve been able to line up her second job, working with me on a project for a European production company…

  44. EddieInCA says:


    Oh. There are definite exceptions. On my current show, we have a staff writer who was a set PA the previous season. She went straight from her first set PA job to a staff writer and feting her Masters. Why? Because her writing is amazing. It’s easy to see when someone has “it”. And she did and does. She is currently 25 and will br a showrunner before she’s 35. . She’s that good.

  45. KM says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Pftt that’s been a thing forever. New grads since the 90s at least have been anticipating near 6 figure starting salaries. I remember a just out of school hire in the late 2000s who was very disappointed to have to “settle” for $30K in a entry-level call center. He was so angry – what was the point of the degree to get what everyone else was making?!? He rose through the ranks quickly but remained angry he never got what he thought he should earn; last I heard, he was lured away to a new company mid-management but still never cracked the $100K mark.

    When middle-class is now defined as doctors and other well-paying jobs making hundreds of thousands a year, it makes logical sense for a graduate who’s been told a degree will get them a good job to think it that price range. After all, college educated people make more money ,right? That’s the whole point of this! It’s actually a testament to how delusional our society is about what’s happened to the class structure that they don’t see incurring massive debt to be “middle class” will only place them at the higher end of “working class” wages.

  46. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @KM: Hell, when I was in grad school (1971-74), I thought making 25K a year would be bliss. I never reached 100K, but did get to 80K before I topped out.

  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    @EddieInCA: You’re the guy who’s there, not me, but your thesis – “you’re only as good as your writing” makes me wonder about a certain group of highly-acclaimed directors who have obvious flaws as writers.

    Just to name names, which I can do since I don’t work in this industry at all, I’d name JJ Abrams and Zack Snyder. But maybe “good writing” means something other than “Jay likes it”? Maybe these guys are good in a craft sense, but just have some obvious flaws.

  48. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Abrams and Snyder make the studios money with lots of flash and boom. They don’t have to be quality writers.

  49. CSK says:

    I’ve known three screenwriters. I asked each one how he was treated in Hollywood. Each one laughed and responded in the exact same manner: by balling up his hands and miming discarding a crumpled-up tissue. It’s good to know EddieInCa values them.

  50. DaveD says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Ledges state park is right outside of Ames and is beautiful in a different way from a river town. It’s in Boone.

  51. Joe says:

    @EddieInCA: You need to keep an eye out for grads from Southern Illinois and/or Brown so you can pick up my son and/or his girlfriend. Both hard working with a realistic picture of the road ahead.

  52. CSK says:

    Below is a map of the states where abortion is protected, expanded, not protected, and hostile. Scroll down in the story:

  53. JohnSF says:

    And over here in the UK we have the public schools, many of which are “Platonic” not “Socratic” in ethos (not all: Winchester is exception, sure there’s others).
    See in particular Eton, and such luminaries as Aexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, David Cameron, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

    Not always, mind: George Orwell and Hugh Dalton for example; but on the whole the Platonics are PITA.

    Mind you, Popper was inclined to go a bit far in absolute denunciations of non-falsification based reasoning.
    Both because he disliked Platonic idealism (soundly, ‘cos it’s silly), and as a stick to beat the dogmatic Marxists (who generally deserve it); which is fair enough.
    But he was inclined to throw any possible lurking babies out with the bathwater.

  54. Kathy says:


    It’s about to get worse.

    In states that criminalize abortion, we’ll see women, typically poor and non-white, charged and convicted if they suffer a miscarriage.

  55. Scott says:

    @Kathy: Bill to make abortion a crime of homicide in Louisiana advances

    Louisiana lawmakers advanced a bill that would classify abortions as homicide and also looks to go around the Supreme Court’s past and future rulings on abortion.

    The recent leak of a Supreme Court opinion leads some to believe that the landmark case Roe v. Wade is soon to be overturned. Even with that decision looming, Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick’s bill would defy the court immediately and block any future court protections for abortion from being recognized in Louisiana.

  56. EddieInCA says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    @Mu Yixiao:

    Without screenwriters, there is no industry. Period. Full stop. Every single project starts as a blank piece of paper – either from a screenplay, magazine essay, book, song, or original idea. Some man or woman starts writing either long hand, on a typewriter, word processor or computer, and the end result could be a 5 minute short, or a 15 season sitcom. Bottom line is that without writers, and screenwriters in particular, there are no movies or TV series. The only people who don’t actually value writers are idiots who don’t understand that without the nothing else happens – literally.

  57. CSK says:

    Oh, I know. But I wonder how many people in your business fully appreciate that.

  58. Kathy says:


    I keep coming back to a Pinky and The Brain episode where they try to commandeer a radio station in the 1930s:

    Pinky: And who are those people no one pays attention to?
    Brain: The writers, Pinky.

  59. Mister Bluster says:

    @Joe:..keep an eye out for grads from Southern Illinois…


  60. Sleeping Dog says:


    When I lived in Mpls, I traveled to Des Moines a couple of times a month, always drove as it was faster than flying. Occasionally heading home I’d skip I35 and take one of the old US highways. US 65 parallels I35 and US 69 is to the west. 65 was a nice mostly 2 lane through rolling countryside. 69 had similar countryside, but the road was cratered and broken. Happy I didn’t damage the car.

    Last summer driving from KC to Eureka Springs, we took US69 rather than I49. Countryside wasn’t different, but it was pleasant to cruise through those old plains towns.

  61. wr says:

    @wr: Oy. My students don’t get MBAs. They get MFAs. I really need new glasses…

  62. wr says:

    @CSK: “Each one laughed and responded in the exact same manner: by balling up his hands and miming discarding a crumpled-up tissue.”

    That’s the difference between working in features, where even million-dollar writers are treated as pains in the ass, and working in television, where writers are the boss.

  63. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    No, 2019. The spring rains in the Mississippi valley were horrendous. I spoke with a farmer from NE Iowa who told me that he was 3 weeks behind in his field work and had yet to plant his corn or beans. Saw that all through SE Minnesota, Iowa and Misery along the river. After leaving StL, I headed SW toward Mountain Home, AR and the fields were normal.

  64. Beth says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Ok, so, first off, how do I get the job of “Real Estate Witch”. I can’t tell you how bad I want that job. That sounds amazing.

    Also, I’m not surprised that undergrads think they’re going to make way more money than they eventually do with all the rampant lying the schools do. My first day of law school they had a speaker come out and tell us we were all screwed financially. The very next speaker basically said “yeah, maaaaaaybe that’s true, but you’ll all be laaaaaawyers [wink wink, nudge nudge] bobs your uncle.” We we’re all doomed. I graduated and passed the bar in 07. My first check as a lawyer was $36 and I was lucky. To be clear, that was for more than 40 hours of work.

  65. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog:..2019…

    I do recall the news reports of the 2019 floods. By 2019 I had been retired for 10 years although I still get calls to work storm damage and other landline telephone jobs.
    I am grateful that I have not had to suffer the losses that victims of these disasters experience.

  66. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA: I’m pretty sure Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen started filming without a script, and it was the highlight of the franchise*.

    No other Transformers movie taught you things about yourself that you never thought to ask. Such as: would you be offended by stereotypically black robots embracing a bitter old white man’s view of Hip Hop Culture? Obviously the answer is yes, but it was a question few thought to ask, and fewer still were willing to bring to life.

    It was also a literal war upon the notion of plot. Brilliant. A complete deconstruction of the empty popcorn blockbuster to show that there is nothing there.

    * Runners up for highlight of the franchise are likely Transformers (2007) wonderful and frank mother-son discussion of whether the son had been masturbating, and Age of Extinction taking a moment to explain the Age of Consent laws in Texas… wrong.

  67. EddieInCA says:


    If anyone wants to hear about how a bad movie gets made, I invite you to listen to all six episodes of “How to not make a movie Podcast: The Making of Bordello of Blood”.

    Sadly, I worked on it. It’s the only credit I don’t have on my actual resume, but which I can’t delete from my IMDB page, again sadly.

  68. Just nutha says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: 25k a year was decent money back in 71.

  69. CSK says:

    @Just nutha:
    It would be a bit over $185,000 today.

  70. Jax says:

    So if the indication I’m getting from my “always on Tik Tok and about to register to vote” teenager is accurate, the backlash on repealing Roe could be devastating. This kid has never shown even one slight interest in politics, now she wants to protest in front of the Supreme Court, and she’s pissed because even if she votes, we’re in Wyoming, and she just realized we are tiny blue dots in a sea of red.

    I hope they stay this pissed. They could be the difference.

  71. Han says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    May the gods save us from Yale designers!

    Better watch what you say about the Yale Mafia. They’re everywhere…

  72. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Just nutha: Yes it was.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DaveD: Thanx for the tip. I’m not much on towns, river or otherwise. Me being a caver, the last time we stayed at Maquoketa Caves State Park, which was quite beautiful.