Tuesday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The long read: The man who built his own cathedral

    One late spring evening in 2018, Justo Gallego Martínez said he would show me his grave. The old man was warming his hands by a stove in the dim back room of his cathedral. A dusty film coated the concrete floor. The shelves and tables were full of relics, screws, chipped wood, crushed glass, half-eaten loaves of bread. A bare hanging bulb cast the room in jaundiced light.

    “I want to be buried here,” Justo said, signalling around him to the cathedral’s cavernous nave and the 20 trembling towers sprawled across thousands of square feet of his own land on the outskirts of Madrid.

    The cathedral’s crypt would be his burial place. And he’d be buried there because it was his cathedral. He’d designed it entirely in his head, without a single measurement or calculation on paper, without a record of any of the materials he’d used. And he had done it largely by himself.

    I sat near Justo in the gloom and watched as the fire nearby threw shadows across his sunken eyes and recessed temples. He was nearly a century old, a jumble of protruding bones, but energy still pulsed through him.

    “Come on, let me show you,” he grumbled.

    Grabbing my arm, Justo winched himself up from his seat and led me out the door to the ambulatory. His baggy blue coat hung from his frame like wet clothes on a washing line.

    Outside, the uncovered frame of a dome, 35 metres high and 10 metres wide, loomed above us. The nave lurched around 45 metres to our left, covered by a half-barrel vault whose exposed beams curved upwards like a whale’s ribcage.

    The rest of the cathedral was an architectural Frankenstein’s monster propped up on mismatched bricks, tires, wheels, food cans, plastic and excessive quantities of concrete. Large chunks of the building were already in decay, invaded by moss and rising damp. In the aisles dusty cement bags were piled as high as the first-floor gallery. Other rooms erupted with broken tiles, dismantled cement mixers, motorbikes, rotten wood, oxidised saws, festering ropes, chicken carcasses and plastic bags fossilised in pigeon shit. It sprawled over an area the size of a football pitch.

    Justo didn’t look up or down. He shuffled over the slippery marble tiles to the altar at the back of the apse, passing by a lifesize crucifix cast in white plaster.

    “Down there,” he pointed, his voice shrill.

    Next to the shrine, the floor opened to the darkness of the crypt below. This hole was where it had all begun, Justo said. Here, he had first started to dig, and to formulate his vision. Here, too, at the back of the crypt, in the half-light of the lower courtyard, is where it would end.

    A buddy of mine built a “castle” on a Laclede County hilltop. It is an architectural marvel of stone, concrete, and ingenuity and really quite beautiful. He told me once that he intends to be buried inside it so that it could never be torn down.

    Several months after reading about Justo for the first time, I found myself standing next to this bewildering man, as he stood next to his own grave, insouciant about his own death.

    Over the years that followed, as I got to know Justo better, I realised that he was a mess of incongruities. He could be open-minded and bigoted, forgiving and stubborn, kind and brusque, wise and simple. He was a flawed genius, who never sought to be named as such, a man who didn’t want to be discovered, but had done everything to make himself discoverable.

    The world is full of interesting people. I’ve been blessed to know more than a few, some of whom were also embarked on their own Quixotic quests.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    US mass shootings will continue until the majority can overrule the minority -Rebecca Solnit

    The dots are easy to connect, because they’re so close together, and because they’re the entry and exit wounds inflicted on US society by the subculture whose sacrament is the gun. Texas, while tightening restrictions on abortion, has steadily loosened them on guns. These weapons are symbols of a peculiar version of masculinity made up of unlimited freedom, power, domination, of a soldier identity in which every gunslinger is the commander and anyone is a potential target, in which fear drives belligerence, and the gun owners rights extend so far no one has the right to be safe from him. Right now it’s part of a white-supremacist war cult.
    Gun culture reminds me of rape culture, specifically the conventions that hold the victims rather than the perpetrators responsible for limiting the violence. For women this means being told to radically rearrange our lives to avoid sexual assault rather than to expect that society will protect our rights and freedoms. We are told to limit where we go and when, to be careful about solitude, crowds, bars, drinks, drugs, naps, parties, public spaces, public transit, strangers, cities, wilderness, to see our clothing and even our appearance as potential provocation, a sort of asking for it. To wither away our freedom and confidence to accommodate a culture of violence. In the same way, we are now supposed to adapt to a culture of guns.

    She says a whole lot more, about Roe, the GOP, and the American right wing in general. Well worth the 5 minutes it takes to read the whole.

  3. CSK says:

    The Bulwark has some good, if depressing and alarming, piece today. Here’s one:


  4. CSK says:

    Another depressing–there’s that word again–story about the decline of rational Republicanism in Massachusetts. I linked to it from Raw Story because the Boston Globe has it behind a paywall:


  5. Scott says:

    Just in case you are not numb enough:

    U.S. marks Memorial Day weekend with at least 12 mass shootings

    But mass shootings have already happened again — and again. At least 15 mass shootings have taken place across the United States since Tuesday, from California to Arizona to Tennessee.

    This Memorial Day weekend alone — spanning Saturday, Sunday and the federal holiday on Monday — there have been at least 12 mass shootings.

    At least eight people have been killed and 55 injured in the mass shootings over the holiday weekend, according to GVA and local news sources. Since the Uvalde shooting last Tuesday, at least 11 people have been killed and 67 injured in mass shootings.

    I don’t think I have ever seen the nation so polite.

  6. Jax says:

    Annnnd it’s snowing again. This is why we can’t have nice outside gardens around here. 😛

  7. Michael Cain says:

    @Jax: Our forecast says we’ll be below the snow line tonight, but maybe an inch of rain.

  8. Jax says:

    @Michael Cain: I’m feeling pretty relieved that all my plants are in a giant, heated greenhouse.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:
  10. CSK says:

    Has JohnSF been around?

  11. JohnSF says:


    Has JohnSF been around?

    Funny you should ask!
    Just looking in after being on holiday for a week.
    My usual holiday rules: no internet, no newspapers, no TV.
    World doesn’t seem to have gotten much better while I was away though.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Adrian Wojnarowski

    The remarkable Justin Hardy — who inspired all those who knew him and his courageous story — passed away today, his family says. An unconquerable, unforgettable young man.

    College GameDay
    · Feb 19
    Despite having Stage 4 stomach cancer, Justin Hardy is the second-leading scorer for @WashUBasketball.

    “This is me living my life regardless of the circumstances. If this isn’t beating it, I don’t know what is.”

    Got a little dusty in here.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thank God none of them are fetuses.

    Reason #2,303 why I can’t take “Pro-Life my ass” off my truck.

  14. Kathy says:

    I’m just a bit worried about monkeypox.

    Ok, it’s not very transmisible, it doesn’t appear to transmit presymptomatically, and the small pox vaccine seems to protect against infection and severe disease. On the other hand, there have been small outbreaks or cases in many countries in Europe and the Americas. Coming amidst a still active COVID pandemic vast numbers of people no longer take seriously, it’s reason for concern.

    Me, I think I’ll be fine. I’m still taking precautions against the trump virus, which should work as well against the monkeypox pathogen. At least for now.

    I’m worried, too, it may mutate and become more transmissible and virulent, like its eradicated cousin smallpox once was.

    So, it may not be a bad idea to develop vaccines for this thing now, just to have them ready should there be a need later.

  15. CSK says:

    Glad you’re back. The regulars at OTB should mention when they’re taking off so the rest of us won’t be concerned.

  16. CSK says:

    According to the CDC, the smallpox vax provides 85% protection against monkeypox.

  17. sam says:
  18. sam says:

    Moderation, really?

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    .@sam: You know what you did.

  20. Kathy says:


    A few weeks ago I was speculating here what the red states would do faced with a smallpox outbreak. Granted that’s not likely at all, given the virus that causes it no longer exists in the wild. But related viruses are still around, like monkeypox.

    Seeing how SARS-CoV-2 mutated to its advantage, I’m wary if another dangerous virus that’s showing a preference for human hosts.

  21. Jax says:

    My kids roped me into adopting not one, not two, but THREE 8 week old kittens, and my living room has suddenly turned into a kitty jungle gym. The old cats are PISSED. My daughter’s dog is scared to come out, they make her run the gauntlet of ankle biting when she has to go out to potty.

    I wish I had tiny knives on the end of my fingers that would allow me to climb and stick to everything. That shit looks pretty fun. 😛

  22. Beth says:

    Speaking of crazy attorneys. In the last two months I have completed real estate closings from:

    1. The pre-surgery room right before they wheeled me in to have my gallbladder remove. The nurses laughed their asses off as I furiously signed documents and frustrated the anesthesiologist.

    2. Disney World as my 6 year old daughter pitched a fit and then conned her chosen Grandpa to take her on Splash Mountain. Everyone else went back to the hotel leaving me sitting here waiting for the two of them while electronically coordinating the closing.

  23. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Are you sure you don’t live in PDX? You sound like some of the less crazy attorneys I’ve worked for.

    OTOH, at least you never threw a paper punch or stapler at me …

  24. DAllenABQ says:

    WaPo is reporting that Michael Sussman was acquitted of lying to the FBI. The Durham probe is flailing.

  25. Beth says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Lol, I couldn’t handle the weather there. I’d go crazier.

    Also, that sucks about them throwing things. I’m much more of a door slammer than a thrower. My dad used to do stuff like that when I worked for him. Throwing and intentionally putting the cutting torch near me to be funny (not funny). Attacking the help usually doesn’t engender good feelings.

  26. CSK says:

    I salute you.

  27. DK says:

    Another year, another right wing Hillary Derangement Syndrome witch hunt fails spectacularly, after wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a fake years-long investigation to nowhere.

  28. JohnSF says:

    *tips hat*
    Having caught up on UK news, main thing seems to be non-news:
    The charlatan Johnson remains PM despite damning reports of lockdown breaching parties in Downing St.
    Government at Cabinet level continues to be largely dysfunctional, Tory MP’s my yet mount a leadership challenge.
    Northern Ireland still in stasis; looks like some in government think challenging the EU on this is not a good idea, especially after the Congressional delegation led by Richard Neal indicate that the US was not amused by such antics.
    Conservative polling figures continue to steadily deflate; at current levels looking like a definite Conservative defeat, small Labour majority or Lab/LibDem deal in prospect.
    (The latest date by which a general election must be held is Friday 24 January 2025, so it could be a long way off yet)

  29. CSK says:

    Yes; there seems to be a growing discontent with Johnson among the Tories.

    That’s what you get for having a stupid hairdo.

  30. Matt Bernius says:

    More details here on the Sussmann acquital:

    I suspect there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to resolve their deep skepticism about federal prosecutions for lying to the FBI against their hatred of Hillary Clinton to try and figure out how they feel about this.

  31. Jax says:

    @Matt Bernius: Poor Drew. It’ll probably be a few days before they issue his new talking points. Should we start a betting pool on what they’ll be?

  32. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    I checked Lucianne.com on this, my one-stop shopping stop for idiotic conspiracy theories. Sure enough, the jury was full of Clinton donors and supporters.

    That’s what they’re claiming.

  33. steve says:

    Are you serious Matt? There will be no conflict to resolve. The conservatives are convinced Hillary is guilty. There is only skepticism of outcomes that dont go the way they like.


  34. CSK says:

    Trump is now complaining that Brian Kemp won in Georgia because of…voter fraud. Republican voter fraud.

    He’s nuts. As Ron Casey said in History of the World, Part One, “You’re nuts. N-V-T-S. Nuts.”

    Seriously. This has gone far beyond obsession.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @sam: L’Academie Francaise has been making a fuss about keeping the purity of the French language ever since they came into being and everyone else thinks they’re silly. Colette was being snarky about them in Claudine a l’ecole, her very first novel.

  36. Mu Yixiao says:

    I have zero interest in political debate to day. So….

    Here are photos of my trip to Milwaukee.

    The black beer is a bourbon-barrel aged stout. It is absolutely amazing. It’s the only beer that I’ve ever said was a “sipping beer”. On the other hand, it’s a fair guess that it’s why I was on the toilet at midnight. Thanks to China, my innards don’t work like most people, so don’t let this deter you.

    The crab eggs benedict were delicious. They were also $20. But they didn’t have an English muffin. For an extra 50¢ they could have added a toasted Bay’s English Muffin, and improved the experience.

    The “global street food” from the Blue Bat? Yeah. That’s “global street food” as imagined by 20-something hipsters who’ve never actually eaten street food (and probably never left the state, much less the country). They’re presenting “street food”–something that I have experienced in a dozen countries, love, and rave about–into over-priced, pretentious, hipster bullshit.

    There were probably a dozen great hole-in-the-wall places I would have eaten at. But they were all closed–because it’s Monday. If you can’t understand that Memorial Day is a day that brings in hundreds of thousands of tourists? You’re stupid.

  37. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    They’re still on that? I recall similar items regarding terms like compact disk and personal computer in the 90s.

    Since French is really one of many descendant languages of Latin, and got there by various means including the “wrong” usage of Roman Latin as well as borrowing from other languages, and more, the French should know what a fool’s errand they’re engaging in.

  38. Scott says:

    @CSK: Shouldn’t the Democrats be putting that on a billboard or something? Win-Win?

  39. CSK says:

    Well, they could. It would make an interesting visual as one is zipping down the highway.

    The MAGAs can only choose to ignore this, and pretend it didn’t happen, as they do with so much of what Trump does and says.

  40. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    …a bourbon-barrel aged stout.

    Sounds like what gets called over here imperial stout; or Belgian royal stout; or Baltic porter.
    Nice stuff, but rather lethal.

  41. sam says:

    Comparing and contrasting:

    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

    ― James D. Nicoll

  42. Gustopher says:

    @Jax: adult cats, a dog, and now three kittens? Get a lizard and it will be a full fledged zoo!

    It was the little feet that broke you, wasn’t it? The little feet are the cutest things, and each kitten comes with four*, so now you have a full dozen of the cutest feet imaginable!

    I’m a little jealous.

    Now work out how many feet per square foot your house has.

    *: usually.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I have to admit, your photos of the area you were in certainly look like Milwaukee was closed for the weekend. As to whether Mem Day brings in thousands (or even hundreds) of tourists, I can’t speak to that. Never had any inclination to visit Milwaukee. Then again, not a beer person either. I drink less than half a dozen beers in a year. Well, maybe a full half dozen if I go to McMenamins with Luddite sometime during the year. Their Raspberry Ale is crisp and refreshing–but doesn’t taste of raspberry at all. 🙁

  44. Matt Bernius says:

    “Police said a man was robbed of his rifle, and then grabbed another gun and began shooting at the alleged robber… In addition to the alleged thief, 2 bystanders were wounded in the ensuing firefight.”

  45. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Why not? I mean, we all know Walter Mondale only lost in ’84 because of Republican voter fraud. He actually won 75 states. Don’t believe me? Check out this map–a sea of blue!

  46. JohnSF says:

    The more old fashioned upper-middle Conservative voters are increasingly coming to despise Johnson as a rule-breaking charlatan.
    And what’s worse, an incompetent rule-breaking charlatan.

    Approval rates even among voters identifying as Conservative are now barely 55%.

    Approval polling is still holding up better among the “Red Wall” Brexity working class vote in the North and Midlands, who tend to be less bothered by Johnson’s clownery, and less liable to pay attention to the news reports.
    But even there it’s eroding; and the massive hit of price rises is damage only likely to worsen over the next 12 months at least.
    And the underlying economic damage of Brexit reduces economic room to maneuver; the pound is now around 1.25 to the dollar, compared to 1.7 in 2014; and capital investment trends are rather anaemic.
    I suspect a lot of Conservative MP’s in “Red Wall” seats under threat from Labour are now calculating that Johnson’s and his Cabinet simply lack the capacity to deliver any real gains for their voters that can save their seats

    Their problem is, if they topple Johnson, it is entirely possible that the combination of the ERG MP’s and the Brexi-maniac element of the party membership will foist on them someone even worse, from their point of view: Liz Truss, who combines a near Johnsonian level of ambition with colossal stupidity and tactical and presentational ineptitude.

    For all his faults, Johnson is not stupid, or lacking in self-awareness (as opposed to self-discipline) or carried away by any cause but his own power and pleasure.
    He at least has the virtues of intelligent cynicism; Truss seems to be genuinely high on her own supply.

    For the good of the country, and indeed probably the longer term good of their party, they should still dump Johnson, even at the risk of Truss.
    But if they have any sense they’ll ensure that Truss was taken out of the picture before it came to the membership vote.
    But on the gripping hand, pragmatic sense and the ERG are strangers to each other..

  47. dazedandconfused says:
  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Hole in the walls close specifically to avoid the tourists. Most of the ones I know only stay open so their regulars have someplace other than their empty apartments to call home.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius: How did I know that was STL before I even looked at the link?

    ETA Ah, Wellston. It’s becoming more clear by the second.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: Over the years I’ve had a few impossible dreams of my own. To my own surprise, I have even realized a few. My dreams are smaller now: to be able to help my sons should they need it. To teach my granddaughters that no matter what happens, they are wanted and loved. To make my little 12.5 acres different in a special way. Not sure exactly what that last means and absolutely certain that I will never finish it, but it gives me something to do every day.

  51. Mister Bluster says:

    Politico: May 31 4:12 pm
    Breaking News: Supreme Court declines to block Texas law on social media ‘censorship’


    Politico: May 31 4:33 pm
    CORRECTION: BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court blocks Texas law on social media ‘censorship
    An earlier headline on a breaking news alert incorrectly stated the outcome.
    Here’s the straight dope.
    Tech industry groups had said the statute would violate the companies’ First Amendment rights and force them to carry “the vilest speech imaginable — such as white supremacist manifestos, Nazi screeds, Russian-state propaganda, Holocaust denial, and terrorist-organization recruitment.”

  52. Jen says:

    Nope. No problem with “gun culture” in this country. Not at all:

    New Hampshire boy, 8, killed in shooting during family vacation in South Carolina

    An 8-year-old Portsmouth boy was shot and killed in a random shooting Monday while his family was vacationing in South Carolina, officials said.

    The boy was identified as Quarius Dunham, a third-grader at the Little Harbour School in Portsmouth.

    A South Carolina coroner reported that the boy was shot in the neck and died. His father was shot in the leg and survived.

    Police said Charles Montgomery Allen , 40, is accused of randomly shooting at cars driving by his house Monday on Old River Road in Florence, South Carolina. Three cars were hit.

    “It saddens me,” said Sheriff T.J. Joye. “Cars were passing by. (He) was randomly shooting at them.”

    In New Hampshire, parents were trying to explain another tragedy to their children.

    “Then, there’s going to be some tough questions and tough answers, I think, to give,” said parent Emily Weidin. “It’s going to be really hard. It’s just really sad. It’s horrifying, really.”

    Some are calling for change.

    “It’s scary. It’s scary,” said parent Christina Dubin. “I’m just more motivated to speak up and to get other people to speak up, to push for policy change, because it just, it feels out of control. It feels out of control.”

    Portsmouth school superintendent Steve Zadravec said the district is coordinating counseling support for students and staff.

    “An event like this touches our community as a whole,” Zadravec said in a written statement. “Our hearts are with the family as we support each other through this unbelievable tragedy.”

    Allen is facing several charges, including second-degree murder.

  53. CSK says:

    Apparently the Dunhams had relocated from Florence, SC to Portsmouth, and were in Florence to celebrate a family member’s high school graduation.


  54. Jax says:

    @Gustopher: Ehrmagerd, their widdle TOE BEANS!! Love their feeties. 😛

    Seriously, they’re the Three Musketeers of Tiny Terrorists. No furniture is off limits. We’ve named them Oogie, Boogie, and Woogie, and we append -SMASH to any of the three names when they take turns ambushing and dropping on each other from the tops of the couches.

    It all started with Oogie, you see. I saw him on Facebook and he was an extremely unique shade of orange diluted with grey….his head is a dark orangish brown, and fades to steely grey on his tail. His markings are circles instead of stripes like most of the tabbies around here. So then we had to pick out another one, so he had a buddy. Then my neighbor wanted a couple, and when my girls went to go pick them up, the lady said “Here, take all 5 boys!” and kinda shoved them all into the cat carrier and ran back to her house. My neighbor was like “Cool, I’ll take 3, no biggie.” Then we got them home, and the next thing I knew my youngest had 3 kittens snoozing on her, including one sleeping on her head, so I was like “Fuuuuuck……I guess.”

    And that, my friends, is the rest of the story. 😛

  55. Kathy says:


    Republican voter fraud.

    Is there any other kind?

    Seriously, I wonder what will happen in 2024 if Benito finds himself running in a crowded GQP field, with trumpier but more respectable candidates to choose from, like Florida Man, or Señor Cruz, and so on.

    More on point, what happens when he loses a primary or two? Will he scream his empty head off claiming fraud? He can hardly expect some unified support when the very electorate involved voted for other candidates and knows it.

    What if he doesn’t get the nomination? Will he have the cosplaying troops do to the Republican convention what they did to the Capitol, only with guns this time?

  56. CSK says:

    I don’t know. In addition to being a brainless churl, he’s a narcissistic psychopath. I could imagine him doing something mindbogglingly appalling.

  57. Gustopher says:


    The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped a Texas law that would regulate how social media companies police content on their sites, while a legal battle continues over whether such measures violate the First Amendment.

    I’m a little disappointed, as the obvious methods of complying were to either isolate Texas, or add a very clear “Include Nazis?” checkbox.

    The first would just be fun — is there a lot coming out of Texas that we need to see? What happens when Texas Republicans don’t have a national audience to pander to?

    The second would have allowed more moderation to sneak in, as there’s the “free speech zone” filled with Nazis where they can go be Nazis, and then a more moderated area where the community will be asking for more, as the nutjobs would end up being filtered out. Plus, it’s not like they’re banning someone, they’re just moving them to the free speech zone with the rest of the Nazis and racists and pedophiles.

    Nothing makes people appreciate a moderated platform as much as an unmoderated platform.

  58. Beth says:


    Their problem is, if they topple Johnson, it is entirely possible that the combination of the ERG MP’s and the Brexi-maniac element of the party membership will foist on them someone even worse, from their point of view: Liz Truss, who combines a near Johnsonian level of ambition with colossal stupidity and tactical and presentational ineptitude.

    And rank bigotry, but I’m sure that plays well for her people. For the record I despise her as much as I despise Joanne “Queen of the TERFS” Rowling. They are both a curse.

  59. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Am I too late to bet on the pool? “I’ll bet 20 on His Orangeness doing something unbelievably appalling, CSK.”But who’d bet against me?

  60. Jax says:

    We start betting rounds on tourists trying to pet bison every year. This year was pretty early on the stoooopid.


  61. Mister Bluster says:

    In light of today’s “Revision of Events. Tuesday Edition”

    Texas authorities claimed a teacher propped open the back door of Texas school just before the gunman attacked. Now they say the teacher actually closed it before the shooting.

    I retract my comment posted two days ago.

    Mister Bluster says:
    Sunday, 29 May 2022 at 13:00
    @Matt Bernius:..After all, if someone is a committed criminal, why would they follow that requirement to enter the school through the front door.

    Yeah, why would they since someone left a door propped open that was supposed to be locked.

  62. grumpy realist says:

    @Beth: How’s the recovery from surgery going? It took me about a month to get my strength back as well as not having problems with the holes they had poked in me.