Thursday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor 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. de stijl says:

    Are we doomed?

    Are we going to slide into authoritarianism?

    What are the odds?

    Signs are bad.

  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Son-in-law popped his bad hip out moving furniture. Sitting in the ER waiting for them to finish catch-n-release.

  3. de stijl says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Couple weeks back I got muscle spasms in my lower back.

    If I sat for more than about twenty minutes I could not stand erect. I could stand, painfully, but I stood at about 60 degrees to horizontal. I was locked into that position and standing in fully erect took a minute or two and many, many “Ow. Bleeping ow! You bleeping piece of bleep! Ow! Ow ow ow!”

    Getting my lower back to unclench was damn nigh impossible. I resorted to slowly backing up to a wall and then slowly leaning back and extending up. That really bleeping hurt to do so.

    Once I was upright it was cool and painless. I stood in my kitchen watching videos on my phone for hours, but eventually you have to sit. If I sat for a period my lower back would clench up again.

    It was torture. This was not “my back hurts a bit”, this was I cannot stand up straight. I was locked into a sitting position while trying to stand. Getting upright took time, effort, and a crap ton of swear words.

    When it unclenched it was total bliss for a few seconds. Huge endorphin rush.

  4. charon says:

    Around the third or fourth time I logged into Twitter to find “#AmberHeardIsAPsychopath” at the top of the trending list, I realized that there was no longer any pretending that the Depp-Heard defamation trial was not a terrible, foreboding reflection of our culture’s worst impulses.

    The media has covered the degree to which this trial has served as a referendum on the Me Too movement and a siren call to domestic abusers.

    The narrative of the trial has been shaped in part by what appears to be, according to multiple researchers, an army of bots spreading rhetoric favorable to Depp. One researcher found more bots favorable to Heard, but said most of those bots were from third-party apps trying to capitalize on the trial; meanwhile, they found the highest pro-Depp bot post was shared nearly 20,000 times. The work of those bots has been further amplified by “men’s rights activists” — the part of the far-right-leaning extremist “manosphere” that seems to have decided discrediting Amber Heard is the key to destroying every woman who accuses men of abuse or domestic violence.

    Conservative media outlets have also promoted a one-sided narrative of the case; Vice recently reported that Ben Shapiro’s popular conservative news platform the Daily Wire has spent nearly $50,000 promoting ads about the trial on Instagram and Facebook — most of it trashing Amber Heard. The presence of these bad actors has, if anything, only exacerbated the vitriol Heard has received within the mainstream.

  5. CSK says:

    Multiple news sources are reporting that Trump “reacted favorably” to the chants of “hang Mike Pence” during the Capitol invasion on January 6, 2021.

  6. drj says:

    This, unfortunately, is not a joke.

    During the school shooting in Uvalde:

    * A police officer allowed the gunman to barricade himself in the classroom where all the victims were killed.

    * When additional officers showed up (with longarms and body armor), they got their own kids out of the building first.

    * Next, they waited for 40 minutes or so for the Border Patrol to show up, while threatening to tase parents who wanted them to intervene sooner.

    * When all is done and 19 kids lie dead, a police spokesperson wants other people to “acknowledge the brave men and women of law enforcement.”

    I guess all that military equipment, tactical training,, and “warrior cop” bullshit is only good for killing unarmed people during traffic stops.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A network of ultra-Christian, anti-abortion and far-right organisations is building momentum in its quest to influence abortion policy in Europe as the US supreme court considers striking down Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalised the procedure in America.

    Elements of the network originally came together under the name Agenda Europe, holding yearly summits across the continent between 2013 until at least 2018, by which time it had grown to comprise 300 participants, including politicians and Vatican diplomats.

    The aim of the group was to “restore the natural order” by devising ways to gradually erode abortion rights, gay rights and policies on combating violence against women, as well as to reduce access to contraceptives.

    Got it, “restore the natural order”… They are just salivating over the idea of burning apostates like me at the stake.

  8. de stijl says:


    I watch a lot of video on YT about various things and if you look through the comments it is almost inevitable there will be 6 or thirteen comments slagging Heard regardless of the topic.

    This is Gamergate redux. Gamergate 2.0. The New Misogyny. On topics that have absolutely no bearing on the trial, some yahoo or seven will find a way to inject the trial into the discourse.

    By my reckoning these are not bots, but motivated actual folks that really, really want to make out Heard as worse than Stalin in grossly inappropriate fora.

    It is weird, odd, off-putting.

    It makes me understand that so-called men’s rights activists really want to degrade her publicly. By any means. Everywhere.

  9. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: I shared this with OTB a few months ago, but in addition to lower back pain I’m currently suffering from a condition known as radiculopathy, which involves pain and a tingling sensation running from my neck down my right arm and shoulder. The doctor gave me some meds and the problem seemed to disappear. But then my laptop needed repairs and I had to use my desktop computer for a few days, and the problem came rushing back. I’m now convinced that’s the cause of the condition. There’s something about the ergonomic setup of my desktop computer—the monitor which is actually a widescreen TV is at an angle on my desk because that was how I was able to fit it, and it’s made me stretch my right arm when reaching for the mouse. Radiculopathy has multiple possible causes, but I think what’s happened to me is a repetitive motion injury similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, concentrated on the arm and shoulder rather than hand and wrist. I’ve gone back to using my laptop for work, and the condition hasn’t totally disappeared yet but at least isn’t being aggravated anymore. At the height of the condition I was in acute pain; fortunately the feeling is only mild now.

    I apparently started having this problem last year. If I was an anti-vaxxer I’d be going on forums screaming about how it was caused by the vaccine, since it first started to appear a few weeks after my first dose of Moderna. Then it went away on its own, before returning a couple of times periodically. And it combined with lower back pain I’ve had for years. I was at my parents late last year and my back went out while I was standing at a counter; I couldn’t move out of that position for more than a half hour, and it was a struggle just to get myself into bed to sleep. I ended up having to postpone my train ride back to New York from Baltimore so I could get to an orthopedic clinic in the area.

    When the radiculopathy started up last year, I first assumed it was connected to my back problems, but I gradually realized it was unrelated. The radiculopathy doesn’t affect my mobility, it’s just painful. Yet when the two combine it can get challenging to figure out a sitting or lying position that doesn’t aggravate at least one of the conditions.

  10. de stijl says:


    The lower back spasms happened to me once before. I was sixteen. 42 years ago. Nothing since until two weeks back.

    When I was 16 my doc gave me a “muscle relaxant”. No idea what it was.

    One day I was waiting at a stoplight wanting to make a left. It turned green. I tried to make my left turn directly into three lanes of traffic coming directly at me before I figured out I had fucked it up. The light was green.

    At the end of the semester I was reviewing my class notes to prep for the finals and there was this two week gap in every notebook where I just wrote down gibberish vaguely related to the topic. Fever dreams. Pre-calc was absolutely indecipherable.

    My “muscle relaxant” was pretty hard-core opiates I’d wager. I was super loopy for two weeks to the point I did not even realize until it wore off.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    They literally stood outside and fought with parents while 18 children were being massacred inside.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:
  13. charon says:

    @de stijl:

    It’s all part of a complex, a stew, of toxic masculinity combined with patriarchy combined with authoritarianism. The sex abuse scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention, the school shooters like Uvalde, the red pill incels etc. etc. among the different faces of this stuff.

    Here is a link I posted yesterday, Amanda Marcotte re: Uvalde:

  14. charon says:


    From Amanda Marcotte link:

    But you definitely see kids, especially the boys, who become monsters that are totally alienated from other human beings and themselves. And when they turn 18, our Republican leaders invite them to “man up” with guns.

  15. charon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Some stuff about Beto in that thread, hope he gets traction.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @drj:

    Blue Lives Matter.

  17. CSK says:
  18. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Or as Thomas Jefferson may have said: The Tree of Liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of schoolchildren.”

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: That’s a tough read.

  20. de stijl says:


    My thoughts and prayers are with those young Americans who were shot down and horrifically slaughtered so I can gaslight my willing, motivated audience about School Resource Officers and fantasy ballistic blankets.

    Alas, there was no “good guy with a gun” that day. Sucks to be you. Lol.

    Fuck me, I hate us sometimes.

  21. Kylopod says:

    Anyone remember the old Simpsons when Nelson kisses Lisa and his buddies say in horror, “You kissed a girl? That is so gay!”


    Prominent white supremacist Nick Fuentes is claiming that men and women having sex with one another is gay, and that being celibate is the only way for a man to truly be straight.

    “Think about it this way: What’s gayer than being like ‘I need cuddles. I need kisses… I need to spend time with a woman.’ That’s very sus,” Fuentes said in a December 2021 episode that resurfaced on social media. “‘I need to spend time with a woman!’ That’s a little sus.”

    “If we’re really being honest, never having a girlfriend, never having sex with a woman really makes you more heterosexual, because honestly, dating women is gay, having sex with women is gay. And having sex with men is gay. Really it’s all gay.”

    “The only really straight heterosexual position is to be an asexual incel,” he said, not using the term “asexual” correctly (asexual people aren’t attracted to any gender, whether or not they’re celibate). “That’s it. That’s all there is. Being a MGTOW [men going their own way, another word for the misogynist online subculture] incel is really the straightest position that you can have.”

    “Having sex in itself is gay, I think. I think that it’s really a gay act,” he said. “I think, really, I’m like the straightest guy.”

    Alright, obviously this is just trolling. To some extent Fuentes does the same shtick Milo was doing five years ago before being summarily canceled by the right for defending pedophilia (and now claiming to be an “ex-gay” whose husband is merely his roommate–I’m not kidding). It’s the same playbook: say crazy reactionary shit, then fall back on the idea that you’re just trolling (Fuentes and his supporters use the term “meme-ing”). Does he really believe that the Holocaust didn’t happen or that the Taliban is a model society? You be the judge.

    Nevertheless, I think it brings out just how bizarre the incel movement has become. There’s nothing new about a movement built on misogyny. But the traditional way it’s done is that you brag about all the chicks you’ve banged, and you say that’s what women are good for. That’s even been generally true about all those sexually repressed closet cases you see on the right. What’s weird is how unabashed Fuentes has been about admitting not only his lack of experience but his lack of interest in sex with women or anyone else. It may be trolling, but the point is why he’d want to troll in this way.

  22. sam says:
  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: So now we know that Fuentes won’t be procreating. The silver lining in that particularly dark cloud.

  24. CSK says:

    Yes, I saw that the other day and was asking myself the same questions you posed. Bragging about not being able to get laid is something even the trolliest male trolls back away from doing.

  25. Michael Cain says:

    @de stijl:

    When I was 16 my doc gave me a “muscle relaxant”. No idea what it was…. My “muscle relaxant” was pretty hard-core opiates I’d wager. I was super loopy for two weeks to the point I did not even realize until it wore off.

    There are antispasmodics. A couple of years ago I was having spasms in the big muscles in my back, enough to send me to Kaiser’s same-day care. The doc was going to go with the muscle relaxants, but the computer wouldn’t let him write the prescription. Turns out there are now known risks to patients 65+ from the muscle relaxants; enough so that Kaiser won’t let it’s docs write the prescriptions. Some checking online suggests this is common in large enough medical practices.

  26. de stijl says:


    In the incel crowd, it gives him cred.

    Like Kylopod says, the incel movement is profoundly, deeply fucked up about, well, everything, but specifically about intimate romantic relationships.

    You don’t actually want a relationship, you just to ….

    And if you actually do do that, you’re kinda out of the club.

    Think WCE purity culture only way more misogynistic plus icky anime pr0n. It is really fucked up.

  27. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Well, SIL was bagged, tagged and released about 0330 hours PDT. Ever since they replaced his broken hip last year, if he stresses it wrong, “pop!” Instant immobility and an ambo ride to the ER. Knock ’em out, pop it in. At 46. Old age is gonna suck for him.

    @de stijl:
    Good luck getting the spasms under control.
    Time to fix that desktop setup. Seriously, big monitor is great, but c’mon.

  28. de stijl says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    A buddy of mine has a really loose shoulder socket. His humerus pops out semi-randomly when he is doing the most mundane things.

    Re-inserting is painful, but he kinda has it down to a science. He leans against a wall (or the ground or a hand rail in a hockey arena) and wiggles his arm. It is both really gross and kinda cool. I am very grateful there isn’t a sound.

    Seriously he screwed up his arm physiology because somebody scored a goal and he threw his arms up.

    Ngl, it’s kinda funny.

  29. just nutha says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Wa! The hits just keep comin’ and comin’ with him, don’t they?

  30. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    A while back, when this was just being reported I was explaining about white Christian evangelical purity rings and purity balls where daddy is his daughter’s escort / date.

    This was not things I had seen with my own eyes, just accounts in the press I was passing along.

    People disbelived it. It was too ludicrous to be even plausible.

    People underestimate how weird other people can be. Especially when it comes to sex.

    Incel / MGTOW seems so stupid and self imprisoning it seems goofy. But there have been multiple mass shootings related to this stuff.

    It is profoundly toxic.

  31. just nutha says:

    @drj: Eighteen or twenty random Tejanos dying in a school shooting is only a statistic. Let’s keep our priorities straight. “Come home alive” applies to the dependents of LE personnel as much as to the officers themselves. Everybody else? On their own.

  32. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: It’s not new misogyny at all. It’s the same misogyny that Thorstein Veblen was referring to in 1899 when he noted that a wife and children were “chattel property” of the husband in a family situation.

  33. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: Only sometimes? Allow me to introduce you to my inner Calvinist/Manichaean; he hates most of us almost every day.

  34. CSK says:

    Ray Liotta, 67, has died.

  35. de stijl says:

    @just nutha:

    The *new* misogyny is that involuntarily celibate young men are owed dates and sex from any woman they choose.

    Also, strong women role-models are gross and incomprehensible. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is bad. Please see my 117 page manifesto as to why this is true. Daisy Ridley as Rey is an abomination: please note my 234 page addendum.

    Their new bug bear is Amber Heard. They will not shut up about her. They think she invalidates #metoo. They fucking salivate over the prospect. This is their 2020 election.

  36. de stijl says:


    Man! That’s a bummer.

    I might need to watch Something Wild tonight. He was feral.

  37. CSK says:

    A mere 329 years later, the last Salem, MA witch, Elizabeth Johnson, has been pardoned.

  38. wr says:

    @CSK: “A mere 329 years later, the last Salem, MA witch, Elizabeth Johnson, has been pardoned.”

    Sure, for now. But someone’s going to appeal this to the Supreme Court and Alito will overrule it.

  39. de stijl says:

    @just nutha:

    I used to know a guy at work who was a Calvinist. Went to Wheaton I think. Somewhere in Chicagoland.. A Dutch ethnic to the extent he still sported a van in the middle of his name-L**** van Blah.

    I was his mentor and quasi-boss and I was a contractor. This was during the refi boom of the mid aughts.

    He was so shiny and young. He was like 22 and he was married. He was so innocent. We had nothing in common but we got along like gangbusters. Super bright. So innocent. I tried to teach him when to stick your hand up and when to turtle down. Pick the inflection points.

    Mostly we just worked the job. He was FTE. I was contract. He had decent to fair skills but he was incurably curious which is the best trait if combined with bright. At 4:45 I would have him brief me on his task list. At 5 I would tell him to go home.

    If he was there at 6pm I ordered him to go home. Dude, you’re salaried. Go home. Now. You have a wife.

    Besides, I’m contract. I get paid by the hour. About 4 to 5 times what you make in a year. I have no life. I sleep in a crappy furnished rental 250 miles from a home I see on Saturdays sometimes. I got this. You have a good life. Go home!

    We got to be good enough friends that I was no longer comfortable as a mentor. There were times it was all hands on deck until 2, 3 4 AM. You bond hard under shared stress. L and H were gold and untouchable, but my ass was on the line to some extent. Our company rep too.

    We were (I was) contracted to deliver x by 8AM. I did that. By hook or crook.

    If you got a solicitation letter from a very large mortgage banking concern in the mid aughts during the refi boom L, H, and I produced that dataset that identified you.

  40. CSK says:

    Okay, you made me laugh. Thanks.

    Didn’t Donald Trump say he was the victim of the biggest witch hunt in American history? Or was it that he was the victim of the greatest political crime in American history?

  41. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Daisy Ridley as Rey is an abomination: please note my 234 page addendum.

    I wish the anger of the incels was a better metric of whether something is good or bad. Then at least the creepy misogynistic freaks would be useful.

    Their anger is probably the only thing Rey has going for her. No offense to Daisy Ridley, but the character was written as flat and boring in 2 out of 3 movies. I hope the powers that be give the character a nice cartoon or something to give her a bit of depth, like they did with Anakin, if only to piss off the incels.

    The same incels were angry about the recent She-Ra cartoon (the cartoon 14 year old girl was not sexy enough), and that show was great.

    Can we train our incels to be more angry about the good stuff?

  42. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    Also, strong women role-models are gross and incomprehensible. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is bad. Please see my 117 page manifesto as to why this is true. Daisy Ridley as Rey is an abomination: please note my 234 page addendum.

    It’s occurred to me: were these same types of boys out there in the ’70s and ’80s, having similar thoughts about Lynda Carter or Carrie Fisher, and the only difference was the lack of social media to spread their views and get one another radicalized? I thought the male nerds from that generation were all drooling over those women.

    There are differences, of course. I can’t speak for Wonder Woman as I’ve never seen it (either the ’70s show or any of the recent films), but with regard to Star Wars, relative to its time Leia was a fairly strong female character, at least in the sense that she held her own against the male characters when it came to fighting the bad guys. But she wasn’t a very dominant character in terms of the story. She was always somewhat secondary–certainly to Luke, and arguably even to Han. In the Disney trilogy, however, Rey wasn’t the equivalent of Leia; she was the female version of Luke. She was unquestionably the trilogy’s central character, more important than any of the men except her main antagonist, Kylo Ren, whom she ultimately defeats. I think this triggered the alt-righters more than the original trilogy ever could. They’ll put up with a tough action girl as long she knows her place and remains comfortably in the background.

  43. CSK says:

    Joe Garcia, the husband of teacher Irma Garcia, who was slaughtered along with 20 others in Uvalde, has died of a heart attack.

    Joe and Irma leave behind four children.

    No words.

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl:

    The *new* misogyny is that involuntarily celibate young men are owed dates and sex from any woman they choose.

    A bit of trivia. In Plato’s Republic, in time of war, recognized heroes were to be able to demand sex from any citizen, of either gender. Plato thought this would motivate soldiers to be heroic. Maybe these bozos think themselves Platonic heroes. More realistically I suspect it flows from porn and an inability to recognize fantasy.

  45. dazedandconfused says:


    I don’t think it was a troll.

    Is it not logical for Fuentes would find a way to rationalize the thought: “The only REAL men are dedicated wankers (like me)!” ?

  46. charon says:

    It’s striking how many mass killings begin with the killer first killing the most important woman in his life: the grandmother in Uvalde; the mother, at Sandy Hook.

  47. Mister Bluster says:

    Guns are banned during Trump’s upcoming speech at the NRA conference
    Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s Annual Leadership Forum on Friday. But audience members at the group’s annual meeting, being held this year in Houston, won’t be able to carry guns during his address.
    The conference is going ahead in the shadow of Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that killed at least 21 people — including 19 students.
    According to the NRA, the Secret Service is taking control of the hall during Trump’s speech and is prohibiting attendees from having firearms, firearms accessories and knives. Ammunition, laser pointers, pepper spray, toy guns, backpacks and other items also won’t be allowed.
    The Secret Service will search attendees with magnetometers before they enter the hall, the NRA said.

    Isn’t this a blatant violation of citizen’s Second Amendment Rights by the Federal Government?
    The Secret Service is taking control of the NRA’s affairs and disarming their members!
    What a bunch of pussies letting the Government push them around like this!

  48. Jax says:

    Go figure. I’m not sure how many abortion clinics are still open in Wyoming, I think this may have been the only one, and it wasn’t even actually open yet before someone torched it.

  49. de stijl says:


    Their next coordinated freak-out is going to be over Marvel’s She-Hulk. Guaranteed.

  50. de stijl says:

    I used to do a particular way of commuting. Off and on for more than a decade.

    I lived in Minneapolis, later I lived in Des Moines.

    My shtick was contract project work in places I did not live. I would show up, get the brief from the boss person, be given a laptop, and be told to do the thing we bidded on.

    That was cool. Sometimes a bit overwhelming, but nothing I could not cope with. You get used to it.

    The really interesting bit was the logistics of living there for a few days or a few weeks or a few months or for a year and a half.

    You get a hotel room for short gigs. Usually on the edge of town in the butt end of nowhere. Sometimes I would get a hotel downtown near to the job. That was nice. Not good hotels, mind you, but 2 to 3 star. Not a flop house. Think two steps up from that.

    If I did not need to rent a car, we did not bill them for it.

    It all comes down to billing. All of my expenses were paid up front or billed back.

    Sometimes it is cheaper to put up somebody downtown so you don’t have to pay for the car rental. Especially if you call them in at 3 AM for an emergency.

    Multi-week to months long gigs I usually got a furnished residency room. Sometimes mom n pops, sometimes AmeriSuites or equivalent. These joints were usually in the sorta sketchy part of the town. Usually first floor at the butt-end. You got a fridge and a tiny cooktop, which was pretty awesome. A microwave. I ate a lot of Hot Pockets and chips. Easy sandwich type stuff. We did not bill for meals just per diem. I have simple tastes.

    Longer gigs usually got you the corporate apartment. Sometimes in the ass end of nowhere, sometimes downtown. In Stockholm it was really pretty bad ass. Reykjavik too. Europeans lay on the goodies way more so than American companies.

    A corporate apartment is a fully furnished apartment. Tiny, but fully kitted out. The most god-awful boring furniture ever, but functional.

    A corporate apartment downtown in a high rise is kinda the ne plus ultra. Compact and boring, but way better than a hotel.

    The other thing is what do you do with yourself at night. You are alone in a city where you know no one. It is scary. It is cool. A blank slate.

    I’m not going to myself wrecked on a Tuesday and be hung-over the next day. I would go out with a plan and a hard cap on intake and hours. I met a lot of nice folks. Some are still friends. Made a lot of local friends.

    A lot of nights I just stayed in and vegged. Eat, watch, read, sleep is a good night.

    Some locals are bound and determined to give you the best night out you have ever had. Those nights can be great. They can be very scary.

    The last leg of the stool is going back home. You collect your mail. You pay bills that are not autopay. You open your fridge and it is completely empty. If your are lucky, there might be some frost bit pizza rolls in the freezer.

    Being home is weird. It feels more alien than being in that other town you just got back from.

    You realize that you have not interacted with your actual home town friends for weeks or months.

    The longer you do it, the more alien it feels. It feels like a dreamstate.

    To this day I often wake up after dreaming I am stuck in the Cincinatti airport desperately trying to find my flight home and can not.

    After I quit, I was jumpy for months. My brain, my body was expecting that experience and without it, it just felt weird being at home. A low key addiction that had withdrawal symptoms.

    I had to move. That place was no longer home.